Sunday, September 21, 2014

This Week In My Home: September 21-26

This week my focus on menus has to deal with how much time I find myself spending in the kitchen.  This is apparently my area for the month because I've caught myself more than once begrudging the amount of time the preparation, cooking and clearing up behind that meals are taking.  It's a sizeable chunk of time, let me tell you!  So far, Saturday is my least time spend-y sort of day, even if I don't prep anything ahead.  Why?  Because I'm more focused on saving time, cutting corners and spending as little time at work as possible.

I've always had this mentality where meals are concerned that I don't want a fast meal.  I don't enjoy reading those articles about putting a meal on the table in 15 minutes or 20...but I'm starting to see that if I want to reclaim some of my time for projects and chores I long to attend to, I'd best figure out a way to do just that.

So what's my game plan?  Plan all three meals, so I know just what I mean to have for breakfast, dinner and supper.  Generally supper is the least labor intensive meal...if I have planned it out.  Otherwise I have to scramble to prepare something to fill sandwiches, which is typically our meal for evenings.  I have been avoiding lunch meats, preferring the flavor and savings of making my own.  I'm putting sandwich fillings on my weekly prep list.

Breakfasts too eat up a chunk of time.  John likes a big breakfast on those mornings when he comes in from work.  Two days this week he works.  The rest of those days are really just a matter of putting food on the table.  I don't want to do just cold cereal but I can streamline the foods for those five remaining days by prepping ahead the night before, batch cooking breakfast meats and reheating in the microwave and freezing a few things for those mornings when I might oversleep after a  bad night.  So if I actually carry out my plans, I've cut time in two areas.

That just leaves dinner to prepare.  Again, working ahead can do a great deal to cut down time spent there.  I hope to put in a good solid hour of prep time Sunday and we'll see how much that leaves me for the rest of the week...Now to set the plan in motion!

Work mornings John gets the same meal.  It's mindless and easy for me to prepare and takes less than five minutes: toast and fried eggs.

For the two after work mornings: Pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs 
Cheese Omelet, Hash browns, muffins, juice

The remaining mornings: Oatmeal, peanut butter toast;  Sausage Cheese toast, grits; Muffins, boiled eggs

5 Dinners:
Two days I'm on my own.  I have a variety of single entree leftovers in the freezer so just need to add salads. I'll make those ahead or I'll just end skipping them altogether.

Chicken Pot Pie, Pear Salad, Oven Roasted potatoes
When I was growing up Mama always served chicken pot pie with french fries on the side.  This was due to the fact that she was serving my dad who firmly believed we should eat potatoes at every meal.  I will make my pie from scratch, using two pieces of leftover chicken and frozen mixed vegetables.  These veg don't include potatoes.  When I make pie crust for this dish, I'll triple the recipe and put two more shells in the freezer for future pie days, sweet or savory.

Meatloaf, Twice Baked Potatoes, Butter Beans, Coleslaw
Leftover meatloaf.  I'll double the potaoes and put two in the freezer for a future meatless meal.

Cranberry Crockpot Chicken Legs, Sweet Pea Pods, Corn Pudding, Salad
I'm debating adding potatoes to this meal as well, because the sauce on the chicken is so very good, but
we'll see how I feel the day of.

Southwestern bean Empanadas, Yellow Rice, Pineapple Salsa over Shredded Lettuce Salad
This month's BH&G has empanada recipes.  Reminded me that I can do a meatless entree with beans and corn and zucchini seasoned with cumin and such to make a great meatless main.  I don't have fresh tomatoes on hand, so will use canned pineapple.

Tuna Noodle Casserole, Green Beans, Carrot Raisin Salad
I have tuna in oil that I think will be tasty in a casserole.  I bought it for another recipe but want to use in this dish.

Work Plan

Last Week:
We'll see our southern most Grandkids...
1. BUY mulch and  Mulch the flower bed.  Dealt with a sore knee and had to keep activities low all week long.  I so hated losing that bit of time!  Ditto on both activities below as well.
2.  Stop in town during open hours and see if I can get a good look at the bed on the front porch of the 'antique' shop.
3.  Tag a few items and take into booth.  Plan to pick up a few more of the older items and bring home.
4. Grocery shopping, not a big shop this time, just produce, bread and dairy.  I could use the extra money elsewhere in the grocery budget.   

Remember this is not all I expect to do this week.  These are the extra things I hope to get to as the routine work week goes on.

This Week:
1. Mulch the flower bed.
2. Make cookies
3. Move things from guest room that don't belong
4. Get address to mail off baby gift to Katie's friend and  get it in the mail
5. Defrost/organize/inventory small freezer
6. Inventory pantry
7. Return window blind and swap for another
8: Good thrift plunder
9. Make Challah
10: Tag and take to booth 5-6 items

Shabat Thoughts: On Seasons

This week I've been thinking a lot about seasons for various reasons.  First, there are the leaves drifting slowly to the ground and piling up under the trees.  It is the natural season, a time of change, a season of purpose...

