OK, so I never grew parsnips before, and while the little packet of seeds said to thin them out once they were a few inches high, I did not. (It's near impossible for me to pull healthy vegetable plants...i will have to simply sow more thinly next time...)
So my parsnips were mostly small, and the roots were growing and entwined in and around each other. Still, I dug over 2 pounds of parsnip roots today, which are about to go into a yellow split pea soup.
There are a few more parsnips still in the ground, though they will likely be small as well.
Well, it's been 3 years since I worked full-time and I am quickly becoming reacquainted with the mad dash on the weekends to try to do everything I need to do.
Today, I finished up yesterday's laundry, did the grocery shopping at Shop Rite, picked up some cat food at both Walmart and another pet food store where they sell rabbit (at $3 a can, it's just an occasional treat that they really like), filled up the gas tank at BJs (it's come down a lot...$3.53/gallon, lovin' it) and mowed the back yard.
Now I've got the split pea soup on the stove, which will be my weekday lunches. I'm a little pooped.
Yesterday I mowed the front lawn and did a luxury home write-up for a $4 million home in Greenwich...it took about 2 hours, will charge $137 for it, although the listing agent never called me back so it's not quite done.
Otherwise, things are ok. Job is okay, although it's hardly challenging. I've made a few friends there, and have a walking buddy for my lunchtime walks, which I really like, since she's also a contractor and is a good source of information on a lot of things.
Come Nov. 1 I will be making my first large deposit into my emergency fund to replenish it as much as possible in coming months. I don't feel "rich" yet, but I've been able to pay off all of my bigger bills of recent weeks, which included lots of doctor's visit not covered by my lousy insurance, the hot water heater, the furnace humidifier and all that. I will feel much better when I can add to the emergency fund.
Otherwise, I've spent nothing out of my usual frugal routine and hope to keep it that way as much as possible.
After spending about an hour online looking for a lotion dispenser, I wound up going to my local Dollar store and getting a perfectly nice ceramic one that matches my bathroom wallpaper for $1. The ones online were in the $20 range, so I'm happy I didn't buy anything online.
Archive for October, 2013
Today was the last day of the farmer's market and as is my habit, I tool a stroll around lunchtime and discovered five fine pachyderms in the small plaza in the heart of downtown:
Mm, this is tasty.
They set up long tables laden with fresh produce, probably to ensure the elephants didn't wander off!
I wanted to catch up to the departing beasts, heading east down Main Avenue, but traffic lights thwarted me from doing so. The policeman you see in the foreground here was approaching a driver leaning on the horn, seemingly oblivious to the line of elephants blocking traffic. The cop chewed him out pretty well.
I always do check my bank statements, and this month, I'm especially glad I did since I discovered I paid the heating oil company TWICE for my oil tank fill-up last month.
One would think they would call and tell me so, but no, I discovered I'd paid $424 twice, once when i left the delivery driver a blank check and again two days later, without thinking ,when they mailed me the receipt that should have been left in the door.
When I called she said they just applied it as a credit. Umm, you mean you don't bother to inform the customer, or ask the customer what their wishes are? It makes me distrustful of them; how do I know they wouldn't have just pocketed the extra cash?
I told her I wanted a refund; I don't always buy oil from them so I'd rather have my cash back.
OK, so I'll be first to admit this wasn't my idea, but I think it's pretty nifty anyway.
I bought a bag of scallions at the supermarket for a recipe. Instead of throwing away the root ends, I kept them and planted them in a pot of dirt.
You can see the little white nubs in the photo below, where I originally cut them. If you look carefully, you can also see slender green shoots emerging from a few of the scallions.
Pretty cool. I put them in the sunniest room I have, an upstairs bathroom with southwest exposure, and hope to grow them all year long.
I've done the same thing with celery, although in this case, I happened to be growing celery in my home vegetable garden, so after I cut down the entire stalk about 3 weeks ago, I kept what was left, and all the attached roots, and stuck that in a pot too. This is still sitting in my driveway since we haven't really had a hard frost yet, but I will bring it indoors soon, too.
