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Cooking for one in the crockpot...makes for some yummy leftovers to freeze!

June 23rd, 2013 at 05:36 pm

I made split pea soup in the crockpot yesterday. The pot full of soup cost under $5 and there is enough soup for many meals, plus some to freeze.

To break it up a little, today I am cooking boneles pork ribs, again in the crock pot. (Love my crockpot! Even cooking for one is so easy!) Part of the pork will be used in chili verde tacocs and enchiladas, the rest will be pulled pork sandwiches. I have everything necessary except sandwich bread, which I will get later in the week.

I spent $60 at the gocery store yesderday- which, except for the bread, is all that I need for the week. I still have some of the black bean soup that I made last week, that I am going to refreeze for later in the week or next weekend.

I splurged on my hair today. I had it cut and colored again. Cost plus tip = $100. (ouch)..my rationalization is that if it helps my very bruised heart a little, it is money well spent. I LOVE my new look. I also gave myself a pedi today. I honestly feel 51 instead of 52. Big Grin kidding.

Other than gas for the car and $4 to get into the community kids club with my grandkids yesterday, that is all I have spent. Starting with my payday next Friday, there will be extra money to pay back for today's haircut and my "extras" account will start to rebuild. I will be budgeting for hair care from now on..I just feel better with a nice cut.

My girls have suggested that we take a girls trip down to southern Calif to visit my friend. I have been looking into airfare and it has really gone up. However I have a companion ticket credit and about $250 in credit that I can use on Alaska Air, so I am seriously considering it. My friends birthday is the beginning of August, which would be a good time for all of us.

Tough week..but I can do this!

June 19th, 2013 at 09:09 pm

Tough week. I have been hurting inside and out- bruised body and a bruised heart. Hard to focus on finances like this, but its been a fairly frugal week. When you dont eat, you dont spend a lot on food. ugh. Enough of that.

I am keeping my finances separate. I think that is best. Unfortunately, there were lots of joint expenses and I have little to live on until next Friday. He said take what I need, but I am determined to make it on my own salary. All bills are paid, and I have enough for food and gas.

Tomorrow is a big day at work. A huge project is finished and I will finally start to slow down to a semi-normal pace, the first since the beginning of the year...after June 30, work life will get fully back to normal- (which is still busy, but not nearly as ridiculous as the last 6 months)

I wish I had a crystal ball. You would think by my age I would have an idea of what the future looked like.

Spent $4.25 today, total indulgence!

June 15th, 2013 at 08:41 pm

I needed to return a couple of books to the library today, but the one I usually go to would have been a nightmare to get into because of a community event that was going on downtown. So, I went to one of the smaller ones that was closer to home anyway. Not as much selection, but it was close, there was plenty of parking and I found a book to check out. (the Christmas Fix It and Forget It, a slow cooker cookbook). Even though it is a "Christmas" themed book, it has several recipes I want to try.

When we moved our satellite service, they gave us "premium" channels for no charge for six months. I have yet to find anything on them, so I am glad they are free. I watched DD1s kids for a while today so she and SIL could go on a date for Father's Day. They have given up TV service and instead use Netflix and Hulu. Their cost is about $20. Quite a savings over what satellite and cable cost. I will definitely keep that in mind for future decisions.

I spent $4.25 today. I stopped and bought a ice coffee and a water on my way to DD1's. I found a small insulated lunch box in my dad's shed the other day, and I plan to start using that to cart cold water when I go to town. The coffee was because I didnt sleep too good last night because of the bangs and bruises and I wanted a perk me up to watch the kiddos.

I have an appt for my hair tomorrow, but I am going to call and postpone it until next weekend. I think it still looks ok from the last cut/color...and I am a little too sore to go through the process...although, the black eye would probably look nice with a new do. Big Grin

R has called every day (at least twice a day) and really wants to work through the problem. I get six free counseling sessions through my job, so I will call next week and make an appointment to help sort out what is best. In the meantime, I am using this month to sort through feelings and heal my heart.

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I miss my dad so much this year. I wouldnt have shared the events of the past couple of weeks with him, but I sure would have enjoyed his stories and hugs. If you still have your dad- I am envious. I know every father/daughter relationship is unique and not all are good ones- but I would truly give anything for a day, an hour..a hug with my dad.

Happy Father's Day to all of our daddy bloggers and visitors! Enjoy YOUR day tomorrow!

OUCH. What was I thinking?

June 14th, 2013 at 07:09 pm


I was asked to help out at an event today. All I had to do was ride one of two segways, that were decked out with marketing for my job, around town for a couple of hours. I was nervous, cause I am NOT an adrenaline junkie...AT ALL. But I decided to do it. Everyone else was having fun taking turns..

I made it an hour. Then, I got bumped off, which was no big deal...but when I went to step back on, the darn thing shot towards me and knocked my feel right out from under me and I face planted on the metal bar. My cheek hurts really bad- its swelling and discoloring ...my arm is scraped and bruising, as is my shin...my back is starting to ache and boy, do I feel abused! Thankfully, nothing feels broke. NOT a good start to the weekend.

