I found out a nice little secret idea. Forget about it! Yep, this is my secret to saving money. Here’s the story:
In 2014 most of you read that we had the house fire. During the months that followed, tons of wonderful people (a bunch that we didn’t even know?!) were sharing things with us. They gave us clothes, toys, furniture, money and gift cards. Well, we were getting so many gift cards that I had to come up with some type of organization system for them. Some needed to be used up immediately after the fire (clothes, grooming supplies, etc.) but some would not be used until we had our home back (food, namely for the pantry and freezer. My method was to put them all in a small metal box that a friend gave me for crafting. It was about the size of a 3×5 index card. I purchased an index card alphabet file and stuck it in the box. Now I could place each of the cards under the appropriate section – smart right…maybe?!


It has been almost three years since that fire. When I was cleaning some stuff up, I found the box. First instinct was to shake it (have no clue why I did that – duh!) and it made noise, so I opened it. The individual file cards were still in there, so I decided to check it one more time. SURPRISE….two Safeway grocery cards!! WOO HOO – even better was when I called on them to find out they had not lost any value! We started the first of our new year with $150 to spend on groceries – yea!!!
Once upon a time, I carried a Safeway savings card, but for the life of me could not find it now (figures). We got to the store and the first thing I did was sign up for a new card – machine was broken (figures again – yes, I am giggling at myself now). The nice lady in the booth did tell me that the card would work just fine but to try to register on the machine next time I come in. Now, I remember thinking to myself “Sure I will – not – I very seldom go to Safeway to shop since it is more expensive UNLESS you have their card – which I hate deeply!”
I took the card, caught up with my sister and grandson, and we continued to shop. The cart kept getting more and more full – got me a bit worried. We could not afford $300 worth of food at that moment and really did not need that much. Our last stop was at the deli at which point my sister and I decided; there was enough food in the cart to not hit up the deli.
Time for the damages!
My sister and grandson were unloading while I grabbed my new Club Card and the two gift cards. I also took out my checkbook waiting to see how bad the damages were. The cashier kept sliding foods; the little dinger kept dinging, the total kept growing on the screen. I had shown her the new club card and the two gift cards before she started, now she was asking for them.
She scanned the first – $50 off. Then the second $100 off. Then the club card…the dinger kept dinging. The noises stopped, and she announced to me:
“Your total is .75¢.”
I am sure the look on my face was shocking enough to scare a ghost – I thought I heard her wrong, so I said: “HOW MUCH?” (yes, my voice did get louder here!) To which she replied the same –
“Your total is .75¢.” (This time with a really big grin on her face!)
I stood there stunned for a moment, then glanced over at my sister who was now starting to giggle a bit. I calmly dug into my purse and pulled out a one dollar bill and handed it to the cashier. The gal waiting in line behind me leaned over and said: “Can I shop with you next time?” At this point, we were all laughing. Two more people behind her also requested to shop with me.
So now, the family pick-me-up motto for this year is “only 75 cents, ” and anytime we feel a bit stressed, one of us will look at the other, say “only 75 cents,” and start laughing! Over $200 worth of groceries for .75¢ – can’t beat that way to save!
Well, I have told my sister that I am going to try this for 2017 Christmas time. I am going to pick up a gift card (Walmart too) and every time I shop in that store, add $10-$20 to the card. Then just shove it back into my purse for “saving” purposes. I will try to remember to share with you, toward the end of this year, if this worked or not. Wish me luck! I don’t think it will be as nice a surprise as this Safeway visit was, but it may just make my Christmas shopping easier!
( I got the idea to share this story with you from a fellow blogger’s 2016 resolution: She also has a pretty good sense of humor and shares some great ideas on her home improvements. Check her out if you get a minute!)
merry-christmas    to me in 2017???

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A very real question.  I for one do, and I am a bit worried about the changes in the very near future.  My way of dealing with this is to watch all the apocalypse movies I can get my hands on (ok, most of it is in fun cuz I love special effects – bad or good, they are fun!), the other is read up on all the science stuff I can.

The weather channel just today (1/19/17) came out with this doozie:

So, has anyone watched the movie The Day After Tomorrow with Dennis Quaid?  This was the first “think” that came to my mind.  We have had huge record-setting averages, up and down just in 2016.  My experience tends to flow with Isaac Newton – what goes up must come down and the opposite.  When the shelf breaks off, it will be interesting to see the effects.  (Can you say insulated snowsuit?)

I love the latest inventions to combat some of this issue.

