Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Update on the Garden's Final Update of 2016

Ok some readers asked some pertinent questions about my garden harvest totals from yesterday HERE.
I thought it best to address them in a new post.

Offhand my purchases were just the 12 plants(I misspoke yesterday, it was 10 tomato plants and 2 zucchini plants).
We had fertilizer left over from previous year and any compost we amended the soil with was free kitchen scraps and yard clippings.  So I guess $24($2 per plant) was my cost outlay?  I may have watered with the hose a few times but the extra water costs were negligible.  I should count the cost of the tree netting that Hubs bought to cover the garden area and keep critters from munching on my crops, but I don't know what he spent.....and besides he used a free hardware store gift card we got with c/c points to pay. lolz

I went back and broke down how much was harvested of each crop and the lowest price in season I could buy said crop at the local grocery store for---

Acorn Squash--5.26 lbs. @ .99¢ lb.=$5.20

Zucchini--8.05 lbs. @ $1.49 lb.=$11.99

Tomato--30.50 lbs. @ $1.99 lb=$60.69
* Of course the store bought tomatoes taste NOTHING like a home garden grown ones.  8-)))

That totals $77.88 worth of veggies I didn't spend at the store for, which cost me $24 in supplies.
A savings percentage of 69.18% so I good monetary ROI.  Not even counting the flavor and nutrition ROI. ;-)

I'd say it was well worth the little bit of time and effort the garden turned out to be.

Now I could have developed a more strategic plan for the garden.

* I could have not waited until the last minute and started my own plants from seeds, which would have brought costs down more as a pack of seeds or two costs far less than a dozen seedlings purchased.
* I could have grown veggies that cost the most if purchased at the grocery store.  Summer squashes are fairly cheap and Winter/Fall squashes are rather cheap in season but tomatoes while plentiful at the grocery store and still reasonably priced just don't taste as good.  Plus unless you live down South you can NOT get green tomatoes(unripe red tomatoes)at a Northern grocery store.....EVER!(Unless of course a boutique type market carries them in season but I'd never be caught in one of those places so I just don't know if they'd stock green tomatoes.)

Some of the most expensive veggies that can be grown well in my climate are cauliflower and asparagus.
Asparagus won't happen here because they are real work and starting from scratch they don't really produce enough for a few years and they have to be left undisturbed between growing seasons.  I am too impatient. lolz  Cauliflower is a little more work too, since you have to keep the heads covered so they stay white plus the plants take up a lot of garden real estate(same goes for Collards/Cabbage/etc.) and you only get one bunch/head per plant.

I suppose the most expensive veggie I've grown before are fancy salad greens.  The cost of a packet of seeds and the little work they require plus the short time it takes them to grow until ready to harvest make them a good garden value.....if you like salad greens and you don't have a family of rabbits living in a warren under your shed like I do. ;-)

Anyway, this is the last update on 2016's Garden Talk.  It's time to start tinkering with next year's garden plans(if any).  Maybe I'll get more mojo to do a better job at it in 2017.

So how did your garden work out this season?
Are you pleased with the results?


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Garden Harvest.....Last Update for 2016

We picked the last of the tomatoes last week and have put the garden to bed for another year.
Another 4 tomatoes netted us 18.4 ounces for a Grand Total of 701.3 Ounces of produce for the year.

This equals to 43.83 lbs. of squash and tomatoes out of our garden.

Not a huge amount but it's pretty good considering we only planted 12 tomato seedlings this year and the squash came off of volunteer plants. 8-)

The only thing left to do is to harvest the morning glory seed pods as they become ready so I can share those seeds in the Spring.


Monday, October 24, 2016

This Week on the Dining Table

The "Peak Color Season" Edition--
The end of this past week was the height of the Autumn colors Season in Sluggy's yard.  

Then the wind and rain moved in over the weekend.

Yet the Celosia are still going!  The leaves are a bit dogeared but they are just starting to go to seed.

Moving on......
Onward to the meal planning!

