Home > Archive: July, 2022
Archive for July, 2022
July 28th, 2022 at 10:32 pm
It has taken forever, between our first upright freezer breaking down, to having it replaced after many months when no one could repair it, which also took months because they were on backorder, to me ordering the hog, to the butcher dates being pushed back several times, to today, when my hog is actually being butchered. It will be about 3 weeks before I actually get it, since they have to hang it for a while and then have to cure and smoke hams, bacon, and hocks. But I will have it before the end of August, so that makes me very happy. I wanted it before fall, so this is great. This saves a lot of money on meat in the long run. Now I can start saving up for a beef.
I'm still trying to locate a pasture-raised lamb that has never been fed grain, but it is harder than you would think. I may have to look outside my county. Hopefully the next one over has some. Otherwise I will have to give in to those who ate grain early on, but then switched to grass only. As long as it is organic grain, I can deal.
The garden is doing well. The onions need to be ringed, but they are growing nicely. It'll be nice not to buy them at $.1.29 each. I resent that so much, because before I could get them at 25 cents each. I planted so many I think I may not have to buy them for 8 or 9 months. I will probably braid all the yellows and the reds, but the Walla Walla sweets I will chop and freeze.
The garlic is pretty dry, so I think I another week and it'll be done. Now I have to decide if I want to clip them or keep the stem on and braid them. I love the way braided looks, but we don't really have a good place to hang them unless DH puts in a hook in the hallway or we hang them on a rod in the laundry room. Neither place is convenient. I will cut some up small and dehydrate it. Then I can grind it for powder as I need it. If I make it powder and keep it in a jar, it tends to clump badly or go hard. I think I have enough garlic for a year, but we will see. It's going for $1 for one head right now when you used to get 4 or 3 heads for $1. That's outrageous.
The zucchini is quite small, about a dime in circumference for the largest and about 3 inches long. I've got itty bitty cucumbers starting, but the vines don't want to climb the trellis yet. I've got several green tomatoes coming on. The green beans are about 8 inches tall, having been planted so late. I'm still getting strawerries and the blueberries are starting to blush.
It'll be a while before I get more to harvest, but when I do I won't have to buy produce for some time. I'm thinking about getting a CSA box in the meanwhile, since that is also cheaper than buying them from the store right now and I can pick out of several boxes of what I want, whether it be just fruit, just veg, or a combo, and there are different sizes at different price points. They also have meat boxes and milk and egg boxes. That's pretty neat.
I do want to get a box of nectarines to cut up and freeze, and two boxes of tomatoes for canning as I never have the space to grow enough. I'll probably get 40 pounds of yellow potatoes and 20 pounds of carrots to can as well. I'm not sure when, though. And I will be buying chuck roast this week to can as it is $3.99/lb at Fred Meyer this ad cycle. I'd like to get at least 14 quarts canned during this sale. I'll do more if I can get it and my hands can take it. I am almost out of that. This sale seems to repeat itself somewhere around every six weeks, so I'll have a chance to do more. These are still pre-Covid sale prices. I use canned beef a lot during the winter, because it, canned potatoes, and canned carrots make a great quick stew.
I'm still waiting to see if there will be a good sale on boneless skinless chicken thighs. I may have to just buy regular thighs, which do go on sale, and skin and debone them myself. It's more work, but I can then make stock with the skins and bones, so I do get more out of it. I need to make a lot of stock as I am completely out of canned stock. It's an economical way to do both. I can't get pre-Covid sales prices on the chicken, but the new sale is $1.29 per pound if you don't want to get the stuff injected with stuff, which is about what it was not on sale pre-Covid.
When I do go to Winco I will pick up some turkey sausage and turkey chorizo. It is still pretty cheap at $2.99 a pound. Way cheaper than pork sausage, which I will have a lot of with the hog, because I didn't get any roasts in my order. I'm going to buckle down and start making the largest items from the freezer instead of what I feel like. We've got some beef ribs and soup bones that take up a lot of space, so I need to deal with those. We have some freezer burned pork that is meant for crab bait, so we need to get that to DH's boss, so he will have it when they go out crabbing. It can sit in his freezer instead of ours. And we will eat up the rest of the roasts from our beef.
