Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Retirement Remedies: Fighting Back Earning At Home

I learned several years ago that my ebay sales might be only $3 average but if I saved every single money order that came my way at the end of the month I had about $100 extra.  That $100 was small potatoes, but it made a deep dint in our debt repayment over the course of a year...$1200 at year's end and in two years time my 'little bits' had helped reduce our car loan by two and half years.  It paid off our always hefty balance on the credit card.  This experiment proved beyond a doubt that every little bit helps. One of John's favorite reminders is that little rivulets make up big streams.  The following are suggestions to myself to save/earn in order to net the extra cash that will ease the tight budget.

1.   Save all $1 bills by putting in the savings account.  

2.  Convert survey site cash rewards to Paypal and use for necessary purchases online or bank.

3.  Figure out minimum goal required to earn a gift card  each week and devote at least one whole hour daily towards earning that goal amount.

4. Use Swagbucks Shop and Earn judiciously.  If we're making an online purchase anyway, then use Shop and Earn to do it.  Ditto for making reservations for travel.  Get those points for spending that is planned.

5.  In years when we have pecans on our trees, pick them up and sell them.  Two years ago I earned enough to buy a 3 month supply of meat from the butcher shop we like so well.  And that wasn't a great year for pecans.

6.  Keep doing rewards programs such as MyCoke, etc.  Look for rewards programs on other brand items we use and be vigiliant about entering points.  We get free soda or snacks and the occasional magazine subscription for MyCokeRewards.  Pick up caps when I see them on the ground...It's found money.

7.  Get free, or nearly free, items whenever possible combining sales/coupons/rewards.  Hook up with a good site to alert to such possible free items and work it.

8.  Sell all extra unwanted items.

9.  If I come across good quality items at thrift stores, purchase for resell purposes.  One girl told me that she frequently comes across nice clothing items that she sells on eBay or through consignement.  Her extra sales purchased her children Christmas gifts and school supply needs.

10.  Work diligently to get booth into monthly profit zone.  It was suggested I have a bigger space.  Until I am consistently making a profit I don't think paying more rent is the answer.  However, I am underusing my space. I can fit another shelf at either end of the two I have for a small investment.  I've talked it over with John and that seems the best thing.  I've lots of other ideas on this particular subject which might turn into it's own post for Retirement Remedies.

11.  I'm going to keep a running list of ideas as I come up with them for possible craft ideas that might work in an Etsy shop or at local craft fairs.

That's the start of this category for retirement remedies.  I'm going to let my brain flow free at least one day a week and see what else I can come up with.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

In My Home This Week: Counting Down To Christmas

John had  a lovely bit of time off, almost two whole weeks...My but it went by quickly!  Now we're back on a routine work schedule and we'll be there for some time.  No more extra days off for a bit.  It will be another schedule change for us both after all these months with an added day off here or there.  Sigh... Never a static schedule, ours.  Always changing and always weird to all but those of us who live with it.  Ah well.

We've had a lovely week of cold nights and cool days. I enjoy it a great deal, not the least because we can eat lovely slow simmered foods...

Breakfasts:  Butterscotch Oatmeal
Corned Beef Hash and Toast
Fried Eggs and Toast (X2)
Cheesy Grits Casserole, Orange Cranberry Muffins
Peanut Butter and Banana Toast
Scrambled Eggs and Muffins(leftovers)

Suppers:  Grilled Cheese
Corn Chowder with Cornbread Croutons
Turkey Cranberry Sandwiches
Vegetable Soup(X3)

Dinners:  Corned Beef Brisket, Cabbage, Buttered Potatoes, Soda Bread

Chicken and Dumplings, Salad with Apples and Toasted nuts

Hungarian Goulash, Noodles, Beets, Green Beans

Red Beans and Rice, Coleslaw, Cornbread

EMS Dinner

Out with Mama

Chinese Pepper Steak, Rice, Ambrosia

Clean guest room.  Change bedding.

Finish planting iris.  (only  a few more)

Grocery shopping.

Get Christmas cards finished and in the mail.

Work on Mama's Christmas gift.

Be ready to drop everything and do whatever John wants to do...and that is a job in itself, lol!

This week's plans:
Work on Mama's Christmas Gift.

Prepare food for EMS party

Wipe out, declutter and arrange the upper cabinets on the sink wall.

Get out and look for a vanity for the guest room/thrift shop hop.

Plan belated Christmas dinner for John and I.

Spend at least 30 minutes each day playing piano.

This Week In My Home: Living Frugally, Living Well

Saturday:  I used leftover hash brown casserole to make Egg Nests for our breakfast this morning.  It was a nice change of pace for a Shabat morning breakfast.

Our dinner was a heat and eat frozen entree right from our freezer, Turkey and Dressing, cranberry sauce left from our Thanksgiving meal and a salad with toasted nuts, apple slices and craisins.

We did nothing this day.  No shopping, nor driving.  We didn't even burn electricity except for the television and fridge and freezers running until late afternoon when I turned on the AC for a bit to cool the house off a bit.  A cold front is coming in tomorrow.  I for one shall be glad to see it.

I made a supper of waffles and hash browns and sausage for our company dinner tonight.  I used pancake mix for the waffles.

My Daughter in law brought a foam mattress topper for the guest bed.  I'd had that on my list of things to purchase.  I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated it.

When my DIL showed me the present she'd made for my mom I thought it was very nice.  It was a lamp made of teacups and saucers.  She said she was looking for more pieces in thrift shops so that she could make more.  I took her to my shed and rummaged about.  I found three teapots, a few teacups, a sugar bowl, a creamer and several saucers in my stash.  These were all mismatched pieces that I couldn't use in my booth due to small cracks or chips.  Lori was pleased to acquire so many pretty pieces to use.

Sunday:  John and I got up early to prep our salad stuff for the family party today.  We chopped onions, tore lettuce, washed and wrapped baking potatoes and put baked beans on to cook in the crock pot.  I also made a peach cobbler as an extra dessert item.  I had all the ingredients for that on hand.  I put peaches in the freezer last summer.

We borrowed a table and grill from Mama as I said on Friday.  I thought I might really need to buy a chair or two but in the end we pieced it out with the help of a stool or two instead.

DIL brought a bunch of disposable aluminum lasagna pans with her.  These were used to take meat to and from the grill, hold peach cobbler, and corral baked potatoes.  They were so handy and saved the need to wash a lot of serving pieces.

We gave family gifts this year.  Baby Josh was given an ornament (a Nutcracker which has special meaning to his Mama) and the other children were given a recorder.  They tootled about all afternoon long.  These items were not expensive but they were sufficient to make the grandchildren happy.

Happy to note at end of the day that my Shop and Earn from our last stay in Kingsland had credited to Swagbucks.  I am very near having enough for a $50 gift card this month.

Monday:  I feel sometimes as though I've done little all week long to save money, especially when we throw a big party for our family.  All of the money for our party came from either our Christmas fun or grocery budget.  We didn't go over.  I moved money back into savings today.  Being able to do that made me feel we had, after all, been saving where we could.

Although we had guests staying with us all weekend long, we did not buy extra except for a single loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.  I used what I had on hand in the house to prepare meals.  When we ran out of juice, I got a bottle of juice from our pantry.  When I ran out of sugar, I went to the pantry and got another. And so it went all through the weekend

Fed the pets food scraps from yesterday.

