Monday, August 3, 2015

In My Home This Week: Work Ahead and Get Ahead

Last week proved to be busy and hectic.  The best gift I gave myself last week was to prep meals on Monday as much ahead as I possibly could.  It worked beautifully, saving a world of time and stress.  I think I'll plan to do that again this week. I was thrown by the fact that I had no roast in the freezer after making my menu plan.  No, none at all.  And to be sure I wasn't just missing it in my search, I actually looked at the freezer inventory sheet I'd just used and no, there was no roast.  I checked at the grocery, and seeing prices, swallowed really hard and decided to make do without it.  We bought food out twice this last week and I was out with Mama one day as well so the need to make more meals proved unnecessary.  I did switch one of my menus to the evening meal.

I have big plans for the week ahead.  I'm smack dab in the midst of revamping the front porch.  Just now it involves scrubbing the railings clean and then painting them.  I also have new paint for the two chairs there.  I'd dearly love to move the dog house off the porch permanently but I won't be able to do so.  Maddie likes it on the porch so she can come hide there when the thunder rumbles.  The cat's little hideaway is there, too.   When I am all done with what I can do with what I have on hand, I'm going to purchase floor paint and get to work on that porch floor.  Here's hoping that in the next week or two it will be a neat, clean, brand new space.  I do like 0to see projects get finished up!

There's a lot of the usual work and such to be accomplished this week as well.  Doctor, lab, picking up the pay check, Harvest day, grocery shopping and all the routine housework.  There's yard work to be done, too.  I'll do what I can on the big extras and make sure to get all the usual household things accomplished.  There's nothing worse than working hard on a project and finding you've an entire meal to make from scratch or a messy house.

So let's see what we meals we can prepare this week.  I seem to have found my right ratio of carbohydrates to keep my blood sugars fairly stable.  I need to eat the most in the morning, somewhere closer to 60 then and  less at noon and still fewer for the last meal of the day.  Fingers crossed this continues to work for me.

Breakfasts this week:  
Breakfast sandwich, Banana, milk
Pancake, turkey sausage, applesauce, milk
Cold Cereal, Milk,  Peach, Peanut Butter Toast
Mini Bagel with Cream Cheese, Orange, Milk
Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Fruit Cup with Yogurt
Fried Egg, Grits, Peach, Toast
Blueberry Muffins, Boiled Egg, Mixed Berries

Dinners this week:
Leftover Fried Chicken, Butter beans, Coleslaw, Corn Muffin, Baked Peach
Meatloaf, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Sliced Tomato Salad, Sugar free pudding
Pan Baked Chicken, Squash Casserole, Black Eyed Peas, Apple Brown Betty
Pepper Steak, Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Ambrosia
on my own, so I'll eat leftovers
Deli Rotisserie Chicken, Potato Salad, Sliced Tomato and Onions, Rolls, fresh Peach
Taco Salad, Banana Split

Suppers this week:
PB&J, Apple, Milk
Turkey Club Sandwiches, Applesauce
Vegetable Soup, Meatloaf Sandwich
Cheese Toast, leftover Soup
Pizza, Salad
Burger, Banana 'Milkshake'
Egg Salad Sandwich, Chips, Peach 

Jobs This Week

Finish washing front porch railings.
Paint porch chairs.
Clean porch flooring.
Doctor appointment.
Harvest: pick up check, pay bills, get allowances and grocery funds.
Spend a little time doing meal prep for the week.
Bake Challah.
Grocery Shop.
Visit thrift store.
Lab work.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Iced Tea Chat: In Which I Learn I Can Dance...

Hello dears,

Please do come in.  Freshly made iced tea, peaches, lemons, limes, oranges...Take your choice and come sit with me a bit.  Isn't the sunset just gorgeous?  There's no other time of day that it's even bearable outdoors any longer but the weather has cooled slightly this evening.  Aren't the cicadas loud? Gracious!  They must have hatched out in this heat.  I hadn't heard any here at all until this week.

What a busy two weeks it's been.  My doctor asked me if I was exercising but I looked at him and said "Now you know how hot it is..." and he nodded.  Enough said on that front, right?  But I promised I would get out in the yard and do things in the mornings and I have.  I've cut branches on trees and pulled weeds and scrubbed front porch railings and spray painted things that were looking faded and weary and messed about in the house enough to feel good and tired at day's end.  I had John set up the stationery bike so I could pedal away when I wasn't busy, but there's been so much to do overall and so many places to be that I've felt I had quite a work out daily.

I had meant to work on other things this week, but somehow that front porch just pushed itself on up the list and so here I am working on it.  So far I've only bought spray paint for the chairs which I really want to keep red.  It looks as though Grandmama painted those chairs a few times herself.  The old paint we put on the chairs has chipped off and I've found green and khaki and white underneath.  I'd debated painting them green but in the end the hardware store's limited options dictated the color. Cest la vie...At least they shall be painted and looking nice once more.  They will at least do for a season or two  and then I shall repaint them afresh.

I'm shocked how much just washing down the porch railings has improved their appearance.  If I'd only known that simply cleaning was all they needed I'd have done it back in the Spring.    I do plan to paint them and I've enough white paint on hand to manage that task. It's only because John said they had to be washed before painting that I even started that job.  In future, I shall clean first.  Never underestimate the power of cleaning.

I shall purchase floor paint and we'll get a fresh coat on the flooring and call the porch good enough. Well, besides pulling a few decorative things together to add personality...Got to have that.  I'd love to do plants too, but the heat has been so very intense that all has turned crispy brown in the yard. Still, even just half done as it is, it's already looking improved.  I love to undertake a task in an area that looks pretty drear and hopeless and see it springing back to life with just a lot of elbow grease and materials on hand.

I started that front porch project Sunday.  I worked so long and so hard my arms shook.  But I pushed ahead and worked on cleaning my kitchen properly.  I was struggling with ants again.  They were making inroads into the house from every possible entry point.  I've been almost manic in wiping counters and vacuuming and sweeping just hoping to keep them at bay.  I've sprayed and sprayed and sprayed again and still I'd find them scurrying across a counter top.  They were on my bedside table one evening.  It's not food they are after because they were in places where we never take foods at all.  I finally recalled that John had some success last year sprinkling Bengal fire ant poison where ever there was a hole for a pipe or cable, inside window frames and across threshold of outside doors.  So I found the canister of the powder and went to work.  It takes only a very tiny amount and light dusting.  I'm happy to say we've seen far fewer ants. They aren't all gone but there are a lot less of them.

