Sunday, February 22, 2015

Co-housing to ease financial loads

If you would have asked me years ago, I would have replied I could never share a house with another family. But when we made the decision to move to Oregon, that is exactly what we did, as we had grown tired of trying to shoulder everything ourselves. No community to lean on, fighting not just our fight with having cancer but our financial struggles as well. We were given an opportunity to share a really large house with another family who also has their fair share of financial struggles.

It was not easy at first, it was a huge adjustment period, learning everyone's personalities, laying expectations out on the table and communicating everyone's needs and looking for solutions to  live peacefully within a tribe. Over time we have become family and bonds have been built which is different than simply a friendship when you share living space with others.

In many ways it quickly became a blessing especially with news of my cancer spreading again where I would need treatments again.  Housework is shared, rent , electricity and internet is split, food is kept separate with the exception of occasional community meals. We have our private spaces but share great company when we are up to it, regardless of weather conditions. There is an abundance of laughter and genuine caring about everyone in the household too.

 It is really nice to share the financial loads and is allowing hubby time to try his hand at entrepreneurship and grow a business. It also allows our room mate to try to grow her home business as well. While Co-housing certainly is not for everyone, we are finding it beneficial on many levels and for both families, not just one. By leaning on each other for now, we are raising each other up and allowing us this opportunity that otherwise never would have been able to happen. By leaning on each other, we were able to raise the bar in a standard of living, we did not have alone.

It has really been an amazing experience to open our minds up to this kind of lifestyle. How long will we co-house together? Nobody really knows, but for now it is working very well for our families and that is all that matters.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January Grocery totals $225 for the month!

We have found Oregon to be more expensive for rental/housing prices and for food, which I had already figured being a coastal state. One nice thing however is that Oregon is a no tax state so their is no sales tax on items purchased, compared to Michigan's 6% sales tax.

With that being said, I am tickled pink to say January found us spending a total of $225 for the whole month which covered pet food ( for 1 dog and 1 bunny) and personal care products such as toilet paper, shampoo, razors and soap.  It also reflected a few treat splurges such as a bucket of ice cream and cold cereal!

This is still while figuring out the best places to shop which we have been alternating Walmart's with Grocery Outlet for now depending on what we need.

While I did  not keep records of what we ate, some of the things we did eat for dinner were

Home made refried bean burritos

Pull apart pizza

Cooked chicken over fresh salads ( sauteed chicken breast with a little soy sauce,  mixed dark greens and purple lettuce, chopped green onions and chopped tomatoes) several times

browned ground beef with brown gravy and noodles

eggs, cheddar lil smokies and toast


cheddar lil smokies mixed with pasta and cream of chicken soup

cauliflower potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and left over ham

Ham dinner ( brought and made by niece when they visited)

Of course there was more, I just can not remember. Hubby has cooked several dinners as I have had quite a few days I just have not felt up to it. It was confirmed at Oncologist appointment my cancer is spreading and now we are waiting for a pet scan to be scheduled to see how much it has spread and how much it is active to get a new fight plan going. I will write more about this over at my whole-istic living blog! You can read that post HERE

At any rate, I would have to say January was a huge success at keeping the grocery bill fairly low for a family of 4, while eating well.

How did you do for January grocery spending?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A New Year, A New Plan, A New Groove ......

What an exciting way to start a new year by starting a whole new way of life in a state 3000 miles from a state you lived your whole life in! Well all but 1 year when we attempted a year in North Carolina!  For now we have said goodbye to Michigan and have totally fallen head over heels in love with southern Oregon and the warmer temps combined with a beauty unmatched by Michigan!

Trying to get all my medical set up in a new state was difficult to say the least, even leaving in me in tears or rage on a few occasions.......seems like it is not all that popular for a stage IV breast cancer patient in the middle of treatment to sell everything they own and move cross country! With  that being said, it is finally all set up and done and waiting for new oncologist appointment next week. Being that I seem to be having problems with a tumor growing again ( did not have any problems until we hit the road to our new home and has been getting worse and more frequent in the meantime.)  But it is all good and will be getting answers soon.

We did not just leave Michigan, but made a commitment to hubby saying good bye to fast food work forever! I have to remind him it took big kahunas to sell everything we own and move to a new state, so working for himself is NOTHING and he can do it! He needs lots of encouragement, nudging to get motivated, help at knowing what to do and learn computers for the first time in his life but I know he can do it!

With all that being said, our

  GOALS FOR 2015 ARE :

1.) To work on my health, get my tumor that is causing a lot of problems under control, build muscles and strength, spend time in spiritually uplifting nature, keep stress low, humor and joy high

2.) Hubby to start generating income in his new entrepreneur adventure of odd jobs starting with window screen repair and side hustle jobs.

3.) Figure out how to live comfortably within the income we already receive through SSI payments for me being considered disabled in a manner expected to result in death........ I know right? Not that I buy into the resulting in death but yeah that is a  stage IV prognosis which gets your SSI claim expedited and I received payment within 3 weeks of filing, no 3 to 5 month wait nor fighting a denial letter........who knew?

4.) Concentrate as a whole family on a one word goal for the year which is ALIVE...what makes us feel alive, what are we passionate about, what can we do to thrive not just survive, what makes us tick, what brings us joy, what do we find fun, what makes us feel fulfilled, what empowers us........and more! Attempting to make each family member a priority to be as happy as possible while being who they are!

5.) To pay off our Van which will be around $1800

6.) To explore and get to know our new home state

7.) To continue to make it without the help of food stamps

So there you have it, this may not be a complete list as I have not had a chance to really sit down and define or goal plan for 2015. Getting my medical stuff all transferred over was practically a full time job and of course had priority over everything. But this is a starter list of the things I know we want to accomplish!

I truly hope you all have an amazing 2015 and you accomplish everything you want out of it!

What are your goals for 2015? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Getting Settled in Oregon!

We sold everything we owned with the exception of what would fit in our  minivan along with 4 people, a dog and a bunny in a cat carrier. We left the last day of November for our 3000 mile trek cross the country for an adventure of a life time. The only time we really have been out of Michigan was our one year attempt in North Carolina, a trip to see my Dad in Indiana one time and a weekend festival in Wisconsin once. Other than that our experiences have been Michigan for me and Michigan and Indiana for Hubby.

Selling what we own is how we raise money quickly to cover the expenses of such a move, this is the same method we used when we moved from upper peninsula Michigan to North Carolina. Seems to raise the funds needed and seems cheaper to replace things used rather than the expense of a moving truck.

To avoid snow issue, mountains and cold, our route took us through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Northern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Northern California into Southern Oregon to our new home.

It was an incredible 7 day journey and we were in awe of our surroundings the whole time, as well as going from the cold of Michigan into 50 and 60 degree weather! 

Our first night was a horrible cheap drug trafficking and hooker hangout motel ( we were not aware of that until the next morning) and the room had not been cleaned ..........oh goodness nasty! Part of the Adventure!

