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Thermostat Wars, Covid, and Weight Loss

November 22nd, 2022 at 05:50 am

I have about had it with my mom and the thermostat.  She keeps jacking the heat up to 75°F.  Last night it was like being in a sauna.  You know when you are in that stage when you are too tired to get up and half way through the house to go turn it down, but you can't really sleep because you are boiling so you lie there and lie there and lie there until you finally force yourself to get up and then turn it down to 70°F because it is 38°F outside, and 68°F makes my arthritis act up in the winter (but not the summer, somehow?).

Then the minute she gets up she jack it right back up to 75°F because she's cold.  And you want to know why she's cold?  Because she sleeps with her bedroom window open, because if she doesn't she's too hot to sleep.  Maybe the reason she is too hot to sleep, and so are the rest of us, is because she turns to furnace up to the temperature of when I first want to start using the A.C. in the summer.

During the day, if the rest of us are cold we put on long pants, long sleeved shirts, sweaters, and either slippers or shoes before we think about turning the heat up.  My mom will wear her short sleeved shirts and her mid-calf pants, maybe socks, maybe not.  She won't think about putting on better clothes so we can keep the furnace down.  If we tell her to put on a sweater, she'll put on the thinnest sweater she owns.  I mean, it's a spring cardigan that is so think you can almost see through it.  She has thicker sweaters.  When she sits in her chair all day watching tv she has a stack of throws next to her to pull over her when she gets cold, but she'd rather turn the heat up.

I just know when the gas bill comes she's going to throw the world's biggest fit about how high it is.  She only pays ten percent of it, too, but you'd think she paid the whole thing by how she squawks about it.  It's going to be bad, because natural gas prices have been skyrocketing even without her sudden need to this year to live in a sauna.  She keeps this up and that bill is going to double and we can't afford that.

I just had it out with her that if everyone else is in the house is having to put on tank tops and shorts, than she is wrong about the heat and she needs to turn it down so people can wear regular winter clothes and she needs to dress appropriately for the winter.  I know it is technically fall still, but the weather is winter weather here.  She even has a little space heater that will warm up just her area and doesn't use a lot of electricity that she refuses to use because that takes up electricity.

I can't get it through her head that natural gas is a lot higher than electric right now, that it's not two years ago when it was the other way around, and that she needs to realize how bad things are going to be this winter with gas prices.  Stuff flips around every so many years, and she says she knows this, but she still keeps jacking that thermostat up.  And it'll be us making up the difference on the bill because she's on a fixed income.

Okay, end of rant.  She just got me worked up today.

DH hasn't been feeling so good for the past few days.  He called me from Lowe's Saturday night and said he really didn't feel good.  He'd been fine when he left the house, but he had to stop after getting what we needed, wood glue, and couldn't go look and see if the had a couple more lines of Christmas lights that matched some we bought last year or to take pictures of any standees and text them to me.  I said fine, get the glue and come home.

By the time he dragged into the house he looked like a different person.  He insisted on fixing the wooden railing that he broke that leads up the short set of stairs from one part of the house to the other and then I made him go to bed.  He's been in there pretty much since except to eat and he's barely been eating.  A couple cans of cream of mushroom soup, a can of chicken noodle, lots of water.  And sleeping otherwise.  We had a couple covid tests on hand so I had him take one and it came back positive.  So I took one and it came back negative, but my nose had some blood in it that got on the swab which can cause a false negative.  I've just been dragging hard since yesterday, but I don't seem to have any symptoms but extreme fatigue.  But the kids seem to be going downhill now, too.  And we have no more test kits and I am too tired to drive to go get some.

DH is going to call the doctor's office tomorrow and see what he needs to do, since it is early enough to get on the Covid meds still, and they will probably want to do their own rapid test to confirm and then if they do and it does, I will call them, too, and ask if I should still come in for my appointment on Wednesday about blood sugar testing or wait and make an appointment for the week or two weeks after Thanksgiving.  If so, that'll give me a little more time to lose weight.

And speaking of weight I have lost ten pounds.  Today was a bit difficult because I was dragging so hard I did not want to cook.  I resorted to instant mashed potatoes, microwaving a pack of gluten free brown gravy, using a frozen steamer bag of broccoli, and dumping out a jar of chuck roast into a bowl and warming it up and calling it good.  It was not the most gourment of meals, but it had protein, low carb veg, and starch.  I refuse to give up on my nutrition now that I have got my diet back under control, though.

No fruit today.  I had grapes the past two days with dinner, just 12, and it just felt like I was eating straight sugar, within 5 minutes I felt light-headed and dizzy and like I needed to go lay down before I fell down.  So maybe it is just the grapes and I need to try something else, or maybe it is fruit entirely.  I will try a half cup of blueberries tomorrow with my dinner.  If they trigger it again, I think fruit will just have to be a very rare thing.  I can get everything fruit would give me from bell peppers and tomatoes and squash anyway.

We have cancelled our Thanksgiving.  I may make it on Saturday or Sunday if I am feeling up to it, but Thursday is out of the question.  It is too much work right now to do alone and I can't even drive to the store to buy the bread for the stuffing and I don't feel up to making 4 loaves of bread, either.  3 for the stuffing, because the loaves are smaller, and 1 to eat, because we are out of bread.  I don't even feel like walking out to the garage to get potatoes, I'm so tired.

Well, that's about it.  Good night, everyone.  I'm going to bed.

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.

Back Into Money Saving Mode With Groceries--Tracker at the End

October 4th, 2022 at 11:44 am

We are starting hardcore meal planning and meal prepping to get back into saving money on food, eating better, including a lot more vegetables and a lot less carbs, almost everything from scratch, and slaying the takeout demon and waster of money and tempter of credit card spending.  I spent $301 on groceries yesterday and today from a $500 two week grocery budget.  My goal is to have $100 left at the end of the 2 week pay period to put in the beef fund.  I have 11 days to go.  I think we can do it, but we will see.  And if we don't eat out, we'll probably save another $500 or more.

I started cooking with what we had on hand and eased into it so that I could be at the spot we are today.  Last week I took all of my ripe tomatoes and started cooking them down so I would have a decent amount of sauce to start with and then cooked up a bunch of hamburger and a bunch of garden zucchini and mixed it all up together and doled it all out into meal prop containers with a side of wild rice (no rice for me).  It provided 3 lunches for 4 people for 3 days.  I froze the rest of the very delicious tomato sauce for future use.

The day after that I did a massive grocery shop and then today I picked up a dozen things that the other store didn't have.  Most of today I spent chopping up things and preparing other things.  I cut up 8 bell peppers into slices and dices and 5 onions (mine that I grew, 1 purple, 4 Walla Walla sweets) into slices and dices, 6 things of broccoli, 3 pounds of potatoes, most of a batch of green onions, cut up 1 pound of cheese into cubes for snacking, and shred the other half of the brick, and cooked up 2 pounds of breakfast sausage and some of the diced onion and bell peppers, while the potatoes were roasting in the pan.

I assembled and cooked one breakfast casserole with potatoes, eggs, a little milk, cheese, green and yellow bell peppers, sweet onions, and ground breakfast sausage.  And I have the other one most of the way ready.  It so far has potatoes, sausage, green onions, and cheese in the dish, and in the morning I will saute spinach, add the eggs and milk and cook that one.  The second one will be for my daughter as she can't handle the peppers and regular onions.  We will freeze half of it as she can't get through it fast enough.  I won't be eating either of these because of the potatoes, but saved out some sausage and will just make myself an omelet for breakfast with that, bell pepper, green onions, and cheese.

After breakfast, I will be cooking up a whole lot of polish sausage and kielbasa some for this week and some to go in the freezer for next week or the week after that, not sure yet.  Not really sure if we want to do sausage and peppers for lunches 2 weeks in a row.  But I'd rather cook it all up in one long session now.  Then I'll do enough peppers for this week's lunches.  I'll have to buy more peppers tomorrow, but I'll probably just slice and freeze.  There is a good sale that ends tomorrow, but I didn't have room in my fridge to buy more than the eight I bought until I started making meals and putting things in the freezer or reducing the size of the veggies by slicing and dicing.  If the guys want something to go with the sausage and peppers that is more carby they can have whatever leftovers we will have like mashed potatoes from tonight's dinner or root veggies, or mixed veggies from the freezer, or rice.  Whatever.

