Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday dinner

Sunday dinner consist of chicken thighs, drumsticks, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a small salad. Our cousins are coming over tonight for dinner and we usually alternate houses on Sundays.

I took out the 10 pound bag of chicken quarters from the freezer the other day and put it in the fridge. The bag has thawed. I was able to separate the quarters into individual thighs and drumsticks. I used nine quarters and have enough chicken for the nine of us this evening.

I have six chicken quarters left in the fridge. I put them in a freezer bag and put some garlic and herb marinade on them. I bought the marinade from Aldi a while ago. They will be cooked tomorrow for dinner.

We are going to have mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, and a small salad for dinner with the chicken. I seasoned the chicken with some salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a small amount of poultry seasoning. The chicken is baking in the oven right now.

We should have enough chicken for each person to have two pieces each. If there is chicken left over I will send some of it home with our cousins and take what is left to work this week for my lunch.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Electric Bill

Our last electric was 188 dollars and was paid in full. My husband had been living in the rental for about three weeks before I got here. He arrived with the older children on July 15th and got the keys. He had been staying with his cousins from July 12th until the 15th.

We received our new electric bill. I arrived August 5th. I was surprised when I opened the email from the electric company. The bill was 101.44.

Yep. 101.44 total.

We use the oven. We use the AC at 78. We keep the ceiling fans on all the time. We have five ceiling fans and they belong to the rental. We wash clothes twice a week (Sunday and Thursday). We probably wash 4 loads each day. The dryer runs for 30 minutes total. I showed the kids how to set the dryer. The settings on the washer are for cold water wash and cold water rinse. The washer has a second rinse cycle but we do not choose this option. We wash on the medium cycle. We do have a television. We don't watch much TV. The blinds are closed in the bedrooms. I do open the blinds in the kitchen to let some light in. We have two large windows in the living room. The one window has a set of blinds that we keep closed. The other sliding door blinds we open half way to let some sunlight in. We use the crock pot. We use the rice steamer. We use the microwave. We use the dishwasher once a day. The fridge temp is set at 37 degrees. The freezer temp is set at negative two.

We all have cell phones and laptops that are used a lot.

Our bill dropped drastically. I am not sure what will happen with the next electric bill since so many people lost electricity and had down power lines from IRMA. I am going to wait and see if the bill increases. We will not change what we are doing. I think 101 dollars and 44 cents is an amazing electric bill for a house this size.

Old Jugs

Milk Jugs.
Juice jugs.
Water Bottles.
Any reasonable size jug.

Do you keep them? Put them in the recycling bucket? Throw them in the trash? I used to put them in the recycling bucket and still do at times.

I have been cleaning them out and rinsing with hot water after use. When we found out that we were heading for a hurricane I actually put tap water in the jugs. I filled a couple of them about 3/4 full with tap water and put them in the freezer. The thought was that if we lost power we could keep our food cold and prevent the loss from spoiled food.

As I keep thinking about this I thought that it would be great to boil the water and put the boiled water in jugs to have in an emergency. I have two in the freezer right now. I have one in the fridge full of "sweet tea" and another that is thawing. We will have cold water to drink and it will help keep other foods cold. It will prevent the refrigerator from having to work as hard. (I think I read that in the tightwad gazette a couple years ago).

My husband told me that he thought I was weird for using the older jugs. He didn't say much to me about it other than he thought it was weird. Oh well. He doesn't complain when he has cold water to drink or tea with ice.

Does anyone else reuse the jugs? If so, what do you do with them?

Plastic bags

We all have them. It's those plastic bags that we get from the store. It could be the bags that hold our sliced bread. It could be any bag, even a produce bag, that held a pound of apples.

The city we live in does not let us put these bags in the recycling for pick up on Thursdays. We have always used these bags to help with cleaning and scooping of cat litter. The bags get used to line bathroom trash baskets. We use these bags also to pick up our dog's mess when we take him outside to use the "facilities". My kids usually walk Jackson. When we owned our home we had a fenced back yard and could let him in and out as he wished. Now that we are renting there's no fenced yard and he needs to be walked a couple times a day.

Some times I use the bread bags to put dryer lint in and throw away when full.

We shop at Aldi and have our own brown bags that we use all the time. We do stop at other stores occasionally and have two bags that are filled with other plastic bags. We do put a bag in the car to have a place to throw things when we are out and about in town.

