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A Little Shopping, A Little Musing

December 12th, 2019 at 03:01 am

Not too much going on on the financial front today, but I did have to run to the store and spent $10.99. I had buy some breadcrumbs for the meatloaf I made for dinner tonight as I only had 1/3 cup and I needed a cup. They have stopped carrying the brand I normally have so I had to read all the ingredients on the different ones they had. We ended up going with Kikkoman as it only has four: wheat, salt, cane sugar, and yeast. Eventually I would like to find a good gluten free breadcrumb, but the one they had had xanthum gum which is derived from soy and triggers DD's soy allergy. I also picked up some of those Simply crunchy Cheetos for DD.

I still have quite a bit left in the grocery envelope, $100, and I refill it on Friday. I think that I will just get out $300 this time and throw the extra $100 into the Medical Fund.

Oh, we did find out what the bonus will be and how much additional (it's a percentage of income) they will put into the 401K, but we aren't allowed to talk about it until it has been issued. It's not quite as good on the money as last year, but still good. I don't remember what they put into the 401K last year. I'll have to ask DH. I think most of the bonus will go into the Medical Fund, though.

We still don't know if MIL is going to give us more money this year or wait until the start of next year or at all. That's why I'm throwing so much into the Medical Fund. I just want to be ready for it since DH needs a crown. Otherwise I'd throw it at the Mom loan which I still might if we find out from MIL before we get it.

I did order all the clothes I wanted last night. It is my Christmas present from MIL. I have a lot of shirts that I have been sewing up the holes in for a couple of years. They used to just be in the seems, but now the fabric is wearing out in other places. I love these shirts otherwise I would have replaced them long ago, but now I have to give up on them. So I went ahead and ordered 5 t-shirts and 6 long sleeved t-shirts. 4 of them are on back order, but that's okay, 3 of those were short-sleeved and what I need now is long-sleeved.

On the old shirts, I will cut off the backs and make them into handkerchiefs. We get to a point in the winter when our noses are too tender for tissues due to colds and having them is a Godsend. Or my other option would be to cut them into strips for a rug, but DH has yet to build my rug loom, so I don't see the point in that, although if he did than I could use the whole t-shirts.

I'm not even sure I'd want to take on a new project right now like making a rug since I am already typing a lot each week and learning to play a new instrument, though. I probably have enough on my plate as far as hobbies go.

Ocarina and Moringa

December 11th, 2019 at 03:28 am

Well, I'm learning a new instrument. My son talked me into buying a bass ocarina. It is a plastic one, not a ceramic one, because lighter is easier on the rheumatoid arthritis. An ocarina is a type of flute. It's shaped like a sweet potato though. If you play any of the Zelda games you've seen one. I have some experience with a regular flute and a one octave wooden flute and have messed around with the Tonette which is a one octave song flute as well.

It's also treble clef which is the same as the violin, strum stick, and the right hand on the piano and organ. Aside from the bass clef for piano and organ's left hand, I also know the alto clef for the viola. But treble is easiest to pick up a new instrument in.

I've done 4 lessons so far and can play a half dozen songs. I find it funny that no matter what instrument I have learned over the years they always start with Mary Had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns. I've also mastered Ode to Joy (also early in every instrument), Frere Jaques, Long Long Ago, Jingle Bells, Gently Row, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and a couple others that I can't play at tempo yet, but can muddle through. Today will be my fifth day practicing and Brahm's Lullaby is in that lesson, so grown up music is coming.

When I do my new lesson, I always do all the songs from the previous lessons first and some of the fingering exercises. It helps to cement stuff in even as I move on to new lessons. I've found it is the best way for me to learn. I kind of do immersion when learning a new instrument.

One of the things that really helps me with this time of year and fighting seasonal depression is keeping my mind active and being challenged by something. That's why I tend to work on playing music or learning French more in the winter and early spring. I also take 5000 IU of vitamin D and use a happy light.