So I worked pretty hard Sunday overall, between the light housework I did, the start of the front porch project, and then giving the kitchen a good cleaning.  And I was tired.  Oh I was tired and weary!  I limped to my chair and sat down and almost, just almost dozed off...until I became aware of the cat meowling (sort of a meow and howl mixed) outside.  The last time she did that, she'd brought me a snake...

I went to the door and opened the interior door and said "Misu if you've brought me a snake, you can go away!" but there was no snake.  The cat kept her head down but meowled at me again and again until I opened the door.  I will never ever, ever do it again.  The cat, who typically walks over the threshold just far enough into the house to look to see if John is at the table and then turns to leave, walked in, looked up at me and just as I noticed four wriggling legs coming out of her mouth, dropped a critter at my feet and turned and walked out.  It was a lizard...or what I call a lizard but is actually a skink.  It moved across the living room floor pretty doggone fast, even faster than I'd moved away from the cat screeching 'Don't let it go!'

I did look for it but I never saw even a glimpse of it again.  I have to confess I loathe lizards and frogs above all other critters.  I just do.  I just can't stand them and that's all there is to it.

And so I lived with the fear of the lizard in my heart for four days and three nights.  I could barely bring myself to walk into a dark room and scrunched up my toes anytime I had to put my feet under the edge of a bed or chair.  I proceeded with extreme caution anytime I opened a blind or pulled a curtain shut.  I scanned chairs and counter tops and dressers when I walked into rooms.  I shook out clothes and towels vigorously. I hung my purse up in the hopes the lizard would not climb the wall to get to it.  I prayed the critter would not come to bed with me when I lay down at night.

I was up super early Wednesday morning to see John off to work.  I worked about the house for a bit after he left.  Frankly I'd kind of forgotten the lizard.  I moved about the kitchen until the sun was fully up and warmly coming in the windows.  That's when I sat down to have breakfast there in the kitchen sitting area.  I was about half done when I looked up and saw the lizard sitting under the desk chair looking at me.

I screamed.  And then I screamed again.   Then I ran to the back door and went outdoors and called to Misu, "Here kitty, kitty!"  She looked around the corner at me and plainly meowed back that she was hungry and wouldn't I hurry up and feed her, and no she didn't think she would come to the back porch to see what I wanted.  I begged her to come to me and let me put her inside the house, but she refused.  Now she's just persnickety enough I know very well not to pick her up and try to carry her anywhere or I'd be slashed to ribbons.  I sighed deeply and realized I couldn't stand on the back porch all morning in my nightie even if I did live in the country.

So I put my brave girl cape on and propped open the storm door and made sure there was a viable gap between the back door and the wall for the lizard to go through from the kitchen sitting to the back porch .  I got my broom and began shooing it towards the door.  Things got hairy there for a bit.  He came back at me at least twice.  I hopped about on my feet like I'd never known knee pain or ankle injuries.  River dancers had nothing on me, let me tell you.  I screeched a few times.  Finally he escaped to the back porch and I quickly shut the doors and decided that was the most shivery 8 minutes of my life.  Ever.

As for the cat, if I ever again hear her meowling....well I won't be opening any doors to see if she's all right.  It might be true love by her book to bring me snakes and lizards but  heaven help me I can not take another gift from her love in this lifetime.

And for the record my lizard wasn't a lizard but a juvenile five lined skink.  Apparently grown up skinks don't have blue tails.  They have red heads.  I looked up the information for a friend's grandson who was very interested in my house lizard, lol.  Ugh!

I didn't ever take up my new magazine to look at last Saturday as planned, but I did go through the Pottery Barn catalog and here I got a good chuckle.  It's all the rage now to have melamine plates and Ball jar glasses for outdoor picnics.  Ha!  I feel a bit like Barbara Mandrel's old song "I Was Country, When Country Wasn't Cool" over the Pottery Barn catalog.  We've been drinking from Ball or Mason replica glasses for at least 35 years here.  In fact, Mama gifted me a set from her cupboards about a year ago because she knew John liked them.

As for the Melamine plates I've always liked them but haven't had any in about 20 years.  I will say you can save yourself a load of money and buy them at Walmart or Target these days and they are just as pretty and colorful and nice as those in Pottery Barn and a great deal less expensive.

For myself, I'm sort of interested in vintage melamine patterns.  I spent a whole afternoon not too long ago scrolling about eBay looking at sets.  Ah!  Nostalgia comes with a price tag, let me tell you.

Granny had a set of Melmac which lasted years...In fact, I have one of her little coffee cups which holds exactly three quarters of a cup of liquid.  I usually eat ice cream from it (a single scoop looks less tiny when it's in a small cup, lol).  The Melmac was thicker and rather durable and came in plain colors.  Granny's set was her favorite color, a color she often purchased in furnishings, blouses, cars, ball point pens: a deep Aqua blue color.

Well I don't guess I'll investing in Melmac or vintage melamine, but I am considering new dishes.  I knew, when I bought the Corelle plates, that I was settling.  They aren't my style, they aren't what I wanted.  I was, at the time, giving in to John's desire to have plain flatware and plates that weren't white but not fussy either.  The forks, spoons and knives I purchased were on deep sale, have a lovely weight to them and the handles are so heavy that they spontaneously flip off plates or out of bowls if not balanced just so.  I can't name the number of times we've slung food about involuntarily.  Nice to look at, nice to hold, not so much fun overall.  As for the plates it was not two months after purchasing those Corelle plates (which John asked I specifically consider) that he stopped before a brilliant display of colorful stoneware at a supermarket kitchen wares section and exclaimed "Oh!  Look at this!"  Seriously?! lol

I am so over the Corelle and I mean that sincerely.  I long for color and pattern.  What stops me?  I can't make up mind!  I like lovely vintage pieces with fluffy roses and sprays of wild flowers.  I love splashy colorful modern day pottery.  I haven't nearly enough cabinet space to store all the dishes I most long to buy, like the china set with a deep yellow border and a two toned gray pattern over that, sigh.

