Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coffee Chat - The Never Ending Project List

Good Afternoon all.  I'm a little early this week...I was just too hot and tired and weary after grocery shopping today.  I think I'm still suffering from post holiday brain muddle.  Aside from the most simple routine housework, I seem only to have accomplished the completion of reading another book, this time Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie.  And truly that is pretty much it.

Well never mind that.  What did I do over the Memorial Weekend?  Since we were just back from our trip, not a whole lot.  Chance went back to work on Saturday.  I went to synagogue and then was asked to visit friends.  They offered the enticement of grilled burgers and who doesn't want a good grilled burger?  While they went off to the store to buy ground beef and buns, I went to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions.  I was puzzled that the clerk appeared with only two when there should have been three refills.  It took a bit of convincing and spelling our last name three times to finally convince her that indeed I was missing a refill.  She looked and found it hiding on another shelf, misfiled by someone earlier.

Our friends have just built out a porch on the front of their home.  A beautiful BIG screened in porch.  At present the intent is to have a living space at one side of the porch and a sort of workshop set up for the man of the house on the opposite side.  The porch overlooks a large lake of grass (which was filled with water last year, now the man of the house has to mow it!) and the lovely little lake house that was last summer's project.  Despite the heat of the afternoon we went out after dinner and sat on the porch and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

On Sunday I visited Granny.  I was surprised to find her watching TV.  She hasn't really watched TV now in the past five years which was puzzling, because all my years of memory she watched TV most afternoons having a real fondness for her 'soaps'.  She followed mostly those stories featured on CBS and she spent many an afternoon with hand sewing, shelling peas, or some such work while the soaps went on.  Then she turned off the tv for two hours until the evening news came on.  Shut it off again after an hour of news (local and national) and then climbed into bed to read until she fell asleep each night.  About five years ago she refused to watch any tv at all. 

So it was a surprise to find her watching TV.  A re-run of "Golden Girls" was on and she laughed appropriately at all the jokes.  In honesty, aside from saying "Hi, how're you?" to me, she pretty much ignored me.  That was okay.  I sort of looked her over and realized she was alert, her eyes shining bright.  She had a little skin tear on her leg, but her skin looked much better than it had in a long while.  As I was watching her, the show moved to morning and the girls gathered in the kitchen for breakfast.  "Would you like coffee?" one of them asked and Granny turned to me and looked at me hard.  "I miss having coffee with you every morning, Granny."  "Yes.  I miss that, too.  I love you." she said.  I told Chance that for that moment I could see Granny clearly knew who I was and understood and remembered that we loved to start our days together.  And just as quickly as that moment came, it was gone again and she was absorbed into the television show once more, then babbled about something totally off the wall.  But it was enough. 

I guess that's why I keep visiting.  Chance thinks these visits must be terribly hard on me and he's so right.  It is hard.  I don't go because there's unfinished business between Granny and I or because I feel lonely without her (though I do) but because at some point in most visits there's always a moment when she recognizes me and I see her for a moment or two looking out at me, before she disappears again.  I guess I go in remembrance of what we've been to each other all these years:  a grandmother and granddaughter, a mentor and her pupil, friends, kindred spirits.

After I visited with Granny I went to the dollar store and bought something I'd seen in earlier visits.  It was a galvanized beverage tub.  I'd sort of planned this cute country landscaping about the house which included galvanized buckets and tubs of various sizes filled with plants on a bed of mulch.  Sort of movable landscaping and container gardening.  Well I've priced galvanized tubs and buckets and frankly the tubs are a wee bit out of my budget range this year.  However, this tub was very reasonable and had the added bonus of a stand that lifted it off the ground, so I thought that might be perfect for the back deck or either side of the front entry.  I bought the last one at the store and deeply regretted not buying another one earlier.

I also bought a Sunday paper, though I knew full well there would be no coupons in this past weekend's paper.  I'm so glad I did because the Walgreens ad showed the same tub $2 less than what I'd paid for it at the dollar store!  I got my second tub today.  I guess I'll have to get Alan to put the silly legs together because they will not stay together when I do them. 

I spent Sunday afternoon planning my shopping, sorting coupons, matching coupons to sales, etc.  I hadn't organized coupons in a couple of months and my files were a mess.  I admit being partially inspired by the episodes of Extreme Couponers I'd watched while on vacation.  Only partially as I have no desire to stockpile more food than we can reasonably eat in a year's time nor to spend hours upon hours clipping coupons.  However, that show has inspired me to return to the limited coupon clipping and usage that I have done in the past.  After all, it's money saved and there's no denying that, is there?

Once upon a time I used to be able to write a check to the store for the pre-coupon amount and they'd give me the coupon money in change.  I'd put the amount in savings.  Nowadays, stores are funny about that.  They act a bit as though I were robbing them in some way when they pay me out in actual cash.  So now, I just pay the post coupon amount and call it well done, but I do miss holding that savings in my hand and watching it build in our vacation fund, or spending it upon household items we'd needed.

Well all this extreme couponing has taken it's toll in many ways.  There are outcries of all sorts about coupons usage overall, and stockpiling and stores feel they are being cheated, though I can't imagine why when the manufacturer coupon and their sales are all meant to coincide and they get their money all the same in the end.  About the time people realized we really were in a recession (despite assurances we weren't), seminars were being held in church groups and other public forums to promote the usage of coupons and sales to save money for families that were struggling.  That's nothing new, of course, it's just that now more people had the information at hand to save bigger sums of money.  Now with the new television program on, stores are putting up warning signs.  "No printed coupons."  "Coupon flyers given out at manager's desk.  Only one per customer."   I'm really surprised because really there are more customers out there who do not care to clip a coupon, see it as a waste of time, etc, than there are customers who use coupons.  And I'd say more than three fourths of those who use coupons are about like myself.   They hope to get a few more groceries for their money than they could without coupons.  I consider it average to save 33% on a shopping total.  It's a high save day if I total 50%.  And I don't really work hard at it either.

Today I saw an extreme couponer in action.  Big thick baseball card notebook file of coupons on hand.  I watched as she filled and then pushed three buggies to the checkout and took a fourth one off to fill.  She'd left teen children in charge of the filled buggies, along with cash and a handful of coupons.  Now seriously, I have NO idea if she needed 2 dozen packages of Fig Newtons or two dozen boxes of cereal.  For all I know she has ten kids.  I do know I admired her shopping skill and my interest was piqued, but mostly I was too intent on my own little zippered bag of coupons and the sales I'd meant to stock up on.  But I do admit when I got to checkout I wondered what her totals had looked like, even while feeling pretty proud of the savings on my own buggy full of items.

Gee, I kind of got off subject didn't I?  I was telling you about my Memorial Day weekend.  Mama's birthday was Sunday.  I'd asked her to dinner on Monday as I knew she'd likely be at loose ends that day too.  Of course, as it happened she had two or three invites following mine, but she wouldn't break our day out together.  We drove north to the foothills and had dinner at a restaurant she likes there.  The views are just lovely and I took out to see the old covered bridge that is just off the main highway outside of the town there.  It was hot but a beautiful day and we thoroughly enjoyed our couple of hours away.  I took her home and then came back home myself.  Gracious but it was HOT outdoors!

