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Archive for July, 2020

More Freezers Inventoried and Canning Plans

July 31st, 2020 at 09:48 am

My son and I went through and inventoried the mini chest freezer, the spare fridge freezer, and the two shelves I have in Mom's freezer. So that is four freezer's down and just the main fridge freezer to go. We did not have to throw away too much, a few old homemade freezer meals made with gluten pasta. I might have saved them for DH since he still eats wheat, but they were from June of 2019, so I didn't. We filled up a plastic grocery bag full of freezer burned stuff.

I added everything to my spreadsheet and will make another meal plan for two weeks based off of it tomorrow. I think I can go another month without buying any meat except meat for canning. I really want to do up some chuck roast and some chicken. Having canned beef makes it so easy to make beef stew in the fall and winter. You just open a jar of beef, make gravy from the beef juice and fat, add a jar of carrots, a jar of potatoes, and a jar of parsnips. Then heat it for twenty minutes to let the flavors meld. It beats a couple hours of stewing for a fast and easy meal.

I also want to do chicken because that way I can have it on hand to make taquitos, enchiladas, and chicken alfredo. It shreds really easily right out of the jar and it just takes that extra step away of cooking the chicken since it is already done and waiting for you. Chicken is really easy since you can just put boneless skinless thighs or breasts into the jar without cutting them up. Chuck roast has to be cubed. But either way, the difference it makes on those nights when I am wiped out from my RA and FM symptoms is between a home cooked meal and takeout.

I would like to get the meat canned now because I am getting blossoms on the green beans and want to get it out of the way so that as the heavy load hits from the garden I can keep up with it. I need to make my pickles tomorrow, though. I have enough for a half gallon jar of refrigerator garlic dill pickles, maybe more with what I pick tomorrow. I wish I had an old-fashioned crock, but the jar will probably fit much better than the crock anyway.

Financial Housekeeping

July 29th, 2020 at 08:59 pm

I finally sat down and balanced the checking account of my Medical Fund. I quit doing it back in October and then it started to become this insurmountable thing that I just didn't want to deal with. At least that is the way it seemed. It took me all of an hour to do it. Sometimes I think we build these things up in our heads to the size of mountains, when it is really just a foothill. Everything balanced out and I didn't have to hunt down any transpositions or subtraction or addition errors. I love it when it is easy.

After that I set up the August budget. If we can keep the eating out under control, things should be back on track. I will still be adding to the Medical Fund, so the EF will not grow as quickly as I would like, but without the MF we would just be raiding the EF constantly. Makes more sense to just put it there in the first place.

I finally got out of my mother the other day that Dad wanted to leave us daughters an inheritance, so she has it in her head that she has to do that. I told her flat out that I don't care about that, she needs to use her money on herself. Dad wouldn't want the end of her life to be so miserable. I mean, sure, if there is anything left, that's fine, but she is not to even let it enter her head that she shouldn't make her own life more comfortable.

We may be looking at a move to Montana in the future and she just may sell the house and move with us if we do. She knows that she can't live alone now, and neither of my sisters are willing to deal with it. She would like us to get a big enough property that she can put a single wide manufactured home somewhere on our lot. We are planning on rural 10 acres if it gets to that point, so that would not be a problem.

Her money is all tied up in the house now, but if she just bought a little house she would have a lot of money available. Her final years would be so much better. Then that house would belong to us after she dies, because we have cared for her all these years with no help from my sisters, though I would allow either of my sisters to live there if they wanted to up and move. I don't think they would since their kids are all here, though.

I don't particularly like the idea of transferring to Montana down the road, but at the same time I don't like what my state is becoming, especially in the Seattle area. If this violence and lawlessness becomes too much worse or comes closer, I'm prepared to leave the state once we can afford it. I hate cold, snowy winters, and it'll be hard to not be near the ocean, but Montana is beautiful, less populated, less political, and has a lower cost of living, and so I'd cope. It would be a few years down the road, anyway.

Payday Report for 7/24/20

July 24th, 2020 at 11:05 pm

My Google AdSense Payment hit this week so I combined that with DH's pay and upped the tithe accordingly. I also had some money left in the checking account. No money went into the EF this time as we replaced some items and upgraded others that I was holding off on when we were still in debt and DH needed new boots.

