Saturday, April 25, 2015

Coffee Chat: Caught In A Season

Hello dears.  Do come in.  There's coffee, iced water, pound cake from the freezer.  Do help yourselves and let's have a quick chat.  I say 'quick' because I'm afraid if I don't get it written I might never have a chat at all this month.

It's been raining.  There have been only brief moments of sun until these past few days, but mostly April has lived up to its name of being a shower-y sort of month.  It's made it hard to get out in the yard to do much of anything.  I've tried to satisfy my desire to work hard by taking care of things in the house but somehow I've lost heart with all the gray skies and clouds.  I try to spend the bulk of my time in the kitchen which is the lightest and brightest room in the house.  Janelle, who lives nearby contacted me to ask a question, saying she felt the rain had affected her brain.  I know just how she feels.  My head feels foggy and cloudy.  And though we have had a few brilliantly sunny days with blue clear skies I'm afraid my body was a bit confounded and responded with an allergy attack.

I've had a bit of set back.  The Season of Little Frustrations continues, but appears to be running alongside a Healing Season which involves reopening old wounds, scraping them clean and closing them up once more to heal anew.  It's hard.  I'd rather not do this.  Who wants to revisit painful things?  I didn't volunteer for it but then who ever volunteers for a season of difficulty? There's a reason for it, of this much I am sure.  That I must go through it, I am also sure.

I was taken by surprise to be honest.  I had no idea that these issues would resurface.   No angst or bitterness of my own brought them up but that of someone else.  Nevertheless, right in the middle of the Season of Little Frustrations I ran smack into the brick wall of deep seated pain.  So here we are.

There was another healing that took place this weekend when we realized that an old hurt was finished and we'd come out the other side of this long healing with a good report.  That was a blessing, to realize we weren't bitter or hurt or unforgiving.  We could see the value of the old thing, were glad for the journey it took us upon.  I think we will likely move ahead now, and venture out on the next leg of the journey, confident that we are stronger than we were.   And I hope that is what comes of the healing time I must go through on my own.  That at the end, there is nothing but great gladness that I am healed and I can move ahead with out the weight of the old things.

This is also the Season of Small Kindnesses.  Pam sent me a Coke code the other day.  She doesn't drink Cokes but someone who visited had brought one along and Pam rescued the cap.  Wasn't that sweet?  I called with a question about my cell phone bill and though I was fine with one charge, it and several others were removed and the amount reduced.  And another kindness came early this week with the offer of a Roku so that we can try it here at home to see if it's a suitable option for us.

So...Here we are.

I was more than a little pleased the other day to take a phone call from the flea market owner. Someone had come in the shop and made an offer on two higher priced pieces I had. I was quite busy at the time.  I did have a recall of the price I'd paid for each and my profit margin was still quite high despite the deep discount.  I think the store owner was a bit shocked when I said, "Yes, I can do that." I should have made a counter offer, I know this very well, but as I said I was quite busy at that time. Mama was here and a plumber and I was in the middle of some task or other and taking the phone call, too.  (Ha!  More of my season of little frustrations!).  I was rather proud that I could recall what I'd paid for them (and where purchased and when) and could figure the margin so quickly.  But I had to hurry off the phone, so no dickering. That sale was more than enough to pay rent this coming month.

I was so pleased that I took my current pocket allowance and went off to the dollar store to look at the options in the line of curtains.  I really didn't expect to find anything,  I so seldom do.  This time, however, there was the perfect shade of blue curtains and in a blackout fabric. I bought four panels, enough for my bedroom windows.  They look so pretty with my summer quilt.  I was quite pleased.  And doubly pleased when I later realized that I was free to take the blue matelasse spread and put it on the guest bed.  I've got a whole separate post on those two rooms.  Just want to do a bit of refreshing in both rooms.  I'm not quite happy with a couple of things and they are fixable.

Now let us drift back to the whole 'room darkening' bit shall we? John does not like pitch darkness at any time.  As he's gotten more mature (cough, cough) he's insisted on night lights in strategic places.  However, his strategic places grew to a higher number over the last few years.  Now I've no objection to a night light.  I have an objection to rooms in which I can see the pattern of the curtains at night, and our room has been about that bright.  I put up those new blackout curtains and realized they did a most excellent job of blocking the sunlight during the afternoon.  So much so that I had to part the curtains and let some light in!  This should be very helpful this summer and if I can possibly find enough in a suitable color to do the living room, I shall certainly look to purchase more room darkening panels.  I believe those and the new blinds will really help keep the room cooler come full summer.

The side benefit of these dark curtains however has been that thus far I've slept quite well and return to sleep more quickly when I wake.  I remembered that when we've gone to the mountains we've had that sort of deep darkness in our bedroom and total silence outdoors and we've slept hard the whole vacation through.  John still has enough light in the bathroom and other rooms that if he wakes he can see enough to move about freely, but I've noticed he's slept better too with the darker room.  Yesterday morning he slept until almost 8am.  For him that is akin to a teen's rising hour!

I've been struggling making up new outfits  from my Pinterest boards.  I think it's distraction with all the other issues more than lack of items to use.  When I'm troubled I tend to be a tiny bit obsessive with one particular thing or another.  Sometimes it's reading, sometimes gaming, sometimes Sudoko.  This time it's Pinterest.  Specifically it's looking for the components I have in my closet, inspiration for outfits.  I spent one entire afternoon and evening on that site and got up the next morning and went on right after Bible study.  I found some new ideas to use.  We'll see if I can't translate them into a few new to me looks.

I did despair a bit early this week, thinking I really needed new clothing and honestly it's not going to happen.  I might add a piece or two but I need to really hold off and think hard about any additions that do get made.   I did stop at the jewelry counter at Target and pick up a card with silver hoops.  I've had  two pairs of Sterling hoops in the past two years and one of each set have  a broken post.  I've returned to the nickle free, inexpensive ones at present, which will do.

