Home > Archive: December, 2020

Archive for December, 2020

More Challenge Planning

December 30th, 2020 at 02:49 am

So I sat down with everyone today and had them tell me what they absolutely needed to have in the house, that we didn't already have enough of, to get through the January Eat from the Pantry Challenge.  The kids said gluten free chicken tenders and cheese.  The husband said hamburger patties, condiments, and hot dogs.  I said bacon.

Then I sat down with the grocery ads and worked out what I was going to buy for this last shopping trip before January hits.  I was really surprised with how little I need to actually buy, but I guess that comes from keeping a really well stocked pantry.

Tomorrow DS and I will do Costco and Winco and maybe Trader Joe's for the hot dogs.  There is one package in the freezer so I'd only need to buy one and I am not sure that is worth me going with their ridiculous overkill to get in and through the store and their constant parking lot issues.  A mask, six feet apart, and plexi-glass is sufficient everywhere else, but they go nuts with it well beyond that.

I'll just send DH on his own right before closing.  I'd just as soon not step foot inside Trader Joe's until the pandemic is over.  The employees were always a little rude at our store, which I understand is not the norm, but they've gotten much worse.  I try to be patient and kind to store employees always, even when we are not in crazy times, but I also expect that in return.

Once I am done shopping and have a little energy again, which may not be until the next day, I will make up a meal plan for the month.  I will be making up some freezer meals as well as the month goes along.  For instance I will make two lasangas at the same time but put one in the freezer, two pans of enchiladas, two pans of leftover tater tot casserole.  I will make enough meatballs for 3 meals and enough meatloaf for two, always freezing the extra.

Sometimes I will also sit down and do up four bags of fajita meat with four bags of bell peppers and onions, or 4 bags of chicken shawarama meat for the Instant pot or 4 bags of stir-fry veggies and 4 bags of stir-fry meat pre-marinated and ready to thaw and dump in the skillet.  Just anything that makes my life a little easier when I don't feel like doing all the prep for cooking and would rather get takeout.  Plus I only get stuff dirty once.  Now with the new freezer ready, this will be so much easier to do.

DS has agreed to help me as well as to make some individual tv dinners of chicken and brown rice pasta Alfredo (usually penne, but sometimes fussili), Cheesy Tomato rotini or farfalle, beef taco macaroni, and regular mac and cheese.  And I will make some soups ands stews for the freezer that can't be canned due to flour or milk like baked potato soup and beef stew for sick days, or that have ham in them (too much fat for canning plus the preseving salts).  Although that will be more like just freezing the leftovers.

I also want to do up some breakfast burritos, omelets, and breakfast casserole bakes.  It wouldn't hurt to have gluten free pancakes, waffles, and French toast available either.  And some cauliflower pizza crusts already cooked and then frozen for easy use.

I have lots of plans, but limited stamina, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm sure it will take me quite some time to put all these things in the freezer bank, but if I have enough for just two meals a week it will be so helpful.

Starting the Beef Fund, Planning a Challenge, and the Freezer is Here!

December 28th, 2020 at 11:53 pm

I started the Beef Fund by putting $48 in leftover grocery money into an envelope.  I will hopefully be able to continue to fund it this way by being tight on the grocery budget.  And also since next month is the Eat from the Pantry Challenge, I hope to spend very, very little.  I will still buy a few items of fresh produce like lettuce, celery, scallions, maybe bread if I can't keep up with making it, and milk in January, but hope to come away with at least 3/4 of the grocery budget for January.

I will be doing a stock up haul before the 1st to get enough eggs to last through the month and a bunch of long-lasting fruit, like oranges, lemons, and bananas, and then the regular amount of short lasting fruit, like bananas, grapes, and a couple of pineapples.  Also I will make sure I have enough tortillas, onions, potatoes, and carrots to last all month.

Our freezer arrived today.  It came in earlier than expected after being delayed from earlier this month.  I am not complaining.  I have to wait 24 hours before I can put anything in it and then I will start making freezer meals and soups I can't can.

