Home > Archive: September, 2013

Archive for September, 2013

Small space living and the unique challenges it brings

September 29th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I got my hair cut/colored today. It turned out really cute, which always makes spending the extra money 'more better'. Big Grin I love when she turns the chair around and the result makes me smile. Ive been going to this lady for about 6 months and so far, Ive loved each cut/style.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend at home after being gone so much. I have caught up on all the laundry and got some deep cleaning done.

Small space living, when you are used to living in a much bigger home, is a constant challenge. It takes organization, planning and discipline on a regular basis. Even just a few days of not staying on top of things = clutter. I am still working on finding homes for everything.

It also presents unique, what do I do with the Christmas presents I am picking up? There just aren't many storage spaces, and I DONT want the gifts getting ruined by not storing them correctly. Right now, they will hang out in the trunk of my car until I come up with a better spot where they wont be discovered or stumbled upon by an unknowing recipient. I thought I had claimed the extra space in a spare room down at the big house, but DD3 and the roommates have also started using the space for their extra possessions- and they haven't organized things well- so the room is currently full. However..a little time spent organizing, stacking and weeding out should help immensely. Perhaps once that is accomplished, I will have a hiding space for the gifts.

It has rained off and on all weekend- the washer and dryer are down at the big house- which is about a half acre away from the little house and the ground between is some grass, some dirt (which is mud after a few days of rain). I decided to go ahead and get a pair of rain boots to wear for this and other chores. The girls and I stopped at Costco yesterday and they were trying to talk me into a pair of Bogs, at $56. While they were comfy and warm, they were more than what I wanted to spend. I wanted to look online. I found a pair of rain shoes- rather than boots, which will be easier to get on and off and will suit the purpose. They are in pretty spring colors (off season) on clearance for $23. They are sloggers, rather than bogs, but for $30 less, they will be perfect for me. I have snow boots for anything colder or for longer periods outdoors.

I stopped by DD1s today (the city house) and filled 3 gallon jugs up with water. I also picked up my space heater. The little house has been chilly in the late evenings and early mornings, so the heater will be nice to take the chill off. She offered to list a few things on craigslist for me that I don't need- one is a really nice gas stove that was in the home when I moved in, but when I remodeled the kitchen, I took it out and its just been in the garage. I anticipate selling it for at least $2-300.

I have a small pork loin in the slow cooker today. It smells amazing. It was $5.27 and should last two-three meals. Unless, DD3 comes up...then, it may all be gone tonight. Smile

This weekend has flown by. Another Sunday night wondering where all the time went- and mentally preparing for the busy week ahead.

The roast is gone! and Christmas shopping has begun!

September 29th, 2013 at 03:25 am

I cooked the beef roast in the slow cooker today. I found a good looking recipe in my Fix It and Forget It Christmas cookbook that called for the roast, beef bullion, au jus, and Italian dressing. It smelled so wonderful all afternoon. DD3 walked up to the little house, smelled it cooking and instantly asked if she and the roommates could have some for dinner. (Isnt that the ultimate compliment?)

So, instead of having leftovers for a couple of days, I enjoyed dinner tonight and now it is all gone. My oh my was it delicious..and the gravy it made was fantastic. I think we have found a new favorite.

I started Christmas shopping today. I spent the day with DD1, DD2 and Z- and the girls suggested some great gifts for the grandbabies! I feel like I made a dent in the shopping for the little ones and have plenty of ideas to keep my eyes open for.

I stopped by the library and picked up a few books that were on reserve, one is the Complete Tightwad Gazette; another Money Secrets of the Amish. I am rereading the Tightwad Gazette, the other is one I have not read yet. Looking forward to reading both.

Z had a great time with us today. He was the center of attention and such a joy to us girls. He wanted a little stuffed pug puppy, so gramma bought it for him. $3.99. He carried it all day, hugging and kissing and playing.

Flu shot, payday and TGIF

September 28th, 2013 at 12:02 am

Today was flu shot day at work. Each year we can get a free flu shot- which I do. It seems to work, I havent had the flu in years (knocking on wood). My arm is just a little sore for a day afterwards.

Today was the hubs payday. It was $101 more than usual. I need to let it sit in the checking account until all the rent money is received since Monday is when the two house payments hit the account. Once I receive rent, which is usually around the 5th, I will put the $101 towards the Visa.