I'm not sure how much room we will need for the hog. When she first told me it was about 400 pounds, but that was six weeks ago. It could easily be 600 pounds by now the way hogs eat, since she wasn't able to butcher on time. I guess I'll know soon enough. Funny thing was, I wanted a hog around that size originally, so I guess I get what I wanted.
When I go buy the meat later today, I won't have to buy any produce. I still have plenty from last week. 2 watermelons, the first good cantaloupe I've seen this summer, 1 and a half bunches of bananas, 2 golden kiwis, WA state red cherries, 4 peaches, and 4 nectarines. The latter two are still ripening. I also have a nearly full bag of salad mix, a full bag of spinach, a green cabbage, a purple cabbage, a napa cabbage, 1 parsnip, 2 sweet potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, half a bag of Russet potatoes, a full bag of gold potatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 shallots, 1 yellow onions, 1 walla walla sweet onion, and 4 carrots. I foresee cabbage rolls in my future as well as a root vegetable dish. I need to use up the parsnip and the sweet potatoes before they go bad.
I scheduled DD's cavity appointments. I wish we had been able to do them sooner, before she loses her insurance, but such is life. I'm pretty sure the COBRA is just medical, not dental and vision. We have spread it out over 3 appointments about six weeks between them. The first one will cost $367, the second one will cost $258, and the third will cost $261. That will allow us to cash flow fixing her teeth. Then maybe after that we can get her the $400 night guard. So $1286 all told. We don't want to do it first because it will effect the shape of the mouthguard by small amounts and it might not fit right.
If we don't cash flow, we should have enough in the Medical Fund to cover it. I put $500 in it every 2 weeks. Of course we spend it a lot through the year, but I should have enough by September to pay for the first appointment.
If MIL gives us $10,000 like she did last year, I am going to dump $5k into the Medical Fund and $3K into the Emergency Fund and $2K to start saving for my son's education. It's not much, but it's a start. While he finished high school through homeschooling, he doesn't have the piece of paper. So he needs to get his GED before going to the technical college. You can also get an actual high school diploma through the technical college, so we might do that. He'll have to test and see if he has enough knowledge to pass as that was a while ago. He may have to take some more math to get into the program he wants, but everything else is where it should be except possibly his essay writing. He always hated that because of his dyslexia. He doesn't have the problem with numbers, only letters.
Insurance now covers the coating that takes out the blue light on computers and makes it easier to read things on white paper, so he'll be getting that with his new glasses this month. Another expense, but one that the money is there for already, as are mine, if I decide to get them. I may just wait until January when I can get both frames and lenses, not just lenses. Or I might get contacts if the prescription hasn't changed much.
July 22nd, 2022 at 04:35 am
DH had his performance review today and life suddenly got a whole lot easier. His boss, his boss's boss, and the company president were all there for the review. The company freaking president. It was a massively glowing review. DH probably could have been seen from space, it was so glowing.
Now, previously his boss had told him to expect something that would make him fall on the floor if he got what was put in for. My response to that when DH told me was that the only thing that would make me fall on the floor would be going up to $150K, but I'd be happy with anything to help with the massive inflation.
Well, my dears, they didn't even hesitate to sign off on what was requested. Let's just say that we have both collapsed in a heap. DH got a $22,624 a year raise. That is 17.8%. So is that $150K salary? No, but that's quibbling. It's $149,816 a year. So close enough in my mind! Plus he works several weeks of 10 to 20 hours of overtime a year, so it'll probably be closer to $160K when all is said and done.
DH said the amount of his raise was the amount of his salary the very first year he started at an engineering company fresh out of technical college, about six months before we got married. I remember living on that and deciding to have a baby. We lived on love, faith, and hope. Well, we aren't living on hope anymore. We're back to being on dry land, no more treading water and no more sinking.
