It’s still five months away, but I went ahead and registered for the STP this weekend. It tends to fill up quickly so the sooner the better. I’ve been trying my hardest to talk people into riding it with me but very few people feel they are up to it. I also registered for the local Chilly Hilly ride at the end of the month. I just started my training regime so that will be great motivation to do my best!
No. 18 Sausages
In my last post I mentioned that I had acquired a smoker. Well, another little gadget that I’ve been playing around with lately is a meat grinder. The picture is of my first attempt at making sausage. It’s a simple pork sausage made from picnic shoulder and bacon pieces. If you’ve ever looked into making sausages, you’ll know that there is quite a bit of work involved so I won’t bore you with details. The pork sausage is alright, especially since it was mostly just practice for what was next. Since the holidays just ended my freezer was stocked with a few (dirt cheap) frozen turkeys. One of them has been turned into a delicious apple sausage that I plan to stuff today or tomorrow. Also, sorry to any vegetarians out there, but I’ve got one more meat related post coming up this weekend… and it’s a doozy.
So I guess I forgot to post what I’ve been cooking for the past several months. Ah well, let’s just start it back up again.
No. 17 Beef Jerky
I recently acquired a gas smoker and I thought I’d take it for a test drive with something simple. Three pounds of beef (I don’t remember the cut) were cut into strips, soaked in a brine (salt, brown sugar, soy sauce, red wine, water) overnight, and peppered and smoked at about 200 degrees for about 3 hours. The resulting jerky was good, but probably the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted. And I once ate a big, heaping bowl of salt!
I bought a book on gardening the other day. Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. Although much of the book seems to be written for people who would be afraid to put on a pair of shoes without being told how to do so, it does have some insightful information. It looks like I’m definitely going to start with at least a 16 square foot box this year. It’s still too early to start planting, but I’ve already started by collecting waste to compost. I’m looking forward to building a compost bin soon. Is that weird? It seems like an odd thing to say. Anyway, hurry up springtime so I can get planting!
I’ve been drinking my recommended amount (sometimes more) of water for about a month now. It’s become enough of a habit for me now that I feel confident about putting it on my completed list. It’s even supplanted iced tea as my beverage of choice. I doubt Antoine de Saint-Exupery had it in mind at the time, but his famous quote applies to water quite well. “Perfection is acheived not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
My emergency fund is completed! It’s pretty nice knowing that I can now get a flat tire or go to the vet or something and it won’t mean the end of the world. Crisis prevented.
I know some people that are signing up for a couple half marathons this summer, and I may just give it a shot this year. I started running again at the beginning of the month and I’ve been keeping up with it pretty well so far. I may even preregister for one fairly early as motivation to keep it up. Hey, it worked for the STP, why not a half marathon?
I’m updating this a bit late, but I totally stuck to my budget again last month. Also again, it took some tweaking. Things like gas to drive to Tacoma a couple times and splurging on a jersey since I was going to the Apple Cup… But so far this is working for me and I would highly advise other people to really try it out.
I use an Excel spreadsheet for each month that shows what I’m budgeted to spend and what I’ve currently spent. Also on the sheet I keep track of every checking transaction with each transaction labeled under a specific category, ie: gas, grocery, dining, etc. All my monthly bills I keep separate, since they don’t really change much. It’s the things like gas, grocery and dining that I can limit, if needs be.
Anyway, if you’d be interested in budgeting for yourself and want some help, I’d be glad to email anyone a blank copy of my budget sheet. Just let me know.
I sent out a check today for the remaining balance on my second to last debt. As soon as the check clears and I have confirmation that the balance is zero, I can close the account for good. Boy, that feels good!
Wells Fargo Credit Account… You’re next.
Alright. I just got back from the bank where I opened a separate savings account just for my emergency fund. Right now I’m at 25% of my target amount. I should be able to finish this amount by the end of the year. Eventually, I’d like to have several months salary built up. But I figure this is a good start.
It has been a month – so did I stick to my budget? Yes… and no. For most everything I managed to spend just about what I had allotted. Just in the past week I had two major expenditures come up that I would label as “emergencies”, and if my emergency fund had been built up then that’s where the money would have come from. But seeing as how I’m still working on that I had to make some last minute changes to the budget to fit them in.
Other than that, the only item I went over on was groceries. I didn’t really give myself enough money for that. I was attempting to reduce how much I spend at the grocery store. The problem is, I love to cook – it’s kind of like entertainment for me. And since I didn’t really spend money on anything else I would consider entertainment, it kind of balanced out. And I still managed to squeak out enough to start that emergency fund.
So was the budget a success? Yes. And it looks like I’m sticking to it for next month as well.
I just registered to take my WEST-B and WEST-E in mathematics! That’s the Washington Educator Skills Tests that are required to enter a teacher certification program. And within the next couple weeks I’m going to meet with a City University admissions advisor to discuss the Alternative Route to Secondary Mathematics Teacher Certification! Woo hoo! I’m actually doing this! :D
Eleven more days to go and I’ll find out for sure how much money I can actually put toward my emergency fund. From the budget it’s looking good so far. I may even try to sell a thing or two on eBay this week to help contribute. Anyone want to buy a little-used Roomba?
I’m just about at three weeks and I’m still 22% under budget! At this rate I’ll have half of my beginning emergency fund built up by the end of the month. I’m planning a major home improvement in the next week or so (adding insulation to the attic), but I already factored that in. If you had asked me if this whole budgeting thing would work so well a few weeks ago, I would have told you I had my doubts.
One of my earliest memories is of a family roadtrip, and one of the stops was the Trees of Mystery. I remembered the giant Paul Bunyon and Babe statues very vividly.
I managed to create a spreadsheeted budget based on my spending for the last months. It was quite suprising to see where my money was going. I allocated enough money to pay the bills and eat and get around town, and I’ve got enough left over to start my emergency fund (one of my other goals). It’s been a week and so far I’ve managed to stay on track. In fact I’ve spent less than I anticipated, and that’s without killing myself trying to pinch pennies. I just need to pay more attention to where my money is going.
One more payment next month and I’ll be done with one of my two remaining debts. Less than a year from now, I shouldn’t owe anybody anything! Turning around and paying off your debts is a very hard thing to do, but being able to see the end is totally worth it.
The deck flooring is 99% done and I started on the roof this week. Yesterday I cut down the section of gutters where the roof will attach. That’s when I ran into another problem. Apparently the gutters are custom made and I can’t find the right shape end caps… so I’m going to have to make them myself. So what should have taken all of 10 minutes to finish the gutters, is now going to take at least an entire afternoon.
People keep asking my why the deck isn’t finished yet. This is why.
Here’s my progress so far. I’ve been working on it off and on for the past two months, but I think I’m getting close to finishing. This weekend looks to have some mild sunny weather and I hope to be able to finish laying the rest of the floor boards before sunday. If I get the roof framing started I’ll be very happy.
No. 16 Zucchini Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust
It’s getting to be that part of the year when everyone has too much zucchini. I got a few zucchinis from my brother’s garden this week and decided to try something different with them – zucchini pizza! I started by making a whole wheat dough for the crust. The pizza was topped by a layer of homemade cheese (ricotta would be the closest comparison), zucchini, mozzarella, more zucchini, more mozzarella, and ground pepper. This thing was delicious! I should experiment with different pizza toppings more often!