Friday, September 30, 2011

You've Been Very Patient With Me...

Well you have been.  I know I've not posted anywhere as much as I used to do.  I've let myself get busy, too busy, really, and writing took a backseat to everything else.  But I'm ready I think to put writing back at the front side of my life.  I've been feeling very very antsy of late about writing, feeling I simply have to sit down and really share with you all.  Oh the posts I've missed due to being 'busy' all the time!  Thoughts I'd meant to share and didn't, photo opportunities I let pass.  But I've learned time is like money, once spent it's gone.  Money at least will replenish itself but time moves steadily forward, it won't be dammed and held for another day as we used to do the creek here on this place.

I planned yesterday to really share with you all.  I meant to take you along with me on back roads and into the thrift stores and then share my treasures.  Did I?  No, but there was good reason.  For this is what I found on nearly every road I traveled:

Roadwork and flag men... And then there was an inordinate amount of traffic on the back roads, I suppose because they were all trying to miss the roadwork, too.  I could never find a suitable place to slow down and pull over and take a picture of the golden rod and mallow flowers that are blooming, just now coming into their fullness of beauty.  I forgot the camera when I went into the Goodwill but it's just as well.  That place was some crowded.  I don't believe I've ever seen so many people in there at once before.  The clerks couldn't even leave the counter for 30 seconds.   I did take a photo of my favorite 'value' of the day:
Free Ice cream!  I found a shady spot in a parking lot to have my lunch and thought that ice cream was just the perfect thing.  It was warm enough to warrant eating it and cool enough that it didn't melt while I ate my burger.

No, no, not a single shot yet of those treasures I found.  It was late and I was flustered when I got in yesterday afternoon.  There were groceries to put away and a lunch to prepare for John and then supper for myself and feeding the pets, and then the evening was quite gone.  I did take time to slip out to see if the sunset was worthy of attention but it was just an ordinary gradual decrease in light sort of sunset.  Nothing at all like the sunset of the night before:


I didn't retouch the colors on these photos at all.  It was a fabulous sunset, worthy of standing about in the yard watching it.  John had a not great day at work but he felt uplifted by the glory of this sunset on his way home.

We were promised over the weekend which never came along.  We did have some awesome skies though.  I had to take these two photos while I was out feeding the pets last weekend.


Doesn't a sky like that just make you want to fly away to the top of the clouds?  I sure do!

Of course while the camera was out, everyone wanted their photo op:
 Trudy chose a profile shot this time.  Nice smile, don't you think?  And that velvety brown ear is shone off to perfection.  That girl can really pick her pose!
 Maddie on the other hand went for a definitely less professional and far more candid pose.  Look at that huge grin!  Looks just like the one who tells all the jokes at a party, doesn't she?
I can't decide if Misu is looking stern, peeved, or just plain sober because Maddie appears such a party animal, lol.  The close up shot I took of Misu I trashed.  She really did look more grumpy than anything in that photo.  Since yesterday was such a failure all around for photos, I meant to share today with you as well...yes, that's me the 'good intentions' girl.  And I did take a photo right at the beginning of the day while I was doing my Bible study and feeding the pets.  This was my view...perfect for Bible study don't you think?  Nothing like the sparkling clear start to a brand new day and that photo has 'new day' just written all over it!
I came indoors and put the camera down in order to write out my thoughts about Bible study...And that was the last photo I took today!  I cleaned house, I went out to organize the shed, I brought in a few autumn decorations (which I haven't even bothered to put out) and then I did more housework and then I took a nap because honestly I was tired with a capital "T".  Then I called Katie who complains that I don't bother to call her near often enough and talked for a bit over an hour about everything under the sun and then there was that rush to get a few more things done before Shabat evening began...whew!  But there's been time now to share for a little.

I'm not making hard and fast goals for October.  I have good reason, I do really.  I've been pushing projects for months now.  I'm tired of pushing always and never having time for writing or crafting or watching movies ( I won't tell you how long my last Netflix has been here).  And John will be home for something like 25 days in October.  Yes, really, he will be.  I've learned that keeping my plans to a minimum when he's home is best.  We want to spend a day at the fair.  We thought maybe we'd go see Katie since she's close enough to drive to see and our bank account is a little depleted after brakes and 'oops' bills and renegade mice.  We have a tradition of going off to a farther town to shop, in the foothills of our state and sometimes we picnic at the old covered bridge on our way back home.  I'd like to do that. We have to tend to Sam's cats and then we'll just spend time at home and rest, too because that is what my man needs more than anything else.  Just plain rest.  I'll be busy enough keeping up with regular mealtimes and the usual housekeeping, anyway.

