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Color Me Exhausted in a Good Way

November 8th, 2022 at 01:19 am

Saturday, November 5, 2022

I really had forgotten what being well felt like and what it meant to be exhausted from working hard instead of simply existing.  It's a better feeling, a feeling of accomplishment, of pride in what you have done, even if, in the end, every joint in your body aches the same.  Still, this girl got stuff done.

In the morning I divided the last of the chicken bones into the two Instant Pots and got the broth going, cleaned jars, and set up my area, and had DH put the heavy double decker All American canner up on the stove because that thing weighs a lot, but you get what you pay for.

Then we went outside and did some garden work.  You will not believe me, but I did not want to run back in the house and get my camera, because my legs are barely working as it is and photos uploading are always a crapshoot around here anyway, but my darn yellow zucchini had a big old flower on it today.  And those tiny flowers that were on my pepper plants?  Those are now tiny peppers.  What on Earth, people?  Maybe I really should go get some green house plastic.  The pepper plants at least would survive all winter, I think.

Anyway, we got the tarp put down on the potato plot and we added four feet in one direction and two feet in the other to increase the size.  DH worked on taking out a tree stump that had been left in the way of where we want to build a raised bed next year.  He dug down to get as much of the roots as he could, but there was a tap root so he could only go so far, but he got out all the tap roots.

Meanwhile, DS dug out some wild blackberry canes while I cut them out of the climbing rose bushes.  I don't even know where they sprang up from.  We haven't had this variety of wild blackberries in our yard before, but our neighbor does.  This was nowhere near theirs though.  It was literally in the middle of the back yard.  We can't get all of it out, but without taking the roses out, which we will in spring to move them, but we should be able to dig them out then.  There wasn't too much of them and I will poison those if I have to.

I am not playing the wild blackberries are taking over my yard game.  I am already playing the keep the morning glory that the other neighbors let run rampant and won't keep in their own yard so it runs all the fences in my yard and constantly crawls into my garden all summer out of my yard game.  I think next year I will poison those, too, neighbors nice hedges be darned if they get any on it.  I hate to poison, but there is no winning with either of these plants.  Morning glory should never be planted outside of a planter that is on concrete with no ability to get to dirt.  It is so invasive and impossible to control if you don't hack it back all summer.

My son has started drinking coffee again so he is saving the coffee grounds for me to bury in the raised beds.  I will do so as long as the ground isn't frozen.  We haven't had a hard freeze yet, but I am sure it is coming.  Well, that's about it for this update.  Still planning to post that payday report.  Just have so much other stuff on my mind.

Me from the future:  I forgot to post this on Saturday and just left it open with about 50 other tabs.  Glad windows didn't randomly decide to restart.

It's All About Food Again, Canning, Saving, Planning Freezer Meals, Prepping

November 5th, 2022 at 01:01 am

Yesterday, that is.  I put my nose to the grindstone, but I got it done.  10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.  So I have 13 quarts and 6 pints of canned chicken.  One of my quart jars broke in the canner.  It was one of my grandmother's jars from 1949, so it lasted a long time.  Two bad it took 2 pounds of chicken with it.  I think I'm going to go through and weed those jars out and use them for dry food storage.  There aren't many left, but I don't want to take that risk.

While I was canning those I had two Instant Pots filled with bones, water, and seasonings, making chicken bone broth.  Pressure cooking for two hours is the equivalent of simmering on the stove for 24 hours or more, only you don't have to worry about evaporation and adding more water, just a bit of steam that comes out at the end.  I didn't get as much as I should have because my son wasn't paying attention when I asked him to fill them up to the max line and instead he just covered the bones, which is what we do when we make a whole chicken, but not what I do when making broth, which he's never done.  I should have checked, but I was so busy with other stuff, I didn't.  Not really his fault.  I know he has ADHD and was having a no focus day.

I still got a good amount of broth at 8 pint and a half jars and 8 pint jars, but I could have had almost double that.  I have enough bones to fill both Instant Pots again, so will be doing that and canning it tomorrow.  I was too wiped to do anything today.  I went to bed at 10:30 and slept until 11:07 this moring, waking up once at 6:30.  I was exhausted.

I did manage to get some of the dishes done.  I had to soak 8 cups, though.  I am not happy about that.  They all had milk residue in the bottoms so I know it was one of the menfolk.  Time for the rinse out your glass lecture.  It can never be the womenfolk since we don't drink milk outright and only consume it in stew, gravy, or loaded baked potato soup, and I've switched to using broth as much as possible instead of milk in the first two.

And I'm up for making a real dinner tonight, even though I am pretty sore from canning.  We've been going through my freezer dinners at breakneck speed.  I'm pretty sick of baked pastas and baked casseroles and rice under enchiladas, etc.  Today is just chicken, mashed potatoes (and gravy for those who want it, i.e. not me) and green beans.  Simple, but really good.

Broth canning isn't near as time consuming as chicken canning, so tonight I will thaw out a bunch of ground meat and tomorrow while it is in the canner I will throw together some meatloaves and some meatballs for the freezer.  I've been craving spaghetti, though, so I'll save out some meatballs for dinner either tomorrow or the next night.  Depends on how early I get the canner going, because if the stove is full I won't be able to cook spaghetti.

I found out that a restuarant supply store currently has chicken breast on sale for a box at $76, works out to $1.90 a pound.  I don't usually buy chicken breast, but I am out nearly out of the last batch of ground chicken I made, so I can grind it.  I am not up for deboning anything again anytime soon.  I just mix it in with my meatloaf and meatballs along with sausage and hamburger which have enough fat in them to counter the dryness of chicken breasts.

I can also make up my version of hamburger tater tot casserole, only I use homemade hashbrowns instead.  I have a lot of hamburger left from our steer and I want to buy another one in June or July, so we really need to be using it up, not just because we have it, but because we need the space in the chest freezer.  I can work tacos back into the rotation.  I can also can hamburger.  We haven't eaten very much pork from our half a hog either, so I need to work that into the rotation.

It's been forever since I made up a meal plan, just because we were eating takeout for so long and then freezer meals and crockpot meals that were basically pour and dumps, so I didn't have to think about real cooking.  But since I am finally well and truly well after the broad spectrum "if you stay on it too long it can kill you and also burst your achilles tendons," antibiotic, I should get back to real meal planning, especially before I make my Winco run and go to the restaurant supply store.

I also need to go through my canning jars tonight and see what I have left.  I keep taking my jars up to the kitchen and telling Mom they are for me to use the next day and then she keeps using them, so I will keep them down here until right before I can tomorrow.  I don't want to run out of jars and have to buy more, especially with my wide mouth pints.  She only has regular mouth pints, but when she runs out she takes mine. Oh, well, you can't argue with a stubborn 83-year-old.  Or it's not worth it anyway.

I'm off to gather my jars, have dinner, meal plan and freezer meal plan and then tomorrow shop accordingly.

 

Groceries in Bulk and Piecemeal

November 2nd, 2022 at 11:42 pm

I know I haven't posted my payday report for last payday yet.  I have it on the agenday.  This is more of a brain dump, rant, food prepping/canning to save money in the long run, sort of thing.

I went through the grocery ads online this morning.  I can't really do them with the paper in my hands anymore, becaues the mail delivery has gotten so bad that for an ad cycle that starts today, I have gotten them as late as next Monday, but it is usually Friday or Saturday.  They should be coming in the mail on Tuesdays.  I guess if they didn't have 20 pounds of straight to the recycle bin politician flyers to deliver for the past few months, not to mention Christmas catalogs no one ordered, maybe we'd get the rest of our stuff on time.

They didn't even deliver the mail on Thursday.  I know because Mom put out a letter to be deliverd on Wednesday night with the little flag up and the flag was still up at 9:00 p.m. and our letter was still in there to be picked up.  Then on Thursday we put the letter back out in the box and when it still hadn't been picked up by 6:30 p.m. took it back out and the mail showed up at 7:00 p.m.  That was annoying.  We didn't get any mail on Friday or Saturday and none picked up, so they are obviously not coming to even look if the flag is up for outgoing mail.

We ended up taking our letter to the post office on Monday, since we can't rely on our carrier.  Our mail is supposed to be delivered by 2:00 p.m. according to the delivery schedule and has been up until September when it started fluctuating wildly.  I put in a polite, but formal complaint, too.  It should not take me that many days to try to mail a letter, it shouldn't take that may days to get the grocery ads, and I'm not sure we're getting all of our regular mail, either.  I haven't got my statements from my one credit union that only does snail mail twice this year and Mom has had the water bill go missing once and the garbage bill twice.  So I mentioned that, too.  You hear about carriers just tossing mail when they don't want to deliver it.  I wish they'd toss the political flyers, not the real mail.

Anyway, back to the grocery ads, there weren't a lot of good sales.  I guess after two good weeks of sales I wasn't expecting much.  There were a couple of buy one get ones where they don't tell you the  price.  I don't pay attention to those, since they are usually full price, they just jack up the price of the first one so it covers the price of the second.  And I'm not going to make an extra trip to the store on the off chance I am wrong for a meat that I am iffy about to begin with.

So while that store did have a good salmon sale, it was for Atlantic salmon, which no, not when I live on the Pacific and that is so much better.  And a decent t-bone steak sale, but not when I have very good sirloin sale steak in my freezer.  There are decent produce items on sale, but I'm not sure it was enough to being me in.  They had good pork items, but since I have half a hog in the freezer we have barely made a dent in, there is no point in that.  So the main 3 stores are just meh this week.  I'll have to buy produce somehwhere, but that's all I need to buy.

Which means I'll be going to Winco.  I've been wanting to make it over there anyway, since I want to stock up on canned green beans and get 40 pounds of Roma tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce to can.  If they don't have 40 pounds available I will take 20.  I can get 20 more from another store if I have to.  I also want to get some fresh peppers to make some chili this week and they have the biggest choice in peppers, and some cilantro.  And they have bulk herbs and spices and wild rice blends.  And everything is just so much cheaper there with that kind of stuff.

I plan to go to TJ's as well, to see if they have turkeys yet.  No one is advertising turkeys and the one place I did see mention of it was with one store saying to order your turkeys now.  This would be a store that normally would be doing one of those things where if you spend $150 you'd get a free turkey by now.  So I'll look this weekend if they don't have turkeys.  I'll probably switch to one of the back up plans, either the Cornish game hen plan or the duck plan.

Yesterday was the last day of the .99/lb sale for chicken thighs.  It'd been selling out every day like crazy so every day we've gone it has already been wiped out by 9:00 a.m.  Mom got there at 7:30 a.m. when they opened yesterday and was finally able to get what I needed, which was 40 pounds or 8 value packs.  I figured I'd lose at least 5 pounds to skinning and deboning.  It filled 3 gallon sized Ziploc baggies, so maybe more than that.  At least I can use that to make bone broth.

It wasn't as bad with the chuck roast last week, which they at least had until 5:30, before they sold out, but .99/lb chicken is way easier to stock up on for some budgets than $3.99/lb chuck roast.  The butcher says people are really worried about the gas shortages and whether or not truckers will even be able to haul food next week the way things are going, so they are stocking up like crazy.  They are worried about even having fuel for their own gas stations over on the east coast by the end of next week for their store brand.  We are more protected here because of the refineries, but even so it'll come here eventually if things don't change soon.  Crazy times.

I spent from 9:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. skinning and deboning and cutting up the chicken for canning.  I ended up sleeping in, because I am on day 2 of caffiene withdrawal, but tomorrow I will get started on canning the chicken and getting a bag of bones in each Instant Pot.  I'll have one more bag of bones to do after that, but I will have some beautiful broth when I finish.  It should be 21 quarts or so, but I am not sure how I will actually divvy it up yet.  I know I want some in pints and some in 24 oz and some in quarts, so we'll see how it goes.  I might actually divide the bones up into four batches.  I think there is enough and then I could have 28 quarts' worth, however I do it up.

Pints are great if you just want to pop one, warm it up and drink it.  Doing that was great for me when I was so sick I couldn't eat.  All I could do was drink and barely that.  It got at least a little nutrition and hydration into me.  The 24 oz size is what I use in a batch of homemade enchilada sauce.  1 quart is what I use to make soup or to make skillet lasagna or sometimes 2 if I make a double batch.  Sometimes I will make my pasta in it if I am doing it in the Instant pot. It makes a fantastic macaroni.

I picked that cucumber finally and one green and one yellow zucchini.  The plants aren't dead yet, we haven't had a frost.  There are still a couple veggies growing really slowly.  The green beans did die when it hit 37, but they aren't planted two feet off the ground.  We are still having days in the 50's with a few sunny hours between rain showers, so I guess I won't give up on them until they give up on themselves.

Potato Harvest, Garden Talk, Aerogarden, Computers, Canning--Long Post

October 14th, 2022 at 01:30 am

We've got the potatos all dug up.  We did it over two weekends.  I haven't weighed them yet, but visually it looks like we got more than last year.  We are letting them sit for two weeks for the skins to harden before we start weighing them by variety.  I can tell at a glance that the red La Soda did very well this year, both the seed potatoes that we bought and the ones that we saved our own seed from.  So did the Canela Russets, which are a variety of Russets that have a much lighter skin than most Russets, but taste just like Russets, only they were a lot smaller than they should have been, but they really made a lot.  They should have been 4 or 5 inches long, but we got them about 3 inches long.  We also got a lot of Kennebecs from our seed potatoes and a ton of our own Gold Rush potatos.

