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Archive for January, 2013

What is with all the \\\appearing in the text?

January 31st, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Every time I use a punctuation mark like an apostrophe, or a comma, or quotation marks, it is surrounded with back slashes. It is not just me either. I've seen it on the blogs of everyone today too. Is this just a glitch in the system?

Babbling About My Day

January 31st, 2013 at 10:40 pm

The new chicken fencing is up so the chickens have a whole new "pasture" to range in that is all grass and no mud. A good time was had by all. However, they are trying to get into the compost bins. My opinion is let them. They'll scratch it up and turn it over and then we can shovel it back into the bins and close them back up.

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We got everything in under the wire for homeschooling this month. I was a little worried since both DS and I had the flu virus for a good ten days this month. But we did get caught up. Now I just need to worry about getting him through his regular lessons tomorrow and then the weekend is here and I am going to sleep.

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I met with the new doctor today and I have to say I like him a good bit. He listens well. Didn't have the physical today as he wanted to talk about some of the other problems I've been having, the dizziness, the tremors, the tingling, the dizziness, the exhaustion, the insomnia, the dizziness...

And he wants me to go for a sleep study, because he is expecting that my chronic exhaustion/insomnia situation may actually be sleep apnea. Oh, joy. So I have to call them tommorrow and make an appointment.

I also was given a mammagram paper and I need to call and set that up. I've never had one. I should have had one at 35 since my mother is a breast cancer survivor, but I had so much else going on in my health the past seven to eight year it never happened.

I also have to go over to the lab who did the blood work for my last doctor and get a copy of it sent to my new doctor, since that lab is not part of their computerized sharing system.

He also wants me to order a device for taking blood pressure at home. Fun. It's going to be an expensive next couple of months, I can tell.

Anyway, so new doctor man wants to get to the root of most of these things before I come back in 2 weeks.

So in writing down my surgeries, it came out to 11, 7 of which have been in the last decade. Geesh. No wonder I can't get well. My body is determined to kill me.

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Anyway, there was no money out today though my kids were despereate for me to get burgers, or Hawaiian Barbecue, or KFC and I totally would not. I came home and I made spaghetti and meatballs, which I think was technically tomorrow's meal, but close enough.

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I still have $120 left in my checkbook and payday is tomorrow, albeit the two day paycheck.

House Hunting, Farm Hunting

January 30th, 2013 at 08:54 pm

I ran across two farms today in my search for something like that other farmhouse. Neither is ideal, but neither is in a flood plain, either. One is ten acres, but isn't flat land. The house is located on top of a hill. Actually there are two houses on this property and the second one currently rents for $1800 a month. So for 2 houses and 10 acres it is $350,000. Not too bad if you are taking in $1800 in rental income as well. It doesn't mention outbuilding though.

The other farm is 5 acres and $235,000. It has a good shop, garages, and a nice barn. The only problem is the house is a manufactured home. While I'm not anti-manufactured home per se, I do know that they take an awful lot of shortcuts, like walls that don't actually meet, but are then covered by molding so they appear so, or linoleum that is stapled down instead of adhered to the floor. Like interior walls being little more than cardboard covered with wall paper. Like an improperly pitched roof, or skylights that are not properly sealed. So that's not anywhere I would want to go. Otherwise it's a great property and has a great layout.

I guess I'll just have to keep looking. Good thing we aren't in any rush.

All Over the Place

January 30th, 2013 at 05:44 pm

My physical therapist was sick today and cancelled our appointment. I have to say I am glad because I really didn't feel up to being tortured this week. Come to think of it, she was showing symptoms last week, so that's probably where this cold came from. Anyway, that's $90 I didn't need to spend this week. I'm glad of that, because I'm not sure about my doctor's appointment tomorrow whether or not physicals go towards the deductible or they are covered outright. I'm thinking outright, but I won't know for sure until I get there. I gave them insurance info over the phone. Plus throw in the new patient thing and who knows.

Today I am at least making what's on my meal plan for the week. But then roast chicken and baked potatoes are easy. 5 minutes of hands on time.

I need to start taking my vitamins again. I've been slacking off and only doing the vitamin D3, but I need to add back in C, fish oil, E, magnesium and potassium. I always feel better on that regimen, but when I need it the most, in winter, is when I tend to slack off on it.

I will be getting my rewards coupon from AMEX in February. The only thing I don't like about it is that since it's tied to my Costco card, I have to take the coupon in to Costco to get my cash. I'd prefer they just send me a check I can cash at the credit union or apply it directly to my account. I hate going to our Costco. The parking lot is a nightmare. It's one thing when I am actually buying groceries, but another thing when I am not.

