Sunday, July 27, 2014

This Week's Menu and Job Plans

The weather is hot and humid.  The air conditioning runs all day and most all the night.  I've enjoyed our mild and pleasant summer, but right now it FEELS like summer.  I like weather to be seasonal.  Cold when it should be cold.  Hot when it should be hot.  That's just me.  There are nice things about the warmth of summer, although I readily admit I am not a fan of humidity.

Summer finds me stumped when it comes meals and cookery.  Truth is, I like pot roasts and chilis and stews, hearty main dishes and warm desserts.  In summer...well those things just don't go, they sit too heavily upon the tummy and make me uncomfortable and leave me feeling dissatisfied.  And because my brain is often hot as the rest of me when I sit down to relax and do quiet work, when I plan my meals I find myself locked into a sort of formula that involves a hot meat dish, cold salad, cool dessert and seldom employ all those fresh vegetables and fruits that are available just now.

This week I'm taking my cues from vintage magazines and their suggestions for meals in the midst of July heat.  With articles about how to keep cool in the heat, how to dress a porch for summer living, how to eat alfresco meals, etc., you kinda get the idea they know their stuff!

Sliced Roast Beef, Tomato stuffed with cottage cheese, Shredded Lettuce, Pretzels
I suppose you could make the meat a sandwich if you wanted and put the pretzels on your snack menu, but the plate in the magazine (which was in color) looks so good and tasty that I just felt it was an all around good menu.  The side dishes seem just right with a mix of room temp and chilled items and certainly the beef could be served either warm or cold, to suit your own desire.

Hot dogs in buns, Potato Salad,Carrot and Celery sticks,  Fresh Fruit Sundaes
The meal is straightforward enough.  The dessert has all sorts of possibilities.  I could make milk shakes if we desire or smoothies.  And if it's sundaes we want then it's just a matter of deciding if we'd like peach or strawberry or blueberry.  Or I could serve chilled slices of cantaloupe around a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  That's very tasty in the summertime, too!

Chicken Waikiki, Warm Crescent Rolls or Crisp Crackers, Molten Lava Cakes
This is just a pretty chicken salad made with pineapple, strips of red bell pepper and sliced celery with a sprinkling of almonds for some crunch, dressed with mayonnaise to which you've added some lime juice and lime zest.  I think it sounds refreshing, don't you?  Nice use for leftover roast chicken.

Club Sandwiches, Potato Sticks, Fresh Peaches
Thin slices of chicken, crisp bacon, tomato, lettuce, cheese, even thin slices of avocado if you desire make a nice hefty sandwich with three slices of toasted thin bread per sandwich.  We often make these when it's really warm outdoors because it's a hearty sandwich but not heavy, a hard balance to find in most meals that have stick to your ribs possibilities.  It's a nice way too to serve a low meat menu because you only need a couple of slices of bacon and a thin slice of chicken to make the sandwich.

Beef Stew, Blueberry Muffins, Crisp Wedge Salads,  Orange Meringue Pie
The stew will cook in the crockpot or in a dutch oven on stovetop.  It's a one burner meal for the most part.  The meringue on the pies can brown alongside the baking muffins.  Make a big batch of the muffins and have some for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Red Beans and Rice, Corn Fritters, Coleslaw, Orange Meringue Pie
Use canned beans to cut down on cooking time.  I season mine with a bit of summer sausage or some smoked turkey bones, garlic, onions, celery and bell pepper.  I'l make corn fritters from canned corn today.

Pasta with Fresh tomato sauce and tuna, Crusty Bread, Mixed Greens Salad, Pineapple Sherbert
I thought I'd try the fresh tomato sauce with drained, canned tuna this week and the addition of black olives. I'll let you know how that experiment turns out, lol.

Work, work, work...

