Home > Archive: April, 2012

Archive for April, 2012

House Hunting, Free Lunch, Chicks & Ducks

April 29th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

So today was a major day for Open Houses for my city. They were doing a thing of some sort. Anyway, we looked at a lot of houses, and it served to reassure me that there are a lot of houses out there that would be right for us, which means when we are really ready there will still be a lot of houses that are right for us. Although almost perfect house is still almost perfect. It was really nice to see it, I really liked it, it had some problems, mostly fixing the paint would fix, but it was nice. But there were a lot of people looking at it and I did not feel bad about that or territorial or anything, so I think I am well over my irrational urges to buy right now.

We did see an absolutely gorgeous house about 3 blocks from my mom's house, too. It was truly exquisite decorating. It was like walking into a piece of art. But a comfortable, liveable piece of art. The fixtures and the floors and the wall paper and the way the walls were painted, it just was such a feast for the eyes, but not in a way you'd ever get tired of. The landscaping was incredible. You could just really tell that the people who owned it adored their home and had put a lot of effort into making it so beautiful.


What was really funny was I ran into a man that I have not seen since high school (although we were friendly in middle school we had no classes together in high school so it felt more like not having seen him since middle school). He was friends with the realtor showing one of the houses and was waiting for him to finish up. It was so strange, because I almost never run into people like that. DH always does, but almost everyone I knew back then took off for Seattle or Oregon or California. But it was nice once we figured out how we knew each other. 24 years changes you a lot.

The had free Subway sandwiches at the last place we looked at, so I split half a six inch sub with my son and DH had one, so that took care of a late lunch. We were starving by then. I really liked the realtor who was friends with the guy I knew from school. He wasn't pushy but he was interested in helping us when we were ready. He was younger, maybe 30, but he felt honest and I got a good vibe off of him. We might decide to use him.


The bathroom remodel is almost done. They've put in the vanity cabinet (but not the sink) and the toilet is in. The final coat of paint is on. The sink still needs to go into the vanity. The mirror needs to be put on the wall. The glass door needs to be installed on the tub/shower, the showerhead needs to be put up, and the shelving needs to be put up. We may actually have our bathroom back by mid-week. I hope so. I am tired of not having one. Of course we may have to wait for all the caulking and stuff to finish drying so it may be the weekend before we can use it, but I will just be so glad to not have the workmen in the house.


The chicks and ducks are now allowed to go outside after they made a great escape yesterday. They tore the mesh netting free so they could get to the layer mash on the other side of the coop and then came outside after they had eaten it all, so Mom decided today to just let them go out now. They are loving it and the weather is nice so they are happy. They are big enough. They are mostly all flopped together in a heap under one of the blueberry bushes but they adventure out a couple at a time. Totally adorable.

Today is Payday

April 28th, 2012 at 01:20 am

So far today I have paid $700 to BoA VISA, $600 to AMEX, and $265.86 to Costco. We bought two new high pressure, low flow toilets for the old house, plus selected organic groceries there (and some raw sheep's cheese imported from France that they were sampling, so good, and we usually get some kind of expensive cheese when we go there). The toilets were $79.99 each plus sales tax of 8.9%. They are one piece models where the tank is part of the toilet unit, so very easy to install. We also bought gas while we were there, filling the tank for $59.56.

I figured out the budget for this week and next week's pay, and then figured out that since the car payment isn't due until 5/19 and we get paid on 5/18, I could actually skip making a car payment out of next week's check and make it on the 18th in person instead. I could then take the $800 (payment + additional principal that I always make) and put it on the BoA VISA instead. It's cutting it close, but I do still have enough money in the EF to cover the car payment if needed.

That should still have us on track to have the VISA paid off by the end of May or at the very latest the middle of June. I wasn't expecting to have to buy a new bed for DS this month, but sometimes things happen. Maybe we won't have to use the full $1000 I've set aside to have the whole house professionally cleaned. We are going to email about setting up an estimate. Then we can make an appointment to have it done. Then the only thing left to do will be to change out the toilets, get an estimate on fixing the window, and then scheduling an appointment to actually fix the window.

And then we will have to make a decision on replacing all of the interior doors and frames, or letting the house go As IS/Where IS without fixing those things. I don't think we are going to paint. I might get an estimate to see if it is worth it, but...I don't really want to put that much more money into it. I just want it clean, on the market, and not have to worry about it anymore. At least the roof is sound. We are twelve years into a thirty year roof warranty come July, and it was an excellent roof we put on.

The lawn will have to be mowed this weekend though. And probably at least every weekend from this point on, at least in the front where it shows from the road.. *sighs* It won't be too bad. We'll need the gas mower this first time, but after that I can use the push mower. And I can save the back yard for DH when he's home and he can use the gas mower for that.

I have some other bills to pay and set money aside for but I'll probably do that tomorrow. I did make a deposit to the Safety Net of $122.30.


I forgot to post this before I left, so we took the kids clothing and bathing suit shopping after school, a planned expense, and got spring wardrobes for them (shorts and t-shirts for DS, Capri pants and t-shirts for dear daughter. They each got a bathing suit and I got one, too, though I am annoyed about it. The one I really wanted and liked the colors in various shades of green and blue of the most showed way, way, way too much cleavage even for me, and I'm pretty comfortable with that sort of thing, but dang, I would have had to pin this to feel comfortable in public. It fit so well, too, otherwise. It was an older ladies swimsuit, too. Why do they think we want to show off that much over age 40? It's like the toddler booty shorts. I mean, why? It'd be one thing if I was buying a bikini, but this was a swimdress style suit.

The one I ended up buying was various shades of pink (one of them hot pink, which I do like, but most pastels, which I don't) and brown. I am not really a pink person, but due to things that often tend to be out of my control, I have far too much pink in my wardrobe already. Usually because I just want to be clothed and the only thing left in the styles I like and my size by the time I get to shopping is the pink ones.

But it fits perfectly and supports perfectly. The skirt is a little too long for my preference, but hopefully it won't get in my way when I do the crawl stroke. I used to have one that was so long my hands would tangle in it when I swam laps. This one isn't billowy though at all. So I bought it. One nice surprise is I was able to buy it a size smaller than my other swimsuit. (I like to have two because I swim almost every day mid-spring through mid-fall, and the older one invariably falls apart from all the chlorine mid-season.

I mean, if I wanted to spend over $100 for a suit, I would order one online and get the colors I really wanted, but I don't, and a $33 suit with proper support and coverage, even if it isn't the greatest colors, is fine with me. And DH likes it regardless and says it looks good. It's just my dislike of pink, not reality. Sometimes we have to make compromises in life. This isn't a big one.

We also picked up some school supplies to replace what was worn out or used up, and some OTC medications to replace the stock used up when ill. The last thing I want to do when I am sick is go shopping for medications, so I really like to have enough on hand to treat 3 of us if we go down at the same time (DH is seldom sick).

We went to two stores and spent $73 at one (after $8 off from our loyalty card and were given a $5 gift card because we qualified for having spent over $50). At the other, where we did the bulk of our shopping we spent $265.56 (almost the exact amount we spent at Costco, interesting).

