Layout:
You are viewing: Main Page

Bits and Pieces

June 1st, 2024 at 03:35 am

I got June's budget set up.  Way to wait until the last minute, I know.  I don't like this month very much and I will be glad to put it behind us.  We had to withdraw $4000 for repairs on the truck, plus use the $1000 in the car maintenance fund.  Then we had to charge close to $3000 on the van that we will be able to pay off in June with no interest, but it will be squeaky tight.  That is okay, though.  The budget can handle it.  Things should finally ease up in July.

We had already paid ahead for DS to join a gym for 2 months and get four personal training sessions starting in June.  He gets a big discount through DH's job, so the monthly fee is $40 a month.  After June is over we can also pay for a nutrition program for him if he needs it.  We are reading diet cookbooks and meal prepping books together right now, because he really wants to get his weight under control and going back down.  He doesn't want to end up like his dad and he's really afraid I'm going to lose so much weight I'm going to pass him before he gets his butt in gear, which I am getting pretty close to doing in another 25 pounds.  I told him I am supposed to weight less than him, but that doesn't matter to him.

Anyway, I've required a two month commitment from him that he has to cook his own lunches and breakfasts and help with dinners, he has to make out grocery lists for what he needs, and he has to clean up his cooking mess and dishes afterwards.  I am willing to help chop and prep, but I am not doing it all for him.  I also expect more help around the garden and house since he is slacking on that.  If I am paying $80 a week for a trainer, I want that much work out of him.

DH's retirement account has been all over the place this month, but it has ended the month only $242.30 down.  Only because we have put so much money in the account this month.  Still the net worth is down a lot from the hit to the EF.  I'm not going to adjust my sidebar just yet.  Interest comes in tomorrow and I did make a couple small deposits into the EF that I didn't record so I need to track those down tomorrow and do some math first.

We found out what share prices are worth now for company stock.  They have risen a ridiculous amount.  Distributions will be made sometime this summer.  It usually happens in July.  DH is guaranteed a certain portion of a share and then after that it is distributed by seniority with the ones who have been there the longest getting the most.  There are only five or six people above him now because so many people have retired, but the uppers still get a lot, so the extra may be very small.  However, he has gotten a few commendations this year, so I can hope.  I am also hoping the do a cost of living raise like last year, but who knows?

Not too much more going on here.  We are putting together raised beds for the garden and hope to keep doing that even if we don't get some of them filled for use this summer.  It is slow going, but that is okay.  We've got time.

Net Worth , Retirement Funds, and Emergency Fund Updates, Plus some Rambling

May 19th, 2024 at 02:41 am

Both the 401K and the IRA were up substantially from the last time I checked.  New amounts are below:

$153,554.59 401K

+_15,225.66 IRA

-------------------

$168,780.25 New Retirement Total

-160,553.96 Old Retirement Total

-------------------

$__8,226.29 Total Gain to Retirement

The Emergency Fund got to small deposits.  One was $2.32 at the beginning of the month in interest.  The other was what was left at the end of payday one for May after paying all the bills, which was $87.69, giving a grand total of $90.01.

$11,009.23 Previous EF Amount

+__,+90.01 Total Added

---------------------

$11,099.24 New EF Amount

If I'd realized ahead of time that the interest would have brought it so close to ten dollars I would have brought along 76 cents to make it an even $10 in the total.  I have the coins in my coin jar.  Oh, well.

So next I add the EF gain and the retirement gain to figure out the net worth gain.

$8,226.29 Retirement Gain

+_,_90.01 EF Gain

----------------------

$8,316.30 Total Gain to Net Worth

So then we calculate:

$256,316.02 Previous Net Worth

+__8,316.30 Gain to Net Worth

---------------------

$264,632.32 New Net Worth

So things are going pretty well, as you can see.  I do have $100 from last payday that I do plan to add to the Emergency Fund, I just haven't gotten around to it yet, because I accidentally took it out in cash and I haven't had a chance to get back to the credit union yet.  But I have time on Monday after I drop my son off for his therapy appointment, since his dad picks him up after work.  The credit union is 3 blocks from the therapy office, at least for the next 2 visits.

It'll be a while before I can really start socking things to the EF and I might actually have to take some money out.  The van has started to make some funny noises.  Now I have $1000 saved in the car maintenance fund and I add $100 to it every month, but I don't know if that is going to be enough if this turns out to be serious.  We just hit 67,000 miles, but the van is 13 years old.  In fact we bought it new on June 4th, so really 13 years old.  Hopefully, it turns out to be something that can be handled with the money we already have save in the car fund, though.

And hopefully whe we get the estimate for the bathroom it'll be for less than what we have saved so that if there are any overruns we have enough without dipping into the EF or having to compromise on what we want.  Once all that is done, though, we can sock it to the EF and get things where I want them and possibly fund a spousal IRA for me this year.  While I'd like to raise the 401K to 20%, I have no retirement savings in my own name and I don't like that.  I have complete trust in my marriage, but I still want some in my own name. 

I won't even get SSI in my own name, because I only worked for nine years.  Which isn't true, but the farmers apparently paid us under the table when I was a kid so nothing I earned then was reported to the government.  Not that I made enough to pay taxes, my best summer I only made $1500 and that was at 3 different farms following strawberries, then raspberries, then blueberries.  I mean, I will get it in his name, and his would be higher than mine anyway, but that's not the point.  And that's assuming there is SSI when I get there.  So, yes, I want a Roth IRA in my name.  Then if we fully fund it, we can raise his 401K after that.

I am hoping in July he will get a cost of living raise.  They have been doing this as inflation has gone crazy for the last 3 years and this 4th year should be no different.  I hope.  I don't know that he would get a regular raise, because the raise he got the last time he got one was so big a leap.  That was two years ago.  As much as I'd like one, I just don't think they have it right now.  They hired a lot of people in the last year.

But a COL would be appreciated.  2% is still $3180 before taxes, probably $2500 net a year after.  $104.16 a payday.  $2500 is almost our full medical deductible of $3000.  So that is nothing to sneeze at.  And sometimes it is 3% which is $4770, or around $4200 a year or $161.53 a payday.  Nothing to sneeze at.  But if there is nothing there is nothing.  We will know sometime in July which is always when raises come out.  The company has had high profits this year and last, but that didn't come out to much when it came to the Christmas bonus, so not really counting on it here, either.  Just wanting it to have some more breathing room after saving so hard for that stupid bathroom since February of last year.

Busy Week and Busier Weekend

May 17th, 2024 at 03:59 am

I feel like I haven't had a moment to breathe this week.  There has been an appointment every day and there is one tomorrow.  So far they have been one's where we have been kept waiting twenty to forty-five minutes past the scheduled appointment time and then the appointment seemed to run long.  Except my therapy appointment, which was on time.  And boy did I need that.  It's been cancelled 3 times and it has been six weeks when I usually go every two weeks.  Her brother died, then she was sick, then I got stung by a bee on my lip and swelled up really bad.  My allergy has gotten progressively worse and I have to have an epi pen available, but at least insurance covers it.

I did get my tomatoes planted on the weekend, though.  I got two different varieties of Roma tomatoes, 4 of each, then 3 Lemon Boys (yellow rounds ones), 3 Champions (round ones), 1 Million Pears (yellow pear shaped cherry/grape cross), and 1 green zebra.  I wasn't going to get a tomato variety just for fun this year, but the green zebra is prolific and supposed to be very good, so I decided to anyway.  I figured it would be good for my ugly sauce anyway.  Plus they didn't have any orange ones this year so I couldn't make an orange-colored sauce for canning, just regular tomato sauce and ugly sauce.

I still have to plant my brassicas, lettuces, peppers, and petunias.  I am going to put a lot of them in my Greenstalk and then drape it with deer netting.  Not the peppers, though.  I also have various squashes to plant, patty pans, zucchinis, and acorn.  Plus green beans and peas.  It is a slow process, but the most important part was to get the tomatoes in.  They take the longest to mature.

So I will spend a day planting on Saturday and then we really need to spend a day just cleaning up the kitchen as a family.  It is such a mess and I am tired of it.  Nothing is organized, it needs a deep clean from the ceiling on down.  I am tired of cobwebs, I am tired of a dirty floor that needs scrubbing, I want a pristine refrigerator, including the bottom and walls and ceiling, not just the drawers and shelves that I do every week.  I want the window above the sink scrubbed that I can't reach, but my husband and son both can.  Then I need them to put the A/C in the window.

I need the curtains taken down and washed.  I need everything taken out of the cupboards and drawers and each drawer wiped out and put back in.  And I want the pile of groceries that need to go on the top shelf for long-term storage put away by the tall people.  I am so tired of it taking up space on the counter and I can't reach even on a step-stool.  I'd have to climb on the counter, which is a bad, bad idea for me.  Also, an impossibility with my deviated discs.  It is Spring Cleaning time.  Once that is done, and everything on the counters is put away, I want to set up the air fryer I got last year.  No more oil-fried food for this family.

At least tomorrow isn't payday.  I was so tired last Friday, I forget it was payday and didn't get it done until Monday.  I have a feeling tomorrow will be more of the same. 

For Living Almost Large--Garlic Herb Butter Recipe

May 9th, 2024 at 12:36 am

8 oz room temperature salted butter (do not microwave)

2 to 3 tsp granulated garlic (not powder), adjust to taste

1 to 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning (or at least basil, oregano, and parsley) adjust to taste

Put ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with a whisk.  You can use a stand mixer or hand mixer on 2 or low, or just a regular old hand whisk, but if you do use a regular whisk I advise using a small one with close set tines and shake it out every few strokes.  I do not recommend blenders as they can melt the butter.  Mix until smooth and all ingredients are incorporated.  It doesn't take long.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.  We like it at 3 tsp garlic and 2 tbsp Italian seasoning, but not everyone does.

Transfer to a bowl, using a spatula to scrape out the whisk and mixing bowl.  You can leave the butter out, covered, for a week if you will use it in that time, otherwise keep it in the fridge and it will last a long time.  Just take it out an hour before you need to use it for spreading.

It's good spread on naan bread and if you have a kid who doesn't like pizza sauce, it makes a good replacement for that when you make pizza, too, not just on pasta.