I spent quite a bit of time in my kitchen today cleaning cabinet fronts and wiping down counters and such.  It took a good portion of the morning, right up until dinner time.  After dinner I tackled the oven.  It took about 40 minutes and another 5 to get the oven door back on.  It's nice to have those tasks done.  I'm going to take some time out to play now, then I'll tackle other items on my list.

last week:
Mop Kitchen
Clean fridge deeply and well
Tag and take a few new items to booth
Grocery shopping
Clean front porch rails and siding
Straighten the linen chest 
Clean the oven
Wipe down insides of cabinets on the end wall of the kitchen

This week:
Tag and take a few new items to booth
Cull all items a year old in the booth that have not sold
Clean the oven
Wipe down insides of upper cabinets on the end wall of the kitchen.
Pull books and magazines to be read in August
Clean front porch rails and siding
Start working on yard.  (Must get up EARLY to do these last two jobs or I'll just melt away!)

Shabat Thoughts: Passing the Baton

A few years ago a friend came to me with tears in her eyes.  She told me she'd been in prayer over a situation in her life for a long time and hadn't seen any results at all.  "I'm asking if you'll take over and pray for me about this," she said.  I agreed.  It was the beginning days of my becoming a prayer warrior and I was just feeling my way along.  I realized that something momentous was going on with this request but it took several weeks for me to understand it more thoroughly.

John had a situation at work that had become difficult and consuming. He told me wearily one morning that he'd been praying over it for months and it just wasn't getting any better.  "I'm tired," he said and I knew he meant his spirit was weary.  "So stop praying.  Let me pray for this for you.  Pass the baton to me."  He looked puzzled. I explained to him what our friend had done, asking me to pray for her situation.  "She needed to step back and rest and I've been praying over it for her.  I don't have the emotions tied with this that she does.  I can do the same for you."

This isn't about answered prayer.  Answers did come, but much further down the road.  This is about being spiritually weary, spent and worn down.  It's about needing a fresh recruit to fight the battle you've been fighting, a new runner who will take the baton and run the next portion of the race.  It's about asking for help.

For the past seven years I've prayed for an individual.  In the last few months I've found myself frustrated, angry, bitter,  upset.  I became more and more anxious.  Nothing I did was the right thing despite prayer.  It seemed I was plagued with missteps in the situation.  Little barbs that oughtn't have hurt became infected with bitterness.  I wept, I raged, I pleaded and then I'd try again and get wounded again.

Things became so bad that I no longer had words to pray.  I was stone.  I prayed only that God would understand and forgive me.

Things came to a head this week.  Twice I had to deal with fallout in the prayer situation.  I felt weary beyond words.  I'd been telling John for the bulk of this year that I was 'tired', and yet it wasn't a physical tiredness.   At this point, even John's shoulders sagged hard.  He was tired, too. His prayers too had become difficult to pray.  I told him it was time to get this sorted out.  I sat down to write in my prayer journal Friday morning and poured out my heart...and that's when I found myself reading the very words I needed to see.  "I'm too tired and weary to keep up this prayer.  I need to pass the baton."  Immediately I thought of two or three prayer warriors to turn to.

I came to John and read him what I'd written.  He nodded.  He asked a pertinent question or two then suggested two people to carry the baton.  One of those was also one I'd thought of.  We agreed I was to contact the person and ask if they were able to accept the burden of prayer.

I wrote a letter explaining the situation and  the need for someone fresh to do battle while I healed.  It was graciously accepted.

I cannot tell you how deep the peace was that came over my spirit.  My head was quiet for the first time in months, instead of frantically replaying every situation and incident and result and wondering what to do next. I slept hard that night.  I woke with the same quiet, deep peace.

I've thought of it now and then, but briefly.  Each time I'm able to say "Oh but R is praying for that, I can lay it aside."  It doesn't matter what the outcome is or how long in coming to a resolution.  It matters only that I have time to step back, assured that it's covered. What's more, having stepped out of battle, I will no longer be continually attacked because I am no longer on the front lines.  The attacks won't be as vicious on my prayer warrior.  There is no emotional investment there, which has been a problem in my battle.  Not only will this warrior pray for the situation, he is also praying for ME, something I most desperately need at this time.

Are you battle weary, worn out, wounded?  Have your prayers become rocks that are thrown back at you?  Then pass the baton.  Let someone else pray for you and your situation and take some much needed time to Rest and Recover.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Frugal Week/Living Well: July 19-25

                                        Back to our little canning gal for summer time savings...

