Thursday, May 24, 2012

The First Harvest/Spice Rack Project Scrapped/$ Totals Update.

So, silly me thought my broccoli heads would get as big as they do when purchased at the market. Silly, silly me. Therefore, I'm a little way late on harvesting them. I managed to salvage one and a half of them, and will try to keep the plants going for the "side shoots" I keep reading about.

Trying to make the most of my oops, I chopped off a couple of the broccoli leaves, and added them into my salad mix. I had intended to cook them up like "greens", but found their raw taste to be more than acceptable.

I'm proud of my first harvest. It felt really good to eat food that I had grown. I did have a moment of "But I don't really WANT to eat a salad tonight", but that was quickly changed when thought of the food that I created, being wasted. I have a problem with wasting food. I buy good/healthy food, and end up throwing part of it in the trash. My hope is, this garden will assist me with being more mindful of eating the food I produce or purchase before it spoils. Looks yummy? It was! Didn't realize I made a smiley face with the strawberries and chicken until I looked at these pictures. Hehe.

I'm kind of peeved my wild strawberries (or are they something else?) are growing ridiculously well in my yard, and the animals leave them alone completely, whereas they were eating mine in my topsy-turvy prior to moving it to the front porch.

Speaking of my yard I finally mowed the back yard for the first time this year. I've been paying someone to cut the front. I'm tired of trying to deal with my horrible hill. This cheap chick thinks the $15 to have the entire front yard cut, is completely worth it. I cut the backyard this past Friday. If the weather cooperates, I will likely tackle the Neighbors weed overgrowth on our shared fence. GRRRR.

I'm a little tardy in posting this entry. The harvest was last Thursday, the grass cutting was Friday, and the spice rack was Saturday. The spice rack project I've been talking about has come to a screeching halt. Sigh. Here's a pic of it as it hung in the cubby underneath the basement stairs.

And here's all the stuff I took out of the little drawers. Need to sort this stuff and put it with the other miscellaneous home improvement type things.

Once I had the thing off the wall, I figured out a few things. There's no back. Ok. That one isn't all that big of a deal. The shelves the drawers are sitting on...they don't all the way back to where the wall is. There's at least a 2" gap. AND the unit itself, is about an inch and a half wider than is ideal for the location I wanted to hang it in my kitchen. Yes, It will fit, but it will mess with my need for symmetry. THIS will be a problem. So. I've decided I'll draw up some plans and see if I can figure out the miter saw, and just make one that suits my needs better. I may even break out the router and make it all fancy! One benefit of this exercise is, the unit is no longer on the wall, therefore I will not be banging my shoulder, etc. into it when getting boxes out of the cubby area. It's where I keep all my empty USPS boxes for my eBay sales. I may possibly post a rant about some tw@t on eBay leaving me negative feedback last week. Totally uncalled for. I'll wait to see if it resolves itself first.

Lets see...what else. Oh yeah. A financial challenge update. Credit card is sitting at $170.34 (that's including the pending $40 I spent on dinner at PFChangs last night, with a girlfriend from school. I splurged on an $8 drink, and it was darn tasty!). I have about a 1/4 tank of gas left from my last fill up (5/14), and will probably top off the tank when I leave work today. Bringing me to my goal of $200 or less spent on the credit card this month. Cash, I'm not doing so hot on the cash. I have $9 and some change left for the rest of the month, and $4.46 on a Visa gift card. Again, this is do able if I stay out of stores.

Stores! What a freak'n rip off. Stupid me put the beater for my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in the dishwasher and of course it ate the coating off of it, so it is worthless to me now. I went to Kohl's after dinner last night to see how much a replacement beater would cost me...$36! Arrrggghhh. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I have cash in my PayPal, and this is exactly the kind of thing I try to use it for (if not paying off bills). So, this morning, I purchased a replacement beater THAT IS COATED so I can actually put it in the dishwasher. I should get it next week.

Dishwasher. I know, sounds like I'm wasting energy/money, right? Probably, but I've also recently been reminded that the gaskets and seals, etc will dry rot (?? other term?) if I don't use it occasionally. So I've taken to running it every 2 weeks or so. I hate doing the dishes, so this is working out quite well for me :)

I got an expense check from when I was away for work at the end of last month, and used 2/3rds of it on restocking my groceries. I don't know how to record that in the budget, since it was reimbursing me for mileage and food that I charged, that I wouldn't have if I were home. Anyway, I shouldn't have to go shopping again until the end of next month. I'm trying to make sure I cook at least 2x a week, and use up the food I have in the house. I got tons of vegetables, meat, fruit, and a few snacks for lunch. All for less than $80. I love Aldi! Even if I were to add this into my charge budget (though I paid through my debit card) I'd still be under March's $300 challenge. Sigh. Maybe $200 is too much to try to stay under? Meh, some of this months charges are for parking for that conference, at the beginning of the month. Double sigh. Just need a "regular" month, to see if I can meet the challenge.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My 2 Cents...

