Monday, April 24, 2017

Freshening the Outdoors: The Porches

We've been hearing rumors of change for months now at John's job and some are easier changes than others. It's very easy to get the mindset just now that 'Best spend the money while we've got it," but that is a silly thought, truly.  I am not saying it's best to save it all, either.   I do believe in an old adage Granny used often, "Best start as you mean to go on."    I'm not in the least sorry we've spent money on flooring.  Should opportunity present itself, we'll do more work on the house, though I don't know if we'll actually do what I'd mentioned for April.  Likely that will get done a little further down the road.  It's finding the balance between spending and saving, between making the best of what we have and knowing when it's time to purchase.  It's all about understanding what is priority (for us) and what isn't. 

Like my new cushions for the porch furnishings.  No, it's not necessary, it's nice.  It's a pleasant extra.  If I were going to spend $60-$75 just now I'd much rather put that towards purchasing paper products or stocking up on the vitamins and supplements the doctor has ordered us to take, or plants for the pots on the porch and yard, or even pushing it to a sub-fund for the St. Augustine vacation we've booked.

However, I wanted new cushions.  It makes seating more comfortable.  It prevents burns in the summer and freezing cold penetrating the bones in winter, since our chairs are metal.  It adds a bit of color.  It adds a little personality.  So it was a happy inspiration to realize I had brand new indoor/outdoor fabric in the guise of two tablecloths I'd purchased inexpensively at Aldi last summer.  I happened to have enough to sew eight cushions, which is a definite possibility now that I've had such success making the first four.

I last painted the café set two summers ago now.  I didn't do a very thorough job on it but it held up well enough.  John mentioned three or four times how much he liked the red set a neighbor has in her yard.  It is striking, I admit that.  I thought I might as well use the paint I had on hand to paint our own set.

When I was looking at the odd assortment of pots on the back porch, wishing I had new ones, and knowing it wasn't one of our priority items at the moment, I resigned myself to trying to merely clean up the old pots and replacing only those very broken ones that aren't serving their purpose.  No shame in using what you have.  If I find I have leftover paint once bigger projects are done, I might go so far once again to paint pots but we'll see.

I fashioned a new wreath from the old one that had sunflowers on it. It would have gone okay with the new look on the back porch if I'd merely changed the center of the sunflowers but  I wanted something fresh and new this year.  A green linen ribbon and Gerbera Daisies fit the bill perfectly.  My total for refurbishing the wreath came to just over $6. 

I didn't have quite enough ribbon to go around the wreath.  I purchased two spools of ribbon and I really needed three.  I had to improvise somehow,  so I cut a similar green gingham check fabric into strips and used that. Honestly, my stubborn insistence on finishing up a project at times leads to some of the most creative thinking! 

I put a new fern in the old wash pot.  I really enjoyed having a fern there last year and it was a statement piece on the porch due to it's size.  The thing is heavy, as you'd expect it to be since it's cast iron, and I'm not overly anxious to move it elsewhere. 

Since it doesn't have drainage holes I was very careful not to let water run off into it last year but the flat metal pan I'd used under the fern didn't hold enough water to give the fern the humidity it normally likes.  I found an old baking pan that I'd removed from my kitchen last fall that just fit inside the wash pot and put that under the fern.  There's a short little stool under the pan that lifts the fern up nicely and the pan sits on the stool.  This will allow me to water and leave a bit of water under the fern. 

The green rocker remains.  I do love this rocker now that the paint is just ever so slightly faded.  This photo is an older one but the has the same softer look the rocker now has in reality.  I've left the little metal table next to the rocker orange for the time being.  It will definitely need a fresh coat of paint next year but it will be just fine for our use this year.

I don't have any new flowers on the porch just yet, except a single impatien that didn't fit in the pots for the flowerbeds about the porch. 

The three chairs remain in front of the porch.  I put a geranium in the middle chair.  I don't mean for it to stay there.  Geraniums do not much like our intense sun and heat.  They  do well enough on a porch, which is where this one will eventually go, but for now it fills an empty space.  I put together the cheap little windmill I bought.   It's likely going to blow down in the first real wind we have here but it's a bit of added interest just now in the bed.  If it lasts this season I'll be happy enough.  I expect I'll end using parts of it in other ways if it doesn't care for the wind, despite it's being a windmill.

The little bed next to the back steps is looking rather pretty.  It's a mix of herbs and flowers just now. I'd thought about doing vegetables but haven't seeds nor plants at this time.  I bought what I could cheaply and made the best of it and it turned out rather pleasing.  I moved some pieces that were here last year down to the rose bed which needed something.  I'd like some height in this bed but so far haven't found a thing that will work to give me that.  I'll find something that will work as I continue to shop.

I've taken forever to get this post together because blogger is being peculiar about loading up pictures of late, sigh.  However, I've managed to finally get this post together after a week of trying and you can see I've been busy enough of late. The flowers have grown a lot in just the past week.  It does seem you need fresh pictures every single day at this time of year.  I've the front porch to share with you, at least a portion of it.

I did a similar wreath for the front door.  I didn't buy ribbon this time, but instead cut the green gingham check into strips and wrapped those about my wreath form.  The Gerbera daisy clips were part of the ones I bought at Dollar Tree (2 to a card for $1).  I really am liking the simplicity of this wreath.

I used the same cushions on my red porch chairs.  I didn't paint them fresh this year but did last spring and felt that would suffice for another year.  I think the next thing will be to take them to the auto shop and have them professionally sanded and painted because there are so many layers of paint on them just now.  They look well enough for this year. 

After I moved the window frame indoors to use above my mantel I wanted something extra for the front porch.  We were wandering about the antiques mall when I saw something that just tickled me.  They'd painted it red and just propped it on the wall.  I took one look at it and the price they were asking and realized I had the very same thing at home.  And in my head I could see just how I'd use it.  Well my first attempt was off.  It just didn't turn out pleasing at all, so I ended up going back out last Friday, removing everything and starting fresh.  I knew my theme before I started the first time but tried to use other things.  The second attempt worked because I went with my instinct and used the theme I'd known was right all along.  It just took a little figuring in my mind to pull it off. 

Now please ignore my pitiful plants.  The cat has knocked off the succulents twice.  The ivy is in a state of shock from transplanting.  And the maidenhair fern and I are just about to part ways if it doesn't perk up now it's outdoors.  I mean to buy pretty plants for this space and the orchids will be going out here next month when the weather is permanently warm.

I love it!  I'm keeping my eyes open for another bird house or three that are reasonably priced but I'm really happy with how this old gate turned out.  I hung the bird houses on the wire with picture hanging hooks that I put on upside down and backwards.  The hooks just slip right over the wires and hold them securely in place.  The blue bird is a funny little chime that doesn't really chime.  I just happen to have this thing for blue birds and bought it last summer.  I think once I get pretty plants and another bird house or three it will be perfect.

I expect John would like some curtains on this end of the porch because the sun beats in pretty hard on that south end. I'm going to keep my eyes out for solid color panels or a drop cloth or something to make panels I can pull across this end when the sun is shining.   I've hung my green lanterns at either side of the entry to the porch and there's a pot of coleus on the floor on the shady side. 
Now that's the porches for now.  I think they will do fairly nicely for our porch seasons.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Week In My Home: Feeling Inspired

This week in my home...

