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Trying to Beat the Heat

July 3rd, 2013 at 04:37 pm

I received a $5 gift card from Swagbucks for Amazon yesterday and will have enough points by the end of the day to send for another one. I have a book on hold at the library so we will be going downtown today. I want to get a few toys to put in the rabbit tractors and look for some more glass water bottles. They really prefer them to the plastic ones.

It's been blazing hot the last few days and most of my attention has gone to making sure that the animals, particularly the rabbits, stayed cool enough. I am happy to report that all nine of the newborn kits have survived the heat wave and it's starting to cool down.

We've been eating a lot of cold meats and vegetables and fruits here lately. Cooking isn't something anyone wants to do because it heats the house up. I've been soaking my head with cool water and that helps quite a bit since I have so much hair. We don't have air-conditioning in this house. I've been using fans and icepacks and one day I even grabbed a bra straight from the washing machine (I wash on cold) and that kept me cool for a couple hours until it dried. That was on the day it was 90.

I'll be using the crockpot a lot this week to help keep the house cool. I'm keeping the blinds and curtains shut during the day, and having them wide open in the evening with fans in them, to cool off the house. Fans go all night and I wake up with a cool house that stays that way for a while. I'm putting ice in all of my drinks (which is usually just water), and making cold meat salads for lunches.

What do you all do to beat the heat? Especially if you don't have air conditioning.

Finally! In Which I Ramble A Lot

November 27th, 2012 at 03:18 am

We finally got a hard frost last night. And I do mean a hard one. When I went out at 7 to take DD to school there was thick ice on the windows. Fortunately,I had some spray on de-icer. I started the car heating and defrosting while I sprayed it on. Unfortunately, there was a layer of ice on the inside of the windshield and you can't spray de-icer on the inside because of the fumes. I had to scrape it. It wasn't nearly as thick on the inside.

I checked all the windows to make sure nothing had been partially down overnight to cause it to freeze inside, everything was up. Then after I scraped it we had to sit for a while with the defroster going to get rid of the humidity that was making it fog up. The car probably ran for 20 minutes before the windows were safe to see out of. Fortunately, DD's school doesn't start until 7:45, she just likes to get there early. She was still fifteen minutes early.

I was really surprised because we've had such mild weather this fall, I was expecting it to continue. The broccoli looked like it was a goner this morning, but the leaves all thawed out just fine by mid-day and were looking as healthy and beautiful as ever.

I had to take DS to the foot doctor today. He had gotten inflamed ingrown toenails on both of his big toes. It runs in the family. Of course he did this early in the holiday weekend so he's been miserable pretty much since Thursday. The doc drained them and packed them with cotton and prescribed an anti-biotic.

We'll go back on Monday next to see if they need surgical correction after the swelling has gone down. It's a very minor surgery, he just cuts away a bit of the tissue and any torn part of the nailbed. They use a local anesthetic, lidocaine. DS had a lot of relief just by having the side of the nailbed packed with cotton. It will probably have to be corrected though if he is anything like me or his father. Bad toenails or not, DS has the nicest looking feet. He could totally be a foot model or something.

Anyway, so we paid out $4.76 for his antibiotic and I renewed my BP med while we were there for $40.00. And since that store happened to have some Haagan Das vanilla ice cream I got that too, for $6.49. A little more than I like to pay for it, but at least I found it. Considering I wanted to just tool on down the road a bit to Arby's and buy dinner instead of coming home and making stir-fry, that's not too bad. Arby's would have added about $35. And my cooking was better anyway.

I think the heater is going to have to stay on 70 tonight. I can feel the chill through the house despite having on slipper socks, a sweater, and an afgahn over my lap. I've pulled out the extra blankets for everyone, but we may still be sleeping in sweats tonight.

All of the birds were out today, even Silver (the shyest and most timid) and Lady (the duck). They've decided to be free range apparently. But they stayed in the yard and still put themselves into the coop a half hour before dark. Lady was less than pleased that her little pond was frozen over and she let the whole world know. Not that she's super loud or anything, it was just a constant murmur of complaint.

Fort Knox remains empty. It's just as well. It's warmer in the chicken coop with all 13 birds sharing body heat. We have to be a little more aware of the waterers now, making sure they aren't frozen. They will be eating a lot more feed now to keep up their body temps and be able to lay eggs. We got 7 today. There were five delivered to the box on the back porch. Both leghorns are laying in there now. Because why use a perfectly good set of nesting boxes when you have access to the world's best cardboard box?