 

No Take Out Running Smoothly--On My End Anyway

May 3rd, 2024 at 08:11 am

I was exhausted yesterday after doing a big Costco Shop, but I think we are set for a while.  Having 30 pounds of butter back in the freezer eases my mind a fair bit.  Only 10 pounds of it was on discount, but I was down to 2 boxes (4 pounds), and I want to get another 30 pounds in there come June, July at the latest.  I am planning on making up some of my herb garlic butter and repackaging it for the freezer, so I have it for making garlic bread, ravioil, salmon, shrimp, and vegetables like zucchini and broccoli.

I'd like to have at least ten pounds of it made up in 4 oz portions to keep in the fridge one at a time.  I should start keeping the whipped cream cheese containers.  They would be the perfect size.  Plus save me money on containers, since we don't buy individual yogurt anymore, just the big plain one we put our own fruit in.  Now that I have a label maker it would be easy to know what is what at a glance.

We bought 6 of those bags of broccoli that have 4 4 pound steamer bags in them, so we are set on broccoli for a while.  That will make meal prepping easy for a while.  And the ingredients for breakfast burritos, which I am making before I go to bed tonight.

Last night for dinner I made chicken and mozzarella ravioli with my garlic herb butter and a Caesar salad and strawberries.  It was a nice simple dinner and did not take long and cost the same amount for the whole family as one entree at Olive Garden would have cost.  And we had leftover fruit, salad fixings, and garlic herb butter.

Tonight for dinner I made creamy chicken taquitos using my home canned chicken, some salsa verde, 4 oz cream cheese, cumin, chili powder, a bit of lime juice, cilantro is optional, and tortillas, preferabbly corn, but we only had wheat in the house.  To that we had garden salads and a fruit salad of honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes.  And we had a dozen leftover taquitos to go in the freezer.

In the morning, I plan to do some breakfast sandwiches.  Since we bought bagels at Costco and only planned to buy six, but they had a buy one get one free going on, we have six extra, so I thought I'd make those into bacon, egg, and cheese everything bagel sandwiches and put those in the freezer for DD.  We have an egg sandwich machine that does two at a time, so it won't take but fifteen minutes to do six.  Plus, I will do up and peel some eggs for the fridge and make some breakfast tv dinners of 2 scrambled eggs/2 sausage patties/hashbrowns for DH and 4 2 oz sausage links and 4 egg bites for me or a low carb omelet.  Depends on how hungry I am.  Given my energy level after that I may make up some pancakes as an alternate to hashbrowns for DH.

I'd like to do some lunches for the fridge for the next few days, but we will see, since I want to go pick up my tomato and pepper plants.  If possible, we want to get them planted, too.  

The plan for Saturday or maybe Sunday freezer cooking is:

3 meatloaves (1 for dinner)

2 pans mashed potatoes*

4 pans Italian meatballs

2 pans Swedish meatballs

3 pounds taco meat

2 pans hamburger steaks with gravy

2 pans spaghetti and homemade sauce*

2 pans lasagna*

*It is more important to me to get all the meat based items taken care of, but I am sure there will be downtime to peel potatoes and to boil pasta while waiting for the meatballs to cook.  The pasta sauce will only start in a skillet until the onions and then garlic are ready and then transferred to the crockpot to finish off, so I will still have burners available to make gravy and boil pasta and the potatoes will be in the Instant Pot.  If not, than the pasta, sauce, and potatoes can wait a day or two or even until the next week.

The next weekend I want to do:

3 pans jerk chicken (1 for dinner)

2 pans chicken enchiladas

2 pans chicken fajitas

2 chicken pot pies with buttermilk biscuit top crust only

2 pans Meditteranean chicken bake with vegetables

2 pans Southern stewed chicken

Some of these may not be in pans.  They may be in bags, but I mostly like the pans with the lids because I know exactly how much food I have without weird guestimating and stuff stacks properly while freezing and after freezing.

I may just have to raise the grocery budget up higher than expected at first, maybe by $200, but eliminating the takeout budget entirely, except on trips, it should way more than compensate.  Of course, we have been working towards this, but I'd say each month has had at least a week's worth of spectacular failure when you add all the days up.  Just have to find the will power, the energy, and the strength.

DH keeps forgetting his food at home and so he is still buying takeout at work.  So that's what I mean by adding up to takeout failures of a week's worth.  And he's buying soda to keep himself awake because he doesn't like coffee or tea.  So I can't do much about those expense, though I will keep encouraging.  He's got a lot going on at work with deadlines and he's under a lot of stress physically from this systemic illness.  I don't want to nag too much.

At least I've got him going to the doctor and to physical therapy now.  And he's finally got an appointment with wound care Monday, about a year into this leg thing, which is a staph infection, by the way.  I don't know if I ever said.  They finally did a skin scraping early last month or late March and we finally found out.  So I called it.  It didn't have to become systemic if they would have done things right from the start.  Well, at least we won't be paying for it.  We've met our out of pocket max now.

Okay, it's late or actually very early, and the yesterday I started talking about when I began writing this post is now two days ago.  I'm rambling and will probably stop making sense soon, so I will wrap this up now.  I'm going to calculate my net worth tomorrow.  I hope I break even.

 

Bookkeeping, New Budget and Template, Goal Met with Some Rearranging

April 30th, 2024 at 12:23 am

I did some bookkeeping today.  I worked out my budget for May, which will be a tight one, but that's okay, because we have everything sorted out and should not have to make any large purchases for a few months now.  But we will be paying off nearly $3K of charges we made this month.  I do have the money in savings, but I prefer to cash flow it.

Then after I sorted May, I went on and revamped my budget template for the rest of the year.  Sort of.  For the next few months anyway.  We made a decision on the bathroom fund and a couple of other funds.  Since our goal for the bathroom was to save $15,000 before we started looking around for someone to fix it, we made a decisions last night.

We have already saved $12,000.  We also had $1775 saved up in my new bed and frame fund and $260 in our beach vacation fund, which would have gone for a little getaway for DH and me for a couple of days since I was too sick on our anniversary to do anything.  And we have $1000 in the snowblower fund, because we never bought one last year.  So that is $15,010.  Which is enough money for our goal.  And then if it were to become necessary we have $4000 I would be willing to borrow from the Emergency Fund.  So we have decided to shuffle all our envelopes around and do that.

In doing that, we can then start saving back for the bed and frame and the snowblower relatively quickly as well as putting money into the Emergency Fund.  The snowblower will take two months of saving $500 each, so that will be fast and done well before winter.  And we will continue to put $500 into the medical fund to start building up for next year's deductible and out of pocket max.  I still hope to be able to get Invisalign braces next year, but that would be an additional $6000, if it hasn't gone up in the last 2 years, I would have to come up with, so unless MIL starts handing out money again, that may be a couple more years yet.

We now have to find someone to build the bathroom and get quotes for what we want to do.  I wish we could do it ourselves.  It would be so much cheaper.  It's mostly just not feasible to do much these days, being old and broken.  Could have done most of it when we were younger, though.

What I am concerned about is finding someone just as we are going into the height of construction season.  And someone who speaks English.  We are not getting into a situation again like with the roof, where only one guy speaks English, he starts the crew in the morning, leaves for the entire day, and then comes back at the end of the work day to check over the work and you can't communicate about anything all day long with the workers.  My Spanish is not good enough for that, though I am working on refreshing it again.  No problem with the work, but it is beyond frustrating when all of a sudden the crew is just gone mid-day and doesn't come back until morning and you don't know why.

I suppose we could check with our local big hardware store and maybe Lowe's and Home Depot, too.  They might have small scale construction people or handymen who do this sort of thing that they know of.  I know the local one has a bulletin board you can put your advertisements up on where you tear the little phone number strips off to call.

Back to Meal Planning to Save Money

April 23rd, 2024 at 03:08 am

Today I sat down and wrote out 14 days worth of lunches and dinners that I can rotate around.  The lunches are just for me and my son since we will be eating at home and meal prepping.  The dinners are for everyone.  So I am choosing from the master list for this week based on what I have in the house, although I will have to do a small grocery shop to fill in some gaps tomorrow.

Day One:  Tacos and yellow rice

Day Two:  Baked chicken, baked potatoes, and broccoli

Day Three:  Spaghetti, meatballs, and a chunky vegetable tomato sauce with onions, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and eggplant (if they have it, will be trying for first time)

Day Four:  Chicken fajitas and yellow rice

Day Five:  Pot roast, mashed potatoes and gluten free gravy, and green beans

Day Six:  Jerk chicken, Normandy vegetables, and white rice

Day Seven:  Chicken stir-fry with bell peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, garlic, ginger, and water chestnuts, and stir-fried rice

So, I have all of the proteins on hand, I just need to pick up a few of the vegetables.

I also plan to make up some beef soup bones to make some broth and then make some beef and veggie soup for my daughter.  Something hearty, but simple for her, and no tomatoes, like most beef soup has.  She doesn't eat well when she has bronchitis, so I think this would be good for her.  I have a ton of beef bones to get through still.

As for lunches, this week we'll go with taco salads, chicken salad (not the sandwich filling, like Caesar), and salmon and zucchini.  We have a lot of fish we need to get through so we have room for this year's fishing.  Halibut season is upon us already.  DS's breakfasts are breakfast burritos and I don't eat breakfast except on rare occasions and then it is either 2 eggs, or a couple 2 oz sausages.

I see the doctor on Wednesday.  Hopefully, I can get antibiotics for this nasty sinus infection.  The pain in my face is driving me up the wall.  I could go into urgent care tomorrow, but I hate urgent care.  It is the worst.  I had to reschedule my dental appointment.  I know sinus infections aren't contagious, but it was the only time the doctor could see me this week.  And the on call docs were all full up, too.  I hope I don't catch something else at the doctor's office.  I am wearing a mask and gloves when I go in.  I swear I catch more things at medical offices than anywhere else.

Major Milestone Markers

April 13th, 2024 at 01:47 am

Hello.  I've been gone for two months.  Dipped out the day after my birthday and haven't really been around since. There have been some big milestones that passed while I was away.  Retirement was a nice one.  It tripped over the $150K mark and then the $160K mark.  Seems like it wasn't very long ago it went over $100K.  I know it was, though.

Net worth did a real big one.  I reached the quarter of a million dollar mark!  $256,316.02 to be exact.

I've started contributing to the Emergency Fund again.  Not a lot at a time, but I've added $457.12 so far and that has brought me over $11K to $11,009.23.  My goal for the time being is to contribute $100 a month as I am still contributing to the bathroom construction fund.