Oh! speaking of gray and yellow, I saw a movie yesterday dated 1954 that had the most gorgeous apartment.   The set decorator used a large scale pattern paper in the living room in cream, white, pale gray and pale citron (yellow green).  It was stunning paper.  The tiny attached kitchen had been painted in similar colors.  The walls citron green, the cabinetry and shelving pale gray, the appliances in stark white.  It took my breath away.  I could live with those colors very easily and it looked chic but not stuffy, if you know what I mean.  If it had been possible, I would have paused the film right there and just looked that room over good and hard.  It was a color combination and a room set to dream about.

I'm not in the least unhappy with the colors I've used in my home these past two years.  If anything I'm even happier than I was at time of choosing, but I do look at other rooms and fall gently into liking them a whole lot and thinking how they might work in my own home one day.  Maybe.  I am subject to change.

Granny once described to me a room that she'd always wanted for herself.  It was a pale gray room with touches of deep gray and coral.  It sounds lovely doesn't it?  I'm afraid that Granny never did have a room that even faintly resembled her dream room.  I think that is what has made me work so hard at attempting to bring some resemblance of what I want into my own home.  Like Granny, my funds dictate what I can have and often that isn't much.  But I plan and I dream and do my best with what is at hand and can find within my budget.  Eventually I find I have managed to pull off a decent look.

I do chuckle over the designers who talk of slashing the budget where they choose to spend $3000 on a kitchen sink as their 'save' portion and $30,000 on floors.  Yeah.  I'd love to have their budget, wouldn't you?

It's been hot lately, very hot.  Most days the temperatures have been over 100F, either in fact or with heat index.  Mostly it's been fact.  I've had to clear so much from my closet that I truly have struggled to find clothing I can wear.  Hence one afternoon this week I spent time taking in darts on my pants and jeans.  Now the pants are fitting better and no longer in danger of sliding over my hips, I've focused hard on tops.  I had just three short sleeved tee shirts and four sleeveless tops.  I'm not keen on wearing sleeveless tops without a covering shirt over them but I had no cover shirts and it's far too hot to even pretend I'd think of wearing a sweater over the top of them.  I've worn one thin shirt three times now without a cover and I've felt comfortable in it, but I realize that likely we've plenty of days of warm weather ahead of us yet.  At least one of the three t-shirts is looking mighty big these days so it shall soon be out of circulation.

So I allowed myself to go look for tops at Cato this week.  I started with the clearance rack.  The t-shirts were all the shrug off the shoulder, barely touches the top of the hip sort.  The sort of tops you'd wear over a tank perhaps which is too much clothing in steamy humid Georgia summers! Gorgeous colors and a plethora of them which meant they were not popular with the customers I think.  Think 1980's sort of work out look.

Having a fail there I went through the store racks and found nothing at all, and ended up at the basic tees display where I chose a v-neck style in blush peach and a medium dark gray.  I was pleasantly surprised to find these two sewn with seams that created a sort of form fitting look that was a lot less casual than a t-shirt normally looks.  The cost was reasonable.

I did scan the shoe rack.  My size is so common that there is seldom anything available to purchase on clearance racks except for the really ugly or ridiculously high  heeled.  Purses however proved to be a bonus find for me.  I chose two bags and spent less than $20 on the two.  One is a pale aqua blue with zippers and the other is a woven bag of cream and coral pink.  I think both will make a great addition to my accessory wardrobe.

When I got home I sorted out my purses and set three aside to give away, two to donate, one that has a broken zipper that I plan to try to repair and two more that I am undecided over.  I don't like one of them at all, but can't remember which one, so I set them aside.  I'll use them both over the course of the next few weeks and donate either one or both.  I do like purses and I'm by no means am short of them.  I don't however, need just loads of them and that's fact.  Right now I swap pretty much between the same three.  I've wanted bags in the colors I purchased the other day, and often thought how much use I'd get from them if I had either color. Happy find at the clearance rack and yes, I did say a quick prayer of thanks, because I know that these finds are never random.  And while I might not wear the shirts for more than a few months I will use the bags over and over again.  I've found that to be true with costume jewelry (always clearance priced or thrift store finds) and scarves and shoes as well.  The accessory is often far more versatile than the wardrobe pieces.

Do you know I was thinking the other day about how versatile basics are.  For instance, in a one week span of time I saw a few variations on Cobb salad which is something of a classic and a basic in it's own right.  One I recall clearly was a Southern Cobb with fried chicken strips, black eyed peas...I can't remember what else but I pinned it to my Healthy Hearty Soul board.  Then I saw a Southwestern version with black beans, corn, avocado, etc.  Then there was an Oriental one with snow pea pods and red bell pepper strips and carrots and an oriental glazed chicken breast sliced over it.  And doesn't each one sound delicious?

I am, however, fast getting over salad.  It happens every year about this time.  I start to just long for cooler weather fare, which I confess is my favorite. Give me stews, soups, pot roasts, slow roasted pans of meat and vegetables, sigh.  I mean summer is nice with all the great produce available, but you can eat just so many pieces of steak, chicken breasts or burgers before you feel very much over and done with that whole thing.

I went over my pantry a couple of weeks ago and noticed some gaps: no kidney or black beans for instance and just two cans of green beans.  I'm not big on canned vegetables overall but I feel it is well worth storing them and using them here and there to keep the stock current.  It's all well to say that you can make your own dried beans from scratch and freeze them but the very convenience alone of canned beans is always helpful and what if the freezer is not working for some reason?  Then you've lost all that usage.  Obviously I don't keep great quantities on hand, or I'd not be out of them, but they do come in handy and I do enjoy having them ready to eat.

All in all, I probably have less in my pantry than I've had in many months.  Partly that is due to the fact that so much of my budget at present is being channeled into the fresh produce.  We fill our fridge full and the next week it is empty and we refill it with more fresh foods.  I have planned a few restocks, even going so far as making out a weekly shopping list based on good sales but then I end up spending on fresh produce (which is needed now) and do nothing towards the pantry, which isn't being used currently.  It's all a balancing act.  I confess I'm no longer sure what is a best buy price on many items since I seldom see these items on sale any more.  And shopping nearly exclusively at Aldi means that I seldom go into other stores to check prices.

I've been giving very serious consideration to where we can trim our budget in other areas.  There is still the cable bill but it's about to be pre-season football time and John has only been talking about how excited he is over that for the past two months.  It seems that many games now are available only on 'exclusive cable/satellite channels' which means that local channels are blocked from showing the very games that he most wants to see.   So that avenue seems shut for me at the moment.

