Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Savings This Week

Another of my 'trash' to foodstuffs.  Here I have used pieces of leftover dried bread, end pieces and odd shaped slices to make breadcrumbs,  crostini and croutons.  Five and a half quarts from a month or so of pieces many people just toss in the trash.  Oh and I have enough slices of slightly dry bread frozen. It will be perfect to French Toast.

Saturday:  My last job last night was to wash a full load of dishes.

Rinsed dishes and stacked for the day today.

John suggested we have fried chicken from the local diner for our dinner.  I made the side dishes at home.  He paid for the chicken from his allowance.  We had our meal and had enough for lunches tomorrow from the leftovers.

Sunday:  Saw John off to work this morning.  He had his packed lunch and his breakfast before going off.

I washed a full load of clothes and hung the bulk of them to dry here in the house (since they were done well before sunrise).  I dried undies and dishcloths in the dryer as I had less room for hanging those smaller items.

Colored my hair this morning.  I used 1/3 of the solutions.  This was a bit trickier than using half of each.  I measured with a ruler and divided by 3s.  It worked very well, my color turned out just fine and my hair was well saturated.  This stretches my current supply of hair color so that it will last me through 2017.

Went through the bill box and wrote out checks for tomorrow's Harvest day.  As I worked on my half payments, I realized I could push the electric bill and one other half payment over to the medical bills account, which allowed me to pay another portion of a good sized bill.  I will knock this one out a bit at a time, without borrowing or touching savings.  I had a portion of money left in that fund that will start the payment for December.

I was pleased to note that we had a portion of our last paycheck left in the account.  This is an added, unplanned savings.  I am going to let it remain in checking for now since this is the short pay period coming up and any extra is a blessing.  I'm going to try real hard not to 'need' that money though so we can push it over to savings.

Went over my shopping list and made sure of the items on it.   I tried hard to think ahead for our holiday meal and the pay period both.  I made a trip to Aldi, where I walked the dairy/bread/produce sections for the most part and avoided all the rest.  I spent about $50, keeping in mind what produce I had on hand at home.  Noted that milk was $1.94 a gallon which is a good bit less than it's been.  Butter was lower too but a better buy at Publix.

I decided to skip CVS today.  I may well go later in the week during the Black Friday sales at the store but for today I saw no real reason to go into the store.

At Publix, I noted pickles and pickle relish were on sale.  I'd not realized this (not in the sales sheet online) but definitely on my list of items we needed to restock.  I'd just used the last teaspoon of pickle relish yesterday.  I picked up those and John's favorite Blue Cheese Dressing, which was also on sale (not advertised).  I spent about $50 there as well.  Glad I decided to hold off on going to CVS today.  I am at the top of my food budget for the pay period.  Any further spending will be FREE shopping or have to come from my allowance.

When I went out I forgot to pick up my phone and forgot to take off the trash.  I did NOT turn around and come back home.  The phone is a nice thing to have but I went for years upon years with out one in hand and I figured I still could.  I've found that turning around and starting over again simply leads to a frustrating day overall if the forgotten items are not absolutely necessary to the tasks at hand and those items were not.

I stopped and bought myself lunch.  I realized it had been more than six hours since I had eaten and I had nothing ready to eat at home.  I opted for a $5 lunch combo at the burger place and carefully edited out the items I couldn't fully eat.  I made sure to get vegetables on my burger and to limit my french fry consumption to no more than 10 which is a rough estimate of half a cup.  I ate half the ice cream cup and poured the rest out.

Brought home the leftover french fries which I figured Blossom would like.  And she did. I didn't give her all of them either.  I figure she needs to watch what she eats same as I do, lol.

Sorted out the fridge freezer and rearranged it.  I was able to ADD 2 pounds of butter and four loaves of bread to the new arrangement.  I will work with that space again because I am certain I can repackage some of the items into more compact containers which should net me still more room.  As I worked I had a few ideas of foods I might make with the ingredients I found.  I jotted down those ideas.

I pulled out all the bread sacks last night with the odd and end pieces left in them.  Sometimes a loaf will dry out before we are quite finished eating it, and the end pieces of these good breads we buy are too good to not use.  Tonight I sorted through the bread.  I had several nice half pieces that will make a batch of French Toast for us one or two mornings.  I cut a lot of bread into cubes and spread on the jelly roll pan to toast in a very low oven.  I crumbled some pieces into crumbs.  I just can't bring myself to buy bread crumbs at the store and croutons from the store are just glorified hard pieces of cardboard really.  Homemade croutons are so good.  Sometimes I catch John or one of the visiting kids snacking on them right out of the jar I store them in!

I try to make sure the crumbs and the croutons are thoroughly dry before I store them but to be on the safe side, I put the cooled bread and croutons into glass jars, top with a piece of paper towel and skip the metal lid.  The ring screws right onto the jar over the paper towel.  The paper towel allows any further moisture that might be in the bread to escape and yet keeps pests from getting into my good breadcrumbs.  I leave the jars on the counter for a day or two and give them a shake now and then to stir them up.  Croutons and breadcrumbs both keep for quite a while in a dark cupboard and once I know the bread is completely and totally dry I can put a metal jar lid on to help further protect them.

I vowed that in the coming year I would trim my zippered bag usage by putting meats in the freezer in bread and cereal sacks.  To that purpose I saved all the bread sacks as I emptied them.

One downside to this cold: I can't smell anything.  This morning I kept getting a whiff of something but I couldn't tell if it was something good or bad.  This afternoon I found a bad orange in the fruit bowl...and the big Sweet Potato destined for my Thanksgiving dinner was found to be bad in the potato bin.  Good thing I have some canned sweet potatoes on hand I can use for that planned dish.

I had some small rolls and bagels in the freezer that I sliced and toasted for use as chips, crostini and larger croutons to top soup, etc.

Monday:  John had a hair appointment this morning.   We made the best of the day and got in a lot of very good conversation as well.  When we left home we took off trash.  After his hair cut we went to pick up cash to buy Christmas gift cards for our children.  Then we purchased the gift cards.  I have one more purchase to make and will do that one online.

After we did our shopping, we had lunch, which I paid for out of my pocket.

Then to the grocery store where I bought fruit to supplement what I had at home (and to supplement my lunch) and another sales item I'd failed to see yesterday.  This one was not strictly necessary but it is something John enjoys and while on sale it's a nice treat for him.  He insisted on picking out 'something special' for me.  He's struggled with his desire to do something for me.  In the past he'd bring me a small bag of the chips I especially liked but wouldn't buy for myself but that is not something he will do now, which I appreciate!  However, cheese  is allowable in small quantity and buying me exotic cheese is something he wanted to do today.  We chose a reasonably priced slice of Brie, a cheese I've read a lot about lately but never tasted.  I have to admit that all this extra was truly extra and pushed me well over my budget for this pay period.  This will be the last splurge for the year for us.  I've got my mind made up about this grocery overage business, but that is a discussion for another day.

We left the grocery and drove down to John's work place to pick up his check.  We had to wait a few minutes which gave us time to chat with one of his co-workers. From there we drove right to the bank and did our banking, drove downtown to drop off bills and my personal Christmas cards (I brought them with me to mail).

On our way home John suggested we pick up something for supper.  I was reluctant...then he said he'd pay for it from his allowance.  Well okay then.  And since I was choosing I was able to opt for a reasonably healthy  meal, too.