I was so tired by the time we were done, I decided to get takeout pizza instead of making some. *sighs* Willpower, thy name is not LuckyRobin. So that was $27.18. And after a quick run to the store tonight for milk and crackers I am not going to spend any money (except to write out bills) for the rest of the weekend. I hope.

Make it Stop

April 27th, 2012 at 02:56 am

Why do near perfect houses keep coming on the market in the neighborhoods we want to buy in? It's like if they all sell before we are ready, what is going to be left when we are ready? It makes me just a little bit crazy. This one is four blocks from my mother's house, right school district, right price range and appropriately priced, a gorgeous Craftsman (my favorite style) 4 bed 2 bath with hardwood floors and a yard the size of a postage stamp so barely any maintenance at all, but a great back deck. It has two bedrooms on the main floor and two upstairs, so accessibility is good, too. *sighs*

And I have to drive by it four times a day five days a week so it's going to be right there in my brain all the time. It's the shortest route to the schools so I'm not going to not drive by it and waste gas going a different way. But it is taunting me. The only really good thing about it is that it is for sale by owner so chances are it will linger on the market. A lot of folks do not want to deal with someone not using a realtor because of all the extra hassle involved. Me, I don't care.

We have $1,526.94 left to pay off to get our debt to income ratio at 45%, which is where they want it to be to qualify for a 2.9% mortgage at our credit union. Our credit scores are already in the right range. Tomorrow I will make the car payment, another VISA payment, and the AMEX payment. Then on Monday when the money arrives from ING, I will make an additional VISA payment. So we will be below that 45% range by Monday, though it may not trickle through to the credit bureaux until mid May. Not that it matters with no down payment money, but it is one more step in the right direction.

So...question. Does it make sense at all to do a 3% down loan if I am going to make double payments (not just double principal payments, but doubling the first payment with all the extra going to principal) until we've paid off 20% of the loan or is that just asking for trouble? We will have that much money available once the credit card is paid off in a month or two. Or should I stomp on my desire to get out of here and buy a house "right now" and get that 20% saved up. It will take us about a year, less if we sell our house.

How do we ever get past our wants prompting us to think they are needs? I know I could save 3% down in just a few months, but that is probably a stupid thing to do. And it's not like I've even seen the inside of this house. Gah. If we just stay here another year we will be so much further ahead. We'll be out of debt except for the car and the under $18K mortgage (which will go away when we sell the house). We'll be another year gone on the car and I'll have been making extra, extra principal payments on it, too. We'll have an EF of better quality and we'll have the downpayment saved. Life will be less stressful. Okay, I think I've talked myself out of trying to do anything rash or stupid. Trying. But not wanting.

I can do this. I don't need to throw my hard work away on impatient desire. *deep breaths*

Okay, and for the DEC, money spent today was $374.91 for a new twin mattress, box springs, and Hollywood frame for DS. We borrowed Mom's truck and brought it home ourselves and plan to put the old mattress on the curb with a free sign, so no delivery or disposal fees tacked on.

Speaking of wants, but not of wants that make me irrational, while we were at the furniture store waiting for the paperwork, etc., I sat in a lovely recliner in front of a giant screen TV. 70 inches of HDTV beauty. It was playing a scene of ocean waves crashing into a gorgeous tropical beach. I wanted to go there. It was like taking a mini-vacation in my head. I am happy with the big screen TV we have, but that thing is going on my future wants list way down the road, or something like it. We don't go to movies more than once a year usually, but we like to rent them and that thing would be great for the big sci-fi blockbusters.

It was surprisingly not horrifically expensive. Under $3000. I remember when you had to pay that for a 30 inch cathode ray TV with nowhere near this kind of quality. We never did, but I remember when. And there would be an installation fee, because that thing has to be mounted to the wall studs and we'd want it done right. It's on the dreams list, but it's not even in the top ten. And it's a much easier want to squelch than the house thing.

And is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the new article columnist seems to be very into brand names and very anti-generics? It's getting to be a theme.

Got an Offer--Sort of--On the Car

April 26th, 2012 at 02:39 pm

Last night one of the workmen who is remodelling the bathroom asked about the Crown Victoria, which has basically been setting there the past four months with a beyond dead battery and needing about $600 worth of brake work. He is interested in buying it. Blue book if it were in perfect working order is $2000. His price range is $1500. I said $1000 would be fair considering the work it needs done on it.

He is going to talk to his wife about it and bring a battery with him the next time he comes and we can make sure it is just the battery and not the starter.

It is such a good family car and I would be very happy to see it go to someone who needs a nice, solid family car, which is what they need. She has been such an excellent car over the years. She's a '92 that we bought in Jan of '98 and have maintained well. He was very surprised to know it was 21 years old since there is hardly anything wrong with the paint, just two tiny dings and you have to know where they are to notice them. It still looks shiny and nice and only has around 134,000 miles on it.

We've pretty much been a one family car anyway since we needed brake work done, and it'll make Mom happy to see it gone. Even in the years when we've owned more than one car, we didn't use it often enough to make it really worth having two. Now, if DD starts driving regularly we might buy a second inexpensive car, mostly because I don't want her driving our expensive van without supervision. But she hasn't even got her permit yet (lack of time and interest, really), so I don't see that happening before we move out. Once our credit card is paid off I am going to start setting some money aside for a new used car, but not too much as most money will go towards saving for a down payment and some to building up the emergency fund.

If his wife does give the okay to buy the car for the $1000, we will take that money and put it on the credit card.

Speaking of the credit card, I got up the courage to transfer most of the EF today and we will be putting it on the credit card, leaving us with just a $1500 EF. That is my compromise. $1000 just didn't feel like enough to me. I'd be happier with $2000 but that interest rate is ridiculous on the card. Now I just have to wait the 3 business days for it to show up in my account.

DEC for Today and Survey Cashout

April 26th, 2012 at 03:29 am

I cashed out at American Consumer Opinion Panel for $20.05. I do kind of roll my eyes a little, because you can't cash out until you have $10, and it takes 10 days for whatever you do to even hit the account and then when you cash out it takes 1-2 weeks for them to process it, so they really make you wait for it, but then it does come through eventually and they do pay really well and have some very interesting surveys and product tests, so I guess it is all worth it even if I do roll my eyes. I just always figure payment will be a month later. They are better than many I have tried and I have been signed up with them for six years, so they are definitely tried and true.

I spent $3.38 at Youngstock's today. It is an outdoor produce and flower stand. Then I spent $72.50 at Haggen. DH is home, but we kept to the list pretty darn well. We are just a little over the amount for the week by about $5. Not bad for almost everything we bought being organic.

Baked Potato Soup--Price Breakdown and Recipe

April 26th, 2012 at 01:34 am

Dinner tonight seems a little pricy at first glance but considering that most of the ingredients were organic, sustainable, or additive/preservative free and how many servings one gets out of it, a hefty 16, it's not bad at all. It provided dinner for four and will provide several lunches or after school snacks this week. DH and DD ate two bowlfuls, but DS and I were both happy and filled up with one.

Here's my price breakdown and ingredients list:

8 organic russet potatoes $3.12
1 pound smoked, additive and preservative free bacon $3.99
1 bunch organic scallions .38
1 gallon local whole milk $2.99 of which 8 cups are used in the soup and the rest was drunk at dinner
1 lb organic and sustainable local goat's cheddar $7.19
2/3 cup butter $1.50
2/3 cup flour .10
1 lb Daisy organic sour cream $2.50 (was on sale 2 for $5)

So total spent was $21.67. Of course the price can be brought down by using less expensive cheese (but it's what I had on hand) and bacon with junk in it and non-organic potatoes, but still, not bad for 16 servings.

