Home > Archive: February, 2021

Archive for February, 2021

All is Quiet on the Western Front

February 27th, 2021 at 05:48 am

There has not been much going on here these days.  We haven't spent any money and we haven't gone anywhere other than to appointments.  I am keeping my mind busy, though.  I decided to learn Italian.  I have been at it for five days and am thoroughly enjoying myself.  I have absolutely no problem with getting the accent right according to Duolingo.

I had learned French in high school and Spanish in college, but I never really enjoyed them.  I always wanted to learn Italian, but it wasn't offered.  I just love Italy and Italian food and really want to go there some day.  I am finding I am picking it up quickly and I really like learning it.

My knowledge of the two romantic languages I have learned does help some, but it also hinders a bit.  Especially when words are virtually identical, but pronounced differently like the Spanish and Italian word for chicken, pollo.  The first is like poyo and the second is like polo.  There are quite a lot of words that are similar to English, though.  Banana is spelled the same but pronounced differently.  Carota is carrot.  Pesce is fish which is the first part of pescetarian, but is said pesha.  It's kind of cool.

I hope I continue to like it.  It is work, but it really keeps my mind active.

DS is learning French (but he likes it), DD is brushing up on her Japanese, and DH is doing Irish gaelic.  I figured it was time I joined them.  And if we ever get to travel we can visit a good portion of the Western European countries and Japan and get around fairly well.  I had thought about learning Welsh, but the spelling would have killed me.

Retirement Goal for 2021

February 23rd, 2021 at 08:04 am

Our 401K contributions were finally added today.  Usually they go in on Friday, but not always.  The new amount in our retirement accounts is $46,084.04.  That is an increase of $833.56.  $770 of that was contributions, so only $63.86 was contributions.  If they'd have put it in on Friday it would have been 4 times that, but stuff fell a lot today.  Oh, well, it will rise again.

Garden Plans and Purchases

February 20th, 2021 at 02:44 am

I haven't been posting much as I've been under the weather.  Both literally and figuratively.  We had a foot and a half of snow dumped on us on the 13th and 14th and the extreme cold caused a rheumatoid arthritis flare and a fibromyalgia flare at the same time.  Then I came down with a cold which feels like it might be heading into a sinus infection, because that's just how I roll.

Not much has been happening here, anyway.  I've been planning and purchasing online for the garden.  I've ordered my seed potatoes and my sweet potatoes for the summer.  I am going to be growing beauxregard (I think that is how it is spelled) sweet potatoes.  They are a 90 day sweet potato that does good in the north and stores well.  Most sweet potatoes take 120 to 150 days, so are not good candidates for here unless you have a green house.  I have not grown them before.  I hope they do well, because you can get a lot if you plant them properly.

For potatoes I ordered Kennebec, Yukon gold, red La Soda, and Gold Rush.  Kennebec and La Soda are good for long-term storage.  Under the right conditions they can last until the next growing season and our basement has the right conditions.  The others will be eaten fresh first as well as canned.

I've got five thornless blackberry canes coming and 3 huckleberry bushes.  I am pretty excited about both.  We took out the thorny blackberries two years ago and haven't had any since.  And I've wanted huckleberry bushes for ages.  I love huckleberries and they make a fantastic jam.  I don't know if there will be much production the first year, they said some, but I'm not sure how big the bushes will be.  They may be quite small considering I paid $25 for 3.

I am hoping we will get the seed starting station set up this weekend.  The grow lights have arrived so then all I would need was an extension cord, the seed starting trays and the starting mix to get going.  I'd like to start my peas, spinach, bunching onions, and lettuce immediately.  Then shortly after that the brassicas (broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale).  In about two weeks I can start my sweet meat squash, tomatoes, melons, and zucchini so they will be ready to plant out at the start of May.

Also this weekend DH needs to go to the industrial part of town and look for free pallets, since we will be building our beds out of pallet wood.  Once a couple of the beds are built we can start filling them with spoiled hay and free one year old horse manure.  Plus whatever is in the compost bins and any branch trimmings from the rose bushes and apple trees (once it is warm enough to prune them).  Then we'll top them off with good garden soil.

My method of gardening is a cross between hugelkulture, permacutlture, raised beds, French biointensive, and lasagna gardening.  It works for me, but it takes a lot of biological input to build it all from scratch.  It's going to cost a lot to get it going, but after that it'll be down to just the cost of seeds each year and compost which I make a lot of myself.  And I can get as much free well-rotted horse manure as I need from the stables around here.  Which is great, since I no longer have rabbit manure available to me.

