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Yesterday was Our Anniversary

March 19th, 2017 at 12:40 am

22 days ago on the 18th, DH and I got married in a little church that is no longer there, because they sold it, became a mega warehouse church, and completely changed into something they were not before. But I digress.

The plan for our anniversary was to go see Beauty and the Beast. It was our movie when it came out in the 90's when we were engaged and going to college. He was working at the movie theater and he had several free passes a month. Sometimes it was the only time we got to spend together, since I went to class in the mornings, then worked Noon to 8 in the restaurant.

After I got off work I'd drive to the theater and hang out with him in the projection room and we watched Beauty and the Beast many times. So we were going to see the movie, but I woke up with those extreme muscle cramps you get in your calf muscles and I figured sitting still for 2 hours without being able to stretch them would be a nightmare. And DH was tired anyway. We may go for today or we may wait for the following weekend.

So instead we celebrated by building me a new corner desk out of pallet wood and presswood cubes that I have had since I was a kid. We had to sand them down to get all the scribble marks and stickers that my kids put on them over the years off. We did not paint it as it is too cold yet to be painting outside, but we will eventually paint the whole thing white.

Here's the set up:



It's on the short side of the L. It holds my cooking magazines that I sill need to transcribe recipes out of and some homeschool consumable activity books. Then my box of tools that others are not allowed to use because they never bring them back. Then my sewing box.

The next cube holds all the OTC cold and allergy medicines for me and the kids. Then a shelf of the granny squares I've completed so far. Finally the last shelf holds our firesafe lockbox. We don't actually lock it though because the idea behind it is that it is just there for if there is a fire. I can get all the documents again, but it would be very time-consuming. Then up on top I've got my basked full of tape, sticky notes, and staples, emergency goat milk replacer, and the coin jar.


This is the long area of the L where I will do my computer work and writing I won't have much else on this section. Maybe an inbox. I will put up a painting on the wall overhead, though.


This is the set up at the other end of the long part of the desk.


The area beneath the long side at the far end of the desk is set up for homeschool paperwork, tests, and quizzes.


The area beneath the short side holds my yarn for crochet and loom knitting and the file boxes that contain our medical information for the past five years that we need to retain for tax purposes.

All in all I'm very pleased.

End of Week Catch-Up

January 22nd, 2017 at 06:42 pm

I haven't posted in a couple of days as stuff has been somewhat busy here. I made a huge batch of Rabbit Stir-Fried Rice for the freezer. I usually make this once a week with whatever leftover meat I have. Right now I'm working with just an electric skillet and the microwave for the most part as I don't have access to the oven/stove top every day. So it's a stir-fry, but only sort of, since I'm not using a wok and I vary the temperature a lot.

I ended up with 5 bags for the freezer and a bowlful for my son. If we have rice as a side, quart baggy is good for the whole family. But generally my son eats the whole bag for lunch along with more eggs. It's cheap and it fills him up without him having to eat a bunch of bread, so I'm happy to do it. And it is way cheaper than buying the bags of chicken fried rice from Trader Joe's.

If any of you want to see how I make it, there's a vid on my youtube channel you are welcome to watch, but fair warning it is 22 minutes long. [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXQM1fufEk[/url] I also have one for making garlic powder [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukXxytlFld8[/url] and the one for making onion powder as well. [url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyd_bLDBaaA&t=24s[/url] I know a couple of you had expressed some interest in those.

I'm dehyrdating lots of garlic and ginger, but these ones I'll keep in pieces and vacuum seal. Then later on when I run out of powder I can grind them then. It will make them taste much fresher than making it all into powder now.

I determined the sexes of Ella's kits, 3 girls and 3 boys. One of the girls that is a broken black looks very promising in both spots and coloration, so I may keep her and breed her back to Zander. We'll see. Persephone's litter is doing well. They are adorable.

I have been trying to figure out what I am going to plant in the garden this year. I listed it all out earlier in the month, but now I'm trying to get down to the knitty gritty and figure out how much room I have versus my desires and expectations. I always have to scale down as I just don't have the space to grow all of what I need. I have to inventory my current seeds as well.

I reorganized the canning shelves so now all of the fruit is together, all of the meats are together, and more of the vegetables are together. We still have a lot of home canned food, not near as many gaps as I was expecting considering how heavily we have drawn from them. I am down to two shelves plus two jars of green beans, though. So that's definitely going to have to be a big grow this year. I was planning on doing some, but I know now that I'll need to triple what I had planned on growing.

My kids have learned how to make rice balls and are big batching them for the freezer. They are learning to make their own "convenience" foods since we are buying less and less. I am trying to get down to not buying any convenience foods at all, but I've been taking it gradually. Next up is pizza snacks, which should be very easy. I might make a big batch of pizza calzones as well. My son especially likes it when we have those on hand. Making a double or triple batch is not really that much more work when the Kitchen-Aid does all the dough kneading.

