Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Goals for 2024


Hey all, 

Just a quick note before I start our regularly scheduled posting here.  Posting has been delayed, again...it's been a real cruddy start to the year when it comes to stuff breaking around here (I'll get more into that below), so we've been busy rushing here and there and to and fro trying to find parts to fix things and stuff.  My plan, at this point, is to basically start posting regularly come the beginning of March.  I'm going to work on getting posts buttoned up around here for the next couple of weeks and then I'm hoping to release at least one post a week starting in March.  Hopefully that will get me back to, finally, being more consistent with my blog and not worrying people when I go over a month between posts.  I think I got a decent start on that, so here's hoping I can keep it up.  So, yeah, stay tuned and we'll see if I fail at my blogging goals again *laugh*.

And now, onto the post!

Goals for 2024

So, 2024, so far, has started not in a fun way.  Let me just do q quick recap on that one for you…

My washing machine stopped spinning correctly, so I end up having to spin the laundry at least twice so it is not sopping wet going into the dryer.  My husband is pretty confident that the washer is just plain worn out.  We do a lot more laundry than most folks and so we abuse our washer and dryer pretty hard, but combine that with the fact that the washer is 40 years old and…yeah…it’s tired.  Hopefully my husband can get another machine running before the current one dies.  I’m just limping it along at this point. 

My dryer wasn’t drying well, at all, and it would take me four times putting clothes through to get them tossed in air enough to get them dry.  Turns out, for some reason that baffles us (as it has worked fine for a long while before this problem popped up), the outside dryer vent screen kept getting clogged up with lint and was choking off air to the dryer.  I finally got fed up trying to dance around 6’ snow banks out in the yard to clean it, and just removed it.  I know I’ll have to watch for birds trying to make nests and things in there now, but man…I just don’t have the bandwidth to try and figure out a way around the problem other than that.

Our snow blower started self destructing and was plain out of commission for about a week before my husband could jerry rig it to hopefully last the rest of the winter.  This has been a really snowy and cold winter in South Central Alaska.  We are breaking snowfall records, which everyone is SO thrilled about after last winter…har.  We are all just counting down the days till Spring as the plows are running out of places to put snow at this point in winter and we still have months of winter left.  Not ideal.

My husband’s car broke down.  Hard.  We are now waiting on parts, which has been a pain and the parts weren’t cheap to begin with.  My husband is going to have to do the work himself to save money as he doesn’t want to pay the nearly 3000.00 the garages wanted to do the job.  At least we have home visits for speech therapy so my husband has been taking my truck to work the last three weeks. 

My kitchen faucet has just given up working right.  We’ve replaced the sprayer on the sink, twice, in the last year, and it just does not work right for very long before it will just not turn on and you have to sit there and basically beat on the faucet to get the sprayer cartridge to give you water.   So, we finally broke down and ordered a new faucet, so we’ll have to install that (it came in the mail today).

The top rack of my dishwasher broke due to plastic fatigue and tried to collapse onto the bottom rack of my dishwasher randomly one day.  It was a miracle nothing broke as the dishwasher was full at the time.  Trying to figure out what replacement parts to buy was a nightmare for me, but my husband figured it out and we ordered the parts.   In the meantime my husband did wonders with zip ties and managed to keep the dishwasher together until the upgraded (metal versus plastic) parts came in the mail.  Hopefully he can install the new parts this weekend and the dishwasher will be in working order again as you have to be careful when opening the dishwasher so you don’t break the zip ties.

We walked out of a store to find our rear taillight in our truck had gotten broke while we were in the store.  The person who hit us and broke said tail light did not leave a note.  So, we have to pick up the replacement taillight today so we can install that.  

And to top it off, I walked into my laundry room to over an inch of water on the floor, slowly draining into our floor drain and my daughter and I finally figured out it was coming from the hot water heater, more specifically the supply line pipe that comes out of the hot water heater and feeds into the wall.  It had popped a leak in the top of the pipe coming out of the wall and was spewing water EVERYWHERE.  I need up turning off the hot water completely just to help stop the gallons of water that were dripping into my laundry room super fast (I tied a dishtowel around the leak, so that it would drip instead of spew everywhere).  Thank goodness my husband was able to get that working last weekend, but it sure wasn’t a fun weekend for him for sure.  

Anyway, it’s been a year so far.  And we are a whole two months in.  Not great.  I did decide, when I found out the Lunar New Year was this month (I think it was like the 10th), that I was going to aim for that to get my cleaning and organizing done (since we were sick at the end of December) and just aim to start the new year with the Lunar New Year instead.  I feel pretty good as I did get a bunch of stuff done in the way of cleaning and organizing before the Lunar New Year, so I’ll try and share those projects here in a later post.

But, yeah, let’s get onto the goals I set myself for this year. 