We also got take out more than we should have as I tripped over a floor fan and banged myself into the bedroom door and then as I stumbled forward got my other side on the door jamb. Not fun. I am doing better today, but the last week was really rough. I am still pretty stiff and sore when I wake up, but at least I can dress myself again and walk around without my cane.

I did not spend all of the grocery money from last payday, though, so that went into a new fund, the Freezer Fund. So that envelope was started with $179. I want to get a good freezer, not from Lowe's or Home Depot, so we will have to go to the actual appliance store and price what I want, which is a freezer with a temperature display on the outside and that beeps if the door is open too long. Frost free would be nice as well.

Here's how the paycheck broke down today.

$328.70 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
__75.00 Household Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
1608.60 Citi
__71.99 Life Insurance DH
__60.46 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Spending Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances Kids
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
3364.75 Total Money Out

A Busy Day

July 21st, 2020 at 08:25 am

Monday was a long, long day. The garden is getting into gear and I harvested a ton of basil, my first two zucchinis, 4 cucumbers, and pulled a bunch of weeds. They never do stop. Tomorrow I need to pick strawberries, peas, and blueberries. Maybe raspberries, too. But I have to do it early, because it was 80 degrees for most of the day and it was just too hot outside.

Inside the house we are working on completely redoing our makeshift kitchen/pantry area. Already it has opened up the room so much. We have spent about six hours so far and it probably needs another two to finish the section we are doing. Then the other section will probably take another six hours and will be done.

I need to get a couple of small baskets to store all our storage bowl lids, jar lids, and measuring cups and spoons in to keep them from taking up an entire drawer. If I free up that drawer I finally have a place to store my kitchen towels and wash cloths.

I would also like to get a double decker lazy Susan for my most commonly used spices and oils. I am tired of having to go search through the less commonly used items all the time. No matter how well I organize the spice drawer, other people are always moving things around.

I saw an electric citrus juicer today on a video. It is expensive, $99, but it really would make my life so much easier. I am going to think on it. My manual citrus juicer is getting really hard for me to operate, plus it is rusting. I don't think it is the stainless steel it purports to be. I have plenty of money in my allowance folder. I just need to think on it since it is a big purchase. MIL spends that much at Christmas so maybe I'll have her get it for me if I don't want to spend that much myself.

Score! Working on Non-Food Preps

July 18th, 2020 at 11:22 pm

Not only did DH manage to find a big case of Charmin toilet paper at Costco, he found a six pack of Puffs tissues at Safeway. Both had a limit of one. My supply of things had gotten pretty low. I would like to stock up before cold and flu season hits again, but it has been very hard to find the soft stuff. With sensitive skin and allergies, we have to be very careful what brands we buy and they can only be white, no dyed patterns.

I have always tried to keep two cases of toilet paper on hand and two six packs of Puffs, but now I feel like I'd like to have four cases of each on hand. And no, that is not hoarding, it is prepping. Hoarding is filling your garage to excess with stuff you won't ever get through. I am going to try again on Monday at Costco. Sometimes they have them in and sometimes they don't, but you always have to go in in the morning after they open. I'd like to get them while they are semi-available and not run up against shortages when everyone starts getting sick again or they have to lock down hard again, which I suspect they will this fall or early winter.

I'd also like to have 2 cases of paper towels on hand, and shore up my dish soap, dishwasher soap, and laundry detergent, as well as some liquid hand soap refills. I mostly use bar soap and we have 8 of those, but I like to use the liquid soap pump for if I am cleaning my hands after getting meat or blood on them so I don't get that all over the bar soap. I also need more disposable gloves, a couple pairs of kitchen gloves, and some Scrub Daddies, my preferred type of sponge.

Other things I'd like to stock up on are dye free Benadryl, Sudafed, Nyquil, Dayquil, Mucinex, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, bandages, guaze, medical tape, Neosporin, antacids, Imodium, and Afrin. Everything but the Mucinex and Afrin are actually store brands of things, but it is easier to type out the brand names. If I can find it, a couple bottles of dye free, unscented hand sanitizer, too. I just really want to be prepared going into this. It really paid off when we all got hit with either Covid or a really bad flu in February. No one had to go out for anything.

