Tuesday Thoughts

  • As you have probably realized, we were out of town this weekend. Lily, Matt and I went on a campus tour of UNC-W on Friday. We drove down on Thursday and stayed until Sunday.
  • I spent an hour on the beach, we all enjoyed the lazy river, kids played in the pool. Putt Putt was enjoyed as well as a campfire and a couple of card games.
  • We also went to the outlets and enjoyed several hours of shopping
  • We have cleaned and winterized the camper. This includes using it as storage for coolers and plastic totes.
  • I started a batch of pear sauce and have plans to use the new electric canner this week.
  • We are staying very busy. I am still overwhelmed at work. Hopefully this will improve in October.
  • My health is improving, and I am hopeful to avoid a second surgery this year.
  • We have finally turned off the air conditioning which is very late for us. I would love to go any entire month with needing heat or air but the chances are very slim at this point.
  • After returning we have opened the rest of the chicken coop. The chickens are enjoying the extra space and practice flying from one end of the other. We have a automatic door to install but that is down the list.
  • My goal for the remaining three month include reducing the grocery budget and working our way through the freezer and pantry. I would love to do a no shopping challenge but not sure I am ready for that additional stress.
  • The garden is changing as well. We have added the rotating bottoms to the green stocks, we need to dig out sweet potatoes and plant that with carrots. The green beans are finishing and I need to purchase worms to add for the end of summer as well.

Chicken Expenses

The first step before we could get the pet chickens was to clear an area for them. I found an awesome person from Facebook to complete the task.

Total cost $1000

Next, we purchased a pre-built chicken coop. This was not the cheapest option, but it was the one that I was most comfortable with.  I do not regret this decision at all. I did pay and extra $75 delivery fee which again was well worth it!

Total cost $665

I knew we needed to add to this for the long term and we also needed to make a specific boundary around the area.  We purchased the wood and had it delivered from Home Depot $372.   I was able to purchase old wire fencing from our neighbor for $20. We used nails and other fasteners that had been saved from my father’s building. The difference is just what I was hoping for!  We have spent a total of around 10 hours doing the work ourselves but this is part of the pet owner experience in my opinion.

Total expense $392

Last but no least was the trip to Tractor Supply to purchase the chickens, a “beginner” kit including a water bowl, 2 feed troughs and a heat lamp, food and bedding!

Total cost $96.20

Total out of pocket startup cost for the pet chickens $2100 or 527 dozen eggs or 6315 eggs which is basically 1053 eggs per chicken. Looking at the math, these are definitely pets and not part of any supply chain   I will be honest and say that so far the kids have definitely enjoyed their new pets and are still spending quality time with them.  In fact, everyone was up at 6 am this morning in order to help warm and calm the chicks because our electricity was out for 7 hours.

Friday Catch-Up

Things got alot crazy around here this week.  I knew that we would be fairly busy with Zach having baseball camp 3 days and Vacation Bible School 5 nights with a pool party for a sixth night.  What I did not count on was adding in the 659 pounds of meat that needed some attention.

I received a text on Tuesday morning that our meat was ready. I was very thankful that Matt had cleaned out and started the old chest freezer on Saturday. After a couple of phone calls I was able to arrange some help and began working on making meals with the meat.

This week I have been able to make and freeze, 14 packs of Salisbury steaks which did not include our dinner today, 2 pounds of Taco meat and 10 packs of taco meat, 10 packs of sloppy joes and 2 additional batches of spaghetti sauce and 2 batches of Salsa.  Here is the official meal total:  I am at least halfway to my goal of 100 meals in the freezer.
Official food preparation count: 45
Breakfast count : 15
Spaghetti Sauce: 20

The other big event of the week was our purchase and bringing home of 6 chickens. The chickens are approximately 2 weeks old and currently hanging out in the living room under a heat lap for the next week. As you realize I have not been able to get the chicken story and how we have prepared for chickens up yet but hopefully I will be able to get this accomplished in the next couple of weeks.

I have 19 days until I return to work.  I will be only working one job so hopefully this will make things a tad less hectic in the fall.

I am continuing to recover from my outpatient surgery. I did overdo things on Sunday and spent most of Monday resting and recovering.  I hope to return to normal activities by next Monday but we shall see as I am currenting struggling.

