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Garage cleanout windfall?

April 14th, 2013 at 12:18 am

This past week our city had a free cleanup day, where you could put stuff you weren't usually able to put on the curb for pickup out there and they would pick it up for free. I took advantage of this to clean out a lean to attached to our garage that I haven't even set foot in. I don't think my husband had either. It was a pure mess, all stuff from the previous owner.

Most of it was junk, so it either went into the trash or to the curb for this cleanup. I worked until I ran out of boxes, and almost got it done. Maybe 1/4 left?

It looks like they had a pool you set up out on the lawn, and the PVC pipes they used to hold up the sides were still there (but no pool). I kept those for other projects (making homemade Earthboxes for my strawberries). I also kept a door that goes to the second bedroom in our house and three Christmas village pieces. I'm going to clean those up and see if I can sell them later.

I also found a whole corner of Beanie Babies! Woohoo! Just kidding. I don't know what I am going to do with them. They were all in plastic boxes so even though the plastic boxes are dirty, the actual Beanie Babies are all completely clean and untouched. I wonder if there is a market for that kind of stuff? I have been asking locally, but no one is interested. I guess it is time to jump into the ebay thing. I have never sold on ebay, just on half.com. I have bought a lot, though. I bet there are a hundred of them. I haven't counted. Ebay prices looked like $1 to $3 a piece, but I don't know if they are moving at that price.

Looks like I am going to set up a little photo corner and photograph them all. I have read that you should use a white background without any creases or lines and use a bright light instead of your flash, and it makes great ebay pictures.

Might as well. No hurt in trying, right?

State FFA Winner

March 20th, 2013 at 03:20 am

I am so proud of my sister...she won 1st place in the Kansas FFA Equine Science Entrepreneurship Proficiency project.

She made this video for their local chapter's banquet to show about her SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPiiu-QDDmI

One of the horses she is working on in this video is ours...the one bucking off my brothers Smile

Thought you might enjoy.

Cleaning Schedule

January 29th, 2013 at 07:05 pm

I have a hate hate relationship with cleaning my house. It is boring. It is never ending. Miss a few days, you might as well miss weeks. I've tried. Doesn't really make a difference. I'd rather hold/play with my son. Or watch TV. Or read the internet. Anything but wash dishes.

But, my house was a scary, embarrassing disaster over Christmas. I decided that my New Year's Resolution would be to keep the house clean.

I read a book ages about that said to put all your chores on 3x5 cards, then assign them either daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Then, keep them in a file box, as you get one done, move the card ahead, and always stay on top of it.

Ok, I think that was written in the 80's sometime. I did this for a while, but if I missed a day (or week, heck two weeks. Who am I kidding?) it was very hard to pick up again. We are now in the age of computers. So, I adapted it.

I did come up with a list of chores, and then in my Outlook Calendar, I put a recurring appointment in for each chore. When I get done with a chore, I delete that instance of the appointment on that day, but the recurring appointment in the future is still there. I look at the calendar in weekly mode, and at the end of the week, the calendar is blank, and I go to the next week. I broke my chores out like the following:

Daily:
Wash Dishes
Clean off table

Every other day (changed to 3 times a week):
Sweep
Take out trash
Wash, dry and put away clothes

Weekly:
Clean three areas of consistent clutter
Deep clean stove
Clean microwave
Clean bathroom countertop
Wash bathroom sink
Take trash to curb
Do paperwork

Every 2 weeks:
Scrub toilet
Scrub bathtub
Clean bathroom mirror
Clean coffee area
Wash floors

Monthly:
Clean under coffee area
Clean top of washer/dryer
Clean cobwebs from corners
Wash shower curtain
Clean window sills
Clean front entry way
Sweep back room
Dust

Since January 1, the only thing I have missed is washing the floors once. My house looks amazing, for my standards.

I have been tweaking the system. I changed laundry, sweeping and trash from every other day to 3 times a week. Since I work at home on Tuesday/Thursday, I moved laundry to those days + Sunday. I can throw a load in at lunch, get it in the dryer and start another load, so the machines are practically done once I am done with work. During the winter, I am pretty much only doing 2 loads each time, colors and whites.

Sweeping and trash were moved to M/W/Sat, with taking the trash to the curb on Wednesday, since trash gets picked up Thursday morning.

On Mondays, I clean three areas that are always cluttered. One is by the door, one is a shelf between the kitchen and dining area, and the last one is right beside that shelf. Gets a good start to the week. I also sweep, take out trash, clean off table and do dishes.

On Tuesdays, I clean the stove and microwave (and do laundry, clean the table and dishes)

On Wednesday, I sweep, take out trash and take the trash out to the curb, dishes and clean the table.

On Thursdays, I clean the bathroom (depending on the week, sometimes just the sink/countertop, sometimes the toilet, mirror and bathtub are added on). If I need to wash the shower curtain, I do it on Thursday. I also do laundry, dishes and clean the table.

On Friday, I have no additional chores, except daily ones.

On Saturdays, I wash the floors every other week, sweep, take trash out, dishes and clean the table.

On Sundays, I do laundry, dishes, clean the table, and paperwork. I am now caught up with paperwork (balancing accounts, paying bills, etc) but this took me 3 weeks to get all the way caught up. This Sunday, I'm going to work on taxes as well.

They "every 2 week" ones and "monthly" ones are added with no real thought to when, except washing floors on Saturday, since that involves moving furniture, etc.

There are a few keys to my system working so far.

My son has gotten bigger. He is 20 months old now. I used to come home from work, and he needed to nurse, so I would sit down to nurse him and I would continue sitting in that chair all night, holding him, except to make supper. Since he has gotten older (I am still nursing, though am slowly weaning him right now), we nurse for about 5 minutes, then I make myself get up to do the chores. And he helps me! He can help me put clothes in the dryer, and he likes taking the clothes from the dryer to the basket, then climbing in the basket to take them out so I can fold them. He helps put some of the clothes away, too Smile He follows me around with a dustpan when I sweep. I put him in the bathtub while I am cleaning the bathroom so I can keep an eye on him, and get everything cleaned while he is playing. He picks up toys so I can sweep. When supper is done, we line up things he can carry (salt/pepper/salad dressing/yoghurt/etc) at the edge of the table so he can reach up and grab them (or Daddy hands them to him, one at a time) and he brings them into the kitchen. We, of course, grab plates/glasses/knives, etc, and the food. I open the fridge and point to where he needs to put it, and he puts it there and shuts the door. If it needs to go into a cabinet, I lift him up so he can put it away. All the while I am washing dishes, so pretty much once the table is cleaned off, the dishes are washed. I have found that this is a great way to interact with my child, he is learning responsibility, and I get the chores done Smile

Another thing is being able to evaluate what is working and what isn't. I used to do laundry every other day and sweep/trash every other day. This was actually too much for my house, so I would look and think "don't need to do laundry today" so I would skip it. For me, once I skip something, it is so easy to let everything fall apart. It was also too hard to come home after an 11 hour day (after work + driving) to do laundry. Once I changed it to T/T/Sun, it has gotten a lot easier. Luckily Sweeping/Trash/Trash to curb naturally fits on M/W/Sat, too. Having a day off on Friday is helpful.

I also tried to do my bills on Thursday, which just wasn't working. I don't know why. But I naturally wanted to do them on Sunday, so even if I wasn't following a schedule, I would do it Sunday. When i was trying to follow the schedule, I'd get to Thursday, skip bills, think "oops. Might as well let everything else fall apart." Then not try to pick it up for a month or so. By putting bills on Sunday, it just fits my schedule better.

Finally, shame and pride had a bit to do with this. I fancy myself a pretty smart person, so when I couldn't figure out how to keep a damned house clean, I felt like an idiot. Telling someone I would rather have dinner at their house instead of mine because mine was dirty was embarrassing. Now, I look around the house, and feel pretty good.

spice order

September 10th, 2012 at 04:02 am

I've been using spices like they are going out of style, especially for baking, pickling, lacto-fermenting and other things for the garden. The spices at the store are horrendously expensive, and we don't have a local spice outlet or bulk place.

I saw on a blog that someone mentioned a spice company in California they order from, called San Fransisco Herb, sfherb.com. They mentioned there was a discount at a certain price level, and that their church went together to put one big order so the discount would pay for the shipping.

I decided to see if I could get a big order together. I had 3 people at work interested, and 10 facebook friends (including a sister, my MIL and GMIL) go in with me.

I just placed an order worth $1,011! Holy cow.

There was a discount of 15% if over $500, and the shipping went down by $95 compared to if each person had bought by themselves.

I entered each person's order into the website to get their shipping charge, then when I finished the order, I gave them back a discount on the shipping proportionally to what theirs should have been.

I'm keeping the discount amount ($128), cause I had to do all the work to tally everything up. That will actually pay for all my spices, so once I get paid by everyone, I will get about 16 pounds of spices for the cost of keeping track of things on a spreadsheet Smile And making the payment and waiting to get the money, of course.

