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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taking care of business


For a few weeks now, my low tire pressure light would come on when the temps were cool (say under 45) but would shut off once the temp was higher. Luck would have it that I shortly after this first happened, received an extended warrenty notice from Toyota concerning a faulty computer module that may have been the cause. Yesterday, the light came on, and STAYED ON. Ugh. I was free after work, so I headed right over to Toyota to have them look at my tires (I had to have one patched back in Aug when I picked up a nail), as well as to do a free Winterization check off, and to inquire about snow tires, after gaining the consesus from fellow Prius drivers, that yes, they really are needed where I live. (remember I got stuck twice last Winter).

So, the following was done:

-checked existing tires (fine, they just may be slightly below the suggested pressure mark, therefor causing the low pressure sensor to trip, as air contracts/expands due to temperatures. They deemed the tires to be in excellent shape)
-free oil change (since the shop was not busy, and I'd be due for one soon anyway)-free to me as I bought my car there
-free Winterization inspection (all is well)
-took advantage of a buy 3, get one for $1 tire promo, and am now driving on 4 new snow tires (I noted a difference immediately). Balanced and car aligned. Snow is actually in the forecast for late Sat night. It always snows just before my birthday, which is in a few weeks.

Glad to get these items off of my list, the car continues to be maintained. I rely heavily upon it, so this is essential. I've been saving extra for the snow tires and set aside $ every month for the usual maintenance costs.$537.43 but worth every penny to me, and my peace of mind.

Medical update


Living with a high deductible, health insurance plan has been an interesting ride. As of Sept 1, we are now in year 2 of a 3 year contract. Due to life events, we quickly blew through our family deductible of $4000 in 3 weeks. So from now until Aug 31st 2015, all of our in network expenses will be paid at 100% and out of network at 80% of reasonable and customary. Phew! So as the EOB's come finally rolling in (had to complain thru my Union that the ins company was no acting on any charges since the end of Aug, leaving all charges for this new plan year, unpaid with bills coming home), we can let the dust settle and figure out how to pay off these expenses. Luckily, my employer puts in $2000 into my HSA, and bi-monthly I add $150, planning on having $5000 total there this year, along with the monies that carried over from last year. My experience has been that hospitals will work out a payment plan with you, at no charge. Dr's can be a different story. Having a cushion already in my HSA helps us to quickly address any outstanding charges that we are financially responsible for.

So, this past week, once the new charges (for these past 2 months) were processed, I was then able to submit our maintenance medications thru mail order drug, purchase DD's RX at CVS-all at no charge to us. I also have made some additional medical appointments with a list of more calls to made for even more in the near future to addresss some concerns. One item: getting a new MRI on the right shoulder that I had repaired from a bad fall almost a year ago (the fall) and surgery at the end of Jan, 2014. My shoulder "clicks" which isn't right. I am not in pain, but then again, I have a high pain tolerance. So, to rule things out-the surgeon agreed that this is prudent. I have a MRI scheduled for tomorrow, and will see my surgeon on Mon to review results. In Jan, he was supposed to repair part of my bicept but decided not to, once he got in there. As I told my surgeon, "Medicine is both an art and a science. "  He is an awesome Dr, I am very happy with his treatment, this is what it is, and I'm pursuing this issue. He suspects that I'll need what is called a tenodesis  ( At this point, he says that there is no rush. I am hopeful to wait until Summer, should surgery be required.

Keeping it simple, and a freebie

 Tuesday's supper was supposed to be Kielbasa dogs but we learned that DS #1 ate them as snacks. So a choice of Bratwurst or hotdogs was served, alongside fzn tater tots, a can of beets. Done, simple, accomplished the task.

Came home with this from work: a HUGE tub of barely used cream cheese, 2 mini tubs of flavored cream cheeses
7 1/2 bagels from Bruegger's bagel shop.Nice. As of this afternoon, all the bagels were gone.

