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Hello Fall and all the fun that comes with it!

October 1st, 2021 at 02:04 am

I am so thankful that fall is here! With the hot, smoky summer behind us I can get out on our deck more and enjoy the hummingbirds and sunsets again! We have had some rain, which is awesome and the skies are back to blue.

Now that school has started, my days are getting into a nice routine. I am able to focus more on stretching our food budget by using coupons, sales and aps like Ibotta. I am enjoying the challenge of feeding us as budget savvy as possible! (A much easier feat when I don't have a teen with me at the grocery store slipping in all the extras!!)

I watch my youngest granddaughter (20 mos) every Monday. I love our Monday's together - she has so much energy and curiosity. This last Monday we went on a walk and found all the flowers and talked about the colors. She discovered some ornamental frogs in one yard and thought they were funny and pointed out an airplane overhead. I came home exhausted, but had such a happy heart by the end of the day.

Thankfully, the cash outflow has slowed down and we have stayed more within the budget this past several weeks- a trend I hope continues for as long as possible. It is much less stressful when the unexpected outputs aren't hitting regularly...which gives me time to breathe and rebuild the buffer account! I definitely feel more in control financially when the hub is working his three week rotation and the teen is in school.

I am also finally getting back to minimalizing our home. Its been months since I have even had time to think about this but I am pulling it off the back burner now and creating a plan to use my free time to get some traction on this goal!

I talked to all the kiddo's about Christmas this year and how our budget looks much different now that I am retired. I think everyone was fully on board with scaling back. With all the bio's, adopted, foster and inherited grandkids, we are at 17. My brain hurt thinking about even one gift for each. Instead we are transitioning to a family gift. Much more doable and kinder to my sanity. Instead of opening gifts, we will focus on games, food, crafts and making memories. Something we should have done years ago, actually. I don't have a clear picture of what this means, but I am excited about it none-the-less.

Certified Foster Parents!

February 3rd, 2021 at 11:50 pm

We received an expedited certification today and are now official foster parents.  The step was taken to push this through because FD1's sister will be here on Friday.  So the next leg of this journey begins.  Part of the process includes a safety home inspection - which happened this morning.  In order to prepare for it, we decided to downsize and re-organize a couple of our current storage rooms.  (30 years of stuff can add up!)  Of course, decluttering is one of my goals this year so we made significant progress on tossing and donating things we no longer need or use. 

We also now have 2 fire extinguishers, and 4 smoke detectors in the house.  Smile  

Tomorrow, I am leaving for the weekend on a pre-planned annual girlfriend trip. (Who doesnt need good girlfriend time right now???) While I am gone, the girls will be staying with DD2.

We had to complete a plethora of of the sheets was our financial position.  It was fun to fill out our payment, car insurance, utilities and food.  No car payment, no RV payment, no CC payments...  And compare it to our salary.  Over half of what we make, even with the hub on unemployement, is considered 'discretionary income'. 😎 We also had to list our net worth, and after adding in everything they suggested, we ended up with two commas!! I knew we were close, but it really felt good to see it on paper!

So, it's now official... FD1 made a social media post a few days ago telling her world that our family has changed her life.  Honestly, I dont need anything more for this service than that...



Another staycation and reflections

December 29th, 2020 at 07:01 pm

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  Ours was different this year, thanks to Covid, but still very, very nice.  This was our foster daughters first with us, and actually her first in an actual home in 2 years.  (Her last two were spent in residential facilities).  I believe she had a nice one in spite of being in a system she doesnt want to be in and being a 'new to us' placement.  We tried to include some of her traditions into ours, and she seemed to enjoy ours as well.  We were able see all of our local kids and grandkids at some point during the day, which was really nice.

The hub is on the phone this morning with the Alaska unemployment office.  Who knows how long he will be on hold, but apparently something in our filing has held up his claim...and until he speaks to someone, it cant be approved and funded each week. Sigh.  At least he has plenty of time on his hands to sit on hold today.

I am on vacation this week.  Another staycation, which is fine with me.  I am perfectly content being home and putzing around.  So far I have read a book, am about halfway done with a puzzle, have continued to declutter and clean, worked our new budget out, and am making all the plans for 2021.  All things I enjoy without the risk of exposing myself to Covid.  

