Friday, February 24, 2017

Frugal Friday: Savings At Home and Away

Saturday:  I took out chicken and hamburger to thaw.  My intent being to make an entrée or two for Bess for post pregnancy. 

Bess and Sam and Josh came to visit today.  I made a Greek yogurt pizza dough.  The recipe I used was easy enough but my attempt at Greek yogurt failed to produce yogurt.  It did make a nice yogurt cheese though.  We used that on our pizza, along.

I enjoyed my time with my family and was sorry to see them go home.  At least Bess doesn't appear quite ready to give birth yet and good thing.  She's still got a month to go!

Sunday:  John off to work.  I packed his work lunch and made him breakfast.

It was a messy sort of morning. I changed sheets on our bed and dried them in the dryer. 

My get up and go went somewhere.  I accomplished some small tasks but nothing like the jobs I meant to do.

Monday:  Woke up gung ho and ready to work this morning.  I made a big breakfast to welcome John home.  Just as he walked in, Bess called.  She'd sent a text the night before to say she had gone to the hospital because she thought she should be checked but expected to go home again.  This morning's call was to say that she was in labor!  I assured her I'd head her way within the hour to tend to Josh. 

I packed up the chicken I'd thawed and some leftover vegetables from our pizza making.  I grabbed a can of spaghetti sauce, an onion and a few pieces of fruit.  It sounds odd, but I actually had a plan in mind.

Left John the packet of hamburger, since I knew he'd make burgers.  I also arranged things in the fridge so he could easily see what was left for him.

I stopped at Dairy Queen at the halfway point and bought myself a $5 lunch.

I filled up my car at a participating station for one of our gas cards.  I'd earned a few cents back and was offered the opportunity to save $.03 a gallon.  Of course, I took it!

Went straight to the house though my heart longed to be at hospital.  That little boy didn't wait three hours for anyone to arrive; he was born while I was still an hour away, right after I'd had my lunch!

I'd asked Bess what I might do for her.  She'd hoped to get nursery things organized.  I was able to tend to that task while Josh took a nap.

Sam brought one of their two cars home.  I drove him back to the hospital and Josh and I got to see his baby brother for the first time.  Josh was only able to see him through the glass window. 

Bess's mom took my car and Josh back to the house.  I drove her car home when I left.  Jenny had been there since moments after birth.  It was Josh's bedtime so that worked out well for all.  I stayed to visit.  Katie came in around then after hours on the road trying to get there.

Tuesday:  Baby Isaac was sent to Savannah to NICU about lunch time.  Katie left to go see him one more time and headed home.   Jenny, Bess and Sam came in shortly thereafter.  I had lunch ready for them.  I used leftover hamburger  leftover vegetables that I'd chopped for pizza on Saturday.

There was enough pasta and sauce leftover to set aside a small serving for myself for another meal and a spaghetti pie for the freezer as a future freezer meal for Bess to heat.

I spent the day before and after their leave taking doing laundry.  Their new washer is a Maytag and doesn't have an agitator.  I liked it rather well, but must say that the cycles seemed super long.  A load at home might take 40 minutes but it was well over an hour before that load of clothes was done.  I'm not sure what is energy efficient about it though it is pretty.

Wednesday:  I made another entrée meal today.  I cooked one portion for me and Josh.  A larger portion was made into a freezer crockpot meal for Bess to use later when they are home. 

I fed their dog food scraps.

Thursday:  Josh and I went over to the next town to pick up a few needed items.  Golly gee whiz!  No wonder Bess has bemoaned the lack of Aldi.  I didn't even get all I went in to purchase and still spent all my grocery money for the pay period.  I toted the bags out in one hand. 

Friday:  Bess and Sam came home to spend the night with Josh.  I took a chuck roast from the freezer and cooked them a home cooked meal.  They were so happy to have 'real food' as Sam called it and there were enough leftovers to see them through the evening.

I headed home.  I needed to refresh my medications, find the car tags so we could get them on our cars, and see John  which was, honestly, foremost in my mind.

I didn't stop anywhere at all on my way home.  I knew I'd need milk but as I told Bess in a phone conversation they have yet to offer a drive thru for milk or bread and eggs and I simply did not want to face a grocery at 5:30 on a Friday evening.

Saturday:  I thawed a roast last night and made a pot roast for our dinner.  I figured the leftover meat would stand him well for sandwiches in the coming week.

My apples looked bad on the outside but they were fine inside.  However, appearance is every thing for John.  I pared three apples and made an apple crisp for our dessert.

I unpacked my bag and repacked it, ready for next week.

We made out a short list for shopping.  We agreed not to do a full grocery shop.  I was pleased to find my milk was still good though there was very little of it.  I'll buy more tomorrow.