Plus, my ego is bruised. Dumb segway.

Hopefully, tonight is the worst of it. I have a long to do list this weekend and have no time for any more pity parties.

Today was my payday- I repaid the money that I had borrowed from savings to pay for the hotel last week. ($370) I also repaid savings, put money into the basic checking account, which will cover gas and food and was able to put $300 towards debt.

I had to drive my car this week when I travelled for work. I will turn in a check request next week which will result in about $40.

Last night I stopped by Kohls and asked if I could use my expired 30% off, since I hadnt gotten to use it yet. Thankfully, they said sure..and I bought myself a belated birthday gift...a cute sundress..it was normally was $56, but after the sales price and 30% off, it was only 26. It is cute, comfy and just what I wanted for summer!

Next week, when R's paycheck hits, the state taxes will be paid as well as several bills.

I dont anticipate any extra expenses this week. This weekend I am just sticking close to home. I have the fixins for some soup, which should provide dinner for 3-4 nights and I have several things in the freezer. My treats were coffee creamer and a seedless watermelon.

Aside from being pretty sore, swollen and bruised...life is good!

Peace, quiet and good news from Zillow!

June 12th, 2013 at 09:25 pm

After the craziness of the past couple of weeks, it is blissfully quiet in the little house tonight. I can hear birds, crickets, a few dogs barking in the far off distance, but other than that, it is peaceful.

R really wants to keep his deposits coming to the joint account and asked me to keep taking care of finances jointly. Since he makes much more than the bills, this isnít an issue. Everything is set up to auto pay anyway. I will continue to track everything so that it can be easily divided- and put all extra towards the last of the unsecured debt. Any big house repairs are on hold for now.

I am looking forward to life in the little house for the next month. I have my black lab and my cat to keep me company. They love country living. My cat, who was Mr. GQ in the city house, always groomed and proper, has comfortably and happily slipped into the role of redneck kitty. He is now a dirty little guy who looks like pigpen from Charlie Brown when he lies down, with a big puff of dust settling around him- but he clearly enjoys the new life style. Both he and the dog love going for walks with me when I get home from work.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the value of my home went up significantly on Zillow this week. If the zestimate is anywhere near accurate, I am now just about back to what I owe on it. A nice feeling, after watching it nosedive about $40k into the red the past two years and then climb painfully slow back up to black. I will take whatever good financial news I can get.

Tonight I definitely feel like coming back to the little house was the right decision. I love knowing the grandkids have plenty of room to play here- (I plan to resume date nights next week!) plus I am going to save about $1500-1800 month on rent and utilities- and I have my pets.

For tonight, life is good!

Strawberry Pie tonight!

June 3rd, 2013 at 05:18 pm

Pull up a chair and have a slice of birthday pie with me...I am 52 years old today!

DD3 landed on the Slope this afternoon for her summer job. She is such a great daughter- she had one of her friends deliver a fresh strawberry pie out here today. HOW SWEET! My mom used to make sure I had one every year on my birthday..and since she has been gone, DD3 makes sure to get mom one. Smile (Even when she is thousands of miles away in Alaska!!) I am so blessed!

I am wrapping up a busy four day weekend. The hub and I spent most of it working on the big house and squeezing in some RnR.

Yesterday I decided to really deep clean the bathroom in the big house. There is just something yucky about scrubbing (someone else's) grime that has been accumulating for probably a year. Uh, beyond YUCK actually. But, I used several pairs of gloves and LOTS of those mechanic-strength blue paper towels. It took almost two hours, but when I was done the bathroom was completely disinfected and it sparkled. Today I stopped by the dollar store and bought a new shower curtain liner. We will need to move electrical switches and outlets and hang a new mirror, but otherwise, now that it is cleaned, I dont think we need to redo anything major. I had budgeted $3000 for the bathroom, but I think it will end up costing under $500 for electrical and drywall repairs and new mirrors.

Let me take a step back and talk a little about the home repair budget. When we first decided to move back to the country, I made a list of all the things I thought I needed. The budget was a minimum of $40,000 but could have easily gone way above that amount.

Thankfully, the semi-frugal part of my brain (and my desire to retire eventually) has kicked into gear and I have re-examined wants vs needs vs goals.

Because the one of the load bearing walls in the living room is not sealed well, and therefore neither weather or pest resistent- plus the brick work on the fireplace (same wall) is crumbling...AND the wood stove is too small for the house and doesnt heat properly, repairing this wall is a NEED. The estimated cost for this wall, plus new brick work and a new wood stove =$12,000-15,000. This is our first and main priority.

New kitchen cupboards would be really nice...but they are not a need, they are a want. As are updated appliances. However, the budget jury is still out on whether or not this will make the budget cut.

New flooring is a need, since what is currently in the house has been damaged by pets...and given the state of that bathroom, for my peace of mind, new flooring is a must for me.

New paint falls into the need category, in my opinion. Patch jobs, half painted walls, kids allowed to use markers, have all factored into this. I will probably hire my sons mother in law (who owns a painting company) to do the painting. having someone else paint, is a want. I could paint on my own, but the house will need to be painted in July or August. The heat and the fumes dont sound AT ALL fun to an asthmatic-menopausal gramma. Big Grin

Laundry was all washed and line dried. I have missed my clothesline. I love the smell of line dried sheets!

