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Archive for March, 2013

Spring Cleaning

March 31st, 2013 at 11:39 pm

I'm on a major cleaning binge. I spent a good portion of today cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. I still have to reorganize everything so that I can actually make use of my countertops. I had so much cluttering them up. A lot of it was canning equipment that just didn't get put away at the end of last summer, but there was a surprising number of chip bags with just crumbs and little pieces in the bottom. Mostly plain tortilla chips. My kids don't like it when there are no longer big chips. I don't mind so much, but they were stale. I crumbled them up and gave them to the chickens. I figured it was safe enough since the only ingredients were corn, oil, and salt.

I reorganized my recycle area, so now there is a bin each for soda cans, cardboard, tin cans, and plastic and they are neatly lined up and easily accessible. I keep the paper recycle bag in my room since that is where I look at the mail. I did over a year's worth of paper shredding. I filled five paper grocery bags stuffed full, and two of them were those oversize bags you get from restaurants with the fancy handles.

I did some extra cleaning in the rabbit shed. I swept the excess dropped hay up and the rogue droppings that don't always make it into the bins under the hutches. I spent about 10 minutes cuddling Phoebe. She's such a sweetheart. She is 12.5 weeks now and she's no longer afraid of me. I was hoping she'd settle after a few weeks. She is growing well. She's just a little beyond the age they recommend for butchering meat rabbits, but she doesn't seem big enough to me. Not that she will be butchered, she'll be a breeder, but I was just figuring based on the size.

We are going to wait until May to raise meat chickens. That'll get us through our first rabbit harvest and the birth of the next set of kits, before taking on any more responsibility. I really need to get some grow out cages soon. The current kits will need to be separated in about 3 weeks and I need to be set up well before then. Maybe I'll have time to run around to the different feed stores tomorrow and look at what they have. I can order what I need online, but if I can get it locally I'd prefer that. I like to support local businesses first.

Thank goodness it's spring break. I don't think I could get everything done this week that I want to get done if I were homeschooling this week.

EF Update

March 30th, 2013 at 03:16 pm

I was able to pay back the $250 I took out of the EF and add enough to meet my savings goal of $3200 by the end of March. It now sits at $3253.65. So my goal for April will be to get it to $3455. My usual amount sent to the Emergency Fund is $140 a month ($150 if there happens to be 5 Thursdays in a month). To meet my goal I will need to come up with an additional $61.35.

While DH has had his overtime approved, there may be trouble with finding him a bed. As they have ramped up for the busy season, they've hired more people and of course the rooms are very tightly scheduled. DH is willing to change rooms on a nightly basis if necessary, so hopefully they will come up with something. Otherwise he won't be able to get it this month.

Because the head people are getting anxious for redlines to be done, and because there is no one who actually is in the position for the work that needs to get done, it's going to sit there until DH can get to it, which means if they can't find the bed now, the work won't get done until they do.

Since it is not part of his usual work which is coming in fast and furious, they can't just pull him off what he's doing either and have him do redlines instead. So whether it is in April or in May, at some point he will need to work six weeks straight through. It's just a question of when. I just hope they can find the beds now. I'd rather he be home in six weeks for rabbit harvesting then miss it. I can handle most aspects of it, but I don't want to do the actual deed on my own the first time.

Overtime

March 28th, 2013 at 06:32 pm

DH is being given the opportunity to work one, maybe two weeks of overtime for them to do some catch up stuff and it will really help our budget out. One full week would mean $3625 and two full weeks would be $7250. That would allow us to get the rest of vacation paid off without having to dip into the emergency fund at all. Two weeks of overtime would mean I could actually get the special stacking rabbit cages that I want for expanding our rabbitry and throw a little money at the EF.

It would be nice to have a clean slate again. Vacation was worth it, and I don't regret it, but I didn't like the idea of it being May or June to get the balance on the card back to zero.

I'll miss DH, but financially it is the best move for us right now.

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I forgot to mention I bought a great little cookbook magazine at the store yesterday. It's Taste of Home and is one of those digest sized ones that are like recipe cards that was at the checkout and is for easy ground beef. It had at least ten recipes in it that the kids would eat. I always consider it worth it if I walk away with one recipe, so I was thrilled by this one. I will have to make a few substitions since we don't really use processed foods, but most of the ones the kids would eat didn't use those ingredients anyway.

I can't wait to try making these, starting with the Pizza Noodle Bake and the Florentine Meatballs and the Baked Spaghetti. Yum. Since meat prices are going up so much right now, we'll be eating more hamburger and so the variety in all of these recipes will really help out.

Oops

March 27th, 2013 at 06:50 pm

I made it all of two days staying out of the grocery store. I got my C-PAP machine today and I need distilled water to run it, so I had to go buy some. It was .99 a gallon and I bought two. And then I sort of decided since I was at the grocery store anyway, that I might as well buy bananas. And strawberries. Bye-bye 100 mile foodshed and buying foods in season.