We stopped in for breakfast at our daughters boyfriend where they got to meet in person for the first time and spent an amazing 2 hours there with an incredible family!

Then we went onto Decatur Illinois spending 2 nights with friends where we had to unload a bunch of stuff as we were carrying too much weight in the van.

Then on to spend a night with another friend and her amazing husband and grand-babies in Oklahoma.

From there we went through Amarillo Texas and onto spend the Night in New Mexico at a hotel with pool and hot tub.........oh was that nice!  We did the same thing in Arizona! YESSSSSS!

The next day was bad as my back had enough and by the time we stopped at a cheap motel, I was crying.

The last day of the trip was almost 600 miles and we just wanted to get there!

The last 2 pictures here are of the house on 20 acres backed by thousands of acres of BLM land........oh I am  in heaven!

We are co-housing with another amazing family to make it affordable to both of our families  for the time being and there is another family that will be putting a camper somewhere on the property so lots of friends around.

It is in the cutest little area called Rogue River.

Can not wait to share our new journey in our new area with you!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving to Oregon!

While we were trying to decide a future move between Ecuador, Belize and Oregon, an opportunity came up we could not refuse. This has created a whirl wind of activity and is a time sensitive move having to time everything with my cancer shots. These shots are on a 28 day cycle so we have to drive out there and get my new medical set up and new oncologist ASAP so as to not lapse in treatments.

However, we are getting the opportunity to go from our 2 bedroom trailer here in Michigan, to a 4 bedroom on 20 acres backed on 2 sides with BLM land with wood burner and hot tub! How awesome is that?  It also is just under 2 hours from my niece me and my kids are really close with!

We have friends in the area and the best part is when I looked before making our decision, there are 3 cancer care centers and a holistic one all 20 minutes from the place!  The pictures of the area are breathtaking and certainly spiritually uplifting just looking at the wild beauty of the place. A friend can help get hubby a really good job out there too that will NOT be fast food!

So we have been busy selling everything we own, getting medical stuff taken care of, having good bye thanksgiving dinners and the general business and details a move of this nature entails. We will be going a very southerly route, a lot farther and longer but warmer and perhaps better weather considering we will be traveling the first week of December.

I can not tell you how excited my family is over this quite unexpected adventure, we have never been out west beyond Wisconsin and Illinois which lets face it, don't count! Even my teens are really excited about this as they have been quite miserable here in central Michigan! 

Today was the first day of our Moving sale and we did pretty good, I have a few big ticket items I am really hoping will sell without having to come down to insulting amounts. But I have confidence we can sell them in the 2 weeks we have left. Nothing like a 3 week decision to move to shake things up!

Not sure when I will have a chance to post again, but hopefully it will be soon and hopefully will be followed with pictures to come!

Westward and Onward!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October Grocery total $134 for family of 4!

While I technically did not need to buy anything more than a gallon of milk, eggs and a couple loaves of bread, I wanted to purchase a little additional things for variety in meals.

We scored big time at the farmers market last day of the year sale where one table in particular had reduced prices to a lovely all time low. This photo here cost a total of $17  and that bag of potatoes is at least 25 pounds and the bag of apples was about a 10 pound bag!

I then went to Save a Lot down the street from the farmers market and purchased an additional $70 in meats and supplies for chili and spaghetti making.

This brings the grand total for the month to spending only $134 in groceries! This included all three meals in the day.

Our dinners we had were:

2.) Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Toast and rosemary diced potatoes

3.) Pan Seared Lemon Peppered Talipia,  with Baked Potatoes and Sour Cream and Fried Cabbage

4.) Stuffed Meatless Peppers

5.) Blueberry Pancakes

6.) Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans

7.) Spaghetti

8.) Chili

9.) Blueberry Pancakes

10.) Flax seed, Apple Pecan muffins with Boiled Eggs and fresh carrot sticks

11.) Burritos with homemade re-fried beans

12.) Creamy Salmon Bok Choy Casserole

13.) Scalloped Potatoes, Tomato Sandwiches and Apple Crisp

14.) Baked lemon peppered chicken, cheesy garlic bread (using hot-dog buns needing used up) tossed green and tomato salad, acorn squash, watermelon

15.) White bean soup

This is what I can remember from memory anyhow as it does seem I forgot what I made a few nights. But this gives you a good general idea of what we eat for dinners on a fairly small grocery budget.

Breakfasts consist of bananas and cream, oatmeal,  corn flakes,left over muffins or homemade granola.

Lunches have consisted of peanut butter and jelly, tomato sandwiches, bolgna and cheese, left over muffins.

We have 3 days left in the month and I have at the moment tons of meals I can make that will carry over to November!  I seriously could have gotten away with only getting the food at the farmers market with a gallon of milk and 2 loaves of bread for a total of $64 dollars this month........had I been pinched bad enough for money.

It was really a great month for keeping our grocery budget in check, while eating really well, delicious, home cooked meals!

How did you do for October groceries?

See the first of the month Grocery list HERE

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creamy Salmon Bok Choy Casserole

1 Can Pink Salmon
1 Bok Choy
2 cups cooked long grain rice
2 Cups Water
5 Chicken Bouillons
2 Cups Milk
2 to 3 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 tsp. prepared minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 Tablespoons Butter
6 Tablespoons Flour

Line a 13 x 9 casserole dish with the dark green leafy portion of the Bok Choy. Stir canned salmon ( after removing bones) into cooked rice. Evenly spread cooked long grain white rice on top of leaves. Sprinkle the 2 to 3 teaspoons of Sesame oil over rice.

Slice up the Bok choy stalks and put in pan with 2 cups water with the 5 chicken bouillons, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes.

In a large 2 quart pan, melt butter over medium heat, stir in flour and slowly a little at a time stir in the chicken broth and Bok Choy stalk mixture. Slowly stir in the milk add garlic, salt and pepper and continue stirring until thickened. Pour evenly over rice in casserole dish making sure all the rice is coated.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Couscous Stuffed Peppers

6 to 10 Green Bell Peppers ( they do not have to be the huge ones)
1 Box Wild Mushroom Couscous ( quick cooking )
2 to 3 cups left over Fried Cabbage 
1/2 cup sunflower hearts
4 T. Ground Flax Seed
1/4 c. Ketchup
8 oz cheddar cheese grated

Optional: Sour Cream and Hot Sauce

Fill a 2 quart pan with water and bring boil. Cut Tops off of Green peppers and clean seeds out ( reserve tops)

Place Green Peppers in boiling water and boil 5 minutes, remove from water, drain water out from insides and place in a 13 x 9 casserole dish.

Cook Couscous according to package directions and put in bowl.

Take the tops of green peppers and trim any good green pepper off and dice, add to a fry pan with a little olive oil and sautee about 5 minutes. Add left over Fried Cabbage and heat, stirring occasionally ( about 5 minutes.)