I need to get a new pair of shoes and DH needs to get new work boots and new shoes. Then after that DS needs to get new shoes. I just keep adding to the clothing envelope and using as we go. DH's will be pricey. He is a size 16 shoe. His boots will be around $150 and his shoes around $100. Mine will be $80 because I need the largest width they make which seems to come in only one brand of shoe. And DS wants to get some custom Van's. He also has a large foot in size 14, which is at least possible to get in Van's.

I'd also like to get a new kitchen faucet that is much higher and has a built in sprayer so I can wash my hair in the kitchen sink and finally get the bathroom faucet replaced (we've had the new one of that for a couple months, just not put it on).

It feels like a lot, but it is all just the tip of the iceberg.

Two Week Meal Plan Based on my Freezer Inventory

July 17th, 2020 at 05:07 am

After I did my big chest freezer inventory, I took a half an hour to sit down and work out a meal plan based on the meats and some of the frozen and garden vegetables I have here. While I did not include it in the below meal plan, I also buy seasonal fruit or pick it. For example, watermelon and cherries are in season and cheap right now. Also, right now in the back yard garden I have ripe strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. So while I might jot it down on the meal list, I usually don't. We just pick whatever it is that is ready from the yard or what needs to be used up in the fridge to add to the meal. It just varies so much there is little point in adding it to the plan.

So here is what I have been eating and will be eating soon. I thought it might give other people some ideas, especially in this time of eating more at home due to the pandemic. We save a lot of money by meal planning, making sure we properly use up what we buy or harvest, and cooking from scratch.

Day One:
Japanese Chicken Curry (potatoes, carrots, seasonings)
Salad (from the garden)

Day Two:
Meatloaf (Hamburger, Italian Sausage, ground turkey, lamb, eggs, cheese, rice crumbs, onions, seasonings)
Baked Potatoes

Day Three:
Steelhead Trout with Herbed Garlic Butter
Corn on the Cob
Green Beans (Home canned)

Day Four:
Beef Chuck Roast
Baked Potatoes
French Cut Green Beans (Home canned)

Day Five:
Chicken Stir fry (broccoli, cauliflower, onions (freezer), bell peppers (freezer), carrots, celery, snow peas (garden)

Day Six:
Grilled Ribeye Steaks
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Zucchini (garden)
Grilled Snow Peas (garden)

Day Seven:
Basil Pesto Chicken

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Leftover Grilled Veggies
Roasted Italian Herbed Potatoes

Day Eight:
Salmon (caught last season and frozen)
Baked Potatoes

Day Nine:
BBQ Pork Ribs
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans (Home canned)

Day Ten:
Spot Prawns (caught earlier this season and frozen)
Corn on the Cob
Zucchini (garden)

Day Eleven:
Chicken Schawarma
Gluten Free Naan Bread
Tzatziki Sauce
Cole Slaw

Day Twelve:
Gluten Free Jovial Brown Rice Spaghetti
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Zucchini Shreds (frozen, last year's garden) and Home Grown Home Canned Tomatoes
Gluten Free Meatballs (same ingredients as my meatloaf but with different cheeses)
Salad (garden)

Day Thirteen:
Homemade Gluten Free Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and onions
Leftover Spaghetti Sauce for the Sauce
Salad (garden)

Day Fourteen:
Pork Shoulder Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Homemade Gluten Free Gravy
Green Beans

Retirement Update

July 15th, 2020 at 05:01 am

$23,376.02 401K
+_9,713.49 IRA
$33,089.51 Total Retirement

That is up by $585.22 from last payday. Only $220 of that is contributions. I hope it continues.

The Dentist is Up and Running

July 15th, 2020 at 04:42 am

I went to the dentist today. The hygienist had on a face mask and a face shield and two pairs of gloves. Everyone else in the office wore masks and when the dentist himself came in he also had the same get up as the hygienist. They had a blast shield installed at reception. Such is life in the new world.

It felt really good to have my teeth cleaned. It has been since September. I was due in March but of course that was cancelled because of Covid. My teeth were in great condition and nothing is wrong with them except the chip that I will finally be able to get fixed at the end of August. That was also due to be fixed in March. I take excellent care of my teeth. It took a lot for me to bring them back from my early adulthood issues, but they have been great for the last several years.

DH went on Friday and the fees so far were $78.80 twice. We don't have the best dental insurance, but someone would have to get at least two crowns in a year to make the more expensive insurance worth it, even if the money does come out pretax, we'd still have to pay half. Better to have the cheaper insurance and pay full if someone needs a crown, which DH does need one.

