Friday, August 26, 2016

Frugal Friday: Using What I Have

This is my first handmade apron.  The fabric is blue and white stripe and the pockets and ties are white with blue birds in flight.  It took about two hours to make.  The part that goes over the head is a little bit too big for me.  I think I will leave it as made and just knot or use a d-ring to take it up.

Saturday:  I received a very nice surprise in the mail.  It was a set of three books from Wanda Brunstetter: her newest book, an Amish cookbook and an Amish quilts book.  All three are brand new and were completely a surprise to me.  I signed up months ago for a free book from this author and apparently my name is still on the publisher's list.

John had asked that I make a pot roast for dinner from the shoulder roast I purchased the other day.  It was a two pound roast.  I'm not very familiar with shoulder roasts and I wasn't sure if it would shrink as much as chuck roasts usually do.  It didn't.  It was tender and cut nicely.  I will get at least two more entrees from this.  I have meat, vegetables and gravy for a beef pot pie and beef and gravy to serve as open faced sandwiches for another meal.  I suspect the pot pie will be two meals for us.

We had leftovers from last night's supper for our evening meal.  There is enough of the BBQ chicken to make another sandwich.

Sunday:  Packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast.

I was so disappointed when I went out to see John off.  It was deeply humid and made the morning air just not feel nice at all.  No sitting on the porch this morning!  Instead I came indoors and had my lovely little coffee tray set up.  I ate crisp toast (and an egg) while watching sunrise from my chair in the kitchen sitting area.

Stripped beds this morning.  I put a full load of wash on and then set to remake the beds with fresh sheets.  Samuel borrowed a set of full sheets when he stayed that week in his new home and didn't bring back the top sheet, just the bottom sheet. I happened to have two pretty vintage sheets here I'd picked up at yard sales, both full size.  I did have to hem the side of the sheet I chose to use but it took moments with the machine.  I rather like that vintage sheet and think I may look for other sets while I'm out and about.

Hung all the sheets to dry, the bulk of the rest of the clothes went on the laundry rack and I hung shirts to dry on hangers in the laundry doorway.  I had a mere handful of things I tossed in the dryer and timed them while I was hemming that sheet for the guest bed.

There was a nice-ish breeze and some decrease in the humidity this morning by the time I hung out laundry, so I decided to go ahead and mulch the next bit of flower bed about the house.  I used all six bags of mulch and got about half the space covered.  I was one landscape block short having enough to edge the first stretch of that bed.  I used an old brick instead.

Planted the tiger lily Granny gave me years ago.  They've been in the same pots she'd potted them in years and years ago and I knew they needed to refreshed.  I so enjoy Tiger Lily!  I planted them in my corner bed at the back of the bed since they tend to be nice and tall.  Fingers crossed they like that spot and return next year.

Sat on the porch and contemplated cleaning it but the instructions on the wash says it must sit for a few minutes and then be scrubbed off.  I was too tired to contemplate unwinding the hose, forget scrubbing anything off.  While I sat and debated this I noted how bad my back door looked.  Cleaning didn't help it much and so I plundered the paint cupboard and found the quart of Olympia 'Apple A Day' I'd used years ago to paint the front door.  I painted my back door.  Three coats and it could use one more but it's amazing how well it looks.  Even the dints and dings don't show up with this dark red on the door.  While I had the paint well shaken and in use, I went ahead and put a fresh coat on the front door, too. 

It was about this time I realized I was well past a shower...and couldn't go take one because both doors were wet and couldn't be closed...You don't know how very dirty you are until you realize you've just knocked yourself out of any possibility of a shower.

Printed off some photos of my grandchildren on regular copy paper and inserted into magnetic frames to hang on the fridge.

Scanned photos and ads from the September vintage magazines.  I use this art work on my blog, so if you've ever wondered about my sources, that's it:  women's magazines from 1920's to late 1950's.

Ate some of the leftover pot roast and vegetables for dinner.

Ate leftovers of various things from the fridge and fruit basket for supper.

Pieced together nine outfits.  I'd stumbled upon a list of possible fresh ideas to use in the back of my clipboard.  How nice to have outfits all set up for the coming weeks.

Set two really ripe bananas on the baking counter along with the recipe I plan to use to make muffins tomorrow morning. 

I have so enjoyed opening my nightstand drawer and getting a faint whiff of my favorite perfume when I take my nightie out or put it in the drawer...I decided to do the same for the lingerie drawer in my dresser.  Tomorrow I plan to use more of that pretty contact paper to line those drawers.

Monday:  Ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Used saved water to water front porch plants and dishwater to pour down over the Tiger lily bulbs I planted yesterday.

Made sure to turn up the air conditioner which I'd turned down last night when I it got stuffy in the house.  I never lower it below 75f.  We typically have it set at 77f.

Made biscuits this morning for our breakfast.  I never get the 16 the recipe says it will make.  Typically I get 10 and this is not a large biscuit by any means.  I use an old 8 ounce tomato sauce can with both ends cut out to cut the biscuits so you can see I'm not using a big cutter either.  I did follow the recipe exactly by the way, which is always a savings.