Frugal Things I Did Today

August 13th, 2012 at 04:59 am

1. Baked bread. One loaf. And I waited until evening so it wouldn't heat the house up as badly.

2. Picked a gallon of blueberries from the back yard.

3. Balanced my checkbook. Why is this frugal? Because if you don't know what your balance is, you don't know where you stand financially.

4. Cooked dinner in the crockpot. No heating up the whole house with the oven and no eating out because I was too tired to actively cook.

5. Added chicken manure bedding to the compost bin. Eventually we will have lovely free compost.

6. Saved vegetable peels in a bag in the freezer for future soup stock.

7. Saved the bread crumbs from cutting up the loaf of bread I baked in a baggy in the freezer for making meatballs in the future.

8. Didn't spend any money or go anywhere so didn't use gas, either.

9. Did a $3 survey for ACOP.

Little things add up.

Produce, Produce, Produce

August 1st, 2012 at 04:14 am

I'm getting a little overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the fruit production right now. I picked a gallon of raspberries and 2 gallons of blueberries today. Actually, I probably picked at least another gallon of blueberries, but that went to the greedy chickens. I swear for every two handfuls I put in the bag I was throwing one to the chickens. With 12 chickens eating them it was a lot. I don't mind sharing, I just wish they could pick, too!

They are getting very friendly, coming right up to me and demanding berries. Some will even tap me on the foot with their beaks if they think it has been too long since I've dropped some berries for them, cheeky little birdies. I really should take out my camera when I pick because they get so close and I could get some great shots.

Anyway, I estimate I picked about $50 worth of berries today, not counting what I fed to the chickens. Everything is in the freezer. It's too hot in the house to process right now and picking is done either before eleven in the morning or after seven in the evening, when it is cool enough to do the work.

My biggest brandywine tomato is moving from orange to red now. It looks so good. I harvested a quart of green beans today, but I think that patch of beans is just about spent. Maybe another handful left that needs to size up a bit. I need to poke a few more seeds into the ground. There might be just enough time left to get a late harvest.

I have two kohlrabi the size of tennis balls and 2 about the size of golf balls. I think the two bigger ones should be ready in about a week. I am really looking forward to them as there is nothing like kohlrabi fresh from the garden. Some of the smaller ones are starting to swell now.

I'm not sure what's going to happen with the cauliflower. It got hot at the wrong time. I am going to tie the leaves over the small heads tomorrow, at least on the ones that the slugs have not eaten the leaves too far down on, to see if they will blanch. Cauliflower is not one of my favored veggies. I will eat it, but I only ever make it because DH and the kids like it, so if it doesn't survive, eh... The broccoli is coming along nicely though.

I harvested the last of the old lettuce today and pulled the plants. The chickens were happy to get those, too, the greedy guts.

The garden has paid for itself about three times over now, plus paid for all the canning supplies and sugar I have bought this summer. I am happy about that. I will be even happier when I start picking tomatoes.

I am thinking about getting some sweet corn to put up at the end of August. We did plant some, but just enough for fresh eating. I just need to decide between freezing or canning if I buy some. I would freeze if I had the freezer by then, but I don't know if I will. So it may be canning by default. It would be nice to buy local corn when it is 10/$10. I guess it will depend on how well my tomatoes do, because if they don't do well, I will spend my grocery money on organic tomatoes to put up.

I can at least buy good canned corn from TJ's at a decent price all year around, but I can't do that for tomatoes. And also, with the corn being killed in the middle of the nation from drought, there may be a higher demand for Washington state corn and I might not be able to get it so cheap, either. Well, a year without much corn won't kill me, if it comes to that. Now a year without potatoes, that would be hard. But those are growing in our garden just fine. I may not even have to buy potatoes at all from September to May if they are as productive as they look like they are going to be.

I don't think we are anywhere near being able to provide all of our produce needs for the year this year, but we'll have grown a good enough hunk of it to take a major bite out our grocery budget, which will make it easier to save up for the protein in bulk from sustainable sources. I would love to get my grocery budget down to $400 a month if averaged over the year, even if it means buying a large portion of it up front.