I think this would be a great fund raiser for schools, at least for schools that aren't close to a bulk spice provider.

How dumb

September 3rd, 2012 at 05:26 am

I just have to post this little snippet.

Just saw a girl, probably a year out of high school. Walking around with her soon-to-be baby daddy (who is married, btw...you know, to someone else) while drinking and smoking.

That poor kid. The baby on the way, I mean.

the D word

August 7th, 2012 at 05:29 am

Drought. The drought is just plain kicking our asses out here in our little slice of Kansas.

Hubby is working like a madman trying to swath/bale CRP for neighbors. He got home at 10:00 p.m. tonight and asked me to wake him up at 1:00 a.m. so he can go back out and bale again.

We have only mowed our grass twice this summer. And last time, it was just for the random prickly tall weed that dots the brown grass.

We are hauling water every day to one pasture. Takes a couple hours each time. Actually, DH is doing it. I've only done it once, though I have volunteered multiple times. I think he worries about the heat and DS, since he broke the window out of the pickup and the air conditioner doesn't work.

The cows keep getting out because they are searching for anything at all that is green. DH had to put an electric fence top wire on one pasture yesterday because they were getting out twice a day in that pasture.

We are going to try to wean our calves early, maybe next month, but the price of distillers grain is $180 a ton. Last summer it was $40 a ton. Corn is at an all time high. Those lucky bastards that irrigate are going to make out like bandits.

I've been watering the garden twice a week. So far it has held, and that has really saved us a lot of money this summer. I am really surprised it is going so well.

Our company, a farmer's co-op, is slowly reducing staff. It is scary. Every week or every other week, they announce about 4-5 more people. At what point do you get tired of waiting for the hammer and start looking for something else? I hope I don't have to. I love my job and my working arrangements are AWESOME!!!

Even if it starts raining now, it won't help much, unless we get a real turd floater to fill up ponds. That might help. But pasture is going to be severely harmed for years to come because of the drought pressure.

I try to think "Great Grandpa (30's)/Grandpa (50's)/Dad (80's) went through this too." I hope we can keep it together. The land we have has been in DH's family for over 100 years. They were some of the original homesteaders around here.

Boo.

Extra work today

July 27th, 2012 at 04:57 am

I worked at home today, and after work, I was planning on going to see my cousin. She is not doing well, and we are afraid we will lose her soon with cancer. :'( I was going to go on Tuesday, but her mom said she was too nauseous, and so I called today before going, and her mom said she was going to have everything pumped out of her stomach to maybe help with the nausea? She has a blockage and her stomach/lower abdomen is very uncomfortable for her. My aunt sounded frazzled, but actually apologized to me for not calling to ask me not to come. Wow, Aunt Karen. I think you have plenty on your mind other than remembering to call me.

So, instead, I called DH to see if he could use any help. He said "sure, you can come run the swather." Yippee!!! I LOVE running the swather! So, I went down to DH's Grandma's place, who takes care of DS, nursed him, then headed out to the farm.

The drought is causing many people to think they won't have enough hay for the winter. The USDA opened up some of the CRP for haying, but you have to leave 1/2 of it uncut, 5" of stubble on the rest of it, some of the CRP is still closed to cutting, and it all has to be done by Aug 15. DH has gotten 5 new customers since CRP was opened.

The problem with the 5" cut is that our swather has a floating header on it, if you push the button down all the way. If you bump the button up to bring it up more, it doesn't float anymore. Fine if you are in a field, but in a CRP field, there are most likely bumps, gulleys, other crap you don't want to hit...if you do hit something with the rotating blades, it could cause major damage. The front does tilt up and down, so he is going to try to tilt it up as far as it will go and see how much stubble it leaves. It might be close enough for government work.

This one I was working on today is actually ours, old CRP that we didn't sign up for the program again. The slight rain we had yesterday (< .5") made things tough, so it took way longer than it should have. Didn't get home until 10:00. DS was more than ready for some momma time.

Got home, made some sandwiches, going to bed. No money out the door for me today.

It is payday today, too. Saving up to put a roof on the garage...almost there!

Cooking effort

July 26th, 2012 at 04:49 am

I have no confidence in the kitchen. I don't know why. Most things I cook turn out ok to good.

Well, I do know why. Growing up, the only things I cooked were things to take to the fair. I always helped dad, and when you help dad outside, you don't have to do inside work when you get home. Sisters who have not been on the cabless tractor or chasing cows can do dishes and cook supper while you finally relax for the day.

Then, in college, I had a meal plan and the basketball team would stop for supper after games. So, no cooking for almost 4 years there.

Then, in grad school, well, I got in the bad habit of eating out alot.

Being single until I was 30 didn't help either. My social activities while single included playing sand volleyball at a very cool bar (so I would eat out/drink those nights), playing volleyball at the church (and going to Applebees after that), going out to eat and going to the bar. Hmmmm, sounds kinda one dimensional, doesn't it? I finally had to suggest to my friends that they come over, we would watch movies and I would cook supper on one night a week so we didn't go out every damn night.

Once, I gave up for Lent "eating out because I was lazy". That was a tough one. (Seriously! It was tough!) I allowed myself social eating out, because living by yourself is hard with no social interaction.

Then, I met my now husband, and moved to within 2 1/2 hours of him while we were still dating. Driving that far sucked, and I was always tired. When we got married, I still had that job. We sold that house, and I moved in for 3 nights a week with a lady who had an extra bedroom. She allowed me use of her kitchen, but I didn't feel very comfortable using it (Totally not her fault. She was very very very nice. Just me and my situation was weird.) I would come home on weekends and just be exhausted after working 10 hour days and a 2.5 hour drive every Monday morning and Thursday night.

Skip forward to today, now that all the excuses are out of the way. I work 2 days a week at home, 3 days at work, which is an hour drive each direction. I struggle with my weight, which has stayed steady for the past 2 months after losing all the baby weight (36 lbs), but could stand to lose 30 more. I tend not to plan ahead and take lunch with me, and for a time was even going to get a sub type sandwich at the local gas station when I worked at home. I was also going over to the quick shop at work for BREAKFAST.

I am an idiot, I guess.

I planted a pretty big garden this year, the biggest I've ever had. I'd say 15x40. (I went through all the produce I've gotten out of it so far in a previous post.) I got squash bugs about a week ago, so I had to spray them, but up to that point, I was overflowing with zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, etc.

It is pretty stupid to have all these great fresh vegetables and eat out.

Also, well, we aren't rolling in money, to say the least. We have lots of debt, up to the point where it is almost overwhelming. Sometimes it seems saving $1 on sour cream, for example, seems pretty stupid to be excited about.

We started getting stuff out of the garden at the end of June, so on July 1 or thereabouts, I said to my husband "let's make it a goal to not eat out at all in July". He was not excited. He said he couldn't tell where he will be when he is working, and he might not be able to make it home for lunch. Which is true. He doesn't have a microwave at the farm, and sometimes, he is bouncing around from waterway to waterway, field to field in the tractor/baler or swather, so driving to where he last left the pickup so he can some in for lunch won't work.

Ok, fine, I'll try it for myself.

I stumbled across a good recipe for chicken pot pie. Pretty easy, and a very good pie crust. DH was very excited about it, even asking for seconds, and for lunch the next day! So, I figured, that is one to keep in my hat. That next weekend, I made chicken pot pie pockets, and since I had a bit more pie crust than chicken pot pie filling, I also made ham and cheese pockets. My oven is small, and so I could only cook 4 at a time (I made 18), so that was a long, exhausting day in a house with a bad air conditioner. But, when all done, after eating 2 for dinner that night, I had 16 in the freezer.

You know what, DH started coming home more for lunch, because he could pull them out of the freezer and put them in the microwave and have a good meal. I also took them to lunch, along with at least 2 cucumbers and a zucchini to snack on.

When I made the chicken pot pie, I had filled the crock pot with some cheap chicken (I think $.98 a pound for bone in breast/rib meat), onion, carrots, celery and a bay leaf. Fill with water, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Just until the meat falls off the bone. I used about half for the chicken pot pie and shredded the other half and put in the freezer.

Another thing I did was make my own yogurt and start eating that for breakfast. I make it in the crockpot, and put it in canning jars, but I don't actually can it. I just keep it in the fridge. I've been making that for a couple months now, but just yesterday, I started straining it through some coffee filters, and YUMMMMMMY I will never make yogurt and not strain it again!

When I wasn't straining it, it was a little too sour, so I needed to put something in it. Our apple tree in the front yard had non-ripe apples on it, but in the past, it has always dropped all the apples or had bugs eat all of them before we could harvest them, so I started pulling a buckets worth off here and there, so at least we could have something. I made apple butter with most of these, so now I can mix the apple butter with the yogurt and have a great breakfast. There are still bunches of apples on the trees, and though I do have some with chunks eaten out of them, I can cut around that and still get a crock pot full.

