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Home > Archive: January, 2007

Archive for January, 2007

Away for a bit...

January 30th, 2007 at 10:20 am

Our ISP is having major issues and is down totally and we don't know for how long. I'm using a friend's computer but don't know how often I'll be able to do that.

At any rate, I'm offline for awhile and will miss posting and reading other people's blog entries.

Hopefully, I'll have good news to report when I am back. Smile

MSG free taco seasoning mix

January 29th, 2007 at 01:15 pm

Here's a great mix I make up. It might be of interest to those of you with MSG issues. I use it for all sorts of things and it's great!

1/2 cup dried minced onion
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup chili powder
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp cumin

Combine all ingredients. Run through a blender if you want. Store it in a canning jar or some other air tight container.

Use 2 Tbsp and 1/2 cup water to 1lb browned hamburger. Simmer 10 minutes.
Or use 2 Tbsp of this mix in any other recipe that calls for 1 taco seasoning packet.

Woohoo, a database to keep track of expenses!

January 29th, 2007 at 01:06 pm

DH is a FileMaker wizard. Me...not so much. Wink

But he just helped me created a marvy database for keeping track of expenses. I can categorize them daily, monthly, weekly, etc and it will give me running totals. I'm so excited!

I've been keeping track of things in an expense book and while that's a good way to do it, I really prefer something on my computer and I really didn't want to use a spreadsheet because the functionality of those as opposed to a FM database is almost nil.

So, now I have a great way to keep track of expenses!

Next is a better way of keeping track of income. Smile

Haven't been online much but hey, some good news in the works!

January 29th, 2007 at 10:11 am

Our ISP has been having major trouble. They're in the process of selling but the trouble has been going on almost since day one of our time with them. Anyway, our connection hasn't worked properly for a long time but the last few days have been horrendous so I haven't been able to do much at all online.

At any rate, a friend of ours is buying the ISP and he's asked my DH to go to work for him! He'll more than likely be doing sales and installs but the chance for a partnership is there, too. I'm thrilled, just thrilled!

Maybe there will be some work for me, too, but if not DH should be able to do fairly well in this business. It's the only wireless provider in our area and they have a stack of site surveys they haven't done because they were having so much trouble and didn't have the time or people to get to them. So, the work potential is very good! If we can just pay bills on time and save some money, I'll be overjoyed! Sad but true..

I'm not sure when the sale will be final but it should happen quickly.

Please keep us in your thoughts. Smile

Outdoor wood furnaces - the good, the bad, and the ugly

January 26th, 2007 at 03:02 pm

Ahh, apparently it's a homemade outdoor wood furnace. Smile

We have a central heat and air unit that also can function as a heat pump. We don't use the heat pump function as it just doesn't seem to warm up the house. The air that comes from the vents is simply cold air. So instead we use the central heat to heat the house. Now, part of the house is about 55 years old and not well insulated. Another part, added later, is pretty well insulated but still stays cold.

Even if we turn the thermostat up to 72 the house is pretty cool. We usually keep it down, though, and just wear layers when we need them. But we're looking into other methods of heating as a $250 to $300 electric bill (specially when the house stays cool) is just ridiculous! We've thought about putting a fireplace in the living room but don't really have room for that.

So, to the point...

DH went to play guitar with a guy last night who built a very interesting heating contraption for his house. He's a welder and he put together this huge heavy gauge steel cylindrical tank which sits outside the house. In it is another cylinder in which a fire is built with whatever kind of wood he can find. There's a smoke stack going up about 15 feet and the heat is piped, via insulated pipe into one room of the house. There was just a small fire in the contraption last night and DH and the guys were playing two rooms away and he said they had to open the front door after awhile to let some cool air in because the place was burning up!

We're going to talk to the man to find out what it would cost to build us one of those. Have any of you heard of one of these? If so, do you know what it's called and do you know much about them?

Well, we paid the bank so we won't lose the house..

January 26th, 2007 at 01:59 pm

but had to borrow $500 to do it. I didn't want to do that, Lord knows I didn't, but we can't rent a place for less than our house payments. The car and bike haven't sold yet but if they do, we'll repay that $500 right then.

We now have about $35 and that's it. The electric bill and a house payment are due late next week but we're dealing with that. Fortunately, we have a well stocked pantry and just paid the water bill.

Now that this major hurdle is over we have to work on the smaller ones. Neither of us have found a job yet, but I'm sure I can find something in retail, even if it's just part time. If I can make enough to cover the house payment, I'll be thrilled.