DD has been throwing up for the past 24 hours so I ended up adding soup and crackers to my shopping cart. I didn't even think about buying onions so I could make stock and make my own soup. And box a of Puffs with the lotion in it, because the killer snot monster from outer space has attacked and my nose is tender and there is just something creepy about the coldness of the Kleenex with aloe in it. It always makes me feel like the tissue is wet.

I don't know if it is allergies or I am catching my niece's cold, or someone else on the airplane's cold. I am hoping it is just allergies, because of the flowering dogwood, flowering cherries, and forsythia all going strong right now. And some kind of orange flower (marigold, I think) that bloomed up until December last year is blooming right now, way early.

Anyway, the shopping got away from me a little. But now there really is no more need for me to go to the store again for a good while, so hopefully I'll have better luck staying out of it for the next few days.

My Goals for the Week

March 25th, 2013 at 08:04 pm

1. To not set foot in the grocery store for any reason. I have all that I need. I might want bananas, but I have oranges and strawberries and canned pineapple and canned pears. Bananas are a want, not a need and they can wait a week.

2. To cook every meal and not go out to eat at all. I have lots of good food available here and an excellent meal plan. There is no reason not to follow it.

3. The only purchase I need to make is gas and that can wait until payday Friday. So no other purchases, period.

4. Set up the April Budget and remember to include the new insurance amounts. Both car insurance and DH's life insurance went up. Also the storage rate went up so make sure to change things accordingly.

5. Clean my bedroom. And clear off the kitchen table. It's for eating, not for storing everything I don't feel like putting away.

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On the spending front I paid a medical bill of $1073.64. Ouch. Love that high $2500 deductible on the insurance. /sarcasm

I also bought 50 pounds of rabbit feed and a second water bottle for Piper and the kits. It cost $18.39 for the feed, $12.39 for the half gallon water bottle, and $1.69 for the Pepsi my husband snuck in. Tax was $2.82, so the total spent today was $35.29.

I picked up five holds from the library today. Two are on building a worm bin or raising worms. I think that may be the way to go for underneath the rabbit cages to keep the smell down (although there is not much of one), and to help with composting things faster. One was on raising rabbits because I still feel like I have a lot to learn. One is on small scale farming and the final one is a pleasure read, a teen sci-fi adventure novel called Ashfall that deals with the aftermath of the Yellowstone Volcano erupting in the near future. I do love the apocalyptic survival type of novel, so unless the author has a style I absolutely hate, it should be a good read.

Vacation Musings, Computer Issues, and Broken Camera

March 25th, 2013 at 09:12 am

With the final numbers in, we spent $7,521.76 on our vacation to Disneyland, about $2000 more than I had bargained for. This trip was for seven people (we paid the way for my SIL and 2 nieces). It was a once in a lifetime trip, one they would never have taken on their own due to divorce and the subsequent poverty it brought into their lives, and I think it was well worth the expense to give them this opportunity.

That being said, we may end up carrying a small balance into May. I will be trying my best to pay it off before the due date on April 21st, though. I have paid $5030 of it so far. DH is going to use his miles to get a few free tickets for work, and he has one free hotel stay for frequent visits, so the money that would go toward that will be used to pay off the vacation balance.

I may dip into the EF to pay it off sooner, though. I am used to living with a $1000 EF, so if I use $2000 of it to pay on this, it'll bring it to $1000 again, then I can start rebuilding it. We won't be doing a big vacation again until 2018 or 2019, so and I will be saving up for it starting in June.

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DH's DVD player in his laptop went out so he will now be using the old portable DVD player up at work. I have to start saving up for a new laptop for him. His has other problems as well and it has really been limping along.

My own laptop will have to be taken in as soon as spring break hits. The built in mouse has quit working and I have to use a plug-in mouse with it. My laptop is still under contract so that won't cost anything, but I can't afford to be without it during regular school hours since I use it in homeschooling my son.

If I take it in the Friday before spring break, I should have it back by the Monday after spring break. It usually takes 10 days to fix something since they send it to Seattle. I just hope they can fix it. I know they will replace it if they can't, but it is such a major hassle to transfer everything off one computer and on to the next one. And this one isn't even a year old so I really hate the idea of them not being able to fix it for such a small thing.

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I have been thinking that if we get enough money when we sell the house we will pay off the van. I send in close to $800 a month on van payments (extra to principal), and it would be really nice to knock that payment off. That would mean no debt (besides what I still owe Mom, but that's not on a credit report) going into buying a new house and getting a mortgage. It would also give us more wiggle room to save money and pay for college.

Mom has said we can stay here as long as we like, so we may take an extra year to add money to the downpayment so we won't owe so much when we buy a new house.