Sunday:  I used up the last of some pancake batter I'd encouraged John to use.  He didn't.  I made four pancakes from that leftover batter. 

I was going to cook some turkey bacon but yuck!  It was definitely past prime.  I threw that away.

John and I went to the grocery after church.  I bought milk and bread and followed the list that John made yesterday.  Did I buy anything extra?  Yes.  Two little four piece candy boxes on sale for $.65 each.  Big splurge, huh? lol 

We meant to go by the bank for cash.  I meant to make a deposit of some cash to cover some gifting I'd done with my credit card in December that billed late.  Cash in hand vs. a drive up town to the bank?  Cash in hand became allowances for John and I and I wrote it out of the checkbook when we got home as though we had made a withdrawal.  So now credit card is covered and so was our pockets.

We decided yesterday that we'd very much like a steak.  We priced and oohed and ouched and finally chose a sirloin which we like anyway.  It was the least fatty and the least expensive by half what the others cost.  I also stretched it out to serve us steak today and put half in the freezer for a future dinner.  I'm thinking maybe Stroganoff when I'm home once more.

John tried to charge our mower battery.  I think we'll have to get a new one but he's given it a good try.

While John went back to church for a men's group meeting, I stayed home.  It was a good time to  repack my bags and prepare his lunch for tomorrow.  I set up oatmeal to cook in the morning.  I plan to fix us both to go cups of coffee.  And before I leave home I'll set up coffee pot so that John will come home to hot coffee Tuesday morning.

Monday:  Up especially early this morning to see John off to work and to gather my things for travel.  In the end, I forgot the tea John bought me yesterday.  Sad face there.  But John's lunch got packed and breakfast was shared by the two of us.  I cleared things away, made us both a to go cup of coffee and checked that the plants would get some light.  My orchid is about to burst into bloom.  I wonder if I'll be home soon enough to see it?

Travel was lovely this morning.  I was traveling east and the sun rise was absolutely stunning.

I made a pit stop.  I always feel obligated to purchase some little something.  I meant to get a protein bar but none to be had, so I opted for a package of nuts instead which is a nice mix of carb/protein/fiber and helped carry me along until my arrival at the kids' home.

Bess' mom left a load washing and asked me to move it to the dryer.  I gathered up another load from the grownup's room and washed those with sheets from the guest bed.  That made for a full load.

I made myself a sandwich.  The young lady who was keeping Josh until I arrived bought him a kid's meal. 

Plundered in the freezer and decided to take out some ground beef to thaw.  I will make up a batch of meatloaf and form one for the freezer and a small portion for myself.  Slowly I'm building up a nice few bits of meals for Bess to have ahead.  Not as much as I'd like to have had but a few.

Just as at home, I find I've quickly put a few routines into place.  This keeps the house looking rather nice and visually restful when the kids get a chance to come home.

I was awake earlier than usual this morning but had the good sense to stay abed, lol.  Seriously.

Josh woke in an incredibly good mood.  I am pretty sure it was due to the itinerary I gave him the night before.  Cleaning first and then we'd build houses from blocks.  He loves to help with the cleaning and happily pushed the vacuum across the floors.  I take it from him now and then and tell I'm it's my turn and hit a good patch of floor before turning it back over to him.  At two, he understands 'my turn' very well.

I took out a pound of hamburger to thaw last night.  The kids had said they'd be coming in today  and I wanted a home cooked meal ready for them. I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Plans changed and they won't be in until later this evening.  I'll likely repurpose the mashed potatoes and will put the meatloaf in the freezer.  I know that the sides must be made to go with these entrees but honestly, the entrees almost always make up the bulk of the kitchen work, don't they?

I stretched the meat with two slices of bread soaked in milk and then added an egg.  I saved a partially used can of tomato sauce.   It is my plans tomorrow to make up two more entrees for the freezer which will use up the leftover potatoes and that can of tomato sauce, if I get the chance.

Wednesday:  Good news this morning was that baby is ready to come home.  While Bess and Sam hurried off on a long trip to hospital, I got busy and fashioned two more entrees to carry Bess through the week.  I made gravy and chopped roast beef into it.  I put a can of drained green beans on bottom of the casserole dish, topped with the beef and gravy and then spread mashed potatoes over the top.  That made an easy Shepherd's pie and used up leftovers in the fridge.

I took a packet of ground beef from the freezer and a package of frozen cheese tortellini and made a Beef Pasta Bake.  This recipe fills a 13 x 9 casserole but I used only half the beef called for and rather than open a 29 ounce can of tomatoes, I chopped a fresh tomato and added the leftover tomato sauce to the pan.  This was not following the recipe exactly but I really was trying to leave as few odd leftover bits in the fridge as I could manage.  The taste I took was delicious and I'm sure will satisfy my family.

