Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Afternoon Refresher: Summer, Shopping and Surprise Thunderstorms

Gracious goodness!  It's been a while, hasn't it?  I didn't mean to let time slide past.  Truthfully I've been ready to have you over for tea for quite some time now, but somehow, I could never get my time to meet my desire.  And yet, I promise you that precious little shows around here for all the time I've spent!  Come in, come in.  Or better yet, let's stay on the porch.  Iced tea coming right up.

It's just possible these afternoon refreshers are going to turn into coffee chats shortly.  You may laugh but I've been warning you all that we'd have an early autumn.  On our way to Athens area we saw many trees that were just beginning to get tinges of color.  Last week I discovered blooming golden rod and mallow flowers.   The Sweet Gum tree in the front yard is laden with gold stars amongst the green leaves.  Yesterday the water from the faucet ran so cold that I didn't need ice in my glass to have a cool drink.  Katie contacted me and shared her 'signs'.  I went to sit on the back porch about 7pm one evening and then another sign made itself known.  A sweet elusive scent that had me lifting my head and sniffing trying to remember just what it was.  It was tea olive wafting across the field from Granny's house.

It hasn't been a harsh summer.  We've not topped 100F even once this year though we've been promised such this week. The majority of our summer has been spent in the 95F range which is rather tolerable really if you have air conditioning and no need to work outdoors, lol.  We've had plenty of rain, but not too much. It's meant plants and flowers have done very well.  I bought two new to me plants though I've seen them in the nursery for years.  A red begonia and a Penta.  They have done so well and given so much color that I will definitely add these two plants to pots and possibly even a flower bed  next year.

Two Saturday afternoons ago we traveled to Athens.  I don't think John and I were quiet two minutes for the full two and half hours we drove.  We chatted and laughed and talked and before we knew it we were in Watkinsville and more than two hours had passed.  We went first to Sam's.  Bess had dressed the baby in a tuxedo printed t-shirt.  He was the most formally dressed one at the wedding besides Katie, lol.

I shared a photo from Katie's wedding last week at the end of the Frugal Friday/Living Well post.  Last Sunday and this she posted several online though by no means all of them.  I think this one is my absolute favorite.  When I saw it tears welled in my eyes and then I showed it to John and tears welled in his.  Photos are difficult for me.  While I may love the picture, the truth is I pick it apart...or at least I pick me apart.  I should have done this or done that, I ought to lose weight, I shouldn't have moved that way, etc.  Let me just say that as critical as I am, this photo still overwhelms me with a sweet feeling.

The wedding was simple and lovely.  It wasn't in the least bit fussy, nor expensive. Katie and her maid of honor made petit fours with marshmallow fondant and those were displayed on a tier server in lieu of wedding cake. A friend provided sandwiches, Katie purchased a fruit tray and a vegetable tray, someone brought dip and another one or two brought other dishes.  There was tea and beer and water and wine, but not an excess of food or drink.  It was intimate with just a very few people.

She was married by our dear friend and her self-proclaimed 'oldest big brother', Ken.  The service took a whole 11 minutes to complete but it was packed with good wisdom and love.  Ken spoke of seasons in marriage, of falling in and out of love, the importance of a God centered life and the absolute necessity of tithing.  It was powerful, simple and to the point.

We drove home that night, leaving just before sunset and we didn't get home until 11pm.  We had some sunlight and after dark there was heat lightning to brighten the landscape enough to see, so it didn't seem so terribly dark, which was nice because a lot of our ride is through National Forest with deep woods on both sides of the roadway.  There was a minimal bit of rain and minimal fog, the sort that is wispy and sort of scurries at you and then disappears.

Fog is such a funny thing.  I've seen it here on the property in a distant corner of a field, just a little smoky looking wisp near the ground and watched it grow and grow, much like dough with too much yeast in, until it's covered the field and yards and the fence and driveway disappear.  I've seen fog that was only just so high so that you could clearly see blue sky above the wall of it.   I've seen fog that was high up like clouds and some far enough from the ground that you could bend and see the distance beyond the covering.

