Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Have A Dream...

To be honest, I have ALOT of dreams on what I would like in the future.  I am amazed at how quickly they change!  Just 5 years ago, I couldnt see myself wanting or having children, and here we are, 2011, and Todd and I are trying to start a family.  5 years ago, I had a house in the city on a 0.13 acre lot that I couldnt imagine ever moving from.  Now, I absolutely LOVE the peace and quiet, the animals and the garden on our acre of land. 

Yesterday, I went strawberry picking at a local pick-your-own patch.  This is the first time since I was a kid that I've been strawberry picking.  I had a great time, even though I was only there for a half an hour.  Todd was at work, so it was just me.  I ended up picking 9 1/2 lbs of strawberries!  Yum!  Hopefully, they will still be available next weekend so Todd and I can go pick some more.  I plan on crushing and freezing the strawberries to make jam a little later-on in the season (October maybe?).  I would like to make a 3 berry jam with strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries.  To do that, I'd have to freeze them all and then make the batch when it's time to do so.  Not to mention, I still dont have any canning equipment.  I am waiting for my Swagbucks to accumulate so I can get it for FREE from Amazon.com. :-)

At any rate, while I was picking the strawberries, I was dreaming of having a pick-your-own place.  Not just with strawberries, blueberries, peaches and apples, like most places.  I would love to have a pick-your-own that has ALL the fruits and vegetables for the entire season.  I'm talking snowpeas, strawberries, onions, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, zukes, cukes, eggplant, mellon, cantaloup, peppers, corn, blackberries, red raspberries, grapes, nuts, apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries...the whole sha-bang!  How awesome would it be to grocery shop with the seasons in your area just down the street?  Oh,and dont even get me started on the herbs and fresh-cut flowers.

Of course, being the OCD persoanlity-type I am, I have already started looking online to see if I can find some land.  NO, we will not be purchasing anything just yet.  We are $500 away from being debt-free but the mortgage, and I have no plans of going into debt again.  So, this would be a long...time consuming process that hopefully one day we will be able to achieve.  It would not be easy, but it's a dream that I have at the moment.  Oh...and how about some honey bees?  I want some so bad...Todd would never allow me to have them here at the house. :-)  So, why not at the farm? :-)

Day-dreaming. That's what I'm doing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Disappointment

I am sorry it's been so long since I've posted on the blog.  I am going to try to make this a picture/family blog instead of my personal little outlet.  But, before I do that, I want to get something off my chest.

Todd and I thought I could potentially be pregnant...but as of last night, I'm not.  I cant tell you how much my heart broke.  I know it was only one time that we tried just a week ago, but my heart still broke.  I know that if we are meant to have children, God will give them to us, but I never expected to feel so horrible about getting my period.

So, there is a little sadness here in the Crispin household this morning.  I didnt realize how much Todd would be effected as well.

We talked about it last night, and I think we are going to try to start building a family.  I dont know how I'm going to go through each month wishing my period doesnt come, and when it doesnt, I'm not sure how I'm going to keep it a secret until it's "safe," but I am excited to see what God has in store for us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chickens: Week 10

I havent posted much about the chickens over the past 3 weeks, but here goes!


They are officially outdoor chickens as of yesterday.  So far, they are doing great.  The only problem we are having is with ants now! It's always something.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chicks Week 8

I am sorry for not posting anything new about the chicks last week.  There really is no progress.  They are getting HUGE, and the chicken coop is finally complete.

To see pictures of the coop, you can go to:

http://sparing-change.blogspot.com/ .  Todd did a great job.

We are going on vacation starting next Friday, so the chicks have not stayed outside for the full night yet.  We will wait until after vacation to put them outside full-time.  They HAVE been spending time outside on nice days getting aquainted with their soon-to-be new home. 

They are so big now that I have a hard time gathering all four up to go outside.  There are always one or two that fly up on my arm or on the ledge of the container as I'm walking.  And truth be told, I cant figure out which chicken is which anymore.  3 that are brown are all a mystery to me.  The only one I can tell apart is "Blondie." 

I have some pictures of them last weekend in their chicken coop, but due to computer problems, I am unable to load them at the moment.  Hopefully soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Do You Do It? Money-Wise

I was running the numbers yesterday to see when Todd and I will be able to go down to a one income family.  I got so sad, because I dont see how it is possible for us to ever be a one income family.  I hate to think that we spend everything that we earn...even when we are debt free (but the house). 

By the end of March, we will owe mid $2,000 on our last credit card debt.  We have paid off nearly $900/month in revolving debt in the past year and a half which is a huge feat! However, even with that $900/month nearly freed up, we still have alot of things we want to do.

After our last debt is paid off, we will secure 1 year's worth of the bi-yearly & yearly bills ($5,000).  We will also save up an additional $6,000 to use as 3 month's living expenses.  Between the "bi-yearly" payments and 3 month's living expenses, we will have enough money to actually live off of if something were to happen for 6 months. 

Once that is taken care of, we want to:

1.) Start investing $500/month into a Roth IRA (this along with what we contribute at work with our employers would be 15% of our income)
2.) Save for our next vehicle (Goal: $12,000)
3.) Add a 1 1/2 car garage onto our house for hubby to use as his "workshop" and tear down the house next door. 

On top of all this, start a family.

So...my question is, how do you do it?
I know there are a few stay at home mom's out there that read the blog, and some with very limited income.

