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Yesterday was Our Anniversary

March 19th, 2017 at 07:40 am

22 days ago on the 18th, DH and I got married in a little church that is no longer there, because they sold it, became a mega warehouse church, and completely changed into something they were not before. But I digress.

The plan for our anniversary was to go see Beauty and the Beast. It was our movie when it came out in the 90's when we were engaged and going to college. He was working at the movie theater and he had several free passes a month. Sometimes it was the only time we got to spend together, since I went to class in the mornings, then worked Noon to 8 in the restaurant.

After I got off work I'd drive to the theater and hang out with him in the projection room and we watched Beauty and the Beast many times. So we were going to see the movie, but I woke up with those extreme muscle cramps you get in your calf muscles and I figured sitting still for 2 hours without being able to stretch them would be a nightmare. And DH was tired anyway. We may go for today or we may wait for the following weekend.

So instead we celebrated by building me a new corner desk out of pallet wood and presswood cubes that I have had since I was a kid. We had to sand them down to get all the scribble marks and stickers that my kids put on them over the years off. We did not paint it as it is too cold yet to be painting outside, but we will eventually paint the whole thing white.

Here's the set up:



It's on the short side of the L. It holds my cooking magazines that I sill need to transcribe recipes out of and some homeschool consumable activity books. Then my box of tools that others are not allowed to use because they never bring them back. Then my sewing box.

The next cube holds all the OTC cold and allergy medicines for me and the kids. Then a shelf of the granny squares I've completed so far. Finally the last shelf holds our firesafe lockbox. We don't actually lock it though because the idea behind it is that it is just there for if there is a fire. I can get all the documents again, but it would be very time-consuming. Then up on top I've got my basked full of tape, sticky notes, and staples, emergency goat milk replacer, and the coin jar.


This is the long area of the L where I will do my computer work and writing I won't have much else on this section. Maybe an inbox. I will put up a painting on the wall overhead, though.


This is the set up at the other end of the long part of the desk.


The area beneath the long side at the far end of the desk is set up for homeschool paperwork, tests, and quizzes.


The area beneath the short side holds my yarn for crochet and loom knitting and the file boxes that contain our medical information for the past five years that we need to retain for tax purposes.

All in all I'm very pleased.

Two New Projects Underway

February 20th, 2017 at 06:07 am



My new project is teaching myself to crochet. I can do the chain stitch (which is easy and I've known how to do since I was a kid) and the crochet stitch so far. It took me a good five hours to get the crochet stitch down. I kept crocheting and unraveling and starting over again. I think I've got it fairly well, so now I have to learn a new stitch.

I got bored with loom knitting and someone in my family kept posting cool crochet projects, so I thought it was time to try again. It's a great thing to do while I'm listening to my internet Bible study. Job is a little hard to get through (although it feels very relevant), so it helps to have something to occupy my hands while I listen. But I digress. I want to eventually make some blankets and then move on to cute toys.

My husband's project is that he is finally building the canning shelves out of all those high quality pallets we scored earlier this fall. He put the prototype shelf together today and tomorrow he (with some help from me) will put together the first unit. The bookcases we are using now are only 3 jars deep and 7 jars wide, so 21 quart jars per shelf.

The new cases will be 5 jars deep and 6 jars wide, so 30 pint jars per shelf. There are five shelves on the old cases, and this will have quite a few more shelves, so I ought to be able to fit a lot more jars on them.

It will also have the shelves spaced so they are the height of the jars, plus one inch. No wasted space. When our living space is so limited as it is, this will make a big difference. And they will have a lip on each shelf to keep the jars in place if there is an earthquake. I am excited to see this finally come to fruition.

Most of the wood in it will be free. We have to buy four 2 x 4's per unit (people don't give away good 2 x 4's) and DH bought a two pound box of screws for $20. We bought the first four 2 x 4's, so that was $10. We are hoping to only put about $15 worth into each set of cases. Since we have a steady supply of pallets, this might be something DH can put together for other people as well and sell them. It would be a nice side income stream if it panned out. We'll have to see how long it takes to put one together and also how long it takes to disassemble all the pallets before deciding on a price.

He can also build spice shelves and regular bookcases, too. You can't find solid wood bookcases for less than $150. Just plywood and press wood with veneers on them. So if we priced them right, they'd probably sell decently. We'll have to see, though. Right now, I want my cases and my spice rack that can hold my gazillion jars of spices.

Things and Other Things

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I took 3 surveys from Pinecone this morning. I am not sure if they just really like me right now or if it is a holiday thing where they are trying to get stuff done before Thanksgiving when people will be too busy to take surveys.

I haven't cashed in at all since I started doing Pinecone. I just figured I'd have them send me a check when it got big enough to be worth bothering with. After I get the notification that these 3 are in my account I will cash out. Not sure how much I have, but I've been doing surveys at least once a week for the last several months. I just don't feel like looking it up. I'll find that out when I go to cash out.

I am making rabbit stock today from all 8 of the ribcages from the rabbits we butchered last week. I should end up with about 3 cups of rabbit meat to use in meals this week (probably enchiladas) once I pick off the bones and 6 to 8 quarts of stock to can. The chickens and ducks will get the used up vegetables.

I may make up soup base instead of just stock. To do that I half fill the jars with diced carrots, celery, potatoes, and rabbit meat and fill the rest of with the stock. Then when I want soup I just bring it to a boil and add noodles to cook. I'm not sure if I have enough extra energy to do that, though. I am feeling better, but am still sick, though it is becoming more of a functional sick.

I need to remember to take the turkey out of the freezer tomorrow for Thanksgiving. And to weigh it so we know how heavy it is for cooking time. We didn't weigh it when we butchered it and DH forgot to weigh it when he bagged it up for the freezer. I think it is about ten pounds, but we need to know for sure.

I also need to bake a couple of loaves of bread for making stuffing on Tuesday. I need to pick through the potatoes and make sure there are enough that haven't sprouted for that day, too. I need to make sure I have the right poultry seasoning on hand, one that actually has sage in it. We have plenty of butter on hand.