I'd thought I'd make banana nut bread but in flipping through the pages of the cookbook I found a recipe for a banana bran muffin I'd never tried that I made instead.  It called for just 2 tablespoons each of oil and has a lovely buttery taste though no butter was used in the making.  It called for a cup of whole bran.  I used what I had which was raisin bran cereal which I soaked with the milk and egg and mashed banana while the biscuits baked.  The recipe made six slightly larger muffins.  My muffin pan is not the usual size but not Texas sized either.  The recipe suggested it would make about 10 muffins.  I got six.  This recipe used up the two over ripe bananas left on our counter this week.  Josh was here and ate several bananas during his stay, so no waste this time!

I made my first apron.  I have a nice small stash of cotton fabrics, all mostly remnants I've picked up from fabric department end caps for a lower price per yard.  I pick up just anything I like the pattern of usually.  I have several other combinations laid out to make aprons from but not today.  I had such a back ache when I was done with this one made today.  I like that the fabric is light so it won't add a layer of heat.  The stripe I used made it very easy to place patch pockets.  I used an antique apron I'd bought at the thrift store a long time ago as my pattern.  The antique one seems to be made from sheeting which is another possibility for fabric to use.

I made chocolate syrup.  I used half the sugar called for in the recipe.  It still tasted mighty good in the milk we had with supper tonight.  I used the Tightwad Gazette recipe altered as follows:
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp vanilla (I used 1 teaspoon)

Mix salt, cocoa, sugar and water in a 2 quart pot.  Bring to boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Turn off heat and add vanilla.  Cool and bottle in a glass jar.  Keep in fridge.

Odd, but we've eaten every last bit of fruit that we had in the house.  All.  Not one spare grape is left.  I'll be buying more while we're out tomorrow.

John has promised me breakfast if we can leave early in the morning, which is no hardship as far as I'm concerned.  It's still plenty hot and I'd much rather be home by noon or thereabouts instead of just starting our day at that hour.  I have bagged trash in anticipation of an early leave taking.  I have my outfits set up so just need to choose one. 

Tuesday:  John and I were on a mission today.  We are slowly buying things needed to do some renovation work on our home.  Today's purchases included some needed tools.  We took money from a savings account to buy these items.  I walked though the garden center intending to make some plant purchases but found nothing much that interested me.  I think August is just not the best purchase month for the things I'm looking for at present.  My personal spending today came to $0.

We had a lovely breakfast out.  I really enjoyed it and was glad for John's suggestion.

I knew we needed fruit and asked to go by Aldi which was on the same roadway that we were on for breakfast and shopping.  I spent less than $13 on fruits, a head of lettuce, and a tub of plain yogurt.  I am so over strawberries and blueberries and ready for autumn fruits.  Today  I purchased apples, grapes and mandarins.  That $13 purchase still has me under budget this pay period.

We made one more stop on the way home so that John could discuss a trade with a business owner.  He was receptive to the trade and told him to bring the item with him next time he was in town.

We took the long cut home.  It's just a few more miles (perhaps five?) than the more direct route but it's all through lovely country roads, small towns and former small communities.  It made for a very pleasant way home.  I noted lots of golden rod with just hints of gold at top, not yet blooming, but standing tall and ready.

We came home and it was past lunchtime when we arrived.   I contemplated many possibilities for a meal and ultimately decided to have something light.  Fresh mandarins, cold cottage cheese and a banana bran muffin suited me.  We'll have hamburgers for supper tonight when I'm less pressured for time to get something on the table.

I made the burgers for supper.  I poured some water into the pan and let it sit after I was done cooking.  I started to pour this out but thought of Tamar Adler.  There was a bit pan juices and the scrapings from it, and there was a ketchup bottle with the leavings of that.  I poured the pan juices into the ketchup bottle and saved the lot in the fridge to add to soup this week.  Last week's chicken soup was a huge hit with John and I'm hoping this week's vegetable beef soup will be as well.

Poured the dish water over the Tiger Lily.

My vintage magazines arrived today.  So happy to have new reading material.

Also in, the credit card statement.  Lordy!  I can account for it all but it's just always shocking.  I think I'm going to  put a spending freeze on that until next January.  I have one bill that is automatically billed to the credit card but I can certainly cease all personal spending on that.

Our electric bill in today as well.  It dropped nearly $50 over last month.  I told John I wasn't in the least surprised.  While the kids were here the AC ran non-stop because we had to keep so many doors shut to keep Josh contained to the main living area.  More water due to extra laundry, dishes and baths, more electricity with the use of the dryer and dishwasher...It was no hardship having the kids here but it did cost more and it showed.

Wednesday:  We slept in late this morning.  Breakfast was easy enough.  I split and toasted leftover biscuits and browned sausage patties.

John washed a medium load of clothes.  I hung them to dry on the clothesline.

John went out to do some work in his shed this morning.  While he was outdoors, I swept floors and then mopped.  I poured mop water over the flower pots on the back porch.

I made a pot of soup for lunch.  I used a jar of thawed vegetable stock, apparently left over from a crock pot roast, the bit of pan juices and ketchup from last night to add flavor.  I used mixed vegetables, canned potatoes and tomatoes, some browned hamburger meat and onions.  It was delicious and even though we ate generous portions and I made only half a Dutch oven, I have two quarts to put in the freezer.

Cut out two more aprons today.  All from my fabric stash.  I swear I'm already addicted to making them.

