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Archive for July, 2017

Biggest CC discrepancy ever

July 19th, 2017 at 08:27 am

So I was suspecting that my tracking of CC spending would be off this month. It usually is on months where there's a lot of spending -- and if it's a couple bucks I just figure my finger slipped on the calculator at some point during the month, and I just add or subtract the amount of the discrepancy to/from the shared spending budget.

And with this being the CC statement that would house the spending during AS's stay with her mom, I knew there was more room than usual for error.

I didn't expect a $185 discrepancy!

I downloaded the transactions to Excel and compared against my manual tracking of CC spending and found a full NINE transactions unaccounted for in my budget tracking. I added them up and they didn't match the discrepancy--off by about $18--so I probably made a calculator error or two on top of missing all those purchases. Jeez!

Three of them were personal expenditures by me and NT while AS was out of town, and the rest could be chalked up to shared spending (hardware, drugstore, more spending by AS while in Va.). This takes our shared spending deficit over a thousand. Dang!

We won't likely see another time period like that soon, where there was stress and disruption of routine on top of tons of spending. So I hope that's the biggest discrepancy I ever have to come to terms with.

But just in case, I should probably come up with a more idiot-proof way of tracking CC spending during the month. Hmm, maybe there's something I can do with a separate spreadsheet tab ...

31 down, 19 to go!

July 18th, 2017 at 07:24 pm

New meals, that is.

Tonight I tried a new recipe to use up more CSA beets: beet burgers! They also had lentils and brown rice in them. Also onion, garlic, thyme, fennel, mustard powder and breadcrumbs.

They turned out really well! All the adults liked them, and the kids tolerated them (mainly because I made tiny ones for them molded into custom shapes Smile ).

I attempted a new room-temperature pickling recipe for some cucumbers and it ... did not go well. I had to toss two cucumbers' worth of yucky pickles. Frown

Still, at least the beet burgers were a success! We had them with traditional fixin's and fries.

I had an exciting discovery the other day: Hellman's makes a vegan mayo now! I may switch to them from my favorite vegan mayo. Theirs is pretty good, and cheaper.

Increase in UK fund value

July 17th, 2017 at 08:54 am

This is partly a note to myself so I make sure to change it on my next net worth update! One of NT's retirement accounts (the one I call FL) sent its annual report, and it has increased from 5534 pounds in value to 6462. Not bad for such a small fund!

One of his three pensions also notified us that it was being transferred to a different company. As it happens, that company holds one of our other pensions. So that reduces the number of companies we have funds with to two. This should make it easier to combine the three into one, which is something NT and I keep meaning to do.

Crazy week coming up!

July 16th, 2017 at 01:07 pm

We've spent the past week sort of dazed and getting back into the rhythm of our regular life now that AS is back home. Wednesday we went to the annual ice cream social at our closest park, and Friday-Saturday we had two kids over for a slumber party. (We invited four but it was kind of a relief that only two could make it!)

Our shared spending is almost a thousand bucks in the red. It's more annoying than anything; we have over $10K in the renovation fund so could pull from that if necessary, but I like to pretend that money isn't there and see if we can make up the deficit with money coming in. Between AS's unplanned extra days in Va. and having two unused plane tickets (she had to buy a third, much more expensive one when it was finally time to get home), and all of us spending a bit more on eating out than usual as a result of our routine being off, plus just the higher spending of summer fun, AS's freelance checks haven't been able to keep up. She booked some new work already though, and still has some checks expected from work she did before her travels. So I think it'll even out.

But first it might get worse, if those checks don't come soon. I looked at the calendar and realized I have quite the week coming up!

This Wednesday there's a parade we like to go to if we can, the Torchlight Parade. There are lots of pageant floats from small towns and (as expected) lots of torches. That shouldn't cost us much at least; I've asked AS to make portable pizza pockets for dinner and meet us there. There's a small kids' fair before the parade that I might take the girls too, but the games and snacks are usually pretty cheap.

Thursday is my work's outing, which is going to be lawn bowling at a nearby British-themed pub. That one won't cost me anything, and I get to leave work early to go to it!

Friday we're having a party at our place; we invited everyone we know and have about 35 yes and maybe RSVPs, which makes me think 15-20 people will come. So we'll need to make sure we get enough food and drink for everyone.

Saturday night is the Aquatennial fireworks display, which is usually better than the 4th of July fireworks in Minneapolis! We used to watch them from NT's work's balcony on the 33rd floor; they moved a few blocks away and are now on the 50th floor. I'm hoping we can watch them from there, although I think NT is at a show that night. But we know enough of his work friends that I think we can still go and not have it be weird.