What do you use those bags for? Any thoughts?

Forgotten meal

I forgot to add that we had burgers from Aldi the other night. The burgers were 85 percent lean and 100 percent pure beef. We added one slice of cheese to each burger after they were baked in the oven. I did cut up some lettuce, cherry tomatoes (I sliced in half), sliced a small bit of onion, and cucumber. Everyone got to pick out the condiments they wanted. I opened one of the two last cans of baked beans that we had and warmed those up.

Overall, it was a quick and satisfying meal for the five of us. There were some baked beans left over and those are in the fridge for another meal. We did not have hamburger buns and people could have the burgers on regular bread if they wanted.

What's been cooking?

I went to Aldi the other day to get groceries. We have been using what was in the pantry prior to our shopping and will continue to do so supplementing with what I the other day.

My kids have been eating toast with peanut butter for breakfast. I also bought a toaster. We apparently didn't bring our old one with us in the move and I just noticed this week.

We finished the last two cans of tomato soup in the pantry and these cans were put into the recycling.

Dinner last night was two single serve meatloaves and one chicken cord on blue (both were single servings int he grocery package that my MIL sent in August). We had left over corn, broccoli, and brown gravy in the fridge. I warmed the veggies and gravy in the microwave and the kids got to pick and choose from. I steamed some white rice to give them something else. There wasn't much to choose from. We have a small portion of a meat loaf left (think about one small slice).

The night before we made pasta with jar sauce and ground beef. There is a moderate amount of ground beef and sauce left. I was going to add the meatloaf to this and serve as a small amount of pasta for lunches tomorrow.

When I got up this morning I put the last package of beef tips (in the grocery package from MIL in august) in the crock pot with a bag of baby carrots (bought several weeks ago and didn't use). I added half an onion, two cloves of fresh garlic, the last can of cream of mushroom soup, a cup of beef broth, and let this cook all morning. I will steam some more rice (my older kids like rice and it is filling). I am going to make a small salad to go with this and we will have a late lunch early dinner tonight.

I have thawed the 10 pound bag of chicken quarters. I am going to cut the legs from the thighs and have sticky chicken tomorrow for dinner. I am not going to use the whole ten pound bag for sticky chicken. We usually have Sunday dinner with our cousins and this would be more than enough for the five of us, the four of them, and help with leftovers for the week.

I also made a pot of tea on the stove. I made a lot. I used the biggest pot I could find. I boiled water, added four decaf tea bags, and half a cup of sugar. It will go in the "tea jug" in the fridge. The tea jug is just a washed and clean gallon container that had milk in it before.

Been down a few days

Comcast and Sprint have been down the past few days due to the electric companies in Florida doing their tree work and the after effects of Hurricane Irma. We did not have services for two days. I know, seems harmless right? 

Not when we have internet junkies in the house! 

We found out about an hour ago that it was back on. My husband and kids cheered in our bedroom. The house is really quiet now and everyone is enjoying their internet time. 

Our electric bill came in the mail. It is only 101.44 this month. THUD! Not what I was expecting but a very nice surprise. 

Our water bill was 145 dollars and a HUGE surprise. I looked over the bill and found that our home has automatic irrigation for the lawns in Florida. It is set by the home renter and is mandated in the lease to water the grass twice a week. I spoke to my husband. It is middle of September. We are going to look at the water irrigation meter today and figure out how to change the settings from twice a week to once a week. I can not afford a monthly water bill of 145 dollars. It stated that the use from the reclaimed irrigation water was 11,000 gallons and personal home use of water was 5,000 gallons (included showers, kitchen use, washing machine, cooking etc). I can not justify using twice the amount of water in a month to keep the lawn watered. I seriously can not justify that. It rains often in Florida (almost daily). 

My vacation time (PTO) Update: I emailed my director twice this week. I finally was able to call HR and left a message on the voicemail of our representative. I am hoping for a call back this coming week. I am determined to get this benefit from my old employer. I met the qualifications, worked for eleven years without any misconduct, and never had issues while being employed there. 

253 hours X 32.78 an hour is over 8 thousand dollars before taxes. This money would help my savings account and us to pay bills until I get my first pay check from my new job. 

