Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Loving Memory....

The past two days have been incredibly hard culminating in the worst part yesterday.  We had to put down on of our dogs.  It was such a heartbreaking decision.  He had stopped eating and had dropped about a forth of his body weight.  They thought it was due to a urinary track infection, and put him on antibiotics.  He perked up for about 2 days and then stopped eating anything; only taking water.  So we took him back to the vet.  We also made them aware that we noticed his left side was distended.  They did an ultra-sound and came back with liver cancer which had metastasized to his kidneys.  The vet told me there was no positive outcome here and so after bringing him home to have a last evening being loved and spoiled by his family; he was laid to rest in my arms.   Oh but I loved that dog!

Can I tell you about Wolly?

 We adopted him 9 yeas ago from the Humane Society.  I had gone with my sister and we both fell in love with him.  She already had a little beagle dog and so the idea of our family getting one too was awesome. He was a Beagle/ Basset mix.   She stood guard over his cage until I could go up front and tell them of my desire to get him.  Good thing too because there was an interested family right behind us.  Originally he was to be a gift for my daughters 15th birthday.  She was having a hard time and we thought he might help.  He was good for her and followed her everywhere.  It was while following her that he got nailed by a truck.  We were lucky.  He only had a dislocated hip.  The veterinary staff were amazed at how stoic he was.  They were able to reset his hip without anesthesia and he never snapped at them; not once.  It cost us a small fortune, but he was right as rain,  His only complication was arthritis later in life.  Within about 3-4 months he had a seizure and was diagnosed with Epilepsy.  He has been on meds ever since to control his seizures.  The other dogs know the sound of his pill bottle and, like Pavlov's dog, will come running to get a treat whenever Wolly was getting his "Treat".  Because of his medical issues, he stayed with us after Diva moved out.  She couldn't afford the meds and labs that went with keeping him.
  I have so many memories of him....  He would smile at you; not the panting "He looks like he's smiling" smile, but a smile using only the front of his mouth.  He would also talk back to me if he was in trouble.  Not making any sounds, just the moving of his mouth like a teenager talking under their breath.  There was the infamous Nerf cat safari.  We'll talk about that another post. 

We have three dogs (That's Wolly on the right) and one of them is Jesse (left), a female coon dog/beagle mix.  That's Mona in the middle.  Wolly and Jesse acted like an old married couple.  If Wolly got out of the gate and Jesse didn't, she would nag him from the front door all the way to his kennel once he returned.  He would just hang his head and endure until he got to his kennel.  When he got to the age of 9-10 years, I would periodically let him out the back door to go run in the woods.  He was older and I wanted him to have that chance while he could use it.  I am glad I did.  Sometimes he would walk around the house and past the front gate where Jesse was outside and then she could see him.  Drove her crazy.  Definitely a "Neener Neener" moment for him.  Of my three dogs, Wolly was the only one I felt competent enough to be outside of the gate.  I would let him out the back door while I was in the garden and within thirty minutes I would see him laying at the edge of the garden watching me and enjoying the spring breeze. 
My constant companion for the past 9 years; he followed me everywhere.  Many times My husband and I would be lying on the bed watching TV and I would get up to go check dinner or something.  I would inadvertently step on Wolly due to the fact that he had tucked himself under my side of the bed.  Even at his sickest, he would struggle to get up to follow me where ever I was headed.  Finally Knight and I would pick him up and carry him where ever I was going next. 

Don't get me wrong, I love Jesse and Mona, But Wolly was my baby.  One of the hardest things to face these last few days has been the absence of him by my side.  He is in every part of this house; from the absence of his tap, tap, tap as he made his way across the floor (he favored his previously dislocated hip), how he would sit in the kitchen watching me cook in the hopes I would toss him something to eat.  He would sit at my feet while I ate dinner and place one paw on my leg to get my attention.  He could make his eyes so big...well I just had to give him something off my plate!

I could go on and on..... I love him.  I miss him.  It is that easy. There is no way he can be replaced and the void is impossible to fill.  I take comfort in the fact that I will see him again.  Please save your breath if you are thinking dogs don't go to heaven.  I don't believe that.  I realize Christ didn't die for pets, but then again, maybe that was because He didn't have to.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

WOOT WOOT! Mama gots to play this weekend..

