Friday, July 15, 2011

Coffee Chat - Out of Character

Hello there.

There's coffee as always, tall glistening goblets of iced water,  a bowl full of ripe peaches and nectarines, oatmeal cookies...Just help yourself and then sit down and let's have a bit of a heart to heart talk, okay?

Do I appear a little different?  Well I am.  I'm myself today, not Penny Ann, but Terri.  I've put Penny Ann aside for a little bit because frankly I needed a break.  I need a break.

Ten years ago, after completing two years of online writing courses sponsored by the University of Berlin, I was so eager to write...I just didn't know what to write about, lol.  My life had been a normal enough life, if limited in overall scope.  I'd been writing for years upon years, as a poet, unpublished but convinced I had an inkling of talent.  I wrote consistently for a good 25 years before setting it aside and taking  a break from writing.  Then we moved here, I worked at two or three jobs, quit each one and finally settled down to become a homemaker, a housewife, a stay at home mom to my two school aged children.  After the year or two it took to get my household in order, I had time on my hands and so I started the online courses via internet because I'd never lost my dream of writing.

The classes helped me to decide that while I enjoyed reading all types of books, my writing voice was best heard in two mediums: poetry and real life experience/inspirational pieces.  That's where the best of who I was came across.  The last class I took was a year long course, and lest you think it was just a silly internet thing with no degree, all the courses were very good, with a real honest to goodness  university professor at the helm and we were graded, critiqued and treated as students, without paying a fee or having the degree at the end of the course.  I learned a great deal.

So I embarked into writing.  Some few online sites, e-zines, etc published my work, a few hard copy lesser known magazines, a Chicken Soup for the Soul submission was accepted.  I have to say that the inspiration which birthed Penny Ann Poundwise was probably my most prolific and long running portion of work.  And in December of this year, I will have been sharing via the Poundwise household for ten years.

Penny Ann was a God given inspiration, born one night as I lay in bed well after lights out, wondering how to break into writing on my own.  I knew immediately that a yahoo group of my own could be developed as a launchpad for a newsletter, but what to write?  If we were to write what we knew best, then how did I translate being poor and stretching dollars into writing?  And what would the newsletter be called?  And then, pop, there it was in my head:  Penny Ann Poundwise.

I got up the next morning and sent out my intro letter and ten people subscribed.  I was in business!  lol.

At first, Penny Ann Poundwise was a sort of marriage between who I was and who I really wanted to become.  An imaginary mentor of sorts.  Gradually as time has gone on, I grew less fearful of letting the real me shine through here and there, but always I tried to remain 'in character.'  Penny Ann has been a wonderful mentor.  I learned a great deal about writing during this time, about researching and editing and time management and dedication and appropriateness, and yes, honing and honing those frugal skills.  I've learned so much.   But I've grown up and out.  Penny Ann is a very tight fit.  Too tight.  I need more room.  She's a great girl is Penny Ann, but one dimensional.  If it hasn't anything to do with home and frugality she's not very comfortable to work with, lol.  I need more room.

In the past two years, as Granny's influence in my life decreased, and as Kay (Katie in real life) grew and graduated and flew away to make her own little nest, my vision of who and what I am has changed, too.  To be perfectly honest, I'm not where I thought I might be at this point in my life when I was looking ahead ten years ago, and I'm not even sure where I'm going at the moment.  There have been a number of things I thought were absolute givens that aren't.  And so here I am.  Me.

Twenty years after writing my last poem, I'm finding my poetic voice wants to be heard now and then once more.  I'm opening my heart and letting poetry out.    I want to stretch my focus beyond just the money matters of life and get down into the meaty heart of living in my writing.  I want to be who I am but also have room to continue to grow, moving beyond and into something more.  Does that sound reasonable?  Sensible?  Understandable?

So what does this mean?  It means I've been in prayer a lot lately.  Asking God what He wants me to do.  I've been waiting for an answer for a good while, watching as He subtracts things from my life and trying hard to see just what the path before looks like.  It is time to set Penny Ann Poundwise aside.  She's been a wonderful hostess, hasn't she?  But yes, it's true, it's time for her to bow out and retire. 

Not that I mean to stop writing.  Not at all.  Just that I won't be Penny Ann anymore.  I'll be me.  A real life woman with a heart for God and family and home and hearth.  A frugalite with a passion for living well.  An imperfect person trying to better myself.   A woman confounded by where she finds herself at mid-life, looking to find the path that has become overgrown.  So...Will you join me?  Will you come along and see where the journey takes me?  Are you willing to say so long to Penny Ann and hello to me?

If so, then please come join me.  Penny Ann posts will remain here for a time, but I'll no longer be posting.  I can't say just where I, myself, will end up, but I'd really love to have company along the way.

So...  Say goodbye to Penny Ann.  Say hello to me.
Still a bona fide homemaker, a country girl, a wife, mother, grandmother, member of the Bon Bon club, but not Penny Ann.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Make Do and Mend Mondays

Remember to visit Heidi at to link to the Make Do and Mend Mondays.

I've had a slow week or so here and I don't have much to show, but I did reuse two items.  The first photo shows an idea I borrowed from friend Tammy,
I thought it was brilliant when she showed it on her blog.  I didn't have an empty antique canning jar (so farmhouse cute!) to use but I did have this little jar and it works well enough. 

Second is my own idea.  I have been looking for my popsicle molds for a month.   I was convinced they were in the shed and looked and looked.  I have told you my shed is fairly organized and I can usually find things easily.  And it was until Alan's room mate moved and some of his things got put in my shed, then Kay bought furniture and more things got put in my shed and months of going in and sort of tossing things in general direction of where they are to go ensued.

So I went out this week to gather up what I thought was a big box of trash...Only it turned out to be a little bit of paper and empty boxes tossed on top of a box of things that had been set out and never sorted into proper areas.  There were my popsicle molds!  In they came to be washed.  Chance likes for me to wash items that will hold our foods in the dishwasher.  He believes the higher hot water temperature and the soap are better about removing germs than simply hand washing.  With the popsicle sticks though, how to keep them from being thrown all over the dishwasher and possibly into the bottom of the machine was a problem.  This was my solution:

I set the bag on the first shelf after fastening shut with a bread sack twist tie woven through the mesh.  It worked like a dream!  I felt clever for at least 30 seconds.

That's my 'make dos' for the week...What have YOU done?

Menu Monday: Finishing Up

Well here we are with just two days left in the ALL YOU grocery spending challenge.  Having just finished my dinner (frozen leftovers thawed while the freezer defrosted) and having just recently completed a new freezer inventory sheet and cleaned the chest freezer, I am more than ready to plan a week's meals.  I learned a good deal about my shopping and about how loosely planned meals here truly are.  I've always said the menu plan was a guideline to remind me what I have to use than an actual menu plan and I think looking at my challenge menus you'll find that statement is very true!
Monday:  Curried Chicken with Yellow Rice, Tomato and Cucumber salad, fresh peaches
No expense added to the month's challenge using these items...I defrosted the chicken and rice as I worked on the freezer, chopped the tomato and cucumber I had on hand.  Easy, good and quick.

Tuesday:  Pigs in Blankets, French Fries, Coleslaw
I'll mix up homemade biscuit dough (and cut out biscuits too while I'm at it) to wrap around the hot dogs (froze half a pack left after we ate them two weeks ago).  The sort of easy meal I'd like to come home to after the work of grocery shopping.

