What did we spend our stimulus on?

That’s the question everyone’s asking everyone–or almost everyone around here. So I’ll tell you what we spent ours on. First let me say, we were not in the position like many hundreds of thousands of people where we had back rent to pay or we were in the position of having to go without eating to pay the light bill. We are fortunate people in that we both have jobs that kept us working, we do not have children–yes we do have a high maintenance pet, but other than ourselves and him to provide for that’s it. We are in good health. So, no doctor bills, co-pays, er trips, or other things to stress over health-wise at this time. Neither of us are on medication which at least at my age is a miracle. And for that I’m also grateful and take absolutely nothing for granted. We would never have been able to not pay our rent–it’s just that simple. In the area we live in there is basically nothing halfway decent to rent. The apartments we live in are the best one can get vs. absentee landlords/bad neighbors or neighborhoods units otherwise available in this small town. If you think that means we live in a brand new spacious unit–we do not. The building we live in is almost 30 years old and really needs an update. High rent, a nice view for us, but absolutely no way we could have not paid rent even if it was the law and risk eviction when all was said and done. So, I’m thankful our jobs kept us working throughout because that was our number one priority. With our rent comes heat, water, garbage pickup, and a garage. We are lucky to have something that provides our heat in the winter for us.

A lot of people struggled with getting Covid-19 or having a family member get it and miss work or lose their job altogether or worse. We are ever so grateful that we’ve been in good health throughout. No Covid-19 tests–thank goodness– because we’ve never exposed ourselves or been exposed to it that we know of–we’ve always followed all the protocols/laws. For some that probably hasn’t worked, but thankfully for us it has. In saying that I mean my husband has wore a mask and gloves to work everyday and every single person at his work, including most of management, has had Covid 19 or been in quarantine because of being exposed. Many of his co-workers have avoided stores and restaurants etc. because of mask mandates, but we’ve enjoyed shopping and meals out and many other activities with requirements of social distancing/masks since last spring. Again, neither of us getting sick, missing work, or having to be quarantined. Masking up doesn’t bother us in the least (we’ve traveled in countries where masking is essential as soon as the annual flu season starts) and for us–we’re living proof that something we’ve been doing is working.

Both of us will be one of the last to receive the vaccine because we’re both healthy, we both have food allergies and we’re both allergic to penicillin. In the case of penicillin I’m not sure it matters, but right now our physician has told us to wait and see. Neither of us has ever had a flu shot–I won’t ever get one either for personal reasons, but we will submit eventually to the vaccine because we intend on traveling and I’m sure it will be mandatory at some point for that.

We did not expect the stimulus check any of the times that it arrived. Let’s just say we had our doubts and just didn’t plan on it. We lost money in our 401K when the pandemic first hit and we used money out of our savings for essentials when we were on lock down and everything but the local stores and online closed. We bought canned goods just like most people who could afford them and stocked up on non-perishables that were going out of stock. We didn’t go crazy for toilet paper–I actually purchased a bidet that fastens to the toilet and it’s worked great! We recently donated all the can goods (24 cans of various veggies) that we bought during the first stay at home/lock down of 2020 to our local food pantry. All the cans had been kept clean and safe and most had two years before they expired. It may sound quite privileged to some that I won’t eat processed or canned foods, but I won’t. I also don’t want my husband eating them. That said with all of the uncertainty last year we bought some things reserved if the end of days came lol. They did not so we donated them right away this year to our local food pantry.

