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Archive for December, 2014

Woodstove actually IS saving us money!

December 20th, 2014 at 05:59 pm

I got the gas bill and now I have proof the new woodstove fireplace insert is saving us a little bit of money on heating.

We used it frequently in November, and our total gas usage was 40 ccf, or 1.4 per day. Last November, with similar temperatures, we used 4.2 per day. Our bill was only $51, compared to about $106 last year.

This is great, although I admit we are heating with free wood this year, from a tree we had cut down and from stumps we've gathered in the neighborhood. If we can keep up with the free wood, it seems we made a good investment. Although, really I just like sitting by a warm fire.

2014 garden totals

December 18th, 2014 at 03:13 pm

I finally just got around to totaling up everything we grew in the backyard veggie garden this year. The tally: 232 pounds of food!

We spent about $500 on inputs and some of those were one-time costs, such as wood for garden beds. etc., so the cost per pound grown averages $2.20. It's hard to estimate what each item would have costed, but I'll definitely keep in mind the premium for organic food, as we are all organic!

In 2014, we grew:
-68 pounds of roma tomatoes, which we turned into 42 pints of sauce

-50 pounds of apples, which is about two full 5-gallon buckets

-18 pounds of onions, which are perennial walking onions, and produced enough top sets to plant net year's crop for free

-17 pounds of lettuce. You know how light lettuce is, so wow. We donated 8 pounds of fresh greens to the food pantry as well.

-14 pounds of beets. I grew some winter keepers, but let's be honest. We eat them the minute we pick them.

-12 pounds of broccoli

-8 pounds of strawberries. We expect tons more net year, as we planted 100 more plants this season.

-8.5 pounds of adirondack blue potatoes.

-8 pounds of mulberries. I didn't grow these. They came free from my sister's tree.

-5 pounds (about 20 ears) of popcorn

-4 watermelons, New Queen and Moon and Stars, estimating 20 pounds.

-2 pounds of cucumbers, 1 pound of zucchini. We had hoped for more, but the squash bugs
ate them.

-1 pound of cayenne and jalapeno peppers.

-1/2 pound of total herbs : rosemary, mint, tarragon, and dill.

Total= 232 pounds. Nothing to sneeze at, but far short of our goal. There's always next year!

We canned:
42 pints of tomatoes
6 pints of pickles
6 half pints of mulberry jam
60 quarts plus 10 pints of applesauce (we got apples from our CSA farmer)

2014 mortgage totals

December 16th, 2014 at 03:45 pm

Given the absolute chaos that is our lives, and that for most of 2014 I felt like I was totally spiraling out of control in the finances, the kids, and my job, I'm happy to report we beat the mortgage pay down goal for the year.

Our goal was to pay the balance down to $41,500. The last payment of the year hit, and we now owe $41,181.74. We beat the goal by $319. We paid $14,846.30 off the balance, which is about $3,000 more than we would have if we'd only made minimum payments.

When figuring out what might be realistic goals for next year, I realized if we paid off as much as we paid this year, the balance would be in the $20ks by this time next year. Now that is REALLY close to pay-off!

Hazzah! I'm ecstatic. I can't wait to have this mortgage paid off!

Interesting article and last 2014 mortgage payment coming up...

December 3rd, 2014 at 10:36 pm

I found this article in the Wall Street Journal and I don't now why, but it struck a chord with me. Maybe because it outlines in clear numbers what I and many other Americans have felt: we're losing ground. We don't have as much money, everything is more expensive, we haven't gotten a raise in years, and yet we're told we're out of the Great Recession. We're told inflation is low and we are all okay. Well, not so. And here are the numbers to back it up.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/americans-reallocate-their-do...

(If the link hits a paywall, just paste the title of the article into google and click on the link. You can read it then.)

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In other news, on Friday we will be making our (most likely) last mortgage payment of the year. So I'll know by Saturday morning if we met our mortgage pay down goal for the year. I'm pretty sure we will, t;s just hard to guess by how much until the payment posts and the math is done!

I was looking back at our past yearly goals. In summer 2011, we owed about $86,000 on the house. It is amazing to me that we have managed to knock more than $40,000 off that amount. Fingers crossed we keep on cruising for three more years and get this house paid off!

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I haven't been posting much. Life has gotten in the way. Yes, work and two little kids. But in other ways. I just completed an urban farmer mentorship program (mentoring me to be the urban farmer) so I have been very very busy with that.

It took a weird turn in November because I had to give two urban farming presentations in public. I've never been fond of public speaking, but apparently when you get me talking about plants, I turned out to be very good at it. The garden clubs both sent me nice notes. So that was unexpected!

I've also been busy editing and significantly revising my first novel. It's so close to being finished. My friend is a NYT best-selling children's author and said she will help with my book proposal when the time comes to send it out into the world to be rejected. I am so happy when I'm writing fiction, I'm hoping I can turn it into some sort of second act or career. Since my first career: journalism. Well, you've heard the news about how well THAT industry is going!