He was looking over a flyer that came with the local paper this past week which listed various internet plans and the costs.  We're paying well below the current cost for our internet service at present.  John asked why the differences in pricing.  I explained that the more gigabytes you purchased the more access you had for smooth streaming movies, things like Hulu, etc.  He asked, "Well are you interested in upgrading?"  I was emphatic in my negative reply. "We don't need anything to cost more at the moment," I said to him.  "And as unreliable as our basic internet service is, what is to make me think a higher speed service would be any better?"  He nodded in agreement with that.  As I type this my service has been out for over 5 minutes and this is not the first outage in the past hour.

I've called and asked for repair services but for various reasons the internet provider refuses to come out.  They want us to sign a new contract, to use one of their low-end routers and jump through nineteen various hoops before they will even consider coming out to check the line, which did the same thing four years ago and ended up being a problem at the hub.  As well, they know they have us over a barrel.  It is the only service in our area.  Not even AT&T provides service in our neck of the woods.

Another problem is that local demand for internet has increased that the hubs are overtaxed.  Too many users on a limited number of lines means that there are often outages.  And yes it happens in other rural areas than ours.  A friend shared not too long ago that she discovered ten of her neighbors also had 'bad routers' which the phone company wanted them to replace.  Complaints can do little however to increase lines when space and manpower are severely limited.

I hate to say I've become accepting, but it's part of my reason for lack of posting at present.  I 'lost' my work four times on the most recent "This Week In My Home" savings post.  Four times.  It was so frustrating that I'd just give up and go do other things.

Do you know what other bit of modern internet stuff I am learning to dislike mightily at the moment?  Facebook.  It's not the mean and nasty people who abound there, but the frustration of finding my settings changed repeatedly.  Or getting 90 posts from one person who went through and liked things (which is fine, you can like whatever you want) but I shouldn't be getting a notice of everything anyone liked.  I've made sure not to follow certain people and find my page is flooded with their notices.  I've even UNfriended people in an attempt to control the content flow of my page and continue to receive notices for weeks and months after.  And people who I would very much like to see, have been cast asea.  I have to physically look them up one by one to see what they are up to.

Katie promised, when last she was here, that she could fix my problems.  Well she did try.  At last she gave up in sheer frustration and said "Mama, I don't know why you are getting all this stuff.  You're not even subscribed to this page!"  I did find, too, this week, when a page started showing up consistently in my feed that Facebook had allowed a 'friend' who is really just a bare acquaintance, to sign me up to receive the page.  Seriously!?  I don't think I want just anyone signing me up for sites I may not have even considered joining!

Well, time to wrap this up I think.  I need to start planning the new week and new month just ahead.
Talk to you later!

In My Home This Week: Banging Out Savings for the End of July

The small containers are filled with pudding I pre-portioned after mixing it up.  Perfect for quick grab snacks.

Saturday: Last night I opened all the junk mail I'd set aside during the week.  I found greeting cards, a Forever stamp, two pocket calendar pages, a great offer for BH&G magazine ($5.99 for 12 issues).  I always sort out junk mail because you never know what you will find.

 I went into town this morning for a special reason.  There was an advertised Estate Sale in the local paper.  I found a few nice things:  a book for John, a book for me, a mirror for my planned closet re-do (slated for sometime in the future), and a few smalls for the booth.

 I went by the Peach Shed while I was out and picked up peaches and tomatoes for us for the week ahead.

There is a home I just love to drive by.  It's a cute older home, and the homeowner has such a creative way of decorating the outside of the house.  I go by there routinely just to look to see what's changed, and to gather inspiration for my own 'look' outdoors.  Going by today was a doubly good thing.  I noted another estate sale down a nearby street and went by.  I found a beautiful pitcher to use to make iced tea.  I've got two antique pitchers but they are regrettably too small for good use, so I'm putting them into the booth, where they ought to bring in enough money to pay for the pitcher I bought today.

Came home and made an easy dinner from leftover chicken.

An unexpected savings...I forgot to include the banana in my sugar free banana meringue pudding, sigh.

Two Saturdays in a row Katie has texted me telling me all about her savings on baby products at Target.  She's done some good work!  I told her we're just going to have to start calling her Target Queen.  For the second week in a row, stacking coupons, red card discounts, using cartwheel and sales she's managed to save well over 50% and build a nice stock of diapers, formula, wipes and baby foods for her little one.  I'm very proud of her for planning ahead and for stocking up so that she doesn't face an emergency outage.

Living Well:  I've found myself a lovely new ritual which I have only on Saturday (Shabat) morning.  I take one of the beautiful tea cups and saucers that Katie and Matt gave me for Christmas, a creamer of milk, and the coffee pot to my chair in the kitchen sitting area and sip coffee as I pray and read my Bible, and journal.  It is a peaceful time every day but adding in that beautiful cup and drinking all the coffee I want,  is what makes it perfect.  

Sunday:  Packed John's lunch.  Made him breakfast.  Sent him off to work.

Even though I had a Shop and Earn credit from Swagbucks, I went ahead and made as many easy points as I could for the first hour of this morning.

After breakfast I headed outdoors.  Plans this morning!  I cleaned off the ironing board on the porch and set it in the yard, along with a metal table that had faded over the past year.  Those both got a fresh coat of paint.  The paints were not favorites, but they were on hand and they will do for now.  At least those two items look fresh and new and one section of my poor looking front porch is nicely spruced up.
Freshly painted with what I had on hand.  Not ideal perhaps, but both the ironing board and the little plant stand on top look better than they did before.  This is still a work in progress...

                           Note how white the railing looks.  It sure didn't earlier this morning!

Discovered that the tray I'd hand painted some time ago will fit the stand to the table I purchased in Spring at the dollar store.  It's so cute with that tray on top!  I think I may just work it into my plans.
I was happy to find this tray perfectly fit over the top of the tray table I'd purchased at the dollar store back in the Spring.

I've been trying to get an item to work on the back porch but nowhere seemed just right.  I took it out to the front porch this morning.  I think I know just where I'll use it.

Then I washed down the siding and a long length of the porch railing....which again, reminds me that cleaning is sometimes enough.  I thought I must paint it but it's looking so nice now that it's washed I may skip the paint.