It is best to start with everything premeasured and cooked. I like to do the bulk of the work the day before or even earlier in the week. The potatoes were baked on Sunday and the bacon cooked earlier today. Then before I started we peeled the potateos and cut them up and chopped up the scallions and bacon just before starting. It is easier to chop up the bacon when it is cold than when it is still hot.

To start melt 2/3 cup of butter in a pan.

Add 2/3 cup of flour.

Whisk together over medium low heat to make a roux.

Turn heat up to medium high. Gradually stir in 8 cups of whole milk, then stir in 1 pound of sour cream until it is absorbed and soup base is of a creamy consistency. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese and stir in until melted. Turn heat up to high and put in the diced potatoes and scallions. Cook for five minutes. Dump in bacon and cook for 3 more minutes.

Add in salt and pepper to taste. The original recipe I worked off of in the beginning suggested 1 full tablespoon of sea salt and a teaspoon of black pepper. I find that to be too much salt combined with the bacon, but just right on the pepper. And of course individuals can add salt and pepper at the table as well.

Spoon into bowls. Dinner is served.


April 25th, 2012 at 01:11 am

I have managed to hurt my eyelid and my eye has spent the better part of the day swollen shut or mostly swollen shut (it opens a bit after 20 minutes of icing). I don't even know what I did, really, but there is a nasty scratch right above the lashes that is about an inch long. They eye itself is fine. And fortunately I can type without looking so I can still post.

My mom picked the kids up from school today for me and I sent money to pick up another gallon of milk and some antibiotic ointment and bandages for my hand. It came to $14.40. No other money was spent today. I added .60 to the coin jar.

We have finished naming the ducks now, so the last two are named Noisy and Snuggles. I don't know if I mentioned the first two were Inigo Montoya and Len Tao. Snuggles likes to do just that, snuggle her head against the side of your neck and shoulder. I think Noisy's name is self explanatory. It was either Noisy or Squeaky and I think it'll outgrow the squeaky noise so Noisy won out.

The chickens are more fragile and we'll probably put off naming them for another couple of weeks except for Half-Pint and Pipsqueak the two littlest ones who got named despite us knowing the survival rate of chicks.

Three of the hens have not been laying, or at least not laying in the nesting boxes, since we moved the chicks and ducks in. They may be hiding them elsewhere. One of the few negatives of allowing your chickens free range is that sometimes they hide their eggs when they get broody, even when there is no rooster around. I think the introduction of the chicks may have made them broody. One of the other few negatives is they freak out easily when you turn a car on and streak across the driveway so I'm always afraid I will hit one.

Still, I'd never want to keep them cooped up all their lives and I am looking forward to when the little pen is constructed so we can let the babies out for an hour or two a day when the weather is nice so they can get used to the outside under supervision. Although I am not looking forward to the day when they get to run free but have not yet learned to go into the coop on their own and we have to chase them in. Fortunately the learning curve only lasts about six weeks. And with the adult chickens to show them what to do they may not be as difficult as when we started from scratch.

Bits and Pieces

April 23rd, 2012 at 02:58 pm

It was nice to wake up this morning to the smell of chicken stock simmering away in the crockpot. You know what I like about making stock over making soup? When you make stock you don't have to peel anything, you just have to wash it. And you don't have to dice it, you just have to rough cut it. It was so nice to just cut the onion into 12 pieces and throw it in. So nice not to have to peel the carrots, too!

I will have to peel and dice for the fresh veg I put in after I strain it, but that's not a big deal. I am going to put more diced celery than usual in, though, because it's starting to look a little sad, and DS is going to take one cut up stalk with peanut butter in his lunches for the next couple of days.

I was looking at enchilda sauce recipes on the internet last night and then I thought, well this is basically the ingredients in my big bottle of McCorkmick taco seasoning with tomato sauce, green chiles and garlic added, so that is what I'm going to do. If it tastes weird, I can adjust it with chili powder and cumin, but I'm sure it will be fine. And I will add a bit of cocoa powder if I don't like the color. Cocoa powder makes it more brown and less tomato sauce color.


Yesterday for the DEC challenge, I spent $14 on a haircut for DD. That was the only spending.


I added $1.14 in change to the coin jar.


I am getting a massage today as my hip and knee and low back got majorly tweaked last week, so I will spend $90 on that.


I'll be making blueberry cornbread muffins and a loaf of bread today in the bread machine Mom loaned me. I haven't used it for more than dough before so hopefully it will turn out. It's a fancy machine, way more bells and whistles than my old one had, and I'll have to recheck the manual online to make sure I do it right, since she can't find her manual.


I got to cuddle a duck last night. It just lay there in my arms and put it's neck right over my shoulder. So cute and sweet. Unfortunately I managed to slice my hand open on a metal screen. I am going to call the doctor because it looks pretty bad this morning and I want to make sure it's not infected. I cleaned it immediately and put antibiotic ointment on it, but it still looks nasty. It's in one of the worst places, too, on my right hand just beneath the webbing between thumb and first finger. Basically wherever you need to grip to open a jar, it's in the way and it hurts.

I never ended up getting a tetanus shot for the staple I stepped on. The doctor said since it was a clean, unused staple with no rust I was fine, and I have been, but this time I know there was rust on the screen so I guess I am destined to get that shot after all. If I had got it last week I wouldn't have to worry now, but oh, well. I'm sure it won't be completely covered, most vaccines are not unless you are a child. Stupid, but it's the way things go, sort of like how insurance doesn't want to pay for orthodontia in adults. I find it very short-sighted.

Dinner is in the Oven

April 23rd, 2012 at 12:02 am

I am really liking having the whole week's menues planned out. Today since I knew I was roasting a chicken, I made sure I started thawing it out in the microwave at 3:15. It was a big chicken, 5.14 pounds and is one of the chickens we got for free last Thanksgiving when DH's work gave us that Safeway gift card. Which reminds me, there is still $9 and change on the card. Need to use that.

Anyway, I got it mostly thawed by 3:45 and then put it in a cold water bath to finish the thawing process because the inside was still a little frozen and I couldn't get out the neck and giblets. They had finished defrosting by 4:15 and they came out easily. Then DS and I rubbed the chicken down with extra virgin olive oil and massaged in basil, oregano, fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. It went into the oven to roast side by side with the turkey legs.

We did up nine potatoes (the eight I bought and the one left over) for baking and they are in there, too so we can make efficient use of the oven and the gas used to heat it. The weather has turned quite warm so heating up the house less often is a good thing. We will have the four smaller ones tonight and the other five will go into the baked potato soup I make on Tuesday.

After everything was in the oven I went ahead and cut up two heads of broccoli and one head of cauliflower, which I will start the water boiling for fifteen minutes before the food is due to come out of the oven. There is enough there to serve them for 3 meals, though DD will probably filch some to take in her school lunch as she likes to eat it cold, but cooked. It is nice to have everything going and not have to worry about it again for another hour.