Then next Sunday, I'm hosting a BBQ lunch at my place for college alumni and a few current students who are interning in Minneapolis. Attendance is typically very low for these events so I'm not going to knock myself out on food and drink, but I do need to lay in some supplies. I'll pay for them myself and claim them as a donation to the school.

Monday the 24th I want to go to a pretty close-by park to see an old-timey country music performer that I used to go see and haven't for years. I'm hoping I can get a couple of friends to come with me, since I've been to several shows alone recently. It's fun, but it's more fun to be with someone. It's free, so that's a plus!

Tuesday the 25th is my and AS's 20-year anniversary of dating! I need to figure out babysitting so she and I and NT can go somewhere nice for dinner. I emailed one place that looks great but doesn't have any vegan options to see if they could accommodate me; typically fine dining places will do so, especially if you give them notice so they're prepared. Whether we go to that place or another, we are expecting to go somewhere pretty fancy and run up a fairly big tab.

Our calendars do seem to fill up lately, but that's a really busy week even by our standards! At least it's a lot of variety and all fun stuff.

New meal & other news

July 9th, 2017 at 05:46 pm

I'm on a roll thanks to the CSA! NT and I used a spiralizer to make summer squash noodles, which I lightly sauteed and mixed with a homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh basil in it. We've had spiralized zucchini noodles, but only as a raw preparation with raw tomato or alfredo sauce. It was nice cooked; not as yummy as pasta I must admit, but pretty good.

I believe that's 30 new meals tried, 20 to go. Glad I'm making progress on this goal since some of my others have stalled!

AS called Saturday morning in tears. They were talking about not releasing her mom until Monday. She'd been thinking of Monday as her coming home day, so the thought of staying another day or two to help her mom settle in was too much.

Later in the afternoon she called back. Decision made: Whether or not her mom was out of the hospital, she was coming home Monday night. The stress is getting to AS and she's been having chest pains herself. Plus she's unable to conduct her freelance business since her mom's second hospital stay caused her to camp out at my sister's home most of the time instead of at her mom's apartment as planned. My sister's family is great but it's really hard to concentrate on work when you're in an unfamiliar setting.

Besides, her mom has been getting stronger every day; this incident wasn't a setback in terms of healing from her surgery, so she's in much better shape already than when she came home from the hospital the first time.

I was so relieved! Then this morning we got even better news; her mom got released today and was home by the early afternoon. That gives AS about 24 hours to get her mom settled before she comes home.

I confirmed AS will be leaving town again July 31, but we'll have three weeks together this month, starting tomorrow night, and I'm going to appreciate every second!

29 down, 21 to go on my new meals goal

July 7th, 2017 at 11:14 am

Last night I did another big salad to use up CSA veggies. I wanted to change it up, so I made rice to go in it, and pickled beets, and a kind of quick sauerkraut-esque cabbage called krautsalat.

The rice was cooled and tossed with bell pepper, green onion, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette with fresh basil. The beets were pickled in malt vinegar with sugar, salt and pepper. The cabbage was soaked in boiling salted water, then pressed and tossed with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.

We also had romaine lettuce, Napa cabbage, spring onions, more cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and toasted cashews, pecans and almonds.

It was a really good salad! I'm having some more for lunch as I write this, minus the nuts and beets which were all eaten last night.

In other news, no definite return date for AS, but her mom is in the step-down unit and doing better every day. They found no sign of stroke in the MRI, and her appetite is much better than before the seizure (so the fear of low blood-sugar, the likely cause of that incident, is lessened). AS floated Monday as a possible return date! That's assuming she can get her mom to a point where she can take care of herself with some help from home-visit nurses and physical therapists, which should all be covered by healthcare. She is feeling really good about it, so fingers crossed it's for real this time!

Time keeps dragging on

July 5th, 2017 at 09:14 pm

Long whiny post ahead ... feel free to skip over. Wink

Well, AS's mom continues to improve; they still aren't 100% sure what happened to her but they do get more and more confident that whatever it was wasn't as serious as it first seemed.

The rough outline right now is MRI tomorrow and hopefully moving back to a "step-down" unit. Then ... ???

My timeline -- which is 50% based on actual evidence and 50% wishful thinking -- is that she moves to step-down tomorrow, the MRI shows nothing wrong, she continues to improve, they discharge her Friday afternoon, and by Saturday afternoon AS is confident enough in her mom's ability to take care of herself that she books a Sunday evening flight home.