Speaking of the bathroom construction fund, it now rests at $12K.  I think $3000 more is where I will stop and start looking for bids.  I have been managing to put $1000 away each month so far this year, so I hope that will continue.  That will put me at July, which is peak construction season.  We may have to hold off until the rainy season to get it done since most contractors will be busy.  I could borrow from the EF, I suppose, but I don't really like the idea of that.  I haven't even hit 2 months' wages yet in rebuilding that fund.  Which is $14,440.

DH and I passed our 28th wedding anniversay March 18th.  We didn't do anything for it.  DH's leg was hurting too much and I was going through an exhaution phase that I really haven't come out of.  I'm just sleeping a lot.  No other real symptoms.  Sleeping all night and taking naps around noon and then again around seven and then going to bed at eleven.  Probably something to do with my autoimmune stuff.  We figure maybe we will do something this summer or towards the end of spring, just go away for a weekend, just the two of us.  I'd rather save up for something for our 30th, though.  I'd like to go on a cruise.  Not a giant cruise, I don't like a crush of people all around me, but one of the smaller ones.

The 9th of April was also a milestone for me, because it was the 18th anniversary of starting this blog.  Now that's something.  I can't believe I've beeing writing it for that long, that I've had that much to say, or that it has had over 86,000,000 visits, and you've all want to read it that long.  I sure do appreciate it.  It's a nice thing to know.  And you know what is interesting?  When I started this blog I had $200,000 of debt to pay off and by the time my debt was paid off, I had paid off $250,000 because of the interest and an imprudent purchase.  A quarter of a million.  And now my net worth is a quarter of a million.  I've moved my net worth half a million in the opposite direction.  If I had started at $0, and threw money in retirement right from that moment, I could be at $500K right now.  My son has taken that away as a good lesson against debt.  So at least there is that.

At least, once the construction is over on the bathroom, we can work on getting our EF back up to snuff.  I would like to have 3 months' worth of wages by the end of 2026.  It would be great to do it sooner, but I just don't know.  We have a Hawaii trip to save for, a cruise, and a new vehicle with an expected purchase date of 2035 to 2040.  I want to purchase that in cash.  And I want 6 months' wages by 2030, so there's that.

We are working on buckling down, but it isn't always easy.  Take out is still our biggest temptation.  But we are trying to overcome it.  Especially since I am losing weight since we started cooking at home more often.  I've lost ten more pounds since February.  Things are going really well, there.  5 pounds a month might not seem like a lot to some people, but it is really a lot for me, considering how hard it has been for me to lose weight in the past.  And so far there has been no loose skin, so I think it is just the right pace for me.  Well, speaking of dinner, I better go make it.  Hope all is well with everyone.  I seldom have the brain stamina to read the blogs right now.

Planning the Groceries to Keep the Family Out of the Take Out Line

February 13th, 2024 at 11:20 pm

I am really, really tired of not being ready for dinner and being too tired to make lunch all the time, so it is time to get serious.  Three things I know for sure I want to make for dinner this week are meatloaf, chicken fajitas, and polish sausage, onions, and peppers.  We have all of the ingredients for those except a lime and cilantro for the fajitas and cauliflower to make riced cauliflower to use in place of bread crumbs in the meatloaf as I can no longer find rice crumbs or gluten free bread crumbs.  They are always sold out.  Although if I can find them I will use them instead of caulifower.

If I am making meatloaf, it is also easy enough to make meatballs at the same time.  So I can put two extra meatloaves in the freezer for dinners in the future and then I can do a quadruple batch of meatballs.  I can simmer some of them in sauce and pack them into lunch containers for lunch prep for the fridge and then one can be divided up into lunch freezer containers, and 2 batches can be divided up for spaghetti dinners in the future.

I can make a couple double batches of fajitas on sheet pans in the oven for a total of four, one for dinner, one to divide up for lunches in the fridge or freezer, and two to freeze for future dinners.  And then do the same thing with the polish sausage meals.  Any lunch meals we have too much of will be frozen, but we are feeding 4 people.  I will have carbs available for those who wants them, like spaghetti for the meatballs and tortillas for the fajitas or sausage and peppers and of course fruit.  I just won't be eating that.  I will add zucchini on the side of my meatballs and sauce, though.

Then my son wants one other chicken dish for meal prep, so know I am going through some recipes to try to figure out something that will be good for dinner and yet also meal prep for lunches well.  Maybe something in the Chinese stir-fry range.  It's been a while since I've done black pepper chicken and I've got a bag of stir-fry veggies that really need to be used up.  I'll have to buy some more chicken.

I can't believe I am this close to being out of chicken.  I have one package of boneless, skinless thighs, six whole chicken breasts.  That should be enough for all the fajitas, so I need enough for the stir-fry.  Otherwise I only have one package of thighs and one package of legs in the house.  That is so low on chicken for me.  I'll have to find a good sale soon.

As for tonight's dinner, that will likely be stir-fry, because all the other meat will have to thaw out and will take forever before I can start assembling anything.

I do need to buy fruit and some veg, though.  We are down to 2 oranges, 4 regular kiwi, 5 yellow kiwi, and 2 apples.  So we need bananas, more oranges, a couple apples of a different variety, a pineapple if they are ripe, a mango, some tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, a leek, cabbage, a lime, 4 lemons, and maybe berries.  Maybe even a guava.  I've never had a guava, but I like all the other tropical fruit, except starfruit, so why not?

Berries are out of season so an extreme luxury.  It won't be blueberries sadly, if I buy some, because the last several containers I have bought have been so sour despite being fully blue they taste like they should be pink.  Like they've been died or something.  I don't mine tart sweet,  But tart isn't the same thing as sour.  The strawberries haven't been ripe, just the blackberries and raspberries and I don't like raspberries.  So berries are conditional, but at least the blackberries taste good, they are just the most expensive.

I am going after the more tropical fruits, because they are in season, and they are packed with vitamin C.  My daughter is sick again and I am trying to keep from getting sick.  There is only so much taking a vitamin can do for you and I always feel like you get your best vitamins from food.  I just wish I'd been well enough to harvest our rose hips at the right time this year so I could make tea with them now.  I might still find a few that are good if I look, but most will be no good.

Anyway, that's me again, sharing my thought process as I figure out my grocery list to meal prep, to save money in the long run, cook at home, and get the family to stay out of the take out line.

Low-Key Birthday

February 13th, 2024 at 08:12 am

We didn't do much for my birthday, but that's the way I like it.  I've never felt the desire to celebrate since becoming an adult, other than 21.  I just like to have a laid back night with my immediate family and that's what I got.  We had a pan of enchiladas and they had rice and instead of cake, some brownies.  Brownies don't have baking soda or baking powder, so I can control the sodium content, unlike cake.  The recipe made nine.  I had my one and everyone else had two, so there are no leftovers to worry about.  Extra brownies are bad for the diet.

I'm 54 now.  Doesn't feel any different than 53.  I was teasing my husband a bit that now I was as old as he was.  We are just six months apart, so when he turns the year older I always tease him about how old he is.  He is a good sport about it and pretends to be an old man and then teases me back and says now I am as decrepit as he is.  LOL  I think I am probably more so.

The kids remembered on their own this year without me having to remind them at least, so there's that, too.

I hope to make it to the store tomorrow.  We are getting very low on produce and I need some chicken and herbs for meal prepping.

All Dreams Turn to Spring

February 12th, 2024 at 12:44 am

Tomorrow is my birthday, which means an influx of money to add to my Me Savings.  I have spent the last several months, (however long it takes to get to $700 at $50 every 2 weeks), saving all of my spending money, plus $200 from Christmas, to have a grand total of $900 saved there.  I will get $200 from DH and somewhere between $100 and $200 from MIL for my birthday.  I think it is $150, but I am not sure.  So together, at least $300.  That puts me at $1200.  I still have $360 in the garden envelope, which was all money I saved from my spending money last year as well.  So that gives me $1560 total.

So I am looking at three different sets of Birdies garden beds to go with the ones I bought last year, but never had a chance to put up because DH hurt his leg.  Option one is I am debating buying 3 long beds, which would finish out a row and give me another row, creating a total of 3 rows with the beds that have not been assembled.  That would cost me $979.17 including tax, unless our sales tax went up this year.  No shipping.

The second option would to be to buy one long bed to finish the second row when assembled with the other three long beds.  And then to buy 5 round beds in which to make another row and add some gemetrical interest to the garden.  Because there hasn't been any yet.  It would take away garden space, but it would also give me a place to plant invasive plants, like mints and bee balm, which go on runners and take over everything.  Also, mix in some flowers that otherwise take over four feet of the herb bed, like calendula.  That option would cost $1251.14 with tax.

Option three would be to buy 1 long bin, 2 shorter fatter bins, and 3 round bins.  That way I could finish row 2 of the Birdies bins and then row 3 could go round bin, short bin, round bin, short bin, round bin.  It would give some geometrical interest, and still let me confine some annoying plants I like, but maybe not as many as I like.  That option would cost $1425.22 with tax.

Hmmm...or maybe...let me run the numbers...If I did three long beds and five round bins it would give me 4 rows counting the 3 bins from last year and come to $1903.92 with tax.  I have at least $1560 now, so subtract that.  I would need another $343.62 to order that.  And I'd still have to come up with money to fill the bins.

The big problem here is that they don't have the dark green beds I bought last year.  They have an ugly tan, an ugly light green, and a pretty black and I have no idea what they will have next year.  They didn't have this shade of black last year, they had slate grey.  So if I am going to get more of the long bins, I really need to get 3 this year, at least.  And my bed rows won't match up, because it would have to be one row that half green and half black.

Unless I decided to mix all the parts, since they are identical.  I could have beds that went black, green, black, green, every other panel.  That would be pretty and definitely bring interest to the eye.

I guess I don't have to buy all the bins at once, either.  I can buy the 3 long bins now and whatever I can afford of the round bins and then add round bins later.  I can put the bee balm and calendula in two round bins and then when I can afford the other bins transfer mint and some other flowers from pots I've been transplanting up.  That would give me $1349.07.  I could definitely do that.  I might even have enough for one more round bed by the time I am ready to order.  But I think I'll probably just stick to what I have here.  This seems like the best choice for right now.  It gives me money for soil and hay to put in the beds and of course we have branches.

Shoot, I forgot, I still have to buy Ag fabric to put down.  Well, I guess I'll go with the cheapest option right now, the 3 long beds.  Welcome to my though process.  Thanks for playing.

Health Update

February 11th, 2024 at 11:50 pm

My heart is better!  I got the results of my 6 month echocardiogram earlier this month and not only is the enlargement of the right chamber caused by Covid gone, the flow rate in the left chamber has gone from 45% to 55%, which is where it should be in a normal human heart.  So I have healed my heart.