I thought about seasons of life, most especially of a woman's life, as Bess and Amie and my niece have just given, or are about to give birth.  I am in a different season, a season when that possibility is at an end.

I thought about my daughters Lori and Amie and Bess and dear Virginia raising children from infant stage to pre-teen. I think of my small heartache for those hands on parenting days being well behind me now, two widely varying seasons of parenting.

I thought about my new grandbabies just starting life and my cousin who has been told the end of his own life is imminently near...Two very different seasons of life, a beginning and an end.

And then I thought of other seasons, some of which I've had reason to recall of late:  the season of new love, and of falling out of love but waiting for love to bloom once more, the sorrow that came when love died and the joy when it sprang to life.  The season of overwhelming tiredness and busyness when children are young and money is tight and the season of time when money is to be had but time itself is scarce.  The season of blessings that come now and then, and the seasons of making every repair known to man.  The seasons of health and illness.  The season of struggling to find God and the season of learning to TRUST Him once found...It seemed to me that really life is just a series of seasons of all sorts being lived out all at once.

I realized at last, how deeply powerful Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is:

1For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

It seemed silly to go on with my own thoughts when Solomon had already said it so well...

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Frugal Week Living Well : September 13 -19

Saturday: John worked last night so this morning I made a bigger breakfast.  I'm trying to change up how I do things, both to save money and time.  Big breakfasts on mornings following a 24 hour shift, lighter but still filling meals on the other mornings.  I've found I'm spending far more of my day in the kitchen preparing the three steady meals a day and too little time at other tasks which call me.  This morning we had eggs, grits, sausage and toast.

I didn't have time to prep food for today yesterday...and I planned my week badly so there was not much at hand.  I had some cubed steaks I'd picked up at the local market when marked down and knew they would thaw quickly.  I planned the rest of my meal from the freezer and fridge: John brought back home his bag of salad unopened.  I decided we'd eat that for our raw side and I pulled a small pan of macaroni and cheese from the freezer as our starchy side dish.  I found the banana pound cake I'd made and thawed that too.  It was a pretty good meal to be pulled up from nothing that morning and I was pleased my freezer had provided the prep work I'd failed to make earlier in the week.

John did a small load of clothes.  He hung them to dry on the line.

The rest of the day was quiet and nothing much to report.  Again, we went nowhere and we spent no money, we didn't use lights during the bulk of the day.  The freezer provided meal inspiration and so no need of going to town to buy a thing.

Sunday:  We planned to make a trip to see our grandchildren today.  I prepared a thermal glass with ice and water.  John packed a bag with sodas and water.  I poured a bottle of milk to drink before bed.  I also packed a separate bag of snack foods.  It's a 5 hour drive and overnight stay at hotel when we go visit, so necessary to carry things along to avoid stops.

We cut off all the ceiling fans prior to leaving home.

And you know we made the trip to town with a purpose other than just leaving home.  We took off trash, picked up mail, dropped off a bill that was coming due, filled up the car before we left town.    

For all our care, there are sometimes fails.  We had a light breakfast before we left home.  Two hours into the trip and John was hungry for 'second breakfast'...and didn't want anything from the snack bag.  So we stopped at a fast food restaurant to order a 'steak' biscuit...Apparently this item is sold only with egg and cheese and when we asked to have just a plain steak biscuit, we found it cost no less.  In fact, those two biscuits and two coffees cost us more than a single meal in a regular restaurant would...and when we finally got the food it wasn't even good.  Ugh!  We were so disappointed.  The coffee was excellent but yucky food and a high price?  Made us feel like we'd been the ultimate hayseeds coming to town and got two cups of coffee for more than Starbucks...  And just to play up how bad we felt, we stopped in another hour and half for a restroom break and bought 2 burgers for $2 which were excellent...Making us wish we'd done that earlier and not wasted that good hard earned money!

My grandchildren have toys aplenty to play with but they also have the lovely ability to play with imagination.  I wore an infinity scarf and they wore it tied about their heads in various ways so that they had on a turban, a head covering, a pirates' head scarf...And around their waists as aprons and skirts.  They took turns playing with that scarf for well over an hour.  I love that they do use their minds to truly play.

Monday:  We took advantage of the hotel complimentary breakfast bar to have a meal before heading home.  No playing about with poor quality foods and wasting money today.

I filled my thermal cup with ice before we left the hotel.  We had enough water for the trip home.

John stopped to top off the gas tank.  He bought us a sandwich which we ate on the patio at the travel center where we stopped.

Though we were plenty tired after our return drive, we headed to John's work place to pick up his check, then to the bank to make the deposit.  It took us about 35 minutes more to get home but saved us many miles extra driving.

I used my brain Saturday.  When I took the cubed steak out of the freezer I took out a piece of sirloin and left it in the fridge to thaw.  I was glad I did when we passed the road to the meat market and John mentioned how much he wished it was open on Mondays.  I was pleased to tell him he was going to have steak anyway for his late meal.  He was pleased.  It took just a few minutes to put a meal on the table.