I am ready to send 2020 on its way, and see what 2021 has in store for us.  Hopefully a better reality and a little less stress- but who knows.  After this last year, I am not making any assumptions on what tomorrow may bring...rather, hoping for the best, but bracing for...[whatever].  Smile

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25th, 2020 at 07:36 pm

Happy Thanksgiving friends.   I hope your holiday is blessed and filled with all the yummigoodness!

A few days ago, I was about to pour out the last little bit of coffee from the carafe and decided instead to pour it into my big pot of pinto beans.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  The flavor kick it provided was a nice rich one.  I maybe added a half cup, maybe 3/4.  But I will probably always add a little coffee to my pinto beans going forward!

Two of my daughters are in new homes this year, and both are anxious to host holidays.  So tomorrow, we will go to one house in the morning for breakfast/coffee and the other in the afternoon for dinner.  It is a nice change from the days when I cooked for a few days to have everyone over to my house.  I kinda like this!!  I am helping with food costs, but dont have to do all the work!!  

Today is my last work day until Dec 7.  Even though the family trip got postponed, I still want the time off from work.  I have pushed myself the last few weeks to get my annual work goals to near completion, so I can really relax while I am off.  I plan to use the week off to check off as much declutter/clean as possible.  Since the hub is home, I can use his help on the heavy stuff, which will be really helpful.

We plan to go to the coast on Friday.  Our friends are camping for the weekend, and visiting them will be a nice day trip away.  The weather is supposed to be nice (high 50's) which will be perfect campfire weather.

Again, best wishes to you all for a fabulous day tomorrow!



Inexpensive meals continue

November 12th, 2020 at 08:00 pm

Yesterday I pulled out one of the half chicken breasts from the Costco frozen chicken.  They are huge.  A 10lb bag of chicken yields 9-10 half chicken breasts - so about a pound each.  I baked it with some seasonings, lemon juice and butter and made some quinoa.  So good.  I was able to cut the breast and quinoa into thirds, and made 3 meals out of it.  Since this made 3 meals, I calculated dinner at $.90!

For breakfast, I made a scramble using 2 eggs with ham (leftover from the slab for the split pea soup) and a little cheese.  I toasted some of the crusty bread and for about $.54 had a nice breakfast sandwich.

For lunch I had some split pea soup, which cost about $.50 per serving. 

I also snacked on some of the cheese and salami leftover from my girlfriend day last weekend.

And finally, I had a single very ripe banana that I needed to do something with.  So I made a tiny batch of banana muffins.  Flour, sugar, egg, banana, baking soda and powder and a little salt...and popped 5 muffins in the oven.  This will make 5 yummy snacks from something I almost tossed (and historically would have)!

Today will be much of the same, as I use up the leftovers. I am having fun with this micro-budgeting on my food expenses.   

I also stopped at the dollar store yesterday and picked up some storage bins.  I spent the afternoon organizing what is left in my closet.  I am still not 100% happy with the results.  I intend to go back through whats in those bins and downsize even more in the coming weeks.

This week - Split Pea soup

November 10th, 2020 at 07:33 pm

I have a big pot of split pea soup in the crockpot today.  I love this soup.  It ended up costing about $3 to make.  I used half the ham slab that I picked up for $2.99.  (The other half I will use with my eggs to make a nice breakfast scramble the next couple of days).   I added the usual veggies - onion, carrot, celery, garlic and some spices.  This will make 8-10 servings. I finished the last of the pinto beans last night.  I didnt need to freeze any, as they were yummy right up until the last bite.

Tomorrow is Veterans day - a huge shout out and thank you to all Veterans for their services! 

My job is closed tomorrow, so I have the day off.  It is also the first of a 14 day step-back period for our county, and several counties in our state.  They are hoping to slow the Covid cases as we have had a significant increase in the last several weeks.   I wont really need to change anything for this period, since I stay home unless I need groceries or visit one of the kids homes.  I need to go by the dollar store to get a gift bag for a baby shower gift.  The shower is this Saturday, I will likely drop the gift off and, if I cant social distance adequately, wont linger long.  I don't want to risk exposure to someone who may not know they have the virus.  I am high-risk and risking getting it is just not worth it to me. 