I mean, I will have to keep up with the dietary changes, the weight loss, keeping my sodium low, and stay on the diuretics, but that has more to do with my hereditary condition of microvascular dysfunction (tiny veins and arteries).  I may come off all but one of the diuretics if I hit a normal weight one day.  Possibly even the high cholesterol drug, even though my cholesterol is fine and has been for several years.  Probably not the high blood pressure because that is still linked pretty hard to the little veins and arteries.  Even the skinny people in my Mom's family have had it.  But so much better over all.

I've officially hit the 20 pound weight loss mark. Technically, I've seen 21, but it is bouncing between 20 and 21, so I am calling it 20 until it stops doing that.  My clothes are fitting a lot better.  Well, my pants always fit fine, but my shirts are fitting a lot better.  The funny thing about my pants is they seem to be getting longer even though they otherwise still fit right.  Maybe because my stomach is getting smaller.  Anyway, the weight loss goes well.  I've been kind of in a holding pattern this week to give my skin a chance to catch up and then tomorrow I will start back into the next phase of lowering the carbs again back down to 90 grams per day.  When I want a rest I do 120 grams.

I've been too exhausted to do much lately.  It's the new medication for rheumatoid arthritis.  One of the side effects is excessive tiredness and all I want to do is sleep and I have been.  Like 18 hours a day.  I'm up for appointments and to make sure people get fed and otherwise I am out cold.  It started when I started the drug.  Like the day after I took it first.  It is the worst every Tuesday since I take them Monday nights.  I can barely get out of bed the next day.  I am making sure to keep my Tuesdays clear as I am in no condition to drive that day even with caffeine.

I have an appointment with the doctor soon to see if I'll need to stop this one or adjust some of the other ones I am on that also cause drowsiness.  I may try on my own since two of them are just for pain with drowsiness as a side effect.  I'll try dropping one out first and if I don't hurt too much, then the other and see if I can stay awake again.  I've only been on it for 5 weeks so I don't even know if it is working yet.  Shots like these usually take 2 or 3 months to build up in your system.

Maybe doing the infusion might be a better way to go, even if my veins are tiny.  That's only once a month.  We'll see.  I'll call the doctor tomorrow and leave a message.  I don't want to not take the shots, though.  They are so expensive.  Fortunately, the company has a co-pay card so they are covering the part the insurance doesn't, except $5, but I still feel bad about it if I end up having to throw it away.  Even if it did come from big pharma and they make money hand over fist, I don't like wasting things that could have helped someone else.

If I can get the sleep thing sorted out, I really need to start seeing a chiropractor again.  My hip is killing me.  The thing that has been holding me back is cost.  My insurance only covers 80% of chiropractic after the deductible is met.  I can have as many appointments as I want, but 20% of what they charge nowadays is a lot.  And if I go, everyone is going to want to come.  Four people is a lot to be paying for, especially before the deductible kicks in.  Or maybe I just need a massage, which is the same, 20% after the deductible kicks in, but massage prices are more reasonable than chiropractor prices.  I guess we'll see with that, too.

I wish taking care of my medical needs was not so expensive.  I wish I hadn't had so many medical needs when I was young and fit that ended up getting me to this point where I was far from it.  But if this past six months has shown me nothing else, it is that taking my life back was necessary, no matter how expensive.

Retirement Update

February 4th, 2024 at 07:16 am

Well, it has finally happened.  The IRA is back to where it was before the great Biden free fall of the stock market.  And it is actually above it by $263.49.  Only took what? Two years to recover?  Looks like Biden stock market year 4 is starting off well, just like year 3 ended well.  Just wish everything else was improving, like food prices and electricity and gas (for the house, not the car).  And who knows what will happen if a real world war breaks out, or a civil one down in Texas for that matter.  But anyway. My combined retirement accounts are so close to $150K, I can taste it.  And yes, I label stock years by president.  I've done it since Bush 2 Electric Boogaloo, when DH got his first 401K.  Just makes it easier to remember.

$133,856.64 401K New Total

$_14,253.86 IRA New Total

--------------------

$148,110.50 Total Retirement Accounts New Total

-143,668.67 Previous Amount

---------------

$__4,441.83 Gains since December 31st

Now about $2700 of those gains were due to contributions from DH and his job, so the rest was interest and that was $1741.83 for the month of January.  Not at all a bad way to start off the year.

I have $1,889.50 left to go to hit $150K in the retirement accounts. I went ahead and bumped it up to 17% for next payday, since 16%, which we have done for the first three paychecks of the year, didn't really make that much of a change to our bottom line, even with the FSA money being taken out pretax.  We will live with 17% for a few paydays and if it doesn't seem to be a burden, I'll bump up to 18%.  The ultimate goal is to hit 20%, which will get us to our ultimate catch up max if we did it all year.  I don't think that will happen this year, unless DH gets a cost of living raise in July, then we could adjust and he's bound to get some OT to carry us over the line.  Maybe.  I know the more we contribute pretax, the lower our taxes will be come income tax time.

So maybe in 2025 we can completely max out, but that all depends on what taxes will be like then and how it will effect our paychecks and that depends on who runs Congress and who the president will be and I really don't want to think about that until November.

Speaking of taxes, it looks like we will be getting back around $365.  It's not final numbers yet, because we haven't gathered our interest yet on the savings accounts, but I can't imagine that will make much of a change since we only have about $11K in savings.  This is the closest we've got to $0, which is what our goal is.  We don't want the government having an interest free loan on our money and we don't want to have to pay either.  This amount is reasonable.

Well, that's it for this post.  I need to do a health update for you all.  It's good news.  Maybe tomorrow.  It's 11:00 p.m. and I no longer seem to be a night owl.  Good 2024 habits.

Meal Planning

January 22nd, 2024 at 07:53 am

I really want to stay on top of things this week, as there are a lot of appointments, so I am meal planning to make sure nothing gets away from me.  I have two things in the freezer that I want to use up, which are a ravioli lasagna and a meatloaf that I made up when I was batch cooking in the past.  I do have to check that they are good first, but if they aren't, I will just make fresh ones for dinners this week.

I will figure out breakfasts and lunches, but they tend to be repeats and we all kind of grab what is in the freezer, because I batch cook breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches, or eat cereal.  I will probably also pick at the chicken that doesn't go in Tuesday's soup for my lunches.  Most of the days will be gluten free, but not all of them.  While I can make gluten free pizza, it takes a couple more hours to make the dough than regular and I don't want to take that much time.  I'm pretty sure I have all the ingredients in the house and shouldn't have to set foot in the grocery store this week.  It would be nice to buy some fresh thyme for the chicken soup, though.  Nice, but unnecessary when I have dried.  As usual, order is subject to scrambling due to the whims of the cook (me).

Monday:  Instant Pot Chicken cooked underwater to make broth, roasted fresh root vegetables and zucchini (frozen), apples

Tuesday: Chicken noodle (gluten free) soup with celery, and leftover roasted root vegetables, toasted bagles with goat cheese, and salad

Wednesday: Meatloaf, fried home canned potatoes with frozen onions and bell peppers, home grown home canned green beans (2019), canned pineapple

Thursday:  Ravioli lasagna or regular salad, pull apart garlic bread, home canned pears

Friday:  Homemade Pizza with sausage, ham, pepperoni, ground beef red and yellow onion, zucchini, frozen bell peppers, mozzarella, homemade low sodium pizza sauce.  I will make my own individual little pizza that is mostly veggies, has less cheese, and has a small amount of meat on it and just seasoned ground beef so it doesn't have salt in it.  I might even do a cauliflower crust pizza.  Salad and home canned nectarines to go with.

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Beef chuck roast, baked potatoes, green beans, oranges

Since Everyone Else Is...

January 22nd, 2024 at 07:17 am

I thought I'd update my pantry challenge, too.  I am cleaning out the freezer of convenience foods that I do still buy from time to time, but haven't made in a long while and they are getting to the end of the time where freezer burn will set in if they are not used soon.

To that end, tonight we had garlic butter shrimp (that box from Costco), frozen broccoli (that bag from Costco), and frozen corn on the cob that we froze last summer.  We dipped everything in the garlic butter sauce since there was so much of it left after cooking the shrimp.  And we had golden kiwis, which thankfully have lasted this long, but definitely needed to be eaten pronto.  Breakfast was breakfast burritos, lunch was a no go for me and everyone else had chicken salad sandwiches.

The night before that we did spring rolls, beef mandu, yakisoba, and frozen berries, also all from Costco.  Breakfast was homemade biscuits (with alternative baking soda and alternative baking powder that are not sodium based), folded eggs, and cheese.  They also had bacon.  Lunch for the others was chicken quesadillas.

And then the night before that we did bagel, ham, and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, oranges, and salad.  I did send my husband out to get salad fixings because I was tired of the frozen veggies and it is not like we can't buy anything.  It was the first day the roads were clear enough to drive and the stores had reopened after a snow drop of a foot.  And chips.  We had regular chips, but I needed my low sodium Tim's Thins chips.  The bagels, ham, and cheese are all from Costco.  I keep the ham and bagels on hand in the freezer and we had thawed them out the day before.  Well, not the cheese, it was in the fridge.  Breakfast was cereal, but I didn't eat it.  I did have lunch, which was homemade chicken soup, which the kids had.  DH had leftovers.

I don't remember the other days and I didn't write them down, but it was pretty similar.  I watched my sodium counts, though, because with a lot of these convenience foods the sodium is high.  Except for the day I rubbed everything in the shrimp butter and I felt that.  Gotta be more careful.

Weird Experience, Pricey C-pap Supplies, Weight Loss, Pantry Challenge

January 13th, 2024 at 01:37 am

You ever have just one of those weird days that is just kind of spooky?  I had my follow-up Echocardigram this morning and then went over to pick up my c-pap supplies.  When I got out of my car I heard my name shouted.  It was close, like in the parking lot, which is small.  Only it wasn't my name, it was my nickname, and it is pretty rare.  No one calls me that name but my mom, my dad, and my sisters.  My dad is dead, one sister doesn't speak to the family including her own kids, the other is working, and my mom was at home.

I looked all around me and even called out, "Yes?", but there was no answer.  I changed what I was called to my real name when I started sixth grade, so it was highly unlikely anyone from elementary school would have recongized me and if they had they would have come over.  But there was no one.  So I went in and got my stuff.