Tuesday:  A day of errands and grocery shopping for us.  I bought the two shades I had money set aside for.  I have already started saving for the next two.

We shopped only the perimeter of the store. Aldi is smart, they put the snacks first.  I was smarter. I noted what we had at home and told John as we came in the store what we had.  Passed through that area with only a single purchase, the planned one. Dairy and produce were our next two stops, then bread and out we went. I was very pleased with our total today.

Washed a full load of clothes and hung them to dry.  It was so humid they never fully dryed but they were less wet.  I ended up hanging them in the house this evening to finish drying.

Made a quick meal when we got home.  We did stop at the diner in town to get some chicken, but the sides were from our grocery purchases, corn and grapes.  We have plenty of chicken for another meal and a supper.

Wednesday:  Mixed all the dry ingredients and cut in shortening last night, so that I just added milk and mixed biscuits this morning.  I rolled out just enough for breakfast and put the remaining dough in the fridge to use to make pigs in blankets for supper.

I used baking soda as a 'soft scrub' to clean the bathroom cabinets.

Not feeling well physically (knee), so after doing light housework and pick-up, I decided an easy dinner was on the menu.  Leftover spaghetti sauce from freezer, some hamburger which I thawed in the pan over low heat, pasta, salad.  Good meal but little effort.  There was enough pasta and sauce leftover to make a single serving for a future solo meal.

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

Opened junk mail this morning to shred.  Found free quilt patterns in one, an offer for one free issue of a magazine in a second one and in the last, free greeting cards.  Oh and one more: a free recipe printed on a card.  It was a pretty good morning for opening junk mail.

Folded all the clothes that we'd hung to dry last night in the house.  Everything was nicely dry and smelled fresh from the open air partial drying.

Washed a full load of dishes.

Ran water to fill water bottles.  Realized I didn't have a lid for one of the bottles...I didn't pour the water out to waste, I watered plants with it.

Washed a handful of zippered baggies.

Thursday:  I baked both a boneless turkey breast and a roast beef in the oven this morning. I made two aluminum foil pans in a larger baking pan and seasoned each piece of meat.  They weighed about teh same and were both cooked in the same amount of time.

We had turkey breast for dinner.  I am all over the place, off my menu plan, this week.  I sliced the turkey breast and the roast beef and after setting a small amount of the turkey for our dinner and two smaller amounts of both meats aside for sandwiches over the next couple of days, I put the rest into containers and put in freezer for future sandwich meals.  I've read recently that pouring a bit of the broth or meat juices over the cooked meat will help keep it moist and hold flavors, so I poured the pan juices over each container.  I put two each of turkey and roast beef in the freezer, enough for at least two sandwiches each or for a dinner entree.

Washed a full load of clothes.  John hung them to dry on the line.  Golly but they smelled good when I brought them in to fold!

Still having a time with my knee. John insisted on wrapping it even though I wanted to shower first.  I took a sponge bath, washed my hair in the sink and called that good enough.

I have some old church hymnals here. I was trying to play piano with them but was having a hard time because they soft cover books wouldn't stay open nor could I read the fine print very well.  It occurred to me I could enlarge the print by copying on the printer.  Worked beautifully and I've practiced a few songs daily.  I'm not quite as rusty as I was but I still squeak a lot, lol.

Boiled a half dozen eggs this afternoon.  I was making potato salad to go with leftover chicken for supper and I figured I might as well boil enough to make egg salad.  It takes just as much water to boil 1 egg as it does to boil 6.

A few weeks ago, a pot of African violets met with disaster and the tops were completely broken off the root stems.  John laughed when I set the tops to root in water, but also kept the root stems and watered them each week as normal.  He told me I should just throw them away.  Well the tops have tiny new roots and one of the root stems has a tiny green leaf on it.  That accident may well just have doubled my African violets!  I'm glad I trusted my green thumb instincts.

Drained the peas at dinnertime. I made sure not to salt them while steaming.  That nutrient rich water watered the blooming violet and the root stems.

When boiling potatoes for the salad, I doubled the amount I needed.  I let the potatoes parboil briefly then removed half and put in the fridge.  I want to use that portion to make hashed brown casserole for a side dish for another meal.

Friday:  Wasn't in the mood for a big breakfast this morning but we did have sweet rolls that needed to finished up.  I don't like to just eat a sweet for breakfast, so added scrambled eggs to the menu.

I did light housework this morning which was enough to bring the house back up to par.  I made out a shopping list and we went to town.  Of course, we took off trash and checked mail...

I shopped at the dollar store today.  I buy a good brand of vitamins there and I was out of many of the supplements I take.  Typically I try to buy one or two a pay period but I haven't done so in nearly 6 weeks. I had to restock quite a few.  I've promised myself I'll go back to stocking 1 or 2 at a time because that proved to be a bit more expensive today.

I bought baskets for the freezers while I was at the store to organize the back freezer.  I was unsure of how many I might fit in the smaller freezer so bought two different sizes.