...I have had a lovely first week of my new homemaking routine and it's gone very well indeed.  I'll say nothing more about it, though.  Starting to sound like a record that won't skip to the next line of the song.   

This week promises to be busy enough.  There are lots of the usual business of living and such and John has extra time off which changes things up a bit.  This next weekend we have a big family gathering and there's plenty to be done in association with that, too.  I want to do so much and only have so much time and money and that's the way life generally goes, doesn't it? 

Not pouting or whining, there's not nearly enough time to spare for that!  I just need to gather my thoughts and make my lists and get busy.

I've had the most fun of late with my home.  I changed a few things that I felt were not just what I wanted.  It cost me little or nothing to change except mostly thought and time.  If only all change could be so easily wrought. 

...I plan my work:

I am nearly done with the bill box for this pay period.  I have a few simple tasks to do to finish that up.  Then we mail off bills, run errands, and shop for groceries.  It always looks like such a little bit written out like this but it takes a few hours of time. 

I have truly done about all the sprucing up I mean to do on the house and porches.  What my focus will be this week will be putting in a few more plants on the patio and perhaps gathering some pretty baskets of flowers for the front porch.  Or so I plan. 

I do have John home for the whole week, so there may or may not be a visit to a DIY store. If there is I will try to buy a few bags of mulch for the existing flower beds and some more landscape blocks so I can put a few more aside for the next bedding area I am making up.  I'd like paint for the patio table and chairs but we'll see.  It will be a big job and require far more paint than the café set!

Fill the eggs we'll be hiding this weekend.  Yes, even though it is after Easter I thought it would be fun for the children and I know the adults will enjoy watching them.  At least one Gramma and one Gammy haven't seen the children hunt eggs yet.

Make cupcakes and freeze them for the weekend.  I have had a menu plan in place for two months for this gathering so no need to worry over that nor do I need to do too much prep work ahead but I'll do the little that can be done.

Work on routine housework schedule. 

I'd like to try to make a simple summer weight robe to wear over my nightgown.  I always seem to want that little something more but nothing heavy by any means.  I've loads of fabric on hand and a couple of patterns that I think will be suitable.

I have a few projects in my craft room box that require sewing.  So if time permits, I mean to do a little sewing.

...I plan meals:

out with John at least two times this week.
We have a special dinner at church.  It makes me laugh because it sound so Southern but it's called Baptisms and Barbecue.  Apparently it's a big outdoor service after regular service.  Grocery day is also a day when we normally get something to eat either take away or something we specially purchase at grocery that is easy ready prepared.

Red Beans with Sausage and Rice, Coleslaw, Sliced Tomatoes, Corn Muffins
I'll double the rice this day and save the extra for the Chinese food day.

Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Potato Sticks, Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup, Grapes
This meal is portable too so if we decide to go somewhere we can take it along.  The soup will keep hot in the big Yeti tumbler.

Almond Chicken, Steamed Snow Peas, Rice, Oranges and Strawberries
If the snow pea pods are not available I'll substitute broccoli or frozen oriental vegetable mix from the freezer case.

Hamburger Steaks, Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Rolls

Macaroni and Cheese, Italian Pan Roasted Vegetables, Salad

...I plan leisure:

With John off for so many days this time around, I plan to try to keep plenty of time free just for him. He loves to take coffee on the porch a couple of times a day.  If I know my husband we'll be out of the house at least two days.  He's very keen on dates lately which is why I planned a meal that can travel with us if needed.  So my main focus will be on what he'd like to do.

I have several books I'm reading for study purposes, for Housekeeping Boot Camp purposes, for pleasure and that's what I'll plan to do as well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Frugal Friday: Purpose Driven Savings

.Saturday:  Off to see the Kids!  John asked me the afternoon before what we'd have for breakfast.  I made muffins Friday evening from two bananas that ripened rather quickly.

John likes to stop several times on the way.  I'll say this for his new Yeti cup, the coffee bought in Perry was still hot 2 1/2 hours later when we stopped in Hazlehurst.  He told me to take a sip, and I was shocked.  It was as hot as though it had just been brewed!  John told me he's so convinced over the value of the cup now that he'll gladly spend money on another one for me.  I reminded him we had another one right here at home and I'd just get rid of all the others which don't even come up as a close second to the Yeti.

I brought along a meal to share with the kids: lasagna and chocolate cake from the freezer, a bag of romaine hearts from the fridge.  I'd taken out the lasagna on Friday and put in the fridge.  It and the cake were frozen solid.  I didn't think ice was necessary.  Indeed when we arrived at Sam's the lasagna was still frozen!  We had a rather late dinner since it took over an hour to thaw and heat through in the oven.

I packed a snack for the ride home and brought along bottles of water to drink on the long drive.

I'd suggested John buy supper out, very inexpensively, but he drove right on through the last town with that possibility then asked "What do we have for supper?"  I explained that my plan was in the town behind us and I guessed he'd have to make do with what we had at home.  Our late dinner and early snack had pretty much covered any need I felt of eating.

Sunday:  Friday, when I took the lasagna from the freezer, I also took out a whole chicken.  I let it sit at room temperature for several hours but it was still frozen when I put in the refrigerator that evening.  It still had ice inside when I took it out Sunday morning to roast. 

I used the mayonnaise roasted turkey recipe to roast the chicken.  It smelled wonderful as it cooked and had a great flavor.

Friday I used the last of the buttermilk.  Well, I used the last of what I meant to use and then I filled the quart bottle with milk and left on the counter for 36 hours.  I now have another quart of buttermilk ready to use.

I took hash brown casserole from the freezer and heated in the oven next to the chicken. 

I made salad Friday to have with our meal and then decided it was unnecessary.  I used that and all the toppings I'd put together mid-week to make our salad. 

I worked the second trial day of my new housekeeping routine.  Honestly, I do like this new plan!  I now have the guest room as neat and nice as our room, dusted and everything. 

I put all my projects in a cardboard box on my craft table so they are contained and now strown about the room.

Washed a full load of clothes and hung on the line to dry.

Washed a full load of dishes and let them air dry.

Went through four modern day magazines.  Honestly...If Mama didn't just hand them to me, I wouldn't bother to read them at all.  They're nowhere near as interesting and informative as my vintage magazines.

I had Quiche for supper.  John was not interested.  I made him chicken sandwiches with leftover chicken.

Made his work lunch and set up oatmeal for early morning.

Monday:  Got up far too early, threw back the bedcovers and then headed straight to the AC to turn it back up to 75 for the day. 

Made our breakfast.  Packed John's lunch.

Started day three of my new household routine.  Yes, I do like this very much indeed!  Today I vacuumed the entire house, then went to work on the main living area.  An hour later I was all done.  I made the bed which had been airing the full time.

Went out to feed the pets.

Checked trash but decided after all it didn't need to go to the dumpster.  I had room to spare in the can still.

Watered outdoor plants.

Repotted the poor little ivy and set it on the front porch where it thrived last summer.

Gathered water, the last of the books for the Women's club sale, and my cash to pay for lunch out with Mama.