There's the moon shining in the window at me.  Guess I'd better get up and turn on the porch light for John, draw the drapes and make sure the coffee is hot and fresh.  For tonight, I say Goodnight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Friday:  John agreed to work an extra shift.  This wasn't planned ahead but a fill in for a co-worker who was out. 

I'd made plans for Wednesday and Thursday because John was supposed to be at class, but that was cancelled.  I simply moved all my plans over to Friday when he agreed to work.

Spent about an hour and half organizing the food cupboards, writing down an inventory of what we have and noting what needed to be used right away.  I also jotted down a few menu ideas as I looked over the goods and thought of future meals.  I organized the items so that the expiration dates were in order of need to use.

I was still struggling with making my guest room suit me for autumn.  But while flipping through a magazine I saw a photo that inspired me to use what I have to cozy up my living room.  There were some decorative pillows I'd used in the guest room last year that perfectly suited the current decor and definitely added a comfort factor.

While in the closet I found some solid color pillo shams that matched the Cathedral window quilt in my bedroom.

A quick lunch that was filling and energy giving: A baked potato with a beef pot pie spooned over it.  I cooked both in the microwave.  I am a huge pot pie fan and these inexpensive frozen pies that go on sale for $.75 each are good enough for a fast lunch.  I usually keep four or so in the freezer since I'm so inclined to forget about eating when I'm involved in projects.

Electric bill came this day.  We dropped nearly $25 over last month's usage.  I am a little surprised since the cool weather didn't really come in until after this cycle finished up.  Guess turning that AC up right away each morning has really paid off.

I cooked a roast earlier in the week.  I sliced it super thin and used a portion to make Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches which I wrapped in foil and set aside for the weekend.  I had two packets of thinly sliced meat and a nice piece that will be perfect cubed for soup when it turns cooler.

Emptied a bottle of grape juice this evening.  I checked the bottom and it was marked PETE which means it is safe to reuse for water storage.  I find that rinsing well and then turning it upside down to dry usually is enough to free the bottle of any remaining scent from the juice.

Saturday:  We waited until we were back in town this afternoon to fill up the car.  Usually gasoline is anywhere from $.10-$.20 a gallon more but current prices were just $.06 more.  We felt it was low enough to warrant giving the local place our business. We try to stop locally for gas at least once a month.

No need for supper since we'd had a nice late dinner with the business committee from synagogue.

Sunday:    We had to go feed Sam's cats (we're the weekend relief crew) while he's out of town.  We planned to stop in the small town between his home and ours for mouse traps, steel wool and a Sunday paper.   Yes, we have a mouse.   Hopefully he is a temporary resident.

I knew we'd be gone from home this morning, so it seemed a good day to have our Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches.  I made home fries to go with the sandwiches.  I cut up the last of the Yukon Gold potatoes and cooked on a cast iron griddle in the oven.  I heated the sandwiches alongside.

Although I'd tried to sow seeds carefully, I noted that I had two beets and two lettuce in some of the areas where I'd planted, so I thinned plants.  Since I've planted so few I want to make sure to give the plants all the extra room they need to grow strong and well.

Monday:  John planned to get the oil changed in our car today.  We've been setting aside a little money each pay period towards this and had enough money to do an oil change and get tires rotated.

We hadn't planned to replace the brakes but the technician called John out to the garage and showed him our front brakes.  We counted our blessings and moved money from our savings account to cover that cost.

We were very late heading home, well past lunch, but we stopped at the local diner and picked up chicken plates.  I paid for the dinners out of my pocket money.  John did well buying the plates.  He spent less money than I do just buying chicken and a side.

Due to the late hour we ate our dinner, I wanted no supper and John was satisfied to have a snack only.

Tuesday:  Used 'saved' water to water some of the front porch plants.

Boiled a half dozen of the older eggs in the fridge to use for egg salad for our supper tonight.

Made extra rice when cooking dinner.  I'll use later in this week for muffins or fried rice or to extend a ground beef dish.  Not sure for what yet, but if I haven't got an idea before end of the week I'll move it to the freezer.

Used leftover homemade bread and two donuts from freezer for crumbs in our Apple Brown Betty.  The bread had gotten just a little dry and crumbly for use in sandwiches and toast, so I put in the freezer Saturday morning.  I used it all today in this dish, no waste.

That Apple Brown Betty made good use of the ripest of the two pears on the fruit plate as well.  I have no problem with mixing autumn fruits in dessert dishes.

Cleared out the chifforobe in the dining room.  Decided that at least a few items might well become eBay listings, organized the vitamins I've stocked by expiration date so we'll be sure to use the oldest first.

Noted the paint in the 'craft' side of the cabinet would be rather pretty for the furniture in my craft/guest room.

I packed John's work lunch while I made supper.  It took only moments to make a couple of extra sandwiches, bag up some chips.