Add to Couscous.

Add the Sunflower hearts, flax seeds, ketchup and about 2/3 of grated cheese and stir until mixed well.

Fill the green bell peppers generously with mixture and top each with a little grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Serve as is, or topped with sour cream or a little bit of hot sauce and sour cream depending on taste.

Recipes based off THIS LIST HERE

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fried Cabbage

2 T. Bacon Grease
1/3 of a head of cabbage sliced and chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 onion chopped
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

In large fry pan or electric skillet, melt bacon grease on medium-high. Add rest of ingredients an stir well to coat ingredients in bacon grease. Keep Stirring frequently ( turn heat down if too high) and fry for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how crisp or tender you want it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hamburger Cabbage Soup

1/3 head of cabbage chopped in 2 inch pieces
1 pound ground beef
3 potatoes diced
2 cups baby carrots
2 onions chopped
7 cups water
7 beef bouillon cubes
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp minced prepared garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves.

In 2 quart pot, brown ground beef with onion until browned and onion is clear, drain fat off. Add every thing else, stir well and bring to boil. Cover and turn down to simmer ( around medium low) for about 40 minutes, take out bay leaves and serve. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What $47 Bought for a Meijer Food Shopping Trip

Our food budget is pretty small right now but that does not mean we are not eating well! With what we have in cupboards, freezers and pantries, we have just been supplementing what we have for the week to add to inventory to make yummy meals. To give you an idea as I will be making posts of what we had for the week and what we spend throughout the month and when I will show you what we bought for the $47 and then what we had already. As you can see it is a combination of some healthy and then some not so healthy and complete junk. But it will provide for several fairly healthy to very healthy meals for the week. I look forward to sharing with you!

Our $47 food purchases at Meijers was as follows:

1 large bag fruity pebbles cereal ( not my choice, a must have for hubby LOL)
Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer ( another must by hubby next to me )
3  8 ounce blocks of mild cheddar cheese ( buy 2 get 1 free)
1 dozen medium eggs
2 pkgs Bagels
2 cans Pink Salmon
3 lb bag of dried Pinto Beans
1 box crackers
3  packs of Tortilla Shells ( 10 in a bag)
6 green peppers ( in bag and on sale)
bag of romaine lettuce ( 6 in pack for $4)
1 Bok choy
6 Pears ( 1.29 a pound)
3 lbs Bananas
pkg of 8 Burritos

What we already had at home:

2 Gallons Milk
Large bag of Puffed Wheat Cereal
3 pounds of stick butter
1 dozen eggs
2 pkgs Cream Cheese
1 bag frozen broccoli
1/2 bag frozen beans
3 or 4 bags left of fresh frozen blueberries
1 package flat rounds bread
2 loaves bread
2 pkgs  of 4 or 5 each Frozen Talipia
1 lb ground beef
1 pkg bacon
ground flax seed
8 cans green bean
1 can peas
2 cans Chick Peas
2 cans cream corn
2 cans corn
1 can tomato paste
1 small can pumpkin
2 cans coconut milk
1 box pancake mix ( someone had given us that, I don't usually buy pancake mix)
1  1/2 of 5 pound bags white flour
fresh baby carrots
Sour Cream
1 head of cabbage
3 yellow onions
3 apples
several pkgs of dried kidney beans, black beans, white northern beans, lentils
spices and bouillons
a tiny bit of jasmine rice
1 box of Organic Quinoa
1 box of wild mushroom couscous
1 Tin Oatmeal
1/2 jar peanut butter and jellies
white potatoes
1 chocolate cake mix
1 can tuna
1 box penne pasta
1 box Spaghetti noodles
Sunflower Hearts

So far off of this we have had 3 meals ( dinners only)

1.) Hamburger Cabbage Soup

2.) Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Toast and rosemary diced potatoes

3.) Pan Seared Lemon Peppered Talipia,  with Baked Potatoes and Sour Cream and Fried Cabbage

4.) Stuffed Meatless Peppers

5.) Blueberry Pancakes

( I will be sharing some of the recipes over next few days!)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I Don't Advocate Bankruptcy

I received an email recently from someone who said they enjoyed reading this blog, but wondered why I had no posts on Bankruptcy. They were wondering if perhaps they could do a guest post on this subject. After careful considering I had responded that I really did not think Bankruptcy posts were a good fit for this is why....

1.) I don't advocate Bankruptcy, while it may have it's place for certain circumstances, I think one needs to take full ownership of their financial decisions good or bad. Yes things happen sometimes out of our control, yet you spent the money, you owe that  debt and Bankruptcy should not be an easy way out. It should be only considered after every other possible option has been exhausted. I am not fully against filing Bankruptcy, I just think it should be avoided when other options may be available and should be weighed extremely carefully before entering into it.

2.) I don't have much debt personally so have no reason to advocate Bankruptcy as I write about what we live and experience personally.

3.) This blog is about poverty and living as well as one can on a minimum wage job. Lets face it, who in this financial genre would ever be able to afford to even file in the first place? Bankruptcy is not cheap and most in the financial range that I write about, would never be able to afford the filing fees. That is why pay day loans or over-drafting ones bank account ( If one is lucky enough to even be able to have a checking or savings account) is so attractive. Well okay maybe not attractive but a temptation many give into simply because they want to eat or not have their electricity shut off that week. It would be far easier to pay the $30 overdraft fee than come up with $1000 to file bankruptcy.

4.) Bankruptcy is more for higher income ranges as they usually carry far more debt they would need to dig out of the burden of. They also would be able to either pay the filing fees or sell enough material belongings to come up with the money to file.

At the end of the day, I don't write about it or talk about it because I think far too many use it as an easy way out rather than how it is intended to be used for. I do know a few personally that used it for really good reasons and their circumstances made it a good choice for them. I know far too many that not only filed pre-maturely as an easy way out of their responsibilities, but took no lessons away from it and filed again 7 to 10 years after filing the first time around! Re-peat bankruptcy filers, it does happen.

Since I do not have any personal experience with having a need to file nor having the funds to file, it simply is not a subject I give any thought too.

Only you would be able to answer if filing Bankruptcy would be a good choice for your circumstances and there is plenty other sites that could give you the information you seek on it, much more qualified than this blog. The only advice I would have to offer is to think very carefully about making the decision and not to jump into it without considering every possible option there would be. There may be a better choice and at any rate, if your debt load is that heavy, regardless of what you choose as an option to deal with it, there will be a need for big lifestyle changes so you don't wind up in the same circumstances later down the road.