For all that we spent today (haircut and extra groceries) there were savings all through out the day that offset our spending.  Combining multiple errands saved time and gasoline, paying for meals and haircut from our pocket money rather than our joint account, not turning up the heat this morning and not being  home to use electricity while we were out of the house.  The money we spent on Christmas gifts was saved for that express purpose and we stayed within our budget.  Because groceries had been purchased already with a few extra added ones today, when we went to the bank I made sure we took ONLY allowance as our cash this week.

My brother stopped by this evening to check our roof.  He decided to just go ahead and caulk around the vent pipes and checked a few other spots  to prevent future leaks if at all possible.  We were all agreed that the extreme heavy winds and heavy rains were the real culprit of that leak but we appreciated the extra care he took to prevent future problems.  He refused any pay for his time because he said it wasn't even five minutes.  He and John did have a beer together which he said was payment enough.

We agreed on a day for our personal Thanksgiving meal.

While we were out today V called.  We'll be seeing them tomorrow.  I can't wait to see her and Bryan and that big big boy of theirs.  I have a nice stack of things for her and she assured me she has a stack of things for Josh and a few items for me, too.  I like family exchanges, lol.  Katie sent me a photo of herself dressed for a family meal and said that everything she had on I'd given to her in our last visit except her shirt.  Last night I wore a nightgown Mama had just given me.  We pass around things in our family.

Tuesday:  Had an appointment for a haircut this morning.  I paid from my allowance, since grocery expenses this short pay period were heavier than usual.  John paid for his out of pocket yesterday as well.

Last night I forgot to activate shop and earn on one of my purchases but I remembered when I ordered the other two.  Christmas shopping is now down to one item.

I placed an order with Walmart for the supplements and diabetic supplies needed.  I followed a hunch and looked for some crackers that John especially likes.  The lowest price to date was $.59/package.  I found them at Walmart for $.25 per package sold in packs of 8 online only.  That is even lower than the least expensive okay brand cracker.

Talked it over with John while we were out yesterday.  We agreed that in future, while at home, he'll use the crackers we keep on hand and fill them with peanut butter himself.  The pre-made crackers he considers such a treat will be saved for his work lunch.

Had a long and lovely visit with the Bell family this afternoon.  V and I made our exchanges.  She'd brought things for me,  Bess, Josh and Katie from her stash of stuff at home.  I had something for her and Bryan and Dru.  We chuckled over the providence that brought her pajamas just as she needed a pair and my getting new night gowns from Mama's old ones just as I needed new ones.

V brought me three warm and soft sweaters.  Again we chuckled as I noted that several of the items she'd given me were just what I needed to complete an outfit or three.

I'd planned to make a meal for them but they'd eaten lunch and had to be somewhere else by supper hours, so I made coffee and opened the bag of Aldi Spekulatis cookies I'd just bought.  These spicy little cookies are not overly sweet and yet have a lovely crispy texture.

Wednesday:  I extended a half pound of ground meat to four nice sized burgers.  I added dried bread crumbs wet with a bit of milk, a little onion and an egg.  This little addition really extended the meat.  I served John two pieces but set one aside for my lunch tomorrow.

I didn't make quite enough gravy to have with my second piece of Salisbury steak and leftover potatoes.  I added some warm water to the frying pan and scraped it well and mixed it with a whisk.  I left the pan drippings and gravy bits reduce down. It made sufficient gravy for one serving in that way.

I shopped the pantry: canned sweet potatoes, sweetened condensed milk, canned pumpkin, canned cranberry sauce, decaf and regular coffees and green beans.

Put the canned cranberry sauce in the fridge right away.

I chopped vegetables for stuffing today.  When I pulled out the celery I noted it was starting to deteriorate a bit.  I went ahead and trimmed off the bad pieces, chopped some for the stuffing and cut several sticks which John will snack on.  I was left with the nice center pieces.  I'll be sure to use those up this next week as snacks.

I found an older pair of knit pants in my house clothes that I've always liked in winter because they were soft and heavy and warm.  These pants are too big but they have drawstrings and feel very comfortable.  And wearing them allows me to keep the heat turned a little lower on these cold days.   I lean more towards wearing them in the evening, as they feel as comfortable as pajamas really.

Washed a full load of dishes.

Washed a full load of clothes.  Sheets and towels were hung to dry and the bulk of the clothes were washed with those.  Several items were hung indoors to dry.

This afternoon I addressed preparations for Thanksgiving dinner.  Since our dinner is on Friday I can take it nice and slow, which suits me perfectly.

I made another pan of cornbread which should give me the perfect amount of bread for stuffing.  If not, I'll bake another pan tomorrow.  I don't believe you can have too much stuffing/dressing and I do plan to freeze an additional pan or two for the kids to take home.

I fried onion rings.  I sliced an onion thin and dipped in a batter made with water and pancake mix.  I did this because I want to make a green bean casserole...but I don't have the canned onion rings on hand and really don't mind that I don't.  I like green bean casserole.  I don't like the canned onions rings!  Making my own onion rings took less than a half hour.  I drained them on paper towels which I'd placed over newspaper.  I packed them in paper towel in a covered jar to keep until I want them on Friday morning.

Made my own pie crust for Pumpkin Pie.  I'll make my own filling tomorrow and will bake then as well.

This afternoon while I was cooking those onions, I opened windows and let fresh air run through house to sort of dissipate the aroma of onions cooking.

I laid down and rested this evening for a half hour.  I'd have liked to have had a nap but it wasn't happening.  Even just lying down is very restful though.

Thursday:  Made Pumpkin Pie filling and baked that while I cleared up the house.  John helped clean on Tuesday when we knew we were having guests and we didn't mess it up terribly yesterday, so it really only took 30 minutes or so.

Made sausage balls from turkey sausage.  For years now I've skipped using the biscuit mix in this recipe and simply used flour and rising agents.  Today I realized that, while in the past I'd used pork sausage, I was using a lean meat and needed the added fat that the biscuit mix has.  I added in a little oil.

Noted in the baking cupboard that I had most of a bottle of vegetable oil.  I normally use coconut or olive oils but I discovered yesterday that I am on my last bottle of olive oil and it is very nearly emtpy.  I remember looking for another bottle two Aldi trips ago and seeing only the 1 gallon tin cans.  Should have bought one of those.  The vegetable oil will be useful until the next grocery day.

Made first goal on Swagbucks.  Received notification of pending credit for one of the shop and earns I made earlier this week.

Read on Pinterest last night of a woman who said she built her wealth (not sure what her wealth is, as it was just the one article and dealt with her frugal ways) by checking her money every single morning.  I do not think I want to be that obsessed with my finances, since this has been an area of anxiety for me in the past, BUT it did make me think of the fact that one of the single best ways to curb impulse spending for me is to look over our check register balance before I leave home when I plan to go shopping.  So this morning when I was planning my day, I looked hard at the register balance, looked hard at the items I'd meant to buy at CVS and decided the best possible plan of action was just to stay at home and forgo sales.  There was nothing I had to have right away and while I could have made money  to spend later it was really not necessary just now when finances are a little tight.  The biggest test of all: did I want to spend my allowance on any of it?  Well... no.  So that settled that!

Took off trash and picked up mail.  One of my Christmas gifts arrived and I'm happy to be able to keep it a surprise.

Went out to the shed and brought out all the Christmas stuff.  I had an idea I'd sort of do what I did last year with a few added pieces I'd picked up earlier this year at thrift stores.  Well guess what?  I keep getting this vision of how my house shall look this year and it looks NOTHING like it did last year.  And yes, it's still pretty much a 'Use what you have' sort of plan.

