Thursday, July 29, 2010


About a month ago, The Architect and I sat down and consulted Quicken as to where our money leaks were.

We're not really hurting for money, but we are trying to make a concentrated effort to save as much money as possible to move out West and have a farm of our own.

What we found:

-Most work days, I would buy lunch for myself - $8 a day three or four days a week. $1,100 per year.

-The Architect would get coffee and a snack pretty much every morning. $8-$10 per day, five days a week. $2340 per year (!!!!!!).

-I had acrylic nails, and though I should have gotten them done every two weeks, I'd push it out to three, and that was $45 a visit. So that's about $800 per year.

I've finally pulled off all my acrylic nails now that they've grown out. My girly vanity is having a hard time with this. I'll still splurge on manicures once or twice a month, but those are only $10.

We've started setting the coffee maker every night, so we can fill our travel mugs in the morning. Even with the expensive stuff we buy, it's cheaper than buying a cup at a drive through.

I've been bringing a Lean Cuisine to work for lunch every day. And not only does that save me $5 a day, it saves me some... oh....

MOTHER OF GOD, I'd never calculated out just HOW many calories and fat grams were in my near-daily beloved Chick-Fil-A meals.

*ahem* Sorry. I was a little shocked there. As I was saying, it also saves me THIRTY GRAMS OF FAT and SIX HUNDRED calories. Hrm. No wonder I've lost a couple of pounds... Oops.

We still occasionally go out to dinner, but we've patched that leak a long time ago, since I enjoy cooking so much. I'll cook almost every night of the week.

I think Quicken is a fabulous program. You can plainly see where your money is going, and, with their monthly graphs, you can see how spending $200 tomorrow can really put you in the red two months from now.

But since the older versions work pretty much as well without the big price tag (we're still using a 2001 version), you can save yourself some money by buying a slightly outdated version:

Quicken 2008 Home & Business [OLD VERSION]

I do urge everyone to sit down and see where the "leaks" are and patch them up if you're willing. A few dollars here and there really adds up to a good bit.

We're already up a few dollars, and I'm down a few pounds.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cast...

A little background on some of the other characters who will likely frequent this blog:

The Architect and I roll with a pack of four other people - two couples.

Crash is my best friend of the past, oh, 12 years or so. Joined at the hip, we've been working together at various places off and on for the past four years. We finish each other's sentences, know what the other is thinking, and basically speak our own telepathic language. Her man/partner/boyfriend/fiance is Bubba, and they've been together nearly as long as The Architect and I have. Bubba and the Architect are often found Bro-mancing it up in the garage, or drinking coffee and discussing politics together on the couch.

Kitty and Redbeard are still "newcomers" to the scheme of things. Redbeard, ex-military, posts often on the car forum that The Architect runs, and he snagged a job local to the rest of us. He and his wife, Kitty, moved down to Small Suburbia from elsewhere a tad less than a year ago.

My first, and probably best, memory of Kitty, was when Crash, Bubba, The Architect, and I, went to meet Redbeard and Kitty for dinner when they first moved down here. Since Redbeard and Kitty had lived in military housing for so long, Kitty was used to socializing with women who Just Wanted More Kids. She burst into tears when she realized that the rest of us are all Childfree By Choice, just as she and Redbeard are.

I consider myself very lucky to have such a close circle of friends that I can trust, who has a pantload of common interests as I do.

Each of us in the Small Suburbia Society, in some capacity or another, is either some form of prepper/survivalist, or at least interested in learning new skills in the name of it.

In the near future, we'll be holding little classes for ourselves and take turns teaching skills that we know.

I will be posting the run-down and some pictures of what we learn in hopes of someone else gleaning some knowledge from it.

Our first class will be knife sharpening, though we don't yet have a date for it. I'm going to be pushing for it in the next two or three weekends(as we have other engagements this weekend), as soon as The Architect and I can get to a sporting goods store to get sharpening stones and whatnot.

My lousy set of steak/cutting knives shall serve as guinea pigs. I figure that the set is barely any better than cutting food with a spoon, so really: What Can Possibly Go Wrong? ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blame it on the Rain...

One heckuva thunderstorm just blew through here in Small Suburbia, Georgia.

Since the beginning of March, when I first began moving my seedlings outside to the back deck to receive a bit of real sunshine and get used to a bit of the elements, I've been paying a great deal more attention to the weather.

...especially after drowning a few of said seedlings when it monsooned and flooded the pan I had them sitting in.

Once I released my plants into the wilds of the garden, I fretted. I worried. I tapdanced. I second-guessed. I asked the invisible garden goddess questions.

Is it too hot?
Too cold?
Have I watered them enough?
Have I watered them too much?
Is that sunburn?
Did I leave my beer out there?

Once or twice, when I thought it was going to rain, I didn't water, only to forget that I didn't water, it didn't rain, and my plants were gasping for life the next day.

On the contrary, plenty of times I've watered my garden only to duck and cover at a snarl of thunder as soon as I turn the water off.

So after work each day, I saunter out to the garden, turn the melons, pet the tomatoes (yes, really) and make sure they're not being eaten by bugs or fungus, and thank all my plants for cutting me all kinds of slack and for the future food they will be providing. Then I water the garden and hope it wasn't too much or too little.

And although I enjoy my daily garden chats, I do appreciate it when rain gives me a day off. I don't take well to the Georgia heat and humidity.

....and then I wonder if my plants want air conditioning or perhaps a fan....