The values on our homes keep rising. It wont be long until I can (hopefully) cancel the MPI on the city house, which will save about $80 per month. And hopefully, we are not witnessing another bubble waiting to burst.

I am so glad it is Friday and that I am not going anywhere this weekend. I really need to catch up at home. Our weather has NOT been conducive to hanging my laundry out on the I need to figure out a new system for laundry and hanging indoors or using the dryer - which is a little less enjoyable for me- and will mean an extra trip down to the big house, or hanging around until the clothes dry. Which, normally, wouldnt be a concern except that between my house and the big house is about a half acre of mud during rainy times. May need to invest in some slicker type boots. Hmmm.

I have two crockpot meals planned this weekend, which will leave lots of leftovers. A pork roast and a beef roast which I will use for tacos, sandwiches, etc.

The hub comes back home Monday night- but he is going 'hunting' (which is really camping with the guys, drinking beer and BS-ing around a camp fire.) He will be gone next Thur-Sun or Mon. I will probably go up on Sat morning and spend a couple days- enjoy the new trailer, read, relax, etc.

Still no word on Z. sigh. At this point, no news is good news I suppose- because we can enjoy him for a little longer.

Home again...and no word on Z yet

September 26th, 2013 at 03:27 am

Two days ago:
I am back at the coast enjoying a cloudy, cool afternoon and a spectacular ocean view. Fabulous!

We finished working at the locations and decided to work from the condo this afternoon. There is just something special about working in your comfy clothes. I am very blessed to have a job that provides opportunities like this one.

We got busy with work and I didn't get to finish my post- so I am doing so tonight, back home in my little house. Having been gone for two and half days, the pets were needy tonight, and it is driving me crazy. In, out, in, out...feed them, the dog eats the cats food, in, out, in, pet me, water me, out, in...well, you get the picture. So I called it a night and am hanging out in my tiny bedroom while they sleep in the living room. Thankfully, they will be down for the night now.

We have had no word on Z- The hub will be home on Tuesday, and is really hoping to be here before Z leaves so he can spend time with him again. I think that is a safe bet since we haven't heard anything more yet...we just don't know. Frown

Back to the busy pace/routine tomorrow.

Recap on the day

September 23rd, 2013 at 01:31 am

The Packer's lost today. Darn it.

The split pea soup in the slow cooker turned out awesome.

The house is cleaned.

I still have to pack for the next few days at the coast.

Its been a fun, no-spend day.

It rained off and on all day, so the laundry was either dried in the dryer or hung inside.

My cat found a mole and decided it was a new 'friend'. My dog joined in and they 'played' for about 20 minutes. The mole was not a fan- and actually latched on at one point to each of them (my cats paw and my dogs poor nose!). The mole was definitely not a fan of his new friends or the game of hide n seek. In the end, all three went their separate ways.

This afternoon, I was browsing on Amazon and found several Christmas stories for my Kindle that were free. So I downloaded them. Free is good!

I am letting the soup cool and will freeze servings for when I get back from the coast later this week.

I love stay-at-home days like this when I can get lots done and just putz. Especially in my small space home- getting everything re-organized today makes life here so much more peaceful!!!

Its a football, cleaning and cooking kinda day!

September 22nd, 2013 at 06:20 pm

It is a chilly, rainy morning here. The type of morning that makes coffee taste oh so much better! So, I am savoring a few cups before jumping into the day.

I am looking around my little house and have much to do today since I head back to the coast tomorrow for two days. The last three weeks have been so busy and I have been gone so much that I haven't spent much time decluttering- which in a tiny living space is a constant issue. If I allow anything to pile up, it causes a domino effect quickly. It is time to declutter and get everything back in its place.

First on the list is making a nice hot batch of split pea soup. The soup will be dinner tonight and then I will freeze the rest until I am back on Wednesday. Split peas, carrots, celery, onion, ham, spices...yum!

I have laundry to finish up, primarily all of my work clothes- I will have to hang much of it indoors to dry since it is still raining today.

I have a good deal of housework to catch up on. I want to come home to a nice clean house on Wednesday, so my goal is to get it ship shape today.

The fun stuff today includes the Packers game (who are going to WIN!! Big Grin ), reading, and catching up on the blogs here- and tonight enjoying a nice clean, reorganized space.

I should have no spend days until Thursday. Smile

Weekend home and an update on Z

September 22nd, 2013 at 04:31 am

I had such a fun Saturday.