Wednesday:  I saved loads of money today...No, really I did!  You see I was out with Mama and I was almost tempted by a quilt I liked...and it cost $95 on sale.  I did take time to stop and think about it, looked it over really well and I decided that for something I liked and didn't love, that was a lot of money.

Went to a country store in the Mennonite community to purchase a few bulk items.  Sliced almonds, anise seed, soup mix were all much less expensive there than in the grocery. 

We had a very nice dinner and I felt perfectly full until about 7pm.  I opted to have a light supper of yogurt with cereal, cranberries and some sliced almonds as toppings.

Bought peas and leaf lettuce to plant while out today.  I'll get them in the pots in the morning.  I'm feeling so good about my little pot garden!

Mama and I found a nine pack of ornamental kale.  I suggested we share the cost of it.  For $3 we each had plenty.  In fact, I brought home only 3 of them, suggesting she share with a friend as well.

Thursday:  I planned a day out for myself today.  I had all of my allowance from this past pay period in my pocket.  A thrift shop plunder seemed just the ticket.  I love seeing how much I can get for my pocket money there.  I had a great time.  Best buy today was a pair of full length seersucker blue and white stripe drapes for the guest room.  They are PERFECT with a quilt I already own.  It will surely work for spring/ summer season of next year.

I found two books for myself as well.  For just $1 each for hardback books, I can't beat Goodwill prices.  I brought home one old friend and one new to me book that just sounded good. 

I hadn't planned to eat lunch out but time sort of slipped away while I was in Goodwill and I was downright hungry.  I still had to go to the grocery store, and I do not like to go in hungry there.  I went over to Burger King and found they have a great Jr. Whopper value meal: Jr. Whopper, fries (large not small) medium drink and a free ice cream for under $4.

Walgreens had a great deal on Sugar this week.  With the store coupon, you could get 4 pound bags of Domino sugar for $2.49.  I had $.50/1 coupons.  That brought the cost of the sugar down to a little less than $.50 a pound which is a decent price these days.  I bought the limit of three bags.  I have a nice stock of sugar now.

I shopped carefully at the grocery today.  I meant to 'buy ahead' for items I knew I'd buy next week, as well as pick up the top sales items.  I shall be able to skip that store next week, saving gas and time as well as money.

Planted the peas and leaf lettuce this morning before I left home.  I spied my first carrots this afternoon when I came back home.  They are tiny little sprigs but they are appearing at last.

That mouse is STILL in the house.  We found where he came in and stuffed it full of steel wool.  I just wish he'd been OUT when we found the hole.  But he is not.  He's thumbed his nose at me and left evidence of his being in the house on the kitchen counter, in a drawer and on the dining table.  I am not happy.  I put out an old fashioned snap 'em trap this morning, all traps are baited with peanut butter and now it's just wait and hope he slips up.

Knowing the mouse is in the house, I made sure to put boxed items in either zip lock bags or tin cans to store them.  I've no desire to find the mouse has helped himself to my blueberry pop tarts before I do.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There's a Mouse in My House


Last night about 9:30pm, well after our little town has rolled up the sidewalks and shut off the red light on Highway 96, I sat here in the living room minding my own business.  I had my laptop and was snuggled down in my favorite chair.  I happened to pause long enough to change channels on the TV and that's when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  A little shadowy figure that hesitated as though it knew I had spied it and then when I focused fully upon it ran for all it was worth...a mouse.

Sigh.  We looked high and low for the mousetraps we'd bought last year but couldn't find them anywhere.  All we could find was the old fashioned wooden spring loaded type that nine times out of ten snaps the finger of the person who is trying to gently place it on the ground.  We struggled with that for a bit and finally gave up, after watching it pop about like it was possessed as we'd place it on the counter. 

After we turned on all the lights in the house so we could see wee mouse better should it decide to return along the same route, we agreed that we could do nothing more for the night...John did see the mouse scoot back along the wall and into the kitchen.  We kept our feet propped up as we watched TV.  No desire to find mouse running across our toes!

I won't tell you I lost sleep last night.  I didn't.  I did however, give myself a stern talking to.  I grew up in the country.  Mice in the house are standard in the fall of the year.  The contemplation of warmer quarters with better provisions are typical whether you're human or rodent, when you know colder months are ahead.  I cannot fault mouse for instinct.  I can, however, dislike mightily the housekeeping habits of a mouse.

I know they have no particular  bias against shredding an antique quilt or a vintage magazine for bedding.  They have no shame about chewing a hole into a box of crackers or cereal.  They use the restroom indiscriminately and they smell.  They have their young just anywhere at all, so you're likely to reach in for fresh napkins in a drawer of linens and find your fingers upon a pile of hairless newborns.  No, I do not like mice in my house at all.