Building the fence and buying the cattle panels is what is going to cost a lot, but in the end it will all be worth it.

Emergency Fund Update

February 20th, 2021 at 02:02 am

I had a sad, piddly little amount to add to the EF this week, but even so, it was something.  Most of what I would have put in  went towards gardening stuff, including three huckleberry bushes.  I've wanted those for a long time.  I just have to realize that the EF is not going to grow at the rate I had hoped.  There are too many other things on the agenda, including that handicaped ramp.  Still, anything is better than nothing.

$11,322.98 Previous Balance

+__,__5.29 Amount Added


$11,328.27 New Balance

Planning out my Yearly Food Needs to Lower the Grocery Budget

February 10th, 2021 at 04:13 am

Every year I make up a food preservation plan, which is an overarching pantry plan, really.  I keep the previous year's plans so I can see what I planned before, what I actually achieved, and what I might want to do more or less of.  This includes a canning plan, a dehydrating plan, a freezer plan, and a long-term staples plan.  It's really quite in depth and when I make them up, I feel like I've got a really good handle on things for the coming year.

This year I will need to fill 1,316 jars, 626 quart jars, 28 pint and a half jars, 573 pint jars, and 89 pint and a half jars.  I have around 750 reusable canning lids, but will need to buy more and maybe some metal ones if I can find them.  I prefer metal ones for waterbath canning, but reusable for pressure canning.  They are supposed to be back in stock now, but there was huge shortage during 2020 due to people growing and canning a lot more food because they were worried about food shortages.  I think I have enough jars, but if I need to, I can store the culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and teas I grow in take out soup containers or spaghetti sauce jars.

Knowing how much I want to do, helps me to plan how much of what I am going to plant in the garden, how much freezer space I will need, and how many mylar bags and food grade buckets I need to have on hand, and of course the aforementioned jars and lids.

All of this, if I can achieve it, should cut our grocery spending by half.  That is assuming a good growing season and a good harvest year.  It is worth it to me even though it is a lot of work.  When you have to eat gluten free and you don't want a ton of processed food in your diet, and you prefer organic, you have to find other ways of doing things so you can actually afford all that.

In my case, it turns me into a prepper, at least with food.  Not a crazy one, mind you, but like what our grandparents and great grandparents did, because they had to.  I will be most comfortable, especially in these days of pandemic, to have a year's supply on hand.  That is my ultimate goal.  We have been building it back since the year we had to use it almost all up when DH was unemployed for 10 months.

Anyway, if you would like to see my 2021 Food Preservation Plan I made a video of it. 

Text is and Link is  Maybe it will be helpful to anyone else who wants to build their own plan.  Mine is for a family of four adults.


Retirement Update

February 7th, 2021 at 11:31 pm

It was a bad week, followed by a good week for our retirement accounts and we ended up $1039.39 ahead.  $660 of that was contributions from us and $110 was contributions from DH's job.  That means $341.35 in interest.  I'm sure it would have been better without all the hedge fund nonsense with Gamestop and AMC stock.  It usually is.  Personally, I don't think hedge funds should be allowed to exist, I find them unethical, but I don't want the stock market tanking because people wanted to purposely set out to destroy the hedge funds either.  Just don't mess with my retirement accounts, people.

Anyway, we have broke $45K this week and the new balance in of all our retirement accounts (minus the company stock) is $45,250.18.  $50K is getting closer and closer.

Emergency Fund Update

February 7th, 2021 at 02:44 am

I did manage to put a little into the Emergency Fund this paycheck.  Having to save for the handicapped ramp is putting a damper on how much I can put in probably through March.  But I am happy I at least put in a little.

$11,251.02 Previous Balance

+__,_71.96 Amount Added


$11,322.98 New Balance

A Lot of Work for Better Crops to Save Money on Food

February 6th, 2021 at 11:43 pm

As you all know by now, we garden.  And it saves us a lot of money.  For the cost of a large packet of green bean seeds, I grow and can enough green beans for the whole year.  I grow enough corn for fresh eating and some for the freezer to have later in the year.  I grow and freeze enough zucchini most years to have it once a week all year.  And I grow enough tomatoes to do 52 pints of diced canned.

That's all well and good, but I need to grow enough for making tomato sauce and ketchup.  I need to grow enough broccoli for the freezer.  While I had a good potato harvest, it was not enough to get us through a year without buying.  And I skipped onions and long-storing winter squash last year.  And the amount of strawberries I grew was not enough.  Well, this year I need to grow enough of that, too.  And this year we'll be doing our own seed starting.