We have continued to go through boxes and weed out a lot of stuff. In another month I may have a usable living area again. I am tired of the mess and having to work around everything all the time. With having to do so much from scratch I could really use the extra space for big batch assembly line stuff. That's our biggest area where we can save money, so it's important for me to be able to do it easily. If it's hard I won't want to and it'll be hard to get help as well.

There has been some more job interest poking up, but nothing concrete yet. Hopefully we'll hear more soon. Continued prayers would be appreciated.

Using Stuff Up and Planning Canning

January 8th, 2017 at 12:40 am

I got through the last of the turkey from Christmas that I had in the freezer. I chopped it all up and added it to some stir-fried rice I was making to use up the excess of eggs the ducks have been laying since the solstice. It's like mother nature flipped a switch and they know the days are getting longer and spring will be here before you know it.

For 10 cups of rice I used 3 cups of chopped turkey, 6 eggs, and an 8 oz package of mixed peas, corn, and carrots. I am going to make up some more stir-fried rice tomorrow to use up some of the leftover pork from the honey apricot pork I made the other night and some more duck eggs. I like to make it up and have a bunch of quart bags of it in the freezer so we always have it on hand. It makes it easier when I do a Chinese night, especially now that I can make black pepper chicken.

Costco now has a 20 pound bag of organic white rice, so we always have rice on hand and with the rice cooker, it is easy to make up a pot then put it in the fridge and then make the stir-fried rice in a day or two. It always works better with cold rice that has set a day or two.

We are still working our way through the holiday ham. I diced it up and froze it and have been using it as one of our pizza toppings or throwing it in omelettes. It's nice not having to consume large amounts of ham in a week, but to be able to use it up over time.

I still have to make bone broth from the turkey bones, but I think I will tackle that tomorrow. They have been in the freezer, too, and I want to get them out as they are taking up a good chunk of space. So I'll make it on Sunday (technically today since it is after midnight) and can it on Monday.

I want to can some hamburger this week, too, and some more rabbit meat. I need to clear out some of the older stuff before it gets freezer burned and I tend to use the canned meat more often than the frozen in the winter. It's just faster and easier and lends itself to heartier fare like stews and chilis. Not that I can eat chili anymore, but the rest of the family can. Dang, but I miss eating peppers. I do not, however, miss my skin rashing up and splitting open on my hands whenever I do, so... *shrugs*

I dehydrated some ginger and need to do more. Costco had organic ginger for $5.79 for a container with 1.75 pounds in it. Organic ginger is usually $18 a pound so I was not going to pass that up. Mostly I am just dehydrating quarter-sized slivers, but I will grind some to powder as well. I also need to make more garlic powder. I grew a ton of garlic this summer and braided it, so I have plenty I can dehydrate and powder. I just need to get to it. It's not hard. I've already done onion powder and ended up with a full pint of it from onions I grew this summer.

I think it is a pretty ambitious week.

Well, That Should Help

April 10th, 2016 at 11:23 pm

DH told me today that he got confirmed for an extra week of overtime, so that should really help me to stop stressing out over the Emergency Fund. I should be able to get it to $20K by the end of the year easily now, at least if the job continues. He also said that he should know the contract status by the end of the week. We've all heard that before, though. I am not holding my breath that they will not extend it again.

We had a big medical bill come in for my daughter yesterday. I thought we were done with big bills from the sleep doctor, but apparently not. Well, the overtime will cover it. I went ahead and paid it on the credit card, but will pay it off next Friday now that I know the income will be there for it. I would have just used the money allocated to go for the down payment fund if I'd had to. It would have been a bummer to not put money in that fund that month, but better than dipping into the EF.

DH finally got the numbers to me on what his new income will be and it was $97 more than I'd projected, so yay. I'm still resentful of the pay cut, mind you, but the extra almost $100 is going to make it a little easier and less stressful than I thought it would be on the new budget. I'm all for easier and less stressful.

Payday Report and Need to do Something about the Storage Units

April 9th, 2016 at 10:58 am

I really need to start doing the payday reports again. It keeps me super focused and on top of my spending, which I really need to be. We have had a lot of medical expenses already this month. Some of it we will get reimbursed for when everything is straightened out with our insurance company, but that could still take a month or two to shake out.

$400.00 Utilities
$150.00 Emergency Fund
$_80.82 Internet
$_47.86 Life Insurance DH
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$150.00 Laptop
$227.00 Storage (went up again, ouch)
$250.00 Chiropractic Monthly Family Plan
$140.52 Sleep Doctor
$_86.01 ENT Doctor
$369.00 Dentist (getting a partial reimbursement)
$_50.00 Allowances
$100.00 Garden/Household
-------------------------
$2096.51 Total

I have $167 and some change left in the checking account. $90 of that is allocated to physical therapy, but she's cancelled on my 2 weeks running, so that money may get dumped into the EF if I don't hear from her by next Friday.

DH and I are going to start going through our big storage unit when he comes home next time and seeing what we can get rid of/sell/donate. We really need to get down to having just one storage unit. The second one is $120 and it doesn't have too much in it, but the first one is jam packed. If we can free up about 8 square feet we can get everything into one unit and clear up the additional expense.

