Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I Wander as I Wonder: Random Musings

Sometimes these posts have a common theme...sometimes they are just what I say they are, Random Musings with no real connection other than they were all in my mind in a given set of hours.  I never know myself how these posts will turn out but I enjoy the free flow thinking that goes into them.  I hope you do, too.


Spring.  I think I've absorbed spring this year.  I mean that it seems I can't get enough of the blue, so blue!,  skies, the wonder of pale green leaves in fifty shades of green (and wouldn't that make a lovely book?), blooms and scents and just the glory of it all.  I was out early this morning picking up the last of the weeds and began weeding about a clump of iris that barely bloomed...but only they know why not because they have the loveliest healthiest leaves I've seen in many years.  Weeding is not a hard task when the dew is wet upon the grass, a mockingbird insists upon serenading me with his full repertoire of bird calls (Bob White, Pretty pretty and a dozen other calls), and a fluffy red dog is wagging her tail next to me.  I feel tender towards the teeny tiny basil plants that are finally coming up.  I smile at the dahlias that are pushing their way to the surface.  I anxiously look for the first signs of the lily of the valley and the bleeding heart though I did just plant them a week ago.  Lovely.  It's all so very lovely, isn't it?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Weekend Reading

Brenda posts a new spiritual post each Sunday.  These words spoke to me from her post this last Sunday "What I learned is that sometimes there is a winter in our life when we can't see ahead at all.  The winds of adversity are sharp and bitterly cold and we can have hope only because we know His character.  We may think we are falling apart but instead He is just molding us and shaping us into even stronger vessels, shining us up in the process for the Father."

I confess it's been a long week and I'm not sure just who shared this post, but I think it might have been Anita at Far Above Rubies.  Or perhaps it was Dee at Life With Dee.  However, it's good information and whoever shared is certainly deserving of thanks.  How to properly set a table.

And my dear Virginia share these two videos for Qijong (pronounced Chi-gong), a gentler form of exercise.  I plan to try this myself.  Find the videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K-0JpiJu-o and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ9qM6G6l6g

I know this is very short this week but I haven't had time yet to catch up with reading.  I'm afraid this might be my pattern for May so do bear with me.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

In My Home This Week: Planning for the Unknown

In my home this week:
The roses look much like this this year, but the lantana is already growing and the spider wort is no longer there.

I knew this time was coming, so it's not unexpected.  We are prepared for it as much as one can be and cautiously looking forward:  our home will bulge a little at the seams as my son and his family move in with us as they sell a home, buy a home, transfer job, etc.  He is already here with us and his family will be here next weekend to visit and then later in the month come to stay with us while they are in transition.

It is not my first time having a child return home.  Only my boys have come back thus far, both when leaving the service and getting established in their civilian life (or transition to another branch of service) and now.  It's never too hard, nor easy as you'd hope.  It is always a bit of a challenge and a bit of a fruit basket turn over but it works out.

One way I cope is to accept a small room and board fee.  Keeping our budget in line is foremost and if that sounds mercenary, I will say in my defense that it's a nominal fee that literally covers the extra cost of food.  My sons have always appreciated the fact of paying their way and at the same time of having home comforts.  I try to strike the balance between the two. 

Another way I plan to handle this is to make sure I get the much needed alone time I require.  While it's just Sam here it will be easy enough.  He's doing training and won't be home during days anyway.  When Bess and Josh move in it will be a little more difficult.  Not because I don't love them dearly but because Bess, like myself, is a stay at home wife.  Fortunately, I love this girl dearly and we get along wonderfully well. 

May promises to be a lovely, if unknown month and I am looking forward to it!

...I plan meals:

and I will too when I take time to do so...I'll skip this section this week simply because I must first go to the grocery for fresh produce and a few other needed items...and my son likes to cook and wants to cook a meal or two himself.  We'll work it out and I'll get back with you.  Right now he's talking about making a homemade pizza tomorrow.  I have a whole chicken I just took up from the crock pot that will turn into something. I also have chicken fillets thawed to turn into something in the next couple of days.  My ready made easy entrees are gone and must now be replaced...Lots of cooking and lots of planning needed this week for my peace of mind.