Saturday:  Mama, Ashley, and I were traveling today to Katie's bridal shower. I had breakfast here at home.  I took along a bottle of water with me.  I knew I'd want something to drink at some point along the way and I didn't really want to have to stop unless it was necessary.

It rained all the way up...glad we brought along umbrellas!

We had a lovely time at the shower and Katie got some nice practical things (all she asked for were practical things).

We stopped in the next town on our way home and Mama went into grocery to buy a treat for herself that is a specialty of that grocery.  She also bought some of the pastry for Ashley and I and a rotisserie chicken each for our suppers.  I had already planned mine and John's dinner but was happy to have the chicken for Sunday dinner.

It was awfully nice to get home and put on my pajamas and rest after all that rainy drive!  John had coffee made and a pizza in the oven for our supper.

Sunday:  We bought a Sunday paper on our way home from church.  I found some really good buys in the sales sheets. I made out a list for later in the week.

I reheated the rotisserie chicken and cooked squash and baked potatoes as sides.  I made a salad and we called that a very good meal.

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

Washed a full load of dishes.

John took a call asking him to come in to work a half shift tomorrow.  I packed his lunch after he agreed.

Monday:   Made John breakfast and packed his work lunch.  This was an extra shift.  We will be glad of the additional money on the next pay period which is shorter in hours.

I made a smoothie for my breakfast: frozen strawberries, blueberries, a little oatmeal and flax seed, some milk.  It was so good and filling, too.

Brought some wet things in off the line and dried them.  It appeared we were in for another rainy day (as Sunday had also been) and I felt those things just needed to be dried.  It only took about 20 minutes.

I deep cleaned the refrigerator today and rearranged it as I put things back in.  Happy to report NO foodwaste, wonder of wonders since it's been a while  since I cleaned it.

Mopped kitchen floors with the dishwasher detergent.  This has generated a bit of conversation about how I do it, etc.  I use Palmolive DishWASHER detergent.  I fill up a dishpan with hot water and squirt in about as much as I'd put in the two soap dispensers in my dishwasher, so maybe 1/4 cup.  Because this product has bleach in it already it's perfect for my white linoleum floors which get both ground in dirt and a slight greasy film it seems.  This cleaner just takes it all right up with a minimum of effort on my part.  I don't think it has affected the polish on the floor, but I can't say for sure. After all my floors are 18 years old!  Since it's not enough soap to suds up I don't rinse, just mop with hot water mixture.

 I didn't have any leftovers to choose from for my meal today.  I'd thought I'd run to town to do a few things but decided not to which cut down my options even more, so I cooked.

Went through the sales sheets and made out a grocery list.  I plan to make several stops the day we grocery shop.

I decided to use my game machine to play games once more.  I haven't done so in about a year and it's a nice way to have fun time.

Tuesday:  Cleaned the fans in the kitchen sitting area.  We have a ceiling fan and an oscillating fan in that space.  The oscillating fan helps keep the kitchen cooler during the early morning hours or when I'm washing dishes by hand.

Tidied the linen chest and 'found' the missing pillow case I looked for last week when making my bed.  Now it's all organized, I shouldn't have any troubles finding matching pieces.

I had a vintage pillowcase that ripped along one seam.   I'd just seen a neat little cover for a stand mixer on Pinterest.  I just used the pillowcase which works beautifully and looks kind of nice with the vintage canisters.

Hemmed two pairs of pants for myself.  Set a pair of jeans that are a little too short aside to make jean shorts next summer.

Cooked a corned beef brisket to slice for sandwich meat.

Shredded extra cheese while I was making our dinner to use as pimento cheese for sandwich filling.

Wednesday:  We were out of bread this morning, but John had purchased some sale priced Honey buns a couple of weeks ago. I put some in the freezer and some in the cookie jar.  We had one of those each for our breakfast this morning.

I checked the grocery list over and double checked sales sheets.  I noted on my list that Rhonda had said she'd gotten a free shopping bag at CVS.

Checked one of the grocery ads online.

