Layout:
Home > Category: Appliance Antics and Household Purchases

Viewing the 'Appliance Antics and Household Purchases' Category

Surfacing

June 9th, 2022 at 02:15 am

I realized I haven't posted since May, so thought I'd surface for a little bit.  My autoimmune stuff has been kicking my butt lately, probably because I have been pushing too hard to get stuff done.  And the spring head cold, which was brutal.  And now I'm going through caffeine withdrawal, day 2, so you can imagine I'm not thrilled with life.  But I am trying to keep a postive attitude.

DH and I got the rest of the seed potatoes in.  I wish we could put in more, but I'll know better for next year to order more seed potatoes and save more, too.  We planted 15 pounds of ordered seed potatoes and 25 pounds of what we saved.  I think that we need a total of 50 pounds for next year.

We still have to plant the sweet potato slips, but we need to get more soil for that.  The area we want to plant them in is horribly uneven. It's still a bit chilly at night, so we will wait until the weekend to get those planted where warmer nights are forecasted.

We bought a new electric weed eater ($159) that even I can manage.  The battery is compatible with all of our other electric tools.  I can do it for 5 minutes and then I have to sit down, but after resting for 5 minutes I can do another session.  Three is my limit, but it is amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes worth of weedeating a few days in a row.  I've got most of the area cleared for green beans, now we just need to even out the ground and put down the black plastic.

We are growing in buckets, but they will be going up a trellis.  The buckets will have a soaker hose running across them held in by landscape staples.  We are using buckets because there has been an explosion of baby rabbits this year and I don't want them nibbled down like some of them were 2 years ago when we had the same issue.

We still need to put up some fencing to go around the green beans, too, and build 3 strawberry cages.  The strawberries have deer netting on them, but we want something better than that going forward.  Pole beans grow up until the first freeze here which is usually Halloween or the next week, so even though they are getting started later than I like they will still produce a long time.  Hopefully we can get that accomplished this weekend.

I just keep pushing my body as it has been able to do more and more.  I usually can go for 2 days and then have to spend a day doing nothing.  But I am getting stuff done so I feel accomplished.  I still can't use a shovel, though.  Different muscles that cause pain after 30 seconds.  I may never be able to, but at least I can do something.  The power of physical therapy is great.

Camera Purchase

May 22nd, 2022 at 04:03 am

Today I ordered a used Canon Powershot Elph digital camera off Amazon. It's a gorgeous shade of purple and after my last one broke (blue), I told myself if I ever found a purple one, I'd get it.  I do have a handheld video camera that can take photos, but it isn't the best at it.  It takes good video, though.  My phone is a better camera than it.

So I've been waiting and waiting and finally one came up refurbished from the Canon Store on Amazon.  I wasn't going to pay $400 or more for a new one.  It comes with a battery and charger, although I have two batteries and two chargers already so that would have never been a deal breaker.  Now I can take fairly nice photos again on a proper tripod.  I paid $167.98.

It's Here!

April 28th, 2022 at 10:07 pm

And it's beautiful!

Sorry, I tried to add a photo, but of course yet again something in the blogs is not working right.  I'm talking about my new freezer.

Freezer Saga--An Update--And Food Security

April 25th, 2022 at 06:17 am

Well, the freezer that was supposed to arrive in May has now been pushed off until the end of June.  But they do have some of another brand with the same size coming in this week.  It has a similar layout with the 21 cubic foot capacity.  We went in to look at the smaller version and decided to go ahead and switch to it.  So on Thursday we will be getting our new freezer. 

We have been without an upright since July and I wasn't sure we would ever get one, especially in time for harvest season.  We will finally be able to stock up on chicken and get a whole hog.  Mostly what I want from a hog is a lot of sausage, bacon, shanks, ribs, chops, and steaks.  I don't need any roasts or hams.  Then if I have room I will see if I can get a fall lamb.

We are really going for food security this year, where we don't have to rely on the grocery stores as much as possible.  I'm growing extra zucchini so I can freeze it and a ton of green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, turnips, and parsnips for canning so we can have veggies through the year.  We'll be buying peaches and pears for canning as well off a farm.   I'll also be installing some low tunnels in the fall to keep the harvest going as long as possible.  I've grown peppers and lettuce and spinach into November before this way.

I still have a lot of work to do.  We'll be renting a sod cutter soon so that we can clear up some more garden space without having to do as much work getting the mat of weeds and grass out of the way.  It'll make it a lot easier on everyone.

We started work on the third 22 foot long garden bed.  A lot of weeding and leveling had to be done, but the bottom layer of cinder blocks has been laid to the halfway point.  DH is going to try to work on it a little at a time after work.  The bottom layer is always the most difficult.  Once the bottom layer is in place, we put down the weed barrier, and then the next two layers go on very easily since it is just a question of putting the adhesive layer down and then putting the blocks in place.  After the second layer goes down it has to dry for 24 hours and then the third layer can be put on and dry for 24 hours.

Once that is done we can work on pruning the giant rose bush down to about a foot high and put all those trimmings in the bottom of the raised bed.  Then the rose bush can be transplanted to the front yard and we can dig out the weed tree that has been impossible to kill.  We'll also be cutting down another tree and the wood will go in the bottom of future raised beds.  It's kind a cross between hugelkutur beds and lasagna style beds, since compost and manure and hay and cardboard will go in as well, before the four way garden soil fills the top foot.

I have a woman coming next week to dig out almost all of the raspberries and in exchange she will give me a couple bags of rabbit manure, some tomato and pepper plants, and some calendula starts.  I do like bartering when I can.  It saves me a lot of money.

I got the rest of the onions planted.  These ones are Walla Walla sweet onions.  They will have to be chopped and frozen as they don't keep long like the non-sweet yellows and reds I planted a week or so ago.  I up potted the tarragon, parsley and oregano in one pot, but will have to divide them up into their own pots in about a week or so if the new bed doesn't get finished.  I just needed them out of the four inch pots as they were just starting to get root bound.  I did locate some larger pots in the garage.  The oregano will need a big one, but the parsley and tarragon should be just fine in 8 inch pots.

I've been able to do quite a bit more than I thought I would.  I am getting stronger every day and a lot of the physical therapy has been designed to strengthen the muscles I need for gardening.  I may never be able to do weight bearing exercise again, but I have been walking without my cane and my son and I are going to try to take an actual walk tomorrow and see how I do.  One of the local parks has a flat loop to walk, I can't do hills without pain, so we would never be too far from the van if I had to go back.

Next on my agenda for the garden will be to weed out the strawberries.  This will be the last year for this set of strawberries.  I know what I want to get next year and will probably pre-order them in December or January.  They ship at time to plant so I need to get the jump on other people to get the variety I want, which alway sells out so early.  It is a much sweeter berry than the ones we currently have.  I'll likely pot up what we have now next year and sell them or exchange them for plants I want.

My goal is to eventually have the entire backyard and the little side yard devoted to growing as much of our own food as possible.  It's a lofty goal, and it might take five years to do it, but I know we will get there.

 

 

A Frozen Future?

February 4th, 2022 at 12:23 am

Not very likely.  DH decided to check up on the freezer we ordered that was supposed to arrive this month, and surprise, surprise, it has been delayed until May now.  I am losing all hope of ever actually seeing this thing.  DH asked if the employee thought it would really come in March and he said nobody really knows.  Supposedly they are supposed to be getting in some brand I never heard of "soon," whatever soon means.  It's called Midea.  From what I've seen the 21 cubic foot upright has good reviews, but again, it may also never actually arrive.

I am done with this pandemic and how it is affecting the supply chain, shipping, and trucking.  We really, seriously, need to go back to building our own stuff in our own country.  It would have curtailed a lot of this having to wait months to a year for new appliances if we'd never moved our manufacturing bases to other countries.