We went to Hobby Lobby.  I wanted a couple of items to help fill out the entry way wall in the living room.  I had a list, which I left at home, but I wanted only a few items and found them all easily.  I didn't have a 40% off coupon and the woman instructed me how I could download from the website onto my phone.  I always feel so behind times when I explained that I don't have a data plan with my phone.  She must have felt terribly sorry for me because she gave me the discount which meant the fabric I bought was reduced a ridiculous amount.

I found the fabric I made valances with for my bathroom full length mirrors.  I have valances on them because otherwise the noise is nearly unbearable in that room due to all the hard surfaces.  I've been wanting to make a room darkening blind for the bath with the same fabric but couldn't find what was leftover.  I shall most likely find it right away now because I bought two yards more of it today.  I hope to cover the bench under the window and recover a pillow on the chair in my bedroom with the same fabric.  That's why I bought two yards.

Took Mama out to eat.

Eventually, after a rather long drive I headed back home.  I stopped at the discount grocery on the way.  I picked up dianthus, petunias, salvia four packs and a geranium hanging basket.  I also bought our favorite all beef kosher hot dogs, a smoked boneless turkey breast that is sliced for sandwiches and our favorite turkey breakfast sausage which I only buy when I happen to go into that store.

Dropped off books at the library.  Grateful that is the last of the lot to go there.  I have two bags to go to Goodwill, which I will take over later this week.

Hung the items on my entryway wall.  It looks rather nice.

Made myself a single cup of decaf coffee.

Put coffee grounds about the soil of the blue hydrangea.  I need to repot that this week if I've enough soil to do it.

Tuesday:  Woo Boy!  I am tired, with a capital T.  I just put dinner in the oven and am very mindful that this must be moved to priority status.  I need to thaw the night before, prepare before I begin the daily work and household routine.  I was so weary when I came in and I just didn't have a ready to use meal.  I now have meat thawing for tomorrow's meal and will mix up my meatloaf tonight before shutting the kitchen f.or the night.

Up early this morning.  I had the daily routine pretty much done by the time John came in, except the bed was still airing and I need to sweep the kitchen and bath.

Our dinner today is a Leftover Makeover dish.  I took chicken I roasted on Sunday and made a Ritz Chicken casserole.  I used the last of a jar of yogurt in place of the sour cream the recipe required.  I put English peas (frozen) into the oven in a small covered enamel pan.  They will steam once they get hot.

Potted all the plants I bought yesterday.  I only mention this because in the past I didn't always pot up everything I bought.  It was sheer laziness on my part and an unwillingness to mix odd plants in a basket.  This year, I'm mixing anything leftover when I've potted up things.   I did have to remove some bulbs from pots in order to pot the plants.  I plan to plant these on Friday during my yardwork time.  They are nice healthy bulbs and I don't plant to let them go to waste.

I am now ready for phase two of the yardwork.  It's nice to recognize I've progressed.  I will purchase two shepherd's hooks and hanging baskets to go in the rose bed.  This will fill in the space nicely and  add interest to what is otherwise a neat but green  and brown space.

I painted the café set.  I got so frustrated with my first can of paint.  It spluttered and dripped and ran and often just sprayed out propellant.  I persisted and managed to use up the paint but what a mess!  I used my thinking cap and put on the latex gloves John had got me, so no paint stained hands.  I remembered to take off my glasses before getting started, too.  I'll need a fourth and possibly fifth can of paint to finish this off.  The paint I'd bought was pricey, roughly twice what I'd pay for it at Home Depot or Lowe's.  I'll be sure to buy it there this time.  Still, so far I'm in for $18 on that café set and I sure can't buy a new one for that price!

Cleared things meant for the shed and took them to the shed.  Follow through on these tasks is usually my main problem.  Today I followed through!

Pulled the items I wanted from the shed for the front porch.  I need to go back out there and get a few items.  I won't do that today, however.  I pulled a piece from the yard to use on the front porch.  It's unique and I think, once I do what I want to with it, it will be a fun and creative statement piece.  Tammy L....Keep your eyes peeled!  I think you'll like it!

Cleaned both porches and brushed debris from the patio.  I must make a note to pull my blower out of the shed the night before my porch day and to charge the battery as soon as I get up.  That's why it was bought, so I could just blow the debris and dirt off the porches and patio.  Beats the blisters the broom gives me.

If I do anything else this afternoon, I will work on pillow covers for the patio chair cushions.  I'd love to paint those pieces but I will need quite a bit more paint.  I have limited funds right now and don't want to draw any off the savings I've been making.   I'd much rather save to fill those sub-accounts because if things change with John's job, we might well need that funding in place ahead of time.

Wednesday:  We ate a light breakfast this morning of peanut butter toast.  It was nice to have bread in the house once again.  I really enjoyed that toast!

We took off trash, took an item to mail, picked up our mail from Tuesday on our way out.

John needed work boots.  We went to Academy to look for the sort he wanted and he found two pairs.  I thought one pair, the lesser expensive pair, just looked cheap and like plastic.  I convinced him to buy the boots with the real leather uppers.  He wears his work boots 2-3 years average so why not have the better pair?

We both got a few clothing items.  For me, inexpensive tank tops.  I bought three colors but two white ones.  Why?  Because a white tank top is a BASIC piece in my wardrobe and gets the most wear.  I'm over buying just one of something that I know full well I really need two of.  White tanks and tees for instance.  They are classic pieces and go with everything. 

John found two shirts he liked and purchased them both.  He buys few clothes overall and pretty much wears the same colors.  These shirts are the wiki-cool type which wick away perspiration and dry quickly.  I think he'll find them very helpful in the hot months ahead.

We went to The Fresh Market.  John gave me a gift card he'd gotten for Christmas and forgotten to use.  I had a coupon and a gift card from The Fresh Market.  My total at the end of the shopping was 29cents.  I didn't buy a lot of meat though I did pick up some more of the hamburger on sale.  Instead I purchased the items we'd normally have bought for a between pay periods trip: produce, a little dairy, some bread.  Not having to pay a big sum out of pocket was nice.

We came home.  I'd remembered to turn up the AC early in the morning hours and John had flipped off ceiling fans when we left home, too. 

We went outdoors this evening.  I watered plants, tightened up some screws on the so-called windmill thingy I'd bought for the flower bed and used the blower to clear the patio of debris.  John added drainage holes to some big flower pots I was given.  We sat on the porch and enjoyed the breeze.

Thursday:  John out early this morning to trim trees.  I did Bible study, light housework and mixed up a batch of waffles from scratch. 

Must make a note on that recipe to half it.  We ate generous amounts of waffles and I still put 18 in the freezer this morning!  Nice for future warming in the toaster but that was a lot of waffles.

Made the patio cushion covers.  Making the ties took the longest portion of time but do you know it took me two hours start to finish this time, cutting out, sewing, stuffing and finishing off.  Not bad!  They look nicer than the old cushions though these were shaped differently so required some little more work than the other set.

Prepared dinner while I sewed. I put potatoes and corn on to cook, made coleslaw, put a meatloaf in the oven. 