I know some of it is just stuff we didn't want to deal with when we moved, like boxes of papers, bags of outgrown clothes, little kid toys, and multiple outdated electronics. I know there are at least 3 VCR's and while keeping one to play all the old VHS tapes is fine, we certainly don't need 3. We used to have one for our bedroom, one for the living room, and one for the kid's playroom.

We could probably even sell one bundled with a bunch of old Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Bear in the Big Blue House, and kiddie movie VHS tapes at a garage sale. I mean who really buys VHS tapes anymore, not many folks still have VCR's, but might with a big enough stash of tapes and a player with a working remote. Obviously not for a huge amount of money, but maybe $10 to $15.

And I know we have all the fairy Barbies and their forest, too. Which could go for another small lump sum. Complete Fisher Price Little people set-ups, both original and modern are kicking around. And a huge toddler train layout from Little Lionel, which would go for a bit more. Just a lot of stuff like that. Not that we'd make a fortune or anything at all, but we might be able to get a decent garage sale together for June.

I know that when the time comes to move, I don't want to be hauling a ton of useless stuff to our new home. And I certainly don't want to deal with boxes of old junk mail and statements then, either. Our car has an outlet in it, so we can even shred things right there, pack them into paper sacks, and take them to be recycled, without ever bringing them home.

It'll take a lot of work, but he is going to have 3 weeks off in a row and this is probably the best time to do it, before gardening season gets into full swing.

New Credit Card

April 3rd, 2016 at 07:24 pm

I applied for and was accepted by the AMEX Everyday Blue Cash Card since my AMEX Costco card is expiring soon and they won't exist anymore. It's the first time in years that I have opened a new credit card account I got my husband a card as well as I never did add him to the Costco AMEX card. He could use it at the gas pump regardless, so it didn't seem important.

His VISA miles reward card is just not that good anymore, plus it has a yearly fee, and he was only earning one plane ticket a year for using it. We'll come out ahead using the new AMEX card. He'll still have to use the a VISA card in some places as not everyone accepts AMEX, but not too much.

And I can start putting the groceries on there, too, to be paid off each month, of course. But then I can tell at a glance how much I've spent on groceries without having to add up receipts. It'll just make things a bit easier.

I will have to do the math to see if I get a greater benefit for using the card for gas, or getting the 10 cents off per gallon for using cash.

There is an up front amount for spending so much in the first 3 months, too, which we will easily get just through DH's work travel expenses. It said there was something else for spending on wireless phone. I'm not sure what that one was, but if it is as simple as just charging our monthly Verizon bill on it, then we'd be set, because I planned to do that anyway. I'll read through the paperwork thoroughly when it comes.

I'm not sure if I'm going to get the new Citi card for Costco when it comes out. We pretty much just pay by check there and since I don't buy gas there anymore since I can get it cheaper at Safeway with my grocery points, there isn't really a reason. Although, actually, maybe that would be a good VISA for him to use in place of the miles card since I believe it is the one with 1% cash back when you purchase and 1% cash back when you pay it off. We'll see.

No new news on the contract front, though DH did get his resume to one of the other two companies that are putting in bids. One of the guys there had requested it specifically.

I found out the other company is the one he used to work for way back when we were first married, that is actually based where we live. So he might still know someone from there as well and having a solid work history with that company can only be a benefit if they get the contract. Although it really looks like it will go to his current company or the second company at this point. But as usual, nothing is ever written in stone. Anyway, I'm cautiously less pessimistic at the moment, if one can be such a thing.

Life in Limbo

April 1st, 2016 at 09:29 pm

So we were supposed to know yesterday about whether or not DH's company got the contract. Well, we still don't know. Apparently they are taking 2 MORE weeks to decide. Something that should have been decided in January. I am not holding my breath about 2 weeks from now, either. Do they not understand that they are fooling around with people's lives here and their livelihoods?

I am just hoping that DH can get some overtime in. There appears to be the work for it. If he can get in enough OT to get the EF up to $20K, I might (probably not), just might relax a little bit.

I have decided to do an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of April. I want to cut our grocery spending all the way down to $400. If I can, it will go a long way towards easing the pain of the pay cut. I don't need to buy meat at all during this month. I don't need to buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pasta, tomato sauce, rice, or flour, or sugar.

I am allowing myself to buy fresh fruit, milk, and some greens and onions if I run out, but that is all. I will be baking all my bread, rolls, and buns. I've got plenty of food in the freezer and on the canning shelves. My Aerogarden is producing a couple of salads a week. I've got lettuce planted that will hopefully take off by the end of the month. This should be easy. It goes without saying that there will be no eating out.

If I can figure this out and stick to a much stricter grocery budget, and we can get used to not getting everything we want food-wise all the time, then if his pay does go back up, we can save the difference then, too. That would be nice. And if it doesn't, we'll know we can get by on much less.