I also have a new summer hairstyle which is quite short.  I'd shown John the inspiration photo so he was mentally prepared for me to come home with it this short.  He's said nothing.  I haven't asked if he liked it either.  One of those 'least said soonest mended' and 'don't ask if you don't want to hear the answer' sorts of things.  

This week has been a bit of a waste really.  John took off one day which put him home longer than usual.  No problems with that but I've pointed out before that he tends to generate this 'holiday' sort of feel when he takes off an extra day...and that bleeds over to me.  I am less inclined to get busy in the mornings but instead find myself lolling about in my nightclothes, sipping coffee as I peruse Pinterest and Facebook.  Yeah.  Granted the miserable weather on Monday certainly did not promote productivity and Tuesday I was under the illusion that John had made plans for the day, so I didn't start any work or lunch and then discovered at about meal time that indeed he'd made no plans at all.  At which point he decided he ought to make plans and off we went after lunch returning just in time for supper.  No, not a productive week.  Sadly it is a week in which I really needed to be productive.

 I attempted to mend my ways.  I was still a slow starter most mornings but one day I went outdoors and got a bit more landscaping done, and cleaned the two porches after John mowed the yard.  I cleaned the house, too.  I was so tired when John came in from mowing that I couldn't do much of anything except put our simple meal on the table.  But after a couple of hours rest, I felt revived and got a little more work done.  I tagged items for the booth, too.   It's a festival weekend in town.  I likely won't go since we've got  family coming in this weekend.

I went into town one morning and got the aforesaid haircut and worked on my booth.  I came home and did some housework and got the guest room spic and span.  It was a trying sort of day.  John and I were at odds and we rubbed one another the wrong way too often.  I think perhaps we were both just a little stressed over company coming for the weekend.

Last weekend we attended a birthday party for John's partner, one of those milestone birthdays.  It was a sort of family dinner.  I thought the menu was especially nice, as it wasn't fancy but something that the birthday guy's mom used to make often for family meals.  Her family meals often involved a lot of sundry other people like John and whomever was working with the brothers that day and so fort.

I was sitting with a woman who looks ordinary enough but this little woman has her own ministry at work.  I was reminded yet again that what looks ordinary to us on the outside is almost always hiding something extraordinary on the inside.  As I listened to her talk and heard what she is devoting herself to at present, I was fascinated.  She's not a young woman but she's not letting it stop her.  She walked The Trail of Tears and went to Israel.  Currently her mission is to visit every county in our state and spend time on the courthouse lawn praying.  I am always in awe of these ordinary folks who are doing something remarkable.

Well, I knew it would be a short visit and I am sorry for it.   It can't be helped this time around.  I won't promise to do better in May either.  We've a few days away that I'm looking forward to, and an extra early first birthday party for our youngest grandson before he moves to Florida with his mommy and daddy and then there's the birth of Katie's first coming up next month, as well.  It's bound to be a busy month as you can see.  So forgive me if chats are short next month and posts overall.  It can't be helped, not a bit, but perhaps in June things will settle down nicely once more.
Talk to you later!

This Week In My Home: Destination Savings

The back porch we added last spring.  I asked John if he had any regrets about spending the money.  "Only that we didn't do it sooner."  

Saturday:  Gave myself a fresh pedicure this morning.  I subscribed to the Julep Maven offer on Swagbucks...not just for the swag.  Katie had given me a Julep nail polish a couple of years ago and it seemed to last longer than other polishes I had.  So, in need of fresh polish this year, I thought I'd subscribe for a short period of time and restock polishes.  My first box arrived two months ago and I used the polish for the first time two weeks ago.  I redid my pedicure this morning only because I was tired of the polish!  The previous pedicure still looked great.  I figure I averaged about $6 per bottle, which is about what you'd pay for a decent brand on sale.   These polishes are vegan and allow the nails to breathe as well.

I like popcorn.  I bought bulk corn and I do the stove top method.  It's very inexpensive, so tasty and I've tried some variations: Parmesan and Black Pepper, Peanut butter and chocolate drizzle...Trolling through my reading list I found one of the bloggers had written a post about it this past week.  It's a good read!

We went to a birthday party tonight.  I'd forgotten they were serving a meal instead of just finger foods.  We had more than enough to eat with ice cream and cake, too.

Sunday:  Put a whole chicken in the crock pot before we left home this morning for church.

I had a meal plan...God had a plan all his own.  Though I'd told John twice I had easy sides to put together for our meal he went to the grocery to buy macaroni salad anyway.  The odd thing is that he made three stops on the way home: once for a paper and drinks, once for doughnuts (which was a bust) and then for the macaroni salad.  At the third stop he ran into someone he hadn't seen in a few years.  I think it was a God thing.

I decided to get some minor housework things done after dinner.  Nothing big time but enough to sort of decrease the amount of work needed tomorrow.  I hung the new curtains in our room.  I stripped the guest bed for guests coming in next week.  As I stood there wishing I had a fresh look for that room I suddenly 'saw' it...with the blue spread we'd used over winter.  I hurried to pull that spread out of storage.  It looks so nice with the creamy curtains, the same quilt and a pillow tucked into the old sewing machine cover.  

Washed a full load of dishes...It wasn't quite full but I put the grates from the gas stove in and that filled it up properly.  I try to do this about every two-three weeks, washing the grates in the dishwasher.  It really knocks off the crusty bits and oil that doesn't all come off despite wiping down after using them.

Wore my fourth and final outfit today to church.  I wore the white pants and chambray tee to the birthday dinner last night.  Today I wore the Chevron maxi skirt and since it is usually pretty cool inside church (and raining as well today which makes AC that much colder) I wore my denim jacket with the outfit.  I felt so comfortable and well pulled together.  Now it's time to set up a few more.  It certainly did make me realize this past week that I had no need of anything new just now.

Monday:  Reheated sausage for breakfast.  It was a nice side to the French Toast.

Reheated leftover lasagna for dinner today.  I added roasted asparagus (put half up for another dish) and made a salad.

