Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Easy Houseplants for Paula (part 2)

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's blog about easy house plants.  I should point out, that Paula is a dear friend.  She just had her whole house remodeled and it is nothing short of gorgeous.  She has more windows now, and wants to bring in some plants. She also has a semi good green thumb, it has taken time, but she is getting it, but wants some quick green in her beautiful home.  This blog series is just for her, you may follow along as guest, and learn. tee hee

Dragon Tree, Dracaena, Cornplant, Chinese Moneytree 'Lemon Lime'

Dracaena fragrans

I have always called this tree, a Corn Silk Plant.  No silk, no corn, but that is what I called it. I bought two of these off our local resell site. We had to bring them across town, in the back of our truck. It was a rough ride. I transpanted them into bigger pots that very afternoon.  One of the sets went into a heavy shock.  Patience is not my forte. That plant eventually became infested with nasty bugs.  I dragged it into the yard and tossed it out of the pot.  The hot desert summer sun killed the bugs and the plant as it withered out there. But, this one lived! Yeah! The roots, they are so little the tree will fall over easily.  I will eventually pour large rocks on top of the soil to steady the tree.  It is very happy in the pot it is in right now. 
In my research of this plant, I found that it one of the best house plants for removing indoor air toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and toluene.  
Finicky, it what this Ficus tree is known for and as.  I so agree. I have repotted, watered, ignored, shook, and babied this tree to live. It too came from another home and I bought it for the cool pot it was in too. Ha ha...the pot would up crumbling, and the tree sits in a nice pot and that is in a cool red pot, I hope one day it will live in. 
As to shaking, I guess, because the ficus are fromn Asia, and has two seasons, wet and dry, and with rain, comes wind. So, when I water...not every week, but when it gets wicked dry.  I water and do a good shake to the whole tree.  It loves to have it's branches moved. I have it by a lamp, that you put your arm thru it to turn on. The tree thrives on touch and movement. Weird? yeah, but it helps it stay alive!  I want another ficus..but goodness they are indeed finicky!

Buy this from HOME DEPOT! Because, they will replace it when it dies, and LOL, it will die!
The Home Depot unconditionally guarantees all tropical, house, and landscape plants (only perennials, trees, and shrubs) for one year. A perennial is a plant that is expected to live for more than two years. However, an annual is not expected to live more than one year. If your plant dies just bring it and your original receipt to a Home Depot store and we will replace it or issue a refund in accordance with the terms of the refund policy.You MUST have the original receipt to get a refund or store credit. If the plant is no longer available at store location or through a product search, a store credit will be issued. 
They look so good at the grocery store, Walmart and other places! Don't be weak. Buy from HOME Depot.  I have had so many of these, and they die easily! 
It needs lots of light. It seems to do much better in the summer when it is in our back patio.  The winter is a pleading to keep it alive. The like to be sprayed with water bottle. They also get bugs. UGH! So I put a little soap in the spray and keep that under control.  I have started using a fertilizer, and this Majesty Palm is doing okay, but I think, come spring, I will get a new one from Home Depot. lol

 This monster: The Umbrella or Schefflera as it is scientifically known is my happy, happy plant. It is huge! HUGE! I have had it two years, bought from a man who had it in a dark room.  My girls and I moved it laughing and heaving it up into and then out of our truck. It takes a dolly and my hubby to move it in and out for the season change. When this tree is happy, there is absolutely no leaves on the ground. But oh, over water, underwater, or not enough light, and it will rain leaves! I pour water in this weekly, almost a gallon! it drips into the bottom pot, so there is no sitting in water. I have little ones of these also, from clippings off this tree in with other plants throughout the house too. It plays well with others.
That is all for today, tomorrow the end of this series, and I hope you enjoy!

~never lose your joy

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Easy Houseplants for Paula (Part 1)

Last Friday, I went to a marvelous baby shower for one adorable girl Maddie (she is wearing the hat I made her here)
The shower was top notch for so many reasons, great food, fun and people. The evening went late, and my favorite part is when there are just a handful of people, long time friends, and you settle in a cozy chair and babble and listen to friends. The conversation went around to so many subjects, grandchildren, the pain of watching elderly parents in dementia, raising teens and growing houseplants. So this blog goes with the houseplants. 
I went thru my house and took photos of my plants, and am busy looking up the real name of these plants to add to the blog. These are all plants that I have had for years, and think they are pretty easy to keep going in the house. I have linked the ones I could to Dave's Garden, where you can find more info (bit deeper than my babbling)
 I start with the easiest of all:

Heart Leaf Philodendron Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium

or is it a

After much research, I believe I have the Pothos, it is easier to grow then the Philodendron. 
I have currently seven of these plants. I have always called them pothos.  They love light, even if it is from a bulb! I bought three at Walmart a few years ago, in 10 inch pots, they were $8.99 and in one year they doubled in size!  I like the bottom water pots for these plants. The key, once a month do a complete soaking in the tub or sink. But the rest of the month, watering from the bottom is perfect.  This causes the roots to go down, and helps the plant be stronger. In the summer, I take these to my covered patio, and they don't get a ton of direct sunlight, but it gets HOT, and they thrive.  In the winter the main thing is to keep them out of the stream of heat from any vent. It dries it out to fast. 
I have tried again and again to propagate these plants, and have a hard time getting roots to appear.  They are so cheap to buy, I have seen them at $2.99 for 6 inch pots, and they grow so fast, this is the number ONE plant to have.  I like to take outside twice a year and do a soft spray to get the dust and such off also. I also am fastidious about pulling yellow leaves off the plant.
 Spider Plant, Airplane Plant 'Bonnie'

Chlorophytum comosum 

I LOVE this plant! It is the most giving of all plants.  I call it a Spider, but it is also known as an airplane.  This precious plant has babies, and they are fantastic to make new plants! You can see the babies hanging from the momma here------> 
A big help for the spider is to lift the leaves to pull any dead or dying leaves out. Keep the plant happy! The plant below I just popped in water for about 3 weeks, until thick healthy roots pop out.  Then drop into some rich soil and pretty pot, and a new plant is added. These also do fine, mixed in with the POTHOS
 These plants also do well as hanging or in a table top. 
I water the same as I explained in the philodendron. They love water, if you see the leaves wilting or yellow, probably too much water.  I love how forgiving the spider plant is also. I am pretty vigilant on my water scheduling, Tuesday and Thursdays, usually, but sometimes, life happens.  I miss a whole week or two, I will look over and see them just almost yelling, "Anne! I'm so darn thirsty!"
I have been known in the middle of a conversation with someone, to jump up and fill up my pitcher of water for a plant that for some reason I just noticed is dry as can be.
This next plant, I bought on impulse standing in line at Lowes Hardware. It was in a pretty red pot, and the leaves had red on them. I love red. I had no idea if it would live or not.  But for $3.99, I was willing to gamble.  Apparently, it was a good bet. I started researching to find the name, and it is a red aglaonema. The people that know, say, that these plants are able to survive in poorly lighted or badly ventilated areas!  That means, it is hard to kill! Woo hoo. This baby has almost tripled in size and I have even accidentally broke a stem off, and popped in water and got roots and been able to repot.  Now that I found this out, I think I may get a few more!

The last one for today:

This is another one that the plant people argue pothos versus philodendron. I just know it is pretty easy.  The leaves start out kinda heart shape, and as they grow the leaves split. It too grows wicked fast. This one is about ready to be repotted, and I know as soon as I do, it will be like the HULK and explode in hugenous! 
I hope you have enjoyed part of I am not sure yet how many, but I took a whole lot of photos, and hope you soon will be in the midst of your own indoor jungle!
~never lose your joy

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 23-Spending Less and Enjoying Life!

The month has been nothing short of insane! We had a couple emotional crazed days. My 8 year old "ran away".  After school, he hid, cause he didn't want to take an earned nap.  He was found, but the drama was beyond my emotional level. Hubby had to take off work, police, nutz oh time. Hubby said, we are eating out. We did!
The food bill has been kept low. The menu system is a HUGE help for us.  
Then we learned that old phones, even unactive ones, can access our wifi.  Yep, our precious Bigs had old phones, and quick fingers late into the evening on not great sites. We knee jerked and pulled internet out of the house.  Laughing that we would save $70 a month on that bill.
Living without internet is almost impossible. We do all our bills on line, I was having to call hubby at work to check account, or lug the laptop to the slow and sometimes not able to connect library.  We had it turned back on.
We did decide to get rid of our smart phones. Bye Bye Verizon! Big Bill. We had to pay off our two smart phones, but due to the tight food budget, and no frill month, we could and did! 
Hello to Straight Talk and total bill of $70 for a month to month dumb phone that fits in our pocket. 
That is almost $100 savings each month also. We are going to try and sell the Note 4, smart phones and recoup some of the smart phone, but are also chalking it up to a learning experience.  I like to say, I don't think I am important enough to have a smart phone. 
A really fun thing that has happened, is our use of left overs in new and fun ways.  I took left over steaks, and old rolls, a couple green peppers and swiss cheese, and the most delightful Philly CheeseSteaks! They are a hit, quick easy, and wrapped up in foil, to stay warm are a great let's go kinda meal.
It is working! 