I start my new job Monday!! I am so excited but very nervous. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mid month budget

I emailed my old director again this morning regarding my vacation time that is supposed to be given to me that I didn't use in the eleven years I worked for her. I emailed her to give her an update and asked if it would be deposited into my checking account this week. Tomorrow is a regular payday for this company. I am waiting for her response back.

Prior to getting the vehicles registered I need to get a certified copy of my birth certificate and marriage certificate. The DMV requested that I go online at and could get these two documents ordered and sent to me. The cost was about 70 dollars each.

I went online to the cities where I was born and get married. I was able to download the appropriate forms and I will get them printed out. The costs will be 10 dollars for the birth certificate and 15 dollars for the marriage certificate. It will take a bit longer to get to me through the mail, but I can't afford 140 dollars for the two documents.

I was looking at my budget. I have about 975 dollars worth of bills sitting on my table. I am going to have to take the money out of my savings to pay for bills, get gas for one car, and to get some groceries. I really don't want to take the money out of savings, but I don't see any way to get the bills paid, and unless my vacation time is more delayed, I really don't have a choice. I can always put the money back in my savings account when it gets direct deposited from my old employer.

I start my new job on Monday. I am so excited. I feel that we are blessed to have been able to move, begin new lives, sell our old house, and be able to rent while our new house is being built.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Meals, Life, Finances

Well the pantry, fridge, and freezer has many bare spots and the recycling bin is very thankful to be filling up.

I gave the kids the choice of either pancakes or oatmeal with milk this morning. They choose oatmeal. Lunch consisted of peanut butter with jelly, turkey, or tuna sandwiches. Two kids had peanut butter and jelly. One child declined. My husband and myself had tuna sandwiches. I opened two cans of tuna, mixed it with some mayo, added half a stalk of chopped celery, and 1/4 of an onion. Everyone enjoyed their lunch. Yesterday the kids had french toast for breakfast. I save all the bread ends in the freezer until we have enough for french toast. The kids and my husband had french toast. I did not have any. There wasn't enough for the five of us.

Dinner consisted of opening a package of pork chops. These were very large and only had four in the package. I baked them in the oven and when finished cooking we emptied 2 dredges of BBQ sauce on the pork and let it finish cooking. The BBQ containers were washed and went into the recycling. We made a package of red beans with rice. It was a prepackaged kit. The box went into the recycling. I also steamed some Aldi green beans that we had in the freezer.

We are almost out of milk. We used the last of the eggs yesterday. I made carrot cupcakes (a box mix in the pantry and used the last bit of frosting in the fridge). My kids had scrambled eggs the other morning for breakfast. I used the last of the butter yesterday for the eggs and had to scrape the butter container. We have no cheese. We have some pork and beans. No other type of beans at this time. We love beans.

For drinks: we have bottled water, tap water for the animals, decaf tea, and a small package of lemonade. I am making a gallon of tea to put into the fridge for those who want something other than ice water. (boiled water, four tea bags, 1/2 cup of sugar, one empty cleaned out milk gallon jug).

Snacks: a few carrot cupcakes are left and I will have to look around to see what else we have. We have no fruit.

Produce: a few potatoes, a head of lettuce, a couple of cheery tomatoes, 6 medium size onions, fresh garlic, a pound of baby carrots

Bread: a package of hot dog rolls, half a loaf of bread (I need to get some yeast. I have everything to make homemade bread including a bread machine). I have a Jiffy corn bread mix.

I took out a bag of chicken quarters that I bought a while back for 89 cents a pound and it is a ten pound bag. These are thawing in the fridge and I will come up with a plan. The ten pound bag will make quite a few meals for the five of us with leftovers which will be a blessing.

Frozen veggies: several bags of corn, peas, green beans, brussels sprouts

Meats: 2 large packages of chicken breast, two small packages of pork ribs (from mother in law grocery package in August), 2 pounds of ground beef, a pound of hot dogs, one pound of bratwurst, 3 pounds of ground turkey, one package of bacon, two single serve meat loaves (grocery package from MIL in August), one single chicken cord on blue, one package of beef tips (grocery package from MIL in August), and half a pork tenderloin.

We have spices. We are limited on canned goods. We have two cans of beans, one can of corned beef hash, two cans of tomato soup, one can of mushroom soup, and I am sure there are a few other things. We are out of canned tomato products.