Payday Report for 12/24/20

December 24th, 2020 at 10:07 pm

$318.46 Tithe

_400.00 Grocery Envelope

_300.00 Medical Envelope

_100.00 Household Envelope

_375.00 Emergency Fund

__71.99 Life Insurance DH

__60.46 Life Insurance Me

_100.00 Spending Money Adults

1276.93 Citi

_100.00 Car Maintenance Envelope

_120.00 Allowance Kids


$3222.84 Total Money Out

I had $50 left from the previous payday that I added to the $325 I had planned from this paycheck to the EF.  After this payday the Citi card will go into retirement except for the auto pays on there, Netflix, Hulu, and Ting (cell phone plan).  It is coming out of my wallet and will stay out of my wallet.  We always pay it off each month, but we are just using it too darn much.

Retirement Goal for 2021

December 24th, 2020 at 09:53 pm

This is our last paycheck for the year, and this will be our last paycheck with 5% being taken out for retirement.  From here on out we will be attempting a budget with 15% taken out for retirement.  If it makes things feel too tight we will back off to 10%, but I've done the budget and the numbers will work and we will still be able to save $1075 a month to the EF, assuming we stay disciplined with the no eating out of our own pocket thing.  MIL gives us $120 a month for eating out to make things fair as that is how much she spends on takeout for her daughter and her daughte'rs live in boyfriend each month, so we can get some take out if we really feel the urge.  But we could also save that if we don't.

I figured this would be a really good time to do it, because:

1.  The paycheck is going to drop anyway due to an increase in medical premiums, so I'd rather drop it all at once and see how we deal.

2.  It's a new year and it always seems to be more attainable to meet new goals for the new year.

3.  I will be 51 in February, DH is 51, and our retirement is very low for people our age, because we had to throw so much money at debt for so long.  We've really got to play catch up.  While DH wants to work for as long as he can, he loves his job, he can't work forever.  And he probably won't live as long as me, as women tend to live longer.  I want there to be enough money there between 401k, the IRA, and life insurance for me and my disabled daughter to have a decent life when the time comes.  I don't want to be a burden on my son.  I want him to be able to live his own life.

4.  Having it taken out automatically before we ever see it is always the best way.  It takes self-discipline out of the equation, because it is being put in an untouchable account.

5.  It won't affect any of our day to day living.  We will still have the same amount in every budget category that we do now, but a lot less wasted money on take out that could have just been going into the EF these last six months and should have been.  I've taught the kids how to make a few more easy meals, so if I am just wiped by the fibromyalgia or the rheumatoid arthritis, they can step in.  My son more than my daughter, but she can help to get food on the table.

So that is the plan.   15% seems so huge, but when it comes down to it, for us it really is not.  It is a necessity and with no debt we can do it.  I know we won't be doing Dave Ramsey's method completely right by contributing to retirement before the full EF is in place, but I think we are just too old to do it that way.  And if we can pull off this new budget, we will have a fully funded EF by the end of the year anyway.

Emergency Fund Update

December 24th, 2020 at 09:02 pm

I had an extra $50 in my checking acount and I added an additional $325 from this paycheck.  It feels good to be making progress again.  Next month should be better if I can keep it under control.

$9,090.32 Previous Balance

+_,375.00 Amount Added


$9,465.32 New Balance

It's Snowing

December 22nd, 2020 at 01:34 am

I have to admit it is pretty and it makes the Christmas lights look even prettier, but I am not the world's biggest fan of snow.  One day snow is just right, in my opinion.  Then it can melt and go away.  The roads were bad and we went early to the chiropractor to try not to be on the roads after dark.  I am bummed about missing the "Christmas star" today, though.  Jupiter and Saturn were in alignment for a couple of hours today and were supposed to create the effect.  Won't happen like that again for another 80 years.  Hopefully it is on youtube somewhere from a place that had clear skies or maybe NASA has it.  Not quite the same as seeing it in person.

I think it will probably all melt tomorrow based on the weather forcast and I can go get done what I wanted to get done, namely, buy the standing rib roast, and yellow potatoes for Christmas dinner.  Tomorrow is the last day of the sale.  I have corn and green beans, so we are set for that.  We'll probably need some egg nog and some more milk, too.  And I want to pick up some PH water, too as it helps with the heartburn.