Good Luck to you in paying down your debts!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Parmesan Breaded Chicken Casserole

Parmesan Breaded Chicken Casserole

2 C. Bread crumbs
1 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese

4 Chicken Breasts Cooked and cut or shredded into about 1 inch pieces
3 C. Chicken Broth
1 C. Milk
1 T. Olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp. prepared minced garlic or 2 cloves minced
4 T. Flour
Pepper to taste ( dash or two)
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 box  ( 1 lb) Penne Pasta
1 Can french style green beans (drained)

Mix the bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and set aside.  Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until slightly clear ( about 5 minutes)  add flour with pepper and salt and stir. Slowly add chicken broth stirring constantly over medium heat. Add milk slowly stirring constantly and stir until slightly thickened. While doing this part have the Penne Pasta boiling and cooking according to directions on box and drain when done)

Add chicken pieces and green beans to chicken broth and milk sauce stirring well and heating up ( about 5 minutes and remove from burner)

In 13 x 9 casserole pan pour in Penne pasta then dump sauce over top and stir in well.

Top with bread crumb mixture.

Place in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until top is golden brown.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stepping through the Door of Amazing and Good Things Coming Our Way!

I can not tell you how happy I am AUGUST is over and we are onto a new month that started on the first day of a new week! Fresh slate, new beginnings, shaking off August and opening our arms, hearts and souls up to all the amazing wonders and good things the universe showers down upon us!

August was a big vortex, stored up negativity it seemed that the universe stored up the whole 18 months it felt sorry for me and gave me a break. Then peeked down and saw me feeling better and getting strong again and decided to open the chute and let it all fall down on my shoulders all at once! Of course that is at least how it felt! Crazy, crazy , crazy pile up of.......... doggie doo! I could not be happier to see August finally come to an end.

We by no means are out of the woods, BUT I am shaking it off and marching forward putting that happy back in my step! I don't get bitter when things go wrong, I may get worried, stressed out and fearful but I don't get angry and bitter. To me that leads to all sorts of negative feelings of guilt, resentment, jealousy, hate, blaming others.......and nothing good comes of it. Rather I allow myself to be overwhelmed for a little bit, and feel the fear or stress but I know these are short lived because then I can shake it off and say fine........these feelings are because I am too emotionally involved and I am focusing on the problems way too close. Shake it off, get back to my happy place and start focusing on solutions and action plans.

This is my way of being pro-active always keeping control of the fact I always have choices and refuse to play the victim role that tends to get played when you allow yourself to get bitter and resentful. No matter what, there will always be choices and our life and everything it contains either material or emotion is choice. Now THAT is empowering!

I have received a few donations to which I am eternally grateful for (you all know who you are, so much love your way!) and am still working on de-owning and selling things off to come up with what we are short on and need within the next 2 weeks. This has been slow going as I am not recovering from my liver section biopsy surgery as well as I should be....... how awful that was is for a post over at my wholistic living blog! YIKES is all I am gonna say here!

As of yesterday Minimum wage got it's first hike to $8.15 an hour so that is all good, nothing like a 60 cent raise to boost your pay a little!  It is suppose to go to 9.25 an hour but Michigan comes in at the bottom being the slowest pay climb EVAH out of all the other states doing it in incremental increases.  2018 is how long we have to wait for it to reach that 9.25 an hour! Way to go Michigan! Luckily we have plans to be LONG gone by then, leaving Michigan behind forever! Woot Woot!

We have a homeschool camp out coming up in a few days hosted in our yard for several families and dear friends that will be here a whole week. They have gone above and beyond to make this happen ( kind of combining it as my staying alive party too!) One is having a birthday during that time too. Lots of fun to be had and my husband will be taking a much needed vacation for the week too ( that was put in for before all the bad dumped on us while it may pinch money wise, between work and my doctor visits, he really, really needs this!)

There is nothing like a great group of friends, having a great time around a bonfire and pitching tents in the country air to turn things back to the positive!

There is a quote ( can not remember by who) that says "You don't attract what you want, you attract what you are!"

Perfect....... I am ready for good things! Lets ROCK THIS!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Minimum Wage Increase, New Bills = New Budget!

Michigan's minimum wage is being increased in several phases until it reaches it's full potential of $9.26 or so an hour by the year 2018.  Starting next month this first increase will bring it from the $7.40 an hour and raise it to $8.15 an hour. This is great news actually for us as the employer hubby works for, never really raises the income of anyone......raises are tiny and far and few between!  Now normally I would not do a life inflation increase but really our budget needs this increase just for the survival budget due to recent added expenses.  This will give hubby approximately $540 take home pay every 2 weeks for a total of $1080 a month plus our additional $280 a month in child support I receive. A Grand total of $1360 a month.... no food stamps, but we will still have medicaid.

Before I get into the new budget I would like to take a moment to thank a reader for their recent donation... you know who you are and I am extremely grateful for your generous act of kindness!   I also was able to sell our egg incubator yesterday.... these extras going to make up for loss of wages for hubby being too ill to go to work for 3 days recently!  I also plan to continue selling items as I can to speed up decluttering our home and preparing to leave Michigan in 19 months! Woot can not wait!

Now on to the Budget........ I know you want to know how exactly we plan to pull all this off! So I will not keep you waiting any longer here it is!

Budget to finish out the year 2014

From hubby's pay checks and income of $1080 a month

Rent                 $475
Car payment     $185
Phone/online      $ 60
Electric              $ 50
Car Insurance    $105
Propane             $ 75
X-box live          $20
Netflix                $9
Gas for van          $100

From the $280 Child Support  

Food                      $180
Emergency fund      $100

Now this falls short on a couple like phone, electric and propane but it is still continuing to pay...... phone and electric will be perpetually falling behind but then can be caught up with either extra cash made ( preferable method )  or tax refund. 

Propane we will need to earn extra money or well....... yeah. We need to raise extra cash no exceptions!

Now for clothes, moving costs, and extra things we need or a little bit of entertainment ....... we will find alternative methods for.

As far as holidays, well we have never put a big emphasis on holidays anyways so we will either not celebrate them or use extra money or alternative methods such as swagbucks or what ever. It is not uncommon for the kids to wait until tax refund time to go get a couple things they wanted for the holidays but we did not have the money at that time.  

We look for ways all through the year to create special days when the opportunity arises, not when a calendar and advertisements tell us to do so, and it has worked just fine for us!

So there you have it, our new survival budget in place! :) Whew I feel so much better seeing it all written down!

How does your budgeting fair? Do budgets work for you? If not, what method does? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I think I can, I think I can, I KNOW we can!

We ended up having to replace our Bronco, and upgraded hubby to a Soccer Mom driving a Minivan! Much better mileage than the Bronco but also means once again we had to take on car payments that I was really trying not to have to do again.  This will make things even tighter for us but not too bad overall where payments are $185 a month for 16 months.  We may just pay that off when our tax refund comes but will have to see.  She is high in miles but was a good price and running in really good condition so we are hopeful she will last as long as we need her too! Yes The Bronco was Bob, our minivan is now known as Annie!