I've used an old wire freezer basket from the small freezer in the fridge freezer to corral small things.  Today I replaced that with one of the new smaller baskets.  I'll put the wire basket back into the smaller freezer.

In the dollar store I found a basket of half priced items: Crisco shortening, muffin mixes, nut bread mix. I don't use a lot of these items but I do use them occasionally, so I bought three or four of them.  For a small investment of $6 I added a few things to my pantry.

We spent so little on groceries this week that I was able to pay for the vitamins, baskets, mixes and a take out pizza with the remainder of my funds.  The pizza was a real treat.  I wanted one that tasted like pizzeria not homemade nor frozen and doctored, but real pizzeria.  We enjoyed it but laughed because in the three years since we bought one the Large is now the size of a Medium.  Teach us to not buy a pizzeria pizza for three years.  Add that to the list of the incredible shrinking products...
We've had slightly cooler temperatures and the Ac has been cutting off all through the afternoon.  Occasionally it feels a bit stuffy.  Temptation to turn it down 'just a degree or two' is staunched.  Instead we'll turn on the osciallating fan in the room.  Why cool down a whole house when we're in one room anyway?  And why use 220V when you can use 110V?

And so ends another week of savings.

Living Well

Come September I get anxious for cooler air.  It doesn't matter if we have had a milder summer, the last days of summer can be pretty intense with humidity.  You step outdoors and your skin feels damp.  You take in a deep breath and it's a little bit like drinking in water.  There's a heaviness that can't be described, but which must be experienced to truly be appreciated, which is hardly the right word because believe me there is nothing to appreciate!

Yesterday I walked into our bedroom along about 5pm and watched the shadow play of leaves on the floor and across the furniture and I felt a real pang.  Outside I know the leaves are already thick upon the ground under that tree.   "I'll miss you..." I said to the shadows...And this morning when I went out on the porch to test the weather, the air was dryer and cooler.  Fleeting days, these last few summer days.

I've been watching the clouds.  Yesterday they piled up on the east horizon and turned cotton candy pink in the evening light.  Clouds in fall and winter are much different than these big puffy mounds of cloud.  I will miss these as well.

Here we are in that lovely place between two seasons.  Summer fruits and vegetables are already being replaced by autumns' produce.  Sunrise and sunset is a gala performance each day which isn't always the case in summer months.  Fog rises mistily on the fields as day and night temperatures are nearer the same. Goldenrod dances in the fields and along ditch banks where morning glory tangles bloom.

I want to gather up this time in my arms, the way I did laundry yesterday, and draw in deep breaths of its unique perfume, this heady wonderful time of year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Afternoon Tea: Another Week

Come on in!  It's too hot to sit on the porch yet again and the plants look so sad and straggly anyway that's it's hardly a pleasure to sit there gazing at the poor spent things.  I've pulled up several pots full of plants but we seem to be in that in between time when no plant appreciates the season and who can blame them?

I thought I'd try these Pecan Bars this week...What do you think?  I love pecan pie but it's so sweet I seldom make one.  I thought this might be a good halfway sort of thing.  Of course, we must eat up some of these other sweet things first.  There's some of John's favorite no name, el cheapo cookies, the sort that are both chocolate and vanilla and taste like neither but are sweet.  He loves those silly cookies but unless I am in deep craving mode for that elusive something,  you'll not find me eating more than one or two at best.  I had taken pound cake from the freezer over the weekend, but I put it right back when we came in from grocery shopping.  There's a raspberry sweet roll which isn't bad, store bought also.  I still think the recipe sounds good, but perhaps not this week...

Did you see the Golden Rod blooming at the edge of the back yard?  Isn't it lovely?  I like golden rod.  It's one of those flowers that draw criticism, too.  So many people claim it makes their allergies act up but all the doctors and scientists say it's the fault of ragweed which blooms at the same time.  I've also seen the red October or Spider lilies blooming.  I have one which blooms but never multiplies.  I'll have to see about purchasing some of those unless I can find someone willing to share some of their bulbs.  I love them, perhaps because Granny did.  She was big on bouquets in the house to enjoy.

I used to make huge bouquets this time of year of autumn grasses and wild flowers, and bring them home to plunk down in an old crockery churn that stood by my front door.  It made me feel so good to have that big beautiful bouquet on my front porch next to my front door.  Well one day I came home and the churn was gone.  Someone had come by and helped themselves to it!  I missed that old brown churn something fierce, not the least of which because it was the largest vase I'd ever had.

That was at my old railroad foreman's cottage home, the house that I loved deeply and well despite all it's faults and flaws and needs.  It was solid as iron that house, but desperately needed new windows, a proper kitchen and some work on the bath just for starters.  I had such dreams for that house...sigh.  I confess I've never loved a house that much again.  Oh I love where I live, and I do appreciate the layout and niceness of my home, but I can't say I love it as I loved that house, which is funny when you consider I've been so much happier here than I ever was there.  Yes, that was the house I loved.