I used some pineapple tidbits in the coleslaw.  I know that sounds odd, but we eat at a place on the inlet of Mantanza's Bay in Florida and they put pineapple and mini marshmallows in the coleslaw.  It's quite good.  I skipped the marshmallows but the pineapple was nice and it's a refreshing change.

Repotted some snapdragons this morning and moved some dahlias.  Two of them from last summer had returned and hopefully will do something.  I've got a bunch of lilies and gladiolas I thought I'd plant in the planters we just put drainage holes in.   Tomorrow I am going out to get some mulch and will try to find hibiscus to put in the big pot on the patio and something for the strawberry pot.  I noted petunias coming up in the pot where I moved the Dahlia.  I made sure to leave them.

John hung my pictures in the back entry.  I put one of those disc hangers on one of my Tole trays.  I'll get more of those so I can hang the rest.

Prepared John's work lunch.  Set up breakfast oatmeal so I can simply pour and stir in the morning.

Used the last of the pineapple up tonight. I mixed pineapple and cottage cheese for John's work lunch.  I mixed the last of the can of tidbits with some flaked coconut and orange segments for a variation on ambrosia which was quite nice with our chicken sandwiches for our supper.

Friday:   Packed John's work lunch, made our breakfast oatmeal.  We were up well before 4am this morning because John had to go into work an hour earlier than usual.

Ran a full load of dishes after John left.  I filled empty spaces with dish drain plugs, coffee pot and filters and baskets.  When the machine stopped, I opened the door and allowed the dishes to air dry.

Fed cat and dog some roast beef that we ignored in the fridge.  It was meant for sandwiches but we never ate it.

Pulled items from the freezer for my lunch today: Mixed vegetables and leftover rice, Chicken potstickers.  Yum! Chinese takeout right here at home.

I had all sorts of plans for today but I got sidetracked in more ways than one.  First was the unusual rising hour.  I didn't sleep well knowing the alarm was going off even earlier than usual.  I guess eating at the early hour I did caused my blood sugar to rise and fall quickly so I fell into a hard sleep right here in the chair while I was trying to work on Swagbucks.  I didn't wake until 8:30am.  It was already hot outdoors when I went out to feed the pets.  No yard work for me today.  No desire to go spend money on more things for yard as planned either.  I may well do it next week but not today.  Instead I am making bread, and yogurt and replacing some pictures I'd framed for the laundry with something more vintage and just generally puttering about the house. 

Completed the work up of bills and balancing the checkbook.  My little savings grew further this week by an added $10 as another sub-account was pre-filled.  I now have all the money required for our next car insurance renewal on hand.  I will add to our vacation fund when I see what our total check is this time, so that will be an added savings this next pay period (Monday).  And then my focus will fall on saving to pay the house insurance in full.  I'm so very pleased with the way this has worked out!

I've also taken time to do a deeper study of a lovely book I've been reading for added Bible study.  It's helped a great deal to reassure me about this hard prayer I've been trying to pray.  I think I will find the prayer time going along better.

What did you do to save this week? 

For those who ask how I remember what I do each day, I keep track on a daily basis.  I'd forget a great deal if I didn't  and I still don't remember to account for all I do in my desire to make the most of what money we have.  If ever you wonder if you're doing anything, try to keep track of what you do each day that you know saves money and just see how well you work!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Coffee Chat: Symphony Days

Gosh but it's warm.  Tomorrow the temperatures are to be in the 90's.  Time to find some nice cool images of iced tea, huh?

Do come in.  You're just in time for a much needed break and a bit of coffee.  We can take it on the porch if you'd like.  The breeze and shade make for very pleasant sitting these days.  I relish these days of mid-Spring when the temperatures are mild enough as long as you are not working in the sun.  I do love the sound of the birds and the wind in the leaves of the trees.  It's a lovely symphony isn't it?  Fresh and lively.   Different than the autumn song of bass wind pounding upon us and rattling cacophony of dry, dead leaves skittering across the yard.

The variety of bird call this time of year is worth noting.  The Mocking Bird kindly serenades us year round, but one morning this week as I stood on the porch to see John off to work, I listened to a Whippoorwill call from across the field and this afternoon when I came home a quail called 'Bob, Bob, Bob White!'  I've heard a lovely trilling bird call.  I'm not sure what kind of bird makes it but it's common here from spring through the first cool days of autumn, then the bird must migrate from here to somewhere much warmer.  Still it is a beautiful sound.  There are so many lovely bird songs and calls to hear.

I've been busy in my yard.  I pinned just loads of lovely pictures and I am always amused at the variety of plants photographed and shown in magazines and online landscaping/gardening photos.  So many plants and so many colors!  Do you know what I find when I shop?  That every nursery within 50 miles of me has the same thing.  My color choice is the color they  have chosen to have this year.  So petunias this year are a variegated marble looking purple, deep purple and a magenta and white mix.  I did see a few pale yellow which I suppose might be rather stunning mixed with the dark purples but I can't bring myself to like them very well. 

Geraniums are raspberry pink and red, though I did see one gorgeous coral colored one today.  My favorite is the raspberry pink but I really like the pale apple blossom pink geranium for an all time favorite.  Haven't seen one of those.   Coleus in a half dozen colors are available.  Begonias in red or white, salvia in purple, red, or white, ditto for verbena.  Sigh.  Not at all what I had in mind this year nor anything like what I'd pinned. Verbena is so lovely but it curls up and dies very quickly here.  I'm told it's sun and heat tolerant but you sure can't prove it by any luck I've ever had with it.  Except the wild sort that grows at roadside.  That will grow here, but roadside plants and I have come to a cross roads. They want to take over.  I want them to act like their cultivated cousins.  They do not.  The battle goes on and on.  Never mind.  I shall use what I can get and get rather inexpensively and be quite pleased to see the blooms and the color regardless of wishes.

At least the discount grocer has a variety of coleus this year from an almost inky black variety to the
vivid lime green.  The one I want, naturally, is the one I cannot find.  It is a deep solid red color and used in various landscapes about commercial businesses in the next town.  I think I shall have to go pinch a piece of it and root it in order to get any of that color.

I am puzzled by herbs at the moment.  The basil was beaten to a pulp by the heavy rains two weeks ago when we had storms so it's gone.  I'll get more of that to plant or put out some seed.   I've had very good luck with basil in the past and the bees do love the blossoms when it starts to flower. The dill I purchased wilted away and died.  It had no use at all for the sage and oregano that I planted it in with.  I suppose I might have read up on how to care for it but why do that when I can just pop it in a pot?  I would like to get some chives started.  I think once I have basil and chives I'll call my herb garden complete.  The Rosemary that died down last summer during the drought put back out and is slightly bald but green.  The lovely Christmas tree shaped one I purchased after Christmas?  Dead.  I have no idea why.  I hoped it would put back out as well but the only thing growing up out of it is weeds. 