I redeemed two $5 amazon gift cards from swagbucks today and will do the same tomorrow. I wish I had done it yesterday, so I could have gotten 4 this month. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 30th, 2012 at 06:43 am

I am going to try to do a few easier meals this week, I think. It's supposed to be hot all week and long and involved food is not something I really want to get into. I will use the crock pot at least twice. Oh, speaking of using the crock pot, I made up the applesauce and DH pronounced it very delicious. this is what I did:

5 apples, peeled, cored and segmented into eighths (I think they were pink lady or cameo, which are the only type I buy other than honeycrisp usually and they weren't honeycrisp)
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients in the crockpot on high for 6 hours. It was supposed to be 3 to 4 but I forgot about it. No harm done though. It made 2 12 ounce jars and one 8 ounce jar (or 3 half pints total, if I had been able to find more 8 ounce jars). Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes to make it shelf stable. It is nice to have those apples out of my fridge produce drawer.

Anyway, planned dinners for the week:

Club sandwiches
Homemade french fries from home grown potatoes
Cole slaw

Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Homemade garlic toast

Meatball sandwiches made with leftover meatballs, leftover sauce, and leftover garlic toast
Leftover cole slaw

Pork chops
Fried potatoes
Green beans

Homemade pizza (made with leftover spaghetti sauce) and whatever toppings we have on hand, probably green peppers, onions, Canadian bacon and uncured pepperoni

Toasted ham and cheese sandwiches
Homemade chicken noodle soup (from a chicken roasted for lunches and then crock potted to make stock and then soup)
Cole slaw
Homemade french fries

Beef chuck roast made in the crockpot with carrots and potatoes
Green beans
Drop biscuits with homemade jam

Preserving More Food

July 28th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

This morning was nice and cool and the perfect morning for making jam without heating the house up terribly. I used my new food mill on the apricots and the blackberries, but the blueberries just went into the blender.

The results of my 3 hours of labor.

I ended up with six half pints of apricot jam, a value of $48 (organic jam has gone up, I priced it last week), minus the cost of sugar and apricots, so a net value of $40.

I did 4 pints of blackberry jam for a value of $56. The blackberries were free, so the cost of the sugar was $2. So a net value of $54.

Last I did 8 half pints of blueberry jelly. Again the berries were free from the yard so it was the cost of the sugar, $2. So $64 minus $2, a net value of $62.

Altogether I spent $12 on ingredients and profited $158 by putting up this jam and jelly today. I will likely do at least one more batch of blackberry jam, one more batch of raspberry jam, and one more batch of blueberry jelly this summer and any other berries will be frozen. I think I'll have enough jam for the year. I may actually already have enough jam for the year, but some will be gifts.

And another look at my expanded stash. We have used up one jar of strawberry and are in the process of eating a second and also on the first jar of apricot jam, but there are two more rows added as well.

I can't wait until I can fill a shelf full of tomato products. Another month and a half for that.

Back into the Routine

July 26th, 2012 at 03:58 am

So after our lovely day off yesterday, and it really was great despite the traffic mess, today it was back to routine after a good sleep in.

Today I baked bread:

These are by far my best loaves since I started baking bread again. A lot of the time they do not end up so nicely rounded on top, but I've been letting them do their second rise a bit longer and it seems to be helping with that. No more fallen (but still tasty) loaves.

My pepper plants are doing amazing. It's July and look at the size of this one already:

There are six fruits on this plant of decent size, though this is the biggest and there are tons more blossoms. I have never successfully grown bell peppers so I am thrilled at how well they are doing. It helps that most of the month has been pretty hot with only a few days of cooler temps.

I picked green beans today. I filled half a quart baggy. I don't think I will get much more off these plants, maybe the same again. They didn't get into the ground soon enough and sadly have stopped blossoming. But I've got more beans coming in a different area of the garden so that is okay. And at least the other bean plants are fixing nitrogen into the soil.

I filled a gallon size baggy with lettuce leaves and picked another pint of blackberries and two pints of blueberries. I need to pick raspberries badly. I think there is at least a gallon of berries in need of picking. I hope to get to them tomorrow. Of course I need to pick more blueberries, too, but there is only so much time in a day and I had a lot of laundry to do today and had an appointment that took me two hours, so didn't spend too much time outside.