Both kids are scheduled later in the month for their appointments. I am hoping things are fine with them, too. I am sure they will be with my daughter, not so sure with my son.

DH did do his eye exam, but we are waiting on next payday when there is more money in the medical fund for him to get his glasses. He will need both lenses and frames. I see the eye doctor in September for my retinal testing and for a new prescription. I have not made appointments for the kids yet, but they will both need them. And DD will need to start the retinal screening as well since she is on the same medication as me now that can, in a small percent of cases, turn your retinas yellow. So far so good with me.

DD will need new frames and lenses, DS and I will only need new lenses. We each have previous frames that are in good condition that we like and since the insurance only pays for frames every two years, but lenses every year, that is what we go with. I will be able to use my current frames again in the future as well, which is great because I really like them, too. That will cut costs somewhat.

The next thing I really need to do is get a hair cut. I need to cut off about 8 inches of hair and thin it out. My hair grows so fast, about an inch a month and it is getting so long that when I raise my arms and then put them back down it gets caught in my armpits. I hate that. That and when I accidentally lean on my hair when trying to get out of bed.

I am debating on getting a short layered cut or just a sort of bob thing that flips up on the ends instead of going under. Whatever I get, I want it to be low maintenance. I hate fussing with my hair. But I also want it to be something that will grow out decently if we get locked down again. I've decided not to color it professionally. I just don't want to have roots in six weeks and have to keep doing it. I've been out of that race for years now. I like my grey streaks.

And I can always change my mind later since it will be much shorter and a lot easier to color at home than it would be with my current length. I really just need to see what color and how much grey is left when it is short before I make that decision and live with it for a while. Plus if I do do it myself I will only need one box and not two after the cut. We'll see. I am so wishy washy about this.

Emergency Fund Update

July 15th, 2020 at 03:43 am

$7850.89 Balance Forward
+__13.73 Allstate Refund Check
$7864.62 New Balance

Payday Report for 7/10/20

July 15th, 2020 at 03:35 am

Friday was a normal payday for us, no overtime. I have started contributing to the medical fund again because we have dental and glasses to pay for and it was getting really low. After those things are paid for I need to start thinking about saving for next year's deductible. So that may end up being a priority over the Emergency Fund. All it takes is one ER visit in January and we get slammed with almost the full deductible in one go. Since January ER visits have happened the last three years running, it is best to just plan for it.

$318.52 Tithe
_500.00 Utilities
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_300.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_115.17 Internet
_280.00 Monthly Chiropractic Family Plan
_36.00 Garbage
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Spending Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances Kids
_800.00 DS's Driving Lessons
3144.69 Total Money Out

I also have enough money set aside for DS to renew his driving permit, but that wasn't budgeted for, I just knew I had extra in the checking account that could go for it.

To Beef or not to Beef

July 10th, 2020 at 07:54 am

DS and I inventoried the big chest freezer a couple of days ago, which was a lot of work and we also got the sides defrosted. It doesn't frost up too much, but enough that we had to use a butter knife to break it lose. It take about six months or so to build up about an inch and it only does it on the back side. Anyway, we have a lot of food in there and now I know what it is exactly, so I will better be able to meal plan.

I made up an Excel spread sheet to track it as we use it. We still have to inventory the smaller freezers, but I am working on eating down the two shelves we have in Mom's freezer so she can have use of all of it, because she wants to buy some beef come the end of summer. Like a quarter.

I guess my eldest sister wants to buy a quarter as well and Mom is trying to push me into buying a half. First of all, I don't have room for it, and once I do have room, I want to get half a hog, not necessarily half a beef. If I were to get beef at some point, I would want a whole one, not a half or at least not a half I was splitting with her.

I know my mother. She would want to pick and choose her cuts out of the entire beef, not just the quarter she would be entitled to. My mom would take all the best cuts for herself and more than the amount she was entitled to and we'd be left with all the tougher cuts. No, thank you. I saw the way she divided up the chickens we raised together and I don't want that happening again.

Another issue is that I don't have the money for it right now. She's pushing saying that it is a couple months from now. Sorry, no. I have other priorities. DH's driving lessons, a handicapped ramp for the back porch (our entrance), and an upright freezer are what is next on my agenda. Then building the Emergency Fund. I might be able to get a whole lamb, though, but that is neither here nor there.