So, getting back to the stimulus checks we weren’t counting on. When they came we held on to the first two not knowing what was to come regarding vaccines, worse economy, work, etc. Of course like everyone else our amounts were based on the financial thresholds set by the government. We were paying our bills and affording food and when January 2021 hit we were both working overtime to play catch up with our savings, retirement, and things we need to take care of in 2021. We both know how privileged we are to have jobs and to have kept working and not have to pray the stimulus bills passed. So when the last one did we added it to the first two and put some into our savings that was drained some by purchasing masks and gloves and foodstuffs and the rest went to:

CSA share-bi weekly from a local farmer (veggies throughout summer/fall)

1/4 hog local farmer (14-15 packages of pork)

Share in the community garden (small plot)

Money donated to our PD K-9 department

Gifts for different occasions throughout the year–local shops

Donation of two copies of a local author’s cookbook to local library

Personal purchase of cookbook by local author

Meal out at a local restaurant

Donation of $ to local food pantry

Donation of $ to our church for families/individuals in need (rent assistance fund)

Donation of $ to a local shelter for victims of domestic violence

Donation of bird seed to a local park/rec area

Had Covid 19 never happened the things we donated to and have now taken part in would have been paid for out of our pockets from wages earned. We have donated to the places above for years, just not every year, and sometimes just what we could afford.

We know we could have paid extra on bills or bought things for ourselves or apartment/future house but we did not because as I said above it was money we never planned on. Although we’ve been affected by Covid-19 like everyone else to one degree or another we have been working overtime to make up for some of the financial loss. We’re happy we’ve been able to help others with some of the money we received. We are looking forward to receiving veggies from the CSA we joined and some fresh pork from a local farmer. In our minds putting some of that money toward organic food was once again an investment in our health as well as helping to keep the local farmers that have provided for us in years past in business. For us and for them–win win!

So, that’s how we spent our stimulus money!

Have a great weekend friends and enjoy the lovely spring weather if you can.

Be safe and be well! 🐝

Stocking your Pantry

First let me say–Happy Spring, Hello April, and How is everyone doing?

Second–Here is my Pantry Essentials List

Third –here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • When something scary/unknown/ unique/ health /or weather related happens in the world the first things to go are water, toilet paper, bread, flour, wipes, and over the counter medications.
  • Even though I don’t like to eat processed food, canned veggies, and junk food–I still need to have some on hand for pandemics/ and or events that cause the power to go out.
  • To use absolutely everything up–not to throw one single thing or one single serving away. And big tip–most expiration dates are not concrete dates when item goes bad. We just got done eating Yoplait yogurt that was 4 days past expiry.  We lived.
  • With consideration to finances and necessity always stock the pantry with staples-flour, sugar, yeast, brown sugar, salt, b. powder/soda, beans, rice, and pasta. All very affordable and long-lasting in the best of times and hard to find in the worst. Thank goodness I had just stocked my pantry up for the year in January with our annual trip to Sam’s. Also-canned or packaged shelf-stable meats esp. now considering there may soon be a meat shortage.
  • I can shove things all over in the refrigerator and freezer wherever they fit vs. everything in its place, straight, front facing >> Martha Stewart inspired.  🙂
  • Meals don’t need to be meat, potato, veggies, and dessert. Sometimes they can be reheated pancakes, lunch meat that needed to be used up (yes, I cringed at this impromptu meal idea), and bananas/ peanut butter that needed to be used up. We lived.
  • I can let go of my rigid attitude about shopping for our groceries and let a personal shopper at Walmart do it for me. Sometimes!
  • Look around for news I can trust. Mainstream news is way, way too conflicted.

The “experts” cannot seem to agree on whether or not a second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic will occur this coming fall. What that means for us, if we manage to flatten the curve, and businesses and production can get up to speed sometime this summer, is that you and I need to begin building a good solid supply of goods/pantry essentials and create our plan b for fall.

For my entire marriage (25 and counting years) we have been bulk buyers and pantry stocker’s. Since the pandemic hit a lot of people look at people like myself as hoarders. We have never hoarded anything …. even now we are not hoarding. Plus–if you live in the Midwest like I do there are certain things you always have in stock in your home just in case of a blizzard–yeast for baking bread, toilet paper, Tylenol, rice, beans, ingredients for making cookies, popcorn, rice krispie bars. Am I right? That said food security has been and always will be our family’s #1 priority. We do not have smart phones–we’ve never had them. We have flip phones and very reluctantly pay $90.00/mo for them. If and when I can find reliable, less expensive cell service, I will definitely switch. As is, we’ve been with US Cellular 17 years under the exact same plan 🙂

