A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: finances

The Dreaded Lay-off…

The Dreaded Lay-off…

A little bit ago I was laid off from the job I started last spring. It was very sudden and shocking to me but the job was not going that great and if I had not had the most dreadfully awful week I probably would […]

A Not So Brief Hiatus

A Not So Brief Hiatus

About eight months ago I took a break from blogging. There were many reasons, the most pressing being a complete utter lack of time while trying to maintain balance with both Mr. Oscoey and I working full-time with small kids. To say it was difficult […]

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

One Year of Blogging Done!

 

Last weekend was the one year anniversary of Oscoey. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I have learned a lot about blogging over the past year and gotten to know many fabulous bloggers as well.

 

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Huckleberries in the garden.

 

When I first started out blogging with my very first blog post:

 

 

I had all sorts of ideas of what I wanted the blog to be and then the reality of life set in and I had to way scale back my ambitious plans.  There simply was not time for me to be posting quality posts 3 days a week, be on top of social media all day long and be an active member of all the blog groups I am part of and have some semblance of a home life. Luckily I realized pretty early on that it is ok if I can’t write an article for a few weeks or if I miss out on pivotal twitter discussions because I am not doing the blog as a full-time business making gig. I am doing it because I enjoy writing about our life and I love the community of people I have become a part of.

 

Raspberry Jam!

 

My blog first started out as a basic mom blog with many posts about the garden and recipes. I loved my weekly garden posts and will continue them on a less frequent basis this year. I love looking back at how the garden changed over the growing season.  I am probably going to scale back on the recipes though. Mr. Oscoey is more the cook in the family and now that I am working again I really don’t have time to cook much any more.  I use my banana bread and chocolate chip cookies recipes all the time though. They are a great dairy and gluten free choice for any sort of social gathering you need to bring an item to.  I am planning on making my dairy and gluten-free banana bread to bring with a jar of homemade jam to our work potluck at the end of this month.

 

Summer squash.

 

I have spent a little time focusing on urban homesteading on Oscoey because I firmly believe that people should grow at least a little of their own food. It is easy to set out a pot and even just grow a little bit of lettuce. Connecting with nature and understanding the seasons is something a lot of people have lost. Growing your own food is the easiest way to regain that connection and as an added bonus you have cheap organic produce to munch on! I am very excited to start our garden this year and I look forward to spending time out there with the kids every day. They love to graze and eat whatever is in season and that is fine with us!

 

Blue skies.

 

After I had done the mom blog thing for a while and focused on our little urban homestead I found the personal finance community and I haven’t really looked back. I love reading about personal finance, talking about savings strategies and getting inspiration from others. I will be honest and tell you I was a little nervous when I added the “Finances” category to the top of my page but then I did the Uber Frugal Month Challenge this January and I loved being a part of that community and jump starting our frugal mindset once again.

 

Wrinkly full picture off of the frame. 3/30/17

 

My crossstitching progress pictures seem to have fallen by the wayside…and that is mostly because I have not been stitching.  I would love to have the time to stitch every day and I am very inspired by my Instagram feed with everybody’s progress but I am honestly too tired at the end of the day to even think about picking up a needle.  This picture was taken almost a year ago and even though I have actually made progress on the piece I am no where near finished with it like I had hoped.  I also have several sewing projects I would love to write about that I have not worked on in months so I think one of my blogging goals for this year is to talk about some of my projects and spend some time tracking them on a weekly basis to motivate me to finish them.

 

Oscoey had a great first year! I want to thank everyone that is a regular reader of the blog! I love your comments and interacting with you. Here’s hoping to another great year of blogging!