By and large the seed potatoes we saved did better than then one we bought from the nursery, except the red La Soda.  The ones we planted from the nursery were bigger than ours to begin with, though.  We saved smaller ones, so even chitted, the ones from the nursery were bigger pieces than the small whole ones we planted.  That makes a difference.  But ours still did well, a lot better than last year.

Anyway, the grocery store potatos that we planted that sprouted on us, also did very well, which I find very interesting, because the Russets weren't even organic, so had probably been sprayed with sprout inhibitor, but they sure had sprouted a lot when Mom gave me the half bag to throw away and DH and I decided to make another row and plant them.  We also did 3 rows of organic yellow potatoes that we had let sprout to plant as well, because shipping the potatoes was so expensive and most yellow potatoes cost more than any other kind from the nurseries.

I'll have to note it all down in my garden notebook and compare it all to last year when I have the final numbers, but with a cursory glance that seems to be how it has come out.  We had good luck last year with the grocery store potatoes, too, whether organic or not, and planted a lot more of those than nursery seed potatoes.

I will again save out seed potatoes, but will only purchase two varieties this year instead of 5 or 6.  I want to get more of the Magic Molly French Fingerlings and the German Butterballs.  I was successful enough with the other varieties to save some of those out, but only enough of the Butterballs to have 4 or 5 meals with them.  I only got 3 pounds of them to plant last year to try, so next year I'd like to get 25 pounds of them.  The Magic Mollys we could have about 10 meals from or have one meal from and save the rest to plant, but I would really rather eat them and get 25 pounds of them to plant.  I only got 5 pounds of those and so got more of them and they were bigger than the Butterballs because we didn't dig them early like you can.

If I can find both of them in 25 pound increments and not just 50.  I really have to watch for when they become available to order.  Last year I didn't start checking until January and a lot of the 25 pound selections had already sold out.  They don't ship them until planting time, but people were ordering really early so I am starting now to check weekly.  I don't need 50 pounds of each.  The shipping on that is way too much.  We will only eat one meal of each to make sure we like those varieties and I will hold back on making more until we know about whether we can order more in case we do have to save all of those for seed potatoes.

The rest of the yellow potatos I planted were the Gold Rush seed potatoes I saved from last year.  Those did pretty well, too.  There was a lot of production for the amount I planted, which was not as much as I wanted to, but still another row than last year.  I'll double what I save out for next year.  Eventually I will have enough of each variety I want to plant to never have to buy seed potatoes at all from the nursery.

All that's left to do there is to put down lime and rototill it into the soil.  I'm thinking about putting down some peat and rototilling that in as well.  There is still a lot of clay in the soil despite how much we have amended it back there.  I'm not even sure we'd use a whole bag this year, maybe half and see how that goes. We'd also rototill that in and some more compost.  Then we'll go out to the bay and harvest enough seaweed to put down on top of it and cover it with black plastic and the seaweed will compost down over the rest of the fall, all winter, and into the early spring and feed the soil.

When you can't buy manure anymore and still want to keep your garden organic, you go with what you have, and seaweed is a great fertilizer.  Just make sure you have a license for gathering sea plants.  It's usually the same one as for gathering shell fish and generally is separate and less expensive than a full on fishing license.

My tomatoes are still going so I am letting them.  I am going to thin out the vines, though, and trim off any flowers left.  The nights are still 48 to 50 and the leaves have not died at all and the days are in the mid to low 70's, so no reason to pull them out.  I do want to plant garlic where the tomatoes and peppers are, but I generally wait until the first nice day after the first frost to plant them.

In a typical year the first frost is Halloween, but it's not feeling like a typical year.  It's feeling like an Indian summer year, which we get about once every 5 years or so.  Then the first frost goes into mid to late November.  It's been as late as December 2nd before on a year that had no snow and barely even froze.  I plant in November anyway when that happens.  The garlic still grows fine.

I do need to get my sage and thyme out of the containers they are in and into one of the garden beds.  They have both burst their plastic containers because they are so big.  I didn't have room for them in the beds this year, but now I will get them in place so I do.

I still have one very determined cucumber plant alive, but if it gets much colder at night it's going to die.  It's got a few small plants on it.  I am thinking of tenting its trellis in some clear plastic, at least until they get big enough to eat.

The zucchini plants have some small zucchini on them, but again, I am not sure if they will get big enough to eat.  Maybe I will tent their hoops, too.  I need to harvest the peppers, too.  Only the cayenne has peppers left.  I am thinking about bringing the jalapeño plant inside for the winter and leaving it under a grow light.  It did not have ideal conditions this year and got overshadowed by it's neighbor plants.  I like doing pico de gallo year round, but the jalapeños in winter are always so dinky.  I know japapños are still a cheap pepper, but I like them big.  I want to do one last harvest of basil before pulling the plants.  They will die the minute it hits 45 at night.  We have maybe another week before that happens.

I'm going to grow some cilantro (for the pico), parsley and basil in my Aerogarden this fall and through the winter.  Then I don't have to buy bunches, I can just snip what I need, and if it grows too big I can dehydrate the rest.  I always feel like I am wasting some with the bunches, because they go from fresh to suddenly slimy when I go to use up.

I am thinking of getting the biggest Aerogarden, so I can grow some cherry tomatoes and some lettuce, too.  I have enough room.  Or if I get the biggest one, I can grow a jalapeño plant, a cherry tomato plant, and bell pepper plant in that, too, along with some lettuces in the front.  That would be nice, because it has the built in lights on a timer, so I only have to put in the water and the fertilizer when it tells me too.  And they have a big reservoir outside the Aerogarden itself that you can buy and hook into it , so you don't have to fill the smaller one in the machine itself, so you aren't watering as often if you want to buy that.

I haven't spent my allowance in a long time, so right now I have $500 in the envelop, and it will be $550 with tomorrow's payday.  The one I want, along with the grow pods I want, plus tax, will cost $869.01.  There's no shipping over $500.  If I want to get the extra reservoir, it would cost an additional $38.84, so a grand total of $907.85.  Which means I need to come up with $357.85 to buy it.  That means if I save my next 5 allowances I'll have $250, which brings it to 107.85, so I can use part of my Christmas money from DH of $200.

We usually order our Christmas presents in November, though, so technically I wouldn't have to use any of December's allowances at all, doing that.  I could just use the Christmas money as usual and add it to the allowance I would have saved by November 25th, which is when I'd be able to order.  I have $10.53 left in the gardening envelope, so that will make up the shortfall of $7.85, so that will work out.  If MIL gives us our Christmas money early so we can order stuff so it will be here by Christmas, I could use that as well.

That's usually somewhere around $200 each for me and DH and $100 or $150 for the kids.  Not sure about this year, though.  Her stocks probably got hit as hard as ours were, but she still has to take out $15,000 a year and she doesn't need that to live on between social security (she was able to claim FIL's) and she got FIL's pension since he was still employed when he died.  That's a little over $3000 a month and she has no debt.  She doesn't even spend all of that.

Or I could just use the money in the beef envelope for next year's steer and buy it now.  That's $407 and I wouldn't need all of it.  Then I can start saving for it again.  We still have several months before we are ready to get a beef.  I'm planning for late July or August, so I have enough time to replace the money.  Or I could just replace the beef money with my Christmas money and still count the new Aerogarden as my Christmas present from DH and MIL.  Maybe that would be the better choice.  Then I could order now and I'd get it going much sooner.

I had been saving up my allowance for a new computer.  Not that there is anything wrong with this computer, but I just feel like there should be a replacement fund for when it goes belly up.  I'd like a nicer one than I could afford last time.  I am used to nicer ones.  But I can start saving up for that again.  I'd rather be able to grow some vegetables and herbs indoors and not have to go to the store just for greens or the fresh herbs I use the most or pay for bell peppers, which are ridiculous these days, especially in winter.

DD needs a new computer soon.  Hers is ancient.  I'm really surprised it is still going.  It's a desktop and it is about ten years old and she's so close to maxing out the memory, despite doing all the things to compress and get rid of unneeded junk files.  I've got money for that set aside and we are waiting for the Black Friday sales online or Cyber Monday or whatever.

She just wants a new desktop and she knows which one she wants.  And we will take the hard drive out of the old one and put it into the new one so she doesn't have to transfer everything the hard way after running all the utility fixits in case that helps.  I'm giving in and trying that.  It has a free 60 day trial as part of my family Norton licenses and will work across all of our computers.  If we like it, we'll probably keep it.  I want to see if it makes any difference first.  60 days is a good trial period.

Tomorrow is payday.  I am going to try to get back in the habit of posting my payday reports for accountability.  I haven't wanted to and I still don't want to.  They won't be pretty for a while with so much going to the credit card, but we'll get there, one payday at a time.

I have a beautiful pot roast in Instant Pot 1 and am about to put Yellow potatoes in Instant Pot 2.  Not mine, these are still from the store, since ours have to have the skin harden for two weeks for proper long-term storage.  They will also be easier to peel.  But what I am making are new potatoes from this season and not the old ones from the potato sheds that were grown last year.  So they taste great.  When I get through what I have left, ours will be ready.

Well, I'm off to peruse the grocery ads.  Hopefully there will be some good sales.  I'd love some boneless skinless chicken or some pot roast so I can can some up.  I am out of canned chicken and I don't have enough beef to make me happy.  I'd also like to can some carrots.  There are not enough on my shelves to get through until next year's harvest.  I saw they were putting out ten pound bags of organic ones when I shopped two weeks ago, but I was running out of grocery money and wanted to have enough if I needed it for the second week.

They also had 25 bags of regular juicing carrots, but it is hard for me to can 25 pounds of carrots in one go and I prefer organic since carrots pull up everything that is in the soil.  Farmers plant carrots to clear contaminants from the soil.  They don't sell those ones, but even the ones planted regular can still pull up stuff they don't know is in the fields.  Parsnips are good at that, too.

We will can about half of the potatoes we harvested, except the reds and store russets.  They don't can as well.  Yellows can the best.  I will try canning a batch of the canela russets and see.  Our green bean harvest wasn't great this year because we planted so late.  I do have a full shelf, but I wanted two.  So I will probably stock up on canned ones for the store so I can have a full shelve of those.  I have about 24 cans of those and it fills 1/4 of the shelf, so I'd need 72.  If I buy two cases every time I visit Winco, that should do it.  We didn't plant corn this year, but we don't eat as much of that.  We have 12 cans of that and I think another 12 cans would be sufficient for a years supply for us.

Okay, now I'm really off.

Payday, Plans for Beef, Plans for Garden, Seeking Fertilizer for Next Year

September 7th, 2022 at 03:40 am

Payday has come and gone and I have re-funded all of my envelopes, funds, and sinking accounts.  I had money left in my grocery envelope, quite a lot actually, so I started my savings for the next beef, hencetofore to be known as "Beef Envelope" because I am fancy like that, with $208.  We just didn't buy that much.  Part of that was bad sales at the grocery stores both weeks, part of that was picking up our hog, part of that was having a lot of produce to go through from the previous pay cycle, some of it long lasting, like cabage, and melons.  There just wasn't too much need.  Based on how much it cost in July of 2021 to buy a whole steer, which was $2,955.64, I need to save up at least $3000.  And since that was 2 years ago, I probably need to build in an additional raise of .50/lb on the farmers side of things and .10/lb for the cut and wrap and $10 added to the kill fee, just to be on the safe side.  That was what it was for the hog.  So I need to set aside $3500 total for the steer.

On top of that I have raised the grocery budget by $100 to $500 a payday with the new raise DH got and with most of our meat taken care of now we had a lot more freedom at the grocery store.  Maybe I didn't need to do that, but it gives me plenty of money to put in the Beef Fund.

The only meat I have to buy now is chicken, turkey, deli meats, and fish, unless he ever gets to go fishing again this summer.  Work has been crazy and the last fishing trip was unsuccessfull for the guys who coud make it because the fish were still too small.  DH couldn't, because we were all down with something so bad he was afraid to leave us alone in case someone needed to go to the hospital (nobody did).

They didn't go out over the holiday weekend because the guy who own's the boat, his mother had hip replaement surgery earlier in the week and was coming hom the friday before.  Those first few days after are a 2 person job/challegne/nightmare.  Then it calms done enough that one person can handle it. And if not than he can work from home for the bad times.  They are very flexible with hours as long as you meat goals on time, show up for meetings even if on Zoom, and do your walk downs at the right time.  So hopefully, next weeked we can still get coho salmon.  It is my favorite.

Anyway, the garden is doing very well.  Last night I harvested 10.4 pounds of tomatoes from the garden bringing the tomato total up to 14.4 pounds for the year.  There were 3 more zuccchini, briging the weight totoal up to 3.8 pounds.  They were nowhere the size of the frst one, more like normal sized.  I weeded the zucchini finally and I'm sure it will appreciate not having to fight for light.  There are lots of healthy litle zuchchini on most of the plants.  I did have to take a couple of dead ones off one plant that had been completely shaded out by weeds, so now maybe it will flower again.  I also transplanted the nasturtiam away from the cucumers, and one day later they are liking it already.  I did pick my first two cucumbers.  They are small, pickling cucumbers, so their weight was .7 pounds.  I was starting to think I'd get nothing off those vines at all.