I need to find what I did with my recipe for making chocolate pudding so I can make a chocolate cream pie. I need to buy heavy cream to make whipping cream. I already have the safe brand of graham crackers for making the crust. I will probably make the pie on Wednesday and do the cream last minute on Thursday.

Our menu is pretty simple for the day. Roast turkey rubbed with butter and poultry seasoning, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, simple bread stuffing, and pie. Since it is just me, the kids, and my mother, that is all we want. We don't like cranberry sauce or yams. My son is the only one who likes pumpkin pie, but he is fine to wait until Christmas for that.

This will be the first time in 4 years (I think) that DH has not been home for Thanksgiving. I know for the past 3 years we have gone to his parents house. I didn't want to go this year without him. Anyway, I always end up doing most of the cooking when I go, so this year I am staying home and my mom will help with the cooking. Since I still don't feel great, I don't want to put myself through the drama that my SIL and her eldest daughter always bring to gatherings on that side of the family. When DH is not with me, I just don't have the patience for that. He keeps me centered.

We have decided to finally start contributing to the 401K at the new company. We weren't when we were paying off the credit cards or paying off the mortgage, but we have decided that it was time now to start. DH is going to find out when enrollment is and then as soon as we can, we will start with it. His company does no matching at all. We are going to start with 1% and see how it affects our bottom line. If it is bearable, we will up it to 2%. We will have to see how much our medical is going to go up this year. 1% may be all we can afford.

If he ends up getting enough overtime that we don't have to use the Christmas bonus to get through the time off, and assuming it is the same amount as last year, I'd like to put half of it into the 401K. That we can do regardless of an enrollment period. The rest of it would be split between starting DH on his Bachelor's program and the Emergency Fund. But who knows on the overtime. DH is still trying to chase down the final signature. His company can be very disorganized at times.

I got some swag from my credit union. A wall calendar, a purse calendar, and a very, very nice pen. I do like free stuff that I can actually use.

Free Money

November 19th, 2014 at 04:10 pm

Every once in a while a charity that I no longer contribute to sends me letters begging for a contribution. I have written to them to ask them to stop sending me these as we do not have the ability to contribute anymore and it is just a waste of their postage. But they continue to send requests and sometimes these things have gifts in them. Usually they are address labels, sometimes note cards, pens, and even Christmas cards. This time it had a dime and a penny taped into it. So my coin jar is up 11 cents.

I really don't understand these places. If they need money so badly why do they waste it sending out goodies and coins. Why don't they just use the money to support their needs? Oh, well, it obviously comes from a fund-raising budget. But I won't feel guilty about these gifts because I have asked them to stop and they've ignored it.

Bits and Pieces

May 1st, 2013 at 01:48 am

I haven't been very together this week. Queen's death, while expected, still threw me for a loop. I've got my equillibrium back today, so I thought I better get my head out of the clouds and pay some attention to the finances. Although they were basically on auto pilot this week anyway. Nothing much happens during the last week of the month. I took care of property tax ($424.58, half year) and the water bill ($144, two months) on Friday which were the only things due. I also had physical therapy on Friday ($90).

Yesterday I cashed out at Swagbucks for a $5 gift cared to Amazon. I haven't really been paying much attention to SB this month, so only got $10 in GC's. Today they seem to be giving double points for everything so I've got SBTV running in the backrgound. I have just been more busy this month than usual and not wanting to waste so much of my free time on it.

I got 11 cents and a sheet of address labels from some charity I have not donated to in over ten years. I have written them and asked them to stop sending me appeals so they don't waste their money on me, but they don't listen. I have no compunction against using what they send. I donated well to them for five years, but my charitable contributions are focused elsewhere now, locally. Anyway, that is my fifth or sixth dime this month.

I added $12.26 to the coin jar today. I had a lot of ones in my purse.

I stopped by the feed store and bought a 40 pound bag of rabbit pellets. It is $14.99 plus tax, so $16.29 altogether.

I paid the AMEX off ($271.92) for the month. I need to make a large payment to BoA VISA, but I need to balance the checkbook first. With the large amount of overtime money in the bank account, I haven't been balancing daily like normal, so I'm a week behind. I'm nowhere near overspending or anything, just need to know exactly where I am at so I can figure out how big the payment can be.

My electric bill has been moved from the 7nth to the 13th. They have changed how they bill, so last month's was a little higher to compensate for the extra week. Now it's back to normal and I do like that it is away from the first week of the month. I really don't like anything being due then, because that is when all the autopays come out and I don't want to think about having to write out a check. Their website sucks, they use impossible to decipher captchas, and the amount is variable from month to month so I don't autopay or pay that one online.

I have made it through my second day of no eating out and sticking to the meal plan. I've been wasting more money than I want to think about on takeaway and last minute grocery runs for deli food because I have been under the weather and haven't felt like cooking. I aim to get that back under control. I am sure I will stop feeling better eating homecooked food again, too.

I guess that about catches me up. At least I can't think of anything else for now.

Making a Duck Den On the Cheap

October 6th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

When our ducks were little they went into the chicken coop right along with the chicks and hens, but as they got older they had difficulty climbing the ramp with their big webbed feet. Also, since the ducks didn't perch at night to sleep, once the chicks learned to perch the ducks ended up sleeping on the floor underneath them. Chickens poop a lot at night and this was not a happy or healthy situation for the poor ducks. They would either stay there or they would move into the nesting boxes, contamintating them.

Our first solution was to take an old desk and an old vanity cabinet from before the bathroom remodel, take off the doors, put hay in the bottom, herd the ducks into the desk half and then push the two together so that the openings were closed off.

Eventually they got too big for this and wanted more space so we expanded their den. We moved the desk to the right like so:



And the vanity went to the left like this:



We ran chicken wire along the back, stapling to one end of the desk and one end of the vanity.



We filled both the floors of the desk and the vanity with hay. Across the top of the vanity we placed one of the stripped down box springs salvaged from those awful ones that came with our mattress set and broke 3 days after the warranty was up.



