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Sick and a Visit to the Freezer Bank

June 24th, 2019 at 08:36 pm

I have really been out of it the last several days. I picked up a bug at the doctor's office when I went in for my hip. It's low level, but I am having a hard time shaking it off. It is hard to want to do anything. I've got a couple baskets of clothes and towels to fold and put away and some garden work that needs doing, and nothing. Just not up for it. At least it is not costing me any money, though. Take out was not purchased. Instead I went to the freezer bank.

Today I did not want to cook dinner, so I pulled out one of the bags of frozen chicken that I'd pre-seasoned with fajita spices and a bag of frozen onions and peppers that I'd pre-sliced. All I had to do was thaw out the chicken in the microwave and then dump it all into the Instant Pot. I threw a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave and steamed it. So with just two to three minutes of hands on time I had a meal thrown together without having to really "cook" at all. This is what the freezer meal bank is for.

Tomorrow will be another Instant Pot meal with half a bag of frozen zucchini shreds (currently thawing in the fridge) from last summer, spaghetti noodles, jarred sauce, and some freeze dried sausage. Hopefully the next day I will be more up for cooking. The only hands on time will be in rehydrating the sausage and then the pouring of everything into the Instant Pot. This device has probably saved me more money than any other kitchen gadget I have ever purchased.

I have started planning my grocery shopping for Friday. I have lists made out for Costco and Trader Joe's. Unless anyone has bell peppers on sale, then I will also make a quick run to Winco. I have been making DH stuffed bell peppers for his work lunches. Those, too, are in the freezer bank and he takes them out as he needs to.

The next time I make breakfast burritos, I think I am going to plan for 36 eggs, 3 pounds of sausage and 48 tortillas. With both DH and DS eating these, we do end up short before the two full weeks is up. I might do one batch that is ham and green onions and not sausage, though, just to change things up a bit. We've got tons of green onions in the garden that need to be used. Maybe I will throw some diced bell peppers in as well, make it a kind of Denver omelet burrito.

Hopefully I will have the energy for this on the weekend. It really does save us a lot of money to have the food ready to go so DH is not tempted to run through the drive-thru on the way to work.

If We Weren't in Debt Maybe We Could Help

June 22nd, 2019 at 09:29 pm

I think my sister and BIL are in trouble. First they wanted mom to take out a mortgage on her house and loan them money so they could buy a new house before they sell their current house. Mom said no. Now it seems like they have racked up some credit card debt and want to move in. Mom said no because there is no space for them. I also suspect because my sister has done nothing to help her over the last decade or she might clear out the attic. Not that BIL can climb stairs. They have a house, but it is in good standing as far as we know.

I think she's just overwhelmed right now. Also, the reason they racked up credit card debt was that my sister was watching her grandson while her DIL was going through chemo treatment and her premature granddaughter was in the NICU. So they used that to get by. BIL is too disabled to work due to disc issues in his back, but he is on disability. Even when the medical issues are not your own, they can lead to debt for people in ways like this.

My mother is very afraid of losing the one asset she has, which is a paid for house. I can't even imagine asking my mom to take that kind of risk when she is about to turn 80 years old. That's why I feel they are in trouble. I don't think she would ask that if they weren't. But maybe they are just treading water. That can be overwhelming, too. I know. We lived that way for years.

I understand how hard it is when you get into credit card debt, so I feel bad for them and wish that we could help, but we are in no position to do so. They are better off than we are. I'd give them FPU if we could afford it, but we have our own debt (the one to my mom) that we are paying off. At the same time, having them come would turn everyone's lives upside down. And there are not enough bathrooms to comfortably add two more people to this house or enough room in the driveway for two more cars.

I guess they will have to dig out on their own. I think that they can if they don't let the overwhelmed feeling take them over.

I feel a little guilty because if we weren't living here and taking care of Mom while getting out of debt, then she could move in and get some help. Yet, at the same time, if she did move in, I'm not sure she'd be taking care of mom as she would have to find work here and she still would have to take care of her husband.

BIL does have an extended family, so I am hoping one of them can help. It's a mess, but I feel a little better just getting it out of my system a little by venting here.