Wednesday:  Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings, Asian Style Noodles and Vegetable stir fry
Most all of these foods are on hand too, but I'll add a handful of fresh snow peas, a few pieces of fresh broccoli to the overall  mixture just for additional texture and vegetables.  I make my own version of a teriyaki sauce that is very good.  Leftover wings will go into freezer for a future meal.  I bought a big family pack and had to tip the wings myself, so I will cook them all at once.

Thursday:  Beef and Mushroom Pasta, Green Salad, Crusty Bread, Peach Melba
I've had this recipe lying out all month long.  Lasagna noodles are cooked and served with a sirloin cube and mushroom sauce...It's a fairly simple recipe and it looks delicious in the magazine photo...Will it live up to it's potential?  I sure hope so!

Friday:  day out for me
Promised Mama this day to have lunch with her, so no cook day for me.

Saturday:  Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches, Chips, Homemade Ice cream sandwiches
I can prepare this meal ahead from roast beef leftovers and we'll just heat when we come home from synagogue.  An easy enough meal, hearty enough to be lunch/supper.  Somehow we only seem to get two meals on Saturdays anymore so this will work beautifully for us.

Sunday:  Fried Chicken, Hash brown casserole, Fresh green beans, sliced tomatoes
I froze most of the chicken given to us last week, so I thought I'd thaw and reheat in the oven while the potato casserole cooks.  And if there are any peaches or nectarines left I might make a small cobbler and shove that in the oven at the same time too.  Provided it's not blisteringly hot come Sunday....In which case we'll have something entirely different, lol.

Grocery Challenge - Week IV

The last full week of the challenge (though I may need to add two days next week to make a full month) has not been difficult at all.  I've learned a great deal. 
1:  There are some things I need to stock up more heavily upon and some are just about right as they are. 
2:  Forgotten methods of trimming costs do return.
3:  We have far more food than I thought we had in the house. 

4:  I probably can trim my grocery budget by about 1/4 and we won't notice too much of a difference.  I've stayed in 'feed the family' mindset and there's only the two of us

5:We are frequently blessed with foodstuffs.  I listed our blessings for this past week in my Frugal Friday post for last week. 

6:We didn't 'suffer' for this week.  I just thought differently about what I was buying and the quantity I was used to buying.  We managed snacks and meals without privation.  We ate meat nearly every day of this challenge
Monday:  breakfast:  Scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, toasted Muffins, coffee
lunch:  Leftover Spaghetti, Toasted Bread, frozen lemonade
       supper:  *Steak, *Corn on the Cob, sliced tomatoes 

Eggs, muffins, and potatoes on hand from last week.  The entire meal at lunch was leftovers from the week before.  Between lunch and dinner, I went over to see Mama.  While out I stopped at the local grocery and picked up a variety of grocery items, which included sale priced steaks, corn on the cob, bread, milk, lettuce, cheddar and cold cuts. 

Tuesday:  breakfast:  Pancakes, *Sausage, syrup
lunch:  Veggie Cheese Pizzas, sodas
supper:  *Club Sandwich, Chips, pickle spears
I used pancake mix, the remnants of two bottles of syrup, one good maple, one good homemade with maple flavoring.  The sausages were bought on clearance at the start of this challenge and were in the freezer.  Lunch was Chance's treat to me.  He was very specific that this was his treat, coming out of his allowance and not to come from my challenge budget.  Wasn't that sweet?  Our supper consisted of leftover bacon, swiss, lettuce and Saturday's tomato purchase, pickles from fridge.  My sole purchase for this meal was the turkey coldcuts.

Wednesday:  breakfast:  Bagel and cream cheese, coffee
Dinner:  Fried chicken, Macaroni Salad
work lunch:  Cold Cut sandwich, grapes, Heirloom cherry tomatoes with blue cheese dressing,  *Hershey bar, water, soda, *peanuts
supper:  *Nachos with leftover mango salsa
Every item used was either frozen or pantry and purchased weeks ago, except the cheddar on the nachos and the other starred items.

Made a loaf of *banana bread this week, using up the leftover bananas from last week.  Discovered two broken eggs in this dozen...That is getting to be an old old story.  I check them carefully before purchase, the clerk at the checkout checks them...Is it the bag boy breaking them when handling them?  The last two eggs, so had to buy eggs when I went to see Mama, so I could finish banana bread.

Thursday:  breakfasts:  Fried eggs and toast (Chance)
1 slice banana bread and mango smoothie (me)
work lunch:  Fried chicken, macaroni salad, Banana bread, Celery stuffed with cream cheese, peanuts, soda, water
supper/lunch:  Freebies given to me:   pimento cheese sandwich, chicken breast, coleslaw

I felt too nervous to eat prior to the memorial service.  Instead I went without.  Mistake.  Made headache turn to sick migraine.  Yuck.  Came home from memorial service to lie down.  Alan brougt foods from Mama's: chicken, sweet potatoes, coleslaw, tomatoes, pimento cheese sandwiches.  He had as much stuff for himself as he gave me...

Friday:  breakfasts: peanut butter toast (Chance)
cereal with blueberries (me)
work lunch:  Cubed steak sandwiches, *wheat thins, carrot/celery sticks, oatmeal cookies, soda, water, peanuts, peaches/cottage cheese
dinner:  Tomato and Basil Mayo sandwich, lemonade
supper:  Burger, tomato slices, mac salad

Saturday:  breakfast:  Waffles, sausages
work lunch:  Pimento cheese sandwiches, chips, lemonade, peanut butter crackers, Lettuce and tomato salad with macaroni salad atop, oatmeal cookies 
dinner:  6inch Cold Cut Subway, chips, nectarine
supper: cereal

Sunday: breakfast: banana nut bread, coffee 
work lunch: pimento cheese sandwich, 6 inch cold cut Subway, chips, oatmeal cookies, nectarine
dinner:taco salad
supper: * french fries

My taco salad was made up of some leftover spaghetti sauce re-seasoned with cumin and chili powder to make a different dish from it.  I'd meant to make Calzones this week but simply didnt feel I wanted anything that tasted like pizza.    Note that supper was a single item.  My salad at lunch was pretty substantial.  The meat sauce was made with lots of vegetables and I added tomatoes, lettuce aplenty.  I wasn't terribly hungry come supper time but wanted something.  Frozen fries heated as oven fries suited me, kept it lower in fat and hit the spot.

*foods purchased
Steaks  $7.91
5 ears corn  $1.99~with leftovers
Turkey coldcut packet  $3.89
     Lettuce   $1.69
bread  $2.99
milk  $3.99     
             cheddar  $4.19
18 large eggs  $2.29
sausages $1.99~with leftovers
peanuts $1.99
Hershey bars:  $3.00
Carrots 1#  $.69
bagels $1.00
2 6-packs soda $6.66
wheat thins  $1
bugles: $3
Subway sandwich $5
Chips $3
local nectarines and Peaches $5
frozen french fries $3.99            

I ended this week with leftovers of every single item on my above list except steak and the Subway sandwich.  These foods will easily carry me through the final two days challenge without adding any further costs to my month, in addition to pantry/freezer items on hand when the challenge began.  I feel the challenge was a success and while I cannot show cash as savings, I do have more full pantry shelves and as much meat in my freezer as when I started so I deem the month over all a success.
Average of spending over 4 weeks: $51.64 per week.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

The week has been pretty much blurry as far as I'm concerned, but there were savings all the same.  I just need to count down the days in my mind and perhaps I'll remember most of them...

Saturday:  I made an easy on me breakfast before we left home, earlier than usual:  Scrambled eggs and warmed over muffins, leftover from yesterday's baking session. 

Took bottles of water with us to drink, instead of buying sodas.