John washed two loads of clothes.  He hung most to dry here in the house.  It was far too damp and cold outdoors to dry clothes on the clothes line.    He decided to put the sheets from the guest bed in the dryer and after they were dry, he tossed in the towels, taking advantage of the hot start to dry them more quickly.

Received (at long long last) my rebate Visa cards from Office Depot.  Truth, I gave up on getting them.  I filed my rebate form in July and it took until now to have it processed.

I cooked burgers for our lunch and Potatoes O'Brien.  The buns and the potatoes and peppers were leftover from our party foods.

We went down to pick up John's check from work.  We took off trash on our way, went to bank and post office while we were out.

As I was paying bills, I discovered that I needn't set aside two half payments of utilities as the extra pay period finally caught up to the cycle of those bills.  I talked it over with John and we put those half amounts aside for our meat purchase in January.

John had given me extra cash last week to cover any difference in our Christmas fund money and our spending.  I felt very pleased to return that cash to him.  He'd taken it from his allowance.

It was mighty cold today, bitter sink into your bones cold.  The house never really felt warm and even my fuzzy robe and slippers didn't help to warm me up.  I decided we needed to put some humidity in the air and put the tea kettle on the stove.  Amazingly the house seemed to get warmer and we didn't turn up the heat pump by even one degree.

I ran a short wash cycle of dishes in the dishwasher.  I didn't have a full load and looked about to find things to add to it, but it was still not quite full.

Tuesday:  Last night I burned the candle in my buffet arrangement down to nothing.  I was able to put another candle stub in its place. I am glad I saved these short pieces of candles even though at the time I had no clear idea how I might use them.

John made breakfast from leftovers from our party.  He made a Steak and Cheese omelet using steak and cheese and peppers from the party.  I had the end piece of the sour dough bread as my toast.

I cashed in points from Pinecone.

Made today's daily goal for Swagbucks.

Made lunch of Cowboy Chili using hamburger and adding in baked beans from our dinner on Sunday.  I put the rest into the freezer to add to a batch I'll make next week for a work party.

We used salad and croutons from the party for our salads today.

I rinsed dishes over the dishpan then used that water to hand wash the dishes that don't go in the dishwasher.

I turned the dishwasher liquid bottle upside down to drain.  I expect to get at least one more washing from that bottle.

We turned on the propane heat in the early morning hours but as soon as the sun was hitting the house we turned it down.

We really should have gone out to buy groceries today but I asked to wait until tomorrow.  My reason was that I was tired from the weekend activities but really one extra day is also a savings as I will be able to stretch my grocery money that much further.  Not going shopping today is enough of a savings to buy an extra bag of sugar and an extra bag of coffee for the pantry shelves.

We paid that loan we took from ourselves back in March to build the porch.  I was pleased to take that payment and put in savings this month.  That makes three deposits to our savings here in December, in a month that is notorious for being a heavy spending month.  It makes me feel very good to do that.  We've had some sticky months this year but we persevered and this month is really highlighting our efforts.

Wednesday:    I was generous with our grocery funds this week, knowing that next pay period will be a shorter pay period overall.  I did restock our pantry.  I put back two bags of sugar, 2 pounds of butter, 2 bags of coffee, 2 bottles of maple syrup, 2 cans of baking cocoa, 2 of baking powder and 1 Salt grinder (an item John likes to have on hand) and 1 18 roll package of toilet paper.  I purchased a corned beef brisket, a bag of the Southern fried Chicken breasts we like so well and four packages of beef breakfast sausages. I only needed the cocoa, so doubled on that purchase.

I was less disciplined when we went into Publix.  Part of that had to do with there being several items I could
not buy at Aldi.  Namely dill weed and silver sugar to make Star of David Sugar Cookies for one of our Hanukkah treats.  I also bought a big chocolate coin to share with John for one of our Hanukkah nights.  We also bought a Submarine sandwich for our lunch and a half pound of good deli Beef bologna.

All that said, I was confused about what day it is...something that happens with a schedule like ours, lol...and failed to realize it was a new sales week, so I didn't check the sales paper when we went into the store.  I'll be going back either this week or first of next because there's a most excellent price on dog food and I don't want to pass it up.  I'll save a good bit buying it now rather than later.

We bought a gift card for a couple who are getting married this weekend.  I took that money from our gift fund.

I have enough of the grocery funds left to buy both dog food and the few vitamins we need.  I'll pick those up Friday when we're in another town.

I've been really intent on using up items this week.  This morning's breakfast was altered from what was on the menu.  I was down to one slice of bread...and two of the rolls from Sunday's dinner.  That made up our breakfast breads.

Our dinner used some more of those chopped bell peppers and a half steak that was in the fridge drawer.  I made steak burritos using tortillas I had on hand.

I washed grapes and cut into portions.  The loose grapes I put in a bowl and ate for my dessert this evening.

Thursday:  Stripped our bed, washed a full load of laundry and hung to dry on the line.

Mopped floors this morning.  I used a bit of the dishwasher detergent in the mop water.  It really brought the floors back to life...Remind me next round to skip white floors in a country home!

Cooked a corned beef in the crock pot.  I sliced it when it was cool.  We had enough meat for hash, a meal of corned beef, and sandwiches for 8.  I put half the sandwich meat in the freezer.  I bought Swiss cheese this week and Pumpernickel bread for Reubens next week.

John dumped the partially burned charcoal briquettes from Mama's grill into ours.  We should be able to use them for our next cookout without any problems.  I've often done so.

I made a sham for a pillow on the guest bed.

I sewed a vintage pillowcase into a cover for my sewing machine.

John made a repair on his guitar himself.

I put a used dryer sheet (really a quarter of a sheet) into a pan that had a sticky sugary mess stuck to it.  It loosened up the stuff on the bottom of the pan without any scraping effort on my part.

We stayed home all day long today.  We'll be out tomorrow and so we've started a list of things we mean to get/do while we're out.  I've already bagged the trash so it is ready to go to the dumpster.

Friday:  We had lunch today at Feed and Seed where John played.  We hadn't planned to eat there but food was brought to us.  It was nice to eat with the group of folk that gather there.

John and I went to Walmart. We had our list and came in about where I thought we might.  I picked up a pretty piece of fabric, white with blue birds on it for $.77, two videos and a set of canning tongs (wished I'd had them when I was lifting hot jars from the water bath after making jelly!).  Those were our 'extras' that weren't on the list.

I bought two DVDs with a total of six movies on them.  Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns, and a Ma and Pa Kettle DVD that includes The Egg and I, a favorite film that I probably would never have acquired any other way.  The two DVDs were supposed to be $5 and $8.97 but they rang up as $10 for the two together.  I was already happy but a bargain on them made me happier still.

We bought a half dozen half gallon sized Ball jars.  They make great storage for foodstuffs and they are wide mouthed so they can also sub for a cookie jar if needed.  We will store cereal in our jars.

I made thousand island dressing for our Reuben sandwiches.

Our Shabat bread tonight is a whole loaf of pumpernickel bread.  We'll have Shabat first and slice bread for sandwiches after.

When we left home this morning I lowered the heat to 64f.  No need to warm it to a higher temp when we were going to be gone.

John washed a small load of clothes.  I hung them to dry.

Washed a full load in the dishwasher and left to air.