I had a new vision for the Thanksgiving Meal table, too.  This is what I ended up with:

The brown 'runner' is just a scrap piece of fabric I had on hand that happened to be the perfect width and length for a runner.  I cut the leaves from the few trees in the yard that have any sort of color at all.  And while I show this view, the glass had been moved to the proper side of the plate.  The only new items on the table are the Amber Brockaway salad plates and glasses, which cost me about $12.

I refashioned a wreath for the back porch.  It has nothing at all to do with what I mean to do inside the house but the colors look nice with the items/colors that are used on the back porch.  Here's where my habit of picking up pretty rolls of ribbon just because I like them paid off. I had an unusual color in the drawer and it was just what was needed for that wreath.

Hand washed several baggies.

My lunch today was leftovers from yesterday's meal.

My supper: salmon patty and rutabaga.  I got my carbs in the form of one of those party cups of ice cream.  I had two salmon patties left (the can made three total) and I put those in the fridge to save for Monday.

Mindful of my need to rest today, I kept my to do list short and sweet.  I told John when I got to the end of that list I stopped working and the only other item I attended to was to run a full load of dishes this evening so that I can simply load up dishes for the next day or so.

Tomorrow I will make our Thanksgiving meal and prep foods for Sunday (make tuna salad for sandwiches, thaw a roast, chop vegetables and put in fridge.  I have tin pans ready for leftovers that will be frozen tomorrow and other than those tasks and loading dirty dishes, I consider my week done.

I'm ending this post a day earlier this week but wishing you all a Happy Holiday weekend.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This Week In My Home

I plan a Freezer Challenge:

Two good reasons for this challenge: I have found my freezers are all three packed to the gills.  That means I need to use some of what is in them.  I hope to clear out some old things in there as well, provided I have time this week.  I might end up making freezer meals from a few of the items but I need to have a few of those on hand anyway.

I am also hoping to pick up one or two or three turkeys while the prices are so very low.  I cannot beat these prices at all, haven't seen anything like them in years upon years and it seems to me that turkeys (which keep frozen up to a year) are space worthy and very budget friendly.

I plan a Thanksgiving dinner for John and I:

We're simple folks and that is all there is to it.  Our menu seldom varies and the reason for that is my husband leans strong on tradition when it comes to his Thanksgiving meal.  He wants what he wants and turkey sandwiches to follow up with.  Normally for the two of us I purchase a breast only but with the excellent prices on whole turkeys and John's love of stuffing, which works best in a whole bird, this was the better option this year.

Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts in Cheese Sauce
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Cranberry sauce and Cranberry Relish
Pumpkin Pie

I have all but the canned fried onions on hand.  I thought I'd just make my own onion rings.  It takes next to no time and can be done ahead since I will be putting them in the bean casserole to bake anyway.  I plan to 'work ahead' this weekend, since our dinner will be either Wednesday or Friday depending upon John's preference.  The turkey has been thawing in the fridge since Wedneday when I bought it.  I'll bake the sweet potato, make my onion rings and make my Pumpkin Pie today.  I plan to get my stuffing breads crumbled and onions and celery chopped.  I have broth thawing for gravy and stuffing.  

We determined we'd stick with our traditional holiday breakfast of  canned cinnamon rolls with a less fatty side and we'll have that on the proper day itself.  We'll at least have that much of a tradition for the day proper.

I plan meals for the rest of the week:

Thanksgiving Leftovers
It's a given we'll have leftovers and at this moment I'm planning to serve those for dinner next Saturday.  I'll add a salad if need be and a fruit based dessert (baked apples or pears).

On my own

Salisbury Steaks
Mashed Potatoes (extra for later in week)
Green Peas with Mushrooms (extra for later in week)
Salad with Beets, onions, Boiled Egg

Turkey Fried Rice
Steamed Broccoli

Hamburger Shepherd's Pie
Mixed Fruit Cups

on my own
Family dinner?  Waiting to see how this cold chooses to go.  There will be food enough here to eat if I can't go and I am okay with that.

I plan the rest of my week:

These in addition to the usual rounds of housekeeping, laundry, meals, etc.

Pick up a prescription and while I'm in the area go to Aldi for the coming pay period's supply of fresh dairy, bread and produce.  Visit a third store to pick up the free with member's card items.  

Get Sunday paper and plan CVS shopping for this week.  Usually their Black Friday sales are decent and pretty much ignored by shoppers in general.

Work on clearing some stuff out of the freezers and using what I can to make a dish or entree for future meals either this week or a freezer meal. Fridge freezer is done.  I managed to get MORE into it, lol.  Yea me.

Hair appointment for me. 

Get bills tended to and ready to go out.

Hair cut appointment for John which we'll combine with picking up his check.  Pay bills, mail Christmas cards that are ready to go.

Order John's gift items.

Entertain of visit still to be determined.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coffee Chat: My Forgotten Mantra

Hello there!  Now isn't that heavy silver coffee pot just something?  I never really noticed it before when I'd used this photo but it came up very large just at first when loading in today and the ornamentation of that spout was something to behold.  And then I realized the heavy silver coffee pot, the wide gold bands on the cup and saucer, and the rare coin collection were all about the precious metals.  Ha.  It only took a few years of looking at this image over and over again, to gather all that information that came to me in a mere moment today

A lot like reading the Bible, is that photo.  I'll read over something dozens of times and all of a sudden 'click' and there is a revelation I've never had before.  It's kinda awesome.  I had such a moment this past week.  I've begun a daily Torah reading again, which is just working my way through the first five chapters of the Bible and then repeating as I finish it up.  Why?  Because there is a verse which says something to the effect 'I shall study Torah every day and be blessed',(why can I not find this verse at the moment?  And isn't that always the way?) and a whole lot of other verses which mention the importance of hearing or studying Torah...which happens to tie right in with the verse in Deuteronomy 6 which says:

 6And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

So I was reading Torah, specifically in Exodus 34 this past week about generational curses.  Now I have to confess that until a few years ago I'd never heard of a generational curse and I was a bit put out at my own lack of knowledge when a pastor brought the subject up in relation to another church member's problems.  It was a phrase that got bandied about a lot after that and I began to really feel burdened about certain things I saw in my own family history and to ponder on who 'caused the curse' and whether this would be the last generation of the curse, and what sins I was giving my own children to pay for,  etc.  This past week it happened I was also reading in Ezekiel and there in front of my eyes was good reason why I'd never heard  of generational curses.

In speaking with Ezekiel, God plainly says that no more will a son or grandson pay for a man's sin, but only those who commit the sin will pay for it.  Hey wait a minute!  That means that when I sin, I am responsible for my sin and there is no need for any one else in my family to pay for that sin.  That means that God Himself broke the generational curse!

Now isn't that amazing?

And you know what else is amazing?  The Bible (again in Exodus)  says that when God blesses He will bless for a thousand generations...and He didn't break that generational blessing!  It still stands...Isn't that AWESOME?

Well...That is why I love to read my Bible.  I wish I had a wonderful insight or revelation every single time I read it but I don't.  I get distracted and miss things.  I can pay full attention but it's like drinking from an empty cup for days on end.  But oh those days when the cup has been filled!  It takes my breath away, sets my feet dancing and makes me one happy soul.