I have been using our wood stove exclusively for heat.  The hub has had a wood yard for years and our wood is primarily free.  He works on log trucks in exchange for free wood.   Being home FT, I have learned the settings to heat the house without overheating our upstairs. 

I have also successfully trained my brain to turn off all lights when I am not in a space that needs lighting.  Overall, I am making the mental shift to living frugally and it feels great!

I am also finding our home much less chaotic with the decluttering efforts.  I still have a long ways to go, but the spaces I have finished are staying very clean and organized - and are actually calming to be in. 

All in all, super happy with progress - the hub rotates back home for a month starting on Saturday.  We shall see how well I can maintain everything while he is home.  Smile  Stay tuned!



Fun weekend and the car is back!

November 9th, 2020 at 02:10 am

I finally got my car back from the shop.  $207 out of pocket, the rest was covered by warranty.  I used the car to run errands on Saturday and to go watch my gd for DD3 today while momma painted her bedroom.  Gd will be turning one in 3 weeks.  She is toddling and is just a sweet, happy girl.  Thoroughly enjoyed my time with her. 

On the way home, I stopped and picked up a small ham slab (on sale for $2.99) to go in the split pea soup for this weeks soup.  Total cost of the soup will be about $4 and will make about 10 servings.  I made a loaf of bread on Saturday, and have enough left to last another 2-3 days.   

On Saturday, my friend came over for a girlfriend day.  We had planned on going to a local winery, but the weather was not cooperating since we would have had to sit outside (covid).  So we met here at my house and enjoyed the firepit on my deck.  I picked up some salami, cheese, grapes, pickled asparagus and pretzel chips at Costco- plus a couple bottles of grand reserve Chardonnay for just under $13 each. We spent much less than we would have at the winery, and I have a ton of leftovers to enjoy the next couple of weeks.  If I split out what we ate, I guestimate our girlfriend day cost about $50 (including wine) - not the most frugal day, but it was very enjoyable.  We visted around the fire outside and then when it got too chilly, we came inside and played a card game.  All in all, very awesome day.  I used my allowance to pay for the food and wine, since this was a special occasion for me and not something that should come from the food budget. 

I have one bowl of pinto beans left for tomorrow, and will be making the split pea soup for the rest of the week.   The store also had Jimmy Dean Delight breakfast sandwiches on sale for $5.49 for 4.  These are my go to breakfast or lunch when I need a quick, easy meal.  Higher protien, and reasonable carbs.  So I picked up two boxes and tucked them into the freezer.  Costco had a big container of greek yogurt (plain) on sale for $2.99.  I have blueberries and granola left over from last week, so this will be breakfast for several days.  

I spent some time decluttering one of our rooms this weekend and found an unopened container of Folgers coffee.  It is from our move a couple of years ago- so will provide at least a couple of weeks of "free" coffee for me.  Smile  

The hub will be home from Alaska next weekend and we will have almost a full month's food budget to live on, since I have been eating so cheaply. 

Feeling very good about choices this month.  


Beans are soaking!

October 16th, 2020 at 03:38 am

I had a package of red beans in the cupboard and a ham hock in the freezer, so the first bean soup will be red beans and ham. I plan to toss in a yellow onion, celery and carrots in the morning. I will also post the seasoning I add in my post tomorrow. The bean soup should last me all weekend, and maybe into next week.

I picked up a brick of yeast at Costco today. I read that you can freeze this after opening to stretch the usage life. So I will be making some crusty bread to accompany the soup this weekend.

I also picked up a $4.99 chicken and an 8 pack of canned mixed beans (pinto, kidney and black) at Costco. I plan to make some chicken salad for lunch and debone the rest of the chicken for future meals. Then, boil the bones to make another soup- black bean (mixed beans and chicken).

Stay tuned. I will post as I go!

I went through my jewelry this afternoon and pulled several necklaces to send to Goodwill. The donation bag is almost full. I also filled a toss bag, which is now in the trash. I will be dropping off the goodwill bag in exchange for a receipt, and will put the toss bag into the can in the morning.