At night we place the other box springs in front of the opening to the den.



We use bungy cords to hold the front box springs to the top box springs and the chicken wire to the top box springs. This seems to racoon proof it. I've seen racoon scat around it over the past two weeks but they haven't been able to get in and dine on our ducks.

We place sod and hay in the center section that is open the ground. The ducks love it and they love their new den, too.

In the winter we will use the thick cloth coverings that used to be on the box springs for extra warmth over the chicken wire. We will staple it into place and then remove it in the spring.

On the back side of the desk we cut a little hole and placed an old wire shelf over it. It is easily removable by us, but not the racoons, and we can reach in and get the eggs they lay before we let them out in the morning.



The whole contraption works perfectly for us, and we didn't have to pay out for new materials. We simply recycled what we had on hand, keeping it out of the landfill, and giving it a new purpose. It's not pretty, but it's more than functional and our ducks are delighted to have the extra space and an area open to the ground.

I Guess It Sort of Counts as Saving Money

September 27th, 2012 at 05:39 am

Well, I cancelled my dentist appointment for tomorrow. My ear still hurts too much and my throat as well, to sit through a cleaning and after having been on antibiotics for over a week with no progress, I'm sure this is a nasty virus. I didn't want to get them sick there, so I've saved or at least put off, the cost of a cleaning this month. I go three times a year due to some damage caused earlier in life and the third appointment is not covered. I've rescheduled to mid-October, which shifts the payment to a better month and hopefully that gives me enough time to get over this forsaken thing.

Oh, it is better than yesterday, though so hopefully that means I'm on the upswing. Yesterday was "oh my gosh, I think I'm going to die from this ear pain, will it never end," and today was "I think I'll live but I'm not going to enjoy it." LOL So a tiny bit of progress. At least I have my sense of humor back, right?

I have missed three weeks of seeing the woman who works on my leg due to her car accident, so that $90 a week has eased things a bit. She called me today and we've tentatively scheduled for Monday, but with the understanding that either one of us was likely to cancel depending on health or injury status. It was good to hear from her. She's become a dear friend over the last couple of years and we chat non-stop when we have a session.

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Homeschool has gone much, much better this week. We are getting through things better. Math and literature take more than the allotted time, but the other subjects go faster so it all evens out. Today we only put in a half an hour more than the required time and I can see that things are beginning to go more smoothly on DS's end as he gets into the swing of it. I am pretty sure neither one of us is going to go crazy now.

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The garden continues to chug along. Today I picked green beans, tomatoes, a kohlrabi, and some more prunes. The broccoli is getting bigger right on schedule and there are several tomatoes getting red and another kohlrabi that will be ready soon.

The pears on my table are now ripe so I will try to make and can the pear sauce tomorrow, though all I want to do is just bite into those lucsious things and eat them straight. Must resist. There will be more for that.

About half the tomatoes on the table are ripe, too. I hope the rest get there before I need to do something with the ones that already have because I don't want to make two small batches of sauce I want to make one big one.

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I am making chicken stock overnight in the crockpot. I've got 4 chicken carcasses and a bunch of vegetable peelings that I've been saving in the freezer as well as a fresh leek and some sad looking but still decent parsley and other herbs from the garden. In the morning there will be beautiful, delicious broth for mere pennies. I may end up doing chicken noodle soup tomorrow instead of pizza because of my throat. I have some diced, cooked chicken in the freezer I can throw in to make it pretty easy as well as some fresh veggies I can chop and let simmer all day tomorrow. If I have enough leftover stock I will can it, otherwise I will freeze it.

And I think that about covers it.

Spider Plant and Gardening Update

September 18th, 2012 at 03:44 am

Remember that itty bitty spider plant start my chiropractor gave me a few months ago?



Well, now it looks like this:



Not bad for free. Not bad at all. I am going to have to transplant it into a bigger pot soon. I am trying to find a ceramic one amongst all of my mother's old pots. I don't like cheap plastic in the house or terra cotta inside, either. If she doesn't have one I will look at Goodwill. I don't want to buy a new one if I don't have to. I think my free plant should have a free or second hand pot to grow up in.

Here is today's harvest basket:



There are about 30 Italian prunes, enough green beans for a meal, 2 tomatoes that were on dead vines so I went ahead and picked them to finish ripening inside, the last bell pepper because it looked like something was trying to eat it, and a kohlrabi. Still no sign of broccoli on the big, lush broccoli plants. I'm still hoping.

It was cold this morning, 45 degrees, but we had a high of 82 at 4 p.m. There are more tomatoes ripening. I am hopeful tonight won't fall below 50 as it is 8:30 and only at 60. If it gets too far below 50 too many nights the tomatoes will be done. The squashes are doing well, the zucchini is slowly producing and I've still only gotten one cucumber from four plants.

We figured out where the ducks were getting out and patched the hole in the fence. Thankfully it is not them flying out or the gate, though the gate still needs to be replaced with something more substantial. We got 11 chicken eggs and 2 duck eggs today. They are really trucking along well.

DD has a severe enough sinus infection that the doctor put her on antibiotics for three weeks. Now if I can just get her P.E. teacher to quite defying me on the orders to keep her inside and not make her go outside during 1st period this week when it's 45. They are supposed to be doing basketball and volleyball only, inside the gym only, but this guy got it in his head to go off syllabus and make them play softball. She has too many health problems for outdoor P.E. I am so tired of school employees not listening to us. It was bad enough when their errors caused my son to be badly injured last June, but if they give my daughter pneumonia on top of it I am done with them and she can homeschool, too.

Oh, and Snafu asked for an update the other day on DS. Although he has healed from the majority of the symptoms from his brain injury, he still has balance problems and some minor focus problems. He cannot yet balance on a bicycle. And he's still jumpy as heck if someone comes up behind him unexpectedly like the boy who attacked him did. But homeschool is going on pretty well now that WAVA finally got its act together and we could actually start it. He's really enjoying it so far.