I washed a full load of clothes for the family.  I must say that while I like their new washing machine I felt the soap didn't completely rinse from the clothes.  I blame that more on the pods used in the machine than on the machine itself. I also washed a full load of dishes.  I have to agree with something Sarah said sometime ago that the energy efficiency/water saving features seem to take much longer than the non-efficient machines did.  The dishwasher is nice but it takes 99 minutes to do a normal load!  My 20 year old dishwasher requires only 40 minutes as does my 20 year old washing machine.  I'd be curious to see the electrical savings in my own home with new appliances such as theirs.

As a kindness to me, Samuel applied a special cleaner and buffed my head lights on my car to make them clearer and brighter.  This was much appreciated as I traveled home in the rain and dark last night.  I hurried home not because of John but because I felt sure the family needed time to be home alone together without another's routines intruding on theirs. 

I stopped for a take out meal on my way home and was sorely disappointed in the quality of it.  I didn't get a receipt so I can't complain online but I shall mention it to the manger next time we go through as it's a frequent stop for us.  It's generally a very nice place and I complimented them on my last trip through.

Thursday:  Slept like a baby in my own bed last night and slept in until 7:15 which is about a half hour later than in Sam's home.  I think the difference here is that my room faces west and has room darkening shades while there it is northeast and has sheers at the window.

John and I determined to go out today for breakfast.  He paid from his pocket.  This was a treat to us both.  I was very appreciative of this.

I enjoyed sitting on my front porch with Maddie and Misu this morning.  Misi was adamant that John utterly failed in the feeding department.  I know she's telling cat tales but she was loud about her complaints.

The muscari (grape hyacinths) bloomed while I was gone.  Half of them came in white.  I was much surprised as they were all meant to be purple.  Funnily enough I managed to plant all the white plants in one pot which tickles me to think my instincts were set on that color division.  Also blooming are white iris and indoors, the orchid rebloomed.  I got home just in time to see the first bud open.

Not much housework required thanks to John's ministrations but I did go about the house and putter a bit which made my heart happy.  Now I settle down and begin my lists of projects, plans, purchases.

Per Google a check was deposited to my account from adsense ads.  Thank you all for clicking through on them as it is truly a help to get that small payment!

Completed a Pinecones survey.

Completed a Swagbucks survey as well. 

John ordered a tool from an online site.  I went through Swagbucks to earn extra points.  They will credit to my account next month.

Made John's work lunch.  Set up oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Friday:  The last day of this week and what a full day it's been!  It started very early, as work days are wont to do.  First I made John and I breakfast and then I packed his work lunch and poured him a to go cup of coffee.

I made goal on Swagbucks yesterday.  Today I made it about halfway.  I'm okay with that.  My shop and earn showed up as a pending credit and I'm happy for that.

I gave in to the pull of bargains and shopped on Zulily this morning.  I chose two items for the children.  One will be a Christmas gift and the other will go into the toy box.  Both items were well priced and are solid wood and well made items.  This second item was an abacus which is part of my older children addition to the toy box.

I also purchased five clothing items.  Two items were on my want/need list.  The others were good buys and will have multiple uses in my mix and match wardrobe.

I made out a few lists this morning.  This is my way of organizing my mind.  I'd asked John if I might use a specific amount of money to stock up on cleaning supplies and paper goods.  He was all for it.  So my first list was of those items.  I hope to stock a full year's supply of cleaning items and I'll use the rest to add to my stock of paper goods.  This will benefit our budget in the long range because I can then only buy those items when they are priced super low and just add to my stock.  One item I use routinely NEVER goes on sale.  It is the price it is but if I can get ahead by a few bottles I can buy one now and then when the budget is more full of funds without getting in a crunch because I have to have it when the budget is low.

I also made out a list of things to do to spruce up the master and guest baths.  The price of items needed there will be low but it's best to have a clear list of what is wanted.

I made out a list of outfits I can make from what I have right now in my closet for both warmer and cooler days.  I also made a list of a few wardrobe items I need to watch for sales on: cute flats, sandals, a navy or black purse, white tanks and tee shirts (these are perennial classics) as well as a café au lait color t-shirt.

I worked up the bill box for Monday and prepared the ledger sheet.  One of my half payments was unnecessary this pay period and I was able to use those funds plus the payment amounts from my other full sub accounts to fill one subaccount for early 2018 full.  I split the remaining amount between two other subaccounts which puts me well ahead on them both.  Of course, this isn't 'official' until Monday when we're paid but just knowing I've that extra ahead is an awesome feeling.   I might easily just spend that extra cash but pre-funding those accounts is both savings and easing up still more cash.  I never would have believed this would work so well when I first contemplated doing it!