Bess and Sam removed a HUGE rosemary from Mama's. It was growing in a pot and had put roots down into the ground under the pot.  It was easily 3 feet in circumference and nearly as tall.  I never looked at that rosemary bush without thinking of the book by Elizabeth Goudge titled The Rosemary Tree.  When Mama moved she asked Sam if he'd like to have it.  He took it home, removed it from the pot and planted it next to his shop.  That bush has grown easily another foot and is just as full as it was the day he moved it.  This astounds me since my own little Christmas tree shaped rosemary had a deal less trauma than that one that rode in the back of a hot pick up truck for four hours after being wrenched from what it might consider it's native soil and then was planted in unfamiliar ground and climate.  You just never know with plants do you, how they shall react and thrive or die?

I have a big push going on in my home at the moment.  I have guests coming in two weeks to spend the day with us on our family day.  I am pushing hard to get my home pretty and nice.  I do like things to present well.   I am never perfect, mind you.  There is always something not quite right but overall I like things to look as though I make an effort.  And so it is that just now I am pushing myself a little harder than I might otherwise to get stuff done.  Hence the work planting and getting porches up to snuff.  I've just finished the little flower bed at the back steps (except for wanting basil and chives and maybe dill) and two of the chairs are  planted in front of the porch.  I need something for the middle chair.  My next focus area will be shepherds hooks and hanging baskets in the rose bed and filling the planters on the front patio.  The pansies are officially dead except for one pot that insists upon blooming heartily there.

I've just this morning been at work on painting the café set for the back porch.  John's admired a neighbor's red set repeatedly as we've gone by her home.  I had three cans of cherry red paint.  I need perhaps one more, two to be on the safe side to touch up all the missed places I find.  I've also worked on the front porch a little.  I have a new feature on the porch and it's different, an inspiration based on seeing a similar piece at the antiques store.  I was amused at their price for something I had just sitting in the yard, but I 'saw' it decorated in my mind when we were in the antiques store.  I've made a semi-start at it.  I need to make up my mind to move a few things off the ironing board, like the bird houses.  They simply don't fit with my current idea.  I can use those around back in another section of the flower bed, or weight them down to sit on the steps I keep meaning to paint and where I'll display a few more pots of flowers. 

I keep a few plants out there on the old ironing board but not too many as the cat has a bad tendency to knock them off.  I do want a few blooming plants there though. I like flowers! I want flowers about me.  The dog house stays on that porch as well and takes up a whole section of the space. If it weren't for Maddie I'd move it.  Of course, the cat sits in daytimes lately but Maddie likes the comfort of that dog house next to the front door when it's storming.  So no plants can go in that section of the porch... Any more plants would be in the way when we're hanging clothes out. 

You see, my clothes line is attached to my front porch posts.  It gets loads of sun there and is very convenient.  John hung it there when we first moved in because we had no back deck at the time and the back steps were treacherous.  He simply would not hear of my going up and down them with a load of clothes in a basket, so he 'temporarily' affixed the lines to the front porch posts and there is where we still hang our clothes some 20 years later.  I'd prefer it was in the yard most days but on those days when I've been super busy and I'm aching and hurting badly from doing too much, I most certainly don't complain that I have only to walk out to the front porch to bring in the laundry!  It's not the nicest thing but you see why I don't push hard for perfect in all ways.  I have put my foot down though about him doing the same on the back porch. I just am not having it!

Speaking of clotheslines, have you all seen Annabel's lovely clothesline?  It has iron filigree and is painted white and it's so lovely it makes you smile.  I've shown it to John.  He would most like one of those umbrella type lines that carousels around but I worry what the winds here will do to one of those.  I suppose there's no hope for it but to let him have his way and hope it lasts...but I should really love one as pretty as Annabel's.

I've tried hanging baskets on the front porch but I can't reach to water one of them (due to the dog house)  and the other is always being whipped by the flag.  The other places where I would hang them are covered by clotheslines.  So no more plants unless I gather them under the ironing board.  Here too I must be concerned with Maddie who will shy away from her food if a plant is too near.  She is such a picky sort of dog!

Never mind all that.  I'm excited over the new piece on the front porch and feel it will eventually work into what I envision.  I'm terribly hindered just now by funding, lol.  I've money enough I might use but I'm concerned with filling up those sub-accounts for annual fees and such.  I felt an urging to do this last autumn and got started on it in the winter months but I had several of those annual fees due in December, January, February.  So when I say I am hindered by funding it's truly that I've just chosen to make the sub-funds a priority and so I shall 'make do' in this area.

I don't mind, really.  I have found that making do is the very best incentive to be creative.  John and I have been admiring rain barrels for months now.  We've seen various sorts and styles but I found one on Pinterest the other day that was a trash can with an inverted lid that holes had been drilled in.  It holds 50 gallons and the least expensive rain barrel I've seen is also 50 gallons and costs $50.  A big trash can runs around $17.   I can do that!  It costs so much less than any of the barrels we've seen thus far and will do the same job.  When I told John of it he agreed that sounded just what we wanted.  It's not pretty but we can't afford the really pretty sort anyway and it is functional while being fairly unobtrusive.

I've been busy outdoors and indoors, as well.  I went to Hobby Lobby this week and picked up three or four new items to add to my grouping of skeleton keys, locks, and lock plates. I wanted old door knobs and lock plates but could I find any reasonably anywhere?  No.  I went for made to look old but brand new at Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars instead.  It looks lovely.  I wish I were as happy with the seed packet art I have hung in the living room.  I might try repainting those green frames and see if they suit me better.  I picked up some blue chalk paint the other day for a lamp and I'm pretty sure I won't need it all for that small project. The seed packet artwork  is not on my priority list just now, though. It will do until I figure out what exactly is wrong with it.  It jut doesn't suit me.

I have the back entry wall to get things hung on.  I've asked John three times.  I'll ask him once more this week and if he still doesn't make time I'll do it myself, though I hate to climb the step ladder to attempt the task.  I've done nothing in that area for years now and I've got my pieces all nicely framed and ready to hang at long last.  I'd sure like to see them on the wall!  What I have for that wall is three flour/meal bags. They are paper and someone had just loads of all kinds of them in their booth for $3 each.  Framed they are really quite pretty and interesting.

Anyway, if I sound busier than usual, it's me pushing myself to make things pretty before guests arrive.  Not necessary at all, just an excuse to make me work at projects I have been planning for some time.  It is the fire I needed to be lit under me.

Now I've had almost a full week of my new Housekeeping routine, I am well pleased.  I love that I have focused time each week on the whole house, rather than focusing for a full week out of each month on one area.  I feel my home overall is showing the care and attention it needed.  I'd begun noticing myriad little tasks that simply weren't getting done.  I felt my home wasn't as clean as it ought to be (and I do not have stringent standards!) nor was it as nice overall as I wanted it to be.  Nothing like Spring cleaning to bring home how much wasn't being attended to on a routine basis!  And nothing like ending each day of that two week period totally worn out, too tired to read, too tired to write and too tired to speak. 

I do not want to have to do another big seasonal cleaning.  I may well end up doing seasonal cleaning twice annually but not as I had to do this Spring.