The most spectacular fog I've ever seen was on a winter's night when we were in a small town.  An old home with leaded glass windows and doors and a hallway light on shot fractured light into the fog and it danced in a million colored dots all over the roadway.  Another evening, a friend and I topped a hill above the river valley.  The valley was filled with fog but from our view point we could see the colors of the sunset reflected in the top layers of fog, giving a primeval, mysterious look to the river and forest.  Yes, fog is a curious thing, but it can be lovely.

Evenings of late, I've been sitting in the living room with the curtains open in the westward windows.  Not to see the sunset, though that's always nice, but to appreciate the shadows of leaves cast upon the windows.  To enjoy the length of the shade of the tree that tops the house now and cools the rooms.  I can't help but think of how shadows seem to be ancient, even if the trees are younger like my pecan tree.

I've continued reading.  In fact, I just finished reading Joni, by Joni Eareckson (Tada). I read this book years ago, but had forgotten what a struggle she went through spiritually. It's intriguing to read it today and know how God has used her and her life to meet so many needs.

I am still reading Gone With the Wind, as well.  I'm more than two thirds through.  This past weekend the lovely Bess was here and mentioned that she'd never read the book.  I've promised to loan it to her when I'm done, so I have added incentive to read on.  Last week I  read the section where the men were coming home from war.  I wept reading it, thinking of the men, all of them, Reb or Yank,  trailing home in illness and weariness.  So many Georgia men came home to find their homes gone, their families living who knew where, because the postal service was so very bad then.  It made me wonder if this was the story of some of my family men who fought, the trailing home sick and weary, because some of them were prisoners of war and some were wounded.  All were hungry, all of them, those who came to fight in the South and those who were from the South.  It brought home to me yet again what a terrible thing war is, where ever it is fought.

I finished Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill last week.  That book was one of her first published as an adult I believe.  There's less of her staunch faith in that book, but it's there as an undertone.  I found myself commiserating with the heroine as I haven't in a long time in my reading.  Not that my life parallels the book at all, not even a little, but I just felt it more strongly.  Perhaps because it's been so long since I've read a compelling story?

John and I have been discussing finances around here.  There's a group of bills we pay where we're seriously considering all alternatives.  It's our plan this week while he's off to sit down and list each item and determine just what we want to research about each.  I told John on our way to church this weekend that really these items we're considering reducing constitute our 'entertainment': cell phones, internet and satellite TV.  We know there are many alternatives out there and we plan to systematically go through our list of wants, costs, etc and decide just where we can cut or alter what we do.

We've talked and talked about satellite TV service.  We've had it for the all years we've lived in this place because when we moved here even local channels were not received.  My brother nor Granny had TV service for a while there.  Granny did have TV service for many years but something changed in the late 1990s and she couldn't pick up a thing.  Now that signals are sent out differently we should be able to get local channels with an antenna.  We mean to try, anyway.  I know there are many other alternatives.  I have friends who have tried them (such as Roku and Hulu) and they are pleased.  John and I agree that what we'll miss most are the old black and white films we watch so often, far more often than we watch modern films but we agreed that we'd rent or buy.

It's hard to believe that we're so far into August isn't it?  And next month begins the fourth budget quarter of the year for us!  I won't have so many changes this next month to put on our page I don't think.  I increased the amount we're repaying to the loan we took from ourselves because I want really badly to pay it all back by end of December.

Sam and Bess visited with us this past weekend.  The baby is now smiling and he has his Mama's dimples.  Oh my heart just about burst when I leaned over him to say hi and I saw the dimpling and then the smile he gave me.  He moved constantly, working his arms and legs and feet nearly all the time.  At 9 weeks he weighs 11 pounds.  He likes to stand up already, which is highly unusual and he stands for quite a little while.  I so enjoyed the visit.  We four never lack for anything to say and apparently the little boy is going to join right in. He spent more time cooing and squealing while he was here.  Samuel handles him like he's had a baby about all his lifelong.  Bess is smitten with her son.  It's lovely to see her smile when she looks at him and the pure joy that shines in her eyes.

