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Tag: progress

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Stitching Update 07.20.21

Cross-stitching is something I picked up many years ago when I was having some health issues and forced to rest for periods of time. If you know me, I hate sitting around watching TV and I love to keep my mind/body busy so when I […]

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Gardening Update 06.20.21

Hello and welcome to the first gardening update of 2021! This year my goal was to expand our vegetable garden and add in more pollinator friendly plants. My usual spring garden supply budget was much larger than usual because we ended up needing a large […]

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means that after work I put on my garden clothes and take the kids outside for some sunshine. My workplace is closed for until the fall and even then they are only allowing a few people in the office and things are up in the air as far as going back to school so I have planned an ambitious vegetable garden this year.

 

Front garden bed.

 

I started out this spring with sprucing up our front garden bed. We share part of it with our neighbors and our side needed a bunch of work. Every fall/winter I am good about cutting our monster hydrangeas back so that was taken care of this year. They grow so much over the summer that if I don’t cut them they will cover most of the garden bed! In late February and early March I pruned back the sword ferns, redid the edging, weeded aggressively, pulled out a bunch of salmon berry and then mulched the whole thing with a thick coat from the stuff that has been hanging out on our driveway for far longer than I would like to admit. The mulch is not super great quality but I needed something to make it look more uniform. The front bed looks fabulous and it was so uniform at first that people were walking in it as if it was empty so our asparagus was slightly trampled this year and we did not get more than a few spears before I decided to let it grow. We have since installed a small fence where the asparagus is and I am hoping that will keep people and dogs out of it in the future.

 

Seed starts from April.

 

I was a little bit late starting my seeds this year. I am not the only one upping their gardening game and many of the seeds I wanted were on backorder or were out at the first couple of places I looked. I ended up ordering from Territorial Seed Company and they took a while to get here but the quality was fabulous and we had a very successful germination rate so l ended up ordering way more seeds later on for my fall gardening. For the spring I planted Napa cabbage, two different green cabbages, a red cabbage, bush peas, pole peas, pole beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes (from a bag in the pantry), watermelon, cucumber and several varieties of squash.

 

Potatoes in a bag.

 

I may have planted too many potatoes. I planted a bunch early from a bag in our pantry that had started to sprout. A couple of weeks later I noticed squirrel holes all over the bed so I planted more, and some in another part of the garden. Then a couple of weeks after that I replanted more potatoes to fill in even more squirrel dug holes and planted some potatoes into the potato bags I found in the garage and we somehow ended up with about 20 plants which is way more than I wanted. I keep running out of soil so I have not been great about mounding dirt up around the potatoes but if things go ok we should have enough potatoes to last us a little bit. My kids don’t really like potatoes except when they are made a couple of ways so I may end up donating some of them to the local free pantry if we have too many.

 

garden beds
New garden beds.

 

This year I decided to put our plants into garden beds instead of directly into the ground. Our soil is not that great and I wanted to mulch around the beds to create a path and reduce the mud. In the past I planted directly into the ground with squash varieties but since we are doing more than squash this year we got some raised beds off of Amazon. We bought three total and used some landscape fabric underneath to reduce the weeds. Our older beds need a soil refresh and but I discovered that after I had done some planting so one of my plans for next fall is to add a bunch of soil and plant some cover crops for the older beds.

 

potted plants
Fairy gardens and our containers.

 

Over Mother’s Day weekend the family got together and planted some seed starts from the store of tomatoes, pumpkins and cantaloupe as well as the Brussels sprouts and artichokes I started in March. I should have planted the seeds I started earlier but honestly I ran out of space in my main vegetable garden and we had to buy both containers and more soil. We had some issues transplanting two of the pumpkins and the cantaloupe and as of right now our cantaloupe won’t make it and the pumpkins might recover. In order to use up more of the empty space in the tomato planters I also sprinkled some lettuce seeds in there and so far we have a few plants coming up.

 

Cabbages April 2020

 

cabbage
Cabbages June 2020

 

One part of our garden that is thriving is the cabbage bed. I totally over planted this one with nine or ten cabbages but they are doing great. These seeds were started around the 14th of April and most of them should be ready to eat around the first week of July. This year I got smart and I wrote the day I planted them and the days to maturity from the package on the popsicle stick labels. I already have another set of seeds planted under these ones so we shall see if those do ok with the larger cabbages in there as well. If not, I plan on starting more seeds indoors with our grow light just in case although I have heard that Napa cabbage will bolt when the weather turns so I may try something else here over the heat of the summer. Cabbages are just starting to form and it is really cool to see. I have not grown cabbages before and honestly I didn’t do any research ahead of time but I view the garden as a gigantic experiment so if these don’t work out I will have a better idea for next year.