I think I am going to transplant my pepper plants away from the tomato plants and give them a batch of rabbit manure and see how they do with full sun and not fighting the tomatoes for resources.  I just have to hear back from the rabbit rescue place about rabbit manure.  The other two bunny farmers I've called ghosted me after a couple of days, so trying to find something more reliable now.  If not, I guess I'll just have to go with stinky fish emulsion or try to find a stables that is open this weekend for manure removal.  It was so much easier when cow manure was available in the stores instead of having to hunt sources down on my own.

If worst comes to worst we are off to the beach to harvest as much dead seaweed as will fit in the back of the truck to dry out, break up with our hands, and bury in the garden beds.  The nutrients in that will feed the beds for a couple of years.  That is included in his gathering license for shellfish, and they really don't care if you are just collecting the dead stuff if you have one or not, but safe side so he'll have it on him.  I'll just go to keep him company and to have some time away from the kids.

I really hope the fertilizer industry gets back on its feet soon so they stop taking up all the organic stuff because that is all that is left.  It makes it really hard for us gardners.  And then they have huge crop failures and we can't make up for it the way we might, because we don't have the inputs that were available to us before because big ag took it all.

I'm sorry if this comes off all fragmented.  I think the hamster on my brain fell off his wheel today.  Anyway, I am going to put as much aside as I can within limits to save for the beef to meet that goal, put as much aside as I can to refill the EF, and extend my garden season as long as possible while preparing the beds for next  year.

Harvest Totals Coming In--We are Definitely Saving Money

September 1st, 2022 at 07:35 am

I have my harvest totals for onions and garlic.  I did not lose any garlic to rot and it is now dried.  I have 10.1 pounds of it.  I am setting aside 4 heads of elephant garlic to replant.  I only planted one last year, so I want to have a good amount to plant this year.  That leaves me with 3 to use, one of which I had already used (but recorded the weight of).  The ones I am using soon or did use had split their skins and would not store until planting time.

As for the Music garlic, I will replant half of that, which will be double what I planted last year.  And I won't have to pay for any garlic to plant at all.  I did have a couple head of garlic where the cloves split the skins as well, so those will get used up first.  So anyway, next year I will spend $0 on the garlic I will plant.  I don't remember what I paid this year, but it was far, far too much.  But I figured it was a one time investment.  Music is a hard variety to come by, but it is supposed to be the best, both in flavor and long-term storage.

I will dehydrate some of the garlic for making garlic powder as needed, but most of what I keep will be stored in a bag in a cool, dark cupboard.  It will last quite a while.  I don't fancy paying $1 for a head of garlic.  If anything starts to sprout I will dice what's left up and dehydrate it.

As for the onions I got 50.3 pounds of a yellow keeping onions, 30.6 pounds of a red keeping onions, and 20.1 pounds of Walla Walls sweet onions.  So a grand total of 101 pounds of onions.  I lost one yellow keeping onion to rot, so didn't count it in the total weight.  It was a small one and weighed .4 lb and was trying to grow a baby onion off its root system.

This year I spent $10.89 on 4 4 inch pots of itty bitty onion plants.  Next year I'm going to order seed and grow my own onion plants.  It won't be that much of a savings this year, but the packets will have enough for the following year as well, so that year will be free.  And that way I can get the Candy sweet onions instead of the Walla Wallas.  The Candys are better, even if the Walla Wallas are pretty darn good.

Our onions will take six weeks to dry, with a trim down to about one inch of stem at the 3 week mark and then I can bag up and store the two types of keeping onions and they should store for 6 to 8 months.  As for the Walla Walla, they won't store for very long, maybe 2 or 3 months, so I will mostly cut those up into strips and dices and freeze them.

I will dehydrate some of the yellow keeping onions so that I can grind them up for powder as I need them.  If any of the keeping onions start to sprout it will be time to cut them up and freeze or dehydrate them as well.  I am just not going to pay $1.39/lb for yellow onions, $1.59/lb for red onions, and $1.79/lb for sweet onions, so I will not waste one scrap.  Any sprout can go into broth.

I picked my first two tomatoes yesterday.  Between them they weigh one pound.  I am going to keep a running count.  I will be using them with one of my sweet onions to make some pico de gallo tomorrow.  I think I will have some of those little yellow ones that look like pears ripe tomorrow and maybe a couple of paste ones.  They were pretty close today.  And the green beans are sprouting.  So we will get a crop.  The garden isn't a complete fail this year, even though everything got in so late.

We will still save a lot of money on food.  Especially when the potatoes are ready.  Potato prices are getting outrageous.  I think I may try to sneak in a carrot crop.  It would be cutting it close, but I have coldframes.  With the raised beds they would survive the November freezes.  I'm definitely sowing some radishes.  They'll be grown before the first frost.

This fall, after we harvest the potatoes and pull the dead plants and weeds out, we will rototill lime in and then cover it in black plastic so we don't have weeds growing in there for the rest of the fall and as soon as it warms up in the spring.  I don't know for sure if we will plant potatoes there in the spring again or not, but I want the ground prepared if we do.  If you do grow potatoes in the same place every year and you don't use lime you can get black scab on your potatoes.

I figure we will get at least 120 pounds of potatoes this year since we expanded our potato plot.  That's still not enough potatoes to get us through the year, but I'll buy some extra to can and we'll get there.  Buying direct from a local farmer who charges less than the stores is our saving grace there.

Next spring we will be able to pick up all the black plastic we laid down in late July or early August and everything will be dead under there.  We will be able to rototill everything flat and get started on making a proper fence to keep the deer out of the garden and also build two more raised beds, possibly three, spring weather permitting.

Before summer's over we need to take the deck off the front of the house and clean off the back porch.  Maybe even organize the garage, but that can't be done until the onions are done drying, because the drying racks are in the way of pretty much everything.

No Good Sales This Week and Things to Do

August 4th, 2022 at 10:58 am

I got my chuck roast canned.  I now have 28 quarts and 2 pints on my pantry shelves and 1 quart in the fridge because of a seal failure.  It's my fault for using a faulty ring.  I knew it was suspect, but didn't want to go find another one.  Anyway, it's a start.

The sales suck for the new ad cycle that started today.  I will be ordering 20 pounds of green beans and 40 pounds of gold potatoes for a Friday pickup from a local farm, if it isn't too soon and I will work on getting those canned.  I will likely not have green beans to pick until September and I don't want to have a bad season and then just not have any to can.  I will order 20 pounds of carrots after I get all that done.

I think our potatoes are doing fine, but what I can grow is never enough to make it through the year.  We added 3 more rows of potatoes this year, but there isn't room for more than that yet until we clear some more space.  That means a lot of weed eater work and then putting down black plastic, something that I am not capable of at the moment and haven't been since my last fall, so that will have to involve my husband and son.

I see the doctor on Friday for a mental health checkup and to see if he is ready to bump me up to 200 mg.  I've still had some hyper mania incidents, though they are getting fewer and further between.  I think another 50 mg is going to help me significantly.  It's like on sort of lingering on the cusp.  While I am there I am going to ask for new x-rays of my back and my other hip to be taken and my tailbone.

Those were not taken at the hosptial because I was feeling everything in my arm where I tore it open and the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and collarbone.  The other pain didn't hit me until the next morning and was still overshadowed by the arm.  Until it wasn't.  And it has gotten worse and worse and after sitting up too long it just kills me, like the bones are rubbing together.  I can stand for 30 seconds only, so I'm back to that.  I can still walk okay, it's just when I stop that the unignorable pain comes back.  After canning it is severe, but that has to get done.

Regardless, of what they x-rays say, I mostly want to know if it is safe for me to go back to physical therapy or if I did some more damage to my spine or broke something in my tailbone.  Honestly, it could just be a lack of physical therapy.

DH's boss's wife and grandmother are having a joint birthday party and they want us to come.  I don't know that I am up for it with all the pain I'm having.  I also don't like being around large gatherings.  But I do like the man and his family.  DH will go even if I don't.  My immune system isn't the greatest so if someone comes there who is sick or doesn't know they are sick, I am likely to catch it.  It is not a lot of fun to be on immune suppressing drugs sometimes.

Tomorrow I will start back on a diet.  I do this so many times, but hopefully this one will take.  It is best for my overall health to get this weight off, especially because it pulls on my discs, but that is often easier said than done.  Plus I need to lose 75 pounds to get the nerve burning surgery done, assuming my insurance will pay for it.  It won't fix the problem, but at least I won't feel the pain there anymore.

 

This and That

August 2nd, 2022 at 07:15 pm

DH's raise went into effect August 1st, which means the paycheck on August 19th will be the first one with the higher rate.  I was kind of hoping it would be the one this Friday, but didn't really think it would.  Now I just have to wait and see how much net we will get so I can update my budget template and then work up budgets for the rest of the year.  They will be subject to change, but just having a basic one built helps me plan.

Today the weather has cooled off substantially so I am canning chuck roast.  After I get off the computer I will have 14 jars going in to the big canner.  Then later today I will go to Fred Meyer and get 10 more chuck roasts and get them cut up tonight so I can do it again tomorrow.  I have to take advantage of the $3.99/lb sale.  They don't have a limit so if I get them prepared tonight and can them tomorrow, I can then go and get another round.  Then I will have 42 jars on the shelf and I'll wait until the next meat sale and do it again.  I want to have 102 jars of roast beef on the shelf.

I am hoping a decent sale comes up on chicken thighs.  I can skin and debone myself, and then can it up.  I only want 52 jars of chicken on the shelf.  And then I need to think about canning up some of the ground beef we have left from our steer.  There is a ton of it still and we need to make room for our hog, because the butcher said it will be a few weeks, but I don't really know what a few means.  I am only getting half a hog, since it took so long and they got really big, so now a half is like a whole if I'd gotten it two and a half months ago.  It cost $753.  I will still have to pay the cut and wrap fee, which is $0.75 per pound, I think.  It might be per package of meat.  Well, they'll tell me when they are done, but I have budgeted about $300 for it.  It might be more, but I can pull from savings.

Once I see how much space I have left in the freezer, I can decide what I want to do about beef, since we are pretty much down to hamburger and a few roasts, ribs, and soup bones.  No steaks are left.  I may get a half if there is room, or just stock up on a lot of chicken and buy some steaks and roasts as we need them.  They just won't be grass fed, probably.  Plus, DH's friend's boat is fixed, so they will be fishing soon for salmon.  There is some seafood we need to start eating up so there will be room for that, too.

Not much going on in the financial aspect at the moment.  Not until payday anyway.  Still waiting on the appeal for DD on the insurance front, but preparing for having her to go on COBRA, getting all the paperwork to be submitted and it go smoothly into that as soon as possible.  Then we will schedule her MRI of her liver.  It is just a follow up from the surgery where they removed the tumor.  They want to make sure it isn't growing again and that her liver has regenerated.  She's been having some pain in that region again off and on, so hopefully it hasn't started to come back.  I would appreciate prayers for that.

My husband, kids, and I all filled out our ballets last night for the primary.  We went over the voter's book with them over the last week and we all agreed on who we wanted to vote for.  DH is dropping them off at the courthouse drop box after work today.  I hope it makes a difference and other people in the state are as fed up as we are, even Seattle.  King County likes to screw over everyone else and they usually have the population to do it, but a lot of people fled Seattle over the past three years due to rioting, so we might have a chance to get some sensible people in this year.  As sensible as a politician can manage, anyway.

 

I'm Finally Going Whole Hog! Plus Medical Expenses, Etc.

July 28th, 2022 at 11:32 pm

It has taken forever, between our first upright freezer breaking down, to having it replaced after many months when no one could repair it, which also took months because they were on backorder, to me ordering the hog, to the butcher dates being pushed back several times, to today, when my hog is actually being butchered.  It will be about 3 weeks before I actually get it, since they have to hang it for a while and then have to cure and smoke hams, bacon, and hocks.  But I will have it before the end of August, so that makes  me very happy.  I wanted it before fall, so this is great.  This saves a lot of money on meat in the long run.  Now I can start saving up for a beef.

I'm still trying to locate a pasture-raised lamb that has never been fed grain, but it is harder than you would think.  I may have to look outside my county.  Hopefully the next one over has some.  Otherwise I will have to give in to those who ate grain early on, but then switched to grass only.  As long as it is organic grain, I can deal.

The garden is doing well.  The onions need to be ringed, but they are growing nicely.  It'll be nice not to buy them at $.1.29 each.  I resent that so much, because before I could get them at 25 cents each.  I planted so many I think I may not have to buy them for 8 or 9 months.  I will probably braid all the yellows and the reds, but the Walla Walla sweets I will chop and freeze.

The garlic is pretty dry, so I think I another week and it'll be done.  Now I have to decide if I want to clip them or keep the stem on and braid them.  I love the way braided looks, but we don't really have a good place to hang them unless DH puts in a hook in the hallway or we hang them on a rod in the laundry room.  Neither place is convenient.  I will cut some up small and dehydrate it.  Then I can grind it for powder as I need it.  If I make it powder and keep it in a jar, it tends to clump badly or go hard.  I think I have enough garlic for a year, but we will see.  It's going for $1 for one head right now when you used to get 4 or 3 heads for $1.  That's outrageous.