John and I feel as though our heads are spinning.  Our weeks have been full of late and keeping up with what day it is with this work schedule is a huge challenge if we have anything social going on as well.  We have one weekend that is ours and this month that was spent going to Katie's wedding.  I've been just longing to go off to our mountain one day, but between lawn mowing and necessary stuff and John recovering from one long shift so he can go to another...well it isn't happening.  He's also picking up the occasional 'half' shift, which means he usually works the first 12 hours of a 24 hour shift (or a day shift in old schedule lingo).

EMS has required a lot of sacrifice in our lives.  Missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, family visits, events, etc.  I'm not complaining just stating fact. By this stage I've accepted the necessity of working with a schedule that may not be to my liking.  I'm deeply grateful my children accept it and work with it.  Katie was a wise girl to determine what her dad's schedule was ahead of time,  plan accordingly (and telling him right away so he could plan as well!).

Not complaining, but I did feel a bit as though there was no time for us of late.  Oh we've had days at home, but they were days John spent recuperating from a shift or going to a shift, etc.  I confessed to him my feeling a little neglected.  I am so happy my husband listens to me.  He had a meeting Monday morning for work.  He called me as he started home to say he'd picked up his check and if I'd be ready when he came home we'd go to the bank.  Big outing, huh?  I came close to just wearing what I had on around the house but decided to fix up a little, change clothes, put on some make up... and I'm so glad I did!  My fellow took me out to lunch after the bank.  We didn't go far afield and it wasn't fancy, but it was thoughtful and a spot we favor, that Subway sandwich shop with a covered patio.  We took the 'long cut' over to the town and chatted away.  It was lovely.  The weather co-operated nicely with a steady breeze to help keep things pleasant.

Yesterday John worked.  I've promised myself for weeks that I'd take a day for myself and then when it came down to it, I just couldn't.  I either felt the need to hold on to any spending money I had, or just didn't want to leave home, a bothersome disease I have this love of home!  Yesterday I could feel the day was right.  I made out my lists of things I was going to look for as I wandered about.  I wasn't shopping thrift, either, but purely retail, albeit closeout/discount stores.  I had in mind that I really needed to start shopping for shoes.  I need a new purse (that deep wanting sort of need, not dire need) and I wanted to see if I could find a few pieces to extend my summer/fall clothing.  I wanted pretty decorative pillows for my bed, a wire shelf to organize a cupboard, another permanent coffee filter...Oh I had it all listed!

So I went off to Macon to the shopping center that is nearest us here at home.  There are a number of good stores in that shopping center and I felt it would prove helpful to be in a place where there were several together.  I had minor success at one store: a wire shelf, three tops, a cardigan.  No shoes, no purse, no coffee filter.  I saw just lots of pretty shoes, shoes I'd have loved to have brought home, shoes in my size even...but when I tried them on I found in every single one I needed either a half size up or a half size down to fit just right and there were none in those sizes to be had.  It was so frustrating.  There's one pair that purely smote my heart to leave behind, sigh.  Oh well.

While in the one store where I purchased all the items I bought that day, I went to the dressing room to try on things.  The girl there was new, had just started the job she said and she admired a shirt/cardigan I'd paired together to try on.  "I just love this, I could wear something like this here to work..." she said and she was quite right.  I had five items to try on and for once in my life all five fit and fit perfect.  I came out of the dressing room and told the girl they all fit and put them in my buggy.  I nearly wept when she said rather sadly, "Oh!...That's nice...."  I wanted to tell her that I seldom buy all I put in my buggy, had in fact, already planned to put back the maxi skirt, much as I liked it because I felt a solid would be better than the pattern for long term wear, that I was deciding between the two purses, that I'd saved my allowance all summer long to go shopping with...You see I recognized in her voice the desire to have something new and not having the money for it.  Oh I've been there so much of my life!  I knew just how she was feeling.  It really broke my heart for her in  a way.