Indoors once more I set out meats to thaw...this is where I discover I do not have roasts in the freezer.  Replan menu on the list of to dos.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I was going to run the dishwasher last night but I shifted something and found room for more this morning it was definitely full.

My Home Keeping notebook was not working for me at all.  Took time this afternoon to rearrange and better organize and now I am happier with it overall.  I also switched it to a bigger binder since my little 1 inch binder was crammed full.  I swapped with the Recipe Notebook which barely filled the 2 inch binder.  Now  I have two 'new' binders, and all it took was a little time to rearrange things.

Rearranged my desk bookshelf and removed some cookbooks.  Two went on the shelves in the living room since they are 'reading cook books' and are filed with the authors other works.  Two I set aside to give away.  Much as I like them, I've never used one recipe from either and since they are not unique or antique, they should really go to a home where they will be used.

Made a pan full of croutons from some pieces of bread that had huge holes in the middle.  That's the risk when I buy this particular whole grain bread from the store bakery.  It has holes.  Sometimes they are big holes.

Made fresh bread crumbs to add to my can of salmon for salmon patty.  That was a good lunch!  John is not fond at all of salmon but I do enjoy it.  I'll see about getting a few more of those 4 ounce cans of salmon as they are just right for one person.

I forgot medicines twice this week.  I decided I needed a reminder sheet where I check AFTER I actually take the pills.  Here's hoping this keeps me straight!

Started up an order sheet for my next Walmart online order.  I'll likely place the order by mid-week, but waiting a little will give me time to determine all I'll need.  I try to make sure my order qualifies for free shipping.  I consider most of the money spent as part of my grocery budget and figure it accordingly.

Popped corn for a snack this afternoon.  2 tbsps of kernels, 1 tsp of olive oil and 2 minutes.  Why on earth did we ever think microwave popcorn was so quick or so good?!

Used up odds and ends from fridge in my salad for supper tonight.

I have a bottle of dressing I just don't care for at all.  It's too tart...but I think it would make a great marinade for chicken, so I'm saving it for that purpose.

Made sure to put all the crackers and cereals we bought the other day in glass jars or tins for storage.  It saves us finding ants in them later on.

The cat was yowling...I went to the door to see what was up and she stepped over the threshold and dropped a live lizard at my feet.  I don't know where on earth the doggone lizard is, but the cat went straight back outdoors.  She normally refuses to come in the house and was none to anxious to stay this time either.  My only consolation, and it's the ONLY one as I loathe lizards, is that perhaps it will dine on the spiders and palmetto bugs and ants that keep coming in from heaven knows where.  Cheap pest control?  {{{Shudders}}}

Worked on a new set of housekeeping routines.  I think I'll appreciate the way I've set it up.  Today went well at any rate.  Despite all the outdoor time today, my main focus on Sundays is the kitchen.  I started doing this a couple of weeks ago and it's worked well thus far.  I take out foods to thaw for the week ahead, clean the kitchen well (counters/appliances/cabinet doors/floors), organize the fridge so I know what leftovers must be used up in the next few days, and generally tidy up the laundry, back entry, kitchen sitting, my desk and the kitchen itself.   It's not so much work I can't accomplish it in a couple of hours time, so I can easily do a decent job of it on church Sundays as well as on my Sundays alone at home.

Living Well: It was nice outdoors this morning and I enjoyed my time working on the porch. Not only was the sun shining and the breeze blowing just enough to keep it pleasant but it was quiet.  No music boom booming, no tractor puttering in the field, no mowers running, no one over on the hill shouting in play.  It was just the sound of the wind chimes slowing chiming and the birds singing.  I felt so calm and deeply relaxed  despite all the hard work.

 I noticed the same thing last week, too, when I sat down on the back porch to cool off.  The breeze was blowing, some mourning doves were boo-hoo-hoo-ing across the field, a woodpecker tapped on the security light pole and though I'd been anxious and was weary, I felt that same deep still calm that seemed to soak into my bones.  

Perhaps when I'm feeling anxious I should be stealing out to the porch more often.  It seems to be a good cure for what ails me.

Monday:   More work on the porch railing this morning.  I'm about half finished with the cleaning job.  I ran out of cleaner to work with.  Power washing would take less time, but I don't have funds for that...elbow grease is always the least expensive way to go about tasks like this.

Worked in the kitchen today and got food prepped for the week.  I was thrown by the lack of roast in my freezer, but managed to put together three meals today for the first portion of the week and prep salad making stuff.

In a two hour work session today, I made: Salsa Chicken with vegetables for our dinner; cooked extra chicken for salad; Spaghetti Sauce (enough sauce for pasta and enough over to make a zucchini lasagna of sorts for the freezer); Grilled Zucchini (over grilled, but oh well) for the lasagna; chopped vegetables for an Italian Sausage dinner (divided the package of sausage between the spaghetti sauce, this dish and put two sausages in the freezer for a future meal), chopped vegetables for salad one night;  cut up celery sticks;  tore lettuce and bagged for salad;and last,  I patted out two burger patties of seasoned meat for another entree this week.

Hemmed 1 pair of pants, and put darts in four pair so I have pants that fit once more.

Ant spray and ant traps were not working at all.  I did something John did one summer several years ago and put out Bengal powder fire ant killer wherever there is an entry point (cable holes and water pipes for instance) or a lot ants appearing without any known entry point.  I've noticed a severe decrease in ant activity.  I still am finding a few but I'm seeing a lot less and we had that powder on hand, no special purchase required.

It was 104F outdoors this afternoon and the AC worked extra hard.  I blame myself for a portion of that extra work.  I failed to shut the blinds on the western side of the house and it really made a huge difference in the interior temperature.    I checked the filter too and discovered it was ready to be changed.  I noted the temperature immediately dropped 2 degrees with the new filter.

Tuesday:  I gave Maddie the last of the beef stew that we failed to finish eating...On these hot days (even the mornings are quite warm) she appreciates these leftovers straight from the fridge.

John washed a small load of clothes.

I have an almost full dishwasher. I suspect by the time I clear supper dishes we'll have a really full load.  I'll run it then, in the evening hours.

Went into town to get a haircut.  I combined several errands: went by drugstore and dropped off a prescription, by the post office to drop off a bill that needed to be mailed, went by the dollar store to purchase more cleaning supplies and a couple of home needs and went by Subway to buy sandwiches at John's request.  He asked for a sandwich to go in his lunch tomorrow and paid for the food from his allowance.