We went to lunch today with SIL who just started six months of chemo. He has been through round one and has lost some weight. It was good to visit with him. He has such an amazing outlook.

The hub is going to bbq some steaks and corn on the cob tonight- which will be followed up by the pie!

And tomorrow, its back to work.

Tri-tip for dinner tonight

June 1st, 2013 at 10:19 pm

The hub was up early this morning to work on a log truck for a friend. The friend will bring the hub a truck load of logs as payment, which we will cut and process for firewood this winter for the country house, and to sell. The hub has regular customers each year of about 15-20 cords.

The hubs nephew moved about 70% of his stuff out today. We will start working on cleaning the house out tomorrow. The carpet in the two small bedrooms does not appear to be too bad. I may try a good cleaning on those to see if they are salvagable. One of the rooms will become the grandkids play/sleepover room.

The other bedroom will be a craft room for me.

This afternoon we needed to run to town. A couple of weeks ago, I had bought a tri-tip dinner from a door-to-door sale for our local high school cheerleaders. $25 for a bbqd tri tip, salad, bread and cookies What a deal! Today, we picked it up and then stopped by the city house to pick up our broom and kitchen trash can- two things we forgot to grab. DD1 is working diligently to get unpacked and settled, but they have a ways to go.

On our way back out to the little house, we stopped and bought some agave nector for my tea, wet dog food, coffee creamers and milk.

Our grandson asked to come and stay the night. He is NINE already. So he came over this afternoon and played hard. He is sound asleep.

The hub is really enjoying the TV- I am in the bedroom with no tv and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Busy, spendy day!

May 31st, 2013 at 09:46 pm

Today was a vacation day.

The hub made an appointment (and paid!) for a side by side massage for us! What a treat! A foot soak and neck wrap, followed by an hour of stop-it-some-more massage, followed by a sauna and shower..uh, yessss!

Then, I had to get my driver's license renewed ($40). The DMV always takes so long- but an hour and a half later, we were done with that chore. While we were there, we got the paperwork ($4)to dispose of an old vehicle that no longer runs- I cant find the title, so this is the alternate option. The hub will be selling it for scrap.

Then, we went to lunch and enjoyed a lunch of mexican food.

Today was also payday for both the hub and I. Because it was the third payday this month, my paycheck had a little over $100 extra because the extra deductions dont come out when there are three paydays in a month. That extra was easily gobbled up when we went to Costco this afternoon and bought a memory foam topper for our bed. We are sleeping on a smaller bed, that is not the quality of our king sized bed, so we are hoping this topper will help. We also got a tri-tip, dog food, and some food for the week and supplies. We spent $270. (OUCH) When does this simple living plan start equating to spending LESS? Honestly, I think we are done getting everything we needed for the little house, with the exception of fixing the AC.

Tonight the hub is working on his friends log truck up near the hubs wood yard- it is so nice to be out here and not in town. While they are working, I have been reading one of the books I checked out from the library. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. It is interesting. I can relate with the author, who lost her mother and then struggled with dealing with her grief. I am enjoying the read...and having the TV off while the hub is occupied outside. Big Grin

Tomorrow should be a stay at home, no spend day, which I am really looking forward to.

Settling in

May 30th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

The hub and I are finally all moved in to the little house. Although, we still have some work to do since our perceptions of what would fit in 390 sq ft vs the reality means we need to continue to downsize before everything that will stay, fits.

Our first (real, moved-in) night, Sunday, we had my sons two little ones (5 and 3) with us, as well as DD3, our lab and my very jumpy-from-the-move cat. Having one queen bed and two recliners made for a night of little sleep-(except for the two kiddos and the dog who conked out and slept just fine)

I did learn that a king sized top sheet, adjusted correctly in the new bedroom, about 3 ft over the bed, will reach all four walls and, when secured, comes out looking like a giant tent when laying in the bed. The grandkids loved it.

On Monday, the hub bbq'd and we invited his nephew over. The nephew has been living in the big house, but is moving out this weekend. After he moves, the next phase of this master plan begins. We plan to rip out carpets and most of the flooring, remodel a wall and fireplace, repaint the entire inside and out, and lay new flooring. If there is money left in the budget, there are other repairs on the wish list, but for now, that is our scaled down plan.

Before the hub leaves for Alaska, I am going to learn how to mow, weed eat, and take care of things on my own so that I am self sufficient while he is gone. It has been comforting knowing his nephew was nearby if something came up. After he moves, and the hub leaves, my nearest support is 30 minutes away. Guess its time to get reaquainted with all the neighbors..

Yesterday, the internet and TV were hooked up. The hub definately missed watching his programs. Me, I missed the quiet last night. And the internet is intermittent at best as they hooked it in the big house, which is about 200 ft from the little house so the signal isnt real strong. But, it is something.

My cat has settled down and is actually enjoying being a country bumpkin. He has already caught his first mouse and is doing a good job of claiming his outdoor play space and hunting territory among the three dogs. He plays hard and sleeps well. As it should be.