You can see the green leaves coming up. I like to use these in pea soup.
I might add that the scallions sprouted even though what I bought in the store was not organic.
In other news...
I discovered how delicious chai tea is. It's black tea plus lots of aromatic spices like Cinnamon and ginger, which just happen to be loaded with antioxidants.
Got my first paycheck from the new job Friday. Hooray! It's pretty small (net about $600-something) but that's because I started mid-week and only got in 23 hours. This week was better, at 30 hours, but there was the holiday on Monday. Hopefully this coming week I'll be able to put in 40 hours.
I'm feeling broke right about now as all my credit card bills had to be paid, and between car and homeowners insurance for the year, plus the hot water heater and the furnace humidifier, plus the deposit for the carpenter coming to do some work next month, the checking account is REAL low.
I have learned from another employee at the job that they hire a ton of contractors (like me) and that it's not uncommon for them to extend the original contract. They also have hired any number of contractors on a permanent basis. So one can hope for the same treatment.
I couldn't resist checking out the benefits handbook for regular employees, and I must say their benefits look very good, even above average. They offer benefits, including health insurance, even to p/t employees who work at least 20 hours a week. They offer 4 CIGNA plans, they seem to contribute a generous portion to the 401k..they match $1 to every dollar contributed up to 5% of pay, I think. Isn't that more than the usual .50 of every dollar?
When I was walking at lunchtime the other day I came upon a farmer's market in the park. They even had an organic vendor from my hometown there. Too bad that next week is their last week for the season. I will definitely go next week as I want to get some apples, and when I was there before, I didn't have any money on me.
My friend R. came over last night and we had some popcorn and a good talk. His PSA levels are rising again, despite the meds (chemo in a pill) he's on. His prostate was already removed, but the cancer is circulating in his blood. Things don't look good. The only alternative is a $93,000 drug that only extends your life 4 months. He was invited to do a clinical trial in Maryland area for a year, but there would be no guarantee he wouldn't get the placebo, so it would be risky to do that even though he'd get the drug for free after the 1-year trial was over.
He's also trying to help his niece who is going through a contentious divorce. He's going through his own divorce too and getting near the trial stage. He's trying to care for his 96-hear-old father who he recently had to move into a nursing home. He visits his dad twice a day, every day.
He's thinking of just giving up on all his prostate cancer meds and just letting the disease take his course. He figures he may have another 3 years. I tried to discourage him from doing that. It breaks my heart to hear him talk like that; he is very fatalistic. He says he's had a full life with no regrets.
He has been very generous to his niece, and is prepared to help her buy a house where she and her 2 kids can live after the divorce. He made some money transfers previously and then she decided she was going to work things out with her husband, so he wound up losing several thousand dollars.
He previously loaned her and hubby $40K so hubby could build a grand garage to store all his truck equipment.
Now R. is worried that he may run out of money (he'd assumed he would die before that happened). Since his retirement, he's worked a variety of p/t jobs; right now he works at a gas station and teaching kids how to drive at a driving school.
Unfortunately, a kid he was recently teaching froze up in the middle of an intersection and people were beeping horns, etc, and R. had him pull over to the side of the road and parked the car there temporarily, and a cop came along and gave them a ticket for parking there. So R. will probably lose his job there as a result.
I told him not to try to appeal it, let it happen, it will free up more time in his hectic schedule to see his dad and see his friends and just have a saner life. There are any number of other jobs he can do when he's ready to do them.
This story about an Oregon man who built himself an underground dwelling after his divorce will appear to SAers, I'm sure.
He told NBC News, "I don't believe in houses or mortgages. Who in their right mind would spend their lifetime paying for a building they never get to spend time in because they are always working?"
Here's the link:
While the weather here in the northeast is still great, it certainly is chilling down as soon as the sun sets, and so my mind is on the upcoming winter. I can't believe it's here again (groan).
Here are a few of the things I've done to prepare for winter:
1. Started bringing all my potted annuals and perennials in the garage where they overwinter, saving me money on new plants in the spring.
