Monday, December 31, 2018

examining the budget and the pantry

I'm sitting here drinking my last cup of coffee for the day, smelling the beef broth I am making from odds and ends of beef roasts we had during Dec that I had tossed in the freezer until a "broth" day. Makes me hungry so I will probably have a cup of beef broth for lunch.

End of the year I tally what I have spent in the kitchen and gardens... What I saved us that we probably would have spent if I had been working outside the home.

I have already ordered all my seeds for the coming season. I will need to order garlic IF my garlic does not do well. I will know that come Sept. We are adding berry bushes also this spring. I have $1200 left in the garden budget from this year since we didn't really plant anything. SO that will be added to this coming year's budget. I know I will need trellis and black plastic and other odds and ends that comes with starting a new garden so it will be higher in cost this year.

Years ago I used to do the twice a year Pantry Challenge that Jessica has over at It really helped when I had to clear the pantry after Daughter 2 and her 4 sons moved out... then again when Daughter 4 and her two kids and Son 2 moved out at the same time.It also showed me how our eating habits had changed.

Now my pantry challenge is different... I will need room for the new produce coming in. I need room in the freezers and room on the pantry shelves.

2018 I spent $6,603.42 on food, that included any produce I bought to stock and to restock 3 empty deep freezers. Of that $6,603.42 I spent $1, 211.99 on meat, that is including 9 turkeys, 6 hams and 6 briskets (that I cut to make 24 briskets) along with other meat.

SO I spent $5,391.43 at the grocery store for other stuff than meat. This is the only year I did not put eating out as part of the grocery budget as I knew it would be on the high side with working here daily.

As I kept track I know that $3594.29 was for fresh produce, which 80% I could grow on my own and the majority of that is NOT stored in my pantry. That's $2,875.43 I could have saved.

Hubby was talking to a friend about how I save us enough money that it would match me working full time at $10/ hr.

$10/ hr for a 40 hr week is $400

$400/ wk for 52 wks (1 yr) is $20,800

$20,800 minus the 25% tax we pay is $15,600.

$15,600 divided by 52 wks is $300 a week...

He could have took the taxes off the week and multiplied in by 52 also but the friend needs things broke down this way.

With the way I price things out, push him to price things out, do the pantry, the gardens, drive our autos etc. On average I have saved that during a year. This year I save over that with researching mortgages,loan to fix the house and Hubby's truck... not counting anything else.It's what I used to pay off the hospital bill.

My goal is to match the $15,600 this year even with the extra expenses of medical ins/copay/deductibles and have it in the savings.

We will see how this goes

Planning the garden

I would rather look at this picture of the south garden from Autumn than look at the muddy mess it is right now. We are having a warm rain, a blessing as it's December in Ohio that it's not a freezing rain with it being New Year's Eve. This has been one of our wettest years.

I spent 3 days , 8 hrs each day going through seeds, writing out a sheet of information for each one that will be on a clip board and taken to the gardens during the season to monitor how each does. I don't know what varieties work best here.I listed each on spreadsheets by their family I have 14 families (did you know that beets, spinach and Swiss chard are the same family?) and then listed them by what season they could be planted in.

That is simple except I have 245 varieties between herbs, flowers (most edible) and 4 seasons of veggies. Not counting we will be adding to the berry bushes and might have to replace strawberries if they didn't take in the transplant.

I have chose some more heirloom so I can provide my own seeds. And will have to make sure they don't cross breed with another. One person said they put their seed plant(s) in pots and keep them separate from the rest of the gardens so they are easier to not let cross breed.

In the past year I spent just under $5000 for veggies and fruit to put on the table...not can or freeze for later use.

Amish neighbor gave me a sweet potato to start my slips with. I got that in a jar of water as of yesterday.It's the variety her brother and brother in law grew when they lived here.

Now, I have to figure out a rotation plan so I am not planting something after something else that shouldn't be plus Hubby would like to see a spot that rests each year plus plant green manure each fall, annual rye does good around here.

I also need to figure out what needs started in house to be transplanted.