While doing that I will have some hamburger thawing to mix with the mild Italian sausage that is already thawed in the fridge so I can get some meatballs made up.  If we have any ground chicken, turkey, or lamb left, I'll throw that in, too.  I want to make enough to have three meals worth of meatballs.  We'll have gluten free penne and meatballs with zucchini for dinner tomorrow night.  I'll want something easy I can just dump in the Instant Pot.

I'll thaw out some other sausage I have that is not from the hog we just got that needs to be used up, along with some hamburger and make up a couple of meatloaves for the freezer and while I am at it I will use the two mild Italian sausages that are from the hog we bought and are thawed out to make meatballs for the freezer.

For dinner tomorrow we will have baked chicken with roasted root vegetables of a large parsnip, a very large sweet potato, two turnips and two yellow potatoes, and purple green beans from my garden.

For Wednesday we will have pork chops, fried potatoes, and more purple green beans.

Thursday will be beef stir-fry with broccoli, onions, carrots, celery, bok choy, water chestnuts, purple green beans, and bamboo shoots if I still have a can. It will be served with white rice.

Friday we will have Butter and Basil Chicken with sheet pan vegetables (they had these at Costco, I don't remember exactly what was in them, but they looked yummy and were mostly low carb), and baked potatoes.

Saturday will be Coho salmon, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  I might get some corn on the cob, too, when I pick up more bell peppers.  We haven't had any this summer.  Too long recovering from the reoccuring stomach virus.

Sunday will be meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and purple green beans.

I've also got to do some more peeling and cutting up tomorrow.  I need to get cucumbers and carrots peeled, cucumbers, carrots and radishes sliced, and carrots and celery cut into sticks.  I need to make up some French onion dip with plain yogurt for my daughter and make up some green godess dressing with plain yogurt for my son.  I have to finish chopping up the bottom portion of the green onions.

So we have salad fixings, coleslaw fixings, veggie sticks, and pico de gallo fixings on hand to eat at will, as well as fruit for snack cravings for those who want more carbs than me.  My son has plain tortilla chips left.  Sometimes I will throw pico in my eggs.  My coleslaw is not made with sugar, just 1 tbsp of honey in the entire simple dressing, and no vinegar, to keep the carb count low.

Once I get through what I've got planned so far, then I need to inventory the house freezer and see where to go from there, while I am still feeling like I can.  I'd like to get some more meals put together to kill the "I don't wanna cook" attitidude or even the "I can't keep food down and can't get near food" issue that happened so much this summer.  Even if it is just having all the ingredients ready in the freezer to be thrown together it will help so much.  And if I can't throw it together at least the guys will be able to.  I still think it was the medicine I quit taking, but I can't be sure, as I still don't feel right.  It still might be related to my heart.  I will be so glad when I get the results back from the 2 week heart monitor test.

I am planning out some freezer meals to do depending on when certain sales hit, but I missed the boneless skinless chicken sale because I was sick when it hit, so cilantro lime chicken and parsley chicken are off the table until the next one unless I want to thaw, skin, and debone the chicken I already have and refreeze it, which I don't.  So no premaking them, but I can make them for dinner with no premaking if I feel like it.  It'll just have to be a good day where I am on top of things.  It'll probably be 5 to 6 weeks before that sale hits again.  The chuck roast sale went up .47/lb, from the normal cycle.  I think it is going to stay there.  It was the same week I was too sick to leave the house, just at a different store. I was going to buy 8 so I could can, but such is life.

Here's a list of the groceries I bought:

1 large Zoi Greek yogurt

1 large bag mixed vegetable blend

2 steamer bags riced cauliflower

1 lb brick extra sharp white cheddar

2 lb brick medium cheddar

32 ounce Daisy sour cream

1 gallon organic milk

1 half gallon lactose free organic milk

4 dozen organic pasture-raised eggs

2 beef chuck roasts

2 bags cole slaw mix

1 bag spinach

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch Italian parsley

2 limes

2 large cucumbers

2 large green zucchini

1 bunch green onions

1 bunch radishes

5.65 lb of yellow potatoes

4 very large sweet potatoes (3 types)

2 apple juice

3 lb strawberries

2 bok choy

1 savoy cabbage

1 thumb ginger root

4 parsnips

7 turnips

Fresh marjoram

2 red, 2 green, 2 yellow, 2 orange bell peppers

Bananas

Blackberries

Broccoli

1 Elephant garlic

2 lb bag organic carrots

Fresh thyme

1 box yellow kiwis

3 lb bag baby potatoes

6 avocados

Blueberries

Bartlett pears

Cosmic crisp apples

Celery

1 leek

Beechers flagship cheese

18 month cave aged gouda

Feta crumbles

4 oz can sliced black olives

4 cans pumpkin puree

1 Redmond pink Himalayan salt shaker

At Costco:

2 12 packs polish sausage

3 8 packs kielbasa

Italian seasoning

Shaky Pepper

Pink fine ground Himalayan salt to refill salt shaker

1 bag sheet pan vegetables

1 package beef snack sticks

So hopefully only a few little filler items from here.

Selling Garlic and Salmon Fishing

September 22nd, 2022 at 11:16 pm

Yesterday was officially six weeks on the garlic drying so today I get to go out to the garage and sort through them.  I will pick the best looking bulbs of the bunch to save for planting towards the end of October or the start of November.  It will be great not to have to pay for bulbs this year.  I have already picked out 4 bulbs of the Elephant garlic, it is just the Music I have to sort through.  I figured it out, though, based on current costs in seed catalogues or their websites.

1 bulb of elephant garlic goes for $13 for conventionally grown and $18 for organically grown.  Yes, just one bulb.  I about fell over.  The bulb I bought last year was from the grocery store and was $3.99.  I am assuming it was conventionally grown.  I bulb of elephant garlic only has 7 cloves, no more, no less, so you can never grow more than that.  So this year I will be growing 28 elephant garlic plants for free and next year I will double that to have 48 and the next year I can consider them organically grown, since I will have grown them using organic methods.

I won't go above 48 the following year for my family, though.  There is only so much elephant garlic one can use  I will grow and sell some for seed to other people for far less than what is in the catalogue.  Maybe $6 or $7 per bulb which is more than reasonable for organic.  I'll check the catalog price the year I would sell them.  I would have space to grow 96 plants so could sell half of them.

Worst case scenario, I dehydrate them and grind them when I need garlic power or rehydrate them night before if I need them in a recipe the next night.  After taking out my 48 and the additional 14 I'd hold back for seed for the next planting, that would give me 34 bulbs to sell to others.  The following year I would know if I saved to many for myself and could adjust accordingly.  And I'd know the demand.

I do, eventually, have plans to sell organic Music bulbs of garlic as well.  That's something that sells out so quickly that it is almost impossible to get.  I barely got the conventionally grown ones last year.  They are going for $9 for one bulb this year.  Last year I paid $50 for 21 bulbs.  When I went back the next day to see if they had shallots, the Music was marked as sold out.  So were the shallots, but I will get some this year.

So once I build up past how much I want to have only for us to eat, which would be about 30 bulbs for cooking and dehydrating (we use a lot of garlic so between that and the music we should be fine), any extra could be sold as seed bulbs.  People on my farming list are asking all the time if anyone knows where they can buy Music.  I could eventually do a small bag of Music bulbs, maybe 5, for $15. 

Garlic involves some labor at the begining in the planting.  During the growing season, you pull the occasional weed, and you turn on the soaker hose consistently.  It's pretty care free as it has no predators.  I keep a cage on it anyway so the deer don't bed down in it.  Then at the end you dig it out and put it in drying racks for 3 weeks, trim the stems down, dry for 3 more weeks, and then box up and put in a cool, dark place to store.  I spend maybe 2 hours total, so selling 6 bags of garlic would be more than enough to pay me back for my time, plus I get a lot of garlic out of it, too, for my family.

It's time to turn the onions over, too.  They need to be trimmed down the rest of the way and dried out for 3 more weeks.  And it is time to start digging up the potatoes.  Most of the plants are completely dead.  The rest can go another week.

DH is going salmon fishing.  Apparently they can only get 2 each, which sucks.  In Alaska they get to bring home 6 fish each on each type of salmon and some they can bring home 25 to 30 per household.  Then B.C. gets a ton.  No wonder there's no fish by the time it reaches Washington.  I'm okay with the tribes getting their share, they deserve that above anyone else, it's all the other folks getting tons and tons with crazy high limits that bugs me, while we have dinky ones.