Well, I did put back the skirt and one of the purses after determining that the one really was enough.  When I got to the register, I discovered the bag I'd chosen was torn in a small way, enough to make me think twice about paying that much money for a marred item that was likely to continue to tear,  so I gave it to the cashier to return to the stockroom.

I was interested in the kitchen section of the store because I need to buy a new pan to replace one that isn't up to snuff, the one that went 'bonk' on me when I put the Quiche in the oven.  It's been troublesome for some time now but the mess I had to clear up following that was the last nail in its life as far as I was concerned.  I don't mind using older items at all.  I mind terribly being frustrated repeatedly with an item.  Anyway, I was going to look for a new pan and instead found myself admiring the many organizational items for fridge and freezer.  There were acrylic bins with lids of all sizes.  I did admire them but feel my assortment of plastic baskets does the same job quite well and to the same end.  I found a wire shelf for the cabinet in the same section.  I chuckled over the price which wasn't in the least unreasonable.  In fact, at my last Goodwill visit I refused to buy one that was priced a smidge higher!

There are two more shopping centers I shall visit and if I find nothing for shoes then I'll resign myself to ordering despite my dislike of not being able to try any on until I've paid for them.  However, I am very hopeful that I shall find some as my search continues.

I shall never make the shopper my Mama used to be.  She could go all day and get up and go again the next.  Aside from the absolute horror I have of spending that much money at once, I do not have that sort of stamina.  I was tired and hungry and ready for home when I left the last store.  It might have made more sense to drive to the north side of the city and go on to those stores there but I just couldn't face it.  Half an hour to go home or half an hour to go north?  Home was my choice.

Oh gracious!  Just here that thunder!  You'd best run or you'll get rained on.  I'll talk to you again soon!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Meal and Jobs(?) Plan

Oh dear at the computer woes!  Our internet has the habit of dying briefly if thunder rumbles then returning in a few minutes.  It makes getting off the computer in a real storm no hardship at all!  Well you could hardly call it a rumble yesterday but out the internet went, the wind blew over whatever weather it might have been rather quickly and yet the internet never returned.  John called this morning and got then to come out and check the lines.  Ours were just fine.  Turns out the trouble was up the road at the actual box or whatever it's called.  I can't for the life of me remember what the young man called it but it's a common enough word.  Anyway, we were without internet until mid-morning and by then I was busy as could be with a variety of things in the house.  I thought I'd settle in to computer time after I was done, but John called to say his meeting was over and he was on his way home and would I please be ready to leave when he got here?  So I ran to wash my hair, dress and make-up.

Yes, I did say wash my hair.  Sounds rather old-fashioned doesn't it?  I forgot to do the job while in the shower this morning. I think I was too groggy to think straight.  I remember distinctly that I cleaned the soap dishes very nicely, right after I shaved my underarms, but after that?  Who knows where my mind went?  When I came out of the bedroom later I reached into the cabinet and got down a glass which I filled to the rim with hot coffee...Then realized I'd meant to get a mug.  John wisely suggested I settle with my mug (poured right from the glass, lol) of coffee and actually drink it before doing anything like touching the gas stove.  I guess the idea of breakfast could wait in the light of going kablooey...

Well, anyway, all that to say really, that we left home before we'd eaten dinner/lunch today and went off to do an errand.  Then my husband surprised me by taking me out to the Subway sandwich shop with the lovely covered patio, which is where we ate our meal.  The sodas were cold as ice, the sandwich fresh tasting and the breeze just right to keep us cool and comfortable.  It was so nice and a real treat for it's very unexpectedness.  Had he asked, I'd have told him I had some foods prepared here at home, but I'm not in the least sorry he didn't ask.  It was just the sort of thing a woman needs now and then, to be spontaneously whisked away from home and housework and stove tops and treated to a lovely late summer al fresco meal.