We washed clothes today and hung as many to dry as we could.  The weather prevented drying outdoors.  

We ate leftover meatloaf in sandwiches for supper.  

We snacked on fruit we have on hand: grapes, mandarins bought four weeks ago.

I put two ripe bananas in freezer for smoothies.

Instead of sodas we had Koolaid this afternoon.

Made a birthday card for my granddaughter's birthday.

I enclosed a picture of a rabbit I thought she'd like, a little cookbook that came in the mail and a set of cards and envelopes for her to use as stationery.  She wanted pretty cards like I gave her big sister.  I hope she will write to me, too.

Tuesday:  We finished the last of the cookies.  There were a greater than usual amount of crumbs left, so I bagged them and put in the freezer.  I'll use in pudding or ice cream parfaits or to top muffins.  I've done this before and they are a nice addition.

I've been saving the last of the after dinner coffee for John to have after supper.  Most evenings there is almost exactly one full cup for him to reheat in the microwave.  I turn the pot off after I pour our after dinner cups and dump the grounds so the coffee doesn't burn or turn bitter.

I had no dinner plans today.  Thankfully I had leftover chicken in the fridge and I made Club Sandwiches.

While we were out this afternoon we combined errors.  We took off trash, dropped off books for the Women's Club Book Sale this weekend, went by post office where I posted Lily's birthday packet and stocked up on priority mail packages and envelopes.  We also dropped off donation of household goods at the church drop box and shopped for a new vacuum.  We didn't purchase it but we shopped. 
We stopped for a milkshake and went by the barber so John could get a haircut.  All in all a productive afternoon.

Came home and ordered the vacuum through Swagbucks, and got free shipping.

While out shopping, I picked up a card of nickle free silver colored hoops in various sizes for $5.  These will get me by until I find nice hoops once more.  I'm thinking of going with white gold this time since the sterling ones have not held up well.  I'm thinking it's too soft a metal.

Made first goal on Swagbucks.

Wednesday:  We've had some fairly cool mornings, cool enough to warrant slippers and a light robe when I rise.  I decided while it's still cool we'd have our favorite oatmeal for breakfast.  We won't want it when it's 90F on rising each morning, lol.  I added in some raisins that have lanquished and gone sugary.

Went out to pick up the stuff I'd left lying in the yard after weeding last week.  I tossed into a spot that is fairly shady but very bare at the far reach of the yard.  I noticed some of these plants aka wildflowers had rooted and were growing in that spot.  Frankly I don't mind them there, just want them gone from the spot in the flower beds where they keep spreading and spreading.

Lined the rose bed with bricks which makes it look far nicer than it's looked with no border at all.  I had enough from the spot I'd dismantled the other day to just edge that one bed.  I've only a few more brick.  I'm trying to decide where I want to use them.  I need to start gathering the odd ones I find here and there once more.

Cleaned the front porch very well.  It still needs a load of work, mostly paint and at the moment I can't do a thing about that.  I can however, clean and therefore I did.  The orchids are behaving extremely well out there on the old ironing board.  They really do rejoice in that daily dose of morning sun and the warmer air outdoors.

Did a fast spot mopping of the floors.  They look considerably better and it took far less time and energy than mopping them hard would have done.  This is sufficient to see us through the weekend.

Sat down and planned out tentative menus for weekend meals.  My goal isn't just to save money but to save time and energy as well.  I do not like to spend all day long on a Shabat Saturday in the kitchen.

I made tuna pasta salad for our dinner today.  It required mostly vegetable prep.  I use what I had on hand: tuna, olives, onion, green onion, celery, carrot, peppers. 

Made a big pitcher of Koolaid to go with our dinner.  It was sure tasty and cold after working ourselves into a lather on the yards and house this morning.

I used the mop water to scrub down the railings on the front porch before dumping it out.

John told me last night to go ahead and order a sewing machine.  I used Swagbucks Shop and Earn.  I had priced machines yesterday at Target and I felt pretty sure I could get the machine I wanted for about the same price.  I did.

Tagged items to go into my booth.

Thursday:  Made waffles for breakfast.  I cut the recipe in half and that was just right for John and I.

Went into town to get a hair cut.  I took along the items to restock my booth.

We had leftovers for lunch.

Used the last of the chicken I cooked Sunday for tonight's sandwiches.

Our cell phone bill was high, which I expected, due to the activation of John's phone on this billing cycle.  What I couldn't quite figure was how we were going to save the money we'd been told we'd save. All of my calculations for service were pointing to a higher bill than we'd had with the other company!  I called customer service to discuss the matter and was told that the salesman had not calculated in taxes, insurance and other fees.  I immediately asked to cancel the insurance.  That left us with a bill that should be nearer what we were told we'd have.   

But it didn't end there.  Even though I said I'd expected the activation fees,  those for the second phone was reversed as well...When it was all said and done, in a five minute phone call, our bill dropped $90 for this cycle and we will be in the range we'd expected to be next payment cycle.  

Happy to find our electric bill dropped $50 this past month.

Friday:  Packed John's work lunch.  Made him breakfast.

Knowing I had a long long day ahead of me, I opted to go back to bed for an extra hour's sleep.

Did some quick chores this morning and then grabbed my shopping list and went to the grocery.  I was very careful to plan meals for the weekend that would feed our crowd without breaking my budget and made an effort to use what I had first.  My final shopping list was mostly produce.

I determined that it was less expensive to buy chicken breasts than to buy prepared foods.

I came home and put the chicken in the crock pot to cook for a casserole and sandwich filler.

I had company for dinner time today as well and I used one chicken breast and a half sirloin to make fajita filling.  

My weekend company cancelled.  I had food prepared for Saturday's main meal.  It will be a time saver for me.

I found Tennessee Pride turkey sausage patties at the discount grocery nearer home.  It was an 18pack and cost just $4.91 (plus 10% more so just about $5.40 really).  Still...I've been driving 30 miles to purchase these at another grocery and was paying $3.99 for 8 patties.  This is a huge savings for me and that it is nearer home is also a bonus.    