Soup season ahead!

October 14th, 2020 at 05:56 pm

We had quite a bit of leftovers from our trip. (Smoked prime rib, including bones as well as a healthy portion of steak) I cut the steak (it was HUGE) into 3 good sized chunks and packaged everything separately for future soups. With colder weather coming, soup is always a welcomed meal.

The hub is about to head back to work for 4 weeks, so I will use part of the meats to make beef/barley soup and prime rib stew. My goal this next 4 weeks is to see how frugally I can feed myself. Except for a few items, I have everything to make both soups. I also have a ham bone in the freezer for some pinto or red bean soup, and some chicken for black bean soup. I have a stock pile of cornbread mix and am itching to learn how to make crusty bread! The soups will make great lunches and dinners. Do you have a favorite soup?

I plan to get some yogurt and berries for breakfast and other fruit and use some of the carrots and celery (Ill be buying for the soups) as snacks.

Should be a fun challenge. I do have two meals out planned. A day with girlfriends this Saturday to a local winery, and a day with my daughters (lunch) at a nearby historical town. Otherwise, I am going to try to eat all other meals out of the stockpile. We will see how it goes!

The hub is burning a creosote log in our stove this morning. Not because we need to heat the house, but because it cleans the stove and pipe for the season. I just heard the air conditioner kick on, so he is turning that off and we will open some doors and windows. lol Now the stove will be ready to keep me warm when it gets a little colder out. I am really hoping to have a few weeks with no air conditioning or heating expenses - rather just dress in whatever layers it takes to stay comfortable.

He will also pull his dump trailer up to the house so I can toss the things that arent worth donating as my minimalism efforts continue. Smile I had a couple more items in the donate pile, and my girls said they wanted them..maybe I am on to something here...


October 13th, 2020 at 03:00 pm

We had a fabulous time this weekend on our mini getaway with our friends. The weather was wonderful. We bought a prime rib on sale right after Easter and stuck it in the freezer for a special occasion- so we took that with us and the hub smoked it. It was wonderful! We played games, visited, relaxed and just enjoyed ourselves.

Yesterday I went to Kohl's to get a new pair of tennis shoes with the Kohl's cash I had. My old pair was at least 5 years old, worn and had cracks in the soles, which allowed water in- didnt want to go into our wetter season with that problem! New tennis shoes = free! Its funny, as I was unpacking the new shoes, I looked down at my old ones and thought about Amy Dacyczyn (Tightwad Gazette) and recalled how she kept her old shoes to use for dirtier jobs so that her new shoes stayed new even though I am decluttering, I will hold on to the old ones for that purpose...but if I dont use them within a reasonable time, to the trash they go!

Last Christmas I received an Amazon gift card so I decided to use it during prime days if the ereader I wanted came on sale. My old ereader died years ago, and since then I have been reading on my phone, which works, but was not ideal for the reading experience. I also had some Amazon points saved up, so the new ereader was FREE! I love to read and I can borrow books from the Libby app and read them for free on the kindle. Super excited for this freebie!!

All in all, a very fun, inexpensive last few days!

Minimalism continues!

October 8th, 2020 at 04:56 pm

In preparation for our trip tomorrow, I started packing yesterday. Since we are still changing seasons here and we are heading to a colder climate for our trip, I needed to go through the dark recesses of the closet to get to the warmer clothes. Since I was pulling so much out, I went ahead and started piles to donate and toss to continue with the minimalist efforts. I ended up with a bag FULL of clothes to donate. (Some I sadly never wore, and never will- online shopping is not my forte) My loss will hopefully be someone else's gain!

I still have a ways to go - I will soon be able to weed out all my work shirts, which will free up quite a bit more space. Since we have no plan to return to the office, I may go ahead and bag those up! (why not!)

I recently had blood work done and have received the results. Comparing them to 2 years ago, things dont look too bad, although there is definitely areas to improve. When the hub is gone, I eat much healthier, but when he is home its more meat and potatoes, which is his preference. I will find ways to change this. He can still eat as he likes, but I will be more purposeful in what I do and don't eat. This is huge for future financial wellness as well as health wellness, and just needs to happen.