I started taking Moringa about ten days ago and it has made a huge difference with my RA symptoms. I also seem to be sleeping better, my skin is clearing up, and I have less muscle soreness from my fibromyalgia. It's not gone, but it is there. I am waking up feeling like I slept, which is really nice. I still tire out very easily and have to pace myself, but the enervating exhaustion is gone most days. I'm feeling better than I have in a long while. They tout it as a miracle tree, and I don't know about that, but it does help along with the Embrel and the Hydroxychloroquine.

And I've felt up to making meals a lot more often, too. Which helps with the food budget a lot. Tonight we are having herb baked chicken. Spice Islands has this Garlic Herb Seasoning that comes in a big container from Costco and it is our new go to seasoning.

I don't even miss Lawry's anymore or Paprika that much, which used to be our go to seasoning before my daughter had to quit using any spice that was hot (as opposed to warming like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg). This stuff has been fantastic on chicken, beef, and salmon. I haven't tried it yet on pork or lamb or other types of seafood, but I can't imagine it won't be good. I've been looking for a long time to find an all purpose seasoning so this makes me very happy. It's the little things in life, you know?

Retirement Update

December 6th, 2019 at 02:35 am

$15,259.56 401K
+_9,478.38 IRA
$24,737.56 Total Retirement

$262.44 let to hit $25K.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 3rd, 2019 at 05:54 am

Garlic Herb Baked Chicken
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans

Beef Stew with potatoes, carrots, celery, and parsnips

Chicken Stir Fry with broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, cabbage

Sirloin Steaks
Baked Potatoes
Zucchini and Yellow Squash

DH's work Christmas party
Baron of Beef
Roasted Red Potatoes
Green Beans with Almonds
There are lots of other choices, but none of them appeal to me. The kids will fend for themselves.

Bacon Cheeseburgers
French Fries
Cole Slaw

Pork Roast smothered in Onions
Butternut Squash
Green Beans


December 2nd, 2019 at 07:26 am

We went to WalMart tonight to pick up some outdoor Christmas decorations. MIL's treat. They didn't have much left. I guess when you start selling Christmas stuff before Halloween, expecting there to still be a decent selection on December 1st is too much?

We got icicle lights in blue and white for the house's gutter line and porch peak and some bush blanket nets, some candy canes, and 4 little decorations (a cardinal, an angel, a star, and a Santa face) that we can attach to the deck or put on stakes in the yard.. We still need to go to Lowe's and pick out some more stuff. I'd like a nativity and a wreath.

Unfortunately all our outdoor decorations were stolen from MIL's house, which is why she's buying us new stuff. The really sad thing is I'll never be able to replace my son's rope light Christmas train, they just don't make them anymore, or my seal that was balancing a package on its nose that rotated. Or my penguin with the top hat. I was very attached to those.

We also picked up a phone charger for DH and a dual phone charger for the van and little Huskies (local college football team) nutcracker ornament for MIL.

Tomorrow my son and I will work on getting the bush nets on the bushes and attaching the lower set of icicle lights to the deck. I don't know if DS can do the gutter ones or if DH will need to do those. We can also attach the small decorations to the deck as well. I might have to run to Lowes for extra large zipties, though. While there I can see which big standees I might want, take photos, and have DH pick them up later. He is on his mom's card, I'm not.

After everything is in place we can then figure out the extension cord situation and the timer. We have a bucket of extension cords so those shouldn't be a problem. We may not turn the lights on for a week or so, because I want everything to be ready at once instead of lighting up a bit at a time. Now that it is finally December I feel like getting into the Christmas spirit.