So today was obviously a no spend day, but only because I had to put it off.  We did finally get the Christmas tree put up.  It has lights but no ornaments and I'm not sure I'm going to bother.  It looks pretty as it is and I am just really tired.  No one else seems to want to do it, so I'm kind of meh about it.  I wasn't even going to bother with a tree, with my sister and her stuff here there really isn't room, but got pestered about it by my mother.  I just don't have the energy to put them up and take them down, and my back still doesn't like me reaching so that's the way it is going to be.  I can't do it all by myself and I won't.

Retirement Update

December 18th, 2020 at 09:26 am

With only a $220 contribution in the last 11 days, our retirement has gone up by $678.53, so $458.53 of that is profit.  Our new balance is $41,091.46.  May it continue to roar.

Emergency Fund Update

December 18th, 2020 at 09:17 am

The Christmas bonus came, but it was not what DH was told.  He was told it would be $500 after taxes, but no, it wasn't.  It was $500 before taxes.  Everyone is a little bummed out, because why say one thing and do another?  Anyway, the actual amount was $350.48.  But I broke $9K and any bonus is better than no bonus.

$8739.48 Previous Balance

+_350.48 Amount Added


$9090.32 New Balance

Moving was Much Easier Today--Grocery Spending Tracking

December 18th, 2020 at 08:28 am

As my back starts to calm down it is getting easier to get around and even to stand in one spot, although that is the hardest thing for me.  Sitting up straight still hurts, but not to the point that I can't do it, so I am back in my computer chair instead of the recliner.  Standing in one spot hurt less today, but still hurt too much to scrub the dishes.  I'm hoping by the weekend I can pick that task up again and empty the sink.  DH is trying his best, both kids are sick, so it is what it is.

I have also lost 5 pounds in the last four days, so I am sure that is helping a lot with my back.  I can tell it is from my stomach because of how my clothes fit, and that is what is pulling on my back, so it is a good thing.  I hope this degenerative athritis helps me to actually stay on the diet this time.  It is so much better already and I know that for every pound I lose it will only feel better.  I was able to do some walking today, albeit at the grocery store.  I did one shop on Tuesday before the sales I wanted went off and then two shops today.

Tuesday I spent $82.45 at Fred Meyer and bought 2 chuck roasts, 1 Justin's honey peanut butter, 2 small picnic hams (will fit in the crock pot or the Instant Pot), 6 pounds of hamburger, 2 packages of chicken thighs with 20 thighs between them), 1 steelhead trout, 1 pound shrimp, and 2 pineapples.  I didn't buy anything that was not on sale.

Today we went to Whole Foods first to get some lemon and peppermint extracts, garlic sauce, 4 packages of Birchbender paleo waffles (gluten free), and gluten free Jovial brown rice pastas that were 2 spaghetti, 2 penne, 2 fusilli, 2 farfalle, and 2 tagliatelle, 2 bags of soy free tater puffs (tots) and 2 bags of soy free hashbrowns.  I spent $89.28 there and used my Amazon Prime discount.  Gluten free pasta is about $5 a box.  If I ever find my pasta maker in storage, I will make it from scratch, but until then this will do.

We only eat pasta once a week, so this plus what I already had at home should last us 3 months if we go into a full fledged lockdown again.  Plus we don't know if we will need to quarantine before and after DD's surgery, either.  I'd like to not have to worry about shopping.

Then tonight we went to Haggen and it cost $101.48.  I got 4 of the huge bottles of organic ketchup, 6 bags of the Perdue gluten free chicken strips, and 2 of the bottled half gallon containers of milk.  Each bottle has a two dollar deposit that we get back when we return them.  Of course I forgot to take the 3 empty bottles we have at home with me.  I wish gluten free was not so expensive and one day I will learn how to do my own gluten free chicken strips, but right now it is good just to have a couple convenience foods that the kids can eat.

So all told I spent $225.67.  I have $77 left in my grocery envelope, plus some change that I just don't count, but use.  And I sent DH to the store last week and he spent around $97.  I remember what I sent him for was 20 pounds of potatoes, 5 pounds of onions, 2 pounds of carrots, 4 scallions, grapes, some deli meat, Jarlsberg cheese, 1 loaf of gluten free bread, and 2 loaves of potato bread.