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My camera quit working sometime between when I packed it for Disneyland and we arrived in California. I'm not sure how it got damaged since it was in my carry-on. MIL gave each of us $100 before we went on vacation and I didn't spend mine, so I may go to a couple of the pawn shops and see about buying a good camera for very little money.

I use my camera almost daily and I don't like not having one. I don't have to have a top of the line one, but I'd like something more than my cruddy dumb phone camera, and I'm not about to upgrade to a smart phone just for the camera. I've owned my digital camera for ten years or so, and I really hate that it broke. It is possible they could fix it, but I doubt they could do it for less than what getting a new one costs. That is something that really bothers me about technology these days. Oh, well. What can you do?

Meal Planning for the Week

March 24th, 2013 at 10:52 pm

They had picnic hams on sale for $1.19 a pound for the butt portion, which will fit in my crockpot quite easily. The had the shank portion for .99 a pound, which has to be made in the oven because of its size. I ended up picking up a couple for now of the smaller but more expensive of the two. I know that after Easter they will have a massive sale on these hams and I should be able to get 20 for less than a $1 per pound and freeze them for use throughout the year. I did that last year and I think we ate our last ham from the sales two weeks ago.

I had gone to the store looking for a chuck roast but the only one they had had a price jacked up for Easter. I'll get some next Saturday when I go to the ranch. They keep their prices steady.

Most of these menues revolve around eating down the freezer and the stuff in the pantry. If I'm going to try to get a half a beef I need my freezer to be close to empty. I can still store the hams in the under fridge freezer with a few other things.

Monday--

Picnic ham made in the crockpot (they are on sale right now)
Green beans
Oranges

Tuesday--

Leftover hot ham sandwiches on rosemary bread with provolone
Broccoli/Cauliflower
Strawberries

Wednesday--

Spaghetti and meatballs made with ground pork and ground beef
Oranges
Baby spinach salad

Thursday--

Homemade pizza with pepperoni, ham, onions, and bell peppers on it, mozzarella cheese and leftover homemade spaghetti sauce

Friday--

Roasted Duck
Baked sweet potatoes
Broccoli/cauliflower

Saturday--
Crockpot chicken
Carrots
Pineapple
Green beans

Sunday--
Crockpot beef chuck roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Drop bicuits with choice of homemade jam
Broccoli/cauliflower

I'm Glad I Saved Up

March 20th, 2013 at 05:31 pm

I can't tell you how glad I am to have saved up as much money for this vacation as I did. Disneyland is great, but it is even more expensive here than I remembered. I have used up all of the money we set aside for it and close to all of the money that was left of the tax refund. I have not had to dip into any other money so far, but we have 2 more days at the park and then one day of air travel to get through.

If I have to dip into the EF a bit, I will, but I'm hoping that won't be necessary. Disneyland is not an emergency, but carrying a balance on a card again is also not something I want to do. So we'll see. It'll be a few years before we go on vacation again, but I am already planning to set aside so much money a month for it. I think it pays off to do so, just wish I'd started a bit sooner, is all.

We Made It

March 16th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

We are safe in California and tomorrow:



I'm a trifle irritated with BoA at the moment. They put a fraud alert on our main VISA card. Disney accidentally processed our ticket purchase twice so we called BoA because it was showing up as pending twice. And with something that costs $2030 we wanted to make sure that the extra charge got off, so DH called them. So on the Disney end it was cleared up within 12 hours, but BoA decided it was going to lock us out of viewing our account online.

Even after I answered every single security question (and there were a lot of them) they still won't let us access that account online. We can, at least, still use the card, but I want to be able to get to it online, because I want to double check it got taken off. Then on Tuesday when the money arrives from ING to my regular CU account I wanted to pay off the tickets. *grumble growls*

They won't talk to me over the phone even though I am a joint account holder, not just an authorized user, because DH is the one that talked to them originally. It is stupid. Oh, I'm sure it is all for our "benefit" but it annoys me nonetheless. We did not ask them for a fraud alert and to lock us out of our internet access, we asked them to clear up a simple problem and instead they made it ten times more complicated.

I'm not sure why I expected them to be able to do it right though. It is the Evil Empire, after all. I swear if Alaska Airlines partnered with any other bank I would drop them in a heartbeat.

A Little Lax

March 13th, 2013 at 07:23 pm

Record keeping has been a little lax this past week so I'll try to get that updated. My Emergency Fund is now at $3044.20, (or will be with tomorrow's auto transfer of $10) so I need to come up with $155.80 to hit my March goal. $100 will go in on my monthly deposit on Friday, and there will be two more $10 auto transfers this month, so that's $120 taken care of. That means just coming up with an additional $35.80 by month's end.

I added $3.32 to the coin jar yesterday.