DH is now where he was while working in Alaska in 2015 before the lay off that wiped out our savings and put us years behind where we could have been if all had gone well. Only now he's not on hazard pay, he's home, the benefits are better, he's pretty much guaranteed a job for the rest of his working life assuming the company stays solid, and we don't have to pay for airfare to get to Alaska or a mortgage or a car payment or any debt at all. And when we do inherit the house from my mother, we will be able to pay the property taxes. It's like a massive weight has been taken off my shoulders. I praise God for this so much. DH has worked so hard for this company, they've noticed, and it has paid off in spades.
But the biggest, most important thing in this is that if the appeal to keep our daughter on DH's medical due to disability doesn't work, we can afford to pay for her insurance without wiping out our entire emergency fund and still have money leftover. And that feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of all of our shoulders.
And now I can rebuild the Emergency Fund. I had to take out $7000 for repairing a rotten bathroom floor and fixing a plumbing leak. We will probably have to completely rip out the bathroom/shower and put in a new one, too. But at least we didn't drain the fund. There is still $13,285.51 in it. We will get it back up again.
Then maybe we can save up so DS can go to school and become an electrician or engineer like he is interested in. We haven't been able to afford it since this is such a high cost of living area. Now maybe we can. Technical college is not as expensive as other colleges and ours offers a bachelor's degree in engineering at a third of the cost as our university does.
And after that, I want to get a solar system for the house. That has always seemed like a pipedream, but who knows now? If we can replace at least half of our energy costs for the year, that would be great. Maybe we can get one by 2030. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but yeah. Maybe.
Anyway, I am raising a glass of cyber champagne high. Cheers!
July 10th, 2022 at 02:26 am
DH's boss has put in for a sizeable raise for DH. I know he just got one in December, but his responsibilities have increased by a large margin...a margin that was not required for his job or the last raise. The last raise was completely swallowed up by inflation. I had to double, and then raise by another $50, our gas budget. Electricity, gas, water/sewer, and even garbage have all gone up.
He said that if the raise goes through, DH will probably fall down on the floor. About the only thing that would make me fall down on the floor would be $150K. But anything more would be fine, especially if it will cover DD's COBRA (still waiting on the appeal, but who knows?) while we try to get her on disablility or find a cheaper insurance that will still cover her medications. And maybe let us bump up our retirement contributions. At least we will be able to claim a significant amount of medical this year and that was before paying for COBRA, which starts in August.
Right now we are at 16% and I would like to be at 20%, maybe even 25% one day. Even if I can only go up to 17% or 18%, that will help. I haven't looked at retirement since the freefall started. I really don't want to, either. I am hoping in November we will see a sea change and all these people willing to throw our money away on other countries and not take care of us here so we can recover in our own economy and infrastructure, get voted out. I'll certainly vote against Patty Murray. She stopped being the Mom in Tennis Shoes she originally campaigned as when I was young and is now just another rich career politician who has strayed so far from what she used to be, I just want her gone. And I like her opponent. But I digress.
I've been able to stay within my food budget only because I don't have to buy much in the way of meat, mostly just chicken and the occasional pork. DH caught the limit on spot prawns and was given more by some of the others again. They tried to catch Pacific sand dabs, which are in the flounder family, while they were out there but only caught little ones that they threw back. There is not much meat on the little ones. Still both prawning trips have been more than enough to cover the gas to go out. These ones are super expensive to buy. So we'll get a few meals out of those. I am really looking forward to crabbing and salmon seasons and we may try to catch some river trout, too, since there are some fishing areas in our local parks.
So mostly I am buying produce right now and it'll be a while yet on when I can replace much of those types of groceries. Right now I am getting scallions and the first peas are ready to be picked today. I've got some herbs to harvest from and I am still picking strawberries. The raspberries are starting to turn color. So I am able to supplement a little. Plus I'm pulling the elephant garlic today, now that I've had 7 days in a row with no rain or watering. That helps them dry out some before being pulled and put on a ventilated drying rack for about 2 weeks and then I can cut off the greens and trim the roots and they can go into a box for dry storage in my coldest cabinet that seldom gets opened. I think the Music garlic is ready, too, but I'll have to dig down and check.