I was able to spend a good couple of hours working in the garden beds this week.  I have pulled up and replanted one of the beds with pumpkins.  We are continuing to get lots of good tomatoes, several squash, a zucchni and a couple of small cucumbers.  I am hopeful to increase the cucumbers and we also have apples and pears starting to ripen on the trees in the back yard.

Looking forward to a less busy and more normal start to August!


Thursday Thoughts

This is supposed to be our least busy week of the summer. The reason for this is simple.  I had outpatient surgery on Monday.  I wanted to give myself a full week to recover and this has turned out to be a positive thing.   I did not leave the house after returning on Monday until this morning.

Today, I had to take Lily to the orthodontist office in order to get a new top retainer made. This was an expensive process.  Hopefully, this will be the final time it needs to be completed. Lily lost her retainer while packing to come home from Oak Island last week.  When she received her retainers over two years ago, she was informed of the $35 fee to replace. She did pay this portion today but due to changes in technology it was $150 to replace the retainer today.

I also headed to the nail salon to get my manicure and pedicure today as well. I have been budgeting this for once every three weeks along with a dog grooming appointment every month.  I think this will definitely be items we keep in the budget.

The garden is starting to produce, and I am planning on an entire garden/food preservation update for tomorrow.

We purchased a small chest freezer that was delivered this week. This is actually going to be kept in our dining room and used as our convenient freezer. It has items such as chicken nuggets, waffles and pancakes. We have been able to move and arrange the other freezers so that we have one large chest freezer that is empty.  It is currently defrosting and will be cleaned and ready for our cow that is currently being processed.

Our awesome friends provided an awesome dinner last night which was greatly appreciated.

We have purchased the final 27 pavers needed to complete the chicken coop. The goal is to get the pavers placed and the top of the coop finished on Saturday so that we can possibly get chickens in the next week.

I am looking forward to not leaving the house again until Sunday to go to church!

Project Catch Up with Financial Implications.

We are currently about halfway through the summer. I start back to work on August 17th with the kids all going back to school on August 29th.  We had a list of projects that we wanted to tackle this summer.  Some of the items on the list have been postpone due to financial implication and or time constraints.  We have been working hard on some of the projects, so this is a mid-summer update.

Kitchen Floor– This was our second project with the first being having the shower room floor replaced and repaired. The kitchen was last replaced in March of 2020. At that time, we chose a laminate floor that we had hoped would last 20 plus years.  This floor was not what it promised. The floor started to pull apart and pop up in different areas almost immediately.  It has gotten progressively worse to the point that we could not go barefooted in the kitchen due because it was snagging and tearing clothes and cutting feet.   We have decided to postpone having the shower room floor completed until next summer due to time and money. The kitchen floor did not give us the option. After some discussion regarding our options, we chose to remove the top layer of flooring and return to the previous floor.  The good news is that removal of the floor was fairly simple. We did need to do some minor repair work including screwing some of the floor in place to prevent gaps.  I am happy to report that we were able to complete this task last week. I have ordered a couple of rugs to cover the area that was previously a wall.  The total expense for the project is $120.

Chickens- After much debate and pleading on the kids parts, we have decided to get chickens as our next pet.  The ultimate goal is to have enough eggs that we stop buying but they will also be an additional pet. We knew up front that this would be a rather expensive project.  We are moving very close to getting the chickens which will likely be before the end of July.
Expenses so far:  Clearing of land- $1000
Purchase of chicken coop- $630
Wire for additional chicken run- $20 found next door!
Wood for additional chicken run and landscaping- $372
I will be adding to this and changing as we finish up but I am expecting around $2500

Bike Rake for Trailer- We actually broken even on this as we ended up selling both our luggage box and hitch rake for $100. The bike rake was $50 and we had to spend another $25 to update the wiring on the trailer.

My other goal for the summer is food preparation for the coming school year. This will be an ongoing project so stick around for the rest of the summer!

June in Review

One of the biggest headlines that I am reading this month is that inflation is out of control. Most grocery items have increased in price between 15 and 25 percent since January.  The cost of gas has hit an all-time high but is slowly starting to decrease.  I am not at all shocked by the numbers this month.  I have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the budget and planning but at this point I am going to wait until August to set the official budget for the remainder of the year. For the month of June and July, I am planning to offset any additional uncovered expenses with funds that are currently in our short-term savings.  This should allow us to enjoy our annual beach trip and also get a better idea of what we are currently spending in order to develop a realistic budget. My car is currently in the shop and also needs a set of tires this month. So we have lots of small expenses to pay out.