Projects.  That's what I started the subject title out with.  June arrives tomorrow...Oh just a quick aside.  This morning Chance warned me off shopping as 'It's the first of the month you know.'  I was already filled with dread over the idea of going out in the heat to shop and those words just sent shivers down my spine, because the first day of the month is a really hard day to shop in our area, as is the third of each month.  Well I decided I'd beat heat and crowds and I was ready to leave home before the clock hit 7:30.  I arrived at my first shop at 8:00am on the nose.  I worked all day long under the premise that today was the first of the month.  Despite the handful of coupons which expired today, May 31, in my hand.  I even flipped over all the calendars in the house to show June!  Imagine my sense of how silly I was when I suddenly realized at 4pm this afternoon that today was May 31~  and no I don't blame Chance at all.  He may have been wrong for a moment but I was wrong all day long! lol

So June, projects, etc.  Here's where I am at present.  I'm trying to spend slow and steady and stick within our usual spending limits without touching savings or lowering our checking balance.  Frankly that's hard but I'm managing very well with it.  It's hard, not because it makes the budget tighter but because I have so many projects going at once, indoors and out and nearly all require some sort of material to work with in order to complete each project.  All that said, slow and steady, slow and steady.  Outdoors, we've almost cleared the one overflowing flower bed and mulched out a section that has never been  planted.  I have 8 bags of mulch under the carport now awaiting Alan's arrival this week.  All the trees in the main portion of the yard have been trimmed.  Now we'll start on the hundreds of branches, limbs and brier twigs that come at us from the sides of the yard. 

I bought the two tubs to plant for the front entry, either side of the steps but other than two tea roses haven't a plant to go in them.  So that project is on hold until next pay period when I buy more mulch and plants. 

On my slate also for this month is the sawing off of two tall stools in two varying heights.  I plan to paint them both a pretty bright color and use them to elevate potted plants on the back deck.  I have a table and chairs, a glider and a piece of metal work that requires painting for that deck and two pillow covers to fill with pillows and that project is finished.  I think we should be able to do that this month.  I'd also like to put a fresh coat of paint on the shutters at that end of the house and new coat of paint on the flooring, though that could wait until July as the front porch needs paint far worse than the deck.  I also have a flag to hang.

So I'll plan to paint the front porch, touch up the storm door and one railing, pot a few flowers (just need the plants) for the ironing board and pot the two tubs meant to go either side of the front steps.
I need to replace one of the plant hangers that broke last summer and get two ferns or baskets of greenery of some sort.

I want to continue mulching around the perimeter of the house and around a few trees that are nearest the house.  It's so very dry that I have no plans at present to buy  any new plantings to put out.  I'll be quite pleased simply to have empty but mulched beds about the place at present.

Outdoors projects will require a few purchases but I have all the materials I need to work on the indoor projects.

Indoors: I want to finally get things hung on the back entry wall.  I also wish to paint that back entry shelf.

Laundry area: paint the letters which say WASH DRY IRON and rearrange the things hanging upon that wall.

Guest bedroom: Complete the curtains for that room and paint the side table. 

Guest bath: Hang the new shower curtain and put a coat of paint over the primered vanity.  Paint the bathroom and guest bedroom doors.

Master bedroom: make valances and another set of pillow shams for the bed.  I do want to buy some big buttons to decorate the ends of the first set of shams I made (and incidentally close the ends as well).

Living Room: Declutter, rearrange and cool and calm the room.  Make slipcovers for three chairs. (I may have to buy material to complete this project).

Dining Room: Paint the chairs (will need to buy spray paint) and recover the seats.  I do have the material on hand for that project.

And I certainly think that is more than enough projects to be running at once don't you?  Of course that doesn't include the usual housework, meals, following behind Chance when he wants me with him, writing, and sleeping and reading.   

Talked to Kay this evening for nearly an hour...She doesn't call so often anymore but when she does she chats away 90 to nothing, as we say here in the South...though that sounds downright odd when you read it.  Anyway, she talked and talked and talked and we interrupted each other because we had so much to share, both afraid we'd forget what we wanted to say before we got a turn to speak.  I miss my girls and boys sitting about chatting away.

Chance is in and has just asked if I minded if we had company over tomorrow.  Funny enough it happens to be the same couple I was going to ask him if he'd like to have come over, so I guess we were thinking alike on that score.  Now to plan a meal of some sort.  Chance wants burgers...I bought ground beef today and could whip up a batch of bread dough tomorrow morning and possibly get buns made before dinner.  I wonder if he'd been terribly disappointed if I made up an alternate menu?  I have a funny feeling he would...

Well dears, guess I'd better end for the evening.  I've enjoyed our coffee chat.  Talk to you again next week!

Menu Monday: Hot Weather Watch

We've topped 100F here a few days already and this week's forecast promises more of the same.  I don't know want heavy meals this time of year.  I want to eat something that is refreshing and flavorful and filling enough to last until the next meal...And I want to stay as cool as possible while cooking that meal, too.  This is the time of the year for cooking early in the morning, using the microwave and crockpot (and some women take that outdoors.  I might just find my extension cord and do the same this year).

Monday:  Burgers, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Fruit Hash
I'm ekeing out what I have on hand at the moment until tomorrow, even though we were paid this past Friday due to the holiday.  The burgers will cook on the grill.  The potato salad served at room temperature rather than cold.  Baked Beans will heat in the microwave.  The fruit hash (a mix of fresh and canned fruits, sour cream, mini marshmallows and diced walnuts) is chilling in the fridge. 

Tuesday:  Deli treats of cold cuts, fresh bread and sliced cheese, olives, hummus and red pepper strips, watermelon
I've a list of errands as long as my arm to attend to.  I'm willing to bet that by the time I return home I'm hot and bothered and irritable and I won't cook.  I'll rely on the grocery and deli to provide my meal.  It might seem pricey but I assure you 1/3 pound of cheese or luncheon meat is very affordable and enough for two people.

Wednesday:  Pasta with fresh tomato sauce, Fresh mozzarella slices, Garlic toast, Green Salad, Dark Chocolate and Pears
I'll try to remember to take a picture of this pretty fresh tomato sauce.  It isn't cooked but it's so tasty that you don't feel you're eating lightweight food.  It's one of my favorite summertime go to recipes.  I've been using it for over 30 summers now.  This year I'll add some of my homegrown basil to the sauce as it macerates.

Thursday:  Polska Kielbasa, Squash and Onions, Summer Slaw, Corn Muffins
Summer Slaw: fresh shredded cabbage with diced tomatoes and green bell pepper tossed with a sour cream and mayonnaise dressing.  It's every bit as fresh and tasty as it sounds and a nice change this time of year when produce is plentiful.

Friday:  Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Chips, Strawberry Shortcakes
I'll be prepping a meal to take to Oneg tomorrow.  The shortcake isn't a shortcake at all, but just plain cake.  I'll bake one deep 9 inch layer cake to use for tomorrow's dessert and a half dozen cupcakes for our dessert and snacks over the weekend. 

Saturday:  Crockpot Chicken Lasagna, Spring Mix Salad, Boston Cream Pie
I'll be able to assemble the lasagna dish and let it cook while we're having service.  It's easy as can be.  Just a lighter version of lasagna.  I'll layer lasagna noodles with cooked chicken, sliced mushrooms, chopped onions, red bell pepper and shredded zucchini and yellow squash with an Alfredo sauce and Parmesan Cheese. 
That deep layer cake I made the day before will be assembled into Boston Cream Pie and served well chilled.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

We've had a lovely week.  We're fresh back from lovely old St. Augustine and beautiful Crescent Beach on Anastasia Island...Now go on and ask how on earth a vacation can be 'frugal'...And listen as I tell you how easy it was to be leisurely and frugal!