I have been really working on getting more organized and streamlined around here.  The goal is for a few different reasons.  One is a reduction of stress in trying to find room for things that I need.  And two is just to be more organized so that I don’t feel like I need this or that new thing to hopefully make things work better around here and so I can hopefully save money and pay off some debt.  I still have medical bills from last year sitting on credit card, my fridge is slowly wearing out, I need to get new gutters on the house and I NEED to start getting things accomplished for the sake of my sanity if nothing else.  So, that is the basis for my goals this year.  Save money, pay off debt and get stuff done.  Period.

So, here are my goals as they stand at the moment.  The list isn’t super long, but trust me there is a bunch of involvement in the list, so I definitely have some stuff to share on this stuff.

1.  Start Freezer Cooking

I have messed around with freezer cooking in the past.  I’d get enamored with the idea and would really want to try recipes this or that blogger was making (or now a days, bloggers and vloggers) and I’d make a bunch of different recipes that, honestly, most of the time my family wasn’t fond of.  But I loved the idea of simplicity in cooking, so I’d do it for a while and then just give up on it.

This time around, I decided I needed to do freezer cooking, but for real this time and get a good system down.  My daughter has had work pick up again, my son has a speech therapist come twice a week and stuff.  My life has gotten busier and with also making all of our baked goods around here…my days are really busy.  So, I wanted to make meals that I could pull out for busy nights or days where the son hasn’t slept for weeks and I’m exhausted.  So, first, I pulled up the old freezer inventory sheets I wrote up pre-2020 craziness, and went over those to see if there were things I wanted to keep from those Idas.  I then sat down and figured out what things I could prepare in advance that my family would definitely eat and added those to the list of things I wanted to make.  I also made a list of things that we had that needed to be used up (like for January I still had a bunch of pears and oranges in the fridge that my family wasn’t eating and were going to go bad, so I made sure to put those on the “make these into something” list).  And I sat down and figured out what recipes I had bookmarked in cook books or online that I had really wanted to try making and picked out the ones that were made to be frozen or could be frozen and added those to the list too.  

I then organized my freezers to make my life easier.  My fridge freezer is where I am putting things like soups in smaller containers or sauces, as I find putting those in my upright freezer downstairs just leads to them getting shuffled and then they fall out and get broken.  And I found that the freezer containers I ordered from Amazon stack perfectly in my fridge freezer so that was a definite win on my part.  

The small block freezer in my kitchen is for baked goods.  I put sweet breads, waffles, pancakes, bread based snacks (like pretzels) and other things in there.  This keeps the stuff on the top of the freezer from being too heavy and crushing the bread products below them.  With all the sourdough baking I do now a days, this is important to me as I want to make sure those things are rotated, used and also protected from harm.   I also am keeping my nine grain cereal in there that I bought last year (love it, but find myself only eating it in winter, so I go through it slow), so I know what is on the bottom of the freezer and things aren’t getting lost that way. 

The upright freezer downstairs in the laundry room is where the majority of the freezer meals are going.  It has basically become a freezer meal, frozen fruit and vegetable and butter freezer with a few other miscellaneous things in there.  I’m still working through things in the freezer, but am feeling darned good about my progress.  

The den freezer is primarily my meat freezer now a days.  I do keep my husband’s freezer breakfast items I make in there for him to be able to easily grab something on his way out the door to go to work.  I still need to pull everything out of the den freezer and defrost it this Spring as it has gotten some pretty good ice build up on it and I am collecting boxes to use to organize the freezer better when I do that as I am determined to waste NOTHING if I can help it and the best way to rotate through everything is being able to easily find it and see what you have.  

Also, just a disclaimer here for those thinking that I might start doing some like major freezer cooking days like you see online?  Sorry but that isn’t going to happen that I can see around here.  I’m too busy and too tired to try that.  What I did do during January was I worked really hard to get a few things done per day if I could and just mark a few items off of my list (I’ll share my master list with links in my beginning of 2024 freezer cooking post).  Also, any new recipes I try, I'll probably do a quick summary of what we thought of the recipes as we try them, not only for the curious out there on how those recipes taste, but also for me as a reference to look up at a later date :).

Getting into freezer cooking and keeping up on baking with more sourdough are basically my two goals for the kitchen for this year when it comes to cooking.  

Other kitchen goals (okay, goal as there is only one):

Organize and simplify.  

My kitchen was a deconstructed mess, or so it felt and I was getting really frustrated with it.  You had to go basically into the living room to get flatware for dinner, my appliances were all over the place and my counter space is limited, so I felt like I was tripping over everything.  So, I've been working really hard on getting appliances put away and out of the way unless they are in use.  I gutted my hallway closet (again) and am working on getting all of my appliances into it and out of the way to free up space around the kitchen.  Exceptions to this rule are the coffee maker (it has a timer so my husband has hot coffee in the morning to take to work), the electric tea kettle (I use it tons during the day to make myself cups of tea and stuff) and my mixer (weighs a ton for one and I use it nearly every day, for two).  I'll share the final results when everything is done, but at least I'm making progress :).