The squash plants are coming along well, except for one, which I may need to move. The tomatoes are looking very nice and hopefully the weather will continue and I will get the harvest I am hoping for later this summer. Broccoli and cauliflower are coming along nicely and there is some gorgeous kohlrabi that might be ready in about a week. Looking forward to that a lot.

Tomorrow I am planning on making jam. I am making apricot jam, blackberry jam, and blueberry jam. I just hope it isn't too hot in the morning to do it. I won't do it during the heat of the day and if tomorrow is anything like tonight, doing it in the evening isn't an option either. We need to keep the house as cool as possible without air conditioning.

Another Enforced No Spend Day

January 18th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

The snow is great for my finances. It's really hard to spend money if you can't even get out of the driveway! Not impossible, of course, there is always the internet, but I am well-disciplined when it comes to internet shopping and never shop just to shop.

I am so sick of the snow already and there is just no sign of it stopping. Last night they said we were supposed to get 15 more inches and it is well on it's way there.

There probably will be no school at all this week. This is the second snow day, and it's been really nice to lounge around in pajamas all week and not even worry about getting up, shoveling off the car, clearing the driveway and trying to drive on snow with ice underneath it.

Speaking of pajamas, I am so glad I made the investment in three pairs of full length PJs. They have made such a difference this winter in helping me to stay warm without having to turn the bedroom space heater on much.

I probably won't get to have any physical therapy this week. I've already had one session cancelled and I doubt very much that my next scheduled one will happen since the weather has only gotten worse. In fact, I may cancel it if they don't.

I did slack off on my exercises on Monday, but I did them all yesterday and then I went on the internet and found a couple of stretches for the psoas muscle, because I have suspected for a few weeks that it might be part of the problem. There were two I could do that didn't involve getting on the floor or on my knee. After I did them, I felt so much better! I've been in misery for weeks and these simple stretches relieved so much pain. All I can say is God bless the people who put stuff up on youtube and here's hoping SOPA and PIPA don't pass on the 24th and censor the heck out of it.

Turned on the Heater

January 14th, 2012 at 07:02 pm

I can't believe how cold it got last night. It was 26 degrees F, but the wind was blowing hard, so the wind chill factor made it much colder. It's been so warm through December and the first part of January that I've been fine without the space heater in my bedroom for a while, but last night I had to turn it on around 2 a.m., because it was freezing. I definitely won't be beating the cold this week.

The wind comes down the side of the house my room is on and it actually whistles sometimes. Last night it was just roaring. It sounded like a train coming at the house or something.

It is supposed to snow this weekend. It hasn't snowed all winter (we had a few random flakes in late fall, but nothing real). We had one hailstorm in November. Otherwise nothing.

I hope it doesn't affect DH flying back to work on Monday. Four weeks without a paycheck is enough, thank you.

I have some more bills to do today and I need to catch the blog up on the ones I've done earlier this week.

I added $6 to the coin jar. Unexpected medical came up so I transferred $500 from the medical holding tank. I'll specify that out in another post though.

A Little Warmer

December 1st, 2011 at 05:59 pm

I guess the sweaters were a good investment, because I've at least not felt chilled to the bone since I started wearing them. I still don't feel completely warm and I'm keeping my bedroom heater on 72, but I did have it up to a ridiculous 76 before, so it's an improvement. We had a very hard frost last night. It looked like it had snowed, it was so thick. Guess I'm lucky not to have woken up feeling frozen over myself.

I'm sick again which may be why my internal thermostat seems so wonky right now. I think it's just a cold though and not an infection. At least I hope so. I've got too much to do this month to be sick on top of it all.

DS is going to his first dance today after school. He is "meeting a girl" by their lockers and they are going to "hang out" together at the dance. I don't even know what that means. He's only 11 so it can't mean too much, right? They seem to have become best friends this year. I don't know if it's more than that. He's excited though. And according to the girl's mother, so is she. The dance starts right after school so I packed him an extra half a sandwich in his lunch box. With his allergies he may not be able to eat the provided refreshments.

DH is on a plane to San Francisco today. He'll be back around 8:30 p.m., though. It's going to be a long day without him here.

I've got bills to pay today. So far I have dealt with deducting the autopays of life insurance, car insurance, house insurance, storage, and the security system from the checkbook. I've paid the electric and I need to do AMEX and the mortgage on the old house. I believe that is all until the 16th. I'll have to double check my spreadsheet after I pay those two things.