...I plan my work week:

As we were doing a necessary task this afternoon, I noted a lovely deep red snapdragon growing from under the back porch.  There is a lovely clump of them I can see through the lattice.  I'd like to get them up if I can and repot them.  I don't know why plants love growing so well under my back porch but they do.

Kitchen floor desperately needs to be mopped.  Baths could no doubt do with a mopping, as well.

Get check book totted up properly and pay any  bills of the ones just in that fall due before or very shortly after next pay period.

Plan meals.  I don't normally leave that task this late but I really want to go through another of my cookbooks and choose some recipes to try this coming month and look over Pinterest board etc.  It is most definitely time to look for cooler meals, plan to do my cooking in early morning hours or pull out crock pot and use more often. 

Pick up necessary groceries (mostly bread and produce).

I have a few unfinished projects and some very necessary new projects to tackle as well.  I need to start with a shopping list first and foremost...So I'll be making out a list of projects and a list of items needed to accomplish all that needs doing.  I'll try to pick up several items on Wednesday when I'm out with Mama.

One thing I know I can do this week is to paint the chairs I mean to turn into planters.  I'll use the paint I have on hand.  I think I have some black and I know I have green (same as the rocker on the back porch).

Clean the porch floors and start the washing down of the back porch railings and rafters so I can paint them fresh when I buy that paint.

I have a blouse that needs to be altered slightly.  It gapes under the arms.  I'll look out a stack of mending to do while I'm using the sewing machine so I don't have to keep going back into the guest room repeatedly.  I do want my son to feel it's his to use.  Maybe I'll move out the machine and use it at the dining table instead.  It's lightweight enough to move without a hassle.

I have at least two boxes of things in my shed that are meant for donation.  I mean to get those out and into the car and drop them off this week.

Manicure and pedicure and a bit of beauty time is necessary. I've let myself slip a bit over the past few weeks with the poison ivy and then vacation.  Time to get myself back into decent shape once more.

Get lab work done.

Start the next review book.

Work on blog.

...I plan fun:

One of the things I enjoyed most on vacation was a long time old favorite book I'd completely forgotten about: The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough.  Well I've another book I'm enjoying and I would like to take time for it this week.

It's heating up outside but we'll have a few cooler days sprinkled in here and there.  Nevertheless iced tea on the front porch  would be nice. or perhaps Bible study on the back porch with coffee.  Definitely spend a little time outdoors.  Between privet, honeysuckle and china berry all blooming at present the air is intoxicating to say the least.

Remember that beauty day I mentioned?  It's actually something I consider fun and will enjoy so I'm repeating that here.

Catch up with all my favorite blogs...I've gotten behind this weekend with all that has happened.

My Frugal Week: Out and About

Saturday:  No prep work done yesterday for today's meal but I wasn't much worried about it.  I knew I had several frozen homemade entrees in the freezer, there was produce to use up prior to leaving home.  I came home from the Strawberry Festival and popped a meal in the oven, made us an appetizer plate of cheese and crackers (by the way anyone else like Stilton as much as I do?) and put on a pot of coffee.  In honor of what we're terming 'the start of vacation' we had an adult beverage with our cheese and crackers.  Lovely.

Yes, we went to the local Strawberry Festival. Not sure what John spent but I'd guess less than $1.50.  My own stack of books was $2.20 and I donated the rest of the third dollar to the Womens Club Building Refurbishing Fund.  It's a good cause since the Women's Club is in an 1830s home and a project that is near and dear to me is historical preservation.  Happily will I donate to any group that is trying to maintain one of our few remaining historical homes.

We did not buy a thing to eat or drink at the festival.  Yes, we could have and likely would have enjoyed it, but with food waiting at home it was unnecessary.

I spent $5 on a cute handmade cottage-y unpainted bird house.  That will go on the front porch and is one of my upcoming UFO projects (the front porch).

I bought two new pillows for the living room back in late winter and like them fine but not quite...This past week when Bess was visiting she used the quilt I keep on the back of the wing back chair.  Remember it's a patterned quilt I had reversed to the white backing .  Well when Bess put the quilt away, she folded it pattern side out and I was smitten.  The colors are not garish bright but they are bright and clear and I realized that what my living room has been missing is that additional pop of color.  I left the quilt as it was and have been really liking how it looks with the small patterned pillow in front of it.  Well this morning I saw an ad on Facebook for a company that sells pillow covers and one in the ad caught my eye.  I went to the site and looked and found two pillow covers I loved for $7 each.  I think the two covers will be just the pop of color the room needs and just enough pattern to add interest.  And thankfully so very affordable.