Now, I never once meant to start out our chat with a lesson today, but there you go.  Sometimes, it's just that way.  I thought I was coming to share about the joys of seeing Katie this past weekend or the beautiful wedding or my frustrations with one of the survey sites where I earn or what all I've managed to accomplish this week  but God meant me to teach first and chat second I guess. lol

Yes, this past weekend my niece married and it was a lovely simple wedding.  Ashley was beautiful (she always is, but especially lovely in ivory lace) and her darling girls were in blush lace dresses.  We sat on hay bales and the ceremony was in their big pole barn.  Just as she and Jason were saying "I love you,"  two year old Bella smiled.  "Mama...Mama, I love you.  Daddy, daddy I love you...", then she turned to the guests "Nana, I love you.  Pebe, I love you.  Gramma I love you.  Pop Pop I love you.  I love you..."  It was so sweet and not at all the distraction some might make of it but a sweet little chorus of love that just added to the ambiance of the wedding itself.  Dinner was simple as well, just plain good ol' cooking.  We'd meant to stay for wedding cake but that was our first really cold night  of the season and boy did it get cold!  I was warm enough with my clothing but sandals had my toes frozen.  The babies were wrapped up tight but little Bella's nose went red and she looked shivery in her dress.  Taylor's daddy worried over her being too cold.

Katie and Matt and Taylor came down for the wedding and stayed overnight.  I love how my children bring their pets to stay at Gramma's house, lol.  Zoey, the beautiful black German Shepherd came along with her folks.   Now she is a house puppy (all 90 pounds of her) but she stayed outdoors that night.  She had her crate which was covered with a sleeping bag.  We didn't have a worry at all with her here, except that Maddie was more desperate than ever for attention.  Blossom was familiar with Zoey as they used to have the occasional play dates when they both lived in Athens.

Zoey is super smart.  It took her no time Sunday morning to figure out how to open the doors, both the storm door and the house door.  At one point Matt and Taylor and I were sitting in the living room.  Katie had gone off to nap after being up since 5am with Miss Taylor who wanted to see all that was going on in this new place.  Matt and I were watching Taylor drift off when we heard a tiptoe in the kitchen.  It sounded just exactly like Katie who always walks softly.  Matt looked at me and I looked at him.  'I thought Katie was lying down..." he said, and I said "So did I!"  I got up to see what was going on and met Zoey tiptoeing around the freezer, lol.  She'd managed to open both doors at the back entry.  She nicely turned around and went out when told to, but I locked the door that time around.

I think, really, that the interior door hadn't shut as well as thought.  In really cold weather, when the house is warm inside and it's cold outdoors,  the air between the storm doors and the interior doors creates a sort of air pocket that prevents the doors shutting fully.  I've noticed this in the past but I didn't think of it at all that morning.

Enough about the grand dog, Zoey.  Let's talk about the star of the weekend,  Taylor.  Oh what a sweetie pie!  She is the most pleasant baby.  Her eyes are big and wide and she uses them!  She loves to people watch and I noticed at one point that she looked hard at every single item on the wall in the living room, too.  She watched people at the wedding and she watched John and I here at the house.  She didn't fuss hard over anything.  Even her hungry cry is more a gentle grousing than out and out crying.  Her smile is ready, too.  I was working in the kitchen and when I'd turn to look at her on Matt's lap, there she was looking at me, and she'd give me the biggest smile.

She has blond hair and blue eyes and while her hair is short and close to her head, it is thick and downy.  I rubbed that little head a lot.  I was amused that she knew just where her sweet spot for naps was on me.  She'd twist and turn and soon she'd be facing me, her head nestled into the hollow of my shoulder.  She'd reach up her little hand and gently rub my chin, lol.  I tell you I relished those nap times and was more than happy to sit and just hold her while she slept.  It was good medicine for me.

I did take pictures...but I used my phone.  Guess who doesn't know how to send them to her computer?  I am destined to have a world of memories and not one photo to back them up.

I was better end of  last week...but I'm afraid cold and damp did their dirty work and lack of sleep Saturday night added to it.  Kate and I stayed up far too late chatting away and I was up far too early (as was Taylor) Sunday morning.  The cold came back with a horrid vengeance.  I've spent all week getting back to where I was last Friday but doggone it, I wouldn't trade being over this cold for the time I had this past weekend and I mean that sincerely.

John poured me full of Pineapple juice Monday and Tuesday.  And he insisted only one other thing he could think of could possibly cure me: Hot and Sour Soup.  So we went out to eat Chinese Buffet. Not quite the picnic I had hoped we'd get out for,  but it was a date.  The Hot and Sour Soup had triple the usual amount of red pepper.  It was a pleasant way to spend an hour or two out of the house. And a good time to pick up some more tissues.

Mama was an answer to the need to shop for clothing. Wednesday she brought in a half trash bag of new or very nearly new items from her own closet that she hadn't worn or which were too big for her. There was only one pair of pants but I was happy to receive them and delighted when they fit...another size smaller than I just bought a month or two ago.  Mama and I went out to lunch in the town to the north of us that we like to go to now and then.  There was more autumn color than we've had here so I'm glad we went.  The day however, was too warm and muggy and spit rain at us now and then.

I felt pretty well done in after that little trip but I'm glad I went.  Mama likes to stop at the grocery in that town.  It is a rather nice grocery overall.  I happen to have a loyalty card for the store, simply because John and I like to go up twice a year or so to shop there or we sometimes vacation in an area that has the same store, so it comes in handy to have the card.  It paid off this week when I noted that a good name brand of turkey was $.57 a pound with a $25 purchase.  My short shopping list happened to have pricey items on it (soda, juices) and that soon added up to the needed minimum purchase.   I was proud to get that turkey.  I'd planned to go to Aldi and get the same brand for $.99/pound which was a good price.

I've seen some pretty awesome prices on turkeys this year.  That one I got was good but two of the neighboring towns have no name type turkeys for $.52 and $.29 per pound.  The lowest price required a $50 minimum purchase but the other didn't have any required purchase amount at all.  I don't recall the prices being so low in a good many years and how I have rued not having room in my freezers!  I mean to do some heavy freezer cooking (using up naturally) over the coming month and see if I can't get a few of those turkeys into that space over the coming month if the prices remain as good.

I panicked over the weekend as I wrote in Planning Ahead, Starting Behind post.  All of sudden it occurred to me that the real work ahead of me didn't necessarily include any of the unfinished projects (or new ones I'd hoped to start) but to simply get myself ready for the holiday ahead.  I thought my calendar was fairly well filled but have added two engagements since I wrote that post, lol.  'Tis the season, right?  It's amazing how just having a calendar page dedicated to the month of engagements and holidays and a few minor plans in place make it all seem do-able.  And remembering, above all, One step at a time, first things first.

Writing the post helped me tremendously.  It did really for all the panic attack tone of the thing.  Because it reminded me to stop and think of what needed to be done FIRST, one step at a time.  First I needed an idea of what all I had ahead of me.  So I made out my list of each event.  I didn't feel well enough to do, but I felt fine for planning.  That worked out very well for me.  And as I felt better, I began to work at my list, one step at a time.

I decided upon a menu for Thanksgiving, which was kept simple.  For all that I might like to think we'll have something different and new and fresh, the truth is, John wants his usual traditional meal.  So why go to the expense of trying to improve upon what he thinks is perfect as is?  Turkey, Stuffing, Sweet potato with Marshmallow topping, Brussels Sprouts or Broccoli, cranberry sauce and gravy.  Pumpkin Pie because it's the only time of year we eat it.  And what did I need, truly need, to make this meal happen?  The turkey.  Period.  I can make all the other items with ingredients on hand. With the turkey purchased I was officially done.