When I came out the door, I heard the word, "Go!" right in my ear and I swear it sounded just like my dad.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Again, there was nobody around, just me.  So I shake it off and get in my car, planning to go to the library next, because it will still be light out for an hour before the homeless people move in and park themselves on the steps and it will be too dangerous to go, so I can get in and out and find something to read and then go to the grocery store.

Plan in mind, I back out of my parking spot and happen to glance up at the marquee of the strip mall next door.  There's a new shop there and it's called, get this, Home Instead.  Now I am having a little freak out at this point, but I decide to go ahead and trust my instincts and go directly home.  I start on my usual route, which takes me past Another Way Outreach Center, which I drive by all the time, I mean come on, and I come up to the stoplight to make my usual turn, and it is red, and my gut is just saying, no take the other way, take the other way, take the other way, so I go straight and take the longer way.

I have no idea why, I got home safe and sound, nothing weird was going on at home.  Maybe I avoided a car accident or something.  Maybe it was all a coincidence.  But I've learned to trust these things, because the one time I didn't, it ended badly.  I'll probably never know.

As for the c-pap supplies, those are going to be $702 when they finish processing through the insurance.  Gotta love the deductible.  

I have officially lost 6.2 pounds since coming back from Seattle.  Thinks are doing well on the pantry challenge.  I had a migraine yesterday, so DH made me scrambled egg sandwiches, which is just the eggs on bread wiht butter and you fold the bread in half.  For lunch, I had the last of the beef stew.  I didn't eat breakfast.  Everyone else ate leftovers for lunch.

Tonight I will be making a kielbasa, shrimp, peppers, onions, and cabbage stir-fry.  Semi-spicy.  Not a jambalaya.  Rice on the side.  Chicken salad was for lunch, on tortilla or spinach wraps for everyone but me.  I had mine in steamed Napa cabbage that I used in place of a wrap.  Skipped breakfast.  Most of the time we are just not breakfast people.

Tomorrow?  Maybe baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans for dinner.  Lunch will likely be leftovers of dinner tonight or more chicken salad wraps.  Oh, wait, tomorrow is Saturday.  Maybe we'll do meatloaf or meatballs with spaghetti.

 

Pantry Challenge for Realsies

January 10th, 2024 at 07:38 am

Although we did do the pantry challenge for the first few days of January, I wasn't posting and then of course, I didn't do it while we were in Seattle, because how can you when you are away from your pantry?  And I didn't do it the last two days as we settled back in.  So I am integrating some leftovers in as well as cooking from the pantry now.  My MIL bought us Sushi last night, so...

Breakfast/Lunch was leftover sushi.  I don't get the raw kind, because I can't handle raw fish.  Lox is the closest I can get to raw salmon and I don't really even like that, although I can eat it.  I had six pieces left off 16 from last night's dinner, so that was my lunch.  I don't eat a lot because of being on the Ozempic.

Dinner was Beef Stew with potatoes and carrots.  I made a gluten free gravy for it with no salt.  I had a 3 cup bowl.  Then I had an orange and 12 chocolate chips.  That's all I will eat today.  I had as much water as my cardiologist allows.  I lost another pound this morning.

I have some breakfast sausage in the freezer tomorrow so I will fry that up and have it for the next few days with some cucumbers, but will be making breakfast burritos for the others tomorrow because we have a lot of eggs and sausage from our hog in the fridge.  Then for dinner I plan on making a stir-fry that includes kielbasa, frozen shrimp, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, onion and green cabbage or possibly Napa cabbage depending on which needs to be eaten first.  And then basil herb brown and wild rice from a Lundgren's box mix.  Or maybe Lundberg.  It's organic.  My box mixes are getting close to their expiration dates.  I think I will either have half a mango, which is finally ripe, or a kiwi, also.

I need to sit down tomorrow and plan out the rest of the week.  The bell peppers need to get used up as they are starting to wrinkle, so probably something with those.

 

 

Back from Virginia Mason Seattle and the Lap of Luxury Hotel

January 9th, 2024 at 03:29 am

It's been a long few days, but my daughter made it through her surgery and hospital stay with flying colors and her recovery is going very well.  Her hormone levels have already stablized and I haven't seen her this emotionally stable since she hit puberty.  She will never have to worry about bleeding out again and she did get to keep her ovaries, but everything else is gone.  Since she can't take replacement hormones due to one of her other medical conditions, this is a good thing.

I got more exercise than I ever care to have again traipsing all over that hospital, because nothing is easy to get to from anywhere else.  I am just glad I had my walker.  I had so many steps it was ridiculous.  I lost 2 pounds from that and another pound when I got home because I fell on my face and slept for about 20 hours without eating.  Then slept another 12 hours the next night after eating.

The hotel we stayed at was amazing.  It was a luxury suite, too.  I've never stayed in anything this nice before.  The amount of room in it, well, the bedroom itself was bigger than most hotel rooms I've stayed in.  It had a king size bed, a table and two stuffed arm chairs, a dresser, a 60 inch television and a dresser then about six feet of space until you got to a space you could sit down to put on your shoes. The side wall was nearly floor to ceiling windows with a nice view, but it had amazing blackout curtains on top of sheers.  Then you could step into the next area that on either side had two walk in closets and next to them, two built in dressers.  An ironing board, iron, bathrobes and slippers were provided.

From there you stepped into the main bathroom, which had a walk in shower that was halfway between a half-sized shower and a full-sized shower and had a waterfall showerhead, and on the other side of it was a soaking tub.  It was deep and long.  Long enough for me to fully stretch out and deep enough to have both my knees and just below my shoulders submerged at the same time.  I haven't ever been in a bathtub like that before and it was amazing.  It was the nicest thing for sore muscles after trekking around that hospital.  It was hard to get into and out of without grab bars, though, and also for a short person.  It had a double sink with double lighted mirrors and then behind a closed door was the toilet.  There was a sliding door that separated the bedroom from the other room.

The other room was a living room with a pull out couch bed that was actually comfortable with a large coffee table and two arm chairs.  It had an 80 inch TV on another dresser and there was another closet.  It was a corner suite so there were windows on the side wall and on the main wall.  As you continued away from the living room there was an office space with a full desk and a leather executive office chair.  There was stationary, postcards, pens, and stamps.  Across from this was a full bar with a sink, microwave, small refrigerator, and we were given four complimentary Aquafina waters a day.  On the backwall of the bar was a half bathroom.  On the back of that was a door that when unlocked would lead to an adjoining room if you rented both.

Further down was a settee, another place to sit and put your shoes on, with a lovely piece of art opposite it.  Then on the third wall was a cabinet for tucking away empty luggage if you needed more places to put it.  And there was yet more space until the door.  They could have fit maybe four hotel rooms in this place.  My MIL paid for it and it still cost less than the VRBO we stayed at last time, with way more comfortable beds.

I've never stayed somewhere with concierge service, an adults only quiet floor, no pets floor, valet parking, discounted meals with the room, 24 hour maid service if we wanted it, etc, as part of the package.  Oh, and we had to use our key to get onto our floor.  Anyone from the floor below us to the floor above us did.  The floors above us had been sold out or we could have gotten a two bedroom suite with all the same things for $50 more a night.

I felt so spoiled.  My husband and I are unassuming people, practically country bumpkins, but in a medium city.  I would have brought somewhat nicer clothes if I had known it was as nice as it was.  I'm just glad I didn't come in sweats and had styled my hair.  I also would have made sure the front of the car was cleaned out.

While it wasn't anything like a vacation, it still had lovely, refreshing, restful moments because of that hotel and I am so grateful to MIL for giving that to us.  It made all the difference in the world to be able to get good sleep and be super close to the hospital and have a place the day my daughter got out of the hospital to relax in before heading home.  It's nice to see how the other half lives.

Retirement and Net Worth Wrap Up for 2023

January 1st, 2024 at 06:48 am

Final numbers:

$129,758.76 401K

+$13,909.91 IRA

-----------------

$143,668.67 Total Retirement Accounts

These last two weeks increased net worth by $3,464.93, a litte over half of that was contributions.  The IRA needs to gain about a few more dollars to reach where it was before Biden year 2 started.  Biden year 3 has had two really solid quarters, one free fall quarter (second quarter), and one amazing quarter (last quarter).  It puts the 3 year rate of return at 6.5% which is not so good, but for this year the IRA is at 21.62% and the 401K is at 17.21%.  Of course there was $37,484.08 of contributions between DH and his work put in that counts into that, so I'm not sure how accurate that makes the percentage on that one, but the IRA had no contributions.

New net worth is $238,973.61.

$11,026.39 to go and we are quarter millionaires.

Odds and Ends

December 28th, 2023 at 12:30 am

I'm glad Christmas is finished for one more year.  The tree will be down today and we will take the outdoor Christmas lights and standees down this weekend and get everything tucked away into the garage or our storage unit.  I will be glad to have it put away so life can return to normal.

We got a recumbant exercise bike for the family for Christmas to replace the treadmill that three out of four of us can't use because of our knees and also the weight capacity being quite low.  The bike is high enough even my husband will be able to use it.  I hope it works for my back.  I'd really like to be able to start exericising again.

I'll be starting on a new arthritis drug when we get back from DD's surgery in Seattle.  The old one stopped working.  This one is a pen, so I can do it myself, but it is back to weekly injections intead of monthly ones, so now I'll be taking two different meds through pen injectors once a week.  I'm going to be a pincushion.

I have a lot to do to get ready for January's Eat from the Pantry Challenge I do every year with my Facebook/Youtube group that I am in.  I need to take inventory of what I have, top up any glaring empty spots, and on the 31st shop for fresh produce.  I know I will have to take two days off from it while DD is in surgery but I will just add two extra days at the end to make up for it.  When you in a hotel in a strange city with no microwave and no fridge, there is just no way to manage.  If we had a VRBO, I could take food with us and cook, but we needed to be closer to the hosptial this time than any availabe rentals wHere.

My goal for this year's January Challenge is to save enough money to hit my goal of $10K for the bathroom fund.  I am now at $9500, so if I can peel $500 out of an $800 a month grocery budget, I will be well pleased.  I still intend to buy some fresh produce and milk, but not much else.  And other than Seattle, no eating out, which we won't be paying for.  MIL pays for our food and lodging when we go down to the hospital so that won't come out of any budget, let alone food.  I might end up hitting the goal otherwise, but I don't know how much I will need to ultimately have, if $10K will even be enough.  Stuff has gotten so expensive, but it is such a tiny room.