The credit card statement came in this morning. I was bummed to see how much it was, but reviewing it online I realized that all but one purchase is already covered with money in hand and that last item is pretty close to half paid for.  I am careful to pay this bill in full each and every month and never pay interest nor an annual fee.  I'm afraid the company makes no money on me at all and I enjoy the convenience of a more secure way to shop.

We're planning a trip this coming week and I have been steadily setting aside grocery items to take with us.  I don't mind buying groceries when we arrive.  I mind buying foil and condiments and such that we have loads of at home for lots less than what we'd pay at regular grocery prices.  That's the part I mind.  So I pack foil and olive oil, garlic and potatoes and an onion, cereal and coffee; the sort of things we have at home and will buy to use when away from home as well.  That leaves funds for easy to prepare or deli foods to offset the necessity of cooking much and eliminates buying great huge amounts of foods.  Our goal is to bring home less than we leave home with, which means we don't overbuy at the grocery.   I'll take along a bit of frozen foods, too: a steak from that meat market we like so well, milk, butter...

Sunday:  Washed a full load of laundry this morning.  I hung things to dry on the line before we left home for church.

Stopped at the bin at the church parking lot to drop in that big bag of clothes I'd culled earlier last month.  The bag has been sitting in my bedroom all this time.  It was an eyesore but also an effective reminder of something I needed to do.

Went into CVS today to pick up a small travel makeup bag (just to carry the basics in) and while there treated myself to a Peach Tea ($1) and the Sunday paper.   I'd forgotten to take in my CVS card but fortunately the customer in front of me needed to swap something and I told the clerk I was getting my card.  I'd forgotten the coupons I'd loaded on that card this past week which saved me $9.  I also earned $4 in ECBs today.

We went by bank and got cash while we were within a mile of a branch of our bank.

Made dinner.  I'd thawed ground beef and really did mean to make Sloppy Joes but decided to do a quick meal of spaghetti with meat sauce.  It's been ages since I made spaghetti sauce quickly using canned sauce and ground meat. It was quite good and certainly was easy.  It took perhaps 20 minutes start to finish.  I started with very hot water in the pot for the pasta and then put a lid on it to bring it to boil still more quickly. 

Froze a quart of milk, and several water bottles to go in the cold bag tomorrow.  This will not only keep my foods cold but allow me to have milk when I arrive instead of having to go pick up groceries right away.

Packed our groceries in an old suitcase.  It was John's suggestion because the suitcase has rollers and a handle that allows it to be pulled or pushed instead of having to be lugged.  This should considerably lighten our load.  It seldom fails that when we arrive all the luggage carts are missing or  we've so overloaded it that we lose our stuff twice on the trip up to our condo, and we won't mention how often one of us loses our temper as well...

John scrounged about and worked up another load of clothes to wash.  This allowed me to put fresh jeans in my bag.  I'll wear the outfit I wore to church today on the trip down.

Joined a new survey group.  I"ll see how it goes before I give a recommendation...**so far it's been mostly 'You do not qualify for this survey, try another'...So much for that attempt.

John decided to make supper.  It was an interesting meal but tasty.  We're finding the no bread part of the meals a bit of a challenge.  I'm having to be very creative to get my carbs in, too.

Prepared the bills and set up the checks so that they could be signed and loaded into envelopes tomorrow as soon as we have check in hand.  These went into my purse to be dealt with tomorrow and not forgotten.

Monday:  We postponed our leavetaking so that we might pick up and deposit John's paycheck.  We wanted to be able to finish that task before we left, even though we didn't need the money for the trip itself.  We took along our luggage, bills and planned to leave from there which is no further from the interstate than we are at home.

Bills paid and check deposited. I opted to leave grocery money in the bank for the time being, but we did get our allowances.  This pay period, I put money aside for savings and for the two medical bills we're paying in increments.    John's extra hours of work were helpful in doing this. 