We stopped at Publix first.  I had a short list and pretty much stuck to it.  We added two items: one package of kosher Hot Dogs which were not in the sales ad and a spice John wanted that was low priced.

I managed to keep my Aldi total today close to $100.  That is my goal for that store for now.

Went to Office Depot to purchase two reams of printer paper.  They were $7.29 a package with an extra 125 sheets in each package.  A ream of paper is 500 sheets.  So with two packages, I got 1/2 package free.  There is a rebate for the paper, up to two transactions, which will give me all but $1 back on each package.

Stopped at CVS and got the free paper towel.  I grabbed the shopping bag which was 'free'.  Turns out that it was only free if you bought a CVS product that was not on sale.  The clerk was very helpful and pointed out the CVS candy was $.99 a package which would make the bag free.  I saved 30% off my purchases in picking up the bag.  I was blessed further when the clerk produced a $.50 off two sodas coupon.  I paid $3 OOP.

We didn't eat out today.  Came home and made dinner as I unpacked groceries.

Skipped supper.  John was gone to a class, I stayed home and picked up around the house.

John brought home ice cream from the gas station on his way home.  He paid for it from his allowance.  Sweet supper...

Thursday:  We were off to visit our youngest grandson today.  We had a lovely day for travel.  It's been our habit to stop about 45 minutes from home and purchase a chicken biscuit.  We really like those chicken biscuits when we travel! lol...I purchase a breaded, ready to cook Southern Friday Chicken breast from Aldi that is frozen.  That's what I cooked for our dinner yesterday and chopped to go over salad. I cooked an extra one and put it aside for this morning.  Leftover biscuits slightly warmed, the chicken breast well heated and cut into three servings pieces made three chicken biscuits for us.  I can tell you we saved about $2.49 each biscuit.  And we ate them home, so there are no crumbs in the car.  John assured me they were every bit as good as his favorite take away travel breakfast.

We carried along bottles of water with us as we traveled.  I also put crackers in my purse which were nice when we got a little hungry on the way back home, though Bess did give us a quite good lunch as we visited the boy.

John suggested we stop in the town just before home this evening and have supper at the Subway shop there.  This is normally not an expensive meal out for us, but today it was.  We got chips and sodas and cookies to go with the sandwich.  Not necessary but it made a complete meal and was satisfying for us.  We've not snacked all evening long here at home with that nice filling meal.  We ate outside at the restaurant under the covered patio.  This is one example of time we spent money and ENJOYED it which is important when you're always saving.

Friday:  We were both up very early this morning with our backs aching.  I suspect mine had to do with three long rides in a short week of time.  John didn't tell me why his ached.  I do love the early morning time.  By 7:30 we had finished the 2nd load of laundry and had everything hanging up to dry.

John made breakfast.  We meant to buy hash-browns at Aldi but the ones on sale were not available.  John made hash-browns this morning from scratch. I daresay ours cost less than $.10 to make for the two of us while the 'bought' ones would have been nearer $.80/for two servings.

Maddie was not feeling up to par for eating this morning.  I put her food back in the can and will give it to her again tomorrow.  She was feeling better this afternoon, as she begged John for a biscuit.

I cooked a couple of small chicken breasts with the carcass of the rotisserie chicken today.  It was my first opportunity to do that.  I picked over the bones and have enough chicken for our dinner tomorrow and a little more which will likely turn into Chicken Noodles for a meal next week.

I made Calzones for our dinner.  I pulled out a package of frozen spinach and thawed it.  After squeezing dry, I mixed with a little grated Parmesan, mozzarella and 3 ounces of cream cheese as well as the last of the cottage cheese I'd put in the freezer and thawed.  With Italian sausage (turkey), onions and garlic to season.  It was a thick mixture and held up well to baking in my homemade pizza dough.  These were huge calzone, one each was our meal and I put two up in the fridge for Sunday dinners for the two of us.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  I handwashed the remaining dishes first, so the water would be really hot when the dishwasher started.

Gave myself a full pedicure today.

Saved the water drained from the spinach to pour over the geranium.  It has bloomed it's heart out and I felt it probably needed the additional nutrients in that spinach juice.