Groceries– budget amount is $200 until June.  Not Met! $1231.74 before the deposit on the cow which is an additional $300.  I did have a significant food expense for the weekend of Haley’s wedding and I also have already purchased food for the beach.   If I take the amount divide that by 5 people and 3 meals a day we are spending around $3.00 a meal per person which is still significantly less than I could purchase a meal any where for.  This is definitely a hard category to budget for.  I will continue to watch and average to determine where it ends up.  My thoughts prior to this month were $700 a month but I am not sure how realistic that is at this point.

Auto/ Gas. My goal is $400 a month. NOT met! $759.80 gas.   It is currently sitting around $4.34 a gallon.  I will like have to double this budget in August depending on the cost of gas which means I will also need to reduce spending in other categories to make this work. I do not want to continue to use money from short term savings every month.

Cash Envelope system- We are back to use a majority cash system.  I am hopeful that this will work even better in the Summer. This always works well for us!

Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 14 for the month. I have been much better at posting on a regular basis. Just need to squeeze in one additional post.

Exercise days- 2.

No Spend Days- ummmmm what ? I honestly have not been keeping track of this. One question I have is do I count days I spend from a budget category or only unplanned or over spending?

June was an interesting month.  I am actually not surprised at all with the spending but really feel like we need to get a handle on where we can reduce our spending and where is it just going to have to increase the planned amount.

Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was supposed to be a slower than usual weekend however we still managed to get a lot accomplished.

  1.  Decided on our next house project.   We installed a new kitchen floor in March 2020.  The floor has begun to split and we have lots of pieces that no longer fit and it is becoming a hazard.  We have been talking for several months about replacing the floor.  We are not certain which direction that we want to go.  Matt and I talked and decided for the short run (less than a year) we will simply remove the new floor and return to the wood planks underneath. The current plan is to re-adjust the plank and attempt to nail in place. This is definitely not a permanent fix but solves the problem and will at least give us a presentable floor. We are going to undertake this project next weekend.
  2. Ordered the wood to finish the chicken coop and for the fence along the back edge of the yard.
  3. We have been watering the garden using county water for over a week now. It takes around 20 gallons a day to water so I am very hopeful that we will get some rain in the next 24 hours.
  4. Placed a down payment on our cow order. We should receive the cow some time the first couple weeks of August. Now we are focused on trying to decide what meat cuts we want.  I am also working on emptying one of our freezers. My goal is to get this accomplished by the end of July. However, it is fairly difficult when at the same time we are beginning to get in our summer produce.  Check and balance is all I can hope for.
  5. We ended up going to Costco on Friday night to use our reward check, I was very proud that we only ended up spending $26 out of pocket.  But that was short lived as we also went to Sam’s today.  We spend $260 of which over $200 was on food. I did stock up on Slim Jim’s (3 boxes) Hot Pockets (which the kids have been asking for) Biscuits and Pop tarts for breakfast in addition to some treats.
  6. We managed to only eat out one time this weekend. Matt has been practicing cooking on his new Blackstone.  He cooked two meals yesterday in addition to breakfast this morning!

Let’s get this week started on a good note!

Five Things Friday!

  • The weather is awful!  It is hot and dry. We have not had any rain in almost a week. The last rain was really less than a quarter of an inch over two days. Our rain barrels are empty.  We are continuing to water the garden by hand.  I am hopeful that we will get some rain over the next couple of days.
  • We have been harvesting and drying parsley, dill and a tiny bit of basil. We have harvested squash and zucchini.  I did start a second round of both of these plants so that we can get much more for a longer period of time.  I have started basil in three locations with little to no success. Let’s hope that the third time is the charm. My plan is to remove the dill now that it has flowered and start some basil in it’s place.   I also have started a second round of cucumbers in hopes to extend the harvest for a couple of months.   We do have one watermelon growing and several cucumbers that are very close to being ready.  I have ordered more green bean seeds and plan to replant those as well. This hot weather has made things more difficult to grow but I am hoping that a couple of steady showers will help improve everything!
  • The first full week of Summer break has flown by!  Zach is at Baseball camp this week after Kendall enjoyed a week at church camp last week.  Yesterday we spent the day at the pool with Braxton!
  • We have ordered the rest of the supplies to finish the chicken coop area.  I will be posting lots of pictures in the next week or so when it is all finished.
  • Matt purchased a Blackstone grill to use both at home and in the camper for his Father’s Day gift.  He really enjoyed using the one at Haley’s wedding a couple of weeks ago so I hope this one gets lots of use.