So I slept last night without fear.  Today we went out and bought various items guaranteed to do their job.  We also bought steel wool to repack around pipes and we'll put screens over the gray water pipe that runs outdoors and over the dryer vent outlet.  I'll shake and empty any bags or boxes from the shed on the back deck before bringing items indoors and hopefully we'll prevent future roommates moving in.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September

From the September 1936 Farmer's Wife Almanac

I'm Rich

I have the sunset and the dawn,
The dew that skips across my lawn,
The birds that nest among the trees,
The quiet whispering of the breeze---
Each one is mine.

The velvet petal of the rose,
The talking brook that onward flows,
The hills, the clouds, the deep blue sky.
Ah, who is wealthier than I?

The sunset, dawn, the birds and breeze,
The rose, the brook, the hills and trees---
These are all mine, but best of all
I have the God who made them all.

by: Rich, at 24, Pennsylvania

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Friday:  I was tired after yesterday's round of fall cleaning, too.  I meant to have fun, but never got time to have fun, lol.  However, this day has been slower paced and while things have been accomplished I had less to do than yesterday.

Pulled out that pretty butter yellow tablecloth Virginia gave me when she last visited.  I also found a tray, candles, napkins that just set that cloth right off.  What a pretty Shabat table it made!

Hung the picture I framed the day before.  I'd meant to paint the frame cream and hang the picture in my bedroom but the gold made the autumn colors in the old picture stand out so nicely that I felt I just had to hang it in the living room, right near my chair where I can look at it often.  That frame was from the thrift shop and came complete with a mat that just fit my old picture.  Love thrift store finds and frames that are sturdy are always a good thing to have laying about.

Played farmer girl this morning.  I don't have money or labor handy to make the raised beds I wanted to prepare YET, but I do have a variety of pots, seeds and some potting soil.  So I took the last of the bag of potting mix bought in the Spring and planted cilantro and lettuces and those mums I bought.  I've got more pots and I'll buy another bag of soil here next week and plant the rest of my seeds.

The coleus I asked to break off the phone company's huge plant?  Rooted and got planted in with the mums.  It was really quick to root.  With luck, I should be able to root coleus, geranium and impatiens to have next year and if I'm careful I ought to be able to harvest petunia and portulaca seeds to start new plants, too.

After discovering that 'lost' jar of yogurt from my previous batch in the fridge, I went over the refrigerator with a fine tooth comb to be sure I used up just every little thing about to expire.  Now I'm satisfied I've taken care of all but one item and I'll use it this weekend for one of my meals.

John has to work late tonight and won't have a chance to have his evening snack here at home.  So I packed extra in his work lunch.  Now he won't have to spend out of pocket for pricey convenience store or vending machine options.

Yesterday's three pints of yogurt turned out nice and thick.  I'm so happy when everything works just right with my yogurt making.  Incidentally, I had about two tablespoons left in the container, so I froze it immediately after getting the yogurt in the jars yesterday.

Had windows open this morning to bring in all those lovely cool breezes.  I had to close them along about 12:30p but the air conditioner hasn't run as it did yesterday.  The cooler air and cloudiness are a big help.

Saturday:  Up late last night, up early this morning.  It was chilly cool.  I turned the AC a little higher than usual, then turned on the whole house fan and let that cool the house while I was gone to synagogue.

I had meant to start a roast in the crock pot before leaving home but didn't even think about it until I was seated in synagogue.  I was contemplating my options as I drove through town and had just made up my mind to stop in our town for chicken, when I saw the KFC sign ahead on the road.  Two piece dark meat snack boxes were just $2.49 (that's two pieces of chicken and a biscuit).  I ordered one plus a side of slaw for my dinner (under $4 for a meal) and a snack box for John to have a treat when he came in from work (or to put in his lunch if he happened to be very late).  I still came out for under $10 which I doubt I could have done here in our hometown.

Came in and found the AC hadn't even turned on yet.  The house was comfortable, but starting to feel a little stuffy.  I turned off the house fan and just let the AC come on as it normally would.

Sunday:  Drove to Macon to pick up Samuel and take to the coach service for airport.  I stopped in town and bought a newspaper before heading back down the interstate.

Put that roast beef in the oven as soon as I walked indoors.  No excuses today for not cooking that meat even if it meant a late dinner/early supper for me.  Added potatoes and carrots to the pan later in the resting period.  It was a one dish oven meal!

I opened windows when I came in, too.  I knew it would likely turn off sunny and warm as it has every day this weekend but for a little while at least, it was fresh air cooling the house.

Washed a load of sheets.  I dried until just barely dry and then left them in the dryer to finish drying in the heated drum.

Noticed that the tomatoes were at the perfect stage of ripeness, so ate one with my dinner.