I know I'll have a bunch more prep to do tonight. I'll have to pick off all the chicken that is left on the carcass so I can make stock with the carcass and have meat for enchiladas tomorrow. I will also save some for quesadillas as DS likes to have that as a snack after school. I will also pick all the turkey meat off the bones and throw those bones in the crockpot with the turkey carcass. Doesn't matter to me if the stock is chicken/turkey, it all pretty much tastes the same. I'll also have to peel and cut up two carrots, an onion, two stalks of celery and all the celery leaves to throw in the stock with salt, pepper, and garlic. I was tempted to buy leeks yesterday but it was $2.49 for 3 and I thought that was too expensive and I could make do with the onion.

I never got around to roasting the chiles or making the chili. I decided I would have too much food on hand these next few days if I made it. So I will wait until Wednesday or Thursday to make it as the whole idea of meal planning was to not waste food and money, but to have plenty of good, natural, home-cooked food on hand so I'm not tempted to swing through the drive-thru after school.

That will give me a few days with the chicken noodle soup and the baked potato soup without adding in the chili to the mix. The chile peppers will keep up to a week and I was careful to pick out the best ones with shiny skin and no wrinkling so they are very fresh. I will keep an eye on them and roast them if they start to wrinkle before I am ready to make the chili. DH comes home Wednesday so then having some extra food around, it will not be in as much danger of not getting eaten.

I think I will make a lasagna during the first week of May. It's been a long time since I've made one and it'll be a nice change. I have noodles, organic diced tomatoes, organic tomato sauce, organic tomato paste, herbs, and plenty of cheese on hand so all I'd have to buy is the hamburger and onions. I think I will double the amount of onions and diced tomatoes I normally put in so I can lower the amount of ground beef. I usually use 3 pounds of ground beef to one 9x13 pan of lasagna and I'd like to see if I can get by with 2 pounds as I'll be buying the more expensive grass fed beef. A lasagna usually feeds us for 2 dinners, plus a couple of lunches for DH. Plus I always have sauce leftover when I make it so I can freeze some for some hearty spaghetti later in the month.

I am having far too much fun planning this out, but it sure is taking a lot of the stress out of what I'm going to cook and knowing how much money I can save while still eating organic as much as we can.

Oh, I have enough leftover taco meat from lunch for me to eat a taco with my chicken noodle soup tomorrow. Leftover management...who knew I'd get such a kick out of it this time around?

Almost Did It--DEC

April 22nd, 2012 at 01:58 am

All right, I almost made it through the stores with only the things on my lists. I bought chocolate at TJ's and I bought 2 English cucumbers (on sale for $1 each) and 2 six packs of lettuce starts (romaine and red leaf) at Haggen. Not too bad. I would not have bought the chocolate if I hadn't taken the kids with me, as I would not have even thought about it. But I still would have gotten the cucumbers and the lettuce starts.

They had other veggie starts, but the ground is not prepared for them. The lettuce will go in window boxes up on the porch rail, because if we plant them within reach of the chickens they will eat them and I want to be the one eating them, thank you very much.

I ended up spending $52.18 at TJ's and $21.20 at Haggen, well within the budgeted amount for the week. I imagine it will be more difficult when I have to start buying more organic meat, but maybe I'll be so good at this by the time I run out of frozen meat that it won't be too much of a challenge. I allot $600 a month for food, so I think I will be able to manage.

Change in Meal Planning

April 21st, 2012 at 08:50 pm

I never did make it to buy the chiles and other things I was going to buy the other night and I also decided I am too tired to make chili anyway. I am going to bump all my meal planning down a day and instead make spaghetti for dinner tonight. It's far less labor intensive, though I will char the chiles tonight.

We are going to go over to Trader Joe's in a bit to buy what is needed for school lunches and some produce and dried pasta. I was going to go tomorrow, but decided I just want to stay home tomorrow and have the most intensive thing I do be make the chili. I will have to go to Haggen to get the chiles though. I've never seen any at Trader Joe's. I'm lucky if I can find taco shells there. The most ethnic stuff they seem to have is regular sweet bell peppers, Naan bread, and tortillas.

So, list of stuff I'll be getting at TJ's is as follows:

8 potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1 bag shredded cabbage
1 package additive free deli turkey
1 package additive free deli roast beef
2 pounds of Cappellini pasta
1 package of taco shells if they have any
1 bunch of bananas
3 packages of grass fed hamburger
1 package of additive free bacon
2 yellow onion
1 bag whole wheat flour

Then at Haggen I need to buy:
9 Anaheim chili peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 jug of orange juice
1 can of cocoa powder

I intend to stick precisely to my lists so I don't overspend but can have nice mostly organic food, and if I need to go back to the store later in the week I will. We've eaten lunch so we aren't going shopping hungry. I just wish I didn't have to take the kiddos.

So meal planning changes to:

Saturday--Spaghetti and Meatballs
(I will also be roasting some turkey legs to have on hand for my daughter who is always starving after school and wants protein. I will pick off the meat and package it up for her)

Sunday--Tacos for lunch, roast chicken, potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower, fruit for dinner (will pick off any leftover meat and throw the chicken carcass in the crockpot overnight with water and veg to make stock)

Monday--(My lunches this week will be egg noodle, veggie, and chicken soup made from the stock and chili and the kids will have sandwiches)
Dinner--Enchiladas made with leftover chicken, fruit

Tuesday--Baked potato soup (very hearty so will probably not add much in the way of side dishes, maybe some rolls)

Wednesday--Homemade cheeseburgers and fried potatoes

Thursday--Oven-baked chicken, sweet corn, green beans

Friday--Homemade pizza and leftovers that haven't been consumed for lunches.

I think that sets me up for the week nicely.

DEC for Today--Plus Payday

April 21st, 2012 at 04:41 am

Today was payday, so I made a payment to the BoA VISA of $1800. It didn't drop the balance much since all of the autopays went through since the last payment, the interest charges hit, and DH bought his next round trip plane ticket. New balance on the account is $6574.60. But we will make another payment next week of $500 (maybe more, I'm hoping to squeeze an extra $200 out of the budget) and all of that will go to make a good drop.

I know I said I was going to use most of the emergency fund to drop the balance, but I haven't brought myself to do it yet. I feel very unsure about it. Maybe I would feel better if I just dropped it to $2000 in the EF instead of $1000. Part of me just gets really insecure when that EF goes down. Which means not getting the BoA paid off until June, but if I worry less, that's a good thing. I know it's stupid to keep paying the interest, but it's a psychological thing. Security is very important to me.

I also spent $5.49 on a gallon of Organic Valley milk. It was on sale for 50 cents off, so that made me happy.

I also set aside $1000 for either cleaning/repairs at the old house, or to give to Mom, since she has been vacillating on weather or not she wants our monthly payment to be on hold or to use it to get the house more ready to put on the market. I think she's worried that the remodel on the bathroom is going to overrun her ability to pay it. She is going to have to make up her mind soon, though, because if it goes to repairs, cleaning, etc., we want to be able to use it when DH comes home next week.

We will be spending an additional $225 on the alarm system (we paid half in deposit at the estimate and will pay the other half next Thursday when all the work is done. I am going to have DH take the really good vacuum out that day and vacuum all the floors at the very least so they'll be ready to be shampooed.