On to meal plans for this week!

BBQ'd Chicken, Mac and Cheese, Pan Roasted Vegetables, Banana Cake
I used bottled sauce, which I seldom do.  I actually went to the pantry to get ketchup and found a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Raspberry Chipotle Bbq Sauce.  Awesome!  I'll buy that again if I happen to think of it/see it.  I served this meal to family on Saturday.  The cake was an experiment with ripe bananas and my favorite Dinette Cake from Betty Crocker.  John and Bess thought it great, I thought it passable and Sam said "No thanks," after one bite.   It was texturally challenging, lol.

dinner out with my sweetie

John's working, I'm on my own without leftovers...

Tomatoes stuffed with Tuna Salad, Warm Muffins, Creamy Potato Soup
I always add a wee bit of shredded apple to my tuna salad.  It might sound odd, but it does something nice to tuna, sort of cuts the acidity of it without sweetening the salad in the least.  I thought a hot and cold meal would be pleasant with our summer coming to an end.

Fancy Pants Burgers, Rice, Green Beans, Coleslaw
I was reading through one of my vintage August magazines and saw the Hunt's tomato sauce ad with this recipe.  It's so simple and so good.  You make thin hamburgers (very thin) and then put sliced cheddar on one, top with another burger patty and seal the edges.  Once browned you add a small can of tomato sauce and salt and pepper to the pan and simmer the burgers for a few minutes until done.  Yum!

Chicken Broccoli Rice, Green Salad, Garlic Bread
I made twice the cheese sauce I needed when I made macaroni and cheese the other day and I have cooked chopped broccoli in the freezer.  I'll make rice and add chunks of cooked chicken too to make a casserole type dish for our meal today.

Fish and Chips, Hush Puppies, Coleslaw
I'll double up on the slaw earlier in the week.  I have frozen fish fillets because are what John likes.  I'll make the 'chips' from scratch.

There are weeks I wonder why I even bother to put down what I might do in a week's time.  I felt poorly last week. Nothing more serious than allergies or a very light cold or something, just enough to feel poorly.  I got more done than I felt like doing but not all that needed to be done.  This week is grocery week, too so that will take up one good morning's worth of time.

Last week:
Plan to spend a little time working on booth this week.List books on Ebay.
Start digging and dividing the iris.  And planting.  I can't forget the planting.
Mopping floors/washing down back porch flooring.
Sort stuff in craft/guest room and determine which I'm keeping for booth and which I need to donate or sell online.  
Make up new labels for booth.  I'm ready for a fresh design. I have the design but can't get layout to work.  Still working on this one.
Finish ONE project (I have about four or five in various stages of completion).
Thrift day.  

This week:
Fun day for me. I've been promising myself a fun day for two or three months and I've been NOWHERE at all.  While out I will buy what's needed to complete two projects.

Finish work on tags.

Start digging and dividing the iris by the back steps.  And planting again.

Work on front porch railings.  I've got two small sections done but really need to concentrate on finishing this job so I can get paint for the floor boards before end of month.

Cut down small trees in the flower bed areas.

Empty and move the bookcase in the guest room.  Work on guest room is what my big plans are this week, so I'm hoping to get more than just this job done.

Take a few things out to shed.

Finish Gone With the Wind.  I've promised Bess to pass it on to her so I have a little more incentive to read.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Frugal Week, Living Well

Saturday:  I made dinner from leftovers.  I had roast beef sliced in gravy and served that with mashed potatoes and a big salad.  There's still enough roast left for another meal for one.

We traveled to see our daughter wed.  I took along a thermal glass of iced water and extra water.

Though my clothes for the wedding were new they were not purchased just for the wedding.  I wanted to purchase new costume jewelry to go with, but in the end, I decided to use what I had.

