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Container Gardening Successes and Failures

August 25th, 2016 at 08:02 pm

It's no secret that I am NOT a gardening whiz.
It's also no secret that I believe in focusing on both the big AND small things when it comes to my personal finances. Here's an update on a small thing - my attempts at container gardening.

The soil in my yard will NOT grow veggies. To amend the soil or build raised garden beds is, for me with my brown thumb and gardening laziness, an absurd thought.

In the spring I planted 4 items in containers. 2 were dismal failures. The containers were not nearly big enough to grow daikon (what was I thinking?) and the cherry tomato plants yielded only a handful of fruit.
But, the sweet basil starter plants have been a success (still yielding). My biggest success by far was green onions grown from seed. DH & I have been enjoying piles of fresh green onions, and I only planted half of the packet. Since we live in a hot climate (Texas), I will plant the second half of the packet in a week or two for fall / early winter harvesting.

Next spring I'll plant green onions again (they are so expensive at the grocery store and have proven so easy to grow - definitely worth it), and will try basil from seed instead of from starter plants so that I can (hopefully) get a lot more. I'll probably experiment and try one other item as well.I'm going to look through my "Healthy Mind Cookbook" to come up with some ideas. I want it to be something easy to grow in containers, expensive to buy in stores, and beneficial. Something that I can get 2 plantings out of would be nice too. Hey! Maybe I'll even try something new this fall. Why not?

I'm open to suggestions if anyone reading this has any.

45-cent-plus Breakfast of Champions

January 3rd, 2016 at 04:19 pm

This morning I made myself an open face sandwich: 1 slice of whole wheat bread + organic cheddar cheese + 1 sliced small avocado. 12-cents for the bread (regular price, store brand) + 0-cents for the cheese (had a cash register coupon for free cheese) + 33-cents for the avocado (they were on ad at 3/$1).

I had coffee with milk as well but am not able to calculate the cost of that very easily. I'm definitely under $1 even with the electricity & water costs for prep and cleanup.

Now that I am fueled up, I am going to start on my year-end and year-to-year review. I'm just getting around to it today because on the 1st we hit the Dillard's New Year's Day sale followed by 2 parties (with potluck prep for 1 of those parties), and yesterday I was job hunting and emotionally needed to just chill in the evening.

I'll check in later when the numbers have all been checked and run.

Gourmet Dinner Today

August 18th, 2015 at 10:44 pm

I splurged at the grocery store yesterday and purchased 2 prepared hatch chile salmon patties from the seafood case ($5 for 2). We will have those for dinner tonight with homemade cream of vegetable soup which contains five different vegetables including leeks, also a splurge at $2.97 a bunch!

The soup will last for several days, and is supposed to be good cold.

DIY Landscaping

March 14th, 2015 at 09:43 pm

Instead of hiring someone to re-landscape our yard, we are taking the DIY approach. This weekend we are cleaning out the backyard bed, pushing it out a bit (to reduce the amount of grass, something I really want to do to reduce our water consumption), and creating a border using free bricks left over from our home's construction. Next we'll put in a few low plants (or annuals or perennials, we haven't decided yet but there will definitely be some milkweed for the monarch butterflies) in the pushed out area and spread mulch.

Grapefruit Season

March 3rd, 2015 at 01:44 am

DH bought a 15-lb bag of Texas red grapefruit for $3.98 today. I love grapefruit season in Texas!

What are the current seasonal deals in your neck of the woods?

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014 at 02:21 am

Garlic bulbs have been roasted.
Cornbread has been baked.
Rice is cooking.

Tomorrow I'll prepare quick buttermilk whole wheat bread, Low Country Stuffing, and succotash and then we'll head over to the neighbors for dinner. I'm going to teach their son how to make homemade butter (shake whipping cream in a jar), and will take their sweet dog for a walk after dinner.

I have a big service project I'm working on that I hope to wrap up by the end of the day on Saturday. (I'll spend most of the day Friday & Saturday working on that, in addition to a couple hours tonight and tomorrow.)

I'll get up early on Friday to get the Target Black Friday gift cards, but that is the only shopping I plan to do.

Life is good.
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam (Book Review)

August 9th, 2014 at 08:32 pm

"Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School" by Andrew Hallam (2011)

This is an EXCELLENT beginner personal finance and investing book, written by a private school teacher who built a million dollar investment portfolio on a teacher's salary. His advice is down to earth and sensible (spend less than you earn, start investing early, invest in low-fee index funds, resist the sales pitches from financial planner salespeople, etc.) What I especially liked was the way concepts were explained intelligently, clearly (in plain English), and with humor. He uses an analogy that compares the stock market to a dog on a leash that helped me understand stocks even more clearly than before. Of special note for our non-American friends is a chapter devoted to investing if you live in Canada, Singapore, or Australia. This is my new favorite basic PF book. I wish my niece were old enough to read it, but at 13 she's probably still a little young. Big Grin

To give you some idea of just how credible this book is:
- The blurbs on the book jacket recommending the book include those written by Burton Malkiel, Scott Burns, William Bernstein, etc.
- The authors he quotes in his book include Thomas Stanley, John Bogle, Larry Swedroe, Burton Malkiel, Daniel Solin, etc.
He's in pretty good company.