So far this month I have managed to only spend $130 on groceries which includes dog food, feminine products and toilet paper. This has been working out fine for now as I have been combining it with what we had already in our pantry/ and freezers.  I also entertained visiting family one day which fed 8 people and made a dish to pass for our potluck family reunion!

When my family visited, including my oldest brother I have not seen in 15 years, I made limed chicken lettuce wraps ( limed chicken, fresh diced tomatoes and grated cheese wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves) corn on the cob, cucumber salad and fresh cut cucumbers.  For dessert I made a totally healthy raw foods, mango/kiwi with coconut cream and raspberry frosting in a walnut crust!  There was plenty of limed chicken left so yesterday I heated it up and added taco seasoning to it, then made these into tortillas with taco sauce along with freshly cut tomatoes and cut up romaine lettuce. We still had a whole pie left too so had that for dessert. Today will be black bean tortillas with tomato, shredded cheese and romaine lettuce on multi grain tortillas.

As you can see, even with a tight budget, we have been eating quite well, and very delicious foods!

I really need to sit down and come up with a new budget, maybe tonight, or if not perhaps tomorrow. I know I can not play around and it is highly important I get one in place as every penny counts right now. Hubby just lost 3 days of work from a combination of getting sick, then in a coughing fit threw his back out, so this has me posting things and trying to sell off a few things to make up for that loss and hopefully I can sell enough before I go in for surgery next week!

So yeah there you go it is a combination of what we need to do of lowering expenses, increasing income, creating a working budget and establishing a growing savings in preparation of leaving Michigan in 19 or so months! I know this is going to take some real hard work and effort, but I also know if I commit to it, we can do it!

August hit us, and hit us hard but we are still standing and will march on filled with gratitude for this opportunity to expand, grow and continue building character.

How has your August been going?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Getting Off Snap!

So after being on Snap ( food stamps) for 18 months we are off of them once again and I am hoping we are making the right decision.  This is making August extremely tight for us because of course right after we made the decision not to renew the Snap, all sorts of bad news of changes came in. As I told hubby though, we made it for 15 years without state assistance, we can do it long as my health holds out as I am feeling better than I have in YEARS.  But that is about to change as I have an alien tumor baby throwing us into a big surprise, baffling all....... the only way to get to it is through a liver resection operation to cut it out of my liver to biopsy it. A needle biopsy proved to be suicidal so he wouldn't do it so they will open me up instead. This will put me down for about 6 weeks and I seem to be the only one good at purchasing and preparing food on an extremely tight budget! I need to come up with a plan, before surgery to carry us through the 6 weeks. I am actually excited to be off Snap again even if it means a raised level of stress again as I have to be so much more creative and conscious of spending on food.

So far, the last 2 weeks we have had $20 for the week for food, and this is okay for now, as I have some pantry items pulling us through and I am getting creative in the kitchen to stretch every thing.  Last night we had sauteed onions and garlic with curry powder in it, corn on the cob ( which I cut my corn off to mix the onions in with it deleting the need for butter or salt.....delicious!) and I made a strawberry/blueberry protein smoothie with coconut milk. My son had a handful of walnuts to go with it and my daughter only likes the smoothie out of that so she got her last can of clam chowder.  Tonight I made Chorizo sausage goulash with pasta, Chorizo, sauteed onions, mixed veggies ( carrots, green beans, broccoli and mushrooms) and added a little Ketchup in with it...... the guys said it was awesome ( I will eat some later as I am not hungry at the moment.)

We have a truck repair in desperate need, and more gas money for further travel as anything to do with my liver is a 60 mile drive to a hospital farther away.  We may decide to not do the truck repair and actually replace it with something else as it is rigged at the moment where I can not drive it ( for like a year now?) I just don't have the strength to do it, how it is rigged. But we will see as we really can not afford payments right now.

Hubby's hours and shifts are all over the place but midnight's is winding to an end as summer comes to a close as it seems they plan on only being open 24 hours for summer only. 24 hours is a new thing altogether for them so I think they are still trying to figure it out as a continuing thing or not. This is fine as hubby has been having a hard time with midnight's, he just can't get the sleep he needs so is always exhausted. We were hoping it would be a good wasn't! Poor guy! He will be going to closing shifts which he says will still keep more of the 40 hour weeks he got on midnight's. Opening shift seems to get hours cut a lot so I was a little worried and hope he is telling the truth!

The amount for food will increase as will the state wide minimum wage raise that is coming up in September so things should improve immensely next month! We just got to slide through August which we will, we always do!  I have some things on simmer for income generating but waiting to consult with liver surgeon specialist Wednesday before trying to firmly set goals as of yet.  Out of everything that has me the most nervous and I will be writing all about it over on my Whole-istic Living Blog!

Change seems to be a constant theme this year! Character building baby, just more character building!

How has your summer been going?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Small Town Growth Means More Options!

So my small town is experiencing some growing pains! Last summer Tim Horton's and Biggby's opened, our towns first well known coffee shop chains. Last month Meijers opened their doors and I hear rumors of a Kroger's moving in too! While I may not care for a town getting too big for it's britches , I am certainly appreciating alternatives to Walmart's which was the only choice in town before Meijers came.

I still would LOVE to get to the point where I can do without any supermarkets but I am no where near that yet so am for now happy just to have a choice.

I am sure this will also mean a growth in population and that is the part I will not enjoy as my tiny home town got way too big for it's britches and I can't stand it in that area now. Traffic sucks, people are in a rush, a tad grumpy and simply not all that friendly in a town that gets too big and everyone is in a rush , bumper to bumper. NO THANK YOU!

The 2 local stores both have closed doors but they were so high priced nobody could really afford to shop at them.........we are talking $15 just for a can of coffee at the cheapest price at one of those stores! Like insane prices!

I can not tell you how good it feels to say good bye to shopping at Walmart's and choosing a different store......because we have a choice now. Most small rural towns I have always lived in, that is the one and only choice for the most part.

I wonder what else is in the plans to move to our tiny little place in the world? 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Consumer Culture

Americans have bought into the belief for far too long that consumption is popular, consumption is good, consumption is what improves our standard of living today. High consumption has become a hard core ingrained belief that this is what we work so hard for. Using phantom reserves of tomorrow for our gains of today has become a standard way of life. We have become a super size it nation for sure but not only on our orders with fast food. Everything seems to be in excessive quantities, yet the more excessive and addicted it becomes, for certainly consumer culture is an addiction, the more disillusioned, depressed and filled with anxiety one becomes. As a culture that is addicted to high consumption in a nation of super size it please, we are now collectors of gadgets, increased our sugar consumption by almost 30% since the 1980's, raised our fuel and energy consumption, and pretty much added "MORE" to everything. More hours of schooling, more years of schooling, more cars per family, more house, more work hours, more years of working before retirement...........more, more, more.