My goal for now is to eat down everything that is in our mini-chest freezer, so we can at least get half a hog.  While I could fit a whole hog in the mini-chest freezer, we do need to have some room for fish, crab, and prawns once the different seasons start up.  Meanwhile I am keeping an eye out for used upright freezers.

We are still working through our chicken freezer stash, but I can't imagine that's going to last more than two more months.   I don't like what I'm seeing on chicken availability.  Or pricing.  I don't think I have the ability to raise meat birds anymore, either.  I know it is only an 8 week committment, but they are a lot of work if you don't have room to put them out in tractors.  Since most of our land is going towards garden space, we really don't have the space to give up to chickens.

Since my January pantry challenge crashed and burned due to the flu, I am doing a no eating out challenge for February.  I want to keep a handle on that, because it is my greatest financial weakeness.  It is just too easy to let money fritter through our hands when we get takeout as much as we do.

DH gave me the amount of tomorrow's paycheck so I was able to finalize the numbers for the budget for this payday.  There was a lot of OT on it.  There will be some on next time's paycheck, too, but doubtful it will be to this extent.  Internet went up again, so I changed that on February and March's spreadsheets, which were as far ahead as I've worked, and then changed it on the 2022 Budget Template as well.  I will also be adding line items to the budget for sinking funds for our yearly portions of property taxes and home owner's insurance, $25 and $34 per month respectively.

We have also finally convinced my mother to put out weekly trash cans instead of every two weeks and then having to call for an extra can at least once a month, so that will go up a bit, too.  Since there will be a lot of stuff to throw away for the next several weeks as we clean up the back porch and clean out the garage and then tear down the rabbit shed we will be filling the cans with a lot of stuff.

Some stuff  we will save, though.  All of the studs out of the rabbit shed will be saved and pressure washed down.  The roof's 4 x 8 plywood sheets look salvageable and possibly the side walls, but not the back and front walls, I don't think, or the floors.  Depends on whether there are weak spots or spots with too much moisture damage.  The window framing is also made from 2 x 4's, so those may give some salvageable wood as well.  The cost of lumber is too expensive not to conserve what we have available to us.  And we have always been ones to reuse as much as possible.

We may be able to build some garden beds with it.  Any raised beds built out of it won't be in the main part of the garden, though, as we want all that to look uniform with the cinderblocks, so long as the cost of cinderblocks doesn't go up to high.  We shall see.

I don't know if I mentioned before, but we are going to get grass-looking astroturf to go between garden rows as we can afford to do it.  I am done with fighting weeds all the time.

I just hope after putting all this time into the garden this year, I'll actually have space to store frozen vegetables.  I will can a lot of root vegetables, but some things are either not cannable or are just better frozen.  My goal has always been to freeze enough zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli for a year, but I still do not have the freezer capacity to do such a thing, so zucchini is my priority this year.  I don't want to be beholden to grocery stores anymore than possible.  The shortages are getting a little scary here and the produce is not best quality.  Growing and preserving as much as I can is the biggest thing on our agenda.

 

New Freezer Purchase, Christmas Bonus, Physical Therapy, and Mental Illness

December 19th, 2021 at 07:44 am

We purchased our new freezer today.  We decided on a 21.3 cubic foot capacity GE upright freezer.  I really didn't want to deal with Frigidaire again anytime soon and maybe for the rest of my life.  That was a nightmare experience we don't want to go through again.  I was just relieved that after a five month song and dance we finally got out money back from their lemon of a freezer.

We decided to get a five year parts and labor service contract.  If something goes wrong, they will deal with everything.  We won't have to spend hours and hours on the phone trying to find the right people to fix things.  They simply will.  I will never, ever by an appliance from a big box store again.  Customer service is important and worth the slightly higher price.

Anyway, the total cost of the freezer was $1392.52.  $112.63 of that was sales tax, yeesh.  And the service contract was $179.95 of it.  The freezer itself was $1049.  We only got back just under $900, so I took the rest out of our hog fund and we will just have to  build it back up again, or maybe buy half a hog to start instead of a whole one.

It won't come until sometime in February.  It could have been June, so not so bad.  Hopefully our freezer karma will improve and everything will go according to plan this time around.

DH found out what his bonus will be.  It's $1000, minus bonus taxes, so maybe $600 is what we will end up with and .75% of his eligible hours worked this year will be added to the 401k.  Eligible hours do not include paid vacation days or paid sick leave hours.  It should be aroudn $750 to $850, which is around what we put in every two weeks ourselves, so that will be nice.  The bonus check should arrive in the mail any day now.

DH also found out that they will be raising the matching to 3% next year.  It has been 2% this year.  I'm not sure if we'll ever get back to the pre-Covid 5%, but the fact that the company is doing a lot better this year than last year is a good thing and that 1% more will make a difference.  That and DH's raise, whenever that kicks in.  I am hoping on the next paycheck, but DH didn't think to ask that because he was just so blown away by the amount.

I had a good physical therapy session this week.  I was able to do every excercise he asked of me, a far cry from the week before when everything was hurting.  Everything still hurts, but at a much lower level, and I'm functional.

I also had an okay therapy session.  I kept talking around what I wanted to talk about, which I stated at the beginning of the session, but then kept avoiding it.  And then I'd catch myself avoiding and try to steer myself back, but...it was rough.  I've come to recognize that I have some PTSD from my abusive childhood, so facing some of the stuff that happened to me then is harder than I realized it would be.  Especially since I can't really let my anger out at the people who deserve it.  Hard to do that with a dead person and a person with early stage dementia.  But I need to stop using food to deal with it all.  Easier said then done.  It's been my coping mechanism for most of my life.

I wish the anti-depressant would hurry up and kick in.  I'm tired of feeling this way.  Mental illness is a B.  I could really use a bout of mania right about now.  Or even just a general feeling of okayness.  That'd be great, too.  I know I'm on the path to wellness, but it is taking too long.  I just want to be there already.  I just want to be me again.

What a Busy Week

December 5th, 2021 at 01:07 am

There were appointments every day this week and man was it exhausting.  I had two physical therapy sessions, one regular therapy session, one doctor's appointment for me, and one doctor's appointment for DD, who has bronchitis and a negative Covid test.  I've been put on prednisone for 10 days to try to help with some of the inflammation I've been having due to the rheumatoid arthritis acting up so much in this cold weather swing, so I am feeling semi-decent, even if I do look like a puffer fish.

Last night DH and I to Costco and did a big shop.  I used the ride on cart and we filled that basket, plus the basket of another shopping cart.  I haven't been to Costco in months.  We spent all but $50 of the grocery budget in one go, but I have lots of fruits and vegetables, some carne asada and two types of raviolis.  And 4 cases of PH water, which was nearly $50 of the cost. 

And 2 cases of Charmin.  It's the first time they've had Charmin in a couple of months according the cashier.  They had a limit of 5, though we only got 2.  We might go back for more later.  I like to keep 5 cases in the house during cold and flu season and we were down to one.  Charmin is the only TP we can use that doesn't have some harsh agent in it that causes a rash.  Well, that and MD but we can't find that anywhere for the last few years.  They might not make it anymore.

I was really excited to find some uncured paleo bacon (no sugar) and some uncured paleo Candian bacon.  And also a turkey and a roast beef deli meat pack with no sugar.  I am going to restart my diet on Monday.  I am not doing paleo, I just like to keep my high carb intake down to one meal a day, no more than 60 grams, and the other meals to be no sugar with lots of low carb vegetables.  I got a couple of salad kits, a Ceasar (won't eat the dressing or croutons, but others will) and a chopped Meditarrean salad mix that had a lot of crunchy veggies in it like cabbage, broccoli slaw, carrots, and non-romaine lettuce.  So I will mix those together.  I love salad and I make a simple dressing that has very low carbs, but tastes good.  I also stocked up a little on Kerrygold butter both salted and unsalted.