We had to go in another direction to buy mower blades this afternoon.  John asked if I'd come in and see the new to me hardware store.  I found the paint I wanted for my porch chairs.  When we got to the car, John made a complaint about how much my paint cost.  I looked over the receipt as we were sitting in the parking lot and told him, "These figures don't come up to this total..."  I went back in the store and was refunded money.  I suspect the adding machine hadn't been cleared properly before our figures were added up.  Glad we caught it because it was $25 over what it ought to have been.

Made sure to shut shades and curtains on the western windows this afternoon.  House is much cooler!

I had a basket that hung by hooks over a cabinet door.  Storage was great but I caught my pockets or zippers on those over the door hooks daily.  I'd asked John if he could somehow attach the basket to the cabinet door.  Today he bought some little plastic hooks that came with tiny nails and attached the basket to the interior of the sink cabinet door.  It has worked so well I've told him I mean to look for larger baskets to hand on the back of the cleaning cupboard door.

Washed a full load of dishes this evening.

Living Well:  Just have to I walked into the Subway store this afternoon, a lady leaned from her vehicle and said, "Excuse me...I just wanted to tell you how nice you look!  That necklace is just perfect."   I've no clue who she was, but I surely did appreciate the compliment and felt the ten minutes it took to put the outfit together one evening over the weekend was time well spent.

Wednesday:  Washed sheets and hung on line to dry.

Cut up several pieces of fruit this morning: peaches with a bad spot on each, shrinking strawberries, ten grapes no one would eat, oranges that weren't prime were sectioned.  I had a portion for breakfast and put the rest in the freezer.  I labeled it Summer Fruit Salad.  I used a yogurt container I'd washed and saved to store the fruit salad.

Went out to dinner with Mama.  Honestly, it was my turn to pay but the tab was more than I could pay.  Mama picked it up and I paid the tip.  I owe her a couple of meals out now.

Desperate for tops I can wear right now, I went into Cato this morning and scanned the clearance racks for shirts.  I came out with two...and two purses.  Hint: why Terri couldn't pay the tab at lunch? Not true but it would seem to be the case, wouldn't it?  Truth: I charge clothes on my credit card.  I do not charge food.  I never charge more than I can pay off by the next billing so I never pay interest or finance charges.

The purses were $18 for both and will add a lot of 'power' to my accessorizing in future.  The two shirts are not Summer colors, but are more neutrals, which will work well for now and later in Autumn, as well.  I purchased a pale blush peach color and a medium deep gray color.   I won't by any more until autumn, but this will give me three short sleeve tops.  I was down to 1 t-shirt and 4 sleeveless tops.

I ordered a second glucometer from Walmart.  Yes, I do have four already but each one uses a different test strip.  The test strips alone for two of the others cost more than 100 test strips for the ReliOn Prime from Walmart, which came highly recommended.  I figured a second ReliOn glucometer was the best purchase (cost about the same as the test strips) and would give me two reliable glucometers that I can use with the same test strips.  I keep one in my purse for emergencies or unplanned trips away from home.

Last week I put some fatty pieces cut from a cooked steak into a foil cup, then poured pan juices around the fat and froze.  It made a tasty and appreciated treat for Maddie this afternoon when the heat index was well past the 100F mark.

Packed John's work lunch this morning and made him breakfast.

Mama gave me her gently read magazines.

Living Well:  I was disappointed this evening when thunder boomed mightily all around us, but not one drop of rain fell.  My disappointment was alleviated entirely by the glorious sunset this evening.  I went and sat on the back porch and drank in the western skies.  The surrounding storms had cooled the air just enough to make it quite pleasant and the view was stunning.  I always find my heart singing praises to the God Most High when I see these wonderful sunsets.

Thursday:  I saved dishwater and poured over thirsty plants.  Naturally it rained inches in an hour this afternoon.

Set up five outfits this morning.  Now I have things picked out to wear for the next few appointments and such.  I did not incorporate any of the new tops.  I'd like to save them for just a little longer.

Saved cooking juices to pour over Maddie's food tomorrow morning.  I'll put in the fridge.  She seems to enjoy cool foods right now while it's so hot outdoors.

Gave myself a fresh pedicure.

Lined the curtain panel that hangs at our bathroom window.  It was letting in far too much light and heat in the afternoons and evenings.  I used another shorter piece of curtain in the same type of material which worked just fine.  It covers the window itself which was important.  I suspect it will help with drafts come winter as well.

I have used some of the burlap ribbon as tiebacks on my living and dining room curtains.  I was unhappy with the way it kept shredding.  While the sewing machine was set up, I decided to see how turning under the edge and sewing a hem in the cut edges would work.  Beautifully as it turns out.  No more loose threads falling to the floor and the tie backs look much neater overall.

Made supper from a variety of leftovers.  It was a dud sort of meal, not as flavorful as I wanted it to be at all,  but we used up the leftovers and ate the salads, anyway.  I'm very cautious about making meals that aren't flavorful because I find really bland meals always seem to leave us unsatisfied and reaching for snacks.

Planned ahead to combine errands tomorrow.

Had John call the pharmacy I'm using and transfer his prescriptions there.  At least one of his medicines will be free to us at this pharmacy.  It's just a $6 savings but that's $72 a year, enough to pay for at least 3 months of his other prescription costs.

Went through my purses and set aside two to give away.  I discovered another had a broken zipper.  I set aside to try and repair.  A fourth one will be donated.  I put two more in the undecided pile.

Living Well:  You might well wonder at first why I'm dubbing this 'Living Well'.  John and I had words this evening, as we did yesterday afternoon.  Truth told he had his feelings hurt because I've been speaking sharply to him the past week.  I hadn't shared what my trouble was, and I was obtuse to how he was feeling overall.  After he called me out on my behavior, I was ashamed of myself.  I knew he was speaking truth (ouch!  It hurts as much as sharp words to hear truth).  I owe my husband an apology.  And I need to stop bottling up my feelings and share them so that I don't resort to such behavior in the future.

Friday:  I was in a hurry this morning.  I was in a hurry yesterday morning too and left cat food sitting on porch railing and in came the mega highways of ants to the porch.  So this morning I kept my eye on the clock and when both Maddie and Misu had time enough to eat went right out to put leftovers away.  Worked beautifully.  Not one ant and no wasted food.

