Posted in Musing & Stories

Saving Money to Move (with totals) and More Nostalgia

wooden house on a forest
Photo by Mateas Petru on Pexels.com

Moving & Saving: Part 2 – In the 70’s there was a gas shortage in the U.S.  “The line is around the corner.” Mom said to Dad as we three sisters sat quiet, unbelted in the back seat of forest green Dodge Dart. (Back then, if you needed belted, Dad would do it. HA!)

Though the folks both worked, we also stood in line for butter and  cheese in the early 80’s. Mom was creative in many ways, but not so in the kitchen. The staples were boiled potatoes, gravy made from the grease of the meat she fried well every time, and fresh or canned veggies. (depending on the season) As far as spices, we were true Hoosiers; salt, pepper and ketchup. 😉 We camped and fished. Wandered the woods. Dad taught us to till the ground and care for plants. Taught me to drive at 14… an old blue Chevy half ton, with a load of fresh cut firewood in the bed. 

—Some time later, my husband and I taught our daughter to appreciate country life, too. But we’ve missed it for over a decade. Now, after clawing through 5 rough years, we have a sense of direction and a time frame. 

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

-> Finally, a homestead!! 10 months to a year away hopefully.   (and 10ish years until retirement.) As the budget gets tighter, I’m researching economical Prefab home kits under $35K here.

Money Saving Totals:  These are some examples of consistently cutting back, in the past 80 days–

  • $24/mo. Husband found a shorter route to work.
  • $12/mo. I’m making all DIY household cleaners.
  • $78/mo. Groceries/Eating out: Cut our trips in half. Found closer places. Continue to use coupons & sales ads. Used GoodRx app at Kroger.
  • $20/mo. Stock Up: on frozen veggies- which we seem to eat more and waste less than fresh or canned.
  • $40/mo. Fewer Gifts- giving & receiving: With extended family, we are pitching in to give gifts that are longer-lasting, durable and functional. We’ve asked for restaurant gift cards in return. (b/c we don’t need more ‘stuff’)
  • $40/mo. General Purchases: Secondhand store first. (clothes, office chair) Spending freeze on Amazon & home improvement stores.
  • $12/mo. Utility bills: We light & heat the room, not the house. Smaller lamps.  Shorter showers. Unplugged cords not in use. Lightweight laundry dries flat or in front of the heater.
  • TOTAL $226.00/mo. additional savings so far this year. Not too shabby!
  • Mindset & Replacing Old Habits: Enjoying free or cheap activities together-  Crafts, games, books and movies we already bought. Take walks around the neighborhood.  We hold planks together on the living room floor.  We’re also trying new cooking styles & spices. He helps wash dishes and cooks on Sundays.
  • Things we decided NOT to do… to save money: Didn’t pick up gym memberships in January. Didn’t buy state park passes. No bikes, appliances or fancy boots. Decided not to get cable TV or buy a new recliner. No vehicle loans, but maintained the 2 that we own.

It’s encouraging to see that incremental numbers DO add up over time. Saving 3 bucks a week doesn’t seem like much by itself. But get a little momentum going and it becomes $2500+ a year toward debt, retirement, or a replacement transmission sometime down the road.  (HA!)  –Have patience and be thrifty, Friends and Confidantes -Gma Auburn

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Posted in Musing & Stories

Moving: Housing Hunt on a Budget

Moving Part 1 – Is a prefab home kit an option?

What have I been up to? Planning a MOVE! My husband and I have decided to move further out into the country. {but still near family.} We are tightening our 2019 budget even further. {some saving examples here} It all started with a campfire… or lack thereof. And what we thought we wanted, we didn’t. 

We thought we wanted to travel. Buy an RV. Have a campsite as homebase while he still drove day routes part-time through a temp service. Live a bit nomadic before we got too many ailments. However, I believe this was a passing phase due to living on the truck for 2 years; then renting a place with no yard but a ream full of rules.  Now that the wanderlust has abated-  What replaced it was the simple, silly {yet pervasive} notion that we need to have a campfire out our back door… and land to forage and garden as we had in the past. So we started to research  -30-

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Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

Affordable housing options under $35K and up to 600 sq ft. 

On our quick price guide and list of Prefab Home Kit Companies: Cabins, Containers, Cottages, and YURTS- DIY Oh my!  