The first batch I made, I peeled each one before putting it in the crockpot. Wow, that took a long time. My MIL let me use her manual strainer thingy that you rotate the handle and push the pulp through, and leave the peels, and that took a lot less time. Add some spices, leave in the crockpot until as thick as you want, and that is all there is to it.

Final thing we have been doing is getting good deli meat from the local grocery store. I've been using ham and turkey, cheese, and slices of zucchini on tortillas, and that has been very filling. Better than DQ.

The crockpot chicken thing has been the best thing I've been doing this summer. I've found chicken for $.98 a pound and for $.88 a pound today. I stuff the crockpot full, put in the spice, and just let it cook. Once I separate the meat from everything else, I put the bones, etc., back in, and cook it some more. I strain that, keeping the broth. That goes in the fridge, and in the morning I scrape off the fat that is congealed on the top, then pour into canning jars. Once again, these go in the freezer or fridge, but once I get my cooktop back, I'll can them.

Oh yeah, the last burner on the cooktop broke a few months ago, and I didn't want to spend $250 for a new one. I finally picked up a used one today from our local Craigslist-type website for $50. This joins my $100 washer I found on Sunday, which had also broke sometime in the past few months. I've been cooking with an electric skillet or a crockpot or the grill. And other than once when we went to the Dr. in Salina and planned to eat out, I haven't broken my goal for this entire month.

It's a start.

Can't comment?

July 18th, 2012 at 04:29 am

I've been trying to respond to the previous questions on my blog post for yesterday, but it won't accept it. Weird.

Anyway, I've made okra two ways so far. First, I wash it and cut the caps off. Then I cut it lengthwise in half. I put some olive oil in a bowl, add the okra and coat it, then add flour, cumin and salt and coat. The oil helps it to stick. Then I fry it in oil. Yummy!

But, this recipe is really awesome:
http://cptacek.savingadvice.com/okra-tomatoes-and-chicken.html

What does it taste like. Hmm, it has a mild, musky flavor. More earthy than cucumbers or squash. It has mucilaginous properties, which you might call slime. I didn't notice it in the finished products in the two recipes I use it in, but it does get on your knife, cutting board, etc.

Garden and other sundry info

July 17th, 2012 at 04:56 am

I've been gone. Now I'm back.

I decided this year I wanted a garden. I've tried to garden in the past. The first I did, it was too close to the house, I just scratched it into the dirt, and got bored with it after a while.

2 years ago I started another garden, in a better position, put some effort into it, but then had to go to a training class for a week, and DH didn't water it. So, I thought it died, and I gave up on it. It didn't end up dieing, but by then the weeds had overtaken everything. It was a huge mess.

1 year ago, I was pregnant, so no garden.

This year, I was tired of coming home from work, feeding DS, and staying in the chair watching TV until late. Boring! I decided to start gardening.

I borrowed a tiller from a friend at work, had DH bring in a truckload of year old poop from the pasture, and tilled it in. Laid it out, bought mostly seeds, some plants, and have really made an effort to do my best out there.

I am very happy with my garden so far. I've been recording everything I've brought in so far:
Radishes for 5 meals
30 baby onions,
2 kohlrabi
‎89 okra and
2 head loose leaf lettuce,
7 eggplant,
29 zucchini,
11 yellow squash,
4 bucket apples
‎6 zuquash,
53 cucumber
‎4 banana peppers,
3 green peppers, and
1 mini still green jalapeno.


I'm not so good with onions. I didn't keep it weeded, then when I tried to weed them, the onions popped out. The okra is going gangbusters, and I shared some of these with the friend I borrowed the tiller from. I planted carrots, and those were a disaster. The radishes came up good, but I forgot to thin them, then the heat made them so hot, they didn't turn out very good.

The apples are from a tree the previous owner's daughter had brought home from school. I have never harvested them, but so far, I've gotten 4 buckets from them. I know it is early for apples, and the first bunch I picked were pretty hard, but I cooked them up into apple butter and have been mixing that up with homemade yogurt for breakfast. Yummy! The latest batch are better, and I think I need to harvest the rest of them because they are starting to get brown spots on them.

The "zuquash" must be some kind of hybrid between the zucchini and the yellow squash, since it is a very pale skinned squash, but when you cut into it, there is a layer of darker green, then the flesh. Tastes like a zucchini.

I figure that I would buy zucchini/squash for $1 a piece at the store, and about the same for cucumbers. Just with that, I have about $100 worth of vegetables out of the garden so far. The okra is doing so much better than I ever thought, and I've made some pretty good meals so far with it.

The lettuce was put in too late to get more than a few of them. I think I'll try a fall garden and put that lettuce back in, since the few I got tasted very good.

I just love going outside, picking something and coming in and cooking it. It is just awesome! But now, since I got 11 zucchini just today, I have to do something with it, so I am trying dehydrating it for the first time. I started it tonight, and since I work at home tomorrow, I'll check it through out the morning. Hopefully, it will taste good with the seasoning I put on it, and it can replace chips for DH...and for me, I guess. I went on a diet and lost 36 pounds to get me back to pre-baby weight from Jan - May 25 (DS's 1 year birthday!), but then I fell of the wagon. I've gained back about 3 pounds because I've been cheating. Time to step it up again!

Glad to be back. I'll fill you in more as the days go along.

Sun Dried Tomatoes

July 7th, 2012 at 12:52 am

I haven't tried these, but want to note the directions and the post I found this at...

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/harvest/msg0821543123572.html?35

Posted by brokenbar Z4 N. Wyoming (brokenbar@tctwest.net) on
Wed, Aug 20, 08 at 21:54

I raise tomatoes for sun drying. I do about 1000 to 2000 lbs a year which I sell to the upscale restaurants in Cody Wyoming & Billings Montana. I wanted to pass on my favorites for you considering doing some drying. Any tomato can be used for drying but some varieties are better than others.

I grow 15 mainstay varieties that I have kept as I culled others that did not meet my criteria.
I also try at least 5 new varieties of paste types each year and am lucky if one makes it into my herd. I am looking for specific things:

Meaty with a low moisture content
Few seeds
A rich and tangy flavor
Size-Small tomatoes are just more work for me.
Not fussy-Take heat and cold and wind. No primadonnas!
Bloom well and set lots and lots of fruit
Indeterminate
Dry to a nice pliable consistency

These are my Top Five
Chinese Giant
Carol Chyko
Cuoro D Toro
Opalka
San Marzano Redorta

I wanted to add that were I to be stranded on a desert Island with only one tomato it would be Russo Sicilian Togeta. This is my gallstarh that sets fruit first, ripens the earliest, bears heavy crops in any weather and is producing right up until hard frost. It is not a true paste but rather a stuffing tomato. None-the-less, the flavor of these dried is as good as it gets. It is also wonderful for just eating or slicing and the fruit is extra large.

For those wanting to know my Secret Recipe for drying, here you go:

Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt. You may choose to forego the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry. Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leatherlike with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off theexcess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in m root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them within 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.

Good deal at Alco

December 1st, 2011 at 06:07 am

We have Alco stores around here, and I am a "member" meaning I have a store loyalty card and signed up for their emails.

In an email on Monday (I think) they showed a deal of "buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card free." I didn't see that in their ad on line, and it wasn't in their paper at the front of the store, either.

I asked the teller, and she said yes, the promotion was still going on, and would be until Christmas. Sweet!

My brothers and sisters and I are giving my parents one of those fake tempurpedic beds for Christmas. They were on sale for $289 for a queen a few weeks ago, and there was only one. My husband and I decided to get one, kind of to try it out to make sure it wasn't crap, and to give us more space as we are bed-sharing with our 6 month old and didn't have enough room in our full sized bed. So, I got a rain check for the other bed for mom and dad, and I'm waiting for it to be delivered to the store so I can buy it.

I had my brothers and sisters pay me their share over Thanksgiving. Since there are 9 of us, with tax it ended up about $37 each. 3 haven't paid yet, but 5 others did, some with cash, some with a check.

I went to Alco, and they won't take 3rd party checks, so I decided to use all the cash and some out of my account to buy 8 $25 gift cards. This got me 8 $5 gift cards as well. There is no limit to how many you can do in a transaction, they just have to swipe each card and code the amount in for each, so it will take a while to get done.

I also had a rain check for Hunts ketchup that was on sale 10 for $10 and get a $5 gift card back. I bought some gifts for my nephew from me (as his Godmother) and from my son (gift exchange for the kids), for another nephew (DH's godson) and for my son.

I sent an email to some people at work about it. One lady said she was looking at an Xbox that was $300 and you get a $25 gift card when you purchase one. So, she went there tonight and did this, and will get the Xbox for about $225. With her other purchases, she is going to save almost $100.