I would really like to get this started before the handymen or contractors get busy with big outdoor summer projects and have no time for tiny interior jobs that get them through the winter.  I just have to have the money for it.  No going into debt for it.

We still need to purchase our snow blower.  There might be money leftover there that I can put into the bathroom fund, too.  Every bit counts, you know?  It just depends on what we end up getting.  I want something I can drive, too, and not be overpowered by, even if that means having to take a couple extra passes on the driveway.

Even if it is enough and they get started on the bathroom, I think I'll keep saving anyway because things like this always seem to overrun the original budget.

I've already gotten two seed catalogs in the mail and they are full of such beautiful photos of seductive flowers and fruits and vegetables.  I will buy very little this year.  I have many things I didn't plant last year that I will need to plant this year that will be lovely and yummy.  But there will be one or two things I'm sure I will find to plant.  Some of the brand new introductions put onto the market that are developed in my area.  Those do great here.  I was hoping to put in a couple of trees, too, but things didn't get done this year because of DH's leg and it still hasn't healed up right and now he might have torn the miniscus on his knee on the other leg, which he sees the doctor for the day before we leave for Seattle.  He'll probably get an x-ray, too.

I think I may have to hire someone to come in and rototill the garden this year and do the clean up.  I have been saving all of my spending money, my Christmas money, and my future birthday money towards garden expenditures in the coming year, so if that is what is needed, I will hire a strong teenager from the farming community to come and do it for me.  While there is still more infrastructure I want to purchase, like more raised beds and more cattle panels, getting the one plot tilled that hasn't been and getting the weeds cleared out of the other bed, is necessary.

We are buying heavy duty agricultural fabric this year from a farmer's supplier instead of a seed catalog and then once it is secured we will put the aluminum raised beds on top.  No more dealing with ground weeds.  I'm just so done with it.  That's why the ground needs to be rototilled and raked flat, so the beds can go on top and set relatively flat.

We'll see what happens when we find out about DH's leg.  If physical therapy and weight loss will fix it than maybe he can go forward from there.  If he has torn something, then he may need surgery and won't be able to work in the garden in 2024 at all.  Oh, well.  If worse comes to worst, I will mostly skip a year except the raised beds and the blackberries and the plums.  And that will be that.

Goals Met and Not Met for 2023

December 18th, 2023 at 05:29 am

So, in 2023 I set some goals for myself and thought it would be interesting to come back and see if I hit any of them.  I know things went all catywampus because no one expected the bathroom to suddenly develop black mold and have to be torn out to the studs and be treated and us to have to save up all year and part of into next year to pay for a contractor to come and build a new one.  The bathroom fund took up most of our money, but did we meet any of our goals?  Let's see.

1. Refund the Emergency Fund--Add $250 every 4 weeks to the EF.

1.  No, see above, the bathroom fund.

2. Purchase a Propane Grill with Smoker--Save $250 for 12 weeks and I will have $1500.  I may not spend that much, I probably won't, but I don't want a garbage one.  This will put me at March 17th and I may find some good grills on clearance as they prepare for the new season of grills coming in.  I am not averse to buying a separate smoker as they are not all that expensive.

2.  No, we decided to make do with charcoal for another year, as the money we saved for this went into the bathroom.  Black mold was discovered in February.

3. Save for Beef Fund--Save $500 a month for 5 months, ending in May, for a total of $2500 to buy a whole steer.  I may not need this much but with costs going up everywhere, I tacked on an extra $500.  I'll contact my guy beforehand and see where prices are going.  I may need to extend into June for $3000.  I will also be saving excess grocery money, so it may not take the whole time.

3.  Yes.  We were able to save enough to purchase a whole steer in July.  It has made a huge difference.  Between that and our hog and our fishing, we have only had to buy chicken and turkey for protein.

4. Save for Snow Blower--Starting in May or June, depending on when Beef Fund is completed, save $500 a month for three months to purchase a snow blower for next winter and a chain for locking it to the back porch.  The garage is too far away if we get dumped on like we did last week.  1.5 feet in two days that has lasted for several days.  This has happened several years running now.  And several times a winter.  Never used to, but it does now.

4.  Yes.  I completed saving for the snow blower in October.  We haven't bought it yet, but we should.  It has been unseasonably warm, but we tend to get blasted in February, and sometimes we get hit on Christmas Eve.  I'd rather have it and not need it, than not have it and need it.

5. Starting March 24th save $250 a month for two generators, one for the garage freezer and a more powerful one for the house.  I still have to price these.  I am not sure how much they will cost yet, but I hope to have enough saved by October to have both.

5.  No, these were back-burnered because of the bathroom, but we did buy an additional power station so we can now run both the c-pap and the bi-pap machine all night long during a power failure.

6. Get some kind of covered seating area and some more chairs so we can eat outside more in the spring and summer.  Not sure where I will fit that in.  Maybe start the generator savings later.

6. Both no and yes.  We did not get a covered seating area, but we did purchase two more chairs.  We need one more for our daughter who seldom goes outside.  Our Swedish ancestry is strong in that one and she burns very easily.  Hence the need for a covered area.

So, 2.5 goals were achieved and 3.5 goals were not achieved.  I think I did fairly well with a ginormous curve ball thrown at us.  We will have $10K saved soon and hopefully that will be enough to create a new bathroom.  If not, then I guess the $10K in the EF will get dipped into.  We really can't handle not having that bathroom in service.  If that happens, we will have to slam the EF to get it back up.  But it is a tiny bathroom.  It is the smallest legal size a bathroom can be, so hopefully it won't go over that.  I've priced everything, so I know what materials cost.  It's just the labor that will be the thing.

My goals list for 2024 that I made at the end of 2022 has shifted substantially because of this whole bathroom thing.  One, because I missed some of this year's goals and two, because other things have moved to take priority.  But that's another post for another day.

 

Christmas Bonus, Retirement, and Net Worth

December 17th, 2023 at 12:22 am

DH got his Christmas bonus this on Friday and it was $911.64.  Before taxes it was $1200.  Not as good as last year, so the company must not have done as well.  Either that or they will be distributing a larger portion in stock shares this year.  I hope so.  DH worked his tail off in overtime this year so his percentage of hours worked is high and the portion of shares you get is based on the percentage of hours you work.  We've got a fairly large chunk of change in company stock on top of the 401K and the IRA.  Of course we can't sell it back until years one and two after retirement, but it should be significant by then.  Just won't like the tax bill.

We've decided to tithe $91.16 and put the rest into the medical account.  They've changed things up a bit this year with how they do the deductible and the out of pocket max.  So starting in January, the deductible is now $1250 per person or $2500 per family.  The out of pocket max is $3000 per person or $5000 per family.  Which would, supposedly, help out the average family.  But I'd really like to have been done with the deductible, because we have the $3000 to pay that off immediately.  And once that is paid off the out of pocket max is worked on at a 20% co-insurance.

DD will wipe out her deductible and out of pocket max with her surgery in January, but the rest of us will be working on wiping out the $1250 that is left on the deductible and the $2000 left on the out of pocket max.  At least the deductible is lower.  It has been $3000 for the past couple of years, so a drop of $500 is welcome.

DS's therapy, a couple of my scheduled appointments, and DH's appointments to have his knees checked out and likely x-rayed, will probably have the deductible met sometime in February.  So the big flush of medical spending will be done and we will only have to worry about co-insurance until the out of pocket max is met, which will be a relief.

They finally, finally, finally dumped in the money for the 401K they'd withheld, but hand't put into the account, so 3 paydays' worth was dumped in on the 15th, plus the match, which was a substantial dump with all the overtime.  Even so, there was a good leap in profits in the last two weeks in the 401K.  A bit over half of the gains were profit, a bit under half was what was deposited.  Even the IRA went up a bit.  It has $269 to where it was before the free fall started 2.5 years ago, but it may yet get there.  Too bad the recession/depression destroyed it for so long, but the last couple of months have been a lot better.

The new amount in the retirement accounts, minus company stock, is $140,203.74, a rise of $8835.15 in two weeks.  The 401K is at $140,203.74 and the IRA is at $13,368.59.  You can see why I was so upset about the money not being deposited into the 401K account, because the last six weeks have been phenomonal and we could have made more money.  I mean, I know it would have probably only been a couple of hundred dollars, but that is money that would have grown into something and I feel cheated out of it.

Seven weeks and five weeks is too long to hold onto someone's witholdings, in my opinion.  They are a company with over 100 employees though so the Safe Harbor Act does us no good.  Oh, well, what are you going to do?  At least it is there now.  And this last one only took them a week to get in, so there is that.  But next payday is the Friday before Christmas and they tend to take their sweet time when a holiday is right after a payday, so this may start up all over again.  But I can't stress on it.  What will be, will be.  I have been working on letting things go in therapy, but I have issues with doing that on the financial front, because letting things go is what got me into so much trouble in the past.  So maybe everything but finances.

Anyway, this bumps the old net worth up to $235,508.68.  Seems like just yesterday I was coming up on $100K and now I'm about to hit $250K in networth.  Crazy what being out of debt can do for you.  We have decided to go ahead and bump up our retirement savings from 16% to 17%.  I am not quite brave enough to do 18% yet, at least not until we are done saving for the bathroom repair.  Heck, after that I might be brave enough to go up to 20%.  We'll see.

 

 

Cardiologist Follow Up, Next Year's Deductible, More 401K Talk

December 1st, 2023 at 01:18 am

I finally made it to the cardiologist for my second follow up appointment after my procedure during the summer.  I had to cancel once because I had the flu, ironically 2 weeks after getting my flu shot.  I had a pretty severe case of it.  I was well for ten days only to get slapped down with Covid the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  So that makes two Thanksgivings in a row ruined by Covid.  But I tested two days before my appointment and I was negative so I was able to keep my appointment and go.  I still feel cruddy, but way better than last week, so there you go.  It's more like a cold now.

I finally got a name for my condition.  It's called microvascular dysfunction and I was born with it.  Normally, I would have probably been fine with it my entire life, other than the difficulty they had finding a blood vessel big enough to draw blood from or start an IV in (there is one in my arm and one in one hand), but when I got Covid last year, it caused the right chamber of my heart to become enlarged.  With the right meds and watching my salt and restricting my water, we are hopeful that we have helped with reducing that back to normal size.  I know I have felt a huge difference with the reduction of salt.  He is letting me up my water a little bit more and my brain feels better already.  It's just 8 ounces more a day, but it is a big difference to me.