Payday Report for 11/29/19

December 2nd, 2019 at 06:55 am

$346.83 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Fund
__61.74 Life Insurance DH
__60.46 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Adults Blow Money
_120.00 Kids Allowances
_700.00 Christmas Fund
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
3464.03 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Payment and Rambling

November 30th, 2019 at 06:57 pm

I had expected to pay $800 this payday towards the Mom loan, but I ended up paying $1000. I had forgotten that since this was a 3 payday month that the last paycheck of the month would be bigger as they don't take any medical out of it. So that extra $200 went towards this loan instead. That means a total of $1500 was paid on the loan this month. By the end of December the loan will be down to 4 digits.

$11,500.00 Balance Forward
-_1,000.00 Payment Made
$10,500.00 New Balance

I have rejiggered the budget again and think that as long as we keep our eating out spending under control we can continue to pay $1500 a month. I just have to keep telling myself that I'd rather be out of debt than to buy a pizza. It doesn't always work, but it works more often than not. I have all the ingredients for making pizza. I do not need to buy one from a restaurant.

Plus I have started back on a diet yesterday, and eating out always makes my weight go up, so that is another incentive to stay out of restaurants and cook at home. I would like to be under a certain weight by my 50th birthday mid-February. I think I can do it if I stick to no restaurant food.

I am thinking about doing a dietbet once I am a few days into eating better again, but I don't know. I am still doing my physical therapy exercises and need to get back to walking. The weather turned beautiful but cold again, so since it isn't raining, I need to start again. Just lacking a bit of motivation.

My Sister Might Move In

November 25th, 2019 at 09:36 am

My sister (who is 61, I'm 11 1/2 years younger) hurt herself on the job a while back and can no longer lift the elderly out of their beds or help load them into vehicles for transport. Right now she's going through a thing where the doctor evaluates her for whether or not she can resume this duty or not. Sister says not. If the doctor says she can and they make her, her condition is going to get worse. This is one of those work claim doctors, not one that you know and trust, and those always seem to be slanted towards the employer and not the employee.

If she can't do the job anymore, she'll be let go, in which case she will have to move in here. She'll be okay when she turns 62 next September and can start drawing social security, but until then, things will be difficult. Even a job at McDonald's requires you to lift 40 pounds.

So we have started cleaning out the upstairs. There are two rooms up there, plus a storage room, and two closets, and they are pretty roomy, but they are chock full of junk. The goal is to get one room cleaned out more quickly so if she suddenly can't make rent she has somewhere to go, and then work a little more slowly on the other one. They need to be cleaned out anyway. Mom has a lot of junk up there that she just doesn't need. Extra furniture and just boxes full of junk and stuff she has been storing for my niece and my nephew that should have gone to their homes long ago as they are 38 and 40 respectively.

But there's also a lot of stuff from my grandma who died when I was 27. And there's still a lot of my dad's old clothes and he's been gone for years. And by old, I don't even mean the clothes he wore, I mean clothes from when he was in high school or young adulthood (like suits) that he wouldn't have even been able to get into for a couple of decades before he died. There are also dresses my mom has from when I was a kid that she would have to lose 100 pounds to wear and are hopelessly outdated. I know where I get the pack rat gene from.

I think, honestly, that my sister might move in when she retires anyway. Which is good, because it means when we move out, Mom won't be alone. I really don't think she should be alone anymore. She says she's fine, but she's not. She's forgetful. Not dementia, yet, but sometimes she makes me wonder. She's mostly careless forgetful.

I don't know if sister will contribute to expenses or not, but I don't really care. Even if she is still working her income is not great. Above minimum wage by a few dollars. We don't mind covering that if that is what she needs. You take care of family, you know? I know they will go up if she lives here, though, because the upstairs isn't serviced by the gas furnace and she would have to use electric heat during the cold months, which are many here.

She's easy enough to get along with and she and Mom get on well, so I think it would be good for both of them if she comes.

Retirement Update

November 22nd, 2019 at 01:10 am

$14,790.27 401K
+_9,427.88 IRA
$24,623.04 New Balance

It's up by $595.41. $376.96 to go to hit $25K. Hopefully if things continue to do well, just our contribution and work's contribution will put it up over that on payday. So close!