Took a load of stuff to the booth and spent a little time rearranging things.

Naturally we were batching errands today in order to make the most of our gasoline.  So we took off trash, picked up mail, went from the flea market to the lab for lab work, then to see about getting John's haircut (no luck) and to the grocery where we picked up bread and produce and stuff for dinner at Katie's this weekend.

Figuring up July's expenses I find I'm a little over.  I know this is in part due to the food we picked up for dinner with Katie this weekend and our lunch purchase.  I shall have to see about setting up a small fund each month for unplanned meals out and/or unplanned dinners.  That way I can be nearer my planned grocery budget.

Tuna was on sale at this store today but I didn't buy any.  I figured the price per can at around $.80.  I have 8 cans on hand right now for which I paid $.39 each.  I'll look for a price nearer $.50 a can to add to my stock, I think.  What we have on hand will last us about two months or so.

We put leftovers from our lunch in the fridge.  I expect they will be handy come Monday when I have a doctor's appointment.  I'll try to cook some vegetables and set aside to heat up when we come in, too.

Planned ahead this afternoon and made up two batches of pudding, which I put into four ounce containers.  Pre-portioned desserts really do decrease the temptation to have 'just a little bit more' and make the cost per serving a true one overall.  I must remember to mix up a batch of skim milk and chill it well in future before making pudding.  I've found that using cold water from the fridge is not quite enough to let the pudding thicken as it ought, as it warms slightly while mixing and then warms a bit more while stirring in pudding.  Trial and error, all kitchen work involves trial and error.

Cut up celery and carrot sticks for snacks.  These can be eaten in quantity if chosen so I don't bother to measure them out in serving portions.

I pared three peaches from last week's half peck bag and put each sliced peach into a separate container with a tiny bit of lemon juice.  This assures I eat just one peach (a proper serving since they were baseball sized) at a time and not more.

I planned weekend menus to insure we had food ready and I wasn't winging it at any point.  Winging it is often expensive and always time consuming on a weekend especially, when I want to keep my Sabbath work at a minimum and want to keep the budget somewhat in line.

The dishwasher wasn't quite full.  I knew Saturday's dishes would not all fit.  I decided to add the burner grates from the stove and that filled the empty spaces very well.  I washed the load in the evening hours.

Living Well:   I'd thought for sure John would be bored doing the things I had listed as errands.  I'd offered to go on my own, but he'd insisted he wanted to be with me.  Well I shouldn't have worried, lol.  Everywhere we went John got caught up in a conversation with someone.  I could tell by his face he was really enjoying himself.  He genuinely likes people and is friendly himself, so to run into others who obviously like people as well is good medicine to him.  I was happy to have company and enjoyed watching him enjoy himself.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In My Home This Week: The Last Week Of July

La ti da da...This month is nearly over and it's been a rather good month overall.  As always as July dwindles to an end, I am torn...There are only weeks left of peach season now.  I asked this morning and the projection was 3 1/2 weeks.   I am torn because August here is back to school time but autumn is a long way away.  I am torn because about this point for us in Georgia, it feels like summer will never, ever end.  Were it not for the spate of fresh produce and the last of the peaches, I'd consider the month a lost cause and go on vacation for all of August the way the French do.  I mean it.  John will deny August is a sad month.  It's the beginning of football pre-season and he'll be happy as can be.'s not France, August will come and linger and July will end. I shall find as many pleasures in the month ahead that I possibly can.  In the meantime, let's finish off July with a Bang!

Bagels with cream cheese, Orange, Milk
I found some whole wheat mini bagels at Aldi this week.
Chicken, Southern Cream Corn, Sliced Tomatoes, Banana Pudding
ha...It was supposed to be banana pudding, but I left out the bananas.  What do you call sugar free vanilla pudding with a meringue?
Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust, Green Salad
Frozen pizza from Aldi is low fat and under 30gms of carbs per serving.  A nice treat for a Shabat meal.

Toast with Peanut Butter and Peaches, Milk
Miniature Salmon Loaf, Green Peas, Tomato Salad
John's at today is about me and what I like.  I have some 5 ounce cans of tuna and will use one to make my entree.
Chicken Caesar Salad with Croutons, Grapes, Milk

Whole Wheat Waffle with Peach Melba topping, Turkey Sausage
I may try making waffles from scratch but I do have some in the freezer yet.  The Peach Melba topping is super easy: fresh sliced peaches and sugar free raspberry jam melted to use as syrup.
Roast Beef,  Armenian Potatoes, Green Beans, Wedge Salad, Frozen Graham Square
I never cooked the roast beef last week...I won't make a full recipe of the potatoes either, just enough for two.  The dessert is leftovers from last week's frozen treats with yogurt and whipped cream filling.
Turkey Club Sandwich,  Almonds, Grapes

Mushroom Omelet with thyme, Buttered Toast, Grapes
Southwestern Style Chicken, Brown Rice, Salad with Black Beans and Corn, Strawberries
The chicken is seasoned with cumin and chili powder and topped with Salsa near end of cooking time.
Roast Beef Sandwich with Horseradish Sauce, Slaw, Banana Pudding 
Thought I'd actually saute a single banana and top our pudding with it...

Sausage Egg Muffins, Banana Bran Muffins, Fruit Cup
A sausage patty is thawed and pressed into bottom and sides of muffin tin.  Fill with beaten egg and baked until egg is set.  Simple enough and super tasty, this is a recipe we had often during our Atkins Diet days that fits well with my current eating plan.
Shepherd's Pie, Green Salad, Strawberries with Whipped Topping
I think I'll do individual casseroles for the Shepherd's pie so I can control the amount of mashed potatoes used in the topping.
Egg Salad Sandwiches, Celery Sticks,  Mixed Nuts, Orange Half, Milk

Vanilla Almond Cereal with Strawberries and Milk
out with Mama
Chicken Salad stuffed Tomato, Whole Wheat Crackers, Peach

Yogurt with Peaches, Toast
Ground Sirloin Steaks, Zucchini Fries, Tossed Salad
I mix 2 tablespoons of Monterrey Steak Sauce with the ground meat and then cook on a cast iron skillet.
Santa Fe Chicken Salad, Tortilla Chips, Sugar free Chocolate Pudding
Leftover chicken, black beans and corn, team up in salad for this meal. I can have nine of the chips for a moderate carb allowance which works well with my diet.  I may add some fresh peach to my salsa portion to jazz it up.