I understand that we dont NEED a $12,000 vehicle.  We most likely wont even "NEED" a vehicle for the next 5-10 years (hopefully)! But this is still looming in my mind, especially seeing as we drive so much.

And the house next door houses alot of hubby's tools and welding materials.  There is a hole in the roof and it is caving in.  Before long, the house will fall down around all of hubby's equipment.  We need to really consider getting it taken down, but we also need to find a home for some of our belongings and his equipment.  We are planning on going through and getting rid of alot of items, but we will still need to store some items.

Any suggestions and criticism is welcome.
I just dont see how all of this is possible on ONE income.

Todd's Birthday Surprise

Todd is going to be 40 next month (May 30th), and I have been thinking of a once in a lifetime gift for him.  My step mom mentioned something with Todd racing a race car. I found out that there are a few tracks around our area, but you have to have your own car, and it is EXPENSIVE!

The next, I decided I wanted to do a scenic flight around our area.  I called several places, and found one that is perfect for us. To be honest, I think I am more excited about it than Todd will be when he finds out what we are doing on the 31st of May.

The day after Todd’s birthday, I am taking the day off from work and we are going to go to lunch and then we will drive up to Cleveland to Burke Lakefront Airport.  This is a small airport close to the Cleveland Airport.  We will be flying over Cleveland and other areas for one hour with a personal pilot on a 4 person Cessna plane.  I was expecting it to be several hundred dollars for the two of us, but not so!

Todd is going to be flying the plane with the pilot, and the price is $62.95!  For me, because I will be a passenger (and official photo-taker!), I am riding for less than $30!  After all the regulatory fees and taxes, the cost is a few dollars less than $100!

HOW PERFECT IS THAT?!?

Not only will it be an experience of a lifetime, it is affordable!

We had been talking about going to Cancun or someplace tropical when we hit the big milestone of 30 and 40 years of age (as we both are this year,) but $100 is much more affordable.  We are going to lunch at his favorite place that gives a LOT of food for a LOW cost, Benihanah’s!  We will get the lunch boat for $9.75/person.  I just hope I don’t ralph it all up on the plane.

I’m so excited…can you tell?
Now, how am I going to keep this a secret for over a month without bursting at the seams?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

We Are Going to Orlando!

I drove down to see my mom and her husband last night for the weekend.  I havent had time with my mom alone since my birthday in early February, so we are long overdue.

I was sitting in Doc's den as he was making reservations in late October to Orlando for a medical conference he has to attend every year.  I was a little snotty and said how jealous I am.  Doc asked if I want to go.  I said that of course I wanted to go, but we cant.  He said, "Well, you're going."  Within minutes, he booked us a hotel (at a really nice hotel in Orlando - Doc doesnt do Comfort Inn!) and had our flights booked.  For both Todd and I.  I am still in shock at what just happened.

I know that mom has wanted to go on vacation with us for a while now, but things never panned out (and Todd and I are so cheap, our idea of a vacation and theirs are two completely different things.)  Well, Orlando is alot more affordable when you dont pay for your airfare and hotel!  I told mom that I cannot let them pay for our vacation, and she said, "Buy us dinner."  We will do alot more than that, of course, but it just amazes me how generous they are.  Todd is in complete disbelief as well.  We have been talking about going to Disney for a couple years now.  We are finally going to go! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Planning for Christmas

Saturday, Todd and I went to the winery where it all started for us back in 2006.  We started making wine because of the Grape and Granary in Akron, OH.

We went there for the ump-teenth time and had a nice wine tasting to decide what we will be making here at home for Christmas gifts.  We have decided on 4 different wines.  Each batch of wine makes 30 bottles, so we will have 120 bottles of wine to savor throughout the year and to give away as gifts.

I am so excited!
We didnt buy any of the kits, because there is a place closer to where we live that sells them for a bit less than the Grape and Granary.  It will be like buying 3 - get one free.  And let me tell you, I love free! Not only that, we are really trying to pay off the last credit card by July 1st (I moved it back one month because it will be nearly impossible to pay off $4,980 in the next two months AND go on two 4-day weekends away!)

We are also going to try our hand at making beer for the holidays.  Alot of people in our family are drinkers, so these are perfect gifts.  Not only are they perfect gifts, they are different, and they wont be very expensive for us to make because we have all the equipment. 

Am I the only one thinking about Christmas already? :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicks Week 6

video

It was 75 degrees here on Sunday.  This is the chickens enjoying the weather and the garden.  I love how they lay down in the leaves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Funny Conversation

Todd called me on my way to work the other morning.  He calls me every morning if he is at work and I’m on my way to work because we don’t see each other in the morning.  He is usually out the door by 4:30 and he gives me a kiss goodbye, and that’s about it.   We were talking about how our diet has been going.  I told him that I am having a horrible time with my sweet tooth.

Todd then said, “When I get home, I am going to get my pliers and we will take care of it! No more sweet tooth!” 

Believe me, I wish it were that easy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chicks - Week 5

I still cant believe we've had the chicks for 5 weeks!  How time flies!

Nothing has changed other than they are getting SO BIG!  "Butch" likes to jump up on the side of the box and just hang out.  She doesnt mind when Lana gets excited and wants to sniff her.  They are drinking out of a new water bottle that doesnt drip with no problems at all!

My favorite for the week is Butch. Please dont tell the others. :-)  She loves to be held and to perch on my arm or my shoulder.  And she doesnt poop on me like Fluff did!  But Fluff is the prettiest.