I cleaned up our closet.  It took a lot less time than I'd thought it would.  Now isn't that always the way when you've put off something for far too long? 

Thursday:  We had a good work day between us.  John did work in his shop, I worked cleaning out a cabinet and organizing it.  I made an apron, he worked on decluttering more stuff from his music room.  Together we worked about our home.

I ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher today after lunch.

Cooked extra potatoes so I have some ready to make hash browns for breakfast one morning very soon.

I made a batch of oatmeal cookies.  Most of these are packed up to go to Katie's.

I took time today to gather up the things I mean to take up to Kate's home.

Prepared a package to go into mail.  Gathered up bills that need to go out now.  Money was already in the account for these bills, I was just waiting on the bill to arrive so I could remit them.

Spent time on Pinterest this afternoon.  I found some great helpful ideas for decorating my house for fall without making it all orange and brown.  Many ideas I collected will re-use items I already have on hand.

Friday:  Made breakfast sandwiches for our morning meal.  It seems far more filling somehow than merely putting an egg, a piece of sausage and two pieces of toast on a plate.  I don't know why, but it just does.

Boiled a half dozen eggs this morning.  That will make egg salad and one will go into potato salad I'm taking up to Katie's.

A few weeks ago I saw something on Pinterest about organizing the fridge.  The pinner used a corner plate rack on her fridge shelf and then was able to stack casseroles and pie plates so that she expanded the space she had to use.  I've stacked dishes atop others but it's not always been easy to remove what was needed, especially if it was in the middle of the stack.  Today I found one of those corner plate racks and purchased it just especially for my fridge.  I've already put it into use.

Bought a small tester pot of paint to use to paint the table between our chairs in the living room.

I bought chicken for dinner today  since it was on sale at market this week.  I have enough leftovers to serve us dinner Sunday when we come in from church.

While I was in the store, I went ahead and purchased that delicious bakery bread we're so fond of.  Now I won't have to worry about not having bread at the beginning of this next week.

I made sandwiches to eat for our supper on the way home from Katie's.

When we went out today we combined several tasks: picked up mail, sent out package and mail, took off trash, ran an errand or two.

And here I shall wind up for the week.  What did you do to generate savings in your home this week?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fall Harvest of Produce

Hard to believe that August is almost over, isn't it?  Well, it is.  And it's time to start thinking of what's seasonal for fall.                                                                                                                    

It can be confusing this day and time to walk into a grocery and plan to buy only seasonal produce.  You'll find all sorts of things out of season...How can you tell if it's currently in season?  First look at the country of origin.  If it's outside the U.S. and below the southern equator, it's in season for that part of the world but not ours.  This list should help keep you aware of what's in season for the next three months.

Fall- September, October, November
Brussel Sprouts
Chinese Cabbage
Celery Root
Head or Iceberg Lettuce
Leaf Lettuce
Mandarin Oranges
Chile Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Winter Squash
Star Fruit
Sweet Potatoes

As you can see there are a variety of fruits and vegetables, enough to allow plenty of variety in any diet.  Remember that seasonal foods are usually locally grown or provided by growers in nearby surrounding areas and are always the better priced foods because they are available in quantity.

I've already seen plenty of fresh U.S. grapes in the markets as well as fresh mandarins.  Aldi has mushrooms at $.79/punnet this week, too.  Keep your list handy and see if you can spot all the great seasonal buys in the sales ads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Iced Tea Chat: The Golden Days

Come on in!  I have a lovely peach iced tea.  There's plenty of ice and we'll need it.  It's no less hot, despite the rather optimistic forecast on the city website.   The Farmer's Almanac is nearer being right with their prediction which was for hot weather through this week.  And how hard is it to believe that we are rapidly winding our way into the last week of August?  Gracious!

I've not been working hard of late.  Truth told, it's too hot to work hard.  It's too hot to do much at all, except sit quietly and sip something cool.  It takes almost no time at all to work up a hard lather.  It just wrings me out to do any hard tasks.  This week I laid six bags of mulch in the last flower bed area on the back side of the house.  I moved the landscape brick in place and finished the job a tiny bit frustrated because I almost had enough brick to finish the one section and almost had enough mulch to finish another section and no more of any of those items.  It will wait until next pay period when I can get more. 

I sat on the back porch after that job and looked about at the next big job of washing down the back porch.  The idea of scrubbing that porch after laying the mulch just filled me with overwhelm.  As I enjoyed the lovely breeze, I looked about at the porch and thought of the many projects in that space alone: refreshing the paint on the cafe set, cleaning, painting the flooring, cleaning and painting that old cabinet I'd put there at the end.  I looked at the back door area.  Sam put new screening in the door but he put it in before the window was cleaned and so there are big dog paw prints on the glass behind the screen.  The storm door could use a good coat of paint and the hardware on that door needs paint as well.  Then the back door...I got up then and grabbed a soapy rag and a scrubby and went to work on the door thinking I'd at least get off the layer of grime.  No luck. 

Suddenly the 20 or 30 little projects I've got in mind to do were displaced by the idea that I just had to do something with that door.  And that is how my mind tends to work, lol.  I have been looking for a paint color called Marine Blue which I wanted to use on the back door but I haven't been able to find more of that color.  I decided in that moment that I'd dig out the paint I'd used on the front door, a lovely red paint called An Apple A Day.  I put three coats on the back door that day and a fresh coat on the front door as well.   Looking at that back door critically, I'd say it needs another coat.  I have enough paint to do that, but you know painting the outside of the door pointed up just how bad the inside of the door looks, lol.  Isn't that about the way it goes?