Here's what was planned last week--

1. Sunday--Fend for Yourself or Leftovers
2. Monday--Pizza, Salad
3. Tuesday--Chili, Cornbread, Collards
4. Wednesday--Leftovers
5. Thursday--Cheese Lasagna, Salad
6. Friday--Fish, Roasted Cauliflower Acorn Squash and Potatoes
7. Saturday--Leftovers

And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Fend for Yourself or Leftovers
2. Monday--Pizza, Salad
3. Tuesday--Fend for Yourself
4. Wednesday--Chili, Cornbread(I just had Cornbread)
5. Thursday--Fend for Yourself(Hubs and I at the Pub)
6. Friday--Fish, Spinach Souffle(2 Eaters)
7. Saturday--Tacos and Taco Salad

6/7 meals cooked at home, 1/2 of them a night of leftovers, 1 night Eating Out(for some of us)and 0 nights of Take-Out.

Hubs and I went out on Thursday so we didn't eat at home for dinner that night but the kids did.  With College Boy home for the weekend(thank you strike!)I made a taco filling on Saturday instead of leftovers that day.

No collards were fixed with the chili night as no one was interested but me(and you can't make a small amount of collards lol).  Only 2 of us ate here on Friday night(Hubs was off picking up CB and the BF wasn't hungry)so Daughter and I split a spinach souffle instead of making all those potatoes and squash.

As for the grocery spending.....2 trips to Weis and 1 trip to the Shursave market brought my weekly spending to $145.59 and my October food spending Subtotal to $381.63 with 7 days left in the month.
I now have spent enough at Weis to get my free meat item and will be concentrating on buying what I need for groceries at the Shursave market to try to get a $10 gift certificate(or $20 if I spend A LOT in the next two weeks!lol).

My try at a $300 monthly food spending doesn't look likely for October at this point.  I am thinking $400-$500 a month($100-$125 per adult)is about as low as I am going to get with 4 adults eating here.

I have been doing well however in my savings percentages in October.  This week the savings rate was "only" 43.49%.  I'll take that. 8-)

Leftovers going into this week........rigatoni in sauce, bbq beef, 1 crab cake, chili, cornbread and taco filling.

Here is this week's "food plan".

1. Sunday--Cheese Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
2. Monday--Leftovers
3. Tuesday--Shrimp Scampi w/Fettucine, Green Beans
4. Wednesday--Kielbasa on Rolls, Roasted Potatoes and Acorn Squash
5. Thursday--Chicken something, TBD
6. Friday--Pork Barbecue on Rolls, Cole Slaw
7. Saturday--Leftovers

This week will see 5 new meals cooked and 0 nights of Take-Out and 2 nights of Leftovers.

What I need to buy for this menu?

What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten last week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week?


Friday, October 21, 2016

Collateral Damage R Us...Update

Well as predicted the Association of PA State Colleges(PSSHE) and University Faculty Union(APSCUF)have gone out on strike.  This is the first time a strike has happened in the 34 year history of the state school system.

This happened Wednesday so we are at Day Three of this "event".

Recent news article on the strike HERE.

Local news report HERE.  (I love the clip in this one from our knucklehead Governor, Tom Wolf, urging the two sides to come to an agreement, when he is the person who held our state budget hostage in 2014-2015 and refused to sign a budget for 2 years.  Hypocrite much?)

The PA teachers and the PA State System of Higher Education(PSSHE)which controls/runs the 14 state supported schools here in PA didn't reach an amicable contract settlement by Tuesday evening's deadline, so the teachers walked.
Including the teachers at College Boy's school.

The PSSHE kept saying they would bring in temporary teachers for the duration of the strike.
I shook my head at this because finding an unemployed teacher in PA who has a PHD in music and is a master flutist who could teach College Boy's master music classes to sub for his professors was just a joke.  Yes, there are lots of people with teaching credentials in PA but not working in this field(due to corruption and nepotism-way more teachers are graduated each year here than their are positions for so they have to leave the state to work as teachers)but the pool that meets this criteria is nil.

We got an actual phone call from College Boy last night.  As he never calls(always messges on FB instead)I knew this was bad news.

The PSSHE and officials at his school are telling students they have to "go to class"(even though the professors are not there and not holding "class").
A check of the school website is saying the school is open for business and operating as usual.

So College Boy's professors are all out on strike and he has no classes into the foreseeable future. There is no word or even a hint on when these two powerful groups will hash out a deal that they both will accept.