Living Well

Let's be really serious for a bit, okay?  In the past few weeks, courtesy of Facebook updates, I've noted several families suffering the loss of a loved one through suicide.  My own life has not been untouched, though it was years ago.  In the past 20 years I've had a brother, a friend, an uncle claim their lives.  Another family member attempted to take his life.    After years of fighting depression and suicidal thoughts I have been free for nearly 20 years...and it is sad to me that these events took place after my own healing occurred.

Although mental health month is in October, it is at this time of year, between March and June when the majority of suicides will occur.    Not in the holiday season, not in the dark winter months, but in the Spring.  I don't know why.  I just know that it is so. 

If a loved one is suffering with mental illness, please encourage them to seek help.  Please do not think a 3 day hospital stay is going to fix the problem.  Please encourage them to not only take medications prescribed but to attend counseling as well.  Please do not remind them that they are so much better off than others, have more to be grateful for.  It only pushes them further into despair.  They do not want to be unhappy.  It is painful, both physically and spiritually, to be experiencing depression.  I know.  I've walked miles upon miles in those shoes.

If you are living with someone who has depression or mental illness please understand that it is not your fault.  It is not something you can fix.  The individual must seek help and pursue it.  There may be a point where you have to step back, even walk away.  You may have to seek help yourself for what you're going through.  It's all right to admit you are helpless to help.  

I say all this with an understanding of what it's like to be on both sides. I just felt the need to raise awareness...   

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Fresh: Updating the Bedrooms

The guest room last fall

I was so excited to finally pull the guest room together last autumn.   Though it is not finished, it is still a far sight better than it was last year.  I wanted a fresh look for Spring but I've searched endlessly for bedding with nothing affordable or really lovely being found.  I really wanted to change from the red.

Last week I had a call from the flea market and I was told I'd made a fairly good sale, one that will more than cover rent this next month.   That made me feel I could be free to spend my allowance this month without holding it for the booth.  

I'd tried all sorts of things here at home but at present, I don't really have a lot of extras, having weeded out all the worn/torn/beyond tired things, I was pretty much left with nothing.  I'd no idea I'd have such a hard time replacing them!  I'd already changed out the blue spread in our room for the madras quilt that John has come to like so this late winter/early spring.  I'd tried every option that might possibly work for curtains in that room and nothing felt right.

On Friday, I went to the Dollar General in the next town.  Out of habit more than anything, I checked the curtain and shower curtain sections and was pleased to find a blue blackout panel that was the exact shade I'd wanted for the master bedroom.  I bought the four panels at a great price and when I brought them home found they were indeed the best match.

Saturday I walked into the guest room and as I glanced at the bed, I 'saw' it fully the blue spread we'd used over winter.  I had to wait until Sunday to put it together, but I think it looks just lovely and it's a good blend with the touches of red and red and white toile, as well as the cream sheers and lace panel used at the window.  
The quilt is really the key to this working so well.  

I used the sewing machine cover I'd made from a vintage pillowcase as a slip for a throw pillow I had in the closet.  I'm not totally satisfied with this room yet.  The pictures over the bed are lovely and I want them in the room but not sure that is the best arrangement or place for them. I dislike the straight line of them.  I'd like to remove the shams from the pillows in our room and use at the head of the bed to beef it up a bit, too.  But for the moment, it's an acceptable change and it cost me nothing.

The way my bedroom looked over the past nine months

                            The new curtains and the quilt I'll be using for our summer look

I'm so glad I purchased the curtains.  For the price and to end up with a fresh look in two rooms, I just couldn't beat it.  I'll be doing some minor work over the next week or so in both rooms, shifting accessories about, just to bring the rooms a completely fresh look.  It's a nice time filler until the rain quits and I can go to work on the porches and patio.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In My Home This Week: Are We There Yet?

Have mercy!  Work and meals come around as regularly as laundry and dishes, don't they?  As of the time I'm working on this post we've had rain for 8 days.  Not steady rain, not all day or all night sort of rain but rain of some sort every single day for the past 8 days.  Two days it rained so long and hard that we felt we were under a deluge.  Both of those days the 'chance' of rain was in the lower percentiles.  I cannot even begin to imagine what the day two days from now will be like when it is meant to be a 90% chance! (*Two days later: It rained hard enough and powerfully enough to flush the clogged ditch at the field side of the end of my driveway!)

 It has rained enough to keep the yard wet, too humid to open windows, and just wet enough to really make you feel discouraged at going anywhere that wasn't absolutely necessary.   Every now and then the skies have lightened and we've breathed a sigh of relief, looked at one another and said "Oh good!  It's starting to clear off!"  No, it wasn't.  It was tomfoolery.  It was just a deep breath before the next wave of rain came in.  And it came in.

This 6 inches of rain pretty much put an end to my plans to do yardwork and go out to the shed to work.  All the dreary weather also put an end to ambition to do anything at all indoors other than the daily dozen.  

We ate well this past week.  I pretty much stuck to my menu with only two deviations.  Once was a failure on my part to THINK.  John came in late and I waited breakfast on him.  I simply forgot he came in two hours late.  And so dinner time rolled around and there was no dinner, nothing prepared, and I was hot, bothered, tired as could be because I'd been working hard.  I threw together a meal and I mean that literally.  The second time was John's kindness.  He insists on grocery day in getting take out.  I don't plan for takeout but he wants to make things easy on me.  It's a lovely loving gesture and I am happy to accept his kindness.

Now I've promised one meal this week and I'm duty bound to provide it.  I'll lead out with that one and we'll go from there.

Tuna Pasta Salad, Saltines, Strawberry Cobbler
I had the salad on menu a couple of weeks ago but it was one of those meals that got moved off the list.  I have all the ingredients needed to make this salad and the temperatures are supposed to warm up once more next week.  Strawberries were $.99 at Aldi last week and I got two pounds of them.  John is not as fond as I of strawberries but he will eat a strawberry cobbler without one murmur.  I've also discovered he will eat them in a fruit salad which also contains bananas.  Slowly I will convert him to eating them just any old time while in season, lol.