Watered the plants and planters with 'leftover' water from glasses and bottles.

John keeps his lunch in the refrigerator and so when he brought home leftovers last night they were well chilled. We shared a cheese sandwich from the lunchbox as our late supper together.  Ther rest of the food I put into his lunch basket for the next day.

I'd had plenty of coffee so I skipped the usual afternoon cup.

Monday:   Used last 2 slices of bread for John's breakfast sandwich.  Instead of going to town to buy more I made my own.  Two loaves were cooling on counter by dinner time today.

Opened windows to let house air and gather cool morning air.  Shut them again just as soon as I noticed the temperature was 1 degree below AC thermostat setting.

Later in the evening, I turned on the whole house fan which brings in cooler air for the evening and night.

Planned menus.  I need only two items to complete five days of food.  I am sure that this will be a good time to start my pantry freezer challenge.

Continued to try to find a fall look for the guest/craft room out of the things I have.  It's just not happening.  I have a bedcover but no curtains to match, or a set of curtains with no bedcover to match.  At least I see where I might get by with just the purchase of one or the other instead of a whole new bedding set and a set of curtains too.

I'd contemplated cancelling my Netflix account...received an email this morning from company stating that fees would remain the same, only name will change.  Glad I didn't unsubscribe!

Meant to make cookies, but am very short on butter at the moment.  Decided to thaw one of the pound cakes I made weekend before last.

Replenished coffee canisters from pantry supply.  I mixed the good German coffee with a less expensive but good tasting brand.  We get twice the amount of great tasting coffee.

Wanted corn dogs for dinner.  I had no corn muffin mix on hand.  I had cornmeal and half a packet of turkey hot dogs.  I mixed up my own batter and dipped in the hot dogs.  Then I oven baked.  Not a superlative effort but at least it sort of resembled my usual recipe and suited my taste.

Use a sampler of moisturizer this morning that came in a magazine.  It was enough to work with for one application.

Just moments before John comes home each evening I go about the house and turn on a few lights here and there, especially now that the sun is setting along about the time he's coming in. I'll have on the kitchen light a lamp in the living room and lamp in our bedroom.  As soon as he comes in and changes clothes,  I slowly make my through the house and cut off all but the absolutely necessary, usually the one between our two chairs.  I think the warmth of the light indoors makes home seem more welcoming.

We follow a method in paying our bills that I've explained before.  We are paid every two weeks.  We have a list of all our bills and monthly fees and we set aside half each pay period.  This means we seldom get caught empty handed when a bill comes due.  Now and then we might have one that is a little more, but we almost always need to come up with only half the amount to pay a bill in full every month.

Now having said all that, a few months ago we took money from savings to pay six months of car insurance at once.  For the past three months however, we've set aside 1/12 of the six month amount and marked it car insurance.  Tonight for some reason John asked why we were setting aside that money if we had no bill.  I explained.  "Was it worthwhile to do it this way?"  "We're saving about $150 every six months."  He raised his eyebrows.  "That's worth it!"  What other bills do we split in payments even though we normally pay them in full annually?  Property taxes, car tags, auto club fees...

Tuesday:  Grocery day.  I did my usual bit of looking over the list, scratching off items, adding items I remembered overnight.  This appears to be a habit these days.

My first stop was CVS.  I looked over the sales paper again before I went in.  Glad I did, too.  I needed deodorant for myself.  I noted one brand on sale for a very good price and recalled I had a coupon as well.  I dug out the coupon and happily switched brands for the sake of the savings I made.

I was so disappointed to find the selection very limited on the special sale priced candy, but I stocked up on what I could get.  $2.50 for fun sized candy bars is a great price these days on anything that contains chocolate.  Added incentive was the extra cash bucks CVS offered as well, bringing the price down to$1.50, yes $1.50!, per bag.  I bought the limit and put some of the bags away for later.

Stop 2: Lowe's.  I bought a big bag of potting mix.  I meant to buy more of the $.50 mums but they were not looking as good as they did last week.  I decided to just skip that purchase.

Stop 3: The only grocery store I stopped at today.  I'd checked the other store's flyer and frankly was uninspired.  I was careful in this store and it paid off. I came in on budget and had everything on my must have list in the buggy.

Ground beef was on the list and the store had ground round on sale.  But this particular chain store has very good beef, not overly fatty, so I felt safe buying the ground chuck which was at least $1 a pound cheaper. At another store, I wouldn't have made the switch regardless of savings.

Filled my car as I started home.  I didn't mind a bit going to a town near the interstate on my way home to save an additional $.01 a gallon.  Small change adds up. I should know.  We've vacationed on the change we save many and many a year now.