I didn't work my routine yesterday and here I find the beauty of the set up.  The kitchen was my focus area yesterday but we were going out and the day acting as though it were all holiday.  Sigh.  Not unusual when John works these 24 hour shifts and comes in completely done in!  The next day is always the day he feels he should do something with me and so I tend to take it as my especial day to do as I please.  Yes, the kitchen work will get done.  You see tomorrow morning, he is headed off to work.  I've gone as far as I can with outdoors work until I get new plants.  So I'll work on the kitchen, then take off to the diy store with my gift card and get more plants for the yard and then I shall try to get that work done next Tuesday when it's porch work day.  So my schedule is a little bit flexible for my odd weeks and I like that! I'll try to stop exulting so often over how well this new routine is suiting me but it's going to be hard!

I'm currently working on 30 days of menus for warmer season.  It's not going very well at the moment.  I'm still in cool weather foods mode. So far I have a grand total of two meal ideas, lol.  I'll go through my recipe books and files and look for something fresh.  It's usually about this year I get bored bored bored with all the usual option.  I need to stretch myself a bit and try new things.  That was something Bess helped with last year when they moved in about this time. 

I do want to try my hand at grilling more often, say once a week.  It always seems such a waste to go out and just grill one thing but I'd like to try my hand at things that aren't all hot and fast.  Daddy used to cook roasts on the grill.  Yes, he had a rotisserie and I don't but that bothers me not at all.  I think I can manage this without a rotisserie.  It's a stretch for me, grilling.  I'd want, really, to do it early in the day if I'm standing over the grill because doggone it's hot at noon when you're standing over a grill outdoors.  My plan is to avoid heating the house as much as I possibly can with the stove especially come summer months.

John and I had a rather fun sort of day yesterday.  We shopped.  Typically if it's to do with groceries or home improvement we will shop but we went to look for new work books for him.  He happens to like the Magellan shirts at Academy which suit him as far as fit goes.  He bought two shirts.  He bought work boots.  I found inexpensive tank tops which I like for summer.  I have an older one on right now under one of the sundresses from last summer.  I feel so much more modest with it than I did with all that exposure I'd experienced previously.   I also bought a pricy (to me) pair of Nike white flip flops.  Mind you they fit absolutely to a tee and have lovely support at the arches and cushioned heels. They wore very well for grocery shopping a little later that day.

I'd found them on a clearance shelf but the price tag said they were much more costly than the clearance shelf had marked on it.  Well they weren't on sale.  I wasn't about to get them but John asked me, "How long have you been looking for a decent pair of white sandals to wear?"  "Uhm...about three years I think."  "Yes, I've heard that you wanted them each time we've been anywhere near shoes.  So let's just get them."  "But all we're really paying for here is the name."  "Do you see any others you like?"  "No..."  "So let's just get them."  Well I'm not sorry, not at all, and neither does my knee or ankle hurt after spending most of the morning on my feet walking on concrete floors!  So I guess sometimes, the name isn't the thing but the comfort that name affords most surely is the biggest factor.  I know this from wearing Aerosole shoes and I should expect from a pair of Nike flip flops, I guess.

After we left Academy we went to The Fresh Market.  I had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon, a $25 gift card from the store for an error they'd nicely corrected and then John gave me a gift card he's been carrying since Christmas.  He just wouldn't pull the trigger on using it or kept forgetting to use it until he'd already paid for things.  We got a little more of the lovely priced meats and picked up a few items we needed here at home that would have been extras this pay period anyway.  We ended up spending 29c out of pocket for all our purchases, most of them practical as could be.  We splurged on chocolate covered raisins for me and chocolate covered peanuts for him.  All the rest were so practical they are hardly worth mentioning.  I suppose we could have gone into the store and just splurged away but I'd much rather have done as we did and been practical with it.  It's not romantic but it's useful and I felt we'd splurged enough buying things at Academy. 

I've been thinking about this particular store and I think I'll look into setting up a little sub-account for spending there.  It will make it a little easier on the purse when we go up to purchase our ground beef and chicken breasts and since I know about what it will take for such a trip it would be nice to have that socked away.  Of course, it counts as part of my grocery funds and that's okay, but since it's basically the quality meat we go for, it won't hurt to have it set aside.

John mowed the lawn for the first time last week.  He went to work extra early that morning, about 7am and he finished up about 2pm.   It wasn't that the grass was so extra long, but he trimmed limbs and used the weed eater about the edges of things and got a few privet bushes that had snuck up on us in the midst of a group of trees where we wanted no privet.  He sat down and shared with me that he'd had a rather long thinking session and gone over a dozen things in his head and prayed a lot.  Then he'd heard, "Pray as if you meant it."  He said that gave him pause.  He wondered what it meant and he worked it that for him it meant he should pray for a certain person, praying for something that solely benefitted that friend and would in no way benefit himself.  I was a bit overwhelmed with his prayer to be honest because it truly is a prayer that will require some sacrifice on his part.  John, by his admission, likes things to stay the same.  He wants them to stay just as they are until he's ready to face change, which is never.  Mind, I'm not telling tales on him.  He will be the first to own this.

When he first spoke his revelation of "Pray as if you meant it," I was pretty sure it meant something different.  That it meant praying for 'those things that aren't as though they were."  That it meant praying fervently and passionately and with intensity.  It meant single minded prayer.  Praying with prayer and gratitude even when it looked like nothing at all was changing.  It meant praying hard.

I was however, awed by his response to the phrase he'd heard.  If it was a sacrificial prayer...well that changed things considerably.  What could I pray for that would require sacrifice on my part?  Not patting myself on the back here, but I am a prayer warrior.  I'm accustomed to praying for others.  But that's not sacrificial, exactly.  I mean it's costing me very little time and just some thought.  To pray sacrificial prayers would require me to let go of something, some pre-conceived notion, my own self-interest, stepping from my comfort zone. 

I knew just what prayer would do that.  My soul balked.  I mean it took my breath away and my heart ached and a thousand protests rose up within me and I wanted to do anything but pray the prayer that came to mind.  It's been nearly ten days and it's not gotten any easier.  I don't expect it's going to.  I wrote about it in my journal and realized that this prayer was necessary for me to pray because not only did it mean a sacrifice on my part, it also meant I trusted God. 

If you've been following along with me over the past three or so years, you'll know this is a theme in my life at present.  I've experienced these long exercises with God in the past.  He brought to my attention my rebellious nature and then worked with me on rebellion for years.  Years.  Then it was discipline.  Another long stretch of years.  Selfishness.  Years.  Trust...well it's going on years.  I stretch so far and think "I've got it!  I've got it!  I trust You, God!  I know now that I trust you!"  And God, in his infinite wisdom says "Yes, you've got this...Now try this."  Crud.  I haven't got it all.  I just got one tiny portion of it. 

  If I pray this prayer, I've got to let go of all my self to lay this before his feet.  I've got to trust Him to change the situation. I've got to trust Him to change people whom I don't trust to change.  I've got to believe God can do it, or I have placed Him in that box that limits Him to just what I find plausible.  That's not what I want to do.  It means praying afraid, and praying despite what I want or what I think I can handle.  It means praying for someone else to have something I've wanted for myself and haven't been given despite grief ridden hours of acceptance.  It means I stretch hard.  Hard.  Not just beyond comfort but to the point that I am broken.  It's called dying to self for good reason.