Another lady said she would do this to get a Wii and save $25.

I know their intention is to get people to give gift cards to others so they will spend in the store...but I don't care Smile I don't have to give them away...I can use them to automatically get 20% off anything I buy!

Trying to help my other cousin...

November 18th, 2011 at 03:34 am

This is my cousin Dean and his wife...


My cousin Dean was born with a heart defect and has had to have many surgeries since he was born, the latest just a few years before he married Lindsay. They have two daughters and a son.

Before they got married, Dean had a genetic test done to see if his heart defect was genetic, and the doctors assured him it wasn't. His two daughters are just fine, the son, though, wasn't growing right. They finally found out that he also had a heart defect, though a different kind than Dean did. They did surgery when he was about a month old (? I think he was that old already), and he seems to be doing just fine now too.

Lindsay was working for Marriott, at home. She worked during the day, and Dean worked nights. To save money on day care, while the two oldest daughters are at school, Dean took care of Griffin and tried to sleep while Lindsay worked, and Lindsay took care of the kids at night while Dean was at work.

Lindsay rolled her car coming home one night, and was paralyzed. She was in the car for hours, with no one seeing her until around 2:00 in the morning.

These two are the nicest people you will ever meet.

I hope this doesn't break the blog rules.
http://ptacekfamily.blogspot.com/?spref=fb

Trying to convince my cousin...

November 16th, 2011 at 03:48 pm

My cousin has cancer. I've written about her before a while ago. She had surgery to take out one ovary, did chemo, thought she was cancer free, then they found cancer in the other one.

Since I had my baby in May, I am exclusively breastfeeding him. I went back to work 6 weeks after he was born, and I work 3 days at work and 2 days at home every week. I have to pump for him, and well, I think I'm part Holstein because, damn. I only have to pump once in the morning to get all he needs, so I have quite the freezer stash going.

I read an article saying that a man who had prostate cancer who was a doctor decided to try to drink breastmilk to see if it would do anything to help get rid of the cancer. He tracked his PSA (? I think that is the relevant number) and when he was drinking 2 oz breastmilk from a family friend every day (in a smoothy, to get over the ick factory), the PSA number was steady or went down, but when his donor decided to wean her child, he had to get the milk from a milk bank. When he got the pasteurized stuff, it didn't work, but when he got the stuff barely pasteurized, it did.

I have since done more research, and the reason he even thought of it was that some researchers in Sweden showed that human breast milk kills cancer cells. When it is exposed to an acid, one of the proteins unfolds and becomes a cancer fighting machine.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419132403.htm

I've read other articles saying babies that are formula fed have 9 time more incidences of cancer than breastfed babies. Also, even if breastmilk doesn't kill the cancer, the protein and carbohydrates in breastmilk, along with antibodies and everything else, etc., help those who drink it feel better after chemo.

I went over to her house 2 weeks ago with 32 oz of milk, and started pumping more to replenish. I just have to add one more 15 minute pumping session in the afternoon, and have plenty.

I called her house today, and got ahold of her mom (my aunt). I asked if she needed more, because by now she should be about out. Aunt told me she hadn't tried it yet Frown

I totally understand the ick factor. But if it could work!?! Why not try it?

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Edited to add:
Here is the original study:
http://www.pnas.org/content/92/17/8064.full.pdf

Teaching a good lesson? Or being greedy?

November 6th, 2011 at 08:12 pm

My 55 year old uncle lives with my parents. He is slightly retarded, and went to school but can't read and can't count. He can tell time but doesn't really know what time means. If he were a kid today, he would be mainstreamed and would probably have found a job, but back in the 50's they didn't do that (or my grandparents chose not to do that) so he has never had a job and has lived with my grandma or my parents his whole life. I know other people with more severe limitations that live on their own and have jobs.

My grandma gets his Social Security money and gives him dribs and drabs of it, and pays my parents some of it for food and housing. Probably illegal, as she spends most of his money on things for her, but she can pull up bogus receipts saying the money was spent on him, so investigations don't catch her.

When my parents go to my brothers or sisters games, he has to pay for his way in and anything at the concession stand. They don't charge him for any gas or anything else.

My brother is now playing basketball at a junior college 2 1/2 hours away, and we went to the game last night. I drove and took my mom and uncle (dad was busy and so was my husband). I filled up when I left town, picked them up, drove out and back bucking a 35 mile wind the whole way, and then filled up in town again. Gas cost $60 for that tank. I told them we would split it 3 ways, so each of us would pay $20.

My uncle didn't have that much money to pay me. He is going to have to ask my grandma for more money, and I have a feeling grandma is going to throw a fit. Because she is greedy and manipulative.

I don't really care if she throws a fit or not. But what do you think? My uncle has been sheltered his whole life and doesn't have any responsibility other than making sure that the animals have water every day and washing dishes. Am I teaching a good lesson? Or being greed myself?

Can your spouse do your job?

January 2nd, 2011 at 06:25 am

You know those shows where some TV host comes into a house where the wife is so "underappreciated" and sends her off to a spa weekend and the husband has to handle the house, kids and her job?

Those are complete crap.

First of all, my husband could not do my job. I doubt many of you could either Smile Of course, this is after 6 years of college including a master's degree in theoretical algebra and 10 years of experience in the field. My boss can't do my job, no one else in my company can, and they would be hard pressed to find anyone who would move in to this small town part of Kansas that could.

However, and this is where the tv shows are always lacking: I COULDN'T DO HIS JOB EITHER! I wouldn't be able to fix a tractor. Or pickup. Or swather. Or be able to weld. Or know when to pull a cow into the barn to help it have its calf, and when to leave it alone. I couldn't stay out in all weathers and fight through the heat and the cold and the wind. I can't. I've tried.

What does that prove? If someone with a camera followed my husband to my job and expected him to do it, he would pretty much look like an idiot. If someone with a camera followed me out to our farm and expected me to do it, I would look like Paris Hilton or that other anorexic girl I can't remember the name of. All it proves is that each of us are good at our respective jobs and each of us are using our skills to support our household.

These shows always show how the dad can't handle the kids, either. Or house chores. And they make the man look like a douche and incompetent. I take exception to these, because wanting someone to come in and take over a responsibility they haven't been doing will naturally cause some upheaval. Expecting someone who hasn't been doing a chore to do it flawlessly the first time actually means that that chore has such low skill level that any idiot could do it. I don't know about you, but I think someone who can manage a household and children (and work outside the home, if that is applicable) has a great skill set that needed to be polished before it got to be the well oiled machine it is, and throwing someone into that position with no support isn't really fair. (Remember, the wife is off for three days of pampering).

When I was on bedrest for 10 days, the house did get a little dirty. Ok, it got pretty dirty. But, we didn't starve, we had clean clothes to wear and when he was home, whenever I needed food or water or help up so I could go to the bathroom, he lept right to it. Just because he did things differently than I did them didn't mean he did them wrong.

Thoughts?

subchorionic hemmorhage

December 7th, 2010 at 06:50 pm

The following post is all medical, no money Smile Just warning you...

Ok, so I haven't been here for a while, so you all don't know I am pregnant! Yay! It took a lot to get this far (14 1/2 weeks). Lost 30 pounds, took loads of medicines, prayed, etc.

In fact, out of frustration, I made this handy little collage:


By using NaPro Technology, with the Creighton Model, we had tried about everything. This means that we were trying to get my body to heal so it would naturally become pregnant by itself (with a little help from my husband lol), not gloss over my symptoms and implant an embryo. No offense, hopefully. The final thing we tried was to take Femara, a breast cancer drug, but only 4 pills on the third day of my period. This is being used off label, but a dr in Ireland is having success with it. My dr explained to me that it was similar to Chlomid, which helps prompt ovulation, but Chlomid had a side effect of making the endometris thinner, which might cause a miscarriage. The Femara would just kick start the ovaries but not have a side effect on the back side.

I was getting very frustrated, and my dr. thought the next thing to do was look into surgery. Dr. Hilgers in Omaha at the Pope Paul Institute has been doing groundbreaking surgeries for the past 30 years to get women's bodies able to get pregnant when they are having trouble. After looking at my fertility chart that I had been doing every night for about a year, he accepted me to come up for exploratory surgery. However, the day that I called up there to figure out what I needed to do (forms, time table, etc) I was 17 days past ovulation. At the beginning of my charting, my luteal phase had been all over the place, but the past three months, it had been a solid 14 days, so something was up. Plus, my nipples hurt. So I went and got a blood test at the hospital, and it was positive!

