Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coffee Chat - Heartaches and Housework

Come on in...I haven't a thing to offer just at the moment, but coffee...No wait, how about a piece of toast with homemade strawberry jam?  Would that do as a treat?  I just made the jam this morning.  It's a very easy recipe too, three ingredients and nothing to it.  From two pounds of berries, I got about 1 1/2 pints, not quite that. 
I really need some of Rhonda's Grandpa's Bread to go with this jam!  Too bad I've been too busy doing other things to attend to bread making.  Perhaps tomorrow...  I'll post the recipe over at

I made egg rolls this morning to go with my dinner for the day.  They were very good and tasty.  I packed some in Chance's work lunch, have about half that batch left over to go into the freezer. 

I'm in the process of making yogurt.  I'm going to experiement this time and try to make a bit of blueberry yogurt, as that is Chance's favorite flavor.  Can I sell him on homemade yogurt?  I'm going to try.  As near as I can tell, I need only stir sugar and fruit into the warm milk before I begin curing it.  So I'm doubling up on my usual recipe.  This is my milk heating in my small crockpot:

Gracious, the things we see in a photo!  I hadn't even noticed that container of metal hooks sitting there, lol!  Not part of the ingredients for the yogurt, I assure you.  Those are leftovers from a project I worked on this weekend.

Namely, this cupboard.  You see in the past this cupboard has been both eyesore and bane.  It contains my trash can and sundry other items, but without shelves, and no real support anywhere to attach shelves to.  I was beyond frustrated this weekend when I finally had enough and pulled every item from that cupboard.  Years ago I'd painted the unfinished walls white, which brightened the area by about 1000 times.  Sunday, I decided it was worth my time to look for solutions right here at home to create storage in this cabinet, not having found anything suitable in any store in the past three months.

I ended up removing some storage I'd made in my bedroom closet.  Stacked the milk crates atop one another and then drilled them to the wall to stabilize them.  Yes, I did use a power tool...Exciting, right? lol  I generally wait for Chance to wield tools but he was working and I'd no desire to present him with a project after putting in extra hours at work.  So I did it myself.  Yes, I am proud!

Those crates now allowed me vertical storage and I was able to move several items onto shelves that had previously been scattered in various places.  The bottom crate holds charcoal briquets, grill brush and lighter fluid.  The second shelf is for cat food and such.  Third shelf holds my cleaners, and the fourth shelf has my trash bags in a handy spot to reach.  I have plenty of eye hooks (that's why they are sitting on the kitchen counter) but no suitable s hooks to fit my Swiffer dusters or dust pan.  I'll buy some of those next week when I'm out and about.  I'll get enough of them to allow me to store my mop in that closet as well.

I was pretty satisfied with how it all looked, but Chance was even more so.  "Wow, when did you think of this?" he asked and then paid me the highest compliment, "You are just so smart!"

I've piddled about the house for a week now, cleaning, decluttering, re-organizing, thinking of how I'd like things to look. The guest room is looking fresh and pretty with a lighter comforter upon the bed.  Nothing yet for my room, but I shall come to that soon I am sure.  This is the time of year, I enjoy most walking about my home indoors and out with a piece of paper and pen to list all the ideas that will run through my mind.  Projects, projects and more projects!

 Monday I spent the bulk of my day working on my vintage magazine collection.  Especially the first magazines I bought were in rather poor shape.  I couldn't afford the best copies and was novice enough at eBay to be taken in by not strictly honest dealers at first.  I soon learned and began to buy from trusted dealers.  I have a few magazines that are good for nothing but scraps of things that I'll use in crafting or projects about the house, but the bulk of the magazines are in good condition, meaning they look well read.  I repaired covers, stapled a few well worn magazines to hold them together, organized them all by month.  Now I can easily access the collection by current month and I feel I can resort to careful handling instead of 'afraid to touch' use. 

I'm still working on the pantry, stocking the auxiliary pantry and occasionally making forays into the messy under counter pantry.  Truly I should be in there this afternoon setting things to rights but I've no ambition for the sort of task for today.  I'm reserving what energy I have for a few small tasks that must be accomplished in the next few hours.  Remember what I always say: work always waits upon me, I seldom have to wait upon my work.

I took an hour or so the other night to write out goals for April.  Some of them are:

Take a special day trip that Chance and I meant to do before it heats up. 

Buy and mail a birthday present to Rose.

Ship a package out to my son-in-law.

Clean off the front porch and start planning plants.  I'm thinking polka dots this season.  The tea pots I used last year will move to a plant stand under the pecan tree that is visible from the living room windows.  A nice spot, I think for pretty pots of flowers.  And I will begin to 'furnish' the front porch for the coming warm season with a few new plants in painted pots.  I'll use what I have, spray paint and round stickers to create my polka dot planters.

Thought I'd try to trim the grocery budget just a bit, hitting a little lower.  I'm just cutting back by $5 per week.  If I can do this, I'll put that money into the Christmas fund.

Make more strawberry jam.  I'll do hot water bath canning for the next batch, for long term storage.

Purchases to make in April:

Screening material to replace that on our windows and reinstall screens in our storm doors now we don't have umpteen hundred cats clawing at the door.  It will mean nice breezes on pleasant days if I can open those storm doors. 