We took a walk around the property and I was pointing out where I could plant things that wasn't in the gardens... I could see the look of " more work for me" on Hubby's face until I pointed out I could put weed barrier along the fences and use the fences to plant vine plants and he wouldn't have to run the trimmer along the fences... that's at least an hour if not more of work he did this last summer. I could plant 3 areas that have been trouble areas for him to get mowed as he has to use the push mower to mow them. My thoughts are to change it so it works for us and be easy to maintain.

I talked to my Amish lady neighbor as she is the one that does the gardens, she has 3. When an Amish person looks at your gardens and then back to you and says "weed barrier and black plastic, cattle panels with stakes"you listen. I've paid attention of how their gardens are set up and watched how them maintain them. My neighbor does most her gardens by herself. Her oldest 3 are old enough to watch the youngest 4 while she is in the gardens especially since they are outside playing where she is at. Towards the end of the season the oldest 2 were starting to help pick and the other 2 olders ones watched the youngest 3 but were right where she was at.

She told me to be in the garden by (meaning her laundry is washed and on the line and she's fixed breakfast for 9 and did the dishes by hand by this time also)8 am the latest and start at the row that is away from the house. Stop at 10:30 and fix lunch which is at noon for them. Process what ever you picked after lunch. Do the house work, fix dinner and go back out to the gardens after dinner for at least 1 or 2 hrs, process that before bed. She "puts up" over 3000 quarts of veggies, over 2000 of fruit, over 3000 of meat (they don't have freezers or refrigerators) not counting the jam, jelly, juice she cans also.That is also not counting the root cellar of sweet potatoes, potatoes, and winter squash  or the onions she stores. She said "it's not energy, it's routine". Putting food up is the priority over housework, not being in the gardens in the heat of the day is also a priority. She also told me that if I wasn't planning on selling at the auction to pull the plant once I have enough for the pantry and replace it with something else. EAT FRESH FROM THE GARDEN. She does not pull any veggies or fruit from her pantry when the garden is in full swing.

So I asked for her routine...
Monday is laundry and cleaning the home

Tuesday is baking, ironing and mending and more laundry (9 of them, laundry is pretty much daily and takes 4-5 hrs to do not counting drying time on the clothesline).

Wednesday is for more detailed jobs or something that pops up, sometimes she will go help clean whomever is having Church that coming Sunday or go help a family member. And laundry

Thursday she helps her mother in law(her parents live out of state) and laundry

Friday laundry and maybe errands if her Hubby is able to go also. She very seldom goes in the buggy without him.

Saturday, laundry, clean home which is over 5000 SQ FT, do laundry, baking, preparing Sunday's meals

Sunday, church or family on off church week (church is every 2 wks), it's the day of rest. She tries to not cook much, cold bfast, lunch at church and maybe soup or sandwiches for dinner. In the summer, it might just be salad, popcorn or something else that is light.

She offered the wisdom that to get my home routine in place that reflects the time I will be in the gardens, then in the "off" months I will have time for sewing and such.

Blessed be

Sunday, December 30, 2018

in the kitchen

As the year ends one of my habits is to go through my kitchen to get clear away what isn't working for me and to set how I want it to function for the new year.

Hubby bought me a new cast iron griddle and a separate cast iron grill that fits over the middle burner of my gas stove... which we can celebrate that the stove is now fixed, under warranty and I no longer have to use a lighter to ignite the largest burner I have.

I have to have something for Hubby to pack in his lunches that could be eaten cold if he doesn't make it back to the post so he can reheat it. I bought a thermos from Amazon that I had saw on The Prudent Homemaker blog that she had looked at.

Mondays I will clean both refrigerators as Tuesday is our trash day. I will be noting what I have to throw out in the trash or compost..I will also be keeping an eye on leftovers. I've been packaging them and put them back in the freezer for nights we get in late or I am sick and Hubby doesn't feel up to cooking for himself.

The food budget is $250...non food is $40 with the note the dogs are a separate budget.

I have a calendar on my kitchen wall with the "menu" . It's more of what protein I will be cooking that night.

Monday is Mexican, that can be beef,pork, poultry or beans , something we did when we first got together was go to a local Mexican restaurant and have a drink (soda or coffee as Hubby worked nights and I was driving) and got the "snack" bar for free. It had refried beans, salsa, sour cream, black olives, scallions,  and fresh cooked tortilla chips. I now have a tortilla press and many of the spices etc I need to make our own Mexican. (Dec 31st we will have BBQ pork ribs).