Here are some pictures:






Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Applying for a New Job

I have been complaining lately about how much I do not want to go into work every morning.  I have a case of the “Is it Friday yet? Oh no, it’s Monday already!” I like most of the people where I work, but I could do without the 1 hour commute each way, the stress, and the job in general. 
I was looking on Craigslist for something, and I decided to look to see if there were any jobs in our area.  I found one for a Purchasing/Office Manager for a company that is in Youngstown, OH.  Youngstown is only 20 miles away from where we live, and a 30 minute commute. I applied.

I have been praying that if it was meant that I get this job, that I would get it.  We will see what God has in store for me.  It sounds like an interesting company.  It would be nice to get out of the industry that I’m in (computer supplies) and go with something else.  I love to learn and to think about learning a whole new industry is not only scary but exciting to me.  I crave something new.  Oh, and did I mention it would be a pay increase?

We will see if I get called in for an interview.  If not, I’m thankful I still have a job. It is all in God’s hands right now.  I am just along for the ride.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Healthier Lifestyle

Todd and I are on our way for the weight-loss competition.  I was looking at recipes online for healthy sweets (other than fruits.)  I have a hard time living without sweets, especially after dinner.  It is a real, true addiction.  I was thinking that it’d be best if I make items that will help with my sweet tooth but are also healthy.

I found a recipe that called for whole wheat graham crackers and natural peanut butter.  I don’t want to buy whole wheat graham crackers.  I don’t want to buy even organic peanut butter.  I want to stay away from the preservatives and make the food we eat with my own two hands.  I found several recipes for homemade peanut butter that I am looking forward to making.  Also, I found a great, easy recipe for whole wheat graham crackers.  The only problem with the recipe for graham crackers is that it called for butter.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to use any more store-bought butter.  To me, it is salty (I hate salt – I never use it in any of my recipes).  Not only that, it has preservatives.  So, I went on my way to trying to find recipes to make butter, and sure enough, it looks pretty darn easy!  I look forward to making butter myself.

I brought it up to a friend of mine from work about needing REAL milk (from a cow or goat) and how it is not legal to sell it here in Ohio.  I live very close to an Amish village as well as an Amish butcher.  In Pennsylvania, it IS legal to buy raw milk.   So, do I try to find an Amish farm that will sell me milk to drink as well as to make my own butter?

I was telling my friend, and he said, “There is a reason it is not legal in Ohio.  It is dangerous if it’s not pasteurized.”  He also copped a bit of an attitude and said, “So what, are you going to get a cow now?” I asked him where the hostility was coming from, and he said that I didn’t make sense to him.  I wanted eggs, so I bought chickens.  I want to make butter, so I now have to find raw milk.  He kept going on and on about how people in the 21st century are living longer BECAUSE of the additives and preservatives.  I do not agree with that at all.  My belief is that people are living longer in the 21st century due to modern medicine and that the foods we eat with the corn syrup and preservatives are killing us!  My friend, Mike, and I agreed to disagree on the topic.

Am I the only one that sees the benefits of making food from scratch?  We are by no means anywhere close to being organic or even healthy for that matter, but we are working toward it!  If I can create meals for Todd and I to live longer, taste better and make our waistlines go down, I don’t see a problem with it! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Website Up

I just listed the first post on the website that will be my money-savings, recipe, homesteading site.

If you want to check it out, the link is:
http://sparing-change.blogspot.com/

Frugality, Minimalism & Homesteading

I was looking at YouTube videos on how to make inexpensive chicken coops last weekend, and stumbled across Becky’s Homestead   She has some great videos, so I decided to check out her website.  I have been trying to watch all of her videos since!  It’s a great video blog if you are interested in keeping up with her.

Then I started thinking (yes, THAT’S what you smell.)  Todd and I love log cabins and nature, but we also really enjoy where we live now.  It is quiet, we have an acre of land, a manageable mortgage, no one ever bothers us, we have great neighbors, and we can get to Aldi’s and WalMart with a 15-20 minute drive.

As I have mentioned numerous times before, I am obsessive compulsive.  I get something stuck in my head and I research the heck out of it.  I also talk about it constantly until the newness calms down (or I have a bit of a breakdown.)  I had a “homesteading” obsession last year.  I’ve had a “minimalistic” obsession as well.  And, well, we live the frugal life.    

What do we want out of life? 
We want a little bit of each category.  I feel they all pretty much use the same principals but vary in the ways of accomplishing them.

By definition (according to Wikipedia):
  • Frugality – “prudence in avoiding waste”
  • Minimalism – “extreme spareness and simplicity”
  • Homesteading –  a lifestyle of simple, agrarian self-sufficiency”

As I mentioned, we are pretty frugal.  Yes, there is always room to improve, but we are pretty good about pinching pennies and making the most out of our money.  I would like to minimize the amount of waste we create, not only with the landfill, but with resources such as electricity, gasoline, oil, etc.

I like the idea of minimalism; however, we have SO MUCH STUFF!  I would love to pare down a lot of our belongings, but I am part of a team.  Todd seems to attract “stuff!”  I guess I am just as guilty.  But this is something I am definitely working on personally.  I’m hoping I rub off on Todd so that he does the same.  I am not looking to get rid of everything and live in a hut.  I am also not looking to have one piece of furniture in our home.  There has to be a happy medium, and I am striving to find what that is.

Last, but not least, is homesteading.  I really like the idea of homesteading.  There are two pitfalls for me though.