It was originally just four rooms big and the kitchen appeared to be the original kitchen for the house.  There were two large square rooms at the front of the house and two long narrow rooms behind that, which we used as kitchen and dining room.  The kitchen had an old built in cupboard and a metal and porcelain sink cabinet and that was the whole of that room aside from being painted school bus yellow.  The dining room had a lovely little nook at one end, flanked by two closets that opened into the nook.  The window there looked out onto the side yard and the back of the addition at the front of the house formed an ell shaped space that I thought ideal for a deck. My dream was to turn the dining room window into a French door and make it the official back door, shutting off the door that opened into the back addition bedroom.

There was a back porch once upon a time and it had been enclosed and panelled and made into  two rooms. That's where the back two bedrooms were. It was a step down from the main house and there was a door that opened out to steps that led to the back yard.  I never much liked having a outside door in the bedroom but there it was and nothing much to do for it.   The window that looked out of the dining room over the back porch had been poorly enclosed and sunk in. I hung a quilt over that wall which drew many a comment, because it was a lovely old quilt, not pretty, but old and worn which made it lovely and made the room wonderfully cozy.

 There was the addition at the front of the house, which was a step down from the living room and the first room was a bathroom with another room, a lovely windowed room, opening off that.  I wanted to cut a doorway from the living room to that room but we never did anything I wanted to do with that house except paint the kitchen and that spare room a soft gold.  We never even used the spare room for a thing but storage, but it would have made a lovely bedroom.

It was, as I said, aside from the rotten windows, a sturdy house.  Someone had torn off the original front porch which was longer then the present one and had railings and replaced it with a flat roofed, concrete block and cement porch.  I had torn out all the shrubs that crowded up around the house and made it look suffocated and the front porch was decorated with willow furniture and an old ironing board where I kept many pots of flowering plants.  We did manage to screen that porch in and it was just wonderful to sit upon on summer nights with the aroma of flowers drifting on the air.

In the yard, I had a big willow swing under an old dog wood tree and at the opposite side, next to the driveway,  were big flower beds outlined with the iron rich rocks I'd gathered from my great aunt's home and then planted full of all sorts of perennials that bloomed beautifully and drew gold finches and blue birds and red birds among others.

It had a deep back yard, the bottom end of which faced a cleared forest. When we moved in the whole back end was so overgrown with vines and weeds that we were shocked when we found the back fence and realized half our yard was covered with growth.  My ex pulled it all up and burned it one spring afternoon when the breezes were blowing toward the open windows of the house.  Unfortunately he'd pulled up several poisonous vines and we all suffered horribly with respiratory problems due to inhaling that smoke.

 Eventually, we had chickens in the chicken pen back there, and there was a clothes line to hang clothes upon in the sunny yard nearer the house.    In winter the next door neighbor's white pines scented my bedroom with a fresh cold scent that made the chill breezes coming in the broken window bearable.  It was lovely to wake to that aroma with a little of the neighbor's wood smoke mixed in, when you were covered by a pile of heavy quilts on dark winter's night.

Before my ex and I bought the house a murder had taken place there.  I can say honestly that the house never felt creepy. We didn't know the former occupant.   The house sold for next to nothing even way back then and the sale was private, so it was owner financed by the family of the deceased.

My children  used to tell me that 'the man' came to sit on their beds at night and tell them stories, but they were never frightened.  I had a couple of incidents that were minor: the door between the dining room and the old back porch would swing slowly shut each time we left it open.  Since the children napped or played alone in their rooms I preferred to have the door open.  One day I must have re-opened that door a dozen times in a matter of an hour.  I finally got upset and stomped my foot as I opened the door one more time and said loudly, "Stop it!  This is MY house now and I want that door open!"  That door never again swung shut on it's own when I left it open.

Another day a friend came to borrow my electric typewriter.  I was reluctant to loan it but knew that she truly did need it to type resumes for jobs.  As she started to leave the house, I watched as she swung the typewriter back behind her, much as a child might swing a book bag or lunchbox.  She looked at me, started to the door, and again the typewriter swung back.  She stopped, looked me, again headed to the door and the typewriter swung back one more time.  "If you don't want me to take it, please say so, but stop pulling on it!" she said to me.  Well I wasn't tugging on it at all and in fact as she turned she saw that I was too far away to pull upon it.  She turned a little white in the face, then set the typewriter down and said she'd just come by some day when she could use it there at the house.

I thought it odd that Samuel chose the name Harold for a bug he claimed he had once upon a time, hidden under a bucket in his room. "Harold" was not a name we had in the family or amongst friends.  It was the first name of the man killed in the house, and I did wonder when he mentioned that it was 'the man's name'...

Was my home haunted?  I couldn't say that it was nor that it wasn't.  It was a peaceful sort of house overall, and we never felt threatened or afraid by anything within the home.  I suppose the poor man who was killed there wasn't the first death to occur in that home, it was an old house after all, built in the mid to late 1800's per townspeople who knew the house and it had been moved from the railroad about a mile to our plot of land at the edge of town in the early 1900's.