I washed a full load of laundry and then a load of throw rugs and hung all outdoors to dry.

I made a batch of muffins from a squishy ripe banana.

I checked the fridge and noted there is leftover roast from last weekend.  I've decided to make roast beef hash with that tomorrow.  It's a frugal, tasty and easy meal to prepare.

I boiled a half dozen eggs for various uses including egg salad for sandwiches.

I boiled two chicken carcasses from the freezer.  I'll put up the broth here in a little bit, at least 3 quarts and possibly 4.  I expect I'll have a nice lot of meat since some of this chicken was just too strongly flavored from the deli with oregano to be good.  I think boiling will have diluted the flavor down enough to make it taste much better.  I got 2 full cups of meat off these two carcasses.

I opened the windows this morning and let the house air out.  When I got chilly, I put on socks and a jacket.  By 2pm it was nearly 75f indoors which is the point where our AC is set to come on.  Anything over that just makes the house super stuffy.

Ate a leftover entrée that had been frozen along with a ripe kiwi for one meal.

Repurposed a plastic lidded ice cream tub to be my new compost can.

Now I've had my supper (a clear out of two frozen waffles that I toasted, a boiled egg and an orange...I know it sounds like breakfast but it suited me perfectly), and it's almost time for Shabat so I shall send this out.  Share what you all did to save this week, won't you?

And I have to ask...Anyone ready for the March Tight Food Budget Challenge?  I've got my thinking cap on!

Coffee Chat: Winter, Where Art Thou?

Hello all. Coffee or Iced Tea?  Yes, I said "Iced Tea"!  Temperatures have been in the 80's this week!  Isn't that just like February?  Katie cut grass and got sunburned doing it.  Yet I know that as much as we might feel spring has sprung upon us, it is February.  It will be cold again.  It will likely be frosty at least three more times before Spring finally arrives and perhaps even once after that.  It is this time of year when some of the impatient sort make false starts with their gardens and regret their haste. 

For us here in the South it's an iffy time.  Plant now and, unless you're just starting seeds indoors or have a green house, you'll find yourself starting all over again come mid April.  But I confess my fingers are itching to DO something outdoors.  Fortunately, while I was gone muscari (grape hyachinths) bloomed their little hearts out and look just lovely.  The old white iris Debra gave me from her great grandmother's garden is blooming.  The pansies have perked up and some of the Kale (purchased at the pricier warehouse store) is doing well and some of it is not.   

But my how my dreams have turned to Spring and Summer and the promise of flowers and vegetables!   It's the weather, you see, a regular Pied Piper of sunshine and warm breezes luring me to play in the dirt.  I can't help thinking of the months to come,  when today we've a gorgeous day outdoors and open windows and I can hear the birds singing and see the bluest skies just outside the window.

I am home once more and no I didn't immediately go to work in my own home.  John is a very good housekeeper in his own right and there was little for me to do that first day.  I call it the 'refining touches'.  You know...I put on the pillow shams and put away the dishes he cleaned and folded the quilt on the back of his chair just so.  That's what I mean.  Mostly I just enjoyed John's company and he enjoyed mine.  We slept like rocks the night I came in from south Georgia, then we got up and went out for breakfast.  It was such a pleasure to do that.  I regret that we no longer have a nice place nearby to go to breakfast as we used to do.  The local diner has space and the food is good enough but it's not quite the atmosphere we want.  So we went to IHOP where ambience is also slim but the excellent food makes up for it.  I love the whole grain and nut pancakes.  This morning I asked for a fresh banana sliced atop and boy was that good!

We began making lists today.  Lists of shopping for cleaning supplies, for summer mowing needs, for replacement parts, for house wants and wardrobe wants. 

It's in the air...Katie was telling me of her plans for her master bedroom today.  Bess is still happily planning nursery and boy rooms.  Something about Spring just makes you want to move on to feathering the nest somehow.  I've got my own vague plans.  I am still just a tad discombobulated from my time away from home.  My mind is almost blank where my home doings are concerned because I've been thinking in the realm of what I could do to make another home pleasant for the occupants and so I must reorient myself to my home.

John asked yesterday morning if I'd like to do any shopping and how my life was going and I just laughed and told him I needed to get myself centered here once more before I let him know about any of those things...but I did manage to share my little insight that as much as I enjoyed time with Josh, I have reconciled myself to being grandparent and not parent where small children are concerned.  I did find I could do it well enough and with more energy than in my past,  but admittedly it's not the life blood for me it was once upon a time.    This was a major revelation to me, considering how hard I grieved when those days with Katie were over!