It used to be worth the gas money to go out when gas was cheap, but it isn't really anymore, especially with only 3 of them going out to split the cost.  And that's assuming they catch any fish.  Otherwise, I'd just as soon go to the grocery store and buy 2 whole wild caught coho salmon.  It'd cost less, unless they come home with monsters.  I'd be tempted to get a fishing license and go out so we could get two more fish, but again, we could just buy a fish with the cost of the license.  This is probably the last trip of the season, too.

Mom wants to do a dump run on Sunday.  Well, she wanted to do it on Saturday, but fishing.  She's probably going to pout about it for the rest of the week that it isn't on the day she wanted, and then forget what day of the week it actually is, think it is Sunday on Saturday (happens a lot on the weekend), stomp around and have a martyr complex that slips into an "Oh, woe is me," thing, until someone reminds her it isn't Sunday and she'll snap out of it like she wasn't behaving that way at all and not apologize to anyone for acting that way.  Gotta love dementia.  Monday through Thursday are generally pretty good, though.

I picked another 2 pounds of tomatoes yesterday.  It was mostly the little yellow pear ones.  I need to wash, destem, quarter, and roast tomatoes, so I can make roasted tomato ketchup.  I saw a lady make it on youtube and it looks so good.  I might have enough yellow tomatoes to make one jar of just yellow ketchup.  That would be interesting.  I love making roasted tomato spaghetti sauce, so I can't imagine this wouldn't be good, too.

I got my first purple green beans yesterday.  They grow purple, but turn green when cooked.  It's about 2 quarts.  It's not enough to run the canner, but considering the way this summer went, I am grateful to have gotten any.  The canner instructions say to run it with 4 jars, and I don't want to do pints of green beans, because we eat a cup each at dinner.  But if I hold off for 2 days, there might be enough ready to do 4 quarts.  There were some that were almost ready and there were some that could be ready since I gave them a good soaking and we are back to weather in the mid-seventies again.  Or I could just run them with pints of carrots, since carrot pints and green bean quarts run for the same amount of time and I am almost out of carrot pints.  Then I could do a full canner load and I can do that again when I have more green beans.  Two birds, one stone and food on the shelf.  Perfect.

I would have canned it with the ketchup, but that is waterbath canning and the other is pressure canning and they take different times.  Food safety first and foremost.  I really hope the ketchup turns out well.  I'd hate to waste all those tomatoes.

 

All Over the Place

September 14th, 2022 at 12:12 am

We are spending too much money again.  I am not sure if we are going to get out of this month without carrying a balance forward into next month on our credit card.  Some of it was paying for glasses and contacts for me and my son, but a lot of it was eating out way too much and being a little too fast on the draw with that amazon mouse click thing.  You know when you suddenly get a big raise and you think, "Yee Haw! I can spend again, I don't have to be tight anymore!"  And you overdo it?  Yeah, that's us.  So now I need to reign it back in and get us back on track.  I don't want to use the emergency fund to cover us.  Maybe interest is what we need to teach us a lesson here.  Moving on.

I read an article the other day that said that those who get debt forgiveness for their college loans are going to have to claim that amount as income on their income taxes.  I wonder if they know that?  I bet it is going to hit a lot of people hard in the gut at tax time.  It'll make a lot of people used to getting a tax return have to pay taxes, maybe for the first time in their lives and they probably won't have that money to pay because they won't know about it.  No one is preparing them.  No one is showing them the dark side.  Just the la la la skipping through the daisies side.  It's not really forgiveness if it comes with that kind of string attached.  If they are going to do it, they should do it free and clear, not with a price tag.

It is so nice to see clear, blue skies again.  The forest fires were blowing their smoke this way again, giving us the apocalypse sky of light brownish gray with a brilliant orange sun behind it.  The sun always looks amazingly pretty when this happens, but I prefer to be able to go outside and breathe.  I did have to go outside one day with one of those medical masks they wouldn't let anyone buy at the start of Covid and quickly pick tomatoes, but otherwise stayed inside.  Even with that, I had to use a nebulizer treatment afterwards.  I got 12.2 pounds of tomatoes, making the running total of tomatoes 23.6 so far from the garden.  I'm going to pick more today, so will update that in the next post. 

On the medical front, I continue to lose weight, this time in a more healthy manner than when I had that horrible stomach flu.  Once I started eating again after that, the weight loss that stuck was 12 pounds.  I've now lost 20 pounds.  I'm eating mostly chicken and fish, regular vegetables, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and squash.  I'll have rice or corn on occasion, but no other grains.

I can't remember the last time I had beef, maybe 3 weeks ago when we had spaghetti, though we did have a ham from our half a hog a week ago.  I didn't have much, though it was very good, just a little too salty for my taste.  I cut off all the fat.  We'll save the other one for a holiday when there will be more people to eat it.  I did save the ham bone and will make broth with it later on.  It will flavor broth nicely with it's smokey saltiness. 

Plus I have all the scraps I have been saving, onion skins, garlic skins, shallot skins, carrot peels, celery tops, parsley stems, and a few herbs from the garden, to add in to making the broth for extra flavor.  I used to always do that when times were tight, but over the last couple years got out of the habit.  When food costs started skyrocketing, I got back in the habit of doing a scrap bag in the freezer again for broth. We have to be economical with food in these times of massive food cost rises.  I always try to be, but it is necessary now more than ever to go back to my previous cost cutting ways.  Which, in the end, is better for my diet.

As for other medical stuff, yesterday I got my mammogram.  It's been 7 years since I've had one done and the technology has changed.  It is very futuristic robot looking as opposed to a garage workshop vice clamp.  Don't get me wrong, in the end it is still a vice clamp, but looks like it belongs on a space ship.  They really ought to have some kind of chair that moves with the machine for disabled and old people though.  Getting into position hurt my back and legs, which was the part that caused pain.  Now my doctor will stop nagging me, though.

I know I should have done it sooner.  My mom had breast cancer at 40 and I did one at 30, one at 35, one at 40 and one at 45 and I was supposed to do one at 50 so I am 2 years overdue.  But I've has so much other medical crap to deal with between me and my daughter these last few years, I really didn't want to deal.  My eldest sister (64) had uterine cancer recently, so it has hit my family of origin twice.  That's what got me to go in.  That's the only one I don't have to worry about since I had a hysterectomy at 33, but still.

I'm thinking about having DD tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and probably me, too, depending on cost.  If insurance covers it, great.  If it doesn't, than just DD.  I'd like to do genetic testing for Ehlers-Danlos on her, too.  If we can afford it.

Then today I went to the cardiologist and got my patch.  It's a portable EKG.  They used to have to do a harness thing, but now they can just attach a patch to your chest and it monitors stuff.  It has a button you can push if you feel anxious, arm or neck pain/tingling, chest pain or pressure, dizziness, fainted, light headed, pounded, fluttering or racing, short of breath, skipped or irregular beats, or other.  Then you mark it down in a book with the date, the time, the duration, and what you were doing.  It only gives 13 pages.  Hopefully that is enough or I might have to add some.  Some weeks I have a lot of incidents and others I have none.

It is a two week test.  It was ordered by my neurologist to try to get to the bottom of my fainting spells to see if I was having syncopy.  My regular doctor has been wanting to do one for a while, too, but we have been trying to control my asthma first, which got bad with Original Covid, then Covid II: The Return, then what they call long Covid.  Then the summers with smoke from forest fires have not helped.

The treatment plan I'm on has helped some, but not completely, so he has wanted to look at my heart next, because I have racing heart, and I was born with a heart murmur that may have gotten worse, and sometimes I feel pressure, and shortness of breath when I am sitting still that may or may not be caused by asthma or long Covid.  So this test will satisfy him as well, or at least give him information.  And if there is nothing wrong there, than I think the next step will be an MRI of my lungs.

Honestly, the possibility of heart issues, is what has kicked me into gear with the diet this time.  If that is something I have to fight, I need to get into a healthier body to do that.  I need to anyway.  It is exhausting to be this way.  Losing weight will help with my fibromyalgia and my joint pain, so it will help lesson some of my RA symptoms, too. What I have to do is just stay motivated, even if there is nothing wrong with my heart.  I am sick and tired of always being sick and tired.

I am going to be stopping the shot I've been on for RA.  The side effects have been bad.  They are frequent colds and respiratory infections.  I have had nothing but that since I started this drug.  I wash my hands all the time.  I use sanitizer when I'm out.  I sanitize the steering wheel and door handles if my husband drove last because he brings stuff home from work.