By play I mean I got to do my normal around the house stuff with no interference.  I started my weekend on Saturday making a loaf of banana bread for breakfast.   After that I tasked myself with getting my sewing table back in working order, catching up the mending, and finishing up some doll clothes.  I was so excited to finish three doll outfits I am planning on selling(I hope) and a gown for an antique doll I have.  Here is the gown:

For breakfast this morning it was homemade cinnamon rolls with milk or coffee depending on your particular bent.  Then off to church.  After church I was able to come home, get dinner in the crock pot, and get into the garden.  I weeded and trimmed around garden beds, cleaned out the chicken coop and tilled the "Organic matter" removed from the coop into one of my garden beds.  By the way Miss Priss is still providing an egg a day.  Bless her heart!  Todays egg offering was the biggest she has laid so far.  Anyway, back to the garden duties.  Slowly but surely I am getting the garden put up for the winter.  I still have items growing and producing and so can't put up all of it yet.  I am getting there though.  I clipped a lot of rosemary and am currently drying it in my oven on a low, low, low  temp.  Dinner was literally a hodge podge of what I have in my fridge.  Left over chicken, in it goes.  5 cups of cooked black beans?  Throw it in there!  Add 1 cup of salsa, a chopped onion,salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with chicken broth and let it cook in your crock pot for a few hours on high.  We served it with crackers and or tortilla chips depending on personal taste.  I would say over all a very productive weekend.  Now to get ready for work tomorrow.  Looking forward to next weekend.  We should have our first temp of the season below freezing and Dh and I are going into the mountains to buy wheat berries and look at the leaves changing color.  So holding that thought in my head I am off to do something productive...take a shower.  You guys have a good day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Putting my money wheremy mouth is....for real

So a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post talking about our plan B in case of financial hardship.  The jest of the post was being able to weather the storm and be self reliant in the mean time.  Well, we are getting to put that in action.  Not to the extent we would if one of us was laid off, but close, very close.  You see, due to the wonderful men, women, and President currently in office, we have a little thing called The Affordable care Act aka "Obamacare".  It has taken up residence at our house.  Last year I took a position with our hospitals Hospice Dept.  In order to make the transfer I took a 16% pay cut.  In order to off set that, I waived all my benefits to get an extra 12% in my pay check.  My Husband and I both work for the same hospital just different Dept.  Because he was working full time, I was on his insurance.  Fast forward to this year and I have discovered that the hospital is no longer insuring spouses who are able to purchase insurance through their employer.  I currently work 40 hours every two weeks.  Therefore I qualify for insurance.  In order for me to buy said insurance, I have to get benefits.  To get Benefits I have to lose the 12% pay rate increase.  Then I get to turn around and pay a premium for just me of $68 per pay check and also start contributing to my own health savings account.  The one my husband and I have been contributing to will not cover me as of Jan 1st.  The only way to avoid this is to cut my hours to 30 or less every two weeks.  If I could do that I would A) be able to remain on DH insurance, and B) actually come out ahead by about $38 each pay period.  However, upon discussing this with my director, I am thinking she will not have a position for me for only 15 hours a week.  So right now I am looking at having to buy my own.  This forced purchase, and it is that, will take about $400 a month out of an already small family budget.  Ironically, this new legislation, meant to insure the uninsured, has made someone already insured buy an extra policy.  How moronic is that.  My only hope is that my director convinces the higher ups to let me keep my 12% pay increase.  I hope to find out soon.  Until then I will put on my frugal black belt and get to work.

I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am in the job I am supposed to be in.  God put me here for a reason.  I am truly convinced of that fact.  It is because of that fact, I am able to have peace because "He works all things together for the good of those that love Him".   I know He is in control.  He is my rock, my provider.  I will do what is in my power to do, and where I falter, He is there to hold me up.  He has never let me down before, and He never will. 