Wednesday:  Our plans changed.  Suddenly my husband had a free day and he was primed to do something, anything, but stay at home.  We decided, spur of the moment, to go visit a museum at Ft. Benning that interested us.  We knew that since it was a military museum, the entry fees would be moderate donations only.

We packed a quickly thrown together picnic bag.  I mean literally thrown together! lol.  We grabbed items from the fridge and snack cabinet and tossed in the bag, along  with chilled bottles of water and ice packs from the freezer.

We spent about 4 hours at the museum and missed a bit  more than half of the exhibits.  We also found a second museum we'd like to visit when we return.

Our picnic lunch was in the car and we'd signed up for a tour of a WWII base replica that started in fifteen minutes time.  John spied a sign near the Imax theater offering all beef hot dogs for $.99 each.  Two of those and cold drink were under $6 for the two of us, which we deemed reasonable.  We were happy to not have the long trek to the car and back and possibly missing the special tour (only offered once a day).

When we did get back to our car, we were quite happy to raid our picnic bag for cold drinks and a light snack.

Supper was John's special treat.  We stopped to get a burger at a favorite place and shared that on our way home.

We spent less than $25 and used about 1/2 tank of gas for our day trip but I deem it worth every single penny spent.  John and I both commented often through out the afternoon and even in the evening hours at home about how nice the day had been.  We enjoyed it greatly and vow to do this more often.

Thursday:  Washed a full load of dishes and let air dry.

John did laundry today, a full load.  One thing he did to boost our savings this day:  He got a big splotch of grease on his shirt yesterday while we were eating that special burger.  He treated the stain right away with Dawn dish detergent and let it sit overnight.  No stain, no need to move the shirt to the house drawer.

Planted radishes, carrots, beets today in my galvanized tubs.  I spied six green sprouts in my tub of head lettuce.

I didn't have enough red or green cabbage to make a side dish...so I just mixed the two together.  We had plenty for two servings.

On our way home this evening, John voiced a desire for breakfast for supper.  I agreed readily.  It was less expensive than other options I'd paraded through my mind as he practiced music for Saturday.

That winds up another week of savings...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Make Do and Mend



I've had an old picture for about 3 years or more.  I found it in the local 'antique' market (a real junk shop).  There was no frame, only the old fashioned paper mat (you can't see that in this photo) which had stuck to the glass, and the picture, also stuck firmly to the glass.  It sat around just like that for three years.  I'd take it up and look at it now and then and tried once or twice to find a frame that fit, but didn't and so I forgot it.

This past year, I found a picture at the Goodwill store that I didn't like at all, but the frame and the mat around it suited me.  I have this belief that one can never have enough frames and a mat or two is always handy.  I brought it home and the picture I'd meant to put in the frame didn't fit, so I shoved it in the corner behind my bedroom curtain and forgot all about it.

This past week, I was cleaning my room and found the frame.  I meant to put another picture I'd recently bought into the frame but it was too long and narrow...So I lay the frame aside, then I found the stuck on glass picture behind a folder on my desk and laid it on the bed on top of the frame...and realized it was a perfect fit.



My intention was to paint the frame a cream color to match others on my bedroom wall, but I was so wowed by the picture in the gold frame that I decided not to paint.  And I decided to hang it in the living room near my favorite chair so I can gaze at it.  It's really quite nice, don't you think?  And that is Make Do for this week.  A picture without a frame, a frame meant for another picture, meant to be painted and wasn't...I made do and it's beautiful.

Go by Heidi's blog and see what she's done this week...
www:thecranberrychronicle.blogspot.com

Busy Weekend, New Week Begun...

It was a beautiful day Friday...Perfect for having windows open in the morning hours (which I did) and perfect to watch the lovely flag blowing in the breeze.  I couldn't help but take a photo of it while I was out on the back deck taking a few other photos.  I thought I'd share some of my activities this past week in my home and then tell you my plans for this week as well.

Thursday I really worked myself too hard.  Entirely too hard.  I paid dearly for that the next day with aches and pains and general tiredness.  Which is why, when Mama came by at 10am I was still wandering about the house in my pajamas.  I'd piddled about doing little tasks, but didn't bother to dress.  I showered after she left and went outdoors to gather my materials to work with...I had plans you see, to become farmer Terri. 

Now I know we have all these acres all around us and some of it clear enough for a garden.  BUT we also have deer, which eat nearly everything you  plant and we have NO tools to work with.  I am a hearty, hardy girl but I do not want to break up rock hard ground with a pick axe and hoe and shovel my way into a garden.  My plans are to use a former dog kennel between the two sheds as an enclosed area for raised bed garden.  I believe it gets enough sun to make a fairly good spot for most of the crops I would like to grow.  Besides, John is adamant that he doesn't want a huge big garden.  So I'm sort of under warning to keep it manageable and small!