Saturday:  Our usual Saturday of hurrying to synagogue and coming home later.  Chance offered to buy dinner on our way home.  He decided to stop for a Subway sandwich. I'd left my coupons folder in the car anticipating our upcoming trip.  I had coupons for Subway.  We bought two sandwiches for the price of one.

It's sometimes hard to spend the afternoon resting when you know so much must be done...but it's truly a frugal thing to rest when you have the opportunity because being all worn out at the start of a new week makes no sense at all!  It's when we let our guard down and fail to rest properly that we begin to make the sort of financial choices that eat away at our savings and eventually lead to debts we might have avoided. 

Sunday:  Chance worked an extra shift.

I went to work on a stack of mending I'd meant to tend to and put off.  I needed the clothes for our trip and had tired of continually having to reach for something else when I reached into my closet.  I hemmed, sewed on buttons and repaired some seams that were fraying.

My dinner midday:  one chicken breast cut into pieces and stir fried with mushrooms, onions and peas.  I cooked four ounces of linguine and added a container of Italian Herbs Philly Cream that I'd gotten free with a coupon.  This was very good and I had more than enough for a second meal.  I put leftovers in the freezer to save for when we return home.

Spent the afternoon packing clothes, personal care items, and a few dry foods items.  Chance asked me not to take along a lot of food but we were agreed that some items were more than worthwhile to carry with us.  I could hardly hope to find six packs of soda for $1.98 or a box of cereal for $1.  Other items I packed: salt and pepper, olive oil, steak seasoning, foil, a few zippered bags for food storage, an onion.  These were items on hand that would be far more expensive to buy.

I'd asked Alan to come feed the dogs.  I took a bit of extra time preparing bags of pre-measured food to be doled out.  This kept the dogs from being overfed and food wouldn't be lost to ants.

My last task at end of the day was to make out a list of items to be tended to or packed the next morning.  I knew this would be a huge savings for me in both time and peace of mind.

Monday:  Checked off the items on my list one by one.  Some of the items included on that list:
putting unused loaf bread and milk into the freezer to keep it from spoiling while I was gone.  As I put milk in the freezer, I pulled out a frozen half gallon and two frozen steaks.  This would keep our cold foods cool and give us milk (and a meal) for the visit.  I knew with whole milk I could also use it in my coffee in place of half and half.

Packed a lunch of sandwiches, potato sticks, and apples.

We were so busy getting the pets fed, packing the car and getting dressed that I completely forgot about breakfast!  I didn't even realize it until we were underway.  "Did you eat anything this morning?",Chance asked me...We stopped for biscuits in the town where we hit the interstate.  We kept breakfast simple.  No need to start the trip with a big expense right away and since we'd be inactive a simple biscuit breakfast was easy on us as well.  Some might see that meal as an unnecessary expense, but being hungry and grouchy would have only led to quarrels.  Much better to spend a little to offset unnecessary stress.

Stopped for a picnic lunch in an unusual place...It was a hospital outside a small Florida town.  We knew the area was shaded and took advantage of picnic tables under the trees to have a quiet lunch, and stretch our legs.  It was a lovely area, with moss hung oak trees to shade us.  And best of all it was free.

Chance stopped to fill up the car with gasoline after we got off thee interstate.  He used a higher grade of gasoline than I'd have bought, but I'm beginning to see his wisdom.  We increased our mileage by 7 miles per gallon which more than offset the additional cost.

Chance stopped for KFC on our way into St. Augustine.  He felt after traveling all day we didn't need to be busy making dinner too.  We got two meals from that bucket of chicken and sides that came with it.

I'd brought enough water from home to make coffee (packets provided by the condo).  I set the still frozen milk on the counter to let it thaw.  When Chance asked about breakfast I pulled out the box of cereal.  True, we had no toast but we had cereal and fruit.  I put aside some of the biscuits from our chicken dinner.  Toasted, these would do well for breakfast bread.  It wasn't necessary to leave the  condo to go to the grocery, which was a huge blessing after riding most of the day.

Tuesday:  Always looking for something lovely and FREE, I find sunrise and sunset worth noticing on the beach.  It might be vacation but we were up by 6am and on the balcony facing the horizon.  We were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise. 

We went into Old Town after breakfast. We had a couple of requests for our trip.  Kay loves Flagler College and wanted a new hoodie from their legacy shop.  A friend asked us to buy a jar of Pumpkin Butter at a speciality shop.   We were happy to bring goodies back for others, but I was treated as well.  There's a little coffee shop just around the corner from that speciality shop and we always get coffee there at least once during our visit. 

While purchasing the hoodie we chatted with the store clerk.  She asked questions and we answered and made small talk.  Just our being open and friendly apparently was a bonus to her.  She threw in a free reusable shopping bag from their stock.  I'll be sending it along with the hoodie to Kay who can use it when she's out shopping.

It was quite warm and I brought along a bottle of water to stave off dehydration.

We headed from Old Town to the grocery.  We were very thoughtful about what we purchased.  Half a loaf of bread seemed sufficient and we chose a deli chicken and a packet of hot dogs, potatoes to bake and a small can of vegetarian baked beans.  We discussed what we had at the condo and then we allowed ourselves a couple of splurges: cream cheese cinnamon muffins, eclairs.  We also bought water ( I dislike the taste of the water on the coast) to piece out what we'd brought from home. 

Back at the condo we put away groceries, spent loads of time on the balcony overlooking the sunny beach and enjoyed the breeze.  Meals were kept simple and easy to prepare (broiled steaks and micro baked potatoes, bagged salad for dinner.  Hot dogs, leftover slaw and beans for supper).  I'd brought books from home and settled down to read in between meals and cleaning up. 

Sunset on the front balcony, overlooking the Mantanzas river which was visible from our floor.  That spot was far quieter than the ocean side of the condo.  I noticed mostly women gathered out there to watch the sunset.  No one spoke.  It was so peaceful and quiet and I think it's what we all appreciated most!

Wednesday:  Our anniversary.  Breakfast was made for me by my husband and a very good meal it was too.  He made his speciality of Fried Eggs.

There's a ride we love down the coast line that we never fail to take.  It's all wild beaches and ocean along A1A to Ormond Beach.  I packed bottles of water, so no need to stop along the way to buy anything to drink.  We went to enjoy the views and so we did.  We daydreamed and let ourselves be practically impractical in them.  It was lovely!  I remember my Susan's advice once upon a time "Dreams don't have to be edited for practicality."  She was so right.  I think more inspiration is born by opening the mind to what appears an impossibility rather than just the possibilities.

Chance surprised me by driving back into St. Augustine.  My smart husband had decided we should eat out on our anniversary.  We've never, in all the 16 years that went before, eaten out on our anniversary.  It always had to be postponed for one reason or another.  Our meal out was at a local restaurant with good reviews: Gypsy Cab Co.  Our meal was simple, well prepared and delicious.  It wasn't expensive.  I thoroughly enjoyed looking about at the photos and local artists work for sale that adorned the walls.  Every wall and the ceilings were different colors.  It was a wonderful experience.

Back to our condo.  I was nearly half finished with my book at this point.  Naps were also a part of this holiday.

Supper that evening was the deli roasted chicken, corn on cob and more salad.  I used leftover chicken to make sandwiches for our trip home.  I packed up what I could and we made a trek down to the car, where we retrieved more water to chill overnight for the ride home the next day.