The zucchini is quite small, about a dime in circumference for the largest and about 3 inches long.  I've got itty bitty cucumbers starting, but the vines don't want to climb the trellis yet.  I've got several green tomatoes coming on.  The green beans are about 8 inches tall, having been planted so late.  I'm still getting strawerries and the blueberries are starting to blush.

It'll be a while before I get more to harvest, but when I do I won't have to buy produce for some time.  I'm thinking about getting a CSA box in the meanwhile, since that is also cheaper than buying them from the store right now and I can pick out of several boxes of what I want, whether it be just fruit, just veg, or a combo, and there are different sizes at different price points.  They also have meat boxes and milk and egg boxes.  That's pretty neat.

I do want to get a box of nectarines to cut up and freeze, and two boxes of tomatoes for canning as I never have the space to grow enough.  I'll probably get 40 pounds of yellow potatoes and 20 pounds of carrots to can as well.  I'm not sure when, though.  And I will be buying chuck roast this week to can as it is $3.99/lb at Fred Meyer this ad cycle.  I'd like to get at least 14 quarts canned during this sale.  I'll do more if I can get it and my hands can take it.  I am almost out of that.  This sale seems to repeat itself somewhere around every six weeks, so I'll have a chance to do more.  These are still pre-Covid sale prices.  I use canned beef a lot during the winter, because it, canned potatoes, and canned carrots make a great quick stew.

I'm still waiting to see if there will be a good sale on boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I may have to just buy regular thighs, which do go on sale, and skin and debone them myself.  It's more work, but I can then make stock with the skins and bones, so I do get more out of it.  I need to make a lot of stock as I am completely out of canned stock.  It's an economical way to do both.  I can't get pre-Covid sales prices on the chicken, but the new sale is $1.29 per pound if you don't want to get the stuff injected with stuff, which is about what it was not on sale pre-Covid.

When I do go to Winco I will pick up some turkey sausage and turkey chorizo.  It is still pretty cheap at $2.99 a pound.  Way cheaper than pork sausage, which I will have a lot of with the hog, because I didn't get any roasts in my order.  I'm going to buckle down and start making the largest items from the freezer instead of what I feel like.  We've got some beef ribs and soup bones that take up a lot of space, so I need to deal with those.  We have some freezer burned pork that is meant for crab bait, so we need to get that to DH's boss, so he will have it when they go out crabbing.  It can sit in his freezer instead of ours.  And we will eat up the rest of the roasts from our beef.

I'm not sure how much room we will need for the hog.  When she first told me it was about 400 pounds, but that was six weeks ago.  It could easily be 600 pounds by now the way hogs eat, since she wasn't able to butcher on time.  I guess I'll know soon enough.  Funny thing was, I wanted a hog around that size originally, so I guess I get what I wanted.

When I go buy the meat later today, I won't have to buy any produce.  I still have plenty from last week.  2 watermelons, the first good cantaloupe I've seen this summer, 1 and a half bunches of bananas, 2 golden kiwis, WA state red cherries, 4 peaches, and 4 nectarines.  The latter two are still ripening.  I also have a nearly full bag of salad mix, a full bag of spinach, a green cabbage, a purple cabbage, a napa cabbage, 1 parsnip,  2 sweet potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, half a bag of Russet potatoes, a full bag of gold potatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 shallots, 1 yellow onions, 1 walla walla sweet onion, and 4 carrots.  I foresee cabbage rolls in my future as well as a root vegetable dish.  I need to use up the parsnip and the sweet potatoes before they go bad.

I scheduled DD's cavity appointments.  I wish we had been able to do them sooner, before she loses her insurance, but such is life.  I'm pretty sure the COBRA is just medical, not dental and vision.  We have spread it out over 3 appointments about six weeks between them.  The first one will cost $367, the second one will cost $258, and the third will cost $261.  That will allow us to cash flow fixing her teeth.  Then maybe after that we can get her the $400 night guard.  So $1286 all told.  We don't want to do it first because it will effect the shape of the mouthguard by small amounts and it might not fit right.

If we don't cash flow, we should have enough in the Medical Fund to cover it.  I put $500 in it every 2 weeks.  Of course we spend it a lot through the year, but I should have enough by September to pay for the first appointment.

If MIL gives us $10,000 like she did last year, I am going to dump $5k into the Medical Fund and $3K into the Emergency Fund and $2K to start saving for my son's education.  It's not much, but it's a start.  While he finished high school through homeschooling, he doesn't have the piece of paper.  So he needs to get his GED before going to the technical college.  You can also get an actual high school diploma through the technical college, so we might do that.  He'll have to test and see if he has enough knowledge to pass as that was a while ago.  He may have to take some more math to get into the program he wants, but everything else is where it should be except possibly his essay writing.  He always hated that because of his dyslexia.  He doesn't have the problem with numbers, only letters.

Insurance now covers the coating that takes out the blue light on computers and makes it easier to read things on white paper, so he'll be getting that with his new glasses this month.  Another expense, but one that the money is there for already, as are mine, if I decide to get them.  I may just wait until January when I can get both frames and lenses, not just lenses.  Or I might get contacts if the prescription hasn't changed much.

We'll See

July 10th, 2022 at 03:26 am

DH's boss has put in for a sizeable raise for DH.  I know he just got one in December, but his responsibilities have increased by a large margin...a margin that was not required for his job or the last raise.  The last raise was completely swallowed up by inflation.  I had to double, and then raise by another $50, our gas budget.  Electricity, gas, water/sewer, and even garbage have all gone up.

He said that if the raise goes through, DH will probably fall down on the floor.  About the only thing that would make me fall down on the floor would be $150K.  But anything more would be fine, especially if it will cover DD's COBRA (still waiting on the appeal, but who knows?) while we try to get her on disablility or find a cheaper insurance that will still cover her medications.  And maybe let us bump up our retirement contributions.  At least we will be able to claim a significant amount of medical this year and that was before paying for COBRA, which starts in August.

Right now we are at 16% and I would like to be at 20%, maybe even 25% one day.  Even if I can only go up to 17% or 18%, that will help.  I haven't looked at retirement since the freefall started.  I really don't want to, either.  I am hoping in November we will see a sea change and all these people willing to throw our money away on other countries and not take care of us here so we can recover in our own economy and infrastructure, get voted out.  I'll certainly vote against Patty Murray.  She stopped being the Mom in Tennis Shoes she originally campaigned as when I was young and is now just another rich career politician who has strayed so far from what she used to be, I just want her gone.  And I like her opponent.  But I digress.

I've been able to stay within my food budget only because I don't have to buy much in the way of meat, mostly just chicken and the occasional pork.  DH caught the limit on spot prawns and was given more by some of the others again.  They tried to catch Pacific sand dabs, which are in the flounder family, while they were out there but only caught little ones that they threw back.  There is not much meat on the little ones.  Still both prawning trips have been more than enough to cover the gas to go out.  These ones are super expensive to buy.  So we'll get a few meals out of those.  I am really looking forward to crabbing and salmon seasons and we may try to catch some river trout, too, since there are some fishing areas in our local parks.

So mostly I am buying produce right now and it'll be a while yet on when I can replace much of those types of groceries.  Right now I am getting scallions and the first peas are ready to be picked today.  I've got some herbs to harvest from and I am still picking strawberries.  The raspberries are starting to turn color.  So I am able to supplement a little.  Plus I'm pulling the elephant garlic today, now that I've had 7 days in a row with no rain or watering.  That helps them dry out some before being pulled and put on a ventilated drying rack for about 2 weeks and then I can cut off the greens and trim the roots and they can go into a box for dry storage in my coldest cabinet that seldom gets opened.  I think the Music garlic is ready, too, but I'll have to dig down and check.

Once all the garlic is out I can plant carrots, radishes, and 90 day parsnips.  Those are all great things to plant after garlic or onions.  The onions are starting to swell, but they have several weeks to go.  Maybe in another 2 weeks I can ring them and then their growth will take off significantly.  And I'll be able to use the sprinkler and just handwater once this garlic is out.  

I've got baby zucchinis starting and saw my first tomato (small and green) yesterday.  My cucumbers are still really small plants.    My lettuce has bolted and my spinach, too.  My herbs are big enough that I can start to harvest them.  But that's still not a lot of fruit or veggies.  We finally got the green beans planted, but they haven't come up yet.  I will be getting the sweet potatoes in today.  We'll have to do a peusdo greenhouse when the weather starts cooling off in the fall, since it took so long for DH to get the grow bags filled for me.  They are up on pallets to keep them off the ground for when the ground starts getting cold.

I am considering dumping the hog lady since she keeps having her butcher dates pushed back and I haven't heard from her in some time, and going with another beef.  Almost all that is left is hamburger.  Any new hamburger I get I can put through the grinder on a fine grind, mix with some ground chicken, some tallow, and with herbs and spices, run it all through again, and make sausage with it.  I can make mild Italian and I can make breakfast sausage.  And if I ask for the navel cut with the new steer, then I can make beef bacon as well, unless they will make the bacon and the sausage for me at the butchers.  They might not if the equipment for that is dedicated to hogs only, but it doesn't hurt to ask.  It might be, to keep kosher.  I know they will do kosher or halal when asked.

I need to do a stock up on herbs and spices at Costco this weekend, particulary salt, pepper, granulated garlic, paprika, and chili powder.  I also want to get more tomato sauce, some PH water, some TP, Ziplocs, some oil for the fryer, some olive oil, rice, stir-fry veggies, and some golden kiwis.  Maybe one or two more items, but I'll have to check.

I don't need to buy anymore fruit this week, as I still have strawberries to pick, a watermelon, 2/3 of a melon that was not labelled in the store, but tastes like a cross between cantaloupe and honeydew with a yellow rind, 2 small pineapples, some grapes, 3 nectarines, 1 peach, and 4 kiwis.  I might get Rainer cherries, though.  They are my favorite now and only have a short season.  But we don't really need it.  As for produce, we have two zucchini, 1 English cucumber, a head of lettuce, 1 green cabbage, 2 Napa cabbages (for cabbage rolls), 1/4 of a huge bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, 2 packs of frozen broccoli, carrots, potatoes, radishes, 4 yellow onions, 1 red onion, and a head of garlic.  Also, home canned green beans, canned corn, and a can of water chestnuts.   I think we should be fine, so I'll take the opportunity to stock up on some long-term food storage and longer-lasting pantry items, while saving enough money for week two of this grocery budget.

I had raised the grocery budget to $500, but I have popped it back down to $400 every payday, due to the increase in gas prices.  It had to come from somewhere, so I am economizing more and sticking more firmly to meal planning and eliminating take out to more than once a payday and one of those meals MIL pays for.  We have all but eliminated prepared foods and are cooking mostly from scratch, now that I am feeling better.  It took a lot for me to recover from that last fall.  My scab has almost completely fallen off and now I just have to work on keeping the scar tissue from pulling the skin tight, but using cream on it 3 times a day.  I still have some pain from the fall, but I'm down to just using Ibuprofen at bedtime, so it is obviously better.

It was hard to keep a good attitude through the healing process, because it has set me back, but I can still feel the higher dose of the stuff used to control my hypomania and death spirals (as I like to call them, not really death, just dark dives into misery) is doing it's job to keep me on a more even keel.  I still don't have a formal diagnosis other than hypomania and depression.  No one's come out and said bipolar, though.  Which is okay, because let's face it, I don't want to go on lithium.  I will likely be going up another 50 mg on my current drug the next time I see the doctor.  I feel it is the final step, because my outlook on life has improved tremendously over all.

I'm need to call in to physical therapy this week and get myself rescheduled.  I think I will need a new assessment, though, because my range of motion and the flexibility I was getting has now become less and so is the amount of time I can stand or walk with an assistance device and definitely without one and the pain is pretty bad unless I sit rather quickly.  I had been cane free for 8 weeks before this accident.  It's so frustrating, but I will put my head down, muddle through, and get stronger again.  I did it once, I can do it again.  I'll call the doctor, though.  I never got an x-ray of my lower back after I fell and I want to make sure I haven't done further damage, before I do.  I was so concerned with the pain my arm when I went to the hospital, I was completely unaware of other pain.  It wasn't until the next morning that I felt it and kept hoping it would get all the way better on it's own, but maybe it can't.  So we'll see.  We'll see about a lot of things.

No Spending Today--Garden Talk

May 31st, 2022 at 03:36 am

Last night about two hours before sunset, I got my plants in.  DH grabbed one of the wrong types of tomatoes.  I wanted two Early Girls and a Roma, but he got one Early Beefsteak.  I don't buy beefsteak tomatoes because they always take so long to produce here.  Same reason I don't buy Brandywines.  I've tried them once or twice and they basically start turning red in October, so they take up a lot of garden space with little production.  But I've never seen an early beefsteak before so hopefully it will produce earlier in the season.