I just have to say, I enjoy reading others' blogs but lately there arent as many as there used to be. I love sitting down with my coffee in the morning and catching up. To compensate, I am looking back at everyone's blogs to catch up on what I missed last year. I guess I am just trying to say you are all like dear ol' friends who I enjoy staying in touch with. I look forward to your new posts and responses! Thank you for the camaraderie!

Donations went to DD3

September 29th, 2020 at 05:37 pm

DD3 and her little family came over for dinner last night. As she was leaving, she noticed the bags of donation items sitting by my door and asked about them. She poked around and decided she wanted 3 of the 4 bags of stuff! Just like that those bags went home with her. She will take what she needs and donate the rest. She mentioned she also wants some sunflower dishes that I am getting rid of, so I will box those up and give to her once they move into their new home next month. Smile

I am finding it a challenge to work from home when I have home projects I want to tackle. The best way I can think of is to keep a running list of all the things I want to tackle after work and on the weekends so that I stay focused on work during my working hours. Does anyone else have this issue? Id love to hear your ideas!!

Our trees are all turning colors, this time of year is so beautiful here. Fall really is my favorite season. I am keeping a pumpkin banana candle burning (yum!) and plan to take a nice drive/picnic lunch this weekend to enjoy the beautiful season outdoors. We have lots of wineries nearby and a couple are located right next to the river. Perhaps a stop at one of those with a picnic lunch is in order. This weekend should be gorgeous - the temps are expected to drop into the lower 80s, and there is no more smoke! (Yay)

Of course, the rest of the weekend will likely be organizing and decluttering the next room!

Are the colors changing where you live?

Minimizing - Overcoming attachment - It's not as hard as I thought!

September 28th, 2020 at 04:31 pm

One of the primary reasons I have accumulated so much 'stuff' is that I create a crazy attachment to things. I have many reasons, which, for example, is why I still, 13 years later, have a storage shed full of my dad's things that I've never used or even gone through.

Some of my key reasons for being a semi hoarder include:

* It was my mom's (dad's, etc) and she/he loved it
* It was a gift
* I may need it someday
* I haven't read it yet
* I may lose weight
* It's too old to donate and I don't want to throw it away
* If one is good, three is better
* It's still brand new
* I don't want to deal with it right now
* I don't have time

As I start this journey, I am purposely making my first thought:

Can this bless someone else?

What a difference this small step has made in my ability to let go. Some of the things I am weeding out could be sold, but that would throw a cog in my wheel, so I am just considering those items "extra blessings"!

I am confident that if I START with this question, I will be much more successful. It definitely worked with several items yesterday!

How does this have to do with finances? Well, here are my initial thoughts:

* I won't need to 're-buy" things because I cant find them
* I will be less tempted to buy new things that I have to find a home for
* I can easily find things, and will be more likely to use what I have
* Spending time at home is more tranquil, staying home saves money.

I am sure there are many more, but those are my big ones!

Banana Bread made easy!

September 28th, 2020 at 03:57 pm

I had 4 very ripe bananas yesterday. I spent the day finishing the kitchen declutter/organize and it was 7 o'clock- I decided to go ahead and make some banana bread even though I was tired.

OMG - that was the quickest baking I have ever done. Why? Because EVERYTHING was in its place, and was an easy reach. I didnt have to dig through anything. Within about 10 minutes, the loaf was in the oven and the dishes were all in the dishwasher. And all the ingredients went right back to their home. I sat down and watched TV while the oven did the rest. And today, instead of brown bananas, we have a nice loaf to enjoy!!

Yesterday, DisneySteve commented on my blog how addicting this decluttering/minimalism can become, and I must agree.. if my home life becomes this much simpler by minimalizing, I am SOLD.

I didnt start on my closet yesterday. Once I finished the baking and spice cupboards, I needed to reorganize and downsize a little more so that everything would fit and be easily reached. It took a little longer. Plus, I am tackling all of this while "enjoying' and nice painful case of that is slowing my progress significantly.

I feel accomplished and ready to start this new week!