Received a coupon for FREE Coke today.

Living Well

Someone commented last week on my Christmas decorating post about the arrowheads seen above.  I have three frames with three arrowheads each in them that I hung there when I originally made up that wall.  A lot of these are broken.  I gave some of the nicer ones to my brother a couple of years ago in a generations shadow box.

My Grandfather C gathered most of these from a place he farmed in Bibb County.  The fields and drives and pond areas were just full of arrowheads.  He picked up many and put them in an old shortening can.  I stumbled across them when I was clearing out Grandmama's home to sell.  I was pleased as punch.

We lived on a dead end street in Montezuma for upwards of five or six years and it was not uncommon for me to feel a sense of needing to look for something, that old treasure-o-meter of mine going off.  I found several fine pieces in that yard, without having to dig.  They were just lying atop the ground there in the yard.  I've no clue why  they would be unearthed and waiting but there they were. I found a lovely spear head and a sort of mallet with sharp edges as well as just small broken bits of arrowheads.

For me it's all part and parcel of the history of our area.  It was all Indian lands from the beginning and this area was used as farm and pasture lands.  Details in historical records state that buffalo once roamed here and were a herd animal for many tribes.  The boundary lines were not pushed back beyond the nearby Flint River until 1825.  Despite that fact there were plantations and forts located in the land area but they were few and far between.

That history fascinates me, as do these arrowheads and spear heads.  The care it took to make them is astonishing.  I had a chance to see the process first hand this fall on an episode of Mountain Men when Tom fashioned some flint into blades that he was making for knives.  He had learned from Native Americans in his area just how to strike the quartz to 'flake' it and then to notch the edges.  He did it in the old way, the way it had been done for hundreds, perhaps a thousand or more, years.  I think of that as I look at these tools of a past life, with as much interest as I look at an old piece of worn china or silver, wondering at the hands that touched it long ago.

I think living with a bit of history is important, to remind us that we are both finite in our breaths and infinite in our ability to pass on something that still has traces of who we are attached to them. In some small way, whether through DNA or craft, we live on.

Coffee Chat: That Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Come in, come in...
All the while I am hurrying along doing the seasonal things I am well aware that yet another natural season is ending and the year is coming to a close.  It fills me with real sadness this year.  I feel honestly as though an era of my life is closing for good and I don't have a single thing other than feeling to back this idea up.  Well it's made me teary eyed over things, sentimental and nostalgic.  I'm not dreading the next phase, nor feeling particularly upset about it coming along, but I want to dwell a bit in the moments that are remaining, and run away from the thoughts that it's going to change, all at the same time.

I am forever hearing a bit of whining about folks not liking change...and I admit readily enough that you'll hear me doing some of that whining when changes are afoot in my life that I've had no choosing in...but I am aware too that we were never created to be stagnant people.  We might well have been formed of dirt in the beginning but 75% of our body is water and water must MOVE or it dries up and becomes nothing but...well, dirt all over again.  And truth is, that time is coming soon enough at the end of our lives so why hurry it on?

Granny told me long ago that learning was something that should never stop.  She certainly never did, until she was no longer in her 'right' mind.  And then I suppose she learned some new things anyway, but whose to know?  She could no longer tell me about them.

Reading has taken forefront for me of late, and it's not one of the books I set aside to read.  I have unfinished books that are waiting for my return...but I had to pick up Elizabeth Goudge and began to read in earnest.  I took the book with me in early November when we last went to Kingsland and I quickly slipped into the first couple of chapters then laid the book aside, conscious of the need to finish others I'd started.

I so dislike leaving books unfinished!  It seems disloyal somehow to not finish up what I've started unless of course the book is very, very bad and then it's only right to put them aside and indeed to get rid of them. Life is too short to be taken up with books that don't uplift or in some way cause you to grow beyond yourself in my opinion. I did finish The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom last month, but I am still chewing on information I'd gathered from October's reading in Tamar Adler's book and not ready to finish that book up just yet.

So two weeks ago,  I went back to the Elizabeth Goudge book, Pilgrim Inn and found myself drawn into the story much as one is drawn into a conversation with a dearly loved friend and despite the time constraints and the absolute 'must do Today!' lists upon my desk each day, I found myself slipping away to 'rest' with the book and going off to bed a wee bit earlier with the book and getting up in the morning and taking time to 'wake' with the book in order to go deeper into the story.  I had to really discipline myself to get my work done, scratching off items on my list and not dwelling on perfection at all so that I could save time to read. It's been far too long since I allowed myself to escape in this way and it was lovely.

The morning before Thanksgiving Day I took my book to the front porch while the dog and cat ate their meal and listened to the wind in the last dry rattling leaves on the Faith tree, watched the hawks and buzzards glide effortlessly along on the air currents in the brilliantly blue sky and heard the distant honking of geese flying south.  Maddie nudged me for attention and I put my hand deep in the thick fur on the nape of her neck.  The whole experience fit so perfectly with the passage of book I was reading that I felt severely wrenched away from it when the cat reached out and clawed my leg for attention.  There is never so hard a bump as the one I experience when I've been lost in a book and the real world intrudes.  I felt as though I wanted to just have a good hard cry.

And that feeling of wanting to sob continued on all morning and afternoon whenever I'd have time to read. I'm always profoundly drawn in and affected by Miss Goudge's books, most especially the modern setting ones such as Pilgrim Inn, but I've never once wanted to cry as I did this time.  Perhaps it's because I've a great deal more understanding about the things she writes of than I did at 20 or 30 or even 40.  I so identify with the deep emotions the main characters are experiencing. Or perhaps it is the realization that I am myself in a state of change, of transition of some sort and that is what this book is truly about.

Despite my saying I'd not spend time this year looking back, I have.  I'm not looking back at the most recent past nor to my childhood, but somewhere in the middle.  There are places revisited that I thought I had finished with entirely and I see now that something more is demanded, some acknowledgement or letting go or understanding that hasn't been completed all these years later. I have been thinking about the person I was once upon a time and the people who came into and went out of, or were sent out of, my life during those years that have gone before.  I've no regrets about the past but I do see more clearly why some things had to be as they were. That's hindsight for you...It changes as we grow and becomes ever more clear as the distance grows greater.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was quieter and calmer than I'd thought it might be and for that I was grateful.  It was just me, my mom, and brother.  I helped Mama put away the leftovers and when I left there I went out into the windy cold air and decided what I wanted most of all was to revisit another bit of my past.  I went to the old church where I grew up and spent a happy half hour wandering about among the old cedars and the graves, reading headstones, saying a quiet hello to those names I'd come to recognize from my family history.  I felt great peace and sadness all mixed up together.

The incredible smallness of that old church surprised me...I realized that while I'd always looked at it and thought it was the same size it had always been, it had in fact had a room the size of the original building added on!  It was twice it's size and I'd never noticed it had grown because it seemed the right size.  The old oak trees that seemed so far from the building were not at all far away but rather close.  True the trees had grown but not to such a great extent that the building would be that much nearer.

Oh the curious tugging sadness that burned in me as I looked at that lovely old place and the church yard where I'd played many a Sunday as I waited for the adults to say their goodbyes.  Coming home I was thinking of how much I enjoyed being there, how wonderful it was to be able to go there and recapture that small portion of my life...and then I was sadder because I thought of all the places I cannot go to walk in the footsteps of memory at all.  That sad didn't last long however because I came home and that's when I saw the photo of the youngest grandson with his dinner.