Making Applesauce

September 1st, 2012 at 09:59 pm

I don't know what is up with this virus. One day I'm up, the next day I'm down. It's starting to get annoying. Yesterday I took the day off, didn't do anything but make meals. I put off just about everything I could.

Today I still feel out of it, but not nearly so yucky. I did peel up twelve windfall apples, cut them up, and throw them in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 TBSP of cinnamon. Set it on low and after four hours I'll mash it with a potato masher and then can it. Easy peasy in comparison to most canning projects.



The nice thing about using windfalls is that you are using up apples that are bruised and wouldn't be used for straight eating and wouldn't be able to be stored for later. It's the ultimate in frugality, I think, to take something most people wouldn't even look at twice and make it into something nourishing to feed the family.

Even if you are like me and have huge textural issues with applesauce, you can put it into cakes, brownies, or cookies, and not have to deal with the texture. You will be cutting some of the fat and increasing the flavor. And apple muffins are really delicious.

I reckon this batch will net me 10 to 11 half-pints of apple sauce. Cost to me is about 25 cents for the sugar and cinnamon. Not bad. As for the cost of it in the store, I'm not sure. I think the last time I looked you could buy a quart of regular applesauce for $1.99. I don't know about organic applesauce. Probably twice that. So it's not the huge cost savings that growing organic berries and making jam gives you. But it's still 25 cents of ingredients versus $5 for non-organic and $10 for organic for the same amount. So for me, I chalk this batch up to saving $9.75 and I know exactly what went into it. That's peace of mind.

Lots of Eggs and Blackberries

August 14th, 2012 at 12:43 am

For the last week or so we have been getting about 5 eggs a day, but today we had 8! We had to give away our first dozen in a long time. It's fun to have a rainbow of colors like this:



We spent about a half an hour picking blackberries outside our chiropractor's office. They don't spray. We got 1 gallon (me) and a half gallon (the 2 kids together).



Although I think it should have been more. They were whining about the tiniest scratches with no bleeding. Well, mostly it was DD. That's part and parcel with picking blackberries and they were sticking to the outsides while I was going in more where the real thorns were and drawing blood. They should have got as least as much as I did with two of them picking. DD is just not an outdoor worker. Maybe I'll just have DS help me next time and DD can stay home and clean the house. She's much more an indoor worker.

I am going to make jam from this, plus the one pint we got from the last of our own berries. Hopefully tomorrow morning, but maybe not until we get back from Tacoma. It's in the freezer. If I decide to make it in the morning it can be easily thawed out in the microwave.

I will probably go and pick some more next week when DH is home and the red ones will have turned black. He and I can get a lot more done in the same amount of time. I'd like to do a third batch of blackberry jam and also have some frozen for smoothies.

Right now in the store for non-sprayed blackberries it costs $13 for 4 pints. I much prefer my 13 pints for free (plus a little blood and sweat) price!

If I feel up to it tonight I will pick some more blueberries from the back yard, too. I think they are starting to wind down now and I'd like to not lose what is left from laziness!

On the non-harvest side of things I mended the pocket on my favorite pair of shorts. It was ripping away from the side seam and making a hole, so I hand sewed it closed. I used a blanket stitch to prevent unravelling. It's tighter than a running stitch, which would likely just come undone soon.



I also picked up two prescriptions and spent $27.68 for them. There was no other spending today.

I received my two $5 gift cards from swagbucks today and dumped them in my Amazon account, only to find the last two were missing. Turns out when DS ordered his Kindle book he clicked the wrong thing and it used the gift cards instead of taking the money out of my checking account. (He paid me for the book). So my balance is only $10, not the $20 I was expecting it to be. I told DS that I had to do all Kindle book stuff from now on. Not that it will be much anyway, most of what we get for the Kindle will be free.

I am less than 100 points away from getting another Amazon card. I've been doing a lot of searching this week looking for homesteading blogs and using their search bar to do it and I've been getting some big point amounts for it. I've also had the SBTV going while I read blogs, which I've done a lot of this week. It adds up. I might actually be able to get 5 $5 gift cards this month. $25 a month would sure be a nice take for something that doesn't take much time.

An Actual Financial Post

August 2nd, 2012 at 07:19 pm

So here's what's coming out of last Friday's paycheck. Today is the no paycheck Friday so last week's paycheck, which is the little one with only 2 days on it, plus whatever I saved from the week before has to stretch over 2 weeks.

$500.00 to AMEX
_376.84 to mortgage
_155.00 to storage (working on getting this down)
__37.61 Life Insurance DH
__32.70 Life Insurance Me
__41.25 House Insurance
__84.42 Car Insurance
__41.16 Security System
__31.00 Power
_100.00 half year HoA dues
_100.00 property tax savings
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$1499.98

I also have $75 in cash for groceries for the next week. We shouldn't need to buy more than milk and a few canning lids this week. Though I am very tempted to get another 3 pounds of apricots to put up.

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Yesterday I paid a 50 cent fine at the library. It was for a book I couldn't check out again as it had a hold on it and I wanted to finish it. It was also a new book so they only give you 2 weeks instead of 3 weeks. Since it was the last one in the stack I got to, that's how it turned out.

I came home with a new stack of libarary books yesterday and promptly put them in the order of books to get through first so that wouldn't happen again. I'm starting with Still Life with Chickens and Second Helpings. I can't read just one book at a time, usually.

I love the library. So many books to read for free, at least unless you get a fine for overdue. And that's entirely on the borrower and can be totally avoided.

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The weather has broken, it's a nice 60 degrees today, so I am going to process jam this afternoon if I am not too tired right after I go out and pick some more blueberries.

For All You Swaggers Out There

July 31st, 2012 at 06:57 pm

I have saved up enough Swagbucks to cash in for 4 $5 gift cards to Amazon. Can someone explain the process of redeeming them a little before I go do it? I've heard something about daily limits on how much you can redeem. Do they send you the gift cards in the mail or do they give you a gift card link in email?