We stopped at a grocery on the way and John picked up a snack for me (I had snacks but i'
I carried along food for our supper which we cooked in the condo.  We ate on the balcony, though it was dark.  Moonlight and surf are never a bad thing when combined with a long awaited meal, I find.

Tuesday:  We went to the grocery this morning but not until after we'd had breakfast.  I'd brought along enough foodstuffs to feed us breakfast.  Had our meats thawed on the trip down, we could have had our midday meal too but it was still solidly frozen well into this morning.

Our goal on vacation is to have no food waste and so we buy very carefully with an eye to having the right amount of foods and not too much.  I'll tell you how well we did at end of the week.  We spent about what we'd normally spend for a week's foodstuffs.  The difference is that on vacation we do not stock up.  And we do splurge, but reasonably.  The one item I bought that I knew we would bring home was a bogo for a cracker that John is especially fond of. 

John asked what meats I'd brought along.  We priced various things and in the end determined to buy chicken.  I typically avoid chicken tenders and chicken fillets but enough for just the two of us is quite affordable and would make a quick meal ...So we bought those two cuts of meat.

We bought ice to pack the food into the insulated bag and then placed that in a cooler.

John took me out to eat at a restaurant we found about four years ago.  On vacations we try to balance things out.  We do cook most of our meals in the condo kitchen.  We picnic.  And we eat out occasionally.  We enjoy our splurges because we don't splurge often.

We spent the rest of the day at the condo.

Wednesday:  I packed a picnic lunch and we went uptown to one of the missions to picnic on the grounds.  For entertainment we walked down to the antique district where John sat on a bench outdoors and chatted with other men whose wives wanted to walk about the shops, lol.  He was quite pleased with his 'relaxed' afternoon and I was happy.  I went in with the idea I was looking for something specifically for the living room wall.  I did not find what I wanted but I was happy looking about at the lovely things.

We had another lovely supper on the balcony of our condo.

This is the balance to yesterday's splurge at the restaurant.  Our total expense for the day was $0.

Thursday:  We love to go into Old Town.  The most fun way to do this is to take one of the trolley cars with a driver who tells historical data.  These tours change up from time to time.  However, the one we've always used only sells passes good for 3 days and it's pricey.  Last time we did this we gave tickets to someone standing outside the ticket booth.  They got two free days usage and it was fun to bless them but it wasn't something we felt we could do this time.   Another service offered senior discounts (we both qualify) and a 1 day pass.  One of us would pay half price on the senior discount.  Sold!  You can get on and off trolleys all day long and walk about downtown as much as you'd like. We did a full tour then rode the trolley back into Old Town where we got off and walked about.  We boarded the last trolley to pick up for the afternoon and went back to our car which we were able to park for free at the trolley station.  This too was a savings of nearly $10 to park our car anywhere else.

We had a meal out but opted for a low priced place that served al fresco meals.  We sat in the shade near the opening on the bay side of the restaurant so we got a full sea breeze throughout the meal.

Back to condo for supper that I cooked, served on balcony overlooking beach.

Contributed the hateful, irritating book I'd brought along to the communal bookshelf in the condo.  Perhaps someone else will enjoy it.  It won't take up room on my shelf here at home.

John went to the laundry area to do a load of laundry while I stayed in the room and packed our bags.  I also made a lunch to eat on the way home.

Friday:  I was especially proud this trip.  My sole throw away food item was a 1/4 cup portion of uncooked yellow squash which I'd thought I'd put in a salad and John discouraged (he isn't crazy about squash.  It really was bought for myself only).  I used leftovers to make breakfast this morning of breakfast burritos with fresh fruit.

Packed up the cold items in two bags, one to go home and one to be our snacks/lunch on the way home.

We tried a new route on our way home and cut almost an hour and a half off the overall travel time.

We stopped for restroom break and ate our lunch in the parking lot of the stop.

Arrived home and discovered our son was here, not going home as we'd expected.  I pulled a whole frozen chicken, and two entrees from the freezer to cover meals this weekend.  Dinner was scant, as really the pot pie I'd cooked was meant for two and not three.  I had a can of biscuits in the fridge, which I'd intended for breakfast and made a big salad and that sufficed.  My son offered twice to go pick up food but there's little need when I have things on hand, even if I haven't been home all week.