2. Brought in the bird bath.
3. Scheduled a furnace cleaning.
4. Scheduled a chimney cleaning.
5. Got my furnace humidifier installed (hooray)
6. Froze piles of tomatoes from the garden, for winter soups and stews.
7. Drained the garden hose and shut off water to faucet in garage.
8. Moved a bunch of summer clothes in my main closet back to spare bedroom, and brought more winter attire into the main closet for handier access.
9. Soon, I will remove some of the screens from my windows so I can enjoy a much clearer winter-time view outdoors.
10. Replaced my storm door screen inserts with the glass inserts.
11. Reprogrammed my furnace timer to my current schedule with the new job.
12. Set a timer up on a lamp in living room so it's no longer dark when I get home.
13. Plugged in my two carbon monoxide detectors (to coincide with furnace heating season).
14. Cleaned up the garage so my car will fit in there when it snows.
15. The vegetable garden really could use some cleaning up.
16. I pulled out some of my draft dodgers to put against exterior doors, and put in the foam stuff around attic door to block the warm air from rushing up.
How about you? Did I forget anything?
Happy Columbus Day...
A beautiful fall day here...
I took a morning walk in town.
This is near the new town hall complex.
Though town offices are closed today, I stopped inside town hall to use the rest room and then browsed a photography exhibit there.
Here is an origami mobile someone made, with 26 doves representing the 26 children and teachers killed on December 14th.
It was one of those rare, unstructured days.
Around mid-day, I finally got dressed and drove over to check out an open house at one of my favorite condo communities about 15 minutes east. There were actually two units for sale, next to each other, in the $240K range.
After that, I hit Shop Rite and spent about $30 on stuff, with an eye toward making pumpkin black bean soup, a wheat berry salad and something else I can't remember now for workweek lunches.
Otherwise, worked at the computer, lolled around and then once I had my afternoon black tea, I was inspired to sweep the top end of the driveway, sweep the garage and generally tidy up the garage with an eye toward making room in there for my car to fit this winter. I also brought some potted annuals in there to overwinter and drained the garden hose.
Got a rare phone call from my sister tonight, returning my call from a week ago about having her come up and cut down some small trees she could use for firewood, and I just want to get rid of as they're slowly dying.
She wants to wait til after a hard frost as she's still crazy busy canning produce and harvesting from the garden. (I still have parsnips and celery in the ground, but that's about it.)
Yesterday I was actually able to change both back wheels on my lawnmower. I made four trips to the hardware store for the parts, and had quite a bit of trouble getting the one wheel off, and then had even more trouble getting the wheels to stay on because the only thing holding them on the axles are these little washers with teeth on them. I got a smaller, non-Black & Decker wheel and so I only had one-quarter inch of axle available after putting the wheel on with which to put on those little washers. Too much jiggling or shifting of weight on a slope in my yard, I worry, could cause those washers, and then the wheels, to fall off. Which is what happened a few times before I really secured them. Still, I mowed VERY GENTLY yesterday, but tomorrow, when I do the hillier front yard, will be the real test.
Tomorrow is a bank holiday so I'll be mowing the front lawn, taking a walk and cooking for the work week. And playing with the kitties. Luther got a new catnip mousie today so he is happy. I also trimmed his front claws.
My bank account is looking very puny, in the $2800 range. But I have now paid off all the big bills that appeared on credit cards, with $1,000 car and homeowners insurance and the new hot water heater.
I still expect more bigger than I'd like medical bills since I'm essentially paying out of pocket to see doctor who doesn't like my health plan. Got my final paycheck Friday from the 2-week real estate job and am looking forward to my first paycheck from the bank job, which will be small as I just worked 3 days. This week it will be probably 3.5 days with the holiday and my coming in late Tuesday due to Lyme doc appointment.
I'm working in a city with a long history of having crime, drug and related problems, but i was pleasantly surprised at how nice the immediate downtown area is. Maybe I said this in my last post? But a friend who knows this city said there daytime purse snatchings and muggings still take place downtown, so to be careful. I'm rethinking whether I want to continue my lunchtime walks, something I've done wherever I've worked for the past 20 years.