And then I've heard about gift card numbers getting stolen so you need to put them in your amazon account right away so that doesn't happen. But I've never had to do that, so how does that work exactly? Is there a specific place you go in your account? I don't want to use them yet, I want to save them up. Also, how long do these gift cards last once you have them in your amazon account? I'd like to save them up for at least a year.

The Best Things in Life are Free

July 17th, 2012 at 11:35 pm

...but I won't be giving them to the birds and bees. I harvested another pint of blackberries today. I now have a pint and a half of them in the freezer and there are tons more that will be ripe in about two more days.

The raspberries will need picking tomorrow and I'll get at least 7 or 8 pints. The blueberries will also be ready for picking tomorrow and I should get about 2 pints.

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Speaking of things that are free, I signed up for the free store card at the place where we bought my son's very expensive but only shoes that would fit. Not everything in the store is expensive. There are quiet a few reasonably priced items. That card came in the mail today with six cards for free items. Of course the trick is that each free item is only good for a month, so they want to get you in the store once a month for six months. But you do not need to fall for that trick.

The first month is a free t-shirt, the second free shipping if you get something off their website (I'll skip that one), the third month is a free 3-pk of socks but only if you spend $25 that month. Well, that month is September in which I will be buying my daughter new shoes, so I can put up with that one not being "entirely" free. But she had wanted to buy shoes there anyway, so it works to my advantage.

Month four is a free pair of shoelaces, no strings attached (ha ha). Month 5 is a free shoe cleaner, again with a $25 purchase. I figure that one I can skip unless DH is needing shoes that month. But the last month, the one for December is a $20 gift card (with some exclusions).

At the very least I will get a free t-shirt and a free pair of shoelaces. Pretty good for making no purchases.

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The massage therapist who works on my leg on occasion so I can continue walking normally moved offices recently and had two really nice computer chairs she was getting rid of. I took them both. One to replace a ratty old chair my son has been using and the other I gave to my mother to use since her chair was falling apart.

I think I'm doing pretty well with the free business lately.

So This is Frugal

July 10th, 2012 at 01:48 am

At least if it works, and if not, I'm not out anything. I remembered reading once that you can replant the bottoms of green onions if they have a root still on them. I use two to three batches of green onions a week between breakfast omelettes and low carb meatloaves I make for lunches so I always have that last half inch or so that goes into the soup stock bag in the freezer or the compost bin depending on the condition.

So I decided to try planting them in the garden. If they do grow I'll start to see them within a week. And if not, it'll help fertilize the soil by trench composting.

It would be nice if it works as I buy these a lot. I was dinking around online today and also saw that you can replant regular onion bottoms, too. A bit more to it than what I did with the green onion bottoms, but it can be done. I don't know if they grow into full onions if you just get the greens, but either way, it'd be worth it, so the next time I use a full-sized onion I am going to try it. I had planned on planting onion sets with my garlic bulbs this fall anyway, so this might just give me a head start.

Harvesting Already

July 4th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

You know how I said I thought I'd have a week before having to make jam again? Umm... Today I picked these and there's a lot more ripening:



That's about 3.5 pints and that's after just 2 full days of sun. And the next 9 days are supposed to be just as sunny and in the 70's. Which will be great for my tomatoes, but the raspberries will explode. I think by Friday I'll have to pick again and will have enough to make jam by then. We have about 30 feet of raspberry canes so you can imagine how many berries that is going to be.

I froze 1 quart of what I picked since they will go bad fast just in the fridge, gave 1 pint to Mom for fresh eating, and DS is eating the rest. When I have 4 quarts I will make jam and then anything left after that I will just freeze for smoothies. When I make raspberry jam I will make it in half-pints as it doesn't get eaten as fast as the other jams. Plus they are a better size for giving away at Christmas time.

After picking I sat on the old swing for a while. The view over my head:



Those Italian prunes were just on one teeny tiny section of one branch (I zoomed in). That whole big branch easily held about 50 fruits.

And the view before me, Patricia, out for a stroll:



The chickens and ducks are not liking the firecrackers. They will be in the chicken coop and the duck den tonight before it gets really bad. We will be letting some off ourselves, as far from them as we can get on the property, but not until they are safely in for the night.

I hoed the weeds up in the garden and got rid of some of the straw mulch. I will water tonight from the rain barrels when it's a bit cooler and the water won't evaporate so fast. Most of the broccoli has survived. I lost two plants, one just didn't have enough roots, and the other I accidentally hacked through with the hoe when I was uprooting some tansy. The cauliflower the slugs were eating on is coming back. I found a very natural remedy for the slugs...feeding them to the ducks.

After that I harvested some lettuce. I picked about $6 worth of organic lettuce (enough for the week) so that brings my costs down to $37.06 left to break even on what I've spent on gardening this year. I suppose I could add in the cost of the berries which sell for around $5 for a half pint for the organic ones, which would put me on a $0 footing. But since I didn't pay for those plants (they originally came free from my Mom's sister who had too many about twenty years ago) and I wouldn't actually ever buy raspberries from the store except once in a while in the dead of winter if my kids begged hard enough, I don't think that counts.

Still, at the rate I am going I think I will have met my costs by mid-August. Maybe sooner. The green beans are starting to climb the poles now. We might have some actual green beans before then, especially if this weather keeps up all month.

Swagbucks

June 20th, 2012 at 02:48 pm

I am thinking that I am going to try to get enough Swagbucks saved up to get the $300 Apple gift card. Since DD's Mac Book for college (she is just finishing her sophomore year of high school) will likely cost $1000, and I am saving $100 a month for it. It would be nice to be able to get $300 knocked off the price just by doing this. I just wish the points per value ratio wasn't so high. The amazon or other electronic store ones use far less points for gift certificates but she doesn't want a PC based laptop. She wants to be able to do a lot of photo and video editing.

Speaking of photo editing, does anyone know of a good free program for that that actually comes with instructions on how to use it. I've tried using Gimp but it is fairly unhelpful in the instructions department. I don't need anything fancy. I just want to be able to shrink photos to smaller sizes than what my camera produces so that they don't take over my entire LJ page. I will eventually be getting something like Photo Shop, but right now I am looking for something that is as friendly as say Open Office.