I santize the door knobs.  I wear my mask and vinyl gloves in stores on the rare times I go in one even though we are not required to and I still get sick.  Sure the RA pain has been completely gone, but I can't live like this.  Every time I've stopped it with antibiotic use and gotten better, then taken the shot again, two days later I've caught something else.  So, no more of that.  I can't deal with it.  It has been a miserable summer.  I've barely had a chance to enjoy it.  I want to enjoy what is left of it.

Okay, well, after all that word vomit, it's time to go make dinner and not order it.  Baked chiken thighs, roasted potatoes, and green breans.  The chicken I pulled out of the freezer said 99 cents a pound and was from May 7, 2022.  It was the last time I saw that sale price.  I'll proabably never see that in a store again.  But I've got 8 more pack of it in the freezer, so there's that.

 

 

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.

Price Breakdown on Half a Hog

August 28th, 2022 at 03:08 am

We just came home from the butcher and got everything squared away in the freezer and I've now done the math, so I can give you the breakdown on what we got and what we paid for our organic, pasture-raised meat.  Keep in mind this is not going to be the cheapest stuff you can get from the store, if you even still can.  These animals are not feed lot raised or even raised in a nice barn, but confined to a pen.

They are out there in the sunshine, with little shelters if it gets too hot, too windy, or too rainy.  These pigs walk free and root around in the soil eating anything they find that is good for them.  This is the prime stuff, not the stuff injected with salt water or who knows what else.  These pigs get exercise and their meat is nowhere near the color of what you see in the stores.  They are rotationally grazed, which means they get fresh pasture every 10 days, before any parasite pressure can develop from being in the same space too long.  They are given organic feed, free choice minerals, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmers gardens.  And that healthy environment and food, that difference, is reflected in the price, the quality, and the taste.

That being said, here is the meat I got.  I could have gotten roasts, but I wanted more sausage, so didn't get any.

38 1 inch pork chops

8 1 inch pork steaks

3 family sized packages of spare ribs

16 country spare ribs (basically boneless smaller steaks)

16.5 pounds of bacon

24 lbs of country (breakfast) sausage

24 lbs of mild Italian sausage

2 hams (they should just fit in an oval 6 quart crockpot for size)

2 packages smoked ham hocks

1 8 lb bag of leaf lard (for making biscuits and pie crusts)

I skipped getting the rest of the lard as it has a porky taste to it and while we don't mind it, especially for deep frying, my mother hates the smell of it.  Leaf lard has no smell or taste to it and doesn't stink when rendering it down.  It would have been about 30 lbs if I had gotten the regular lard.

Hanging weight for the hog was 210 pounds.  Hanging weight is the amount my half of the carcass weighed after all the guts came out.  I was charged $3.50/lb on that, coming to a total of $735.  But that is not the grand total, so don't be pulling out your calculater yet.

Next up comes the butcher fees, which are quite a lot different than when getting beef, because a lot more is being done.  The butcher fee covers the killing, gutting, and the hanging in the refrigerted warehouse, the cut and wrap fee which is based on cutting it up into pieces and how much plastic and paper is used to package the meat, the cure and smoke fee for things like the bacon, ham, and hocks, the bacon slicing fee, and finally the sausage processing fee.  The last involves the grinding down of the meat, twice, a large grind followed by a small grind, then of course mixing the seasonings in.  I got charged twice for that since I had two different kinds and they have to clean the machine in between.  If I'd only gotten one type of sausage, that fee would have been half what is listed below.

$85.00 Butchering Fee

165.90 Cut and Wrap Fee

$36.23 Curing and Smoking Fee

$12.00 Sausage Processing Fee

+_6.00 Bacon Slicing Fee

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

329.24 Total Meat Processing Fee

Add that together with the hanging weight fee:

$735.00

+329.24

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

1064.24 Total for Hog

This brings the total per pound to $5.07/lb. for organic pastured pig.  Which is incredible for that type of meat.  And let's face it, I can't even get regular bacon, pork sausage, or ham for that price anymore where I live, and you probably can't either, except maybe a picnic ham around the holidays.  Sometimes not even pork loin chops, let alone the real ones with the bones.  Pork shoulder you can get for $1.99/lb, sometimes ribs for $3.99/lb.  But there is stuff injected into that pork shoulder and often any chops before they are cut.  It's $8 a pound for organic bacon and $7 a pound for regular.  Today's prices, with all that inflation, are horrible.

One 1 lb organic, pasture-raised pork chop of the same size as the ones I got runs for $9.28/lb.  It cost $22.49 for a package of 2 country ribs.  Mine had 4 and cost $7 less based on weight comparison.  This was from the same farm I got it from, only in the store, so the best comparison.  The sausage from the same place is $10 a pound on the rare occasion it isn't sold out by 10 a.m. and was out of my price range to buy it that way  So I think I did pretty good there buying it this way.  If inflation continues as it has been, I wouldn't be surprised if in a year we aren't paying $5/lb for all cuts of pork.

This should last us a year.  We don't eat a ton of pork, mostly breakfast types or to use the sausage in meatloaves or meatballs, but it'll be nice to change up the chicken, beef, and seafood.  It works out to 380 servings, give or take how much broth we get from the hocks and ham bones.  That works out to 95 meals for 4, so we could have pork 1.82 times per week.  I haven't had bacon in so long.  I've been eating a lot of turkey bacon because it is so much cheaper, but really, it just tastes like ham to me.

Honestly, the size on some of those chops and steaks, I could probably cut them in half and have even more meals from them.  A hog from the butcher stays good up to two years in a deep freeze, so I could cut part of the chops or steaks off, cook them, and then use the cut off part in stir-fry in another meal.  I'll have to think on that, but no one needs to eat a one pound pork chop or steak, that's for sure.

Now to start saving up for next year's beef.  And maybe another chest freezer, so I can stockpile chicken, too.  Bulk buying off the farm, organic and pasture-raised, saves me so much money against buying it from the store, when and if I can even find it.  I don't have the energy to raise them myself anymore, not even the 8 weeks for Cornish cross, but I know a farmer who will raise them for me next summer.  52 chickens in the freezer would be very, very nice.

Yesterday's Spending

May 30th, 2022 at 01:01 am

I spent $142 on garden stuff yesterday.  The welded wire tomato cages were the most expensive items.  I had hoped to make it back there before the turquoise cages were gone.  I would have bought a couple last time I was there, but they were all zip-tied together and they were closing in ten minutes, and it was too much of a hassle.  So I got two yellow ones and two hot pink ones in the smaller size.  I use these on peppers not tomatoes anyway.  It is just so windy here during May and June that the cages help keep the plants from being blown over.  They were pricey.

I was able to find a jalapeño plant, but they were out of bells.  They had cayenne, but I had one of those already along with 1 bell.  They had serrano and poblano, but I'm not growing any other spicy peppers this year.  There were no Anaheims.  I just wasn't able to get over there when I needed to.  But I was able to pick up 4 gold rush zucchini plants and 2 of the regular green ones, 4 cucumbers, 2 Early Girl tomatoes, and 1 Joe's best Roma.  I have 1 million pears already.  I also picked up four big sweet basil plants, decided not to get a Thai basil plant because the three they had looked very stressed.

After that I looked for some flowers.  As much as I wanted to get a couple flats of petunias, I have no place to plant those.  I ended up getting a 1/2 gallon pot of Veronica, which is a deep blue perrenial (unless it goes to 10 degrees, which might happen once every ten years or so, and a deep red yarrow.  Deer don't like either of those flowers so I will plant them with my zucchini.  The prices of starts have gone way up this year.  Next year I really have to start my own.  I have the grow lights and I have the station set up, I just haven't done it.  I have all the seeds and everything.

After that we went over to the grocery store that carries plants from the same nursery and found 3 Better Belles in 1/2 gallon pots. Better Belles are not my favorite type of bell pepper.  I feel like Northstar performs better here, but I waited too long and these are my choices if I want plants from a no-spray source and not a big box store.  I may yet check the food co-op, because they will often have things later than others and they are organic from another source.  I might find an Anaheim that way, but if not it is not a deal breaker.

That about did me in, just going to those two places, since I was still not doing that great, but again, I wore my mask, and DH handled the money and picked up the plants, so I didn't touch anything and I wasn't passing anything along to anybody.  Plus I had a negative Covid home test, so I think I'm okay.  We can't not ever go out with a head cold again, after all.  If I waited any longer there would have been nothing but flowers, herbs, and lettuces left.