We have one of the busiest Costco's in the state. I really do not understand why so many Canadians cross the border to shop here, but every other license plate is Canadian. There is a Costco on their side in Abbotsford two minutes from the border.

I can't see how waiting in a 40 minute (or longer) border crossing line, coming stateside to shop and get gas, and then spending another 40 minutes (or more) to cross the border again, could ever be worth it. I would think you'd be wasting as much gas in the lines as you would save from getting it stateside.

I wouldn't do it. Maybe back in the olden days when gas was 99 cents a gallon and dairy products were cheap, but now? Of course, they are probably the only thing keeping the retail economy of this county afloat. I doubt it would survive without the influx. But it does make it difficult to park, run in, and get back out quickly with all the non-local shoppers.

I've been thinking about just getting rid of this card and dropping Costco as well. Only thing is, this is the only card in just my name. All of our other cards are my husband's and I'm either a co-signer or an authorized user. I know they changed the law a while back so that it was no longer based on household income, so if you don't make an income of your own, you couldn't get a card of your own. I don't know if that change was ever rescinded or not. I know there was some hoo hah about it, but not how it turned out. So I'm not sure I'd be able to get another card in just my name if I did cancel it.

It probably doesn't matter too much as I don't intend to need a bunch of cards and my marriage is solid, so I'm not expecting to lose access to DH's, but it just seems smart to have at least one card in my own name.

Right now I'm breaking even on the Costco membership fee and that's about it. And there are less and less products we buy there as we've switched to getting our meat from the ranch and not from Costco. I may give it another year and track it and then figure out whether or not it is worth it to me. They've stopped carrying the brands of tomato sauce, peanut butter, and green beans that I liked so that's going on the con side. Mostly I am just buying the non-food products there. It's becoming less and less worth it.

*Sighs*

January 29th, 2013 at 05:38 pm

I am glad I copy my entries every time before trying to post them, because this week SA has been eating my posts alive, its favorite comment being the one that says "Our records show that you are already logged in as yourself." And I'm like, No Duh, every time it does that. So if I'm logged in as myself, than what is your problem, you goofy computer program? /vent

Some days I wonder why I even bother to make a meal plan, when I end up making pizza 3 times a week lately. I had planned to make Bolgogi (Korean stir-fry), which should be a relatively easy new recipe for me. But I didn't. Maybe my day was thrown off because my mother had a procedure done and had to be there at 6:30. And I had to take DD to school at 7 and then pick Mom up at 7:40 which turned more like 8:30 because she takes so long to come out of anesthetic. I was dragging by the time we got home and pretty much dragged all day, so when it came time to make dinner I had no interest in making a new recipe.

Instead I took the easy way and dumped dough ingredients into the bread machine. All told it takes about 4 minutes of hands-on time to make a pizza. I always have toppings in the fridge, either ham or pepperoni or sausage or ground beef. I always have cheese. I always have onions and bell pepper strips (frozen). I always have tomato sauce and basil and oregano. So when I am feeling particularly tired (or lazy) or don't want to think it seems to be my go to dinner.

At least it is good pizza. One of my tricks is to rub the dough (and my hands) with extra virgin olive oil before pushing it out on the pizza pan. I think it makes a big difference in not only the flavor of the dough, but in making a crisp crust. Also the crust never sticks to the pan when I do this.

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I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks today. That makes my total $85. I should get one more in by the end of the month.

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I scheduled a doctor's appointment with a new doctor. I decided to try to find someone who wouldn't put me on a waiting list just to make an appointment. This doctor I will be able to see on Thursday and he's in my PPO.

It's not a female like I wanted, but I didn't find anything negative on him on the web and he's young enough that I shouldn't have to worry about finding a new doctor again in my lifetime if I like him.

I went ahead and scheduled a physical. It's been a few years. I need to make out a list of my medications and dosages and see if I can find my copy of my blood work results from December so he won't order extra.

I also need to sit down and list all my surgeries. I can't even remember how many I've had. 7 or 8 since 2003, at least five before that. The last one was in 2011. When I make out lists like that, I realize how lucky I am to be alive and doing relatively well now.

I think my insurance covers physicals without having met the deductible, so hopefully there will be no out of pocket expense for this visit.

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I have physical therapy tomorrow so that is $90. I have thought about cancelling because I don't feel well, but that might just be the course of today and being so tired.

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I almost lost a shoe today to the mud pit that is the chicken yard. It can stop raining any time now. I need to buy a pair of Wellies. Even the boards we've put down to walk through the mud are sinking in it. Rain is better than frozen because it's warmer, but frozen is better than rain if you are trying to walk across the ground. I'm ready for summer. Really, really ready. At least we will be in Cali for a week in March. That will help with my cold season blahs.

