Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coffee Chat - It's a HOT one!

I thought I'd just open with this photo because these days what we see is a lot of brown.  I like brown, I do, but the sort of brown I've been looking at is not pretty.  The grass is crispy.  And dark brown.  It looks like that everywhere except where a few brave souls throw budget caution to the wind and water their lawns.  Not going to happen here when 'cool' days top out at 95F and today was well over 100F.  It's all the AC can do to keep the house at 80F.  I'd turn the thermostat up still more but Chance is home and he likes it at least somewhat cool.

It's not all the heat of the sun that is the problem.  No, we're also having quite a bit of wind.  Granny used to refer to these hot dry days with a stiff breeze as "drying weather" and she always shook her head over it.  A week of wind has taken it's toll on the trees, which had been holding their own.  A few yellow leaves have appeared here and there.  The trees sort of droop a bit now, despite their green color.  I don't know how the wild blueberries fared but the blackberries just turned from green to brown without ever really forming a real berry. 

I'm not complaining.  I've noticed weather has seasons too and I don't mean Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring.  There are rainy seasons and dry seasons, hot seasons and cool seasons and they come when they please.  I recall Spring/Summers such as this.  The years that Alan and Kay were born were exceptionally hot.  In '84 when Alan was born temperatures had topped out at 110 and the lawns were pretty much as they are now.  The year Kay was born it was hot and wet, so everything was green and damp making it ghastly humid and adding to our misery.  However, I've also known Summers that rarely topped 85F and some mornings were chilly enough to warrant snuggling under a blanket, as well as winters so balmy we felt we lived on a tropical isle and wore shorts most of the winter. 

So there you go.  Weather is what weather is and no man shall control or predict it with any real accuracy.  Those who do predict it correctly should also go on and play the lottery, because they are definitely having a lucky day!

I didn't stop here to chat all about weather however, though it will figure in my chatter again as I discuss projects.  And where are my manners?  How about a nice cold glass of iced tea with your choice of lemon wedges or mint sprigs and a bowl of cold watermelon cubes?  Just sounds refreshing doesn't it?  Definitely cools you down.

Brief weather talk here. My yard project, which was grand in proportion to time/money/scale of project etc has been hampered by the weather, too.  I can't divide and move iris or day lily and don't dare dig up the other roses until such a time as we are having some regular rainfall.  Far better to leave plants that are surviving be. No need to buy plants to set out.  No need to mow lawn either.  We continue to spread mulch (I bought 8 more bags yesterday) and trim back overgrown trees and painting goes like a breeze.  Alan is coming tomorrow to work on a bit of the yard but I have a sneaky feeling his dad intends to ask him to change oil in his work car and I'll get short labor tomorrow. 

I bought the can of paint today to finish painting the glider.  I have paint to cover the cafe table and chairs.  I have an old chair I'd love to paint some funky color and will no doubt be on the lookout for paint for that as well as for the two stools I'm going to have Alan saw down.  I'll be buying more paint over the next weeks.  I just have to go slow so we can stay within our budget.

Speaking of budget, it's hard to believe that we are at the halfway point of June.  And by end of June I need to do my quarterly budget check to see how we are faring and where I might need to make adjustments.  I feel we're doing well at the moment but it doesn't hurt to see cold hard facts on paper even if the news is good.  It keeps me mindful of my destination.

I have a habit of late of using my Swagbucks searches to see which blogs might pop up with a phrase I type into the search bar.  Well that has led to some interesting blogs and this one caught my attention yesterday:  The Zero Based Budget

I like the idea of this and with that in mind today after we returned from Walmart, hardware store, auto shop, gas station, etc. I felt led to tell my husband that aside from gasoline we are done spending for this pay period. 

Of course, this week also sees the beginning of my $50/week challenge.  I spent a wee bit more than $50 yesterday for this week's foodstuffs (excluding what I already had on hand).  I'll do a separate post with a breakdown of purchases made later today or tomorrow.  Chance asked me to continue to stock our pantry and freezer due to indicators he's seen in news lately, and so my savings was plowed right back into the pantry items.  Not a bad thing to use grocery savings for just now and I'm glad I started the challenge so I could do as asked without spending any more money than usual.

My master bath is finished up for the moment.  Chance hung the curtain rod hangers with wall anchors and I got the curtains hung early last week.  The little shade for the window has been hemmed all around and rod pockets sewn.  That means that I am officially down to finishing off my glider and cafe table and chairs and the whole of the May/June projects will be finished except the yard and that is one project I figured will be year round for a couple years at least.  I am already planning my next list of projects for my home.

Chance has made good progress on my short list of requests.  Today we finally got all the parts together (with the help of the guys at the local hardware store.  We should have probably just started with them in the first place!) for the ice maker repair.  I've already had my first little offering of ice cubes which we dumped per Chance's request.  We'll see how the next few batches come out, but it works and that is a wonderful thing. 

I will share that we both are very nervous over the ice maker.  Each time the water comes on it makes the sound of pressurized water running.  And we both jump and grab a flashlight and peer anxiously behind the fridge to see if the pipe is leaking.  I have just stopped myself from doing that same thing all over again.  I must get familiar with the sound all over again I guess.  After all it's been over two years since we had a working ice maker.