I noted that Sam and Bess had not left home when I was ready to leave for Mama's but supposed they were going to a later dinner with family.  When I came back home I discovered photos of their own little dinner at home posted on Facebook.  I thought perhaps they'd not been invited anywhere and felt badly for them, but when I talked to Sam he told me they'd had it all planned. They were both a little unwell and both had to work the day after Thanksgiving and simply felt they were too tired to travel hither and yon.  They each made dishes for the meal and they were just that proud of all they'd done. For me the added sweetness was that they have started an early tradition of their own, which I think is lovely.

One of their photos shows the baby sitting in his boppy with a jar of...get this...turkey vegetable  baby food so he could have Thanksgiving dinner, too!  Isn't that sweet?  And hilarious?  It made me laugh all evening long.  Just look...I think he's looking a bit anxious about his meal, don't you?   There's something anticipatory about that photo of him.

Katie was off to her in-laws home.  JD and Lori apparently had their day at home.  He called me later in the afternoon to have the children say Happy Thanksgiving.  Loved!

I wasn't sure what Amie had done but she's had a tough go of it lately, with a baby, a sick partner to attend to, children coming home from school sick. She tends to be reclusive when times are tough going. She'd had to give up her position in management because she couldn't keep up with work hours and home necessities.  Amie never complains about her money woes to me but I knew things must be terribly tight.  She called Mama and talked with her and said that someone brought them a basket of Thanksgiving foodstuffs.  I recalled that when she was little, we often made up such a basket at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  It was always Amie who thought of those little extras.  "You've forgotten cranberry sauce Mama and perhaps they'd like some coffee and tea.  Maybe you should give them a jar of instant coffee.  They might not have a coffee pot..."  I hope that the person who made up the basket for her family was as thoughtful as she was all those years ago.

Kindnesses can be very uplifting and Amie was uplifted.  She went home and made dinner for her family. They pulled out the Christmas tree and decorated it.  She made hot cocoa.  She said that her faith had been restored in a Facebook post and I can see that it must have been.  She said she'd been feeling very blah and hopeless but she's glad it happened as it did because it gave her family an opportunity to celebrate something they'd meant to do without.  It's hard to be the main support of a family emotionally and financially and cough up enough stamina to keep going when things are tough.  I am deeply grateful to her unknown benefactor for giving my girl what she'd never have told us she needed.

John and I had a small Thanksgiving meal together on the Friday after the holiday.  There were enough leftovers of our small turkey breast for an entree to go into the freezer, dinner on Saturday and sandwiches twice.  It was just the right amount of turkey all around.  I put the carcass in the freezer and will boil it up later for broth.

I set a pretty table for us, but John chuckled over my dismay that my pretty plates didn't show at all once the food was put upon them.  They are old plates and smaller than modern pieces, so you can imagine that no pattern at all was visible when piled with our Thanksgiving meal.

All in all it was an easy relaxed holiday and I am deeply grateful.  I am glad the angst and agonies were over and done with by the time we settled in to having our meals and I'm grateful that all in my family seemingly enjoyed themselves.

Misu was Katie's cat from the moment they locked eyes in the pet store.  All these years since Katie moved out she has been Katie's cat.  Until this summer when Katie married.  For some reason when that happened Misu suddenly began to seek me out for attention each morning after she'd eaten and any other time I ventured outdoors.  I was just a means to an end, which was cat food in the bowl on a regular basis, before that.  I still referred to her as Katie's cat but I knew the relationship between us had changed.  The cat had finally bonded herself to me.  I guess I just hadn't bonded myself fully to her.

So we were sitting here in the living room last Monday two weeks ago,  getting ourselves geared up to leave home to get John's check and I hear this sudden piercing me-yowl, repeated at intervals.  You cat owners know just what I mean.  I heard it and I looked at John and said 'Is that MY cat?  What on earth is wrong?" John got up and went to the door.  He stepped out on the porch and called me to the door.  "YOUR cat brought you something...You gotta come see this!"

She'd brought me a snake.

Now let me say several things.  Number one it had been quite cold here but this particular afternoon it had warmed up considerably to mid 80's which is the way the freaky weather in Georgia works.  Number two: I was not pleased.  I forced myself to say 'Good kitty.' and having said that Misu jumped up off the snake and came up on the porch as though she'd had about enough of the whole gift giving thing and was disgusted by the necessity of it.  The snake decided to wriggle away while the getting was good but he was on the patio and apparently was headed to a big pile of leaves on the patio.  Number three, my husband was not amused.  And he actually thought I should go after the snake.  ha.

Well it wasn't a poisonous snake nor a big one, just a young black snake and no doubt was minding his own business when Misu grabbed him up.  John realized what a foolish thought he'd had thinking I'd go after the snake.  He grabbed the rake and  raked the snake off into the yard where it wasted no time at all slithering away.  For the record, I have never seen a snake move so fast...I took up the rake and raked all the leaves off the patio.  Next warm day that comes along I do not want to discover any snakes at the bottom of a pile of leaves on the patio.

And later it occurred to me that I'd somehow allowed my acceptance of the cat to  turn into real affection. She was, per my own mouth, MY cat...When Katie came home this weekend, Misu didn't go seek Katie out.  Katie had to go find Misu and while she enjoyed seeing Katie she was her most affectionate self to me the next morning as per usual.  I think we are bonded at last.  And by the way, I did tell her I would appreciate it if her gifts were more along the lines of dead mice, moles and squirrels in the future.  I think she agreed with me.

John went to work last Monday and Mama and I were out shopping.  We went by the Dollar Tree for a change.  True confession, there's one within easy driving distance but I have never taken the time to go in. Friends and fellow bloggers are always singing the praises of Dollar Tree.  I was pleased with the few purchases I made (mostly Christmas decorating items).  I priced a few items and they are definitely good...but I don't think they are low enough to warrant driving over there routinely to shop, since it's not in my usual shopping area.

I had my work plans all set on Monday when I got up and I knew just how my week was going to go.  Yes, of course things changed.  They changed while I was shopping at Dollar Tree when John called to tell me he had extra time to use up before the end of the year and he was taking an extra day off right away and one later in the month...I'd normally welcome news of that sort but I really really really needed my week to go as planned.  I did some quick thinking, rearranged a few tasks/errands and felt I'd come up with a perfectly workable plan.  No.  My plans didn't include my husband.  Major planning mistake.  I assumed he'd know how important my week's plans were with a family party coming up on Sunday and family coming in to spend the weekend as well but he assumed that everything would just fall into place.  How do I know this?  Because when I made out a double columned list on paper for myself to complete on Friday morning and asked him to take care of the jobs on a short list, he complained that I was making a big fuss over a little party...sigh. Not that he was upset about his small list.  No indeed, he was upset about the size of my much longer list!

Can I just share this with you?  A long time ago, when I was a child, I heard the story of Mary and Martha.  Martha complained that Mary wasn't helping but sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. (Luke 10:38-42).  All of my life I've heard it preached that Mary was the wisest and that Martha was a complainer.  I felt Martha was getting a bum rap back then and I haven't changed my mind all these years later when I've heard teachings about Mary and Martha.  I don't think Martha was jealous or complaining by nature.  I think Martha just knew what needed to be done and how very much there was to do.