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On the bright side of things, my knee hasn't hurt all week. And I am back to walking down stairs one foot per step instead of two footing it. Still a little slow and I still like to be within grabbing distance, but it feels almost normal at the moment.

Stuff and Other Stuff

January 28th, 2013 at 07:49 pm

I've been doing some thinking about the next couple of months. In February we will buy our Disneyland Parkhopper tickets, which will set us back $2030 for 7 tickets (unless they go on sale), but we should be able to buy them outright in February. I will charge them for the benefits of charging, but then I will pay it off as soon as it posts to the account.

We already have enough saved up to cover prepaying the limo rental both ways, so that will get taken care of in the next few days. We chose to do a limo because it was actually cheaper for 7 people and all their stuff than two taxis or vanpools.

And then in March I will take $2500 for the trip itself. I think that should easily cover groceries, a few meals out and souvenirs. It's probably more than we need, but I'd rather have too much than too little and come home with money. SIL is paying for her own food for her and the girls. We are picking up everything else, but flights and the condo are long since taken care of.

Also in March we should have our taxes back. The Chase card will be at $4900 by then and our taxes will more than pay for that. (We will get a lot back because we fully used the HSA again this year and will get all of that back). We will also be getting DD's MacBook. If there is any money left it will go to the EF. Last year (and circumstances haven't changed) we got around $8750 back. $6150 is from the HSA alone. That should put the EF around $4000 to $5000.

After that I need to decide what I'm going to do. Our only two debts will be the mortgage and the van payment. The mortgage has a higher percentage rate than the van, but the house will be up for sale by then. I'm not sure if there is any point in paying down the mortgage, yet if it doesn't sell right away then there is.

I figured that we could have the mortgage paid off by September/October if we start paying $2500 a month in April. I keep going back and forth on this. Part of me says forget prepaying it, put that money in the EF and college fund instead. Or put it toward the van. It's like being on a merry-go-round. I just keep going around in circles trying to figure out the smartest thing to do.

My mother keeps butting into the house stuff. She's trying to be the one who will set the price. She's acting like she's the one who gets to okay any offers and it is driving me right up the wall. I want her out of it, but she has a way of squirming into our business and getting people to talk to her who legally should not be talking to her about any of it.

I don't particularly want her knowing A. What the amount of the mortgage is left on the house, and B. What the price is that we actually get for it. It's none of her business. She does like sticking her nose in. She wants to set the price far higher than what I think anyone will pay for it. I've seen how long houses sit on the market in that area if they are over-priced.

I love my mother very much, she has a lot of great qualities and I never have doubted that she loves me, but she is a difficult personality. She is very pushy and stubborn and manipulative when she chooses to be. I just can't figure out what she thinks she'll get out of any of this.

I will be glad when we are not living under the same roof again, even though I know I will worry about her. I am ready to worry about her from a slightly more removed area. Even if I know she will likely end up moving in with us several years in the future, it will be different. It will be her living in our home and not vice versa.

Right now she is very weird about money. She's been like this the last year. We pay for the gas, the electric, the water/sewer, the internet, and the garbage for the entire household, yet she worries about how high the utilities are. She often eats with us and spends very little on groceries herself, but worries constantly about the cost of food. She barely ever drives anywhere, but worries constantly about the cost of gasoline.

She gets $1000 from us every month as we pay back our loan, and $757 from social security. Her house is paid for, her SUV and pickup are paid for. She pays for some chicken feed, satellite TV, $100 in groceries each month, car and house insurance, and property taxes ($2500 a year) and that's about it. Her income is more than enough to cover it. She's always been a champion budgeter. Even after we move out and she takes back over the utilities (they'll drop), she'll still have more than enough to meet her needs.

I don't know why she's being so weird about money. I've even told her we will take care of her after our loan to her is paid off. She will not be on the street, she will always have enough to eat. I do have to wonder if maybe I'm seeing the beginning stages of dementia or if the two mini-strokes did more damage to her brain than they thought. It's something I'll have to keep an eye on.

Not to Be

January 28th, 2013 at 12:28 am

Well, that lovely farm with the lovely 1920's farmhouse is not to be. It is in the flood plain after all, and not just in it, but apparently the entire front yard is waterlogged at the rainiest parts of the year or whenever snow melts. I am a little disappointed, but I am sure there will be something else out there somewhere that will meet our needs and wants. Dealing with flooding is not something I want to do. I grew up dealing with a basement that constantly flooded. This house didn't have a basement, but with water that bad it would get in the barn and things would get wet.