Thursday:  Another early morning to watch sunrise.  Chance wondered aloud what we'd have for breakfast then went off to shower.  I surprised him when he came out of the bathroom.  I'd prepared a meal from 'nothing'.  Split hot dog buns were topped with cheese and crumbled sausage patties and toasted.  We shared a muffin.  It was a very good breakfast and I was pleased to have 'made do' with what we had on hand.

I packed up our things, then set up the insulated bag with food for the trip back home.  Sandwiches, quartered apples, washed grape tomatoes, water bottles.  We loaded the car, went back to check the rooms to be sure we had picked up all our belongings and to straighten the place a little more.  I dislike leaving condos in disarray (except for leaving the bed unmade on the last morning).  We switched off lights, unplugged appliances and tried to pretty much leave it as we'd found it.

We filled up with that higher grade of gasoline again.  If I'd not been certain before that it was responsible for higher mileage, I checked figures at this fill up.  Sure enough, even our in town driving had netted us over 40 mpg.  I'll definitely use the middle grade of gasoline from now on.

We chose to stop for a picnic lunch at one of the state owned rest areas along the way.  Again we picnicked under mossy oak trees.  Our entertainment was a variety of birds who apparently lived near the rest area.  And why not?  It was apparently a bevy of food for them.  We tossed them crusts from our sandwiches and laughed over their antics.  It was a very restful half hour spent there.

Back on the road and heading home.  I planned ahead and figured out a meal from items I knew I had on hand at home: bread and milk aplenty in the freezer, eggs in the fridge.  My husband was planning ahead too and stopped for $5 meal on the way through town. 

Arrived home to be greeted halfheartedly by dogs.  It was hot and humid.  The herbs on the back deck looked beyond parched.  I watered plants, put fresh water in the pet pans, then came indoors and began to unpack.  I was tired and hot and borderline irritable by the time I was done and very grateful my husband thought more clearly than I did about supper.  What a lovely thing to simply sit down and cool off and know I had nothing else to do for the evening.

Peeked out the back door at sunset.  We had a light rain and the air was considerably cooler.  The AC had been turned down from 82F (the temperature we set it on when we left home), and the cooler air finally helped the house cool off enough so the AC stopped running so hard.

Friday:  Up early this morning, though not quite early enough for sunrise.  We normally do laundry before we come home from our trip but we had so few clothes that we just waited until this morning.  Why pay to do a small load of laundry elsewhere when you've a washer at home?

I had two leftover fingerling bananas.  I mashed them to put into pancake batter.

Chance wanted bacon.  I hadn't bought turkey bacon in the last shopping trip, but remembered a can of the turkey Spam on the pantry shelf.  I opened it and cut it very thin then fried it as I would bacon.  It was crisp and tasted very similar to the turkey bacon.  Spam is a good bit cheaper than turkey bacon and in my opinion, far more tasty.  I may just substitute that from now on.

Payday is today due to the holiday.  We'll be traveling down to pick up his check.  I want to be sure and have the house fully cleaned when I leave (not that it needs much) because this is the last day of his holiday.  I want him to finish it off in a peaceful restful way.   Thanks to the freezer full of milk and bread we don't need to shop for any food until next week.  We'll eat chilled canned fruit and frozen or canned vegetables for meals until shopping day.

One of the pairs of pants I repaired tore yet again.  I paid only $5 for the pants but I told Chance I've spent countless hours repairing them each time after I wore them.  I've decided those pants will make a great pair of shorts for around the house.  I'll be cutting off the legs and hemming them this afternoon.  No more fussing with what is undoubtedly inferior quality clothing.

Because I rinse dishes well before putting them in the dishwasher (since we don't use that dishwasher daily) I had a full load today, after our meals last night and will wash the dishes today.  I haven't used the dishwasher in a week!  There's a savings there.

Today's dinner will take advantage of that pre-baked pizza crust I put in the freezer last week.  An easy meal for me to prepare.  We'll eat the last of the bagged salad we bought on our trip.

Living Well

Just a few photos of our trip for this week  After all, the whole week was all about living well! 
Our little picnic area where we stopped on our way down.  The oaks are hung with moss...

A sunrise well worth getting up at 6am to see.

St. George Street in Old Town

The oldest school house in the US on the far right and cute little old houses middle and left.

The original gates dating to 1565 when the city was originally built.

My husband coming out of the favorite coffee shop.  French Vanilla frappe for me, bagel to share and plain black coffee for him. 

It wasn't yet 11am but that palm tree and umbrella brought us welcome shade while we sipped coffee.

The sunset on the river side of the hotel, away from ocean/gulls/screeching children.  This is where the women tended to come in the evenings and sit quietly.

The rest area outside Valdosta where we stopped for lunch.  Look at that lovely moss!

One of the many birds who joined us for lunch.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Menu Monday: Fun, Fun, Fun

Chance has extra time off this week and we plan to have fun.  All those meals I made last week were straight from our freezer and pantry, except for a very few items, so I've most of my budget this week for foods we enjoy only occasionally.  Some take out, some grocery specials and low cooking.  That's my plan.

Breakfasts will be easy to make: cereal and toast, croissants and homemade yogurt, bagels and cream cheese, fruit salad, etc.

Suppers will consist of leftovers or easy heat and eat meals: grilled sandwiches, nachoes, etc.

Monday:  Steak, Baked Potato, Roasted Asparagus, Strawberries and Cream

Tuesday:  Take out Chicken Dinner with sides

Wednesday:  Deli Chicken, Deli Macaroni Salad, Grape Tomatoes, Watermelon

Thursday:  Macaroni and Cheese, Steamed Green Beans, Sliced Tomatoes

Friday:  Hot Dogs, French Fries, Baked Beans, Coleslaw

Saturday:  Sloppy Joes, Chips, Coleslaw (leftovers)

Sunday:  Chicken Noodle Soup, Fruit Salad
(after two deli roasted chickens (1 last week, 1 this week), I expect to use the carcasses to make a pot of soup and offset the costs of the week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Saturday: Standing on the back deck this morning for the goodbye ritual I listened to birds calling.  One I haven't heard in quite a long while, and which I was glad to hear once more called out.  It was a whippoorwill.  I stayed on the deck longer than usual just to  hear that sweet sound. 

I wanted a treat for dinner.  I decided to go home and make my own meal but some little something for dessert would be nice, right?  Ice cream was on sale at the local store (and a handful of other bargains) so I stopped in on my way home.  I bought the ice cream, 10 cans of diced tomatoes for $.50 a can, 5 boxes of Little Debbie treats on sale for $1 each (a price I haven't seen in  a long time on those), and 2 Rib Eye steaks for the freezer.  Having picked up the specials for the week I won't go back in on Tuesday.  That saves me time on a typically busy shopping/errand day. 

My lunch?  A big plate of Nachos Grande, made with items from my refrigerator and pantry.

Food waste alert: Opened the carton of sour cream to find it was a science experiment.  I haven't had anything spoil in ages up on ages but it seems that this past week I've had more than enough to make up for it.

Sunday:  Cloudy and overcast and cool.  I'd decided when I got up that I'd skip yard work this day, but the weather prompted me to go right outdoors and get busy.  It's not that I felt so terribly energetic but it's seldom yard work can be as comfortable as it was this morning.  Since temperatures are meant to be in the 90's by week's end, I'm glad I got a little more work accomplished.

Despite the cloudy weather there was a nice breeze.  I hung out a load of clothes to dry on the line.  I filled the washer full: towels and sheets went in together, along with a handful of 'extras' that had accumulated in the basket overnight.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Waited until evening to unload, allowing the dishes to air dry.  Then I reloaded and washed the few dishes that I normally wash by hand. I rinsed the dishes to be loaded under the faucet while I was waiting for it to warm to run into the sink.