Oh, I paid out 3 weeks worth of allowances to both kids (I was behind, so that was $36.00 and $21.00 respectively). My kids have higher allowances than some here might expect because they do a lot of work with the chickens and ducks as well as household chores. They probably put in five hours a week on poultry care alone.

I also took out DH's monthly allowance and mine, which is $100 each. This is our walking around money and our frittering away money and our don't feel guilty about spending it money and our we don't have to check with each other before spending it money, although DH usually does out of habit, since we've only been drawing an allowance the last little while and we've always discussed any expense over $50. This is the first that we've really been able to not keep such a tight lid on our money and it seems to be a sufficient amount so far.

Okay, I think that covers everything I've done so far. I might have a bit more out of this paycheck, but I need to set up the May budget before I know for sure. I'll do that tomorrow.

Moving Day for the Baby Ducks and Chicks

April 21st, 2012 at 01:07 am

So today was exciting for the new poultry flock. They moved from the old bathtub in the garage that was under the brooder and into the chicken coop. It will be much easier to keep them clean now. They can turn pine shavings into sludge in a matter of 12 hours and in the hen house you can open the back and just rake the gunge out and easily replace it. That was a lot harder to do in the tub.

The old flock was very curious as to what the commotion was about.

The reddish brown one is Queen, the gold, brown and black one is Kyri, the black and white one is Patricia, and the white one is Navi.

First we filled the bottom of a container with shavings and transferred the chicks.

Then we transferred the ducks.

This is their new home. Mom and DS were putting in a new red light so they youngsters will be warm enough.

And here they all are (save the four grown ups, who are out roaming) inside the coop. That's nine chicks and four ducks.

You can't see it but there is a mesh screen separating 1/3 of the coop for the older chickens so they can still go in and out down the ramp and so they don't pick on the youngsters. It gives them a chance to get used to each other without allowing the old ones to peck the young ones.

The youngsters all seem very happy about having more space. Plus they were flying up to roost on the perches. There are three levels of perches so there is plenty of room for everyone.

I can't wait until they get big enough to start laying eggs. Right now we get between 2 and 3 eggs a day from the four and that's not enough for everyone. When these girls start laying we'll be giving them away again.

Musing on Grocery Budget

April 20th, 2012 at 04:32 pm

So I thought about it a lot and I'm wondering if I can't actually save money by going to the grocery store more often. I know that seems counterintuitive to everything we're ever taught about saving money on food, but hear me out.

The grocery store is pretty much on the way to/or the way back from everywhere I go and is a six block walk away otherwise. Often times if I am buying for a week or two weeks, I simply buy too much food at a time and it some of it does go to waste, mostly because it gets shoved to the back of the fridge and we lose track of it.

My thinking is that if we keep a sparser fridge we will know what is in there and easily be able to see all of the ingredients for meals. And if I buy my fresh fruits and veggies as I need them I won't overbuy. It will also mean they are fresher as they are consumed instead of maybe ending up a bit past optimum consumption time. Or so far past they have to be tossed.

If I go to the store with a list and stick to those items, it should go well. It will mean I can't let myself be distracted by good buys, though. Not that I won't still pay attention to the flyers and plan accordingly, but I do need to finish eating down what is in my freezer stash, so it doesn't matter if there is a good deal on potroast if I have 8 hams and more chicken parts than I can count. I think I will give myself permission to buy hamburger in the way of meat, but until the rest of the freezer is eaten down, no more meat on sale.

I noticed that I have several packages of stew meat in the freezer, so I am going to buy some chiles and make up some chili this weekend. So I can leave a little early to pick up DD from school, stop by the store, by only what we need, and get out. I think this sort of thing will only work if I go to the store by myself. Taking the kids, even taking DH, often leads to extras. DH might go for yogurt but he often comes back with cookies. I'm not against cookies, but we can make them perfectly fine at home with the ingredients on hand. And if I take DD right after school she is usually starved and she will often ask for a package of sushi from the deli, which I can't make myself, but is $5 a container. DS always wants a donut and it has hard to always say no. Easier to go without them.

Anyway, I'll try it for a while and see if it doesn't make a difference. Tonight we are having homemade cheeseburgers and fried potatoes with broccoli/cauliflower and strawberries for dinner. Tomorrow will be homemade chili, freshly made rolls, leftover broccoli/cauliflower and bananas.

On Sunday I am going to roast a whole chicken (rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with basil, oregano, sea salt and freshly ground pepper) that I have in the freezer and we will have coleslaw and fruit smoothies made with the last of the strawberries and bananas and some frozen blueberries from our backyard. And then I will make enchiladas from the leftovers on Monday and figure out the veg and fruit based on what is left or if I need to buy some more. I have tortillas and the makings for enchilada sauce on hand already (except I need to buy more cocoa, but I need to do that anyway).

So my grocery list for today at the store is chiles, onions, cocoa powder, orange juice and milk. On Sunday I will go to TJ's for preservative free deli meat for school lunches. If I keep to those lists my costs for the week should be way down.

One Million Hits! and the Food Budget Will Have to Change

April 20th, 2012 at 03:34 am

Okay, okay, so I've already posted twice today, but I could not let this occasion pass. My blog hit one million hits tonight! Hee.

And just to talk about something financial...I think I mentioned I have been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. Well, I really do think I am going to have to find a way to start buying organic, grass fed, wild caught, or free range protein from now on. The more I read about the industrial food industry, the sicker I get.

It just frustrates me so much, because a pound of organic, grass-fed hamburger costs $6 a pound and a pound of hamburger from a corn-fed feed lot steer is $2.50 a pound on sale. I say corn-fed, but eww, the stuff that goes into that feed is just...icky and not just corn that's been stripped of it's nutritional benefit. Plus the poor cows. Their stomachs cannot actually digest corn properly and they have to do unspeakable things to the poor beasts to release the gas it causes them. It also allows bacteria to grow in their stomachs that they cannot fight off because they were never meant to eat corn. It is sad. I won't go into details because they are very gruesome, really.

So plans so far are to buy a half a side of beef in the fall from this little farm in Bow, but I need to investigate chickens and lamb, too. In my state it is easy enough to buy wild fish at the store and stay away from the farm fed stuff. It's weird. I don't have an issue with paying $7 to $8 for wild salmon, why is it so hard for me to pay that much for beef? Or chicken? Maybe that is just something I will have to get past.

I think ways to manage it, is to have smaller portions of meat (hard for DH particularly) and fill up more with organic veggies and fruits. Organic veggies like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and cauliflower are pretty cheap here as are bananas and quite often strawberries. I still have a huge supply of frozen blueberries from the back yard. Organic potatoes and sweet potatoes aren't too expensive either, and that is a good filler upper food. We can grow a lot of green beans here, that is one thing that never fails so we can put those up.

I also can go back to baking more rolls and bread again so I can control what is in the food. There are a lot of corn products that go into commercial bread, things I never knew were forms of corn syrup like maltodextrin. I knew it was a sweetner but not a form of corn syrup. As are polysorbate, glucose, and dextrose. I always thought glucose and dextrose came from fruit and I'm not sure where I thought maltodextrin came from. It's kind of scary how they can disguise it. Just like they do with MSG.