I wish I had more space to grow tomatoes, but with the way everything is going so slowly, I'm not even sure we'll get green beans in on time.  I got my peppers in, then planted basil in what will be the understory of the other plants.  I put the blue Veronica and the Red Rock Yarrow in front of the cosmos.  I don't know how big the Veronica will get, but I know the Cosmos will get taller than the yarrow, and if the Veronica gets bigger than that I will have to transplant it elsewhere.  I have enough space for one more flower to fit in, it just has to be one that deer hate, like the others I've done so far.

After that I planted my green and yellow zucchinis.  I planted them at the distance of their mature size.  Too often in the past I've crowded them because the space is so big and it looks naked until the zucchini grows, but crowded plants slows down production and sometimes will block sunlight to the plants that weren't as big as some of the others.  So this year I am giving them room and making sure they are far enough from the cucumbers that they don't block the light to them.  That was a big problem last year.  Even after a lifetime of gardening, I still find myself learning things.

I had to look up when to harvest garlic, since my garlic stalks are so tall.  I found out that each leaf represents the outside paper for the bulb, so if there are ten leaves there will be ten layers of paper to protect all the cloves inside.  I've never had great luck with garlic in the past, but I planted it at the right time in the fall and it has done beautifully, growing like it was in an Alaskan summer with 20 hours of sunlight a day.

My onions are coming along nicely, too.  They are not quite ready to start bulbing, but I see a little swelling near the bottom of the stock, so maybe another week or two.  And I think the bunching onions will be ready to start harvesting pretty soon. 

Oh, and another fun fact I found out.  Elephant garlic isn't true garlic.  It's actually a leek.  Isn't that weird?  Because it bulbs like garlic and tastes like garlic, but it isn't garlic.  I think that is kind of cool.  Just one of those facts you stumble upon when searching for other aspects of garlic.

We didn't get the zucchini cages made yesterday as DH went down hard last night with the head cold.  He's not doing the greatest today, but he slept all night.  He said he will manhandle the fencing wire over to where I need it and he'll help me form the curves, but that may not be until tomorrow.  I am hoping for tonight, but I am not going to push him as I know how bad the first two days of this cold can be.  And even though I am somewhat better, I still fell asleep for 3 hours in the middle of the day, so I am leaving it up to him.

I do have to at least water.  Even though the soil was very moist when I planted, and the plants were wet from being watered at the nursery and store, I would like to get a good drenching on everything.  We've had light sprinkles, but as my grandfather always told my mother, a farmer can't count on the rain to water deep enough.

The drip hoses I ordered arrived in the mail on Saturday, so each bed will now have a 50 foot hose in it, which is enough to go down, cross the back, go back up, and then across the front and then I will attach a hose to it to go to the faucet, which has a four way hose splitter.  That way I can do the three 22 foot long beds and then set up a sprinkler for the strawberries.  We will run a hose from the other side of the house to set up a sprinkler for the potatoes.  The blackberries already have a drip hose on them and uses the hose from the back of the house as well.  So we should be set for watering with as little difficulty as possible.

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.

 

 

This and That

March 18th, 2022 at 06:09 am

I got my mouth guard from the dentist yesterday; best $400 I've spent since getting my orthotics.  It was a pain in the jaw using the broken one for two weeks, but it was better than none.  This one fits like a dream and I had a great night's sleep after not having had very many in the last two weeks.

I can restart my cinzia shots now because surprise, surprise, I am finally well.  Just in time for allergy season to go into gear with the blooming of dogwood and forsythia, but you can't have it all, and they are very beautiful.  I can really feel how bad my rheumatoid arthritis has gotten since having to stop the shots and am looking forward to getting some relief again.  You never realize how well meds can work until you are forced to go off them.

I cheated a bit on dinner tonight.  We got two rotisserie chickens and a 2-pack of ready made potatoes from Costco and made some of my home grown and canned green beans.  Total cost $19.95.  It was way, way cheaper than takeout and I have plenty leftover for making other meals over the next couple of days.  I figure a couple of chicken salads (over lettuce for me) and then some chicken salad (sandwich spread for the others), and quesadillas, and then I will pressure cook the bones in water for chicken stock and can it. We could do this once a week if we wanted to and I could make things like taquitos and enchiladas to vary things up a bit.  DH works very close to Costco and now that he is going into the office 3 days a week, it is very doable without having to waste gas making a special trip.

Speaking of gas, it is at $4.35 per gallon at the cheapy cash only gas station and $4.79 to $4.89 everywhere else.  I did make some budget decisions, one of them being gas.  I've doubled our monthly gas budget to $200.  We may not need that much, but I want to run a surplus in the gas envelope, because who knows how bad this is going to get.

I've also raised the grocery budget by $100 per payday.  With the extra money I'm going to start purchasing more long term pantry items.  I did get my wheat berries in the mail this week.  I still have to get them into mylar bags and buy some buckets with lids, but that can get done either tomorrow or on the weekend.  But I would like to buy more.

I have also raised the amount I am putting into the medical fund by $100 a month to $600.  And as long as DH is working overtime, I will throw extra into it, too.  With the very real possibility that DD will get kicked off our insurance on her birthday and we will have to pay Cobra for 18 months and then who knows what after that, we have to save money for that.

So that really means buckling down about the take out.  I'm still trying to get a disabled dependent exemption, but with having to find a new doctor for her to go to, it's making it really difficult.  You'd think with as many diseases as she has she would be a shoo-in.  And it is stressing me out.  I am trying to use the coping methods my therapist taught me, intead of my old stand-by of carbs, carbs, and more carbs, but it isn't easy.

Well, I better go over the ads and make my grocery list.  It'll be so nice to step foot in a store without a mask on my face.  I won't have to worry so much about my asthma, although I will start having to smell people again with their overwhelmingly scented soaps, lotions, shampoos, body washes, and perfumes, sometimes all on one person with a horrible clashing and clanging from all the different fragrances.  I struggle with that so much because of my synesthesia.  That was something that was mostly gone with the mask.  Still, I think maskless and not aggravating my asthma so much wins.

Bits and Bobs

March 10th, 2022 at 12:31 am

I am almost well enough to get my third booster shot now.  Actually I can't tell if I am still sick or if it is just allergies starting, because there has been pollen on my windshield for the past several days.  I still feel really tired, but I'm functional.  I have started taking my more serious antihistimine, though.

The last few days have been beautiful and in the 50's.  There is still a chilly wind, though.  It is nice even if it still isn't outdoors weather.  I'm not sure what is causing all the pollen.  The nearest daffodils are 4 blocks away and the forsythia haven't started yet.  That basically leaves crocus and no one in the neighborhood but us has them and there are only a dozen blooming.  Not enough to count for the pollen dump.

It looks like the guy who is going to do the mold abatement in the guys' bathroom and repaint it will start next week.  He's also going to do the alcove of the back door area and the room Mom watches tv in that also houses my piano.

I've been holding steady on my weight because I haven't been focused on weight loss while sick.  I also haven't been taking my cinzia, because I am not supposed to while ill.  I think I can restart it on the weekend.  I haven't really noticed any increased rheumatoid symptoms getting worse, but that may be because the weather is warming up.

I looked at all the grocery ads today and made up my shopping list.  I haven't been inside a grocery store in a long time.  DH has been doing the shopping, picking up little things here and there.  But I need to do a bigger shop.  Fred Meyer had the best ads this week, so that will be my main shop, but I think I will also go to Winco.  They never have ads, but they always have the best produce and best produce prices.  We've made it through all the potatoes we grew that weren't sprouted and it's the only place I know where I can get 20 lb bags of potatoes.  We're lucky if we can find anything above 5 lbs anymore.  Since potatoes are pretty much a staple of our diet I just want to buy the one big bag at a time.

We'll see how far my grocery dollars will stretch.  I have been debating about raising my grocery budget by $100 every 2 weeks, but first I want to see if it is necessary.  It'll really depend on the cost of chicken.  Which I'll likely get at Winco, because they always have the cheapest chicken prices.  They also have the turkey chorizo we like.  Since chicken doesn't go on sale anymore, that's where I need to go.  I don't need to buy pork except for a small ham.  I don't need to buy beef or lamb.  If I can find dark turkey parts (necks, wings, backs) either place for cheap, I'll buy those.  They make the best broth.  I might even go for chicken feet if I find them, because that is so much collagen for bone broth.

I have found the tomato strainer I want to buy and also the honey strainer.  I won't use the honey strainer for honey, but it will help in the tomato sauce making department as well as in the bone broth making process, since it is fine enough to catch all the spices that I use in making it instead of having to use cheese cloth, which is harder to clean.

I have been debating on buying a 25 pound bag of hard red wheat berries.  I have my own flour mill, and the wheat is from my state and non-gmo.  This is the type of wheat berry that will make whole wheat flour.  I might get a bag of hard white wheat, too, which is for white flour.  Soft white wheat, if anyone cares, is for making pastry flour.  Wheat berries last a lot longer than flour and these ones are sproutable, so if we wanted to grow it (which I don't) we could.

It's a little $2.24 a pound.  1 cup of wheat berries equals to cups of flour, so it would be like $1.12 a pound for flour.  Which you cannot get anymore.  Not to mention, we haven't been able to find whole wheat flour in months.  So 50 lbs of flour per bag without taking up the room of 50 lbs of flour.  I would have to figure out how to store it, though.  I haven't been able to find food grade 5 gallon buckets in about a year.  But I have found 1/2 gallon and gallon jars, so maybe I can store it in those.

I won't order until I know DH will be back to bring it in the house.  DS has tweaked his back getting my mom up off the floor yesterday.  Just what he needed, since he tweaked his back about six weeks ago.  Mom's okay, but this is the second time in a week she has fallen.  I'm trying to get her to go to the doctor, but she's refusing.  I may have to pull out my medical power of attorney documents and force the issue if it keeps happening.  We'll see.

Well, it's time to make dinner, so that wraps this up.

 

Taxes, IRAs, and Food Strainers for Tomatoes

March 6th, 2022 at 12:51 am

We set DS up with a Traditional IRA today and taught him how to do his taxes.  Of course we have to wait to get paperwork from Vanguard before they actually get submitted, but he dumped $3000 from what he earned last year into it.  So instead of having to pay $300 in taxes, he will now be getting $161 back.

He has been wanting to get this set up for a while and we didn't want to miss it.  I know we still have a month, but I never like to push it.  He would have got more back, but we still claim him as a dependent.  Which we will until he works full time, buys his own groceries (or contributes his share to our groceries), and pays 1/4 of the bills.  Then he can be an independent while still living with us.  He's not even working right now, so it is a moot point.

DH finally sent off our taxes today.  I thought he'd done it in early February like usual, but nope.  So I'll stop looking for it to be deposited and just check on Wednesdays, just not this coming one.  We always seem to get stuff deposited on Wednesdays from the IRS.  We usually do them in February because it only takes a week at that point and because we want to get it in early in case someone tries to pull identity theft.  Someone used DH's SSN back before we were married, and while it wasn't to claim taxes, it was to pay them.

He had to go through the rigamarole of proving that he didn't earn that money, because he wasn't living in California, so that we could prove he didn't earn an extra $50K that year. It was a pain, but since he was working at home, he hadn't started in Alaska, it was pretty easy to prove.  Plus he had receipts from his credit card proving he was making purchases during that time and the location.  So it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

We keep having these beautiful sunny days, but they are too cold to sit outside with the wind.  DS says it is still too cold most days to go on walks.  I want to soak up some sunshine, but I don't want to get chilled.  It's probably just false spring #2.  We can't plant around here until mid-April, but I really need to get my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and basil going.  I'll have to check the chart for anything else that takes a long time to germinate.

I'm only planting two varieties of tomatoes this year and it'll be mostly Opalka paste tomatoes  They are heirloom and open pollinated, so seeds can be saved from them.  I've grown them before twice with great results.  The tomatoes can be as big as your hand.  These aren't your typical baby romas.  I will also be planting Lillian's yellow heirloom tomatoes.  I'll probably just do two plants there.  Since I am planting organic seeds and using organic planting medium, I will easily be able to sell any extras I don't need.

I'm seriously going to be making homemade tomato sauce, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and ugly sauce (from the yellow tomatoes), and anything else will be quartered or diced.  I need to buy a food strainer.  My food mill that came from my grandmother and was new in 1934, won't hold together anymore.  I am trying to decide between a hand turned one or an electric powered one or just the add on for the Kitchen Aid.  The latter two are quite a bit more expensive, but none of them are out of budget.  Anyone have any experience with these and could recommend a good one?  I want to make the purchase sooner, rather than later, before prices go up for tomato season.

A lot of This, Some of That

March 2nd, 2022 at 01:10 am

I woke up feeling better today.  I slept in until 11:30 instead of 3:00 p.m. and was far less stuffy.  My voice still is scratchy when I talk, but my throat doesn't hurt.  Let's hope it's not a false spring situation where everything is starting to bud and then boom snow, like last week.  That's how this illness has been.  I know it is technically still winter, but you get my point.  But I got up, drank my water, and did my physical therapy exercises, plus some arm exercises I do to strengthen my shoulders.  It only takes 15 minutes, but when I am well I do them twice a day, so I get 30 minutes of exercise a day.  As I improve, I can start doing them 3 times per day.