I am enjoying the book on CD that I checked out from the library. It is a murder mystery and makes the drive to and from work fly by.

I am taking tomorrow and Monday off. After all the moving, kiddos, work, etc. I am really ready to enjoy the peace and quiet for a few days.

Checking in

May 28th, 2013 at 08:55 pm

We are all moved in to the little house. All 390 sq ft. We don't have Internet until tomorrow so I'm writing this on my phone. This is a journey I want to blog about but will wait for a more convenient way to do so!

Being back in the country is wonderful. It is so peaceful. I'm also enjoying being unplugged. I checked out some books from the lib and actually have time to read. I also checked out a book on CDs and its making the 25 min drive go by faster.

Hope to blog more tomorrow night!

Last night in the City House tonight

May 22nd, 2013 at 04:38 pm

My son's kiddos are in town for a few days. I am going to have them sleepover tonight. Which means I will be staying in the city house tonight.

Several reasons..the first is that the heat is not working at the little house. When I got up this morning it was 52 degrees inside. That is too cold for my California grandbabies who arent acclimated to that. I also have to be at work early in the morning, so DD3 will be at the city house with us to take over when I leave. And finally, it is going to rain- which means the kids would be cooped up in a tiny place- with not many toys..SO, for all of the above, tonight we will be back at the big house.

I talked with a contractor today about the repairs on the big house, and he is going to meet the hub and I there on Saturday. Hopefully he can let us know if our plans meet or collide with our budget. I have adjusted my expectations on the big house repairs. There are a few things that HAVE to be done. There are lots of things I would LIKE to have done. I just have to remember the difference and balance Needs/Wants and retirement goals.

First nights in the little house

May 21st, 2013 at 05:45 pm

I spent my first night in the little house last night. Within 30 minutes of getting there, I logged my first kill- a big black hairy spider that was hiding under something. THank goodness he didnt run and hide. Then, at bedtime, I saw a smaller one dangling on a web in the bedroom. He met his demise as well.

Nites in country: 1
Logged Kills: 2

The little house came together SO cute. I am tempted to live there when the hub is in Alaska. Easier to clean..and much less expensive to heat and cool. I also felt very safe- not sure if I can say the same in the big house...Its big and old and settles a lot at night. I am a chicken. We shall see- I have months before that is even an option.

In any case, I plan to spray for spiders.

I dont have satellite or internet out there. I would like to get internet, the hub really wants TV- right now it is kinda like an unplugged retreat, so I will hold off on both until the hub gets here this weekend and make appts for both next week.

Not having internet makes it hard to stay up on a blog. I had to stop by the city house tonight to toss a load of laundry in the dryer so I am using the few minutes here to post a quick update.

I bought an electric skillet ($20) and rice maker ($13)for the little house yesterday. The stove works on propane and I havent got that set up yet, so I am improvising with electric appiances until I do.

Last night just after I got home from work, the house was 79 degrees- I cant wait until the air is fixed...but tonight, it is only 52 outside, so I am sure the house will be COLD tonight. I brought my tiny little space heater from my office at work home to at least heat the bathroom in the morning.

I was enjoying the view last night from my patio and just across the street, I see four deer - hanging out enjoying some grass. Those are the things I love about being out in the country. The drive is going to take getting used to. Its about 30 minutes each way. But along the way I pass over a river, through pear orchards, farms with cows, horses, goats, etc and finally get out to where the country house is.

Living in the small house so far is wonderful. I am enjoying being unplugged from TV, computers, etc.

The hub gets home in two nights.


GS(4) with the broken arm is doing good. Having a cast is now a novelty for him and he loves the special attention. The adults are all finally slowing down on having flashbacks of the event.

SIL starts 6 months of chemo tomorrow. He is outwardly brave, but inwardly scared. I pray he beats this!

The situation with Z has had no change.

Life is good. Time to unplug for the night!

Little house AC, still dont know how much it will cost

May 15th, 2013 at 08:13 pm

The bid on the AC on the small house came back much higher than I guessed. I thought $200-ish, the bid, $3000...however, there was a miscommunication on what was needed. We dont need a new AC unit installed- we just need the current unit to be serviced and the duct work reattached. Not sure how that big of a communication gap occurred, but hopefully we will get it straightened out tomorrow. If not, the hub said he will deal with it when he gets home.

I stopped by the small house tonight and vacuumed the carpets and cleaned the linoleum floors. The house is now ready for the carpet cleaning.

I thought I would share some pics.

Here is the city house that I am moving out of:

Here is the little house that I am moving in to:

Here is a veiw of the living room looking in from the front porch. I love all the windows.

This view is looking at the kitchen/dining area. I was standing in the living room- down that small hallway is a small bathroom, and at the back of the house, the bedroom.

Here is the bedroom- the drawers need the drawer sliding hardware replaced, which my SIL is going to do for me.

And here is a view of the country house from the little house:

The rustic little house is a club house the hub made for our oldest grandson years ago...If you look closely, you can see little birdhouses along the wire fence up on the poles..My dad set those up - they loved watching the birds nesting in them.