We were treated to dinner out.  The Mexican restaurant had a table filled with fresh produce and some of the biggest, most beautiful ripe tomatoes.  We bought a basket of the tomatoes, shared with friends and still had four huge tomatoes.  Cost was $4 and well worth it, let me assure you.  We made supper of BLT's off those tomatoes.

When I cooked the turkey bacon, I prepared extra.  I always fill the pan right up and bake all at once each time I turn on the oven.  I find it takes just 30 seconds in the microwave to reheat and is well worth the energy savings.

Purchasing those tomatoes and planning to have BLT's tossed our plans for supper out the window:  I'd meant to stop for a Subway sandwich for us.  We saved money and had tomatoes aplenty leftover.

We made sure to turn AC up to 79F before leaving home that morning. 

Sunday:  Mama woke me up earlier than I'd meant to get up on Saturday.  I got on up and went to make coffee, feed the dogs.  Maddie, nor the cat finished their food, so I poured back into the container to save from ants.

Made up a big pot of spaghetti, using the last zucchini, grated carrot (last in a bag), chopped onion (leftovers from fridge), a jar of pasta sauce (leftover from fridge), tomato paste and cooked hamburger.  I had nearly 1 quart of sauce left and as much pasta, too. 

We went into town to be with family...Again I'd mentioned going to Subway but we came home to thawed and reheated Chicken Rice instead.

Bought Sunday paper while we were out for the Proctor and Gamble coupons.

Poured unfinished water glasses and bottles into a pitcher to save to water plants.

Chance washed and hung to dry a full load of clothes.

We turned up AC to 77F.

I don't think we turned on TV at all that day...

Monday:  I washed a mixed load of towels and sheets. Meant to hang on line but gully washer of a rain roared out of nowhere and poured...I dried sheets first, and then put towels into warm dryer so they dried more quickly.

Reheated leftovers for our midday meal after meats taken from freezer didn't thaw.

It felt like a treat but was really just a clever makeover: lemonade, juice from a maraschino cherry jar, ice cubes equals frozen pink lemonade.  Nice.

Went into town and stopped at grocery on my way home, buying milk, bread and good sales items...and yes the produce was bought locally, it looked very nice this week!  Lettuce, corn...yum.  If I had corn I had to cruise the meat aisle to look for steaks too.  They were sale priced and very affordable for just two.

We cooked only the amount of corn we wanted for supper.  I wrapped the other two ears and put in the freezer.   Did you know you can bake, grill or microwave fresh corn in it's husks?  The silks peel right off with the husks when you shuck the corn.

Saved water corn cooked in and added to pitcher of saved water on counter.  Watered potted plants on front porch with that vitamin rich water.

Tuesday:   Chance suggested we order new shredder online.  I agreed if the cost was lower than the one I'd priced at Bed Bath and Beyond plus what it would cost us for gasoline to go pick one up.  None to be had, so we drove to WR...And discovered the shredders were sale priced this week.  We spent $14 less than I'd anticipated spending on the previously priced shredder.

Chance wanted to go into Kohl's (next door to BB&B) so I could look for new sandals.  Mine from last year have worn out...No shoes that I liked in my size available.  We did however for a TALL shirt for him which had the length he needs for his long torso.  It was half priced, cost no more than I'd expected to spend on sandals.

Chance treated me to lunch out.  He reads my blog and knows all about the challenge. "This is my treat to you.  Not to be counted into your food budget..."  Yes sir!  And thank you very much!

We stopped and filled the car on our way home.  We continue to go with that medium grade gasoline because our mileage has improved so much using it.

Having eaten lunch out, I scratched Subway off my list permanently for this week, lol.  We had Club sandwiches, using up the extra bacon I cooked on Saturday.

Wednesday:  Turned up AC immediately upon rising at 5:45am.

Made Banana nut bread from two over ripe bananas.  Tossed in a handful of mini cinnamon chips for extra goodness.

Fed two cracked eggs to dogs after checking to make sure they smelled okay.

Had a cooking marathon.  I cooked sausages ahead for weekend breakfasts, fried cubed steaks and chicken breasts thawed on Tuesday morning, made up a big batch of macaroni salad.  I doubled the batch of macaroni salad, so I can add a can of tuna later in the week to make lunch/dinner for us.

Turned on vent to draw hot air and grease out of house while I cooked.

Had to go into town, took off trash, visited Mama, picked up mail,  bought eggs and Tylenol.  I made the trip out count.


On the receiving end today.  I got 7 pcs fried chicken, five pimento cheese sandwiches, a bag of sweet potatoes, two tomatoes, a pint of coleslaw and a floral arrangement.  Lots of stuff...

Not feeling well, I took it easy.  Packed Chance's lunch using pre-cooked meat.

Froze chicken, used sandwiches for supper and work lunch.  Potatoes and tomatoes good for a few days more. 

Thawed and baked oatmeal cookie dough for sweet treats.

Chance washed a load of clothes, as a medium load, being sure to turn water levels down.  He only partially dried them in the dryer, then hung to finish drying.

Friday:  Turned up AC.

Poured food Maddie left into bucket.  She is very inconsistent in the amounts she eats these days so I can never measure it correctly.  I can however, stay right there with her and when she is obviously done eating, take up the leftovers to put back into the food bucket.

Filled dishwasher and washed a full load. 

While running water to preheat for dishwasher, I rinsed dishes, and then, when it turned warm, I filled the sink to wash the few dishes I needed to do by hand.

Washed zippered bags to reuse.  I seldom mention doing this but I still do it consistently.  We've discovered the savings is worthwhile. I do not reuse bags which contain meat, cooked or uncooked.

Poured up leftover water from last night's bottles into the pitcher to save towards watering plants.

Pinched back basil and petunias pretty hard.  Yes, it looks 'bad' at the moment but the pay off will be new growth and renewed vigor.

Disassembled that 'free' flower arrangement and created three bouquets for the house.  I used the last of last pay period's $4 purchase to fluff out one of the three.

Packed two pimento sandwiches in Chance's lunch for tomorrow.

Used plastic bags from purchases the other day to line waste baskets.

Shredder box saved to use to pack up dishes that are moving out.

Combined mailings to family members.  All packaged and ready to mail tomorrow morning on my way to synagogue.

Decided rest was in order when I found myself feeling bad this morning.  It's a great cure all and often will kick start the immune system so no medicine or doctor visit is needed.

Froze leftover spaghetti sauce for a future makeover meal.

Stopped to consider the grocery challenge and how it's worked for us thus far.  Truth time: I see where easy savings may be made here and there without a compromise of quality in eating.  I won't be trimming our budget to $50/week on foodstuffs but we'll not be spending close to $100 a week anymore on foods, personal care, pet and paper products either.  I think challenges like this periodically can really jolt you awake after you've slipped into a routine.  It's good to polish up the frugal ninja kitchen skills ;-P
Living Well

Comfort.  We all need a little now and then.  There are good ways to self-comfort and bad and I think I've learned the difference over the years.  After living as a compulsive eater for 20 years, to be free from that habit these last 20 years is bliss.  There are certain foods I will not buy and bring into my home and on the rare occasion when they are eaten a very strictly limited quantity is all that may be consumed.  Those are bad comforters.    But little things like a favorite coffee cup, a tattered old quilt to wrap oneself in, a certain perfume that you spritz on only when feeling bad...Those are good comforters that do no damage.