Got My X-rays Back

June 20th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Well, I have degenerative hip disease in my left hip, but it isn't severe enough for surgery, so I guess that is good, even though it causes some discomfort. The right hip has no sign of disease which is really good news. The doctor thinks that the majority of my pain is coming from muscles, ligaments, and tendons, so we will proceed with physical therapy and hope that works. I have had physical therapy for other things, but never for my hip. I really hope it will help.

The one thing I am worried about is if there will be any treadmill work done. Every time I do any serious walking my legs and feet swell up so severely I feel like a sausage about to blow its casing. And you can visibly note lumps of swelling on my shins. It is painful and can take days to go down. This is because with the RA I am prone towards inflammation. I am kind of hoping they will end up having me do pool therapy as it is so much easier on my joints.

I made an awesome meatloaf for dinner yesterday. I finally made a version that my son liked. He has always been very meh on meatloaf. I also made two extra for the freezer. Bit by bit I am increasing the levels in my freezer bank. I have used one bag of the frozen meatballs the other night when I really wanted to just grab take out and it was so worth it because they are really great tasting.

The meatloaf was basically the same recipe as the meatballs, only with tomato sauce powder, an additional type of cheese, and covered in bacon. Tasted different enough for it to not feel like the same food at all, but as simple to make as the other.

I did not get anything done today. I had a cruddy night of sleep, the kind where you sleep, but don't feel rested at all and then I woke up with a lot of pain in my hip. Actually, that's probably why my sleep was not restful. So other than harvesting some lettuce for dinner, I wasted most of my day on youtube.

Oh, and I did upload a garden update to my youtube channel in the early a.m. FireandI, you might be interested. [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s[/url] The garden is starting to make some serious progress.

X-rays, EF, Down Payment Goals, and Mom

June 19th, 2019 at 05:15 pm

Yesterday I finally went to the doctor about my hips/tailbone/pelvis. Today I went for x-rays. I don't think it will cost anything since we have hit the out of pocket max on insurance for the year. If nothing shows up on the x-rays I may end up getting an MRI. He is going to send me to physical therapy unless there is something significantly wrong that needs surgery. He's put in the order to be approved by the insurance at any rate, because that can take a while.

I may end up having to go to an orthopedist at some point. As long as it isn't the one who did my knee surgery in 2019. Rudest man in the world, worst bedside manner of any doctor I have ever known, but was the one who had the schedule to get me in right away, and I was in bad pain at the time. Still, at the age I am now, I won't put up with that, pain or not.

We got a lot done over the weekend with the property, but it about broke me. It is four days later and I am still so sore I am at bare minimums. I wouldn't have pushed so hard, but my mother was being kind of crazy about things and sometimes it is just easier to do what she wants so she will shut up about it. Even if it wrecks me. Of course then she feels all guilty because I'm out of commission for days afterwards, but at least she got what she wanted.

I love my mother, but sometimes she is so manipulative that it is awful living with her. She just really can't live on her own. She fell twice last week and she left the burner on the oven going twice in the last two weeks after she was done cooking. She'd turned off the fan on the stove though, so the gas fumes could have filled up the house if my son hadn't caught it. She's also left the front door open a couple of times in the last few months and gone to the grocery store early when everyone else was still sleeping.

Even when we do have a down payment saved up for a house I don't know what I am going to do about her. I am hoping my eldest sister will move in, since she is single and complains about her rent all the time. I don't think my middle sister will do anything to help. She hasn't so far. At least the eldest has helped both with Dad before he died and with Mom a little. Not much with Mom, but a little.

I guess we will see when we get there. We are still quite a ways off from when we can start saving for a house again. The debt should be paid off by March at the latest and then we work on the EF until we have 3 months wages, which will take 9 months which puts us out to December of 2020. So in January of 2021 we can start saving for a house.

I figure at that point we will save $1500 a month for a house and put the other $300 a month into the Emergency Fund. I want to build the EF to 6 months wages, but figure we can relax about how aggressive we need to be after 3 months are in place and work towards that a little more gradually.

When DH was given his raise they said not to expect another one before July of 2020, which is fine. It was a really large raise. So unless he gets a promotion before then and possibly even if he does, his income won't go up again until that point. There is a guy retiring in December and they are looking at DH to take his place. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess.