I never dreamed the day we stood on the side of that mountain just about five years ago and uttered that desperate prayer how often I/we, would have to let go of what we held on to  if we meant what we said, "We're going to trust You, God."  I cannot tell you how often he's shown me/us that we don't trust Him in some new area. It was a promise we made and he's held our feet to His fire, individually and as a couple, urging us to do as we promised that November day.

I won't lie.  There have been mornings I've looked at this prayer and I've felt sick.  I sometimes go half a day before I can finally bend my will to Him and say the prayer because I know I must.  There are days when I skirt it all day long, aware that I ought to and just can't utter the words. There are days when I sob quietly and say it despite myself.  Sometimes I don't manage to utter it until late at night just before I go to sleep and then only to say that I've done it.  There's no heart in my prayer yet.  There's no 'as if you meant it' yet, but I will keep trying.  I'll keep trying until I do mean it and I'll keep trying until I don't even think about how ill it makes me or how afraid it makes me.  I'll keep trying until I can say quietly, "I trust you in this God." 

And that's where I am this week.  In the midst of the every day happy homemaking world and in the midst of trying to be obedient spiritually.  Because that's the way life is, isn't it?  It's not all skittering across the surface though it feels that way at times.  And you can bet, if I ever say I'm just a water bug skittering along that something is about to happen in my life that plunges me deep into unknown depths, deeper than I've ever been yet.  There's a part of me that is a thrill seeker, at least in this area.  I want to go deeper.  I want to test myself and test God, too, and learn what there is about me that needs to be broken.  But I will not ever tell you that it's easy, that it's not a challenge, that it doesn't exact a cost.  I am puzzled that we can live on two separate plains at once, this one here on earth amidst all our human things and at the same time on a different plain that is purely spiritual that makes us groan and moan and push hard in order to birth what we're meant to be.

I'm reminded of dragonflies whenever I think I'm done and find myself having to change once more.  Stay with me here dear, there is a point and it's valid.  A dragonfly begins life as a tiny little egg that hatches out as larvae in a pool of water.  Dragonflies have three life stages from egg to mature dragonfly.    That's just not all there is to it.  This larvae changes into a nymph and that little nymph has as many as 15 stages of growth that occur during a four year period.  That's a lot of growing and changing and transforming. It lives in water for years.  Years.  Then one day it  crawls out of the water and transforms into another creature entirely courtesy the sun which dries it's wings and causes them to become taut.  That nymph becomes a new creature, one that can fly.  Lifespan at this point can be anything from a few months to seven years. 

I cannot even imagine how it must be to be water born and then discovering flight and sun and air but it does seem to represent a spiritual life to me, all that transformation.  To be one thing from embryo to human body and then one day to be transformed into a soul that takes flight from the earth I've known...Well it seems fantastic and awesome and wonderful to me.

And that is enough chatter.  Time to get back to my work.  I think I'm going to get busy and make those patio chair cushion covers.  I should paint that patio set too but I've for sure got to have some cushions on those chairs painted or not.  I hope you'll stop by again soon!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More on Homemaking

Tammy shared her routine with us and I thought you'd like to see that comment.

Monday - kitchen day - clean out the refrigerator, quick inventory of the pantry, prep food for the week including baking, then cleaning of counters, floors, and straightening cupboards and drawers as needed.

Tuesday - deep cleaning day - weekly rotation of concentrating on "zones" which include living/dining, bedrooms, bathrooms, porches/garage/car.

Wednesday - laundry day - we do laundry daily, but this is the catch-up day. I do our sheets, rugs, any odds and ends in the laundry room. I also take this day to clean the laundry room and check inventory of supplies.

Thursday - office day - work in th
e den, pay bills, do correspondence, etc.

Friday - errand day - I have to go to town on Friday mornings to do some things at work, so I do my errands then, too. These include grocery shopping, library, post office, dropping off donations, any other shopping that needs done.

Saturday and Sunday are catch-up and rest days. Lots of times I work one or the other or both days, so instead of assigning chores, those days are open to just whatever needs doing.

There are daily tasks, of course, like dishes and keeping the bathrooms picked up and neat. The kids help out before bed by picking up their things. This summer they'll have a daily/weekly chore list to get done before any pool time or library programs.

Debby added this on the Good Housekeeping Book post:
I was happy to read that about dissolving the soap in hot water before adding clothes. I always do that. I have this odd hanger I use as a stirring stick! I also always use hot water to soak undies since they drip dry. I read an article about bacteria, EColi, etc. and it said that it took hot water about 20 minutes to kill them. Or a hot dryer. Since my *new* undies are almost 4 yrs. old and still in pretty good shape, I'll assume I'm doing okay lol. Not using the dryer makes a big difference in how well the elastic does.

Debby in KS
P.S. Did the blogging world change how you can sign your name at the end? I can no longer post on If You do Stuff....there's no "anonymous" anymore. :( I noticed several blogs have changed

Debby, I'm not sure about the posting problem.  Rhonda reads here and will take note.  It may be a setting she had to put on her blog due to spam woes.  Those spammers are a real pain and often come in under Anonymous.

Bed bugs, lice, and MRSA are best dealt with in HOT water washes, as well.  I know this from first hand experience, unfortunately.   It is a misfortune that in John's work he gets exposed to lots of stuff and in turn we at home get to be exposed as well, no matter how careful he may be.

From Sarah
The newer washing machines will not let you put in detergent then add clothes. You put the clothe in and the detergent in the opening for it and shut the door. No way to use Oxi clean cause you can't put it in first either. New is not always good. :-)  

I have a very good old 1920s novel that is all about a women in her first year of marriage and her housekeeping and friends.

The title is: A Thousand ways to Please a Husband with Bettina's Best Recipes. You can find all about it on Amazon and I saw one of the sites had a Kindle edition. It might be found on line too. It contains 1001 recipes or some such number. There are other Bettina's recipe books. I bought two other original ones hoping they too had more of the stories but they just had recipes. :( If anyone knows of any of the other Bettina's books with stories or other good homemaking books please let us all know! You will Love this book though. She talks of using a fireless cooker. I found one mentioned in an old magazine. Like a hay box where you get the food hot and then put it in a lined box to finish cooking. Some had hot tiles that went round the food. It was her crock pot of those years. Look this books up and let us know what you think. :) Sarah

Sarah I noted that about the washing machine that Sam and Bess have.  It's one of those non-agitator types.  I didn't do the soap right.  I was supposed to put in a dispenser and I dropped it in with the clothes.  I had just about learned how to do it all properly when I came home to my old standard washer.

Sarah left two comments.  She had to go look up her book to get the title for us so I blended the comments..   I checked online and the Bettina book is available from Amazon and several other sellers for all price points imaginable.   On Amazon the kindle version is just a bit over $2 and it looks like they reprinted the out of print book with a new cover  for a little under $10. 

I haven't checked eBay which is usually my first port of call when I'm looking up older books.  I'd love to find an original copy and there you often can and for good prices.

Carolyn @ Our Gilded Abode  shared these books.  I believe someone else mentioned Martha Stewart's book as well...
 A few books that I've found helpful are "America's Housekeeping Book" (compiled by the New York Herald Tribune Home Institute) from 1941. A couple of others, though not vintage, are "Home Comforts - The Art and Science of Keeping House" by Cheryl Mendelson, and of course, Martha Stewart's "Homekeeping Handbook." Such great resources. Thank you again for all the practical tips and info you share - I always look forward to them!