Gave myself a manicure here at home.

Though initially my husband meant to take an alternate route  home, he decided to just follow the same route we'd taken earlier in the day.  It was a time saver and a savings of gasoline as well.

Sunday:  Up early to go to church.  Carried along a bottle of water with me.

We came home for dinner.  The main dish stretched unexpectedly far.

Washed a full load of dishes.

John washed a small load of clothes on a shorter wash cycle with less water.  He hung most of the clothes to dry.

I had yogurt for supper since we had such a very late dinner.

Monday:  Packed John's lunch for work.  Made him breakfast.

Meant to buy bras today but the store had only one and it was a garish color that would show through my tops.  I decided to bypass and wait until my size was better stocked.

I looked about the store, especially at clearance racks but nothing appealed or seemed to fill a gap in my wardrobe.  I left the store empty handed.

My turn to buy lunch.  Paid for it from my allowance.

Stayed in the car when Mama went into another store.

At home once more, I washed a full load of clothes.

I put $16 in change aside in my desk.  I'm saving money to buy better quality blinds for the house.

I don't bother overmuch with a supper when John's not home.  I had crackers and cheese, a plum, and a glass of milk later in the evening.  I had a nice lunch with plenty of vegetables and protein, too, so a light supper suited me perfectly.

Tuesday:  I spent the bulk of my 'saving' time in the kitchen today and still I am not quite finished.

For breakfast I made waffles.  I added 1/2 cup leftover cooked rice to the batter.  It was an idea I found in my old favorite cookbook and added a nice heft to the light waffles.

Shopped at home in the pantry for maple syrup, coffee, a box of pancake mix.

John had two eggs with his waffles...That's one reason I like to use pancake mix.  I can just mix with water and save the eggs for John to have with his breakfast.  I only do this on mornings after he's worked his shift.

 I planned to try a new recipe.  I'd meant to use up some about to expire cranberry sauce from the pantry but used some frozen homemade cranberry relish instead.  I cut the recipe ingredients considerably not just because I wanted to serve two instead of four but because it seemed a bit wasteful to use all the ingredients as the recipe was written.  I don't think the flavor was compromised at all.

I had plenty of sauce left when the chicken was cooked.  It was well over a cupful!  I saved it and put in the freezer and will use it again to cook more chicken at a later time.

Determined we didn't need all the Brussels Sprouts in the container.  I counted and decided we could get two meals from that batch.

I halved the recipe for a side dish of corn pudding.  Since I had 15 ounce cans of corn, I went ahead and mixed the cream and whole kernel corn leftovers and put in the freezer.  I made sure to label that this was for corn pudding.

I noticed this morning that the oranges and lemons were looking the worse for wear.  I juiced the lemons. After I strained the juice I added it to the reconstituted lemon juice in the fridge.  I figured it would help preserve my fresh juice and brighten the flavor of the reconstituted stuff.

I peeled and sectioned the oranges and put the sections in the freezer.

Washed a full load of dishes at end of the day.

Wednesday:  John offered to work a half shift today.  I didn't make him breakfast.  I didn't pack his lunch.  I slept.  Fortunately he did make his breakfast and I had his lunch made and ready to pack so he did that, too.  Me?  I'm going to avoid drinking so much iced tea midday from here on out.  Seems it makes me a night owl.

Planned to go out today and have fun as well as run errands.  Well the sales are abysmal so why shop?  And the fun would only prove costly, too.  There's so much to do here at home that I decided to stay in.  I can't say I did anything at all, but doing nothing at home is a lot less expensive than doing something outside the house.

Washed a load of rugs and towels and hung all to dry.

The armadillo is sneaking up into the yard again.  I sprinkled more of the stinky RepelAll that keeps him away all around the outside of the house.