 

squash
Squash bed.

 

We have always had good luck with zucchini and yellow squash in our garden. This year is no exception. This bed has three zucchini plants in it as well as some bee attracting flowers. They are probably too close together but that was not a problem for us last year and we fertilized this soil so there is plenty of nutrients. Our male flowers are already blooming but I have not seen any female flowers yet. We have about 8 total squash plants so I am sure we won’t have any issues with pollination. Usually we do three or 4 plants and it has never been an issue for us. We have a really healthy bee population which helps tremendously.

 

strawberry
Strawberry plant.

 

We have been harvesting quite a few strawberries off of the plant I threw into a pot a couple of years ago. For some reason it does really well in the spot that it is in and has strawberries on it weeks ahead of our actual strawberry plot. I think this spot is more sunny than the other and even though the bees have been pollinating away in our main strawberry bed the berries are still super immature and won’t be ripe for another week or two.

 

ladybugs
Releasing lady bugs into the garden

 

One fun thing we tried this year was releasing ladybugs into the garden. I ordered them from Territorial Seeds a couple of weeks ago along with my fall planting seeds and some garlic starts that will ship in September. My kids were a little scared of the lady bugs at first but by the end of it they were picking them up gently and letting them crawl around for a bit before asking for the grownups to remove them. We will definitely be doing this again next year or maybe even later on this summer since we had such a good time. I would have loved to do praying mantises as well but everywhere was out so we haven’t yet. Ladybugs only stick around long enough to lay some eggs and then they move on to the next area. I am hoping in a few weeks we will have lots of little lady bug larva crawling around eating up any aphids on our plants. So far the weather in the PNW has been mostly gloomy and wet and I haven’t seen many aphids but I know that as soon as it warms up a bit we will start to see them more.

 

We are having a great time in the garden this year and hopefully in a few weeks we will be able to start eating most of our vegetables out of the garden instead of buying them at the store. Below are some resources for your garden with no affiliate links, just sites we have used and liked. Happy gardening!

 

Territorial Seed

 

Seed Savers Exchange

 

Ladybug Life Cycle

 

 

 

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I […]

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Mr. Oscoey and I took some time a little bit ago to spend some time together since I have so much more free time now that I have been laid off. We had a great time exploring the Amazon Spheres, Pike Place Market and just wandering about in downtown Seattle. Mr. Oscoey was able to obtain passes to the Spheres through his work so we only spent money on lunch and on some gluten-free muffins I couldn’t resist from Pike Place Market. Spending time alone with your spouse even if you have been together a long time is very important. It is something we have been working on lately and I must say it is nice to spend time with Mr. Oscoey without the constant needs of our children being priority. Our kids love to talk and we take great delight in what they have to say but it does not leave any room for more meaningful grownup conversations!

 

Amazon Spheres
The gigantic center piece tree.

I am a huge lover of plants and since I had not seen the Amazon Spheres yet we decided to go down for the day to check them out.

 

Waterfall
Waterfall with a stream.

We saw so many beautiful plants and it was nice to spend some time in a warm tropical environment on a cold day.

 

Corpse flower.

Although we missed the gigantic corpse flower in full bloom it was definitely really cool to see. I had no idea it would be so tall!

 

One of the many smaller plants I was fascinated with.

 

I love these ones because I think they are the same ones that are frog homes in the rainforest which is super cool!

 

I loved these beautiful flower bouquets featuring cabbage plants at Pike Place Market. We did not buy any but they were stunning!

 

A look at the downtown Seattle waterfront.

We had an awesome time and I am really glad we got to hang out together! We are trying to make these adults only excursions happen more often but I am struggling to find things for us to do that are frugal and won’t make us feel guilty about not bringing the kids along. I have been having trouble with my knee so hiking is out (doctor’s orders boo!) but I am sure there are tons of free events coming up for the holidays and we can find something.

 

It is really important for couples with kids to find time to “date” each other, even if that date is only going to the grocery store by yourselves for an hour. Too many people let life and kids get in the way and one day you wake up 5, 10, or even 20 years later and you and your spouse don’t know each other any more. I have seen it happen to so many of our friends and we are determined not to let it happen to us. So my advice for the day will be to spend time with your spouse (and not just watching tv) and have a real uninterrupted conversation with them at least once a week!

 

What kinds of frugal activities do you do with your significant other? (Without the kids if you have any!)

 

 

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]