He said my heart sounded really good, so hopefully that means we have also fixed the flow rate on the other chamber of the heart, too.  He said both things can be fixed or at least drastically improved.  Well, the first thing can be completely fixed.  The flow rate on the other side depends on the salt intake and the amount of water in the blood, because of the microvascular dysfunction, which I will always have.  You can not make tiny veins and arteries any bigger.

So I will have an echocardiogram on the 12 of January to see how everything is doing and if there is an improvement with the meds and the dietary changes.  I hope I get the female technician this time.  The male is kind of a jerk with a really bad bedside manner.  It's not really the sort of thing you can request.  They only let you request that for a mammogram.

Speaking of mammograms, I got my annual letter to go and get one.  I don't always get them annually.  I should, since my mother had breast cancer at 40.  I usually get them at least every 2 years since I was 40.  This year, since the doctor did a blood test for cancer earlier this month, and it was negative, I'm not really feeling it.  The only reason they did it was because they were unsure of some markers they were seeing, but it is the same old, you have another as of yet undiagnosed autoimmune disease that isn't lupus or any of the other common ones to go along with your rheumatoid arthritis and you are massively inflammed right now with some kind of infection.

And I said, "No, duh."  Well, no I did not.  I said, "That's what my rheumatologist said," which is also what I said before they took the blood test, but you know doctors.  Turned out yes, there was some kind of massive infection, because the next night I dropped like a rock with Covid.  So then I had to call the doctor's office and they had to call the lab that is part of their office and let everyone I had come into contact with know they were exposed to Covid most likely.  That was fun.

So anyway, it will be fun to see who eats up the deductible first this year.  DD has her surgery scheduled on January 5th, my echo is on the 12th, and my son may or may not get his testosterone implant in January.  If we are lucky it will be in December still 100% covered.  DH did sign up for the HSA debit card this year, so at least we will have that.  Which I need to remember will lower the paycheck.  We've had a year without that deduction.

I have to take that into account when thinking about the 401K deduction.  Think I'll definitely have to go 17%, not 18%.  I still think we will make it, though, since we almost did with 16% and that was with DH only having the raise amount from the end of July on.  Actually, I didn't consider that.  I may have to run the numbers again.  I'll do that after we get his last paycheck and I know exactly how much he earned this year.

I wonder if there is a way to just have a dollar amount withdrawn from each paycheck instead of a percentage.  I don't see it as an option of something we can do on our end, we can change the percentage to whatever we want whenever we want, but if there is a way for his employer to make it a dollar amount out of every paycheck, then we could make sure we got the max next year without having to stress over it towards the end of the year.  That would be nice.  Then it would be $1153.85 each check with the last check of the year evening out the odd penny here or there.  It would be about $160.85 more than we are putting in now with each check, but that is doable if we keep ourselves on budget.  I'll have DH look into this further.

I'll have to have him get me his approximate gross income for this year, too, so I can base my calculations on that.  I know what his gross income is supposed to be going forward, but if I can figure out how much overtime he has worked this year on top of base salary, it will make it easier for me to estimate the percentage I need to use next year based on the full year at the higher salary, plus overtime, and not just 14 paychecks out of 26.  The overtime will continue into next year, and will probably increase and they are talking about another COL raise, too, which may or may not happen, but wouldn't go into effect until July anyway if it does happen.  The on in July was 3%, so would probably be similar.  I guess we will see.

 

Close to Maxing Out 401K and Net Worth Update

November 30th, 2023 at 05:05 am

We are getting close to maxing out on the 401K.  We've already hit the normal max out, but since DH is over 50, we are going for the catch up amount, which is $30,000.  Unfortunately, we are still waiting for payroll to make the contribution from November 10th and of course they have not made the one from the 25th yet, either, so we are waiting for them to deposit at total of $2104.73 that they did deduct from the paychecks.  DH checked.

Once they do it, and DH is finally getting his butt in gear, and checking with payroll tomorrow, we'll have contributed $26,362.73.  And we should have another $993 from each paycheck unless there is overtime, bringing our contribution to $28,348.73 for the year.  I am super tempted to run the numbers and see what we would need to do percentage wise to get that extra $1651.27 withheld.  It would be $825.64 and $826.63 from each check.

Which we could manage if we don't save anything for the bathroom in December, skip the gift fund and the phone fund contributions, and don't put anything in the household account which has $196 in it and all I need to buy from that money is a new filter for the fridge because we just replaced it and I like to have one on hand when we do that.  So that will still leave that account with $140 in it.  Since we just restocked everything we need, we should be just fine until January or February on what we have.  I would just have to figure out percentages.  I really want to max this thing out.

Then I want to figure out what percentage I need to put the 401K at to max it out for next year.  Because of the raise, I think we can comfortably go from 16% to 18%.  I just haven't done it.  I really need to run the numbers.  Okay, back from running the numbers.  Yes, it looks like 18% is what I need to be withholding.  Which would be about $1250 a paycheck instead of $993.  Depending on overtime it could be more.  It would be a difference of $257 in pretax dollars, but I don't know what that would shake out to in post tax dollars.

Either way, I think our budget can absorb that.  There are definitely places we can tighten up and have some more discipline about.  We could probably even just do 17%, because with the amount of overtime DH works, we'd probably smack up against it just fine raising it one percent and if it looks like we won't, I can adjust it in September instead of waiting until November.  I just wasn't paying attention this year, because of heart conditon, then the stomach flu, then the real flu, then Covid again.  $128.50 a week seems like an easier hit, but we might just be fine.  I don't know.  I'll talk to DH about it when we do our yearly, "I know you don't wanna, but you're gonna, sit down and go over the budget with me," meeting at the end of December.  That's when we go over the state of all the finances, too.

The IRA is finally back up again.  Still not quite up to pre-Biden levels, but doing much, much better.  And the 401K is doing nicely despite the lack of contributions.  This month was good for it.

$118,135.80 401K

+_13,232.79 IRA

------------------

$131,368.59 Total Retirement Accounts

This is an increase of $9913.20 since I last updated my sidebar.  This increases my net worth to $226,673.53.

 

Testing

November 29th, 2023 at 09:56 pm

1, 2, 3

Okay, What is Happening?! Does This Work?

November 28th, 2023 at 01:47 am

What is happening?  Are the forums freaking the heck out for everyone else?  Are the blogs?  My blog says I am logged out and I couldn't get logged in until I left a comment on Monkey Mama's blog and then it said I was logged in, but when I went to all entries or back to blogs I was logged out again, but then when I was able to get to my blog it has the control panel, so I am trying this to see if it will post.  And the forums page is just spazzing out, blinking like a disco light.  So let's see if this crazy thing works.

ETA:  So, it posts to my blog, but does not show up on the All Entries Page.  Hmm.

Furnace Antics, Budgeting, and Old Spending Habits

November 11th, 2023 at 03:33 am

Actually, the furnace isn't performing any antics, but we had the furnace guy out today to do the yearly maintenance check up.  He said it is running at 93% which is pretty close to optimal, but we need to clean the clutter from around the vents and that will go up.  The furnace is 16 years old and he said it should last another 5 years, possibly more as far as he can see.  New ones for a house this size are running between $8000 and $10,000.

Hearing those numbers, I picked $9000 and divided it by 60 months.  If I start saving $150 per month, in 5 years we will have $9000 for a new furnace.  I'm sure there will be other money to throw in along the way, too, to get that up to $10,000.  Or more likely as DH gets raises we will probably up the amount to $200 we are saving.  Prices will probably go up in 5 years, but hopefully the possibly more than 5 years part will come into play.

I don't know if my mother will still be alive in 5 years, but she very well could be.  My aunt C is still alive and she's older than mom by a few years.  But I don't want this dropping on her, so the saving starts as soon as we've saved enough for the bathroom.  At least it is long term saving and not having to throw as much as possible into savings as we can as quickly as we can so we have a chance to save for other goals, like with this stupid bathroom.

I do need to start a tax fund.  Once mom is gone, there won't be a senior discount on taxes and the taxes on this house will be somewhere in the ballpark of $8000.  I want to have money set aside to pay at least the first year.  It is going to take a significant bite out of the paycheck once it is on our shoulders.  Around $700 a month.  And not leave much in disposable income.  So getting the EF and the tax fund up to snuff as well as saving for that furnace will be priorites and saving for the electric vehicle and the Hawaii trip will still be distand priorities.  But I am still going for that beach vacation sooner, rather than later.

The biggest thing we need to do is crack down on our spending, which has been off the charts and it has been due to getting takeout.  At least we have figured out why I have been so exhausted the last couple of months.  My thyroid has finally gone bonkers.  It is the family curse, but it has hit everyone else very young in life, like in the 20's.  It was fine seven months ago, but not at my recent test 3 weeks ago.  So I see the doctor next week about that.  It would have been sooner, but my doctor has been out of the office due to a family emergency and now he's going to be out much longer so I am seeing a different doc in the same practice.  I am hoping to start on meds right away and hopefully get through this, because all I want to do is sleep and I have no energy to cook.

I am going to just force myself from now on.  We charged almost $5000 last month getting takeout nearly every day, which means we are not going to save a cent for the bathroom repair in November, putting us behind in our savings goal.  I'm just glad there was as much OT as there was and will be on the next paycheck since he has to work more next week as well.  It is hard to care when you are too tired to care, but that was a huge number to see.  Consequently, my credit score went up to 804.  Funny how the more debt you have the higher your score.  It was 782 when the card had a zero balance in September.  I will get it paid off before any interest is charged, no worries there, but it will be close.

I am feeling old habits rising up that need to be squelched down before they become a problem.  My brain was starting down the path of, oh, you can carry a balance into December just this once.  You'll make it up then.  I had to really fight with myself and say that no, I wouldn't, I was going to get it all done in November no matter how hard I had to squeeze.  And I will.

I told DH that we really have to stop using the credit card.  Which means he will have to start carrying some grocery money with him so that when he has to stop for something after work he isn't just whipping out the credit card to pay for it.  He'll have the money.  But the food budget has to remain tight.  No more incidentals.  Food has to be planned for even more closely than it has been.  And the junk food habit has to be gotten over yet again.

 

Retirement Update

November 6th, 2023 at 11:35 pm

I'm getting a little annoyed at DH's work.  Usually they make the contribution to his retirement fund the day his paycheck comes out or no later than the following Monday, unless their is a bank holiday on the Friday or Monday and then it might be as late as that Wednesday.  But for the last little while it has been a week late.  Which means we missed out on some great days on his fund where he could have earned a lot.