So, yeeeehaw (sort of!), we saved the house!

Man, this is exhausting...

Booooring dinner - but cheap!

January 25th, 2007 at 06:50 pm

Well, we ended up having a very boring but very cheap dinner. When we got home from running errands DH had two pieces of bread with two turkey franks and some dill pickle relish. I had the last of the taco soup from last night and it was very good with a few fritos in it.

DH then left to go pick guitar with some people and I've been lying around doing nothing but watching movies and being a bum.

Oh yes, I did record today's spending in my log and updated the January records. Hey, I might be getting the hang of this!

Not a no spend day but not a high spend day & a bit of good

January 25th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

We had to run to a nearby town to pick up some checks and cash them - another $150 toward the money we have to give the bank tomorrow.

We had to put gas in the car so we spent $17 for that. But even though we were both very hungry and wanted Chinese food at our favorite place, we passed and waited until we got home to eat. That was $13 we didn't spend eating out!

While there I called my Dr's office and found out my Novolog insulin was in so I went to get it. The pharmaceutical company sent me 4 boxes of Novolog Flexpens. That's about $720 worth of insulin at no charge! That's good news, indeed! Thank God for Patient Assistance Programs! And if that's not good enough, the needles I use on my Byetta pens fit on these, too, so I didn't need to buy needles!

I also heard from the bank and they don't need $1200 from us tomorrow, they need $1033 so that's a little less we have to pay them. That's good news, too.

Now I'm tired and about to go watch a DVD and probably fall asleep on the couch.

Wow, you're selling your car? and more

January 25th, 2007 at 07:50 am

I have a 1988 Yugo GV that I got in lieu of wages some years ago. It needs a new engine and I'm not going to do that (again) so I'm selling it. It won't bring much but it's hard to sell it, anyway. I've had it so long and it's been a great car, getting 40+ MPG and being something of an oddity on the road. Ahhh well, the decision is made, it's listed on a couple websites and I've gotten some inquiries about it, already. I mentioned it to someone this morning and he said, "Wow, you're selling your car?" He knows how I feel about it but such is life.

I'm also going job hunting today. I'm going to look for a retail job in the little town we're near. Even part time will be okay for now. DH is okay with it, finally. He knows it has to be done and he says he'll work his schedule around mine.

He also said that he's going to look for a job in the optical field in about two months. This is the worst time of year to look for a job in that field and he still has two books to get out so he'll do those and by the time he is finished, spring will be around the corner and he should be able to find a job.

This is hard, admitting that the business has failed, but at least he's coming around. He hurts but he knows what has to be done. We both do.

First attempt at a zero based budget - how is it?

January 24th, 2007 at 05:55 pm

So far this month we've deposited $1,618 into the bank. The balance in the account and the expenditures for which I have receipts total $1,599.19 so somewhere out there $18.81 is unaccounted for. Argggh, I wish I knew where it went!

But considering that this is my first attempt at a zero based budget, that isn't too bad, I don't think.

Is it?

It's great being able to see just where our money has gone - at least all but that $18.81!

Alright, this might work for me..it might just work.

Collecting money, cooking supper, free cat stuff, what a Wednesday!

January 24th, 2007 at 09:24 am

Well, DH is feeling much better today so off he went to town to try to collect payment from a couple of advertisers. I stayed home because I don't feel too chipper and I'm just tired and cold today.

In the crockpot I have Taco Soup and we'll have that tonight with cornbread, unless one of the guys picks up corn chips or tortilla chips today. If they do, we'll have the soup over those but if not, cornbread is great. I baked a few chocolate chip cookies so if they aren't gone by supper, they can have those for dessert.

Someone in the local Freecycle group offered some cat food and cat litter and I claimed it. Yippeee! She lives not far from me so I need to get to her house today or tomorrow to get it. That's a few dollars I won't have to spend and I'll add those to my challenge money. I just love free stuff, even if it is free stuff for my cat!

Okay, I'm cold and need to warm up. I'm going to climb into bed for awhile and hopefully that will help me warm up.

Progress on the payment to the bank

January 24th, 2007 at 04:31 am

Well, the big payment to the bank is due on the 28th which is Sunday so we need to make it this Friday. We're almost there. We're a bit shy of the $1011.94 that's needed but we'll get it by Friday, I believe.