I knew Hanukkah was next, and while my finances won't stretch to little gift items I did find three or four games we might try and play.  Good thing, too because I realized that my family will be here for our family holiday time during a couple of nights of Hanukkah. I've adjusted my list of needs for that holiday (buy more gelt)...I still need to make out menus for the time and all but it shall soon be attended to.  That is, after all next, not now.  Now is Thanksgiving.  One thing at a time.  One step at a time.

I like to get my Christmas cards done by Thanksgiving.  I just knew I had some on hand but nowhere could I find them.  We priced them at the drugstore the day we went out for Hot and Sour Soup and I was in deep shock at the price.  Oh my.  I couldn't afford cards and stamps too!  We decided to wait and I'd look elsewhere.  There were none at the grocery on Wednesday.  Thursday morning I went into town for an estate sale (more about that in a little bit) and went into the Dollar General while I was out.  2 boxes of cards cost me $3 and change and they were lovely glittery cards.  I bought my Christmas stamps at the post office and headed home.  The cards were addressed and stamped and I'd signed them all before lunch that day.  The stack John needs to sign as well is waiting upon him yet.  As soon as he's done I can take them to the mail box.  One more task knocked out.

I spent time working on three Christmas gifts online.  It took forever, but well worth every minute I spent as I was essentially paying for shipping only on two gifts and had a 40% discount code on the third item.  It was frustrating because Google came crashing while I was working on the projects.  It ended up taking me two days.  Yes, still worth it but not the easiest project.

But I do feel better.  I have a quick list to go through tomorrow of things I want to get John for Christmas all of which must be ordered in the next day or so.  I'm not concerned about those items arriving in time.  They are not the sort of things to be out of stock.  I have a mostly good plan for Hanukkah (add in one more day's activities and I've got that holiday covered).  We've narrowed the family party day down to a single day and likely won't have but one set of overnight guests.  John has convinced me to go for the holiday cinnamon roll breakfast and skip the fatty little sausages we normally have with them.  It sounds a decent enough plan.  As he pointed out it's not like I'm spending all my days being non-compliant and if I plan ahead for it I can balance things out over the week.

Now let's discuss that Estate sale.  The house is next to the lot where the old Elementary school sits and is on the corner of Mama's street.  I've known the yard of the house for years upon years, as the mother of the lady who lived there had the tiniest little white cottage in the back yard.  It was just a small house, bed/bath/kitchen/snack bar/living room sort of set up but was always so pristine kept and so cottage-y that it appealed to me as a child and as an adult woman.  The woman who lived in the cottage was one of the widow women that Granny picked up to go to church.

The daughter's house was much larger and really I had no idea how large until I walked into the house Thursday morning.  It had a big beautiful terrace off the back of the house, nestled into a corner of the carport and the house itself and large picture windows.  That appealed to me, too, being as we were the sort of folks who always had seating areas outdoors and used them.

What I hadn't realized, as I said, was the enormity of the house.  The carport was added who knows when but was definitely not part of the original home.  And though I couldn't see all the house, I was able to get a pretty good idea of it overall.  We were to use the 'back door' which was four steps above that beautiful terraced area ( and the terrace was four steps above ground level).  It was such a spacious area and covered with ivy, planted about with azalea and nandina and iris and such and shaded by huge old trees.

The back room was long and narrow.  A huge brick fireplace at one end and a brick wall with shelves opposite the picture window.  For all that brick it was not a dark room despite the cloudy day.  It was built with enough windows to keep it from being gloomy.  That was where they'd set up tables for the 'smalls' so I couldn't quite get a fix on how the room might have looked normally but it was probably a wonderful spot for a big family holiday meal in winter and a cozy place to be any other time.

You walked from there into the kitchen which was a pretty white and covered floor to wall with cabinets.  I disliked the high bar that created a pass through from the other rooms and made the kitchen work area tiny, just barely big enough for one and a sure as heck fighting kitchen if two people were in it at once, lol.  Of course, the sink looked over the street to the neighbors but the neighbor had always kept a lovely shade garden on that side of his home so it was no doubt a pleasant view.

You stepped from there into a big sunny dining room, passing a decent laundry with saloon type swinging half doors on the way.  To the left was a square hallway of sorts with two bedrooms, and two mystery doors leading off it.  The bedrooms were good sized rooms.  One room was filled with upholstered wing chairs and rockers.  Gracious but they were solid, heavy dried wood frame chairs.  I'd have given eyeteeth to purchase two or three of those chairs.  Hindered not just by my bank account, though but the lack of muscle and transportation to get them home, sigh.  I really really want a truck of my own!

In that square hallway was a beautiful solid wood ladies writing desk with drawers and cubbies atop and a drawer underneath and a narrow apron that folded out into a substantial desk top.  Ack and ack and all the above mentioned grievances: funds, muscle, transportation.

From the dining room we couldn't enter the rest of the house but I noted there was a study off the living room at the end of the house.  The living room had a huge fireplace (I wonder if there was one in the study as well...I hope so!) and a large entryway open to the living room.  There appeared to be another room at the carport end of the house, but it was dark and gloomy and hard to make out just what sort of space it was.  

The house seemed, for all it's paneled living room and big family room addition to be a very old house.  The size of the doors in the square hallway mid house was the indicator.  They were shorter than modern doorways and the doors were real wood planks not fancy milled doors.

None of this might prove the least bit interesting to you but you can see what a huge house it was really...and as I was paying for my purchases the daughter told me that there were rooms upstairs as well!  Well gracious!  I saw the upstairs windows for the first time in my life as I was leaving the house.

I didn't buy much but I liked it all.  A vintage Cosco step stool which will go in the booth I think, and a Nashco tray but not a tole painted one (I'd keep it had it been) .  A large blue and white bowl which appears to be of no particular breed but I liked it and will keep it for myself and little rose teapot (oh what a weakness I have for rose painted china!).  I used that this morning for my Saturday morning ritual cups of coffee having discovered my electric rose painted china coffee pot leaks about the heating element plug...I'm trying to discover how I can fix that.  I am sure there is a sealant to be used.  I also bought a rooster, a skinny 1950s-ish rooster that had been broken and carefully mended and held place of honor on that big brick mantel bookshelf.  I've put the rooster on my little shelf at the stove.  He seems the fatherly sort of a rooster and is at home with the fat hen and little yellow chicks.

Perhaps I'm just the nosy sort but I admittedly do love to wander through these estate sales and look at the belongings and imagine the folks lives and wonder how they celebrated with family and raised their children and all that sort of thing.  I look at all the belongings they've accumulated and wonder what of it was gifts that they simply couldn't part with in life and what of it was just stuff.  Several of the pieces of china and casseroles and such had the woman's name written on the bottom in China marker pencil.  I knew that meant it had gone to a sick neighbor or a friend or family that experienced a death because that was what women did in that day and age.  I imagined lovely sunny winter afternoons when the sun warmed the terrace and the first chill nights of spring or autumn and summer cook outs and parties that spilled onto the terrace. That was the sort of house it struck me, as a hospitable home, filled with family and friends.  Truth or not?  I can't tell you.