Yes, it's true if my home wasn't decorated that no one would have had a less fun time...but the tasks left to do on Friday pertained to food and cleaning, things that were absolutely necessary.  I'd done my best all week to clean as I worked and decorated.  I'd let go of a lot of lovely ideas that were just timely and costly to accomplish.  I'd essentially turned over my time to my husband in his extra time off and worked with every schedule change thrown my way.  And here he was reading me a riot act!  Well I'm sorry to say I burst into tears.  Yes, I did see his concern was for me, but I just felt more frustrated than ever.

I calmed myself and explained to him that it was all well and good to say that this and that didn't need to be done, but he was most welcome to go over my list and tell me which items were 'extra'.  I explained how lovely I thought it would be to be one of those who just assumed everything would fall into place but I'd experienced my own fate at the hands of those who drifted through things and I'd been hungry and cold and mighty unhappy when visiting those folks and I never wanted guests in my home to feel the same way.

Well in the end he just went grimly to work on his list and I did several jobs on my own list then went back over to determine which could wait until Saturday or Sunday.  I wrapped the last gift about 3pm and we had a lovely hour and a half to sit and rest before Shabat began.  I had a plan for Shabat dinner and supper and breakfast Sunday morning and I'd given into his whims and left Sunday supper up in the air.  Mistake.  Not disastrous but it was an added stress at the end of a busy hectic day when I was already tired and weary and I was the only one who had a clue about what we might have just as I'd pointed out.  No one offered to run over to the next town to pick up pizza or indeed even suggested I do so.  No, it was expected that I would come up with something...and I did.  But it wasn't easy and I had two viable ideas shot down right away.  If we should ever do this sort of thing again, I will have a meal ready to serve and to heck with those bright ideas of letting things work themselves out!

Saturday I was pretty much just happy not to move far from my chair.  The guest room looked lovely and I was anticipating how pretty it would look to my daughter in law (I didn't figure my son would care much one way or the other).  The meats were put out to thaw for the next day.  All that was really left for party work was the making of a salad, a dessert, baking potatoes and putting the baked beans in the crock pot.  Just small details over all.  I enjoyed the rest and was appreciative for it because frankly the week that preceded our Shabat was very busy and I was very tired.  Our oldest son and his family came in Saturday afternoon and I put together a meal of waffles that everyone seemed to enjoy.  That worked out beautifully.

John and I were both up extra early on Saturday morning.  After I showered, I crawled back into bed with him and we lay there and snuggled for a few minutes, quietly talking over our impressions from the night before and our hopes for the day.  When he showered we quickly did the last tasks of washing and wrapping potatoes to bake, preparing salad ingredients, putting baked beans and a peach cobbler to bake.

What I'd counted on, but no one else had seemingly anticipated, was how very busy I'd be with grandchildren.  I was looking for a second wind by the time our  guests arrived Sunday.  The party itself ended being a blur. I have highlights here and there.  Katie and her baby bump, and a funny little incident where her husband called for her and said in that husbandly way "You're supposed to be helping me!" which made all the women in the house laugh and exclaim, "Oh you're married now!"  Josh with his attention fixed hard upon the football game and refusing to acknowledge anyone until the commercials.  I've never known a five month old to be so absorbed by football, but that boy is!  Hailey dancing for me in her pretty dress, pointing her toes and smiling sweetly as she did so and dear Zach getting the shock of his young life when he saw his Mama holding Josh, then his Daddy and then his Grampa at which point he began to wail, "But I'm the baby..."  Oh how we laughed.

There was more but as I said it's just highlights.  It all went by in a blur, a lovely laughing blur and it saddened me to see everyone go home except for the young Cheney family who were staying through Monday morning.  I felt I'd only just hugged them hello and then goodbye and there was no time at all in between. Now we know how the Sunday supper thing went...I pulled together a decent enough meal, giving the children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit which they ate right up without a bit of fuss or bother.  I scratched hard for the adults to have a meal but managed.

After that I sat down in my chair and Daniel and I did activities in his coloring book.  Lori had planned to do some home school work with him over the weekend but time flew. I think the work we did that evening in the coloring/activity book should have counted.  He wrote his name, wrote his numbers up through 14 by himself and worked through several mazes and colored by number.  Yep, I'd say that was homework for a 5 year old, wouldn't you?  Zach was so wearied by the party and the burden of discovering there was a real baby in the house that he climbed up in his Daddy's lap and slept.  Hailey occupied herself as she has since she could sit alone:  she put a book on her lap and looked at it.  She 'read' to herself, murmuring the words of the story she remembered from her Daddy reading to her.  The tree was lit, the evergreen Scentsy burning...It felt like Christmas at home with my family and I soaked it right up.

The family packed up and went home on Monday.  The guest room vanity went with them.  Lori and I had discussed what work they will do on it for Hailey and I think it will be pretty.  Now I'm going to have fun looking for a new one.  I went into the Barber Shop John likes and discovered that each work station was a beautiful antique vanity.  I asked the girl cutting my hair where they'd gotten them and she told me they were all bought locally. I was stunned. Well!  I shall  most certainly keep my eyes open as these were beyond lovely.  I know that a vanity belongs in that room for sure and I am determined to put one back into it.

The rest of the week has been fairly unremarkable.  Getting the house back into shape, having a Harvest Day and mailing Christmas cards, shopping for groceries and trying to stay warm now that the cold weather has returned.  And it's been remarkable too as it's contained shared laughter with my husband and some beautiful sunsets, and the fun of a new Louisa May Alcott book found at a thrift store, a Christmas book which is especially lovely to read this time of year.

And that's it.  I've been far far too long at this particular chat, let me tell you.  I know we're all busy and a nice little sit down spell is awfully nice, but it's time to get up and get busy once more.  I doubt I get to another one of these visits before Christmas so we'll plan to meet up afterwards.  Happy Holiday Homemaking!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In My Home This Week: Another Fresh Start

Whew!  It was a week of work last week.  I was plenty busy decorating and cleaning and running errands. Well it's all over except the eating which will take place today and then it's all done.  I am looking forward to this day of family and food and grands.

This week promises to be busy as well.  John is off all week long so my time is at his disposal for the most part and whose to say what that means?  I never know until moments before sometimes what the plans for the day may be.  That means that meals also may be more on the fly as well...and I must be prepared for that as well.  Seems sort of useless to even make plans doesn't it?  Well I if I don't then I'll really have to prepare them on the fly and there is no fun whatsoever in that.  Besides, it's grocery week and I need to be sure I have enough to prepare meals.

Breakfasts:  Peanut butter Toast, Bananas
                     Blueberry Muffins, Cheese Omelet
                     Butterscotch Oatmeal, Toasted Blueberry Muffins
                     French Toast, Turkey Sausage
                     Cheese Toast
                     Bagels and Cream Cheese
                     Breakfast Sandwich

Suppers:  BLTs, potato soup
                 Corn Chowder
                 Grilled Cheese
                 Hot Dogs and Chips
                 Egg Salad Sandwiches
                 Crackers, Cheese, Fruit plates

Dinners:  Cheese and Crackers, Deviled Eggs, Steaks, Baked Beans, Baked Potatoes, Salad Bar and various desserts.
This is our big family dinner day.  John paid for the steak from Christmas savings this year and the girls are bringing desserts and deviled eggs.