We've sold what we could, saved where we could, and done everything but sell our vehicle to get the money together. I'm still holding my breath and will be until the bank is paid and I have a receipt from them saying so.

A rather frugal dinner

January 23rd, 2007 at 07:03 pm

I hadn't tried this before but since I'm not feeling too chipper I didn't want to go to a lot of trouble to make dinner. Here's what I ended up making tonight.

I opened the can of beef luncheon loaf (similar to Spam I correctly figured) and chopped the contents into small pieces. I skillet fried the pieces in canola oil spray and boiled some penne. I also set about 2 cups of broccoli in a colander in the sink to thaw and drain. I dumped the drained penne, the meat, and the thawed and drained broccoli in a lightly greased 2 quart casserole.

In a small sauce pan I made a sauce with one cup reconstituted powdered milk, one cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I stirred that over a medium heat until it was thick then added some grated parmesan cheese, a bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper. When it tasted cheesy enough, I poured it over the contents of the casserole, mixed it, covered it, and put it in the oven at 300. I baked it for about an hour and when I took it out, it smelled very good. Leftover salad, buttered bread, and green beans were eaten with it.

I ate just a bit of it and it was actually quite good! The "boys" finished most of it off and said they wouldn't mind eating it again sometime.

I'll try it another time with different vegetables. I also think it might be very tasty with smoked sausage rather than the spam like beef stuff. Yuck! I don't eat things like that and don't buy them but that can was given to us so I figured I might as well use it somehow. All in all, it was a successful dish!

USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food

January 23rd, 2007 at 06:27 pm

For November 2006, the USDA's "Thrifty Plan" for a family like mine of three men and one woman, is $571. Wow, that seems like an awful lot of money for groceries to me. Or is it just that I'm so accustomed to spending less that it seems too high? Granted, we live in an area with a lower cost of living but I work hard to buy and cook on a very limited budget.

Anyway, the USDA's info is here for those who haven't seen it:


I'd like to know what others think of the federal government's ideas on how much money it takes to feed a family.

Even the President says...

January 23rd, 2007 at 06:19 pm

we need spending discipline! Wink

I'm watching the state of the union address and he's talking about how the U.S. needs to budget better.

Wow, novel concept, huh?

$20 challenge update

January 23rd, 2007 at 09:16 am

Okay, I'm up to $21 now! And no, DH won't get it. He'll have to find his own $20. Wink

Kitchen cupboard inventory and what's in your pantry?

January 22nd, 2007 at 09:19 am

While I was in the process of cleaning and organizing the cupboards yesterday, I updated my inventory. I didn't include the freezers, fridge, or outside pantry, just the kitchen cuboards.

I got to thinking of what a boon a well stocked pantry is. I haven't had to run to the store for one or two things for a meal in many, many years. If I don't have it, I substitute and if I can't do that for some reason, I don't make the dish. I just prepare something else and move on.

I truly believe that being well prepared is one of the things that's enabled me to feed 4 adults on $200 to $250 a month, most months for less.

So, what's in your pantry?

Here's part of what's in mine:

1 jar of garlic parmesan sauce (which we love over chicken and broccoli)
1 can spaghetti sauce
3 bottles misc. hot sauces
1 bottle worcestershire sauce
1 jar mayo
1 16 oz bottle honey dijon dressing
17 cans green beans
7 cans ranch style beans
2 cans sweet potatoes
10 cans corn
5 cans sweet peas
10 cans spinach
2 regular cans black eye peas and 1 6 lb can of black eye peas
1 can kidney beans
7 cans Bush Vegetarian baked beans
2 cans asparagus
1 can mixed vegetables
3 cans saurkraut
7 cans potatoes
2 1 liter boxes of Creamy Chile Poblano soup (anyone have ideas what to do with that?)
1 can bamboo shoots
3 cans tuna
1 can beef in juice (will be used in stew at some point)
1 bag Szechwan Chicken
1 can beef luncheon loaf
1 large can enchilada sauce
1 can black olives
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can mushrooms
1 can apricots
1 can mixed fruit
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can pumpkin
2 cans pineapple
3 16 oz bags of instant potatoes
2 26.5 oz bags of powdered milk
1 quart of low fat shelf milk
8 cans milk
6 lbs rolled oats
10 lbs farina
15 lbs white flour
10 lbs whole wheat flour
3 lbs soy flour
3 cake mixes
1 container of frosting
1 box dates
1 bag chocolate chips
8 lbs white sugar
4 lbs brown sugar
1 jar molasses
1 bag splenda
lots of spices
baking goods like yeast, baking powder, etc
teas and coffee
7 bags beans, misc. varieties
8 lbs rice
4 large bags of pasta, misc varieties
2 6 lbs cans whole tomatoes (what in the cat hair do I do with those? I'm thinking homemade spaghetti sauce for the freezer)