Also, our priorities don’t include new, or new to us cars. We’ve driven the same Saturn for 14 years which has just 130 k miles on it–because we also don’t go very far from home very much. Work, groceries, and home year after year because it is all we can afford to do. We have gone on a few trips, even a couple abroad, by saving air miles through a card we carry loyalty rewards and bonus money. Had we no miles and no bonus we would never have afforded a trip anywhere here or overseas. We also gave up cable television –no television or television programs; even local channels, almost 20 years ago and no landline for 17 years. Lots of money saved just by giving up those two luxuries..

Our lifestyle is very simple. We live simple, dress fairly simply, eat simple local food, and really and truly don’t want for much. A luxury for us is an ice cream cone and date night at Walmart… lol

Our life wasn’t always simple. In the beginning of our marriage (many moons ago) we were driven by necessity or rather lack of money, job instability, and a family arrangement gone wrong–basically forced to live as simply and inexpensively as possible. After about 15 years it kind of stuck and we’ve been living that way ever since. It’s not to say we don’t have unexpected expenses, or emergencies, or times money is really tight.

Our lifestyle is such that now 25+ years later we can pay all our bills, save a little, put some in retirement, and still have a little left over for renting a movie and getting an ice cream cone!  Moving forward through the uncertain times to come and doing so wisely is going to take money, skill, and resourcefulness.

My best advice for anyone is to slowly and gently start to build a pantry of non-perishables and if you can>>> find yourself a farmer. There are many farms all over the U.S. growing produce, eggs, milk and meat. Start right now or as soon as possible building a relationship with one. Plant a garden if you have space–plant enough to freeze, can, and share with a neighbor.

If you can– use any stimulus money you get to make sure your bills are paid, high interest credit card payments made, some into savings, and the rest toward supplies little by little.

Financially speaking my opinion along with several other accountants/analysts/ financial folk is we will see a recession within the next year. Whether the current crisis throws us into a recession or inflation does– life will be different for every one of us. Restarting our country will be done in steps–spread out across many weeks/months. Nothing will ever be like it was, or very little, once we go back out into the world and start living as we once did in it.

Whatever comes and really know one can really tell us with 100% accuracy– we will make it. Plan, prepare, and be resourceful!

Until next time–stay safe and be well.

Patio Gardening Summer 2019 Week 13-15

My patio garden is winding down–my tomatoes are all hanging from the vine, waiting for the right temperature to ripen, and then as they do I’ll come along and gladly pick them to eat for b’fast, lunch, and dinner. Forty in all which isn’t bad for five plants that are producing. Both of the pepper plants died from being battered around in the wind–so they’ll be none of them. But the wonderful herbs, esp. my rosemary right now, more than make up for it. Our butterfly bush is full of beautiful blooms and we’ve seen many butterflies on it these past few days. Another year of gardening and feeding the birds has almost come to an end. We still have a few orioles and also their young, as well as all colors of finches and their young. We’ve gone through two cases of food feeding them and oh the hummingbirds–they’ve really loved the homemade syrup I’ve made for them all spring/summer. Each year around this time it is almost as if the hummingbirds take a mental picture of our deck, saving it somewhere in their senses, so that they remember who will feed them again all next year. They will have such a long, long journey to travel to get away from here for winter and then such a long, tiresome journey to get back to us. This spring when they first arrived all the birds looked so haggard, but now they look happy, healthy, and restored. It makes my heart very happy to see this year after year.



Our first tomato!

Our butterfly bush–

Farmers Market Hauls–

That’s all for now–Happy August!!