Family discussion ensued and we agreed upon a nominal fee for bed and board over the next month or so.  My children have always paid 'rent' for staying here since they've been grown.  I never charge more than their being here will offset us, but it's enough to keep our budget running smoothly and their pride of 'paying their own way' intact, both of which are important to help cut down on resentments and frustrations.

Saturday:  Used what was on hand to make meals.  I'll grocery shop for a few things tomorrow, just enough to get us through this pay period.  In the meantime, we've not gone hungry today.  Proof that indeed one might manage even without fresh produce on hand.  Our salad today consisted of raw onion rings, sliced black olives and the segments from the last orange on hand.  For breakfast we had peanut butter toast with apple slices.  Snack this afternoon was celery sticks from our trip with peanut butter.

Noted this morning that I've a lovely larkspur growing from under the back porch.  I'm going to do my best to remove it and the joining plants and put in a pot.  It's a lovely deep red...I always repot any volunteer plants that come up.

The temperature really heated up the house indoors yesterday despite air conditioner running.  Today I made sure to pull shades on the sunny sides of the house and keep fans running to circulate air.  I think it's staying a little cooler today indoors.  I have, usually, had to call and have a Freon boost each spring and I set money aside for it but if we can keep the house temperature pleasant enough I'll skip that call.

And here I shall end this week of savings.  It was a lovely week.  We've discussed what we spent and how and we're agreed that we've no regrets about our splurges and none about our savings over the past week, which means we struck a good balance, I think.  There's the part of living well and meaning to do so.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Budget Recipes to Share

Sorry for the blurry image but the image I saved was rather small.  I enlarged it so you could better see the cover.  This book was printed in 1971.  The book is listed on Amazon for prices ranging from $.01 to $12.  There were several listings on eBay ranging from $1 to $15. 

In April, I decided to cook my way through this cookbook, which I purchased at a thrift store.  I confess I am a soft touch for any title with the words 'budget', 'thrift', or 'frugal' and if it's a cookbook as well, just go on and mark it 'Sold'! 

That said, I'll tell you what I like about the book.  It's set up initially with menus and the recipes to go along with the menus.  I like to READ menus, y'all, almost as much as I like to cook.  It's just one of those things that almost always wins me over to a cookbook and I can assure you that almost all of my most favorite cookbooks have menus.

There are pictures for the main menu pages, some photos of recipes that are listed without menus, and on nearly every page either an Economy Tip or a sidebar of just plain good information.  Even the inside covers have handy charts for figuring cost per serving or listing how much of an item is needed to feed 1-4 people, all good useful information.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

In My Home This Week: A Spring Frame of Mind

In my home this week:

We've been infected with Spring fever.  I suppose it's the smell of honeysuckle and privet in the air and the soft sunrises with birds screeching.  It could be the sweet serenade of the mockingbird who sits on the porch railing each day or the leaves fluttering on the trees.  It could be the long shadows that stretch across the lawn or the clear blue skies or the roses blooming with abandon.  It could be the rabbits that dance on the lawn in the early morning and late evenings or the bird nest on the cabinet shelf on the back porch.  The endless sun, gorgeous blue sky, the green trees...It could be just about anything that IS right at the moment.

It makes me restless, has my feet tapping impatiently, wanting to be off and away.  Shall I leave home for a bit or take flight in a book?  There's the question.  One I shall ponder over this weekend as I look at the week ahead.  For certain, this weather is not meant for working long and hard or dwelling inside of a home.  No, it is outdoors weather, fresh air thinking weather, dreaming weather.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Weekend Reading List

I hope you all will take time to relax today and peruse some of these items I'm sharing.  I think they are sweet, funny, useful...Just a good old fashioned mixed lot of nice little things to explore.  Enjoy!

I'll start with TV news.  A new program on HGTV...I saw a pilot show today called 'Good Bones' but apparently it's also billed under "Two Chicks and a Hammer".  You can read up on the program here.  I liked the pilot right well.  Not quite a Rehab addict but it's a renovation type program with a mother and daughter team and they house was really pretty if overpriced on the renovation part.  Frankly I'm so tired of marathon showings of the.same.programs.times.one.hundred each week that it's nice and refreshing to see a new program on the horizon.