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Archive for February, 2024

Planning the Groceries to Keep the Family Out of the Take Out Line

February 13th, 2024 at 11:20 pm

I am really, really tired of not being ready for dinner and being too tired to make lunch all the time, so it is time to get serious.  Three things I know for sure I want to make for dinner this week are meatloaf, chicken fajitas, and polish sausage, onions, and peppers.  We have all of the ingredients for those except a lime and cilantro for the fajitas and cauliflower to make riced cauliflower to use in place of bread crumbs in the meatloaf as I can no longer find rice crumbs or gluten free bread crumbs.  They are always sold out.  Although if I can find them I will use them instead of caulifower.

If I am making meatloaf, it is also easy enough to make meatballs at the same time.  So I can put two extra meatloaves in the freezer for dinners in the future and then I can do a quadruple batch of meatballs.  I can simmer some of them in sauce and pack them into lunch containers for lunch prep for the fridge and then one can be divided up into lunch freezer containers, and 2 batches can be divided up for spaghetti dinners in the future.

I can make a couple double batches of fajitas on sheet pans in the oven for a total of four, one for dinner, one to divide up for lunches in the fridge or freezer, and two to freeze for future dinners.  And then do the same thing with the polish sausage meals.  Any lunch meals we have too much of will be frozen, but we are feeding 4 people.  I will have carbs available for those who wants them, like spaghetti for the meatballs and tortillas for the fajitas or sausage and peppers and of course fruit.  I just won't be eating that.  I will add zucchini on the side of my meatballs and sauce, though.

Then my son wants one other chicken dish for meal prep, so know I am going through some recipes to try to figure out something that will be good for dinner and yet also meal prep for lunches well.  Maybe something in the Chinese stir-fry range.  It's been a while since I've done black pepper chicken and I've got a bag of stir-fry veggies that really need to be used up.  I'll have to buy some more chicken.

I can't believe I am this close to being out of chicken.  I have one package of boneless, skinless thighs, six whole chicken breasts.  That should be enough for all the fajitas, so I need enough for the stir-fry.  Otherwise I only have one package of thighs and one package of legs in the house.  That is so low on chicken for me.  I'll have to find a good sale soon.

As for tonight's dinner, that will likely be stir-fry, because all the other meat will have to thaw out and will take forever before I can start assembling anything.

I do need to buy fruit and some veg, though.  We are down to 2 oranges, 4 regular kiwi, 5 yellow kiwi, and 2 apples.  So we need bananas, more oranges, a couple apples of a different variety, a pineapple if they are ripe, a mango, some tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, a leek, cabbage, a lime, 4 lemons, and maybe berries.  Maybe even a guava.  I've never had a guava, but I like all the other tropical fruit, except starfruit, so why not?

Berries are out of season so an extreme luxury.  It won't be blueberries sadly, if I buy some, because the last several containers I have bought have been so sour despite being fully blue they taste like they should be pink.  Like they've been died or something.  I don't mine tart sweet,  But tart isn't the same thing as sour.  The strawberries haven't been ripe, just the blackberries and raspberries and I don't like raspberries.  So berries are conditional, but at least the blackberries taste good, they are just the most expensive.

I am going after the more tropical fruits, because they are in season, and they are packed with vitamin C.  My daughter is sick again and I am trying to keep from getting sick.  There is only so much taking a vitamin can do for you and I always feel like you get your best vitamins from food.  I just wish I'd been well enough to harvest our rose hips at the right time this year so I could make tea with them now.  I might still find a few that are good if I look, but most will be no good.

Anyway, that's me again, sharing my thought process as I figure out my grocery list to meal prep, to save money in the long run, cook at home, and get the family to stay out of the take out line.

Low-Key Birthday

February 13th, 2024 at 08:12 am

We didn't do much for my birthday, but that's the way I like it.  I've never felt the desire to celebrate since becoming an adult, other than 21.  I just like to have a laid back night with my immediate family and that's what I got.  We had a pan of enchiladas and they had rice and instead of cake, some brownies.  Brownies don't have baking soda or baking powder, so I can control the sodium content, unlike cake.  The recipe made nine.  I had my one and everyone else had two, so there are no leftovers to worry about.  Extra brownies are bad for the diet.

I'm 54 now.  Doesn't feel any different than 53.  I was teasing my husband a bit that now I was as old as he was.  We are just six months apart, so when he turns the year older I always tease him about how old he is.  He is a good sport about it and pretends to be an old man and then teases me back and says now I am as decrepit as he is.  LOL  I think I am probably more so.

The kids remembered on their own this year without me having to remind them at least, so there's that, too.