I had been taking progesterone level tests at 7 days past ovulation every month to chart how much I was producing, and that month was the highest so far, a 12, when it should have been in the 20's 7 days past ovulation. When I took the pregnancy test, they tested the progesterone as well, and it had already gone down to 10.7. We went to Salina the next day and my Dr. gave me a Progesterone shot and showed my husband how to do it so he could give them to me from now on. I was to take 2cc on Tuesdays and Friday and get my levels tested every other Tuesday. So far, the levels have steadily gone up, except one week they fell a small amount. This past test they were high enough, my dr felt that the placenta was taking over as it should, so she dropped me to 1cc, still twice a week.

This is natural progesterone in oil, and the first few times we did it, it came right out of the bottle into the syringe, and into my upper hip. Doing it that way really left welts and bumps on my hip because it was so thick, so after doing some research online, I found to warm it up to body temperature (either in my hand or in my bra), take the shot, and then put a warm washcloth there for a while, and that helped immensely.

Things have been going good. Got past the 1st trimester. Started telling a few more people. I had a dr. appointment scheduled for last Wednesday, and I told my husband that once that appointment was done and everything looked ok, I'd start telling everyone, not just family and friends.

Well, on Wednesday morning, I started bleeding, badly. I sneezed and blood went everywhere. Like enough blood to fill a pad in an hour. I was working at home that day, so DH came home and we rushed to the nearest non-triage hospital, 75 miles away...would have been faster but the governor on the pickup stopped us at 99mph. Every time I squeezed my stomach muscles, even just to sit up or anything, I could feel more blood coming out. The only thing was, it was only blood, no cramps and no clotting, so that was different from before.

We finally got in to the radiologist for an ultrasound, and the baby is ok, but I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hemmorhage. When we first saw that heartbeat, which is the first thing she looked for, we both started crying. That was such a relief. The hemmorhage is a pocket of blood that isn't supposed to be there between the outer sac of the placenta and the uterus, and when I sneezed it started bleeding, like popping a blister. The dr said no one knows why these develop, there is nothing I did that could have caused it (like lifting something heavy or anything like that) and there is nothing they can do for them, but she put me on bed rest for a week.

When I got home on Wednesday night, after we had eaten at Red Lobster to celebrate that I didn't miscarry and drove home, a bit slower this time, I had been sitting for over an hour and a half in one position, and when I stood up, I felt a very large clot coming down. Very large. Got to the bathroom and a blood clot the size of my hand came out. I freaked out again, but DH said it just looked like blood, nothing else. It was darker than fresh blood, but I was still freaking out, even though the doctor said I would continue bleeding until the rupture healed. DH finally told me that it looked like when you shoot a deer and you butcher it, the first place you hit it has that blood clot look, so that calmed me down. Thank goodness for redneck husbands. I didn't have the number for the after hours person at the Dr.s office, so after calling, my mother in law, who was at work at a different hospital, and she asked the OB staff in the hospital, they said they thought it was normal, but to have me call my hospital and they would give me the number for my after hours doctor,and so after all that, I got ahold of him, and he said it was normal too.

After that, I have only bled a very little. The next few days, maybe as much as a dime or a quarter? But now, I haven't bled at all for at least 3 days, but I am still on bedrest, blowing PTO I was trying to save for when I had the baby. My boss's boss told me "not to worry" about PTO, but they just say things like that. Like he is going to give me 3 extra days next summer of free PTO. He won't even remember he said that when I go back to work (hopefully) on Thursday. I go to the Dr. tomorrow to check things out, but won't get an ultrasound again until next week.

I ordered one of those fetal heartbeat monitors from ebay, and hopefully it will get here in a few weeks, so I can just calm myself down a bit if anything else funky happens.

Well, here is our baby, and hopefully he (I don't know, but I think it will be a boy) will just stay put for the next 6 months:

year end goals

October 4th, 2010 at 01:25 am

Well, my goals for 2010 were to pay off the pickup (loan from DH's Grandma), pay off the house, and pay the Bank of Amigo card down to $8000.

Paid House off in December of last year, paid Grandma off last month, and have the Bank of Amigo card down to $8568. I had $950 allocated to this card this month, so I would have hit my goal two months early.

But...I got a balance transfer offer in the mail for a credit card I have a $15,000 limit on, no balance, and my oldest card I have. I've had this card since I was 18. They offered 3.99% with a 3% transfer fee, so I jumped on that. It actually was kind of a pain. I tried to do it last weekend, but the card had actually expired, so I had to request a new card, activate it, and then call in to transfer the money.

I sent $200 to Bank of America to make sure that I made the minimum monthly payment, then sent $8450 as the balance transfer. I did it this way so there would be just a bit of a balance left over when the balance transfer hits, so I don't overpay and have to ask for a refund from them.

I then sent the remaining part of the balance transfer ($4645) to the Chase card that currently has $12069 on it. It is currently 5.99% until Feb and then 16.24% after that...my highest potential interest rate. I set up a spreadsheet to see if this one is the one that should be paid or another card I have that is 13.24% now, and the math worked out to pay the rest of the balance transfer to the 5.99/16.24% card. This card will then be down to $7425.

So, my goal for next year is to pay off that card. It should be done by October, so it isn't really stretching much, but I upped my HSA to $100 a paycheck (up from $25 a paycheck) and I haven't figured that change into the projections.

Things I wish I could say on facebook

July 23rd, 2010 at 04:57 am

What is wrong with your baby? It looks weird. (Note: there is nothing wrong with it. It just isn't cute)

If you weren't in junior high, I'd tell you to get a room already. Goodness sakes, you can't even go out on a date yet.

Did you adopt, did the father leave, did you get AI, did you have a one night stand? Exactly where did this kid come from?

Yep, bitchiness does come through in text form.

I guess when you don't have your daddy's lawyer money backing you up, you ain't shit, are ya Mr. Best Rancher on the Planet?

Are you gay? "In a relationship", no males in any pictures, a ring on your left hand but not on the ring finger and a comment someone left about sicking your friend on the person who gave you a black eye in a softball game. If so, I bet you wish you could take back your judgmental condescension about me being too hung over to go to Mass with you in college.

Jeez, if that is what I look like after losing 34 pounds, I must have looked horrible before.

new (?) lawn chair

June 20th, 2010 at 06:18 pm

Spent the past week tearing apart old jeans into strips, sewing them together and "reupholstering" a lawn chair:

It started out like this:


Stripped it down:


Finished product (the original chair was missing one screw, so I need to pick one of those up sometime...but it is usable as is):


Also, we traded or baler in on a newer model that won't break down twice a day. When you are trying to do custom work for other people, there is no way you can be broken down most of the day. You need to pull in, bale it up and get out. We traded off the lemon as our down payment, and the yearly payments don't start until next August. We are going to sell our planter sometime between now and then, and apply all of that equity to the baler, have them reamortize, and then the payments will be less than what the planter payments were. We got a 5 year loan for 3.99%.

The importance of these two things should be switched. But I don't have pictures of the new baler Smile

A little more organized

June 19th, 2010 at 06:16 am

I am so tired of the house being a complete and utter mess all the time. I hate washing dishes, the floors are dirty all the time, the trash, ugh. I don't know that there is anything I really clean well. I hate when people come over. I feel like they are judging me, and that I deserve their scorn. Even people who have bad houses themselves Smile

I remember ages and ages ago I had read some cleaning book my mom had. The acronym was S.H.E., and it involved setting up your cleaning system so that each task you had to do went on 3x5 cards, you assigned them to do Daily, Every other Day, weekly, every two weeks, every month and every 3 months. You can throw every year in as well. Then you have little file cards so you can just move the cards to the next day you have to do it, so that day you look at the cards and that is all you have to do.

I didn't have file card box and I didn't have any dividers, but I had a buttload of envelopes I had incorrectly printed on for my sister's wedding. I cut two pieces off each envelope that the 3x5 cards can fit in, and numbered them 1-31 and Jan - Dec. I put them in an accordian like pocket pouch I had been using for coupons, but not anymore.

I use sticky notes as my memory at work, and when I was fixing up my house to sell I put sheets of newspaper up and defined each task on a sticky note so we could tear that down as each thing got done, so I figured this may do the trick. The newspaper/sticky note thing really helped organize the 5-6 people I would have in my house helping me (and not always the same people) so they could just pick something off the wall they wanted to do.

As I said, my house was a sty. So, I figured I could make up all my 3x5 cards, put them in the system I wanted them, and even if I have to wait 2 weeks to get to something, it's been longer than a few months since that task was done, so it can wait another 2 weeks. That way I don't overload myself and start to hate it.

My everyday tasks are washing dishes, including putting them away, and cleaning everything off the table (don't leave clutter. Since it is just DH and I and the table is big enough for 8, I tend to leave stuff on there). My every other day tasks are sweep, work out (today) and take out trash, water garden, and put clothes away (I keep them going through the washer and dryer just fine, but I hardly ever fold them or put them away, so that is my task) tomorrow.

My every two week task for today was cleaning the countertop by the stove (it gets used as a catch all). It took like 10 minutes? I don't know why I don't just keep it clean. Maybe this will prompt me in that direction.