This book is worth a read (check your local library, which is where I got the copy I read over 2 days) and would make an excellent gift for a college student or grad.

Scheduled a Weekend "Salon" Appointment

March 22nd, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Me: "Will you trim my hair this weekend?"
DH: "Sure!"

"Salon" appointment has been scheduled!

And this morning we went to the "gym" (dropped him off at the driving range and I took a 50-min walk along along a lovely tree-lined street while he hit golf balls) and then went to a couple "entertainment megaplexes" (the public library where we read the paper and I got some DVDs, and then to a meet & greet to visit some adoptable dogs).

Such a lovely, low-key yet fun & frugal start to the weekend. Perfect after a rather hectic week at work (busy season has begun).

I have never been able to understand when people say that they want to save but not at the expense of enjoying life now. I say it's possible to do both!

27 Day Food Budget

January 19th, 2014 at 07:08 pm

DH is away on a 27 day trip. I'm budgeting $5 per day for food & beverage for those days for myself, plus an extra $40 for 4 days when my brother will be here. Total = $175. What will make this somewhat challenging is that I know there will be some eating out when my brother is here, plus I want to have $45-50 left over on the last day for a big "re-stock" shopping trip since my plan is to eat down much of the inventory in the pantry & freezer, to ensure that nothing goes to waste, and I'll want to replenish so DH doesn't come home to bare cupboards. My plan is to buy only perishables until that last day.

Today is Day 2. Yesterday I spent nothing. Today I spent $8 at the Farmer's Market (for those of you who like to know about food prices that was for a 3-1/4 lb bag of organic mixed root vegetables and a 3/4 lb bunch of rainbow chard).

Free Coloring Pages

September 5th, 2009 at 05:31 pm

For all the parents, homeschoolers, teachers, and adults who like to color, this is a pretty cool site:

Text is and Link is

(I discovered it when putting together "informational packets" for our 7 relatives who will be visiting from overseas. I wanted simple & clear maps of the USA & Texas, so they could get a sense of where Austin is. The maps on this site fit the bill exactly.)

My Workouts are "On The House"

August 30th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

My "workouts" this weekend included...

1. Watering my little veggie garden
2. Giving my dog a bath
3. Walks with above-mentioned clean dog
4. A bit of routine housework and laundry
5. Cleaning out all the window tracks (The grimy parts that are under the bottoms of the windows ... they are partially exposed to the outside & get filthy ... you have to lift the windows to clean them. I don't know if "tracks" is the proper name or not.) Gosh - we have a LOT of windows!
6. Sanding & painting 2 old dressers (this included carrying them out to the garage, and moving a bunch of bricks around that I used to anchor the newspaper I used to protect the garage floor. That was followed by over 3 hours hours of bending & squatting & scrubbing & rollering & brushing. Carrying them back in to the house, re-stacking the bricks, and cleaning up will be my "workout" in a couple days (I will let them dry much longer than necessary before I dare to put them back on the carpet.)

Who needs the gym when you have a house, a yard, and a dog?

When I was in my 20's, I would have done the above and then gone out dancing! But now ... well, I'll admit I'm tired & sore (it was re-furbing the dressers that did it) and I think I'll just crash on the couch this evening with a movie (I have "Wall-E" from Netflix). Smile

All Veggies & Herbs Planted Just in Time for Stage 2 Watering Restrictions

August 23rd, 2009 at 05:32 pm

All my containers are planted.

Previously Planted:
Green Onions
Romaine Mix

Planted Today:
- Basil
- Chives
- Okra (Clemson Spineless, the type used in gumbo, not a vine ... thanks for the clarification Joan.of.the.Arch ... In my mind I was thinking "vine" because I need to figure out if they are going to need supports of some type)
- Rainbow Chard (wanted to do tomatoes but as I learned and others here pointed out they don't go in fall gardens even here in hot Texas ... Also I'm curious to see how it grows here vs in the Pacific NW, and if it's as easy to grow as it was when I was in WA I'll be guaranteed success with at least one item.)

If the okra grows well, we'll probably have way more of that than we can consume, but I know it will freeze VERY nicely. The Basil, if it's prolific, I can make pesto & freeze. The other items I limited to quantities that I think we can consume as we go.

I used only about 1/3 of each seed packet. I'm thinking I can do a 2nd planting very early spring (Feb or so), and a 3rd next fall. All packets are stamped sell by 11/10. The basil says "annual" so I'll either add another container or give the rest away ... I'll see how much my one little container produces.

We're in to Stage 2 (out of 3) watering restrictions effective tomorrow due to the drought here. We can use our sprinklers only once per week. Since our landscaping is new, we will need to hand water the bushes once a week and the trees once or twice a week so they don't die, and we'll need to make sure all the vegetation around the foundation also gets hand-watered once a week to prevent foundation cracks. That's the most important thing! We can replace a dead plant, but we can't grow a new foundation! (Hand-watering is allowed as long as it's done by 10am.) The grass? It's gonna go brown, but it should come back.