Sat down today and looked hard at facts and figures, namely those related to the booth at flea market.  With shelving and purchases and rent I'm running a slight negative figure when averaged out.  On the one hand, I have enough stock on hand to 'feed' the booth for several months, at least until end of year and perhaps just beyond.  I have items on hand that I'm pretty sure I can sale on eBay at less expense and earning a higher return.  And I am staying within my promised 'no more than my allowance'.  In fact, I have allowance to spare each month despite my losses.  On the other hand, I cannot see going out to shop for more items when I'm not making money enough to break even or be profitable at present.  So it's time to stop and really think about what I want to do, if and how I can remedy this, etc.

Had an avocado I needed to use up.  I'd eaten half on a salad earlier this week but the rest needed to finished.  I made a decent avocado dressing to go on salad today.  I don't know I'd do it again, but it wasn't bad.

I ate the last of the dressing as a dip for chicken nuggets this evening.

Thursday:  John asked if I'd go to the grocery and get a frozen pizza for dinner.  Now honestly for less I can make a lovely pizza but I didn't feel particularly well today.  Just a bit of seasonal allergies but enough to make me feel unwell.  I agreed and he paid.

I figured if I was going to town...yep, as usual I had to make that gasoline count.  I stopped at the booth and dropped off some new items, picked up some of the older ones.  Gave myself permission to 'own' one or two that I'd especially liked when I bought them a year ago.  Since they haven't sold, I guess they can be mine for a little while.

Picked up a few needed items while in store:  salad for John's work lunch tomorrow, shortening, Worcestershire sauce.  I haven't been able to purchase these last two items at Aldi.

I added mushrooms, olives and onions to the plain cheese pizza before popping in the oven.  It was a good use for the vegetables which needed to be used up.

Made John's lunch.  At the grocery today, I picked up another of those $1 baskets.  I find them so handy.  I have one for leftovers, one for dairy products and now one to hold John's lunch items.  This prevents my forgetting something I meant to put in his lunch bag if I have the foods all together.

Friday:  Up early this morning to see the man of the house off to work.  I made him breakfast and packed his lunch.

It was cool and pleasant this morning.  Turned on the whole house fan and let the house cool without using AC.

Decided to tackle housework early and get it out of the way, leaving the day free for other projects.

Took off the trash, picked up mail.

Washed a full load of clothes.  Hung all to dry.

The bulk of the full load was the matelasse spread and shams I bought at beginning of the year.  I decided it was high time to freshen them.  I read the label which stated commercial front load washer only...phooey.  We bought a large capacity washer years ago and it's a top loader.  I knew it would fit with room to spare and it did!  I washed on gentle in cold water as instructed and then I hung on the line to dry, though it specifically said dry on low.  I knew it would take forever to dry that heavy spread on low heat.  It dried just fine and smells fantastic.  Can't beat that air dried aroma of fresh laundry, can you?

Used two ripe bananas to make a banana cake for dessert this weekend.

Made Cape Cod oatmeal cookies for the cookie jar.  I used half an apple that wasn't being eaten to add moisture to the cookie mix and amp up the nutritional value.

Funny what you can do a few minutes time.  I chopped vegetables for tomorrow's roasted veg dish.  And put up a bag of squash in the freezer for future squash casserole.  I also grated two large zucchini and packed them flat in zippered bags for future zucchini bread.  It only took 11 minutes to do all that.  The work was accomplished while one batch of cookies baked.

In the next 11 minute time frame, I washed up dishes, loaded the dishwasher and wiped counters.

And in the fourth time frame, I put items away, folded a load of clothes and put them away.  33 minutes to accomplish over half the items on my list!

While researching genealogy leads this afternoon, I've worked on gaining swagbucks to reach first goal.  that's my goal each day is to reach the first goal.  It's too time consuming to try for both goals daily but in two weeks I can earn enough for a gift card if I make first goals every day.

Living Well

I've slipped outdoors a few times this week.  There's the subtle change in light, the shadows shifting just a bit, and lengthening as they shift.  Seasonal signs showing everywhere, not the least of which is the bloom of morning glory.  I know it's a weed, it's a pest, it's invasive...but I love it anyway.