My big trip today was to the library. I checked out 7 new books and a new book on CD-(free!) then stopped by the store and got food for the next several days. ($32)

Then I came home- cleaned and did some laundry.

It was a cloudy, rainy day and my clothesline was not as effective as it normally is-so I had to default to the clothes dryer. I left some clothes for tomorrow, hoping for warmer, drier weather.

Tomorrow is a free day. I am a Green Bay Packers fan and the game is televised here, so I am a happy camper. I will watch the game, make some split pea soup in the slow cooker, finish laundry and get ready for the busy week ahead.

Update on Z

The latest news is that lil Z will be leaving us in 7-14 days. After so many missed sounds like the final steps will happen quickly. At least that is what we are hearing. Taking this news day to day until we know for certain, but my heart is heavy thinking it may be.

Late fees suck

September 19th, 2013 at 01:38 am


Forgetting to pay a $33 and incurring a $15 fee on top of it, sucks! I will call tomorrow and see if they will reverse it. I have a good history with them, so hopefully they will refund the fee.

I don't check my home email often enough and totally missed the electronic bill. So, I changed the email address on the account to my work email.

THis reminded me to go in an renew library books that were due today. At least I didn't incur fees there too. I noticed when I was on the site that one of the books I reserved is being shipped to my branch and will be ready on Saturday to pick up. Your money or your life. I remember reading that book and the Tightwad Gazzette years ago, which started me thinking about finances differently. I am looking forward to rereading it.

Tonight is my last night at the condo. I will certainly miss the big soaking tub with jets and the view. The bed is even amazingly comfy.

I have been a cheap date for my job this week. My one and only meal out was lunch today. $8 for a sandwich- I am not hungry tonight, so the only other expenses are for the pot pie and tv dinner I had here at the condo.

This week should have been a no-spender for me, but I have been doing some Christmas shopping online and have ordered a few gifts.

Today was absolutely gorgeous. Clears skies and warm, but not hot. My trainings have gone well- tomorrow I train all day and then head home. I will be home until Monday, and then we are coming back over for two days.

We put new carpet in the rooms that we had to replace in the country house. The cost was $1200. Since we are getting $725 per month that we weren't getting before, it will be paid back in under 2 months and the girls are happy. The only other expense we will have is fixing the wood stove, which the hub will do when he is home next.

I suppose it is time to start packing. Once I leave in the morning, I wont come back to the condo again before heading home and I don't want to forget anything.


September 18th, 2013 at 02:24 am


Working at the condo!

September 18th, 2013 at 12:45 am

I am back at the condo working this afternoon.

This morning I went to one of our locations and conducted training and took care of a few things. Now I am taking a quick lunch before diving into work. It is so relaxing to work away from the phone and normal interruptions- especially with this gorgeous ocean view.

Happy me.

I could easily retire somewhere on the coast with an ocean view. I never get tired of hearing the waves crash, or gazing out at the water, the waves, the sunsets- and I love the smell of ocean air. I grew up in Southern Cali not too far from the beach. I spent all my free time on the beaches.

But I digress from all things financial.

We don't have any extra expense type trips planned until our family trip in November- so for the next couple of months all extra money will be applied towards debt. The new 5th wheel took a chunk out of our debt repayment plan- but we will still have all debt paid off (except the houses and the 5th wheel) by the end of the first quarter 2014.

I am pleased with the growth in my 401k and the value of the homes. The value of both homes is rising nicely. Our plan right now is to put the city house on the market late Spring. The value has increased so that we are back in the black and stand to make a nice profit. But until we sell it, that is just a guesstimate. One of the wise things I did when I bought the house was to purchase within a very desirable school district and within walking distance of the high school (even though my kids were already out of school).

Hopefully, life will cooperate.

For today- I will enjoy the view and the fabulous afternoon breeze.


Free stay at the coast! Life is good!

September 17th, 2013 at 03:51 am

I worked in the office half day today and then headed to the coast. I arrived here to a very sunny, yet cool- breezy, afternoon. The view is simply spectacular- and this condo- omg. My bedroom and bath are SERIOUSLY as big as my entire house +. Granted, my house is only 390sq ft. But My bedroom is ocean facing and has a balcony. So, I have the door open and will listen to the waves for the next three nights. I am, once again, in heaven.