I'm still sort of fiddling around the edges of worry about insurance.  For one thing, despite completely turning down any optional overtime, I think, with this check, we slip over the amount we told the company we'd make this year.  I am hopeful this will not prove to be a huge hassle...My other concern is that I've yet to receive the 'renewal notice' that I was promised by letter would arrive on Nov 1.  This week while watching news we noted that the company I have insurance with is 'debating cancelling all state exchange program policies at year's end.'  Oh. Dear.  That means starting anew with a new company.  It boggles my mind even thinking of going through the whole process of seeking out policies all over again.  And who will supply our state exchange?  It doesn't bear thinking about overlong.  At least they are still processing and paying my claims.

These afternoons go by so quickly these days with it getting dark about 5:30pm or so.  I feel the day ends far too quickly.  Now why?  In summer I have to make myself quit work around 8pm but in these days when it gets dark early I feel the day is done about 6pm or so and I am hard pressed to keep doing any sort of labor, lol.   Now I admit some of it is due to the lack of good task lighting.  I haven't a fit light to sew by or do any sort of fine work near.  And I am quite ready for bed about 9:30pm (thank you daylight savings time).  On the other hand, I am waking quite early, sometimes as early as 5am and happily attend to household tasks until day ends some 12 odd hours later.

We've yet to have any really cold weather aside from that night of Ashley's wedding.  We've had one frost to date too, odd for this late in November.  Rain and clouds have been in plentiful supply and a sunny day is much coveted.  Friday was sunny.  Today started out sunny but has been cloudy since lunchtime.  Weather is just unpredictable...the weather men with all their fancy equipment and models and such are proof enough of that!

Well, I have rambled on haven't I?   I'm so glad you stopped by and shared coffee with me.  These last few weeks are likely to be full of many things.  I hope we make time to visit over them, just to catch our breath and feel sane once more.  See you later!

Friday, November 20, 2015

My Weekly Savings

A practice run Thanksgiving table possibility...using what I have had for years mixed with the Brockaway amber glass I bought this year.

Saturday:  Poured cereal into a glass jar for storage.  This keeps pests at bay and means that we are the ones who eat the food we bought and paid for.  I save jars but also have purchased 1/2 gallon sized canning jars just for this purpose.

Saved the cereal bag to use to wrap meats in.  I have determined I shall forgo using zippered bags for this purpose in the future as it is an unnecessary expense.  I also emptied out several bread sacks and saved those.  I rinsed well and hung to dry in the laundry area, using a hanger and some clothespins.

Reused an empty canister to store brown rice I'd bought this week.  I put a label on the canister and wrote instructions for cooking a standard measure of brown rice (1 cup).

I don't have very dressy clothes but I needed something to wear to my niece's wedding. This brought about another closet clean out.  Nearly all my things are just too big.  I have no dress trousers at all. Thankfully Katie came down for the wedding and put together a nice outfit for me but it really pointed up my need to actively shop for a few key items.  Fun part was her creative use of accessories to go with my outfit today.  I wouldn't have paired up the bracelets she did but I could see right away how sophisticated it looked.

Katie gifted me another lipstick.  I won't need to buy any new fall/winter colors courtesy of her generosity.

The roast beef I cooked today netted me lots of leftovers.  I've planned leftovers into one meal this week but shall also be packing some of this into the freezer for future meals.  I cooked the beef only to rare, which will make it possible to reheat and prevent drying out the meat.

Sunday:  Sent John off to work on this first frosty morning with a hot breakfast in his tummy and a packed lunch bag for work meals.  Added bonus was the sweet smiles of granddaughter Taylor to go with his morning coffee.  She decided 5am was a fine time to rise apparently!

I happily spent the morning rocking a sleepy baby to sleep and enjoying lots of cuddles.

Saw my family off to their home.  I do love family visits!  It was an added bonus this weekend to get to spend time with my littlest grand daughter and my littlest girl.

Washed a full load of laundry.  I did not try to hang to dry today.  Truth is, I just wanted to hurry through the laundry and get it done.

Ate leftovers for lunch and supper.  Re-purposed another mushroom punnet for my dresser drawer. I've now got all my jewelry nicely contained in color families.  Fewer tangles and easier to find my costume pieces.

Monday:  I began planning my next five weeks last night.  I have Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, a family day, Christmas and New Year's all to plan for.  All but the family day will be just John and I but holiday meals will still be cooked, gifts must be bought, supplies are wanted.  It seemed best to start the planning now.

I used a free code from MyCokeRewards to get one gift...I spent all afternoon working on that gift.  I hope that tomorrow I can finish it up and get it ordered.

Easy meals today for us.  I utilized leftovers from John's lunch for our supper.

Used a different medication on hand to treat this cold which seems determined to hang on.  It contains the same basic ingredients for the cough but has ingredients for the head cold I've now developed to go along with the cough.  I'd worry were it not for John who just went through this whole mess and it took him a month or more to overcome it.  It's a malingering sort of cold.

Opened windows this afternoon.

Worked hard on Swagbucks and was getting frustrated.  I finally qualified for a survey (near impossible to qualify for as a mid 50's white female) and that pushed me over the second goal

John made me a pineapple juice drink this evening.  The juice is really supposed to do a lot of good for congestion.

Tuesday:  I felt much better this morning over all.  Still congested but not quite so bad.  John decided his next 'cure' for my cold was to take me out for Hot and Sour Soup at the Chinese restaurant.  They must have tripled the pepper in that batch of soup but it sure did it's job relieving some of the congestion.

We went to CVS where I stocked up on toilet paper and tissues.  I spent $7 in ECBs today, earned another $5.  I saved about 46% or better with sales today.

While we were out we also stopped by the grocery in the next town that has such a good price on the turkey sausage patties we like.  Today they were on sale for almost $1 less than the usual cost.  I bought all three packages that were in the freezer case.  I noted that whole chickens were again $.88/pound and they had a store brand turkey for $.52/pound.  I have never before seen such low prices on turkey in our area.  Another store is offering them for $.29 a pound with a $50 purchase.  It's not a favorite store nor a known turkey brand but I'm mighty tempted...

We found a favorite candy bar in a snack size was 50% off.  We've really like the Reese's Nutrageous but don't always find them easily.  To see snack sized bags...well naturally we bought some of those for the candy jar.  One small candy bar has about 13 carbs, so it's a doable treat for me.

Again I worked hard with Swagbucks.  I am about half way to my next $25 gift card.  I really want to earn that card before the first of December if I possibly can.

Spoke with Mama this evening who has quite a few pieces of clothing she has un-grown.  I agreed to look them over and try on a few things to see if they might fit.

Wednesday:  Packed John's work lunch.  Made him a hot breakfast.  Made sure he took his jacket to work with him.  It was warm this morning but supposed to have cold weather in the night hours.

I ran a full load of dishes.  To help fill the gaps in the dishwasher I put in the coffee pot and other parts of the coffee maker that are washable.

I planted the last of the pansies this morning.  They were looking pretty wan and really needed a good watering.  I thought getting them in the ground before it rained would be a good thing.

Mama brought in a bag half full of clothes.  I was pleased to find that a pair of pants (part of a suit but I don't care for the jacket) fit me very well although they are a size smaller than I have been wearing. They are very nice pants, fully lined.  I will look for a couple of tops to go with them.

I tried on every single thing in the bag except one sweater.  Not all the things fit but many fit very well.  Several still had price tags intact, too.  New clothes for me!

Went into grocery while out with Mama.  I knew we needed grape juice for Shabat on Friday night, that John's sodas needed to be replenished.  I shopped very cautiously and bought the juices I needed, the soda and added only tomatoes that were very well priced and a jar of really good quality jam that was on sale to the buggy.  However, those few purchases easily totaled $25.  I took advantage of a shopper's special, spend $25 and get a known turkey brand for $.57/pound.  This was the same brand I'd meant to buy at Aldi this week for $.42 less per pound, plus the gas savings because I do not have to drive to Centerville to Aldi, a 65 mile round trip.

