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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:

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood.htm

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?