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Archive for July, 2019

We Have a Diagnosis

July 18th, 2019 at 06:24 pm

Or rather, should I say, we have another diagnosis. DD has, as I have long suspected, fibromyalgia. The doctor wants to do further blood work for Sjogren's disease as well, something else we have suspected. The difference between this rheumatologist (mine) and the other one DD saw two years ago is night and day. She took the time to listen and did not dismiss my daughter's symptoms due to her young age. DD is really happy with this doctor. I figured she would be.

Even though we have hit our out of pocket max, the one test is so expensive that we still have to pay some of it like I do with my Embrel. It'll be $82 so not awful. It's just on a different tier. They tried to do the tests today but she is not hydrated enough. So we'll push Gatorade tomorrow and then go down and try again.

It is good to have an answer, but it is all just pieces of the puzzle and I don't think we have the last piece or two to finish it yet.

Retirement Update

July 17th, 2019 at 05:24 pm

$10,275.59 401K
+_9,047.67 IRA
-------------
$19,323.26 New Balance

$19,323.26 New Balance
-18,045.73 Old Balance
-------------
$_1,277.53 Amount of Increase

The 401K is up $1,099.70 and the IRA is up $177.78. This is since June 26th. I hope in two paydays' time the total is over $20K. That will feel like a big milestone to us.

The Garden is Picking Up Steam

July 16th, 2019 at 12:59 am

Well, I got 4 gold rush zucchini, 3 cucumbers, 3 giant kohlrabi, a bunch of basil and a bunch of parsley from the garden today. I've got 3 trays of basil and 4 trays of parsley in the dehydrator. That makes 5 cucumbers now, so I think I may make a small jar of half sour pickles tomorrow.

I need to call a local sporting goods store that has a big canning and fermenting section and see if they have any fermenting stones first. If not, then I will just eat the cukes and order the stones from Amazon and wait for a few more cukes to grow. I already have the fermenting lids. I've never made half sours before, but I love them. Those are the kind you get in delis, but in delis they often add yellow #5, which I am allergic to. It takes 1 to 2 weeks of fermenting time to make them. I have the dill in the garden, but will have to pick up some garlic. I didn't grow any this year. I wasn't expecting any cucumbers to be ready yet, so didn't think to buy garlic on my shopping day.

Tomorrow I need to cut some cilantro, thyme, peppermint, and spearmint to dehydrate. The peppermint and spearmint can be hung to dehydrate, but I have to label them because both can look like oregano when dried. (Because of our humidity the other herbs don't dry as well in the air). Well, the spearmint is purple so it is easier to identify, but the mint and oregano look very similar. They don't smell the same, but I don't want to be second guessing myself later, either. I might even be able to harvest a few sage leaves, too.

I think I will also harvest the purple basil tomorrow and make a pesto with it. I like how purple basil tastes in pesto. I may marinate the chicken in that this week. We will see. It depends on how busy my dehydrator is.

I can't believe how much the beans and corn have jumped this week. And the butternut and sweet meat squash plants really have taken off. I did do an update video on my channel if anyone wants to see just how the garden is doing.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYIjd0itLug and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYIjd0itLug

I also need to clean the kitchen tomorrow. All the counters, the sinks, and the floor. DS will have to help with the floor. I can sweep it, but he needs to mop it. The long hallway could use a good vacuuming as well. Hopefully I will feel up to doing that after the kitchen. If not, well, at least the bathroom got cleaned. That was my major priority for today.

Oh, on the sad side of things, Persephone died. She was our last New Zealand white rabbit. She was the oldest, although Ruby (who became DS's pet) is only a couple of weeks younger. Persephone was a particular favorite of mine. She was descended from the first three rabbits we ever owned.

I am debating selling all but Ruby and one other rabbit. I am not sure which other one I would keep though. Rabbits are social so I don't want to leave Ruby without a friend in the cage next door. It would make the most sense to keep Zara and not the boys, but Zara is a bit of a snot, so maybe we will keep Cyrus or Vincent. Vincent is the prettiest as a broken red, but Cyrus, a broken black is the sweetest, most friendly rabbit aside from Ruby and he is Persephone's son and Starbuck's grandson. But Vincent is Ruby's grandson. Well, maybe I will keep 3.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 15th, 2019 at 11:10 am

We had a pleasant evening last night. I cooked on the grill. We made corn on the cob, onions, bell peppers, zucchini from the garden, hamburgers and hot dogs. We have given up on finding soy free hot dog and hamburger buns. The ones we had been using suddenly started adding soy. Now we just use the Naked potato bread for our buns. It tastes better anyway. I managed the hamburgers a little better this time, moving them around when the flames flared too much. Everything tasted delicious. This is quickly becoming my favorite way to cook.