  1. Weatherhyde tents:
  2. Specialized to keep heat out in the summer and heat in for the winter. Originally developed to help the homeless from severe weather – way cool!
  3. Oscar Mendez:
  4. Created a way to build houses out of discarded plastics. They look like brick but stack/build like legos – also way cool!
  5. Airbag loungers:
  6. I caught the ad on TV and was wishing they had thought of this when I used to go to outdoor concerts. All you have to do is open up the end and let the wind fill it for you.  Plus, it all packs up into a small carry bag – how fun.
  7. Zera Food Recycler:
  8. Gotta get me one of these! Yes, we have a farm.  Yes, we do our own composting – BUT – having one of these beauties in the kitchen (handy) while we are canning would be outstanding!  Put it in.  Let it sit for at least 24 hours.  Throw the fresh compost onto the outside pile.  No mess.  No fuss.  No smells.  Right now we throw it all into a huge bucket, then take part out to the compost and part to the chickens.  The compost pile would then take years to get it all worked down.  This little wizard does it in days!  I am still trying to figure out what is in the “Zera Activation Pack” that makes all this happen in hours (it also takes large bones, pits, meat and dairy???)?  If it turns out to be an all natural thingy – I’m in!  It’s an expensive bugger but imagine the turn-around time for the gardens!
  9. Bios Urn:
  10. This may be a personal preference. Years ago most of my family decided that we would be cremated.  Dad is buried in a Veterans Cemetery, but mom was cremated.  We do not see the need for taking up earth space just for body parts.  Now they have this great thing – Bios Urn.  Using your ashes, they help you to create a tree – also in a biodegradable container (seeds if wanted).   You just put your loved one’s ashes into it, then plant it.  You now have a living memory and can help the earth all at the same time – love it!  (Pretty sure my tree would have to be crabapple- hee hee)

These are just a few of the fun new things I found in 2016.  Can’t wait to see what the smart, creative minds of 2017 come up with!

Oh, and if you ever want to check into the “bad” ideas, check out “Worlds Dumbest”  TV show.  It’s on TruTV and it is hysterical!  They present a lot of dumbest, but the partiers and inventions are my favorites.

Hope you enjoyed my take on ideas to help our world.  Please let me know if you have found any, know of, or have seen others.  I am keeping track.  Thank you!


(Oh, and YES – I do believe that climate change is happening.)

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I LIVE IN THE PROJECTS – but not in the projects.

Let me clarify the title of this wicked blog:
• How many projects do you have going on right now?
• How many projects are you making plans to try to accomplish with the next 12 months (sometime in 2017)?
• How many projects did you plan a year ago this time, but suddenly it was 12/31/16 and didn’t get them done?
I too live in my projects. Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping because I cannot shut down the stupid hamster on the wheel called “my mind” at night. Yes, it is a hamster on a wheel because that sucker just keeps going around and around on things.


I have tried multiple ways to get it to stop at night;
• I keep a notepad/journal at my bedside so I can write them all down. Now, I was once told that by doing this I would then mentally release and allow it to flow out of my head. Reason being that it was now down on paper – permanent (so to speak) and I could let go. Ya, sure!? All this did was keep me up longer writing details of the project then, inevitably, coming up with new ideas off the original.
• I gave up on things like counting sheep because they just made me think of something that needed to get done in one of the critter pens.
• Over-the-counter sleep aids. Once in a blue moon, they do help me but most times not.
• A very good friend told me to picture a “purple cow.” Since this is not a normal color for a cow (but wouldn’t that be fun to see?!), you actually have to concentrate on it. IT WORKED – for a bit anyway. Then I started picturing that purple cow on my handmade cards with some great humorous statement about it. Then was the idea of a knit critter for kids of a purple cow with really long legs. Blew it again!


On average, I get about 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night. This is nothing new for me, as I did this a lot when I was younger. However, back then I was also working three jobs and taking part-time classes for business. I didn’t have any time for extra sleep back then. (Having a child that required special surgeries every year for 20 years didn’t help much either.)