I hope to make it to the store tomorrow.  We are getting very low on produce and I need some chicken and herbs for meal prepping.

All Dreams Turn to Spring

February 12th, 2024 at 12:44 am

Tomorrow is my birthday, which means an influx of money to add to my Me Savings.  I have spent the last several months, (however long it takes to get to $700 at $50 every 2 weeks), saving all of my spending money, plus $200 from Christmas, to have a grand total of $900 saved there.  I will get $200 from DH and somewhere between $100 and $200 from MIL for my birthday.  I think it is $150, but I am not sure.  So together, at least $300.  That puts me at $1200.  I still have $360 in the garden envelope, which was all money I saved from my spending money last year as well.  So that gives me $1560 total.

So I am looking at three different sets of Birdies garden beds to go with the ones I bought last year, but never had a chance to put up because DH hurt his leg.  Option one is I am debating buying 3 long beds, which would finish out a row and give me another row, creating a total of 3 rows with the beds that have not been assembled.  That would cost me $979.17 including tax, unless our sales tax went up this year.  No shipping.

The second option would to be to buy one long bed to finish the second row when assembled with the other three long beds.  And then to buy 5 round beds in which to make another row and add some gemetrical interest to the garden.  Because there hasn't been any yet.  It would take away garden space, but it would also give me a place to plant invasive plants, like mints and bee balm, which go on runners and take over everything.  Also, mix in some flowers that otherwise take over four feet of the herb bed, like calendula.  That option would cost $1251.14 with tax.

Option three would be to buy 1 long bin, 2 shorter fatter bins, and 3 round bins.  That way I could finish row 2 of the Birdies bins and then row 3 could go round bin, short bin, round bin, short bin, round bin.  It would give some geometrical interest, and still let me confine some annoying plants I like, but maybe not as many as I like.  That option would cost $1425.22 with tax.

Hmmm...or maybe...let me run the numbers...If I did three long beds and five round bins it would give me 4 rows counting the 3 bins from last year and come to $1903.92 with tax.  I have at least $1560 now, so subtract that.  I would need another $343.62 to order that.  And I'd still have to come up with money to fill the bins.

The big problem here is that they don't have the dark green beds I bought last year.  They have an ugly tan, an ugly light green, and a pretty black and I have no idea what they will have next year.  They didn't have this shade of black last year, they had slate grey.  So if I am going to get more of the long bins, I really need to get 3 this year, at least.  And my bed rows won't match up, because it would have to be one row that half green and half black.

Unless I decided to mix all the parts, since they are identical.  I could have beds that went black, green, black, green, every other panel.  That would be pretty and definitely bring interest to the eye.

I guess I don't have to buy all the bins at once, either.  I can buy the 3 long bins now and whatever I can afford of the round bins and then add round bins later.  I can put the bee balm and calendula in two round bins and then when I can afford the other bins transfer mint and some other flowers from pots I've been transplanting up.  That would give me $1349.07.  I could definitely do that.  I might even have enough for one more round bed by the time I am ready to order.  But I think I'll probably just stick to what I have here.  This seems like the best choice for right now.  It gives me money for soil and hay to put in the beds and of course we have branches.

Shoot, I forgot, I still have to buy Ag fabric to put down.  Well, I guess I'll go with the cheapest option right now, the 3 long beds.  Welcome to my though process.  Thanks for playing.

Health Update

February 11th, 2024 at 11:50 pm

My heart is better!  I got the results of my 6 month echocardiogram earlier this month and not only is the enlargement of the right chamber caused by Covid gone, the flow rate in the left chamber has gone from 45% to 55%, which is where it should be in a normal human heart.  So I have healed my heart.

I mean, I will have to keep up with the dietary changes, the weight loss, keeping my sodium low, and stay on the diuretics, but that has more to do with my hereditary condition of microvascular dysfunction (tiny veins and arteries).  I may come off all but one of the diuretics if I hit a normal weight one day.  Possibly even the high cholesterol drug, even though my cholesterol is fine and has been for several years.  Probably not the high blood pressure because that is still linked pretty hard to the little veins and arteries.  Even the skinny people in my Mom's family have had it.  But so much better over all.

I've officially hit the 20 pound weight loss mark. Technically, I've seen 21, but it is bouncing between 20 and 21, so I am calling it 20 until it stops doing that.  My clothes are fitting a lot better.  Well, my pants always fit fine, but my shirts are fitting a lot better.  The funny thing about my pants is they seem to be getting longer even though they otherwise still fit right.  Maybe because my stomach is getting smaller.  Anyway, the weight loss goes well.  I've been kind of in a holding pattern this week to give my skin a chance to catch up and then tomorrow I will start back into the next phase of lowering the carbs again back down to 90 grams per day.  When I want a rest I do 120 grams.