1.      I do not want to raise my own meat.
2.      I don’t necessarily want to make everything we eat homemade.

I love animals.  I couldn’t have a cow or pig, raise it for several months and then butcher it.  No way, no how.  We have our 4 chicks that we are raising for eggs.  That is good enough for me.

I enjoy making homemade bread (artisan bread,) and I enjoy cooking meals for my husband and me, but I don’t want to churn my own butter or make my own cheese and peanut butter. That is just not something that interests me right now.  That could change in upcoming years, but for now, I will buy these types of items at the store. (Since writing this post over three weeks ago, I have changed my tune on making my own butter and peanut butter! I am going to try making them both in the upcoming weeks!)   We go out to eat two, maybe three times a month and I am OK with that.

My point is that we can be a little bit of all three without going anywhere or moving.  We just have to take small steps to getting to where we want to be.  We have the land, we have the means and we have the ability to be a semi-homesteading, frugal, quasi-minimalist.  And darn it, that is what we are striving to be.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social Life

It amazes me how Todd and I can have NOTHING planned for the next 8 weeks to having nearly every weekend Todd has off jam-packed within a 12 hour time-frame. 

The only thing we had planned for the next few months was our vacation the first weekend in May.  Now, all of a sudden, we have a birthday party to go to April 9th, I am going out of town to visit my mom for the weekend of the 16th, we are going away the weekend of May 6th for a 4 day weekend and now the weekend of May 20th for a 4-day weekend. 

It seems like when the weather turns, there is so much to do, and not enough weekends to do it in!

Weight-Loss Challenge

Todd and I are going away in 6 ½ weeks on our vacation to the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.  We both have been complaining about being too fat and out of shape.  So, we have a challenge.  We are both going to try to lose weight for our vacationi in the beginning of May.  He would like to lose 15 lbs.  I would really like to lose 20 lbs. 

I have been putting off taking Lana for a walk in the mornings because it’s been so darn cold (freezing temps here!) and the fact that Todd lost the leash we walk her on.  Well, I have a new leash for her to go walking with.  I just have to get my butt up and out of bed, and out the door to walk the little pup.  We will see when I start.  I have to figure out how this leash works (it is one that goes around her head and nose called a gentle leader.)

So…the countdown begins.  We are weighing ourselves to determine who wins.  What will the other win?  I don’t know.  It’s just a competition. But I definitely need to lose some of this weight!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicks - Week 4


I cannot believe that we’ve had the chicks for 4 weeks.  I say this every week, and I’ll say it again: they are growing like crazy!!!   I swear, you can WATCH them get bigger.

They are real pigs, too.  They eat more than my little porker used to eat.  Right now, we are going through 2 cups of food every two days.  Mind you, I have been giving them pieces of bread, stale bran flakes we had in the cupboard for a while, and oatmeal.

We have turned the heat lamp down to 75 right now.  It is still cold outside, so there has been no progress on the chicken coop.  Todd cannot paint when it’s only 35 degrees outside.  Not to mention he freezes in the garage.

The new rabbit water bottle is working out great!  The chicks took to the water bottle within a few hours.  Now, they go there to get their water, and we don’t have to worry about droppings and messy water every day.  Right now, the 32 oz. waterer lasts 2 – 3 days before needing refilled.  We are considering buying another one that is larger (64 oz.)

At this point, the chicks are getting so big and eating so much that they are pooping ALL the time.  Their area starts to smell after 3 days with no new bedding.  I turn their bedding after 2 days and start fresh every 5-7 days.  Luckily, it’s not a lot of work.  It takes about 5 minutes.  I put the chicks in their old small container while I change out their bedding.  Lana likes to smell them.  I try to remind myself of all the fertile soil we will have from all of this bedding!

video

I’ve decided NOT to include the price of the chicken coop into raising chickens.  We plan on having this chicken coop for the rest of our chicken-rearing years (aka the rest of our lives!) 

Don’t tell the others, but Fluffanutter is still my favorite.  She is the one that is always willing to perch on my hand and then jump on my shoulder.  She is the friendliest of the bunch.  I still try to handle each of them at least once a day.
Runt

Fluff

Butch (she's the biggest and the most dominant)

I still have no clue what breed these chickens are.  I am anxious to see how many eggs they lay.  The only additional cost that we’ve incurred on the chicks is $3.99 for the waterer. 

This brings the cost of raising the chicks up to:  $28.94



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clean Cars!

This weekend, Todd cleaned both of our cars and got them ready for the warm(er) weather!  Snow tires have been taken off of both vehicles, new Spring tires put on, cleaned, waxed, paint touch-ups and all doors and hinges greased.  They look like brand new cars.

I wrote it on FaceBook, and I'll write it again.  Todd and I have an ongoing "arguement" about who has the cuter vehicle.  I'm sorry, but Bianca is the cutest.  She is one of the cutest cars on the road. 


Big Red & Bianca

Even Bianca's headlights are more attractive!

As well as her back-end!

Bianca (and the house next door)

Big Red (and the house next door)

And the winner of the cutest car award is....BIANCA!
Bianca hit 120,000 miles this past week.  The only repairs she's had thus far are:  brakes, air filters, tires, spark plugs (preventative) and headlight.  I was telling Todd, if all Toyotas are like Bianca, I'd only have to own 5-6 of them in my LIFETIME, because they last THAT long.  I've had Biance since August 2006 (even though she's a 2007 Yaris.)