After that I made lunch.  And not just soup.  I made stir-fry, which involves chopping things.  I don't remember the last time I made real food not out of a can and I didn't even do much of that the last 6 weeks.  DH did a little cooking, usually spaghetti, but mostly it was take out.  And I could really feel how detrimental that was to my body.  Not to mention how detrimental this has been to our bank account.  I mean, if it wasn't for the overtime we wouldn't be breaking even.  When I think where that money could have gone...well, I try not to, because that dog has already bitten someone.

After this recent bout of illness I am determined to change my health through proper nutrition and whatever exercise I can do.  I can't continue on this way with my weight.  I am literally killing my body.  My nutritionist has said to cut out a lot of carbs, but fat from dairy, tallow, lard, schmaltz, duck fat, goose fat, or healthy oils is fine. So when we do get our pig, I will get and render the leaf lard.  I'm going to make some ghee to make the butter shelf stable.  My nutritionist says that the government did the USA a world of hurt with it's old dietary recommendations for diabetics, people with heart disease, and extreme obesity.  That's why so few people actually got better on those diets and why so much more medical intervention was required.  Maybe 10% improved with a low fat diet.  I've believed that for a long time.

So I am cutting out sugar except on birthdays or holidays and replacing it with fruit, but only one serving of fruit a day.  And lots of vegetables and good quality protein.  If I have a starch it'll be a potato, sweet potato, winter squash, nuts, rice, or brown rice pasta.  I'm not the biggest fan of rice, but the family does like it.  Brown rice pasta is good, though and we have a lot of it to get through before I buy regular pasta again, if I can even find any.  The store shelves have been pretty bare of spaghetti or anything other than a few boxes of elbow macaroni, according to DH.  Pasta's not an end all for my family, though, and I can make noodles from scratch if I feel up to it.

I think I will try to avoid flour for a couple of weeks until the ball is firmly rolling and may then have it once a week in place of a starch, mostly so I can still have a slice of pizza here and there.  Depends on how good I feel.  I make a good gluten free pizza, though.  Either way, I pile on the vegetables and meat and cheese on my pizza anyway, and roll it quite thin, so it is pretty balanced, and add a salad.  In the summer I might allow corn, but it is extremely sweet and a grain so I'd have to be careful.  I will allow corn tortillas, but limited to once a week or less.

I would also like to eat more seafood.  We still have quite a bit of salmon and bags of spot prawns in the freezer that I need to get through before those seasons start up again and we'll have new stuff to put away.  DH has talked about maybe going for mussels, clams, and oysters this year and and also get the add on for gathering seaweed.  Seaweed is great in the garden when you are building new beds or for your compost heaps and is easy to harvest after a high tide as there is lots of dead stuff.  It doesn't have to be alive like for eating, it can just be what washes ashore.  He'll need to lose some weight, though, to be agile enough to do much of that. 

One day it would be fun to go for geoducks, (prounounced gooey ducks for non-coastal Washington and Oregon people), which I believe is the biggest of the clams in the world.  We'd have to buy a clam gun, though.  Which isn't an actual gun, but you can look that up if you are interested in knowing what it is.  It would be useful for other clams, too, but I'd have to look up the regulations on that.  It might be allowed only for geoducks.  My son would have to do the actual getting down in the sound and sticking your arm down the hole the clam gun leaves, but he says it sounds like fun.

I've been reading and thinking about growing my own peppercorns.  The same plant produces white, black, pink, green, and red peppers.  It depends on the level of maturity of the peppercorns.  It can be grown indoors, so I am thinking of trying it in a pot this summer that can be brought in when fall starts.  That may have to wait until next year.  The next time DH goes out fishing or prawning, I will have him bring back a couple of gallons of salt water as I want to try making salt, too.  As many spices and herbs as I can grow or forage, is what I think.  Has the salt shortage hit your grocery stores yet?  I have a good amount in my preps, but I want to know I can make it.  My food storage may be great, but I can't think how miserable it would be without herbs and spices to season it with. 

I have decided the family is going to eat like me or fend for themselves.  We all need to lose weight and this is how it is going to be.  I'm sick of their bad food habits dragging me down every time I try to get my diet under control.  I won't buy junk.  My son is on board.  The others are paying it lip service.  We will see.  I don't want to fail this time.  I can't afford to anymore.

Today was a beautiful day and 55 degrees F.  I did take a short walk out to the garage and back.  It doesn't sound like much, but it's a start.  Maybe tomorrow I can do to the end of the driveway and back, weather permitting.  That's even longer.  I know that sounds sad, but for someone with two deviated discs in her lower spine, it's a lot of progress.  And I'm back to no cane.  So yay, me.

Also, I noticed the garlic was up about 3 inches and last week's snow didn't seem to do it much harm.  It was only here a day, though.  It looks like every single bulb I planted came up, so kudos to Fedco (for the Music garlic) and the grocery store (for the elephant garlic).  There are only a couple of weeds in the raised beds, which I will pull next time I go outside.  I didn't want to get my hands dirty and my garden gloves and shovel were on the porch.

I need to think up a meal plan with this new diet.  Good, healthy, tasty food that doesn't make us feel like we are giving anything up.  Tonight's dinner, at least, I know.  Rib steak, yellow potatoes, and green beans.

 

Gardening, Sick kid, Prepping

February 28th, 2022 at 05:33 am

I got my seed starting kits in the mail, so I can start planting seeds this week.  I only ordered a small amount of seeds this year, because I ordered a lot last year.  I'm trying a few new things, a Korean pepper, a little finger eggplant, and dill.  It always sucks that when the cucumbers are ready, but the dill isn't, or vice versa.  And it seems like you can only buy the fresh dill (not the little packets), the cucumbers are mostly done.  So I will grow my own.  I got the kind with the big bouquets.

Mom wants us to take down the deck in the front of the house.  It's not made of wood, but some kind of imitation decking.  We are going to use it to build a long raised bed, probably 16 feet by 4 feet or 2 8 x 4's.  But I want it 3 feet tall, too, and I want to put my strawberries in it, so I can then easily pick while standing.  The strawberries are also in a place that gets so much sun they get scorched and no amount of water helps them, they barely stay alive.  Plus it hurts my back too much to stay hunched over to pick as many berries as we get, for as many days as we get them. 

I'll have to use a lot of dirt, but in the long run it is better for me to be able to continue gardening.  I'll hugelkultur a bit and add all the trimmings to the bottom, like the roses and the raspberry and blackberry canes that need to be trimmed.  Also the apple tree and blueberry bushes need to be trimmed.  And we still have a bunch of compost in the back that can go in.

I'm not sure if we will have enough deck to build a second raised bed or not.  Maybe a smaller one.  But we can use the balustrades to build the arbor that will make the garden gate.  I think we have enough to do two of them, so one into that main garden and one into the smaller garden, and then fence it up.  I feel good about being able to recycle so much.  There will be some trellises that covered the underside of the deck.  We might use that on the outside of the raised bed, just to pretty it up.  When we can get away with reusing so much of what we already have, and only adding the cost of screws it is a major win.  It might not even take the cost of screws if the deck was put down with screws.  If it was put down with nails, that's another story.

We'll be taking down the rabbit shed sometime this summer.  We should be able to reuse the plywood on the end walls and the roof, but the floor is not useable at all.  We'll have to see on the back wall after a lot of pressure washing.  But the 2 x 4's in the walls and ceilings look good and there will be either 2 x 4's or 2 x 6's, I can't remember which, for the foundation.  With the cost of wood being what it is, every good piece of lumber is a piece worth saving and reusing.

It'll be a lot of work to be frugal, but the work has to be done anyway, so if it can build more beds, then that is the work we will put it to.

When we run out of the huge side yard and back yard, I'll start eyeing the front yard.  There are some narrow places off to the side that we could put a bed or two in.  It would  be hidden from the road going one direction.  and harder to see because of the bushes coming from the other.  But it gets 8 hours of sun.  And even when we planted zucchini and yellow crookneck squash by the road the one year, no one seemed to steal them, or at least not that I noticed.  There was still plenty if they did.  Anyway, that and the skinny side yard can't be planted until we do some French drain work to try to keep the basement from flooding during big storms.

It may take a few more years to do what I want to do fully, but by the end I'll have a fully handicapped acessible garden, so if I need to use my walker, I can, and if I end up in a wheelchair one day, I still can garden.  We might have to take a layer off one of the planned 3 foot tal beds to do it, but that will still be doable.

I had a setback at physical therapy last week.  He tried to put me on a machine I didn't think I was ready for and it ended up hurting my back and hip so badly that I started crying.  I won't be doing that machine again.  I will insist on it.  I had been doing so good up to that week.  I was walking without my cane most days of the week.  Now I've had to use it even for short distances like the bedroom to the bathroom.  It is so frustrating.

I ended up cancelling my next PT appointment on Tuesday, partly because I am still in such pain from the machine, but mostly because DD has bronchpneumonia, which is the worst type of pneumonia you can get and also the most rare, I believe they said.  I got my info secondhand because DH took her to the doctor for a car appointment, because we knew her lungs needed to be listened to..  I was too sick to go, but I don't have pneumonia, the flu, or Covid, I was checked for all, but they gave me antibiotics because of how long I've been sick and they do seem to be working.  DD can't be left alone and DH has a bunch of meetings that day.

I have to call the doctor tomorrow, because they only gave DD a week of antibiotics and she is not any better and tomorrow is her last day.  I worry she'll have to go to the hospital and I won't be able to see her.  She does not do well with withdrawal from the family due to her anxiety and one of her illnesses needs her to stay calm or she'll burn through her cortisol and have to take more prednisone and she already has to take so much just to stay alive.  In normal times we could have someone with her in shifts during the day, but now they won't let you have visitors at all.  Not that I'd be able to go being sick, anyay.  So I'm just really worried about her overall and stressing if she has to go in.

Nothing financial has happened since payday.  DH worked ten hours of OT last week and is due to work OT this week and the next.

I added some items to mid-term food storage this week.  2 cases of tomato sauce, 1 case of pineapple, and 25 pounds of flour.  WE will be freezing that for a bit and putting it into Mylar, sealing it, and into a bucket with a gamma lid.  I can't find whole wheat flour anywhere.   Costco was so low on everything.  No French fries, no frozen broccoli, no pasta.  And limits on meats.

We still have over half a steer, part of a lamb, not nearly enough chicken, a bit of turkey, some frozen salmon and spot prawns, but almost no pork in the freezer.  What we do have is bacon, one bag of pork chops, and a ham or two, so we'll be okay for a while.  Our potatoes are starting to sprout, but we still have about twenty pounds that have not.  Potatoes are getting a bit hard to find and there is a 2 bag limit.  I do still have some canned, but we won't make it until the next crop is ready.  I have some winter squash that we can eat after the potatoes run out, but only four.  And there is always rice.  We have a lot of that.

I'm not happy with what I am seeing at the grocery stores at all.  Prices and quality wise.  Stuff that would never have made it onto the produce shelves a couple years ago are now the norm.  There are bruises and brown spots and even outright mold.  And these are not bargain stores, these are regular stores.

We still haven't had our new freezer come in.  I really hope it does before harvest season.  I want to be able to freeze strawberries, plum prunes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, and blueberries at the very least.  Corn, if we decide to grow it, since it tastes better frozen than canned.  But I won't give up room from meat for it.

I'm worried, but I am doing everything I can to be prepared.  If things get bad enough they will start limiting food purchases.  They're already limiting on chicken and some canned goods, beans, and rice.  Who knows what will happen if these things in Ukraine and Taiwan escalate?  If we enter into a war, we could see actual rationing again.  I want to be stocked enough that it isn't something I have to worry about.  I'm generally not this much of a worrywart, but these times they are a changing.

 

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.

 

The More Things Change, the More Things are Changed

January 25th, 2022 at 07:28 am

I got a notification from Costco's Citi card today saying that the amount I earned this year was $566.68 and that it will be available in February, so expect an email soon.  They also said that this year you can direct deposit the amount into your checking account instead of having to go to Costco in person to cash it out.  This is so much better.  I hate having to go to Costco to do this, mostly because they seem to change the rules everywhere of where you cash it out and asking doesn't help, because no one really knows until you try then they tell you, oh, we can't do that here, you have to go over there, and then they say somewhere different and so on.  This will save worlds' of frustration.

The plan will be using that towards the garden.  We never got around to building our third garden bed last year, and we have the supplies for that, but we will need supplies for a couple more garden beds, plus I want to buy some astroturf that looks like grass, not that artificial bright green stuff, to go down on the rows between the raised beds.  I don't want to deal with weeds in the pathways.  It'll take somewhere between $80 to $90 per row.  Which seems like a lot, but will be many years worth of weed control.

Mom wants help on the property taxes and the home owner's insurance.  She'd like us to pay half.  Since it is senior rate for the property taxes that is only $300.  Half of the home owner's insurance is $400.  That's for the whole year.  DH is making book on overtime right now and will be for a while yet, so it won't ruffle the budget.  We feel it's fair as it does cover our things as well.  And also we don't pay rent to live here.  We take care of Mom, take care of the house, take care of the property, and pay the utilities.  It's still way less than we would be paying out in the real world.

We are looking for an elder law lawyer so that we can set things up for my mother.  I have been her medical power of attorney for several years now, but she also wants to make me her financial power of attorney.  And she wants to figure out how to pass the house to us in the best way possible so neither of my sisters can make a claim on it after she has died.