Lemon Pepper Chicken,  Asparagus Risotto,  Strawberry Almond Salad,   Angel Biscuits
I'll go light on the lemon pepper.  John isn't nearly so fond of it as I am.  The asparagus risotto will be a new recipe for me.  A nice way to stretch the asparagus to two meals instead of one since the risotto calls for so little.  

Mushrooms Newburg over Toast, Baked Potatoes, Garden Salad,  
 I've had this recipe in my files forever.  I thought it would be a good time to try it as a meatless meal.

Pasta with Sausage, Peppers and Onions, Italian Flat Beans, Salad, Angel Biscuits
I have turkey Italian Sausage in the freezer, and plenty of fresh peppers.  And yes, I am trying a lot of new recipes this week.  I need to shake things up!


Out with Mama

Grilled Steak,  Corn on Cob, Fried Onion Rings,  Tomatoes Au Gratin
I hope to start up the grill for the first time over the weekend.  I may even grill the corn.  The tomato recipe is easy enough.  Seasoned tomatoes are topped with saltine cracker crumbs and shredded cheddar.

Work Work Work

Jobs Last Week
Rain prevented a lot of work this past week.  I managed to get the little flower bed weeded and a portion of the rose bed as well.  I cleaned the closet in the guest room and sorted out a number of things that just needed to go.  I started a new donation pile.  Bills were paid, groceries were bought.  I spent one day waiting on repairmen.  Mama was here so that precluded doing any work.   It was a mixed week of work.

This Week:
Hang new curtains in master bedroom.

Get guest room ready.

Mop floors.**We'll see.  The kids are coming up and it's supposed to rain off and on all week.  I might wait until they go home since it's inevitable there will be spills.

Continue working on flower beds.**if weather allows

Get a double or triple lot of things to booth.  It's festival weekend and I hope it means good sales for me.

Finish book and get review posted...Not a hardship!  I am really enjoying it a great deal.

Friday, April 17, 2015

This Week In My Home: Itching to Make a Change

The seasons have fully changed and while we may have a few cool days and possibly even cold nights, it will mostly be warm, warmer and HOT for the next 7 months.  And now is the time to begin to juggle the recipe books, gardening implements, glasses of iced water and try and find a fresh viewpoint.  The house looks so nice...I want all the outside to join in and the menus to reflect something new as well.  The trouble with going outdoors at the moment is the pollen.  It's better than it was but boy does it make me itch and burn!  Still, I admit the itching to get outdoors and freshen things up is just as bad as the itching that ensues when I do go out.

So here's the deal...There are NOT enough hours in the day to revamp menus, yards, bedrooms, review a book, pick and choose and tag for the booth, peruse cookbooks, every day cleaning, do frugal boot camp, try and pull together new warm weather looks from my poor little supply of clothing.   There is not enough money for all the things I need much less want.  Yet I am determined to eke out a little something in every. single. area.

This Week In My Home: Busy, Busy Saving Away

My little flower bed next to the back steps last fall..Right now it has snapdragons, pansies, begonias and rosemary in it.  

Saturday:  Easy sort of day, but then Shabats always are.  We take the word 'rest' quite literally in our home for the Sabbath day.  Breakfasts are generally of the fix it yourself variety and I keep a supply of muffins, sweet rolls, bagels and cereal (not all but some of each) on hand for that very reason.

We used the last of the rotisserie chicken for our dinner.

I sliced rolls into bread slices to make sandwiches.  The last three rolls netted enough bread for sandwiches for supper, sandwiches to go in John's work lunch and one roll for breakfast slices in the morning to toast.

Made John's work lunch.

I have a very very limited amount of funds at present and quite a long way to stretch them.  To that end, I spent all afternoon long on Pinterest looking at landscaping ideas that are similar to the one above.

I spent an equal amount of time looking at fashion snapshots to try and figure out how to stretch my wardrobe.  This is what frugal folks do: look for ways to get similar results without spending.  The truth is that I had completely forgotten one shirt and looking at these snapshots helped me remember that I had it, which netted me the possibility of two or three more outfits.  Every piece I own is not the exact same as what is in a photo but I do own similar pieces in similar colors and those pieces I don't have I will figure out how to substitute what I do have.  I'd also been about to remove two items from my closet when I came across two snapshots that had used those exact colors with other pieces like my own.  Well, that's two more items I didn't know I had, too!  I am not saying I will not spend any money over the coming months but I'll certainly spend a lot less if I keep in mind what outfits I can make with what I have instead of going off shopping with the attitude that I've nothing to wear.

I've been looking for new cool drinks to have here at home.  In summer months I drink too much water.  No really, I do, because I perspire a lot.  Often times by day's end I'll feel a bit water logged and weak.  I won't by any means stop drinking water, but I need alternatives so that I don't saturate myself quite so much with the water.  Tonight we tried a homemade Orange Dream that was rather nice.  For two: 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, 1/2 cup each milk, orange juice (or water if you choose), 1 cup ice cubes and about 1 cup fat free frozen whipped topping.  Blend until smooth and serve.  This will fill two glasses nicely.  It was very tasty and refreshing and will make a nice change now and then.

Sunday:  Made John breakfast and packed his bag for his work meals.

I used the last roll to make four pieces of toast which was perfect for our breakfast.  It's not the really good bread I like so well but it was a suitable substitute and I will purchase it again when future needs arise between pay periods.  In the meantime, we've no bread and I've had no desire to go to town.  I'll make biscuits or muffins in the morning and we'll pick up some bread Monday perhaps or wait until we shop on Tuesday.  I'm not all that concerned about it as you can see!

I've really done nothing much today.  I was up late hours last night waiting on texts regarding an ER visit for my young granddaughter.  It was determined at last that she had a virus and not the appendicitis they were most concerned over.

Changed the sheets and stripped off the mattress pad to wash as well.

