Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I am a TERRIBLE consumer!

I'm a part of a survey panel company.  They send me emails and I take their surveys.  I was doing them with this company a long time ago and quit because it was so frustrating how often they didn't want to have me finish the survey because I wasn't who they were looking for... reminded yet again what a terrible consumer I am.  but that isn't a bad thing.  so I still do the surveys and eventually I earn enough points to get stuff from them...so yay there!

Today I was canning beef broth and thinking because, you have plenty of time to think while you're waiting for the canner to get to pressure.  and I thought about why I am such a terrible consumer...

and basically it is because I'm not buying the carp the advertisers are feeding us.

Do you remember how back in the old days when you bought something it was actually worth what you had paid for it?  How companies fought to make good products to earn your hard earned money and to earn your trust so that you would continue to buy their brand?

They stopped doing that.  I think it was around the time that credit cards became more popular with businesses to accept.  I can still remember having to write checks at places because they didn't take credit...yeah, I'm dating myself here.  But I'm pretty sure that quality products went out the window around the same time that everyone had copious amounts of money...even if it was borrowed.  No longer did you have to save up the money to go and buy a new microwave...just charge it!  Want a new album by your favorite artist but don't get paid for two weeks and the rent is due?  charge it!

And that brings me back to canning of broth.  Why on earth would anyone in their right mind be canning food in this day and age?  I mean except for the preppers out there...they have a reason.  For me there are a few reasons... 1) why am I throwing out perfectly good bones when I can make broth from them?  I mean most everyone makes a turkey soup after Thanksgiving.  Why not with the chicken bones?  2) do I even know WHAT they're putting in the stuff at the store?  I mean I can read the ingredients, but WHAT IS NATURAL FLAVORING?  3) this way I don't suffer the ever shrinking can.  It seems that every time something is NEW AND IMPROVED it is also smaller.  Do you know how many recipes were made from the old size?  sigh!  4) bone broth has collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate...good for you stuff!  (sorry for the font change, had to cut & paste because I can't spell any of that...hummm I thought I read somewhere you shouldn't eat it if you can't spell it?  alrighty then) 

I really wish that I could convince hubby that we need a compost bin.  If I had a compost bin then I could put the bones after I make the broth into that and let them rot and become compost for the garden...now if I put them in our compost pile, my dog will dig them up and eat them...and she shouldn't have cooked bones.

Now I have in my pantry 4 jars of chicken bone stock (I just used one yesterday, so I had 5) and 6 jars of beef bone stock.  Chicken is on sale, so I'm gonna stock up!

So now, I've been studying prepper youtube videos and getting loads of tips on how to can stuff.  I'm probably gonna can some potatoes here next because I'm tired of the bag going bad before we can eat them.  worst case, we have mashed potatoes.

Friday, January 08, 2016

A good day to make broth

So yesterday when I woke up it was just beginning to snow.  By an hour or so later the snow was coming down in earnest and soon we had a few inches outside.

Kiddo isn't feeling well, so soup is on the menu.

A good day to make some chicken broth!

So I grabbed my stock pot, chicken bones in the freezer, an onion, carrots and celery (also in the freezer) and some spices.  I put that all in the stock pot with some water and let it cook for most of the day.  After about 5 hours I pulled all the bones and veggies out of the broth.  I then ran the veggies through my food mill to squeeze out the fluids and add as much goodness to the broth as I could.  I also picked the remaining meat off of the chicken bones and put that back into the broth as well.

I then used about a quart of the broth to make chicken tortilla soup.  For this I had some left over chicken in the freezer from our Christmas chicken, add some diced tomatoes with green chilies, a can of beans, crushed tortillas and spices.  I made it nice and spicy to help clear up everyone's sinuses.

Then because I was lazy, instead of canning the broth, I put both the broth and the soup on the back porch to cool off before taxing my frig.

Now, hopefully today I feel motivated enough to can the broth!  I could just freeze it, but the freezer is a wee bit pressed for space as I should be canning a lot more stuff.

UPDATE:  I DID can the broth!  Well it is in the canner right now.  Now just to wait until the pressure goes down to see if I was successful.

In other news...the hot water heater is leaking...again!  so tired of everything being made to fall apart.  Damage report:  1 sheet of drywall lost about 5 inches.  2 bifold doors...they're wet and could be fine.  Pressure canner box got wet...should dry out.  and a rug is soaked.  note: all of these items were past the drain in the floor.  sigh!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Playing the run around game!