On thinking it out, I realized I have all the components of Thanksgiving dinner on hand.  Now all I need to do is the prep work.  I wrote out my menu plan this afternoon when I got home.

Did a trial run of a pretty Thanksgiving table setting.  I really liked it but am not sure I shall use the homespun type material for the table covering, much as I like it.  It will only cover a bit of the table.  I will likely use another table covering I have on hand.

Went into Cato while we were in that town.  I found the prettiest scarf for a mere $1.99 and I bought it and another costume necklace that I felt would enhance my current wardrobe.  I purchased a pair of black pants but I'm unsure of them.  I suspect they will go back to the store or move on to Katie.  I am pretty sure she will wear them.  I paid for the clothing items with a portion of my allowance.

Thursday:  It rained and poured last night.  At one point with high winds and heavy rain, I distinctly heard a pernicious dripping sound.  I finally located it and believe it came in around a vent or a loose bit of ridge cap.  It ran down between walls and was dripping onto the plastic housing where the washer hoses are connected.  Not a thing to do about it except wait.  John notified my brother (our roofer) this morning and it will be seen to this week.

I was glad of the nice fresh rainwater for the pansies I put out yesterday.  Now I shall make it a point to go visit the store and pick up another flat of them to put out in other pots and spots about the yard.
I think they are worth every penny, they are such happy flowers and do very well over winter here.

I was up very early this morning.  Too early!  Nevertheless, I got busy when I got up and had a load of laundry waiting to go on the line before daybreak.  I washed sheets and towels, remade our bed, showered and did Bible study before daylight this morning.

Made breakfast for John and I and then took myself off to an Estate Sale.  I won't go into raptures here about it but I found three or four items that I felt were very reasonable.  Bemoaned my lack of funds to purchase the lovely solid wood writing desk and the hardwood wing chairs and rockers that abounded in the home.  Oh my gracious!  I do wish I had a pick up truck or SUV so I might haul furniture home...and an unlimited wallet!

One or two items will make their way to the booth but I'll keep at least one and possibly two items for myself.  I am always on the look out for good bargains to go in the booth and beautiful bargain items to soothe my need for beauty in my home.

I pared and cut into slices a rutabaga I meant to have for lunch today.  It must have been leftover from turn of the 19th century!  Gracious it took forever to cook and there were still tough odd bits that simply would not break up.  I didn't get that with my meal for lunch today, but I did package it up into individual servings for future meal additions.

Stopped at Dollar General and purchased Christmas cards to send out.  I looked them over at CVS the other day but they were big name cards and cost a fortune.  I got mine (just as lovely really and with plenty of glitter upon them) for $1 a box today.  Made the cost of postage much easier to deal with.
Cards are addressed, signed by me and stamped.  John just needs to do his part and they will be ready to send.  One more item marked off my list.

Packed up roast beef into two containers for freezer after we made 'Steak' and Cheese Burritos for supper tonight.  I left out enough meat for sandwiches one more time this weekend.

Friday:  I've gotten more done this week than I'd anticipated I might.  Not all the items on my list are tended to but I've gotten several of the holiday items knocked out.  I did it in incremental segments and tackled them in order of need.

I finished my Shutterfly order last night.  I'd been working on a calendar as a gift and it was free with My Coke Rewards points.  I had an offer from Shutterfly in my email yesterday to get a free calendar with a 40% off order.  I bought a gift item and set up a second calendar.  I saved a LOT of money on these personalized gifts.   I have three more Shutterfly gift codes I must use, all for FREE items, but I have until January 2016 to do these.  One of the codes cost me 1 entry code (3 points).

Made oatmeal for our breakfast this morning.  It's always a hearty satisfying breakfast and yet is perfectly portioned.

I had the house picked up and straightened in no time today...I thought morning chores were going to be a snap but mid afternoon I'd still not managed to clean bathrooms nor clean floors.  I gave up idea of mopping but determined I would sweep and vacuum.

Why so late in housework?  I went into the kitchen and took every thing from fridge and a few items from the big freezer and my brain immediately started clicking on meal possibilities for today and the weekend ahead.  So I started my 'work ahead' on meals.

I used an Italian loaf we'd had for Shabat and just took a pinch each of bread from to make a couple of meals, one for dinner today and one for the freezer.  I cut the loaf in half and scraped up the crumbs and the piece that fell away from the loaf to make bread crumbs.  I pulled the bread from the shell of one half and put that bread in with the bread to be made into bread crumbs.  Right now they are inside a pan which I slipped into flour cloth and tied up around it to air dry.  They will keep this way for a day or two, but I will stir them about several times to insure they dry evenly.

I made one half of the loaf into a pepperoni pizza for today's meal.  The other half I cooked tri-color pepper (from the fridge) and onion with the slivered roast beef I left out last night.  I added some fat free Italian dressing.  I filled the hollow with the meat and vegetable mixture and topped with shredded Monterrey Jack and Parmesan cheeses.  I wrapped this one well and place in the freezer for a future meal.  It has plenty of meat and vegetable and should make four good servings.

Black beans and corn from the fridge (leftovers), the bulk of the tomato sauce left when I made pepperoni pizza, and the last of the garlic in the jar all went into one container for the freezer.  This will make a nice taco soup, chili etc. in some future time.

Took a loaf of bread, a quart of vegetable beef soup, 1 pound of cranberries, and three containers of broth (one was a broken jar, so it sat and thawed and the jar tossed into trash) from the freezer today.  I added in the Italian Pepper Steak pizza, and the black bean combination.

I moved jellying fruits into the back freezer with the rest of the rest of the fruits I'd frozen for same purpose.  I will be making a batch of jelly here shortly.  This time I shall read and read and read and read the instructions and not scan them as I did last time!  My last batch was syrupy but good.  I'd like to make perfectly jelled jelly this time around.

Had a bunch of baggies that I'd washed this week that were not getting dry enough to put away.  I hung them in the laundry area to finish drying well and will put them in the proper place when they are done.

Used the pound of cranberries, a large navel orange (rind and all) and a large apple (peel, core, flesh) to make up a quart of cranberry relish for holidays and future turkey sandwiches.  I really love this easy and simple sweet tart relish.  I use my blender to grind the fruits then mix them up.  I have four half pints in my fridge ripening right now.  I'll move three to the freezer next weekend where it will keep indefinitely.

I worked ahead and made John's PBJ sandwiches for Sunday's work lunch.  I have a basket filled with his foods and drinks so we just have to pull it out Sunday morning and pack his bag.

John is mowing grass for the last time this year.  He had to go into town to get gas for the mower.  He always takes his car and fills the tank at the same time.  He carried off trash and picked up mail while he was out.

I found my morning's work (and afternoon's, too, lol) had worn me out.  I decided some of the jobs I'd meant to do today could just wait.  I obviously am not going to tag and take items in to my booth today.  I might get them priced but that will be a work ahead task for next Friday morning instead.  I'll get the baths done, do the floors and plan and prep foods for meals tomorrow.  Shabat comes early these late autumn days, near 5pm and so I must hurry my way through things to be prepared.  I shall send this on and get right back to work and set my Shabat table ready for sundown.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: When Lions Roar, The Churchills and The Kennedys

With my interest in history overall, and having become a little fascinated with Winston Churchill (courtesy the BBC productions such as "Wartime Kitchen and Garden" and PBS "Homefires") and the fondness the British people held for him, I couldn't resist this title, which includes the Kennedys, another family I've only recently become interested in.  I was not disappointed in this book at all.