Washed the mattress pad alone as it is quite bulky.  For certain reasons at present we're having to wash our clothes and laundry in hot water.  It is an added expense but it is preventative which seldom costs nothing and is necessary.

Washed the sheets with towels and dish cloths.  All clothes had to go through dryer, but would have done anyway as the pollen is still about, and it was heavy with humidity today as well.

Went outdoors to weed the little flower bed next to the steps.  The wildflowers planted there have proven more than adaptable and are pushing up through the layers of cardboard, newspaper and mulch.  It was quite a mess and looking rather wild and overgrown once again.  I suppose I'll end having to use some weedkiller about the edges to prevent more outbreaks.  These are very very hardy wildflowers and will need the commercial stuff.  We've already tried vinegar spray on them.

While I was outdoors decided to go ahead with the expansion of the bed about the Ginkgo.  I used the rock I picked up the other day to fill the border of the larger circle.  I'll put down some newspaper and then will empty last year's soil from the pots into the new area which will serve for planting this year. I had exactly enough rock to complete this little project.

Made cookies.  I'd opened a can of condensed milk to use 2 tbsps for a recipe I'd made earlier.  I thought about my options with the milk and determined Magic Cookie Bars would fill the cookie jar and use the rest of the milk nicely.  I added every little bit of this and that chip that I had in the pantry/freezer that were almost gone: caramel nibs, white chocolate, mini semi sweet, chunk milk chocolate.  They all totaled about the right amount of chocolate chips anyway, so it was a bonus to use up the odds and ends.

Made my own graham cracker crust.  I crushed 1 sleeve of graham crackers, melted 1 stick of butter and then mixed crumbs with butter and 1/4 cup sugar.  This is the same recipe you'd use to make graham pie shells, too, by the way.

Took vegetable soup from freezer to thaw for my meal this afternoon.

Monday:  I got up earlier this morning to make muffins.  In searching the cupboard for chocolate chips I stumbled upon a jar of cinnamon chips.  I seldom use them and these were given to me by my daughter in law last year at some point.  I checked yesterday to be sure they were not rancid. Cinnamon chip muffins this morning were very tasty.

John was late coming in.  I went outdoors to do a little more work on the back yard.  I had a big pile of weeds when I came back indoors and last year's potted plants were emptied in the area surrounding the Ginkgo tree where I'd increased the size.   I also got the begonias all potted up this morning.  Next I must plant the Dianthus.

Somehow, between weeding and doing breakfast dishes and such I got too hot.  Entirely too hot.  I couldn't seem to think straight.  I was completely thrown way off schedule by John's coming in so late.  I completely missed the window of opportunity for making dinner and every thing I had out was either hot and spicy or too entailed to make quickly...sigh.  I finally decided the best thing to do was to cool down, so I turned the fan on me until I felt half human once more, drank some water and looked at all my options.  Going to town for take out was one idea.  I just felt too tired to even think of dressing to go to town.  Our town is so small we don't have a single drive thru option, lol, so one must dress decently.   In the end, I altered my menu, figured out an option that used what I had on hand at present and made a passably good dinner.

Went to work on bills after dinner and was in the midst of that work when John announced he was ready to leave...What?!  I had no clue and had to rush to get ready to leave the house.  We took off the trash when we left home, and carried along mail to drop off at post office. I made sure to take the banking needs with me, as well.

We stopped at the local grocery on our way back home.  I picked up the sales items I wanted, as well as a loaf of bread to tide us over until we grocery shop.

We had pizza tonight for supper.  It was one of the sales items I chose at the grocery.  At $4, it seemed a good buy.  We always get two meals from the one pizza which makes it a very good buy for a convenience food.

I washed a very full dishwasher of dishes.

I saved the water from steaming peas to fertilize an African Violet.

John washed a full load of laundry this morning.  It was raining so he used the dryer to dry part of the load and hung other pieces to dry.

Tuesday:  Pancakes this morning per John's request.  He cooked them using the pancake mix from the baking cupboard.

I went to the pantry this afternoon and picked up a bag of flour, another box of pancake mix and replenished my kitchen supplies.

We'd tentatively planned to do grocery shopping today but after John got a notice there was a meeting at work in the morning, we decided to batch up the meeting with errands/groceries.

I got busy in the kitchen today and made a corned beef, meatloaf and chili mac.  We had chili mac for dinner today and I have enough leftovers for John to eat this another day this week.

Sliced corned beef and put in containers for sandwich meat.  We had sandwiches tonight and I put three containers in the freezer.  I had enough meat left for one more sandwich.

I plan to have meatloaf for dinner and leftovers will become sandwiches. I expect to get a total of eight servings from the meatloaf.

Made a pitcher of Koolaid for a refreshing drink this afternoon.  I don't use the full cup of sugar called for.  I start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed.  This packet required about 2/3 cup.

Wednesday:  John had a message from work yesterday.  There was a mandatory meeting this morning.  It seemed best to postpone going off grocery shopping until today.  We saved about 30 miles travel/gasoline usage in combining this meeting with grocery day.

John was given breakfast this morning at the meeting.  He brought me his bottle of juice.  It was a Coke product so I made sure to save the cap.

No shopping anywhere except Aldi today.  I wish I could say I was within budget but I went over by $15.  There was no wiggle room this pay period so I made up the difference from my allowance.

John handed me a cup of yogurt when I got to the car.  The top had been cut open in shifting things about.  I happen to keep a supply of plastic spoons in the car dash pocket (and straws, salt packets, toothpicks, napkins, lol) so I grabbed one and had the yogurt.  Since I'd been unable to finish breakfast this morning it was a welcome thing!

We stopped to fill up car in that area.  Gasoline is $.20/gallon less expensive there than here in town.

John stopped in town and bought lunch from his pocket money.

Our supper tonight consisted of leftovers.

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

My own breakfast this morning was a smoothie.  I used frozen banana, milk and two pineapple slices. I added a handful of oatmeal for stick to your ribs stuff.   Yum.