SQUARE FOOTAGE & PRICE RANGES by Kit Type

  • $24K-$35K   Tiny home on wheels, partially finished +/- 192 sq ft
  • $11K-$22K   Cabin Kits- 4 season, various sizes: 320, 420, 560, and 600 sq ft
  • $10K-$18K   Yurts- including some upgrades:  Larger sizes $25K-$29K
    •  Yurts –  Sizes include: 16/20/24/26/30/39 ft diameter, 7+ ft tall
  • $7K-$27K    Container homes: 1/2/3 br., 20, 30 and 40 ft. (160-600 sq ft)
    •  Containers – Studio or Expandable, Easy set-up, MANY features included.
  • $5K-$15K     Cottage/Cabin- “shell only” Kits  250-600 sq. ft
  • $Free-$3K  +/- shipping and DIY assembly help (If needed) Shipping area, price per mile and down payment can vary for each company. Building/zoning codes can vary also. 
  • Weeks to Complete: Differs greatly by kit style, etc +/-  2 to 10 weeks
  • Upgrades can include: Customized floor plans,
  • Insulation/moisture barriers and roof material.
  • Windows/doors, plumbing, electrical, solar.
  • Finished/pre-installed: cabinets, light fixtures, sinks, wood stain.
  • Optional features for handicapped and elderly.
  • Other possibilities: wood stove, compost toilet, porch and loft. {or turn-key!}

8 companies making prefab and a alternative house kits across the US. Most offer upgrades, have clearance sales, online price lists and finance options.

These kits are both durable and adorable!  Choose your own build, order online. My husband likes the containers, while I’m fond of the 4 season cabins. What’s your preference and why? Thanks for stopping by today. Be well. Be frugal.  – Gma Auburn

Posted in Musing & Stories

Bi Polar Backstory

Emoji Mug
Coffee Lovers Emoji Mug

—- mental health Backstory Diagnosed Bi-Polar 23 years ago. (I’m nearing 50 now) Off and on various medications over the years and one counselor I din’t care for. I lost jobs, projects, and people. Even the manic highs, while productive; were exhausting. Being an introvert does not help. I did manage to have a career and raise a well-adjusted kid, but still, I can look back on 30+ years of marriage and pinpoint the struggles.

I acknowledged 18 months ago-that I couldn’t see my way out of this long, low swing… I was living barely functional. Narrowing tasks to the “have-to’s” at the last minute. About 2 months ago- relatives began to step in. Kept on me until I made very necessary appointments. (And was driven to them. Which was both humbling and a relief.)

Recently–  Saw my first new doctor last month. Rx for a tame psych med. And I’m tellin’ you… it has changed my entire demeanor for the better. Helped me UP and out of a scary, crying, raging place. I had understood the mire. Knew the wrong and blackness of it. The ‘don’t care’ was louder than the ‘give a shit.’  Unmedicated; Trying but spiraling. In the last 18 months, I didn’t think it could happen; But Bad got Worse. To the point I couldn’t keep my granddaughter overnight.

So today... 6 weeks with a new psych med;  I’m “Pleasantly Focused.” Which may sound corny, but I have attention over the course of days for projects that were stagnant. More patience with people and situations; not bone-achingly exhausted. Genuine joy has returned. I can look forward again. My stomach quit hurting. A few show-stopping panic attacks and ‘phobia’ type things linger. I mentioned those at the re-check appointment. She upped the dosage. We’ll see how that goes.

While my writing has come back to me, designing has not. I’ll run with what’s in front of me for now.

Thanks for stopping by today!  If you see something in yourself, mirroring this muse; Acknowledge it. It doesn’t define you. Find a buoy; those people and activities that matter most.  Take help, seek help.  Open that door just a crack. You deserve joy. -Grandma Auburn

This unique hotline is available via text message to anyone experiencing mental health difficulties or an emotional crisis. Highly trained counselors offer support and guidance to calm you down and make sure you are safe

ARTICLE – In-Depth Mental Health Questions Answered- Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Bi-Polar  Learn about symptoms and questions to ask when calling a HELPLINE. Plus more resources and phone numbers.

Posted in Musing & Stories

Oven Roasted Acorn Squash and Variations

Grandma Auburn's Kitchen
If squash is difficult to cut raw; Roast it whole.

PICTURE AND RECIPE: {from my TinyTrailer Kitchen 10/18 jsm}

Whole or Halves- Roasted Acorn Squash

1. Preheat oven to 425-450 degrees F. 

2a. Wash Squash. Cut off stem end.  Cut in half from point to stem (lengthwise)  and gut seeds  – Place on a cookie sheet. The bowls facing up; lightly score the inside with a knife.  then add…

Step 3. Into each half  ** 1 to 2 Tablespoons of almond milk or apple juice.  [water with raisins], **1 tsp. butter, **1/2 tsp. of cinnamon **1/8 tsp. vanilla.  **Optional additions: brown sugar, syrup, pecans or dates . See step 4 to ROAST…

OR  Step 2b.  {Roast Whole} – NO CUT METHOD- Poke 12-15 holes all over the squash-it’s OK if some water seeps out.  See Step 4 to roast.  THEN; Let cool somewhat before cutting and discarding (or roasting) the seeds. FINALLY-> scoop the warm squash into a bowl and mash. See Steps 3 & 5 to incorporate the milk and mix-ins}

Step 4. ROAST at 425-450 F [you know your oven. Mine runs a little hot]: for HALVES place on baking sheet on middle rack in oven for  35 to 45 mins .  –>Whole: -50 minutes to ONE HOUR {Maybe 65 minutes}; depending on the size of squash.  TEST FOR DONE: Skin will wrinkle slightly at the edges, Slide a spoon next to the skin or poke through with a knife in a few spots. Should pierce easily. Orange insides turn a shade darker.