Tuesday is pork( pork loin, tenderloin, chops, roasts, ground pork, sausage patty and bulk, smoked sausage, and ribs)which works this week as I have leftover pork roast in the freezer that will go with the leftover kraut and some mashed potatoes for Jan 1st.

Wednesday will be Asian... when Hubby was working in Alabama for 2 yrs and I stayed in Ohio raising the last 4 kids as they were in the last 2 years of high school. I would go to the local Asian restaurant after going spending time with church friends.. Since I don't want my meal swimming in sauce that is high is sodium and years of working in classes with a Thai chef. I will be starting back to cooking my own. Hubby prefers beef and I prefer chicken... I am still floating thoughts of doing both but using the same veggies or doing one this week and the other the next week. I will be going back to making my own egg rolls, either with cabbage or bean sprouts and will try my hand at pot stickers aka fried dumplings ,once we eat through the 3 bags we have in the freezer

Thursday is poultry. I still have 5 frozen turkeys and 18 meals of shredded turkey in my freezers. I also have 26 meals of chicken so I think we are really set in that area.

Friday is a floating day... either vegetarian or seafood. ... pizza or calzones could fit in there also

Saturday is beef , 24 beef briskets, 6 prime rib roasts along with chuck roasts, chuck steaks and hamburger.

Sunday is left overs that I don't shove in freezer, soup.or breakfast

Since I have home made soup canned, it can be real simply to use for Hubby's lunches when supper isn't something he wants to carry.

The idea is to write down what I buy, what I cook and what is tossed with note of why.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Planning a frugal 2019

Laundry is rolling, home blessing is almost done and I decided it was time for a coffee break and chat for awhile...

I hope you are finding joy in your days, finding the beauty that is before us in the midst of our daily lives.

Today is Monday

Hubby started work today, he has tomorrow off and it will be packed with having lunch with Son 2 and seeing his parents and my dad.  Son 1 is coming for dinner tonight on his way to see his mother.We have already gave Christmas money to the daughters as they have children were struggling meeting ends.

We usually sit down after Christmas and plan our goals we want to meet and our finances for the next year.

With Hubby working this week, we did it over the weekend.

Projects still to do...

Deck built with ramp... everything bought and here except for the gravel needed to go under it.A friend has a gravel dump trailer that our F350 truck can haul. So it's just going to be the cost of the gravel with no delivery charge.

Awning to go over French doors that lead to deck...

Rework driveway and gravel...

28 ft livestock trailer ...

28 ft flat bed trailer...

Building a "box" on top of the trailer we have to have an enclosed trailer.

Clear last of plants around pond and gravel edge...

Front porch redone...

Kitchen porch redone...

Back door stoop redone...

Gate to back door at house on sidewalk...

Widen sidewalks to fit wheelchair...

Trim apple trees...

Trim dogwood...

Trim lilac bush...

Plant 2nd lilac bush...

Plant maple tree...

Design and plant 4 season gardens with 4-5 yr rotation availability...

Rebuild garden shed at gardens...

Build small green house...

Get home energy audit...

Replace all windows (all doors have been replaced) on house ...

Put siding on the entire house...

Paint porch area on barn that is not metal siding...

Install lights in dog kennel area of barn ...

Install lights in "garage" area of barn...

There are things like installing closets (in barn that can be repainted and used) and shelves (in barn that can be repainted and used) and the endless changes we will do as we live through the seasons and years.


Wednesday < Hubby is at work while I go over 2019 budget again

As our IRAs are making money invested in the stock market and the stock market is losing like is did in 2008 and this  Dec being as bad as the Dec in 1931. We had a meeting with our finance guy over the phone (saving us gas money)... we talked about losing half of what we have as the worse that could happen (it gets that low we will cash out and put it in a savings acct) and making it last until Hubby reaches full retirement of Social Security. What would our income be? About 1/4th of what it is now.

So Hubby and I talked about things and then decided continue with the withdraws as is (which freaks our finance guy out some) BUT cutting the budget as much as possible and putting the "rest" of the money in a savings acct. Won't earn as much but won't be losing either.