2 Cents, or even a penny. Everything is going towards debt these days. I am using eBay, baking, and side work for friends as a way to supplement my income without getting a second job. In March, I gave myself a spending limit. I started the month with $100 cash, and challenged myself not to spend more than $300 in credit card charges. I am very proud to say, I met that challenge (was $2 over on the credit card, CLOSE ENOUGH!).

April. April felt like I did nothing but hemorrhage money :( I'm embarrassed to say how much was spent (last months credit card balance was paid off today), but will say that a little more than half of it was spent on a conference and test that will help me find a new job in the near future. But for someone as cheap as I am trying to be in 2012, it still stings a little when looking at the credit card statement.

It is the middle of May, and I had intended to write this post at the beginning of the month. This month's goal is $100 cash and only $200 in credit card spending. That's including my gas. It's currently around $45 to fill up my tank.

As of this morning, I have $42 cash in my purse, a $10 winning scratch-off ticket, and $4.46 left on a Visa gift card available for spending for the rest of May. Thankfully, I have only charged $95 on the credit card so far (1/2 was parking for the conference at the beginning of the month, and one fill up of gas). The house is stocked with food, TP, kitty litter and anything else I might venture into a store to purchase. If I can manage to stay out of the supermarket and drive thru's for the next two weeks, I have every faith that I'll be able to stay under my spending limits for the month.

All of this penny pinching IS worth it. I think I already posted about paying off my car in March (8? months early). I'm ecstatic to say...
I paid my student loan off on May 12.
Waaaahooooooooiiiieeee! This means, my only outstanding debt is now my mortgage. Any and all extra money will now be thrown towards it, and my savings account. I already have a pretty sizable liquid savings account (Not including the 401K. That's probably the only amount I won't actually share a specific dollar figure.), but for me, it's not enough. Lets say it's around 2/3rds of a years salary (I make OK money, nothing spectacular). My first savings goal is to increase it to a full years salary in the next two years, then, 2 years salary in the 5 after that. I think, extra money will be divided at 75% towards mortgage and 25% into savings. Since I can't rely on actually MAKING any extra money each month, I have to do my best to keep the credit card charges to a minimum. That way, there's extra $ built into my actual budget each month.

eBay sales haven't been all that spectacular this month or last. Last month I only sold $121 worth of items, and this month, I'm only at $36 so far (but that's only 4 items). I do have 29 more "No insertion fee" listings for the month, and will spend most of tomorrow night listing some new items, and re-listing some of the higher priced old listings.

The community yard sale is at the beginning of June. I have pretty high hopes of getting rid of a bunch of the smaller items I have previously listed on eBay. Last year, all I sold was "smalls". My Hoarder friend will also be bringing some of her items over for sale and will keep me company. I don't expect to make a bunch of money at the yard sale. I think $50 would make me happy this year. I don't have a lot of things to sell, since I've unloaded most of it already on eBay! Every penny gets me closer to meeting my goals.


I am so freak'n excited about my garden! It's the first year I've tried to have one. I started one this year, as an exercise in being more frugal with my food costs, and hopefully to encourage me to eat less processed foods.

I went on a home improvement store date with my father at the end of March. He's the only person I know locally who has had a vegetable garden. I remember picking fresh salad fixings every night as a 6 year old. I bought a bunch of different plants, and another bunch of seeds (which I haven't planted yet :(, but I'm going to blame that on the fact that I'm still collecting soda bottles to make a vertical garden in a shoe rack!)

In the garden (with any luck) there will be: Tomatoes, Green and Red Peppers, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Onion, Lettuce, Squash, Dill, Cilantro, Cucumber, Honeydew Melon, Strawberries and a host of other goodies escaping my mind at the moment.

This first set of pics is the veggies as they were first planted, at the end of March/beginning of April.

And as they looked at the middle of April.

Here's everything at the end of April.

And finally, the middle of May.

Some plants are doing better than others, but overall, I'm pretty happy with how things are going so far. The 'maters and strawberries need to be moved to hang from my front porch. They're too close to the ground, and some lucky animal has been eating my precious berries :(

I started writing this post almost two weeks ago, and I STILL haven't got any of my seeds started. I do have all the soda bottles collected, cut and placed in the shoe rack. I don't know what my problem is with filling them with dirt and shoving a seed inside. Actually, some of it is the fact it's been raining so much these past 2 weeks. The potting soil is either wet from the rain, or it IS actually raining on the days I have the time to plant. THIS WEEK!