I am not sure how big a deposit I want to build. The houses around here go for $250K to $450K depending on what part of the county you choose and whether or not you want more than a postage stamp yard, which we do for the garden. I want an acre so we can have a lawn as well as a big garden. So that probably puts us more around $350K range. So at the very least we'd need to save $70K for a 20 percent down payment. At $1500 a month that would take us 47 months or just shy of 4 more years or the end of 2024, beginning of 2025. By then we will be 55 years old. Maybe a little sooner if MIL continues to dole out money.

Even then, a part of me is hesitating. My mother turns 80 in August. I don't know how much longer she has, although I have often joked that she will outlive me. She is in good health physically, more or less, just worn out. Part of me thinks we should just stay here until she dies, if she is still alive by the time we have a down payment saved up.

Except when she goes on one of her manipulations, I like living here. We all get along pretty well. The house is nice, even if our section of it is small, and the property is great. I have my garden the way I want it and we are close to the doctors, the grocery stores, the bus line, the parks, and it is just a wonderful neighborhood aside from Evil Hummer Dude, who lets his dog poop in everyone's yard and doesn't clean up after it, and we seldom see him since he only lives here during the months when Nevada is too hot.

I guess I just worry about leaving my mom on her own. It is so weird how the roles reverse when our parents age.

Emergency Fund Update Take Two

June 15th, 2019 at 06:53 pm

Take two. I used my side bar to update my total, but that is the wrong amount since I haven't been able to update my sidebar properly in a while. This is the right total for the EF, it was off by $1000. I deleted the other entry since it pretends to let you edit it, but it doesn't actually take, because nothing ever works around here for long and it certainly is still not working today.

$4572.23 Balance Forward
+__17.50 Rolled Coin
$4589.73 New Balance

Payday Report for 6/14/19

June 15th, 2019 at 04:18 pm

$327.41 Tithe
_400.00 Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_389.51 Citi
__75.00 Household Envelope
_280.00 Monthly Family Chiropractor Plan
_111.08 Internet
__36.00 Garbage Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money Envelope
_100.00 Adults Blow Money
_120.00 Allowances Kids
__65.00 Fishing License
_800.00 Monster Mom Loan
$3254.00 Total Money Out

Loan Payment to the Monster Mom Loan

June 14th, 2019 at 12:44 pm

$18,200.00 Balance Forward
-__,800.00 Amount Paid
$17,400.00 New Balance

I am on track to pay off another $1000 next payday. If I keep this up, at $1800 a month, I should be down to $5,600 by year's end. But there is also the Christmas bonus, and there is also an extra paycheck in November that will allow for some extra money.

The Christmas bonus is a percentage based on hours worked. Last year DH was employed directly with them for only 6 months. The cash part of his Christmas bonus was $1600 minus taxes. I think the take home was around $1200. So if it is as good as last time it would be $3200 or a take home of $2400. But DH is making a higher wage now than he was then, so it might even be more. But I think it is safe to say the bonus will likely be around $2400 take home, if not more.

So $5600 minus $2400 is $3200 left. Then with the extra paycheck, I think that will be at least and additional $1400 off, bringing it to $1800 by year's end. So that leaves it paid off by the end of January 2020. Assuming all goes well and we get the bonus as figured. Even if not we should be paid off by the end of March. If we get our taxes in and back right away, and we usually do, maybe mid-February. It is closer than I thought. Maybe that will motivate me to not screw this up with takeout and careless spending.

I can't update my sidebar because of course that feature is not working, either.

Trying This Again

June 13th, 2019 at 11:52 pm

If SA were a person, I'd want to be banging it's head against the wall right now. That being said, I was able to comment while signed out, so I think that part is working. Now, on to my day.

DS and I finally got the two garden beds mostly cleared of morning glory. The rest has to be shoveled and sifted, though we got some done tonight until we ran out of light. We also filled another garbage can and half filled a second one with manured hay, mostly composted manure and compost, and then a top layer of what we sifted and topped it off with a bag of organic Miracle Grow. I planted 3 bell peppers in there and I will plant the other two in the other one once we get it filled tomorrow. We need to pick up one more bag of that stuff tomorrow.