One of the last things I will do to the country house is have it repainted a color that will blend more with the country. I always wanted a blue house, which I obviously got...but I am ready to change the color to something more subtle.

Long, wonderful day

May 14th, 2013 at 05:30 pm

Today was a long, 10 hour work day. But the trainings went great and I came home to this view, so I am not about to complain!

In addition, I had a wonderful (free to me) lunch with a co-worker. We ate at a lovely little place, ocean view- the food was awesome, AND we shared a lavender creme brulee for desert! (How YUMMY does that sound? it was amazing!)

One more day of training this week and I am done with the bulk of it- I will just have to come back for a make-up training day for those who missed it...and then I get to start training our other 200 staff members back at home.

On Monday, my team will increase by one employee. This will help SO MUCH with the workload. I have needed this help since December, and have juggled for months. It is so nice to know relief is just 3 work days away. If all goes as planned, we will get one more employee in July. However, this employee will come with a full plate of responsibilities, when we rearrange the reporting structure- but the transition on Monday is primarily much needed help for my position. (yay!!) Now when I am out of the office, like last week and this week, there will be someone in the office to take care of things in my absence- this person will also permanently take some of the things Ive been taking care of. Her help will allow me to focus on the strategic things Im responsible for, which will be SO nice to finally get time to do.

The AC repair guy looked at the little house today and said he can do the work. He is going to call me tomorrow with a price. I have no idea what to expect, but anticipate $200-ish? We will see how well I estimate the unknown tomorrow. Big Grin

This is my last 5 day work week for a while. Starting next week, I will work 3-4 days a week for the next 4 weeks- which will be very helpful with the upcoming move.

Tonight, I plan to enjoy my last night here. I have another LONG day tomorrow- 3 trainings, followed by a 2 1/2 hour drive home. But right now, a glass of wine and an amazing view is all I plan to think about. Ciao!

Back at the Coast, enjoying the free stay and view!

May 13th, 2013 at 06:34 pm

I am back over on the coast tonight and will be conducting training the next two days. It is absolutely gorgeous over here.

My job pays for meals while we are on trips, but I am a cheap date this trip. I opted to just stop by the store and pick up a couple of grilled chicken breasts from the deli, some veggies and a small cheese, which will be dinner tonight and tomorrow night. I also picked up bagels, cream cheese and oj for 8 staff in the morning. Total bill was $25.

Today I scheduled the AC service and duct-work repair for the small place. Holy cow. I had no idea NO ONE does this kind of work. I started with the bigger shops, who sent me to the smaller shops, who sent me to this guy....Anyway. He sounded nice and said he may or may not be able to help me depending on how the AC unit was installed. I will know after he takes a look tomorrow. I hope it is the kind he fixes, otherwise a big monkey wrench just got thrown into the plan. And hopefully, he wont charge an exorbitant amount..but at this point, Im kinda at his mercy.

A friends husband owns a carpet cleaning business and he is going to clean the carpets on Friday. Once all this is done and the SIL helps with a few handyman type repairs on Sat am, the little house will be move in ready.

I put the word out that I needed moving boxes and a co-worker offered me theirs- they just moved. NICE. I have PLENTY of boxes now.

So far, the moving expenses have been fairly small. We have spent about $600 on the little place for plumbing and repairs. We have spent about $500 for equipment to clear the property of old shrubs, blackberry bushes, etc...and for dump hauls.

The big expenses will come when the nephew moves out of the big house and we start working there. I have been browsing lots of websites for ideas. Since the house is 50 years old it needs not only repair work, but a few renovations. I am compiling all the ideas so that the hub and I can determine what will make the final cut...then, see budget-wise what makes the final-final cut.

Happy Mother's Day friends!

May 12th, 2013 at 09:30 am

Z spent the night last night, so I woke up to his sweet smile this morning. Such an amazing way to start the day.

Happy Mother's day to all the mom's here. I hope your day is filled with sunshine and love!!

I have massaged the budget over and over to come up with the money for the household repairs on the big house so that I dont have to tap into my 401k. I have had to cut WAY back on debt and savings repayments, but between now and the end of the year, I am able to come up with $40k. That includes about $9k of an interest free loan that need to be repaid by next May.

I have a long list of repairs that need to be done, and we will have to make the $40k budget work. We need to replace a load bearing wall, remodel the kitchen and an upstairs bath, replace all flooring and paint inside and out.

My DIL's monther owns a painting business, and her SO does flooring installation for a living- so I will be contracting with them for those projects.

The hub will do all the demo work...

And I think I have found someone who does the remodel work.

I just need someone for that load bearing wall. Right now, it consists of floor to almost ceiling windows on half the wall and a very old, crumbling brick fireplace on the other. Here is a picture of what I would like the end result to look like:

Lots to do..now that I have a number, I just need to put the puzzle pieces together to make it work. I anticipate the kitchen being the most expensive- lots of homework to do!

High Tea for Mother's Day

May 11th, 2013 at 09:01 pm

Today was a busy one.