Hamburgers, Potatoes O'Brien, Coconut Pie
Used leftover rolls and baked potatoes and peppers from Sunday's meal

Cowboy Chili, Biscuit Bread, Carrot Raisin Salad
More hamburger meat today.  I'll mix with onions, catsup and some leftover baked beans to make a thick hearty goulash of sorts.  It's cold and blustery outside and this just seems a real comfort meal to me on a cold day.

Chicken and Wild rice Casserole, Green Beans, Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Craisins, Catalina Dressing
I have a whole chicken in the freezer.  I'm going to roast it and use it in several dishes.

Chicken Enchiladas, Whole Kernel Corn, Salad with Pico de Gallo, Ranch dressing
If I can find some salsa verde I'll use that but otherwise I'll make a creamy version using half a can of mushroom soup and some sour cream.

Pasta e Fagioli, Crusty Bread, Salad
I copied the recipe off a Facebook post...I can't find it to give credit to the originator but it sounded as though it had good flavors in it.  It cooks in the crockpot which is also a bonus in my book.

Chicken Pot Pie, Coleslaw
I'll likely save this one for our Shabat dinner.  I'm pretty sure the chicken will have given it's all at this point so will freeze the carcass for a future broth making day.

Work Plans This Week:

Clean guest room.  Change bedding.

Finish planting iris.  (only  a few more)

Grocery shopping.

Get Christmas cards finished and in the mail.

Work on Mama's Christmas gift.

Be ready to drop everything and do whatever John wants to do...and that is a job in itself, lol!

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!

December is well on it's way isn't it?  I haven't had a moment to spare to write this post until now but I didn't want to let this month pass without it because some of the comments and questions from November were awesome...and I do love to share what's being said amongst us all.

Let's get started...

Living Frugally post 1  Vicki M we got those two coupons which could be redeemed for either 20 ounce bottles or 2 L bottles.  We chose to buy the 2L size and had them for our family party this weekend.

Sarah said she uses a twin size blanket or spread folded at the foot of her bed.  It's just right for warming the feet and adding a bright spot to the room, too.  I exchanged the curtain panel at the foot of my guest bed for a quilt towards the end of the month.  I put out something a little more rugged when we had guests, that could withstand tugging and pulling.

Dorie...I've re-read this particular post a dozen times looking for that type...and I finally found it.  Why on earth did I write that the vacuum chamber was full of FOOD of all things?  Oh my goodness.  I blame it on the fact that I divide my attention between TV, John and whatever else is going on and my subconscious fills in whatever it chooses, lol.

LFLW post 3  GinnyBerry I love that my poetic license about the leaves changing to show their true colors was actually what happens.  Ginny shared that the decrease in sunlight leads to a loss of chlorophyll which leads to leaves changing from green to their 'true color'.  Isn't it wonderful how nature works?

Kathy We have a Dollar General here which I visit now and then but not too often.  I find it's a great place to browse but our local store is tiny and it feels claustrophobic to me.  And I spend more than I mean to if I go in and just roam around, lol.  I've bought Suduko books there in the past.

Sarah  I'm afraid we're going to see a few more prices go up and a few more packages getting smaller too.  I noted in this past week's newspaper that North Dakota had a poor yield for Durum Wheat which will likely translate to higher pasta prices.

Tammy and Rhonda both shared that they like October right well.  Both  had snow in November.  Honestly in the years when we get snow it's either November or March.  This year we've had none but oh the glorious cool days, the bright colors, the blue blue skies...It was a stellar month and I'm glad I was able to experience it.

Annie,  I truly enjoy the great beauty of the natural world around me...It's good to know that others appreciate it, too!

Anonymous mentioned that she was a visitor from Brandy's Prudent Homemaker and spoke of Nathan's hot dogs...It's Nathan's that we buy as well and I had not taken time to notice the package weighed less.  I did note that Hebrew Nationals which we used to buy routinely had gone from 7 hot dogs to 6 and it was because Nathan's has 8 that we swapped brands.    Hot dogs are a luxury item in our home and are only bought on sale or we don't have them at all.

And please please please, 'sign' your name to posts when you're coming to the blog as an 'Anonymous' commenter.  I really would like to address you by name when I reply.

last LFLW post  Annie I often feel so blessed when I realize how my food stores can multiply...God truly has inspired me often to make just one more meal than I think I will get.  I am glad that it inspires you!

Rebecca I will use the chocolate syrup for chocolate milk, hot cocoa, to top ice cream, to add to coffee, too when I want a flavored coffee.  I love this easy syrup recipe from The Tightwad Gazette.  

Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix cocoa, water, sugar in a deep saucepan.  Stir to combine.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until syrup comes to a rolling boil.  Lower heat and stir constantly.  Do not walk away as this will boil over.  Boil for 3 minutes until all sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and salt and allow to cool unless putting in a sterilized glass jar (1 pint size).  Store in refrigerator.

Karla hope you can stop by again soon!

It was with this post that I changed my weekly post to This Week In My Home, as a sort of closing post and finish to the week which usually starts with a This Week In My Home title as well.  

In My Home This Week/Menu post 2  Vickie M it was nice and chilly here for most all of November and I loved every moment of it.  I much prefer the opportunity to snuggle in bed than to be too warm.  

Best Bun...Thank you.  I am humbled that you took so much time from your day to read this entire blog. Thank you for your lovely heartfelt note.  It came at a moment when I needed that encouragement.

Pam, Vickie, Tammy thank you all for sharing how much you like the room

Sparky136 That photo of the persimmons was taken a few years ago.  There are plenty this year but not nearly so pretty in color.  Granny always said they were best after frost.   They are more sugary but too full of pits to suit me.  And gracious!  Get one that isn't fully ripe and it turns your mouth inside out.

Post 3  Sarah, I expect we will find ways to get involved in community things once retirement takes place.  In the meantime working with his 'odd' schedule puts people off.  It's made for a lonely sort of existence overall.

Post 4  Rhonda had written me privately about her frustrations with comments.  Even though we both use blogger and she has a profile blogger just wouldn't let her  comment.  Well after looking into several things, I decided to let go of the verification process which should make it easier.  I settled for moderating only those comments on posts that are a week old.  I've had exactly one spam comment, whereas I'd been getting dozens daily before.  I hope this makes it easier for others who've had trouble leaving comments to share their thoughts as well.

Pam  I had a very good month for November at the booth.  I hope that December is also a good month.  I'd become a little frustrated but  this past month helped a lot.

Allisamazing  It did sound like a great menu..I used one or two meals from that menu and nothing more, lol.  My week just proved to be too busy to spend time cooking.  I'll be recycling those menus!

Questions, Answers and Comments for October  Rebecca I seldom take time to reply to comments but want to acknowledge every one who does take that time.  I'll 'wave' at you this time;-D

Pam and Sarah both commented on shopping at Walmart and the steady rise in costs there.  I so seldom shop at Walmart and have no real idea about grocery costs there any more.  Our nearest is 32 miles away, as is Aldi in another town and I generally head to Aldi.