 

 

 

An Overview of Meal Planning

An Overview of Meal Planning

Meal Planning to Save Time and Money   I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going Back to Work   Three weeks ago on a Monday marked a new day in the Oscoey household. For the first time in over three years I am no longer a stay at home mom. I went back to work and the next few […]

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is not doing well this week and the outlook does not seem promising. This person has lead a full life and everyone in the family pretty much agrees that it is better for them to go quickly rather than to linger. That being said, I was really surprised to discover that almost nobody was in the loop as far as what to do if this person (who is the glue that holds our family together) were to get ill and not be able to take care of themselves.  I thought that when this person’s spouse passed over a decade ago that everyone got together and hammered things out since it was quite a mess and nobody knew what to do. Needless to say nobody agrees on care and there have been some huge arguments that could have easily been avoided.

 

Even if you are healthy you should have basic care initiatives laid out in an easily accessible place for family members to follow. 

 

I thought I would talk about some of the more important aspects of long term care and highlight some of the most important areas to plan out in advance. It is highly recommended that adults should have a basic will in place, this is especially true if you have kids. We have one drawn up but not officially signed that basically says that everything is split between the kids evenly.  It took us a couple of hours to fill out the forms and we just have to go to a notary to get it signed but life got in the way. This isn’t an excuse though! Last week’s events motivated me to get on the completing of our will.  A basic will should not cost you more than a few hundred dollars and many employers offer lawyer services as part of their benefit packages that you should take advantage of to draw up a basic will. You can always go back and change it later but at least you will have something in place with your care directives all lined up.  Keep a copy in a fire proof box somewhere in your house that will not be destroyed by a natural disaster (earthquake, tornado etc) and a digital one as well.

 

The three most important things to have in place are:

 

 

DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Paperwork

This should be very clear on what conditions you want treated. I have worked my way through a couple of these and there is a line on there that describes giving anitbiotics that can be very murky. Do you want antibiotics if they will cure a life-threatening illness? Do you want them for something not necessarily life threatening but could turn into something life threatening later on? Do you want antibiotics for something non life threatening but might cause discomfort? These need to be clearly laid out in the DNR and explained to all people that might have to make a decision about your care under pressure in the hospital (spouses, children, close family and friends).

 

Example: You fall and break your hip requiring a long stay in a rehabilitation facility. You are unable to use the restroom by yourself and require help which is not so great and you develop a UTI which goes unnoticed until it gets bad. Did you know that UTIs can cause delusional thinking if left untreated? Once they reach that point you will require hospitalization and will be unable to make your own decisions. This is where the antibiotics section of the DNR gets murky. Clearly your issues is the UTI but giving antibiotics to save your life might not be what you want and doctors have to follow the DNR exactly to protect themselves from lawsuits so it is important that you are clear about what you mean by “antibiotic use”.

 

Clear Instructions for Long Term Care

We spent a lot of time over the weekend wondering what exactly our relative wanted for care. Did they want to stay in their home? Did they want to be placed somewhere? Nobody knew because there was no discussion before hand. It would also be wonderful if someone in the family was in charge of researching what care facilities are good in your area. There has been a lot of scrambling the past few days with people trying to make phone calls and figure out where is a good place that is not too expensive. You should have a rough idea of what places have good reputations and have a clean bill of health. Here is the link to the DSHS long term care facility information page for Washington State. I am sure you can Google your neighborhood and find information about care facilities in your area. This site here provides detailed health inspection reports of nursing homes from Medicare and rates them based on health inspections, quality and staff.  I have found it extremely helpful and quite honestly some of the health inspection reports I read were difficult to get through.

 

Long Term Disability Insurance in Place

You never know what lies ahead and most standard insurance plans do not cover long term care. Nursing homes run from about $8000 to over $12,000 a month and sadly the quality of care somewhat depends on price. Cheaper facilities have fewer staff members available and that can lead to mistakes. Unless you have a large stash of cash set aside just for long term care your relatives may be scrambling to find somewhere that is both affordable and provides the care that you need. I have seen many families try to care for relatives on their own but it is difficult to do and many people burn out quickly.

 

Even having these three basic plans in place will ease the stress of decision making for your family and make your care go much smoother!