Public Schools, Financial Experts, Media Bombarding and even neighbors and places of employment are all contributing to consumption in excess mentality. Yet by purchasing in addictive quantities, is coming at high costs on the other side of more and excess. Many are still struggling from the collapse and bubble bursts of 2008, angry and feeling or more accurately waking up to the fact they had been lied to. All in the name of obtaining the American Dream. Clinical depression is at epidemic levels (adults) and at scary high rates among a group you never would think of....privileged middle class adolescents with involved parents. It seems that the vortex of having more, more money, stuff, opportunities, activities is not giving this age group a better life, but rather spinning them into the world of being clinically depressed. You can read how Consumer Culture Harms Children and Teens HERE.

By forming a society of slaves by possessions, creating a life sentence of paying for today's stuff on fabricated future incomes we have created an emotional attachment to stuff. As we become a more impersonal culture by the day, isolating the individual, "things" become the attachment to the emptiness of community and personal relationships fall by the way side. We have replaced the tribe with a lone wolf syndrome. In a mobile world, who has time to stay still or develop meaningful relationships or even get to know ones neighbor a little bit? Yet it is the very impersonal world we are creating that is in part leading to epidemic levels of depression, anxiety, stress, illness and in general unhappy lives and families.

A good read on how this kind of living and consuming is not only excessive, and an addiction but simply is not sustainable is HERE. Give it a read, it is a great explanation of our over consumption. Consumption has been so indoctrinated into us that many can not see how it would be possible to live any other way. They may be overwhelmed by the hours they must put in to barely keep up with their debt, but they can not see the forest through trees. There just is no other way, it is just how life is and with no time to give any thought keep plugging away hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel someday. Hoping one day they may be able to earn enough to retire. Hoping one day they will have accumulated enough things to be happy. Hoping one day they can leave the rat race. Hoping one day they will have bought their children a better life than what they had as kids. It is an auto pilot way of living, and while frugality is becoming more popular out of necessity, the frugal group is still highly frowned upon and looked at as the freaks in a high consumption economy.

I can not tell you how many times I have heard folk telling me how they have had to pare everything down the the basics to survive. Yet when the list what that means to them, car payments and cable television is almost always in their list of basics. Some even have a home where they may still have payments on, yet if they were to sell could buy something cheaper in full and have no payments any longer to pay. I am not faulting these individuals, for I think it is easy to look at others and think how you would do it differently. I am only bringing it up to show how ingrained it is in typical American households and they have come to believe these are basics and the consumption is what we are suppose to do. For many there is no other way and they hope one day to maybe break out of survival mode into something better. The problem with this, is they have no clue how and never stop to think it is the consumption rates and what is considered basics that needs some thought put into. Further thought then must go into, how to bring in more income without relying on the 9-5 world, especially if one is trapped in a low paying job, where job security is a thing of the long ago past now.

We can not expect change when doing nothing to change,circumstances will remain, how much stuff does one really need? Stuff leads to debt, long work hours to pay for the debt, stress and anxiety, clutter, depression from cluttered messy homes, feelings of inadequacy of not keeping up with the neighbors, heart attacks, other health issues, poor diets, obesity. Stuff leads to impersonal relationships, isolation, burn out, incurable undefinable emptiness, friction in the household, and even living life in a bubble by coming home and hiding in stuff ( such as electronic gadgets or video gaming) rather than living out in the real world and physically active within our communities.

Now I am not saying all consumption is bad and certainly I am no expert so everything I blog about is my opinion and only my opinion. The things we purchase can be wonderful tools, enhance our life, make things more convenient or enrich our lives and bring great joys. It is the addiction and purchasing in excess trying to fill an undefinable emptiness that becomes the problem in a consumer culture.  Knowing what we want to purchase or choose to spend money on takes conscience thought, reflection, defining our "Enough" which will be different for everyone. Looking into alternative sub-cultures to bring in new ways of thinking, fresh perspectives and ideas can do wonders for starting to change. For when we grow and expand our  minds to change our core thoughts and beliefs, we can then create the changes in our personal lives for a more rewarding one, a simpler one, chaos free and beautiful. Putting more emphasis on building community, building deep connections in our relationships, having gratitude for all things great and small in our lives and doing things to bring new experiences can fulfill us far more than a house bursting at it's seams ever could.

Our consumer culture wants you to shop, it creates bubbles that eventually burst devastating the common folk, the hard working folk  that bought into the line of thinking they needed to pay for it. When the bubbles burst, it gets ugly for way too many. What bubble is escalating now that may soon burst?

There is another way , I am sure there are several alternative ways. I am not talking about one of deprivation either, but one of liberation....... the Consumer Culture in which we live has escalated to shocking levels that can not be sustained, but rather leaches everything dry. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Computer Issues, Making Blogging Difficult at Best!

Not sure if it is a virus issue ( which of course I do have a virus, I removed a good portion but not all. Since my computer tech savvy is minimum at best, it will have to wait until my son is around in a few weeks to try to correct!)  or if it is a glitch in my Google Chrome, but it has made it to where if I use Chrome, blogger just freezes and won't work at all. If I use Explorer, well I can type a post, but can't include photos.........of course neither way allows me to post photos and this is very frustrating to me!

Sometimes I really wish I knew more about computers so I could correct these issues and know what the problem is. I plan on waiting for my son because last time we had an issue with my son's laptop we took it to the local computer repair shop. In our small town that was the largest mistake of our life and I swore off our local repair shop forever.....add another forever to that and it MIGHT cover how I feel.

You see when we took our son's computer in, told them what was going on, we were told his computer would be next in line and be about a week to repair and would  run about $30. No problem, great! They would call us to verify and get permission when they knew for sure the exact problem and how much it would be. Great, no problem!

1 week later after NO phone call, we stopped in and was told by a freakin kid that looked maybe 16 that he most likely would have to restore it to the factory setting and if we would like any of the files backed up, he would have to do that first. I said fine to the factory setting, but that it was my son's computer and he did NOT have to back up anything, there simply was not anything on there to back up. He would call when done.

2 weeks later, hubby stopped in after no phone calls again, was told the VERY same thing and hubby said fine.

2 weeks later we stopped and I went NUTS after he tried to tell me the SAME farting thing! I told him we changed our minds and to give me the dang computer, he said he could have it done in an hour but it would cost $100 which again I flipped. He said he had already backed up the files, I told him that when I first talked to him I told him we did NOT need that service and again just give me the computer for you have had it over a month for a 5 minute job of resetting to factory settings because you are too young to know how to actually fix it!

Well they had it fixed in 5 minutes and for $30 ....................  but I was VERY hot under the collar and thought this was the most unprofessional place I had EVER done business with. The problem is they are the ONLY repair shop for computers in our area....grrrrrrrr!

So anyways, I plan on posting on a more regular basis again but please bare with me, there simply will not be photos for awhile until I can figure out what the issue is or use a different computer!.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend

and the moral of this story?  If you are paying for a service, make sure you are getting what you pay for and do NOT be afraid to stand your ground and demand professionalism and good service! It is YOUR money, you get to decide on what you are willing to pay for and what you are not!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Changes on the Rise!