Here is the view from my bedroom this afternoon:

Best of all, I am being paid to be here. Big Grin

Tonight, I am sharing the condo with two co-workers. All of the rooms are nice with private baths. The room I am in is the 'master' - I guess be
cause I reserved a spot first. Tomorrow, I will have the place to myself for the remainder of my stay.

I opted to just get fruit, snap peas, and a healthy choice dinner tonight. We ate out so much this past weekend that I really wasn't in the mood to go anywhere tonight. I will turn in my receipts for the week and get reimbursed. We are allowed up to $50 per day.

Part of the drive, I listened to one of the books on CD that I checked out from the library. The other part, someone had left a Jack Johnson CD in the player. I have never listened to his music, but I enjoyed it very much. One of the songs was Banana pancakes..they all were nice and mellow.

My girls all texted me today to say how much fun they had this past weekend. I am so thankful we are so close. My kids and grandkids are my biggest blessings.

Since my job is reimbursing expenses, today was a no-spender. Did I mention the fantastic view?? Big Grin So, so blessed.

Another FANTASTIC girls trip!

September 16th, 2013 at 02:58 am

This has been a busy whirlwind week!

I worked OT every day last week so that I could get off early on Friday to head to Portland with my daughters for our annual 'girls trip'. We had such a great time.

We left on Friday and got back early this evening. We shopped, had some wonderful meals, visited and relaxed. We even sneaked...or is it snuck? in a chick flick last night.

We hit the Saturday Market...which is always lots of fun. And when we came to the handcarved wooden spoons, we all felt the tug of loss that nana wasn't with us. But I am so thankful that she is in so many memories with my girls.

I have shared it before...but here is a picture of my mom at the Saturday Market one year after complaining she was cold. We warmed her up...and framed this shot for my dad for Christmas. He opened it, and about fell on the floor laughing. Good times.

I tracked all of my spending and stayed within my budget- We actually ate fairly inexpensively. Our meals all came in under $10 per person. Breakfast each morning was included in the cost of the hotel. It took two tanks of gas at about $60 per tank. Our hotel, which was a two bedroom condo, was $130 per night. I bought a kindle cover for my kindle. It is leather, normally $80 on sale for $9. What I like about it is that it folds into a stand- which I have never had!

I bought some new work clothes at the outlet stores. I got 3 tops, a sweater and 3 pair of pants all for $133. I really needed new work clothes.

Tomorrow I head to the coast for most of the week to do more training- which means expenses this week will be covered by my job. Big Grin ie...inexpensive for me!

I sure enjoyed my time with the girls this weekend. They are so busy and getting them to myself for two days was a real treat. I value the times I get with them greatly.

I was able to get Christmas lists for several grandkids and kids. I even ordered a couple gifts on Amazon on the drive home!

Goals and Action Steps

September 8th, 2013 at 11:49 pm

The hub left for Alaska this morning. He will be gone for three weeks. During the next three weeks, my plan is to focus on our budget and goals.

Goal #1- tied to one of our biggest budget busters- is to eat out no more than one meal each week. My action steps are to create a meal plan each weekend for the upcoming week; and cook dinners and take lunches/snacks from home.

I am cooking some Hawaiian chicken in the slow cooker today and will make some rice to go with it. Enough for dinner today, lunch and dinner tomorrow. Any leftovers after that I will freeze for another time. I plan to make a lime chicken on Tuesday night, again enough for 2-3 meals.

I previously agreed to dinner and lunch out on Wednesday and Thursday respectively with friends. These will come out of my allowance.

Next weekend my daughters and I are going to Portland. I am very much looking forward to this time together and have funds in our vacation account to cover.

Outside of this, I plan to plug the holes in the budget and stick to the plan.

Today I am cooking, my laundry is on the line, the housework is getting done...all things that make life easier during the week.

Goal #2 is TRACK and stay within budget for all discretionary spending. Discretionary spending is the spending that comes out of the food and miscellaneous account. My action steps are to maintain a spreadsheet on this account just like I do with our monthly bills. If this is ineffective, then plan B is to use envelopes and cash for these line items.

A family friend, who is also a carpet installer, is coming over tomorrow to give us a bid on carpeting two rooms in the big house. Our budget is $500, installed- so I hope he can pull that off.. We are renting the big house to DD3 and two of her friends and are making inexpensive repairs for now. We will re-evaluate what to do long term next spring.

Update on Z:

Once again, a one month timeline has been set for Z to relocate to bio-gramma. All that is left is for Oregon to approve and then he will be flown to his new home by his case worker. However, we have had the timeline come and go so many times it is hard to know if this will be it.