I didn't get much more done that particular day.  The next day I made myself a pretty little apron.  It's blue and white stripe cotton with a white with blue birds in flight accent.  I tried to take a picture of it on me but it didn't turn out very well.  I was loading that picture onto the computer when I found a surprise photo that made me smile.  I have a pretty French yellow with blue and white print on it that I want to pair with a blue and white striped seersucker.  And then there's a piece of vintage looking fabric in white with blue and purple flowers on it and a pretty piece of blue calico with purple and white in the pattern that I think will make a pretty pair.  As with all things, I make one and suddenly my mind spins into several pairings of fabrics and I want to do nothing but make aprons. 
                                                                 The apron I just made:

                                     I cut out two more.  I won't put pockets on this first one:
 The second one.  I'd meant to use the white fabric as the body of the apron, but when I unfolded up, I chuckled to myself.  Someone once upon a time was planning to use this pretty piece of fabric to make an ironing board cover and then put it away after partially cutting it.  I changed plans and used the calico as the body and the vintage piece as my straps and pocket material. 
 Can you tell I'm enamored with the vintage fabric.  I was putting things away and noted that the green gingham also is a good match.  I haven't cut it out yet, but....see how addictive I find aprons now that I've started? 

In one my vintage magazines, a homemaker said in the tip sharing column that she made herself a half dozen house dresses and made a dozen aprons to match the dresses.  In this way she had a pretty pair of coordinated aprons to go with each dress.  She always had a clean one to put on if someone stopped by unexpectedly.    I think this idea is a wonderful one.  

Aprons are handy for the kitchen work but just as handy to wear out in the yard.  I can't name the number of times I've messed up freshly put on clothes doing yard work or potting plants...I think I've just talked myself into at least a half dozen aprons.  They are easy enough to make and I've plenty f fabric pieces to use, so why not?

I let Josh play with my camera while he was here last Friday evening and he took just tons of pictures of the floor, his fingers, toys on the floor, feet on the floor, basically just stuff that was on the floor.  I must have cleared out a hundred photos.  I'd wanted to show off my new apron but the photo was so bad that I have to take a new one of it. I went through scores of photos that day,  but then I came across this one:

It's a regular selfie, isn't it?  It made me laugh out loud when I saw that sweet boy's face and smile. 

Bess and Sam were supposed to spend time with me this week but Sam's meeting was cancelled.  They were coming up Friday though for an unrelated appointment and Bess asked if they might spend the night.  She said she wasn't coming that close to us without seeing me, which pleased me no end.  Of course, it was perfectly fine with us to have them stop with us.  But I felt Bess' pain when she said the next morning that it wasn't nearly a long enough visit.  I whole heartedly agreed and told her I'd really suffered coming back home from their new house last month with our three hour visit.

John has had a number of extra days off.  Not a whole string of them at once but an extra day or two off the last couple of months.  He's got a couple of days off this week.  I was happy as could be when he suggested we go see Katie and her family.  I can't wait to see Taylor and the big dog Zoey and the new little bitty kitten that is Taylor's.

This time of year, when we go visit, we can stay a little longer.  In winter months, we have to leave early or we must drive a windy tree lined road in the dark.  It's hard to see when it's gone truly dark and since the ride home is almost three hours, it can get truly dark.  I say that to say I've noticed it's getting dark earlier, along about 8:30...and it's getting light later in the morning.  This makes me sad on this account.  I'd had such hopes of spending more time with Katie this summer and here I am.  I've not been up to her place once since the end of May.  I know I had family here all the month of June...and we did see Katie here in July but it's not nearly enough. 

I have been busily Fall cleaning.  If you protest, "But it isn't fall yet!"  that would be perfectly true but that change of sunrise/sunset and the sun having changed positions makes me ready to prepare for Fall, and so I've been cleaning, deeply in several rooms.  I've done loads of work and have plenty more I might do.  I am ready to hang quilts out to air.  I want to hang them in this lovely hot sunshine.  Then some night I'll unfold the summer stored in the folds of the quilt and let summer warm me through the first cold night.  Such a lovely scent air freshened sheets have!  I find it every bit as soothing and sleep inducing as lavender.

I've made soup twice and a pot roast in the last week.  John requested the pot roast.  It's not at all unusual for us in these last hot days to start craving richer, heartier meals.  I used a shoulder roast for the pot roast.  It's not a cut I'd normally use but the grocer had a 'how to cook' label on the meat and shoulder roast is good for long slow simmering.   It was a $1 less than a chuck roast and I decided I'd give it a try.  I'm sold!  It was tender and delicious and shrank very little.  I had enough leftovers from that roast to make hot roast beef sandwiches and a beef pot pie, too.  It wasn't a large roast, just 2 pounds but it's really given us a lot of mileage.