Yes I know, it has been way too long since my last post and I know you missed me!  Cancer wise I am doing outrageously well but my hip went out at least 2 months ago and made sitting at my computer very difficult! I recently had 2 MRI's done which is revealing bad discs most likely from an auto accident I was in 16 years ago but doctors just kept shrugging me off so I am getting some long over due answers. It is no fun having your nerves all  inflamed and shooting agony down your leg no matter what position you try to be in, and walking or doing house cleaning is almost all be zilch! So now we know I have a bad disc or two or three........... I have to go see a neuro-surgeon, and they even found a local one! YEA FOR LOCAL! I should get a call for an appointment sometime this week. Until I see him, I have no idea what this means for me down the road.

I also got a recent X-ray done to make sure cancer has not returned to my lung as I had a nasty dry cough going for a few weeks now. Those came back fine so my doctor thinks it could be allergies......... funny I never had allergies much prior to cancer and chemo but I had had my share of reactions to things ever since! No clue what is causing it, heard the mold counts are horridly high right now and being behind in housework sure has the dust levels at an all time who knows! Coughing with a hip out though oh yeah, not so good!

Spring is trying to come, still bouncing all over from pleasant weather to down right cold , even had a bizarre late spring blanket of snow one morning around Easter to wake up to!  April brought my adult daughter down for a 3 week visit though, my mom, sister and aunt came to visit, and my youngest son had his 16th birthday!

In between all this going on, the Burger King my hubby works at decided to go to an open 24 hour joint so he switched to a Mid night shift!  We are hoping this will be a great fit and change for us, no more going to bed at 10pm only to  be up by 4:20AM, home by 1pm but then sleeping until 5pm!
It will allow for more consistent sleep for him and since May officially brings us to having 2 teens in the house again there are no little's making too much noise. Homeschooling allows them to be able to listen to their own bodies and set their own sleep schedules. Our son goes to bed around midnight and up by no later than 9am but is quiet as a church mouse. Our active daughter loves to burn the midnight oil and stay up most the night and sleep until 3 or 4pm and with her being our noisy active one, this creates a quiet space for hubby to sleep! This also opens hubby up to being available to run me to any or all appointments without requesting days off and losing seriously needed income. It also may mean no cutting hours as not too many are working the midnight shift so cant be sent home when business is slow.

With Chemo brain finally leaving and a sharper mind once again returning I am thinking in terms of income opportunities from home again and have some ideas on what I want to do with that.

The largest change that will be happening is the decision we made to move in just under 2 years.... while it may sound quite strange, we will be cliff jumping and moving to Hawaii, the most unlikely place anyone would expect of us. But there you have it, and it is very exciting to me and there is so much to do! We will be selling everything and only taking 1 carry on a piece but after an exciting trip across the states to catch a plane or cargo boat ( still working out details) in California. I have had enough of Michigan winters!

But considering everything, I have been busy laughing, loving, and filling my days with joy with people I love and is AMAZING! At this time I am a 15 month survivor and each day is truly blessed.

Until my next post.......blessing and joy to you all and may you rock out an amazing life!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our New Budget for 2014

2014 Budget!

Rent                      $475
Phone                    $  75
Electric                  $ 50
Car insurance       $106
Propane                $  75
X-box live           $  20
Netflix                 $    9
Gas for Truck      $110
Food                    $450

 Total of             $1350 a month

Above is our basic needs that goes out and comes out of hubby's wages.  We do get some child support each month as well that is NOT included in this budget and goes for some extra things that are not on a survival budget. I do not include child support in a budget simply because it is not always dependable.  Also we generally make some extra cash from turning in scrap metal, larger work checks than budgeted, and other extra income streams that help go towards making life a little more "juicy" and easier to breathe.  Last years budget worked quite well of for us for the most part, the one thing that we did not for see was propane costs that skyrocketed through the roof but it all has ended well. This year there are a few increases in bills such as higher electric costs due to our last years purchase of a washer and dryer along with a small chest freezer so I did plan on that! So still on a survival only budget but as I said, I always know there will be extra income from a variety of sources and this is what adds flavor to our lifestyle.

I am also going to be working hard to strive for a more minimalist lifestyle this year and plan on selling off a lot of extra items to help de-clutter and de-own!  We now have a 2 year goal of Moving to Hawaii that a lot of this extra money will be going towards! So exciting times to look forward too!

On a side note, as harsh as winter was, and our chickens sheltered but not in a great chicken coop, it was quite a wonderful surprise they survived this winter, we did not loose even 1 to the cold severe elements!  Spring has brought out many creatures looking for an easy meal and targeting them as they themselves are desperate to find food and fatten up again ( our deer look scrawny and pathetic!)  but so far we have managed to chase them off and keep them from a kill. Our chickens continue on and we are seeing eggs again with longer days and warmer weather!

On another side note, my hip went out about a month ago and has kept me from being able to sit at a computer and blog, but it is much better now and cancer wise I am doing FANTASTIC! Now time to catch up on blogging once again AND spring cleaning!  

Oh and we can SEE GROUND AGAIN!  So happy to see snow finally leaving and a few wonderful sunny 40 degree days! Happy happy happy Dance!

How has your March been going?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mid Month Update

Well February is always better, in large part because it is tax refund time! I would also like to take a moment to thank a few generous readers for donations that helped tie us over until we were able to get our refund! It has been a very long difficult winter. But the end is near and it is time to start relaxing into spring!

The weather has warmed up some, we have had a few cold nights at just below zero but nothing like the negative 30's of January. The days have been in the 20's, we have been seeing sun again and I hear it is suppose to be in the 40's by Thursday!

While we got a propane fill up in January ( 200 gallons at $460) the frigid temps make quick use of the fuel and I had to order our next fill up already, with a propane shortage this meant my order for another 200 gallons is costing us $705 ! YIKES that is double from what our summer fill up was but good news is we got our refund to cover that expense. Now I just have to wait for them to deliver it ( up to 5 business days now, they increased that part too!) But we will remain warm for the remaining winter and hopefully March will bring beautiful spring temps and lots of sunshine!

For this month all bills have now been paid and caught up again, so now I have to sit down and get a new budget made out for this year. Really it should have been done at the first of the year, but sometimes it is hard to force yourself to sit down and face the music! It is much easier to do when everything is caught up and you can then create a budget on just regular bills.

We will be switching auto insurance soon as this will save us around $30 a month!

Each day I feel better, stronger and more alive so it is getting easier to take care of business again and it is a great feeling. Being idle is not good for my mentality, I need to feel productive!

I have been making lots of meals from scratch again, although I still need to create a healthier menu!

We need to get physically active , did I mention it was a long winter without being able to go outside?