So we'll keep looking and hopefully find something similar. It doesn't have to be 7 acres. 1 acre is enough to make me happy outside the city and .5 acre is enough to make me happy inside of it. I'm not in any rush. There's more debt to be paid and I can focus on that for now, while still keeping an eye out.

I did look up exactly when the 0% Chase card expires and it is in August, so we'll have that well paid off by the end of March, no worries. It is the focus of February and March payments and after that we'll work on the mortgage.

Meal Planning for the Week

January 27th, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I am back to purchasing my produce now that the garden is finally dead as can be. I find myself really resenting the price of organic broccoli, but that just gives me the motivation to plant more next year and freeze it myself (as opposed to letting mother nature do it). I am using broccoli more as an ingredient than as a main dish. In other words it is part of a stir-fry with many other veggies, instead of just a helping of broccoli. It helps spread the cost of it and cauliflower out.

At least cabbage, even organic cabbage is still cheap. And I'm pretty easy about eating coleslaw. I could probably eat it every day, especially when organic lettuce is $2.49 a head. I am going to plant lettuce early this year. I'm going to chance it in pots mid-March and then just bring it in at night if it threatens to freeze.

I've been on an oranges kick lately, but they are in season so that's not bad. I did get a case of pineapple for some variety, though. I always freeze the pineapple juice that is leftover in one or two of my Popsicle molds. They are nice to have when sore throat weather hits. Or else I will use it in stir-fries instead of honey to sweeten the dish.

Well, anyway, here's the food plan for the week:

Monday--
Lasagna
Green beans
Oranges

Tuesday--
Bolgogi
Pineapple

Wednesday--
Roast chicken
Baked potatoes
Coleslaw
Oranges

Thursday--
Ethiopian Sloppy Joes on whole wheat tortillas
Coleslaw
Pineapple

Friday--
Chicken enchiladas with homemade sauce
Green beans
Bananas

Saturday--
Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Meatballs
Coleslaw
Oranges

Sunday--
Beef chuck pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Green beans
Oranges

Breakfasts this week will be sausages and eggs or toast and eggs.

Lunches this week will be leftover lasagna and low carb meatloaf.

Credit Score Went Up, Ranch Visit, Shopping

January 26th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Most, but not all, of the debt repayment hit our credit report. We have a monitoring service through Experian due to theft years ago. I'm paranoid enough about it, to keep tabs on at least one of our reports. So it is lagging one month behind on the mortgage, but it was lagging 3 months behind as I think the credit union only reports it quarterly, and it is one payment behind on both the AMEX and the BoA, but it will catch up. Meanwhile our credit score went up to 790.

Now I'm all antsy for February 8th to get here and I can start paying the Chase card off. It's kind of contagious, that push to get further and further out of debt. Paying Chase off probably won't have much of an effect on our credit score. It's the car loan that is likely keeping it from going over 800. Still, we are positioning ourselves well to buy a new house.

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We went down to the sustainable, free-ranging, organic (and grass fed in the case of the beef, no soy or GMO's in the case of the chickens) farm today and I spent $297.78 of my $300 monthly meat budget. We came back with 4 chuck roasts, 8 pork chops, 2 beef stir-fry, 2 bacon, 2 whole chickens, 10 ground beef, and 2 ground pork. We still have a couple of packs of bacon and some hamburger from our last trip, so this should meet our protein needs nicely for the month. And of course there are our free eggs from the backyard chickens.

I really hope to be able to order a half a steer this year. We will see how it goes. I also wouldn't mind a whole pig, but the ranch doesn't do that so we'd have to find another source. They do a $300 box of pork though. I'm not really sure if it's worth getting though, because we pretty much only eat bacon, ground pork, and pork chops when it comes to pork. Very occasionally I will make pulled pork for burritos from a roast, but not often.

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On the way back from the farm there was a gas station that had gas for $3.17 a gallon if you had cash, so DH and I ransacked his wallet and my purse and scraped together $31 (including the last couple bucks of the meat budget money) for gas, since the absolute cheapest it is in our county is $3.25. So the tank sits at 3/4 full now. Well worth it since we were driving by it anyway.

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We went to Costco after we got home and I used my rebate coupon. We stocked up on some toiletries, garbage bags, canned pineapple, butter, and oranges. Charmin had a $2 off coupon, so that was nice. We stopped at another store for Organic milk, green onions and bananas.

I feel like I put myself through the wringer today, though. On the bright side my knee isn't hurting. On the not so bright side everything else is. I'm sure it will be better in the morning, though. It usually is.