Thursday, January 14, 2010


You might have to click on the pic to see it, but this is a screen shot of the mortgage balance on our home as of January 14th, 2010.... ZERO DOLLARS!! (Just imagine me doing a little happy dance now). Hooray for us!

We started in the summer of 2007, after Andrew was born, with a plan to be debt free as soon as possible. We worked through our ~22k in consumer debt pretty quickly and then targeted our mortgage with every extra cent we had. Since both Curtis and I work full time, we were able to put nearly one full salary toward our debts. We have been eating a lot of beans and rice, cut out extras in our budget like cable and gym memberships and instead enjoyed 'free' activties like the library, thermostat is set to 66 in the winter and 82 in the summer, we dried clothes on the clothesline instead of using the dryer, driving well-used cars, brown-bagging every lunch...

Why did we do this? I (Sandra) have always been thrifty and a good saver, my primary motivation is security--to save for a 'rainy-day'. Curtis' motivation was mostly me at first, then he started to see our future as his biggest motivator. The embarrassing thing to mention is that we --like so many other people in the country now-- had one of those awful Adjustable Rate Mortgages... we got a great rate on our mortgage to start, but we had a huge increase looming over us. It made me mad to see just how little of our house payment was actually going toward paying for the house and knowing that soon it would cost us even more.

The catalyst was when my sister Lindsey loaned us a copy of the Dave Ramsey book "TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER" just after Andrew was born. It details the steps of getting out of debt and changing attitudes about money--Ramsey calls it "God's and grandma's way of dealing with money". We were also both strongly influenced by God's word on money:
Proverbs 22:7 (English Standard Version)
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

Can't be much more clear than that!

So what now? Well, first order of business is a party to celebrate our achievement (and a few other family miles stones such as our 6th wedding anniversary, Andrew's 3rd birthday, my 30th birthday--yikes). We are renting a bounce house, buying lots of fun party food, and inviting everyone we know to come celebrate with us.

We have been so very blessed in our lives to make all of this possible.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Plan and Play--Veggie Garden

We've got ice today and blistery 26 degree weather, but it is a great day to plan out the garden--on paper at least!

I'm going to try a new layout this year using the "Martha Method" of row spacing that was highlighted in my all time favorite issue of MSL from March 2008, I call this issue my garden porn and when I refer to it, my hubby knows exactly what I am talking about. It is really that good.

So the rows will be 30 inches wide with 12 inch paths. For my 25 foot garden that makes for 7 planting sections. I plan to do a path along the middle of the bed, so I'll have two sets of ~10foot x 30 inch beds for a total of 14 planting areas.

I'll have the same basic garden foot print, but I'll have more clearly defined areas and hopefully not have to wade through planted areas to harvest. Perhaps this will also keep me from overcrowding things... yeah right.

I'm excited about getting out there and planting, but definitely not this week.

Some interesting finds from the web:

Planting dibble

Succession Planting Has a great chart for planting by temperature. Looks like I've been really jumping the gun with my squash plants.

Soil Temperature Germination Ranges for Select Vegetables
45–85 cabbage, kale, broccoli, collards (germinate well at 85, seedlings prefer 45–65)
35–80 lettuce and most salad greens (at more than 80, germination rate drops 50%)
35–75 spinach (optimum 68)
50–85 onions (optimum 75)
45–95 radishes (optimum 85)
50–85 beets, Swiss chard (optimum 85)
60–85 beans, snap and dry (optimum 80)
70–85 beans, lima (optimum 85)
40–75 peas (optimum 75)
60–95 corn (optimum 95)
65–82 tomatoes (optimum 80)
60–95 peppers (optimum 85)
65–100 cucumbers, melons, squash (optimum 80–95)
From: Market News, March 1995.

Row Trellis: Here is a row trellis design that I saw online. Not sure if it would work for us, but it sure looks like it woudl be those flimsy wire tomato cages I have been useing for everything.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Plan and Play- New Plants

After a few rounds of Internet searches for edible landscaping, I'm nearing a list of items that I want to try this year in the yard. As much as I love apples (and most other tree fruits), it is just not going to happen in our small city yard because I'd need to plant at least 2 of each for pollination... and we barely have room for 1. So for now, at least, I'm going with a short list of new (and relatively small) edibles.

So my list:

1) Asparagus! This is my big 'duh' item. We love asparagus, it is perennial, it is pretty, it grows great around here, and I've even had it once before in my garden (the crowns were carried home on the back of our Harley and were planted in unworked soil--so its failure was not the fault of the plants). Now, I just need to decide a place where a permanent asparagus bed can go...

2) Blackberries--Rosborough, Brinson, Humble, Arapaho. Not sure where...

3) Strawberries -- Sunrise, Cardinal, Allstar, Chandler

4) Fig-- Texas Everbearing or Celeste

5) Pomegranate