So, with that being said I was looking over this post and noticed that I was rambling about groceries. We have finished paying off the old bills in Virginia. We have to get the two cars registered in Florida. We have to pay October bills. Funds are very tight and I am concerned that I will have to transfer money from my savings to the checking to pay the bills if I do not receive the vacation time that I did not use at my former job this week.

We have not been to the store since August 27th for any major grocery shopping. I am a bit stressed but thankful that the water/gas/trash bill is paid and the electric is paid. The rent is paid until November 1st. I start my job on Monday. It is a blessing.

Today's thoughts

The hurricane has moved on and I believe has become a tropical storm. We still have a bit of wind where we live, but we are blessed. We have a home, never lost electricity, had some shingles come off the roof, and a lot of broken tree limbs. I put in a maintenance request for the lost shingles, a few three limbs that are broken in half but hanging off the front tree, and for the clean up of the limbs that my family took from the ground and stacked them near the garage.

I have been in contact with my director at my previous job. She stated that she would ensure that I would receive my vacation time cash out. I spoke to her about a week and a half ago. This Thursday is a normal pay day for the company I used to work for. I am hoping that it will be direct deposited into my account this week.

253 hours X 32.78 an hour is a nice amount to receive and would help tremendously in getting the bills paid and put enough into savings. All taxes will come out of this money.

I start my new job next Monday. I have HR orientation and will receive information on the benefit package. I need to find out from this employer if they will allow me to roll over my 403 B into their retirement plan. I will know next week.

The new house hasn't been started to build yet due to the hurricane. We drove by there yesterday and there are several stakes in the ground. The utility lines are marked. It is a start. The mortgage loan was approved at 4.2 percent interest. My credit score is 731.

My savings account has 33,000 in it for the down payment and closing costs. We will be putting 20,900 down at closing. I want to keep 10,000 in the savings for emergencies and a cushion. The 3,000 extra will just stay there and gain interest. The savings account is in my name only to prevent my husband from spending foolishly. This savings account is considered an investor's savings and the bank stated that if I set up the savings this way I would gain more interest. I agreed. I earned 3.16 cents in less than a month in interest. It is free money. I will take it. Every little bit helps.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What'a been happening?

IRMA is here and we are safe at home. This morning I made breakfast for everyone. I scrambled some eggs in bacon fat (I am out of butter) and served these to the five of us. Everyone ate and did not complain.

Lunch consisted of cleaning out the left overs from the last few days. The kids go to pick and choose what they wanted from the last bit of chicken, peas, broccoli, pasta, and a few slices of pizza that were in the fridge. All the left overs are finally done.

Tonight's dinner consisted of thawing a pound of ground beef and making 15 meatballs. I baked these in the oven. I took five potatoes and boiled them to make mashed potatoes (I scraped the butter container to get some for the potatoes, it wasn't really enough). I steamed some corn and I made brown gravy from two packets in the pantry. I put the gravy over the meatballs and mashed potatoes.

There's some corn, mashed potatoes, and a bit of gravy leftover. They will go into the fridge for another meal. I am not sure what the plan is for tomorrow because IRMA is supposed to get worse overnight.

Our lights have been flickering on and off. We have the radio on to hear the weather reports. We still have cable and cell communication. We have been told that there are tornado warnings and watches. We have some broken tree limbs in our back yard. The winds are terrible and the rain is just overwhelming.

Friday, September 8, 2017


We have been keeping up to date with the local news regarding hurricane IRMA. Southern Florida has mandated evacuations. We are not in southern Florida but Lake county (here in central florida) has decided to open shelters tomorrow morning at 8 AM for residents. If needed we will go to the shelter and stay until it is safe to leave and go back to our home. We have a rental home that was built in 2005 and appears to be sturdy and safe. The property management company has contacted us several times to give us information how to be prepared. They requested that we contact them through email once a day to ensure that we are safe and well. They are also going to be coming to each property to assess for weather related damages.

What has been cooking? Thursday morning we had left over chicken for breakfast. The kids had left over fried chicken and the last of the baked beans for lunch. These two things are finally gone! Lunch for my husband and I was a small bowl of chicken salad that I made using the marinated chicken breast that I baked slowly the other night. We will have some of the marinated chicken left. I only marinated two large chicken breasts and this had made enough lunches for a couple of days.