I needed a wee bit of comforting this week.  It's not been a grievous week though some think it so.  No, not grievous, but hard.  It's hard to deal with family at the best of times and sometimes hard things bring out bad qualities in others.  It's been tiring with little good solid rest.  I've been fighting off some minor ailment for two weeks now.  Not ill, just not quite up to my usual spunky busy self.  I had a lot on my heart.  So I wrote in my journal for hours several days.  I talked to Chance.  I spoke to my kids. I played  mindless computer games while I thought things out and sorted out the tangles of complicated relationship issues. I took coffee on the front porch and remembered sweet days past.  I cooked loads and stored it for later and felt wealthy for the good meals in the freezer.  I indulged in harmless treats: fresh mango and homemade yogurt smoothie as breakfast one morning, hot coffee mid afternoon because I wanted it, not anyone else, a frozen lemonade (just ice cubes and a cup of lemonade from a carton).  Out of the ordinary, not something I'd do every day sort of beverage treats.

Today's indulgence is resting.  I managed housework earlier today.  As I told Chance, we've not lived hard in the house this week so it was relatively easy to clean.  But I did feel bad and snuggling in my chair with a good book sounds just the sort of comfort I need at the moment.  It's a Shabbat activity that I'm allowing myself to indulge in on Friday instead and it feels nice.  And maybe a cup of hot cocoa even if it is full blown summer. Because that sounds cozy and nice too...

Comfort.  That's what I need and how wonderful to have healthy ways to indulge.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grocery Challenge - $25/Week per person, Week III

Another week...How did I do?  Only one more to go after this week.  I'm curious to see how my month stacks up!

Monday:  Breakfast: Toast and Eggs for Chance, nothing for me.  I opted for coffee, using canned evaporated milk from pantry in my coffee since I was out of half and half.

Lunch: Chance had Chicken sandwiches made from the chicken I brought home after lunch out with Mama on Sunday.  I had nachos using the last Roma tomato, a bit of the avocado and chips bought two weeks ago.  All items for this meal were leftovers from last weeks food purchases.

Supper: Homemade burgers*, Homemade buns.  Made enough to go into Chance's work lunch for tomorrow.  I had a soda with my burgers, from 6pk bought on sale a month ago.

Tuesday:  Peanut butter toast for Chance and myself, coffee for both of us.
                  lunch:  I bought *chicken fingers, fries and soda while out shopping...only my dinner wasn't what I ordered, I ended up with buffalo fingers instead.  Saved 2/3 of those for use as a Buffalo Chicken Salad later this week (enough to serve 2).  I counted this as groceries since I used grocery money to buy it and since I'll get three servings from it, I'm not minding so much counting it in.
                  supper:  *Frozen pizza, had enough left for another night's supper.
Chose to try the store brand rising crust pizza, which cost a good $1.50 less than the popular brand pizza.

Wednesday:  Breakfast:  cereal with *berries, toast, coffee
                       Dinner:  Chicken Parmigiana, *Saladw/* Blue Cheese dressing Garlic Toast, Brownies
                       Supper: Reheated pizza
Bought blueberries and strawberries this week. Won't use all the strawberries (will put some in the freezer) but plan to use all the blueberries as I want to make muffins for breakfast.

Thursday:  Breakfast:  French Toast and *Turkey Bacon
                    Dinner:  Cheesy Corn Enchiladas, *Fried Green Tomatoes, *Green Salad with *Mango Salsa
                    Supper:  *Hot Dogs, Coleslaw

Friday:  Breakfast:  Cheese Eggs, Toast
               Dinner/worklunch:  Buffalo Chicken Salads, Strawberry Smoothie
               Supper:  Berry Muffins and Coffee
I ate such a late lunch (after 2:30) that I wanted something lighter for supper.  I thought I'd make berry muffins since I had both blueberries and strawberries in good supply.  I didn't purchase any of the baking items especially, they were all from the pantry and freezer except the eggs and berries.

Saturday:  Breakfast: Turkey bacon, Eggs, Muffins
                   Dinner: out with synagogue group
                   Supper: Turkey bacon, lettuce, *tomato sandwiches
We were taken out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and they had lovely baskets of the most beautiful BIG ripe tomatoes. Chance and I agreed that we had to have a basket and we'd make BLT's for supper even though we were about to eat dinner, lol.  We finished off the last bits of the package of turkey bacon, the last of the first loaf of bread and we're nibbling on the last of the lettuce leaves at this point.  But hey!  We've got tomatoes! lol

Sunday:  Breakfast:  Cereal with Banana, Toast
                Dinner:  Spaghetti with Garden Vegetable Sauce, French bread
                Supper:  Chicken Rice with Saltines, Fruit and Cheese
I used up the last of the old bag of carrots, the last zucchini and some onion from the fridge, a bit of bell pepper from the freezer and added to a partially used jar of pasta sauce that had been in the fridge.  I added some ground sirloin.  I'll have leftovers of spaghetti meat sauce and will use that in next week's menu.
The Chicken Rice is from the batch made two weeks ago and frozen.  I expect these leftovers will morph into a second dish as well.

Groceries for this week's meal:
2 pounds of ground sirloin           $5.98
Takeout lunch                           $10.59
frozen Pizza                                 $3.49
lettuce                                         $1.69
Blue Cheese dressing                 $1.70
Blueberries                                 $2.00
Strawberries                               $1.98
Turkey Bacon                            $2.99
Mango                                       $1
lime                                              $.20
jalapeno pepper                           $.29
Red bell pepper                         $1.66
Green Tomato                           $1.50
Hot dogs                                    $1.50
2 loaves bread                           $3.00
1 gallon milk                             $2.68
1/2 1/2                                       $1.85
Tomatoes, BIG                         $4.00
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes      $1.50
Meyer lemon                             $. 33 

Menu Monday - Carrying On

I've said before and I'll likely say again, The world can be coming to an end, but someone wants to know "What's for supper?" just the same!  Well the world hasn't ended, the heart is only a little sore, and life does indeed go on.  Menu plans for the week follow.

Monday:  BBQ Chicken, Potatoes au Gratin, Garden Pea Salad, Sliced Tomatoes
We hadn't made any big plans for today and I'm glad we didn't.  A simple meal at home will suit me  best today.

Tuesday:  Calzones, Green Salad
Leftover spaghetti sauce will make an easy dinner for today.  I'll make up half a batch of pizza dough.

Wednesday:  Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes, Crackers, Grapes
Hot weather, busy days require easier meals.  This one will go equally well into the work lunch.

Thursday:   Cubed Steaks, Squash Casserole, Potatoes with Green Beans
With fresh produce abounding, it's nice to return to meals such as I ate in childhood.  The table burgeoned with fresh prepared produce then.

Friday:  Sloppy Joes, Buns, Chips, Coleslaw
I'll 'stretch' the sloppy joe meat with lots of addtional vegetables.  I learned this trick from a Weight Watcher's cookbook and it truly is a tasty meal. 

Saturday:  Pasta with Ricotta and Tomato, Green Salad, Fresh Baked Bread
I found a recipe on one of the Brands (can't remember which one) sites for an easy and delicious sounding pasta dish.  It's 1/4 cup butter mixed with 1 cup ricotta and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 diced tomato, 2 tbsps fresh juliened basil, and 8 ounces hot, cooked Fettucini pasta.  Mix and serve.