~never lose your joy

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7-Living Well and Spending Way Less-Profit!

I got so excited about making money during our Spend Way Less month, that I began to think of other ways to get money.  Sell things! Craiglist, and local for sale pages are bountiful and quick ways to sell unwanted things.
We had bought these bar stools, thinking they would work, but were way too tall. Lesson learned, measure! Ha ha...but I got almost what we paid for them over a year ago.  That goes into the food budget. Which is good, because I had to get dog food for little BooBoo also. She is a finicky little thing, and her food is not cheap! But she is worth it.
The thing with selling, is to be fair on your price. Don't feel intimidated by the buyer. If you are willing to go lower, no worries, but if you really don't want the item, getting the cash is a bigger goal!
My girls and I went to Walmart today, and on the way out, I jokingly looked at the McDonalds and said, "Remember when we could eat there?" "just 8 days ago?" We were laughing and all the way home, would say, oooh, remember when we would shop there and drop $50 on things we didn't need, but it was fun? It was pure laughter.   We are on track to put over $1500 in savings if we stick to this plan.
Yesterday, I pulled up Quicken. We use it for our checking/debit account.   There is a great feature you can do to generate reports where your money goes.  I am pretty good about the categories. I pulled up the year to day report, and went thru the averages.  EEEK! We have been spending over $250 average a month on eating out. The worst is the miscellaneous! I was embarrassed at not knowing where it is going.  I spent almost $900 for groceries on average, and Tony and I talked about it, and think that is a very reasonable amount for a family of 8.  This month, I am only doing $600, and it is working, but tight. He thinks tight will cause us to throw in the towel, and eat out more.  He is soooooooooooooo right!
Our utilities are pretty good, except for electricity. It went higher than normal. I called a representative from the power company, and started the process to have an energy audit done on our house.  To see what we can do to bring that lower.
Today, I am gonna try and clear out our extra fridge and consolidate.  I think that old fridge is a major kilowatt sucker!
It is becoming more fun, to try and cut off the extra spending, especially when it builds our savings!

~never lose your joy

Monday, October 5, 2015

Walmart Savings Catcher App Pays Off! Day 5 of 31!

I opened my email from Walmart and that is the amount I get back! I am so happy! We are on day five of 31 days of trying to bring our spending (especially the extra curricular) to zero!  I never even thought of getting money back! Add that to my past return last week and I am sitting at $9.05!  
I am pretty regular on scanning the QR code from my receipts.  I don't even leave the store.  I walk right over to a checkout, and scan the code right then.  I then can throw the paper away too. It is in my phone.  It is an app for Walmart!
I so highly recommend it! You don't have to have a smart phone either, you can manually type in the receipt number and you are on your way. So you can do it on your laptop, or desktop.  You can put up to 5 receipts a week, so you could save them and input at the library if you don't have a puter also.   Here is the web site Savings Catcher dot Walmart dot com.
Once you want to get the money (which is gift card) they can send you the card to your house, or an email with the bar code to scan.  I just open my email at the checkout and she scans it, and I giggle like a mad woman! lol
Today, the twins went to their GED orientation.  It consisted of testing and paying $10 each for registration. This is a heck of a deal.  They scored very high, and can pass the real test easily, but we have opted to do this 8-week preparatory class for them.  They are buzzed about it. Sixteen other people are in the classes with them.  Monday thru Thursday, 9 to 11:30. Anna's goes until one-thirty, Tues and Thursday due to lower in math, but we expected that!  They will take the official test in January 2016, and also get to walk the graduation walk in May with the other GED grads. We are gonna party and whoop it up!
My men folk headed to El Paso for a Men's discipleship class.  This is usually, a great sermon then stop at McDonalds after for snack or meal.  Gabe and Tony took snacks with them. We are doing this.  Saving money and changing our mindset. I really want to stress, we are not doing this to get out of debt.  We are out of debt, have money in the bank, and live very comfortably.  But, we have gotten lazy in our spending habits, more willy nilly than is prudent!
I have cupcakes cooling, from a crazy purchase during the summer.  Gonna grab the Littles and get them showered, do a bit of reading, and cupcake eating, snuggles and to bed. Then curl up and crochet and listen to my book!
Saving money is fun when you get on a roll!