Shepherd's Pie post  Pam addressed the unwillingness of some to use leftovers.  That is a truth I've seen and recognized in my lifetime but gracious goodness!  The food we buy to serve our households is not a cheap expense annually and it behooves me to use every last bite of it if I'm to get the best return on my investment.  I think it's lack of knowledge and an inability to see how leftovers might be reused.  I know too many who make up a huge pot of something and serve that day after day after day until the family rebels.  Why?  It's true that it's convenient to have prepared food on hand but you are spoiling your family to ever want to eat a leftover and that's going to bite your budget pretty hard when the whole family decides to mutiny.  

I much prefer the methods I use.  I make up a main dish that can be morphed into other meals and I have a ready repertoire of recipes that use those ingredients...Hmmm...I foresee a Retirement Remedy post on using leftovers!

Sarah,  I cannot imagine paying $3.99 per pint jar.  I think Goodwill (and apparently Salvation Army too in your area) have really begun pricing themselves out of the thrift store business!

Susan, Yes, even a little bit of stretching is a bonus and John never once mentioned that he felt he'd missed the meat in this Shepherd's pie.  

Rebecca, I'm telling you that I am always astonished at how God stretches our provisions in this household.  Leftovers of a leftover meal indeed!

Tried and True Beef Stroganoff Soup:  Julie Baker, I am so happy that you tried and enjoyed this recipe.  I will make it again but not too often.  It's a bit expensive but it sure is tasty!  That was one happy inspiration.  M Ripples and Joanne Baker let me know when you try it as well, please and be sure to leave your comments so others can determine if it's something they would like or not and any alterations you make.  

Coffee Chat post 1  Manuela I had two Thanksgiving dinners and both were small and intimate, one had just 3 and the other just 2.  But they were both nice dinners.

Thank you Vickie M and Julie B for your holiday wishes.

Coffee Chat post 2  Pam, I love your fruitcake story.  I admit I wasn't fond of fruitcake early on either but I have a growing fondness for it as I get older.  I prefer it with a cup of coffee, just one slice.  Mama ordered hers from Figis.  She likes both the Fruit cake and the plum pudding.  Our family has never made fruitcakes, but Mama used to make a batch of fruit cake cookies each year which made a HUGE amount of cookies. Not only did she give many away as gifts, we had cookies to go in the freezer as well and ate them through the winter doubt where my love of fruit cake and coffee mid-afternoon came from!

And with my faith statement Sarah added this note "The longer I live the more I realize the many things I have done in life that were totally wrong. It is hard to think I will probably remember more. :( I am not at all trying to think of things ..they just come to memory off and on. No one is perfect except the Son and His Father. Where would we be without them? No where. "  

I think Sarah that we remember our past not because God wants us to remember where we came from (though that might be part of it as well) but because we'd be very overwhelmed if we didn't remember it in increments.

Vicki in Utah, Joanne B:  agreed!  Being a Gramma is pretty awesome.

The Guest Room  Sarah, Annie, Anonymous, Pam, Tammy, Kathy, JoAnne B, Ga Foster Mom  Thank you all for your comments on the room...and Susie @ Persimmon Cottage I haven't yet gotten to that vanity with the Liquid Gold.  It's on my list of things I mean to do in December.  I'll let you know if I keep the piece or if my DIL decides she does indeed want it.  

Retirement Remedies  Pam, Yes I have been thinking...a LOT.  I know that I am frugal and I know that there are more ways to save than we use presently.  I don't want to take joy out of my life and live as though deprived.  I do want to cut out those things that aren't adding to my life.  Sort of the decluttering you mentioned, on another level!

Rhonda,  I hadn't thought of the veteran's discounts.  We also have AAA and we are both senior citizens by most standards (since I'm 55) and those are discounts we could use as well.  Every little bit...

Sarah, I agree.  We bought a smaller home when we purchased this one.  My mother was not happy in the least with us, insisting that my oldest daughter should have a room of her own and mentioning that we'd wronged her many times.  Yet in three short years Amie was living on her own and two years after that Samuel too was gone.  My brother did things differently.  He bought a huge home and then his family dissolved and he was left with the big house and the big payment, too.  I'm glad we listened to our instincts and not to advice from well meaning but not future thinking folks.

Vickie M and JoAnne Baker,   You two have joined the consensus with a lot of us in paying off that mortgage.  I know what my children are paying for rent and house payments and I don't know how we'd manage any retirement at all if we had that.  They all live modestly.  In fact, the young Cheney's house payment is less than the other two's rents.  I'm not sure what Amie pays each month on her home but she felt a few months ago that a sum I thought high was quite reasonable and doable.  I'm deeply grateful for the windfall that came our way and as grateful to the banker who told us quite plainly that no investor in his right mind would tell us to pay off our mortgage but she suggested we do so.  

Colleen and Grammy Goodwill, I am glad that you both found the list a helpful reminder.  

Kathy,  I am of the mind that in the future I'm going to look for USED appliances.  My reasoning being that I can buy a better quality used item than I can a new one.  John bought an old Maytag from a 'little old lady' years ago and I deeply regret he sold it when we combined households.  We were replacing my much newer Kenmore not too long after that!  No complaints, as my Kenmore has now lasted us 18 years without a worry thus far, but I am serious in thinking I'll buy a USED appliance next time round.

Well that's all the posts accounted for...Thank you all for commenting in November!  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

In My Home This Week, Living Frugally and Well

                                           Vintage Pillowcase becomes Mixer dust cover

Saturday:  Nothing but leftovers for us all day long and it was just as good as it was on Friday.  We had leftovers of cinnamon rolls and sausages for breakfast, leftovers of turkey dinner for dinner.  Yum yum.

I made a quick hashbrown casserole as our second side dish.  I'd parboiled potatoes and chopped onion earlier in the week.  I just added half a can of mushroom soup, 1/2 cup sour cream and mixed it all up.

I put the rest of the food in to warm while the casserole cooked.

For supper tonight I made up a batch of biscuits, cooked a piece of turkey sausage and an egg for each of us.  Leftover biscuits will be saved for another meal.

Loaded the dishwasher tonight and it was FULL.  Washed on short cycle since I'd rinsed things well before putting them in.

Sunday:  We never turned on the propane heat at all...nor did we turn up the electric heat this morning.  I knew we were going out to church and if I turned it up, it would just stay turned up.  John and I wore light jackets in the house instead.

Took along a bottle of water with me.  The church we attend serves coffee.  It was most welcome this cool morning in that chilly building.

We stopped on the way home.  It was planned.  We spent a bookoodle of money.  We planned it.  We had cash sitting in the bank just waiting for these expenses this day.  We also spent a bit extra.  That wasn't planned but was necessary.  It will come out of the next period's grocery funds.

Planned spending?  Foodstuffs for the family party, gifts for the grown up children.  Unplanned necessary spending? Dog food, salad stuff for John's lunch, deli take out for dinner.  I could have rustled something up once home but it was quite late at this point and John and I were both hungry.  Next stage after hunger is grumpy.  We bought dinner and ate a snack from it before heading home.  Results were two hungry but non-grumpy folks which meant the house stayed peaceful.

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

I made short goal on Swagbucks today.

Did two shop and earns for Swagbucks today.  One was a gift sent to a sweet boy in Texas.  The other was necessary stuff for home we hadn't been able to get at the store.  These won't credit until end of the month.

We ate such a late dinner we skipped supper entirely.