Considering how much her mom will have to manage -- diet and exercise and pills and appointments, let alone regular stuff like housekeeping and bills -- this is probably quite fanciful. But a girl can dream, right?

Tomorrow will mark 2 weeks apart, the longest in at least 15 years. Actually we probably passed that milestone a week ago. I know, I'm exceedingly lucky that we never had to do this before now...

Luckily the hospital isn't too far from my sister's so AS has gotten to spend her time there when not at the hospital. Actually she hasn't been at the hospital much, though she calls several times a day to check in with the nurses.

My sister left for Kenya today, and most of her family follow on Friday. But my brother-in-law will still be around. He can be a difficult guy to get along with but he's still family, so I'm glad he's there for AS.

NT and I are getting on with things, but I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. The thoughts of converting the basement for my friend to live in, my creative writing, frugal behavior, no night snacking and cutting back on wine, those are all sort of out the window. At least we're still cooking every day -- the CSA veggies dictate that or else they'd go to waste.

And work is going well, though my heart's not in it as much. I was gearing up to hint at wanting a raise or promotion before this all happened, but for now I'm just doing the work that comes in. Oh, and I've kept up on my walking routine and morning strength exercises. I only don't hit 10K steps about once a week, and most days I get more like 12K-20K. For me that would have seemed like a lot even just a couple months ago, so I'm glad I'm in this new groove.

The kids are doing great. They live in the moment a good deal of the time, so they don't suffer too much having an absent parent. Though SL, who's very physical and affectionate with AS, has been very cuddly and kissy with me, so I imagine she's compensating for not having that with AS. I can't complain about that anyway! The morning routine getting the kids out the door hasn't been as bad as I feared; I make them lay out their clothes the night before and I hide all the iPads and remotes in our bedroom, so they know to get ready and not get distracted watching a show. It's been working out and we might actually keep this routine going once AS gets home.

I'm looking ahead at the calendar and really hoping AS gets home by the 14th, when we have a sleepover planned with a few of AA and SL's little girl friends. And really really hoping she gets home by the 25th, which is our 20-year anniversary of being together. I wrote to a fancy restaurant just to see what their prices are and whether they could do a vegan meal for me. If not, I'll start to look at reservations elsewhere. I'll proceed as if she'll be home by our anniversary.

I also remembered looking at the calendar that AS is maybe scheduled to fly out to Tahoe on the 29th for a week and a half at a college she does distance teaching for. If that's still on, I really-really-really hope she comes home in time for us to have a couple weeks together before that happens.

Whatever happens, she'll be back in Va. Aug. 12-20 for our family vacation out there. But at least we'll be there too!

Writing all this down I do realize what a baby I'm being about the whole situation. I think I'll snap out of it once AS has a new return date for sure. I just hate the being in limbo part most of all.

If you're still here, thanks for listening! Smile

AS update

July 4th, 2017 at 01:23 pm

I'm not in a good mood today. No energy whatsoever. I think mostly because AS is still gone and we don't know when she'll be home.

She had her travel booked for Wednesday (tomorrow) and we didn't know that she'd secretly switched it to Tuesday (today) to surprise us by coming home a day early; her mom was doing that well.

Then on Sunday, she went to do some laundry and came home to find her mom lying on the floor unresponsive.

She called an ambulance and took her mom to the hospital.

It seemed really really bad to AS, but so far tests have not turned up much. It seems that she was dehydrated, or had an infection, or low blood sugar led to seizure-like reaction.

So hopefully, her mom will get to go home soon. Hopefully she'll not have lost progress on recovery. Hopefully AS will be home soon. Maybe this weekend? We just can't be sure.

Spending has been meh. Obviously AS has had to buy food, and Lyfts, and stuff for her mom. NT and I have been spending a bit more than usual too. AS did get a couple big freelance payments which helped the shared spending deficit. I haven't saved anything for travel expenses during our August trip or NT's September one, or for my and AS's 20-year anniversary dinner. Hoping I can fund all these things without dipping into the savings I've been putting aside for renovations. Hoping no other unexpected expenses come up once AS is home. But again, just can't be sure.

July 2017 debt payments

July 4th, 2017 at 01:14 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:

US Mortgage: $699 to principal
UK Mortgage 1: $183
UK Mortgage 2: $38
UK Mortgage 3: $41

All told that's $961 to principal.

Current debt:
US Mortgage $395,372
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $34,480
UK Mortgage 2 $7,269
UK Mortgage 3 $7,654

TOTAL DEBT $453,775