Once all the garlic is out I can plant carrots, radishes, and 90 day parsnips. Those are all great things to plant after garlic or onions. The onions are starting to swell, but they have several weeks to go. Maybe in another 2 weeks I can ring them and then their growth will take off significantly. And I'll be able to use the sprinkler and just handwater once this garlic is out.
I've got baby zucchinis starting and saw my first tomato (small and green) yesterday. My cucumbers are still really small plants. My lettuce has bolted and my spinach, too. My herbs are big enough that I can start to harvest them. But that's still not a lot of fruit or veggies. We finally got the green beans planted, but they haven't come up yet. I will be getting the sweet potatoes in today. We'll have to do a peusdo greenhouse when the weather starts cooling off in the fall, since it took so long for DH to get the grow bags filled for me. They are up on pallets to keep them off the ground for when the ground starts getting cold.
I am considering dumping the hog lady since she keeps having her butcher dates pushed back and I haven't heard from her in some time, and going with another beef. Almost all that is left is hamburger. Any new hamburger I get I can put through the grinder on a fine grind, mix with some ground chicken, some tallow, and with herbs and spices, run it all through again, and make sausage with it. I can make mild Italian and I can make breakfast sausage. And if I ask for the navel cut with the new steer, then I can make beef bacon as well, unless they will make the bacon and the sausage for me at the butchers. They might not if the equipment for that is dedicated to hogs only, but it doesn't hurt to ask. It might be, to keep kosher. I know they will do kosher or halal when asked.
I need to do a stock up on herbs and spices at Costco this weekend, particulary salt, pepper, granulated garlic, paprika, and chili powder. I also want to get more tomato sauce, some PH water, some TP, Ziplocs, some oil for the fryer, some olive oil, rice, stir-fry veggies, and some golden kiwis. Maybe one or two more items, but I'll have to check.
I don't need to buy anymore fruit this week, as I still have strawberries to pick, a watermelon, 2/3 of a melon that was not labelled in the store, but tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew with a yellow rind, 2 small pineapples, some grapes, 3 nectarines, 1 peach, and 4 kiwis. I might get Rainer cherries, though. They are my favorite now and only have a short season. But we don't really need it. As for produce, we have two zucchini, 1 English cucumber, a head of lettuce, 1 green cabbage, 2 Napa cabbages (for cabbage rolls), 1/4 of a huge bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, 2 packs of frozen broccoli, carrots, potatoes, radishes, 4 yellow onions, 1 red onion, and a head of garlic. Also, home canned green beans, canned corn, and a can of water chestnuts. I think we should be fine, so I'll take the opportunity to stock up on some long-term food storage and longer-lasting pantry items, while saving enough money for week two of this grocery budget.
I had raised the grocery budget to $500, but I have popped it back down to $400 every payday, due to the increase in gas prices. It had to come from somewhere, so I am economizing more and sticking more firmly to meal planning and eliminating take out to more than once a payday and one of those meals MIL pays for. We have all but eliminated prepared foods and are cooking mostly from scratch, now that I am feeling better. It took a lot for me to recover from that last fall. My scab has almost completely fallen off and now I just have to work on keeping the scar tissue from pulling the skin tight, but using cream on it 3 times a day. I still have some pain from the fall, but I'm down to just using Ibuprofen at bedtime, so it is obviously better.
It was hard to keep a good attitude through the healing process, because it has set me back, but I can still feel the higher dose of the stuff used to control my hypomania and death spirals (as I like to call them, not really death, just dark dives into misery) is doing it's job to keep me on a more even keel. I still don't have a formal diagnosis other than hypomania and depression. No one's come out and said bipolar, though. Which is okay, because let's face it, I don't want to go on lithium. I will likely be going up another 50 mg on my current drug the next time I see the doctor. I feel it is the final step, because my outlook on life has improved tremendously over all.