After that we headed out to storage with the truck to start bringing in our outdoor Christmas decorations.  The elk takes up almost the whole bed of the truck, but we were able to put the flat large ornament under it and tuck some other small things around it.  We had the bottled water back there, so there wasn't a ton of extra room.  Tonight we will be going back out to bring in the lamp post, the icicle lights, all the the other things like the star, the angel, the Cardnial, the Santa face, and the candy canes.  Plus the extension cords.

After we got home with the elk and put the groceries away and rested, we headed out to Lowe's.  We picked up a large room space heater for us and another one for Mom.  It has made a tremendous difference and I am no longer worried about the pipes freezing.  We heard from the furnace people and it might actually be two more weeks.

We picked up some more lights while there and got a new standee yard decoration.  This was a bear dressed in a band uniform sitting on a drum, so we call him a little drummer bear.  I try to buy one standee a year.  And we bought new lights for the bushes, because the solar ones just did not work well last winter.  Too much bad weather and too little sunshine.  We forgot to buy clips for the gutters though so we will go get those tonight when we go back out to storage.  Then hopefully tomorrow we can get the decorations up.  It's supposed to snow on Monday, so I'd like that done first.

At some point this weekend I'd like to go look for a freezer, too, now that the money has been refunded to us.  So thankfully that whole freezer saga is done.  Only took them 5 months.  If we can at least get one ordered that would be nice.

Oh, and we bought an electric blanket for DH since his quit working.  It should be here from Amazon on the 6th.

It has been spendy, but everything was either budgeted for or was saved up for, so it's all good.

I hope DH gets a decent Christmas bonus this year.  It would be cool if we could dump some more money into the EF.  They generally give a cash bonus and a 401K bonus.  Or you can choose to have the cash bonus go into your 401K, too, in which case the government doesn't get their greedy little paws on a huge chunk of the bonus (bonuses are taxed higher).  Last year the take home bonus was around $500, I think, but the year before it was $1500.  They supposedly did a lot better this year than last, so I am hopeful.

They are supposed to give out raises at the end of the year, too.  Not everyone is getting one, but it was strongly implied at DH's performance review that he would be.  I don't think any raise could keep up with runaway inflation right now, but anything would help.  It's not like DH doesn't have a good income, but when you put 15% into retirement and tithe 10%, that only leaves you with 75% to live on and that does make it tight sometimes.  It is like how we were living when we were paying down debt for the most part.

I guess that is the trade off, though.  Sacrifice now, so we don't have to sacrifice when we are in retirement.  I guess it just feels super tight because we had to set aside most of the money MIL gave us for medical expenses instead of just being able to use it.  But DS needs braces and DH needs a crown and I need a new mouth guard because mine is starting to crack.  Mine will only cost $400 though.  The crown will be $1500 and the braces I don't know yet, but I've got $6000 set aside for that.  I hope it won't cost that much, but that is what we paid for DD, although her teeth were way worse.

We need to get DS separated from the grocer's union so he can go get a restaurant job.  Did  you know that if you take a non-union job after joining that union that they can sue you?  That sucks.  He does not want to go back to work at a grocery store.  All the fast food places are hiring and they are non-union.  The McDonalds nearby is over $15.69 an hour for regular shifts and $16.69 for overnight shifts.  He was making $17.79 at the grocery store, so that's not too big a cut.  Plus he won't have to go outside much.  He had to get the carts at the grocery store and was always getting soaked, even with the rain jacket.

If he can get a job there it would be ideal.  Either that or the DQ that is a block away from the McD's.  He needs to start earning money so that he can get a car and then start saving up for school to become an electrician.  But first he has to get his GED.  Now that he is properly medicated for ADHD and BiPolar, he's got a chance of focusing long enough to do that.  Although I think McD's also has a program for getting your high school diplomma so he might be able to do that, too.  I'd prefer that to the GED, but at this point I just want him to finish.

Freezer Fun and Games

November 30th, 2021 at 05:06 am

So, I think we are in the third quarter of our saga on trying to get Frigidaire to honor their warranty for our lemon of a freezer.  Frigidaire won't give the money back until they have the freezer in their possession, so after spending an hour and a half at Home Depot, with them being so great at helping us get this figured out, they will be picking up the freezer tomorrow to ship back to Frigidaire.  We should see our credit card credited the money in a week or so.

I didn't think we were going to be able to get more than store credit on a new one, but the ever so helpful staff of Home Depot were able to get that for us.  They were so good to work with and commented on DH's patience more than once.  But what good is to get impatient or mad?  It doesn't make things go any faster, and you are ruining someone else's day.  It isn't their fault Frigidaire has been so ridiculous for five months.

But since we are getting the money back, we are going to go ahead and go over to the place that will fix what they sell and jump through all the hoops with companies for you on warranties, and we will buy a freezer there.  And then wait and wait and wait some more for it to be shipped.  And maybe in a month or six we will actually have a working, brand new freezer in our house and can move on.  And if the money doesn't come in time, we will use the hog fund money to pay off the freezer.

I don't know if I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel or not.  I'm still in the I'll believe it when I see it mode.  It's been utterly exhausting and that's been with DH doing most of the work.  And he's had to use vacation time to deal with it all, because it had to be done during working hours, so we've lost money on this stupid thing.

I don't know if this is a fluke with Frigidaire or not.  We've got a great chest freezer from them and had no problem with it for several yars.  My mom has a fantastic upright from them.  But our upright was just trash from the get go.  And that model has been discontinued and has a lot of nasty reviews on it that it didn't have when we bought it.  So obviously it was a lemon model to begin with.

So I am not sure about dealing with them again, but I think the only other company that makes a freezer big enough is GE.  Unless we just decide to do another full size chest freezer and put the little one out in the garage.  It's not really what I want, but it may end up being our only option.

Retirement, it is a Rising, and Freezer Mess Update

November 13th, 2021 at 10:38 pm

In the last two weeks retirement has risen by $1725.28.  $785.40 of that was our contribution and $939.88 of that was pure profit.  The new balance of retirement is $68,798.34, making our new net worth $125,651.65.  So we hit my mini milestone of 1/8 of a million.  Next mini milestone for net worth is $150,000.  Next big milestone is $250,000 or a quarter of a million as I like to call it.

I added $4 to the Hog Fund as that was left in the grocery envelope when I re-funded it.  Usually we don't spend that much, but there was a lot of Haagan Daz ice cream bought for DD's sore throat.  She's allergic to ingredients in most ice creams, but not that one.  But at least we stayed in budget.  The new balance in the hog fund is $1350.00.

We still haven't heard anything from Frigidaire about whether they can find us a replacement freezer.  We should have heard on Friday as that was the 7 day of the 5 to 7 business days they said they should need to locate one.  DH will call them on Monday.  I doubt they can find one.  We can't and we've looked all over.

I think they are in barges off the coast of California that haven't been unloaded in months due to worker shortages.  I'm about to give up on an upright and just see if there is a full size chest freezer instead, assuming they give us our money back.  Between the refund and whatever topping up we might have to do from the hog fund, we should be able to do that and still have $1000 left in the hog fund.  Which is enough to still get a hog assuming we can find the freezer.

It's all very frustrating.

Freezer Saga Continues

November 3rd, 2021 at 08:52 pm

The freezer repair guy was supposed to come back tomorrow and fix the freezer, but guess what?  The parts never arrived and they aren't going to.  They can't get them.  So after spending a half an hour on the chat feature trying to track things down, Frigidaire gave up and is shipping us a new replacement freezer...if they can find one.