My weekly task for tomorrow is wash bathroom countertop and sink. My every 2 week task for tomorrow is clean bathtub, toilet and wash mirror.

I also have some big things I want to do, like finish making the computer desk (another 4 foot piece to put the printer on), move the 4 drawer filing cabinet and set up the computer desk, so I put that on Saturday as well.

Other big things involve making and hanging curtains in multiple rooms, cutting some carpet remnants for the front room, putting some electronics away, cleaning out the office (there is just a big pile of random stuff behind me right now), set up the back porch, install a new back door, etc, but those aren't assigned to days.

I already have a few more cards to add, but I am out of 3x5 cards. I need to clean out my pickup every couple of weeks to a month, and plan my menus and grocery shop for the week.

Of course, now that I am trying to get on a schedule, I am going to be gone for the last week of June for a training class, so hopefully I won't fall off the wagon.

Starting my plants

March 25th, 2010 at 02:39 am

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 5th, 2010 at 02:55 am

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.

more to CC1

February 22nd, 2010 at 04:01 am

In my last post, I thought I had $408 left on one card and I wanted to pay this off by March 5.

I had forgot about a reimbursement from COBRA that I had already deposited and applied to the card, so it is down to $265...but interest accrued, so as of today, the balance is $273.10.

Got the gas bill today, and it is about $45 less than I budgeted for. I also looked at the timing of bills, and I can send $75 more now, and send $75 less on March 14...though with this out of the way, all of that money will go to CC2! Yes, I'm switching from having student loan the next thing to CC2, since the difference in interest rates between those are about 14%!!! Anyway, I am sending a total of $120 right now to CC1.

After balancing the food/gas/misc checkbook, I can sweep $55 from the previous pay period to CC1 as well. Should have done this last week, as this Thursday is pay day again.

That means I only need to come up with $98 (+ interest) in the next few weeks. Yay me! I have one more bill (electric/water/trash) to come in before then, that may help. But we'll see about getting that $98 out of the other account and I won't have to use any of the LOC.

----------

Made homemade yogurt this weekend and some bread. The yogurt was awesome, the bread is very dense. I don't know why I can't make bread to save my life!?! It always turns out perfect for throwing through windows, not so much for eating. Tastes good, but you could break a tooth on it, I think. I mixed the yogurt with some peach salsa (also homemade from this summer, also very yummy) this morning for breakfast and used it as a substitute for sour cream on my chili for lunch. It was soooooo easy. Like, pour 8 c. milk in the crock pot. Heat for 2 1/2 hours. Unplug for 3 hours. Add 1/2 c. yogurt (with live active cultures). Wrap with towel as an insulator. Let sit 8 hours. I mean, how easy is that! And very good. Thank you, http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html

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Helped DH with some hay feeders today, and got to watch a calf be born. That is so neat. We had 3 today, and are up to 13 for the year. Wanted to get some fence built, but didn't get around to it. The loader tractor had the steering go out the other day because a hose broke, so we had to modify a bale fork to fit on the other tractor. Goodness, DH is good with a welder and a torch. I mean, yeah, he did that for 10 years out of high school before we go married, but he can build and modify about anything.

is this cheating?

February 19th, 2010 at 04:29 am

I'm doing the Dave Ramsey thing, trying to pay off some credit cards. Let me throw a situation at you...I asked one sister her opinion, but would like my friends here at SA to opine as well.

I owe $408 on Card 1. My student loans are at around $2500. I owe $13,500 on Card 2. (there are more cards, but they don't play into this situation). My debt snow ball is $420 per month, and all extra budgeted money that I don't need for bills go to the snowball, so on March 14, I'll have around $480 to pay off Card 1 and then the rest goes on the student loan. The current interest rate on Card 1 is 11.24%, and the current interest rate on the student loan is 3.125% or some such ridiculously small number. The interest rate on Card 2 is, I think, 16%.

I got an offer to transfer balances to Card 1 at 3.99% for a year, with a 3% balance transfer fee, but the credit limit on that card is $2000 and it has to be done by March 5.

My goal for the year was to pay off the house (done), card 1 (almost done), student loans and the pickup we bought with a loan from DH's grandma ($3000 - 0% loan).

I am doing Dave Ramsey's method because I need a process to follow. I know in my head that attacking highest percentage is the smart math thing to do, but at this point, I need a method that gives me pride every so often before slogging through a year of payments to pay off a card.

I want to do this:

* use our farm line of credit to pay off Card 1 in the next week
* transfer $2000 (with a buffer for interest and fees) from Card 2, lowering that card to $11,500ish.
* pay the farm line of credit on March 14 with the snowball
* keep paying minimums on Card 1 (with the new balance) and Card 2 after the transfer
* concentrate on the student loans this year and the pickup, even though the $2000 on Card 1 would now be the lowest credit card amount.
* Once the goals for this year are done, start over on Dave's plan, starting with Card 1 again, then moving on to Card 2.

This way my goals from the beginning of the year are the same and I effectively lower the interest rate on a card I won't get to until next year. If Bank of Amigo (Card 2) said "we'll lower the interest rate on $2000 of your balance to 6.99% for a year, but keep the rest of it the same" I would jump on that. I think that the minimum payment on Card 2 should go down the same amount that the minimum payment on Card 1 would go up, so the snowball should go up by the original minimum payment on Card 1, right?

But, is that cheating? Is it going to undermine the procedure I am trying to follow? Will not reducing the number of cards I pay each month hurt my psyche? lol about the psyche, but I hope you know what I am talking about.

I know in my head that this is a smart thing to do. But I also know that I am following a plan because I have not been tenacious enough to do it by myself. That is what I am really afraid of...falling off the wagon.

Any advice would help.

Thanks!

going good on goals

February 12th, 2010 at 04:07 am

alliteration is good for you

Anyway, my goals are going well. My financial goals for this year were:
1) pay off house (orig $1300 left)
2) pay off Capital One (orig $1477 left)
3) pay off Student loan (orig $2590 left)
4) pay off DH's grandma (orig $3000 left)

Got the house paid off in December...should have taken until March 6, so even though that was before 2010 started, it still counts.

Swept $83.59 last paycheck toward Capital One. This paycheck I don't have any more to sweep, but my snowball is $455, so that can go today. That makes $800.08 I've paid since the last due date. Today, the balance was $864.88, so after the payment is applied, I'm down to $409.88 on this card. Yippee! It will be gone for sure by next month.

Last month was a huge household bill month for some reason.
- Farm electric was $77.23, and the highest it had ever been before that was $53.66. Asked DH why, and he said he had to keep the tractors plugged in all the time so they would start in the cold weather. Ok, good reason. Just so long as we hadn't left something plugged in without realizing it and it was just draining energy.
- Cell phone was $95.64 because I had switched plans, usually ~$70. I think my roaming is causing more trouble than I thought it would.
- We are going crazy renting movies from our VOD service. $40 in movies last month? Really? I keep saying we need to sign up for Netflix, but I haven't yet.
- Gas bill for house was $126, the month before only $67, the month before that $26. Darn this cold weather!

Most of those I can usually count on to have extra to go to the snowball, but I only mustered $35 extra. I upped all of those categories in the budget, and it balances until the end of April, so if bills get down to normal, I'll have a lot more to go towards the snowball after paying each bill.

Only paying $50 / month for the Student Loan, so not much progress there, but the pickup loan Gma gave us is down to $2100.

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

The tax game I played worked out well. I had rolled over a little more than $16,000 from my 401k to an IRA in December, and then rolled exactly $16,000 to a Roth IRA. Because I was laid off, got a lower paying job, $2400 of the unemployment was not taxable, and farm depreciation, when all taxes were said and done, we had an AGI of only $26,000ish. We are supposed to get a large refund...about $9000. Should be here next week. That will turn around and go right to the swather loan, and we'll only have to come up with $3300 more for that by the first week of March.

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

Baby news: well, lack of baby news: I've been charting for two full cycles now, and from what it looks like, I simply don't have enough mucus. My doctor upped my Metformin, and told me to get Mucinex Max to help the mucus production. Three days after I ovulate this month, I'm supposed get blood tests done every other day for 11 days to see how my progesterone levels are doing. If they are off, I'll take a supplement. I lost 6 pounds on my diet since Thanksgiving, which is good, but I need to stay on the wagon instead of cheating.