Jobs This Week

Pantry list still needs to be made.

Finish trimming branches on back yard trees.

Continue weeding rose bed.

Weed little area on the right side of the back steps.

Clean back porch.

Plan and prepare three convenience meals for freezer.

Get umbrella up on patio table.

Pick up peaches to take to Katie.

Work out what I want to do in household routines...and implement them.

This Week In My Home: Summer Time and The Living Is Easy

Time to plan another week of menus.  The week just past was awesome, hard, fun, and naturally tiring but it was just that, a natural tired.  I think I'm getting my feet under me once more.  I even spent the morning contemplating a Monday morning routine for tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to do a thorough wipe down of the kitchen this afternoon.  No fears, I'm not pushing myself too hard yet but I am feeling restless and a bit more energetic.  I've taken care to limit myself to a load of laundry, fresh bed linens and emptying the dishwasher today.

I did rather well overall with meal plans last week but at least one day I seemed to be 'off' somehow, either with carb or fat counts, not sure which.  I'm giving myself leeway to make mistakes and figure things out.  I have a goal starting this week: figure out just what carb count works best for me on a per meal basis.  The nutritionist told me to never go below 130 grams per day.  The dietitians recommended  60 grams per meal for an 1800 calorie a day meal plan.  There's a balance point in there somewhere that will keep my sugar at a normal level and I mean to find it.

I'll share all about this past week in an Iced Tea Chat post later.

I did have a few questions from a few of you about what I eat for breakfast.  I've pinned several ideas on this board on Pinterest along with other healthy tips about diabetes management.  If it seems a few recipes on that board are not diabetes friendly, rest assured it's there because I felt I could alter the recipe, but most are from one diabetic friendly site or another.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My! A Short List of Replies for May

Well dears, I am not fit for much at the moment...I thought I'd be right back to normal, because I'd felt so restless in the hospital.  I forgot all about those thrice daily naps I was taking and the very limited amount of exercise I was allowed and grossly misjudged how I'd feel in a normal environment.  Keeping up with meals and dishes afterwards has been about all the tasks I can handle.  I even refused to go grocery shopping today because I felt like the stuffing was knocked out of me just going to CVS yesterday.  Mind you all, I am being kind to myself and not forcing myself to do anything.  I'll get back to my natural energetic self eventually and in the meantime I'll let my body be the judge of how much I do.

I thought I'd try to make replies to last month's posts.  Not sure I'll be as in depth as usual but I'll hi the highlights at least.

In my first savings post of May  it was the Living Well section with my comments on blooming being a seasonal occupation that drew the comments.  It was such a revelation to me when I worked it out in my own mind, and I'm glad that it resonated with you as well.

Shell's comment on this post that my blog is like a dairy of sorts... that was my intent when I left Xanga and came to blogger.  I wanted my blog to be like my journal of life here in my home.  I am so flattered by your idea that I ought to write a book.  I love to write, to share my thoughts but right now I haven't an urge to write a book.  Though I'll share I wrote one years ago and after it was all done, I set it aside and let it be.   It was good experience and suited to the time it was written.

Friday, July 24, 2015

This Week In My Home: Ambition + Inspiration = Determination to Save

What I really want to show you are the two beautiful feather stuffed pillows I picked up for $7 at a thrift store the other day...part of a future tiny makeover in the living room...alas there are woes with Windows 8.1 that sometimes allows me to upload my photos and mostly doesn't these days.  So what I'm showing instead is a former shot of the little side flower bed I redid last year.  I wish it looked half so good just now but that's due to change as I'm feeling so much better.  In the meantime,  I want you to know that pretty on a budget is entirely possible if we'll just use what we have in a creative manner, as I did here.  This little flower bed cost me three bags of mulch and a lot of sweat equity.  Everything else was on hand, including the flower filled pots I moved from other parts of the yard.

Saturday:  My favorite day of the week.  Namely because I like to use today to gather inspiration.  I read magazines, blogs, scan Pinterest, jot down ideas and just thoroughly stoke my creative engines.  While it may seem that inspiration has been sadly lacking of late, it coming...I can feel it!  Hopefully this week will be proof.

John worked a 24 hour shift which started yesterday morning at 7am.  I pack him a healthy lunch bag meant to last him through snacks and lunch and supper.  What it doesn't do is feed him a good hefty breakfast, especially when he wakes at 4am and works three hours before coming home.  I didn't want to serve him our usual light breakfast of bagel/cream cheese so I planned ahead.  Whole grain waffles from the freezer, sausage patties, fresh fruit almost filled him up and he found enough extra (crackers and more fruit) to satisfy him.

Baked an awesome all in one dish for dinner.  I didn't even need to have side salad as it was chock full of vegetables.  And I put a dish of under ripe peach halves in the oven alongside that dish to bake. Oh my goodness!  I'd forgotten how prone heat is to bring up the sugary taste of fruit.  I served the peach halves as dessert with a dollop of whipped cream.  It was so yummy!

Curtains have been pulled on the sunny sides of the house to prevent the heat from coming in.

I took a dishpan of water out last night, meaning to use it to water plants in the back.  Well, I found ants swarming the porch in the spots where Maddie had set down her frozen bones, so I used that dishwater to rinse the pests off the porch.

Refilled dog pans with water and watered the front flower pots, while I was at it.  The cat drinks only from those front buckets, so I make sure to keep them filled to the rim or she gets dehydrated and sick.  I waited until after yesterday's brief showers to see if enough runoff from the roof refilled them but alas, no.

Living Well:  I've groused and groused about our internet connection which comes and goes, sometimes multiple times in an hour.  Yes, we've complained to our provider and their answer is that it's our router.  Its not the router.  Reading back through my blog I found we complained of the same thing in 2011 and it ended up being a wired problem which was fixed.  Anyway, complaining, complaining...BUT what good has come of this?  I've been reading once more.  I keep my book next to me when I'm working on the computer and if I can't continue with a survey or search due to internet outages, I read.  Result is I've finished two books in less than two weeks.  I've 'found time' to read all over again and some mornings, I'll take an hour's reading over an hour of cruising the internet.