We have agreed to take in my eldest sister when the time becomes necessary, which is when she decides to stop working, but she plans to keep on as long as possible.  She's 11 years older than I am and her hip is giving her problems so who knows?  We get along with her, even though Mom doesn't, and there will be room once Mom passes.  Mom might leave a little money to her if she has something left.  If we were to ever sell the house, we would give her some of the proceeds.

And my middle sister is already set in a home with plenty of money, with life insurance set up, and Mom doesn't want her to get a dime because she never visits or helps after surgeries, uses Mom for what Mom can do for her, expecting Mom to drive great distances (they moved further away two years ago) for an 82-year-old, instead of her coming here.  It's been so disgusting, the way my middle sister behaves.  Mom made the choice not to go see her anymore or do anything to help her due to her selfish, using behavior.  Which honestly, she's had her whole adult life so I guess it has just taken my mother this long to see it.  It has always infuriated me.  It has just hurt my mother so badly.

I do not get how you can just abandon your elderly mother like that.  She doesn't call, doesn't send cards on her birthday or at Christmas.  Just ignores her.  And Mom has done so much for her, to be dismissed like this is just horrible.  But middle sis is a narcissist.  My mother can be difficult and she can drive me crazy sometimes, but I could never abandon her and not care like that.  I can never understand why she turned out so differently having been raised the exact same way.  Oh, well.  I can't see ever doing such a thing to my mother, or to my eldest sister.

And even though middle sis has chosen not to be in our lives, either, if her husband dies and none of her four boys would take her in, and she ran out of life insurance money, I'd still figure out something, though it wouldn't be living here, because I have seen her true colors for years and don't want to be around her either.  But family takes care of family.  That's just what you do.  Or maybe that's just what I and my husband do.  Maybe we really just are that different.

I've set up my budget for February and started on March and want to get one set up for April.  April will be a three payheck month, and I want a plan going into it.  And because one of the payday's is on the first it will mean that the last paycheck in March won't need to pay some things it would usually be scheduled for, because the stuff comes out of checking on the 1st or the 2nd.  Sometimes as late as the 7nth if someone drops the ball somewhere.

We are thinking about switching life insurance to AAA, because we can get an additional $50K $8 a month more, than with Allstate.  Allstate is also selling our policies to somewhere else.  The reason we had them was we wanted a local office, so I don't like this.  And who knows what they might raise it to.  We also have some life insurance through his work, but that goes away after he quits working.  I also want to look at the life insurance offered through our credit unions.  It's like $2000 for $1 a month, you just have to fill out the paper work.

I also want to look into getting car insurance with AAA and see if it is cheaper.  Our Allstate office is changing hands and I don't really like it.  Especially the selling off of the life insurance policies.  If we have to deal with non-local people, we might as well do that elsewhere.  I hate change.

Well, maybe not all change.  We started DD on edibles a couple of weeks ago and the change has been amazing.  She is much more able to deal with the pain because it takes the edge off and she is also able to focus, so she is able to read and paint again, and her mood has been quite lifted.  The one she is taking derives its THC from the hemp plant and not the marijuana plant.  I even tried it a couple of times when my nerve pain was off the charts and it really helped.  I mean, you definitely couldn't operate heavy machinery, nor should you, for 12 hours, but it has definitely made a difference.  The dose is quite small, but wow on the pain management.  I never would have believed we would ever be doing this a few years ago, but when pain is so vicious and violent, you change your mind on a lot of things.  Plus, you know, back then it wouldn't have been legal.

Woman Within cancelled my winter coat order after mutliple delays.  I guess they can't get what was supposedly in stock when I ordered it.  And that is the problem with having your manufacturing in China instead of the USA.  But that's whole 'nother bucket of worms.

I am so anxious for my freezer to get here.  I know it won't be until February and we still don't know when in February, and something could go wrong with shipping just like it did with the coat, although I think GE is made here.  It used to be, anyway, just not sure if it still is.  I just feel this need to get more meat in the freezer.  I'll feel alot more food secure with a whole hog and about 3/4 of a steer still in the chest freezer.  Then I can work on chicken and then start saving up all over again for a steer.  And in the summer, we will go fishing/shrimping/crabbing for our seafood.  And also in the summer we harvest and can and freeze as much produce as we possibly can.  These food shortages are getting scary and I don't want to deal with sky high prices on the stuff that is left.

I don't have anything on the schedule tomorrow.  Maybe I can get those spot prawn shells made into bone broth in the pressure cooker and get it canned.  That'll clear out some space in the below fridge freezer.  I might even do onion skins with beef bone broth as well.  We have lots of bones and soup bones and onions skins in the freezer for that and I really want beef and onion broth for making French onion chicken and French onion pork chops.

I can always get out the huge All American canner as it can do 3 levels of pints if I decide to make both.  But I'm not sure I want to tie up both my Instant Pots making broth.  It depends on how early I get up in the morning.  Broth does not take that long to can compared to most things.

Well, this has gotten super long, so I'll sign off for tonight.

 

 

More Snow

December 30th, 2021 at 11:02 pm

I wish they would fix the time stamps to be accurate to the poster's location.  They've been off for two years and it is driving me crazy.  I'd like my posts to reflect the actual day and time of my post.

Anyway, we had more snow almost a half an hour after my last post and it was about 2 inches, and then 1 inch later that night, and last night it started snowing around 11:30 p.m. and my husband said it was still snowing at 8 a.m. when he started work.  It's not now, but it dumped another 8 inches.  Some of it is melting now because it is bright and sunny and I can see the icicles dripping, but that is just going to mean ice.

I'm glad we made it to the store when we did, even if the only root veggies we could get were sweet potatoes.  The parsnips were smaller than carrots and the turnips were tiny.  I was hoping to get out today to get cheese at Winco and see if they had them there.  So I guess we'll have to make do with the two turnips we have and the two giant parsnips.  We have carrots and we have a 65 pounds left of the potatoes we grew, so that's plenty.  I can stretch the parsnips by cutting them in half, so can get four meals out of them.  We never have them by themselves, but mixed with other veggies.  If it melts enough tomorrow we'll go, but otherwise no grocery shopping until February 1st, except for greens, milk, and eggs.

I've lost 6.8 pounds in the last two days.  The first day I wasn't on my diet yet, I'd just dropped down from 4 cans of soda a day to one.  I got back on them when Thanksgiving happened, and they are so addictive.  But then next day I was on my diet so most of the weight dropped of by this morning.  I really hope I can do it this time.

My whole family said they would try with me, but both my husband and son ate a ton of pancakes this morning and then DH had a sandwich for lunch.  That is not cutting back on carbs and that is not trying.  I guess I have to do this on my own again, which kind of sucks, but I can't let it derail me like it always does to have no support.  I know my daughter would try if the other two would, but if they don't she won't.  Even if she's the one who needs to the most for health reasons.  Oh, well.  The only person I can control is myself, so that is what I must do.

I think I'll spend the day looking at the two seed catalogs that came the day after Christmas.  That always makes me happy.  Although I won't be buying seeds this year unless it is one or two items.  I bought plenty last year.  I just hope the garden is big enough this year that I can plant everything I want to plant.

True date:  12/30/2021  True time:  3:02 p.m. 

Flooded

November 17th, 2021 at 02:48 am

Today was bright and sunny as the flood waters from the last several days of storming began to recede.  Yesterday the water in the basement covered the bottom step and was about halfway up the first step.  I've never, ever seen that happen and I've lived in this house off and on since I was 4 years old.  Two of the sump pumps stopped working, but the other one did.  We have them set up to go directly into the sewer line, but with two of them completely submerged they must have shorted out.  It's going down, but it might take a few days.  That's a lot of water to move.

We don't keep anything down there, except the tankless hot water heater, which is well above it and some old shelves that are mostly empty except the canners which are on chest-heigh shelves.  And an ancient, unworking chest freezer.  And that's because of the flooding always having been an issue.  We've tried to fix it, but I think it is going to require a lot of dirt and concrete.  The problem is their is an old set of stairs under the house, which was originally an outdoor opening to the basement.  But Mom and Dad never had it filled in, they just built the addition over the top of it, thus creating a low spot where water can run down into the basement.

So I think the solution there is to fill it in with dirt so the water has no place to get into the basement, which will mean removing the outside stairs and taking buckets or bags of fill dirt down the inside stairs to fill that in, or maybe sand bags, and then building a form and filling the old doorway in with concrete or using cinder blocks and filling them in with concrete and then mortaring them into place.  If we don't fill it in with dirt, water would just collect behind the wall and if enough water did that, it would put a lot of pressure on the new wall.  I'd love to just fill it all in with concrete, which is what they should have done before they built a house over it, but I don't think there is any way that is possible, other than one bag at a time and that is so expensive.  Fill dirt we can get for free.

My parents have cut so many corners with this house, with the additions, with the wiring, to save money.  Now it is stuff we will have to deal with fixing for who knows how many more years.  I would really like a flood free, useable basement one day.  I'd like to use it as a root cellar, but can't if this issue isn't solved.

I had my second physical therapy session today and my first one since I fainted and fell on the floor last Thursday.  I did okay.  I'm still stiff and sore, especially in the hips, but also the knees, elbows, and wrists, which took the brunt of the impact.  I still feel bruised on one side.  Although I hit my head I'd slowed down my fall so much that it didn't leave a bump or bruise and definitely no concussion.  I am thinking quite clearly.

My referral has finally gone through so I can see the neurologist to see if we can get to the bottom of these fainting spells.  I need to remember to call and make an appointment.  I am starting to wonder if it isn't late onset epilepsy.  It could just be migraine onset, but I didn't have a migraine with this last one.  I had a lot of the symptoms, but no headache.  Maybe my body was too busy being in pain everywhere else.  I have been very careful about eating, but I don't think it is a blood sugar issue.  I guess we'll find out.

Tomorrow I start mental health therapy for the first time since I was fourteen.  It will be interesting to see how that goes.  I don't trust therapists due to what happened to me as a kid, but my daughter had this one and really liked her so that helps a lot to ease some of my fears.  Still, I need to get on some sort of medication for depression, so it has to be done.  It's an eight week program and I don't have to do the full program to be medicated.  I really hope it goes well.  My stress levels are at an all time high and I can't really let it out at home.

Then on Friday I see the doctor for my yearly wellness exam and he fills out the paper to send into my insurance for the discount for having a yearly wellness exam.  DH has his in a couple of weeks.  The kids don't have to do it for the insurance, but they still get them.

I'll also take my turkey out to thaw on Friday.  We want it thawed a little early so we can do a 24 hour brine.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but I am going to need a lot of help this year to pull it off.

I Have the Beef

July 10th, 2021 at 04:07 am

We drove out to Lynden Meats today and picked up our whole beef. I wasn't sure we were going to fit it all in the back of the mini-van, but we did. For those who are interested in pricing we paid a $400 deposit, the remainder to the farmer was $1892.50 at slaughter, and the cut, wrap, and kill fee was $663.14. That was a grand total of $2955.64 for 665 pounds of hanging weight.

It works out to $4.51/lb for pasture raised, grass/hay fed only, organic beef, including soup bones, liver, heart, and tallow. Even on sale I can no longer find any beef under $4/lb and closer to $5/lb. Most organic grass fed beef is $7.99/lb just for hamburger and higher for others. That hasn't really gone up like regular beef prices, but this is so much less. We had some fantastic steaks tonight, but for the most part we will be using up the storebought beef first since it is older and not as well wrapped. There's not that much left, though. Like one or two pot roasts and 6 4 pks of steaks.

I'm so glad we cut our grocery budget to the bone to save up for this. I feel so much more secure with that spread throughout my freezers (which all have alarms). I don't put all my eggs in one basket since the Great Freezer Meltdown parts 1 and 2 over a decade ago. I'll feel even better when we get our hog at the end of October, although that will require a drive to Del Fox in Stanwood, which is a bit further than Lynden.

We've got a lot of old freezer burned chicken and turkey breast that will be going in crab pots. We would have used it last year, but DH's friend's boat was broken down most of the summer. We saved it because crab aren't that picky. The season starts for that in two weeks and they'll probably fish as well. So in the next two weeks I need to make up the soup bones into broth and can it to get it out of the way for seafood. I'll also likely make the turkey that is in the mini-chest freezer as it is taking up a lot of space.

I put $33 into the hog fund last night when I cleaned out my grocery envelope, but the cut and wrap fee was higher than I'd calculated, so I took $63 out of the hog fund and .14 out of the coin jar. So that leaves the hog fund lower than it was at $722, but I'll keep adding as we go. The end of October is a little over 3.5 months away. Then I will keep saving because I also want to get some organic chicken and possibly a lamb in the spring.

 

 

Emergency Fund and Hog Fund Update

June 26th, 2021 at 01:37 am

I made a deposit into the EF, which is a bunch of little things.  I realized that I hadn't added the interest for May which was $3.67 and .07.  I had $18 in rolled coin and then the amount from the paycheck was $162.42 (well, I added .50 that didn't come out of the paycheck, so a touch less).  That equalled out to $184.16 for the deposit

$16,271.28 Starting Balance

+__,184.16 Amount Added

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

$16,455.44 New Balance

I had $105.00 left in the grocery envelope so I added that to the Hog Fund.

