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Archive for March, 2010

Starting my plants

March 24th, 2010 at 07:39 pm

I want a garden this year and I don't want to pay a fortune for already started plants. I have usually just bought the plants already started, but this year I want to try to start my own.

I have read a lot about "earth boxes" which are pretty cool. You take two containers and cut the sides of one so that upside down it fits inside the other. It splits the container into two distinct spaces where the water can go in the bottom half and the soil can go in the top half. You put a pvc pipe down to the bottom layer and cut a hole in the shelf and use some smaller container with small holes in it to allow the soil to be in contact with the water. The theory is that the soil in contact with the water will wick the water up into the soil where the plants are planted. This way the plants get just the amount of water they need, you can fill up the bottoms and not have to worry about over or under watering them. Look here for a better understanding: http://www.earthbox.com/index.php

So, I thought the same thing could be done with starting pots. My mom gave me a great idea of using 2-liter bottles, and I also did it with smaller pop bottles as well.

All you need to make my earth pots is a 2 liter bottle, some panty hose and scissors. Oh, and soil, water and seeds.


Start by cutting the two liter in about half. It took a bit of playing with the dimensions, but I eventually ended cutting it into three pieces so the top piece will fit nicely in the bottom. I had about 1 1/2" of scrap when I was done.


Cut the pantyhose into short strips:


You use the pantyhose to cover the neck of the bottle so the soil doesn't fall out. I twisted each side then pulled tight and tied them on:


Then I filled the top with soil:


and the bottom with water:


and then put the top into the bottom. The soil will contact the water, and the soil will wick the water up into the top part. Here is one I did last week, with the little spaghetti squash already up:


I did a few more today, this time with smaller bottles:


Hope this works. If not, I'm out a few seeds, I guess.

I have spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers getting started now. When I get some more bottles I'll start eggplant and cucumbers.

Capital One paid off, then up again

March 4th, 2010 at 06:55 pm

Got the Capital One card paid off on 2/26. I started concentrating on that card 1/13/10, when it had about $1475 on it, so a little more than a month and I got it completely paid off. Through some "creative accounting" I could come up with entire amount from my gas/food checking account, so I didn't have to cheat by using the line of credit.

By creative accounting, I mean that my usual way to do things is to subtract from my checking register on the day I wrote the check so I know what is going out, even if it hasn't cleared yet. Then, on pay day, I sweep whatever is left to the special emphasis item at that time. I had my gasoline bill to pay for due 2/28 for an amount of $353.20. Well, that would have made me in the red if I paid that before pay day. So, I wrote two checks that day, one for $170 for that day and the other for $183.20 for the day after pay day. I had them apply both of them and paid it on time, but the date stamps were straddling the magic day, which cleared up the $98 I needed.

So, once Capital One was at $0, I waited a day and then transferred $1900 from my higher interest Bank of America card to Capital One. Bank transfer fee of 3%, interest of 3.9% for a year.

That went through on the BoA side yesterday, so along with my usual payment to BoA and the $1900, that balance is down to $11,617.75 (originally $14,222.29 on 11/30/09).

Got two bills in the mail today; city bill and natural gas bill. Both were less than I budgeted, by a total of $50, so I applied that to BoA today.

I guess my new philosophy is to not wait until I make a huge payment when the bill is due, but instead to apply each payment when I have the extra money. Cuts out a bit of interest that way, though not much. I can still keep track of what I pay each month extra. Hopefully that has the same emotional impact as sending a big chunk all at once.

My new goals are to get that card down to $8,000 and pay off G'ma by the end of the year. Should be doable.

Don't quite know what the snowball will be as I don't know what the minimum payment on the Capital One card will be now. I'll figure that up when I get a new bill.

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When cleaning off my shelves I found a book I had borrowed from a co-worker at my previous job. This is the guy I left on a bit of bad terms, as he know I was going to be laid off the Friday before I was laid off (on Monday) and he wouldn't tell me. Although, the rumor he started did give me a bit of a heads up so I could steel myself for it, but he could have told me, nonetheless.

Anyway, I sent the book but didn't put a note or anything in it. I'm kind of odd about cutting ties with people. Once I cut them out (or move away) I tend to lose track of them pretty quickly. I got a nice card and letter today in the mail from him thanking me for returning the book and updating me a bit on the situation at my old job. They are down to half of the IT staff, and the person who was CIO has had his status changed from reporting to a Vice President (when I was there he was actually pushing to be a VP himself) to reports to a lower VP.

Part of the letter was:
"I have completed the conversion of Bgate to a completely parameter driven system where I don't have to touch the code for additions or changes. The standard template still uses your PGP processing exactly as you wrote it. A few months ago the PGP processing had an error in a piece that is not executed very often. I was surprised because my experience with your code has been that it works every time. When I debugged the problem I found that I (!!) had made a typo when I added it to the standard template. I corrected the typo and it is back to working per your standard of excellence."

Well, that is high praise. I think I wrote that bit of code in 2006, and he hasn't had to make any changes to it since. It is amazing how long stuff like that hangs around when it just works.

By the way, I thank God pretty much every week that I found this new job. I keep thinking about sending a thank you card to my old job for laying me off because I never would have found this perfect fit otherwise.

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Got an offer on a tractor we had bought 3 years ago to start our baling business. It had broken down three times in the past few years with >$1500 repairs, the same repair each time. It was obvious that we were missing something, but none of the local mechanics knew what was wrong (can't complain too much...the local mechanics took their payment in Crown Royal and Coors light). We took it to the shop and they found the real problem and said to really fix it, it would cost ~$3500. Dang. We only paid $6000 for it originally. So, instead, they offered us $1500 for it for salvage/parts. DH thought it was a good idea, but wanted to run it past me first, so we talked last night and we both agreed.

This money won't go to the credit card, but to the farm. The swather payment of $12,300 was due this week, and the refund from income taxes was $9300, so we need to make up the difference. The $1500 will go towards that (or some other farm bill).

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Baby progress:
The mucinex really worked this past month, though only for one day. Stretchy, lubricative and clear, just what is needed. That was called my "Peak day". I started taking blood tests on "peak plus 3" and will continue every other day until "peak plus 11". This is testing for progesterone levels and estroidals, to see if I need a supplement. We did try for a baby that night, and I should know if I am pregnant in a few weeks. The doctor said if I have not started menstruation 16 days after I ovulate (Peak + 16), take a test. Only on on Peak + 6 right now, so waiting. I am feeling a bit of pressure in my lower abdomen, though, although I know that is no sign. It just feels a little different. Trying not to let my emotions get the better of me here, but I do have hope.