I wrapped up my first abbreviated (3-day) week at the bank job.I think it's gone pretty well.
Today was day 3, and I was definitely busy today. The people are fairly nice, though I haven't met that many yet.
The security measures and ID badges and parking badges are all kind of a pain. I'm supposed to take my laptop home with me every night so no one steals it, and with my purse and my lunch bag, it's just one more thing to lug.
Otherwise, today I was glad to get my final paycheck from the real estate contract job, but just as quickly I had to pay a big credit card bill and pay off the new hot water heater I just bought. My checking account is looking very sparse right now with just about $3k in it.
I was hemming and hawing about whether I would keep the appointment I made for this Tuesday with a Lyme disease specialist, as my headaches have improved but I am still getting them, though not as much.
I was reluctant to go thru with it since I'll have to pay him $300 out of pocket because he doesn't accept my state health insurance, and there will likely be more charges associated that if he repeats the blood test or does something else to try to determine if it's Lyme or something else causing my headaches. I am fairly sure it is Lyme because the ELISA blood test my PCP used only has a sensitivity (accuracy) rate of 65%, which means that 35% of patients will have a false negative test. (I tested negative on the Lyme.) However, I was still treated with antibiotics and I'm still having headaches. From what I've read, if you have a co-infection, which isn't uncommon, meaning not just Lyme but another tick-borne illness, then it's harder to treat and you'll likely need more than the standard 4 weeks of meds.
But anyway...I am going to the doc appt as I had to decide so I could tell my new manager about it. Monday is a bank holiday so I had to tell her today about that appt as well as another one the following week, for my eyes. She was fine with it, though I am anxious to try to make up the lost time as I really need the money. I also have a furnace cleaning but I think i will (reluctantly) leave access to the garage open and then lock the door at top of basement stairs. It's just one of those locks where you pull the metal bar across into the slot, but it would prevent them from perhaps secretly wandering around up here.
With a 10:45 am appt, I'll probably not get to the office til 12:30 pm, which means 3.5 hours to make up during the rest of the 4-day week. If I could get in at 8 am each day that week, that would do it, but realistically, I have trouble making it in at 9. I am not good at getting up in the dark.
Speaking of the dark, has anyone else felt it's been relatively easy thus far to have no heat days? I haven't mentioned the annual contest, but I've only turned the heat on 2 nights, I think, when it got a bit too chilly. Otherwise, it's been fairly comfortable, especially given that we're already into mid-October.
#1 on my priority list this weekend: try to fix my lawnmower so I can continue mowing the lawn the rest of the season. I like to mulch the fallen leaves with it too. (Easier than raking.) The wheel was wobbly for a very long time and I tried to remove it, even called Black & Decker, but I couldn't. So i just kept mowing with it getting wobblier and wobblier. I was hoping i could at least finish out the season and then get it fixed at my leisure. But no, it finally broke off last weekend. I also lost a bolt and plastic handle to one of the long screws that keeps the long handle in place.
It's been a real pain having this mower, not becus i don't like it, but becus there is only ONE black and decker dealer in the state, an hour away. He said he'd have to order the wheel, doesn't have it in stock and that when i brought it, i'd have to leave and then come back. I told him i live an hour away; i don't know they'll make an exception for me and meanwhile, i need to cut the grass. They didn't sound like they especially cared.
So although i ordered the wheel through him (without paying), i plan to hit home depot first thing tomorrow and bring the broken off wheel and see if i can find the same size match, then ask my neighbor to help me put it on. I just left a message for them now. I'll also bring the long screw in that needs a bolt at least, just to hold the thing together.
Last spring I also ordered a new blade for it but a friend of mine was unable to install it correctly, so that's something else. Dealer said they'd charge me $30 just to install the blade. I may skip that even though I already bought it. Frustrating.
The B&D website has a bunch of repair places listed, but so far none I called repair the lawnmowers. So this alone is a good reason not to buy another B&D cordless mower, although I like the way they work.
I'm looking forward to not having to get up in the dark tomorrow.