Well waxing nostalgic about that old house wasn't planned at all.  I was, as stated, far happier in the two houses I've lived in since then, and even in the two houses prior to that, but that house, the structure itself, was the house I look back upon most fondly.

Want to hear a fun fact?  John lived two houses up the same street for all those years I lived in that house. We spoke only twice in the time we lived there  and neither time did I say 'more than 13 words', or so he assures me, lol.  All those unhappy years, and yet the love of my life was that near.  We didn't meet up, aside from the day I was hit by the drunk driver on my way to work, until I'd lived elsewhere for 18 months.  Odd how things occur isn't it?

How about something less sentimental?  I was listening to the weather reports.  I've been so anxious to have cooler temperatures but they aren't happening yet, at least not here.  The weather man talked about the current temperatures and how they factor in wind speeds and humidity and they call that the 'feels like' temperature which is generally higher (or in winter months, colder) than the actual reading on the thermometer.  It occurred to me as I listened to him prattle on (honestly weather men these days, it's just so much yada yada yada!) that it was silly to say that this or that caused it to feel a different temperature when what the thermometer says is what it says and how it feels is just misery.

Now honestly, do you think I could get away with that at the doctor?  He'd tell me my weight and I could explain to him that I don't feel that heavy, I feel more like xxx pounds, and then cite my energy level and lack of pain  and general good attitude about myself, and he'd put down that the weight I suggested I felt?  On the other hand, when I feel much like a puffed up frog would he buy the idea that I weigh MORE because I feel I do?  Or for that matter, what if we used that gauge of variables to determine our age?  Mentally I feel about 30ish, perhaps,while  physically I feel about my age, but occasionally there are days when I feel much older due to the my emotions and struggles or physical ailments...Wouldn't the world be messy if we all decided upon what variables determined weight and age the way the weather man does temperatures?

Now mind you, I can well determine when it feels much warmer or colder than what the thermometer reads for myself.  I will be the first to say, 'But it feels hotter...' and likely someone will agree with me, but it's still going to be 95 out whether I think it feels hotter or cooler.  So let's just stop with how moody the weather is and what it feels until the world at large agrees that I can feel less heavy than I am and accepts it!

I made chicken noodle soup again.  John raves about that soup.  I suppose I should make it more of a star on my menu plans.  I like soup for supper.  Usually I reserve it, in summer at least, for those days when we've had a salad luncheon.  I am the one in this household who insists upon a hot meal each day.  Even in warm weather there is something about soup that isn't in the least off putting, but I suppose I'd really think differently if I had to live without air conditioning, but then again, maybe not.  Soup can be hot and light, too, more so than many foods.  I want to try Brandi's Tomato Basil soup  which I think sounds very good and I hope is similar in taste to the soup I love at that restaurant.  John's not so keen on tomato soup overall, though he will eat it.  John prefers soups to be thick.  He often says his ideal bowl of soup is so thick you can stand a fork up in the middle of the bowl, lol.  That's his standard for gravy, spaghetti sauce, beef stew and tapioca pudding, too.

I like Broccoli Cheddar and Cream of Asparagus but John prefers Chicken Noodle, or a lovely Corn chowder or Cream of Potato soup.  I like homemade vegetable but he can take or leave that one. When Katie lived at home we had a way with soup.  I'd make whatever kind I chose.  I'd dip up a bowl for myself that was a good mix of broth and contents.  Katie wanted only the broth-y part and John wanted only the contents part.  It was definitely a three bears sort of mentality in our house when it came to soup but it worked out nicely.  Now there are only two of us, it doesn't.  John swears he gets far too much broth if he can see much liquid in his bowl and I swear there are too many vegetables to make it soupy.

 Nowadays I try to find recipes for soups that have the body John prefers and flavors I like.  Friend Robin posted this soup, which she raved about and which sounds quite good really, Stuffed Pepper Soup.   She said she used ground beef (I would, too) and I think I'd end up adding a little more rice, just to have it nearer the consistency that John prefers but it sounds good.  Oh and I'd likely add a bit of cheddar cheese atop my bowl of soup, because that's how I serve my stuffed peppers. And my friend Lynn posted this one, which I think would work as well with turkey Italian sausage, Crock Pot Tortellini.  She noted that additional seasonings helped the flavor, basics like oregano, salt/pepper, garlic and onion.

I'm going to try to make up a few soup bases to keep in the freezer and just add in the more delicate ingredients (pasta, rice, potatoes) later.  Of course, first, I have to have room in my freezer.  But then again, removing oh say 8 or 9 of those quart jars of chicken broth should  John noted yesterday, as he added milk to the back freezer, that the ice build up was pretty high.  It's time to empty and defrost both freezers and that is a good time to reorganize and inventory what is in each.  I mean to go buy more baskets so I can organize that little freezer in the back.  It's been so helpful in the big freezer that I'm ready to have that same ease of access.