And don't get me started on what's in a certain fast food place's nuggets. Suffice to say I wish I'd known before eating there the other night. TBHQ? Really? I think I've finally found a way to set the fast food switch to OFF for good.

You know, I thought this book was awfully simplistic when I started reading it, but the more I get into it, the more horrified I am. I consider myself fairly well-educated when it comes to the food industry, but now...well, now I think my eyes were only half open and if I am going to protect my health, I am going to have to find a way to spend the money on real food. I also realize why my allergies have been so awful these past few years. And my kiddos, too.

I guess it's time to go back to serious meal planning again.

So the Good News is...

April 19th, 2012 at 08:34 pm

...I got excused from jury duty. Fully excused this time. Apparently being partially disabled, being on certain medications that cloud my thinking, having various doctor's notes about surgeries and being unable to sit on those hard chairs for eight hours a day due to my hip and low back are not valid reasons to be fully excused without being recalled in six months, but being a stay at home mom who has to take her kids to and from school or be home with them on non-school days and has a spouse working in another state and cannot afford to pay someone else to do that because all our money is going to pay off past medical bills, is. Go figure.

But at least I feel like I have my life back now. That I don't have to wait another stomach-churning day to figure out if they are going to call me or not. That I don't have to worry about not drinking water all day or having violent allergic reactions to people's perfume or cigarette stink. That I don't have to have all my months of physical therapy ruined by being unable to move like I need to move throughout the day to avoid wrecking my body. That I won't have to go through the muscle spasms that would be caused by sitting in those chairs for so long.

None of it would be worth the $10 a day stipend. $100 to regress all the physical progress I have made and had to spend $1700 out of pocket for. Yeah, that's really what I wanted to do. I like walking without a cane. I like being able to go up and down stairs like a normal person again. I like only having to use my handicapped parking permit 1 time out of 10 and not every day. Going backwards I'm not a big fan of.

The only thing is I know that in a year or two when we buy a new house and we move and I have to change my address with the DMV and change my voting address (it's automatic now with changing it at the DMV) it will just pop me up on their list again. It does that every time I change my address or renew my license. Like clockwork. But at least I know which reason to use now. I suppose that is something.

And someday when I am healthy and strong and my kids are grown and they call me to serve, I will go. Of course, that is probably when they will finally give up calling me to serve.

DEC for Yesterday

April 19th, 2012 at 04:06 pm

I ended up spending $14.52 yesterday after tae kwon do testing. DS was so tired and I was ridiculously exhausted at that point and so sore from sitting on those benches that I knew I wasn't going to want to stand and make something on the stove and it was already 8 p.m., so I gave in to temptation and took us through the McD's drivethrough and got a couple of combo meals. I can't believe how expensive they have gotten. You used to be able to get two full meals for $10 and now it's almost $15.

The thing is, it's been a while since I didn't just grab a bag of double cheeseburgers and a couple small fries and the free cups of water, so not only was there price shock, but there was flavor shock, too. I'm not sure what it is, but the taste of the bigger burgers was just really off to me. DS thought so too. Maybe we are losing our taste for it or maybe the smaller meat is different than the bigger meat patties. Anyway, I don't think I'll be buying combo meals there any time soon. Plus I think they charge more for the bottled water than for the sodas, even though they are supposed to substitute directly.

It was just a big disappointment. I think we'll stick with Boomers Drive-In for bigger burgers in the future. It might take longer, but the quality is so much better. Lesson learned, I guess.

I am feeling a bit better today than yesterday, but I am still going to take a nap today. I want to continue in this direction.

Oh, I also picked up a prescription last night so that was $3.35.

Is This...Getting Better?

April 18th, 2012 at 08:31 pm

Today when I woke up my left ear was not blocked for the first time in over two weeks and there was no clicking or crackling in my right ear. My head doesn't feel like it's about to explode from the pressure. Still have a runny nose and very minor throat cough and a headache, but my fever has actually dropped to 98.7 (still well above my normal, but almost standard normal).

I slept pretty well last night, 1:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., and took DD to school and then Mom said she would take DS to school so I went back to bed and slept for two more hours and I almost feel human again. I really had to stop and think about it because it's been so long. I still feel lethargic and like I don't want to tackle anything more ambitious than putting a roast in the crockpot, but I also don't want to spend the rest of the day sleeping so I think that's pretty good. LOL

I am thinking about making an appointment with a neurologist. I've been having some numbness and tingling in my right hand and less often in my left arm. I also have tremors in my hands sometimes when I'm really tired. I know those are possible signs of diabetes, but I don't have any of the other main symptoms. Since Dad had MS, I think it might be a good idea to find out if the symptoms mean anything.

It is also possible that it is the way I type, because tingling/numbness usually only happens then in my hand and I do have lazy laptop typing posture. But the elbow and arm happens when I sleep. It could just be me pinching a nerve, but still... Probably should just do an overall physical, too, as it's been a while. I just don't want to find out that maybe there is something else wrong with me. And more medical bills. I just want to be healthy. Is that too much to ask? It gets so frustrating to keep channelling money into this unending array of health problems.

Oh, well, I should focus on the fact that I am getting over this current illness and maybe by next week I'll be well for a while. I'd really like that. Even if it is just in time for jury duty.

Future Vacation Planning

April 18th, 2012 at 12:03 am

I think I forgot to mention this, but DH booked the condo for our Disneyland trip. We've got it for a week in March of next year. We only had to pay $163, which is the yearly maintenance dues. This is part of my Mom's WorldMark Travel Club. She had a ton of credits that needed to be used up or she would lose them, so otherwise it is free to us.

Airfare will also be free as DH will have the miles by then from all his flying back and forth to work. So we will just need to pay for park tickets and food and transport to and from the airport.

We got a three bedroom condo as we are taking DH's sister and her two daughters with us. We are covering all of their expenses except food and souvenirs. DH's sister lives well below the poverty level, she makes as much in a month as DH makes in a day and a half and we try to help her out as much as possible. She would never be able to afford a trip like this for her and her kids and since we can get so much of it for free we can afford to take them.

We may help on the food a bit because we want to treat them to the Blue Bayou which is very pricey. But we want her to save something for the trip if she can (though in-laws will probably just give her that money). The condo has a full kitchen so we will buy some groceries at a nearby Albertsons that delivers to save on food costs, at least breakfasts.

Five day park hoppers for seven people will cost $1652 using today's prices and that may go up in 2013. And we calculate $2000 for food and souvenirs. That's probably high but I'd rather have too much than not enough. And transport to and from the airport for seven people...well it might actually be cheaper (and quite a hoot) to rent a limo for that. I'll have to look into the price. It's either that or a full-sized van with DH driving. We do not want to do the bus thing with that many people.

I am going to start saving now, but the bulk of the money will come from DH's annual Christmas bonus, which is 5% of his yearly income. And failing that (though they give it as standard) we'll use our tax refund money. With the HSA we are assured of getting a huge return even if we spent no more on medical than we've already spent so far this year (ha!).

I am looking forward to this trip a lot. It will be so much fun to do it with DH's sister and the girls and I will also get to spend one of the days with a good friend of mine who lives in California and has an annual pass and will come up to see me. With DH's sister and the girls there DH won't and the kids won't feel like I am abandoning them for my friend, but I only get to see her every few years so I'd do it even if they did!