We get paid a day early on the 24th and I won't spend anymore between now and then, so I think I will sweep that extra grocery money into starting the Bulk Meat Envelope for the side of beef I want to get at the end of next summer, followed by half a hog, and a whole lamb if I save enough.  It makes sense to save it out of the grocery budget, although I may have to save more than that.  In 8 months I should have enough for the beef if I can put aside $200 every 4 weeks, which puts me at August, which is when a lot of butchering is done.  I might have a little more since there will be 1 or 2 three-payday months.  Probably more in June and July and August because of the garden produce.  Anyway, that is the plan.

Money Goals for 2021

December 15th, 2020 at 12:48 am

I had DH work up a spreadsheet for me of what his projected income next year will be with the higher medical taken out in 2021 alone, at 7% going into the 401K and at 10%, and at 15%.  We can put 10% in and still be able to save at least $1000 every 4 weeks towards the Emergency Fund, so that is what we will be doing.

The Emergency Fund goal for next year is to get it to $22,232.86 and that will be 6 month's expenses.  I am currently at $8739.84, so will need to save $13,493.02 to hit that goal.  I'll be putting the $500 Christmas bonus in the EF, so that will bring it to $9239.84 by years end, leaving me with $12,993.02 to save in 2021.  So that should be done by the end of the 2021, at which point we could move our retirement savings to 15% and continue to save for 1 year's expenses, and additional $22,232.86, which would take 37 months.

And that is without MIL giving us any money next year, or possibly at the end of this year.  Mil is going to pay for DD's surgery to take out the liver tumor, at least what the insurance won't cover ($3000, I think), so I don't know if there will be money on top of that or not.  I don't expect it, but I will be happy if it happens.

Putting 15% into retirement means that we will only be able to save $600 a month (well, every 4 weeks, so 13 "months") towards the 12 month's expenses Emergeny Fund.  And that is all assuming there isn't another raise in medical that makes an income cut again or that DH doesn't get a raise during that time period.  They have a wage freeze at the moment.  So I assume the medical will go up and the wages might go down.

Mom is going to do a quitclaim on the house with a life estate for her, meaning she can live here until she dies and she will be responsible for property taxes still, but the house will be ours, with the provision we provide a set amount of the sale to each sister (2) if we sell the house, although we might just buy them out of that, and of course my eldest sister can stay with us as long as we are here (my decision, not Mom's) because family takes care of family.  Mom wants us to have the house, though, because we've helped her all these years when the others have not.

I won't count on it until the ink is dry and it has been five years (the gov could come back and take it if she needed to go into the nursing home).  With that in mind, we will start to save money, on the off chance it falls apart, towards a house once the EF is met, at least until the five years has passed.

Once the five years has passed on the quitclaim and all is safe from the government, we will reassess what we are going to do with our savings from that point.  Future future goals are a solar system for the house and possibly an electric vehicle if they have one that is disability assessible, say maybe in ten years.  I'd prefer a mini-van that could go about 250 miles between charges, but as far as I know they don't make those yet.

I think I have remotivated myself to stop spending so lavishly and refocus on saving.  We have made it a week without takeout and in January we will be doing an eat from the pantry challenge, so my main goal right now is no takeout until February, though a year without takeout would be amazing, if we could pull it off.  We'd certainly stop jeopardizing our goals that way.

Payday Report for 12/11/20

December 13th, 2020 at 04:40 am

$318.58 Tithe

_500.00 Utilities

_400.00 Grocery Envelope

_300.00 Medical Fund

_280.00 Chriopractor Monthly Family Plan

_115.17 Internet

__36.00 Garbage

_150.00 Car Insurance

_100.00 Gas Money

_100.00 Spending Money Adults

_120.00 Allowances

_200.00 Gift Fund

_200.00 Clothing Fund

_450.00 Citi


3169.75 Total Money Out




December 12th, 2020 at 03:48 am

My x-ray results came back and there is significantly more degeration due to arthritis in the L-4 and L-5 vertabrae, which is the lower spine, but no bulging discs.  So that is probably what is causing all the pain in the hip, pelvis, and down the leg.  I still think there is something else wrong, like with ligaments or tendons, but I have to do more physical therapy before I can get an MRI.

He is referring me to a different physical therapist's office this time.  I didn't really feel like the other place has ever really done me all that much good.  I still do the exercises they gave me, but I don't feel like it helps at all.

