Ripley Victory Garden Week 7

What a glorious day it is today! The garden is really coming along and as the season progresses I will be weighing all of the produce I pick to see just how much I grow.

So far I have picked 73.5 lbs of fruits and veggies including, sour cherries, zucchini, yellow squash, black raspberries, onions, and apricots. Not bad! My goal is 1000 lbs so I have a bit to go but all the heavy produce is yet to be harvested like potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins. etc

Here are some pic around the garden from this week:

How are your gardens growing? Were you like us here in WNY where for a month it didn’t rain but now we have too much rain?

Next update July 26th – See you then! -MM

Not Impressed with our Debt – Back at it Week 2

Last week I re-started our debt amount at $35,100. and our savings at $50.00

At the end of Week 2 we are at $34,838.65 for debt amount and $250.00 in savings. That’s a decrease of $261.35 in debt and an increase in $200 in savings.

My goal for us this month is $1000 in total debt paid off and an increase in our savings. Just $738.65 left to go to reach July’s goal and I am already happy with our savings increase.

Full steam ahead I say! Next update July 23rd – MM

Food Costs and What We Ate Last Week-July Week 1

Have you ever noticed that food seems to be the biggest monthly expense? It adds up quickly doesn’t it?

Part of my goal is to bring our food bills down which will give us more money to do the things we want to do and also re-route some of that money to pay off debt.

It’s not an easy task though especially when we are tired from work and all of our daily responsibilities. Sometimes cooking is the last thing I want to do when I get home and God forbid the other people in the household give me a dinner idea once in a while, right?

Here is what we ate last week and approximately what it cost us:

Whole Roasted Chicken, corn with fresh herbs and dinner rolls

Chicken and Rice Soup from the leftover chicken

Stuffed shells

Black Raspberry Pie and leftover pie crust treats

Taco Night

Dinner out – I didn’t take a pic but Scott was getting a bit hangry so we opted to eat out last Wednesday night

Lunch out – After working all morning at the Farmers Market on Saturdays we like to go to lunch

Dinner with friends – dish to pass was something quick because it was last minute.

For breakfasts: Oatmeal, cereal with berries and bagels and toast

Snacks: chips, s’mores, ice cream, popcorn,

Lunch was lots of leftovers and one day had soup for takeout

Total spent on Groceries: $97.25

Total spent eating out: $81.67

Total spent on food last week $178.94

Yikes! Not the number I want to see. Multiply that by 4 and potentially we could be spending over $700 a month just on food for 3 people.

I am not even adding in costs for supplies like saran wrap and tissues or personal care items like deodorant and toothpaste.

Lots of work to do in this department of our finances. LOTS of work. How are you all faring with keeping costs for food down?

Next update Tuesday July 20th. See you then! -MM

Ripley Victory Garden Week 6

It’s been a while since I last updated but boy has the garden grown!

Here are a few shots I took this last week:

I also dug up 2 of the raised bed frames and made one large bed that I sectioned into 4 with pallets. I planted buttercup squash, carving pumpkin, pie pumpkins and cucumbers in this area. I really like it! What do you think?

I have already picked close to 100 lbs of produce so far this year. My goal is 1000 lbs so I am definitely on track, especially with potatoes and pumpkins and tomatoes coming on.

How is your garden growing? Are you keeping track of the weight of your harvests?

Next update Monday July 19th. See you then! -MM

Not Impressed with our Debt Back at Week 1

I have two main goals with our money going forward. One obviously will be paying off debt and two is increasing our savings at the same time. For us, savings is more of a way to have money for unexpected repairs and expenses but hopefully we can save above and beyond what I have been doing to have money for larger projects and repairs or even a vacation!

In the last year we haven’t decreased our debt at all but miraculously with help from stimulus monies we haven’t added to our debt either. Considering all of the medical bills we incurred with my husband’s heart attack that really is a miracle.

I am restarting us back at Week 1 and beginning debt is $35,100. This month my goal is only $1000 of debt paid off because we are still recovering from a couple of bad months. Savings I am starting with a balance of $50. Let’s watch these numbers flip-flop over the next 12 months.

Goal: Debt down, savings up.

What are your savings/debt goals?

Next update July 15th. -MM

Ripley Victory Garden Week 1

Although I have been working in my garden for the past month I am going to label this update as Week 1.

Let’s start this series of posts with what a victory garden really is.

Copied verbatim from Wikipedia: Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany[1][2] during World War I and World War II. In wartime, governments encouraged people to plant victory gardens not only to supplement their rations but also to boost morale.[3] They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.

In 2021 we are not in the middle of a World War but I certainly consider what we have gone through the past 15 months a war nonetheless. With food supplies interrupted and many essential items becoming scarce I think we all learned a lesson that we can’t always count on someone else to grow all of our food for us.

Thankfully I learned at a young age how to grow my own food and how to cook and bake. Many in the last year realized “oh shit, I have no idea how to do anything.” Yikes right?