DEC, Etc.

April 17th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

No spending to report today for the daily expenses challenge. One of the few positives about being so sick is that it really limits the appeal of going anywhere to spend money.

I need to figure out what to do about dinner though, because I forgot to put the roast in the crockpot. Maybe soup and toasted cheese sandwiches. I think I can about handle that. Or maybe DD will cook. She's feeling way better than me.

I changed which credit card the last autopay I hadn't transferred yet goes on, so that it won't go on the paid off card anymore. It is so nice to only have the one CC to worry about now. Well, we also have the AMEX, but that doesn't typically carry a balance as we just use it for gas, meals out, on vacation and the occasional times when I forget the checkbook, so I don't count it the same was as the BoA VISA. I am so looking forward to having the VISA paid off soon. Just a couple more payments.

Coin Jar

April 17th, 2012 at 03:32 am

I added $14.14 to my coin jar today. I cleaned out my purse and two jackets' pockets to find that. I also added a Canadian penny to my Canadian coin jar. Being so close to the border I often end up with the random Canadian coin so it has its own jar. We take the contents with us whenever we go up there and try to use it up. Although pennies are used pretty interchangeably the stores here can refuse them if they want to.

I also added $5 a few days ago to the coin jar, but I don't think I entered it here.

DEC for Today and Other Stuff

April 17th, 2012 at 12:47 am

I stepped on a staple today, not like the kind you use to hold papers together, but a more heavy duty one, like they use in construction. It was on the fairly small side of construction staples, but it still hurt like blazes. It didn't bleed too much, it was in the thick part of the heel, and I really don't like walking on it right now. Of course I did it too late in the day to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot (I'm due), but I will call tomorrow. You have 72 hours to get one after a puncture to be in the safe window.

I did not end up going to the store last night like I had planned. I had also only planned to only spend $10. And ended up spending $129.21 today. Well, I bought more cold medicine, and they had hamburger and pot roast on sale, and then they had chicken noodle soup and beef stew and chili on sale, and my pantry has been looking a little bare because anything we could heat and serve was pretty much used up while I was so sick (still am, but more functional now). And I bought milk.'s not like I went out of my grocery budget or anything, I've barely spent any of it this month so far, but it was a lot of unplanned buying. Staple buying, but unplanned.

I made tacos for dinner tonight. I didn't feel well enough to make the hamburger on the stove so I did it in the microwave with my Tupperware stack cooker, then added the taco seasoning. We use the big container of McCormick taco seasoning they sell at Costco and we use half a cup per pound. The directions say 1/4 cup but it is not enough for our tastebuds. We didn't have quite enough shredded cheese for everyone so I improvised with some Tillamoos. I do have some cheese I could shred but I didn't feel like standing there and doing it. Mom gave me all the lettuce leftover from the family gathering, so we used that for the lettuce.

This is the second dinner I have cooked this week that did not come out of a can. I made chicken last night. So I do seem to be getting back on stride a little, but I don't have the energy or strength to do anything big and complicated.

I have to take DS to tae kwon do tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday. I really don't want to, but he still has to get two classes in before the make up test Wednesday. He's missed so much being sick. It's already been four months to get the needed classes in. Usually at his age it only takes two months. I think I may just sleep out in the car. I am so tired and the hard benches inside for parents are so uncomfortable.

DEC for Yesterday and Today and Family Thing

April 16th, 2012 at 12:55 am

I'm still not quite myself. I am just so tired, still feeling blechy even if I am on the mend. I think I've lost all sense of ambition. I guess if I am going to be sick it is good to be sick in that long interval of not having to pay any bills until the 20th because I am not very on top of the finance thing right now.

I went nowhere yesterday and thus spent no money. Almost the whole family descended yesterday and it was long and exhausting though nice to visit. Although I still want to know why I am the only person in my family (besides my kids, and DH when he's home) that help my mother when everyone comes over.

I know that my older sister has always held the attitude that she is a "guest" and therefore does not have to help out. Where she got that attitude from I do not know because it is not the way Mom raised us. My eldest sister, who had just got done telling me all of the changing she had noticed in Mom and how much she was slowing down, sat there and watched me (sick, coughing me) clear the table and put everything in the dishwasher and did not budge an inch. *sighs* My thirty year old neice was there, too. Nothing.

My mom is 72, she had knee replacement in September, and she is not as strong as she used to be. My kids did a lot of work helping her get ready and I helped with the cleanup (i.e. did most of it). I am the least able of us three girls despite being the youngest, but I would not dream of leaving her to do it all alone.

I go through this every holiday and get together. I am always so stunned by the fact that they still won't lift a finger. I have asked before in the past and have pretty much given up asking them, but it still annoys me. My daughter did ask one of them if they were going to help and got the response, "Oh, I'm too tired." ????? Ooookay. My family.

Anyway, today is a spend day. The kids walked down to Trader Joe's and bought a big jug of pure maple syrup and additive free lunch meat for DS's school lunches, spending $21.78. I will be running down to Haggen after dinner to pick up some organic milk and 1/4 pound of deli ham for DD's school lunches. It'll come to under $10, so I'm counting that as close enough for recording purposes.

Been a Few Days

April 14th, 2012 at 12:20 am

I feel like all I have done for the past four days is sleep. My fever finally broke yesterday. A week at 101 is hard, but yesterday it was 99 and today it was 97.6 (my normal). I am still coughing a lot, but it's way up towards the base of my throat. I can read again (have several days worth of blogs to catch up on now!) for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

I have spent around $40 on Dayquil, Nyquil, and psuedophederine this week. They at least helped manage the symptoms. Until today that is all I spent in the last few days (for the daily expenses challenge). Today I ordered a XL pizza from Round Table which was $27.18. I'm still not much up for cooking. I managed a chicken stir-fry from one of my homemade kits in the freezer yesterday, but that about did me in. Mostly it's been soup and sandwiches around here, or anything that comes out of a can but doesn't have additives.

Hopefully I will feel good enough on Sunday to make a big batch of pancakes for the freezer. That would have come in handy this week as it only takes 30 seconds in the microwave to warm one up from frozen. Maybe I'll make a batch of blueberry cornbread muffins, too. That's real simple and fast and involves hardly any work on my part.

Mom is having a big get together on Saturday. Everyone will be here except my husband. My eldest sister, her son and his wife and their son, my older sister, her spouse and her four boys, me and my two kids. I don't know how much time I'll spend there, though. I can't be around my nephew's wife much as she is pregnant and I don't want to expose her to this. I'll probably hang around for an hour or two and then go back to bed.

Mom wants DD to make cookies. DD is probably still contagious with this same thing I'm getting over. I don't think that's a smart idea at all, and DD doesn't want to, but once Mom gets a thing in her head you never hear the end of it until it gets done. Of course if the whole family then gets sick it will be DD's fault. *sighs*

I filled out my jury question form and sent it in today. I listed all of my physical limitations and disabilities, as well as a list of the medications I am on that may cloud my thinking. I will probably still have to serve, but whatever. They can't say I didn't warn them.

Six Year Blogoversary

April 9th, 2012 at 07:15 pm

Hard to believe it's been six years since I started this blog, but it has been. Six years ago, I don't think I ever thought I'd get here, almost out of credit card debt and making tons of progress on everything else.