Right now I feel like I can just get loss leaders for beef. I have been doing fine with that this year. I want to keep at least two month's worth of meat in the freezer during the upcoming virus season, but I can't do more at the moment. Maybe if MIL gives us more money, but I have no idea if that is even going to happen. She hasn't given us any money this year at all and since it hasn't been a great stock market year, she may not.

Oh, well. I made a fantastic Japanese Chicken Curry for dinner last night. I've never made a curry before and I did it completely from scratch, even the curry roux, which can be bought in stores but has MSG and other nasties in it. It wasn't hard, not much different from making stew really. I used gluten free flour to make it gluten free. It's fantastic with rice, which we have a ton of, and gives it a good flavor.

It uses warming spices as opposed to the hot spices. It is aimed at the Japanese flavor palate as opposed to the Indian flavor palate. Now I would like a mild Indian curry myself, but my daughter would never be able to eat it, so it is easier to find stuff she does like. This was a hit. It is here

Text is and Link is if anyone is interested.

Photo Help Please?

July 4th, 2020 at 01:42 am

Can someone please explain to me again how to post a photo? I know some of you are doing it, but it doesn't seem to work like it used to. I chose a photo and it puts the code there but doesn't actually save the photo to the blog or show up as an image in the control panel.

Retirement Update

July 3rd, 2020 at 10:42 pm

We are finally starting to pull ahead again on retirement. It's not by much, $162.44, but we are getting there. The IRA still needs to recover just under $500, but we are ahead on the 401K. If I just get through this year without losses I will feel like it is some kind of major accomplishment.

$22,981.37 401K Balance
+_9,523.26 IRA Balance
$32,504.29 Total Retirement Balance

DH has also become vested on a portion of his company stock. I am not allowed to say the amount, though. There is a non-disclosure agreement on not discussing what the stock is worth. But I am happy about it. If DH stays there for the next 22 years, I will be over the moon with it, assuming nothing happens to the company to devalue it. He will continue to earn percentages of shares the longer he works there. It takes five years to become fully vested.

Harvesting and Still No Social Security Card

July 3rd, 2020 at 06:53 am

Today I was able to harvest a pound of snow peas, 3/4 of a quart of strawberries, 10 blueberries (the first of the season) and a 1/2 pint of raspberries (the first of the season). I have several itty bitty cucumbers and zucchinis growing. The beans are starting to put out runners and grab the strings, the corn has hit the top of the low tunnel so we'll have to take care of that, and all of the potatoes but the last row are pushing up some leaves. The second to last row is only showing a few plants, but the rest is really going.

I still have not received my replacement social security card. It has been a month and they said 7 to 10 business days. But now the website is saying that you can't apply for cards right now. I did it when you still could, but I have a feeling they have shut it down before they sent my card. We've been home when the mail carrier came by every day, so it couldn't have been stolen. I could try going to the office. It's only a couple of miles from me.

If I don't get it, I won't be able to get a fishing license which is so frustrating. It limits how much fish and shellfish we will be able to put in our freezer to just what two people can catch. I wonder if I take our tax forms to the fishing license place with our numbers on it, if they'll take that. They just have to tell the people at the state that I've brought it in to confirm it is me. Probably not, though.

Interest to EF

July 1st, 2020 at 11:55 pm

$7846.98 Balance Forward
+___3.81 Interest Income
$7850.89 New Balance

Payday Report for 7/26/20

July 1st, 2020 at 11:51 pm

I had a major fibromyalgia flare when we got back from Seattle followed by a cold I'm pretty sure I caught at the hospital, so I haven't been updating anything for a while. I still feel a little cruddy, but at least I am now upright. We are still on a wait and see with DD's tumor. We get another scan in 6 months. As for payday, there were a few hours of overtime on it, and here's what we did.

$337.18 Tithe
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
1000.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_753.08 Citi
__71.99 Life Insurance DH
__60.46 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Spending Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances Kids
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
_150.00 Gift/Christmas Fund
_100.00 Clothing Fund
_100.00 Laptop Fund
3367.71 Total Money Out

Emergency Fund Update

July 1st, 2020 at 11:40 pm

I transferred $1000 out of the EF and into the medical fund. We have four pairs of glasses to pay for in the next couple of months and I wanted there to be enough money in there to deal with it.