I didn't plant anything yesterday, but I sat out in the fresh air and under the lightly overcast sky while DH put in another row of potatoes and then hilled up soil on the other four rows we planted before we left.  Those five rows were all the seed potatoes I purchased.  This morning DH put in two more rows before I got up.  These were the Kennebecs and Russets that I planted last year and saved for seed this year.  He's still got some more of that to do and then I have some grocery store potatoes that have sprouted as well that are golds.  I'll have to check the other potatoes I bought two weeks ago, too.  Everything that can go in the ground, will go in the ground.

After all the potatoes I have get planted, I will plant the sweet potato plants that I've been growing in water for 3 months.  One of the vines goes all the way up to the top of the window, so now that it is warm enough to plant those I want to get them in the ground.

I still have to plant the plants I bought yesterday and the put a wire cover over the zucchini and cucumbers.  I have to make the wire cover, though.  We have the welded wire fencing and the wire cutter, which is one I can operate with my arthritic hands, but the fencing is so heavy DH will have to help with it, since DS has come down with the cold.

I think I'm about at 60%, so I still need to take it easy and get enough sleep, but I definitely turned the corner yesterday and I think tomorrow, if I stay on this projectory will be about 70%.  I have physical therapy on Tuesday.  I won't make the decision on going or not until Monday around 3:00.  If I still feel sick then, I will cancel, because I have to touch too many things that others have to touch.

The cottonwood has started blooming and blowing its fluff balls all over the place, so it's hard to tell how much of the congestion is from my allergy to that and how much is left from the cold.  Either way, it is not helping.

DH is out running around trying to find a pharmacy that has Adderall that doesn't have blue dye.  DS is allergic to blue dye.  Walgreens is out in the whole county, so he was going to try one of the Rite Aids and have them call around to the others and then he'll try the Haggen pharmacies, then Costco, Fred Meyer, and Wal*Mart.  Hopefully he can find them, since DS left it to the last minute to tell us he needed it.

When he gets back I will plant my plants, since they are still in the back of the van.

 

 

I Didn't Think I'd Be Able to Ever Move Again

May 19th, 2022 at 02:06 am

Last night was rough.  I did a lot of new exercises at physical therapy and even though it was in the pool it totally kicked my butt.  45 minutes of non-stop exercise was only possible with the decreased gravity.  By the time I got home everything hurt so bad.  I made it halfway to the house before I had to sit down in the chair at the bottom of the ramp and put the bag down.  It was so heavy with a wet towel and suit in there.  And I forgot my phone so I couldn't call DH to come out and get me.  So I sat there about ten minutes until I could go into the house and send DH out for my bag.  That's how weak I was.

I wasn't able to move my arms enough to make dinner.  They just felt like lead.  It felt like a full on fibro flare with the RA kicking in just for fun.  So we got Mexican.  I had a single tostada de ceviche.  They make it with tiger shrimp and it is really good with lots of tomatoes and onions.  And then I had a rectangle from a chicken quesadilla.  I also got 1 beef enchilada with rice, but I was too exhausted to eat it, so it went in the fridge for today.  I figured I would be able to eat it all since I hadn't eaten all day (yes, bad, I know).  And the rest of the family only ate 1 triangle each of the quesadilla, so there are still two left which I will probably have for lunch tomorrow.  We spent $80 for the four of us.

I took a hot shower after dinner and that helped, but DH had to come wash my hair since I wasn't able to lift my arms above my head.  I still had a good bit of pain going on so I took half a hydrocodone and it knocked me out and when I woke up I felt a lot better.  I can still feel some soreness, but it is just muscle soreness and not fibro.  It hurts to raise my hands above my head, but I can.

The hands still hurt, but they always do after a lot of work.  And not near as much as yesterday as I am typing fairly easily.  I will probably have to avoid that exercise in the future due to how hard it was on my hands.  It was using a mini-kickboard, holding it upright underwater, and pulling it towards me and pushing it away.  It builds the core, but so do a lot of other things, so we'll figure something out.  I have PT again on Friday so we can talk about it then.

I am able to make dinner tonight so we have steaks thawing.  I am going to cook the steaks rare and have green beans, and French fries.  It's a fairly simple dinner.  If my hands were better I'd be making fried potatoes, but French fries will have to do.  I have been making a lot more meals, but yesterday just threw me for a loop.  I will be making a crockpot meal on Friday so that I won't have to worry about making dinner when I get back from PT, it will just be there and ready.  We have beef ribs which work really well with low and slow cooking, so I will just throw them in there with some potatoes and sweet potatoes and then all that will need to be done when I get home is micro-steam a bag of broccoli.

DS and I went out to "shop" the freezer and brought in some steaks and roasts, Canadian bacon, and a pack of hotdogs.  I only had 16 pounds of butter, so I need to do a major stock up.  Last year I bought 60 pounds of butter and 8 of those in there were bought recently, so we went through a pound of butter a week, so I guess I planned pretty well.  I like spring and summer butter when the cows are on green grass and not hay.  I get grass fed butter and there is a world of difference between that and conventional, but also between summer and winter butter.

DS and I need to do an inventory of what is out there and of what is in the mini-chest freezer.  It is easy to see what is in the upright.  I need to see what we need to eat through and how much space we will have in the house and how much we will have in the garage.  I know some of what is in there is crab bait chicken and turkey breast and that will be out of there as soon as the dungeness season starts.  They have freezer burn, so this is a great way of not wasting the meat.  It'll get us through the season and it sure beats buying crab bait, especially at today's prices.

I had regular therapy today and we talked about how I don't like change and how I want to cut my hair and I've wanted to cut it since before the pandemic and things have been open and without masks for quite some time, but I don't do it.  Part of it was my salon went out of business, but something else was affecting me and I knew it.  So she asked if anything from my childhood might be affecting me and I realized that Mom made me get pixie cuts when I was a kid, because she didn't want to deal with the work of longer hair.  I wasn't allowed to choose my own hair cut until I was in the third grade and then I grew it long.

And even though I have had it short at various times in my life it was because I wanted to.  Now it is below my waist and full of damage and i need to get it cut.  And you know what?  My mom keeps saying that I need to get it cut.   Constantly.  And I haven't, because I still resent her very much for forcing me to have a style of hair that I hated for so many years.  Or that one time she made me get a perm.

So, now that I realize the only reason I am not doing it is to spite her, I think I can finally get past this and cut my hair to a couple inches below my shoulders and be done with it.  I've found a salon after much looking, so all I need to do is call tomorrow and schedule an appointment.

It's good for me to be able to realize what this is and get through it.  This is not the only aspect of my life that Mom affects this way, unfortunately.  And all of it relates back to having no bodily auntonomy when I was younger.  So steps were taken today to help me realize this and I feel a lot lighter.

Alright, well I better get to making dinner now that the steaks have sat out for an hour and are at room temp.  Then after dinner I will work in the garden a little.  Instead of getting a whole load of dirt, I've realized that we have a bunch of totes that we were growing in for the last two years that have dirt in them.  I weeded several of them yesterday and I managed to screen all the dirt in one to pull out roots and other things, like the peanuts our crazy squirrel couple bury all over the place.  Two of the peanuts have roots on them, so I put them in a large pot and we will see what becomes of them.

Last year there was one that grew and actually formed some peanuts.  Of course, I didn't know what it was until I'd pulled it out and it didn't take to being replanted and died.  I didn't even know peanuts could grow here, but apparently they can.  And these one's hadn't formed any other nuts on them so they have a better chance.  I'll have to look up their needs to see if they need special care and make sure I planted them at the right depth.

Okay, really going now.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Another Step Towards Food Security in a Time of Shortages

April 4th, 2022 at 04:34 am

It was dry and overcast yesterday, so worked on the garden, filling a 22 foot by 3 foot raised garden bed with rotted manure and soil.  I can't do any weight bearing exercise, so I was in charge of raking the dirt out after DH and DS dumped it in, plus breaking up clumps in the manure.  This stuff has been composted for 3 years, so it wasn't gross or anything and anyway, I wore gloves.

So we now have two beds the same size ready to go, although one of them has 8 feet of garlic in it that I planted in November.  It's come up very well and I can't believe how huge around the stem is on the elephant garlic.  I will be planting onions in the rest of that bed.  The per pound cost of onions has gotten ridiculous and the selection is kind of gross sometimes.  I am planting mostly keeping onions, but I will plant some sweet onions to cut up and freeze.  I want to do some shallots this year and of course some bunching onions.

With the bed we just finished I will be planting carrots, parsnips, turnips, and radishes.  I can can all of these things, but I will just have the radishes for eating, not for canning.  I don't know if I like pickled radishes or not, so I am going to try making one pint and if I do, then I will make more, but I don't think I will.