I am calling my garden a victory garden because that’s exactly what it is, a victory for not feeling completely helpless and it feeds my family and others that need it. This just pushes me to be even more sustainable and self sufficient.

In March I called my local plow guy and asked him to come over early to get a new part of my garden I wanted tilled done for me. Of course he groaned it was too early to till but I told him “peas Don, gotta get my peas in!”

In the new ground tilled I planned on getting my tomatoes planted in it. I have always wanted a single row of tomatoes so it would be easier to pick from on all sides. I also had Scott help me add a new pallet fence.

One side of the fence I planted approximately 150 onions and the other side so far is 18 tomatoes.

We are slowly replacing the old pallets in the fence with new pallets. Inside that fence there are 10 raised beds 8’x4′. They are also getting old so we are working on those as well.

So far I have 5 of the raised beds planted. Eggplant, shallots, red and green cabbage, jalapenos, a permanent bed of strawberries and one of red raspberries.

In the large stand alone garden I have planted, Lunchbox mini peppers, rainbow sweet peppers, and green bell peppers, two kinds of potatoes, peas, zucchini and yellow squash.

I have also planted basil, parsley, celery and sweet pea for color to climb up my garden arch.

I have so much more to get done but it’s a great start!

I’ll update weekly as the season gets on. Are you growing a victory garden this year? I would love to hear from you!

See you next week -MM

Not Impressed with Our Debt – Back At It

When I originally designed a plan to pay off our debt I had a steady paycheck. Unfortunately in life things happen to derail our plans and like many during this pandemic I lost my full time job.

If you know me personally then you know that I am resilient and weren’t surprised when I jumped right into making my own money during the lockdown. I took on 4 part-time jobs. Yes four! I started offering home delivery again through my baking business and it quickly grew to over 30 orders a week. I also started selling even harder in my Etsy shop and those sales have continued to skyrocket. I went back to the grocery store I have worked at for years and picked up two closing night shifts and I was hired at my local Town Office for about 15 hours a week.

I have been happy doing what I needed to do to stay afloat but after my husband’s heart attack things became clear to me that I needed to find full time employment. Working crazy hours takes a toll on your mental and physical health and not only was I working 4 part-time jobs but my husband was working two full time jobs! Enough was enough. Time for a change.

I have accepted a full time position and I am very happy and relieved to just work 9 to 5 again. Of course I will still have my Etsy shop and although I am stopping home delivery weekly I still have plenty of side bakery orders to satisfy that creative side in me. The store will always be there if I need it but for now I am turning in my key.

Although times are changing and people say men can start taking on more of a role of homemaker it still isn’t the same as having mom and wife home and taking care of things. Being gone at night working or attending a meeting has really screwed up our eating schedule.

So in the coming weeks I plan on getting a plan back together for getting our debt paid off even more. We have done a great job in not taking on any more major debt and our biggest most expensive debt is down to just over $5000 from a whopping $40,000. The end is in sight for that one!

Thankfully with the stimulus payments we were able to pay my husband’s medical bills in full without having to do a payment plan with the hospital. Yippee!

Major life illnesses, although very scary, really make you think about what is important and where your priorities lie. It’s time we enjoy ourselves a bit right? – MM

SAL Fraktur Hex #25

I finished Fraktur Hex! I did it! Such a huge happy dance over here folks!

I spent yesterday finishing the last three birds. Before I frame it I want to stitch our initials and date but other than that I am moving on. It has been almost a year and a half and a huge journey for me because this was the largest project I have ever undertaken and the first time I have stitched on linen.

Here is where I left off last update:

And here it is finished!

I have to pick a new project but for now I am just going to enjoy looking at this one.

Please visit the other stitchers in our SAL. They are stitching wonderful pieces. Thank you again to Avis for continuing to keep us on track and organizing all of us. See you in another three weeks! -MM

AvisClaireGunCaroleConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

New Walkway from Old Material

We installed our side walkway in the summer of 2018 and after a couple of years it has settled in and looks like it’s been there forever, which is a good thing!

We used the bricks from our old outdoor fireplace that was destroyed by a fallen apple tree and re-purposed them into this walkway.

Old Outdoor Fireplace removed but we left the base stones
New path mapped out
Grass dug out and soil tamped down
Ready for placement!
It was like a puzzle to find the right placement for everything
This was pretty much the final placement with a few tweaks here and there
Fall 2020 just a few months ago and the walkway has settled in nicely.
We really love it!

We know that technically we should have put a base of sand or underlayment down before we placed the stones and bricks, but we wanted this project to be a no cost solution to our walkway problem, so if it sinks a bit for now we are ok with it. When we have more cash for projects like this we will definitely have a professional do it.

For now we love it and like it’s imperfections. Let’s dream of flowers and bees and warmer weather shall we? -MM

SAL Fraktur Hex #20

I got a little bit more stitched this last three weeks!

Here is where I left off:

And here is where I am now:

I have 1/4 completely finished!

Please visit the other stitchers in our SAL. They are doing wonderful pieces. Thank you to Avis for continuing to keep us on track and organizing all of us. See you in another three weeks! -MM


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