Things that have been paid since Friday:

$336.00 Dentist
__90.00 Physical Therapy
_375.86 Mortgage
_150.00 9 Rabbits
_146.40 Feed and supplies for Rabbits
_187.72 3 Prescriptions
_300.00 to Mom for her utilities
_156.29 Doctor
_206.27 Sleep Doctor
_168.64 Doctor
_757.82 Van loan
__50.01 Gas
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2925.01 Total Money Out

I did not pay extra on the mortgage this month. I still might, but with all the medical bills, I chose to be more conservative. I did pay extra on the van loan though. Medical was ridiculous this month and it's only half over. That is just $718.92 out of pocket this month for medical expenses, $1054.92 if you add dental.

I met with the sleep doctor today and yes, I do have a mild form of sleep apnea. It hits me when I go into REM sleep or into deep sleep, which explains why I can get lots of hours of sleep but never feel rested.

I am now waiting to hear from which medical device company it is my insurance will work with. Sleep Doctor told me today that they are separating from Aetna as of May 9th. I asked him if that was because Aetna sucks and he said, well, he wouldn't actually come right out and say that.

But Aetna does suck and they like to deny things a couple of times before they will pre-approve anything and make you jump through lots of hoops. It's covering less and less and less and charging more and more and more. I remember when they used to be a good insurance, and you could go to whoever you wanted, but gosh, it's been over a decade ago. I really miss the insurance we had with DH's former company.

I think I'm now at least halfway to hitting my $2500 family deductible for the year. I just wish that certain things would count for it that don't. Like my physical therapy, which they don't think I need anymore, but every time I skip it I start losing my ability to walk, so I've been paying for it for a while now. Or the chiropractic at $225 a month for the unlimited visits family plan (which is actually cheaper for us than our portion of 4 appointments would be). That's $585 a month that doesn't go to our deductible at all, but thankfully we can use the HSA for. And our portion of dental does not count towards the medical deductible.

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The rabbits are doing great and the little ones are growing visibly now. I have to harden myself a bit to not grow attached to them as they are adorable. I am glad I have not let the kids talk me into naming them. In my book they are bunnies A through F.

The chickens are doing well, too, although I think it is time for Queen to have another bath. Actually, they could all do with one. Because of the heavy rainfall and mud. Apparently no one has told the chickens that when it is raining, it is not a dust bath they are taking but a mud bath. I am just extremely glad I got some Wellies, because I can't imagine walking around back there without good boots right now.

The Old House Update

March 12th, 2013 at 02:03 pm

The remodel on the old house is coming along. The walls and ceiling are finished, the windows have all been reframed and the kitchen cabinet doors are done. Part of the flooring has gone down in the dining room and the new doors have been ordered. The bathrooms are being done today.

It is still looking like the end of May before we can put it on the market. The house certainly does not look like the house we originally bought or the house that we lived in. The changes that have occurred in the house have been enough for 3 other people in the neighborhood to ask to hire these workers to work on their homes after they have completed the work on ours.

I am actually becoming a little hopeful that we might get more out of it than I thought we could. Housing prices are finally starting to pick up out there, supply is getting tighter, and this is going to be virtually like walking into a new house when it is done. I will never count my chickens before they hatch, but I think it's possible we could walk away with enough for a solid down payment and to pay off the remaining amount of the van loan, which would wipe out all of our consumer debt.

That would just leave the new mortgage and what I owe my mother. It is nice to dream, but that's all it is right now. Just dreams. But without the van payment to pay each month, cash flowing college would not be a problem. Here's hoping it all turns out the way we want it to.

We Have Bunnies!

March 9th, 2013 at 07:35 pm

Today was long, but everyone is now snuggled up safe and warm and happy and we are nine bunnies richer (or a lot of money poorer, but they will eventually pay us back).

Here are the hutches for the does:



And the one for the buck, which has a silver roof instead of brown:



This is Leo the Storm Master, our nine month old buck:



This is Piper, a nine month old doe, with her litter of 3 week old kits:



And this is Phoebe, who is 9 1/2 weeks old and will be a breeding doe when she is old enough:



So far we have paid $551.40 for start up costs. I figure it'll take about a year to earn that back. Plus I want to get another grown doe and buck from a different breeder and we'll need to make a few cages, so that will add a bit. On the plus side, though, we already have someone who wants to buy rabbit meat from us, our daughter's best friend's mother.

I need to find out for sure what license I need to get to butcher for sale. I've saved a couple of .PDFs with the info, but haven't had time to read them yet since I've been reading the stuff on care. We are 5 to 7 weeks away from butchering though so I have time to find out and do the proper legal stuff. And we probably won't sell any of this first batch. I want to keep the biggest, strongest girl to grow up for a breeder and that will only leave five to go to freezer camp. I might part with one. We'll see. She knows it may be half a year before we have enough to sell some.