One less mouth to feed starting tomorrow

January 21st, 2007 at 07:05 pm

The 21 year old is moving out tomorrow. He is not moving with our blessing. In fact, for reasons I won't go into here we think it's a foolish thing for him to do but he's determined so out he goes.

There will be one less mouth to feed, less electricity used, less water used, etc. but there will also be one less smiling face each day and that makes me sad. He's a great young man and we get along very well.

I'm sorry to see him go...

So the no spend day wound up not being one!

January 21st, 2007 at 06:30 pm

When I went to get my son from work, I picked up some Immodium AD and Pepto Bismol for my man person. Those two items cost $6.75 so that was my spending for today. Drats, I so hoped for a no spend day!! Finding those is rare for us. Frown

No spend day and working in the kitchen

January 21st, 2007 at 02:44 pm

Today's been a no spend day so far and should continue to be one. DH's cousin who visited from Louisiana a couple days ago left something with us... a virus! DH is sick with it and I pray I don't get it!

I've spent most of today working in the kitchen, cleaning and organizing the cupboards. I do that every few months, clean them out, put down fresh shelf liner, re-organize the items in there, etc. When I woke up this morning I wanted to work on that today so I have been. It might take me a couple of days to do the entire kitchen as we're having bug issues so I'm also spraying after the cleaning and then I have to let the spray dry and that takes a little more time.

At any rate, the food the cousin brought is now neatly in the cupboards with the rest of the stuff and the cupboards look nice!

I thought a couple of pictures would be good. Smile

Today's spending & a bonus of sorts

January 20th, 2007 at 08:18 pm

Umm, let's see. I spent $1 drying two loads of towels at the washateria. I also spent 75 cents on a soft drink. Not too bad. Wink

Oh, I also got 3 coupons for $.55 off any Blue Bunny Good for You product! We love their Carb Freedom ice cream so next time it goes on sale, I'll use one of the coupons. Nice treat!

Quick addition to tonight's dinner - fantastic potato soup!

January 20th, 2007 at 05:40 pm

My son got very cold at work and I was very cold after picking him up so I thought I'd make potato soup. We haven't had that in years and it just sounded so good. So I made it and I have to say this was the best potato soup I've ever had, mine or someone else's. Here's what I did.

I peeled and cut up 4 small to medium potatoes and 1 slice onion and boiled both in water until tender. Then I drained most of the water but left about a cup. I put the pan back on the stove top over a very low flame and added 2 teaspoons of Smart Balance, a few shakes of powdered garlic, about half a teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon, a shake or two of Tony's, a dash of black pepper, and a couple shakes of crushed red pepper. I gently stirred it a bit and when it was well mixed, I added about 3/4 cup milk. I heated it well, stirring and letting it thicken. Right before I removed it from the heat I added a few shakes of imitation bacon bits. I prefer crisp turkey bacon but we're out of that so I used what I had.

It's great potato soup - spicy and very full of flavor! It's also pretty to look at! I'll make this again. I'm not much of a photographer but maybe the picture is enough to prompt you to try it.

Upcoming week's menus

January 20th, 2007 at 02:27 pm

This week's menu is very frugal!

Tonight is YOYO night. DH is having leftover fried chicken and my son will more than likely have leftover chicken and dumplings or cereal or a sandwich. I'll probably have the Swiss Steak left from last night with some tossed salad.

Sunday we'll have meat loaf, mashed potatoes and spinach. I'm going to make two meat loaves and slice and freeze one.

Monday we'll have what's left of one of the meat loaves for lunch and for supper we'll more than likely have chili with hot water cornbread.

The rest of the week's dinners will be:

Leftover chili (if there is any)

Salad night (we make biiig salads loaded with good stuff)

Chicken and dressing

Chicken casserole made with leftover chicken and dressing

Breakfast - scrambled eggs, homemade turkey sausage, and toast or biscuits

Tuna salad sandwiches or roll ups

Argh, no water!