In autumn we generally stock up on meats.  This year we won't be doing that as my freezer is so full from downsizing to just one.  So John suggested we take the stocking up funds and replenish the dry pantry goods.  I think that is a brilliant idea.  I have to sit down over the next couple of weeks and determine just what I want to stock and in what quantity.  I have this sort of random way of buying things at times that doesn't stand me well in the long run.  I buy an unfamiliar product that sounds like it might be good but have no recipes that call for it, no idea how to serve it. 

Knowing this about myself, I'm going to use a basics approach first: corn, green beans, tomatoes and tomato products, canned dried beans of various sorts, a few cans of potatoes and carrots, boxes of whole wheat pasta, brown rice, dry cereals and crackers.  Condiments always come in handy, a few basic often used seasonings like salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic, olive oil and a few bulk baking supplies such as flour, sugars, cornmeal and chocolate chips.  And yes, a few basic fruits: peaches, pears, applesauce, pineapple in various cuts, cranberry sauce.  I discovered this past year some canned cherries and blueberries at Aldi that are packed in water/juice and they taste very good in sauces or cobblers or drained to use in baked items.  Those are the basics I'll look into stocking.  I figure I can always add the 'extras' as I come across decent sales, the things that aren't necessary but nice like pimentos, pickles. maraschino cherries, maple syrup and various jams and jellies beyond grape and apple.   I'd like to stock a few canned meats but not so many since we usually don't eat that many of those.   It isn't exactly the same as canning my own and putting by for the coming months but it's made me a little excited as though I were doing just that.

I've had the most fun with my vintage magazines this month.  I'm always looking to cull ideas from them, use them to gather new vintage photos to share here with blog posts, amuse myself by noting that a popular color combination is now on trend today.   This month I've been looking for recipes to try or menu ideas.  I'll be incorporating these into my plans for next month (which starts next week!).
Part of my reason for doing this is because many meal plans and recipes in magazines then were very economical.  Part of it is because I just want to try some of these recipes out for myself.  They might become new favorites. 

I said I wouldn't discuss politics and I'm not really but what I'm about to say came to me the other day in regards to politics.  I was trolling about on Facebook and I saw a statement made about a candidate that I very nearly shared.  I had my cursor on the 'share' button when I felt strongly that I'd better research that statement...I stopped and thought, "Well why should I?  Does anyone ever check facts when posting things about the candidate I'd like to see voted in?"  And clearly, I saw exactly why I should check facts, even if it does seem to justify my point of view:  If I share an untruth about an opponent or anyone else, without looking to see if it's truth, then I'm doing nothing more than spreading lies.   If it is something that is unflattering to the candidate, however true, then I'm simply spreading gossip.   My Bible is pretty plain on gossiping and lying and it is not a quality suited to any good man or woman.  I stumble all of the time, but I don't have to purposefully set myself to stumble about now do I?   As it happened, I didn't research the issue, but I also didn't share the statement, because I was so strongly convicted about spreading gossip...Just thought I'd share that in case any of you need to stop and check before you share...

Well, I guess it's time for me to end this up.  I seem to have taken an awful long time to say very little overall.  It's just that way at times isn't it?  Of course, as I've been typing I've left the computer to do other things.  I've cut out aprons and cleaned my closet and packed up a box meant to be sent out this week.   Just little tasks that called my attention briefly and gave me a moment to think again over what I'd like to say to you all.  Now I really should say goodbye.  It's getting late for tea and visits.  You'll have to hurry home.  But when you get there, turn back to look at this setting sun...It's really going to be pretty!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Make it Yourself: Dried Sweetened Cocoanut

Image result for coconut

I don't know how this would price out in comparison to buying your own, but I do know some folks just like fresh cocoanut.  Granny made a fresh cocoanut cake every year  at Christmas when cocoanuts were in the market and she did all the hard work herself.  I didn't even realize you might dry your own cocoanut from the fresh though! 

From the September 1945 issue of Woman's Day magazine in the Neighbor's Column comes this method for preserving cocoanut.  Apparently buying dried sweetened cocoanut was difficult to come by at that time:

When fresh cocoanut is in market, use the liquid (milk) to make custard or pie.  Then  put the peeled meat through the fine cutter of the food grinder.  Bring to boil 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, then add cocoanut and cook for five minutes.  Spread on a large baking sheet and put in a slow oven (250f) for about two hours.  It should dry thoroughly but not brown.  Cool, then store in a dry, clean jar.  Should make about three cups.

I grew curious about coconut and when it's available, etc.  Apparently it is in fruit year round and ripened coconuts (called copra) are sold when the outer husk turns brown.  It takes roughly a year for the coconut to ripen fully.  I didn't even realize coconut was available year round!  That means like oranges and bananas it might well be bought in season year round. 

Once in market coconuts are good for about two weeks at room temperature, but may be kept whole in the refrigerator for up to two months.  It is a crop that cannot be mechanically harvested, and either a human must climb the tree and cut the nut away or a long pole with a sharp knife at the other end is used to cut away the coconut.

This article also goes into detail on how to grow your own coconut palm, which is hardy to zone 9. You plant the whole coconut on it's side and buried about half way in the soil.  It is best planted when the temperatures are between 90f and 100f which insures germination. I found it very intriguing to think I might grow a coconut palm and harvest my own nuts, though how I'd ever reach them is another story, lol.  I thought perhaps some of the rest of you in the same zones (9-10) might be interested as well.