I am still wanting to see Bianca hit 250,000 miles.  At the rate I've been driving her, it would be another 4 1/2 - 5 years.  To be honest, I'd love to see her hit 500,000 miles or even more! However, we will see how feasable that is if we start a family.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Books

I finished the last book I needed to read and review last weekend.  This past week, I read a book of my choosing from the library.  It was nice not to have to write a review afterwards. 

My goal for this year was to read off of a Book List; however, I just read a book that was NOT on the list.  It was quite nice to read something that I wanted to read and not HAVE to read. 

For the first time since I can remember, I dont have a single book from the library to read.  They are all read.  I DO, however, have an armoir full of books that I bought from garage sales and such that I'd like to read and get rid of.  Maybe I will read one of those before getting another one from the Book List.

What are you reading right now?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jealousy

For the past few weeks, I've been dealing with jealousy issues.  I am generally a content person happy with the way things are in my life.  If not, I do what I can to change the things I am unhappy with.

I was talking to Todd yesterday in the car while going to Akron about my issues lately.  I am jealous of a friend of mine.  I am jealous of her strong and unwavering faith, her beauty, that she gets to stay at home with her kids, that she HAS kids and shows no signs of ever being frazzled. 

I feel that though we are both 30, I am so much less mature than she is.  I cant control what comes out of my mouth.  I tread water frequently for the things that I say that may possibly offend others.  I just feel like a complete failure in comparison.

But I dont know why I compare myself to her and her family.  We are two, completely different people with completely different backgrounds.  I have an incredible husband who I am so thankful for. Todd and I grew up with parents that loved us and still do to this day.  We are both very close to our families, even with my split family.  We have a nice house that he has pretty much built from all the remodeling he's done over the past 4 years.  We are happy with each other and with our life. 

So why am I still a bit jealous?

I still wish first and foremost that my relationship with God were stronger.  Everything else, I can deal with and get over.  I wont truely be happy until I realize all that I have and work toward what I want from life...including my relationship with God.

 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Our Busy Day!

Today was a busy, successful day for us.  I bought a Groupon for a sushi place down by Todd's parents house, and we decided to go use it today.  We planned our whole day around this sushi place.

We woke up early, had breakfast at home, and then hit the road by 8:15.  By 9, we were at Walmart to pick up new socks for Todd.  His are all holey and worn out.  It's been over a year since we got him new socks.  We used the balance left on a gift card and then paid $9 and some odd change out of pocket.  Todd now has 14 new pairs of socks and puppy has flea medication for 3 months. 

Then, we went to Gordon Food Service.  I have wanted to make a recipe from another blog of sesame chicken.  Well, we had no sesame seeds!  Our local store didnt have any and neither did Aldi's.  Gordon Food Service has 19 oz. for $7.98.  I was not willing to spend that much on sesame seeds.  So we went on our way.

The next stop was to see my old house in Akron.  It is all beat up and it breaks my heart.  I put my blood, sweat and tears into that house.  There was an Asian market around the corner from my Akron house...and it didnt open until 10.  DOH! It was 9:30.  So we went to our favorte thrift store in Akron.  I ended up coming home with 4 new shirts for work and a new pair of brown dress shoes.  All for $7.75! 

Todd came home with 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of jean shorts and 7 t-shirts.  Some of his t-shirts were $0.75.  The one pair of jeans was $0.90!  His was more expensive at $20.98 cents after all was said and done.  And we picked up a $2 wine rack.  We make so much wine, it will definitely go to good use!


My new clothes (and shoes)


Todd's new clothes

Todd's Favorite New Shirt (Mr. Happy Homeowner)
He said it is EXACTLY how he feels about our house!!

Afterwards, we went to Marcs to look for sesame seeds.  Low and behold, they had 11 oz. bottles for $0.98!  We bought 2!!! I was so excited and so glad I didnt let Todd talk me into buying the ones from GFS.

Then, off to my dad's house we went.  We spent about an hour and a half there seeing my dad, his wife, and Natlie.  Oh how I love that little girl.

After that, we went to Todd's parents house and visited for a couple of hours.
Target, the Record Exchange, a couple other stores and then we went to sushi.

Busy! Busy! Busy! 
But we had a great day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Strawberries

The strawberries came earlier this week; however, the forecast called for snow.  Instead of planting them outside, we decided to plant them in pots and put them under a grow light here in the house.  I was really trying to avoid that, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.  Within a few days, they started popping up out of the soil with their green leaves.  I love watching plants grow. 

Hopefully within the next 3-4 weeks, it will stay warm enough outside to plant them.  But for now, their roots are getting stronger and getting all the nutrients it needs to grow and be healthy.  I refuse to let these ones die. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If We Won the Lottery...

I was watching something on TV the other day about people who won the lottery.  I dont have the statistics in front of me, but I've read that a large amount of lottery winners go broke or bankrupt within 5 years of winning their millions.  While watching this program, I can see why! 

This got Todd and I to talking about what we'd do if we won the lottery.

One group of people on the program (I think there were 7 people) won $315,000,000 in the California lottery.  After taxes, each of them took home over $20M.  I calculated that if we made just 2% interest on that money(very modest, I know), we'd make $400,000/year!  Of course, it would be less than that after taxes each year.  Lets assume $150,000/year ($12,500/month!)

I can tell you right now, we would not have a 9 to 5.  We would quit our jobs.  I worry about health insurance, but I would think we could easily be self-insured in this situation, dont you?  If nothing else, we'd have a high-deductible insurance plan.