Home grown.

So I just cut open that big ol' yellow tomato I picked last night.

It is absolutely divine. I am now planning on doubling the size of the garden next spring...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bok bok bok

Down the road from where my best friend, Crash, lives, is a family who raises their own chickens and sells the eggs for $2.50 a dozen.

Recently, I'd switched to buying "cage free" eggs at the grocery store - for $2.70 a dozen. If they're of the organic variety, they're $3.40 a dozen.

Though I realize that the chickens who provide the "cage free" eggs aren't TRULY cage free, it's worth it to me to pay the extra money. The eggs taste SO much better than the store-brand 69-cent-per-dozen eggs, and although I'm the last person to sympathize with PETA, I prefer my eggs to come from chickens who aren't crammed on top of each other. At least the store "cage free" chickens get more room. Because, I'm sorry... there's no way this is, in any stretch of the imagination, humane...

Living in Suburbia, I'm not ENTIRELY sure if we can have chickens, although after having eggs from A's neighbor's mini-farm, I'm going to be forced to call Animal Control and see if they can tell me if I can have them.

I mentioned the farm eggs to my mother, who launched into an interrogation about if I had to refrigerate them and if how they have to be cooked... in case farm eggs are totally different than any other...

...and then she asked how much I paid for them.

My mother then launched into a gentle berratement of how ridiculous it was to pay that much for eggs, and that the 69 eggs at the grocery store were fine.

The Architect and I later talked about how depressing it is that most of the people in this country are SO. OBSESSED. with cheap - quality be damned.

That how it's the good-ol'-boys who beat their chests, sing "God Bless the USA," scream "Amurrka! Love it or leave it! Keep our jobs here in the US! Stop sendin' our jobs to China and India!" and then run to Wal Mart (the single largest importer of foreign products in the US...)

Sixty-nine cents for a dozen eggs. Less than six CENTS per egg.

If people were actually forced to pay the true price for their food, we might be able to do away with over crowded chicken barns and feed lots.

Cheap food via subsidies.

Less subsidies, less obesity, lower the population, cure cancer, global warming (which doesn't exist anyway, but none of those yayhoos ever propose that people stop breeding...), etc, etc. In a perfect world, anyway...

(images courtesy

El Jardin

Last year, I tried in vain to grow a quad of tomato plants in un-tilled, un-limed, unfertilized Georgia red sandy clay.

Two of the plants died. The remaining two barely clung to life. One plant gave me one tomato. The other, gave me two. They were small, and their skins were like leather.

My friend, Bubba, who has a heckuva green thumb, sat me down and explained some of the finer points of gardening to me.

In January, I ordered some heirloom seeds from Baker Creek ( ). Bubba and the Architect tilled my garden plot and we laid down some organic garden soil. It was too late in the season at that point to lime, and I didn't fertilize, but my garden is doing immensely better than last year's attempt.

I was unaware that melon (whose variety I don't know- it was labeled "Melon-18") needs its own county to grow. Yeesh. I kept pulling it back into itself to make sure it didn't run off into the neighbor's yard.

My solitary stevia plant has been almost completely overrun by the melon. Oops.

I have six tomato plants now, each with about 3-7 tomatoes.

The largest at the moment, and the prettiest, is this Golden Monarch, just about ready to be picked (I'll likely grab it later today or tomorrow).

I have a couple red Beefsteak tomatoes about ready to ripen, but the near-ripe ones are fairly small. I forgot to cull a couple baby tomatoes off that vine when they first formed on that particular plant.

I was told that you tend to get get larger tomatoes if you remove one or two as they form on a bunch.

I had planted a pair of cucumber plants, but they lasted half a week before they disappeared.

Yes. Disappeared.

Not wilted and died. Disappeared.

I'm not sure what happened. Do rabbits eat baby cucumber plants?

I do know that they eat basil. I had two plants. Though both had been nibbled on, one has been completely decimated.

...putting up the rabbit fence probably would have been a good idea...

Last night, I picked what was left on the viable plant for a pasta dish I planned on making for my friends:

I had only a fraction of what I needed for the recipe, but my friend Kitty came to the rescue with some of her basil from her patio garden.

You get an overwhelming sense of pride when using your own personal plants in your cooking.

I can't wait to have a bigger garden next year...

(pics © me )

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Run-Down

May the word vomit begin...

I'm Violet. I'm a late 20-something nerd who works in the pet care industry. I'm sort of pagan-agnostic. I guess.

I have two dogs, a pair of Akitas named Logan and Blaze; a pair of vagabond cats; and a small herd of chinchillas.

My husband, The Architect, is more than a dozen years older than I, leading to some hilarious conversations. My lack of beta-max knowledge, for example....

I enjoy baking and cooking and firearms and pretending I'm still 14. I have an extensive collection of designer tin foil hats.

I began this blog to chronicle my hilarious attempts at being a rancher/farmer. ...from Suburbia. ...with no prior knowledge of gardening. ...and a recently-acquired love of cooking after being brought up on TV dinners.

I felt spurred to these endeavors, as I truly believe that in the relatively near future, this country will experience financial collapse and it Ain't Gonna Be Pretty. I consider myself a fledgling survivalist, hence my closetful of tin foil hats.

For this blog, I plan to have pictures of my little garden, recipes, and stories like how I nearly set the house on fire with my first attempt at baking pizza from scratch. You might get some political rantings here and there while I'm at it.