I've been too exhausted to do much lately.  It's the new medication for rheumatoid arthritis.  One of the side effects is excessive tiredness and all I want to do is sleep and I have been.  Like 18 hours a day.  I'm up for appointments and to make sure people get fed and otherwise I am out cold.  It started when I started the drug.  Like the day after I took it first.  It is the worst every Tuesday since I take them Monday nights.  I can barely get out of bed the next day.  I am making sure to keep my Tuesdays clear as I am in no condition to drive that day even with caffeine.

I have an appointment with the doctor soon to see if I'll need to stop this one or adjust some of the other ones I am on that also cause drowsiness.  I may try on my own since two of them are just for pain with drowsiness as a side effect.  I'll try dropping one out first and if I don't hurt too much, then the other and see if I can stay awake again.  I've only been on it for 5 weeks so I don't even know if it is working yet.  Shots like these usually take 2 or 3 months to build up in your system.

Maybe doing the infusion might be a better way to go, even if my veins are tiny.  That's only once a month.  We'll see.  I'll call the doctor tomorrow and leave a message.  I don't want to not take the shots, though.  They are so expensive.  Fortunately, the company has a co-pay card so they are covering the part the insurance doesn't, except $5, but I still feel bad about it if I end up having to throw it away.  Even if it did come from big pharma and they make money hand over fist, I don't like wasting things that could have helped someone else.

If I can get the sleep thing sorted out, I really need to start seeing a chiropractor again.  My hip is killing me.  The thing that has been holding me back is cost.  My insurance only covers 80% of chiropractic after the deductible is met.  I can have as many appointments as I want, but 20% of what they charge nowadays is a lot.  And if I go, everyone is going to want to come.  Four people is a lot to be paying for, especially before the deductible kicks in.  Or maybe I just need a massage, which is the same, 20% after the deductible kicks in, but massage prices are more reasonable than chiropractor prices.  I guess we'll see with that, too.

I wish taking care of my medical needs was not so expensive.  I wish I hadn't had so many medical needs when I was young and fit that ended up getting me to this point where I was far from it.  But if this past six months has shown me nothing else, it is that taking my life back was necessary, no matter how expensive.

Retirement Update

February 4th, 2024 at 07:16 am

Well, it has finally happened.  The IRA is back to where it was before the great Biden free fall of the stock market.  And it is actually above it by $263.49.  Only took what? Two years to recover?  Looks like Biden stock market year 4 is starting off well, just like year 3 ended well.  Just wish everything else was improving, like food prices and electricity and gas (for the house, not the car).  And who knows what will happen if a real world war breaks out, or a civil one down in Texas for that matter.  But anyway. My combined retirement accounts are so close to $150K, I can taste it.  And yes, I label stock years by president.  I've done it since Bush 2 Electric Boogaloo, when DH got his first 401K.  Just makes it easier to remember.

$133,856.64 401K New Total

$_14,253.86 IRA New Total


$148,110.50 Total Retirement Accounts New Total

-143,668.67 Previous Amount


$__4,441.83 Gains since December 31st

Now about $2700 of those gains were due to contributions from DH and his job, so the rest was interest and that was $1741.83 for the month of January.  Not at all a bad way to start off the year.

I have $1,889.50 left to go to hit $150K in the retirement accounts. I went ahead and bumped it up to 17% for next payday, since 16%, which we have done for the first three paychecks of the year, didn't really make that much of a change to our bottom line, even with the FSA money being taken out pretax.  We will live with 17% for a few paydays and if it doesn't seem to be a burden, I'll bump up to 18%.  The ultimate goal is to hit 20%, which will get us to our ultimate catch up max if we did it all year.  I don't think that will happen this year, unless DH gets a cost of living raise in July, then we could adjust and he's bound to get some OT to carry us over the line.  Maybe.  I know the more we contribute pretax, the lower our taxes will be come income tax time.

So maybe in 2025 we can completely max out, but that all depends on what taxes will be like then and how it will effect our paychecks and that depends on who runs Congress and who the president will be and I really don't want to think about that until November.

Speaking of taxes, it looks like we will be getting back around $365.  It's not final numbers yet, because we haven't gathered our interest yet on the savings accounts, but I can't imagine that will make much of a change since we only have about $11K in savings.  This is the closest we've got to $0, which is what our goal is.  We don't want the government having an interest free loan on our money and we don't want to have to pay either.  This amount is reasonable.

Well, that's it for this post.  I need to do a health update for you all.  It's good news.  Maybe tomorrow.  It's 11:00 p.m. and I no longer seem to be a night owl.  Good 2024 habits.