I hope you all find this as intriguing as I did.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Power of a Penny

You all asked me to share some of my old Penny Ann Poundwise writings.  I've edited the post below slightly.  I used to call my family by fictitious names to protect their privacy, so that may read strange to you.  Chance (John), Kay (Katie), Amie (Susan), Jd (Doug), and Sam (Alan) were their former names. 

We no longer save our change for vacations but donate it to charitable ministry programs that we feel are worthwhile.  It still adds up to a decent sum of money and I'm always surprised each month when we cash in the coins so we can write our checks.

What I find more puzzling today is that it's often coins of all denominations that people feel is not worth picking up.  I mentioned a few months ago about a woman dropping a handful of quarters and walking away as they rolled across the pavement.  John related this past week that he stopped in a parking lot and picked up $.78...which a man who'd been sitting in the corner of the store then said "Give that to me..."  John pointed out that he'd been the one doing the work of picking it up, to which the man had no reply.  John is not uncharitable but it seemed to him that the man might at any point have picked up those coins.  Instead he waited for someone else to do it and then asked for it!   John also finds change at work, dropped by co-workers, who feel it isn't worthwhile to bend over and pick it up.  Of the saved change we donate to charity each month, I can say sincerely that $5 a month or more is change John picks up off the floor at work!

Last, the link in the first paragraph is good for the blog mentioned.  The Boomer House is listed on the right sidebar of the linked blog.  Donna doesn't blog there any longer but there are loads of good posts well worth reading.

The Power of A Penny  (originally posted August 18, 2009 @ PennyAnn Poundwise blog)


In between rounds of housework this morning I was visiting and watching some of the videos she's posted.  Two I found most interesting were about Home Economics (and the many avenues that home economics cover) and another she's tagged as Boomer Housewife which is all about the value of savings and thrift.

Well this led, naturally, to my thinking about pennies.  Pennies these days are considered a nuisance.  In fact, the government nearly stopped minting pennies this year.  The cost of minting a penny costs roughly $.02 these days.  And the government seriously considered the value of pennies worthless in today's society.  However, the American public was polled and it was discovered that they couldn't imagine a penniless world.  I found this quite interesting in light of the out of whack spending habits of most Americans.  And good thing.  Do you realize that had the penny lost it's place in our monetary system that all costs would have risen?  Why?  Because with the loss of the penny, all our prices would have been rounded up to an even number, and so would our taxes!
Chance(John) and I have long saved our pennies (and dimes, nickels and quarters) to use for vacation spending each year.  Over a year's time the coins we saved often added up to $200 or more.  Of that, often the pennies alone made up 1/3 of the money saved. 

When our children were little, they often distrusted anyone who wanted to give them a quarter instead of the lovely copper penny.  They instinctively felt the penny, due to it's different appearance was far superior to the silver colored nickel, dime and quarter.  And forget paper money!  Pennies in a little hand could be made to rattle.  Dollars tore and were no longer useful.  A penny was so coveted that Daddy's pockets were eagerly emptied of all pennies and  the few coins collected were safely stowed away in a piggy bank.

Marketing experts long ago determined that the difference between $29.99 and $30.00 on a pricing sign would make or break a sale.  People actually consider the prices ending in the number '9' to be a better buy than those ending in '0'.  That is one reason why Walmart has made such a huge market for themselves.  Think about it.  Given the opportunity to pay $2.49 for an item, or $2.46 for the same thing at Walmart which would you choose.  To save the extra $.03 naturally.  Pennies.   The  mind set that a penny saved is a penny earned still exists, even today in our world of overspending and economic irresponsibility.

What I have found interesting though, is the mind set doesn't extend to the actual penny itself.  How many times have I walked across a parking lot and picked up pennies?  Most people consider them worthless and so when dropped they leave them lying on the ground.  This attitude puzzles me.  Considering what my husband does each day on his job to earn his pay, I figure that bending over to pick up a penny, which will likely get tossed in our vacation jar, requires far less labor than any portion of his job.

It takes me one second to bend over and pick up a penny.  One  second.  If I spent one hour picking up pennies off the ground, the return rate would be $36.00/hour for that work (and I'd likely have a great deal smaller waistline than I do at present!).  Now my husband works hard for his pay.  He makes a LOT less than $36.00 an hour.  Yet, people will willingly ignore pennies literally right under their feet, because they feel it isn't worthwhile to pick them up!

It was not uncommon in my childhood to buy a small brown paper bag of penny candy.  Given a dime we could pick and choose from a variety of candies for that price.  It took us no time at all to figure out that 1 penny equaled one piece of candy and we loved to save our pennies.  Now these days the penny candy is no longer a known item.  It takes more pennies to buy a piece of candy, that's for sure.  But given the power to buy no candy or purchase it only with saved pennies, would you go without candy and fail to save the pennies required?

Often in our households we must determine whether we are going to have this or that.  If our tastes run to caviar and we can only afford catfish we've got a problem. So what's the solution?  Cut down on catfish and a few other items and occasionally have caviar, would be the most reasonable.  How would we do that?  Buying catfish only when it's on sale would be one way.  The savings between buying at regular price and on sale could be set aside for caviar.  Finding a less expensive alternative to catfish would be another.  Either way, you'll get to have your caviar. 