Hubby is working part time for state hwy dept. All money he earns after paying for his fuel and any meals he has to eat out though he plans to pack daily , will go towards by the trailers.

We will know where we stand with federal and state taxes in April, we do know we have to pay to the school that we moved from and hoping that we get refunds enough to cover most of that. We requested twice as much to be withheld for Federal and State since we knew he would be earning money on odd jobs and hope there won't be a really with paying the taxes.

My Job, as Hubby puts it is to cut the budget, save money aka follow behind and and remind him to turn off lights, unplug stuff that is electric vampire and grow enough garden to provide for us for the year including during the winter.

I went back over the budget as we had forgot somethings when listing it... like maintenance on the tractor that he can't do himself while under warranty, tow truck when the F350 wouldn't start this very morning  as we having nothing big enough to tow that. He is hoping it's because he forgot to "plug" it in as it's diesel.

Goal is to keep the electric down below what is budgeted.

 I called our "trash" company and they have another service that will lower our bill by 50 % BUT I am limited on how much I can put out. Our Amish neighbor said we should get a burn barrel from a neighbor of his brother's and only burn paper products (not plastic or metal which some people we know have done) and he could use the ashes in our field that he rents along with our own gardens and is going to help us set up a compost... we don't have much to compost to begin with.

Last year I had to restock the freezers as we had ate pretty much what was in them also the pantry was only half full and we didn't put out much garden.I was able to put up enough to get us to mid summer thanks to the kindness of the neighbors and the family we bought the house from. The total budget for food and non food was $600 a month. I cut it to half of that amount.

This week I will be planning out the gardens. I'm glad I picked up 3 more turkeys and 2 hams than what I planned.

We found a place to get bigger bags of dog food for the same price as the smaller bags.

We will take down the Christmas lights and put what little Christmas we put up away by this weekend.Not that the LED lights on timers raised the bill much.

I will continue to use the drying rack and clothesline on the kitchen porch as much as possible.

When I use the oven I try to put more than one dish in it at a time. One pot meals will be common.

We budgeted 2 tanks / month of gas for my car, two for the old truck and 1 for the F350... as Hubby will be paying for fuel out of his paycheck or what he earns hauling for the Amish. I planned the 1 tank in case we have to use that truck for so reason that we can't drive the jeep. What ever isn't used for fuel or maintenance goes back into savings for that month.

We won't be doing a lot of driving to go visit. In fact we just had two different couples of friends that kept asking us to come down and go out to eat and I was honest and told them that at this point and time we couldn't afford to always come to them as they are an hour away and we definitely couldn't afford to eat out where they wanted to go. They were more than welcome to come here  and I would fix dinner for all of us or we could bring something to share for a meal at their home every other time. We haven't heard from the one couple , the other is coming tonight for potluck dinner after Hubby gets off work.

Have a safe and Happy New Year's

Blessed Be

Monday, December 17, 2018

Doing something frugal every day..

Monday Dec 10th.
Hubby called the bank to find out about a fee charged. Found out that he was given the incorrect information so they refunded the fee and he corrected his account to not get a charge again.

He made a couple calls pricing the cost of getting his welding torch tanks filled.Found one that was 1/5th of the one he was going to use.

I hung laundry on clothesline on the kitchen porch. Yes it's freezing outside here in Ohio but the clothes froze and then when I brought them in hard as a rock, jeans were standing on their own 😀, 10 min fluff in the dryer with no heat had them soft enough to fold. Was definitely dry. All in all I only used the dryer 1 hr for 8 loads of laundry and NO HEAT on. The underclothes was hung on the drying rack.

I roasted a turkey that we bought before Thanksgiving for 37 cents/lbs.I will freeze the leftovers in meal size bags and make broth from the carcass.

I ordered our prescriptions for pick up tomorrow so we can pick them up when we are out running errands and going to 3 different doctor appts.

I made the grocery list and checked coupons for tomorrow.

I ordered the last of the garden seeds.

Tuesday Dec. 11th

3 doctors appts and errands on top of it.