Talk a couple of weeks past of the Spending Less post  made me think long and hard.  There are many, many ways of cutting spending so that we do spend less.  However, there are certain methods that, if it's not necessary for us to use, we don't.  It has to do with comfort levels and the perception of how we feel regarding that particular move.  John gets concerned every time I start trimming back any area.  He feels he's not making enough money which isn't true, because if it were, there would be no place to cut!  I like to experiment with different methods of doing things, trying to find a solution that fits the time I have as well as the desire to spend less. Sometimes we butt heads because I want to implement a method that cuts too close into an area where John has found some level of enjoyment.  Over the years I've convinced him to cut back deeply on soda and drink more water.  He has.  But never let me suggest that we buy no soda at all...Gracious, no!  Honestly, if I can't afford $.25 a can a day (which is my target price and I have gotten it for less)  then things have indeed gotten pretty tight.  Some might argue that it's $1.75 a week and go on to add how much a month and how much a year, but it's still a small sum for a man who is mighty careful with his funds overall.

My point is that too often I hear people apologize to other frugalites because they still indulge in this or that or spend more than the average on their grocery budget, etc.  But you know I don't think we should apologize to anyone.  Share how you save and let those who want to implement those steps do so, but enjoy  what you enjoy wholeheartedly and don't apologize.  It's not about deprivation it's about cutting what doesn't mean as much to you so you can afford what does matter.  For John, having that single soda a day is  what he enjoys.  I enjoy plants and flowers and books.  Once upon a time my grocery budget supported a bi-weekly flower purchase but these days I lean hard toward the occasional plant ( one of my African Violet is blooming now) herb or bag of perennial bulbs or seed packet since I no longer have that room in my grocery fund.

Now here's a question to ask:  What's a nest egg meant to be for?  I've always been under the impression that a nest egg was the money you meant to use for your living in your old age, but recently came across an article on Yahoo News that suggested a nest egg was a perpetual savings account that one never touched...Well what are you saving it all for?!  They suggested that taking out even small amounts was not at all a good thing.  But what is a nest egg for, if not for your own living/enjoyment/retirement or whatever you've designated it to be?  I get mighty tired of reading all these reports that suggest one must have $2million to retire and which suggest that anything less won't do at all.  Some reports suggest that retirement is about living your dreams so you really need even more money than the $2million if you want to travel extensively and pursue expensive hobbies and such.  Do you know, our sights must be set pretty low...All we want is to stay in our home, support ourselves for as long as we possibly can, and meet our own needs financially.  I don't think it will ever take millions to do that, not even if we do live many, many more years.

We took a short trip this past weekend to see our grandchildren in Kingsland.  Our Coast Guard son has already received orders that they will be moving back to the west coast before next summer.  We're still at the mercy of work and duty schedules so visits won't be any more prolific than they have been, but we'll do what we can to see them.  As we did this weekend.  It was a one day down/one day back sort of trip which isn't really satisfactory but better than nothing at all.  We spent about 8 hours with the kiddy pops.  Hailey has decided that we are Gammy and Papa.  Daniel has always called us Gramma and Grandpa, but Hailey has her own names for us.

And boy, when she says "Papa, come me" and crooks her little finger at him, up he gets and goes with her! lol  She's quite the personality.  When her Mama tells her to do something she doesn't want to do at first she might say, "No! No Way!" which seldom nets her any good thing if you know what I mean, lol.  Then she will sadly drop her head and walk slowly away, head hanging, the very picture of sadness.  She had a bug bite on her foot this weekend and every time she wanted things to go in her favor that bug bite was the worst Owie imaginable.

Zach has a form of speech deficiency that he'll receive therapy for over the next few years.  Amie had something similar in her youth so I'm familiar enough with the process of overcoming.  Zach has made a lot of progress and while you might initially miss what he says, it sinks in a moment or two later.  He's apparently quite used to this delayed reaction, lol, and just proceeds right on.  He's got the sweetest smile ever and big blue eyes.  He has a bit of temper, but he seldom directs it at anyone, reacts mostly to situations and is as happy and sunny in just moments.

Daniel is lively as can be and most fun of all he's all for any form of imaginary play.  This visit it was a little firetruck with a water cannon on the back that we 'sprayed' a variety of interesting colors and stuff from. Then it was the infinity scarf I was wearing that all three wore as a turban, a head covering, a pirate's scarf, a Polynesian skirt, an apron...They took turns "Yo Ho Ho"-ing about the room.  I loved every moment of it.
Daniel is a smart little boy, responding well to homeschooling for his kindergarten year.  He has a temper too (don't we all?) and his usually takes the form of marching out of the room to his room where he slams the door and fusses mightily.  He takes a little longer to cool down but when he's done, he's done and all is forgotten.

Now I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the kids but I love watching how they handle their tempers as well.  I know far too many grown-ups who are too prone to hold on to their grievances for years.  I want to be child-like and get over it, you know?  Anger is not a bad thing, unless it's misused and over indulged.  I do have a tendency now and then to air a grievance from years past and I want to just smack myself right hard...I try to make a save by saying, "But I'm over that," but obviously that's a tale or I'd have forgotten it altogether wouldn't I?  Yes, I love playing with the children, but I learn from them as much as they learn from me.