DH took an hour off today to drive me around to do the banking and then to the post office to mail the tithe check and another bill that we don't do online.  It hurts too much for me to drive right now.  He made up the hour later in the day.  Working from home is a wonderful thing.

We were going to go and have our glasses made today, but they told us that if we wait until January we will qualify for both frames and lenses and not just lenses.  I had no idea we were that close to being able to do that.  I thought it was at least six months away.  So we will try again after the calendar turns.

DD is having bad symptoms today from the bleeding liver tumor.  She hasn't been able to eat much at all the past 3 days and is super nauseated and in a lot of pain.  I know we are in the home stretch here, but it is agonizing for her.  I'm just glad they finally decided to do something.  She looks awful.  You can just see how much pain she is in by looking at her.  I feel helpless.

I did get the bills and all that done, but I'm too tired of sitting in my chair to do another entry with all that tonight.  Hope everyone else is doing well.  I'm too tired to read the blogs right now to check up on you all.


A Bit of Good News

December 10th, 2020 at 10:59 pm

I do have a bit of good news in all the upheaval of 2020.  There will be a Christmas contribution to the 401K and a small bonus at DH's work.  And I do mean small in comparison to past years.  $500 after taxes is nothing to sneeze at and will go directly to the Emergency Fund.  Unless DH works overtime between now and the end of the year the 401K contribution will be $813.17 because it is based on a percentage of hours worked during the year.

Starting next year they are going to start matching 401K contributions again, but not at 5%.  At 2.5%.  It's a lot better than the 0% they had to do for the last half of 2020.

I saw the doctor yesterday so I could get migraine medication and pain medication and do a blood pressure check.  I got the flu shot for the first time in a couple of decades.  I had a gut level intuition that this was going to be a bad flu year and they had the right strains this time.  I don't know where that came from, but I have always found that I should follow that voice when it happens.  I'll probably feel cruddy the next couple of weeks because of it, I always do, but that's the choice I made.

We also talked about my hip and low back pain and how it radiates he is suspecting a bulging disc, so once I am done with this entry I am going to go get an x-ray taken and see if there is anything obvious.  I might have to do physical therapy again.  I don't see how that will help as I am still doing all the exercises from last time.  And 45 minute sessions to an hour with a mask on when I have asthma is going to be torture even if I use my inhaler first.  I'll probably have to do albuterol treatments afterwards.

Then after I've put in my PT time for the insurance company I can get an MRI on my low back and hip area.  It's a lot of hoops for this type of MRI.  I hope they find something they can fix when all is said and done.

So, Progress I Guess

December 9th, 2020 at 12:44 am

So last night around 5:30 I got a message notification.  Not sure why my phone didn't ring, but it wouldn't have mattered since I was not in the room with my phone at the time.  Usually my fitbit tells me when my phone is ringing, but this time it just told me missed call.  Technology, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Anyway it was from the Virginia Mason surgery center scheduler.

Bear in mind that my daughter's liver daughter met with the liver tumor board yesterday, but we had not heard anything from her doctor at this point.  We weren't too fussed because we knew she had a video appointment with her today at 3.  So I was planning to wait until after the appointment to call back but they called again first thing in the morning.  This time the phone was answered and they said it was for a consult for surgery, which is more information than I had the first time.  So not really knowing what was going on yet, DH went ahead and scheduled it anyway.  On the day and at the time when DD has her brain MRI.

So then that had to be rescheduled.  Then an email came through from the liver doctor which explained what was going on with the liver tumor and also that she may have to go see a kidney doctor after all this because she has multiple cysts on one kidney.  Then we had the video appointment and got more details.  They want to take out the tumor.  It's basically right on the edge of the bottom of the liver and will be a super easy, laproscopic surgery.  Apparently now that she had time to review the MRI and so has the liver board, her tumor has been bleeding internally into the liver which is what was causing the hot ice pick through the back pain.

Apparently my daughter is that special someone who does get pain with this sort of thing (which we have been insisting on) and also she's too young for this sort of thing so that's extra bad, and along with various and sundry things, it is weird and worrying (her words) to not only the doctor but to the tumor board.  And also left unchecked this thing could turn cancerous because of the internal bleeding.