My Patio Garden | Patio Gardening 2019 Week 4 🌿🍅🍅

Well, another week of barely any sun. I think we had sun on Saturday and about 30 minutes of it today–Wednesday.
Despite another week of icky weather–cold, dreary, damp, and no sun, I have a small tomato on one of my plants.
So– I have 2 Rutger’s Heirlooms-one has a tomato growing, 2 bush cherry tomato plants, 2 bush beefsteak tomato plants, and 1 purple Cherokee. I have snipped off the bottom foliage on all my plants (to prevent blight) and fed them. I recently purchased another thyme plant, Thai basil, a miniature rose, lemon balm, and a beautiful oregano plant. Tonight I made sure everything was planted in my garden, watered and fertilized. The next two days we are expecting temperatures near 80 and sun. This week I lost the Roma tomato plant and maybe soon the hydrangea?  I am trying to keep it going after its blooms died but so far it isn’t doing very well. The juniper we planted this year and the two hostas we planted last year, which are growing by our front door, are doing alright. The browning and needle loss of my evergreen are slowing down–fingers crossed. This is how it all looks this week–

Squash Varieties

Fall is really here in Southwestern Wisconsin with temperatures overnight of 40 and in the upper 50’s during the daytime. I was hoping to get a lot more accomplished this month, but colder than usual early October temps have dampened my plans. We’ve been trying to take a walk in a favorite spot for almost three weeks–rained every weekend. Now for almost a month, we’ve been trying to go to a corn maze and yes you guessed it, it has rained every weekend. This weekend is set to rain all weekend so I’m assuming we’re going to have to hang up what we want to do until next year. Once November hits long duration outdoor events come to a halt. We do hike in a local refuge all winter long, but only on days above freezing. Though last year we did take one brisk hike when temperatures were in the teens. My container garden is almost gone and it’s time to clean things up. Of course, I planted the pumpkins too late again. All the flowers on the plants that came up were male so no pollination happening this year. Next year I’m going to start my pumpkins when they’re supposed to be started and that’s in June. This weekend I am going to plant tulip bulbs in some of the dirt left from herbs I grew and mulch them with pumpkin plants. Our tree and my prairie grass will both be overwintering on our deck. I’ve brought in my beautiful rosemary plant and I am planning on trying to overwinter rosemary again.

It’s fall decor time and we’ve purchased squash (pumpkins) just as we do every year– but this year is a bit different. Thanks to someone I follow on Instagram I’ve learned how to identify squash varieties (way more than my lovely picture above) and also what each variety is good for. Usually, I buy pumpkins for decorative purposes. Not unlike many millions of other people. I know they’re food, but when they’re bought I have no intention of eating them as food. Once they look soft we chop them up and feed them to the birds. Sometimes I’ve dried/baked the seeds and fed them to the birds. This year I am going to carve one pumpkin and bake the other two for pie. I will still throw the seeds to the birds to give them extra energy for their flight south or to get ready for winter. Currently, I’m feeding nuts to a nut hatcher and several chicadees/titmice–that are storing them up for winter. The nuthatch, chickadees, and titmice live together in a small community all winter, watching each other’s backs and protecting their communal territory. Which of course I find so neat because prior to winter the nuthatch is all business/and a bit selfish and doesn’t look like he gets along with anybody. I am definitely the ant in the ant and grasshopper fable. I can definitely appreciate the planning and the storing of food/ winter preparation well before the snow flies.

Until next time–enjoy your fall and on the other side of the world happy spring!

Tomato Tortellini Soup

I’ve needed this soup lately. This fall has been a bit trying. We live in an area that up until six months ago was fairly quiet. Suddenly construction started around us everywhere. There has been construction on the interstate that starts up at midnight and goes on until we get up. While I realize this is the only time some of these repairs can get done– we get no sleep during these times.  Most of the construction has involved machinery that digs down deep into the cement, tears it up, chews it up, and then a truck backs up (beep, beep, beep) and collects it. Then during the day, there is construction from 6am until 6pm right across the street. On the weekends the property manager for us has been trying to have the driveway and parking lot fixed, so you guessed it over a month now of construction right outside our door. My husband sleeps right through it, me not so much. Six months of this and I’ve reached my limit. Here’s hoping for finished construction projects and long cool nights of sleep in my future.

Here’s the recipe for the Tomato Tortellini Soup 

There is nothing better after a long day of work on little sleep than a good hearty tomato soup. You will love the Tomato Tortellini, it’s easy to make and yummy.