Living Well

I was so late last week sending out this post that I completely forgot about Living Well.  I was so weary, and I mean that sincerely.   It was very difficult drive back from the Bridal shower with the weather and the roads holding water.  It was a different world going up and coming back this week when John made his trek to see the youngest grandson.

I guess I am just truly a country girl born and bred.  I do love the little towns along the way but I love most of all the rolling fields, the neat rows of crops, the sight of a white farmhouse tucked high upon a green hill, a church steeple peeking over the top of another.  I get refreshment just seeing the deep green ponds sprinkled here and there, and my heart, as I've shared before, goes pitty pat over hay bales in a field that's just been mown and baled.

I admire neat little graveyards that are well tended in the middle of a pasture in the middle of nowhere at all and old stone chimneys that mark where a house once stood.  I gaze at vast expanses of blue sky and white clouds and green fields beneath.  I peer hard into deep stretches of forest and stretch hard to see the water running beneath the cement bridges.  My soul unbends and relaxes and calm descends upon me...I am definitely a country girl.

Here at home, I watch for changes in seasons (golden rod is tall now and here and there are red leaves on the sassafras in the field) and admire the sleek brown rabbits that hop about morning and evening and sometimes stretch out on a cool patch of grass to ward off the heat.  Birds call and I listen to hear the red winged black bird, the tapping of a woodpecker, the soft trill of a blue bird, the quail who sing out for "Bob,Bob, Bob White" and the cardinal who constantly says "Pretty pretty pretty!"  The chortle of the turkey in the brush beyond the lawn, the blue jay who screeches "Thief, thief!"...Country Girl.  That's me.

I lived in town and never felt 1/10th the satisfaction I feel living here.  I couldn't see the sun rise nor set.  The neighbors were too close, good neighbors though they might have been.  I like sitting on my front porch and the voices I hear are babbling voices, not clearly understood.  I like hearing the sound of a tractor in the field with it's slow putt putt as it moves along or the distant sound of a mower at one of the neighbor's on the next hill, across two fields.

I'm just a country girl.

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Week's Meal and Job Plans: July 20-25

Oh what a lovely weekend!  Well it wasn't weather-wise but it was all around.  Mama, my niece Ashley and I drove to Athens Saturday to join in Katie's bridal shower.  It was an intimate group of folks.  I've met her soon to be in-laws before but there were new faces to acquaint myself with, and then I had my lovely family about me.  Bess came and brought the baby who is growing rapidly and I mean that sincerely.  He started out at 6pounds 6 ounces, but he now weighs about 8pounds 13 ounces in just five short weeks.  He's a nursing baby but tolerated, sort of, the bottle his Mama brought along so that I could feed him.  I did laugh at the look on his face as he clamped his lips and cut his eyes at me.  And when Bess nursed him later, oh so discreetly, the little man smacked his lips loudly and 'Mmmmmm'-ed so much that he made us all giggle and brought full attention on his Mama, lol.

We passed the baby about from one set of arms to the other and he was just fine with it all.  He gazed at strangers and family alike and listened to words meant just for his tiny lovely ears and never whined or whimpered about it at all.

Of the girls who came to share in Katie's celebration, five were engaged and three were pregnant.  It is a season for young women.

Sunday was another rainy day.  After church we came home and settled in with dinner, the crossword puzzle and television.  My current favorite programming is Mountain Men on History channel and they were running a marathon of episodes yesterday afternoon.  I enjoyed my Sunday afternoon at home thoroughly.

Today, John went off to work half a shift.  I decided the kitchen needed some deeper cleaning, so I cleared and wiped down the inside of the fridge. Golly but it was needed.  No waste or spoilage to report, but plenty of sticky spots to wipe away.  Then I mopped the kitchen floor.  I'm finding for my flooring the liquid Dishwasher detergent is the best at getting up grime.  Remember my floors are white, and we do live in the country, so the floors get ground in dirt on them all the time.  I need that extra cleansing boost I get from the dishwasher soap.

Meals...Time to plan those!  I will start with yesterday's meal which was mostly homemade and we'll work our way from there, okay?