Our primary has agreed to see us at the same time so we are only making one trip. He no longer does evening hours but did say if Hubby couldn't get off work and needed the last appt of the day and called that he was on his way , he would stay until we got there. He suggested we get our blood work done no earlier than a month ahead of the appt. when we were already there, just reminded us in was a fasting blood work.

Our dentist was willing to do the same as that was the other appt for hubby.

We did a run through Menards, using the last of the rebates we had to pick up some "odds and ends" like timer, pet safe salt for the porches etc. Also we bought a thermometer for the pump house so we can monitor the heat there from inside the house. We have a heater on a thermostat in there to keep the pump and water lines from freezing . This way we should pick up that it is not working faster than when we find things broke.

I went twice through Kroger's. Once for paper products for a family in need while Hubby was with dentist and then again for us, including an additional turkey for the dinner we are deep frying for this Sat. When we got the head count hit 40, we knew we needed another turkey. I picked up another one for us since they were still 37 cents/lb even though it's smaller than what we use ourselves but that was all they had. I had them check.

We decided to use the last gift card for Apple bees we had as there isn't one close to us now and we knew if we didn't eat, we wouldn't when we got home... just to tired. Out of pocket was the tip we left.

Wed. Dec 12th

I hung the bedding on the kitchen porch clothesline to dry. Left it all day until right before dinner before bringing it in. 10 min fluff took the stiffness out of it so I could put it on the bed without it "crackling" when the dogs got on the bed. 😂.

I put the turkey carcass in the pot to simmer to make broth. Put it in the frig so the fat would raise (fat went to freezer) , will can part of the broth tomorrow and the other amt is in freezer until Friday morning for injecting the turkeys we deep fry. We don't like using oil or butter as it has made the turkey taste "grease" to us when it is cold. We had soup for dinner using part of the broth.

I printed off 3 coupons I know I will be buying the items in the next 30 days.

I put all the house plants in the mudroom sink and watered them at one time.

I updated the old computer to manage the budget and track the garden/ grocery stuff.

I made two loaves of bread. I am changing what recipe I make each time until I find at least 2 or hopefully 4 different ones we LOVE.

Hubby did the following.

Went to Marysville and ordered a snow blower and a bunch of gizmos for it using a loyalty card he got when he retired. He still has some left,the guy at the store said he could use it for oil and filers etc for the motorcycle and snowblower.

He went to town and had a trailer guy look at the hitch in the bed of the truck for him to order one. The guy gave him a quote and Hubby told him of another website that he could order exactly the same thing for half the price. Guy's wife checks it out, Guy is ordering it for him and he is paying the shipping for Hubby since he will now be using that site for his own supplier.

Hubby dropped off the prescriptions we got the day before and had them to be ready before he came back home along with the 3 that was sitting there ready for us to pick up. Saw no reason to write 2 checks to the same place.

He found a place closer to do the 50 mile first check up on the tractor.

Thursday Dec 13th

Hubby called the tractor place and they told him to bring tractor any time and they would work it in. So he loaded it up and took it to them. They should be done with  it before he starts work the 24th.

We went to chiro (we took the dogs with us so they would get a ride in). Hubby won't be going for awhile since he will be working days and wouldn't make it while they were open. I scheduled for the first Thurs. in Jan but for the afternoon since I will be driving myself. We had them transfer the credit from my acct to Hubby's so we had no out of pocket AND their books are now balanced with our accts.

I cleaned the basement frig out and made a list of what I pitched... things we had not bought but was given and I definitely remember telling the person we didn't want it as it wouldn't be eaten...Hubby took it from them when I wasn't around not knowing I already said no. He put it in the basement frig when he put the meat in the freezer. He forgot to put it on the perishable list I keep on the kitchen frig for items in the basement frig so I don't lose track. For now on he will tell them to ask me. He did call them and told them he didn't appreciate how they did that when I told them no.

We did a pit stop at the grocery store for "salad" items as we were completely out, I have 10 days worth. I saved 10 % but definitely know I need to put a cold weather frame up this summer to grow salad items during the winter.

We had sandwiches for lunch and cheese, summer sausage for Hubby and pepperoni for me along with crackers for dinner.