Sunday: Leftovers
The challenge is very nearly at an end, and I want to use all the foods left from this week's meals.  I am sure there will be a few things that will need to be used.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Heartfelt Thank You

                                                                     Miriam H. Eubanks
                                                              Nov. 13, 1917 - July 3, 2011

Thank you all so much for your loving support and continued kindnesses in asking about Granny over the past three years.  This morning she died in her sleep.  I shall miss her greatly for the time I have remaning in this life, but I am assured I shall see her again in the next.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bringing Back an Old Fashioned Summer - Water Fun

Remember the agony/thrill of going to buy a bathing suit each year?  How some looked super cute but for some reason only the ugly ones came in your size, sigh?  Many a summer we looked for suits for the girls and would find the perfect top but no bottom to match, ack!  Agony and such it was.  But I love love love the vintage bathing suits....Well maybe not the one on the above left...but what about these?

Do you remember your most favorite suit?  Mine was turquoise with a white pinstripe at the bustline and up the straps...And then there was the sweetest little fuschia ruffled bottom one I bought for Susan...

Summers were also given to watching Esther Willams films...Oh to have swimmed like the Olympic star and had glamorous bathing suits like hers!

Now just for fun, a bit of price comparison.  Recently I noted a bathing suit that was just two pieces and retailed for around $160.  Yikes!  Look at what a bathing suit cost, once upon a time:

I won't show off the modern day suits, though some are cute as can be and some are just barely there, lol.  But let's look at a few bathing suits from the long ago past:
These suits put me in mind of the 'gymsuits' we had to wear at P.E.

I'm sorry... all that comes to mind is that she borrowed someone's long johns...

Hmmmm...Men and women seem to be wearing about the same length suits in this photo.

Chance took a long look at this photo when I found the image.  His comment was that girls seemed to be 'healthier' back then.  Kind of refreshing to see isn't it?

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Saturday:  First the blessing...I'd told Chance on the phone that I'd wanted to have a baking day yesterday but didn't have enough eggs to make up the multiple batches of cookie dough I'd planned to make.  His co-worker came in that evening and brought him a dozen home raised eggs.  I told Chance it's like receiving liquid gold!

Synagogue and a late afternoon.  I debated a dozen different takeout meals, but I just came home instead.  I had plenty of potato salad, fried chicken fillets and lemonade here at home.  I made a pan of biscuits, setting most of the pan aside for tomorrow morning's breakfast.

Used whey from the homemade yogurt to make the biscuits, instead of using milk.

Sunday:  Washed and hung outdoors to dry, a mixed load of sheets and towels. 

My plans changed.  I'd meant to go buy a few produce items, visit Granny,etc.  Instead I went out to eat with Mama. My only expense for the day was leaving the tip for the meal and buying a Sunday paper.

Brought home half my entree to make into sandwiches for Chance's work lunch.

Following my promise to myself, I watched my Netflix film instead of sending it back unopened.

Since I didn't go to the store, I fed the dogs a cup of catfood for their evening portion.  Trudy thinks cat food is a huge treat (the cat however, does not feel the same about dog food!).  I vowed to try hard to stay out of the grocery until Tuesday, regular shopping day.

Didn't eat supper, I simply never got hungry.  I added a bit of yogurt to my evening milk, so I wouldn't wake hungry  in the middle of the night.

Monday:  Started work right away this morning, cleaning house.  Then I made out shopping lists based upon ALL the items on sale we normally use.  I checked coupons against sales then added up totals for each store.  Then began the elimination process...I left some items that were especially good buys off the list simply to save money, but I also left some to stock up pantry and freezer.  I felt satisfied at day's end that the effort I put into making my lists and then rewriting them neatly so that I could easily read them was going to pay off in maximum savings tomorrow.

Did a marathon baking session.  Determination not to go to the grocery store meant I had to have bread for breakfast in the morning and for tomorrow's work lunch as well.  I mixed up Rhonda's Grandpa's bread and formed into two loaves and half a dozen buns.  I also mixed up three recipes of cookie dough.  One of chocolate chip (baked some and put the rest of the dough into the freezer), oatmeal (freezer only) and half a recipe of caramel cookie dough (freezer only).  Now I have cookie dough on hand for those days when we want a little something extra.

Used the homemade buns and hamburgers to fill three of them (my supper, Chance's lunch).  Ate one small roll for snack and then put two in the freezer to use for sandwiches another day.

Tuesday:  I used my eyes and imagination to 'see' something I found at the dumpsters in a different way.  It's on my project list for July/August and I'll show the end results then...First I had to have help getting it home.  My brother happened along with his truck and I told him why I wanted the piece.  He's a carpenter, looked it over, nodded, loaded it into his truck and brought it to my house for me.  Love that my brother could see what I saw, otherwise I might have had to argue to get my way, lol. 

Reviewed my shopping list before walking into each store to remind myself just what I meant to buy.  This was very helpful in keeping impulse purchases at bay.  It also allowed me to check prices against other stores to make sure I was getting the best buys.

Not on my list but I picked up a cute gift for my step grand daughter.  I'd meant to shop for her later in the week but when I found this item I felt sure she'd like it.   I'm saved a trip out later this week.

Limited my flower purchase to $4 this week.

Stopped for takeout lunch on my way home.  I ordered Chicken Fingers.  The girl repeated the order to me when I got to the window.  Halfway home I realized I smelled Buffalo Fingers...I decided to make the best of what I had.  I'd intended to leave half the chicken for Chance's evening meal but instead, I left 2/3 of the fingers to make a Buffalo Salad for our noon meal one day.

Came home earlier than planned, leaving off at least three stores.  I  was tired, hungry, not feeling well and realized I had about as much as I could reasonably store in the freezers and fridge.  I came home with money in my pockets. I plan to go later over the weekend and buy more milk and produce.

Because I felt so bad, I decided to lie down after putting away the cold things.  I am a huge believer in resting when the body is ailing. 

Chance brought home four Coke points rewards from boxes used to restock work fridge.

Wednesday:  I not only went to bed early last night but slept in this morning.  I took extra Vitamin C and zinc as well to offset any illness trying to take hold.

Breakfast was easy: cereal with fresh berries.  I had both blueberries and strawberries on my cereal, doubling up on the vitamin C there too.

Pulled one of the frozen entrees (Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti) from the freezer for our meal.  Added garlic bread and salad to the entree.  Used leftovers for our supper this evening.

Made only half the usual amount of coffee midday, so there were no leftovers to be poured out.

Used two cans of paint already on hand to test and see if I'd like either as an alternative on the cafe set.  Decided blue is definitely the way to go...I

Used Swagbucks earned to buy two gift cards.

Ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher as soon as I got up.  I opened the door and let the dishes air dry.

Following a friend's example on her blog, I used a little jar I already had to store my dishwasher detergent tabs.  I like having them handy on the counter, love using what I already had to make something more accessible.

Refilled plastic bottles to use for roadtrips and working outdoors.

Allowed myself another early night to bed, along with more Vitamin C and zinc.  I'm determined to beat this ailment before it becomes a nasty complaint!

Thursday:  Awoke early and felt just fine.  I do believe all that prayer, rest, Vitamin C and zinc has done it's job.  I'll take more today just to insure I am fully over the ailment.

Made French toast using homemade loaf bread. 

Cooked a pan full of bacon, instead of just enough for one meal.  The extra bacon will be used for breakfast or for sandwiches later in the weekend.

Today's lunch entree was a Leftover Makeover meal I'd partially prepared last week and put in the freezer.  It also happened to be a meatless entree (further savings).  It's Called Cheese Corn Enchiladas and was quite tasty.  Will be posting on PennyRecipes today.

I made up a batch of Rhonda's Enchilada sauce to go over the Cheesy Corn Enchiladas.  The recipe called for 1 can of store bought but one recipe of Rhonda's sauce made up more than enough for this recipe and left me with nearly 20 ounces of sauce leftover.  It cost less to make three times as much sauce than buying one 10 oz can of storebought.