I'm need to call in to physical therapy this week and get myself rescheduled. I think I will need a new assessment, though, because my range of motion and the flexibility I was getting has now become less and so is the amount of time I can stand or walk with an assistance device and definitely without one and the pain is pretty bad unless I sit rather quickly. I had been cane free for 8 weeks before this accident. It's so frustrating, but I will put my head down, muddle through, and get stronger again. I did it once, I can do it again. I'll call the doctor, though. I never got an x-ray of my lower back after I fell and I want to make sure I haven't done further damage, before I do. I was so concerned with the pain my arm when I went to the hospital, I was completely unaware of other pain. It wasn't until the next morning that I felt it and kept hoping it would get all the way better on it's own, but maybe it can't. So we'll see. We'll see about a lot of things.
July 1st, 2022 at 07:04 am
So as we have eaten our way through the steer we bought last summer, we are now mostly left with ground beef. A lot of ground beef. 3 compartments in the chest freezer and 1/2 a bin of it in the upright. So I spent a good amount of time on youtube the last couple of days trying to find recipes that aren't all about Mexican food. My daughter is having issues right now with those spices so I've been trying to veer away from them, but the hugest number seems go there.
Taco Mac, chili mac, enchiladas, Taco spaghetti, Taco penne bake, Taco bowl, Taco salad, Chili, Tacos, Taco Mac and Cheese, Taco Chili, Taco Lasagna and on and on and on. The Italian ones are good, but are basically all variations on a theme, too, pasta or bread, meat, usually sauce, and cheese. And there is only so much spaghetti, calzones, stromboli, pizza, goulash, meatball sandwiches, baked penne or ziti, macaroni and cheese and Fettuine Alfredo that one can eat in a week without being bogged down by a wheat hangover.
I was on a mission to find some other recipes and it took a lot of weeding through it, but I found some Asian inspired ones and some German ones, and of course there is meatloaf and burgers, cabbage rolls, etc., but I'm still lacking in much else. I still have to do some recipe searching on google to see what else I can find.
But I have enough for a start and today I went to the grocery store and stocked up on what I needed to do this. The goal is to have ground beef three times a week, or two if we are having steak. Which we are just about out of, so probably not much of that will happen.
We've made a recommitment to cooking almost exclusively from scratch and eating healthy and not eating out for the month of July, because we really need to buckle down and stop spending money. There are a few things in the freezer that are convenience foods, like fish sticks, fries, hot dogs, sausages, and garlic toast, but not a lot of that. I'll be baking bread, rolls, and buns myself. Everyone has pledged to help me as much as they are able, so hopefully this time around things will go as planned. We have a good chance as summer tends to be the season I don't get badly sick in. So if I can refrain from falling down or hurting my back for the rest of it, we can get this done.
We had a deer in the garden again today. It had big abscesses on its face, poor thing and was bashing it's head against one of our trellises until one of them popped. It was really gross, but the thing needed to be drained. We had to spray things down to get the gunk off and the smell was atrocious. If I see it again, I will call animal control, because that is not a healthy animal. We will be getting some fencing up tomorrow to hopefully keep the the deer out of the garden, and building some more low tunnels and cages for the thornless blackberries. One day we will be able to fence everything tall enough to keep them out of the whole back yard, but this year is not that time.
We finally got DD's old doctor to fill out the forms needed for the insurance company and hopefully she will qualify to stay on our insurance. We also need to have the chiropractor fill out one, because he has been treating her for congenital hip dysplasia since she was 3 months old, and correcting for hypermobile joints since she was 3 years old. And he has seen first hand what her degenerative disc disease has done to her.
We had an online appointment with her new primary care doctor. This is her second appointment and it was so nice to be heard. Really heard. She put DD on a muscle relaxant that does not interfere with her other meds. It is actually the one I take, too. The doctor also brought up this new treatment for obesity. It is a diabetes drug that had a big side effect of weight loss. It's called semaglutide and it's a pen injection. They are very expensive, so I don't see us being able to do this for DD unless she is able to stay on our insurance and then they approve it. She is hyperinsulinemic, the step before diabetes, so maybe. If she doesn't we will be paying so much for COBRA or another insurance, we will never be able to afford it.
Prayers that the insurance company accepts from her reports that she is disabled enough to stay on it would be greatly appreciated.