But lacking funding at the moment, I can't build raised beds.  And being the impatient sort, I believe in starting with what you've got.  What I have are loads of pots, some packets of seed and I had a partial bag of soil.  Hence, I have started.  Now I felt obligated to plant up the mums I just bought, so the bulk of my soil ended up going to those pots.  Then I used what was left to start the lettuce and cilantro seeds.  Here's my little pot garden so far:

 The old blue enamel dishpan was the perfect depth for lettuce.  I had some leaf lettuce seeds that were sown right in the center of the pot and then I used the square foot gardening method of sowing ice berg lettuce seeds around the edges.
 Here's one of my pots of mums.  The strawberry planter, formerly home to petunias is not home to an iceberg lettuce and cilantro. 
This geranium is looking fresh with the shorter stems and new growth.  The surprise sowing in this pot was four basil plants.  I believe you can see them if you enlarge the photo.  The pot of herbs that sat next to the pot on the deck apparently did a bit of self sowing. I'm not complaining. I was sorry to lose the basil to the heat these last days of summer.
This last photo is really all about the rose bush I rooted earlier in the year. It's bloomed a few times now.  And there's a cache pot of mums at the foot of that chair.  Also in the cache pot are two pieces of coleus I rooted.  They are quite small but I hope that they will do well enough to become real plants which I can then move indoors and baby through the hard freezes.

So that's my bit of gardening. 

We've had lovely cool mornings but the heat soon builds and usually by noon the AC will kick on once again.  Friday after I planted it warmed up and then it got cloudy and humid.  I thought for sure we'd get rain and I fretted that my little seeds would be washed up.  No rain ever came but the breeze did blow harder and it was downright chilly.  Cool enough the AC went off and the windows stayed shut.  I shivered outdoors later that evening feeding the dogs and cat.  Brrrr!  Mind you now, the temperature was about what it had been all day long but the added breeze and cloudiness made it feel a lot colder for some reason. 

Samuel came up while I was feeding the dogs. He stayed here until about 8:30 at which point he'd talked himself almost out.  He was so excited over his test scores for this first portion of job training and the upcoming training in Washington, DC.  It seemed funny to me that he'd worried so about passing the tests, because I never once doubted he'd go right through.

After he left, I had Shabat on my own.  John worked late that evening, not getting home until 11:30.  It was not a good night for him and he dropped right into bed after he came in and went to sleep very shortly after prayers.  I was as tired as he at that point, having worked just enough that day to be ready for bed at my usual time and then waited up for him.

Saturday morning was still cloudy and cool. I wore a sweater when I left to go to synagogue. It was just too chilly to go without.  By the time service was over, I was miserable.  Tired, aching and headachey.  Nothing in the world wrong but too little sleep over the work week. I stopped at KFC and bought the special (2 pc dark meat snack $2.49) and headed home.  I ate, went to my chair, put up my feet and slept before I got the webpage up on my laptop.  I woke about twenty minutes later and felt less aching and had no headache but definitely didn't feel less tired.  I was glad it was still Shabat so I could rest and do nothing.

I tried to watch tv but there was nothing I wanted to watch, so I read blogs and looked through magazines for the rest of the afternoon.  It was relaxing and fun and I felt rested as the afternoon went on.

When sunset came I was ready to quickly pick up the house, load dishes, feed the pets.  John came in right on time that evening and it was lovely to see him.  We chatted and drank coffee (afternoon and evening cups of coffee are always better with company...) and accidentally fell into watching  a movie that was just absorbing.  Based on a true story, it takes place in WWII era in Poland.  "Defiance" is the name of the film.
Anyway, plans to go to bed early that night didn't happen...We watched that movie right to the end, and so we ended up going to bed as late on Saturday night as we had on Friday night.

Sunday morning would normally be my ideal day to slip back to bed, but no luck.  Samuel had asked me to drive him to the courier site for the coach to Atlanta airport.  He did offer good incentive, mind you, the promise of treating me to breakfast out.  We both agreed as we drove over to IHOP that breakfast out is always a pleasure.  "Let's face it, Mama.  You never know when you go to a restaurant if your meal is going to be good or not, but breakfast is just hard to mess up!"  That's Samuel's opinion and I'm inclined to agree.  I've eaten many and many a breakfast out and it's rare to get a bad meal.  We had good coffee and good food which was even better due to the chilly morning. 