We didn't go by the hotel prior to going to visit the children.  Mistake. It was hot and muggy and not checking in meant we didn't have the AC on in the room.  So we arrive at 9pm to our western facing room and it must have been over 90F in there.  I don't blame the motel for not leaving the AC on, after all, if we cancel they've wasted their electricity on an empty room and that's just poor management.  No, I blame us because we've been there many times and the staff are always good to let us check in just a little early if we arrive sooner than we expect.  It was so hot and miserable and nothing for it but to wait for it to cool off, which finally occurred around 3am, lol.  Lesson learned.

I slept for nearly half of the five hour ride home.  I guess I needed that rest.  We made one stop and that was for the first bag of boiled peanuts of the season.  Appropriately enough they were harvesting peanuts in many fields as we drove by.  It is, for me, a sign of autumn.  Those peanuts tasted so good, still warm from the cooker.  We ate some of them as we drove along, riding with the windows down and letting peanut shells fly.

We talked a lot on this trip...well probably more Sunday than we did Monday, since I slept so much, but we did talk a lot.  We talked about travel when John retires.  It's unlikely we'll have big bucks to go far away places but we hope to see more of our home state and make little short trips here and there.  All this time we've been going to Kingsland we've been storing up ideas of spots we'd really like to visit along the way.  We never travel in a leisurely manner going down to see the kids as we want to spend all the time we can with them.  There's a little of everything in Georgia, really, except desert, lol.  

We talk a bit about retirement and about how we'll manage and what we'll do and what we hope to see in those years to come, but we are not wishing our lives away by any means.  We both pretty much enjoy Now.  It's a good place to be in our lives.  We don't want to miss what we have looking ahead to what we haven't yet got, nor looking back at what we might have had once upon a time.  Honestly?  There's not a whole lot in my past I'd want to go back and retrieve and the things I would are intangibles that would never be mine again anyway, so what's the use?  All in all I'm pretty happy in this Blue House of  mine.  Life is different than I thought it might turn out to be sure, but then again it's better than I thought it might be in many ways and I appreciate that it is.

Well time for me to get up and tend to a few things prior to time to make supper.  So glad you could come by.  I'd love to say next time we'll have coffee but I just don't know that we shall...The forecasts are certainly not being heeded by the weather, so I'll stop trying to rush that seasonal change and just enjoy where I'm at. Talk to you later!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This Week In My Home: Sept 14 - 20

Just a little behind....We went off to visit the Grands this past weekend and spent yesterday driving home and running an errand or two, then out to do errands and grocery shopping this morning.  I had my first boiled peanuts of the season yesterday on our way home, appropriately enough we got to see many fields of peanuts being harvested while we were on our way home.  One sign of the season...

The goldenrod is golden, the leaves are tumbling to the ground.  It's getting dark about 7:30 and I find myself yawning mightily about 8:30.  I'm craving stew and chili and pot roast...And I've searched in vain for the cooler temperatures!  We were promised it would be cooler last week but those temperatures were surpassed and the lower temps moved to this week but somehow I think we won't see them this week either.  So what do I do?  I make a warm hearty meal and we regret mightily the heaviness of it or I make a summer meal and it's not quite substantial enough.  I don't have any 'in between' recipes!  And that's what I need, recipes meant for that time between two seasons.  I'll do my best, but it's a balancing act I'm not very adept at!

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Frugal Week: September 6 - 12

Saturday:  Bananas were ripe right now.   It was obvious they were at the point where we'd eat them today or not at all.  We had oatmeal (just plain old cooked oatmeal, not the fancy custard type) for breakfast and topped each bowl with a sliced ripe banana.

I put the last three bananas into the freezer, peeling them and breaking them into 1 in pieces first.

I warmed dinner in the oven.  I meant to make salad, but looking through the fridge I discovered a serving of  romaine in a zippered bag and enough salad in John's leftover purchased bag for another serving.  No making salads necessary, just eat what is on hand and not let it spoil.

I served packets of taco sauce from takeout purchases with our burritos today.

Supper was the rest of the pizza we purchased Tuesday while out grocery shopping.  I'd put in the freezer but it was quickly thawed and heated this evening.   It was handy to have a quick meal.  I'd spent time out this afternoon at my niece's baby Sprinkle.

Played about on Pinterest this evening. I found a quote that really struck home from a blogger regarding couponing:  It's about spending less, not saving more.  There's a blog post of inspiration in that phrase...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A New Fall Wreath

I put this wreath together early last week.  It was quick and easy.

The base is a straw wreath I picked up at the thrift store.  I wrapped it using the wide burlap ribbon you buy in the fabric department at Hobby Lobby.  I picked up two rolls last year for $4.99 each...I'm warning you all that it's increased to $5.99 this year, because I bought another roll this year.

I sewed the end piece down and bound the florals and leaves to the wreath using a needle and thread.  In the past I've used glue or glue dots and it tends to turn loose in our sometimes too warm, sometimes cold weather.  I wanted this to hold together for at least two or three seasons.