Filled water bottles and made sure we were well stocked with water in the fridge.  Chance will grab a bottle of water but will not choose to pour from a pitcher.  If it encourages him to drink water to have those bottles waiting, I'll keep filling bottles.

Sat down and went over bill box.  Bills were readied for checks and mailing.  Then I 'looked ahead'.  We've got an extra pay day this month which means over the next three or four pay periods we'll have an 'extra' amount of money we can put towards the car loan or aside as savings.  I noted on my records pages which payments we would apply to the car payment and savings for the next two pay periods.

Went over online grocery ads, noted coupons on the shopping list.

Renewed subscription to All You magazine.  The coupons in this magazine make it high value for me.  One issue saves more than one year's subscription costs.

Made macaroni and cheese for my dinner and since I needed only a small portion, I divided into one small dish for my dinner, one big entree sized dish for the freezer. 

I made cheese sauce from scratch to go over the macaroni.  Since I had little cheddar I used what I had to make up enough cheese to season the sauce. Four sandwich slices of Gouda, a sprinkling of Parmesan Romano blend, the last of the packet of cream cheese I needed to use up, and a wee bit of cheddar just for color.  Ha...In the restaurant they'd bill it as Four Cheese Macaroni and dub it gourmet.  I deem it thrifty to use what you have.

I had about 1/3 of a steamed broccoli crown left from a previous meal.  I chopped that and added into the macaroni and cheese.

I figured out how to reduce my favorite Cobbler recipe.  I made just enough cobbler for one, using up some peaches that were left from a can I opened this past  week.

Sat on the front porch and folded sheets and towels, enjoying the cool breezes (in fact, getting a little chilly).  All the pets came to join me.  That hot cup of coffee certainly seemed extra good after the cool outdoor air.

Monday:  More yard work as the cooling trend continues.  I didn't even break a sweat while working outdoors it was so cool!  And yes, I worked hard.  I picked up the rest of the limbs and piles I'd raked up last week, dug up Spider wort that had spread itself far and wide, loaded up the rocks I'd pulled from the flower bed border.  Discovered too late that the heavily loaded wagon was too heavy for this girl to move.  That will wait upon Alan or Chance, I guess.

Indoors once more, I worked out menus for the week.  Nearly all meals used only what is on hand already.  This led me to trim my previously written grocery list and plan to buy only the super specials at the grocery.

Finished making the pillow covers for my bed.  Next project, now I'm nearly caught up with the other sewing projects,  will be a set of shams, and valances from the same material to further dress up the bedroom a little further.

Cleared the fridge and fed the dogs the mixture of leftovers and end pieces of bread and such that had accumulated and were taking up needed space.  It was a 'free' meal for them as there was enough food they needed no dry dog food.

Made up a batch of yogurt using milk that was just at expiration date.  Three pints joined that in the fridge already.  I've enough yogurt to last me a month now.  If I find I have more than I can eat I'll use in baking as I would buttermilk or sour cream.

While waiting upon the dogs to eat, I sat on the porch and dreamed up a way to use two old bar stools that have just been sitting about. 

Cleaned off the old glider that has been sitting abandoned in the yard because I was told it was 'broken'.  I managed to slide two parts back together that had come undone and lo and behold it works just fine.   It needs a couple of new nuts and bolts that are missing and I want to paint it a fresh fun color, but then it's going onto the deck to use as seating.  My new pillows made for the deck will be super cute on that glider.

Ordered a free quart of Glidden paint after a friend sent me a link.  I just did get in on that deal.

Harvest night. After discussion we agreed to add three new sub categories to our checkbook savings. I pity the poor bookkeeper who ever tried to sort out our checkbook to balance it, because I find it tough enough to do and I know what's what! I keep track of our separate little sub accounts in a notebook so we know just what we have and where.

Made an awesome pizza using fresh home grown basil, fresh tomatoes (starting to wrinkle just a little) and a homemade crust, plus fresh mozzarella.  It was so tasty and good.  I made an extra crust to put in the freezer for a quick pizza one night when we're rushed.

Tuesday:  Meant to go shopping for groceries, but Chance called and asked me to wait until the next day since we were going to be in the area getting the car serviced.  Instead I went back to bed and got a little extra sleep.  What a luxury that was!

After I piddled about the house a bit, I went off to run a few local errands.  I took off trash and then cleaned up my car at the car wash in the next town.  I've been neglecting that poor car of late.  Not a good thing.  With our country lifestyle the dust and dirt get into the car's cracks and crevices, gets ground into the interior carpet...I've got to return to a bi-weekly clean and vacuum.  I was encouraged to really do this as it cleaned up beautifully and looked almost new all over again.
Went to CVS and used ECB to purchase this week's specials.  Walked out with $30 worth of goods for just $5 out of pocket and earned another ECB.

Went by the bank and took care of banking needs. 

Stopped at the local diner and bought hamburgers.  That cost me a whole $2.  I saved one of the burgers for Chance to have when he came in that evening.

With the lovely cooler weather we've had windows open for the past three days.  I opened them most afternoons, because honestly the mornings were too cold!  It was so nice to hear the breeze in the leaves.  I did chuckle as around 5pm it was necessary to begin shutting windows once more as the late afternoons cooled off a lot.  Who would have thought I'd be too cold in May?  Sure did appreciate the savings on electricity!

Wednesday:  We've been setting aside a little money every pay period since our last service on the car to cover the oil change we'd scheduled.  I'm so glad we did.  We had a minor replacement that needed to be taken care of right away and that was a bit extra.  Thankfully we were able to use a portion of our home maintenance fund to take care of that.  It's a lovely thing to have money at hand to cover needs and unexpected needs too.

Off to do our grocery shopping.  My list was short, but the car was packed as full as usual after shopping.  Most of my purchases were stock-ups on some exceptional deals.  Sodas were on sale for $1.98/6pack for 16 ounce bottles.  I bought almost the limit on those.  Then a clerk stopped me mid-aisle to tell me that the great buy on milk $10/10 half gallons was even better than advertised due to a shipping mistake.  The dairy department was desperately moving out those extra gallons and half-gallons of milk due to that error.  Half-gallons were $..75each and gallons were just $2.  I bought the limit on the half gallons of milk.  I was pretty sure I had enough room to fit them all in the freezer.

Off to Walgreens where we stocked up on coffee on sale.

We kind of ran out of steam at the grocery after our long morning in the dealership waiting on the car.  Over in the deli I spied a sign that said if we bought a Nathan's hot dog and 20 ounce Coke we could get a second hot dog free.  Chance ordered two of the deals.  When I discovered the sodas were warm, I asked for and received two cups of ice free to cool the sodas.  We had an impromptu parking lot picnic and boy was that good!  We opened up the windows and sat there enjoying the unseasonably cool breeze and the fresh hot food and cold soda.  It lent a rather peaceful air to a morning that had felt rather rushed.

Home once more, I barely got groceries unloaded and put away in the kitchen.  I found I didn't have enough room for that 8th half gallon of milk and I had more than a gallon in the fridge with the extra I'd poured off each half gallon to allow for head space to freeze.  Fortunately Alan came along and agreed to take that half gallon home with him. 

We worked in the yard once more this afternoon.  Alan mulched, trimmed trees and dug up the last of the running spider wort.  I potted the six packs of annuals I'd bought last week, then repotted the geranium and moved volunteer petunias from one pot to the strawberry jar of petunias.  Now every single thing I bought the last two weeks has been planted....that means I can buy more, right?  What a bonus to harvest all those volunteer petunias for the pot.