Of course she is that special someone.  This has been her medical history her whole life.  If this were an episode of House, he would not be able to find any one diagnosis because she has all of them...except Lupus.  Doctors are trained to look for horses, not zebras.  Well, my daughter has a herd of zebras running around inside her and not only that, but they are rainbow striped with wings and a unicorn horn.

All that to say they are going to flipping do something.  It's no longer wait, and wait, and wait.  It's get that puppy out within the next 3 months or so.  And MIL has already said she will pay for the surgery, the hotel, and meals while down there, since it will hit next year when the deductible and out of pocket max will, as it inevitably does, start over.  And DH can take sick time so it will not affect us financially whatsover.  That is a burden lifted.

Then I had to call DS's neurologist and see why they didn't bill the insurance for his latest appointment.  We gave them the insurance card at the visit and watched them scan it in.  Apparently they still sent it to last year's insurance, because they didn't bother to terminate the old one when they put in the new one.  So after a half hour on the phone, mostly on hold, I got that straightened out and they will bill the proper people.  Darn tootin'.  That bill was for $284.  The lady was really nice, though, and actual time to take care of the error was less than five minutes.  But dang, that doctor charges a lot for a 20 minute office visit.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 7th, 2020 at 09:26 pm

It's been a while since I've posted a meal plan and even longer since I've made one.  Some weeks have been so last minute lately and others so much easier to grab takeout, but we are on a firm no take out meals agenda for the next two weeks and I need to not have that last minute case of what do I make?  So here we go:

Monday:  Tacos (hard shells, lettuce, tomato, homemade seasoning, ground sirloin) and fresh pineapple

Tuesday:  Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, grapes

Wednesday:  BBQ chicken legs, fried potatoes, broccoli, bananas

Thursday:  Cheese Ravioli with meat sauce bake, salad, apples

Friday:  Rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, Normandy vegetables

Saturday:  Creamy chicken tacquitos (soft toritillas, cream cheese, salsa verde, scallions, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder), salad, fresh pineapple

Sunday:  Baked potato soup (bacon, potatoes, scallions, whole milk, butter, GF flour, salt, pepper, sour cream, extra sharp cheddar), salad, apples

The Weekend Went by Fast

December 7th, 2020 at 09:15 pm

I should have known that freezer availability was too good to be true.  It won't be delivered until January 12th now instead of December 8th.  How do you make that big an error in your scheduling?  Obviously they didn't actually have the freezer in stock.  But it is still available much earlier than anywhere else, so I will deal.  It's not like I have much choice and at least I will end up with one before I really need it, which is summer, when I plan to buy a beef.  I think Mom was more disappointed than I was.

We worked on outdoor Christmas lights some this weekend.  We've been trying to get the solar panels angled right for the bush net lights for days.  As of Saturday night we have four out of the five getting a proper charge that allows the lights to be lit until midnight or so when the battery runs out.  The fifth bush is actually pampas grass so it really is hard to get the solar panel to stay in place.  Last night I had the idea to get a tall garden stake and clip the solar panel to that, so tonight we shall see how well it does.

Yesterday we put up the elk, which is taller than me by several inches, and then the Christmas ornament which is about 3 feet tall.  Those were from last year.  This year we purchased a Victorian lamp post from Costco.  They had it last year and I wanted it then so I said if they had it again this year I would buy it.  So the guys put that together last night while I sat in the car with the heat on and the lights shining so they could see.  It is almost as tall as I am.  Then we got that one set up in the yard and we cabled everything together and then cabled the elk to the porch.

We had Christmas stuff stolen many years ago and ever since then we cable it all together and secure the end of the cable.  It makes it really hard for people to do a snatch and grab.  These things are not cheap.  The longer they would have to stand in the front yard trying to get stuff apart, the bigger likelihood they have of being caught in the act or heard from my son's bedroom window, and the more likely they are to move on.

So the goal for today is to put the blanket lights on the deck rails and get the angel, the santa, the season's greetings rope light sign, the Cardinal, and the reindeer attached to the porch columns and the porch swing, and the sign goes in the yard.  I'd really rather have a Merry Christmas sign, but after the original one was stolen I could only every find a Season's Greetings one.  And possibly the row of candy canes.  The icicle lights for the house and porch roof will be the last things to go up and that might have to wait for the weekend or at least Friday.  DH tends to finish his 40 hours by around 3 p.m. Friday and we really need some daylight to put those up in.