Or you could follow the modern day thinking and buy caviar regardless of your budget, getting further behind and  deeper and deeper in debt and failing eventually to meet even basic family needs all because of your lack of regard for the common every day penny.

Let's start giving the penny the value it has once more!  Let us, as frugal and thrifty home makers, try our best to save the pennies and turn them into the dollars we can use to benefit our home and families. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Did You Ask?

Did You Ask?  *2006 post...

Several years ago, Joyce Meyer ministry sent out a small banner with a scripture verse that read: ...You have not because you ask not... James 4:2

We had a prime example of that in our home just this afternoon.  We picked up my daughter's contact lenses and brought them home this afternoon.   When she saw them she said  "You didn't get solution."
 "I didn't know you needed any."
"Well they usually just give it to you when you pick up my contacts."

This is true.   George is always good about giving us free solution as they have tons of sample bottles from sales reps.  However, this particular day her dad went in to pick up the contacts and contacts is all he picked up.   George apparently wasn't the one to wait on him.  Some of the other assistants simply don't offer free solution to patients.

"I  haven't had any solution for over a month!" she said.

"I can't read minds dear," was the remark I made as she shut the door.

She didn't state her need prior to today, nor had she asked me to get contact solution. She didn't receive solution because she didn‘t ask.

We as Christians have a hard time receiving the blessings God wants to give us. We've been admonished to NOT ask to have our needs met, accused at times of having a 'shopping list' of needs. We've been led to believe that we're petty and grasping and that our personal needs are minor compared to the real problems in the world. We've been taught to steer away from mentioning financial needs.  Some spiritual leaders can even make it appear that praying for others whom we know is almost a thing of blasphemy.  In honesty, we can get to the point that we feel guilty for praying for anything except an end to world hunger and world wide peace!

It is true that we can become selfish and focus too much upon our own needs in prayer, often forgetting that we are to pray for our fellow man as well.  But 'we have not because we ask not'.
Just as I want my dear daughter to have what she needs (in this case, contact solution), God wants to meet our needs. He isn't going to provide what I need unless I ask Him, just as I didn't provide my daughter's need.

If I need guidance in a situation, I have to ask for it.  If I need money or material goods to meet a need, I have to ask for it.  If I need healing in my body or emotions, I have to ask for it. My God, who knows everything, who had a plan for my life before I was formed in the womb, who has dominion over all, who knows my thoughts and the innermost longings of my heart, will not provide for me until I ask. Why?

#1.  He waits for us to choose Him. From the beginning, God has allowed us freewill.  He gave us the freedom to live and die by our own choices.  He does not make it a habit to force His will upon us. Oh, He grieves over us and He does at times get angry with us and disciplines us; but it is His utmost desire that we choose to follow Him, for He knows that willing hearts are always the byproduct of true love. He is respectful of our person. He doesn't have to be! 

#2.  He wants us to recognize our need of Him.  I have a tendency to try to do things 'by myself'. I don't want help;  I don't want input;  I simply want to get the job done even when the task is out of my area of expertise.  When I am thoroughly frustrated, have run my head into the wall a few hundred times, thrown up my hands in anger, I will finally stop and ask for help.

When I ask for help, I've given up trying to do things my way.  I've surrendered self.  I've surrendered my pride, my ego and my 'control' and relinquished it to someone who has superior knowledge in that area, who can make my life easier. And that is what God wants from us: surrender. When we ask Him to help us we're surrendering to Him, allowing Him to use the power and wisdom He has to provide for us in our need.

#3.  He waits for us to open ourselves to Him.  Several months ago, our church went through a painful transition.  Members who had been with us from the very beginning began to leave our church.  These people were influential in our church's foundation months and led many of the major project areas.  They were well loved by the congregation and much appreciated.  When they left, we grieved for our loss.

As I ran errands one day, I spent a great deal of time in thought and prayer about those former members.  I wept openly at one point and asked God to help me understand why so many who were so loved had chosen to leave.  God, in His kindness and mercy, gave me a vision and an  understanding.  I saw two hands, closed as though they were clenching something very tightly.  I 'knew' immediately that I was holding too tightly to what our church had once been. Then I saw two open hands.  Again I knew that only when I was willing to let go of that past could I be open to receive what God wanted to give for the future. 

Later that week, I shared that vision and understanding and the resulting peace I'd felt with the pastor and our congregation .   Over the next months our congregation not only grew, but many manifestations of the Holy Spirit took place during our services.  Today, we all realize that our church could not have moved forward with the other members in place.  They had served the purpose God intended when they helped our church begin.  It was time for them to use their skills and services in a new field, while our own church continued to grow as God intended.  Had we held on to our hurt and grief we'd never have been open to the movement of God in our midst, because He will not fill that which is already filled.

What are you lacking in your life?  What need have you been waiting for God to meet?  Have you asked him for what you need?

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." II Chronicles 1:7 (NIV)

Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.  Zecheriah 10:1 (NIV)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!   Matthew 7:7-11(NIV)

What do you need?  Have you asked your Father?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

In My Home This Week: Golden Days Begin

In my home this week:

...Now isn't that pretty?  I note that colors in the depression and war years tended to be very saturated which is not typical of today, and bedrooms were often unashamedly feminine.  I think this is just lovely though I'd choose a lighter color for walls and carpet I think.  I've sighed over a dressing table all my years, from earliest girl hood onwards and only recently have determined that I shall have to sigh over them for a long while yet.  There's simply no practical place to put one. 