Here's my new meal plan for the week with grill days scheduled for the non-rainy days of this week:

Monday--pork roast, baked potatoes, leftover peppers, onions, and zucchini

Tuesday--Grilled chicken, baked potatoes, green beans

Wednesday--Creamy sausage, bell peppers, and onions, green beans

Thursday--Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, Normandy vegetables

Friday--Grilled pizza, salad

Saturday--Grilled steak, grilled corn on the cob, grilled zucchini

Sunday--Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, grilled onions, grilled zucchini

Grocery Spending Tracking

July 14th, 2019 at 05:53 pm

There were not really any good sales again this week, so I stocked up on some things that I've let run low and got some things we have been wanting to try (namely Larabars) and bought some items that are never on sale.

I also bought the ingredients to make homemade strawberry ice cream and homemade chocolate ice cream. Both came out well, though the chocolate almost is more of a frozen mousse/pudding consistency, but it is so good. The strawberry has a little more ice crystals in it than when I made the vanilla, but that's from the strawberries, it does that.

I really love these no machine ice cream recipes. If anyone wants them I can give you the links to the lady's youtube videos on it in the comments. The chocolate and strawberry take more time than the vanilla because there are more ingredients and you have to do a little bit more with them, but still, it took me about 15 minutes to do them one after the other. The longest parts were pureeing the strawberries and sifting the cocoa powder. Vanilla takes five minutes.

My first stop was at Winco where I spent $97.13 and bought:

2 loaves of Naked bread
4 Larabars (banana nut, peanut butter chocolate chip, cashew cookie, and cookie dough)
1 head lettuce
2 red bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
1 bag of spinach
1 bag Mexican blend cheese
1 bag cheddar cheese
2 Walla Walla sweet onions
2 limes
2 ground chicken (never on sale)
1 turkey chub (for salads)
2 20 count bags hamburger patties
4 strawberry lemonade
1 lemonade
1 gallon distilled water (for C-pap machines)
24 cans of green beans

Then we went to Safeway and spent $188.52 and picked up:

1 box of ice cream cones (no soy, ya'all!)
2 bags of potato chips
1 jar Cheez Whiz (for my daughter, comfort food)
1 1/2 gallon milk
2 pork shoulder roasts
3 pounds of breakfast sausage (for breakfast burritos)
6 packages uncured soppresata
6 packages uncured pepperoni
1 package Canadian bacon
1 package turkey sticks (no soy)
1 package beef sticks (no soy)
3 pounds of grass feed beef
4 ears of corn
1 bag garlic croutons
2.35 pounds of red cherries
1 pound sliced cheddar (deli)
1 pound turkey (deli)
2 pound roast beef (deli)
1 pound honey ham (deli)

At Haggen I spent $41.41 and bought:

1 package soy free mini chocolate chips
2 pounds of strawberries
2 organic sweetened condensed milk
2 pints of real cream (bottle deposit of $4.00 that I'll get back when I return them)
7 bottles of organic ketchup (stock up)

Total spending was $327.06 out out of a $400 two week budget.

Payday Report for 7/12/19

July 14th, 2019 at 05:21 pm

$327.46 Tithe
_400.00 Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_280.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
_111.08 Internet
__36.00 Garbage
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Blow Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances Kids
_600.00 Citi
_100.00 Clothing Fund
------------
3199.54 Total Money Out

My Blog is Screwed Up

July 13th, 2019 at 05:30 pm

I can see that people are leaving comments on my last entry, but I cannot access them because all I am getting is a 404 error when I try to open that post or its comments. They are supposedly working on it. I am seriously thinking of quitting. They just can't or won't permanently fix things around here. It used to be decent, but it hasn't been in years.

This is the worst platform I have ever blogged on and I've used four others. I have never had problems like this anywhere else. In fact in ten years of blogging on platforms I haven't had any problems except on this platform. The amount of frustration is just starting to feel not worth it.