But with John off at work and the birds screeching their heads off, I decided I might as well...Oh these might as well days!  I might as well open the windows, and while I was at it, I might as well strip the bed and toss the sheets and towels in the washer and hang them out to dry.  And I might as well just go right on and move those boxes of books and take up that rug I don't care for...I might as well load the dishwasher, give the house a nice little going over, work up the bill box, boil the chicken carcasses from the freezer, plan meals for the weekend.  I might shred those zucchini I'd bought that we never had time to eat and boil a half dozen eggs and make that lonely overripe banana into a half dozen muffins.  I might as well pull out my March vintage magazines and I might as well clean bathrooms.  Oh it's been a full day and I figured I might as well make it count.  And I did. 

So I've had some time to do some thinking over the past week. It's safe, I think to sort of share what occurred because I don't believe any feelings will be hurt by it now.  I came in last Friday with the clear idea that I was going to have to go back to South Georgia and stay at least one more week and maybe more.  I was tired and weary after traveling and we sort of hurried through the sunset hour to Shabat.  I sat down at long last in my comfy chair and put my feet up and settled in to read emails which were mostly comments which mostly dealt with your prayers and thoughts and were so very sweet.

But one reader hadn't made it to the current posts and didn't know what was going on (or so I believe) in my life at the time.  She was upset at a post I made last month and upset over others' comments upon the post and offended that I shared an opinion that was clearly not her own.  She was decent, don't get me wrong.  It was not an ugly outraged post but a statement of her opinion. And I shared with her why I felt as I did in what I thought was a nice way but had John read it to insure I wasn't being snarky, which I can be when I'm really worn down.  He felt it was courteous so I published her remark and my reply.  When a post is over a week old, I get a moderator's notice to publish or delete the comment.  I felt it was respectful of the reader's opinion to post her comment. 

Well she wasn't happy.  I don't know why she wasn't happy.  I'd posted other opinions that varied from my own and she certainly hadn't put herself in a bad light.  But she was not happy.  And so she began to attack (for lack of a better word, as my brain is still addled, but again she was quite polite enough) my faith walk, questioning how I could hold my opinion and call myself a Christian, shared that her background was similar to mine, etc.  I replied again.  And again had John read through my reply to be sure I was as respectful of her as I could be.  I didn't discuss the Christian question but assured her that I respected her opinion and that was why I'd published it and while I didn't feel I wanted to reconsider my opinion, I was glad to know we had other things in common.

Sunday, when I was packing my bags and feeling bluer than blue about leaving John and spending the week alone in an area that is not my home and facing that long drive back, I decided to rest at the computer and read emails.  And there was another note, continuing to be upset about my opinion but mostly being upset that I was a Christian and this time it was an attack in that she pretty much let it be known that her opinion of any and all Christians was extremely low and I'd fit the mold just perfectly.  And then, long time reader though she'd been, she told me she'd unfollow me.  And to add salt to the pain I was already feeling, she told me her daughter had been following the exchange and now was ready to admit that her mother's opinion of Christians was correct.  Ouch, ouch, ouch!  It hurt.  It made me feel awful.  I wept.  I questioned my calling to write this blog and my ministry.  Had I been a poor witness?  Had I misrepresented my faith?  Had I been wrong to share an opinion that most obviously caused offense?

Now here's what I really want to share.  All that story above is background and I don't want or need anyone rushing to my defense.  Obviously this woman was mighty hurt by church folks and my opinion also grated hard on something that wounded her mightily.  I'm sorry as can be that happened. I deleted the whole exchange from comments because at that point it was just ugly and gone well beyond an expressed opinion.

I've read back over that post and I see where I might have taken more care in saying what I did and how I said it, but no I wouldn't have changed my opinion, just my wording of it.  My opinion remains the same and I can't change it to be hers, although I have a better understanding than I was allowed to express about why she felt as she did.   I'm sorry for the mash-up and sorry to lose a reader under those circumstances. 

Will I stop expressing my opinions here?  No.  I'll work carefully to say what I mean in as nice a way as possible, but I started Blue House Journal because Penny Ann Poundwise was mostly too perfect, too pat, and too artificial.   She wasn't me.  I stumble often.  I get tired and weary and say things in a thoughtless manner.  I can try to do better.  I've been hurt by church too and it made my faith stronger, rather than turning me aside, but I can see how others might not have the same experience.  I've experienced some of the same frustrations that reader had in the work world and yet I still formed an opinion that was opposite hers despite those experiences.  