Serving suggestions on recipe said to serve with salsa...I had none fresh and didn't want to open a big jar just for one small dollop each.  I used half a mango and made a small batch of mango salsa which was excellent over torn lettuce and added a nice side dish to the meal.

Packed Chance's work lunch.  He got a salad using some of that Buffalo chicken.  I'll have the same thing for my lunch tomorrow, too.

Friday:  That shredder that Chance fixed two weeks ago has worked just fine...until this morning.  Alas the shredder is now dead but how nice we were able to use it for two full weeks before it gave up for good.

Watered front porch plants with water saved over the last few days from unfinished bottles.

Poured Maddie's food back into the food can after she decided she'd had more than enough.  I think my girly is being picky...I didn't buy the usual food because this stuff was a well known brand and on sale $5 cheaper than their usual stuff.  Doesn't bother Trudy in the least, but Maddie is not so keen on it.  Oh well.  Only 16#s more to go...

Went to the library to choose new reading materials.

Turned off AC and rode with windows down through the heavy traffic in town.  It was hot, the traffic was murderous and took forever to travel a mere 10 miles but the car had the rest while stopping and starting traffic was the rule.  As soon as I hit open highway though, that AC went ON!

Refused to stop at any number of places to buy a cold drink or a luncheon entree.

Had a buffalo chicken salad for my late lunch.  Treated myself to a homemade strawberry 'shake' using ice cubes, fresh berries and milk.

Happy Happy Happy!  The coral rose is putting out tiny new branches since the heavy rain of Monday.  That's the bush we dug up because it had gotten so big it was tearing my window screens.  I followed the advice of a friend's friend who is a landscape artist and she sent word to cut it right back to the ground before digging up and then replant. 

The small rose that I rooted from a twig has proven to be a coral rose as well.  I've doubled my pleasure of that lovely rose.  Oh my!  I'll have loads of blossoms for bouquets now.

Didn't buy sandwich meats this past week nor large meat cuts either to use as sandwich fillers.  I've pulled out my old cookbook and will make a tuna salad filling, pimento cheese filling and a cream cheese filling (maybe on that one).  That will give us plenty of sandwich makings.

Living Well

This past week has been bittersweet in so many ways.  Remembering the fun we had in summer brings back many memories of the time we spent here on the farm with Granny.  She has been the bestest of Grannies ever and the dearest of friends for many years beyond childhood.  With Mama's news on Sunday that we are drawing near the last days with her, I've avoided going to visit.  I don't want to remember her lying in bed asleep, wasting away. I will go, I will, in the next few days when I'm feeling braver, but I want more than anything to remember her as I knew her: feisty, strong, sensible, fun, feminine and tomboyish, wise, comfortable, generous, giving, sassy, determined, warm...Oh there aren't enough descriptions to match all her fine qualities!

Bittersweet, but sweet have been the memories:  Teaching me to sing when I was no older than Lily, teaching me to live a faith filled spiritual life, without boxing me in with religion and legalism.  Encouraging me to read by providing good books and being generous in lending them to me.  She taught me to 'hear' poetry and to read poetry and to see poetry all about me.  Teaching me the names of native plants and how to forage for wild foods, and how to look for signs of animal life.  Teaching us to rely upon imagination for fun and letting us be free to do as we'd imagined.  She gave all of us the only bits of carefree childhood we were to know.

She taught me that when you love someone you love them just as much when they are the least likable.  And she taught me to love friends and family hard enough they could feel it through the hurting.  She taught me thrift and 'make do' and the pleasure of spending on good perfume, beautiful dishes and well loved books.  She taught me to take time out of being busy and just plain listen.  She taught me the wonder of giving time to those most in need of it. She taught me to watch people and see their character, not just their clothes or their car or their dirty hands... There's no room really for all the many lessons I learned from her.

This morning I sat on the front porch with Maddie as she ate and listened to the sounds of the fox yipping in the field for her kits and to the birds singing.  Far off someone began to whistle as they worked in the yard and my eyes filled with tears for Granny always did the same.  What a joy, it was to wake in the mornings to hear her whistling as she puttered about the kitchen making breakfast when we were children.  What a joy as a woman to stand on my porch and hear her whistling as she worked about her yard.  How I miss her!  How I shall always miss her!  But oh, thank you Lord, thank you for allowing me to have her for so very long!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bringing Back an Old Fashioned Summer - Water Fun

Going to the pool was great fun, but Granny could only take all seven of us grandkids for about 2 weeks maximum.  I'm sure she was quite insane to hold out that long, lol...

And so we'd return home.  We missed the water fun we'd been having, and though Daddy kept at least one or two rooms cool in our home, we were kids.  We wanted to be outside.  Outside was hot.  We learned to 'make do' as so many other kids did: the sprinkler to the rescue.

I can't find an image that is like the sprinkler we had.  We hooked the water hose to it, and the water moved from side to side, unlike the one above which rotates water, but it was effective in allowing us to get good and soaking wet.  Our water was well water and plenty cold, guaranteed to cool us off to the point of feeling shivery.  We played games: race the water meant we ran from one side of the sprinkler to the other to insure we were in the water each time it moved to a new location.  We also played 'jump the sprinkler' and it was always a matter of great laughter when one of us jumped just as the water was coming straight up from the sprinkler. 

We kept a sprinkler all through the growing up years for the children, not to water the lawn.  For less than $5 we provided an hour of fun on those days when the temperature peaked above 100F and the kids (and the lawn) seemed to appreciate the watering they all got.

I love the sprinkler that friend Tammy's husband made for the children to play under...You can see it here:

Honestly, I'm tempted to go out and get a sprinkler and one of these hot days just go out and play for awhile...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homemaking 101: Home Economics

While I shared the economies I employed  furnishing my home in our last post, the truth is that home economics is far, far more detailed than simply furnishing the home.  People live in the home and must be fed and clothed and cared for.  Furnishings and appliances must be bought and maintained.  Food must be prepared and preserved.  The economics of home reaches far.  It extends to our vehicles, gardens, yards.  How well we manage our income and use it to increase the quality of life in the home is truly the economy of the home.

The Bible is a great instruction manual in many ways and I find it especially so in Proverbs where mention is often made of good stewardship of the things we own.  Just this morning I read a passage from Proverbs 27:23-27:
Take care to know the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.  For wealth doesn't last forever, neither does a crown through all generations.  When the hay has been mown, and the new grass appears, and the mountain greens have been gathered; the lambs will provide your clothing, the goats will sell for enough to buy a field, and there will be enough goat's milk to {buy} food for you and your household and maintenance for your servant-girls.

Certainly this passage is meant for the farmer/shepherd but it applies to the home as well, for if we take good care of what we have, we might well increase it's value, save money and reap the benefits of ownership.

A few years ago I began to avidly read appliance manuals for different items in my home.  What an eye opener!  Even though the label on the dishwasher told me one thing, the manual made it quite plain that someone had not been paying attention when that label was printed!  The drying agent needed to be replaced about once a month, not once a year as the label directed. 

I learned to clean my washing machine, discovered another appliance had multiple uses besides the only one I thought it had, and more about all my appliances than I thought possible.  So find the manuals for your appliances and read them.  You'll be surprised how many little problems you can solve on your own with the troubleshooting guides, how to properly clean them and just good general tips that will save you money.