They won't know until 5 to 7 business days have passed.  That's how long they need to look across the United States and Canada.  This process has been long and frustrating and I don't forsee it getting any better, really.  This has taken months and I just really want our money back.

I am assuming if they can't track one down they will finally give us a refund.  At this point I think I'd just prefer that, so we can get a different freezer.  I am actually leaning towards another chest freezer than an upright.  We have room for it if we take the mini-chest freezer out to the garage.  Based on our history, I now feel like upright freezer's are more trouble than they are worth.

I let the hog lady know what was going on.  I've kept her in the loop every step of the way.  But we could be looking at a really long time, even if they locate one here, because ground shipping is difficult right now since 30% of truckers have quit due to the vaccine mandates.  And if they try to get one from overseas, well, that could be forever.  The barges are piled up in the harbors with not enough people to unload them since the teamsters union is fighting the mandates also.  What a mess.

So who knows what will happen?  My life, as ever, is in limbo.  At least I have found a relatively unexpensive source of good bacon.  If I can't get my hog any time soon, then at least I can still find the best part.

Freezer Issues and Hog/Chicken Fund

October 18th, 2021 at 01:11 am

I don't know if I've talked about the freezer debacle or not, but the freezer we bought last December broke down in late July and we have been put through the wringer with Frigidaire ever since, trying to get them to honor their warranty.  For a long while it just felt like they were trying to run out the warranty.  Plus no one in town fixes Frigidaires anymore unless you've bought it from them.  We didn't buy it from any of those places.  We would have, but no one other than Home Depot had freezers when we bought it due to shortages.

Well, I felt from the beginning that the door didn't match up right, but at least the freezer was working, even if the light kept coming on saying it wasn't at temp, but it was still at freezing so we dealt with it.  Then in July thing started thawing out and it started running all the time and then it sounded like an airplane was taking off every couple of hours, which definitely sounded like the motor or a belt to me, so I unplugged it.  So we managed to split what was in it between our small chest freezer, our one fridge freezer, and two shelves and the door of Mom's freezer, and whatever we would eat for the next few days went into the fridge to finish thawing out.

And that started the hours on the phone trying to get it sorted.  First it took a month to find someone who would repair it for us under warranty and they were in Seattle.  So twice Frigidaire sent them a repair order for the model number of our Freezer, but with the word refrigerator on it.  So because those didn't match, they repair company rejected it.  Of course it took a week for them to receive the order, a week for them to reject it, and a week for us to try to resolve the problem with Frigidaire.  So that's six weeks.  Then we finally escalated it to someone higher up and she completely erased everything that was in the computer under our names and restarted from scratch.  She made sure everything lined up, model number matched freezer, sent it off to the repair place and...one week later, they recieved the work order and it said our model number and...refrigerator.

So the repair shop is saying they don't match again and they can't fix it until it does.  So back to Frigidaire and talked to the same woman and she escatled it higher and that someone went and yelled at the repair shop that it was on their end this time and to pull their heads out and fix this.  So we finally got a person scheduled and they came out on Monday.  And I was right.  The door wasn't hung properly and the gasket was irregular and not fitting right.  And the motor had burnt up most of the way and it was a good thing I unplugged it when I did.

So now it is going to take a while for the parts and they will be back on November 4th with a new freezer door and a new motor and hopefully then we will be back up and running with a little over a month of warranty left.  So while they didn't quite run out the warranty, it was close.  I mean, we still would have gotten it fixed as they started the ticket before it expired, but this took forever and I am quite frustrated by the sheer idiocy of the whole mess.  I am also frustrated over how much we had to do, instead of Frigidaire just calling them the first time and getting the mistake corrected, we had to do all the work of calling back and forth between the two places.

But I won't believe it is over until the freezer runs again.

On the bright side, the lady who raises pigs, pushed our butcher date out until November 12th instead of October 12th, which should give us enough time to see whether the repaired freezer is working.  She said if we have to we can push out to the December 12th date.  She sends hogs to butcher every month and what isn't bought by regular people is sold to stores.  And we can keep pushing it if it turns out the repairs don't work and we end up buying a new freezer, even if that means the end of next summer or something after we save up again.  She's very good to work with.

I hope we can get it for the 11/12 butcher date, though.  I will feel a lot better with both a steer and a hog in the freezers and I can work on buying organic chicken for whatever space is left.

I had $175 left in the grocery envelope due to having to not buy any beef anymore, so I added that to the Hog/Chicken Fund.

$1013.00 Starting Balance

+_175.00 Amount Added

---------------------

$1188.00 New Balance

And once we have all of the pork and chicken in the freezer I will start saving up for both a lamb and the next steer with leftover grocery money.  It will be nice not to have to go down the meat section at the grocery store anymore.  Doing it this way really works for us.  We have better quality meat at lower than grocery store prices, especially beef.  $4.50 a pound for grassfed ribeye steak is looking very good right now.

I am also thinking about buying some emu steaks.  We've had ostrich, but never emu.  They are supposed to taste very similar, but emu is half the price of ostritch.  We like ostritch but don't consider it affordable.  We've found a place that ships it, but with shipping delays they say it could be partially thawed by the time it arrives, since they are way across the country and freezer packs or dry ice only last so long.  I'm hoping to find some place closer.  We do have an emu farm in Oregon, but all they seem to sell is the oil, not the meat.  It's hard to internet search it when these two places seem to have all the results lead back to them.

If I do order I want to make a smaller order to make sure we all like it.  Smaller orders are harder because they thaw out faster.  Larger orders have a lot of frozen meat to help keep the bulk of it frozen longer.  We'll see.  I think that's for something down the road, maybe when the shipping gets back to normal.  We will see.

 

BIL is Coming Home, Planning for DS, and Some Necessary Spending

August 8th, 2021 at 04:19 am

I heard from my middle sister last night and BIL should finally be coming home next week.  He'll continue to need in home rehabilitation for his lungs and physical therapy to recover from the positions he was kept in and they are sending someone in to do that.  The doctors say there is no reason that he should have survived.  He had a really bad case of Covid and so many risk factors.  My sister and I both think it is the power of prayer.  There were hundreds of people praying for him.  When even doctors call it a miracle, what else can it be?

In other news, DS is getting paid more than we thought.  Instead of it being $13.79 an hour it is $17.79 an hour.  Apparently there is a $4 an hour pay bump for hazard pay for grocery workers in my state for working with the public during a pandemic.  Even only working 20 hours a week, that is going to allow him to make some pretty quick strides towards his goals.

Goal one for him is to save up enough for a $1000 Emergency Fund.  I know Dave Ramsay says $500 for single people, but since his next goal is to save up for a car, and it'll be a beater, we both feel like $1000 is a better idea.  He's setting aside 15% until he has the amount needed to open an IRA.  He's also setting aside 10% of each paycheck until he has enough to send in a donation to a religious charity of his choosing.

I have agreed to keep giving him an allowance of $30 per week (instead of $45) until he has finished his Emergency Fund, so long as he actually does his chores and garden work and doesn't blow them off.  That way he can pile the 75% that is left of his paycheck into the EF and knock it out over the next four weeks, but still have a little spending money.  We will revisit the allowance situation then.

Then he can start saving towards a car.  We figure if he can find something that runs for $2000 to start off with, that will take him an additional 2 months.  Plus he will need to have some money set aside for insurance and car maintainance, tabs, ownership transfer tax, etc, so maybe 3 months.  By 4 months he can start saving money to partially pay for his braces (I have $3500 that I've saved) if I haven't managed to save it all myself by then.  Our insurance does not cover orthodontia.