Thursday night's dinner was steamed white rice over shredded chicken, carrots, and gravy. The other day I put the other two chicken breasts in the crock pot with a bag of baby carrots, and a can of cream of chicken soup and the last of the chicken stock I had in the freezer. This cooked all day and I shredded the chicken. This was able to feed the five of us last night with a small amount left over to be used today.

Tonight's dinner will be pasta, with meatballs, and sauce. We need a break from the chicken! I have a pound of ground beef thawing and will make meatballs out of it. I have to jars of spaghetti sauce in the fridge with 1/4 cup left in each one. I will finish those two end jars up and if needed open another jar from the pantry. The kids will have some Parmesan cheese on their pasta. We will either steam some broccoli or peas to have with our meal.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What's been cooking?

Well, not much really. Last night we had leftovers served buffet style. I offered fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, hot dogs, Italian sausage, and green beans. We still have some fried chicken, baked beans, and a small amount of potato salad left.

I did marinade two chicken breast yesterday and put them in the oven. I baked them at 325 until done and sliced the chicken breasts. We will use this chicken for sandwiches this week. I actually did cook the chicken in the hopes that we would have some proteins available if we lost electricity during the storm. We can make sandwiches or just eat the chicken cold with items from the cabinets.

I put the other two chicken breasts in the crock pot (my cousins gave packages of chicken breast to my husband when he moved in the house in July. We have been working on using this up). I finally used the last package this morning. I put the chicken in the crock pot. I added a bag of baby carrots (from the fridge bought a couple of weeks ago), the last couple cups of chicken stock I made a while ago that needed to go, and a can of cream of chicken soup. I added some pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, and celery salt. This will cook all day on low. We will simmer some long grain rice and serve with dinner this evening.

Our pantry has not been filled in a while. We have been using what we have until I get a pay check the first week of October. I emailed my old director yesterday to find out how long it will be until I receive all my paid vacation time that I did not use. I am trying to be patient and wait for a response back from her. She is not known for her timely responses to questions.

What's been happening?

One word. IRMA.

We have been getting ready a bit more seriously than we would have in Virginia. Being in Florida means that there are no mountains or a valley to protect the residents like we have in Virginia. We have shelf stable foods. We have bottled water. A TON OF WATER. We have cat food. We have litter. We have dog food. We have some cash in my husband's wallet. Not much. We have two cars with gas in them. We have four flashlights. We have a radio. We bought a lot of batteries. We have candles. We have matches. We have two coolers in the garage. I paid for the flashlights and batteries. We had everything else prior to the arrival of IRMA.

Shelf stable foods: canned beans (3) , tuna (2), peanut butter (2), jelly (2), dry cereal (1), bottled water, canned soup (in an emergency we can eat canned soup cold) (4), saltine crackers (1), canned soda (it is what it is), one can of corn beef hash, kool aid packets (several packets), two boxes of town house type crackers. We do not have much in the pantry since we have been using what we have to keep expenses down. We can supplement this with food from the fridge and freezer unless we lose electricity.

Water: We have several gallons of water. We have three cases of 20 ounce bottles. We have been filling zip lock bags with water and freezing them. We have an ice maker that I have been filling zip lock gallon bags with to keep in the freezer. I have an empty jug of tea that I washed out and filled with water to put in the freezer. (I have a couple more empty jugs that we will fill and put in the freezer later today).

Filling the bathtub: My husband suggested last night that we fill the bathtubs. We have a regular size bathtub in my kids bathroom. We have a spa size tub (which we hardly use) in our bathroom. I would consider filling the bathtubs with clean water to use for flushing the toilets and providing the cats and dog with water to drink.

Cash: My husband has a couple of dollars in his wallet. 99 percent of our money is in the bank.

Cars: Both cars have gas. We also have a full gas can in the garage if needed. There has been rumors that the gas stations have been running out.

Medications: We have three weeks supply of medications for everyone. We are going to need refills eventually, but at this time, we should be prepared and have enough for the next week. I also bought generic Tylenol and generic ibuprofen from the dollar store the other day.

Toiletries: We have a 12 pack of toilet paper. We have shampoo and bath soap.