So I get to really use the frugal juices.  Who knows what future posts will look like.  I would think there might be plenty of my "Hmmm I wonders".  So until then, SEE YA! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Well here's a good reason to always be prepared,

So it doesn't have to be an end of the world scenario in order to justify keeping a pantry.  Saw something interesting yesterday.  I went last night to pick up the odds and ends of groceries I still needed at Aldi last night.  Upon arrival I saw a sign posted on the door saying the EBT system was down.  We don't get food stamps, but we wanted to make sure our debit card would work.   Dh and I went on in and asked if the regular debit cards still worked and the cashier said they were fine, just the EBT(Snap, Food stamps) were down; IN 17 STATES!  She said she had been putting groceries back all day because people would come in, fill their carts, only to realize the EBT cards wouldn't work.  They would just leave their cart where it was.  I came home and looked up the story online and found it was a glitch in the system that should be resolved by now (I hope).  The stories I read online were amazing stories of people going nuts at Walmart  because their EBT cards wouldn't work.  Many were angry or were panicked.  My point in this story is that, while this was (hopefully) a one day glitch, what if this had lasted longer?  What if Food Stamps had been affected by the Govt Shut down?  What if the glitch lasted a week?  For those people who only use their food stamps (or grocery money) to buy only enough to last until the next trip, something keeping you from purchasing your groceries would be a reason to panic.  I am not just picking on Food Stamp folks,  What would have happened if I needed to get groceries and the Debit card system was down.  I have seen that happen as well.  I have gone to stores that said all they could take was cash.  In my case, because I had a pantry at home I was A) only buying things to  replace items used in storage, B)  buying what was a good deal, C) and could easily adjust my grocery shopping plans because I still had things at home.  I would have just been minorly inconvenienced in making a fruitless trip.   SO here we have another reason to keep a pantry at home. 

Sort of on the subject but a little off to the side, a worth while thing to know is that in between now and Christmas, stores will be having staple items on sale: flour, sugar, oils, butter, spices, cocoa, choc chips, etc.  Now would be the time to stock up on these items to have in your pantry.  Watch for the sales.  I added oil, brown sugar, and cocoa to my pantry yesterday.  So worth it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A totally un healthy, non frugal very good day

Well isn't it true that anytime you eat junk food and spend money on fun stuff it's a very good day?  Today is Einstein's birthday.  He is 20 years old.  My how time flies when your having fun.  As of this year all my chillins are legal adults.  My last holdout, Rubic, will turn 18 next month.  Do I feel old?  Uh  Yes, but I also feel proud.  So proud of my children. 

So on todays agenda, Waffles with syrup for breakfast, lunch will be whatever everyone wants.  Tonight's dinner will be burgers at Five Guys followed by home made cookie cake and ice cream.  I know you guys are thinking "Okay I see the un healthy part, but where is the non frugal part?"  Well  you might not be thinking that, but I can dream can't I?  Anyway, anyone who has ever eaten at five guys knows it isn't cheap, not to mention the birthday "Gift" money. 
In order to keep in the frugal maven vein, The waffles, syrup, and cake are home made.  The money for dinner and gift was budgeted.  That's it.  That's all I got for the frugal stuff.  Hey but it's something. 

In other homestead news, we are up to 5 eggs laid by one hen.  She seems to think she needs to lay an egg a day.  I'll take that.  It is great because it means I could meet my goal of  8 dz eggs a month.  Could it be that I don't have to by those bland white eggs!  Hubby says each time he goes to get the egg, the little white hen comes in to see what he is doing.  I told him if she ever sets on any eggs we will leave them to her, but until then they are fair game.  No pun intended. 
Ironically my garden is putting out tomatoes.  I picked about 3-4 lbs last night and left them out on the counter to ripen.  There are still some out there and I will leave them as long as I can.  I may cover the plants this year to protect from frost to see if the last ones can ripen on the vine.  I have picked about 1 1/2 lbs of peanuts so far.  Since they are from volunteers, they are free!  I have also dug about 6 lbs of sweet potatoes.  Also volunteers.  I have more peanuts to pick and sweet potatoes to dig.  Peppers are coming in.  They aren't as large as I am used to, but I will take them.  My English peas plants are covered in full pods.  Once the plant dies back I will pick them and put them up. 

I need to pause here to give a big thank you to the ladies my husband works with.  In honor of his mom who passed recently, they gifted us with an apple tree.  We will get it in the ground hopefully today or tomorrow. 

I have a list a mile long of things needing to be done both inside and outside.  Hopefully I will get things done. Here's hoping. All I can do is do the next thing. 

Well, that is all I have for now.  You guys have a great day!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Congradulations its EGG!