I cut my finger while getting ready for Thanksgiving on Nov 25, 2014  We went to our closest ER and got me all stitched up.  DH paid the co-payment while I was being treated and went home on our merry way.

We soon got our Explanation of Benefits(EOB) from our insurance and all was good... or so I thought.  Honestly I didn't read it and notice that I "still owed."

Even so the hospital didn't bother trying to get the left over $90 until Sep 23, 2015!!!  hummm couldn't have been hurting that much.  :-/

So I see on the bill from the hospital that they have broken up the charges for my visit so that rather than paying just my normal co-pay, I was charged 3 times and owe a co-pay for each charge...thus the extra $90.  I call up the hospital to ask why they have charged me 3 times and no good reason...just that I owe the money.  I got rather testy with the guy, said "I AM NOT PAYING THIS!" and hung up on the jerk.

I then called up my insurance.  Where they immediately saw that yes the hospital had billed me incorrectly and said that they would take care of it.  I received a new EOB in the mail shortly afterward showing that my co-pay had already been satisfied.  And thought nothing more of it...

until...
Oct 27th when I got a bill for the entire amount minus $450.  (about $2K) ???  The bill says that "If you provided insurance information, it was billed and all efforts to collect from them have been exhausted."

can you say WHAT???

So I call up the insurance on Nov 4th and the gal there says they paid on Oct 15th.  She calls up the hospital billing who says they'll investigate...should hear in 30 days.

on Nov 26th the hospital sends another bill for the $2K.  I've been busy, so today with a bit of lag time I call up the hospital.  They say that my bill is still outstanding and that no, they have proof of my insurance but that the insurance reversed the payment.  Say what?  They guy who just happens to be the exact same guy that the insurance gal spoke with on Nov 4th says that insurance gal never sent him an EOB.  But if I fax him one he'll look into it. 

I don't have a fax, so I get the snail mail addy.
In the mean time I call up the insurance and they say that they'll send the EOB by the end of today.  (humm... not so trusting now) so I ask "just for grins...can I get that fax number?"  he gives it to me and I google how to fax from my computer.

I scan all the documents and fax it to them.  So I've either opened up a can of whoop butt or confused the world.  sigh

All I want for Christmas is a paid hospital bill!


Monday, December 07, 2015

oh that wasn't all!

The theater conference saga continues!

We arrived at the conference earlier than the school we were going with.  So we hung out, they had provided music in the lobby for the kids to dance to, but we mostly just people watched and kept an eye out for our group.

At about 10 til their arrival time, I checked with registration to see if they had showed up yet... they had NOT.

At 20 min after they were supposed to arrive, I checked again.  Seeing as the first session was due to start in 10 min the registration gal allowed me to go through the check in bag to get our badges so we could go ahead to our first session.  She just asked that we let the school person know so they wouldn't be freaked out as to why our badges weren't there.

After 3 checks we discovered that our badges were not there.  So the registration gal looked and saw that we were registered LATE (which explains why we couldn't get our IEs).  So they printed out our badges and sent us on our way.  We never did check in with the highschool...although we were at one point sitting near them and said hi to several of the kids we knew.

The schedule for the conference indicated that the vendor hall would be set up before the conference and be open during the entire thing.  um... not so much!  After our first session when the others were checking into their hotels we went to check out the vendor hall and there wasn't anyone to talk to...EXCEPT for the one college that has been bugging us like crazy since we first signed up to go...it is in another state...in literally the middle of nowhere.  So while they may have a decent program, they don't have an audience for any of their shows.  :-/

I'll spare you the details on how I thought a lot of the content presented at the group events was totally inappropriate for high school kids and totally juvenile in the gratuitous swearing.  Let's just say that I am SO very glad that my child isn't in the public school system as the director was PROUD to be able to present this garbage to our kids.  sigh!  I got an earful from some totally liberal brainwashed mother on Facebook that if I didn't like that content then Theater isn't what I should be involved with.  Sorry but I choose to not pimp out my child for entertainment value!  And so far my child has indicated that she won't audition for shows that compromise her morals.  I pray she stays strong in that.

Good things about the conference are that she and her friend got to do a lot of very interesting classes and DD did her audition...where she got 5 "callbacks."  We thought going in that the callbacks would be offers to attend the schools and possible scholarships.  Um nope!  they weren't even close.  Basically, the callbacks were offers to apply and audition for that school's program.  :(  And the kicker...the school DD wants wasn't part of the process even though they were at the conference.  They couldn't spare the manpower to go to the audition due to an event at the school...projects for finals that the students had to do. 