This probably won't even post as it has logged me out 5 times today.

An ARGH Kind of Day

July 10th, 2019 at 09:18 pm

That stupid deer still managed to jump the fence and get into the garden. Is it wrong of me to keep thinking how good he would look in my freezer? He is an awfully big fellow. Along with his brother, that would provide a lot of meat for the family. No, I know I can't do that. Deer season isn't until November and you can't discharge a firearm within city limits. *sighs* I am only half joking. He ate all the Romenescu heads.

All these years and I have never had trouble with deer. This is just so frustrating. It is going to be a bad produce year nationwide. I am growing to get stuff in the freezer and canned, not to be an all you can eat buffet to the local critters. This is one of the problems with living near a several acre wooded park. This thing is costing me money and taking food out of my family's mouths.

Maybe we will just have to build cages for all of the raised beds. Well, not the onions. They aren't touching the onions. Or the zucchini, herbs, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Just the brassicas. I do worry about the corn and green beans when they get big enough to produce, though.

Went to the gastro doctor's office and saw the P.A. about DD's liver tumor. She hadn't even looked at the MRI results. I was miffed. She's going to get back to us by Friday after she talks to the radiologist and consults the doctor, which usually means Monday or Tuesday. I was very clear when I made the appointment what we needed to talk about. I am sick of waiting rooms, sick of medical personnel falling down on the job, and sick of my daughter being sick and no one being able to figure out the underlying cause of all this crap that is happening to her body. Pardon my language. I am very frustrated today.

What a Waste

July 9th, 2019 at 04:01 pm

I cleaned out the fridges last night and I was shocked by the amount of food in there that we had to throw away. I am usually pretty good at leftover management, but clearly not over the past week. DH having four days off from work didn't help. You'd think it would have as he'd be eating the same stuff he normally takes to work, all the leftovers, but he didn't for some reason.

This is what I ended up throwing out:

1 cup of leftover spaghetti
1 cup of leftover fajita mix
2 cups of leftover rotini
4 ounces of steak
6 small baked potatoes that had gotten shoved to the back
1 cup of green beans
3 quarts of homemade chicken broth
1/2 a bag of spinach
1 cabbage
1 lettuce
1 cup of sliced kohlrabi
1 bunch of radishes

Ugh. The chicken broth isn't so bad as it is just a by-product of when I make chicken in the Instant Pot. It costs nothing. The kohlrabi and lettuce were from the garden and have more than paid for themselves this season, so that isn't anything out of pocket either. But the rest of it just makes me very disappointed in my leftover management.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 8th, 2019 at 10:42 pm

We will be grilling a few days this week. The days we aren't will be days it is scheduled to rain.

Monday:
Beef pot roast, baked potatoes, leftover zucchini

Tuesday:
Grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes, grilled onions, broccoli

Wednesday:
Meatloaf, fried potatoes, green beans

Thursday:
Spaghetti and Meatballs, broccoli

Friday:
Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled onions, grilled zucchini, grilled bell peppers

Saturday:
Grilled chicken, grilled onions, grilled bell peppers, baked potatoes

Sunday:
Grilled sirloin steak, grilled zucchini, roasted potatoes


This and That

July 7th, 2019 at 04:35 am

The fence is completed, another dump run was made, and all but the frame of the turkey pen is down. Now we just need to train my mother to stop leaving the fence gate open. It doesn't do any good to have a fence up to keep the deer out, if she is going to leave a doorway for them.

Tomorrow I want to go to Lowe's and pick up a grill basket for veggies, a second pair of BBQ tongs to prevent cross contamination and an empty hanging basket for my night sky petunias. I have $69 left in my allowance folder.

The meal plan has gone a bit by the wayside this week with the new charcoal grill, but I don't care. It's all food we have on hand so if I change things up a little, so be it. Today (well, technically yesterday) we did hot dogs, hamburgers, onion slices (I definitely want a grill basket), and sausages on the grill. The sausages are for breakfasts or lunches this week. DH taught DS and I how to use it from start to finish, so we can now do it on the days he isn't off from work if we want to.

My next plan is to do chicken thighs or legs tomorrow for dinner. I found this Jamaican jerk recipe on YouTube so I think I will either use that sans the spicy pepper (replaced with jalapeño) or the spices I use in Shawarma or Fajitas. Really depends on what I feel in the mood for doing tomorrow.