I am grateful that she wanted to  share her opinion with me.  I'm grateful she made me stop and examine how even the written word might hurt others at times.  I'm grateful that she let me see myself through her eyes for a moment because it humbled me and I think we all need that sort of glimpse at what another is seeing now and then.  The exchange  made me rethink my decision to stop following another blogger whom I mostly enjoyed because I disliked an opinion she shared.  I needed that jolt to make me see rightly in that matter.   But no, I won't stop sharing my opinions despite the brouhaha sharing this one caused.   I don't share for validation of how I think but because I think things through from my experiences in life overall. I share because occasionally it might help someone determine where they stand or whether they even care to take a stand in the same way.  And that's my say over coffee.

Water under a bridge.

I sat down this morning and made out my March goals list.  February tends to go mighty fast right here at the end and I want to be prepared for the coming month.  It is this month of the year when I really gear up and start to work on projects and get things accomplish and I don't generally slow down again until mid-November.  I made out a list of possible outfits to put together and came up with nearly 2 dozen from just what I have in my closet at present. I planned but for cold weather and warm.  It seemed best to do so based on past March experiences!  

I do realize this isn't a very long chat but I've a few more tasks to attend to before sundown this evening.  I hope to be back to routine blogging this coming week despite John having another long stretch of time off.  He won't go back to work until Sunday week so there's just no telling how much  I'll accomplish, but I am eager to get back into all my routines, including writing ones!

Have a wonderful weekend.  Relax.  Enjoy it.   That's just what I mean to do myself.  And then Monday morning I shall hop right back to working hard and enjoying it!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Home For Us All

The baby came home yesterday.  Josh was thrilled with his baby brother as you can see.  I felt it was very important that the family settle in to being a family and hurried away.   I am home myself.   Now we all settle into our old familiar routines.  Spring is springing all about the place here with all sorts of blooms.  What a perfect time of year for new beginnings!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Interview at Life With Dee

Hi all.  I'm still busy with my grandson at his home in south Georgia, but this weekend while I was at home, I took time to answer a few interview questions.  I've mentioned Deanna Piercy's site before and shared some of her archived articles and posts with you all in the Weekend Reading section over this past fall. 

Here's the link to the interview if you'd care to stop by Dee's page and read it:

Isaac update: He's off oxygen, off the feeding tube and passed his car seat test with flying colors. He is not choosy between bottle or breast and eats heartily from both.   I expect this weekend will see that little fellow at home settling in with his family. 

Josh is doing his best to remain cheerful but had a bad afternoon yesterday.  He finally just managed to sob out "I NEED my mommy!"  I texted Bess and asked her to call.  He'll be surprised in the morning when he gets up to find they are home temporarily because they NEED him, too.  Then we'll pull up our big boy pants and do a bit more of the stoic two year old stint, bless his little self. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Week In My Home: I'm Not and an Update on our new baby.

This week in my home...

...I'm going to be away for at least one more full week. 

Our baby Isaac is doing well.  He has to go across a few hurdles: manage to breathe well on his own without the nasal cannula and oxygen; come off the feeding tube and begin to nurse or take a bottle.  There's every reason to believe that all this will go smoothly and baby boy will be home with mommy and daddy and 'Big Brudder' as he calls himself, before the week ends again.

His Mama and Daddy are tired and weary.  Josh is a nice little boy and I mean that.  If anyone had reason to be upset and throw tantrums and fits.  Not for him.  He is such a trooper and I mean that.  He's done his best and I love seeing that character trait in him.  However, by Thursday evening I could tell he was at the point of giving up on being stoic and about ready to just be two.  Fortunately his parents came home Friday afternoon to spend the night at home and do laundry and gather their energy.  Their only request was that they get to spend some time alone together as a family and that I felt was reasonable.  I left early.  Bess' mom came in late Friday evening.  They had a few hours alone and it was enough.

I came home this weekend to refresh my pillboxes of daily meds and spend some time with John who I missed far, far more than I can say.  Maddie danced her way up the driveway in front of me and John was waiting on the back porch when I arrived Friday just before sundown.  He'd made fresh coffee, and set the table for Shabat.  Honestly I can't think of a finer welcome home!  I felt the weariness of the week melt away the closer I got to home, despite the list of things that kept running through my head of all I must attend to in two short days time.

I slept well enough that night, better than any night away from home in the past week.  I piddled gently about the house setting things to rights (not much to do there since John is very good at housekeeping), watering plants, and repacking my bags for the next trip.    I made a pot roast for dinner and an apple crisp.  I found the new car tags so we can put them on the cars.  I'd thought of them midway through the week and then felt sick trying to remember where I might have put them after John declared they were not in the bill box.  Of course, I found them when I got in on Friday.  In the bill box, lol. 