So this year, just as the last ump-teen million, I have set myself some project goals for 2017. A brief part of that list follows:
1. Start seeds for this year’s gardens – greenhouse and outdoor.
2. Get the rest of the greenhouse cleaned up and ready to go for plants by March.
3. Get the outdoor gardens cleaned up and ready for plants by June.
4. Start new plots in the back yard (there hasn’t been a lawn back there ever, so we decided this year we were going to set up several vertical gardens. The whole area gets a ton of sun.).
5. Fix (maybe replace if we can afford it) the chicken roof. Stupid winds-from-hell took out a large section of the sheet metal. Think it’s in Kansas with Dorothy now?
6. Clean up and expand the chicken coop. We have the west side of the barn vacant. It used to house our goats, but since we do not have goats anymore; now would be a good time to put it to use again.
7. Cover the north exterior chicken pen with plastic (hard greenhouse pieces we have and then some 6-mil plastic for the sides that we can roll up and down as weather regulates.
8. Get my yarn projects under control and organized. Right now they are all stuffed in large plastic bags. Kinda hard to sell what you can’t find! One of my “night ideas” is to build a special wall in my crafting room to hold all of these in compartments and hooks (furry hat on a post, extras in the box or crate above on a shelf, etc., etc. etc…). However, it will take a full wall to show all of these in their individual categories.
9. #8 then took me into this one: Re-organize my craft room. It can look so pretty; then I get into a project like Christmas Cards and wow – I can demolish the room in one afternoon. I pull out everything for an “ordinary” card making session; then I get a dangerous idea. Something will pop into my hamster brain again, and I’m off! Pulling extras out of drawers and setting up more equipment (yep – have tons of that too: cutters, colors, designers and designing boards you name it, pretty sure I have it). It’s a disaster in there more than pretty.
This is only part of my list. Maybe one of my goals should have been slowing down some, or get more sleep?


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(Just out of curiosity, how many projects do you have going on or are planning on for this year?)


Me – never enough! I always start out with the best of intentions – 1st of the month, I have plans, I have goals – FANTASTIC – I’m ready!! Then by about the 5th of the month (sometimes as early as the 2nd), the month figures out “Hee, hee, it’s Rachel trying to be organized again – let’s get her!” Then it all blows up.


puppy counts as baby!

This being a new year and the first month of the new year, silly me decided to make “better planning and organization” my main resolution for 2017. Very silly me! I swear that all my loved ones up in heaven are sitting around laughing at me and thinking up ways to mess up my plans. Pretty sure I heard one of them laughing just last night before bed!?
So these are my new resolutions for 2017:
1. No deadlines – at least none that I will state out loud. This way, not even I will know what I am doing until it is done!
2. No goals. Nope, not a one! I have tons in my head that I would love to see reached (read a book a week, make more cards, so they will be ready for the occasion instead of last minute rushing – easy right?), but I dare not share them out loud. Maybe I will try to sneak them into my nightly journal instead of actually “saying” them and see if the spies will leave them alone?
Simple right? Not!! It is already two weeks into the new year, and I have had to run around doing unexpected things since the very first day of the month. No planning, no way. The unexpected deep freeze caused a bunch of vehicle switching, and (of course) a new battery in my Subaru. It is the newest, nicest yet the battery is shot – only three years old?? Once replaced ($170 later – ouch) I realized that my sweet grandson was playing with the dope light (oops, sorry – dome light) over his seat and had it switched on. Exactly when he made these changes, hmmm, I guess about three months ago. Jerk! Funny how a little thing like that can completely ruin a car battery – grrr.
We have also received about 5 million (ok, not that much but it is more than 20) gardening/seed/plant catalogs just since the first. I am a bit relieved on this since, two years ago. They started sending them back before Halloween? Pretty sure that was a “duh” moment for them because most people tend to (I do) lose things over the holidays. Sending them out before the first of the year would be stupid – to me.

pic of pile of garden mags

Trying to figure out and map what we would like to grow and where this year has been a nightmare. My grandson (whom I have custody of) is ADHD/Autistic and has major abandonment issues. His mother is moving again. This started up all of his inner demons again, which just love to take out their anger on me.
You know, I have always considered myself pretty tough, tough skinned too; but when he starts falling apart, so do I. Trying to plan or organize anything during these moments is a challenge, to say the least. I did get him to help me for a while cleaning out his older books and toys. Then he got bored, and I had to finish on my own (sometimes that is best cuz I got to throughout some extra stuff. Oh, and we do not “throw” out, we actually give them to local charities). Then I switched to my craft room (total disaster due to the last minute Christmas card fiasco.) which, again, he loves to start helping but then gets bored and leaves stuff incomplete. Grandma picks up – but grandma’s getting tired of it now that he is eight years old!
My final woo hoo for the start of this month is our new addition – a boxer puppy. My sister has always wanted a boxer, and I just happened across a Facebook posting from a friend on a couple of babies his boxers had about Halloween. One of them was even brindle in color (her fav also), a boy (again fav), so we decided to get him. The current dog is wonderful. She was a pound hound and has done fabulously protecting me through the fire mess and my six consecutive surgeries. The problem with her was when we got her they told us she had bruised her foot – but should be fine in a little while. Three years later and she is worse. We believe she was hit by a car, left to heal on her own instead of being cared for by a vet, then dumped at the pound with lies on her well-being. She has been the most aggressive dog we have ever had. This is good and bad. Her aggression sometimes is too much, and it scares me. Anyway, she is doing worse. Can hardly get up on a warm day and almost not at all on a cold one. She is losing bladder control too, and I hate to see any animal suffer. So this was another reason for getting the puppy.
The timing for potty training a puppy could not have been worse! The big giant pansy (another of her favs) doesn’t want to go outside when it’s cold – boo hoo. So, I have been trying to do this on my own – ha ha. The gods are laughing at me really hard now! On the few 50+ degree days we have had, he will follow me outside, but refuses to be out there alone – great! Oh, and she got to name him. After several days deliberation and many ideas from friends, she shouted it out at him one morning when he was missing the potty pad…”You little Wiener Pig, knock it off!” So, his name is now officially Wiener Pig. Fully name if he is ok, just PIG when I get mad at him (most of the time). “Pig, get out of there. Pig stop it. Pig – NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!”
Can’t wait to see what wonders the rest of this year brings.