No crying over what I can't fit.  How blessed I am to have a house full of furnishings!  There was a day and time when we had plenty of empty spaces in our home and I despaired of ever being able to have enough to fully furnish my home.  It took a change of mindset and a willingness to acquire good quality used in place of the new I once longed for but the compromise has worked out well for me.  I am able to look about my home and feel a small amount of pride that it's comfortable, attractive and pleasant.  It makes me feel very thankful.

I've enjoyed this process of making a home from this and that.  I've always enjoyed the creativity involved in making a house a home, whether it was a rental or my own.  I look back over the years and see how each house had it's truly lovely spots that made my heart swell just looking at them, even in the rudest of houses.  In one house it was a simple little dining room which when dressed with a tablecloth and flowers from my yard and the wedding china on the table surely rivaled many finer homes.  In another home it was a bedroom well furnished with a lovely open fireplace by which sat a small rocking chair and a bed placed between the two tall windows.  In another home, it was again a dining room with a quilt hung upon the wall and tall ceilings that made that narrow room in the middle of the house feel cool and lovely even in deep heat of summer and in still another it was a sunny light filled living room where people gathered often.  This weekend I watched with joy as my daughter in law settled in a wing chair and wrapped herself in a lovely blue knit blanket that Amie made for Mother's Day this year.  Another comfy spot for someone to feel at home in...

What I've found over the years is that it's truly not money that is required to make a house feel like home.  It's a little bit of creativity, a little bit of taking whatever lovely thing you can find even if it's a branch from a blooming Dogwood tree arranged in a bean pot, and a lot of being patient and waiting.  It doesn't have to all come together at once...In fact, the process is what I find to be the most charming thing of all.  It gives our homes time to change right along with us.

In the meantime, I can see from my chair in the living room,  a spray of burnt orange leaves on a tree.  I noted the Turkey Foot Oak near the dump area is sporting a bit of fall color and I've actually seen my first bit of blooming golden rod.  The sun slants across the yard at a new angle these days and the shadows stretch long and lean across the lawn...It's the beginning of the golden days of sun ad shadow and leaves.  Lovely time.

...I plan meals:

Some weeks go just as planned and others, like last week, go nothing at all as planned.  I think I made one meal from last week's menu and the rest were fly by the seat of my pants meals because I failed to plan ahead about defrosting meats and such.  This week I hope to do better with planning and executing what I've planned!

BBQ Chicken Sliders, Pickles, Chips, Brownies

Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy, Waldorf Salad with Grapes, Buttered Bread

on my own

Hot Beef Sandwiches on Toast, Oven Fries, Salad

Tuna and White Bean Salad  with Lemon Vinaigrette, Crisp Melba Toasts, Apple Tart

Beef Pot Pie, Pear Salad, Green Peas

Oven Fried Chicken, Butter Beans, Creamed Cabbage, Sliced Tomatoes,  Biscuits

...I plan my week's work:

Now that the bulk of the deeper cleaning has been caught up I truly am a little bit at a loss about what to plan for work.  It's still a lot too warm and humid to comfortable spend time working outdoors for long and when I do it leaves me wiped out.  The house indoors is about as nice as it can get for the moment.  Just a small handful of refining tasks to make things look as nice as they might are all that I have.  This week I'll do what I can on those tasks, those finishing touches that are needed.

Mop floors.

Work on the dining room chairs which I utterly ignored last week.

Lay out the landscape blocks I bought for the next flower bed area I mean to work on.  I may, if there is a pleasant early morning, go ahead and lay out landscape cloth and spread some of the mulch as well.  I may find it best just now to actually use some of the landscape blocks to retain the mulch so it doesn't all float downhill and out into the yard...

Load up the last of the donations items so I can deliver when we go out this week.

Plant the asters.

Start washing the back porch railings and rafters.

All these latter things are outdoor jobs as you can see, and I doubt I spent much time at any task unless it turns off truly pleasant this week.

Go over pantry and make up a stock up list.  John's requested I do that in lieu of a meat market stocking up this next month, since freezer room is limited.

Work on a month long menu sheet for September.

Start a mending pile and then work my way through it.  I know I have a pair of pants to hem, a button missing on one blouse, a blouse that needs to altered in order to fit well and that's just off the top of my head.

Inventory what I have on hand for projects.  Start a listing of items needed to work on current projects or to start new projects.

...I plan my leisure:

Call and arrange an appointment for a haircut.

Sit down and make out a comprehensive list of items I want in the line of accessories for my fall wardrobe.

Start transposing the two composition books of notes into my genealogy notebook.

Create a short stack of books to be read in the coming few weeks (and incidentally start my next book since I've just finished two this week).

Coffee on the back porch in the mornings if at all possible.

Start a new Bible study now that I've finished the one on Acts.

Spend time with my journal each day and try to clear my head.

Make aprons, some simple but pretty aprons to wear about the house.  I've an antique one I can use as a pattern.   This will help protect my clothes from stains and grime and help insure I look neat and nice at home every day and give me a little creative outlet as well as I combine fabrics and plan out what I'll make.

I'm longing for a thrift store outing...Shouldn't I just shop my shed, lol?