In this situation, Todd and I both agreed that we would move out of our house.  We would buy land.  I found some on landandfarm.com that I think would be perfect. Todd and I love the woods, we love mountains, and we love log cabins.  We would buy something like this and build a cabin on it.  We both agreed we would want something simple. Maybe the size we have now and hopefully add a few kids to the mix.  No one waiting on us hand and foot (though I mentioned wanting a cleaning person once a week).  We can mow our own property.  We can cut our own trees.  I can do my own gardening.

Yes, I would have a garden on this property.  A vegetable garden, an orchard, grape vines, raspberries, blueberries and anything else I could possibly want.  I would fence it in, though, so no deer could get in. The garden would be extensive and provide for everything we could possibly want and need throughout the year with plenty to give to local food banks.  If I didnt have a job, do you know how much time I'd have for cultivating a garden?  ALOT!

I would also want a milk cow, chickens, and mabe even a pot bellied pigger or two. 
I would also want Todd to have a nice "work" truck to go along with his Rondo. 

As for me, I just want a family and the land to be as self-sufficient as possible.  We arent ones for bling.  There would be no $1.5M dollar homes, even with this amount of money (we feel that would be a waste.)  I can assure you my family would get money every year and we would support causes we believe in.  Oh, and we would take one heckofa vacation as a family! 

NOW...the next scenario was a couple who won $8,000,000 in the lottery and took the payout of $2.5M after taxes.  This changes things quite a bit for us.  Assuming 4% interest on our money, we would get $100,000/year.  Could we live on that? Absolutely!  Would we buy that property for $200,000 in WV and build a house on it?  No. 

We like security.  Would we live in the house we own now?  Maybe for a few years (while accumulating wealth.) I could see us living in our home, and Todd having time to fix the rest of the house up.  Would we work?  Yes...but not in our current positions.  We would find jobs we truly enjoy and not work for the money, but for the fulfillment. Even if that means part-time work. Would we get a house out in the woods with a little more land?  Eventually once we saved up enough cash to not take on any debt and not hurt our future investments.

The people who won the $8,000,000, they moved and bought a $350,000 house on 14 acres.  They then bought a house for their son, costing over $100,000.  They bought a $40,000 vehicle for their son, a $20,000 vehicle for their daughter-in-law, a $160,000 big rig for themselves, many many animals, a $14,000 lawn mower, and some big machinery.  Oh, and then when the IRS said they owed $350,000 more in taxes, they couldnt pay it.  Gee.  I wonder why.

To me, a windfall of $2.5M would pretty much make us set for life.  I dont see our habits changing much.  We are pretty set in our ways and pretty darn frugal.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicks - Week 3

Other than getting bigger by the day, there has been no change in the chicks this week.  They were outside for the first time on Thursday.  They didnt quite know what to do with themselves at first, and then right to scratching and pecking the ground.  They got the hang of it in no time.

I had my first misfortune this weekend.  I was pooped on by Fluff.  I was not a happy camper, but she is still my current favorite.  She is the one in the video listed below.

**BREAKING NEWS: Todd taught the chicks how to drink from a rabbit's water bottle!!  This will be ALOT less messy and we will have to refill their water ALOT less!  YAY! Go super-Todd!
Here are a few videos for your viewing pleasure.



video
Lana pouting while I play with the chicks


Todd holding Fluffanutter

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring is Here!

Spring is here, and the weather is proving it a few days a week, with temps above 45 or 50 at least one day a week!  That may sound cold to some, but it is GREAT considering what we've been dealing with here in Ohio. 

I saw this adorable picture and I had to share it.



  How cute is this?!? This is exactly how I feel lately.  I am always in Todd's mud-boots taking Lana out to go potty or working in the garden.  I am still waiting for my strawberries to arrive so they can be planted, but I have the row in the garden anxiuosly awaiting them.  The soil has been turned, ashes added along with some eggshells and coffee grounds.  Hopefully they will come when it is supposed to be 60 this week, so I can plant them and then cover them with leaves to keep the soil warm.

OH! And guess what?!? I DIDNT kill all of my potted strawberries.  They were covered with leaves over the winter, and I see green!  So they will be replanted with the others when they come in.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Realizations

This weekend, Todd worked his 12 hour shift on Saturday and Sunday, which left my all by my lonesome.  While spending some nice, quiet time to myself, I made several realizations.  They include:

  • When the TV & Internet are not turned on, the day goes by slower (a good thing!)
  • When the day goes by slower, I get more work done
  • It is not difficult to pick up the house in 5 minute spurts
  • When the house is picked up, I feel a great sense of accomplishment
  • There really is no need to procrastinate! Just do it NOW!
  • When the house is picked up, there is more time for play (outside in the garden & with puppy)
  • When the house is picked up, I do not feel guilty for relaxing with a good book and a cup 'o coffee (I will admit, for several hours)!
  • When the house is in order, I am much more content and ENJOY my surroundings and all we have
  • When the house is in order, I have more time to do chores that Todd usually does but has not gotten to due to working his 12 hour shifts and being sick
  • I am not rushing around to do things last minute, like dinner on the table.  I was ready to put everything ont he table 5 minutes before Todd turned into the driveway (instead of rushing around last minute like a chicken with my head cut off:  sorry chicks.)
  • I dont get as tired - no need for a nap, even though I've done more activity than I have all week! It's amazing what sitting in front of the boob tube does to me!  Movie marathons are NOT my friend.  They make me LAZY (and eat out of boredom, which makes me tired)!
  • Hubbies are happier when they get home and see that there is nothing to be done but spend time with their loved one.
All in all, it was a great weekend with me and the critters for most of it, but it was nice to get alot of things done. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Review: Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

When I received Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs in the mail, I couldnt believe it's size: over 400 pages!  The first few chapters were pretty tough for me to get into due to the dialect used between characters; however, it got easier to read once encompassed in the story.