I'd thought we'd have to do grocery shopping but we agreed we'd just skip that until next week.  Good thing since I spent money at the local grocery down there trying to fill gaps at that home.  Fortunately Bess keeps a nice pantry and freezer herself and only a few fresh items were needed.   However, the grocery there, while nice, is pricey and so it took the sum I'd have spent at home.  John's well set here and needs only an item or two at most which we'll pick up tomorrow when we stop for the Sunday paper. 

I'll leave again early Monday morning.  John will stay home, as he's a couple of shifts to work.  I'll be back next weekend and we'll see how it goes from there. 

...I don't plan meals...meal planning will depend upon what I choose to carry from home and use there.  No clues just yet what that shall be.

...I don't plan work... at least not my own, though there will be enough to do at the other home.

...and I most assuredly do NOT plan leisure. Not with a two year old to care for!

Postscript to Not Quite Bare Cupboard Challenge

Kathy was a sport and tried the current challenge.  I got her email reply last week but as you all know I've been rather busy and away from home.  Not much time for blogging!  However, I wanted to share a few things with you and most especially her menu/shopping since she did take time to plan it out:
Thanks for another challenge. I found this one easier than the first since I had some things that would carry over to the new menu. I think that I could feed my family(2 adults & 2 teens) on $30.26/week. Now my son would not be pleased as there are more beans than he is used to eating in a week. :D
Carryover foods: tea, sugar, pb, jelly, salt, chili powder, onions, carrots, ranch dressing

breakfasts: oatmeal, $1.59 milk gallon, $2.59, 18 eggs, $1.59, butter, $2.50, blackberries .99, baking powder, $1.59, flour, $1.89
So I could make pancakes and baking powder biscuits too. Love having more variety with buying baking powder.

lunch: Rhonda's bread recipe: eggs, pb&j, baked potatoes 5lb, $2.99


pinto beans and cornbread
$1 dry beans, $1.59 cornmeal
bean and cheese burritos, salsa and tostitos
tortillas 1.39, roma tomatoes $1, jalapenos .20 cheese $1.88, lettuce .99
taco soup x2
canned tomatoes 2x.59, corn .59, dry black beans $1 generic tostitos $1
black bean burgers
from black beans cooked earlier, make buns, oven fries
nathan hot dogs $1.99 make buns, baked potato, salad
chili and cornbread
from leftover pinto and black beans, cornbread, cheese
tomatoes 2x.59

snacks: can make sugar cookies, nachos,

Chef Owings shared her family recipe for egg noodles.
Heavens, my family makes noodles all the time and don't do all that. Usually it's one egg to one cup of might need to add a bit(half egg shell ?) of water if it's not moist enough. I have a friend that adds oil instead of water. Mix it well , let it rest for 15-20 min this is so it's easier to roll out due to the gluten it is forming. I usually toss a bit of Easy Roll from King Arthur Flour so I don't let it rest as long. Cut it and either toss it in the pot (cooks in 2-4 min ) or dry it. Nonna came from Northern Italy, they used fresh pasta always and my other side is from the Appalachians, they used dryer noodles. I have dried my in the dehydrator and stored in jars in the pantry.  

Sarah shared this in the comments on the final post.  If you haven't read the comments, I'd hate for any of you to miss this woman's blog.  I read the $20 challenge post she did but have saved her blog to take time to read through later when I have more time.

I don't know if you follow the blog but Jane decided recently to do a $20 a week challenge too. She only used salt and pepper from her pantry doing like you buying everything from scratch. If you haven't been following her you might like to go and see if you can get any new hints

Carole  wrote:  You can buy yeast in a jar at any supermarket and in bags at a bulk food store such as an Amish run store or health food type stores. It keeps indefinitely in the freezer. By doing that, you would not have to be so sparing in your use of yeast. You probably already knew that, but you mentioned using packets.
I do, Carole!  I only bought the three packets for this particular challenge because it was all I could afford and stay with in budget and pay taxes on my foods, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Not Quite Bare Cupboard Challenge: Final Update

Since we have officially eaten the last of the planned meals, I thought I'd do one final update with an amended list of leftovers to carry over to the next challenge and share a surprising bonus to my week.

The week went off pretty much as planned.  In reality I might have added in salads but in fact we ate what was on the menu save

We had chicken pot pie. That served us for two meals.  I went out to lunch with Mama one day and had a very light supper that evening.  I wish I could tell you what, but all I truly remember eating is berries and yogurt!

We had soup for two meals on Thursday which was cold and blustery.  The soup was tasty.  The noodles photographed were leftovers.  I let them sit overnight and put them into a jar. 
This is an ample amount of leftovers to serve the two of us.  Considering I just made a half recipe, I was quite pleased.  As Sarah pointed out gDonna made pasta this past week.   Two weeks before she made  noodles which is where I drew my inspiration from when I made out my challenge menu.  If you haven't read gDonna's blog, I do suggest it.  Not only is she frugal but she truly does have an interesting approach to living her simple life.  She is something of a plain cook but there's something very charming about her blog overall.  I want to go visit just to fill my eyes with all her lovely décor!