Years ago there was a house backed up to the grocery store parking lot.  I often wondered how that poor woman stood having her backyard so public and if it bothered her to look out at cars.  Only for a bit of the year.  In the late summer and early autumn months before frost, her fences were covered with the most beautiful deep purple morning glory I've ever seen.

When we moved here I was gungho for planting flowers of all sorts.  I had a 13 year old son with the back to shovel and dig and rake.  We had the loveliest little flower beds here and there.  My most favorite however was the Blue Heaven Morning Glory.  The flowers are truly blue and when I first planted them the blooms were the size of my hand.  I swooned over them.  I thought they were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.  Well the birds did their bit at scattering seeds and now we have patches of blue morning glory here and there but mostly around the two porches.

It's not a long lasting flower, and doesn't do well at all as a picked flower, but it pleases me every bit as much as hay bales, roses, kittens...So even if it doesn't last as a flower, it makes me happy to see them glowing in the morning.  Life is short.  It's good to look for simple happy things, don't you agree?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Recipe Challenge: Crock pot Cranberry Chicken

I've had this recipe in my recipe files, pinned to Pinterest, etc.  For years.  Seriously years.  As I was going through my Pinterest file the other day I decided it was now or never time.  I have Cranberry sauce about to expire (though I expect, as acidic as it is, it will be good for a while yet) on my pantry shelf.  I had a bottle of Catalina type dressing in the fridge.  I had chicken.  I'd just purchased onion soup mix.  It was a "Go" on all points.

I admit I was slack this morning. I waited until 9:30 to start this dish.  My chicken breasts were frozen solid.  I forgot the cranberry sauce about to expire in the pantry and hunted all through the fridge for cranberry sauce I thought I had leftover.  In the end, I grabbed a container of homemade cranberry relish from the freezer to use and I'll explain why.  I wanted to make just enough for two.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekly Menu and Job Plan: August 10 - 16

John and I had a lovely time Saturday evening at Katie's wedding.  It was very simple, very understated, very sweet and tastefully done.  It felt just the way she wanted it to be: a small intimate group of family and friends without a lot of fussiness or expense.  Katie's gowns were purchased years ago when she dreamed of her wedding day.  They were beautiful still.  She had the long one for the service and then changed into a shorter dress for mingling and meal after.  There's a photo she wanted most especially with Matt's parents and us that is so sweet it made me cry when I saw it the first time.   I can wish all those things we always wish: that I weighed less or had adjusted my clothing better etc, but you know that moment was sweet and it was captured beautifully.  I promise I'll share a bit more as the week goes on.  I'm still playing catch-up this week!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Frugal Week: August 2 - 8

Saturday:  We ate leftovers today for our dinner. All I needed do was make a green salad.

John and I decided to look at our options with our cell phone bill.  We cut it by $8 a month.

Washed a full load of clothes.

Washed a full load of dishes.

Sunday:  John worked.  I made him breakfast and packed his lunch.

I had the last banana muffin for my breakfast with a smear of cream cheese.

Kept electric usage low.  I didn't run lights nor have the tv on until mid evening.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My! July In Review

Another month gone by!  Can you believe it?  Nor can I.  But there's glory in this month.  For one it's full of summer goodness with fruits and vegetables galore.  And it's just a short time now until Autumn.  I do love the progression of seasons.  Already the goldenrod is standing up tall and the ragweed has started to bloom (Achoo!).

First the July Q&A post netted a few comments.  Sarah, I do so understand feeling lonely in a church.  I can excuse it away in the vast church we're attending at present.  When there are 1000 or more people in a Sunday service, you hardly expect to be noticed at all.  The last synagogue we attended was friendly and nice, but there was never an intimacy there. I've about made up my mind I really should go out and visit some church or another or several here and there on these Sundays when John is working.