One day I hope to find a really nice rope light Nativity.  They had one about 15 years ago and the following 5 years that I really liked, but couldn't afford at the time.  It was extensive, not just Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger, but it had a camel, the wise men, and a palm tree, too.  And possibly a sheep and donkey.  Now that we can afford it, I haven't been able to find one.  They did have a really nice rocking horse at Costco that I might get next year if they have it again.  At least if I can't find something else I like better.

I am almost caught up on dishes.  I've been running behind all week.  I have one more load to do and then I can give the sink a good scrubbing.  I made two pots of beef stew this weekend.  Everyone was just like "can we have stew again" so I was like why not?  I made a big enough batch the second night that there were enough leftovers for DD for tonight, so I can make tacos for the rest of us.  She gets heartburn very easily these days, so she never wants to eat tacos or chili or things like that.

We are going to try to get the tree up this week as well.  That is fairly straightforward as we have one of the new artificial kind that sort of just fold up and are pre-lit.  We got it last year and it was so easy and it looked nice, too.  And we don't have to deal with pine needles and watering a tree and a tree that is too bushy for the space we have for it.

I am waiting on only two Christmas presents to be delivered and those are supposed to come on the 15th.  Then I shouldn't have to worry about anything else to do with Christmas except wrapping.  And the two gifts coming on the 15th are really too big to be wrapped, so those will just get bows put on them.

I got my Mom a set of four Oneida salad forks.  Her salad forks have been disappearing for a while now, and she's been complaining about not being able to find them, so hopefully this will help for a while, until she manages to lose these ones, too.  She likes to eat with them instead of dinner forks.  I don't know how she loses them.  She only ever eats at the table or her tv tray in front the television set.  There are not a lot of places they can go.  I have a feeling she probably let them go down the garbage disposal, got them banged up, threw them out and just forgot.  She has done that with spoons before.  Anyway, it feels like the perfect gift for her, even though technically we aren't supposed to exchange gifts anymore, I always still get her something.

Broke 40K

December 7th, 2020 at 08:20 pm

It's only been 6 days since I did a retirement update, but I just wanted to share that it broke $40,000.  It's a difference of $563.77, but that was enough to put it over with a few hundred dollars to spare, bringing the new total to $40,412.53.  None of that rise was contributions.  Our next contribution will be on the 11th, but won't hit the account until the following Monday.  Hopefully I can get the side bar to update properly.  It's been more hit than miss, but it still misses on occasion.

Found the Freezer and Planning How to Fill It

December 3rd, 2020 at 08:59 pm

I finally saved up enough to buy a new upright freezer and then I finally found one I liked that was available, so my new 20 cu. ft freezer will be arriving next week. And for $25 extra they will move the old freezer to a different location for us so we don't even have to do that part ourselves. Well worth it since where we want it involves two steps.

That means the one we have in the laundry room can be moved up to the main kitchen so Mom doesn't have to go down and back up the steps every time she wants something from the freezer and my nephew won't wake me up at 2 a.m. rummaging around in the freezer for ice cream since that freezer is on the opposite side of the wall where the head of my bed is. That one is Mom's anyway, but I was using two shelves in it. Now my nephew and my sister will be able to have those two shelves for their food.

I will be so excited to have this new freezer, because I want to do freezer meals, casseroles, and homemade TV dinners and freeze the kind of soups or stews you can't can because they include gluten free flour or dairy, as well as get a beef next year. This freezer will free up room in the chest freezer for that beef. And I will have more room to freeze zucchini. Having a freezer bank of meals goes far towards not eating out when I am exhausted and saves us a lot of money in the long run.

I am already planning on making meatloaves, lasagnas, ravioli bakes, enchilada casseroles, tauqitos, chicken Alfredo, Taco Farfalle, Chicken Mac and Cheese, and bags of chicken shwarma meat, chicken fajita meat, fajita peppers and onions, and jerk chicken all ready to be dumped in the Instant Pot. All of the pastas will be brown rice pasta. Oh, and I plan to brown up some beef, some seasoned for spaghetti, some seasoned for tacos, for really lazy days. Also I want to do baked potato soup and beef stew for the freezer as well.