But first we needed to increase the size of the garden.  And we needed to start clean up on last year's garden.  We currently have a 20 x 48 foot garden, with 2 old broken down raised beds.  We need to finish tearing those out and then put black plastic over the entire area to kill the weeds.  Then we are going to bulid raised beds out of free pallet wood and use linseed oil to help preserve the wood, since it is not toxic.

And we needed to clear a new 20 x 20 foot plot just for the potatoes.  So that got weed eated, raked up, and then we put down black plastic on a 10 x 20 foot section.  We need to finish putting it down over the rest of that area as soon as we get another sunny day.

My son and I managed to get the corn stalks from last year pulled out as the ground was finally soft enough.  So our weed pile to take to the green dump is quite high.  The next nice day, the bean poles, vines, and strings need to come down, too, so we can weed eat that area and cover it all with black plastic.

It takes longer than you think to get the plastic put down properly and DH has to be available to help and not working.  At least the days are long enough to have his help for an hour or so after he is done with work for the day now.  And it will only keep lasting longer so stuff can really start getting done.  Presuming we have no freezes or snow in the meanwhile.

If you would like to see our progress I made a youtube video. 

Text is and Link is  I would appreciate any views and likes you could give it.  And thank you so much for watching the last one, it made quite a difference.


Grocery Spending Tracking

February 6th, 2021 at 06:52 am

I'm dead and my body is killing me, but we managed to make it to 3 grocery stores.  I was really careful to just get what was on the meal plan that I didn't already have, plus some gluten free desserts for the freezer.  I took $100 of the grocery budget and put it into the Beef Fund and that left me with $300 to spend during a two week period.  We have lots of meat in the freezer, so I barely bought any.

First up we went to Haggen and bought 3 tortilla chips, 2 buckwheat flour, 3 Campbell's cream of mushroom soup (for DH, no one else will touch it due to MSG and soy), 1 gluten free bread, 2 packets of gluten free doughnuts (maple and cinnamon sugar) and 1 packet of gluten free chocolate, cream-filled cupcakes for my upcoming birthday in a week, 2 1/2 gallon bottles of milk, 1 regular potato bread (for DH), 2 uncured ham chubs, 4 cucumbers, 2 greem onions, 2 radishes, 3 lbs of bananas, and 1 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.

I had a $10 off if you spent $50 or more and I also returned 3 milk bottles and got $6.00 back.  They charged us $121.96, but when we got out to the car we realized that they had not given us the markdown price on the hams, so back in we trudged and I got $9.20 back.  So the true price there was $112.76, which was very close to what we'd calculated.  DS tries to keep a running total, but their scales were a little off so we kind of had to guesstimate.

Then we stopped at Whole Foods and I just got a few things:  1 green bell pepper, soy free and gluten free Worcestershire sauce, soy free and gluten free BBQ sauce, clemintine oranges, regular oranges, zucchini, and veggie chips.  I only spent $25.23.  I forgot the gluten free penne, though.  I do have other gluten free pastas, so I don't think I will try to pick it up.  I can use tagliatelle in place of it in the chicken Alfredo the kids like to have made up as tv dinners.

Last we went to Winco and I really should have just bought all of my vegetables there, they are so much cheaper.  I bought 15 pounds of potatoes, 2 large Zoi full fat plain yogurt, 1 package dill, 2 bags of mixed vegetables, 1 whipped topping (for waffles next week), 1 box of DH's store brand Lucky Charms, 2 boxes of Honey Chex gluten free cereal, 4 yellow onions, 2 sweet onions, 1 lime, 1 store brand cream of mushroom soup (for DH to try, it is 86 cents a can, much cheaper), 8 jars alfredo sauce, black grapes, 4 garnet sweet potatoes, 1 pineapple, 4 roma tomatoes, 4 ambrosia apples (not in stores for very long), and 1 bunch of celery.  I paid $61.15.

So altogether I spent $199.14 out of my $300 budget.  I have $100.86 left if I need to pick up a couple of things before next payday, but I will try my best not to go back to the store for anything, but I may have to for bread, milk, and eggs.  It would be cool, if I could add an extra $50 to the Beef Fund on top of the other $100.  But I won't count my dollars before they hatch.