Friday to Monday of this weekend is the school's Fall Break(no classes Monday even if there wasn't a strike).  College Boy has never come home for Fall Break as it's only a long weekend.  The last 2 years he has attended school there the dorms have remained open and the dining halls have also remained open.

But not this time.
Supposedly this strike is only between the teacher's union and the PSSHE and doesn't involve an support staff at the school.  Bureaucrats, Clerks, Maintenance, Office workers, Food Service workers, etc. are not affected by this strike.

Even though, the "Powers That Be" at College Boy's school have decided to close the dining halls for 4 days staring today until Tuesday morning.  The dorms will remain open however.
So College Boy informed me that if he remains on campus over Break he can't eat for 4 days.

And he is out of personal money(again this year!)so he can't walk to the local gas station and buy processed crap to eat.  I knew he wasn't saving enough this past Summer and I knew this would happen again.  8-(

Then I saw a note was posted on the school website that all sports teams practices and games will go on as players must remain on campus for that but hey!, let's not feed them for 4 days.
That doesn't seem like a very bright plan now, does it?

Now I am not going to take sides on whether the PSSHE or the APSCUF are the unreasonable pieces of shit in these contract negotiations.  But going over 450 days working without a contract and being in negotiations and still not hammering out an equitable solution isn't fair to the people affecting by the skills your negotiating teams seem to lack.

All I know is that the students and their parents(who are footing the bill for tuition and meal plans)are COLLATERAL DAMAGE in this whole brew-ha-ha.
And I am NOT happy about it!

College Boy said all the students are walking around not knowing what to do as they are getting mixed messages(what little information the school actually sends them and of course we, the parents, have received NO communications on any of this!)on what they are suppose to do.
Many of the kids with cars have already left and gone home to wait this out until the strike is over.
I really feel for the international students as they are in no position to call mom and dad and go home easily(if at all).

So we will be picking College Boy up today to bring him home and see what happens over the weekend with the strike.
He can't remain home long term if the strike continues because he has Wind Ensemble rehearsals Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The band director isn't cancelling rehearsals since they have a concert tour next month and are cutting a CD too and you can't not rehearse for however long and then jump right back into it without it affecting your orchestra.

Later today we'll be contacting our PA State Legislative Representatives and the President of College Boy's school as well to voice our displeasure at the way in which this has been handled and find out what the "PA Political Powers That Be" are planning on doing to resolve this mess.

My plans into the foreseeable future are in limbo until this thing is over.  
And I am NOT a happy camper.

I hope the parents of these 100,000+ affected students who foot the bills at these schools are planning to band together and DEMAND a pro-rated refund of tuition/fees/meals/housing costs we paid for services/goods that won't be delivered during this strike.

I hope it doesn't come down to us all having to get a lawyer and suing the PSSHE and APSCUF leadership chuckle heads for our money back!

As an aside, the school has NOT sent us, the parents, a single piece of communication about this whole strike fiasco.  I am having to hear everything from College Boy(who is mostly in the dark about this)or read it online from various news sources.

So thanks a lot PSSHE, APSCUF and President Hendricks for disrupting our son's education/life!

The local school district's teachers went out on strike in 2007 when all 3 of my kids were still attending schools here(1 middle, 2 high)and that debacle lasted a month+.
I can't even hazard a guess how long this strike will go on for.

President Hendricks on his welcome page statement off the University's website says....

"Here's to building a memorable year for Mountie Nation!"

Yep, 3 months in and it sure it a Memorable Year.....but for all the wrong reasons!



As of about an hour ago the strike had "tentatively" ended.  Now why couldn't they have done this three days ago and avoided all the upheaval to parents and students?  Oh, right power struggles are the reason.
So the news came AFTER Hubs picked up College Boy and headed home with him.  
Of course.....*bangs head on wall*.
Hubs could have just given him cash to eat this weekend and left him there but no, they didn't hear until after they left for home.
So now I get to figure out how to get him back before Tuesday morning as Hubs will be back at work on Monday.  I have a dr. appt. on Monday and after having an HS flare two days ago I don't feel well enough to drive him back right now.  Hopefully by Monday I'll feel better.

It's always something, isn't it!? lolz