Chicken Wire is Up, the Garden Earns its Keep, and Cut DS's Hair

June 19th, 2012 at 03:02 am

I came back from my appointment this afternoon and my mother had put chicken wire up on my garden fencing. I didn't even have to go buy any, because she had some left over. Some days my mother is awesome. LOL And the chickens didn't jump it, or if they did, they didn't dig anything up. I think Queen is still a bit disgruntled though. She thinks she can go anywhere and do anything (hence the name) and is a bit put out that she's not allowed in that particular playground anymore. Though I do think the cantaloupe made up for it somewhat. Big Grin

I harvested a bunch of lettuce leaves this afternoon. I think I lost one lettuce plant. It's hard to tell, but I think there might be some tiny leaves coming up from the center so it might still come back for me. It got partially uprooted somehow. My guess is that it happened during Saturday's major rainstorm and I just did not notice. I think I have enough lettuce for the next four days, which should be about when it needs to be picked again. I love leaf lettuce. In the right climate it can go all summer.

I'd say I've now harvested at least $10 worth of lettuce. I've spent $59.08 on gardening this year, so I've now just to harvest another $49.08 worth of produce to break even. I may buy a packet of lettuce seeds though if it gets hot and this stuff bolts. So far I seem to be getting 3 sunny days to 4 rainy cool days in a week this growing season though, and we have it where it only gets morning sun and afternoon shade, so it's possible it won't bolt. You just never know with cool season crops around here.

I cut DS's hair tonight. I think that clippers has paid for itself 100 times over. We've had it for many years now. I always cut DS's hair or DH's hair (unless he does it himself because he gets too impatient for me to find the time. During the school year I usually give DS a 3/4 inch haircut with whitewalls around the ears, but since we are going into summer this haircut is a 1/2 inch one. That is what I generally give DH all the time. He likes his a bit shorter. DS generally likes his a little longer, but he gets too hot in the summer for that. It looks very handsome on him either way. His sister can't stop rubbing his head though. It's all soft and fuzzy now. We put his hair in the compost bin. He laughed about that.

On occasion I will trim DD's bangs or her ends, but she is more finicky about her hair now that she is in high school and mostly only lets me do that in the summer. I used to cut it all the time when she was little. Sometimes I'd be snipping a stray bit here and there for days afterwards to even it out, but generally I did a pretty good job of it towards the end. The trick (besides having good haircutting scissors) is to put the hair up and only cut one layer at a time. Otherwise it is just going to be a jagged mess. When I have bangs I cut those to, but most of the time my hair is grown out and I don't bother with it. I just put it in a ponytail. I get it cut maybe once a year, sometimes twice.

I forgot to mention in the earlier post today about Food Rescue that I also brought some honey back to liquid form. I simply put the glass honey jar in a container of very hot water and the partially crystalized stuff on top returned to liquid form. I will have to do it again the next time I need honey I am sure, but it doesn't take very long, maybe 20 minutes and since I rarely use more than 2 tbsp at a time it works fine.

I really need to do a payday entry. I did all my bills on Friday and updated my spreadsheet and even balanced my checkbook, but I haven't gotten around to pulling together a post about it. Maybe because I'm just so tired and it's fun writing about the other things that I do, but sometimes the financial housekeeping just makes me yawn.

Productive Day Plus Free Organic Potatoes

June 10th, 2012 at 06:36 am

I got a lot done today. I did clear off and clean off the counter on the other side of the sink like I'd planned so all of my counter space is now cleaned and organized. I have found all of the pieces to my Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker and DS has requested iced tea tomorrow. I did not get to the kitchen counter, but I did get to the garden.

I did far more in the garden than planned. The rain finally stopped at about 4 today and by 7 it was all dry outside so the kids and I went out to weed enough space next to the compost bin (did I mention it's set up now? I'm too excited about having one again!) to transplant three tomato plants, 3 herbs, and what turns out to be two zucchini in my one plant pot.

We ended up clearing a lot more than that and then Mom came out and worked for a half an hour and we ended up clearing a space that is about four to five feet wide by forty feet long. Two of the older chickens helped (i.e. got in the way and ate all the spiders, bugs, and worms we uncovered). I wish they could actually do the weeding, too. They certainly dig and kick the dirt around enough and you have to watch out not to get a mouthful. Ask me how I know.

We dumped all the weeds and greens into the main chicken enclosure and the flock will eat most of them happily over the next few days.

We pulled up a bunch of volunteer potato plants. I was surprised at how many of them had potatoes growing on them. We ended up harvesting about 7 pounds worth. I was going to go make a special trip to Trader Joe's tomorrow so I could buy some organic potatoes, but now I don't have to and I have enough for at least three meals. And it's my favorite price--free!

I won't buy non-organic potatoes anymore. Not after I read about how they are grown and the poison they spray on them to kill the bugs. Humans aren't even allowed to go into the fields after they are sprayed for a ridiculous number of days because it is so dangerous. I can't remember if it was 10 days or 2 weeks. And then when they are harvested the potatoes have to sit in a shed for a year before the government deems them "safe enough" to eat. No thank you. That is one vegetable that I am not going to take chances on again.

We have plenty of volunteer potatoes coming up in the main chicken enclosure, too. Those ones have been nicely fertilized with chicken manure hay that was cleaned out of the coop, so we will get a healthy amount of them, I'm sure.

Now there is so much space that I am going to go ahead and plant green beans, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, English cucumbers, pickling cucumbers as well as three more tomato plants. I will go to Joe's Garden http://www.joesgardens.com/ to get most of it. they grow everything without pesticides there. I have seeds for beans and green onions.

We left in some flowers as I believe in interplanting flowers with vegetables. There were some double pink poppies that will bloom in about a week. They volunteer all over the place and look like this when blooming:



There were also some orange flowers that volunteered as well. I am not sure what they are but they look like this:



I think it's going to be a very nice garden when it is done. I just hope I don't hurt tomorrow and that it is also a nice day for planting. I'll try to remember to snap some before and after photos.