He has spent 26 of his 31 months with us.

Free stay at the resort - Day One

September 5th, 2013 at 04:15 am

The hub and I are at the resort where my job is holding their annual planning session. We have a nice 1 bedroom condo with a gorgeous view from our balcony. A 'free' mini vacation (working vacation for me). We worked all day today and will work all day tomorrow..then, we are working just a couple hours on Friday and then have the rest of Friday to do as we want and get to stay here Friday night - All meals are included. Feeling mighty blessed with this perk.

I have been pondering ways to change my spending habits. Ways I can make an immediate impact are cutting back on lunches out, cutting out any drinks besides water, coffee and tea, and sticking to a list when I shop. I also tend to toss out more perishables than I should if I was more focused. So, these will be my initial concentrations- especially on the weeks I am home alone. I am going to rework my budget for food and entertainment and see if I cant do a better job.

I finished the book "Unbroken" on CD that I borrowed from the library. It was a very good story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have another book on CD to start when I get home and also reserved one at the library to have after I finish it. I love the library. These CDs make my commute each day more enjoyable. I actually look forward to the drive now.

I have found that looking on Amazon for books and then reserving them at the library is a great way to keep my book supply stocked. Although, nothing will take away the fun of browsing through the books when I am there.

Reality on a spreadsheet- time to reset

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I am feeling a little better today. I have been taking OTC meds for allergies and am actually asthma free today! That doesn't happen often- so I am going to stick with the allergy meds and see if it continues to help.

Last night, I decided to put all of our discretionary spending for the last two months on a spreadsheet. WOW.

The categories were food, eating out, gas and miscellaneous spending. If I was scoring us on each category we would get a B, F, B and D in those categories for how close we stuck to the budget. But I showed it to the hub, who actually is not too interested in how the finances are budgeted and I think he got it.

So, I am not sure what method we will use to keep us better on track, but the goal is to come in much closer to the budget in the future.

I know some of the spending was for the new trailer and stocking it. I know I was less focused on staying on track because of everything that was going on with the relationship issues. Its just time to hit the reset button and start again.

DD3 has another friend who needs a place to live, so we are going to carpet the third bedroom in the big house and she and her 2yo daughter are going to rent it. This will bring the rental income to $725mo for that house. It is still well under the payment of $1300 mo, but it is $725 more than we were getting and as part of the deal, the girls will feed and care for the hubs two outside dogs and pet sit for my dog and cat when we go on vacations or when I need to work away from home. The hubs wood business is on this property, as well as the little house we are living in, so it still makes sense to keep it.

We will be out of town this week with my job, then, next Sunday, the hub flies back to Alaska for the rest of the month. I am going to challenge myself to see how frugally I can live while he is gone. The 13-15th I am going to Portland with my girls, but aside from that, I should be able to keep expenses down to a minimum. Hmmm...I see a personal challenge headed my way. Big Grin

Been sick

September 1st, 2013 at 03:49 pm

Last week ended up not being a good one, financially, for us.

I caught a bad cold during our vacation and am still not feeling well. It must be impacting my inner ear, because I am dizzy quite a bit and just feel like I am in a fog. I have had a hard time focusing at work because of it, haven't felt like blogging, and have not stayed on top of finances like I normally do. I hate feeling like this- sortof like your watching your life remotely. weird.

We didn't food shop, which meant there wasn't much to choose from- and the hub didn't cook all week- so each night- dinner was a last minute decision, which meant lots of eating out.

Meals were definitely more costly than normal.

Then, there were several purchases that have hit the VISA account- that I have in sub-accounts that I need to transfer over. Birthday gifts, winter clothes for the hub, etc.

We definitely haven't stuck to the normal budget- I just haven't had the focus to police spending this past week.

My daughter recommended taking decongestant allergy meds- so I am doing that this weekend to see if the dizziness goes away. If not, I will have to go to the Dr.

On the upside, my son and his family are in town for the birthdays. His daughters 6th birthday party is today. All my kids will be there, so I will be a smiling momma. Last night was my other granddaughter's party (she turned 8). You know I don't feel well when the kids are all together and I am ready to leave after an hour.

We don't need to grocery shop for the week ahead. On Tuesday we leave for my job's planning retreat where all meals will be paid for. We are going to stay at a nice resort- it should be an interesting, fun week.