Learning basic skills can increase the economy of the home.  Gardening will extend your fresh food supply. If you don't have the room to garden (and even the smallest plot may indeed produce a bit of food), foraging might be something you'd want to look into.  Growing up there were large gardens owned by most of the family and nearly all had fruit trees as well.  That did not however keep my family from foraging.  Grandmama often foraged for greens in the spring months and she enjoyed a Poke Salad made from a common weed, as well as Dandelion greens, sorrel and a few others.  Granny foraged for wild blueberries, plums, blackberries, scuppernongs, muscadines...Canning and freezing the surplus whether from a garden or an in season special from the grocery can give you savings all year round.    Baking goodies for your family will help the grocery budget and if you care to really work at it might become an occasional earning outlet as well. 

Learning to sew a basic straight seam and hand mending can be very helpful for maintaining soft furnishings and clothes. Learning to sew more extensively can not only beautify your home, but help you to make your own wardrobe and perhaps bring in a little extra income. Basic upholstery skills can transform yard sale and thrift store furniture into beautiful unique finds for your home. 

Caring for the sick in your family is home economy, too.  Recognizing when to call a doctor and when to doctor at home is a huge budget help.  Learn to use over the counter medicines properly or choose to learn all about herbal and holistic methods of dealing with illness.  Either will be beneficial to the family.  Basic first aid skills can save a huge ER bill for a minor injury.  When I worked at the hospital the basic cost of items was marked up 200%.  That meant that a patient paid as much for a single band aid as he could have spent buying a box of 100 at the drugstore and applying it himself!   It also meant a common cold could cost as much as $400 for the ER visit and a dose of cough medicine that might have been bought over the counter for a mere $6.

Often the woman of the house is the main economist in the home.  She should know how to effectively run and maintain most of the items within it, especially if she is a full time homemaker.  Laundry, food preparation, storage and preservation, maintaining appliances, cleaning upholstery and carpets, gardening, basic nursing, basic cleaning...Well it's a lot of work!  However, a wise economist plays on the strengths of the family at large to keep things going.  We used to joke about how each child in our household fulfilled a need.  Doug was a whiz at repairing electronic items.  Alan is the best shade tree mechanic we know.  Susan had a real knack for knowing how and when to nurse an ailing pet.  Kay was our go to person for pinch hitting when the head chef ailed (that would have been me, lol), and she was most definitely the head Tech geek in our household. The truth is that simply by paying attention to the strengths of each family member we were able to benefit the whole family and the economy of the household remained intact.  I was a whiz at pinching pennies, but Chance had the head for stretching the dollars, so we played on each other's strengths to make sure our money went as far as possible. 

The wonderful thing about home economy is that every one living in the home has the opportunity to learn by example.  Chance taught Doug to do basic locksmith work, Kay learned to cook by standing at my side in the kitchen and how to do maintenance on her car from sticking close to Alan's side when he changed oil and such.  I've learned more about how to maintain cash flow from Chance than I learned in the 35 years before I met him.

In my early homemaking days most of my knowledge was gleaned from books borrowed from the library but these days with internet we have opportunity to literally have knowledge at our fingertips.  I am continually amazed and blessed by the internet and the information I can find.  "How to:" instructions abound, as do photo tutorials, YouTube demonstrations etc.  There are product reviews, recipes, money saving tips, repair manuals and so much more available to help the home owner and the Homemaker to become more proficient.  I can't name the number of times in the past year Chance has used the internet to discover the underlying mechanical problem with one of our vehicles, bought parts, and then replaced it himself simply because he'd watched the video showing how to do it. 

One of the better economies is recognizing when expert help is needed. I've known many who failed to be good stewards because they insisted on doing jobs themselves that were too far out of their realm of knowledge. Oh my! By all means, know your limitations. It's all fine and well to continue to grow your knowledge but for goodness sake, don't try to do jobs that are far beyond your skill. You may find that the final cost for a repair is doubled or even tripled.  And sometimes we can learn a thing or two just by standing near as these experts make a repair.  When Alan broke the door off the new dryer, I didn't have a clue how to fix it.  Watching the repairman was well worth the $65 it cost to have him fix it, because the next time the door was broken, I repaired it myself!

Home Economics...It's all about learning to run our homes as efficiently and well as possible while creating the cozy comforts of home.

Bringing Back an Old Fashioned Summer - Water Fun

Water fun and summer just go hand in hand.  Nothing feels better than a lovely swim on a hot summer's day does it?    Growing up we had a funny sort of relationship with water.  You see Daddy was afraid of water and worried incessantly over us.  Granny and Grandaddy thought nothing of spending entire weekends camping at the river and letting us paddle about in shallow water off the sandbar where they camped, but Daddy's nervousness soon ended that. 

Granny got around Daddy's fear by enrolling all 7 of us grandkids (my four cousins were included) in swimming lessons.  She'd spend hours on end at the pool watching us swim.  There was  a sheltered area and Granny sat in the shade with her book in hand, scanning over the pool periodically to see where each of us was (usually we were all pretty near one another). 

I think Daddy reconciled himself to the idea of us in water after the lessons though he never completely lost his fear.  One of my last teen memories of swimming took place in a rather nicely built pond.  It had a nice sandy bottom and was only about five and half feet deep.  Daddy went with us into the water that particular time, which is why it's so memorable. 

I remember paddling away and suddenly hearing a high pitched little scream...Turns out the pond also had fish and Daddy standing still in the water made them curious so they'd swim up to him and test this still item by touching their mouths to his legs, lol.  Oh we had the best fun with Daddy and he finally was completely unnerved by fishy curiosity and got out of the water.

When I was living in the old railroad foreman's cottage with my first husband, we had no air conditioning and few of the ancient windows could be opened, so it was hot hot hot.  Daytime the children and I lived for noon when the private pool club opened in the next small town.  It was a small pool fed by an artesian well and oh that water was icy cold, so cold it burned the skin when you first slipped in.  I suspect the 100F temperatures is the only thing that made that water bearable at all.  Had we lived in a milder climate we'd never have been able to get into the water at all. 

The children and I thoroughly enjoyed that water and often passed the evening in our stuffy hot house quite comfortably because our bodies were so thoroughly chilled by the hours spent in the water.

Fond memories of summers in the water...and that's just the beginning of the memories.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coffee Chat - Rain, glorious rain

Come on in!  There's coffee, cookies, iced water, strawberries...something for everyone this evening, I think.

I've been so busy my head spins thinking of it all.    It's hard to believe it's been nearly two weeks since our last visit.  The days have flown by, really they have, and I've flown right along with them.  I can't imagine how I'd have kept up with a garden this year, too, so I suppose the dry weather we've had is a blessing in one way.  Oh but it isn't so terribly dry at the moment.  We've had a whole day nearly of rain this week and it was glorious.  Went to sleep with the sound of raindrops on our metal roof Sunday evening....but I'm ahead of myself.

We survived the birth month of June, thank goodness.  Kay got her card and gift on Thursday and that was the last of the June legion.  Now we've two in July and two in August and then we get a reprieve for a good bit.  The July gifts are pretty much taken care of.  I found something lovely for my oldest step grand daughter and we've picked out our youngest grandson's gift and just need to order it.  So July will be a breeze compared to the end of May and all through June business of birthdays.

Let's see.  I don't think I can remember all I've done.  I do recall that Alan came to visit the day after I last wrote, and then returned again on Father's Day.  And I spent at least one morning in the yard raking up limbs and leaves and putting down mulch and finished painting the glider.  Oh yes...That's the day a big blow came along and blew down more limbs and leaves and flipped the glider before the paint was dry and blew Maddie's wading pool away over the propane tank where it lodged between the house and the tank and filled with water.  The following Sabbath day was an especially long one and it was suppertime when we got in, starving we were that day.