Made first goal on Swagbucks.  I try to do this daily but some days it's just plain hard.  My first goal is usually fairly low, but if wait until later in the day it's tedious to acquire the points needed to make that goal.  I'm trying to make it my task to get Swagbucks knocked out early.  Everything there after is gravy.

I cleaned the master bath this morning and used the last of the homemade cleaner.  Equal portions of vinegar and dish washing detergent works brilliantly at clearing up the soap scum.  The vinegar is also nice for destroying odors when cleaning the toilet.  I'll be mixing up another batch this week.

Maddie decided eating was not necessary this morning so I put her food away.

It was chilly outdoors.  I brought in the orchids.  They are loaded with new buds and I wanted to keep them that way.

Used leftover water to water plants.

I thought I had a solution for master bedroom curtains for summer.  Turned out I didn't.  It seemed as good a time as any to clear out things in the guest closet.  So I did.  I've culled hard in clearing out items to donate or pass along to others.

Walked into the master bedroom to put an item away and heard a hissing sound.  How I've come to hate hearing that noise! A leak in another piece of plumbing.  I shut off the water at the valve, cleaned up the mess and got on the phone to call for repairs.

Ate an early lunch of leftovers while waiting on the plumber to arrive.

The first repairman left shortly after he arrived.  He didn't fix the problem but he did give me  the name and number of another repairman to call.  The second repairman couldn't come until 7pm this evening.  Plumbing is his side business.

I realized this evening we had a failure.  Oftentimes these service providers who have a full time job and work on the side prefer cash as payment.  I didn't have cash on hand and not enough to pay this gentleman. I shall be sure to keep a small repair fund on hand here in future.

It felt like a waste of day and in some ways it was.  There were so many other things I'd planned to do.  I felt obligated to keep Mama company (she'd come out to stay until all repairmen were done) and got little work done.  I'd wanted to leave home but couldn't.  In the end I made the best of it and showed Mama the notebook I've been putting notes in for family history.  She gave me names/marriages and some family history.  I made notes as she talked.

Friday:  Used the leftover cinnamon muffins for our breakfast this morning.  I split and buttered then heated in the oven.

Cut a package of beef sausage into serving pieces.  I put just one on our plates and the rest into the fridge to use over the next couple of days.

John washed a full load of clothes and hung most all of them to dry.  They were all hung inside.  We've another rainy day.  It's rained every day since last Friday!

I ran a full load of dishes after the clothes were done.

I made a fruit salad to go with our lunch.  I used a 1/4 of an apple that was in the fridge, the last 2 slices of pineapple and fresh bananas, grapes and berries.  I used the pineapple juice as my acid to keep the banana and apple from turning brown.

We've needed no AC for the past 2 days.  The cooler air is most welcome.  I know these days are fast coming to an end.

Had to go out to bank this morning to replenish the allowance I used to pay for plumbing repair.  I took out extra cash and put in an envelope marked HOUSE REPAIRS.  It's not a big sum but it's enough to pay a small repair fee in cash.  I don't expect that money to be used in any other way and it's a little more convenient to have it on hand rather than in the bank.

Stopped at dollar store to pick up a short list of items much needed.  I forgot to buy shortening at the grocery.  I needed magnesium.  And most importantly, having come up empty on every possible solution for curtains for summer, I looked at curtains.  I was pleased to find four panels in the perfect shade of blue and even better they are room darkening/thermal curtains.  I paid no more for these panels than I paid for those sheets I used to make the breakfast area curtains...less since I don't have to sew or line them!  I'm going to go next pay period and see about getting a pair for John's music room.  That should cut down on the heat that comes into his room.  That end of the house gets about 8-10 hours of straight sun in summer and his room gets quite hot.  If  I move ahead with the purchase of the room darkening shade and the curtain panels, his room may remain cooler all summer and the AC make not work as hard (his room is next to the thermostat).

Came home and made lunch.  Typically if we're out at that time of day we'll stop and pick up something but not today.  I made side dishes and heated meatloaf.  It took less than half an hour and was well worth the savings.

I wore another of my outfits I set up last weekend.  I'll wear the last two over the weekend (a party and church) and set up fresh outfits for next week.  It really has been a huge time saver.

After dinner, I made two pans of lasagna.  I put one in the freezer. We'll have the other pan tomorrow and likely will have leftovers enough for Sunday dinner after church.

Living Well

                               Howard Griffith and Annie Clyde (Clydie) Windham Eubanks

I never knew my mother's paternal grandparents.  They were people of family stories only to me.  I know that he was quite tall and worked as a carpenter, a peach grower.  She was tiny and  nursed many sick people in the community though she'd never had formal training as a nurse.

All the stories I've heard regarded his kindness and sweet nature, his deft ability to figure to almost the inch how much wood was needed for a project. How he packed shoe boxes at Christmastime for each grandchild with an orange and a big peppermint stick.  How he cried when the grandchildren got spanked. How fond he was of his cats.  How he built the old church building I attended as a child and young adult.

Of her, I'd heard that she'd leave her own family with nothing in order to give to others.  Of her nursing the sick.  Of how she was the disciplinarian and a very stern one.  How she locked the grandchildren out of the house.  How she helped herself to her daughter in law's foodstuffs that were bought specifically for the children.   How she insisted on having the majority of the home her son rented while he and his family lived in a single room in the back of the house.  I'd heard how often her tongue was sharp and her words hurtful.  I didn't like her.

Mama was here yesterday for a number of hours.  To pass time, I pulled out the genealogy notebook where I keep notes on each family member I've researched.  Mama was shocked when she read my description of her granny.  She read the harsh words out loud and looked at me puzzled.  "Terri..." and then she fumbled for words.  "Mama all my life all I've ever heard of her was that she was mean and hateful..."  Mama nodded.  "She was hard.  But she was..."