My 30 quart stainless steel bowl came. It's a touch bigger than I thought it would be, but I will be able to mix up a quadruple batch of meatballs, meatloaf, or breakfast burritos all at once. I can also prepare 14 pounds of potatoes at once for canning (that's a full canner load). It will have to be hand washed though. It would just barely fit in the dishwasher, but it would take up the whole bottom rack. Seriously, you could bathe a toddler in this thing. It makes me laugh every time I see it. I think I could have gotten by with a 20 quart bowl, but oh, well, I'm not sending it back.

I bit the bullet and signed up for the free trial of prime on amazon. I am not sure we particularly need it, but we want to watch Good Omens so we'll see. I usually get everything shipped free anyway because we order in such a way to do so, this will just be a faster arrival time. And the discount at Whole Foods. I marked the calendar. We might keep it if it feels worthwhile, since we are cancelling HBO on hulu since GoT is over and WW is a long way from its next season still. We will cancel right before the next renewal. Also marked on my calendar.

DD, DH, and I have all finished season 3 of Stranger Things. No spoilers, but it was mostly very good. I am glad it dropped on a long holiday weekend so we could watch all 8 episodes without pesky things like DH having to get up early for work getting in the way.

Celebrating Independence Day

July 4th, 2019 at 11:23 pm

Well, we just made the long trek home from the end of our driveway, where we have the perfect view of the bay for the city's fireworks display. I love not having to fight traffic or crowds and just being able to set up chairs at the last minute to watch the show. The display didn't seem to last as long this year, but it had some impressive new fireworks I've never seen before.

We broke out the new charcoal grill for dinner tonight and I was happy it wasn't hard to use at all. I think we will be using it a lot while the weather is good. We made ribeye steaks, bell pepper kababs, zucchini kebabs, little onion kebabs, and also grilled green onions and corn on the cob. I think it was the best meal I've ever eaten. It was definitely the best steak.

The yellow zucchini, little onions, and green onions were from the garden. This was the first zucchini from the garden for the season and there were actually two ready. We made so many veggies that we have them for tomorrow's dinner, too, which will be hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. I can see how people get so obsessed with grilling. It really hasn't been something we've done much of outside of hamburgers or hot dogs at a park or something.

I'd love to do the Shawarma spices on chicken on the grill and of course Honey BBQ chicken, too. This thing is going to get a work out. It was well worth the $99 plus tax we spent on it and the cost of the charcoal, lighter fluid, and grill tools. We will get tons of use out of it.

As for the homemade ice cream, it did indeed get hard. It is very rich, though. You know that silly serving size on an ice cream carton that says 1/2 cup? Yeah, that's about how much you can eat due to the richness, but that's great. An ice cream that actually enforces serving sizes.

We had a very good day as a family. It was nice to relax all together and enjoy the time.

Homemade Ice Cream

July 4th, 2019 at 03:39 am

I can't sleep so I am blogging. Last night I made homemade ice cream for our dinner tonight. It is a three ingredient, no ice cream machine recipe. It is much cheaper than the quality ice creams to make and has no suspect ingredients. I think we can save a lot of money doing it this way. The clean ice creams are so expensive. This comes out to $3.50 for a quart for vanilla, at least with the prices here.

This was so simple. All it takes is two cups of cream and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. You whip the cream (I used the whisk attachment in my stand mixer) until it turns into whipped cream with stiff peaks (does not take long at all so watch it or you'll end up with butter) and then you add the vanilla and the milk, folding it in with a spatula. If you don't know what folding is, you simply scoop the whipped cream up and over the condensed milk and then down and through and you keep doing that until it is completely mixed in. This keeps air in the mixture and gives it a better outcome.

Then you transfer the mixture into your container and freeze it for 6 to 8 hours. I tasted the mixture and it tastes like really good vanilla ice cream. It is supposed to come out like hard ice cream. We will see.