I cautioned my husband and son to stay away from a volunteer plant by the back steps.  It's Queen Anne's Lace, something I've tried to grow here for years.  I guess the dogs brought in the seed on their fur or the wind blew it along until it lodged there.  There are four or five plants of Queen Anne's lace coming up.

Impromptu supper made up of a deli roasted chicken and odds and ends from freezer and fridge.

Another day of open windows.  The weather is due to break on Thursday but oh how nice it has been!

Thursday:  A morning of sleeping in.  I didn't rise until nearly 9am.  I made pancakes for breakfast and served them with real maple syrup.  I've found Grade B bottles of syrup for just over $5 this year and I try to keep one on hand for special mornings.  Luxury this week, that's what! 

Lunch time meal made up of leftover chicken...Just really good sandwiches and chips but it put those leftovers to good use.  The carcass I put in the freezer to make soup with later.

Packed a snack to offset hungries while Chance practiced worship music this afternoon.  Good thing, as he accepted an invitation to coffee with Rabbi afterwards.

We got a new key for our car on Wednesday but it's not working at all properly.  I'll be taking it back.  Chance wasn't sure they'd accept it but I pointed out that since the error code is coming from the computer chip in the key there should be no problem.  They'll fix it or give us a refund, one.

We went over the repair ticket for the car.  The dealership printed out a list of upcoming items that would need to attended to.  The service manager suggested breaking the items down over the next two oil changes.  We went a step further.  We broke them down into the repairs our son could do and those we felt really need the dealership's expertise.

UGH!  Ants!  Found them in a food item we had set aside on a kitchen counter as well as in our trash cupboard.  Knowing how they are, I went right ahead and sprayed along the seam of the wall and cupboard and then along the bottom edge of each cabinet to keep them from infiltrating the rest of the cabinets.  That's a line they won't cross and yet my foodstuffs are perfectly safe from the spray as it doesn't penetrate the cabinet itself.

Friday:  We were up fairly early this morning.  Chance washed a full washer of clothes this morning. 

Our breakfast was a simple bowl of cereal.  That yogurt I made the other day didn't set up as well as the last batch (I'm finding the secret is to use a bit more yogurt starter than the original recipe suggested.  Duly noted and will do in the future).  I poured it over a bowl of cereal for myself this morning.  I'll make a fruit smoothie with some of it and use some to make up a batch of biscuits or scones.

Chance noted a line of ants along the ceiling.  He grabbed the can of spray and sprayed a line around the top of each of the upper cupboards.  That should certainly keep them from stealing my harvest.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I am getting quite expert at recognizing how to squeeze in one more item without overfilling to the point that nothing comes good and clean.

Used the last of a bottle of ketchup by rinsing out the tad that wanted to stick with a little water. 

Planned ahead...We ate pizza last night, a meal out not in my menu plan for the week.  Since that's the second time this week, I thought I'd just go ahead and cook the portion of our meal for tomorrow that will take the longest to prepare.  Now I need only to reheat the main dish with the FREE Philadelphia cooking cream I got at the grocery this week and boil water to cook pasta.  We should be eating in under 15 minutes Saturday after we get home.

Dug about in refrigerator and double checked everything.  I found two bell peppers that were beginning to wrinkle a tad, so I went ahead and seeded them and chopped to put in the freezer.  

Had to toss an eggplant, two zucchini and a tiny portion of a yellow bell pepper.  sigh.  Money out on that deal is only about $1 but I still hate waste.

Living Well

Probably one of the best gifts I've given myself this year was to make over a portion of the guest room as a personal crafting/work area for myself. 

This week the space has been used for the sewing machine, as I plowed my way through one project after another.  As I worked there the other evening, ripping out seams I realized how much pleasure I took in sitting near the window looking out into the yard.  I watched birds hop about, saw the cat as she slinked through intent upon the hunt,  saw Maddie come barreling by as she ran across the yard (she does that just for fun now and then).  I watched the wind blow in the trees and found myself in a dreamy sort of state.  With the windows open each day it was even more pleasant.  I felt really, as though I were invisible behind the window screen and yet part of every little tableau that played out under the trees just outside the window. 

Peace sank deep into my bones as I pulled threads and rematched fabric for further sewing.  Peace sank deep and I felt quiet and full, content in my own little bit of the earth.  The human world is just the push of a button away from us these days.  I often feel bombarded, even here in my own home, as news is pushed and shoved at me from computer screen and television and a husband who at times forgets he's cutting back on debates and politics and news programs.  It's shoved at me in stores and in traffic and in people who can be disturbing in their intense push to live. 

But this quiet peace and calm that settles around me as I work next to the open window in my home, surrounded not by screeching announcers or honking horns but by the rustle of leaves and the chirrup of a bird and the soft tread of a cat...well that's really the world I belong to, not the busy pushy one forced upon me.  I need that space in my home to remind me of this fact, of what the world is at core still, under all that other stuff.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Roll: My Personal Favorites

Like many other bloggers, I love reading blogs.  I enjoy seeing what others are doing in their homes, how they express themselves creatively, and more.  I also find a lot of inspiration on various blogs.  I read all sorts.  Some devoted to decor, some to cooking, some to savings, some to just plain living.  Now and then I'll tire of a blog and drop it off my list.  A few are always favorites.  At the beginning of this year, I cleared my blogs from my list of favorites and started all over again.  I kept only a five or six on my roll who had become friends. 

Why wipe out a list of blogs?  Because I get locked into the same thought processes and the same ideas repeated over and over.  I wanted a new, fresh, more creative approach to life this year and I needed to see where new blogs would take me.  I've had fun.  My inspiration has soared, I've enjoyed myself tremendously. 

I thought I'd share some of my current favorites with you and I want to start the list with a new friend, one who has a brand new blog.  V asked me to be her mentor as she begins her foray into the world of homemaking.  I was honored and when I found her announcement of her blog this morning I was thrilled to pieces.  Please stop by and visit her blog and welcome her into the blogging and home making world won't you?
Friend Rhonda is a homemaker extraordinaire in my opinion.  She cooks, sews, decorates, makes her clothes, keeps grandbabies while mommies work, mows the lawn, can find more bargains in a thrift shop than anyone I know and has a thrifty green thumb. 

Heidi and I have been part of a homemaking group for years together now.  She's an accomplished quilter and needlewoman, an American expat living in Holland.  She has a creative eye that I enjoy.  Earlier this year we challenged one another to ferret out treasures in our cabinets, closets and cupboards.  Heidi took that challenge further and came up with Make Do and Mend Mondays to use some of those treasures in our day to day lives. 

This blog is by a young girl, not more than 20 or so, who lives with her parents in a most unconventional (by today's standards) way.  She only posts about once a month but I feel so restored and rested by her posts, her beautiful photography and her narration of their daily lives.  She inspires me to look more for the simple frugal things I can do in my life instead of at what I'm told I need.  Living proof that beauty and happiness isn't packaged up and waiting to be bought in a store.

Manuela is a popular blogger. I can't remember how I found her, but she's lives in Georgia and that led me to comment and we've 'chatted' back and forth ever since.  Manuela is a gardener and has the prettiest vegetable plot, grows flowers and roses and berries and such all in a city setting.  If ever anyone could find beauty in a thrift store, Manuela is the one.  She sees more possibilities in things than most and has a treasure hunter's eye.  Her mantra has to be that thrift is beautiful.  I'll share her link but I'm going right back, I see she's posted two or three new posts since I read earlier this week:

Okay, now I'm all caught up with Manuela, here's another popular blog, this one from the land downunder.  A real homesteader/thrifty woman who has just finished a book on the subject (the publishing world called her) about her life on her small homestead. 