This morning I worked out at the little place washing cupboards and walls. I found evidence that mice had been there..so I cleaned and disinfected everything. All signs of critters are gone- so I can keep an eye on it to see if there is new activity. All part of country living, but I intend to make it REALLY difficult and uninviting for critters to want to share space with me.

I need to schedule someone to come this week to service the air conditioning unit and to reconnect a few of the ducts. Unfortunately, park models arent always built to last. The drawers in the bedroom were installed very poorly and they will also need to be repaired. However, this fix should be inexpensive and pretty easy.

Next weekend I will shampoo carpets and start moving in. I am actually getting excited to move into the little place and try simple, minimal living for a while.

Today my daughters and I went to High Tea for Mother's Day at my friends tea shop. It was fabulous and we had such a nice time. Here is our food, right after it was delivered to our table:

It was as yummy as it looks and was followed by a wonderful dessert and all the tea we desired!

Tomorrow we are having a taco bar dinner for Mother's Day here at the city house. My last big family gathering before moving back to the country.

A couple of updates:

On SIL- He is healing from surgery, but learned he will need a port and will be on chemo for six months. The type of cancer he had has a 30% chance of recurrence. His attitude is amazing and he is determine to fight and win this battle. Every day I am more proud of the young man that he is.

On Z - Bio mom has broken ties with her mom and is now living in a home that has previously been found unfit for Z. So, the permanency process is back to square one. Bio mom will need to be monitored in this new home and a home study will need to be conducted to determine if it is now acceptable. This process take 2-3 months. Z is now almost 2 1/2, has been with DD2 for 2 years and has not seen Bio mom in almost 18 months. No other family members have followed through with phone visitations in over 4 months.

Splurged on me today - not a frugal day, at all!

May 5th, 2013 at 05:15 pm

Today I took a day off from work and house stuff and splurged on myself. EEK.

I havent had a haircut in a year...and I havent colored in months..My former hair stylist closed her business a year ago and I have been postponing finding someone new, mostly out of apprehension of what I would end up with. But I lucked out today. I went to JC Penney's and the lady who took care of me was amazing! She cut it so cute..and showed me how to style...and then just for fun put it in an adorable up-do becuase she loves doing them. WOW. Best $75 plus tip I ever spent! I also got my brows waxed! I feel so much better and my hair looks way healthier!! The stylist gave me a plethora of tips for cutting my bangs, how to make curls last all day, etc...but also told me I can just stop in anytime and have the bangs trimmed between cuts for free.

Then, I stopped and bought some new makeup (not the usual under $10 brand I normally buy)...I want to see if spending more helps my aging skin..so I bought a new 'primer' and a foundation.

With some of the shampoo and conditioner the stylist recommended, the cut and color, the makeup, the wax, and lunch, I spent about $200 on myself. (wow)...but it came out of saved up allowance so I dont feel guilty. Actually, I feel pampered!!

Since I am spending much of my next two work weeks training our staff, this will help me feel a little more polished and professional.

Big Grin

Plumbing is DONE.

May 4th, 2013 at 09:22 pm

I spent today working out at the little place that I will be moving into and getting all of the plumbing work done on both the little and big houses on the country property. The little place, a park model RV is cleaning up cute as a button. It will be so cozy at just under 400 sq ft. I intend to keep it purposefully minimal there.

The plumbing repairs took all day. About 9 hours with two people working pretty much straight through. The repairs included putting in new piping for the sink, dishwasher and washing machine in the big house, PLUS repairing the toilet and hooking up a sink in the downstairs 1/2 bath. AND at the small house, repairing all the pipes that cracked because the house did not get winterized, (note to self- NEVER let this happen again) adding a shut off valve up at the small house so we dont have to run a half an acre away to turn it off when there is a problem, replacing the heating element in the hot water heater and cleaning out lines that have become narrow with mineral buildup (theres a name for it, but it eludes my tired brain tonight)

I feel I got a great deal for all of this - $500. Money well spent to know that there is new plumbing, hooked up and declogged and working at both places- since I will be there alone 50% of the time, at least, knowing things will work is huge for me.

Check mark.

My feet hurt, Im a little sunburned, and Im tired, but things are coming along.

Tomorrow, I am taking a mid day break to FINALLY get my hair cut- its been a year, it needs it...and I am going to have it colored while I am there. Im tired of my unintended gray highlights and my hair is desperately dry..I am afraid to get around open flames. So it is time.

Tomorrow afternoon, I am taking the kids uncle (my exes brother- ditched the ex, but stayed in touch with J all these years)..to dinner. He was the plumbers helper today and refuses to take anything for helping. He is retired and enjoys helping- and wrote out a to-do list of things to help with while I am at the coast for work this next week. I really, really appreciate his help- he is a retired contractor/plumber and knows his stuff.

It was fun spending the day back out at the property. There was a great breeze this afternoon and the dogs (our 3, J's, and the nephews- all labs) had a blast playing all day.

I had to run to the (little) store out there a couple of times for misc hardware- they are celebrating 30 years of being in business and had a picture up of the little original 'corner market' building..which was there when we first bought the country house about 18 years ago. They have really expanded over the years - for a small independent, local store, the prices are fair. They have even added a small mexican food diner, a real estate office and added on a hardware and farming supply section.