We have 1 1/4 pallets of cinderblocks left, enough to make one more raised bed of the same length, so on the next sunny or at least dry day we will be weed eating the area down to dirt and then covering it with a tarp until the next time DH can get to it to start making the next bed.  I plan on growing zucchini, kohlrabi, chard, cabbage, cucucmbers, and herbs, in that bed.

I looked at the deck today and all the plastic boards are the same length and they seem to be tongue and groove.  This will be great material for raised beds, plus we can reuse the support beams and posts as well.  I can't see how they were attached to the supports though, there are no nails or screws, so I am wondering if they were attached on the underside.  DS will have to look underneath to determine it when it is time to take the deck apart.  I don't think DH is capable of crawling under there anymore.

So those beds will be built where we had the potatoes last year, which is a 16 by 20 foot area. I am planning to transfer the strawberries into one of those beds, because where they were last year led to a lot of scorching of the plants in mid-July through August when we were having temps in the 90's and when it wasn't it was in the high 80's.  But it didn't kill them.  Which reminds me, I have to get a couple more room air conditioners before summer.

I'd like to also plant asparagus in that bed so it can pull double duty, but I think it will have to wait for next year.  The two grow well together since one has a deep root system and the other has a very shallow root system.  That area gets afternoon shade so will get a break from the sun for about 4 hours before it comes back around the giant cedar tree in the neighbor's yard and gets sun for a couple more hours.

As for the other bed, I am thinking tomatoes and peppers since it will be far less shaded than the first bed.  

We are putting potatoes in next to the yet to be built third cinderblock bed.  It is a 22 foot by 16 foot area, so a bit more space than the other and it will get more sun.  Eventually that area will get three more cinderblcok 22 x 3 foot beds, and we will just plant potatoes in raised beds in the future.  We have plenty of potatoes that we planted last year that have sprouted that we will be planting, but I also got 4 new types of seed potatoes that will ship when it is time to plant, so soon.

I wanted to try some fingerlings, get more Kennebecs, a different red, and German butterballs.  The last ones are supposed to do really well here and are very yellow inside, more so than Yukon golds.  I couldn't get them to try last year as they were sold out.  This year I was smart and ordered in December.  Everything I got is supposed to be long keepers.

I am hoping with better sun placement, we will get a higher yield this year.  And if I like the new varieties, that I will have enough of them to replant with next year, especially the German butterballs, because buying seed potatoes to have them shipped is expensive.  And the ones available locally are not the ones I want to grow and don't even necessarily do well here.

We plan on digging out and giving away some mature raspberry plants.  We have one person that eats them so we will leave a three foot area and get rid of the rest.  We can put up posts and trellis green beans there.  It'll only be the one row but since it is pole beans it will produce and produce.  Some will be green and some will be purple.

Once the deck is torn down, we will be moving the huge climbing rose bush, that used to climb the apple tree before it was cut down, into the front yard where the deck was and dig out a weed tree, then we can build another raised bed row that is 20 x 16 feet.  And if we get a stump grinder to take out the old apple tree stump at least enough so we can level the dirt, and tear down the old chicken coop,  I want to get a 10 x 12 foot plexiglass green house and we can put in two beds inside it for growing sweet potatoes and tomatoes in the future.

That probably won't happen this year, but it is on the agenda, as is tearing down the rabbit shed and planting fruit trees.  I want two more Italian prune plum trees, a Bing cherry tree and a Ranier cherry tree.  I don't know if those ones cross fertilize or not, but there are plenty of flowering cherry trees in the neighborhood.  I also want a good apple tree.  Maybe Opal apples or Tsuguras.  And maybe even a cold hearty nectarine and a pair of male and female cold hardy kiwis.  We won't let anything get huge, we need to be able to pick them easily, so will keep them pruned to a reasonable height.  And I need to get a huckleberry bush from a new supplier.

The dead, rootless sticks Tennessee Wholesale Nursery sent me last year never did anything and they refused to honor their warranty when I told them well before the year mark, and they said to just wait and see, then refused to give me my money back when I did just that.  Never do business with these losers.  I am getting a one gallon plant in a pot shipped to me from a reputable nursery.  I would like two but since one plant is $37, I may have to wait until next year to buy a second one.

So that's the plan.  It may be a three year plan or maybe a five year plan even, but we will do what we can this year, so we can grow and preserve as much food as possible and be far less dependent on the supply chain.  

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. 

Freezer Issues and Hog/Chicken Fund

October 18th, 2021 at 01:11 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$1013.00 Starting Balance

+_175.00 Amount Added

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

$1188.00 New Balance

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

Garden Work

June 2nd, 2021 at 10:58 pm

We finished building the second 21 foot long raised bed on the weekend and worked on getting it filled up on Monday.  We let it settle and my intention was to plant it on Tuesday, but it was 86 degrees for most of the day.  It finally cooled off enough to be outside around 8:30.  DS and I transplanted the onions out of the totes I was growing them in.  I gave them a deep watering and will water again tonight.  We did get the rest of the blackberries planted, too.

By the time we were done moving the onions the sun was almost down, so I didn't get to plant any seeds.  It is hot again today, but not nearly as awful, so I will go out after dinner and plant seeds for carrots, radishes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.  I am only going to do one row of cauliflower.  Last year was the first time I was able to successfully grow it and I'm still a little hesitant to plant more after years of failures.  Since I only have the two beds for now, I'd rather not risk much.

DH isn't going to have time to work on the third bed for probably a couple of weeks.  He's got a lot of overtime planned.  The next paycheck should be a very good one.  I can plant more broccoli and perhaps cauliflower then for the freezer.  And I'll sow more carrots for canning.

We've been picking strawberries for a week now.  There hasn't been much, enough for everyone to have one every other day, but a lot are ripening.  They are very good berries.

I still have to plant the sweet potatoes.  I got a 90 day variety called Beuregard.  I have the slips in water in a window.  I am going to grow them in big round totes, with trellising for the vines to grow up.  I'll put the totes on black plastic, because I don't want the runners escaping out of the tote and going into the ground.  The whole point of growing this way is to avoid digging in the ground.  We'll set the totes up where the fourth bed will go.  That way we can build the bed around it and next year have a fourth one ready to go.  As well as a fifth and sixth one.

Next year we'll really be able to grow a lot of food.  This year it will mostly be eating fresh from the garden with some to can and freeze, but not enough.  Still, it should lower food costs July through April and that money can go to save for pork and chicken bulk purchases.  And I should have harvestable lettuce in a couple of weeks and radishes in 3 to 4.  It will be nice when I can just cut the grocery budget in half for most of the summer.

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 out my Yearly Food Needs to Lower the Grocery Budget

February 10th, 2021 at 04:13 am

Every year I make up a food preservation plan, which is an overarching pantry plan, really.  I keep the previous year's plans so I can see what I planned before, what I actually achieved, and what I might want to do more or less of.  This includes a canning plan, a dehydrating plan, a freezer plan, and a long-term staples plan.  It's really quite in depth and when I make them up, I feel like I've got a really good handle on things for the coming year.

This year I will need to fill 1,316 jars, 626 quart jars, 28 pint and a half jars, 573 pint jars, and 89 pint and a half jars.  I have around 750 reusable canning lids, but will need to buy more and maybe some metal ones if I can find them.  I prefer metal ones for waterbath canning, but reusable for pressure canning.  They are supposed to be back in stock now, but there was huge shortage during 2020 due to people growing and canning a lot more food because they were worried about food shortages.  I think I have enough jars, but if I need to, I can store the culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and teas I grow in take out soup containers or spaghetti sauce jars.

Knowing how much I want to do, helps me to plan how much of what I am going to plant in the garden, how much freezer space I will need, and how many mylar bags and food grade buckets I need to have on hand, and of course the aforementioned jars and lids.

All of this, if I can achieve it, should cut our grocery spending by half.  That is assuming a good growing season and a good harvest year.  It is worth it to me even though it is a lot of work.  When you have to eat gluten free and you don't want a ton of processed food in your diet, and you prefer organic, you have to find other ways of doing things so you can actually afford all that.

In my case, it turns me into a prepper, at least with food.  Not a crazy one, mind you, but like what our grandparents and great grandparents did, because they had to.  I will be most comfortable, especially in these days of pandemic, to have a year's supply on hand.  That is my ultimate goal.  We have been building it back since the year we had to use it almost all up when DH was unemployed for 10 months.