Crystal is well known among thrifty bloggers and homesteading bloggers alike.  She homeschools, has a garden and keeps her home in order (a feat with children!). 

I'm fairly new to reading this blog but so far I like what I see.  I love that she decided to bike to work recently and is apparently keeping that habit up in an effort to save gas.

Another blog I'm new to as well.  I spent one evening this week reading backwards through the blog (from recent posts to some made last Fall).  Very interesting and love the remodels she's done thus far.  None of them costly and all of them ending up looking very pretty.

That's it for this afternoon.  These are only a few of the long list of blogs I'm currently reading but I have something to do...it's called 'housework'!  I have been having a very leisurely day to day.  It started with being left to sleep in and then making a big breakfast and feeling too full to get up and do anything so I read a bit, and then Chance started listening to a favorite radio program online so I didn't want to make noise (that's my story).  Seriously I need to sweep, vacuum, do a handful of dishes and find out where an unpleasant aroma has it's source.  So I'd better get busy, huh?

See you all tomorrow for Frugal Friday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Coffee Chat - Maybe it's a late April Fools Day?

Come on in out of the wind and chill air....Feels more like autumn doesn't it, than Spring.  I have to join in with the man who recently said he wanted to be a weatherman.  "It's the only profession I know of where you're paid good money to be consistently wrong!"  Amen!  Today was supposed to be a lot warmer than it's been.  In fact, it's been downright cool in the wind and shivery chilly cold if you happened to be standing in the car wash trying to spray the dust and cat paw prints off your car.

The weather's been funny since Sunday.  It was cloudy and cool very nearly all day long that day.  Cool enough I changed my mind about yard work.  I'd meant to take it easy a second day, but then I looked online at the forecast (humph) and with 90's predicted for the rest of the week it seemed the wiser and cooler option to work and take one of the warmer days off.  So out I went to work and work I did until I felt tired enough to want to stop all work altogether.  It didn't seem I accomplished much either but my body said it had definitely felt the strain  of digging up spider wort that has taken over the back flower bed and the lifting of the rocks I'd used as border (buried under the plants that took over!). 

I managed a good housekeeping day as well, but I was so tired!  No encouragement needed to go to bed nor to sleep either.  I was in bed a littler earlier than usual and out like a light. 

I got up Monday morning and it was still cool and cloudy and I figured I might as well get out there and DO something.  So I hauled off the last of the limbs and did the raking up of seed pods under the Sweet Gum tree, did a bit of weeding, then cleaned that old glider I plan to refurbish with new nuts and bolts and paint. I also loaded all the rocks into my wagon...big mistake.  I can't move it now because it's too heavy! Another day of working until bone weary then back indoors to tend to tasks in the house.  After showering, I settled down to sew and then went on to do a good bit of housework.  I found it harder going yesterday. I pushed through and worked and sewed off and on all day long. 

I'd had open windows all day Sunday and meant to do the same yesterday, but about noon it began to rain a bit. It would rain five minutes and then quit, get sunny and chilly and cloud up and rain all over again.  I finally tired of jumping up to shut windows and just left them closed.  I was so weary I decided I really needed to follow up on my promise to rest for thirty minutes every day and I went to bed and lay down.  I stayed there for 30 minutes and got up but I honestly didn't feel less tired.  I made my way through one more minor task, then sat down in my chair to do a bit of writing and lo and behold dozed right off to sleep and slept 20 minutes.

After that I pepped up a little and went to sewing more, since all the housework but vacuuming had been done.  I did get finished with one of the front porch pillows...well technically I finished two but it turned out that the first one was all wrong and I had to rip those stitches out.  Thankfully I discovered my mistake and could correct it on the second pillow before I stitched it up. Chance came in just as I got it pinned together, so no more sewing for me.

We had a quiet evening.  It was Harvest night in our home.  We've three pay periods this month and tonight we had a little more extra to put towards our car loan.  That was nice to do, knowing when the next payment comes in our balance will be still lower.  I totted up the checkbook and was proud to see we're holding our own.  We discussed a couple of  issues and set up two more of our mini funds for expenses that are coming up next year.  Then we put away all the paper work. 

Chance listened to a church service in England on the computer, I had music playing softly from the TV.  I read blogs and played a game or two and finally went off to bed.  I was beginning to feel not only weary but irritable.  I don't like it when I feel like that.

Chance wanted to talk last night and since we'd barely spoken of anything except bills,  I listened and when he rolled over to go to sleep, I read a bit.  I think it was just after 11pm when I turned out the light.  For some reason we were both wide awake at 3:30am but apparently we both had the same idea: it was too early to be awake, so we went right off back to sleep and the next thing I knew Chance's alarm scared pooh out of both of us!  It's seldom he actually sleeps right up until time for his alarm to go off.  He usually wakes a few minutes before and then shuts it off, in a sweet attempt to let me sleep.

I had no trouble at all going right back to sleep and was scared by the sound of my alarm going off.  I know I slept really well and you would think I'd have felt better than the night before, but I didn't.  I got Chance's lunch packed up and made him breakfast, and I sat with him for 15 minutes of morning news (ugh) and then saw him off.  It seemed extra cold this morning and it went right through me for some reason.  Perhaps I should have had on slippers...I don't know.  I just know when I came indoors again I crawled right into bed and pulled covers over my head.  I didn't even take off that thick housecoat I'd had on either.  I was so cold I was shivering. 

Chance called in a few minutes time and suggested since we were going to be getting my car serviced later this week I wait and we'd shop for groceries then.  I scanned through my mental list and agreed readily.  When he hung up the phone, I burrowed back under the covers and went right to sleep.  I usually have to woo sleep, seldom do I just fall asleep readily, especially after I've been up nearly an hour, but this morning that didn't seem to matter in the least.

I woke at 9am with a raging headache, and a sense of panic. I don't know what the panic was about.  I just know I tumbled right out of bed and walked all around the house trying to shake it off.  Perhaps it was related to a dream or one of the dogs barked or the cat jumped atop the AC unit outside my window.  I made fresh coffee and took two Tylenol.  I had a bite of breakfast and went into the craft room and ran up that last pillow for the front porch on the sewing machine and then repaired a shopping bag that had burst it's seam.  I loaded the dishwasher and then set it to run.  My head stopped pounding and just ached. 

I pushed myself to shower and dress and went off quite late, after lunch, to do the few things I'd left on my to do list of errands.  I washed and vacuumed the car at the car wash.  That's where I got washed (and waxed too) by the wind and mist and then I went to the bank and stopped by CVS to pick up some things that were specials this week.  I walked about in my wet shoes with my wet pants slapping against my ankles and the longer I took to do my tasks, the worse I felt. I felt weak and shaky and weary beyond words. I drove home feeling as though I just wanted to cry. 

When I got home I put on my pajamas and robe and curled up in my chair.  No naps this afternoon, however, as poorly as I've felt.  I have only two ideas of what it might be: hormonal or viral.  I'm hoping for the hormonal as that is usually over and done in a days time.  I'm far far too busy at the moment for the viral, no time for that whatsoever!  I am knee deep in projects and Chance is about to start his week off (with extra days this time) and there's all that work in the yard to be worked at a little each day as well. 