Payroll has been all over the place for the last six months and it is irritating when you have OCD and expect everyone else to maintain their schedules the way they are supposed to and they don't.  Well, he got paid last on the 27th and he gets paid again in 4 days and they still haven't made the retirement contribution yet.  That's ten days.  If it hasn't been made by Wednesday I'm going to have DH ask what is up.  Regardless, retirement has gone up a lot, which is why I am annoyed at the lateness.

$122,455.95 Previous Balance

-___3,061.56 Amount Earned

$125,516.95 New Balance

Of the $3061.56 earned all but $307 of it was in the 401K.  But the IRA is still significantly what it was under before 2021 and the great freefall of most of 2022.  I'm so glad things started to turn around towards the end of the year and this year, although most of his earnings are from contributions, there still has been a 6% amount of interest made.  Nothing like the 17% we earned 2017 through 2019 and 14% in 2020, but so much better than the last couple of years.  I am hoping that 2024 will bring us back up to 8%, but I have no illusions due to war and out of control goverment spending.  Maybe if we invested in all the war companies, but then I would feel ethically icky.

I am thinking about putting most of my Emergency Fund back in Capitol One 360.  The bank failures seem to have stopped for now and I could be earning a lot more interest right now.  I feel very safe with it in the credit union though.  But maybe that is a delusion.

Saving the Last of the Garden to Save Money on Food This Year and Next

November 5th, 2023 at 10:12 pm

I did try to post on Halloween.  But every time I did, my computer kept rebooting.  The internet was being obnoxious.  Even though I saved the copy in my drafts folder, I couldn't find it.  And while I had it in Word, I hadn't saved it yet, so lost it one of the reboots.  Obnoxious.

What it boils down to is when we knew a hard frost was coming, we went out and picked the last of the produce that we could and brought it into the house.  I processed 60 pounds of zucchini, which is a real pain in the neck but will be nice later.  There were 6 and were about 10 pounds each, they were so big, so we cut them as we went so we could go at the pace we wanted and not have to do it all at once.

I found an ice cream scoop to be quite effective at taking out the seeds.  I saved the best of the seeds to plant next year.  I don't know if they will breed true or not, because I think this is a hybrid, but one never knows.  I have about 40 seeds, far more than I need, but seeds are getting expensive.

So after that you have to shred the zucchini, which was the easiest part since we used a food proceesor.  After that we put the zucchini in colanders over pots to let them drip all day.  I very lightly salted them as salt brings out the juice in a vegetable and you don;t want that in the finished product or you will be cooking it off for a long time.  After they had dripped all day we took tea towels and squeezed all of the juice that was left out into a container and then put the zucchini in a pot.  We did that for all four and filled the pot.  It was amazing how 6 giant giant zuccini  became 4 huge bowls of shredded zucchini which had then shrunk down to one pot, by taking the juice out.  It was a big pot, though.

At the end of the day, here is what we got:

20 pounds of shredded zucchini, divided into 20 1 pound bags

8 pounds of seeds and stringy bits and some harder pieces of skin that didn't want to shred

2 1/2 gallons of zucchini juice

The juice was kind of good, but needed some sugar to make it really good.  We drank some of it and pressure canned most of it in half pint jars, without sugar.  I always can my half-pints with reusable lids because that would be a lot of one time use lids to go through.  I'm not really sure what we will do with it.  Maybe just add sugar and drink it.  Maybe add some to vegetable broth if it isn't too sweet.  Maybe use it as the liquid in the corn stach slurry when making Chinese food.  I'll figure it out.

Also, last week we canned 12 jars of tomato sauce.  Most of them were quart jars, 3 of them were 3 cup jars.  We jut ran out of quart jars.  I am shocked becaue I have never had that happen before.  So I will have to send DH to pick some up today so we can can some more.  I did save some Roma tomato seeds, but I also have a lot seeds for next year, so I don't know if I will plant these or just keep them for the future.  The produce a nice tomato, but I have no idea if they are determinate or indeterminate.

Meanwhile, I need to get busy going through the bag of peppers I saved from the garden.  We have shishitos, jalapeños, cayennes, poblanos, and 5 sweet peppers.  My sweet peppers did not do well this year.  The deer really liked them and kept topping the plants.  Next year all the peppers will be grown behind a fence or under netting.  They left the hot peppers alone.  I am going to cut open and deseed everything, one pepper at a time, with gloves on, and then I will chop them up seperately and dehydrate the shishitos and cayennes.  We will eat as many jalapeños and poblanos as we can and the sweet peppers.  The cayennes and shoshitos will be dehydrated and made into powder.  The rest will be frozen to put into chili.

I am, of course, saving seeds from the best of the hot peppers, some while green and some while red.  I am not saving seed from any of the sweet peppers as they were pretty much stunted.  I still have seeds for all of those so I will plant them next year with protection and hopefully it will make a difference.

I did save bean seeds to from the purple green beans I planted this year.  They were prolific and they grew so well.  I didn't save enough to plant as much as I needed to plant for next year, but I have a ton of them still.  I intend to plant every seed I did save, though.  Those beans went through our growing conditions here and will be hardier than the ones I bought from another state.  And then ther offspring will be even more aclimatized.  Each generation will be stronger and stronger based on living in my exact microclimate and eventually I won't be planting seeds from anyone else at all.  Honestly, I'd like to do that with everything I grow, but I am not there yet.  But I digress.

After that I will go the restaurant supply store depending on what their produce sales are.  I'd like to get more tomatoes under my belt but that depends on the price.  And potatoes.  We go through so many potaotes in a year and while we use fresh for baked potatoes and mashed potatoes, I like using canned for fried potatoes, stews, and soups.  It just lowers the amount of time it takes to put these things together.  Oh, and I'd like to get onions, so I can chop and freeze them.  I almost forgot I bought 10 pounds I need to do up.  I didn't want to buy 25 or 50 because I was afraid I wouldn't get them done.  I know myself so well.

With bell peppers being a bust, I can't chop up a bunch and freeze them.  The cost in the stores didn't really go down too much.  Even TJ's frozen bags are expensive, including the non fire roasted ones.  I will have to take a special trip to Winco to buy them.  They are the only store that consitently keeps their bell pepper prices under $1.  Right now the are $2/7 and $2/8 and those are their sale prices at Safeway and Fred Meyer, now owned by Kroger.  I knew Kroger coming in and buying all the grocery stores was going to be bad, I just didn't know how bad.  When they are consistenly higher than Whole Foods by about 20% it is just wrong.  At least we still have Winco.  And I won't go to Walmart because it is too dangerous to go there anymore.  I don't want to get hit by flying bullets.

So anyway, trying to get ahead with my garden stuff and cheaper prices now, because heaven knows what they will be next year.

 

Pipe Dream We Probably Can't Afford

October 20th, 2023 at 10:22 pm

I am thinking about saving up to buy land.  I mean, once the EF is saved up for. So in the future.  It's kind of a dream.  Not necessarily land to live on.  But maybe some land in the county with one cleared acre, where we can put in a cistern and a greenhouse with guttering that harvests water through a series of filters and into the cistern.  Then we can grow a big garden and always have the water to water it without tapping into city water.  Getting a permit for a well is very hard right now, and expensive, but there are no permits needed for a cistern or gathing rain water. I'd also like to build a roof over it, with guttering to collect more water and make one end an RV shed.  If the cistern is out of sight, it is out of mind for any drone flyovers, just in case there are any bad actors out there.

I'd like one of those giant greenhouses that look like hoop houses, maybe even two.  We could grow so much more food there. and it would be protected from the elements and extend the growing season.  We could put up shade cloth easily when it got too hot and run fans and in the fall we could keep it warmer by battening down all the windows and moving to just planting down the center.  There are also even propane heaters if we wanted to try to grow into the cold part of the winter, but I doubt we would do that, since the roads are pretty impassable in the area I'm thinking for at least one month of the year.  But growing 9 to 10 months of the year would be great.  And we could put gutters on that for rain water catchement as well.

And I'd like to have a big pond and looping creek waterfall, with both a pump built and a solar fountain.  The pond we could stock with trout and have an automatic feeder.  And it would have the natural bog section for filtering out all the fish poop, that you don't go into, and we'd add water flowers as well as flowers and plants along the banks and rocks.  Not quite a tropical paradise since we arent in the tropics, but there are some amazing grasses and other style plants that grow here that look very tropical and they even overwinter.  And then there are some tubers like caladium and elephant ear hostas that you have to dig up and overwinter inside, but they are so worth the effort.  Lilies you can leave right in the ground and there are some that look very exotic.

Eventually we'd put in a septic tank when we could afford to so we could have a hookup for a small shed with a toilet and sink in it, maybe even a shower if we went swimming in the pond.  We would use solar to heat the water.  Meanwhile, we'd build an outhouse in the woods and keep a bucket of lime and some hay or straw to throw down the hole for proper composting.  And it is not hard to set up a solar shower/washing station to wash your hands with.

And the very first thing we would do when we got that land, before we did anything else would be to plant fruit trees, fruit bushes, and their pollinators.  Fruit trees take the longest to produce food.  5 to 6 years to produce fruit, so you have to get them in the ground the minute you move somewhere.  And I'll want a couple of Willow trees if there is a body of water to sustain them and I will want flowering pink cherry trees and flowering dogwoods planted along the driveway into the property so that when they are big enough they will form an arch over the driveway.

And maybe one day build a fully accessible house to my exact specifications, big enough to fit a wheelchair.

Will this ever happen, I don't know.  Land is getting more and more expensive, which is why I'd like to buy some here sooner, rather than later.  Otherwise, I'd have to move away from the coast to get a really good deal and I love living here even if the politics are not something I agree with.  I can't move to a place that there is not proper access to a high level medical facility or a really good ER in a regular hospital.  If I don't have both of those I risk my daughter's life and probably mine, too.  The cheapest places to live don't tend to have Viginia Mason, Swedish, John Hopkins, and the like.

So maybe this will always just remain a pipe dream.  Like so many of my dreams that came screeching to a halt the day my daughter slipped on those rocks and fractured her skull and changed her and our lives forever.  But maybe we will find the right place already built.  Because fixing up this place once we fully own it outright is not something I really want to do.  I really just want to start over with a house that isn't over a century old with a basement that doesn't flood in bad rainstorms, because I can't climb down the stairs to turn on the pump anymore.  And I'd like a house with modern wiring that is up to code.  I just want that option.


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>