Anyway, if you would like to see my 2021 Food Preservation Plan I made a video of it. 

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iDcIjsSbTI  Maybe it will be helpful to anyone else who wants to build their own plan.  Mine is for a family of four adults.

 

This and That

January 17th, 2021 at 06:07 am

My daughter came home from the hospital last night.  They got all of the tumor.  We have to wait a week or so for the biopsy results, but it did not appear to be cancerous.  She is doing well, eating soup and Welch's version of Jell-O, which has no artificial dyes in it.  She's a little high on the pain medicine, but that's kind of how she reacts to it.

I started physical therapy on Friday.  They can't do much with me because of how inflammed I am right now, but they started an electrical stimulation thing called a tens machine and did that over the L-4 and L-5 vertabrae on my back.  I think it made a small amount of difference, but it is early days.

The pantry challenge is going well.  We still have not gone to the grocery store yet.  I have only repeated one meal and that was because there were leftovers.  I have salmon and spot prawns thawing in the fridge, both of which my husband and son caught.  DD thinks those will be easy for her to eat.  Her jaw and throat are pretty sore from having a breathing tube in during surgery.  So easy to chew foods are on the agenda for a couple of days.  We have a lot of seafood in the freezer, but it is getting close to the time when it needs to be used up by.

I finally succeeded in finding some dye free, fragrance free shampoo and conditioner.  I am hoping they are good products.  I still can't find a body wash like that that doesn't use coconut oil.  We make do on the castile bar baby soap that is fragrance and dye free, but sometimes you just want a liquid body wash.

If that new stimulus Biden wants passes that will give you money for all dependents not just children, we will be getting quite a lot of money.  DH made a mistake when he was trying to figure out our taxes early.  Turns out we will owe somewhere in the $900 range, not the over $2000 he'd originally thought.

If so, and if this stimulus comes quickly I figure we'll open a spousal IRA for 2020, which may be enough to get rid of that tax bill, and see about getting a new ceiling in the tiny bathroom.  If it doesn't pass or we don't get it, then I guess we will just have to save up to fix it.  First off I will need to price everything, but I think DH and DS can do it themselves.

It should only require two pieces of the moisture resistant drywall and rental of a drywall lifter, and some tape, some mud, and some paint.  We have plastic sheeting to keep paint from dripping onto the floor, tub, sink, mirror, and shelves.  We saved everything our mattresses were wrapped in.

I got my first seed order today from Victory seeds.  I am really excited about starting to plan for the new garden.  We are completely redoing it with cinderblock raised beds that we will use mortar on to make a permanent structure.  The wooden beds just fall apart too quickly and I don't want to throw away anymore money on this.

I have another order coming from Fedco and I have to order a couple more things yet, but not much.  I am just waiting on one of the companies to put up its seeds for the year, which should be any day now.  It's just the type of broccoli and the type of lettuce I want.

Not too much going on here.  I have slowly been working my way through the novel I am reading and am about 80% done.  I can't read like I used to since the concussion a few years ago and because of the floaters in my eyes so I mostly take 3 to 4 weeks to read a large print novel these days.  I set my goal on Goodreads to 12 books read for the year.  I listen to a lot of audio stories and books, though, but I don't count that as actual reading.  I do read quite a bit online, but I have to put the magnification up pretty high.

I've now lost 13.4 pounds, but I gave in and ate gluten today, still within the confines of my diet.  It was breaded cod fish.  We will see how I feel tomorrow.  I don't react like my kids do, but it usually makes me feel bloated.  At least I made it halfway through the month.

 

Bits and Pieces

January 13th, 2021 at 06:26 am

The Eat from the Pantry Challenge has been going well.  We haven't bought anything at the grocery store since December.  I had a massive I don't know what to cook/I don't want to cook moment tonight because I am just exhausted, but my son stepped up and listed ideas and then helped me do everything but chop the onion to get dinner on the table.  He's been so good about that.  He really wants us to get that grass fed side of beef.  He's also been really encouraging when I want to eat gluten, by talking me out of it.  I'm going to hold out as long as I can before I buy some fresh produce and milk.  The challenge allows for that, just to keep any spending to a minimum.  We still have both.  I'll be baking gluten free bread tomorrow.

I've lost a total of 10.8 pounds since the start of my diet the day after Christmas.  I'm happy with that and I'm past the point of wanting to cheat on my diet.  My diet does allow for gluten, but my personal goal is to stay off it for the month, then possibly the year.  It'll be a step by step, moment by moment journey.  I hope I can hang with the diet for the whole year, even if I don't stay off gluten.  I'm usually pretty gung ho for a while, but then life happens.

I'd like to stay away from eating out this year, too.  I feel better after not having eaten take out at all this year.  I know if we have to travel to Seattle and back for medical reasons there will have to be a meal somewhere, but MIL says she will pay for all travel costs related to DD's medical stuff and that includes food and lodging.  She's also paying the Virginia Mason bill for surgery for us when it comes, too.  So that will be DD's deductible and her out of pocket max and then we won't have to pay for any medical stuff for DD for the rest of the year.

Things are doing better here.  My little grand niece has been home from the hospital for 2 days and is doing a lot better.  Still waiting on the test results, though.  My sister and her husband came for a visit today (they are the grandparents of my grand niece).  I stayed six feet away from both of them and talked for a little while.  They were just dropping off their son, who lives here, and then BIL has a doctor's appointment down this way on Thursday.

DD had her Covid test today and goes in for her liver tumor to be removed on Thursday.  I am not going down, just DH.  They won't let us in to see her at all and the last car trip I had to Seattle put me out of commission for weeks.  It's what led to the pulled muscle.  I can't just sit in the car for several hours and wait until the hotel room is ready.  It hurts too much.  And since I won't drive in Seattle traffic due to the lunatics (seriously, Orange County is sane compared to Seattle drivers), DH it is.  And she is honestly a Daddy's girl.

They are keeping her for 24 hours observation due to the secondary adrenal insufficiency, but it is a laproscopic surgery, unless something makes it not be, in which case it will become a  3 day stay.  I hope it is the former, because her anxiety levels will be very high not seeing one of us for 3 days.  She hasn't had a panic attack in a long time, they were mostly related to cortisol crashes, but this is the sort of thing that might bring one on.

I start physical therapy again on Friday.  I don't want to, because it didn't help last time and I am worse off now, but they won't do an MRI until I've done it.  I know there is something going on with my left hip that is beyond degenerative rheumatoid arthritis.  I think there might be a detached or torn ligament.  So I'll go, I'll do the exercises, and I will hope against hope that they will work.

I am working on getting the kitchen organized and more disability friendly.  We got some new shelves put up and the best part of that is I have the recycle bins at a level where I don't have to bend down to put stuff in them.  They are at belly-height for me, so I can just pull the bin out and put something in it.  Because of the damge to the L-4 and L-5 vertebrae, it was pretty hard to bend to the floor and they were under something so I couldn't just drop them straight down.  DD is pleased with that, too.  These are just our inside bins that we fill and then take out to dump in the bins that go curbside.  We recycle more than anyone else on our block.  We also only put out a garbage can every other week and every other house puts out one every week.  It cuts our bill significantly.

Well, that's it for tonight.

This and That

August 30th, 2020 at 12:29 am

I spent 4 hours yesterday snapping beans. DS helped me during the last hour. All of that resulted in 12 quarts of green beans, bringing the total I have canned so far to 19 quarts. I need to go out and pick some more today, but likely won't snap and can them until tomorrow. My hands need a break. I need to pick tomatoes today, too, and maybe see about getting some of the herbs in and drying. The carrots might be ready to pull and I need to do a test dig on the potatoes that were planted the earliest.

All I really want to do today is veg out in front of Hulu watching ER. I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine yesterday until bedtime, not the ideal time to take it, but I took it then. I feel very hungover, but at least the fluid is leaving my body. I swelled up pretty bad. I thought it was just from all the repetitive motion of snapping the beans, but no. I think I need to start setting reminders, because I forget to take it at least once a week.

My weight loss continues. I am down 11.8 pounds and have 1.9 pounds to go to finish my dietbet. I have 11 days to go. I think I will crush this if I don't do anything stupid with food between now and then. I don't think DH will win his. He is only at 48% of goal, but at least he is losing something. Other than quitting pop, I'm not sure what he is doing. I don't think he is exercising at all. I mean, I'm not, either, other than gardening, but I am controlling my diet.