I also tied up the cucumbers so they will grow up the trellis. There are two flower buds on there as of today. I also have one little bitty bitty zucchini flower bud and several closed tight patty pan buds. The plants have doubled in size this week. Then I planted two more tomatoes I picked up today, a Champion II and an Early Girl. They were pretty big, a couple feet tall.

I also planted two jalapeños, a banana pepper, and a hot red pepper that looks like cayenne but did not say cayenne. I might still be able to dry it in place of cayenne, though. I don't think I have any cayenne seeds or I would stick some in the dirt and hope for the best. I'll have to go through them tonight. I know I have some pepper seeds and it is so hot this week that they might have a chance of germinating. I do have paprika seeds. It is late, but we tend to have Indian summers so it might produce and if not, it's only a few seeds.

I also planted some flowers. I put in a red wave petunia in place of the double wave that is not flowering much (I moved it), put in some Gazanias (never seen these before but they are pretty, and something called osteospermum which sounds like a disease but is a really pretty flower. I needed to plant some more flowers so that the pollinators are used to going around and come in to the summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes once they start to flower.

To the herb bed I added some pink yarrow (they gave me for free as it was looking pretty brown at the base, but the root was good and it comes back from it so I knew I could save it), some common sage, and marjoram (I found some!).

I bought some bee balm, but can't plant it until I get a container for it. It has runners that are invasive, but not difficult to get out. Still, I don't want to deal so I have a large round tote it will go in eventually, but right now I will just put it in a larger pot because it is only in a 4 inch pot and these things get 3 feet high or so.

I do have an initial input of about $200 by the time I am done buying stuff every garden season, since I mostly do starts and I do purchase a few bags of potting soil for containers, but I harvest about $1000 worth of organic produce every summer, so it more than pays for itself. In spinach, lettuce, blood-veined sorrel, kohlrabi, broccoli, strawberries, green onions, and herbs so far this summer I've already harvested $75 worth of produce and we haven't even hit peak production when tomatoes, corn, peppers, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green beans will come on and be canned or frozen for the year.

Tomorrow I hope to get some more done, at least the other garbage can filled, but it is also grocery shopping day. I don't need to get a ton, but I do need to get a few things from 4 different stores and that is a lot of running around, although they are all close together, so not as much as one might think.

I also need to process the chicken now that it is thawed out. I need to cook up a couple batches to make lunches for the week for me, DS, and DD. I need to make up meatloaves for the freezer. I need to make a dozen stuffed bell peppers for DH's lunches. I need to get those breakfast burritos made. So it may not be a ton done in the garden tomorrow, but some, assuming my energy holds, which on some days can be assuming a lot.


June 13th, 2019 at 06:48 pm

These buggy blog issues are going to drive me crazy. Yesterday I couldn't even get the site up. Today I couldn't log in for most of the day, I can finally log in, but I can't comment on anyone's blog. So frustrating. I'm about done with this website.

Teaching Myself Flatbreads and Dehydrating Herbs

June 12th, 2019 at 01:00 am

So I have been on a flatbread kick lately. First I learned how to make pita bread, then I learned how to make tortillas, and today I made naan bread for the first time. I hadn't planned on doing this, but they repaved part of the Trader Joe's parking lot and it is hard enough to find parking when the full lot is available, so I couldn't pick up soy free Naan bread. I decided to just go ahead and make some since I had yogurt for making the tzatziki sauce (used fresh dill from the garden in this).

It really wasn't that hard. The recipe makes six, but I made 4 larger ones instead, since I was making chicken shawarma and we like to wrap it up in the bread. Usually I make pita bread, but I wanted something a bit thicker to stand up to the juices. It worked a treat. And the bread was just amazing otherwise. I used this recipe: [url]https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/homemade-naan.htm... It was a lot cheaper than buying it and really didn't take a ton of hands on time, maybe 30 minutes.

I also harvested a bunch of herbs today and have them in the dehydrator. I have 1 tray of spearmint, 1 tray of peppermint, 1 tray of holy basil (green), 2 trays of purple basil, 1 half tray of purple basil with a half tray of thyme, 1 half tray of parsley with some oregano and a few more mint leaves, and a tray of cilantro. I usually dehydrate enough herbs for the year and most of my teas, too. It is amazing how much money I save by doing this and the spices keep longer than store bought ones without losing their flavor. It is so worth the time involved.