Mine is the Night is a novel about two widows; a mother-in-law (Marjory) and daughter-in-law (Elisabeth), that travel to the place where their son (and husband) were born and called home at one time.  Even though their recent arrival did not allow them to be the same status as they left.

The book, based in the 1700's speaks a tale of three women in Scotland, the Kerrs, and their journey of redemption for the decision they made to support their husband and son.  Once Lady Marjory Kerr, a woman of wealth and abundance, housed many servants and staff at the manor she kept with her husband.  When her husband and two sons went to war (against King George,) they were stripped of their money and possessions.

Within Mine is the Night, there are several stories that the reader can get engrossed within.  Marjory and Elisabeth Kerr, Marjory’s cousin, Anne Kerr, a handsome, wealthy new occupant to a mansion, Lord Jack Buchanan, a tailor and his son, dragoons and the like.  The book was very detailed, and made me feel I was right there watching everything take place.

Even though the book was 400 pages, it never felt dull or drawn out.  The author, Liz Curtis Higgs, put so much thought into the characters, the scenery, and the language used in the novel.  It was a great book that I could put down only to eat, sleep and take care of the house.


Disclosure:
I received this book free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Little Things


It is hard to believe that Squiggy has been gone for 3 weeks.  Sometimes, I wonder if he was ever here.  We have so many great memories, but it seems like he’s been gone for so long.

But then there are daily things that I do that remind me of him.  For instance, I was cutting an apple at work the other day for a snack.  Squiggy loved apple cores.  I would bring them home for him every day.

When we walk into the house, Squiggy’s ashes are there on the half-wall we have between the Living Room and Kitchen area.  The crematory gave us a glass pig that we have on top of the box that Squiggy’s ashes came in.  Out of habbit, I pet the glass pig on the head and touch the tail hair that they saved for us.  I am so thankful they saved that for us. 

I am surprised at how emotional Todd still gets about Squiggy.  He has a hard time talking about the pig-man without getting teary eyed.  I am also surprised how little emotion I’ve had at his loss.  I cried for a couple of days, and then I get tears at times thinking about him (like right now,) but surprisingly, I have taken his death pretty well.  He WAS my baby boy, and there will be no other animal like him.  But I think that I cried enough (bawled is more like it) while he was sick for three weeks to prepare me for his death when Todd was trying to keep it together.

It is hard to call our homestead a “mini-farm” any longer without Squiggy.  It’s just not the same without him.  We have no plans for another porker. 

Debt Payments

It is so awesome to see our LAST DEBT dwindle every month. Well, OK, it has only been a month and a half, but with large chunks being paid toward the American Express, it is great to log onto their website and see the balance decrease!  We completely missed seeing the $6,000 mark, and are now down to the $5,000 mark, and I am A-OK with that!

In February, we were expecting to pay $2,000 toward Todd’s American Express; however, with two farm-animal home vet visits, one piggy cremation, and a lot of stress, we were only able to put $1500 toward the debt.  Oh, and we paid for our lodging on a much-needed vacation in May. 

Yes, we could have done without the vacation, but I promised Todd that we would go away when Squiggy got better.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and Todd worked so hard for 3 weeks moving an immobile pig around, feeding him through a turkey baster, cleaning him up after he went potty, keeping him warm, taking his temperature and giving him shots.  Todd definitely deserves a break.

It would be great if we could get into the mid $4,000’s by the end of March, but I’m not holding my breath.  I know that life happens.  The bills will be paid, a chicken coop will be built, a puppy and kittens will be loved, and hubby and I will be going on a couple of dates.  If, after all of that, there isn’t $2,000 left over to pay toward debts at the end of the month, sobeit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Todd and I have decided to do some major Spring cleaning.  We don’t have just one house, we have TWO.  The house next door has been used as a “shed” since we bought it, and it’s just too much.  We (meaning Todd) lose things all the time because these items are transferred from one house to the next, and then back again.  I had enough and am determined that we are going to go through the house next door (along with our primary residence!) and get rid of anything we don’t use and don’t need!

The main goal for the house next door (or the “crap house” as we call it) is to be torn down.  We don’t want to do that until we have CASH to pay for the demolition and have money to fence in the yard as we have right now.  So, needless to say, the “crap house” may be there for a little while.  But that doesn’t mean we need to keep filling it with JUNK! 

Todd’s father gives us stuff all the time.  Some items we use.  Some items, we don’t.  The light in the dining room is something that Todd’s father salvaged and we made to be a little more modern (with the new sconces.)  Also, some of the wood that Todd is building the chicken coop with is scraps from his father.

We also have two metal sheds behind our primary residence that I haven’t been in for over 2 years!  It’s time to purge!

Todd and I both work very well on a deadline.  We procrastinate, and then knock things out at the last minute.  In the past, we never cleared out the house next door because we didn’t know how much trash the garbage company would take, and a lot of the items are in perfectly good condition.  I hated throwing things away.  But I found out that the Salvation Army will come out to our area and pick everything up!  I am happy that it will be picked up so that we don’t have to worry about making 5,000 trips to Goodwill while they are open, and the fact that these items will be used by someone makes me so happy. 