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Last week was hell at work. We sent 1099s out on Jan 30th, and they were totally and completely wrong. We sent out the amount of grain that was settled in 2009. That doesn't take into account grain from previous years that was sold in 2009, pushed forward up to 4 years ago. It also doesn't take into account grain that hasn't been sold yet. My boss, the accounting manager and I spent probably 80 hours last week trying to get this right. To add another complication, some of the taxes that are taken out when grain is sold (the checkoffs that I have complained about before) should count as income to the producer and an expense. Ok, that doesn't look right, but we had to add those things back in, and then send the producer a second paper showing the amount of taxes they paid so they could count it as an expense. Except not all of them, and we got that wrong twice. It was really hell. I think we finally got it done on Tuesday, but people are still calling because we have never sent these out before and they are confused. My boss told me I can take a day off sometime in the next month or so and not have it count as vacation because I put so much time in. In a few weeks, after I get some of the confusion out of my head, I'm supposed to start over and try to get it right the first time so we have a process to use next year. Bosses won't be happy if we have this same problem again.

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

I didn't know Big Love had started again! I finally checked it, and they are on like episode 5 already. I watched s4e1 last night and e2 tonight. Looking pretty good.

30 in 30

January 18th, 2010 at 03:21 am

I'm a little late to the party, but I'm joining in today.

I had a huge box of clothes (like a moving box you can hang them in) stuffed with clothes that has been taking up room in our bedroom for over a year now. I went through it, and found:
- 17 things to throw away
- 25 T-shirts to cut up into rags
- 2 shirts to cut up and use for a craft project
- 54 clothing items to give to mom/brothers/sisters (! Yeah, I know)

I also hadn't gotten rid of a bunch of financial "trash" that I don't like to just throw out with the regular trash. It should be shredded, but I don't have a shredder, so I'll take it over to mom and dad's and burn it. Add them:
- 4 bags financial trash

My cousin had gotten me a new wallet for Christmas, and I hadn't transferred anything over to it yet...the old one's zipper had broken, so I was using a rubber band to hold it together. Transferred that, so add another thing to throw out.

Totals:
19 x 1 = 19
81 x 1.5 = 121.5
--------
140.5 points

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Found the old brother ink cartridge that worked with my printer...I replaced it with a generic, but the generic didn't work for some reason. So I am going to try to suck the ink out of the full one and put it into the brother one, and see if that works. If not, I'll buy a new one, but might as well try.

My goals for 2010

January 1st, 2010 at 08:29 pm

My goals for the year are to pay off Capital One (~$1500), my student loan (~$2500) and DH's grandma ($2400).

On 11/01, I had wanted to pay off the house this year as well, but I got that paid off last week! If you remember, the little screw up with the student loan was going to push that goal to next month, but I decided that the federal government will NOT have an effect on me. I will achieve my goals in spite of them. If you remember, I was at $1150 and needed $1300. I paid the chiropractor with the cash I had been doling out to DH (the cash came from our hunters) and used $150 out of gas/food, and voila! $1300. I DID pay off the house in 1 month! Take that feds. Your bureaucracy won't keep me down!

I will get the chiropractor money ($141) back from my HSA. I turned the receipt in to the administrator, and should get paid back sometime next month. That will go on the stack as well.

I am going to keep building up my snowball (currently $420 a month), and when those three loans above are done, start on BoA. That won't get done next year, but I will be knocking it around at least.

I am going to buy more laptops to resell. Easy money; just have to get to Wichita to pick them up initially. I made about $45 per laptop last time I did that.

I am going to offer to help a lady in town that does taxes. She has a daughter that plays basketball, and my brother and sister play basketball as well, so Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is out, but if she works late on Monday and Wednesday, I could go straight there after work and help her out for a few hours. She would pay about $10 per hour, and all of that could go to the debt snowball. I helped her a while last summer and like it, but events interfered and I stopped going.

Also this year, instead of putting receipts in a pile to be sorted through later, I am going to take care of them when I balance checkbooks. I take farm receipts from the stores and tape them to paper (so they are easy to look through), scan them (so I have a backup) and then hole punch them to put in a notebook. Some of those store receipts fade, so having a scan of them will be important if anything ever comes up where I need them down the road. I will also come up with a spreadsheet where I can keep track of the expenses through out the year.

Because of all the machinations I had to go through to pay the house off in a month, I can only put $210 towards Capital One on 1/13. Minimum is $44, so 5 times more than I was paying. By 2/13, though, I can for sure send $420, plus any money from over budgeting. There are 6 bills that will probably be over-budgeted for, so all the extra will go.

I will also sweep my gas and food account to the special emphasis bill each pay period. I got paid yesterday. Excuse me while I go balance that check book...ok, I'm back. Only $15.34 left to sweep from last pay period, but I need to ask for reimbursement for $95.70, which was another Doctor bill. I'm going to go through this $500 HSA pretty quickly...

On 11/21, I figured I would have all the credit card debt paid off by 5/2014. With the house paid off early, that knocks it back to 2/2014. I am not taking into account interest in those figures, but I'll just keep on tracking it like this. If I'm consistent with tracking it, at least it will show progress, even if interest will extend it a bit...but the interest would extend all data points, so the rate of progress would be the same.

I'll do farm goals after Tuesday. We sell calves Tuesday, and I'll have to make sure to cover a lot of big bills: main farm loan, line of credit, planter payment, swather payment, rent payment. Eek. I don't want to think about it right now.

At work we have an option to submit our medical insurance premiums for reimbursement from the HSA. I can't figure out why this would make sense to do. We pay $55.17 per pay period for insurance, and $25 per pay period for the 125 Health. They are both taken out of the check and are not included as federal taxable wages. Now, if I was going to get reimbursed for the $55.17 per pay period, wouldn't that mean I would just increase the reimbursement money to $80.17 and get that $55.17 back the next month? What is the point? Am I missing something? There is no tax reason to do this. But, maybe, that would allow for a bit more of a buffer. I just put enough in there to cover the deductible for me, because I am hoping to have lots of dr appointments sometime this year (you know, pregnancy test, ultrasounds, etc) and DH won't go to the doctor unless his foot is hanging off. If I put more in the account, but then didn't use it all, I could just submit the medical premiums and get the money back. Hmm. I'll have to think about that for next year's open enrollment.

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

SIL is pregnant with her. Hmmph. Well, she has had two miscarriages, so this is her third pregnancy. The others were lost early (before 2 months) and she is now about 5 months along. I don't know how to say that. When he is born, is it her first child? Her third child? As a mother only to one miscarried child myself, I don't know how to put it. Anyway, I started thinking about shower gifts and such, so I started looking in the baby aisle, and holy crap, things are expensive. But I found the cutest flannel fabric of a frog on camoflouge, for $3 a yard, and I got all 5 yards of it. I wanted it to be reversible, but I couldn't find any red flannel at Alco, but DH had a flannel shirt that had shrunk and he couldn't wear it anymore, so that is the back. Of course I washed and dried both the material and the flannel shirt before starting:


My sister had given me some baby clothes, so I drug that out and found a bib to make a pattern from. It is really small. I decided to make two of these really small ones, and then two of medium sized ones and two large ones.

The frogs are so cute. I cut one large frog out to applique to the red side of one bib and two small ones to applique to the red side of the other. I used a decorative stitch around the outside when I was done, and here is what they look like:



It only took an evening. I have lots of frog material left, so I think I'll make a swaddling blanket and more bibs, but I need to find more red material before I can make the blanket.

good mail day and pay day

December 18th, 2009 at 02:36 am

It was a good mail day today. I talked to a friend of mine the other day, the one that bought a laptop from me, and my husband delivered it. He didn't know how much I was charging, her husband thought $200 and she thought $250, so my husband said just pay me when they saw us again. Um, all FOUR of us have cell phones, so you could have just called, but whatever Smile Anyway, I haven't seen her for over a month now, but talked to her on the phone, and she said "I owe you for that laptop! How much is it?" Told her, and she mailed it to me, even though we only live like 10 miles apart. lol. So that check came in today.

Got a refund from a radiological outfit that did my ultrasound when I was pregnant. That was $16.03.

Got our 4% patronage check from the coop, for $71.50.

That should all go to the snowball. The monthly snowball is at $370, and I got it up to $850 for this month. The electric bill was $5 less than I thought, so it went up to $855.

But, because the Federal Government is run by nincompoops, it went down by $100. Let me explain. I switched bank accounts for the bills, and I changed the bank information on the Direct Loan website. BUT, that doesn't change your automatic payments, it only changes the manual one time payments. Of course that isn't stated anywhere on the site. So, my 11/14 payment didn't go through. Got a letter saying that I missed a payment and it would be going into forebearance. WTH? I've never missed a payment. I logged in and made a payment of $100 to make me current from the new account, and then I called, and they said you have to download a form, put the bank info on there (even though the new bank info was already on the website) and send it in by mail. Because of that, I thought that the $100 web payment wouldn't go through, so I sent another $100 payment in by check. Looked at the bank statement today, and they got both payments. Called today, and they said I have to make another web payment in January, because it takes 30-45 days to change that automatic payment information. REALLY? I can do that immediately on most sites! Again, WTH?