The yard is in no shape to be photographed at present.  I'm not sure when it will be to be honest.  I realized that I've got to do this job the way I do my deep cleaning and other work.  A little time devoted to it every single day.  Some days that will mean a full hour's work and hopefully at some point it will be 15 minutes work daily for a bit.  But this business of leaving it until Spring is simply not working for me at all.  A lot of the work I am doing now is maintenance, not planting and such which is typically Spring yard work.  No point in procrastinating on these jobs any more.  I need to just do them.

I photographed the pillow covers I made for my bed and posted them on Monday's Make Do and Mend.  I've decided I want some nice big buttons to go on the open end so I can keep them shut over the pillows inside.  I'll have to look at the fabric store next time I go out that way.  I checked and I have more than enough to make another pair of shams and valances to match.  Maybe I'll find some coordinating fabric or something with a pattern that will look nice on the reverse side?  We'll see.  I'm not ready to add yet another project to my list of things to be done just yet.

I looked the glider over well yesterday as I cleaned it up.  I think it needs only a couple of nuts and bolts to be repaired properly.  With a fresh coat of paint it will be perfect for seating on the deck.  I know just the color I want to paint it, sort of a light olive green color....Maybe...Or a pretty bright turquoise blue... Or...I have commitment issues with paint. 

I meant to pot up the annuals and herbs I bought Friday but no, I haven't done it. That has been put on the list for tomorrow. There are projects for both porch and deck and potted plants too to be taken care of. I've got pillow covers for pillows for the deck (to be used on the glider) but no pillow forms to go in them at present. I did use the two pillow forms bought at Goodwill last week. One was a little smaller than the other but they worked out just fine. Here's my new pillows for the front porch:

Oops!  Trudy decided to be photogenic today.

She's laughing at getting in the photo...

No, Trudy I'm not mad...

Yes, Maddie, I'll take a photo of you too.  And thank YOU for posing so sweetly.

Finally!  The pillows.  Remember this was my second selection of fabric.  My first was a blue and white gingham check but it turned out to be more like a thin silk fabric.  Not rugged enough for outdoors.  I found the strawberry fabric in my bin with a border print of tea cups on one edge and teddy bears at a tea party on the other.  I believe it was a Daisy Kingdom fabric scrap.

See the pretty border on the blue napkin?  That's what drew my eye in the store. It didn't hurt a bit when I saw they were clearance priced for just $.98 each.  Since there were only two, I almost didn't buy them...then I thought of Susan in SC who is always making pretty pillows for her home using place mats and napkins and such.  Thank you Susan for inspiring me!

Good profile shot, Trudy!

I've been jotting down ideas for the past two weeks for things to reuse, repaint, move, etc.  As I said, I've got so many projects ongoing just now that I can't add another start up to my list but I don't want to forget these great ideas that keep coming up. Like how to use scrapbook paper to make those two plates work on the guest room wall...how to make two old wooden bar stools work for me...a room rearrangement, rethinking a previous plan for the breakfast area...Oh ideas! 

Wanted to share as well that the Margherita pizza I made yesterday was AWESOME good.  I couldn't believe how delicious it was, so fresh and tasty.  It helped tremendously I think that my crust turned out thin and crispy and that the tomatoes had a nice sharp acidity.  So good!

I apologize for the lack of baking this week.  I'd planned to make a chocolate pound cake yesterday but I really just didn't feel up to a long drawn out mixing process.  I did make yogurt yesterday, but it looked awfully thin when I removed it from the insulated bag last night.  I'm hoping it firmed up some in the fridge overnight.  I haven't checked it today.  If it didn't set up I'll use it as a substitute milk in baking, but I'd prefer to have yogurt.  I think my error came in not wrapping the pan of warm water with a towel.  Instead I used a fleece throw. 

And I did make a double recipe of pizza crust.  I par baked the second crust and put in the freezer.  It will be a quick pizza dinner one night when we're super busy.

I hear Chance coming up the road, so I'll end here.  So good to see you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Made Do & Mend Mondays

This project was strictly a make-do on all counts.  First there has been my desire for a new summer coverlet or spread for my bed.  Between budget increases due to higher costs and the lack of things I thought suitable in the stores, I was left with a 'make-do'.  I flipped an old quilt over to the plain backing, which is a nice creamy color.  That suited me better than any of the patterned bedspreads and comforters and quilts I'd seen to date.

But it seemed a bit bland.  I wanted to put away the shams I'd used all winter, but we were right back to the two previous problems, lack of funds and not liking what I found.

Eventually I remembered some fabric I had.  Not enough though to do shams with.  Then I brought out another fabric. I tried a swatch against the quilt and loved it.

When I cut out the shams I made an error.  I forgot to cut the back fabric long enough to allow for an envelope type opening to slip the pillow into.  I had more fabric but didn't want to waste what I had.  So I 'made-do' yet again.  I chose to make just plain pillow slips.  This is the result of all my making do!
I think I'll buy new shades for my lamps and perhaps I might also make valances for my windows from the remaining fabric.  I'm very happy with my new pillow covers.  What do you think?

Join with Heidi at Cranberry Chronicles...Leave a comment saying you are sharing a project and let others see how you 'Make Do and Mend'.

Menu Monday: Busy Week Ahead

This week I'm busy busy busy.  I've got yardwork projects going on, I've got porch projects, I have a big living room project I want to start, I've got a bedroom makerovers going on...Then I have routine work, shopping, errands, a car to service, hair appointment, cookout, special class, synagogue....Whew!  My goal this week: eat at home.  That means I need to have prepared foods to reheat, or crockpot meals. 

Monday:  Margherita Pizza, Green Salad
I have fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and fresh basil on hand.  It seems a good time to make a pizza I've wanted to try for a good while.  I'll partially bake a second pizza crust, then make a pizza to pop in the freezer for a meal next week.
While the pizza dough is rising, I'll get busy making a few make ahead items for the week ahead.

Tuesday:  Roast Chicken, Potato Salad, Lemon Dill Green Beans, Crusty Bread
I hope to buy a deli roast chicken and a baguette today while I'm out shopping.  I'll make the potato salad on Monday.

Wednesday:  Chicken, Pear and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing,  Crusty Bread and Butter, Ice Cream  Sandwiches

The salad is just as good with a raspberry vinegarette dressing...but I'll have blue cheese since I know that Chance likes it and the blue cheese is delicious with the pears and walnuts.  Leftover bread, toasted, and homemade ice cream sandwiches (grahams and ice cream, made on Monday) should make a nice meal.

Thursday:  Beef Shish Kebab, Wild Rice, Steamed Broccoli
Alan is due here to do more yard work and part of our bargaining included me feeding him dinner. I have zucchini, mushroom and vidalia onions to go on the skewers.  I'll start the meat marinating in Italian dresing Wednesday night,then assemble the kebabs in the morning so all I need do is run them under the broiler to cook. 

Friday:  Twice Baked Potatoes, Tossed Salad, Biscuits
We'll eat a small dinner today, since we're going to a cook out. I'm taking baked beans and thinking I might carry a pan of brownies as well.

Saturday:  Subway Sandwiches, chips, Apples
After the week just past, I think we'll just stop in town for a $5 footlong (I have coupons) and we'll take a break from cooking and clean up.

Sunday:  Meat Loaf, Green Peas, Spinach and Apple Salad, Corn Muffins
Freezer meat loaf and peas will bake in the oven (the peas covered to steam), alongside the corn muffins.  I'll slice an apple into pre-washed fresh spinach.