However, DD & I were able to talk to school reps and DD got to take a class from and chat with a professor...cementing her desire to go to that school.  so we're happy about that.

Now onto getting her into a program to knock out her core required classes for free through the early colleges program.








Thursday, December 03, 2015

Just what I don't need!

more stress!

DD is in the middle of a show.  A Christmas Carol.  I'm in it also.  :D  and I've been working on making our costumes and some extra bits for the rest of the cast...the majority of the costumes are being made by my friend and they'll all become part of her costume rental when we are done.

our tech week schedule has changed so I may have to cancel our trip to the Operation Christmas Child distribution center to pack boxes... most of the folks who were going have to be at rehearsal.  I have to break the news about this to DD today...I'm sure she's going to be heart broken.

and today we are heading off to a theater conference.  but let me share that saga

My daughter and her friend are both students of  a voice teacher here AND the president of highschool's Parent Patron's club.  (I believe you heard from him when we first learned that our girls did not have IE spots)  He likes to have all of his students compete in different events as their scores reflect on him.  So he highly encouraged us to attend theater conference this year and made arrangements for us to go through highschool's Theater troop... even though when I inquired last year I was told that homeschoolers could go solo to the event.

We first asked highschool for permission to join them and promised that highschool would have no responsibility for our kids.  All they had to do was get us in the door.  They agreed, took our money and registered us for just theater conference...while not registering us for the IEs that we requested (the ENTIRE point of us going pretty much.)  Apparently the person in charge messed up several other students IEs as well.  There was no communication between highschool and us after they got our money.  Apparently the person in charge of doing the registration was under the impression that we would register for our IEs ourselves...but no one told us that was part of the process.  and apparently this was NOT part of the process for everyone as several of highschool's theater troop did get registered for their IEs through this person.

After we found out that our girls were registered but not for IEs we also learned that I, as their chaperon needed to be registered also, but no one knew how to do that.  That's where I got in touch with you while voice teacher badgered anyone who would listen.  He learned just a few minutes ago that I am registered to attend. 

okay, so we can go to the conference and I can go also.  DD can do her audition for college because that was separate and I did it.  whew.  Now the scheduling and negotiating all the getting there, food and stuff.

DD is a picky eater.  Friend is a vegetarian.  We have to figure out how to feed both girls.  fun as Friend is used to just eating at home.
Showers for all of us to leave the house by 7am for two days.  yay

I'm gonna hide now

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Thanksgiving feast

Sharing our thanksgiving meal...and documenting it so I remember for next year...what worked...what failed

Turkey - It is only the 3 of us, so last year I cut our small bird in half and only cooked one half...this year I thawed the other half and cooked it... It was already brined from last year (a huge time saver!) and it turned out perfect!  The half size is perfect for our family as we will have enough for dinner tonight also and possibly turkey with gravy tomorrow.

Gravy - cooking just the half bird can make gravy time a bit scary, but I've learned that if I carve the bird I get enough juice to make the gravy with.  A brined bird makes for a really flavorful gravy.  This is something that always concerned my mom.  She searches all over town for her special sausage and then bastes her bird constantly.  Me, I brine the bird and roast it...no basting! 

Mashed Potatoes - this year after boiling the potatoes, I ran them through the food mill into my crock pot with a stick of butter and some milk.  I set it at low until it was heated up (a lot of heat is lost in the milling process) and then left it at warm until after dinner.  We had nice soft potatoes that didn't get all dried out in the oven.  The only problem was that the potatoes did dry and stick to the sides of the crock...but a bit of soaking and scraping (I use an old gift card as a scraper) got it right out.

Rolls - I made the rolls with my bread maker several weeks ago...I just had to thaw them out and pop them into the oven.  yum

Yams - couldn't be easier.  I don't care for yams.  But DH & DD like them in the syrup that they're packed in add in brown sugar & butter.  Bake for an hour.  done!

Rutabagas - I'm the only one who eats these, but since I don't eat the yams, this is my treat.  This is also how I sliced open my finger last year!  But I searched online how to cut the rutabaga... and while I didn't find it any easier, I also didn't end up in the ER again this year.  I just cut it up, add some salt & sugar and boil them until soft.  Then run them through the food mill.