I can do all that with food I have on hand and will get going after the new freezer has been plugged in for 24 hours. I will likely start by cooking a triple batch of whatever I am making for dinner a coulpe of times a week, one for dinner and two for the freezer. I find that is the best way to do it without letting it get overwhelming. If I can build up to 30 dinner meals in the freezer plus some individual meals for DD and DS when they don't want to eat what DH and I want to eat, it will have my so far ahead of the game and my life will just get instantly easier when I don't feel like cooking.

Putting Food Up and Searching for a Freezer

December 3rd, 2020 at 06:37 am

Yesterday Mom and I did a bunch of canning.  I did the peeling and chopping while she ran the canner.  I did 20 pounds of potatoes and then the carrots were 12 pounds.  I ended up with 14 quarts of Yukon gold potatoes and 23 pints of carrots.  This is a good time of year to do both as the deer carrots are available readily and cheap and of course the potatoes tend to be on sale through the holidays.  So it is definitley eating sale priced (or home grown) food all year when I can do this.  It saves us money in the long run.

I was sore and exhausted today and slept in until eleven and then just stayed in bed until 3.  Once I finally dragged myself out of bed I was still sore, but semi-functional.  It'll probably be a week before I can anything else, but they sure do look pretty on the shelf.  And it is peace of mind, beause it means we won't have to venture into stores at all for the next few months if things get really, really bad again.  We might, especially if there is a really good sale, but we don't have to.

This evening we went to look at freezers at Lowe's but the one they said they had online they did not have in the store.  Of course you had to go to the store to buy it, you couldn't just get it online, it was an in store only sale.  We will check another place tomorrow night, an actual local appliance store.  I have $900 saved and if I have to borrow a couple hundred from the propane grill envelope, I will.  It's not like we'll be making that purchase before spring, probably anyway.

We did stock up on some OTC medicines and I bought a new cane, but that came out of the medical fund.  We also picked up a prescription.

Then when we came home I washed up all the jars of food I canned yesterday to take off any sticky residue.  Sometimes the jars will siphon during the canning process and you don't want to put them in storage that way.  DS dried all the jars as I washed them and that was a great help.  Then I labelled them all and he put them away for me.  So most of the day was unproductive, but not all of it.  I'm sure I will feel more functional tomorrow.

Spending Thoughts, Saving Thoughts

December 2nd, 2020 at 02:34 am

One of the things I've noticed this year since paying off our debt is that I have gotten a little too free-spending.  Or maybe it just seems that way.  Well, I know it is with eating out, though we've cracked back down on that, but I am wondering about whether or not I truly am on other things.

Maybe it is just because we went so long without replacing things and upgrading things that now that we have the money, I am just getting what I put off getting.  I've replaced all of my pans, gotten an electric citrus juicer, bought clothes and shoes, and of course all the mattresses and I'm about to buy a freezer that I've been saving for and have the money for a propane grill so when we are ready to get it we can.  I mean, I budget for, and save for these things and I limit what I get in any one month, but lately it seems like we are having packages arrive daily.

I know some of that is Christmas gifts coming and some of it is gluten free food I can't get locally and vitamins and whatnot, but I can't help but feel like it is out of control.  Only I don't think it is.  I just think it is allowing us to get things after not for so many years while we tackled the debt.  Maybe I just feel guilty for spending, period.  Is this a thing that happens once you are debt free?  Is it just because I have loosened the purse strings?

Replacement mode does seem to be winding down now.  I will be saving for a new knife set, though, and then new pots and then we should be good for a long while, I think.  They are pricier than I've had before, but the pots are made in America and the knives are made in Germany, and they are higher quality.

The thing is, I still want to build the Emergency Fund to three month's salary and eventually to six and maybe even eventually to a year after that.  I feel like I can't do that while I am in replacement mode.  I am adding some, but I feel like I could be doing so much more.  I do plan on buckling down in January and making consistent deposits to the EF.  And we do plan on raising our retirement contributions in January as well.

I guess we will be moving on from this soon, but the feelings behind so much spending have been building up.  It probably is quite normal.  I just want to rein it back in for 2021.  The focus really needs to come back and move into that gazelle intense phase again.  That seemed easier to do when we were paying down debt than it is to just save.  I have to get over that.