Payday Report for 2/5/21

February 6th, 2021 at 06:21 am

It hasn't been too bad getting used to less money coming in.  We are definitely being more disciplined with the budget and still not eating out, but we have adapted okay to having 15% taken out for retirement instead of 5%.  I honestly thought it would be harder than this, especially with so much more coming out for medical this year.

$271.23 Tithe

_500.00 Utilities

_300.00 Grocery Envelope

_100.00 Beef Fund

_300.00 Medical Fund

__75.00 Household Envelope

_118.17 Internet

__36.00 Garbage

_150.00 Car Insurance Fund

_100.00 Spending Money Adults

__90.00 Allowances Kids

_100.00 Clothing Envelope

_100.00 Gift/Christmas Envelope

_400.00 Handicapped Ramp Fund

__71.96 Emergency Fund


2712.36 Total Money Out

Beef Fund

February 5th, 2021 at 10:01 pm

I had $40 left in the grocery envelope so I transferred that to the beef fund and I am going to attempt to only use $300 in grocery money this paycheck, so am starting with putting the extra $100 in the Beef Fund, but whether or not it will stay there is anyone's question.  I did make my list closely to my meal plan and we aren't buying any meat except ham because we have it in the freezer.

$760.00 Previous Balance

+140.00 Amount Added


$900.00 New Balance

I'm Glad the Challenge is Over, but I Saved a Lot

February 4th, 2021 at 01:48 am

I think the January Eat from the Pantry Challenge went really well overall.  The best result for me is I am down to 20.2 pounds lost and I think no eating out (except when MIL bought us a pizza), is what really increased the loss.  We were able to save $640 into the Beef Fund, bringing that to a total of $760.  I kept $60 of the budget for the days February 1st through 5th for whatever we needed to buy before payday hits on the 5th.

We spent $100 on groceries for the month, mostly oranges, and recovery foods for DD.  She needed some items I don't normally buy like lemon lime soda to settle her stomach while taking the Oxycodone, Welch's gelatine (like Jello, but not artificial dyes, no artificial flavors, and nothing else bad in it), pudding with no food dye, and a certain type of gluten free chip that seems to help mop up stomach acid in her case.  We also bought gluten free, bread, regular bread, and milk.

Of the $60 I didn't put into the beef fund, I have $40 left.  I went to the store yesterday and bought the 50 count bag of corn tortillas (and wow, have they gone up in price), pasture raised eggs, organic green onions (regular ones looked dinky), a bunch of organic cilantro, a lime, milk, and oranges.  I also took back 3 milk bottles so part of that was paid with that $6 back.  I don't think we will need to buy anything else before Friday, so I think the rest of that will go to the Beef Fund.

I learned a lot during the challenge and I am really glad I got control of our grocery spending.  My plan for this upcoming paycheck is to take $100 of our grocery budget and put it directly into the Beef Fund and then with the remaining $300 buy our groceries, with any left over at the end of the pay period also going into the Beef Fund.  If we can do that, even without any extra added, we should have $2300 for the Beef Fund, which ought to be enough to buy a half a beef and a half a hog, though I don't know about a lamb.  Or a whole beef.  Which might be better as I really only like bacon, ham, ribs, and sausage.  I mean, I'll eat the other parts, too, but I much prefer beef and chicken, followed by turkey and lamb.

I did put up a youtube video on my channel on what I learned from this challenge if anyone wants to watch and like, or even not watch and just let run.  I also put up weekly challenge videos if you want to see what I ate on the challenge.  My channel has been struggling during the last year due to changes in the youtube algorithms.  I'd like to get it back to where it was before all those changes. 

Text is and Link is  It's a talking video, so if you've ever wondered what I looked like, here's your chance to see.  Not really what I sound like though, since I had a very scratchy throat that day.  But of course, you're under no obligation.  I'm just really frustrated with youtube and its arbitrary changes.

I'm going to have to put a pause on the Emergency Fund.  We need to come up with $1000 for a front door handicapped ramp.  Mom will pay half like she did for the back door ramp.  This was something we agreed to when we installed the first one.  I just wasn't expecting to have to do it for another year.  Two months of not putting money in the EF will pay for it.  Or we could use our tax refund, which I had meant to go for building the garden and then an additional $200.  I guess my goals for the year will be shot all to heck, but it is what it is.

I finally started writing again this week.  I had really gotten out of the habit, but if I ever want to get this book done, I need to actually write every day.  So that is my challenge for the month of February, to write every day.

Interest Income to EF

February 3rd, 2021 at 10:35 pm

$11,551.02 Previous Balance

+__,__2.49 Interest Added


$11,553.51 New Balance