Mulch and rock for flower beds and to go around Central unit.

Stock up on: Coffee, Tea, flour.

I'm a little disappointed in March goals.  I did very well with a few and hardly anything at all with others.  The lovely thing about it is that tomorrow, I have a chance to begin anew and try harder.  I am very mindful of my goals at the moment and plan to look them over daily in the coming month, just to keep me focused on what my targets are.

A friend and I were discussing some things that are currently going on in my family.  Heartaches, I got some.  Just like every body else, so no pity wanted or needed. Granny fell twice last week and ended up in the hospital.  She had a heart attack and it was thought she'd fractured the bone of her left hip, but no, she didn't.  She went to a nursing home today and it was recommended by the doctor that she be kept there, rather than at Assisted Living.  Fortunately she was not in any pain but there was the need to help Mama reach decisions and do so in such a diplomatic way that she felt she'd made choices all on her own.  My daughter in law is in the hospital out in California and so she and my son are heavy on my mind at all times.  And one of the other children is a concern...sigh.  Oh we worry so over our little ones, but those are nothing to the heart aches we feel for them as adults! 

I spend moments fretting, remembering I should pray over them and then working away at household tasks as I pray fiercely, lol.  Like my dear friend shared with me when I confided in her earlier this week, there is a great deal of comfort in setting to rights and organizing and creating and planning and cleaning whenever worry stands near.  I know too well that I'm substituting what I  have control over for what I have no control over at all, and that's fine.  I recognize it and I'm not avoiding the troubles but I won't waste time on them for long when there are so many other ways of being truly productive.  Besides, all that good hard work wears a body out so you can't help but fall asleep at night, which is when those things seem to crowd in closest to really worry you.

Fortunately I had a brief respite the first two months of this year, when all about us was calm and settled.  So there was my rest period to bring me into this season of cares.  Also fortunately, it is Spring when everything you could think to do suddenly is ripe for doing.  Now is the time to clean and scrub and garden and renew and all the things that occupy mind and body.

I didn't really do more than piddle about on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I ran a few errands Tuesday morning and brought back lunch at Chance's request.  He very sweetly paid for it, which I am happy he did.  It kept my grocery budget intact and it prevented me spending any money from checking.  I'd have treated us myself except I sort of spent my allowance  ahead....You see there were these books...Enough said?  So my books have eaten up my allowance the past two pay periods but I'm not sorry, no not a bit.  I keep an emergency amount tucked away but I do mean tucked away, well out of sight and seeing an empty spot there where I'd normally have pocket money is reminder enough that I've spent my personal cash already.

I stocked up on canned pineapple this week.  I've spent enough of my grocery budget for the month that I'm reluctant to shop too heavily but I will opt for the best of the loss leader sales.  8 ounce cans of pineapple, slices or crushed, were just $.50 and that was name brand stuff.  Quite a good price, so I spent $10 for pineapple and added two more rows to my little auxiliary pantry.

I'll do one more bit of spending this week: 10 pounds or so of boneless skinless chicken breasts at the unheard of price of $1.59 at a favorite small town grocery.  Nothing more, just that.  I've made sure I had room in my freezer this morning while I was digging about getting out the slaw and oriental vegetables for the egg rolls.

And while I was digging about I found blackberries and more strawberries and a bunch of apples an apple peels, and cores, all intended to be jam or jelly.  I do have some pectin on hand and some jars, so no extra cost to make those, just use what I have right here at home.  How nice it will be to tuck those jars into my pantry.  I think I might even play about a bit and make Apple Rosemary jelly...Or add lemon zest to the blackberry...Oh yes, I do love to be creative in my kitchen cookery as well as the other areas of my life.

I finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society this week and must say it was very enjoyable.  Unlike most novels co-written by two authors there was no change of voice, no moent when I felt I was reading a book written by dual personalities.  That was a real feat of accomplishment.  I finished Katherine's Yesterday by Grace Livingston Hill last night and am still working my way through Elizabeth: Captive Princess which I've found a bit tougher reading.  I have at hand Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie and Grace Livingston Hill's Lone Point as my upcoming reading.

The sun is shining again.  It shone briefly yesterday evening, perhaps a half hour or so about the time Chance was to come home.  I admired the build up of white fluffy clouds and deep gray storm clouds and the green that is seen everywhere, on every branch and blade.  Maddie sat down near the fence and conversed with my cousin's horses and the cat sat on the plant stand under the pecan tree and washed herself most thoroughly.  A woodpecker tapped away above her head and disturbed her not at all.  I forgot my cares then too, with the sun falling across the carpet and highlighting the colors outdoors and just gave myself up to pure enjoyment in the pleasure of the moment. 

 I think I'd best end here. There's mail to fetch from the box down the drive and the pets to feed.  I'll heat the last of the soup from Monday for my supper while I sit on the porch with them.  Maddie just will not eat unless I sit down next to her while she nibbles her food.  I'll carry out one of those vintage magazines with me or perhaps one of my current books or maybe I'll just go out with nothing at all to do and just enjoy being which is awfully hard to do at times...


Rhonda said...

yet another thing we have in common -dogs with eating disorders, although Maddie does not sound nearly as whacky as Theo.

you did a great job with your former broom closet that is now a very useful storage space.

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