Tonight's dinner is YOYO-twins are with Dad, older kids are working. Leftovers were just fine. I am running a load of wash through before hanging it to dry, a loaf of bread is in the ABM. I'm tired, it's already been a long week.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fish on Monday: tuna casserole

A simple, basic casserole, that called upon a lot of pantry items: one can of cr celery soup (brought to home via DS # 1), milk, black pepper, freshly dried organic dill weed, dried minced onion to form the sauce to bind this together. One package of egg noodles (bought cheaply as a Jewish holiday promotion a while back), 4 smaller carrots that I cooked briefly along with the noodles, 1/2 bag of fzn peas that joined that party for a few minutes as well. Once drained, the noodles, carrots, peas were placed in the "Pam" sprayed casserole dish along with a drained can of mushrooms, one small organic Kholrabi that I grated on the box grater (kind of a mild turnip vegetable), 4 Swiss chard stalks that I chopped up (I use these like celery),  3 drained cans of tuna. I blended this together, topped the casserole with about 1/2 of a canister of French fried onions, the rest of a blob of NY state sharp Cheddar and baked this off for 30 minutes. Leftover salad served on the side. This worked, we're keeping the food budget in check, eating down the pantry shelves down cellar-all goals we wish to accomplish.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Talking utilities and keeping them in check

Moving to a new house and expanding our family members meant changes, including increased costs. It has been my mission to reign those in, and keep them in check. Our first electric bill was a shocker, but we managed to get that down where it belongs.

 A bigger family means a lot of wash. If you look closely, past the green shirt, you will see the tall, forked branch that is used to hold the lines up, when weighed down by clothes. Seems to be doing the trick-it's an old tip I learned as a child, from my spinster, great aunt.
 After a week of rain, we had a ton of laundry to get caught up on. The sun porch is getting too cold and I don't want the clothes to get musty while drying indoors. This week, the heat first came on for a bit, and I've stationed the clothes racks accordingly. Meanwhile, once glorious, dry weather returned, my outdoor line was called back into service and will be on any dry day where temps are at 40 or above. Here are today's whites, blowing in the breeze. The sheets smelled sooo good.
While I did turn the heat to on this week, we also continue to wear extra layers such as my ancient, LL Bean fleece jacket. I'm certain it's far out of fashion with the print (was a thrift shop purchase anyway, years ago) but it's warm and easily washed.


While not our actual refuse, it could easily be. Yesterday, I did my 2 week trash/recycling run and am pleased that I also tackled that escalating cost and we've got trash back down to 1 tall kitchen bag's worth a week (or 2 bags every 2 weeks which cost me $3.20 yesterday) and multiple bags (same size) of recycling. We easily recycled 4-5 bags yesterday. With my $2.10 transfer station fee (spread out on a montly basis for the once/year charge) if we continue to keep trash fees at $4 of less every 2 weeks, we remain on target. Once issue that became apparent for the suddenly very heavy trash, is the GF's cat liter was really weighing down the trash. Sicne the cat box is cleaned daily, either DS or the GF, if not DD are disposing of the small bag of waste in the community trash bin outside of work or the gas station, I am guessing. It was made clear in the lodger contract that I will not absorb any expenses related to their cat. The changes were made, my costs are back where they should be.

This weeken's CSA and grocery shopping

 This past Friday's organic CSA pickup: head of lettuce, Swiss chard, arrugula,
 3 green peppers, 2 round egg plant, a small jar of rhubarb-raspberry preserves, a small container of mange tout peas, scallions, tomatoes. Another great week.
Since the CSA was pre-paid in April, I have no additional cash outlay. I did stop at another farm (also organic) in search of a beloved and hard to find squash: Red Kuri. I bought 2 @ 60 cents/lb, a huge bunch of chard that the farmer literally went to the field and picked for me (I wanted huge leaves for stuffing), a doz free range eggs. $14.20 this week for groceries. I will run out of milk, hope to grab some tomorrow.

Sunday brunch and Sunday supper

 Sunday brunch quiche choices: bacon-onion/scallion mixture-mushroom-NY state sharp Cheddar
 Broccoli-onion/scallion mixture-bacon-orange gold cherry tomatoes-Monteray Jack cheese

I was able to use up alot of this n that as these 2 dishes were created, avoiding food waste in the process and affording us some premade bfst items for early in the work/school week.

Lunch was a choice of leftovers
 Sunday supper is a version of Cottage Pie, using lentils, instant potatoes (our fresh supply is low), the rest of my ground beef from the freezer
 Numerous fresh vegetables: celery, parsley, kholrabi, carrots, swiss chard stems
 Here is the beef-lentil-vegetable mixture layer, seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper
 A batch of roasted garlic, parslied instant mashed potatoes which were also seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder
Here is the assembled cottage pie, with the potatoe layer added on top, some freshly grated, NY state sharp Cheddar sprinkled on top, and all of it dressed with some Paprika before baking off.

I will serve this will a tossed salad and make some brown gravy, using Knorr bouillon granules and corn starch.

Recipe review: this is definately a KEEPER! Many raved about it, and I was able to get some vegetables into Mr Picky. Good way to stretch pricey ground beef, in the process. I am wanting to try this with ground turkey.