Now, we have no reason NOT to start working on it.  I need to check my hoarding behavior at the door when we go in and clean it out.

I had a goal to chuck 2 items a day, every day, for the entire year.  Well, I have only sold 8-10 books, but when we start to clean out our primary residence and the house next door, the 730 out of the “house” will not be a problem. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Double Dipping

Todd has been making fun of me for several months now because I get so excited about earning SwagBucks.  I threatened him that I’d sign him up one day!  Well, I finally did it. I don’t think he realizes how quickly I accumulate SB’s and how many $5 Amazon.com gift cards I’ve accumulated from doing nothing out of the ordinary but search the internet, something I do every day at work.  I now have 3 people I’ve referred and I get points when they get points for searching the internet.  I will admit, the reason behind signing up Todd was completely selfish.  I wanted more points!  After just a few days, he’s already up to 100 SB’s.  He has earned me over 60 SB’s, and between the two of us, I hope to be getting enough points to get a $5 Amazon.com gift card every two weeks or sooner.

I am accumulating gift cards to Amazon.com right now for Mother’s Day gifts for my mom as well as Todd’s mom.  I have $20 worth of gift cards from using SB’s, and need only 20 more SB’s to get my next $5 Amazon.com card.  Total for Mother’s Day Gifts that I need to accumulate: $40!  I’m half-way there. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quick Sweep

A couple of weeks ago, my father, step-mom, brother and two nieces came over to our house for dinner after work during the week.  My brother had just gotten into town from Camp Lejeune and it was the first time we’ve seen him since he left for Afghanistan last year.  It was great to have everyone over for dinner; however, Todd worked on his two days off to clean the house from top to bottom.  He did a great job, but was exhausted the whole rest of the week!  His joke is that he goes to work to “relax” from all the stuff I “make” him do.

I wanted to keep the house picked up.  It has been difficult.  I come in and out of the house several times in the morning and also in the evening when I get home from work because of taking Lana out to go potty.  So there ALWAYS seems to be a coat hung out on a chair.  Add to that when Todd takes her out, there is another coat (or 3) on chairs because sometimes it’s really cold when he takes her out in the morning, and then it will warm up a little, so he’ll wear a lighter jacket, and then a hoodie!

I decided that I wanted to do a “quick sweep” of the house a couple of times a week.  This means to put everything away.  On Sunday, Todd went to the hardware store down the street, and I wanted to see how much I could get done in the time he was gone.  He was only gone for 15 minutes, and in that time, I picked up the kitchen counter, put away 3 jackets that were hanging on the backs of chairs, put all the dirty laundry (Todd likes to leave a pile on the floor next to the tub when he gets in the shower, and it accumulates) into the laundry basket and threw a load in the wash of Todd’s work clothes, made the bed and put away some towels that were folded on the dresser from the laundry the week before.  I was miserably sick on this particular Sunday and was exhausted when I was done, but one side of the house looked so good!  The house looks so much more cozy and inviting when it is picked up.

A few days later, it was looking pretty rough again.  I asked Todd if we could both take 10 minutes out of our evening and do a “quick sweep” again.  That night, after work, we both got to it and did another quick sweep, put things in their places and picked up.  It is amazing what can be done in just 10 minutes with 2 people working on it!

On the weekend, I plan on going over the bathroom to keep it clean, along with sweep the floors.  I figure if we do it little by little, the house will be kept up and there will be a lot less stress for BOTH of us during the week and when we invite someone over.  It really is a lot less stressful to come home to a clean house or to even wake up to a clean house. 


New Beginning?

Over the past week, I have been contemplating whether or not I want to keep up with the blog.  I was considering not writing any longer – cold turkey.  And then it dawned on me.  I ENJOY writing on the blog!  I ENJOY taking pictures and showing everyone my world.  Why would I want to stop doing that?

I feel like I don’t have many readers, and I wonder if anyone gets anything out of my posts.  I know the blog is a mish-mash of everything that goes on in my life from great deals we find, to our animals, how we save money, rants, my dreams and everything in between. 

I have also been dreading work lately.  It is to the point that I cannot stand going into work in the mornings and I count down the hours until I leave.  I was texting Todd while at work asking him if I can quit.  He said, “Sure, as long as you have another job lined up!” 

Then, the next day, he said, “Why don’t you blog?  There are people who make money blogging! It’s something you seem to have a lot of energy about doing.”  You know, he has a point.  It seems like when we are out and about, I say, “I am going to blog about this.”  Or if we find a way to save money, I tell him I am going to blog about it.

My fears about starting a blog:

  1. No one will join
  2. No one will care
  3. I will offend some people
  4. I will not write well enough (I can tell my English and spelling skills are going down the tubes.  I blame it on spell-check and not writing enough!)
  5. I will not be able to come up with enough content
  6. I will fail


I feel I have some topics that haven’t been covered by other bloggers.  I would like to create a blog about homesteading (or partial-homesteading,) quick and easy recipes, money savings tips, garden basics, how to save on vacations, getting healthy, how to use certain sites like SwagBucks, teaching about chickens and how easy they are and have been to raise, simplifying our lifestyle, negotiating on bills, great websites for saving money on eating out or fun activities, and much, much more.  I would like to do a little blogging, a little vlogging (video blogging,) lots of discussions and a lot of pictures.

I am not looking to make lots of money blogging.  I am looking to make a passive stream (or trickle) of income and help others along the way.

What are your thoughts on all of this?
Should I take the plunge?