$647.00 Beginning Balance

+105.00 Amount Added

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

$750.00 New Balance

So I am a quarter of the way there even without the leftover cut and wrap money for the beef, whatever that turns out to be.  I have until October to save $250 more, which should be done easily considering I won't have to shop for beef anymore for a long, long time.

Bits and Pieces

June 24th, 2021 at 06:39 pm

So DH totally screwed up in telling me how much an hour his raise was.  It wasn't $11 an hour, it was $1.10 an hour.  Way to move the decimal point.  And no, he didn't give it to me in print, he literally told me $11 an hour.  So basically none of the stuff I thought was going to happen with retirement or savings is going to happen.  It's a bummer.  Hopefully he will also get a merit raise.  $1.10 an hour doesn't even keep up with how bad the cost of living has gone up in the last two years.  Better than nothing, though.

I did notice that if we could save just $66 more a payday into retirement we would max out, though.  I just don't think I can swing it, not with the forced long-term care insurance starting.  Maybe after we max out our Emergency Fund that can be something we work toward.

Our steer has gone to butcher.  It has a hanging weight of 665 pounds.  I have sent the check off to the farmer for the remainder, $1892.20.  With the deposit, that means the beef cost me $2292.20.  There is still the cut and wrap fee of .78/lb.  Well, they say .78/lb, but it tends to be more like .78 per package and a lot of packages have more than a pound of meat in them.  So while I do have $600 I left in the beef fund to cover it, it'll be $521.04 max and I don't think it will come to that.

Above that amount I had $254 left in the beef fund that I went ahead and moved to the hog fund.  That brings the total in the hog fund to $647.  As soon as I pay the cut and wrap fee at pick up, I will move whatever is left over to the hog fund, which will be at least $78.96, making that amount be at least $725.96 and probably a little more.  My goal is $1000, so I will be just shy of 3/4 of my goal.

We continue to eat down the chest freezer and move things into the house freezer as things from there are used up to make room for the steer.  It is coming along nicely.  He said I should be hearing from the processing facility sometime in the next 11 days for my cut orders.  I  want as much chuck roast as possible, but not so much the other types of roasts except pot roast.  I want all the round ground, we don't like them as roasts or steaks.  I want all the sirloin tip roasts cut into steaks.  And I want my steaks 3/4 inch thick not 1 inch thick.  I can genearally get two extra steaks out of it per type that way.

I want all the soup bones, the fat for making my own tallow, and the liver, heart, kidneys, and tongue.  We've never tried the tongue or kidneys before, so that'll be interesting.  Organ meats are quite healthy for you.  I'm a little squeamish about the tongue, but it is supposed to be quite good.  I guess we will find out. 

The special standing walker we ordered for DD arrived yesterday and it is really going to be a game changer for her.  And it has a seat she can actually sit down on.  Standard walkers are pretty painful for people with her conditions.  It folds up easily enough that she can do it herself, at last for the time being.  That was $248, but money well spent.

I can make do with the walker we inherited from FIL after he died for quite a while yet.  I only use it on severely bad days where I have to go out of the house.  Most days I am fine with my cane or if I am doing really well, without it.  But as things continue to worsen, I would definitely like to get one like that as it is easier on the L-4 and L-5 area of my back.  It takes up a lot less space when folded, too.

My referral for a neurosurgery consult finally went through so calling them is on my to do list for the day.  Along with finally getting the drip line put in the raised bed with the tomatoes in it added and the last set of hoops and deer netting up.  There is a lot outside that needs to be done and I am finally starting to feel like I can do some of it again.

I think I'm finally getting my sleeping straightened out.  I've been falling asleep between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. instead of 3 or 4 a.m. and I've been waking up in the morning instead of the afternoon, so hopefully this will last.  I like actually having a whole day of sunlight in which to live my life.

If I am feeling particularly ambitious I might try to plant some seeds in the garden.  I'd really like to have some kohlrabi this year.

 

Retirement Update and Hog Fund Update

June 16th, 2021 at 01:23 am

Our retirement accounts now total $56,864.42, a difference in total of $2,689.12 in the last 17 days.  Most of that is from contributions from us and work, but about $400 was profit.  DH worked a lot of overtime on the last two paychecks so close to $1940 was what we contributed.  I hope one day work will go back to contributing 5% instead of 2.5%.

As for the Hog Fund, after I met my goal with the Beef Fund I had $29, so I transferred that to a new envelope and on payday I had $192 left in the grocery envelope, so that moved to the Hog Fund envelope.  Then I added $172 to that, so there is $393 in that enveope now.  The goal is $1000, so $607 to go.  I have reserved a whole hog for October.  It should dress out somewhere around 220 pounds max.

After that my goal will be to start stocking up on chicken.  I probably won't buy it bulk off the farm, though, as I prefer to just buy thighs and legs.  Unless we can find a source for that, we will just go with grocery sales.  I'm not sure if DH is going to get much fishing in this summer with the amount of overtime he's been clocking.  If he can go we will stock up on whatever he catches.

I just feel a really strong need to be prepared for 2022.  Either way, we'll have food.

Where's the Beef?

June 2nd, 2021 at 03:08 am

In my freezer soon.  Today the farmer I am getting my steer from asked if I could get one early, in 2 to 3 weeks as he had a sale fall through for an earlier butcher date.  I said sure and wrote out the check for the $400 deposit and will get it in the mail tomorrow.  We are eating down the chest freezer at a rapid pace and I think we will have plenty of space in that amount of time.  If not, I'll have to can some meat.  I'll be using the plethora of soup bones to make stock to can, which will free up more space.

I was really happy to hear that we can get it early after the cyberattack on the nation's biggest beef manufacturing plant has reduced our capacity by 20%.  This is going to impact the food supply hard.  Not just beef, but likely pork and chicken as people buy more of them to replace their beef intake, causing a greater demand and a higher price because of it.  We'll see if the supply chain can handle it.  If you can afford it stock your freezers, people.  Can if you know how.  Fish and freeze if you are able.  It's going to be a bumpy ride.  It may not hit for a few weeks, but it will hit.  If you've been thinking about buying wholesale off the farm, it is probably time.

 

Emergency Fund Update and Meat Fund Update

May 29th, 2021 at 12:32 am

$16,125.22 Starting Balance

+__,146.06 Amount Added

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

$16,271.28 New Balance

I had $60 left in the grocery envelope so I transferred that to the meat fund.  $31 topped off the beef fund portion and now I am saving for half a hog, so there is $29 towards that.  Total money in the meat fund is $3667.

Emergency Fund Update and Beef Fund Almost Met

May 14th, 2021 at 06:43 pm

$15,880.55 Starting Balance

+__,244.67 Amount Added

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

$16,125.22 New Balance

That means I have $6,107.64 left to save to hit 6 months of expenses, which is my next goal.  That will put the EF at $22,232.86.  I'd like to make that by year's end, but I think it is going to be closer to February unless DH gets quite a bit of overtime or a really good Christmas bonus.

Ultimately, though, I have a goal of 6 month's take home pay, not just 6 month's expenses.  That would be a little over $36,000, which is an additional $13,767.14.  That's likely take an additional 18 months, so around 2 years and 2 months from now I should hit that, barring OT or raises.  Raises are unlikely as they have a wage freeze going on at DH's work.  He hasn't gotten one in over 2 years.  Normally this is a place that gives yearly merit raises, but Covid hit hard.  It could be another year before they unfreeze wages.  They have started to rehire some of the people that were laid off, so that is promising.

I am $31 short of the highest estimate on the beef costs, based on a 750 to 850 pound hanging weight.  With the $2000 I had set aside previously added to the money I've been scrimping out of the grocery budget I am almost there.  I need $3638 total and after the $179 I saved out of the last grocery envelope, I am at $3607.  And from my experience, farmer's always estimate high, but the hanging weight actually tends to be lower.  So it is more likely it will be closer to 750 pounds than 850 pounds.  I've also reserved my beef.  I am getting a whole with a butcher date of either late July or early August (he's got two dates for two different sets of steers).

Planning for April

March 20th, 2021 at 11:28 pm

I just spent about a half an hour setting up April's budget spreadsheet.  It is a 3 paycheck month which means there will be some extra money and I wanted to make sure I had everything allotted for.  I'll be using the extra to put $400 into the Clothing Fund, $400 into the Gift/Christmas Fund, and $546.87 into the Emergency Fund.  The rest will be grocery, medical, household, gas money, and allowances.

The first paycheck in May will be on the 14th and no bills are due until the 21st, so I get to shift some things that were previously coming out of the last paycheck of the month to the first paycheck of the month.  My budget is a living document, constantly shifting, since I budget for the month but we get paid every two weeks.

DH did manage to get his hours in this week even though things were not up and running until Friday.  I don't remember if I mentioned it here or not, but his work got hacked and infected so they couldn't be online for many days.  He did what he could at home and saving to his hard drive, but last week had to take a vacation day.  This week he didn't.

Since it is working now, he is working the weekend and is authorized for ten hours of OT this week, which will be nice on the next paycheck.  If I did the math right it should be around $1017 extra.  But I might not have it quite right due to taxes.  Anyway, we will pay for 3 fishing and shellfish licenses and with what is left at least half of that will hit the Emergency Fund and then half will go into the Beef Fund, which should put us at enough to buy a full grassfed beef and start saving towards a pasture raised lamb.  Not sure about pork.  It hasn't set well with me this year unless it was bacon, ham, pepperoni, or sausage.

I finally got my new social security card last month so I can now get my fishing license this year.  It's a mess, because when I first got a license in the 90's they wrote down the social security number wrong.  So when I went to apply for a license two years ago I couldn't get one without my social security card which I had misplaced somewhere in the house years ago.

I wasn't doing that great that year so just decided to deal with it before the next season.  Well, that was 2020 and social security was closed for a good portion of 2020.  You just couldn't apply for a new card.  Then I finally applied for a card at the end of summer when they reopened and waited the six weeks and it never came.  Turned out they never sent it.  But they closed down again for some particularly bad covid weeks.  And of course once it was working, you can't apply during non business hours, which is so bizarre, so I didn't think about it at the right time of day.  Once I could apply again and remembered at the right time of day, I did and the card finally came in February.  So now I can get the darn fishing license.  What a pain that has been, just because some person transposed one digit on my 90's application.

I want to fill the mini-freezer with spot prawns, crab, salmon, trout, and cod.  With 3 of us fishing that should happen a lot faster.  At least if stuff goes as well as usual.  The guy who takes us out on the boat is DH's boss.  I am going to have him teach me how to gut a fish.  It's a skill I would like to learn.  He always does it, but I want to know in case we ever go fishing without him in the future.  That and how to remove the gills.  I've watched videos, but I think in person is always better.  DS said he will teach me how to fillet.  I've filleted chicken breast off the bone, but never fish.  DH isn't good at it, so I will definitely take DS up on his offer.

Almost Through the Potatoes and Medical Stuff (Always Medical Stuff)

November 11th, 2020 at 06:06 am

Yesterday I canned 14 more quarts of potatoes (and I mislabled them with today's date, but what are you going to do?  I washed up the jars and tops today so they won't be sticky in storage.  They didn't feel sticky, but I don't take any chances.  I have enough of my garden potatoes left to do 7 more quarts and that will also fill my potato shelf.  Then I will start on carrots and parsnips.  I am switching to the single decker canner instead of the double decker, since I will be doing smaller loads from here on out.

DD went to the eye doctor today and the bulging optic nerves have stopped bulging so much.  She lost 20 pounds in six weeks, so we are thinking the water retention was what the issue was, because she had ballooned up because of it, and she is out of the danger zone now, but she is to follow up after a while just to be on the safe side.

No more doctor appointments until Monday when we will go down to Virginia Mason to meet the new endocrinologist and then spend the night and go to the liver specialist on Tuesday.  I am glad my nephew, my sister, and my son will all be here with Mom, though.

We are trying to sell the last two rabbits we have, but Facebook hates animal sales and censors posts on them.  You have to be very careful how you word things.  Even if you don't say a price they automatically throw out animal photos to be checked.  It's a farm group.  Farm sales should be allowed.  It is no way, shape, or form like a puppy mill, but that's how they treat it.  I hate their censorship.  I wish MeWe would take off, but I don't think it is going to.

I am going to look into Rumble as an alternative to Youtube as well.  Every time the algorithm starts working for me, they change it, and my channel just gets kicked back down.  It makes it hardly worth the effort, especially in the off season.

Tonight for dinner I made beef stew with celery, onions, and potatoes, with gluten free flour for the gravy.  I was out of carrots.  And had two yellow kiwis.  Those things are amazing.  I like them way more than green kiwis and I like those a lot.

We haven't spent any money for the last few days, but I will be tomorrow morning when I buy the carrots and parsnips.  I need 8 pounds of carrots and 8 pounds of parsnips.  Then on Friday when it is payday I will buy some more to do.  I haven't gone to the store since before the election so I have no idea what the shelves look like.  I won't be able to can much at all next week as I will be wiped by our trip to Seattle I am sure.  The season is winding down for me anyway, unless there is a terrific meat sale of some sort. 

 

 


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