Monday:  When is it time to call it quits?  We bought a radio/cd player/alarm clock last year after Christmas.  It was $9.95 and works just great, if you can push buttons long enough to get it going. It really is a great little thing but we've only made the alarm work once, and it's a struggle to get the Cd player or radio to play without jumping through 3 hoops and climbing 2 ladders.  Once going the sound is excellent and the antenna picks up stations in a way that none other we've ever had does.  Last night as John struggled with it yet again, I asked him, "Can't we just call it quits with this one and get another?"  We've agreed that we'll look for a replacement.  The troublesome one will go into the guest/craft room for my personal use.  I'll have a clock and music as wanted and will never need set an alarm.

Made John's breakfast, packed his lunch.

Noticed the stove looked awfully grungy.  I took a green scrubber pad and put a little Dawn detergent on it, then a bit of baking soda.  It made short work of the grungy baked on grease in the drip pans of the stove.

My day out with Mama.  We went to Dollar Tree.  I bought some things to decorate for Christmas with.  I spent $12 and I think only one purchase is going to prove useless.  Good thing it cost only $1...

My turn to pay for lunch.  All purchases this day from my personal allowance.

Came home and started to play about with Christmas decorations.  Fun....Long way to go but fun!

Went out to shed to dig about in the Christmas stuff.  I brought in a box full of items to play with.  Love when I can pull things from my own storage and create 'new'...

Created a look alike item from rock salt, bottle brush trees, recycled fruit cocktail jars and old Santa ornaments we'd put away years ago.

Spray painted a little stool and a shelf.  All items were on hand, just needed to be transformed so I could repurpose them.

My supper tonight was the last of the tuna salad I made for John's work lunch.

John checked in with his office today about vacation days.  He had 60 hours he still needed to use.  He's taking off a day and a half day and will use those days to attend to necessary errands.

Tuesday:  John and I had a breakfast before we left home this morning.  I had pancakes in the freezer, scrambled eggs to go with them.

Because I personally had planned a long day out, I grabbed two bananas, two bottles of water and two packets of crackers to take with us.

I visited a thrift store and looked for items to use to restock my booth.  I had a set amount of cash to restock with and I stuck with that amount.  I spent $5 in addition on a couple of items I thought I might use here at home.  If I find they don't work for me, they can always be put in the booth as well.

We came home and ate lunch, unloaded the car and then headed to Macon to finish up birthday shopping that needed to be done.

Back home once more and I got busy working on more cleaning/decorating.  I have not spent another penny on the decorations, have used only what I already had on hand. Total expenses thus far $5.

We opened windows to the house when we came in.

Wednesday:  Open windows for the morning hours in the house.

I made sausage gravy and put over leftover biscuits.  I use just two turkey sausage patties and dice them finely, then make lots of gravy.  The secret is well seasoned gravy.  A dash or two of Worcestershire sauce, plenty of pepper and salt all help to enhance flavor and make the gravy more satisfying despite the lack of meat.

Washed a full load of clothes this morning.  Fresh sheets for both beds.  Fresh towels for both baths.  We hung them all to dry.

Cleared the clutter from the guest room and got it looking nearer company ready. I still have to clean my sewing/craft table off and remove a few small items but that is more cleaning than moving stuff out as I did today.

Plundered in the Christmas bins in the shed and found another length of burlap ribbon to use in my decorating and a few items that I am still debating using.  I also found a puzzle the children should enjoy playing with while they are here.

Worked all morning long, and worked hard.  I realized with a shock that it was dinner time...and guess who had forgotten to take anything from the freezer?  I plundered and found one of the frozen entrees I set aside when making a casserole mid-October that made a big pan full.  With rolls and salad it made a good dinner.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I let them air dry, too.

Fashioned a new wreath (burlap with a burlap bow) for the front porch setting.  I'll put holiday pillow slips on pillows and those two chairs there will be comfortable for anyone who chooses to go out and sit on Sunday.  While that porch needs a lot of TLC it's too late to do it now.  However, it will look as though an effort was made to make it pleasant.

Looked up items on ebay before pricing for booth.  My small town flea market doesn't support ebay prices, but I do not have to sell them dirt cheap either.  I did very well with my choices this time around and am hopeful these items will sell for asking price.

Thursday:  John and I were out very early this morning.  He had a work meeting.  I tagged along and we drove just a few miles further to a nearby grocery where we picked up the last of the grocery items needed for the family party.  John gave me cash to cover these needs.

Washed another full load of clothes today.  This was made up of white towels and we added in items that we were not concerned about looking 'fuzzy' with white lint.  Hung them to dry outdoors.

Again with the no plan for dinner...this is the result of being too busy.  Thank goodness for my tendency to stash leftovers in the freezer.  Today's offering: fried chicken.  I made a small batch of potato salad and steamed broccoli that was at point of needing to be used.

While I was steaming broccoli, I steamed the last of the cauliflower and put in the freezer.  I'd planned to make a broccoli cauliflower salad but I realized that the vegetables were at the point that I used right away or tossed.  I hate to throw out money in any form and food costs money!

Found blank calendar pages that were copyright free to print out for my home keeping notebook.

I took the wheat that I'd had for the last two years to use in autumn decorating and put it outdoors near the pecan tree.  I am hoping the birds and squirrels will enjoy that little something.

Clipped and organized coupons.

Friday:  The final countdown to the family party.  I made a list of every thing that needed to be done yet.  Then I divided the list and gave John one of them.  Savings in that?  Not being totally done in at day's end.  We finished all the tasks by 3:30 which included a run into town to do last minute shopping, stocking the flea market booth, dropping off a bill and returning home to wrap the gifts.  I have lists for things that need to be done over the next two days but it's light duty compared to today's list and the week just past.

Made a very nice profit on my booth sales this month.  It's been sometime since I've done that and I'm glad that things have picked up a bit.

Borrowed Mama's grill and a folding table to use as a dining table.  I am tempted to buy extras of things at times but then I remember that we seldom need these items and it's far more reasonable to borrow from some one who has them.

John washed a small load of clothes and hung to dry.  They did not do well outdoors today.  In fact after 9 hours the shirts were possibly more damp then they had been when hung out this morning!  I brought them indoors and hung to dry in the laundry doorway.

It's been light meal duty this week.  Today I used a portion of my allowance to pick up burgers at the local diner and for supper we had a frozen pizza. I have a frozen entree for tomorrow's main meal and that will be the last of my 'convenience' foods.   I couldn't have managed the work load this week if I'd had to prepare all of our meals from scratch, too, even though I'd planned to cook.  I realized the work load was taking over my days and meal prep went by the wayside.  I'll be sure and stock up again over the next couple of weeks.

Living Well

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year...

Well it's a bit early just yet to say Christmas time is here but such is the life of a family that takes holidays as they can get 'em as opposed to celebrating only on the day of said holidays.  As our family grows, obligations increase in each household and with John's schedule such as it is, we chose a date that suited all parties and are having an all in one celebration for our family this weekend.

It's been a lot of work this week to get the house company ready, decorate, meet other obligations we've had, etc...but I am sure it will all be worthwhile when I look around the table and see my family together.

Of course, there will be faces missing...Amie and her family in North Dakota, Virginia and Bryan and their son in Texas...but you know they will be here in our hearts and foremost in our thoughts as we celebrate our togetherness.

And because it is so early, I'll end here by saying "Happy Holidays"!