Once the braces are paid for he will start saving up to pay for the schooling required to become an electrician, as well as start saving for a better car.  If he moves to full time after the kids go back to school everything can be accellerated.  I do hope he can.  I'd like him to save up enough money that he can do the schooling he needs to do without having to work a job.

With his ADHD, OCD (both diagnosed last year), and bi-polar (recent diagnosis), I'm not sure it is good to overwhelm him by having to do both.  He seems to be under control with his meds, but I well know how that can change in a heartbeat.  I remember how hard it was for me to work full time and go to school full time because I didn't have the choice.  At least DS has support for his mental illnesses.  My parents didn't believe in mental illness.  To this day, despite seeing it up close and personal with 3 different family members, my mother still believes you can shake off being bi-polar by thinking positively.  But that's a rant for another day.

I spent $113.10 today, including tax and shipping.  Lane Bryant online is having a big sale and I was able to pick up two more of the really good bras for $35 each instead of $55 each and some discounted underwear that matches the two I already have that they were sold out of previously.  The money came out of the clothing fund.  I've been waiting to pounce on a sale.  These particular bras have been a game changer when it comes to comfort without sacrificing support.  It's the Cacique Comfort Bliss line, which comes dangerously close to the comfort of the discontinued Cacique Barely There line, that I am still salty about over a decade later.

DH's Mom bought him a new phone because he smashed the one he bought (not the screen part, though) about six months ago when he took the case off to clean it.  He can still call out with it, but it is hit and miss whether he receives phone calls, so after a month of trying to deal with it, he needed a new one because he has to have one for work since he is still working from home.  So he ordered the same one as I have, which has been pretty good so far.  He did pay for a new case and screen protector which cost $27.18 which came out of the household budget, so I don't really need to track it to anything.  And if he wants to clean his phone like that in the future he must do it in the center of the king size bed so if he drops it, it should be fine.

I ended up making pasta for dinner last night, prawns putanesca.  It was a new recipe and it was good.  Tonight we will be having T-bones from our whole beef we bought.  I am so looking forward to it.  I will be making baked potatoes for everyone else, but I have some leftover mashed potatoes and gravy from KFC three days ago that I need to finish off, so I'll do that for me.  Then tomorrow I am back on the gluten free band wagon.  It really does make me feel so much better when I avoid wheat.

It finally rained last night and well into the day.  This is the first real rain we've had all summer.  We had one day where it barely sprinkled, but otherwise it has been very dry and hot.  It was nice to see it.  Maybe it'll green up some of the lawns again.  They look like hay.  While we live in a very nice neighborhood, most people don't waste water on their lawns here.  They save it for their gardens, trees, and flower beds, which is what we are supposed to do.  In fact the only lawn that is green right now is owned by Evil Hummer Dude and his wife, who scoff at water restrictions.

I need to make up a meal plan for next week.  Meal planning keeps me away from the take out counter.  But first I need to stop wasting time on her, and go make dinner.  

Emergency Fund, Retirement (Again) Update and Hog Fund Update

August 7th, 2021 at 12:19 pm

$16,623.91 Starting EF Balance

+__,_87.92 Amount Added

---------------

$16,711.83

With the contributions that went in today, retirement now sits at $61,175.04, bringing net worth to $115,807.92.

I had $200 left in the grocery envelope from last payday, so I transferred that to the Hog Fund, bringing it to a total of $977.  Of course, we are still trying to find someone who does warranty work on the 9 month old Frigidaire freezer that isn't working right.  The Hog Fund may become a new freezer fund or a freezer repair fund, because there at least seem to be people who do non-warranty repair, as opposed to warranty repair, but it might be too expensive to be worth it and cheaper to buy a new one.

If this last guy does not call us back on Monday or doesn't do the work, I'm thinking of going to D&B and pleading our case.  We have bought a dishwasher, a fridge, a chest freezer, a small upright freezer, a mini-chest freezer, a washer, two dryers, a microwave, and at least one bed from them over the past 26 years.  I think a couple of more items, but I don't remember for sure.  We couldn't buy an upright freezer from them this time, because they didn't have any at the time we bought.  We did go there first.  If they had, we would have stuck with them.  But we are long time customers, so can't they please make an exception in this case?  It might work.  They only quit doing outside warranty work a couple of months ago.  I mean, it's worth a shot.  It has always been important to me to support local family businesses and I have as much as I could.

Good News for DS and Murphy Visits the New Freezer (but the Beef is Safe)

July 29th, 2021 at 06:16 am

I can't believe it has been nine days since I blogged.  I did fiddle around last night and revamp my blog's appearance.  I like to freshen it up every year or two, so I changed the color scheme and the avatar.  Well, the avatar is basically the same, I just updated the background, clothes, and hair.  I tried to keep the hot pink to a minimum on the blog layout, because I know that can be very hard on the eyes for some people, but I like it as an accent, along with the black for the sidebar headings.  That's why the blog title is in white.  It attacked my eyes when I tried it out in hot pink.  I think the electric blue goes very well with just that hint of the hot pink, though.  I changed my avatar to reflect how I look now, which I generally do after a haircut, though this was not that.  I still haven't gotten one of those.  No, I just have my hair tied back all the time now because it is nearly to my waist, so the photo reflects a long pony-tail.

I'm still spending way to much right now and I have lots of excuses for it, but won't bore you with most of it.  I am still saving heavily to the medical fund, just not the EF.  I did have to buy my son some plain black shoes and some dark blue jeans for the uniform at his new job.  They provide the shirts and aprons.  Yes, my son has been hired for his first job!  He has orientation on Friday.  The position is full-time  I've told him he is on his own for buying clothes from now on.  I am not making him pay me back for this, but I am making him pay me back for the bento boxes and insulated lunch bag for packing his dinner to work out of his first full paycheck.  He will also pay $100 a month towards the utilities since he is pretty much personally responsible for the high water bill, and he will contribute $50 a month towards food along with his 10% employee discount.

He's going to be working at the grocery store six blocks from our house which means he can walk to work, weather permitting, and then we'll drop off a vehicle for him in the parking lot or pick him up depending on how late he'll be.  He's supposed to be working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift, but you know how that sort of thing goes.  He'll be a courtesy clerk which is a fancy name for bagger and cart fetcher/cart sanitizer, and other sanitizing through out the store.  I'm sure there will be other things he does during the slow times.  As far as I know he won't be restocking for now.  He wanted to be a cashier, it was what he interviewed for, but they hired some people with more experience.  Still, he can work his way into it once he has proven himself to be a good employee.

It's union, which is good in some ways and bad in others.  The job security is good.  You can't opt out of the dues and not be in the union which is bad.  The union doesn't have a 401K, it has a pension, which is nice.  But you have to work there seven years to get it, whereas with a 401k you always have access to what you put in yourself and whatever has vested so far from employer match.  I'm not sure how pensions work, if they are strictly company provided or you pay into them.  If you pay into them, it would suck, because this is not a forever job for him.

He'll be opening a Roth IRA with his first full paycheck and will be contributing 15% of his income.  He will be tithing 10%.  We will have to determine what the pecentages are on the $150 he'll pay to us each month for his expenses.  I think he said he wanted to save 40% for the car, maybe more, and then have the rest for his spending.  He'd like $100 out of each paycheck.  Of course we won't know what he'll even be making after taxes and benefits, so numbers may have to be adjusted accordingly, just not tithe and IRA contributions.  Then we can set up a spreadsheet for his budget or get him on the Every Dollar app from Dave Ramsey.  Personally, I prefer a spreadsheet, though.