Next up is repairing the pump house roof. Chance will do this.   He's already got a plan.  We just need to build up our house fund a little more before doing another job around the house.

I find myself absolutely loathing every single recipe I make at present and so I shall spend some time this week leafing through and reading recipes.  The magazines offerings have left me without inspiration this month.  Makes me glad I have all these fresh cookbooks about.  As well as all those I stuck in e-files after viewing on websites and blogs.  Can you believe it? I made my first recipe e-file last July and it's time to check that file out and see if anything appeals to me for summer heat cooking now.  And if not, I'll empty the file, just as I do my notebook when I sort through it.  I often mean to try recipes and I've tried various methods to remind me of this fact.   The one that works the absolute best is to put it on the fridge or lay an open book on the counter and just do it.  Otherwise I forget, set aside, lose it, etc.

I also have a few recipes I'd like to make but these are mostly desserts.  Lemonade Stand Pie comes to mind.   I only make this pie once a year and we thoroughly enjoy it because it's a seasonal treat, reserved just for summers, just as I make doughnuts in the autumn. 

Chance mentioned that several women he worked with and around were planning to spend the weekend ahead putting up corn.  "Why don't we do that?" he asked.  Well for one, we tend to eat seasonally, and we have only a small freezer which tends to stay full.  We discussed getting a second freezer of the same size but I couldn't really justify having that much food on hand for two people.  We manage quite well and only very rarely do I wish momentarily for a bit more freezer space then I shift things about and we make out all right as we are.  But I do indeed enjoy the fruits and vegetables and melons of summer and take full advantage of eating them fresh.  Currently I'm keeping an eye out for green tomatoes.  I do so love fried green tomatoes now and then.

Kay texted her dad this afternoon to tell him that she had car woes.  Big ones.  That girl refused help, covered it herself without asking dear dad for a penny.  Chance felt a mixture of pride at her initiative in managing all by herself and a wee bit sad that he wasn't 'needed'.  He mentioned to V this weekend that he felt a bit lost as a dad at the moment with no one at home to actively parent.  Who knew?  Truth be told I've been so busy trying to keep my own sense of self intact with Kay's leaving last August and her gradual weaning of me  that I never once thought of how dad might be feeling. Maybe Kay sensed it herself, because it was about the time she left home that she began to have more conversations with her dad via phone and text and it's to him she turns most often when she's hurt or upset.

I wanted to share a few photos with you in this post.

Chance hung my paper dispenser last week:
Of course, I LOVE it!  I learned that some today's rolls of aluminum foil have to have the cardboard tube trimmed about 1/4 inch to fit properly and all paper must come from the bottom of the tube, not over the top.  As well, in order to get a nice clean tear it helps to use two hands, one to pull the paper and one to press the edge down so the teeth cut nicely. The bonus of this is that even though I'd bought paper towel which was 'choose-a-size', we are now using less paper towels.  Out of sight, out of mind is working beautifully.

V brought me presents.  A tablecloth in a buttery yellow color (one of my most favorite of colors), a soft very light throw perfect for summer evenings when the AC begins to cool the house down to temperature set, and dishcloths.  Chance was aghast when I told him what they were.  "You'll never use them to wash dishes!"  "Well, yes, dear.  That's what they are made for."  But so far, I admit to having a hard time.  Look at how lovely they are:

And lastly two views of the roads that lead home.  The first is the main road which was paved this Spring.  Of course, it stands to reason they'd pave the road and we'd not have a drop of rain.  So celebrating NOT sliding into the ditch hasn't even been possible.  However, we have cheered that we aren't choked to death with dust each time we drive down it.
The last dirt road in this neighborhood is ours of course, which turns off the paved road:

This is the view just at our driveway looking up the hill towards Granny's drive.  You'll notice how green the trees look and the weeds too for that matter.  The grass isn't nearly so hardy, I'm afraid.

Last thing I want to share is my current reading.  I tried to read Jennifer Weiner's   The Guy Not Taken and honestly I just couldn't get into it.  It was very depressing to me.  So I went about a week without touching a book after putting that one aside.  I don't know just why but even if I don't like a book I hate to put it aside.  However, I promised myself this year that I'll not waste time reading a book that hasn't gotten better by the first ten chapters.  The next book I picked up is by Paula Marantz Cohen,
Austen in Boca and it's about Jewish widows and widowers who live in retirement communities in Boca Raton, Florida.  I admit the first chapter left me a bit cold, but following my own ten chapter rule, I found by chapter 3 that I couldn't put the book down for long at a time. 

And here I shall end.  I was in the midst of the most interesting chapter when I sat down...


BelleDiabolique said...

They won't be hurt by dishwater. Remember that conversation we had about best, and the short story I told you about? "Everyday Use"? Throw them rags in the sink ;-) I've got lace ones I use every day, and they actually still look just fine.

Love ya Mrs. PennyAnn!

lislyn66 said...

I have rags like that, my great aunt made them. They are my absolute favorite dish rags! I need to have her teach me how to do that. I haven't been online much to read your blog, was happy to sit back with a cool bottle of water and just enjoy. Missed you!

Susan in SC said...

I love your paper hanger and your wash cloths are very pretty too! Thanks for sharing pictures of them all!