5 Things Friday

  1. Overwhelmed yeap that is currently how I am feeling!  Today is the last day of school for Kendall and Zach. This means that for the short run 2 weeks or so we will have less to none things happening at night so maybe I can get caught up on the things that need doing.
  2. Garden- I am amazed at how much and how well things seem to be growing.  We have baby tomatoes, squash and snap peas. We are currently harvesting Kale, radish, dill and chives.. I want to get some pictures up soon!    One of the goals for the weekend is to finish planting. Amanda brought over a 8 container garden she built several years ago, I need to fill it along with one more container I found under the house. I have planted additional squash and zucchini this week so hopefully they will grow and produce as well.
  3. Summer project list- I have started working on the list of summer projects.  First up is finding someone to clear the area of land at the back of our house. We will be getting chickens in the near future so this area needs to be cleared in order to build a coop and run.  I also need to schedule our septic tank to be pumped.  After these two items are completed, we would like to get the bathroom floor re-titled and maybe get some vinyl in the kitchen.  That is the short list.
  4. Saturday goal- Replace the greenhouse roof that was destroyed by hail last week. We are going to convert it to hard plastic in order to extend the life and reduce maintenance.
  5. Financial goal- I need to do some serious bill pay and establish the new budget for June this weekend as well.

Did I mention I am overwhelmed?

Saving on Saturday

Today has been a very busy but productive day!

Garden/ Yard

  • Used pavers that we had stored to make the boundary for the new Raspberry bed, used the 2 large bags of dirt and 7 small bags of dirt from the greenhouse in the raspberry bed.  We decided to use some stakes and string that we already had as well so we ended up spending  ZERO on the new bed.
  • Purchased 3 raspberry stalks and 25 bare root strawberries from Stark Brother’s nursery for 1/4 of the cost of what I saw locally.  I ended up planting all of these today!
  • Purchased 3 zucchini plants for $1.50 and a 6 pack of marigolds($4.50) from the local farmer’s market and planted these today.

Food/ Meals

  • Made breakfast bowls for breakfast, used left-over KFC gravy on top. We made 15 breakfast burritos and placed them in the freezer to use as a quick breakfast in the coming weeks.
  • Made a batch of cowboy beans in the crockpot.  We had these for dinner, froze one additional meal and have 4 lunch bowls in the fridge
  • Used a pound of ground beef given to us to make stuffed green peppers for a meal this week. I will need to top with cheese before baking. This should be an quick and easy meal.
  • I found 1 pound rolls of sausage priced at $1.99.  I purchased 15 rolls with most going in the freezer for future use.  In comparison the next cheapest option as $3.49 for a roll and this was a sale price. I will likely be stopping by Food Lion again to see if they continue to carry the sausage at this price. If so I would like to collect about 30 rolls for the freezer in anticipation of prices continuing to rise.
  • Used the chicken legs from dinner this week to make chicken enchiladas that even Lily will be able to eat.
  • We have made at least 10 full meals today and did not need to purchase one single item! In fact our grocery spending for the month is at $60!
  • I was able to find a source to purchase a whole cow from this summer. The price per pound it $4.80 which is $1 higher than we paid 3 years ago so I am super excited to finish cleaning out the freezer so we can order the cow!

Zach discovered a water leak under the house this morning. Matt was able to fix with items already on hand. This saved us not only on the cost of calling a plumber but it will also help reduce our water bill as it was a major leak.

Matt purchased new tires for the camper from Amazon ($250 for 4). He took both the old tires and the new tires to a local shop and had the tires mounted for $40.  I am going to estimate this saved over $300 on tires. He did purchase a special tool that he needed. But this will be used in the future as well.