You can also add other ingredients at the folding stage. You could put in crumbled cookies or sprinkles or cake or fruit or swirl in some chocolate sauce. I decided to just stick with straight vanilla to start with, but if it turns out well I may branch out. This was so easy, I was done in five minutes, so I really hope it will work out. I don't really have the counter space for my ice cream machine in this house, so it would be nice to be able to just make it this easily when we want some.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 2nd, 2019 at 04:46 pm

I forgot to post my meal plan for the week. Meal planning is an essential tool for me to stay on track with the grocery budget and to keep away from the take out trap.

Day One:
Fried chicken, roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, broccoli, watermelon

Day Two:
Beef pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, blueberries

Day Three:
Chicken Shawarma, naan bread, tzatziki, kohlrabi, blackberries

Day Four:
Ribeyes, potatoes, onions, and bell peppers, watermelon

Day Five:
Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, watermelon

Day Six:
Homemade pizza, salad, pineapple

Day Seven:
Cheeseburgers, fried potatoes, cole slaw, pickles, blueberries

Working on the July Budget

July 2nd, 2019 at 04:42 pm

Do you ever have one of those days when you know you need to get stuff done, but you're just...eh, later? And then later comes and you've done virtually nothing for the day? Yeah, that's today. Mostly.

I did the preliminary budget for July last night. I had to add a line for the clothing envelope because apparently DH needs shorts he can go out in public in. The ones he runs around the house in he isn't comfortable wearing to a store and he's ripped out all his denim shorts. He is so tough on jeans and the like.

I wasn't expecting to have to buy any more clothes until fall besides one pair of shoes. I also need to start contributing to the gift budget again. DD's and DH's birthdays are in August and then I need to start saving up for Christmas. So it looks like I will only be able to pay $1600 on the mom loan instead of the $1800 I'd been hoping for, and probably only that much going forward as well. It will move the payoff date to April, I think, unless DH gets a substantial Christmas bonus. Or we get a good tax refund. We won't be able to claim medical expenses this year, though, so it might be pretty low and not something I am counting on towards pay off.

I should have zucchini ready in the garden in two days. I am looking forward to it. There is nothing like fresh picked zucchini in flavor. Store zucchini can be pretty good this time of year, but it pales very much in comparison.

The grocery ads came early yesterday. I did a quick look through and they were pretty cruddy. Which is good because I don't need any groceries, except watermelon, which they did have a sale on, so I will get some tomorrow when the sale starts. Maybe some corn on the cob, too.

I want to buy a barbecue. I have $200 in my allowance folder. I just want to get a kettle-style inexpensive one. We haven't had one in years and I do like to cook on one sometimes. That should be enough money for an inexpensive one and a set of BBQ tools and some quick light charcoal. DH and I will go to Lowe's tonight and see what they have. I'd like to be able to cook out on Independence Day. Ribeyes and foil packets of bell peppers, onions, and potatoes. Should be delicious.

Busy Morning Running Around

July 1st, 2019 at 12:57 pm

I had to take DD to the eye doctor this morning as we worried that she had eyeritis again. She does not, thankfully, but she does have extremely dry eye. The doctor has switched her to using preservative free Refresh and so we had to run around looking for that. Fortunately it was at the first store we went to, but traffic was a bear.

They had some turkey legs on sale so I picked those up. I am going to make them in the Instant Pot making broth and then take all the meat off the bones. There are seven of them, but they aren't the giant kind so all seven will fit in the Instant Pot. I have the bigger 8 quart pot. Some of it will go into mini turkey casseroles for the freezer bank and the rest of it will be chopped up for salads for the week.

I have been craving chef salads, but the store didn't have any turkey chubs, so this meat will do nicely once cooled. The reason I like chef salads so much is that there is enough flavor in the toppings that I don't feel the need for dressing, which makes the salad healthier.

I plan to make six more stuffed bell peppers today and a triple batch of breakfast burritos. Then hopefully I will be able to get some work done in the garden, too. I at least feel like I have the energy today to do so and my hip is behaving today. It isn't super hot outside, either, but pleasantly sunny with a breeze. Perfect weather for gardening.

Interest to EF

July 1st, 2019 at 12:38 pm

The monthly interest on my accounts hit. It was a total of $4.54. I added it to the Emergency Fund.

$4589.73 Balance Forward
+___3.43 C1-360
+___1.10 CU #1
+___0.01 CU #2
--------------
$4594.27 New Balance

$405.73 to go to hit my mini-goal of $5K and $35,405.73 to go to hit my ultimate goal of $40K.