The same day I made the noodles, I put a cup of yogurt in a flour sack lined strainer over a deep bowl to drain and make Greek yogurt. 

Friday Mama treated John and I to a meal out as a belated birthday gift.  We enjoyed our meal which was absolutely delicious.  We didn't over indulge but we did end up bringing leftovers home.  John and I ate our leftovers for supper that night.

On Saturday we had guests.  Bess had mentioned that she really missed Sam making pizza on the weekend for them and I thought making pizza would be a fun way to nudge him back into the pizza making mode.  I told him my plan when he came in: I'd make the yogurt based dough and he could make his yeast dough and we'd compare the two.  That meant I was down another packet of yeast but we never finished one loaf of bread this week and certainly didn't need the second package to make more.  I would still have a packet of yeast left. 

Since he offered to buy lunch prior to my suggestion, I offered to pull a couple of items from the freezer and fridge to doll up our pizzas. We'll just pretend the guests brought some fixings since he was willing to pay out of pocket for lunch anyway, okay?  Had I truly been in my challenge situation I couldn't have done more than offer up a bit of sliced onion! 

Sam grabbed a can of fire roasted tomatoes from the pantry to make sauce with and then he and I both got busy with other prep and let it burn, sigh.  Fortunately the tomatoes just took on a smokier taste rather than bitter scorched flavor.  Had I added this in to my scenario budget it would have been just 40c from Aldi (which is exactly where I bought them). He did add about half my can of tomato paste to the sauce. 

I pulled my drained yogurt from the fridge and discovered that I didn't have a cup of  Greek yogurt.  I had a flat disk of a cream cheese like substance that might measure 1/3 cup total, not Greek yogurt.  Sam and I discussed it and determined that my homemade yogurt was already the thickness of  Greek yogurt, so I used a cup of it to make the dough.  This was a super simple recipe of 1 cup Greek yogurt to 1 cup flour and then you mix in as much of another 1/2 cup of flour as you can.  I would add a pinch of salt to that mixture next time.  It made a chewier dough and we agreed amongst us that had it been parbaked before topping it would have been best, but it was certainly edible and not at all biscuit like which I'd thought it might be.

The  yogurt 'cheese' I set to the side.  Sam and I both pinched a little piece from the disk and liked it.  Just slightly tart, creamy and smooth.  We decided to use that cheese on our pizzas in addition to the 8 ounce block of cheese.  There were pizza leftovers (about four slices) though we ate all we wanted from the two pizzas. 

For supper that evening, instead of having leftover pizza, I wanted to go ahead and use the chicken legs.  I decided to make the boxed Mac and cheese to go along with that and made up a salad to go along with it.  When I told John it was the last of the chicken he said "Good!"  I think he'd gotten a bit tired of chicken this week, lol.  I will definitely buy one of these roasters again in the future when I see them at Aldi.  Remember this bird weighed in at 10 pounds.  And I didn't save the giblets packet but cooked those and fed to the pets.

Now let us return to scenario foods for a moment or two.  I have leftover at this point:

four slices of pizza
1 c dried black beans
1 can refried beans (I didn't make dip, didn't use on pizzas either as I'd thought I might at one point)
1 package of dry yeast
2 onions
1 pound of potatoes
1/2 bunch of celery
1/2 pound carrots
about 1 1/2 pounds flour (or about 6 cups)
about 3 1/2 pounds sugar (or about 7 cups)
about 3 cups of oatmeal (remember we only had it 3 mornings)
3/4 cup of cooked chicken
1 quart of chicken broth with fat still atop
2 cups egg noodles
5 cups yogurt
2 eggs (we didn't eat an omelet for supper as planned)
tomato paste about 2 ounces (or 1/3 of the can)
1/2 jar of peanut butter
1/3 cup of margarine
garlic powder

So for my next challenge, I will begin with something of a pantry.  Were it too prove necessary I could easily a meal or two off these foods.

Remember that is a food only budget and it's not feeding our cat or dog nor providing us with personal care, cleaning or paper products.  So we'll keep pressing forward and seeing what we can do in future challenges but I say sincerely I feel I could manage well enough on this particular budget if need be.

Of the two challenges thus far, the $30 challenge, while still difficult to plan out, was more satisfying than the $20 budget challenge.  For my area, I don't believe I'd like to have to go below $30 if we found ourselves in dire straits.  That said, I'm not sure if I could manage from only our local store at that budget level.  I see another challenge in my future...