Mushrooms with quinoa - This was my attempt at a stuffing replacement.  I'm the only one who eats stuffing.  But basically stuffing is just bread with fat.  I read online that it was done as an attempt to add calories to the diet.  My family stuffing recipe does that quite well...and I don't need it.  So I tried the mushrooms & quinoa instead.  It tastes just fine, but Thanksgiving food it is NOT!  So I'll probably have it for lunch this afternoon.  I'll stick with just mushrooms next year.

Green Beans - just microwaved with seasoning

Corn - just microwaved... no matter what I do to the corn, hubby always adds salt at the table.  So I stopped bothering to add any salt when I cook it.

Cranberry Sauce - DD could just eat the entire dish with a spoon.  oh it is just the jellied cranberry juice.  She'll eat the whole cranberries also (but not the fancy stuff with oranges & spice :p ) but I get the cheap stuff and she loves it.

Pumpkin Dessert - This is sort of like a dump cake or cobbler.  Mix pumpkin (I get whole pumpkins and make the puree myself...which no one seems to notice or care.  If I manage to grow the pumpkins myself it's a savings of money.  fingers crossed for a good crop next year!)  with spices, sugar, eggs & evaporated milk.  pour into a greased pan and sprinkle a dry yellow cake mix on top.  pour melted butter on top.  The original recipe called for pecans, but DD might be allergic and it is fine w/o the nuts.  bake til cake is golden brown & delicious!

Cherry Dessert - Oh this is soooo easy.  Cherry pie filling (that's the hard part...finding one that isn't full of garbage) dump into greased dish and sprinkle with dry cake mix and pour melted butter on top.  bake til cake is golden brown & delicious!

and that's it.  For lunch, I served cheese, sausage & crackers.  I served dinner at 4:30 because it was done by then.  Lilly thought it must be midnight though.  sigh!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Conflicted

It's over now and I'm really okay with how everything ended up going, BUT!!!

I came across this article today  Is it selfish to have adults only weddings?  and that got me thinking about it all again.

I should probably first say that when I got married I wanted an adult only wedding... BUT I DIDN'T GET IT!  I was not a fan of children back then (honestly, my kid is the only one I really like...okay some of her friends are really cool...but)  so I didn't want them at my wedding, messing anything up.  I can also add here that back then America's Funniest Home Videos was in full swing and the most popular videos were guys getting hit in the jewels and kids messing up weddings.  We also did NOT want our wedding video taped... guess what we have...

I was not able to have a kid free wedding because my dear fiance is the youngest of 5 children who were all married with kids and so to exclude their children would have really ticked off my new in laws...so we had the kids there.  Steps were taken to insure that the kids did not ruin my wedding and they didn't.  a fun time was had by most and there were no tantrums from the bride.  ;)

Now we are into the time of life where my husband's older nieces and nephews are getting married.  The same kids who all had to be invited to my wedding.  After attending two weddings in hubby's hometown we had already decided that when the next one got married that we were probably not going to attend...so when the save the date card arrived with a Fall date on it, we weren't all that concerned.  We didn't want to go anyway.

But then came the invitation for the wedding.  It was addressed to just hubby & me.  The invite and reception said it was "Respectfully an Adult Only Occasion."  and the RSVP card had that only 2 seats were reserved for us at the reception.  It was very clear that my nearly adult (17 & 1/2 year old) daughter was not invited at all.

And even though I had no intention of going to this wedding...I was really bothered by the fact that the couple had clearly excluded my daughter.  (I know, weird right?)

But then I got to thinking...

Perhaps the couple really didn't want any of us at the wedding?

I mean think about it...

Do they really expect for us to a) leave our kid at home alone (I know, loads of people do at her age and that's fine...we choose not to) b) pay to fly the 3 of us out there and leave daughter to do something else while we go to the wedding?  Or did they expect us to fly all 3 of us out and then ask for kiddo to babysit her younger cousins?

I don't know.  And honestly I am not upset at not going to the wedding.  We've done two there and there isn't much of anything else for us to see or do in and around hubby's hometown.  And sorry family but the thought of flying anywhere for just one or two days?  I don't think so.

I guess this opens the door for when kiddo gets married though and she doesn't want kids there... thanks for making it okay couple...  and I really do hope that no one gave you any grief about your kid free wedding.  It's your party.  I guess I'm just a wee bit jeally cuz I didn't get my kid free wedding.  :-/