I remember when I started this road, people told me I should just declare bankruptcy and walk away from our debt. That's never something that I wanted to do, but always something I was afraid I would have to do. Fortunately we never did. Instead we put our heads down and worked hard and sacrificed a lot and through a series of raises and job promotions and changing companies for DH, we have made it a long way from those first few tentative steps.

I remember trying to find $10 a week to save for a baby EF and how hard it was. Now I regularly send $100 a month to the EF and whatever else I can scrape up. I remember trying to scrape up minimum payments and wondering how we'd ever have extra to send to one card so we could make a little progress. I remember how discouraged I was whenever I had another surgery and we had to put yet another medical debt on the credit cards.

There are days I wanted to give up, but we stubbornly pressed on and here we are coming out the other side and almost there. I have learned a lot on this journey, but the biggest thing I've come away with is that you can move a mountain even if the only tool you have is a spoon. You just keep at it and keep at it and eventually that mountain is no longer in front of you, it's behind you and you've done it. Our mountain is now a hill and we've upgraded to a shovel and that hill is getting smaller and smaller every month. And pretty soon the going will be flat and level and hopefully we'll never have a debt mountain to move again.

DEC and Remodel Whining

April 9th, 2012 at 03:00 am

Yesterday's expenses:

$49.06 @ Costco

Today's Expenses:

$10 for DD to turn in for art supplies at school tomorrow for art class.

Really got irritated at the workmen today. They left their equipment in the house, blocking the hallway and access to the kids' bedrooms when they left. Including a power saw that was plugged in. Dangerous and careless. And Mom didn't understand why I was upset by that. It's not like her life is being disrupted by the remodel at all, other than she has to park her car in a different spot in the driveway. She's in a different wing of the house. But this was dangerous and she shouldn't have acted like it was harmless. I will be so glad when they are done. I will be even more glad when we can get out of here.

Mom had one of her nasty moments today where she was blaming us for the mold in the bathroom again, even though the workmen said it was caused by the leak in the roof which had nothing to do with us. This went into a woe is me fit which she does about every six months. She refuses to go out and do activities where she can meet people and then complains about how she has no friends because Dad never wanted to socialize. I keep encouraging her to do so now, but then she snaps at me about it saying I just want her out of the house (which isn't true, I want me out of the house). I hope I'm not seeing the early onset of anything. But she's always kind of been like this, it just wasn't as extreme when Dad was alive and still had his mind.

I just do not have the energy or the stamina for this when I am running a 101 degree fever and trying to cough my lungs out through my windpipe. I didn't snap at her, but it was close. I just keep telling myself she is my mother and I love her even when she goes a little nuts.

Coin Jar--Costco--Jury Duty

April 7th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I swept DH's wallet and added $10.65 to the coin jar. I had enough to roll quarters so I did that. I have a pretty hefty deposit to make on Monday if I feel well enough to go to the CU.

DH decided to make a Costco run today instead of tomorrow so there will be some expenses to report after all when he gets back. He is just getting the minimal though, toilet paper, tomato sauce and chicken pot pies (DS eats these when I am too sick to cook, DD can fend for herself). Since DH goes back to Alaska on Monday and I have no energy yet, I want to have them on hand.

I got my summons for jury duty and surprisingly it's actually for the date they said it was going to be for. That has never happened before. I just hope I am over this borderline walking pnuemonia/bronchitis thing by then as I don't see me getting it deferred again or excused.

DEC for Yesterday

April 7th, 2012 at 09:12 pm

Daily Expenses Challenge will henceforth be abbreviated to DEC for me.

DH took the kids to see The Lorax in 3D yesterday so that was $36. They got 2 pretzels at Auntie Anne's for $6.36. They got 2 bottled waters from the vending machine $3, and a bubble tea $4.25. This is what happens when I don't go with them, other money gets spent. But I was too sick to go and frankly didn't care that DH would likely have loose fingers. They had fun and I had peace and quiet.

DH spent $39.27 at Walgreens to get various medications--the dye free cough medicine and dye free allergy medicine for DH, some fake Excedrin PM for me since the real stuff is still on recall, all natural cough drops, and some ice cream for sore throats.

DH took DS to the after hours clinic last night and then to get a prescription for antibiotics, $15. He spent $42.50 at the grocery store and $38.78 at McDonalds for 20 double cheeseburgers and 4 fries. I can't cook right now, I can barely stand, so when people want something they can warm up a cheeseburger. DH is making dinners, though. DD feels well enougn now to help with dinner tonight, which means it may or may not be more elaborate than tacos or spaghetti.

Today is a no spend day. Nothing will be bought and no one will go anywhere.

Money Out--Daily Expenses, Etc.

April 6th, 2012 at 02:15 am

I am so sick it's ridiculous. Thank goodness the workmen were working outside so that I could sleep in. I went to bed at 9:30 last night and slept pretty well, but woke up every four hours or so coughing. Which is what the cough syrup dosage was for, every four hours. But fortunately I did get back to sleep. My skin hurts, my joints ache, and I am running a fever of 100.3 and can't get warm.

I went to the doctor this afternoon. DH had to drive me because I couldn't focus at all. It's not the flu which I feared, but borderline walking pneumonia. My bronchials and windpipe ache beyond belief right now. I ended up with four prescriptions, $25, $15, $15, and $7.55. My breathing was so bad he gave me an inhaler of albuterol, which I haven't needed in a couple years, and a nasal spray. I've also got an antibiotic (one that won't make me sick to my stomach this time) and the really good cough syrup which is helping already. I am so wiped out though. I have dozed off and on all day, I can't read a book, though I can read the computer a bit, and I can watch television for about 20 minutes before I doze again. I don't rember the last time I was this tired.

Let's see, other expenses have been 3/4 tank of gas for $63.73, $1.51 for a McDonald's double cheeseburger, and $25.71 for groceries. Also DH had to pay a deposit on the security system upgrade that we will be doing when he comes back home next time of $225. That's half up front, half the day of. DH also treated his dad to dinner yesterday at Subway spending $12.37, after he helped DH put up the drywall in the bathroom. I think that is everything.

This and That

April 4th, 2012 at 07:36 pm

The mortgage payment posted today with $293.54 going to principal and $82.32 going to interest. The new balance of the mortgage is $17,667.67.


The amount of the U-haul rental plus mileage was $97.23 and the gas to fill it back up was $14.27.


I will be so glad when the bathroom remodel is done. I don't know what my mother was thinking scheduling it for the week of spring break when everyone was going to be home. I know it'll be nice when it is done, but right now it is a pain in the butt. No one gets to sleep in because the workmen are here so early. I'm cranky because I can't take naps which is essential when I am ill. I can't stop coughing today unless I suck on cough drops constantly. The minute it runs out I start hacking again. On the bright side one of the workmen brought his little boy with him and he and DS have hit it off so DS has something to do today other than complain about how noisy the workers are.


I'm not sure we are going to make it down to Seattle on Friday. We had planned to go, but DD has an ear infection/sinus infection, and I have whatever it is I have. We were going to go to the Pacific Science Center and then watch Hunger Games on the IMAX. We will at least go to the movie at the local theater if we can't go, but I will have a pocket full of cough drops so I don't ruin the movie for others.

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