Yes, we can finally say the hens are laying.  We got our first ever egg from our chickens today.  I feel like I should be handing out cigars or something.  DH went out to get the chickens ready for the night and found the egg.  He is so proud he took a pic and posted it on face book.  TA DAA!

So now the egg is in the fridge, chillin.  I know it is just an egg, but it is nice to know we haven't done anything to screw up the chickens too badly.  This being our first endeavor. 

Okay, that is all for now.  I just wanted to share.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

So What Now?

You know everyone is talking about the government shutdown and how it affects everyone.  So why should I be any different, right?  I won't wax political here except there are two sides to every story and before you start placing blame on one party or another, get your facts and not just headlines.  Regardless of who you blame, one needs to look to themselves if they find themselves in a position of reliance on the government.  I am not talking about those thru no fault of their own are having to rely on government assistance in times of great trial.  When Diva was a baby, I found myself laid off from a suit manufacturer and unable to find another job.  For two months I was on Welfare.  I took a job at McDonalds to get off of it.  While it helped during that time, let me tell you about how the need for that welfare was my own doing.  First off I was unwilling to leave where I was and go home to admit I was wrong.  I mean seriously, my parents lived a little over an hour away.  Once I did that (and you can read about that here ), things began to look up and I was able to get my life together.  Because I refused to leave, I stayed in an area where unemployment was high.  For a person with only a high school education that was bad.  Another thing I was responsible for was the birth of my daughter.  Now let me say here.  Diva is never a regret and I would not change a thing if I went back in time.  I wouldn't risk not having her, but I did learn a lesson I am not willing to repeat in the future.  KUDOS to all single mothers.  I was one for 3 years.  It is hard being mother and father. Some people are in this situation against their will, some people put themselves into this situation with bad decisions. It is for those that make those bad decisions I would warn them to avoid the type of relationships that would make you have to decide between yourself or a child.  Anyway, this is turning preachy and I don't mean it to be.

Now things like Welfare, Medicaid, Social Security are functioning, there are some programs shut down for now.  As a result, many find themselves furloughed and others find themselves in a position where something that helped make ends meet has been shut down.  What do you do in a situation like that? I can only ask myself what would I do in a similar situation?  In the 20 years my Knight and I have been married, we have had money situations.  Even now we have a plan "B" that we will utilize in the event one of us ends up unemployed.  Until another job is found, the plan "B" would consist of cancelling services we can live without, relying on what I have in  our pantry, and other extreme cost cutting items.  When I say cancelling services I am talking about non essential things like phone, cable, internet, but also things like electricity.  That would go in an extreme situation, but I would be willing to make it go.  I would prefer we keep the mortgage going.  It would supply the roof over our head which takes precedence over electricity.  If needs be, we would have to find homes for our pets and chickens.  They would be a luxury we couldn't afford.  Things like our tax withholding would be changed in order to give us more income in our check every two weeks.  The amount we currently put in our health savings account would be lessened in order to give us more income.  We currently have a high deductible insurance with a health savings account.  Never thought it would be as great as it has been.  Wish we had done this years ago.  But I digress. 

While the previous paragraph talks of the extreme of losing one of two incomes in a family where two are necessary, some people are just facing the loss of a service that subsidizes their existing funds.  All of us have had to re-adjust budgets due to an unforeseen expense such as an emergency care repair, doctor visit, or higher power bill to name a few.  You adjust what you can.  That usually falls under groceries, gas or any other type of flexible expense.  When you can't afford your normal grocery budget, you adjust to get by on what you can afford.  While normally I would get chips as a grocery list item, they go by the wayside if I can't afford the expense.  Other items I nix are, mayo, yogurt, breads, cookies, cereals, and any meat over $1.69 a lb.  I say 1.69 lb because that is how much the ground turkey is @ Aldi.  I will also stretch what I have.

One thing people need to realize is to rely only on yourself.  The less you need to rely on Government, I believe the better off you will be.  When we were young my DH and I thought it was no big deal to use government services.  We learned the hard way  what can happen when you use those services.  That is a story for another day.  Needless to say it was enough for me to say "Never again".  Live you life in such a way that the shenanigans in Washington won't affect you, because lets face it from the top down we have toddlers running our country., and with few exceptions. Actually I shouldn't insult toddlers.