It’s scoopable- like mashed potatoes.

Step 5. SERVE:  in the skin as is – or scooped into bowls and add fruit and yogurt for breakfast.  FOR KIDS: Try acorn squash mashed with banana and honey on toast.

More recipes or tips being added under these tags:  Quick RecipesFrugal/SavingFood Budget – Household Tips – Thanks for stopping by! – Grandma Auburn, workin’ & whiskin’ in the kitchen 😉

Posted in Musing & Stories

Winter Home maintenance tips; add ‘life’ to your purchases

Winter Home maintenance tips; add ‘life’ to your purchases

A lengthy list of 7 ‘in-depth’ pointers; a walk-through, really... For new homeowners, first time apartment life or young people with families (my daughter included).

Appliances and houses: can cost you hundreds of dollars if they aren’t functioning up to par. Plus the January heating bill is always a shock. Saving is about small things we do over time. {see also, this post:  “Thrifty People, The Holiday Edition”  10+ Money Saving Holiday and winter grocery tips to start now}

TIP 1:  Tear your vacuum apart at least weekly. Open the filter compartments. Unblock clogs or tangles. Take scissors around the bristles if it isn’t rotating. Take a screwdriver to open the bottom plate if the belt is stuck or breaks. Turn it upside down for loose change and small toys that were accidentally run-over. Clear the hose. Clean catchments and replace all vacuum filters/bags as needed. Sweep carpets twice weekly- more often with children.

TIP 2:  Next the refrigerator. {Easier if fridge is unplugged and emptied first.}Take everything off the top and sides – magnets, etc. Take the front, bottom plate off the fridge.  Get eye level with the floor.  O.o  If its just fur and such. use the vacuum hose… OR use a metal hanger and a long sock or old sweatshirt sleeve. (rubber band to secure it) Pull the hanger into an oblong shape and fit the cloth over it. Slide it under the fridge- pull out dropped food, pet hair, trapped dirt.

TIP 3:  Pull the fridge out from the walls and Counter tops (they have wheels). Tackle the grease streaks and dust. This might require a pail of hot water with pine cleaner or all purpose kitchen cleaner. Mop or cloth. Wipe walls. Cupboard doors. Wipe handles and sides. Push the fridge back and plug it IN again. With fresh water and cloth, wipe inside fridge. Pull out drawers and shelves. Clean the tracks. Bring older freezer food to the front. {Thaw something out for tomorrow.}

There are vents at the back wall of both fridge and freezer. Don’t cover these when restocking. Leave few inches space between vents and food. This improves the cold air circulation and efficiency for the times the motor runs.

TIP 4:  Next for EACH room: take the vacuum hose to all the furnace intake vents (The ‘cold air returns.’)  Don’t set bulky things in front of them. Wipe the grates with all purpose cleaner. (Unscrew and) Pull up floor vents. Remove debris and hairballs. If you can’t reach down far enough, put a bandana or panty hose over the vacuum hose (secure with rubber band) to reach and trap the items. Wipe and replace vents. Keep them closed in rooms you seldom use.

Replace furnace filters every 2-3 months, depending on number of pets, people, season, etc. Wipe away or sweep any cobwebs lurking around the furnace and filter spaces. Don’t pile boxes or clothing near it. If using electric space/room heaters; Remove any fuzz collecting on the back. Make sure the safety works. Don’t set it near pets or kids.

WINTER TIP 5:  Find and fix drafts. Cold air leaks around doors, window sills, along baseboards and in attics/crawlspaces. Inspect both inside and out. {Hire a professional contractor when necessary, please!} Replace missing boards, siding, roof tiles or cracked window panes. Roll insulation and foam spray are options. Seal with plastic window film and tape or blankets and tacks. Use foam tape(around door & window seals.) Drape off rooms or hallways.

Under the house: wrap your pipes in heat tape. Make certain that all the duct work is in place and connected. Double check for frayed or chewed wires. Fix more drafts. Do the same in the attic. {Again, hire a licensed home inspector, professional HVAC or electrician when you find something amiss.}

TIP 6:  Turn the thermostat down (5-8 degrees) BEFORE leaving for work and before bedtime.  Don’t keep heating the whole house when no one is there or everyone is sleeping under warm covers.

TIP 7:  Outside: First -be careful with ladders and yard tools. You’ll need something or someone to reach the gutters. Employ a yard service, or find a  ‘tasker’ near you on sites like www.taskrabbit.com. Let someone else pull out the wet leaves clogging the eaves. There may be clogs or overgrown weeds at the bottom of the downspouts, too.   Trim bushes and branches so they aren’t touching the house. Rake all the leaves and clippings away from the foundation. Helps keep mildew from growing.  Use a broom to sweep corners of the porch, steps and around doors. This encourages spiders and bugs move along and not seek refuge at your place.

Thanks for reading! I hope you take away a new tip or some money-saving motivation. Signed, Grandma Auburn- All bundled up