This month has been busy already with processing squash to eat this winter, visiting nearby lavender farms, zoos, even a corn maze, and of course visiting local apple orchards and buying lots, and lots of apples for eating and applesauce.

canva-photo-editor(17) 1

I hope your fall is going great!

Zucchini Bread

What to do with our overflowing abundance this year (everyone giving us) of Zucchini? Well, Zucchini bread of course! Best ever recipe here . I promise you this one is a keeper-easy, moist, and delicious bread.  Slowly but surely the container garden is dwindling down to one tomato plant that is still producing, and has produced 27 tomatoes. One plant!! I thought both of the bigger plants were producing, but it turns out just the one. How unreal is that? He recently got knocked in half by wind, but still has a whopping 5 tomatoes trying to ripen. All of my New Guinea impatiens are still blooming, along with my hardy and always blooming geraniums. I bought all of my plants this year from Bauer’s Market and Garden Place in La Crescent, MN. The shrubs have quadrupled in size and after growing in soil full of fungus gnats (thanks big box potting soil) my mini sunflower flowers have bloomed. The zinnias planted with them have no buds, so no zinnias this year. All in all I’ve been very fortunate to have the tomatoes I’ve grown, most around here haven’t had such luck. Again, I’m thankful for Purple Cow Organics potting soil, tomato gro, and their bio-active fertilizer. The nights are getting cooler, so eventually we’ll have to clean up our deck. We’ve already transplanted a sick tree we are hoping to save. Almost time to buy our fall mums. Some time back I posted a picture of part of my blue glass/ ball glass collection and someone asked if it is hard to keep clean. Yes, yes it is. Twice a year I have to stand on the counter top and take down all of the glass and antiques and wash them up. Not easy and the last few years I’ve had to do it in stages. Here is half of it taken down, cleaned and polished and put back up. Until next time–be well!

.

Summer menu ideas & herbs

Menu gif

Summer Menu Time- What’s Cooking?

Breakfast in the summertime is usually fruit leftover from our meal the night before. And water, lots of cold water with lemons and cucumbers in it.
Lunch- Lots of salads. Is there anything better than a fresh from the garden cucumber diced with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and buttery lettuce? We have salads for dinner too though we throw in chicken, eggs and sometimes sliced Fuji apples to make a more filling meal.
Monday– Monday has to be an easy day for us, meal wise, so it’s often a quick pasta dish like Shrimp Scampi Zoodles.
Tuesday-Once a week we have breakfast for dinner. Since I froze quite a bit of asparagus, lately it’s been Mini Quiches w/asparagus.
Wednesday– I volunteer after work on Wednesdays, so I pack a salad and a snack bar. My husband usually makes a pizza.
ThursdaySouthwestern Chicken wraps and soup- usually homemade that I defrost in refrigerator -(it’s good for two meals)
Friday– We almost always have seafood for dinner on Fridays so it’s either a local fish fry or I make something with salmon like Salmon Cakes with Cucumber Dill Salad.
Saturday-I grill once a week 9 months out of the year. I love grilling. In the summer we have hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats. Once in awhile, I will BBQ a whole chicken.
Sunday-We almost always have roast chicken for dinner on Sundays. Now that I am able to source new baby potatoes we have those, fresh onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh parsley (potatoes) and fresh rosemary(chicken) and homemade baked beans.

This past weekend we took a ride to our local farm stand and loaded up. We bought a flat of strawberries, some yellow marigolds, another tomato plant,  some more thyme, parsley, new potatoes, radishes, butter lettuce, and peaches. For two grocery bags full it cost us $23.00. I was able to get 5 -4″ pots of thyme for $1.50.  Here is a couple of pictures of my patio garden. I am thrilled to say I already have 3 small tomatoes on one of my plants. I’m also happy to say my lavender is near flowering.

IMG_1933

IMG_1934

IMG_1932

IMG_1935

That’s all for now. Until next time–be well!