The more I interact with the federal government, the more I realize they are all pretty much idiots or just don't flippin' care. Either way, it reinforces why I am a conservative Smile

Anyway, that extra $100 payment makes the snowball go back down to $755 for this month. At least I didn't just blow it...it just went to goal #3 instead of goal #1 (1 is house, 2 is smallest credit card, 3 is student loan).

But now, I can add Round($200 + $71.50 + $16.03 + $755) = $1045 to the house, and only about $300 left! Yeah!

I got a bill for the chiropractor for $141. I have a $500 deductible on my insurance before they start paying anything, so I think I am about half way there (year is October - September). But, $141 will come out of my non-bills account, and then I'll take 1/2 of the gasoline bill I get from work and pay that out of the non-bill account ($170.50 is half) with one more paycheck before the end of the month which will cover the other $170.50. That leaves about $105 in the non-bill account as of pay day today (after the above mentioned bills) which I could send to the house as well. $1045 + $105 = $1150. My next paycheck is 12/31, and I want to pay this payment for the house before the end of the year, but maybe I'll wait until that week and see how the non-bill account is coming, and I might be able to send more in. All Christmas gifts are done, and we don't have any travel to speak of for Christmas, so I don't see any problem with that.

The plan was almost 4 months (3.88 to be exact Smile ) to pay off the house at the original snowball, and it looks like I will be damn close in 1...and if the government hadn't screwed me up for $150 I KNOW I could have done it in 1!

So someone asked how we budget. I have three different checking accounts. One is strictly for bills, one is for gas and food and misc stuff, and one is for farm. Of course these somewhat liquid, because after all, when a bill has to be paid, a bill has to be paid. But this is the ideal way I have it set up.

I deposit $600 every two weeks in the non-bill personal account. I deposit $1000 a paycheck into the bill account, and the rest goes to the farm account, about $295.

I don't really budget the $600 or the $295, because the $600 is pretty flexible, and there is a big buffer in there if I get in trouble, and I haven't figured out how to budget for unexpected farm expenses. But, I do have a strict regimen for the bills.

Easiest way is just to show a screen shot:


As you can see, I do it in a spreadsheet. OpenOffice.org, in fact. The free version of excel.

So, let's go through this. The top four lines have been paid, and have been reconciled with the bank from the last statement. That is shown by being gray and having the black column Cs. Under that black is an X, so I can filter on blank or non-blank (you can't filter on color).

The next 12 lines have all been paid, but not reconciled, because they are gray without the black box. Chase Visa #1 (line 215) and Bank of America (line 217) have been scheduled to pay on those dates, shown by being gray with no black box.

Yellow lines are automatic. I put Auto on some of those lines, but really don't look at that first column, so Auto isn't on all the lines it should be (oops). I color them gray when they are done (the day of or the next day, depending on when I check the spreadsheet.)

The orange ones I have to log on to that site and schedule a payment, and once I schedule it, I color it gray (I don't wait until the day of. That is why Chase and BOA are gray now).

The blue ones I have to send a check to, so I have to schedule it ahead on bill pay. The date on the spreadsheet is the due date. It will go gray when I send the payment.

The green one is the current special emphasis item. That is where I keep track of the current snowball. It will go gray when I send the payment.

I actually have this scheduled out until the end of February. The lowest I'll get is $48 on 2/10, but I'll get paid on 2/11, so that should be ok. I have a gap between bills from the 14th to the 25th, so if I need to change bank information at work (which takes a paycheck before switching, and during that switch, we get a paper check) I can deposit it and allocate the money as I said above.

You can see that I allocate $200 a month for gas for the house (line 219) but on line 198, I only paid $67.01 for that bill. The difference goes to the snowball.

How did I get $200, you ask? Well, that is another sheet...

These records go back to Jan 2007. Again, gray means it is done. I have two sheets as a check on myself...I could code it to automatically update one sheet when I do the other, but I like to see both spreadsheets in their respective formats. Yellow, orange and blue mean the same as above. Green isn't on here, because it wasn't a monthly bill (private contract, with very understanding previous owner). But when I start snowballing a credit card for instance, that one will be green.

First column is what is due, and the second row for that entry is the max bill since the beginning of the sheet. You can see that on line 14/15, The most I have ever paid Kansas Gas is $197.15, so that is why I budget $200. Now for Geico, the most I had paid for that is $123, but I change policies and it is now $68.04 every month without fail, so I budget exactly $68.04. Variable items get budgeted the most and exact items get budgeted exact. Once I know the exact amount for a variable bill, I update it.

The rest of the spreadsheet are due dates and amounts due. I started this when I was juggling bills for two houses (mine and DHs when I used to work 2.5 hours away) and I couldn't keep track in my head when everything was due. This very easily shows the due date and the amount, and the other shows if I have the money to pay!

My other two accounts just look like ledger sheets, and I use gray and black boxes on them as well, but no other colors Smile

Meatballs and minestrone soup

December 15th, 2009 at 04:21 am

Thank you, pinchthatpenny, for the meatball receipe:
http://pinchthatpenny.savingadvice.com/2009/12/11/december-11-12-eats-with-awesome-meatbal_55769/#comments

I tried it today, and boy, were they good. I think next time I'll only use one egg, though, because they were pretty running when I was putting them on the pan.

For some reason, I wanted to make those, and I wanted minestrone soup as well. So, I looked up a couple different minestrone soup recipes and kind of mixed them together. I cooked the meatballs, then took half of them and minced them up to put in the soup. I'll put the recipe I used on my sidebar. DH and I both liked it, though it only cooked for about 30 minutes. I'm going to keep it simmering until we go to bed, and hopefully it will be even better for tomorrow.

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

Had a nice surprise last week. Big storm came through, so my boss told me I could work from home for two days, Tues and Wed. We planned what I would work on, I had a couple projects to do, and I made sure to work hard on them so this experiment won't be a bad experience for my boss. I got a lot done, and he was happy with it. I think, after a few more months, I'm going to ask if I could work from home 1 day a week or 1 day every couple of weeks. I think he really likes what I am doing, but I don't think they have a policy for doing that. I've only been there 4 months, but they are really happy with my work.

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

I've been trying to work on my sister's wedding invitations, but I am having a hard time doing it. I could do mine, because I knew what I wanted. But I don't know her taste, so I'm kind of floundering. I'll try to get more of that done in the next few days. Dear Sis, don't read this: I am going to print one out and actually send it to her in the mail so it is kind of a surprise when she gets it.

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Found out that the calf sale is in Salina on Tues, Jan 5. DH called the manager of the sale barn, and it seemed like the manager remembered our calves from last year, which is a huge surprise. Last year he stopped the sale to point out how good our calves are, but there has to be hundreds of thousands of calves go through there every year, so for him to remember us is kind of a big deal. It may be that the auctioneer just holds out a few more seconds, asks for one more bid, anything, and it could mean a lot more money. Hope our calves impress again like they did last year.

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

Got paid for another laptop, so another $200 towards the snowball this month, I had a $50 check from a credit card, and other bills were less than expected, so I'll have $850 to send to the house this month. (Snowball is $370, so I added another $480 this month). I got $100 in cash as a Christmas bonus from work, and I have some cash from our hunters renting out the pheasant hunting rights on our property (I think $305 left) but I've been slowly giving that to DH because he likes cash. I've been giving him about $50 a week for groceries, gas, misc other stuff. I have one more laptop to get paid for.

I also have been doing a lot better job in my gas/food/misc check book. I was dipping into the cushion quite a bit when I was still paying the truck loan. I get paid every two weeks, and deposit $600 in there every paycheck. I have about $650 of buffer in the account, and I got down to -$631 at one point! Two weeks later I pulled it up to -$201, er, then it went back down to $242, and now, after a few months, I'm at +$139 as of the last pay check. Today, it is at $445, all presents are done, and pay day is Thursday! I'll need to pay $340 to work for gas for the month (I have a gas card that gives me $.05 off a gallon, but I charge it - no interest - and have to pay it by the end of the month), but I should be able to sweep extra money into my snowball from now on.

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

I took back some batteries I had bought to Alco. I bought D batteries, but the hot shot takes C batteries. Then, I got the last presents I needed to get, with a 20% off coupon! One shirt I got was originally $50, marked down to $10, then 20% off is $8! I got another shirt, some candies, and a DVD. Everything else I got I ordered from Amazon...and learned a lesson there. Not everything sold on Amazon is shipped from Amazon. Those things, even if you are over $25, cost shipping. An expensive lesson. I bought some glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish for my sister, and the $3.95 polish had $7.00 in shipping! yikes! I didn't catch it until after I okayed the transaction.

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

Need to work on my net worth statement. I don't know why, but in order to complete the IRA to Roth IRA transaction, they need all that info. Doesn't make sense. I mean, if I had a negative net worth and not enough income, they wouldn't do it? I have to get that done tonight so I can send it in tomorrow. I'm anxious to see if it all works out like I hope it will.


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