Wiener Pig

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ARE YOU AN AVID LEARNER (or obsessed as I am)?

In keeping with last new year resolution – more fun shall be added to this, 2017, year as well.  So, this is my first writing spill for the new year – hope you like it!


Well, the holidays were a blast but over way too fast.  The new year started out with discovering that my car needed a new battery…ON THE COLDEST FRICKEN DAY OF THE YEAR!!  So, now I am thinking this will be a year of “be prepared” situations.  The problem is, how do you prepare for what you don’t even know is coming your way?  I got out my crystal ball (ya, like I have one?) and discovered the following about myself.


I was never a Girl Scout.  My thing was 4-H, and they are basically for farmers, creators, crafters, gardeners, artists, and taught very little in the way of preparedness.  Since that time (let’s just say it was a while ago), I have become a bit of a prepper by choice.  We (my sister and I) do the following:

  1. Try to grow most of our own food.
  2. Reuse, repurpose, recycle just about everything.
  3. Use natural and sustainable growing, farming methods.
  4. Learn every kind of craft we can get our hands into. The things we don’t know, my cousin in WI is pickup (she is so creative – even made her own bentwood chairs a few years back, now she’s into metal and welding – how fun is that?).  Our long range plans are that one day she will be here on the farm with us.  So double bonus!
  5. We can:
  6. Fish
  7. Hunt
  8. Camp out
  9. Could probably butcher just about anything for food.
  10. Process foods by canning, dehydrating, drying, freezing, and we are now getting into oven canning (too cool!).
  11. And the best thing – barter!

The best is barter!  We connect with those that can do things we cannot, or do not like to, do.  Absolutely love to share stuff!  It can be everything from my knitted stuffs, our canned stuffs, part of our side of grass fed beef, recipes, to even poo and wood chips for composting piles (yes, we have an abundance of both!).  In return, we get things like our hunting friends may share part of their kill.  Seeds are always exchanged.  Crafting techniques, (my friends Judy and Carrie are much better at sewing than I am so I will always get into what they are working on) and we will try just about anything once – twice if we like it.

I got hooked on this type of life years ago by accident.  Way back in the early 80’s I was more of a read-a-holic than I am now.  I came across a book called:

FOXFIRE by Eliot Wigginton, George P. Reynolds, and Kaye Carver Collins


I do not usually promote books, but when I do it is because I love them or find them useful (I have more how-to’s than anything, and I do not own a single romance novel – boo hoo, hee hee. The very first one immediately hooked me. I went on to purchase the whole series (now up to 12 plus some anniversary additions) as each new one was published.

The way to explain how important I found these books, is to let you know that they were the first replacements I purchased for myself after our fire took everything. If you are into doing anything in a self-sufficient manner, I strongly recommend that you go to your local library and request the very first one. It explains how they all came about(Spoiler alert: It started as a way for a big-city teacher to reach his Appalachian class.). You may also want to be prepared for some fun and wild reading as parts of the book are written how the people of the area speak (or as best as they could reproduce it for the book).

Like I said – I got hooked.It is very detailed, includes numerous pictures, and is a major how-to on almost everything you could need to survive on your own or in a small community.

The only way to survive, thrive and become self-sufficient, in my opinion, is to connect with others. It may sound wrong but, if you think about it, there will always be something someone else has or can do that you may want or need. Even though I love to do tons of stuff myself, I cannot do it all (shocker I know!).I count on others to barter, share, swap, exchange (whatever you want to call it) to get by. However, I think we are exceptionally lucky that we have made connections with the same type of wacky sense of humor people that we are! This way, when times get rough (and they always do), someone in the group will always find something to laugh about!


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