I'm still waiting for word from the recruiter about when exactly I start. It was supposed to be today but then on Friday she said probably "closer to Wednesday." I didn't hear from the recruiter today so I guess I'll email her tomorrow unless I hear from her.
I hit Xpect Discounts today (a grocery store) to take advantage of their $4.95 a pound sale on walnuts. I got 4 pounds, plus some almonds. I eat them often and freeze them in the meantime.
Also made a big batch of my very delicious vegetable soup with tomatoes from my garden, lots of beans, wheat berries and spinach.
I signed up for a health insurance plan online for 1/1/14. Because I had to factor in the new job for the last 3 months of this year, my income was bumped up a little, resulting in little if any subsidies. (It was a little unclear to me when stating income if I should go by what I made last year, for example, or what I expect to make this year, and I figured it would be the latter.) Still, a Bronze plan with Anthem will cost me about $95 less than what I'm paying now, although the deductible will be $6,000 (!!!) but with $0 co-pays on many things.
Yesterday late afternoon was rainy and overcast. There were not one, but two deer family groups here in the yard....3 does in the back and 2 does and 2 older fawns in the front.
A few days ago I happened to glance out my upstairs bathroom window and I caught sight of some animal moving into the undergrowth of a large rhododendron in the back, the same rhododendron where last summer I saw some sort of large cat-like creature go. The cat I saw last summer had a long tail and seemed to be tan, while what I saw a few days ago was smaller than a big dog but much larger than a house cat and it had no tail. To me, that says "bobcat." But I just saw it for a fraction of a second before it disappeared from view and by the time I ran down to the sun room I knew it would be gone.
There have been both bobcat and mountain lion sightings here in town, and I've seen the photos in the paper, so there's no mistaking it. The bobcats have been verified by photos, whereas the official state DEP position is that there are "no mountain lions" in Connecticut. Yet people continue to report seeing them.
This morning I made a delicious banana walnut bread. I wanted to use up the rest of a container of sour cream and it came out really well.
I also cooked up the rest of some fingerling potatoes and made a dill potato salad, now cooling in the fridge, with the same sour cream.
Breakfast was 3 hearty pancakes with real maple syrup and blueberries.
I wrote up a property description for a home this am and finally settled on a price of $180 for it. I haven't done this kind of writing for this company yet. In the past I charged another brokerage more $, but that was when I was traveling down county to view the house, and I long ago decided that just wasn't a cost-effective use of my time. I'd love to know what the other freelancer charges; I'm guessing my price will be on the high end, but I am confident I am also the better writer, and I turn most jobs around very quickly. Broken down, I allow an hour to interview the realtor on the phone, 2 hours to write it at $50/hr and a half hour for possible revisions and subsequent drafts.
Yesterday we saw Enough Said, with Julia Luise Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, who passed away shortly after making that movie. It was pretty good. I liked that it was about two middle-aged people living very ordinary, middle-class lives.
This is the time of year of the fall warbler migration. Most people would never even notice the birds, a drab olive green on top with pale yellow breast, but I've enjoyed watching one just now gorging on the bright red berries of the dogwood tree outside my office window.
While we certainly could use the rain, we've had an incredible run of I don't know how many weeks (at least three) of back to back sunny days in the 70s.
I was supposed to start the new job Monday, but recruiter called today and said it will probably be closer to Wednesday. Apparently there are delays because their IT guys are setting up my computer. I suppose in a bank they might not want me to have access to customer records if I don't need to...who knows.
I do have 2 doctor's appointments coming up and had hoped I could get a solid week or so under my belt before having to say I'd have to come in late. It just doesn't look as good, but these are important doc appointments, especially the one about my headaches.
Given the extra time, I may be able to travel to see my dad after all...I'm thinking this weekend, for an overnight. I had felt before I was running out of time, and didn't want to be doing any long distance travel right before I started, but at this point it would be no problem.
I mowed the back lawn today and completely obliterated the plastic cap on the clean out pipe of a drainage ditch I have. I'll have to find something else to put over it so leaves and stuff don't get in there.