January Stresses have ended, February blessings abound, and life is oh so good!

Looking forward to getting our financial house in order again and who knows, I may just have the energy and strength to get back to making money projects this year!

Hope your February was as blessed as ours!

Do you have goals for March yet?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thankful for February!

To be honest, January just plain sucked, no matter how I looked at it and I could not be happier that it is finally OVER!  We always seem to struggle through the winter months, December, January and then into February until tax refund time. Yet while the struggle is not so new to us, this year seemed particularly hard and almost seemed like I had challenged the Universe so it was bent on revenge!

I started the beginning of winter with the whole, No Matter What I shall see the beauty in winter...... yeah well that was fine and very beautiful in December.....but then January found me cursing it and the polar vortex. January was just plain unbearable and had me wishing for a life in the Desert somewhere, anywhere really that was warm.  It was like the more I tried to see the beauty of winter, the more mother nature brought even colder temps until I caved and began to loathe her!  Pipes dripping constantly to prevent freezing, cold air constantly blowing right through the house, cold nights causing restless sleep and just plain irritable moods by everyone closed inside from it being too cold to go anywhere. I seemed to totally lose that sunny positive disposition I usually do pretty good at maintaining and literally just wanted to take a paycheck and run away.......far far away!

I also made the comment to hubby how I would not stress about finances and trust our needs have always been met and would continue to do so. November was a fantastic month and I actually got all our Christmas shopping done in November before Thanksgiving. Well the universe started digging and throwing more and more at us until again I caved and started giving in to anxiety, stress and wanting to just run away.

Hubby's hours got cut, bringing only part time hours for pay checks, since Thanksgiving really. They increased back to full time for the whole of 1 or 2 paychecks but mostly he is only getting around 55 hours on a 2 week pay period! Like minimum wage is not hard enough on full time hours!  They have been the worse they ever have been and I chalk that up to the cold keeping people at home so business was really slow over the cold winter months.

Receiving his W-2 showed us he actually made 2,000 LESS than the previous year which meant he only made 13k for the whole year.  Add in child support and food stamps and that brought us to a  thankful 20k for 4 people.

To top everything off we still had a day or two of frozen pipes to deal with and now a kitchen sink that won't drain ( but not due to it being frozen ironically)

Michigan is also seeing a propane shortage so hiked up the prices, my mom just told me she just got charged 3.95 a gallon , we need a fill up very very soon and will be looking at well, way too much for a 200 gallon minimum order fill up! I already had to get 200 gallons in January but now have to turn around and get more which means a whole extra tank from what I normally order in a year.  A whole extra tank and double the expense......LOL yeah that sounds about right. While I usually do not feel poor, I must admit, come January for the first time in a long, long, long time, I felt poor and I felt every struggle and strain of the stress poverty can bring. I am hoping if I can continue feeling better and better, I may be able to turn that around yet and yes I know that true wealth is not always monetary and I am very wealthy and full of abundance in love, family and other helps to have enough to not have to worry in the winter months. Unfortunately we can not leave Michigan for another 2 years due to visitation/custody laws but it is being planned for!

There has been a lot of other things going on as well too, little things that have added up to getting behind in other utility bills, and just plain going wrong adding to stress and frustration.

But I am thankful to be alive to be able to stress! LOL

Yup it has been a hard year indeed , and my heart truly goes out to those that are far worse than us, because this winter has brought strain and hardship to so many, it makes my heart ache. But I got our taxes done several days ago and should see the benefit of that mid February.

Yes January is OVER Good Riddance and Thank God!

I Truly hope your January was not one of hardship and struggle and was blessed instead!

Now back to my usual sunny self............

Monday, January 13, 2014

Staying Home: How Long is too Long?

How long does one typically stay home before going stir crazy and needing to get out of the house? When did going out on a frequent basis start?

I know growing up, we lived 13 miles out of town and went through long periods with no vehicle, which meant most of our time was spent in our house or on our 7 acres. We did not go out to eat but once in a blue moon, usually when my Dad would stop on the way home from a visit with my mom in hospital. I am not sure but I would most likely say it was to try to take our minds off a not so pleasant visit, where her possible death may be looming in our heads.

I remember going to the movie theatre twice, once when I was 5 and again when I was around 13. Our typical outings would have been a few miles down the road to the swimming hole or country drives where my mother enjoyed genealogy work in the cemeteries or to view the fall colors. Entertainment usually consisted of us going to someone's house or them coming to ours. Church and School was our other outings.

When my parents divorced and we had no car, we went out only once a month when my grandma would come to take us grocery shopping. Beyond school, if we wanted to get anywhere we walked, sometimes this meant for me, a 5 mile walk to the local country party store, then later to my boyfriends house.

This stayed with me into my adulthood where I am very comfortable staying home in large chunks of time. Living rural means I don't want to spend the money for frequent trips to town. I really never stop to think that how long I will stay home, especially in winter months would not really be considered normal by today's standards.

Last Wednesday on the 8th, I was contemplating whether I wanted to brave our heat wave of 16 degrees, after a 30 below polar vortex to go out shopping or wait for warmer weather towards the weekend. I started thinking, when was I last out of the house? I was a little surprised, when I realized the last time I had been out of the house, was December 5th! When I revealed this on Facebook, people asked how I could do that without pulling my hair out and drooling off in a corner.

I guess it comes down to, when I am freezing all the time, the last thing I want to do is go outside where it is even colder, usually windy and go  run errands. Being cold is NOT my idea of fun.

I also enjoy being home, after all a home is suppose to be your sanctuary and for me it is, it is my place to feel warm, cozy, love and laughter with people I enjoy  spending time with. I have 2 amazing teens that are wonderful company, 2 dogs that are the best companions, beautiful snowy country scenery out my back door and a wonderful best friend for a husband who is home by 1pm every day. I have a computer for contact with people in other areas of the world, and Netflix at night to lose myself into a story where real life disappears for 2 hours. LIFE IS GOOD right here in my tiny home and baking and cooking are my winter things to do! I also have tons of books on my kindle that I have been reading so for me it is all good!

Now hubby, he goes out 5 days a week to work, then whenever I need a few things he goes 1/2 mile from work to the store and picks it up for me, and then comes home and feeds the chickens on days I think it is too cold. He knows I am having a hard time staying warm this year so he has been great about making sure I do not have to go out and be cold. I will occasionally go out and feed the chickens on days it is 30 or above. So until the weather gets warmer I limit my outings to major grocery shopping day which is once a month, and doctor appointments........... other than that, I shall continue on in hibernation mode.

I know staying home that long is not for everyone, for some they have a need to get out every 2 weeks, 4 days or some even daily. That is okay and it is a good thing to  know your limits on what you can take without driving your self nuts. For me 1 month is really not too long at all and I was not even stir crazy when we finally did get out on the 8th.

But I am always curious to know about tell me, how long do you normally stay home in between getting out of the house?