Oh, yesterday we wrote a $35 check for DS's next belt test at tae kwon do which is next Thursday. I also spent $65.32 at the grocery store. They had turkey thighs and necks pretty cheap so I stocked up. Beef prices are so ridiculous and nothing was marked down for quick sale. We're going to be eating a lot of chicken and turkey until the prices decide to get reasonable again. I also bought milk, oranges, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. I also picked up a copy of Clean Eating Magazine and have already found a couple of recipes I want to try this month.

New Clothes, Moving Money, and Bonus Musings

November 30th, 2011 at 02:36 am

I added $9.56 to the coin jar today.

I did a bit of clothing shopping. It's been a very long time since I've bought much in the way of clothing, but since losing the 45 pounds almost everything is too big. I have also been very cold lately to the point that jacking up the heat doesn't help and neither does three blankets on the bed.

So I got a couple of turtlenecks to wear under my nightgown. I also got three chenille sweaters, two zip front and one pullover, and I got two new pairs of jeans in the smaller size. That gives me four pairs of jeans (I had two in my closet from a long time ago). I think this should keep me until spring.

If the turtlenecks don't keep me warm I may end up getting an electric blanket. I don't particularly like using those because I always take water to bed with me and I have a tendency to spill and I'm always worried I am going to shock myself or something. It's getting so that the only time I feel warm is in the car with the heat jacked up or in the shower.

DH bought a new pillow and we got some medicines and a new pair of tweezers and (very bad) four bottles of soda. They were cheap, at least.

I transferred the money from ING to my checking account today for first of the month bills. Of the money I had set aside I still have $648.08 left. I will probably put $200 in the emergency fund and then if I don't need the rest between now and the 16th, I will put what is left into the January/HSA money.

We got paperwork in the mail in case we want to put DH's bonus into his 401K. We don't, it's earmarked for debt repayment, but if they sent him that, it means he is definitely getting one. And also I wouldn't think they'd send out 401K paperwork unless it was a substantial amount to put in there. Two to three more weeks to go to find out just how much it is going to be. I hate living in suspense. But it is at least good news that there will be one.

Busy Weekend

September 12th, 2011 at 04:20 am

This weekend has been very busy for me. We went down to the creek today and waded around in it. It was so hot, but the creek is nicely shaded by trees and it is free entertainment. It is a lot lower than I am used to seeing it. Maybe down by 2/3rds. It wasn't as cold as I'm used to it being either, but it was cold enough to be refreshing. I was almost tempted to take the kids to a movie today because of the heat, but the creek (and my trying to be frugal) won out.

We went to the grocery store and did the shopping for the week. I spent $85.42 and found 2 cents in the parking lot so that went into the coin jar. I found two of the pot roasts that were cut right and were on special marked down so snapped them up. We'll have them the next two Sundays. I made the one I found last week today in the crockpot. It was nice not to heat up the house. I made corn on the cob and potatoes and green beans all in the microwave.

I bought several cucumbers and deli meat. When I got home divided up the deli meat and froze part of it for later in the week. It doesn't keep for more than 3 days since it has no preservatives or additives. I peeled the cukes and sliced them up. My diet requires a lot of low glycemic veggies per meal so it is so much easier to grab out several slices and add it to whatever protein I am eating at that meal. Without the prep I might be tempted to ignore the veggies. At least I never seem to get tired of cukes.

The diet is going well. I'm down 4.4 pounds just since starting it. That makes 31 or so since the surgery. I've got a ton more energy since starting it, too. Exercise was a bit lax this week, other than swimming on Monday and walking a bit today. This week will hopefully go better.

The painters finished the house today and the painted the front and back doors (which look gorgeous). They still need to do the back deck, but then they will be gone. I will be glad to see them go. They smoked a lot and the kids couldn't really go outside without having coughing fits.

I taught myself some more html coding today. I got the hang of most of it, but one more thing I need to work on before I move on with the lessons. I had to learn it since LJ's rich text editor has not worked correctly since the last "upgrade" a month ago. I prefer to edit my stuff there if I later see a mistake and RTE isn't making that possible.

Not too much on the financial horizon. I will have physical therapy tomorrow so $60 for that, $55 for DD's musical theater class on Tuesday, money for parking at Virginia Mason on Tuesday and a little extra "just in case" money. There shouldn't be anymore money out until payday Friday.