Deli Roasted Chicken, Steamed Squash, Baked Potatoes, Tomato Slice Salad
Mama bought the chicken Saturday on our way home.  I put the potatoes in the microwave while the squash steamed and the chicken reheated in the oven.  It wasn't a fast meal necessarily but it was a good one and most welcome by the time I put it on the table.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shabat Thoughts: Why Wait?

There are two trees outside my kitchen sitting area window, turkey foot oaks that are native to the land.  Over the past 18 years it's been my pleasure to watch them in every season, noticing how unique they are and how similar as well.  They are hardly more than 25 feet apart, one slightly downhill from the other, but they have been affected differently by seasons.  One changes color before the other, the other blooms before the one.

This past winter the lower tree had budded, which is normal for these trees.  I love to see the trees in bud.  As the winter sun shines down upon them, the twigs lift up their buds to the sky.  One morning, several years ago, I noted how they seemed to be raising each twig in a form of praise to God.   As the winter passed, and the freezing temperatures were late upon us this year, we realized that the lower tree was not progressing in the bud stage and as Spring and early Summer came on the tree has had every appearance of being dead.  We've discussed what we should do: cut it down and replant another in its place?  Remove it and move on?  Pray over it as we did the Faith Tree out front and wait and see?

My Frugal Week/Living Well July 12-18

Saturday:  We packed up and drove off to see the most Southern grandchildren this morning.   It was easy to pack for, as it was a flying trip: drive down today/drive back tomorrow.  I packed an insulated bag with water and sodas and snacks.

We knew we'd have to stop for a couple of meals over the weekend.  We had breakfast here at home, I packed fruit, crackers, and a little snack for us to have at the hotel later if we were still hungry.  We knew there would be a single cup coffeemaker in our room.

We went down to celebrate an early birthday for our soon to be five year old grandson.  I figured the twins were about the age to notice that Dan was getting a gift...I tried to solve this by bringing along something for each of the three.  I gave Dan a small bag to carry toys in on roadtrips.  This was something we'd bought for John and it proved to be the wrong size..and non-returnable.  Z got a hat that John got free with a purchase.  He is a hat fiend.  H got one of those dolly juice bottles that drains as the baby 'drinks'.  I loved those things as a girl and thought H would be impressed.  She was.  I spent a whole $1.50 on that bottle, my sole purchase and all of them were perfectly happy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tried and True: Fried Green Tomatoes

It's been a little while since I've done a Tried and True post.  Fried Green Tomatoes.  Good book, good movie and in the South, it's a summer time food favorite.  I suspect, given the way my family preserved their summer produce, this began as a Fall menu item, to use up the last of the tomato crop when it was time for frost.  Big Mama also made a green tomato relish but I haven't got her recipe for that.  I usually do it the easy way and just buy a jar when I see it in a Farmer's Market shop since I'm the only one who enjoys it.

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Every household does them just a little differently.  I should know.  I am fourth generation cooking these and I don't do as Big Mama, Granny nor Mama did.  I do them my way.  I like my way better than any other but I don't turn my nose up at these tomatoes if someone else cooks them.  I just eat 'em anyway!

Years ago, a friend from the MidWest came to visit. I was cooking fried green tomatoes.  I had a tiny kitchen and the only available counter space was just behind me to my left, out of visual range. I would pick up tomato slices from my frying pan and drop them on the plate on that counter back of me.   Randy came into the kitchen and asked "What's that?"  I told him it was Fried Green Tomatoes.  "Ewww!" was his reply.  His wife reminded him he'd promised to try anything once  if I'd cooked it...So Randy agreed that they deserved a try.  He stood behind me the whole time I was cooking, chatting away...Or so I thought.  The man ate every single slice of the four tomatoes I fried that night!  All of them!  I never heard him say, "Ewww" again when anyone mentioned fried green tomatoes.

How you slice them depends on how they turn out.  Thin as paper and they are just this side of a potato chip crisp and yet a tiny bit  moist.  Thicker and they are tender, warm, not quite wet, bits with a crunchy coating.  I like them about 1/8 inch thick which is neither too thick nor too thin in my opinion.