Planning and Doing

Things have been a little quiet here in blog-world version of Lot 26—but in the real world? We’ve been busy doing and busy planning.

CF has been touring more and more, but when he is home he reads up on gardening and dreams of renovating our vegetable garden to a system of raised beds…and maybe even a makeshift hoop-house in winter so we can grow some hardy greens year round!

As for me, I’ve been diligently figuring out more items we can make ourselves instead of buying at the store–which means I’ve also been working on some strict budgeting (for example: This week, the Girl Scout cookies I ordered at work came in AND I sent a package to my sweet nephew for his 6th birthday this Friday! I spent $10 to make sure it would get there on time. So, this week, I will not be eating dinner at CF’s steady Thursday gig…instead I’ll just enjoy a drink with my jazz music, thank you very much.)

We are also working on…ready?….wait for it…MOVING (*gasp*!!!).

I know. That’s a lot of info at once. So let’s take it one category at a time:

GARDENING

Last fall, we found stacks and stacks of used shipping pallets just waiting to be taken from the dumpster and turned into something super fabulous. We’ve stored them this winter and thought about what exactly we want to do with them. Though I don’t think we’ll use the pallet wood for building the walls of our new raised beds in the garden, I do think we will use some of them for vertical trellis/compartment gardening on the ends of some of the beds AND we will also be using some to create compost bins (I might be most excited about this use!).

We want to move to raised beds for a couple of reasons. Aesthetics is one, but we’re hoping that raised beds will also mean less weeding as we’ll be bringing in quality soil for inside the beds (soil that isn’t already ridden with weeds and weed roots) AND we will be putting down straw or mulch or something between the beds to avoid having to weed the ground there.

I also think that a raised bed will be a nice foundation for a small hoop house in the winter for those leafy greens.

DIY EVERYTHING (or maybe it just feels that way…)

If you’re a regular reader, you might know that I already make my own laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, counter top cleaning solution, and several food items that some prefer to buy pre-made (I’m thinking specifically of veggie burgers and even sushi).

Recently, I can also add to that list the following:

  • peanut butter and other nut butters (I got a new food processor for Christmas from my family [everyone pitched in…it was my one big gift and I LOVE IT] and making peanut butter is the easiest and most rewarding thing ever. I will never buy peanut butter again because it tastes so so good homemade and it takes about 5 minutes.)
  • bread and pizza dough (we don’t really eat much bread anymore–I find that bread and pasta doesn’t make me feel too great, but if I make it myself it doesn’t bother me as much–but when we do eat bread it’s because I made it. Either in the bread maker when I’m thinking ahead or this recipe when we need bread NOW.)
  • taxes (even thought I wanted to cry and scream, I think I finally figured out how to do our taxes, which was a difficult task seeing that CF is self-employed
  • sleep masks (CF likes to wear a sleep mask to cover his eyes while he sleeps to keep out the light–especially useful on those nights he has late gigs which causes him to sleep ’till late morning. Sleep masks are easy to make. They are more like wide headbands. Have an old tee shirt? I made the most recent sleep mask by snipping off the sleeve on an old tee shirt. Voila!)
  • cooked beans (in the summer I will grow some beans, but in terms of this list, I mean avoiding purchasing canned beans. Dried beans are cheaper, and they taste so much better when you cook them yourself. Just like with my bread making, you can think ahead [soak them overnight] or not [quick soak to the rescue!])
  • baby shower gifts (I have a lot of girlfriends having babies, and gift giving can get expensive. Instead, I learned how to make one cute item: baby bibs! Everyone gets baby bibs from me, but no one is complaining! 🙂 )
Here are two of my more recent creations

Here are two of my more recent creations.

BUDGETING

It’s Year of the Snake, folks, and according to both CF’s and my Chinese horoscopes (Horse and Pig) and Zodiac horoscopes (both Libras), it is our year to get out of debt and start a solid financial future.

[We don’t really take horoscopes that seriously, but last year (Year of the Dragon) both of ours said it was a good year to get married…and we did. We don’t make our plans based on our horoscopes, but it is funny how the plans we’d already made were validated by our horoscopes this year and last. We had already decided this was the year to pay off debts when I read our Year of the Snake predictions.]

So, we are paying down debts, thinking hard about savings, getting serious about learning how to do our taxes right, and planning for the future. That means I have a plan for every dollar we spend for the first few months of the year until some big debts (like a credit card and two cars) are paid off. Then we might be able to relax a little….until….

MOVING

I know. Moving?!?!?! But what will become of our dear Lot 26? Let me tell ya: we don’t really know yet. There have been some changes here at the old trailer park–most annoyingly, a new property owner and management that seem to be bungling the job (i.e.-we didn’t know how to pay rent for THREE MONTHS). The new owners are also hell bent on “cleaning the place up,” which seems to mean cutting down trees and moving in some new fancier looking trailers…and possible jacking up the rental price in the near future.

We’ve been thinking more and more of leaving, which has pretty much stalled our renovations on the trailer. After all, our intent was never to move the trailer off the lot–just sell it when we were done living there.

We also have lofty dreams of building on to CF’s mom’s home (she has a lot of property). It’s where our garden is, and where CF’s studio is, so it just seems to make sense. But financially….we’re not ready to commit to a project of that size. (Year of the Snake, people! We were warned not to bite off more than we could chew!)

So we’ve got sort of an intermediate plan: instead of building onto the house, we are considering converting CF’s mom’s separate two car garage into a tiny home! It will involve some property/zoning issues…and some interesting plumbing issues…so we aren’t sure if we’re really going to do it. But we’re not taking it off the table just yet.

And even if we do move, we might not be leaving Lot 26 entirely behind. We’ll have to crunch some numbers and weigh some options, but there is a possibility that taking apart Lot 26, using parts of it to renovate the garage, and trashing the rest might be the best/cheapest way to go.

So, there you have it.  We’re keeping busy, trying our best to keep warm on these frigid Mid-western winter days, and looking forward.

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About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
This entry was posted in Events and Stories, Renovations, Saving Money. Bookmark the permalink.

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