And A Couple More Things

May 19th, 2012 at 04:51 am

Just a bit more in the financial housekeeping arena. I cleaned out my purse and found $2.35 in change so that went into the coin jar.

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I distributed weekly allowances to the kids, $12 and $7, and I put DH's monthly allowance into his envelope, $100. I ordered what I am spending my allowance on this month, Doctor Who stuff. I am being a fangirl nerd again, but I can't help it. I had the opportunity to get the Ninth Doctor's Complete Collected Comics, which are a collector's itme now, so I grabbed it up and I also got the first collection of the Tenth Doctor's Comics, which are not a collector's item, but I wanted everything with Rose in it, so it's been on the list for a while.

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Found a penny yesterday in the tae kwon do parking lot. I forgot to mention it.

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I spent some time doing research and I found that my county has not one but two dairies that bottle in glass. Dairy #1 has Jersey cows and practices sustainable farming, but is not certified organic. However they don't put the additives in their milk and they don't homogenize. They don't use GMO anything, they don't use growth hormones, and they only use antibiotics on the cows when they get sick. That milk is thrown away and all milk is tested for antibiotics in case some slips through. There milk is available at the store six blocks from my house, but I didn't know anything about it before now.

Dairy #2 is certified organic and sustainable and has Holstein cows. It carries its products in stores that are less convenient to me than Dairy #1, but not terribly hard to get to. One place is near where my son has tae kwon do. The other is near where I pick up my prescriptions and a block from the athletic club. A third is two blocks from my daughter's high school.

Dairy #1's bottles are returnable to the grocery store. I do not know if Dairy #2's bottles or returnable or just recycleable. I will ask. I am going to try both kinds of milk and see which one I have a taste preference for. I know that Dairy #1's milk is cheaper than Organic Valley milk, but more expensive than ordinary milk. I don't know about the price of Dairy #2's milk. But at least this gives me a jumping off place.

Inheritance Money!

March 2nd, 2012 at 05:35 pm

After numerous delays DH's grandparents' house sale finally closed yesterday. His parents told us to come by for a check today after 4:30. I'm still not sure of what the total is as DH forgot to ask but it should be between $7000 and $8000 for his share. I cannot wait to get that in the bank so it can clear and we can send a nice lump sum off to Bank of America and see our balance really drop!

Still no word on when to expect our tax return as that particular function of the IRS website still does not seem to be working properly. *sighs*

Mending

January 6th, 2012 at 09:59 pm

Today I decided to tackle my mending pile. So far I have sewn up a pocket that had ripped in one pair of sweatpants, closed the holes in two fuzzy slipper socks, sewed the underarm seam back up on one of DH's t-shirts and am trying to locate the right size button for DD's jeans. She somehow managed to lose the button, and it's one of those big, flat round ones. Time to go hunting through grandma's button box. If that doesn't work I'll try a trip to JoAnn's but I'd sure prefer to not have to buy one. Still, a few dollars to save a good pair of jeans is not too high a price.

I like the idea of restoring the usability of things with just a little bit of effort on my part. What do you do when you rip your clothes or lose buttons? Fix it, find someone else to fix it for you, or throw it out?

Grandparents' House and Our Old House

December 31st, 2011 at 10:18 pm

An offer was put in on DH's grandparents' house pending inspection. The inspection has been finished and they are now at the talking stages. The house is free and clear. We had thought maybe they'd have to pay the government back some money from when the grandparents were in the nursing home, but I guess between rental from the house and social security, it covered their nursing home bill as they went.

Anyway, the will stipulates that each of the grandchildren will get 5% of the estate. The house is the only thing left of the estate so if it does sell, DH will be looking at about $7000 to $8000 in inheritance. So will his sister, which will help her immeasurably right now.

It's been a long time since they died, but the house has only been on the market since October. There is a second offer on the table if the first one falls through. I like those odds. The house is move-in ready so closing would be as long or as short as the new owners want. A fast closing would be great, but I'm certainly not going to count any chickens before they hatch.

I'm not sure what we'd spend it on. I guess it depends on how much is left on the credit card after we pay the bonus money and the tax return money to it. I would like to put in new carpets and doors out at the house and do a little touch up painting so we can get the dang thing on the market finally.

I still haven't heard whether or not the HOA was dissolved or not. I've been setting the money aside each month for dues. Normally half year dues are due at the end of January. I haven't gotten any bill yet and it usually comes around Christmas time. We'll have to ask the neighbors next time we go out. It's not much, $100 every six months, but if we don't have to pay it, it can go elsewhere.

On Tuesday we are going to run $2500 through the HSA account and then we will pay $5000 to BoA VISA. It will be nice to see that number drop so substantially. I'll also be making a mortgage payment, paying the AMEX, the electric for the old house, and the tae kwon do payment. I've got a couple smaller medical bills to pay as well. I need to balance the checkbook first though and see exactly where we stand right now.

Got a Call

September 19th, 2011 at 09:08 pm

The doctor's office of the surgeon who removed DD's wisdom teeth called today. We had to pay in advance there, and apparently after processing by the insurance, we paid too much. (Ha! I paid exactly what they told me to pay.) Anyway they wanted to know if I wanted to come up there and get the refund or have it mailed. It's only five blocks away so I will go there. I don't know how much it is as the receptionist said it was in a sealed envelope. I know it won't be much. We paid around $800 or $1000, can't remember. But it'll be nice to get something anyway. I will put it in the Safety Net portion of the EF since I will go there later today to deposit that refund from Allstate and my coin jar money.

I am so Tired

September 14th, 2011 at 03:41 pm

Despite the fact that I slept from ten to seven, I am totally wiped out from the trip to Seattle yesterday. I could seriously take about a three hour nap right now and just might once the youngest is off to school.