I got a dozen farm fresh eggs at the local farmer's. They certainly aren't cheap at $5.75 a dozen, but they are the best I've ever had, save for my sister's. The secret is, I think, the farmer has lots of discarded produce which hens like to peck at, so they get lots of good nutrition you don't find in feed grain in a bag. the yolks are really orange.
I dropped off a box of books as donations for the library sale and returned some DVDs. Tomorrow I'm seeing a movie with a girlfriend.
I planted the celery plant I dug up from the veggie garden yesterday after using the whole stalk. I put it in a terra cotta pot which I'll bring indoors when it gets cold, but it's in the low 70s, so no need to do so right now. It had good roots, and I hope it will start sending up greens all winter long. I have a sunny bathroom; we'll see if I can grow it like a houseplant. It would be cool not to have to buy celery again. I plan to try the same next time I buy organic scallions. I will cut off and use the scallions, but plant the base of it in a pot, as I saw done on another website.
Later today I hope to plant my garlic seed for next year, but I'm kind of pooped from mowing and can't seem to get motivated. I also have those eggs, so now I can use two of them with some leftover sour cream to make some banana walnut bread. I'm thawing out some bananas I'd frozen months ago.
I really feel I have run out of credit card bonus offers to take advantage of. The kind where you earn $100 or $200 or more if you charge a certain amount in the first 3 months. I've applied for, charged up and then cancelled probably a dozen or more cards in the past year or two, just to make extra money that way. There are a lot of travel-related cards, but I don't get involved with those since many only let you redeem earned points on travel or hotel stays, and I have no plans for travel in my future, I'm afraid. I do it for the cash or for gift cards.
Another uber-productive day here at Patient Saver's homestead.
I did 3 loads of laundry.
I tried out a chocolate/apple bread pudding recipe in my new mini slow cooker. It was not bad. Might be better to try another time with better quality bread, maybe a challah bread.
I also knew I had 3 or 4 full size celery plants growing in the veggie garden, and I want to make use of them before the frost kills them.
I dug up one by the roots today. I plan to try growing it in a pot indoors this fall and winter. It's the coolest thing: here's a blog post about it: http://www.17apart.com/2012/02/growing-celery-indoors-never-buy-celery.html
While my celery stalks were pretty skinny, I did have a ton of bushy leaves, which of course are also edible. Most people don't bother with these, but they're organic so I figured, what the heck?
I tried another recipe for cream of celery soup. Had to go the supermarket for a few missing ingredients, and it wasn't too hard to spend $30 there. (I got the freshest organic red grapes there; I've never had such crispy grapes. Really good.)
Instead of a cream of- type soup, the recipe called for about 4 oz. of brie cheese. I used my immersion blender to puree everything. It's not bad, but a little on the watery side.
Tomorrow, I want to try to use up a container of sour cream before it goes. I just hate wasting food around here. I have some frozen peeled bananas so may try some sour cream banana bread. However, I'll need to run to the organic farm for a dozen eggs.
I tried going on my state's healthcare exchange. I was able to create an account, but when I began applying for 1 of the 3 silver plans available to me with some credits, the system stopped working. It was also difficult to tell by going to the insurer's sites whether my doctors were in their networks.
I'll try again later this week.
The garden is all pulled up save for the celery plants, a yellow squash plant with one small squash I will pick soon, and several parsnip plants. The parsnips sweeten in the ground with a few frosts, so they can stay a while. I'm not sure how big the roots will be since i never really thinned them the way I should have. Bad me.
I had an average sized vegetable garden this year, with one exception. My dad had given me a surplus of cherry tomato plants he'd grown from seed, so I had probably 7 or 8 in the ground. Because I am obsessive about these things, I counted every cherry tomato I picked this season (as well as all my other produce). I weighed and calculated the organic price equivalent of my harvest, too.
So, are you read for the grand total of cherry tomatoes harvested? 1,198 cherry tomatoes. Yup. Amazing, isn't it?
Blight has become a big problem, though, so next year, I may have to only grow tomatoes in pots. I also want to try the celery again, along with garlic, shallots, scallions and potatoes. Each year I like to try different things.