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She is 81. It was pretty low-key as she wasn't up for anything. She did get calls from some of her grandkids, an email from one of them, and of course my kids saw her in person. She forgot it was her birthday for most of the day anyway. My eldest sister came over. I don't know if my middle sister called her or not. I didn't ask. She usually sends a card, but she's in the process of moving so I don't know if she remembered to this year or not.

I'm debating on what to make for dinner tonight. Maybe we'll barbecue some burgers and sweet onions, patty pan squash, corn on the cob and have some fresh cucumbers. That is a pretty easy dinner. If DH is too tired to drag out the BBQ than we will just do it on the griddle inside. I really am in the mood for burgers, just not takeout burgers. I'm avoiding wheat, so gluten free buns or no buns is the deal.

So far we only ate out once this week. My goal for next week is to not eat out at all. But once was sure better than four times. I am really tired of wasting money on restaurant food. I just need to have the energy to make it happen at home. DS said he'd step up to the plate more, so hopefully he actually will.

I need to try to make it to the grocery store tomorrow. Chicken and chuck roast are on sale and even with limits, they take the same amount of time to can, so between the two I can get enough meat for a canner load. DH will cut up the roasts and I will do the chicken. We'll get it done.

Purchases, Money Coming, and Garden Planning

January 21st, 2020 at 06:58 am

I made two ebay purchases today totaling $102.43. Quite a bit is shipping, but with ceramic and glass that's a given. They have to wrap it thickly and individually. I have a discontinued dinnerware pattern that I have been slowly adding to as I find semi-reasonable prices. They are never going to be completely reasonable since you can't get it anywhere but the used market, but these ones were much better prices than I've been seeing. I have been watching for about two to three years.

So I got the salt and pepper set (light wear on the bottoms) and 8 16 oz tumblers that had never been used. I have been searching for the glasses a lot longer than the salt and pepper set. I used to have four but they all got broken over the years. I would like to get 4 more after these come if I can find a decent price. They have more, but not with reasonable prices. The glasses will only be for special occasions, not for every day use. This comes out of the household budget.

I got my Costco membership 2% back certificate today. It is for $89.69. I also got an email today saying my Costco credit card rewards check was coming as well, which will be $415.54. That's a total of $505.23. The Aerogarden Farm Plus XL

Text is https://www.aerogarden.com/farm-xl.html and Link is
https://www.aerogarden.com/farm-xl.html costs $499.95 so that will be enough to cover it without dipping into my upcoming birthday money. Since I am downsizing my outdoor garden due to my autoimmune diseases making it hard for me to do things, I will be growing lettuce and herbs and a couple cherry tomato plants inside this year. Maybe a cucumber as well or a jalapeño plant.

The outdoor garden will be down to 3 raised beds and have strawberries, green onions, my big rosemary plant, zucchini, radishes, and peppers. Maybe kohlrabi. We may grow green beans in the ground, but I am just not sure. I will still have my bee balm, yarrow, echinacea and calendula in the trash barrels. Then they are contained but still have plenty of root room. They are all spreaders so if not contained will take over. But they are my favorite for making a mixed herbal tea.

I still want to grow what I can however I can despite my limitations. Fresh veggies are so important and this way I can have them year round, too. I have had a good experience with the smaller system and the fertilizer is organic. And I can grow all the lettuce I need without worrying about recalls and food poisoning, plus have a bigger variety than what is available in the supermarket. One day all I may be able to do is grow inside from a wheelchair, but hopefully that is a long, long way off.

Amazon Order of Bulk Flours Came

January 13th, 2020 at 09:09 pm

Yesterday was such a lazy day for me. I pretty much stayed in bed under the electric blanket and read. I still have no stamina. I wonder if I was on the antibiotics long enough?

It snowed yesterday and it is still around today, but it is not very much. Maybe 1/2 inch if that. I hope it goes away soon. The older I get, the more I hate snow. I mean, I appreciate its beauty, but nothing else about it. It just makes everything extra cold and the roads hard to drive on. I used to love it when I was a kid, but now when I see snow, I think "Get off my lawn!" as if it were a recalcitrant child and I an old fogey.

My Amazon order came yesterday, too. Well, part of it did. It is still weird having things delivered on Sunday. I got a bucket white rice flour, a bucket of tapioca flour, a bucket of potato starch, a 3 lb bag of sorghum flour, and a 3 lb bag of extra fine sweet rice flour (that's more for cakes and pastries). The latter two came in paper bags. The first four are for the master flour recipe. I already had xanthan gum.

So today I will make up the master flour recipe and put it in the stainless steel canister I also ordered for that purpose. It should hold two batches of the flour recipe based on volume. Then I will make up the master dough recipe and go from there.

I really like the little one gallon buckets some of the flours came in. They are light enough for me to manage and air tight. I think as I finish them off I will transfer the flours that don't come in buckets to those buckets and relabel them. They all stack, so they will take up less space that way, and I won't have to deal with all the plastic bags. I should go through the white rice flour fairly quickly as that is what is used in the greatest quantities.

I am still waiting on a couple of things from that order, including the bucket opener, but I can use a paint can opener on them as well. I also got some pure palm shortening for making biscuits and a stainless steel ice bin for the freezer that should come today. The bucket opener isn't slated to arrive until February 3rd! Ridiculous. Prime has spoiled me.

I spent about $202 on the entire order, but in the long run, buying in bulk is much cheaper. The ice bin was pricey and so was the canister, but you can't beat stainless steel for durability and longevity. We try to keep away from plastic (especially single use plastic) as much as we can. It is not always possible, but we do our best to use glass, ceramic, wood, and stainless steel when we can. It is definitely hard with these specialty flours, because most of them do come in plastic. And plastic does keep out bugs and larvae, generally, so it is a trade off.

I guess as long as I am mindful about is, that is the best I can do.

Learning to Be Gluten Free in 2020 plus Health Update

January 3rd, 2020 at 08:41 pm

I dragged myself to the doctor on Monday and after 4 days on antibiotics and prednisone, I am starting to see a minor improvement. I had some wheezing in my upper chest, that wasn't quite bronchitis and a massive sinus infection. I waited too long to go, but I always think it is just a cold that never leaves. I am sleeping a lot, but in fits and starts. That's the prednisone. It always messes up sleep. I am starting to get a little strength back though, and my desire for real food instead of take out has come roaring back.

I did manage to make dinner two nights in a row, beef stew with gluten free flour for the gravy, and herb baked chicken, herb roasted potatoes (different herbs), and broccoli last night. Tonight's dinner is loaded baked potato soup, although I might make steaks on the side. Usually I don't, but that can be a very carb heavy meal if I just go with the bacon as the only protein source. It depends on how much energy I have. This will be my first time making it using gluten free flour in the roux. The stew gravy went well, though, so I can't imagine the roux will be bad.

I baked my first loaf of gluten free bread last night. It turned out pretty well despite me leaving out the sugar. I was wondering why it took so long to rise, but the yeast didn't have any sugar to eat. Next time it should rise in the allotted time frame. I didn't realize until I tasted it that I had done that, but when I thought back to it, I didn't remember putting sugar in with the warm water and yeast to proof it. It still bubbled without the sugar, so I know the yeast was active, just it would have been more active with it.

It looks like bread and it tastes like bread and is nice and soft, but I can definitely taste the eggs in it. I don't usually make egg breads. There are other recipes I will be trying to, but I will do this one again properly first. The interesting thing about gluten free bread is that if you cool it upright on a rack the top will sink, but if you cool it on it's side, rotating it occasionally, the top doesn't sink. Also, you have to wait three hours for it to cool before slicing it. Slice it sooner and it will crumble, but that goes away completely with the cooling time. I did a lot of research before starting this journey.

I will be attempting gluten free pizza dough tomorrow. I may do one with gluten free flour instead of two and do the second one with cauliflower crust. The second I know is good. On the agenda for when I feel a lot better will be learning how to make gluten free cookies, brownies, and cakes. Not often, though. Just on occasion. There is a birthday in February (mine) and March (DS's) that I want to make gluten free cakes for and I want to make sure they taste good first so I will have to experiment a bit.

DH and I need to start looking for a place to go to for our little holiday getaway for our 25th wedding anniversary in March. We don't want to go too far away, within a couple hours driving distance, but I am not sure if we want to go back to the place we were at before in March. It has quite a steep hill down to it and there is often snow on the ground still in March in that area so it might make it hard to get back up out of there and we don't have chains for the van. I do want to be by the water, though. It really recharges my batteries.