 I gutted my kitchen drawers and went through things kind of ruthlessly to only keep the things I use.  I have too little space to collect things I don't use.  I did keep a few things that my husband bought for me and stuck those in the back of a few drawers, but between the organizing and the windfall of finding a bigger in-drawer knife block to hold all of my good kitchen knives, I was able to reorganize the drawers in such a way that I was able to put the flatware into the kitchen to make accessing it easier.  It sure does make scrambling an egg easier when you can get a fork just by opening a drawer instead of having to walk around the kitchen table to get one :).

I did a few other things, but will share that when I finally get everything done and will work on doing a quick kitchen tour (I'm waiting on getting the kitchen faucet in right now as the kitchen is a mess because of it as I have to keep things from around the sink in the hope my husband can get the new faucet in soon).

I'm working on all areas of my house this year (I actually started late last year, but am still going strong) to get things just cut down, streamlined and working better.  I'm tired of everything feeling cluttered no matter what I do, so it is time.

Sewing Goals:

These goals are kind of simple, but are going to be a challenge for me to find time to do them.  But, they need to be done, so I'm determined to get them done.

1.  Make tablecloths.

I have looked and looked online and at the used stores for the last year to find more tablecloths without luck.  My table was my husband's grandfather's, so I try really hard to take good care of it and with Alvah...well tablecloths are the way to go until I can redo the finish on the table and put about 20 coats of poly on the top of it to protect it.   Our tablecloths are getting pretty worn, so I want to try and make some more to put into rotation.  I want to use a couple of our old tablecloths that fit both our table when it is at its smallest setting and also when there is a leaf in the table as a guide and make sure I make the tablecloths oval versus rectangular.  The rectangular ones work, but are a pain as I'm always folding corners up and under the tablecloth so the corners aren't dragging on the floor and looking weird, so I'm going to try my hand at making oval ones.

2.  Break down son's crash pad into chairs.

I bought Alvah a crash pad for Christmas years ago without really thinking about how much room it would take up...I just saw it was cheap and would ship to Alaska and I knew that Alvah loved crash pads at occupational therapy, so hey, why not?  It is huge, it is heavy and, most important, Alvah doesn't use it much anymore.  The cover is breaking down from age and the interior pillow case that holds the memory foam panel stuffing is just gone, so I thought a interesting way to repurpose it would be to make kind of like crash chairs/bean bag like chairs out of it to save it.  So, that project is on my list this year as well.

Garden Goals:

This I am actually quite excited about.  The big breakthrough on the garden front this year is that the dump has finally raised their prices enough that getting weekly garbage pick up was basically the same price as doing our own garbage drops, so we signed up for garbage service for the first time in over a decade.  It is great having the garbage get picked up every week now, it saves my poor husband time and physical exertion (doing the garbage was really starting to kill him as he gets older and with the snowfalls this winter...it's been awful) and, the big one for the garden, I got rid of all of the garbage cans that were on my deck taking up space AND it stops my husband from having to dance around the old garden beds to haul the garbage cans.  So, my husband actually brought up the idea to start planting in the old garden beds again and he can now put up fencing to keep the animals out since he doesn't have to worry about the garbage anymore!  

I took about 300.00 out of our tax return and decided to invest it in our deck and garden for more enjoyment during the summers as really, so far, we haven't been able to get much enjoyment out of our deck...I mean it's been over 10 years since we moved here...it's time to use the darned deck.  So, I bought these planters (Affiliate Link!), 2 of them, to put around the deck.  I decided on these to try and stop the planters from leaving wet spots on the deck that don't dry out and can lead to rot on the deck.  Once the deck gets refinished this summer (I hope the weather allows it this summer), I want to protect it from harm, so I'm hoping these beds will help to accomplish that.  This will also, hopefully, be easier on my back and I can wheel them around if I need to, to protect them from falling hail or something. 

 I'm not sure what I'm planting yet, except tomatoes are definitely on the list.  I want to plant yet more patio tomatoes this year.  I didn't get many ripe tomatoes last year, but the green tomatoes made really good relish and chutney (green tomato chutney has been awesome in cooking!!!), so red or green tomatoes...I'll take them this year.  I also broke down and got a second set of patio furniture (affiliate link) so we'll have four places to sit out on the deck for all of us.  My son loved sitting in the one set last year, so I'm hoping with four chairs we can all enjoy the deck this year.

I used the rest of the money I had taken from the tax return and bought some random things I needed for the kitchen (pot holders, another ice cream scoop, another pizza cutter, things like that) and do not regret doing it.  Hopefully all of the parts from the planters are in the box or that could get interesting later on since the return window would definitely be closed by that point.  Here's hoping!

My only financial goal this year is to pay down debt and pay off bills, so I don't see the point in doing a different section for that.  Here's hoping I can get things done on that front.

And there you go folks.  My basic goals for this year.  I'm really determined to get these things accomplished this year, so hopefully I can get it all done. 

How about you?  Any goals for 2024?