Meal Planning for the Week

November 19th, 2019 at 08:05 am

Day One:
Pork chops smothered in onions
Baked potatoes

Day Two:
Carne Asada
Pico de Gallo
Stir-fried cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and carrot shreds

Day Three:
Chicken Fajitas
Leftover stir-fried veggies

Day Four:
Baked Potatoes

Day Five:
Beef Stew with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips

Day Six:
Homemade pizza with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and onions

Day Seven:
Chicken Shawarma
Naan bread
Stir-fried cabbage and onions

Freezer Inventory

November 16th, 2019 at 12:23 am

Last night my son helped me to inventory 3 of our freezers, the mini chest freezer, the spare fridge freezer, and the tall upright we split with my mother. We do have a massive chest freezer in the garage and our main fridge freezer we still need to go through, but the big one is mostly meat and butter and I have a rough idea what is in there, since I have it divided up in compartments, two of chicken, 1 of beef, 1 of pork,1 of lamb, 1 of vegetables, 1 butter, and 1 of fruit. The main fridge freezer is a big mess, but is mostly not meal making food. It is ice, ice cream, fruit bars, dumplings, fish nuggets, and more the quick fend for yourself foods I get for the kids. And lots of ice packs. That one really just needs to be reorganized.

I made room for turkeys by restacking and tidying up, although we did throw some stuff out. It was from 2014, 2016, and 2017 respectively, and at the bottom of the mini-chest freezer. I am going to buy 3, one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, and one for Passover. This is the only time of year Trader Joe's carries the organic turkeys, so I plan ahead. We can't afford the fresh off the farm ones anymore, but I still want to be sure my food isn't raised on soy or GMO corn, so I budget for the TJ turkeys which aren't as expensive, but are still much more than standard.

I also had more homemade premade meals than I thought. There was 3 mac and cheese, 6 chicken mac and cheese, 2 mini meatloaves (serves 2), 7 Alfredo chicken (no noodles), 1 baked penné (serves 2) and one pork roast dinner with potatoes and gravy. There was also a bag of cooked sausage crumbles for making breakfast burritos, skillet scrambles, and egg bakes, 1 package of seasoned shwarma chicken ready to be dumped into the crockpot or pressure cooker and 1 package of beef carnitas the same. I didn't realize I had any of those left. I need to make up more. I wish I had known because we spent a lot of money eating out the last 3 weeks and there could have been more easy at home meals if the freezers had been organized.

How much money did I waste on out to eat food, you might ask? We spent $566.97 on eating out the last 3 weeks. I was sick and I was (and am) in the middle of a flare for my two lovely autoimmune diseases, but I really still have to make the effort to cook. I feel a little better today so I am going to try to get some more freezer meals made up after we go grocery shopping. Although the shopping may wipe me out. I will get DS and DH to help with making premade meals.

Dinner tonight is already planned as sausage, peppers, and onions, all of which I found in the freezers last night. I like to do something very easy after expending so much energy shopping. I have to pace myself. It's just the way of it when you are dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I can't do all of what I did before, but if I pace myself and plan ahead, I can do more than I have been doing.

I did find a lot of things I was planning to buy, like bagged bell peppers and onions, roasted potatoes, and a bunch of ground meat (beef, lamb, turkey, chicken) that I was going to buy to make meatloaves and meatballs for the freezer and now I don't have to. And 3 packages of sausage links for breakfasts, too. That means there is the money to buy the 3 turkeys.

I've got my meals planned out until Sunday and then I need to sit down and do a meal plan for the next week. I don't think I posted a meal plan this week because I didn't make one.

Dinner on Saturday will be steaks, roasted potatoes, and a cabbage stir-fry. Dinner on Sunday will be onion smothered pork chops, baked potatoes, and broccoli. I do have apples if anyone wants fruit. At least I feel like the cold is mostly over and I can actually feel up to cooking again.