It is starting to feel like home again out there. Although there are months of work left to do on the big house. One bite at a time.

Life is good!

The hub got a raise!

May 2nd, 2013 at 10:34 pm

The hub found out when he got back to work today that he got a $2 an hour raise! Thats over $200 per week for him!! Nice!

That will help SO much with all the repairs we have to pay for on the country house!

I love unexpected surprises!


May 2nd, 2013 at 01:51 pm

The hub made it back safely to Alaska last night. He will be gone for 3 weeks. Since he was home the past two, there is no paycheck for his job this week. I get paid though. My pay is salary, so no OT surprises tomorrow.

I have created a few lists to help with the upcoming changes at home.
Must Haves
Wanna Haves

The Must Have list includes:

Repairing the living room wall
*New flooring throughout
unclog kitch/laundry room plumbing
*remodel upstairs bath
*repair downstairs bath
*replace broken window
*replace missing screens (argh!)
*paint entire inside
paint or reside external walls
*replace wood stove
*replace stairway bannister

* due to renter and dog's distruction and son's 'repair' jobs...

Wanna Haves:

Remodel kitchen
enlarge tiny master into master suite

It all depends on costs...which I am sure are going to eat up our budget very quickly.

My brother in law (from my ex) reminded me that he is a retired plumber with all tools and offered to take a stab at the plumbing issues. (yay)

I have found three contractors that specialize in remodeling- and will be getting bids in June.

The good news is that once this is done, we can put either or both homes on the market if we want, which is peace of mind for long term goals. I just need a good budget and the fortitude to stick with it.

The moving meeting

April 30th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

The hub and I met with DD1 and her hub tonight to work out details for the moves. It will take planning and juggling, but I think we have a good plan. We will be moved out of the city house by Jun 3. The kids will start paying rent on the city house on Jul 1, which gives them a month break to pay transfers and deposits on utilities.

The kids are relieved to have a nice home to move into. There is much to do, but I DO feel it is a good decision. I just hope our fix it budget is sufficient to get everything done.

The hub leaves tomorrow, back to Alaska. I will have lots to stay busy with the next 3 weeks while he is gone.

The extra income will help pay the expenses of fixing up the country house and paying down debt. We are taking a huge step towards our bhag of being debt free except for mortgage, and retiring plans!

Dead battery and yes, its back to the country for me!

April 29th, 2013 at 08:51 pm

The battery on my car went kaput today. The hub is charging it tonight to see if that works. If not, he will replace it before he heads back to Alaska on Wednesday.

The wheels are in motion to move back to the country. DD1 and her hub are excited to move here, the hubs nephew actually already had a place lined up so this works perfectly for him and I have a few weeks to get my moms little place ready to move into.

Then, we will gut the country house and fix the MUST FIX items and decide what wish list items will make the cut.

Between now and ALL of that...I have to pack and figure out where all this stuff will go for the next few months.

Let the fun begin!

I think...I am moving.

April 28th, 2013 at 05:30 pm

Life is funny sometimes.

A few weeks ago, DD1's landlord decided to move back into the house DD1 is renting. Rentals are very hard to find here right now. The landlord gave DD1 two months to find somewhere to move, but they are having zero luck. DD1's family includes her hub, GD (7), GS (4) and grandpa...who DD1 cares for, a fish tank and two dogs. I told her the chickens can't come...my city neighbors would grumble.

This weekend, the hub and I spent the whole weekend cleaning up the property (2 acres) at the country house. And it has made me miss country living. I also am tired of paying two house payments.

The hubs newphew has been staying in the country house, but I am frustrated by how run down everything looks.


The hub and I have decided to make some changes.

Our plan is that I will move into my parents little park model RV that sits on the country house property.

DD1 and her family are going to rent my city home. This will help them, and will pay most of the mortgage while still giving us a tax break next year.

The nephew will have until July 1 to move. At which point we will start on repairing the inside of the country house-

If I end up regretting the move, I only have to make it one year. Next year DD1 is planning to buy a house, and at that point I can move back to the city or sell the city house. In either case, either house will be ready to sell.

The next two months will be super busy-

I am moving out of a 1600 sq ft 3 bedroom, 2 bath house...into about 400 square foot one bedroom, 1 bath. Needless to say, I will have to find a place to store stuff until the big house (1800 sq ft, 3 bedroom, 1 and a half bath) is ready to move into.

Tonight, I am sunburned, my muscles ache and my arms feel like jello. I wrestled with blackberry bushes most of the afternoon, but ultimately, I won. Big Grin

DD1 is excited to have a possible solution to where they will live.

My head is spinning from such a fast turn of events.

Work on the country house- got sooo much done!

April 27th, 2013 at 06:51 pm

We worked at the country house all day today. The hub rented an escavator to tear out blackberry bushes, move big-heavy stuff and to load the dump trailer quicker. After seeing how much we got done, it was money will spent.

I didnt get after pics yet, but I will tomorrow.