 

I hope that by writing this out it will at least spark some conversation with the people important to you and hopefully inspire you to take action and get a basic will written out and explained to the people you have chosen to be your care givers in the event that you are incapacitated. At the very least speak to those close to you about your DNR requests so that if they are ever in a position to make a difficult decision they will have some sort of idea of what you want.

 

Below are some websites that I found with much more detailed information about will writing and many more questions you should be asking yourself. It is not an exhaustive list but somewhere to start the process. Please feel free to comment with any other helpful links! I am sure there are many more out there!

 

American Bar Association

 

National Caregivers Library

 

AARP

 

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 3

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 3

Whew. I am a little bit late posting our summary of week three in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge but that is because last week was a whirlwind of expensive things breaking, children being sick and massive amounts of the general craziness that comes from being a family. I did not catch up on my reading but about half way through the week I realized it was ok. We are still being uber frugal with our spending and we are completely on track to make my conservative goal of only spending $500 on groceries this month so we are doing great. We have not spent less than $500 a month on groceries since before we added our four year old to the mix so it is kind of a big deal for us.

 

The last of the turkey, mashed potatoes and broccoli.

 

When I first started looking at our spending last summer we were spending at least $1000 a month on groceries and many months it was closer to $1300 which is crazy.  Part of that was because I did not separate out our non-grocery items as carefully as I have been lately and we were spending a lot on general household items but we were still topping $800 a month on just food which is way too high, especially since we were not eating out. We have chopped our general household items budget to almost nothing and I am trying really hard to keep our groceries down. It is really difficult though because I am gluten-free and the kids are dairy-free and they drink a lot of “milk”. I spend probably $100+ a month on minimal amounts of dairy-free milk, yogurt and cheese just for the kids and we run out of “cheese” all the time. We have been slowly testing them on non-cow milk cheeses to see if they tolerate them since it is way cheaper to go to Costco and buy a gigantic block of goat milk cheese then to buy a tiny pack of vegan cheese on sale for 5, 6 or even 9 dollars (and goat cheese is divine!). My kids would eat one vegan pack of cheese in 1-2 days and it has nowhere near the nutrients we would like so we eat them sparingly.  We also have to supplement calcium and vitamin D for them as well and I have definitely noticed that now that we have two kids eating gummy vitamins we are having to buy them more often.

 

Gluten-free fried fish, green beans, and salad.

 

We were really good this week about eating our leftovers and making meals out of what we had. We did have to go to the store and my husband went so I don’t remember the exact break down but we still have about $120 left in our grocery budget for the next week or so and that should be enough. We bought a bunch of basics such as frozen vegetables, meat, toilet paper, fresh blueberries, bananas, grapes, avocados, and milk for the kids. My husband bought pork and made garlic sausage from scratch which is the meat we will be eating this week. He also splurged a bit and bought some fish (which we rarely buy) and he fried it a couple of days in a row and we ate it for dinner and breakfast the next day. The kids loved fish for breakfast and it was a great cheap protein source.

 

Green beans and ham fried rice made with corn instead of peas since we were out of peas.

 

I am proud to say that we threw out no leftovers and we have increased our vegetables quite a bit. Usually our kids eat a huge snack at 3:30 or 4:00 and then are ready for bed at 6:30 which doesn’t leave much room for a late dinner so we squeezed it in at 6:00. This past week we tried giving them a very light snack at 4:00 and eating dinner at 5:00/5:30 and lo and behold our kids are actually eating a huge dinner now including all of their vegetables without fuss. We have decided to keep it up and now our youngest is eating way more vegetables and our four year old is not picking at her food and taking forever to eat.

 

Beef, carrot and potato stew over rice with salad.