The book covers decades, starting with the Franklin D Roosevelt years in the White House and going beyond John F. Kennedy's assasination.  The Kennedy family ties to Winston Churchill first began in 1933 when Joseph Kennedy brought his family to England and spent some time at the Churchill home.  There began a long and sometimes tenuous association between two great families in two great countries.

The book is a tell all story, but not written in a trashy sensational manner.  It is however, an accurate accounting of the real and public lives of two families with enormous political influence in the world as well as in their own countries and the connected power influenced history in each other's country as well.

This is a hefty read at 643 pages but so fascinating that it hardly seems a lengthy book at all!  I highly recommend it if you are interested in historical and personal accounts of the Kennedys or the Churchills.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Planning Ahead, Starting Behind

This past Saturday, we attended my niece's wedding.  I had company over the weekend and mentioned a 'save the date' event coming up for my immediate which my daughter replied that it was just a month away.  I didn't panic right away but it occurred to me Sunday afternoon when the guests were gone that indeed in the next five weeks or so I have no less than ten events before the year ends and that every single one of them requires some effort on my part to pull them off.  True several of those holidays will be just John and I on our own but I do like to do things for us, too.  And thus far, I have done nothing...  YIKES!

I felt downright lousy Sunday.   I greatly enjoyed the wedding but it was outdoors Saturday evening, which was a cold evening.  Brrrr...And the cold came back with a vengeance.  Not a lot I could do while feeling bad...but I had to do something.

So I started making lists.  We have agreed to do family gifts for each family group but we do purchase items for one another and Mama.  I've bought nothing thus far.  I don't even have Christmas cards, having failed to purchase cards last year at end of season sales.

I started with the Thanksgiving holiday.  I must purchase several of the components for a holiday meal.  I've nothing at present but cranberry sauce and pumpkin.  And there's that holiday breakfast thing.  No canned cinnamon rolls this year but we must have a nice diabetic friendly but special holiday meal.  Oh dear.  I do, at least, have an idea of what I'd like to do with the table for mine and John's Thanksgiving meal.  I haven't done a trial run of it yet, but will try to get that done tomorrow.

Then we'll have visitors before November is over and done. I'd like to have items ready to send off with them, so I must hurry and purchase that and gather the other items .

I really ought to get the Christmas cards and stamps purchased and the cards addressed and ready to go in the mail.  I usually set up our Christmas tree Thanksgiving evening and light it.  I decorate it slowly over the coming week or so, including the decorating of the house.  I haven't even so much as a plan this year about what I'd like to do.  It will, naturally, be strictly 'Use what I have.'

Hanukkah is an 8 night celebration and usually it focuses hard upon foodstuffs.  This year, I'd like to change that up a bit.  Naturally we'll have latkes on the first night and gelt one of those nights but for the rest of the nights I'd like to try to focus on inexpensive but non-food fun items.  I've NO CLUE what I mean to do.  Last year I purchased a CD of music, made Star of David sugar cookies with edible silver glitter, purchased a DVD we liked, etc.  I don't have time (nor indeed funds) this year for any of those sorts of things.  So I'm going to be looking hard for ideas on Pinterest over the next few days.

Decorating the house...I have a few ideas of how I want it to look for Christmas but pulling elements together will be the big deal.  I'd like to have this done by our family all in one holiday.  We'll be hosting at least one family for a good portion of the week and possibly two families over the weekend.   I need to plan foods for the week, plan table setting and meal for the special meal,  get family gifts, make sure sleeping arrangements are covered, etc.  Lots to do for that.

Then there's a work Christmas party following shortly on the heels of that.  I've nothing to wear.  NOTHING.  I discovered this when I went in Friday evening to try to put together an outfit for the wedding.  The pants I'd meant to wear fell OFF.  The tops hung upon me like windless sails.  Katie stared in shock at my selection and sighed deeply as she tried to pull together an outfit.  She managed but she turned to me and said 'Mama.  You have GOT to shop.'  She is quite right.  Even the maxi skirt I assumed fit well had to be taken up in order to stay on.  That means I have 1 pair of jeans and five t-shirts.  And another stack of clothing for V...

John is working Christmas Eve but will be in Christmas morning.  It will be just the two of us for that day as well but again a holiday meal is wanted and a specially decorated table and that special holiday breakfast.

And finally there is New Year's Day.  In the South, many serve pork with greens and black eyed peas and rice.  John and I stopped eating pork years ago and he asked that we drop that 'traditional good luck' meal.  We've done Chinese takeout a few times and Sub Sandwiches but both of those are carbohydrate heavies. Since our local Subway closed down we've no options locally and it's unlikely we'll drive out of town.   Another 'traditional' meal change up necessary and again, I've. No. Clue.  Except knowing that I must have it on hand before the day arrives!

So you can see how behind I've started...I am off to study Pinterest for inspiration.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

This Week In My Home: Format Change

I decided this past week, while I was still recovering, that I'd like to change up the format a little bit. So the title of this post each week will simply be "This Week In My Home".  I'll divide the post into meals, jobs, plans (not work but appointments, etc) and play.

I did very slightly better in using planned menus this week, but not as well as I ought.  This was partly due to creatively using leftovers and partly due to a sandwich we bought for our lunch that proved so hefty it served us supper as well.  My appetite is off.  I get plenty hungry and then I want something to eat nearly immediately but I could have cared less about making meals overall, so that too threw me off.  However, I am feeling better and mean to get back on the better path of making and following menu plans.

I've just been over at A Tray of Bliss to read this post  on menu planning.  I love the format she's used for her form and that it has a separate block solely for prepping for the next day.  Love that bit of time savings she plans into her day.  I was duly impressed, and I'd say I've pretty much seen every form of planner/planning available out there over my years as a homemaker.  This is just genius as far as I'm concerned, right up there with planning twice a week (to insure you use up all the leftovers).

So here we go with our new version of "This Week In My Home"...

I Plan Meals:

Roast Beef, Rosemary roasted potatoes, Green Beans with Mushrooms, Apple Waldorf Salad

Philly Cheese steak Sandwich, Butternut Soup, Grapes

on my own (variety of leftovers from freezer)

Oven Fried Chicken, Black Eyed Peas, Mashed Rutabaga,  Fruit Salad

out with Mama

Kielbasa with Cabbage and Potatoes, Baked Apples, Corn Muffins

Burgers, Oven Fries, Green Salad, Pudding Cups

Special Breakfast:  Pumpkin Muffins, Sausage Omelet Muffins, Fruit Salad

I Plan Jobs:

All jobs I'll do this week are not listed.  These are over and above the usual routine tasks.
Get guest room freshened up once more.

Mop Kitchen and baths.

Plan Thanksgiving Meal...Plan shopping for meal.

Do a trial run of my Thanksgiving table setting.

Get Christmas stock tagged and ready to place in booth this week.

Get unnecessary items moved from guest room out to shed.

Get a book review done for online site.

I Plan Fun

We've been talking for a couple of weeks of having a picnic somewhere.  No clue where at the moment but weather is suitable and I think we're both feeling a bit antsy to do something fun.  We'll discuss it the early part of this week and make our plans while we have no pending appointments.  If we do this I'll replan a menu for this week to be more picnic friendly.