We cooked out Father's Day and visited with Alan.  Kay's present for her dad arrived which pleased him no end as she sent more pajama pants, the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and guitar strings.  I've heard the "Augustus Gloop" song a million times since then, lol.

We went out on the following Tuesday and I got buttons at the thrift shop, which I still haven't put on my pillow shams but fully mean to do so this week.  Oh and the most beautiful glasses for just $.49 each.  Here, look at how pretty they are:
I think they have a sort of art deco era look to them.  I don't know just what drink should go in them but I thought they'd make nice ice cream sundae dishes for us.  Fancy that on the table!

Wednesday I was out with Mama and shopped very carefully.  I bought a new drying rack, some cotton flour sack towels, a 1 cup glass measuring cup.  Nothing fancy and nothing impulsive.

Thursday I cooked until I felt right faint between the heat and the number of recipes being made.  I put three meals into the freezer that day, most of which will appear on this week's table for meals, I think.  I've got a nice stash of leftovers just today from lunch and the frozen pizza, so we'll see how that goes.  And Friday came along and I worked hard in the yard picking up limbs and raking the lawn.  With the dry weather we've got a lot of limbs and leaves on the lawn.  I worked until I couldn't stand working any longer, then came indoors to cool off and tackle the house hard.  I gave it a real good clean and then went about the kitchen decluttering the counter tops. Now it looks neat and pretty and I am enjoying the free space.
The breakfast area all ready for a nice cup of coffee...

I put the dish drainer under the cabinet because, honestly, I only use it for a couple hours of each day.  I think I want to remove the cup rack from this wall.  My brother gave me a tin sign that looks vintage and I think I'd like to have it hanging here on this wall where we make and serve coffee most often.

I hung Grandmama's old rooster cutting board.  I've loved that silly cutting board for more years than I can count and she gave it to me many many years ago.  It took some battering and abuse for a few years, but I cleaned it up really good and found paints that matched the original and went over it.  Now it's all for show and not for use.  And doesn't it look right at home with my paper dispenser?

I know the crock pot looks odd atop the microwave, but there's a plug there and it never has to be unplugged so it works for me.  In an ideal world, I'd wall mount the microwave, but I've yet to have the ideal world in my home, lol.  I suppose I should move the big container of rice, too.  It won't fit in the cabinet, but it's awfully handy.  I'll move that into the pantry cupboard.  And it's high time to go through my utensils once more.  The toaster could go under the cabinet but I left it handy for Chance... These of course, are little things that I see in the photo now of course.   I think I want to paint the tea stand a bright shiny red...What do you think? By the way, in that tea stand note that the first ring holds a bowl...It's perfectly handy for nuts and a nutcracker. 

Not a good shot of this area...It's so hard to take photos near windows this time of year.  The little shelf had a whole row of tea cups, salt cellars, cuttings I was rooting.  I neatened that space up considerably.

Now I also cleaned the baking center, but there's no place to put all the stuff I keep on that counter at the moment.  It just has to stay as is, but it's clean, if not neat.  So no photos of that today.

These two days, Thursday and Friday of working hard back to back wore me out.  I was quite happy to come into Shabbat rest Friday at sundown and I didn't do much at all beyond going to synagogue.  I'd meant to go to the library and turned down not one but two invitations just so I could go, but the silly county changed their hours for the summer months and are now closed on Saturdays.  I came right home, though I was terribly tempted to stop here and there and everywhere for a bite to eat.  I had food aplenty in the fridge from my marathon session on Thursday.  I did make some homemade biscuits.  I felt the strong need of comfort food that day and biscuits are a 'safe' treat for me.  One or two and I'm done, unlike say Oreos or BBQ potato chips!  We just don't do those two except on rare occasions.

I was still feeling pretty drained Sunday, but got up and went outdoors to the yard because if I do don't it, it's not ever going to get done.  Oh that was HOT work!  I came indoors and did some light housework, and then I went back outdoors and painted the cafe table and one chair.  I ran out of paint, didn't much like the color and still don't.  It's just this side of the color it was, which isn't the color it was supposed to turn out to be.  I'll be looking for new paint this week and I'll get two cans this time. 

I did remember to stay out of the wind direction that day, but Maddie...Well Maddie got a good snoutful of paint.  I heard her make a funny sound, looked up just in time to see her eyes cross and she dropped to the ground and rubbed her face and rubbed her face and stood up and looked dizzy and dropped to the ground and rubbed her face on the other side.  She wasn't in deep distress, but she was definitely NOT liking the paint.  After she stood up and sneezed mightily four or five times she went off somewhere well out of the way.  I couldn't help but laugh at her and how silly she looked.

I went indoors and got all cleaned up and ready to go into town.  I'd planned to visit Granny, get a paper, perhaps buy peaches at the peach shed.  However, as I put my hand on the doorknob, someone knocked on the other side.  Mama had come by to invite me to go to lunch with her.  She told me she'd just left Granny and she'd been sound asleep.  I was tired, and oh I so wanted to say no thanks, but somehow I felt I ought to go with Mama.  We had a nice, but quiet lunch.  We talked a bit on the ride over to the restaurant and Mama said the Assisted Living Center has suggested calling in hospice for Granny.  I wasn't shocked or upset at the news.  I've been expecting it really, but I think Mama needed to be with someone while she absorbed the news.  By the time I was back home again, I was wiped out physically.  I put on my Netflix movie, Nanny McPhee Returns, and lost myself in the lovely setting for an hour and half.  It was a rather good sequel to Nanny McPhee really with a surprise at the very end.

And so Sunday slipped away from me.  I guess much as I might have expected the news the reality of it really hit me once I was away from Mama.  No weeping or gnashing of teeth but I found myself reading July blog entries from years ago and Granny was very much a part of most of my mornings.  I really miss her a great deal, as she was...

That evening the wind picked up and the clouds gathered and the wind blew for all it was worth.  I sat at the window and watched the storm come in until I heard Chance coming up the drive.  We had rain when he came in and it was raining still when we went to bed that night and it was sprinkling when we said goodbye Monday morning. It rained all morning long and into the afternoon yesterday. 

The rain was most welcome, truly it was, but I worried just a bit.  You see my friend V took off to Texas to meet up with her husband B.  He's coming home from Afghanistan and her excitement was so great it got me all excited too, lol. 

 I went to work on various tasks including a marathon baking session, and a marathon grocery list making session.  Keeping busy was needed this day.   I wore myself out and that's the truth. I should've worked on a portion of my lists over the latter part of last week but I didn't and so I paid for it yesterday.  We had Harvest Night in our home yesterday evening and shortly after Chance practiced his songs for Saturday service, then I crept quietly off to bed to read.  I don't think I read two words and I was so nearly finished with the book, the same one I mentioned two weeks ago, Austen in Boca. 

So here we are at today.  I shopped, I stopped before I was finished because it was getting hot, I was hungry and frustrated at how quickly the money seemed to be going out of my hands, so I came home.  I have enough money left to buy more milk,bread,produce before next pay period and perhaps anything else we find we need.  I did have the pleasure of a 'find' today and I'm adding it to my project list for July/August...I can't wait to see how it turns out.  But that is a story for another day...I should wind up here and have my evening cup of milk.  Time for early rising girls to start the bedtime routine.

I promise, I promise to try really hard not to let but one week go by before we have coffee again, okay?  I have a Homemaking 101 post in the works and an idea for this week's Bringing Back An Old Fashioned Summer posts, so stay tuned and good night!