Monday, October 24, 2011

This blog in going on hiatus

I will temporarily not be posting my weekly see,I've gotten fed up with paying too much for internet service,land line phone,etc,etc....

So for the time being we are canceling all things we don't NEED,until 1) we have reached some of our money saving goals. OR 2) I find a service cheap enough...because,well,I'm a cheapskate and very much dislike paying more than I have to for basic services.

I will log in and post from various locations when I'm able,but for now,in case you're wondering what's going on,this is it...

Take care!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Boring but important,writing a household budget

OK,ok,I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking I'm going to fill your head with all kinds of numbers,and information about savings and spending,and how to pay down debt.....

Well,yes,and no...

For starters in order for any household budget to be a smashing success,everyone who lives under that same roof must be 100% on board with the plan,the goal or goals and have a clear idea of how you are going to reach those goals.

You will need to have an accurate record of all income coming into the house,and all money going out,be it for bills,food,entertainment,etc,everything that you pay for.

Start with a family meeting,allow everyone to discuss openly what your goals are,be it a vacation or paying off the mortgage early.Have everyone brainstorm ideas for how to reach those goals,and write them all down,silly or not.

Second,there needs to be an agreement about which goal or goals you are going to work toward first.Put those in order on a list.

Third,there needs to be a clear and set plan of action,how are you going to get to goal number 1 ? 2? and so on....

My husband and I have been talking about this a lot this week,as we have three main goals,a newer,more reliable vehicle,a real,actual away from home vacation,and paying off the mortgage early.

Well,number 1 could be easy enough,just trade in the old worn out one for a newer one right?Wrong....ONLY because currently our debt to income ratio is too high.According to who ever crunches the numbers for financing,they don't think we can afford to buy a car,although we've crunched our own numbers and can see otherwise,if the bank says no,you're pretty much screwed.SO new plan,save up enough to pay cash for the vehicle we want....harder than just getting financing and picking out what you want,but it'll work for us,didn't REALLY want another car payment anyway,we haven't had one for nearly 5 years now.

As for the vacation,that will come after we get another car,and we'll do it the same way,save up so we can pay cash.It may take a lot longer than I would like,but in the end,it will be worth it.

When it comes to paying off the mortgage early,there are a number of ways to work toward that goal.One being the yearly income tax check,simply apply it to the mortgage.There is also the occasional refund from the mortgage company when your escro account balance gets too high,you can simply tell them to apply it to the principal on your loan.We are also going to be slowly increasing the amount we pay each month,as we get the other goals reached.

So,there we have a very brief lesson on budgeting and planning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I actually ran out of canning jars,twice.....

I've been canning all season,every type of tomato product we would normally buy,jams and jellies,apple pie filling,apple butter,and tonight applesauce...and I am down to 5 pint jars and 12 quart,but I don't really like to can in quarts since it's just the two of us eating the food.The smaller the jar,the less chance there is of there being some that goes to waste.

I am very happy to have pantry shelves full of wonderful foods that we get to enjoy this winter,when the last thing I want to even think about is going out in nasty weather just to shop.

I am also thinking more and more that we need to redo the household budget,and go on a "spending diet" for a while.

By having a full pantry,and not having to shop,I won't have any real excuse to go into any of the stores,for things other than milk,eggs,etc,things I don't have here since we have neither a milk cow or a goat,and we're not allowed to have chickens in town yet(working on that).

Aside from canning,we've also been freezing a lot of foods(veggies)and drying some too.We will be placing a meat order soon(assuming my hubby comes home from deer season empty handed as he usually that will give us plenty of everything we could possibly need.

So,it's your turn now,tell me,what's on your pantry shelves?Are they full? Empty? If you live in an area with extended winters like mine,do you have any plans to reduce your need to go out in bad weather?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall is in the air....

Can you smell that? The crisp cool air,the scent of burning leaves that seems to signal the beginning of fall?

I don't know why it is that people insist on burning leaves to get rid of them..

I mean,I know there are a lot of them,and you think you don't know what to do with them all,after all they are covering up your carefully manicured lawn,and sidewalks,driveways,etc,etc....

However by burning them you're just throwing away a perfectly good,free,fertilizer source for your garden and flower beds.Yep,all that money that people spend every year on lawn fertilizer,and special fertilizers for the garden,the flowers, a total and complete waste of money.IF they would just use what nature has already provided.

With just a little effort on your part you can save some very valuable nutrients for either your garden,flowers or even your lawn if you insist on having one(more on that later).

You can compost them as they fell,or run them through a shredder,or run them over with your lawn mower to make the pieces smaller so they break down faster.Leaves contain small amounts of nitrogen,and as they decompose,you get leaf mold,but leaf mold is not something to be afraid of,as plants love it,and thrive on it.

You can add them to your compost pile after you've shredded them,but I normally choose to just layer the shredded leaves right into the garden beds,by spring they will be nearly gone,back into the soil,and will help feed your garden plants.

If you don't want to mess with them all that much,you can simply mow over them right where they fell,and they will break down and feed the lawn.

I must add a word of caution here,not to use the leaves from Oak,hickory,or walnut trees in your compost or your garden....unless you are going to let them decay for several years.The leaves from these trees contain tannins and other agents that will actually PREVENT plants from growing,so you could use them in pathways,etc.areas that you would like to keep weed/grass/plant free.

Whole leaves can also be used as a mulch around plants and flowers,in pathways around the garden,etc,etc.

With so many uses for them,it seems silly to put so much effort into raking them up just to light them on fire,or rake them out to the curb to be hauled away by the city.Why not let them work for you by feeding you plants?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My buckets runneth over

Well,sort of.....

I've got a ton of things to get done around here,and it seems not nearly enough free time.

This morning,I've got some fresh concord grapes to do something with,kind of leaning toward throwing them in a gallon of vodka and letting them age/flavor the vodka....seems like an easy solution,and quick too..

A friend of my Mom's gave me a big bucket full of grapes from her house,knowing that I make all kinds of homemade things.While I do appreciate it,I've more than got my hands full at the moment with apples,pears,plums,and starting the get the garden ready for winter....

The weather man is predicting a possible hard freeze tonight,so that will finish off what few plants are left out there.We've got to get the beds cleaned out and prepped for winter,one,you don't want all the old plant material sitting there,you want to pull it up,chop it up and add it to the compost,and two,with four rabbits now,we need the space to dump the trays when we clean the cages.

We were going to dedicate just one bed to cage cleaning and compost materials,however,the leaves,grass clippings,and rabbit manure break down into the soil so fast,that I'm thinking it might not be needed....So the new plan is to get a good deep layer on each bed,tilling it in until the ground freezes,let it sit all winter,and then till all the beds a few time before it's time to plant.

We will need a dedicated compost heap though to continue the cycle during the growing season and I don't want to add any manure to the garden in the spring,as it won't have time to break down properly before time to plant.

So my plan for the day,my only day off until sometime next week,is to buy some cheap vodka to pour over the grapes,get that taken care of,which is just a matter of washing the grapes,adding them to a container full of vodka and sitting the whole works in the dark somewhere for a few months.

Then on to the plums.I think I will dry enough to fill the dehydrator once,and then make a jam or plum butter with the rest,there's only about 5 pounds of those.

After that's done,I've still got pears and apples to deal with.I made a pear butter last week,with some from the tree in the yard(it's still young so only produces few pears a year)and some a friend gifted me.It turned out WONDERFUL,it's super sweet,and nice and smooth(yeah for stick blenders),and another batch will get canned up and gifted to friends this holiday season.

The apples will have to wait until the plums are done drying,and for my next day off,or late shift so that I can cook some down into apple butter.