Friday Dec 14th

Hubby went to pick up the ball and hitch he ordered and stopped by the Amish produce auction to see if they had next year's schedule for auctions.

Then he cleaned and set up the turkey deep fryers (and covered them to keep them clean) out in the barn.

He loaded the presents we were giving friends and the bags and boxes we were giving the family in need at the SCARES dinner. That's now off the list for tomorrow.

I thawed the broth I made to inject the turkeys and got that done first thing.

I set up the kitchen after dinner for the morning of making 25 lbs of mashed potatoes and craving the turkeys to go in the electric roaster.

It's going to be a busy weekend... so I won't be back on until Monday or Tuesday.

Blessed Be

Friday, December 7, 2018

Frugal week

We only used LED lights to decorate even though it meant no candles in the windows, no signs of JOY etc hanging around... The green blob on the left is a green LED rope light wrapped around an upside down tomato cage to look something like a tree. Post on porch blocks part of the wreath and the lamp post almost blends into the house. Neighbor said his kids got a kick out of the snowman at the hitching post with a sign that said Santa stop here.The tree was from when we lived in a very very very small house. We couldn't find any place close to us that had live trees. Frugal to use what we had....a little sad as most of my traditional decorations aren't in use but frugal. We have the lights on timers and make sure we turn lights off in the house.

The containers of sausage and hamburger was gifts from the Amish neighbors. Very good flavor...but no grease, NONE not even with the sausage. Wasn't dry though.When we asked if they had the sirloin ground instead of the scraps,they thought it might be because their animals are grass fed and ran in a pasture.

Along with those items...I baked the pumpkin that had been on the porch and pureed it and put in 1 cup servings in the freezer. This is one of the pumpkins that was growing in the compost pile left from the previous owners. Hubby buried one of the other ones that had went bad between the grape harbor and the electric pole. We will see if it grows anything.

I bought the flour, sugar etc that I had on my Dec buy list. Still need cashews and ground pork but will get that when we go to doctor appts on Tuesday.I got a couple pork roasts, one we ate, the other is now in the freezer.

We were working on what to plant in the gardens and I listed what we ate then we decided to plant more in the garden so I am back square 1 on planning the gardens. BUT the focus is to grow as much as we can of what we eat and eat in season.SO if we want broccoli in Dec we have to have it in the freezer. IT's also to grow more of my own plants from seeds rather than buy the plants. We started listing what fruit we can glean, we have 2 different apple trees that we hope will do better with us trimming them and using dorminate oil. Neighbor lady has pears that she's already said that we can have some after Amish neighbor gets what he wants (he does handy man work for her as she is a widow).

Hubby starts working for ODOT (temporary job) Dec 24th but he is off Christmas. We decided that this coming Monday we would start the routine as if he was working.Fixing breakfast for him and packing a lunch that doesn't have to be heated (I ordered through The Prudent Homemaker web site for a thermos from Amazon.) He has for the majority of his working life worked 3rd ,even when he farmed with his Dad so this is a big change for us as I am used to him being home during the day.

Brother was clearing out the cabinets at Dad's house and found coffee that had not been opened so he split it between us. We don't usually drink decaf so I mixed it with our regular coffee grounds 1/3rd  decaf and 2/3 rd regular. It will stretch our coffee by 2 months.

While sitting on the love seat with Charlotte I realized we had a draft coming from the window that was behind the window, even with a storm window on it. Got to checking all the windows and found what Hubby called cigarette paper cracks at base of windows. He had enough corner round to deal with the front room windows and I used oil lamp wicks that didn't fit my lamps to fill the rest of the as the window sill  is actually above the bottom of the window. Made a lot of difference. In checking this we realized that the thermostat was put on a wall that has a heat duct right behind it causing the thermostat to read 4 degrees warmer that is should. We now have thermometers in 3 areas of the house to maintain the house at 68 degrees except when we are gone when I lower it.

Our mechanic is working on our son 2's car since it broke down (radiator has a hole) and son 2 is now driving mine.Since I need an oil change our mechanic offered to do it when son 2 goes to get his car and then we only have to make 1 trip to pick it up instead of 2.

I will be researching seeds for the gardens this coming week to meet what we have decided to try to grow.

Blessed Be