15% to the IRA is non-negotiable while he lives at home.  He needs to get into the habit of it from day one.  We all see the position my mother was left in when they made her spend down Dad's IRA and 401k for nursing home care to $100,000.  And we see what happens when there is enough money to take care of the left behind spouse and help your kids and grandkids as is the case with DH's mother.  I want my son to have so much money in his 401k by the time he retires that he never has to worry about losing all his money to that if either he or his future wife end up in the same position.

I want there to be enough to have end of life care and still have so much money left over he doesn't know what to do with it all, besides charitable giving and world travel (if that is ever allowed again) and taking care of his sister if she lives that long (doubtful as her life expectancy might make her go before I do with all her disesases).  And that any possible kids he might have can get an education outside the public school system and be able to put their own kids through a college that has hopefully corrected back to the center from the divisive and often communistic brainwashing that has taken over in many universities today.  It all starts with 15% every paycheck and no debt.

I am thinking out of the $150 he gives me each month to put aside $100 a month to go towards his car, but use the $50 towards the utilities.  I'm not sure yet, since we are paying his portion of our car insurance still.  I planned on doing that, though, until he gets his own car.  He's also considering moving to his own Ting plan, so he can get unlimited data on his phone.  I won't let him do it on ours.  Since he won't be getting an allowance anymore (but will still be paid for jobs DH and I loathe, like washing and detailing the van), but still expected to do his portion of jobs as part of his continuing to be mostly supported by us, that money will be mostly freed up i the budget now, too.

His plan is that he's saving up and emergency fund first, then for a car second, and then for school.  He's decided he wants to become an electrician.  It's a two year course so it'll take some time to save up.  He won't get an expensive car, just maybe something in the 5K range.  I'm hoping we'll be able to help him a little, but the cost of the orthodontia work I'm saving up for makes it kind of prohibitive.  We won't be able to help him with school.  My focus has to be on retirement as we are so far behind and I don't want to ever end up in the position my Mom is in or the one my eldest sister is in.

But it does have medical which he doesn't need yet, really as he is only 21 and can stay on our insurance for five more years (you can't opt out).  But it does include dental and vision.  I am hoping the dental includes orthodontia as most plans that have it cover half the cost.  He'll get a big paperwork packet with all the info when he goes to orientation.  Not sure what other benefits there are.  Maybe life insurance or something.

The other thing I don't like is how they schedule.  It is based on senority so basically the people who have been there longest get to pick their shifts first and the person hired last picks last.  It's not done on any fair basis based on availability and a scheduler who makes sure everyone has to work some good and some bad.  It is cherry-picked.  That's why I said that while he was hired for 4 p.m. to midnight, he might not actually get those hours.  Although the lady who interviewed him said that most people don't want those hours, but he does because it fits with his sleep schedule and still gives him the opportunity to go to the chiropractor and schedule doctor's appointments.

It's hard to believe it took until 21 for him to get a job.  He tried before Covid, but first he was under 18 and no one was hiring teenagers here, it was employer's pick, and the picked over 18 every time.  They said as much.  All the kids complained they couldn't get jobs.  Then after 18 unemployment was so incredibly low that no one was hiring so no interviews were even offered.  Then Covid hit and I didn't want him out in the workforce, we didn't know what was going on yet, and he has asthma so wearing a mask for 8 hours a day was not doable.

Now that he doesn't have to wear a mask here (fully vaxed), he got hired the first place he applied.  Employers are desperate because people can still make more on unemployment in most states due to those extended benefits being at $15 an hour.  Most of these entry level jobs can't match that or they'd have to skyrocket their prices to raise wages to entice people, which always triggers inflation.  The benefits are supposed to end soon, though and then people will have to start working again.  I really hope they don't reinstate masks now, like some places are talking about.  I'm not sure he could manage the job if it keeps interfering with his breathing.  Maybe I could get him one of those helmeted electric respirators, although they probably wouldn't let him wear that!  And they cost $1000.  He'd have to pay that back, for sure.

I'm having a little bit of a "my baby is leaving the nest," going on.  He's not planning on leaving any time soon, but this is his first step towards really being an adult.  Other than working on the farm when we had animals, he hasn't had to be consistent about anything.  Not even school, since we homeschooled.  It's weird thinking about having a first job be your entry to adulthood.  My first paid job, I was little.  I only earned $35 that summer.  It was before they changed the labor laws, so I could work in the strawberries and the blueberries as a wee one with my mother (she was a teacher so worked the farms in the summer) and sisters.  There was no greater satisfaction than buying that powder blue Snoopy watch with my own hard earned money.  I had worked 4 jobs by the time I got my first job as and adult at 18.

Times change, I guess.  If you didn't know anyone, you couldn't help get your minor kid a job.  If they don't hire, they can't get themselves a job.  I bet a lot of kids will be able to work, though, with all the hiring going on now.  The faces are getting younger and younger behind the cash register everywhere we go and it's not because I'm getting older.  It's because they are sixteen.  And not just because it is summer.

I also don't like that most places don't take applications in person.  Everything is online now.  The experience of handing an application personally to a manager is just gone.  No first impression to leave with the manager, nothing that might help you get past the pre-interview barrier.  It's a lot easier to ignore online applications than in person ones.  Without that face to face there is no chance to get an edge by presenting yoursef as a neat, well-groomed, nicely dressed individual, or as a go-getter.  Not at all like back in the day.  The internet makes things faceless and impersonal.

As for me, I have been very busy writing.  I set my goal for last week at 6500 words and I did 564, 1663, 1174, 0, 0, 1442, and 2094 which totalled out to be 6937 words.  The two zero days were the really bad days of a five day stomach virus that kept me in bed those two days.  My goal for this week is 7000 words.  I know I almost met that last week, but I told myself I would go with 7000, than 7500, than 8000, etc. on up to 10,000 words a week.  I don't want to overly pressure myself on it.  If it is just 500 more words a week than the previous goal, it is attainable in my head.  Now if I really fly by it one week I may adjust accordingly, but I don't want to push too hard.  The goal here it to write every day or almost every day and I'm doing that, so it's all good.

I don't feel good about my payday report this last payday, so I'm not making it.  Like I said I spent way, way too much this month and while we paid off the card during the billing period, so no interest, we will still have a lot that carries over into next month from this make for the stuff charged after we close.  I really need to just put a halt to the spending on it.

I will be raising our grocery budget to $900 a month from $800 to feed four adults.  Inflation is getting to be too much to maintain at the lower level and DS will be taking his dinners to work so really need to buy things that can be eaten cold, like deli meat, which is much more expensive.  The costs of fruits and vegetables, in season, has doubled and tripled on some items.  I'm glad we don't need to buy beef anymore.  But chicken and pork have gone up a lot, too.  I'm not finding .99/lb chicken anymore, the sale price is now $1.99/lb.  Same on pork shoulder.  Bacon is a little scary.  It'll drop back down once we get some pork and chicken in the freezer.

Oh, and here's the kicker.  Our new Frigidaire freezer that we bought in December?  It sounds like an airplane taking off at times and the alarm keeps going off that it is losing temp.  All the food was about 1/4 thawed except in the very back, so we had to distribute that food through the other freezers.

I unplugged it after it tried to go down the runway at 5:30 in the morning.  We were trying to keep broth frozen in it to see if it would thaw or not, but with that kind of noise on the other side of the wall from the head of my bed, nope, nope, nope.  DH is supposed to call and wait on hold with Frigidaire most of the day tomorrow (I'm assuming) while he works, as it is still under warranty.  He can prop it up on speaker phone.  It's no way near a year old.  I will be out tomorrow with doctor's appointments, and grocery shopping, so I can't do it.