And then she told me the side of her granny I'd never heard.  "She was liked by others.  People were always coming to visit her.  Her house was always full of family members who came to hear news of the rest.   She always had things prepared, ready for company, and she really enjoyed having people stop by.  She liked to be well dressed and wore hats and gloves and suits and pretty dresses and nice shoes and always looked just so.  She loved going to the movies and we went to the movies every week.  She always got peanuts or popcorn...and I remember sitting in the theatre watching the movie with her and hearing her dentures going 'click click click.'"   At this point Mama chuckled.  "That's what I remember most about going to the movies with her!"

So this woman changed a little in my mind.  She might have been harsh with her family and sharp tongued.  But she must have been likable and pleasant and hospitable.  She must have had compassion for others to nurse the sick and to willingly go whenever called to tend to them.  She must have had a generous heart to so willingly give all she had, even if it meant her own family 'made do' afterwards.  Looking at her photo today, though she is an old woman in it,  I see she was really quite pretty.  I know that she had red hair and barely stood 5feet tall and was always slender.    She didn't marry until she was almost 25 and she raised a brood of children to adulthood.  She lost one little girl who was a year old and had two sons in WWII, one of whom lost his life on Omaha Beach. She had grandsons who went off to war with her sons.

In my possession are loads of little cardboard framed photos in sepia tones with pencilled notations on the back, a faint register of names that I sometimes can decipher.  Often I find these names in the depths of family history, not direct relations, but distant cousins.  These photos were hers.  Her desire to maintain family ties in her early  has put faces to names that I find in my research now.

I'm sorry I misjudged her.  I'm glad Mama took the time to give me a more complete idea of who Granny Clydie really was.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Retirement Remedies: Stretching a Wardrobe: Spring/Summer, Part I

When you're working within a budget, you have to use tools available to you to stretch your dollars.  I am in need of summer clothing.  In the South, Spring lasts about two weeks and then we're into some pretty warm weather rather quickly.  When you're at my stage of life, heat is heat is heat and you swelter.  So yes, though it's just April, I am looking for a summer wardrobe.

In my closet I have a few key pieces, same as most people have: black dress pants, gray dress pants, white jeans, black jeans and blue jeans, a Chevron striped maxi skirt.

I have a mere handful of tee-shirts and blouses in coral, black, green, white.  I have a few purses and several pairs of sandals.  I have costume jewelry and a few shrugs and scarves.  Anyone looking at my closet would see that it is modest.  Not a room sized closet for me.  It's a modest sized walk-in which I share with John, various stored items and we have plenty of room to walk in. I have one 3 1/2 foot rack for my clothing.  That's winter, summer and in between seasons.

So you see I'm not bewailing my 'nothing to wear' status with a room sized closet full of things to wear.  I have a need however, to make do this summer as much as I can, replacing only what must be replaced and using to the fullest those things I have.  At present, I'm not ready to replace, so I must use.

I went on Pinterest and looked at fashion boards to determine how I might use the pieces in my closet.  I looked for specific elements and pinned those outfits that use what I have in the closet already or for which I could adapt pieces I have to achieve the same look.  I write these ideas down too, and then I build outfits and hang them in my closet ready to wear.  This saves that dithering at the closet when you really need to be moving.  I suffer from wardrobe anxiety, lol, second guessing myself if I start trying to build an outfit on the run, so I choose to do this when I have time and can change out pieces that don't look as well as I'd like.   I don't try these on unless I'm very unsure about how it might look.  One advantage to having few pieces is that what you have is comfortable!

Outfit #1:  So I thought today I'd show you a few of the outfits I'd pinned...and how I used what I had to create a similar look.  I wish I could do these side by side but they will most likely show up one under the other. The link for this first look is here though I went four times and never saw it.  Still the original link is posted in case anyone wants to know whose credit this goes to.

Dark wash jeans, white tank, navy cardigan and navy/white scarf, black shoes, white purse, silver earrings.

 I may end up dyeing my jeans to try and make them darker.  That would certainly be an inexpensive fix enough and would essentially give me two different colors of blue jeans.  I used a white tank and a tissue thin navy cardigan.  I accessorised with silver bangles.  I have earrings there too but confession time: my silver hoops are broken.  I'll be replacing them as soon as I can.  The scarf is more navy than it shows in the photo.  If it's very warm, I'll ditch the cardigan and wear a white tee and the scarf and likely substitute the black sandals for the shoes.

Outfit #2:  This was the inspiration for the next outfit. Photo credit here
If you click on the link you'll note the chevron is neither taupe or gray as it reads but fine navy/white lines.  However, it reads enough like my own Chevron maxi that I felt I could do something with it.  Now I didn't include my denim jacket but I do have one.  I used the white tee rather than than a tank.  I'm not really comfortable exposing so much of my upper arms since I don't expect to wear the jacket.

I noted the shoes had a natural earthy sort of element to them.  My own shoes are just glittery flip flops until I can find some nice plain brown leather.  In the meantime, I used that earthy element in my accessory necklace.  The bag has the same feel as the one in the inspiration photo.

Outfit #3:  photo credit here
This outfit really stretched my imagination to use what I did for it.

 I have this chambray colored tee-shirt and white jeans, white bag and silver sandals and bangles.  I used the pearl necklace because it has the same delicate light feel the bag does in the photo above and I chose to use some pearl earrings a friend made me years ago.  I could swap these pieces out for a delicate matching set of earrings and necklace in light turquoise and silver as well.  If it is cooler, which is a possibility in April, I can use my grey tank top under this shirt as it has a wide neck.

Outfit #4:photo credit

 I loved the rather bohemian look in the above photo.  The peasant blouse, the bright bag...Everything else are pretty basic.

Looking at the photo I shall swap out the multi strand turquoise necklace for my bold chunky turquoise one.    My tunic has a silver/gold threading on the bib which matches the sandals.  I don't have the colorful bohemian style bag...and I'd love to find one but I shall work with what I have.

I seemed to have been focused on the white shirts in my wardrobe this week when I put together outfits.  I'll share more as I set up more but at present four outfits will likely do me for a couple of  weeks.