Being out there all day helped me realize how much I miss country living. I miss my clothes line and the open space. The house has 'settled' and there is some structural damage to two walls, so we will have to have a contractor take a look at it to see how much it will cost to repair.

In addition, we will need to paint inside and out, put new flooring in, update the kitchen, repair the repairs my son did or had done as they are not holding up.


However, if I am only paying one house payment, there should be some extra money to do all of this.

And when we are done, the house value will hopefully increase, the hub will be back into the house he loves with his wood yard, and we will have lots of room for the kids, grandkids and future generations to visit and play.

The hub spent $600 on the escavator for three days. It cost $160 for two large dump runs. All of the bio-mass trips were no charge except gas to get there.

We have been stashing $500 a month aside for repairs on this home, so everything was covered so far with that fund. I will have to increase the monthly amount though, to cover upcoming expenses. I will have to play with the budget to determine how to best do that.

Hit and run - tough day

April 26th, 2013 at 09:27 pm

SIL learned today that 1 of 23 lymph nodes had cancer. We will learn next week if this means chemo, and if so, what the treatment plan will be.

Today was a tough day at work. Our surveillance cameras caught a hit and run in progress. Law enforcement needed us to review the footage and provide any evidence. This job fell to me. The victim is a 5 year old girl. What is wrong with people that would do this? Reviewing the footage was so sad. I hope they catch this guy and that he is held accountable. Still no news on the little girl. I will be keeping an eye on the news for updates.

I am ready for the weekend and anxious to see what all the hub has done at the country house. He has been working for a couple of days, so there should be quite a bit done already! Tomorrow we will spend all day out there working on this project.

DD3 leaves early in the morning for Alaska. I am excited for her to get to go visit and sightsee.

No new news on Z.

Hubs paycheck and the weekend ahead

April 26th, 2013 at 08:33 am

The hubs paycheck was $462 more than budgeted. Last night I wrote a post explaining how we went over budget and needed the extra for this that and the other. While it is true that we went over budget the past few weeks, if we are careful with what is left, we will be just fine. So I deleted the post and transfered the whole $462 to CC4. Big Grin The housing buckets all refill on the 3rd. We have $180 in the checking account to last until the hub leaves on Wednesday. We just need to stick to the plan of working on the houses this weekend and keep expenses down.

DD3 is flying back to Alaska tomorrow. She made a friend while working up there and she would like to try to find a non-slope job in Anchorage or Wasilla and stay until summer hires start. Her ticket is round trip incase it doesnt quite work like she hopes. I am glad she is trying her wings while she is young and free! She is my little free spirit.

Today is the day SIL learns about the pathology reports. I sure hope it is good news.

The city house vs the country house

April 24th, 2013 at 09:26 pm

have been following housing values on Zillow, and both houses are climbing fairly steadily- which is reflective of what I am also hearing in the local market. If the city house continues on its current trajectory, I should be able to put it on the market within 3-6 months.

The country house value is also climbing. Fortunately, it is in the black already, since we have owned it so long. It just needs some TLC to return to its former glory. The hub and I will be spending this weekend at the house starting that process.

It is encouraging to see housing turning around. I would love to be able to eventually sale the city house without taking a loss...but time will tell.

More debt payment and an update on Z

April 23rd, 2013 at 10:03 am

Our budget is on auto pilot for the rest of the month. Some of the line itms on next month's spreadsheet are already funded, so I went ahead and paid a couple of the bills. One was CC4- that payment brought our total debt repayment for 2013 over $21k!

Update on Z
DD2 had an interesting talk with Z's bio mom (A, age 19) last night. This is the first time she has reached out in over a month and probably the first 'real' talk theyve had. A asked DD2 what she should do about Z. They talked about leaving Z with DD2 and A being part of his life. A is thinking about it. Her oldest child, a girl (sister), 5 lives about 30 minutes from us and the father has custody. A lives about three states away. Sister was about Z's age when they were put in foster care. The separation is still impacting sister- who needs reassurance often that she wont be left alone.

Z and sister see each other fairly regularly, so moving Z would also impact the brother/sister relationship.

Not sure if this will change anything or not, but it was good that they talked about Z and what this all means for him.

Weighing the options continues..

April 22nd, 2013 at 07:58 pm

The hub didnt waste any time starting on the work on the country house. He was out there today planning his attack.

I have to say, the idea of a simpler lifestyle is very intriguing. If we sale the city house, I could either take a less stressful or a part-time job. Just knowing the option is out there is fun to ponder. I loved it when I was home before, when I started this blog and was a work from home caretaker for my parents.. and I know I would enjoy more free time for grandbabies and less stress at work. But, over the next few months, there are plenty of changes coming, and work stress may let up a little through those changes. Obviously, if I stay at my current job, the ability to pay and save is expedited..so we will weigh the decision carefully for the next few months.

I have started a list of finishing details we need to make on this house that will need to be done before it can be put on the market.

Our initial goal is to clean and clear until the end of summer. That will give the hubs nephew 4 months to find a new place to go-and 4 more months to figure out finances to afford the repairs.

SIL continues to heal..and still has no news on the pathology tests. We will hopefully hear on Friday.

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