I don't know what the heck is wrong with the motor, but I have a theory.  I don't think the door was hung right, because we've had the little light blinking a lot when it should have been solid green and the alarm would go off every few days despite no one opening the freezer during that time.  There is a magnet that is supposed to line up with the bottom of the freezer, but it doesn't quite.  And there was always frost on the bottom basket.  I think the door was put on wrong which is keeping the seal from being quite right.  I think the motor probably had to work too hard to constantly be freezing and having no rest cycles because it was always trying to get it to stay  at temp.

I am hoping they will just replace the motor and fix the door at this point, or just replace the freezer.  I think it is a lemon.  If it wasn't when we bought it, it is now.  If we can't get it working right, or get a new one in time, I will have to cancel my hog order.  I did give her a heads up the day the melt down started to happen.  She said to just keep her informed when we know something.  It'll be a bummer if we have to cancel.  She says that if no one buys them like I am, they just go to auction, so she'll not be out too much from it.

I know we haven't had the freezer long, but I was already relying on it heavily.  Thank goodness we have the large chest and mini-chest and fridge freezers.  Without them it would have been awful because we had just bought the side of beef.  And I don't know if  freezers of this size are back in the stores yet.  Or any freezers.  And they cost around $1000.  Maybe more now due to inflation.  But honestly, I should not have to pay for a new one anyway.

Oh, well, I'll do what I always do.  Put my head down and cope with it.  There, a long entry to make up for not posting for 9 days.

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTa2UTcS8oE and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTa2UTcS8oE  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.

Ting Upgrade

January 7th, 2021 at 08:52 pm

Ting has offered some new cell phone plans and after talking about it a lot we decided to go with the one of them.  The unlimited talk, text, and data.  Right now we pay around $43 to $53 a month for our four phone lines and have data turned off.  The plan we chose is $45 and then each phone has a line fee of $6 a month, so $24.  So our base fee will be $69 plus tax.  We pay about $9 in taxes right now, so I figure it will now be somewhere in the $80 to $90 range.  We had no data before unless we paid an additonal fee.  Plus we get a $60 credit for switching (also for signing up), taken off at a rate of $5 a month for the next 12 months.

We travel so much back and forth to Seattle these days, being able to access online games along the way or to stream a show in the car would be really nice.  It is an unnecessay luxury upgrade, which we can do even on our new budget with 15% being taken out for retirement.  And so worth it to me.  And the bill will be a set charge instead of fluctuating with each bill depending on usage, so I can put it on the debit card instead of the credit card.  I also found out recently I can put Hulu and Netflix on the debit card as well.  Then the credit card will only need to be used for booking hotels.  Not even to pay for them, just to book them.

Also, it is still way cheaper than when we were back on Verizon with four lines paying $144 a month and no data.  Ting has saved us so much money in the last few years, even though we had to buy our own phones.  We just have motorola motos which are awesome, but not hugely expensive if you don't go to the highest end.  My daughter's was $99, for example.

They have to send us new sim cards for our phones, which may take 8 to 10 days, but the upcharge doesn't start until we install them in our phones, so the next bill will be partially one plan and partially the other.  I won't know until March 6th what a full bill on the new plan actually is.

Not meaning to be a commercial, but if anyone is interested in signing up for Ting, I do have a referral link in my sidebar.  If you sign up for it through me, I get a credit to my account and then if you sign anyone up yourself, you'll get a credit to your account.

It does feel a little weird to be increasing one of my monthly expenses, but it is nice that I am the one doing it and not the company.  It has been almost seven months since we have been out of debt, but I still have the mentality that everything should be cut to the bone unless I get sick and then takeout expenses go off the charts.

On the other hand, we do need to do something about the internet bill.  For the number of times it drops, we are paying way too much.  Plus if it takes me an hour to upload a video to youtube so be it.  I don't need to do it in ten minutes or less for that rate.

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.

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.

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.

The New Purple Mattress Seems to be Worth the Money

December 1st, 2020 at 05:21 am

The new mattresses came on Friday.  We ended up going with the regular Purple mattresses.  It has made a tremendous difference for all of us.  I haven't woken up with stiff shoulders since.  They are still a little sore, but I can move them easily enough and raise them over my head without pain.  Also the side of my thigh that I lay on the most is no longer going numb or getting what I like to call fire ants.  It is beyond pins and needles because it burns.  And finally, the muscle I pulled on the right side of my back is no longer awful.  It still twinges a bit when I reach for things and I have to be careful, but just sitting doesn't hurt anymore.  The chiropractor will be back from his vacation tomorrow, so hopefully a good adjustment will finish the job.

I did have to order a set of boxsprings, though.  I got some steel ones off Amazon and they shoud be here by Sunday.  Otherwise, with just the platform, I am down so low I am having trouble standing up, because my knees go above my hips just sitting on the bed.  And because of my wrists and fingers I have trouble pushing or pulling myself up from that low.  I guess that is the difference between an 8 inch mattress and a 16 inch mattress, though.  The box springs is 7 inches so I'll almost be at the same height again with it, but that extra inch will not be missed because it was just a tiny bit too high before.

I am also getting more restful sleep for the past 3 nights according to my fitbit.  I definitely don't feel like I am tossing and turning anymore and am getting 8 hours at least at a stretch.  I will update on all of these things again when I have been sleeping on it for a month, but since I am already feeling so much better, I have to say I think these mattresses were well worth the money.  Everyone else is very happy, too.  All told, we spent $4300 on four mattresses, mattress covers, five pillows (and these we've had longer a week longer and are amazing), the box springs and sheet sets for all the beds.  That was with the special sale they were on, too, for early black Friday.  They have a ten year warranty.

It's a lot firmer than I am used to, but maybe that has been part of the problem all along.  I felt I needed softer mattresses because of all the aches and pains, but maybe they were causing many of those aches and pains.  It is nice to not have a wallow in the bed anymore, too.  I think softer mattresses are more prone to wallows forming after a couple years.

It was a lot to shell out, but if it means I don't hurt constantly all day long, just intermittently, it would have been worht it at full price.

Freezer Fund Update

November 14th, 2020 at 01:26 am

There was not much many left in the grocery envelope this time around as I bought a lot of food for canning, but there was some to add to the freezer envelope.  We will get there bit by bit.

$858.00 Beginning Balance

+_29.00 Amount Added

-------------

$887.00 New Balance

Freezer Fund Update

October 30th, 2020 at 07:03 pm

There was $66.00 left in the grocery envelope from last payday so I transferred that to the freezer fund.  There wouldn't have been anything left if I'd been well enough to go to the store one more time on one of the meat sales, but I'm glad there was something to transfer just because we are getting close now on having enough money to purchase the freezer we want.  Next month I might actually be able to put it into the budget as a sinking fund amount, but not quite sure yet.  Either way, it is still building this way.

 

$792.00 Balance Forward

+_66.00 Leftover Grocery Money

----------------

 

$858.00 New Balance

 

Freezer Fund Update

October 21st, 2020 at 08:01 am

I had $92.00 left in the grocery envelope from last payday, so that I moved that over into the freezer fund envelope.  Consistently squeezing money out of my grocery budget is working really well to save for this.  I am really starting to see some progress and am 2/3 of the way to my goal amount of $1100.  Then all I have to do is hope that by the time I get there, they actually have freezers available in the stores again.

 

$700.00 Balance Forward

+_92.00 Amount Added

--------------

$792.00 New Balance

Freezer Fund Update

October 3rd, 2020 at 12:46 am

$559.00 Balance Forward
+_91.00 Leftover Grocery Money from last payday
+_50.00 Money Mom Owed Me
-----------
$700.00 New Balance

Freezer Fund Update and Propane Barbecue Plans

September 19th, 2020 at 08:29 pm

Before I stuffed my envelopes, I emptied out the grocery envelope. I had $89 leftover from the last payday. Then Mom paid us back for picking up a blizzard for her at DQ. I threw the coins in the coin jar, but the $5 I added to the $89 and put into the Freezer Fund

$465.00 Balance Forward
+_94.00 Amount Added
-------------
$559.00 New Balance

With tax, the freezer I want is going to be around $1100, so we've reached the halfway point.