I looked up the older book American's Housekeeping Book and it is still available for a reasonable enough price.  Again, I haven't checked eBay but

Just because it's a good hint I thought I'd share this tidbit from Becky who is very aware of her schedule and how it affects the home:

On Mondays and Tuesdays, I try to get some food cooked and set out in a crock pot or ready to warm for Rob and whichever girl or girls are home that day because I am gone into the evening at work. Today, Ja'Ana packed Rob and the girls a nice lunch in a pail to take with them. They went and did some errands, including getting another van load of firewood from my sister's farm, while I was at work. 

I am glad so many of you had comments to make on this series.  Thank you all for sharing!

For April: My Favorite Things

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things with you all.  The first item I feature is on my wish list.  The others are tried and true items that I currently purchase.

I was in Walmart this past week.  The store was being completely rearranged and I had absolutely no clue where anything was.  I pretty much ended walking the whole store.  I was in kitchen wares at one point and found these canisters by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  If I hadn't a set of perfectly nice old canisters that I happen to like a lot, I'd buy these in a split second!  Aren't they just gorgeous?

Naturally I'm drawn to the floral ones but the Geo set is pretty darned cute.  I saw them live and up close on Thursday.  I was surprised at how nice and heavy they are, too.  These are quality metal pieces.
The Pioneer Woman 6 1/2 Turquoise Floral Design Steel Tin Canister

The Pioneer Woman Vintage Geo 3-Piece Canister Set

The Pioneer Woman Country Garden 3-Piece Canister Set, Multi-Color
I'm half tempted to put them on my wish list.  Who can't use a few more canisters?  They'd be cute for coffee at the coffee pot and a nice replacement for the glass jars that tend to look dirty from the oily buildup from the ground coffee.  Doggone it!  I just talked myself into getting a pair.  The prices at Walmart are much better than at Amazon.

I've been dealing with dry rough skin for the past year.  I pulled a tube of lotion to use from my basket in the bath cabinet.  It was a moisturizing lotion I'd gotten while in the hospital.  I've been using it after my shower every morning and wow my skin looks so much better.  The scent is very light and faint.  I think it smells a bit like vanilla pudding, the homemade kind. 

I went to look for it online because I haven't seen it in stores anywhere.  I found it at for the lowest price.  I just ordered some more.  The label says this product is good for face, hands and body. 

Phytoplex is the name of the product.  Mine is the purple tube and says Moisturizer on it just as this one does.  There's a whole line of products and in the future when I run low on my store brand Cetaphil, I just may swap over entirely.  Love this stuff!

Mary Kay satinlips is a terrific product.   I have a problem area that chaps frequently on my bottom lip.   I've tried various lip balms over the years most at lower price points. However, it wasn't until a friend of mine had me sample satinlips that I found a product that truly relieved the problem.  It's a little pricey at $10 a tube but you need only the tiniest bit.  I found it best to use it twice a day.  At bedtime and again in the morning after I'd brushed my teeth.  This seemed to keep the problem area from chapping and cracking even in the winter months when dry cold air was the biggest instigator. 

I'm pretty happy jut at the moment....I just discovered I could order Mary Kay products online through the official website.  No need to seek out a new consultant after all.


One of my happy discoveries was gelato.  I am especially fond of this one by Talenti, Sea Salt Caramel.  While the recommended serving is 4 ounces, I find 2 ounces is more than sufficient as a serving.  It's very satisfying in it's creamy richness and the caramel flavor is really lovely.   I buy this when it goes on sale, which is just often enough,  and stretch it out over a long period of time.  It's so rich that there's no temptation to overindulge and no feeling of being deprived when a small portion so easily satisfies. 

Aldi had a lovely Black Forest Turkey breast that we absolutely loved.  It was luncheon meat but came in a portion much as this and was pre-sliced.  We have looked in vain for any repeat of this item being in stock over the past two years.  The John Morrell Off the Bone Oven Roasted Turkey Breast I have pictured here was meant to be a one-time purchase.  I was sort of giving in to John on this, since I have been pretty much making all of our sandwich meats from my own food here at home. 

This tastes awesome!  It was so good that we felt it was comparable to that Black Forest Turkey Breast we'd found only a few times at Aldi before it went extinct there.  It's lean meat and has a very pleasing flavor, a nice texture.  For two people who  don't eat ham, I'd say this is a very good substitute for a ham any day or time.  I buy it at a discount grocer where I go in about once every four to six weeks to buy our favorite turkey sausage and Nathan's hot dogs.  It is priced per pound and like all luncheon meats it's a little higher than I'd normally pay per pound for most meats, but for convenience it's very nice.  We stretch it out.  Once I open a package I'll divide into smaller packages and freeze some of them for later use so we're not overindulging.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Debby's Home Routine

I've enjoyed my new routine thus far.  I felt I accomplished more on Friday and again on Sunday simply because I was interested in what I was doing once more.  Monday morning I accomplished all my work well before time to leave to go to Mama's.   That left me free to work on another project when I came in that afternoon.

Debby share her current routine with us, though she is planning to shake it up a bit.  Her old routine though may be just the new one you require to shake up your old routine, so I thought I'd share.

A new routine sounds nice. I'm also a zone cleaner. My friend loved Flylady and that's where I got the zone idea. I started there and fine-tuned it to fit me. I have daily zones and weekly zones. Since most are probably familiar, I'll be brief.

Monday-Upstairs bedrooms
Tuesday- Living Room, Dining Room, Entry, & Front Porch
Wednesday- Upstairs bathrooms and hallway. Entire basement, including bathroom.
Thursday- Ironing, bill paying, desk work like shopping lists, bday cards, etc. Essentially all the things that make life run without curse words.
Friday- Kitchen & laundry room, clean out cars, purse.
Saturday- Yard

Week 1- Basement
Week 2- Kitchen
Week 3- Bedrooms
Week 4- Bathrooms and hall pantry
Week 5- Living room & Dining room

I have a chore each day for deeper cleaning. Like the kitchen may be
M-Clean & reorganize a drawer or pantry shelf.
T- Check stock of homemade soaps & make any, if needed
W- Deep clean fridge
Th- Deep clean freezer
F- Clean windows

I have two monthly lists that I change every other month. Some chores are needed like the deep cleaning fridge every month. Others are only on one because they need doing less often, like making soaps.

My regular thing is to vacuum every day. We have a lovable hairy mutt that sheds and I have asthma. For the same reason, I dust the bedroom daily. I swish the toilets daily with baking soda between big cleans. I also check the calendar, sort the mail, & make any needed calls in the morning.

As a general rule, the big cleaning is done in the morning before lunch. Once I have lunch, I get to do fun activities like sewing, mending, or essentially anything that doesn't require my back!
I keep a basket near my office shredder and put stuff in there for weekly shredding. That's Wed. because I split the shreds among clean wastebaskets. If someone wants to dig thru' them, be my guest, but do so at your own risk!! I used to mix it with cat litter for my cat. :D

Terri, you have me thinking about shaking things up a bit just for my boredom....

Debby in KS