 

We did end up using our freezer meal this week on a night my husband was out late and we were low on cooked meals in the house. The kids loved it and I was able to stretch it with some rice and a salad on the side and the one meal lasted for a few grown up meals and several kid meals. We bought the beef, carrot and potato stew meal from Costco.  We usually don’t like to buy pre-made meals like that but we bought it last November in anticipation of my husband being out of town for a week on business and we never used it.  It was reaching the time when it needed to be used so we brought it out for our Uber Frugal Month and it worked great.  I am thinking about making some freezer meals to have on hand but honestly we don’t really eat them unless we make a conscious effort (I’m looking at you leftover lentil soup that has been in my freezer for a couple of months). I am thinking about doing a pantry challenge next month since we seem to have barely made a dent in our pantry/freezer this month even though we have cut way back on our groceries.

 

Homemade bread.

 

One of the great thing that has come out of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge is that my husband is making bread again. Back in the day when we only had one kid and before I became gluten-free my husband used to make the most delicious bread all the time. He stopped because we just weren’t eating it but now that we have more kids and they are able to eat it he has started up again.  I hear it is wonderful but I have not tried it.  He was able to make it dairy-free for the kids and they have been enjoying it in their lunches with nut butter and our homemade raspberry jam.

 

Drying bananas and apples.

 

I did get around to drying our bananas this week and just in time too! My son polished off the last of our previous batch and quite a bit of the current one before I could get it out of the dehydrator. I tried drying a few apples to see if the kids liked them and they gobbled the apples up so fast I hardly blinked! I will definitely be making more dried apples some time soon!

 

Eek a tarantula!

 

Water play.

 

We splurged a bit this week and bought a membership to the Pacific Science Center. We absolutely love going there and it has been a huge part of our lives. Our oldest daughter even volunteered there a few summers and participated in many of their camps. If you buy the membership you get discounts on IMAX movies, upcoming exhibits and most importantly summer camps.  Since I will be going back to work I will need to find some sort of care for our four year old over the summer. Our youngest will be at his daycare but our four year old’s school has summer camps instead of regular school so I will have to be signing her up no matter what.  The summer camps at the Pacific Science Center are some of the best in the area and spots fill fast but members can sign up almost two weeks early and they receive a discount so buying the membership is totally worth it.  Even if we didn’t send our daughter to camp we would only need to visit the science center three times this year in order to make the membership worth it.  Buying a yearly membership to a local museum/science center and then visiting every month or every other month is one of the ways we have enjoyed cheap entertainment over the years.  Science Center members also enjoy discounted tickets at sister sites and we have visited the science center in Portland OR in the past while on vacation.

 

Now on to the expensive part of our week. We did replace our hot water heater and it ended up costing us quite a bit since we have gas and in our county they do not do many rebates for a gas hot water heater but I have really noticed a difference in our hot water.  It was such a drastic change that I even got out our meat thermometer to check that it was heating the water correctly to 120 degrees and yup, the water was the correct temperature. I had my first hot and not lukewarm bath yesterday since we moved in two years ago and it was glorious! The old one was not heating the water very quickly and if anyone used hot water after bath time, like say to do the dishes, it took forever for it to reheat. I am really glad we replaced the whole unit and not just the leaky valve at the top.

 

Leaky sunroof.

 

Another major expense this week was the repairs to my car. It turns out that my car is no longer under warranty since it has joined the 100,000 mile club and it needed a few repairs.  We had the oil changed, the alignment fixed and the drive belt replaced. The leak in the sunroof turned out to be clogged drains and that was cleaned out as well. My daughter really liked the loaner car and was very excited for me to keep the “new car”. It turned into a conversation about how I loved my car and we didn’t need another one just because something newer came along. My car is a 2010 and the loaner was the same car but a 2015 so the inside looked much prettier, especially since it had not been well loved by my kids for the past five years. I am not sure how much of the conversation my four year old grasped but I am hoping that by talking about how we don’t need to buy new things all the time or replace cars just because they are older it will lay the foundations for her to have a stable financial future. You have to start somewhere right?

 

How is your Uber Frugal Month going?

 

 

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from […]