January 20th, 2007 at 11:55 am

I went to flush the toilet awhile ago and there was no water. I waited a few minutes and tried again - still no water. Hmmm. I called the water company and got a busy signal for over 30 minutes. Obviously there are water issues. I just called my son at his work and asked if they have water. Nope, none there, either.

The Sabine River, not far at all from us, is flooding but I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

I hope they get it working again soon. Between that and the internet connection not working well for the last 4 days, this is a real adventure!

A great freebie from Office Depot

January 19th, 2007 at 05:24 pm

I like freebies. I don't go overboard with them and won't go out of my way to get them but I do enjoy opening my mail box to find a few nice samples and other freebies in it. Here's a great one:


They email you a coupon and you take it to your local Office Depot to redeem it for a free 10 pack of printable CDs and cases. We got ours and they're good quality.

Starting the $20 challenge again

January 19th, 2007 at 05:00 pm

Okay, I'm starting the challenge again but this time I don't even have $17 and some change to start it! It's actually my $5 challenge. So, I'm $15 short but $5 is $5! And DH isn't getting it this time. Nuh uh, no way, no how! Wink

This has nothing to do with finances but look :)

January 19th, 2007 at 04:46 pm

These are my niece's identical twin boys. They were born mid-November. I think they're precious and just wanted to share this photo. Dylan, the one in red, has a temporary Hawkeye tattoo on his thigh. I think that was his Daddy's idea. Wink

Woohoo, free food!

January 19th, 2007 at 02:38 pm

Who doesn't like free food? We love it! DH's cousin came to visit this afternoon from Louisiana. He and his mom get "poundage", something akin to the old commodities that used to be given out. They get 180 pounds a month and don't use it all so they give a lot of it away. Fortunately for us, he brings some to us when he visits. Since two of us are diabetic, we can't eat much of a lot of the items he brings so it lasts awhile.

Here's what he brought us:

3 cans corn
3 cans sweet potatoes
2 cans green beans
2 cans asparagus
2 cans sweet peas
2 cans carrots
2 cans mixed fruit
2 cans pears
2 can apricots
1 can pumpkin
5 cans milk
1 large can enchilada sauce
1 1 lb 13 oz can beef in juice
2 lbs instant potatoes
4 lbs rice
1 lb elbow macaroni
4 lbs powdered milk
1 box low fat shelf milk
8 large cans of juice
1 large package of gravy mix
6 lbs quick cooking oats

Every little bit helps and this is great!

Doing away with non-necessities

January 19th, 2007 at 12:53 pm

We got rid of one of our VOIP lines so we only have the one and changed the service to the $22 a month package rather than the one that cost more than twice that. I've also switched our cell phone to the 600 minutes a month plan, saving us another $15 a month.

We canceled DirecTV but are going to continue our Netflix membership since we get little to no TV where we live. We have the $19 a month membership but might switch to the $10 a month membership.

We're selling a very old Honda GoldWing that is in very rough shape. We probably won't get more than $350 for it but we'll see. We're also going to sell my Yugo. I absolutely love that car and it's one of the cheapest methods of transportation but it needs a new engine and has been sitting dead for over a year. So we'll sell it for whatever we can get. Even if it's $200 that's more than we have now.

So, I'm looking over expenses to see what else we can cut out.

Crappy ISPs, leftovers for lunch, and cheap medications

January 19th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Our ISP has me so enraged right now, it's not even funny. Our service has been up and down (mainly down) for four days. They're making some kind of changes and it's really creating havoc with the customers. They might give us a day or two credit on the next bill but they might not. This is wireless and costs us $92 a month (that cost is split with my son who lives here) and you'd think for that much money, it would be reliable! But nooooo... we don't get cable here, ISDN is close to $300 a month and dial up doesn't work well at all since so wireless is about our only choice and there's only one company that provides right where we are. So we suck it up and just gripe. Wink

This morning we had to run errands and rather than eat Chinese at our favorite joint we came home and had leftover fried chicken. I'd rather have had Chinese but that would cost about $14 with the tip for both of us so we used our heads and just ate at home.

One of the errands we had to run was getting DH's metformin. He's diabetic, too, but met seems to work well for him, or sort of well. At any rate, we picked it up at Wal-mart-$8.00 for two months of medication. Not bad!

I've been approved for both the Lantus and Novolog Patient Assistance Programs and I should get both insulins some time next week. The cost to me? Nada, zip, zilch, zero.

Thank Yah for His goodness!

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