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but DH and I have been wanting to get a nice propane grill for barbecuing. We have a charcoal one, but sometimes it just takes so long to get up to heat and then you have to babysit it while the coals die out, it's a pain. Plus it is hard to cook everything at once. We want to get one with twice as much rack space and a burner on the end, with the ability to attach a smoking unit to it in the future.

DH is giving his August birthday money towards this and I will be putting my February birthday money in. We will both be putting our Christmas money in as our gifts to each other and then we will put MIL's gift money for Christmas in as well. I think we can buy a decent grill for that amount. If not, I'll make a line item on the budget. I'd like to be able to buy one before next summer.

Grain Mill, Skillets, Future Purchases Planned, and Sister Update

September 10th, 2020 at 07:20 am

I have had a grain mill in my shopping cart save for later section for months and it was finally back in stock today. It has an attachment for fine grains like millet (sorghum) and one for big beans. So I will be able to grind my own chickpea flour, sorghum flour, and rice flour, finally. We will save so much money making our own. I had more than enough money in my allowance envelope so I bit the bullet and bought it.

Also, I bought a Michaelangelo blue granite non-stick induction 12 inch skillet a while back. It has a ceramic stone type of coating. It is made in Italy, not China. Well, we have been loving it. It cooks so well. It hasn't scratched at all, it has remained non-stick, and it beats those tacky copper skillets that end up burning and not being cleanable after about 2 months. Clean up is a dream with a sponge. Even if they food seems like it is sticking and forming a crust you can wipe it away with the cooking utensil.

Well, when I bought it, they only had the 12 inch skillet in blue and they had a 10 inch skillet in what they call red, but it looks like purple. And they had grey. I didn't want to mix and match. Today I saw that they had an 11 inch with a 9.5 inch set, and an 8 inch skillet in blue. I also had enough money in my allowance folder to get those, so I did. I can retire my cast iron for all but baking gluten free cornbread and gluten free biscuits and corn tortillas. They are so heavy and that is painful on my wrists which can't take much due to the RA. These are also lighter than stainless steel, but not by much.

I ended up spending $425.97 with tax and I still have $177 in my allowance folder. I am so excited to finally be replacing cookware and things for the kitchen that I have made do on for a decade or longer while we were getting out of debt.

I have put some things on my save for later list, namely a 4 quart, a 6 quart, and an 8 quart 360 brand stainless steel cooking pots. They are made in America and they are expensive, but I think they will be worth the investment long term. I will have to save up and buy them one at a time. The most urgent need is the 4 quart as I don't have one and have been making do with my huge stockpot for a long while. I'd like something I can make stew in on my induction burner that is smaller.

The 4 quart pot is $229, so with sales tax will cost $246.86. So it will take two paydays for me to have that in my allowance folder. Then I got start saving for the other ones. I think it is worth the investment because I do spend so much time cooking from scratch. I could never justify it before, but this is what the allowance is for. I may actually save up for the electric citrus juicer before the 6 quart and 8 quart pots. It's $99. I was thinking how handy it would have come in today when I was making pico de gallo and had to squeeze the limes.

My eldest sister is going to be moving back in with us, for good this time. She has had to miss so much work with the time she took off for her cancer surgery that she just can't make rent anymore. She'll have to live in one of the living rooms and won't have privacy, but she's willing to make do and we are happy to have her here.

She has until the end of the month. Her landlord is working with her. Her kids don't want to take her. Most kids don't want to deal with aging parents. I am the only one of my siblings who was willing to take on Mom. Even if Mom was gone, I'd take on my sister. That's how I am with the full support of my husband. You take care of your own for as long as you can.

Made an Amazon Order and a Kitchen Investment

September 9th, 2020 at 12:43 am

I placed an order with Amazon today for 3 pounds of chickpea flour and 10 pounds of garbanzo beans, Washington grown and everything (Palouse brand). I found out you can make tofu from chickpea flour instead of soy, which opens up so many worlds right now. We used to eat tofu, it was honestly one of the only ways I could tolerate any bean but lima and black (which I can eat in small amounts without texture issues), but we had to give that up when soy allergies were discovered. It made it virtually impossible for us to have any vegetarian meals that were filling enough, or any real meat substitute. It looks really easy to make.

Then I purchased a restaurant grade French fry cutting machine that has plates for 3 sizes of French fries (including McDonalds size) and 8 or 6 wedge cutters. We have found one brand of fries that isn't made with soybean oil, but that could change at any moment, and plus they are only in stock half the time, so this is a real game changer. It will make canning easier, too, because I can wedge them and cut them from that point, which will be less wear and tear on my hands. They do sell one that is two plates instead of five for a lot less. It sure beats those little ones that don't have any suction cups on the bottom. With this we can make our own fries for the freezer. I am so happy with this purchase.

I also bought a container of elderberry gummies and a thing you can put inside your face mask to hold it away from your nose and mouth for breathing, but keeps the mask firmly in place. I don't remember the exact change, but it was just over $228 all told.

In doing some research today I found out that Pacific cream of chicken soup is gluten free. They use rice flour for the thickening agent. And their maltodextrin is from corn, not barley, making it gluten free as well. And Amazon has it cans as well as the boxes and the cans store longer, so I am very happy with this. I didn't buy any, but I will next payday. And I found a recipe for making homemade tater tots. Which means I can start making turkey and chicken tater tot casseroles again. The kids love those. It's a great way to use up leftovers, too.

Freezer Fund Update

September 4th, 2020 at 09:14 pm

There was $81 left in the grocery envelope from last payday so I transferred that into the Freezer Fund envelope. We are almost halfway there now. Maybe by next payday.

$384.00 Balance Forward
+_81.00 Money Added
------------
$465.00 New Balance

Bits and Pieces

August 28th, 2020 at 02:38 am

As of today, I have lost 10 pounds on my diet bet. I have 13 days until weigh in and need to lose 3.7 more pounds. I think I am going to make it. I can see a big difference already and my knees certainly feel better.

We picked green beans, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. I filled two plastic grocery sacks with green beans, 1 with cucumbers, got 10 tomatoes and two patty pans. I also harvested my first jalapeno, so I will be making pico de gallo this week. I will be spending a couple of hours snapping beans tonight so that I can can them tomorrow. I may have enough to do two canner loads.

It looks like DS is going to need a new mattress. That'll be around $900 I wasn't expecting to spend. We won't be buying bamboo mattresses again. It made it 3 years when it should have been five. DS has a huge wallow in the middle of it. We are looking into a Purple mattress.

We have just about got everything arranged so we can purchase a handicapped ramp for the back porch. It will make life so much easier for my knees and hips to not have to deal with stairs, and also for DD who has mobility issues due to hip dysplasia.

My poor mother got into an unexpected wasp's nest today. She got stung twice in the back of the head, once on the ear, once on the tip of the nose, and twice on the wrist. We gave her benadryl and got the one stinger out that was in. She used to do bee venom therapy on purpose, so she's pretty well immune to any allergic reactions, but we are watching her just in case.

We found out yesterday that one of her arteries, I believe it was one in her neck, is 95 percent calcified. But the ones around her heart are fine. Now that she's had the test we are waiting for her doctor's appointment to see what is to be done about it. She's probably going to have to have a procedure and change her diet. Good luck with that. At 80 I don't see her changing her diet.