Monday, February 28, 2011

Independence Day Challenge 28 Feb 2011

1. Plant something: Nothing. Still need to hang the new planters. I'll direct-sow then. This weekend?

2. Harvest something & 3. Preserved something: nothing =)

4. Waste not (preparations): Prepped dried pinto beans (now cooked & in freezer) so that they're ready the next time we want refried beans.

5. Want not (manage your stores): We did fairly well with not eating out much, and not making many just-one-thing trips to the grocer. The monthly 'options list' version of a menu works for us. Yay!

6. Build community: Checked on a new local meat source (beef/pork). Getting local chevon (goat meat) again would be nice, too. Heck, having a goat would be nice (milk!), but I don't think they'd stay on the balcony...

7. Eat the food: Cooking from scratch, finding recipes that use what we have. Winter Bean Soup was very good; I used a pinch of anise seed for the fennel. I've really got to learn to put up more veggies; dried greens and tomato slices do not a meal make....

8. Crafting: More spinning =)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Independance Day 20 February 2011

In the garden: I've decided not to order any garden seeds this year. I have local organic sweet potatoes and want to learn how to grow slips from them, because I know they will do well on the patio. We have seeds for greens and some root veggies. I want to get the manger planters hung and use those for lettuce, radish, chard, and beets as soon as I can direct-seed. The two biggest pots will get the sweet potatoes; the others we'll try the collards and/or broccoli. And we already have all the seeds for this, so no need to order more.

Preserved something: Nothing, other than usual freezing of leftovers.

Waste not (preparations): I'm staying up with the finances (keeping up the budget, not spending money we don't have). Not the usual, but all I've really done this week.

Want not (manage your stores): We've been maintaining (mostly) the written inventory for the second pantry. We've finished the home-canned diced tomatoes already - I was expecting to run out early, since I knew we didn't get enough put up. Also, we finished putting up the items that came back from off-site storage. I've neatened up my fiber storage and cleaned off the sewing machine.

Build community: I have been home all week; was very sick the first few days but fine by Friday. I didn't want to get anyone sick!

Eat the food: Peanut butter cookies. Chili, tacos, dirty rice. Nice normal foods, but we've managed to not buy anything except milk, cereal, and cup-o-soup since the big shopping trip at the first of the month. Yay! Success!

Crafting: Still working on the commission blanket. In better news, DFH bought me a new spindle for Valentines Day. The box came with two spindles and a bit of roving which I've already spun up. Yay! The spindle is great =)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Independance Day Challenge - 8 February 2010

It's been a quiet week. We're still putting away the last of the items that were in storage. They are in cardboard boxes, and I won't put those in a unit that's had water damage 3 times in a year or so. I bought them my 'standard' plastic bins. As much as I try to avoid plastic, for this I haven't been able to.

Plant something/Harvest something:
Nothing. I'm watching to see what freezes and what survives on the patio, does that count?

Preserved something: The freezer is filling - homemade broths, mostly. This is the time of year when I get over-stocked on broths that we spend all summer nibbling away at. It tends to run out in late summer.

Waste not (preparations): During tonight's power outage (all 2 hours or so) I taught DFH and DD how to use the oil lamp, and realized that I ought to have more non-electric light sources 'to hand' instead of 'in the top of the closet.' I'm also going to keep an eye out for a silver or silverplate platter to hang on the wall behind the 'candle shelf' to reflect more light into our main living area.

Want not (manage your stores): Mostly keeping up with the inventory system we set up. Working on better organization in all areas - the attached storage has standardized, clear bins with clip-on lids now, and a basic description ("Home Decor," "Yule Decor," "Blankets," etc.) is taped inside of it (on the narrow end) so that we can read it from outside the bin without having to move them. The desk area has been straightened and has better storage. I'm working on getting the recipe cards onto paper sheets, and into the recipe binder I was given for Yule.

Build community: nothing, still focused on home.

Eat the food:
Learning to cook beans and rice more. Both to be frugal, and to play with food - I mean, to learn new recipes! Yea, that's it. Learn new recipes.

Crafting: I made mesh bags with tulle I found at the thrift ages ago, and used the bags to wash the alpaca fleece I bought last December at a farmer's market. One is drying, the other is still soaking out dirt. They liked their dust baths, yup! Also still working on that commission blanket.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Avoiding Auto Debt

Over the years, one thing that has helped keep our finances afloat is the lack of a car payment. I haven't had one since 2000 or so, and going back to about 1995 I can see where that payment or the lack of one has made the difference between being independent, or needing help to get by. Since we live in a car-centric area, living without one is difficult - not impossible, but difficult.

My last three cars have all been paid cash; the last two were bought from people I knew. They were about $1000 each - if they were under that, I quickly paid the difference in repairs! The one I'm driving now, I got a deal on (a sympathetic co-worker sold it to me) and paid $700. Followed two weeks later by replacing the timing belt and a couple other items, to the tune another couple hundred. Normal maintenance, just without warning. I don't mind; I'm getting decent cars and driving them till they're ready to be junked. At that point, I get the next one and sell the old one to the junkyard for $100 or so.

Dear Fiance recently mentioned that the current car is getting up there in mileage (142,000+), and perhaps I ought to start thinking about needing another one so as not to be caught off-guard. I agreed this would be a good idea - I don't remember any car lasting much more than 200,000 miles miles, at least that I've owned. So I checked the local paper. Twice. There was nothing listed under $1500, and all of those were 120,000 + mileage. Not what I was expecting! So I pulled up Kelly Blue Book, and compared prices first to an advertised car (they were asking full Blue Book price for fair condition) and then to my car. Mind you, I have never priced it before. The price on the one I have is comparable to what's currently being offered in the paper. Because of some minor damage (all cosmetic), my car is actually a better deal than what I could replace it with right now.

So, I've reassessed. We do still need to save towards the next car - but $2000 instead of $1000. The car I have will continue getting good care, and I'm going to go ahead and fix some of the annoying items as I can - reglue the headliner, and get the AC fixed. I haven't had working AC in a car since I had a car payment, but the summers are just getting too hot for me and I don't want to deal with it anymore. Since this car has 142,000 miles on it, and I average 7,000 miles a year or less, the car has about 8 years left before it hits 200,000 miles with my current driving habits. If my driving habits change, I'll have to adjust the plan accordingly. And every year or so I should start pricing my car, and seeing what's available in the area for replacements so that I can increase the replacement fund when it becomes necessary. I have no guarantee this car will last to 200,000 miles, but taking good care of it will certainly increase the chances!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Independance Day - 1 February 2011

The weekend was busy, and I didn't have time to look at the blog. We're out of the rented storage unit but still have to properly put everything where it belongs, rather than chucking it in a convenient corner.

Plant something/Harvest something:
Nothing yet. Planting can start in March; right now I need to plan.

Preserved something: Freezing leftovers before they can go bad. I'm going to have a couple nights where this means dinner just needs thawed =)

Waste not (preparations): Preparations right now are all financial - balancing the budget and the checkbook, reducing debt as fast as we can.

Want not (manage your stores): Maintaining the inventory for the second pantry.

Build community: Spreading the word about a new local CSA.

Eat the food: Eating out of the pantry and finding new beans & rice meals to try. The menu planning experiment continues! Last month, it was successful 3 weeks out of 4.

Crafting: Still working on the commission blanket.