The trip to Virginia Mason went well. My healing is coming along on schedule and I won't need to have the other surgery in November. He's not saying I won't ever need it, but now he's saying maybe five or ten years down the road and possibly not at all. That would be wonderful. My next follow up is in December.

Not having that surgery means that $1700 I was going to set aside for medical can go elsewhere. Not sure where yet. Maybe to build up next year's $2500 deductible or maybe to debt repayment. Maybe I'll split it in half and do a little of both, or maybe I'll throw it at the mortgage and bring that down to $17,000 left. I'll have to think about it.

I found 33 cents at the hospital yesterday. As I told Baselle, I think people in Seattle just throw their change away. It went in my coin jar. FIL had to borrow a ten off me yesterday and when we got back to town he paid me back in five ones and a fiver. I put the ones in the coin jar. I am going to try to hold on to the fiver until payday and if I don't spend it, it will go in the coin jar, too. I have $15 left in checking, a fully stocked fridge, and no reason to spend any money. Aw, heck, I'll just put it in there now.

Small Bits of Money-Saving

September 2nd, 2011 at 08:47 pm

I spent about five minutes going through my grandma's button box (Mom inherited it) finding something to match a button that had come off a shirt and gotten lost. I found a close match, you really can't tell which one is different, and sewed it on. I also sewed up a ripped underarm seam in a t-shirt and closed a hole in the toe of a sock. So a few minutes of time hand-sewing and I restored 3 items of clothing from the can't wear pile to the wear pile. (Or the dresser and closet since I don't actually have a wear "pile."

I put new insoles into my shoes because I can't for the life of me find new casual shoes that I like and that fit my foot properly. I'm thinking about getting them resoled at this point, though I am going to look online and see if I can't find that exact pair somewhere. I've bought this pair of shoes 3 times over the past fifteen years so it is possible. Just haven't found a new set in since I got these ones 8 years ago. I think it may take me as long to find new shoes as it did to find a workable purse, bu I hope not.

Another Library Post

August 29th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I read an article today about how the Seattle libraries have closed for the whole week so they can save $650,000 and stay within their budget for 2011. Of course no one is getting paid this week, so it's an unplanned pay cut for all the library workers. I guess it's better than some other options, like permanently closing branches, but it still makes me shake my head. Seattle is such a bookish town that I'd think the libraries would have full support of the city, but maybe that's just foolish thinking in this economic era.

Two of the books I had on hold came in on Saturday but they didn't call me to let me know until 15 minutes before closing time so I had to wait until today as our libraries are closed on Sundays. DH picked them up for me while I was at an appointment ($60 out for physical therapy). Anyway, I finally have in my hot little hands The Help (big print edition FTW!) and The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing. I'm still waiting on the last Rizzoli and Isles book, but should be pretty close to the top of the hold list as I was in 7nth place the last time I checked.

It'll be a bit before I get to them though as I am in the middle of two other books, one for pleasure and one for learning stuff about investing.

Backyard Bounty

August 4th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I went for my daily walk around the yard today and I didn't feel faint at all, so maybe that has passed. I hope so. Then I sat in the yard in the sun for about five minutes next to the blackberries and plucked off about 2 cups worth of fat, ripe, juicy, dark berries (and there are plenty more coming on) and then moved over to the bench beside one of the blueberry bushes for another five minutes and got about 2 cups worth of luscious ripe little blueberries. My son was with me, making sure I didn't get dizzy and helping to pick. The blueberry bushes are loaded. I told mom she needs to get out there tonight when it is cooler or she is going to lose them to the birds. DS and DD will help her pick. I've exerted myself to the limit allowed for the day. Free is my favorite price for organic food. Maybe I will just go with the Jiffy cornbread and add blueberries in.

Worth the Trip

May 18th, 2011 at 03:33 am

I went for a walk through the park with the kids tonight and I found $2.31. I found two dollar bills wrapped up together in the parking lot and then a quarter, a nickel and a penny on the walking path. We just might have to go through the park more often with that kind of payment. I haven't felt this thrilled at finding money since I found $5 in the Trader Joe's parking lot. The money has gone to my coin jar with the eventual desitination of the Emergency Fund.

Grumbling

April 5th, 2011 at 05:24 am

There is nothing more annoying than being signed in when you start a blog entry, but when you go to post it ten minutes later, SA has logged you out. AGAIN. For the fifteenth time today. And of course I didn't highlight and save first. It wouldn't be quite so irritating if Facebook and Live Journal weren't also playing this game today. *growls at the internet*

Anyway, highlights were I found 38 cents in the car when I cleaned it out and I forgot that storage autopay comes out this week, so I don't have $204 left, it's more like $64 left in checking until Friday. And $49 cash so it's all good.

I don't feel like writing out the meal planning again. Will do it tomorrow morning when I'm not so growly.

Money in the Mail

March 30th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I received a check today from our propane company for $10.53. It's a farmer's co-op so every year we get a little bit back for being members. It's never very much, but I always figure every little bit counts. So that will go into the laptop fund.

I've been fiddling with the budget while setting up the spreadsheet for April. I think I can manage to set aside an extra $300 for medical expenses without dipping into how much I want to send to debt repayment. It would mean no money added to the EF this month, but I'd rather have it around for the incoming medical bills.

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I'm afraid it's going to hurt. I bit my tongue really hard on Monday and I figured it would be healed by now, but it still hurts. But I don't want to reschedule again. I already did when I had the flu for several weeks. Since most of my symptoms are gone now (just have the congestion and tiredness), I'd really like to just get it over with.

I still have not received a release from the courthouse for jury duty or a statement saying I have to report in despite the doctor's note excusing me. I'm really starting to get annoyed. Monday is not that far away. They really are not on the ball at all about this. Since I have to be notified "in writing" for it to be official they need to get moving. I will call them tomorrow if there is nothing in the mail.

I also still have not been called back by the doctor about being referred to Virginia Mason. Not like I can make an appointment until after I know what's going on with jury duty, but the lack of professionalism is really starting to grate on me. How hard is it to return a phone call and do your job?


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