~never lose your joy

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Menu planning - 31 days spend Waaaaaaaaaaaay less

Above is our first attempt back to severe meal planning. I got the monthly menu planner free at Organized Home.   Long ago, before we became a family of NINE, I used to do menu planning, but something exploded in my brain, and for some reason, meal planning went to the wayside.  
First thing, I do is put the date and any extra curricular things on the calendar. Football games, parades, half days of school, revivals at church, paydays (see the $) and any appointments.  Looking at the September planner, the highlighted menus are ones, I didn't make, but pushed to another day. This helps me so much! I get up early in the morning, make coffee, grab my phone (for my bible app) and glasses, look at menu and get meat out of freezer along with any fixin's I might need for the meal. 

September worked pretty good.  Like I mentioned yesterday, we had a few kinks, really really bad days, that brought us to eat out. Van problems and ice machine broke down, so although we still didn't spend as much as we had in the past months.  We patted our backs and knuckled down for October.  I wrote out the month menu, and then broke it down, for a 2 week (payday grocery shop) menu and on the back...

The actual shopping list.  I am trying to use both my freezer/pantry stock while taking advantage of sales.  You can see how I break down the groceries.  I also had each section with a budgeted amount.  I was bummed to see that the burger box we get was almost $25 now.  I also swapped the carnitas with parmesean chicken, after I noticed I was on all Mexican food, then all Italian kick.  I wanted to mix it up a bit more. 
But I realized, I didn't need the laundry detergent quite yet, I also got minestrone soup mix instead of canned. Next time, I am gonna go completely from scratch soup.  I wanted something quick and easy, so the nifty Bear Creek mix (which we love) works for this day.
I have a buy later area, and $10 cash for that.  I got some artisan bread, three bags for 45 cents each!! So instead of fajitas we are having steak sandwiches.  I didn't get corn torts, but did get little flour ones and they were a hit with tacos.

 $116.55! WooHoo, I know I need to go to the Lowes and pick up the 99cent a pound huge pork roast for a few meals, and you can see I got one for $18.83! I am going to go back and buy one more for next week, due to the sale being HUGE. That is a $26.63 savings off regular price!  This will come off the next payday (15th) grocery shopping budget. Right now, I am sitting at $110 for the next menu.  I will post that later... the original and what transpires over the next 12 days.

To be fair, I did make a trip on the 1st of October to Sam's.  I spent $191.64, which included $25 for a baby shower (wipes) present. Big bag of cheese, 3 big packs of hot dogs, sausages, peanuts for hubby, Atkin bars (in bulk), apples, cliff bars (kids) and 2 bulk bags of meatballs, 2 boxes of danishes for fun. My budget for the month is $600, and I am including that Sam's run. So right now I am sitting at: $427.02.  plus the $5 hubby has for seeds; $432.02. I am going to get another $20 roast, and shop again on the 16th, with $110 budgeted. 
$562.02 my thoughts for right now. Whew...cutting it close. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 Days of LIving Well and Spending WAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaay less!

I read Ruth Soukup's blog Living Well Spending Less blog, and she did a 31 day challenge of spending ZERO! eek! I signed up and I read and reread her experience and then looked at our finances over the past year and knew we needed something radical and soon.
Next conversation, was with my beloved husband.  He totally agreed and we spent September on a trial run of less spending. It was pretty cool.  But still not the best.
One fun tip we really pursued, is a list to the grocery store. We have a white board that hangs on our laundry room door, by the kitchen.  I used to carry a 3x5 card, but found myself forgetting the card.  I now take a photo of the list to bring to the store.  This is a good beginning, but it is very fallible to run to the store for 6-10 items, because you come home with twenty!

We had a birthday and a few melt down days that we ate out, but it was a whole lot better than the summer months prior. The ice maker on the fridge has been a pain in our finances! Last month, my hubby replaced this arm thingee, then a potentiometer. Fancy word for knob. that tells the icemaker to produce cubed ice not crushed went bad. I know first world problem. But my hubby is awesome and ordered the part and fixed it.  Our Creeper Van, also had to have a full tune up! Luckily, we have a freind who is a come to your house mechanic and charges very great prices.  
It is October 3rd, and we are three days into our challenge, which we tweaked a bit.  We decided that grocery shopping would have to happen.  That meant major meal planning, and sticking to it. Pop in tomorrow to see the Menu planning and shopping that worked! 

~never lose your joy