After I dropped Samuel off at the courier, I hit the interstate.  I'd thought it would be the quickest, least busy way out of Macon, but the north side was pretty heavy, almost like any weekday, no doubt due to the two bottle neck lanes where  repairs were being made.  As I drove south however, cars disappeared until I was practically the only driver on the interstate, which is kind of one of those surreal things you just wonder at.  Six lanes of highway and as far as you can see, you are the only car...I got off as soon as I was out of Macon and took a backroad, my preferred route of travel.  Unfortunately, I took a back road that I didn't know, just hoped would come out where I wanted.  It didn't.  I ended up being lost for a good 30 minutes or so but kept heading in the general direction I thought was homeward until I finally came out on another highway I did recognize...And honestly I wasn't any closer to home there than I'd been when I got off the interstate.  It was an interesting ride, but not one I shall repeat I don't think, lol.

When I got home it was beginning to warm up, so I didn't open the windows.  I just opened all the shades to let in the daylight and went to work.  I am sure those three cups of extra coffee had a great deal to do with the energy I felt!  I started the washer with the sheets I'd stripped from my bed before leaving home, put a roast beef in the oven to cook, and did a routine daily cleaning. I'd normally have done a first day of the week routine, which is more intensive but it was already noon at this point.  I decided upon the rest of my menu for dinner, then went to the craft/guest room where I played about trying to find a fall look for that room. 

Friday afternoon, after I'd gone to check the mail, I thought I'd check the big container in the shed to see what I had in it.  I was surprised to find it held a few quilts.  I photo'd them on the deck.

Both of these were made by my Grandmother Crowley.  She didn't start making quilts until she was in her 70's.  Grandmama obviously liked this pattern very well.  She'd made a beautiful pink and white nine square quilt for Amie when she was little, big enough to cover a twin bed, but her other quilts were made up from scraps of this and that randomly mixed and matched.  Only the top quilt is large enough to cover a full sized bed and that is a skimpy fit.  The second quilt, which I prefer best of the two, doesn't even pretend to be big enough for a twin size bed, much less a full sized one.

This quilt was made by my Great Aunt Myrtle.  She was Granny's older sister.  Aunt Myrtle took up quilting with a passion years ago when she was in her 60's and kept it up until she was in her 90's.  She used all cotton fabrics (Grandmama used a polyster cotton blend that is unpleasant to the touch).  The patterns of this quilt radiate out from a central star.  I love this quilt, because it feels good and has a nice weight to it, but the red fabrics in it were not color fast (discovered after we had to wash it following a spill) and the size is as more suited to snuggling on the sofa than a full sized or twin sized bed...

The surprise quilt was this one:
This quilt is genuinely old.  I vaguely recall Granny giving me this and telling me to not let Mama know she'd given it to me. (It's okay...Mama nor any other relative has internet). It is cotton, with real cotton inside.  There's a spot on one edge where the binding is come undone and a few tiny holes with a bit of cotton peeking out.  When I examined the binding to see if I could repair it I discovered that the quilt was hand stitched, and it is hand quilted as well.  I suspect that Big Mama made this one (that would be Granny's mom).  I wanted to put this one on my bed but it is better suited to a 3/4 size bed rather than a full sized one.  And honestly, I am still mindful of Granny telling me to hide it from Mama, so I thought it best not to have it out just now...but one day, I will!

So in the end I do not have a fall cover for my bed. I put the first of Grandmama's quilts on temporarily, but I can't say I like it very well.  It looks a bit skimpy though it is the largest of the four quilts and Grandmama's color choices are not the colors I'd choose.  I have not bought any bedding other than sheets for this bed so I don't have a lot of choices in my stash.  I'll just keep my eye out for a good sale at retail and thrift stores and see what comes up.  I confess, since I have a desire to go with a cottage feel, I'd love to have a pretty quilt or two.  I might see if Mama will loan me one as she has several modern day factory quilts in full sizes.
 
I spent the rest of yesterday's work hours compiling shopping lists, clipping and sorting coupons. I  have a bit more work to do on that this afternoon but I'm not sweating over it.  I've accomplished a good amount of work today as well.

This morning after John left I watched two ministry programs, then went out to do Bible study on the front porch.  It was another cloudy and cool morning and I felt inclined to be showered and dressed before going out this morning. I'd planned my breakfast (yogurt topped cereal with walnuts and craisins) and my tasks for the day (making bread as we had NONE and I didn't want to make a special trip into town for one item when I'm shopping tomorrow), mopping, and a Monday, or first day, cleaning routine.  The bible study was interesting and gave me food for thought and inspiration for two future posts.  The mopping was soon accomplished and before I knew it the house was clean.  The Monday routine ended being not much longer than a daily cleaning, since I'd done so many tasks while piddling about the house yesterday.

I soon had bread rising in the pans.  I  attempted my own version of oven baked corn dogs (not a failure, not a huge success) and made a beautiful red cabbage and carrot salad for an accompaniment. I looked up cookie recipes but decided to just thaw one of the Chocolate Banana pound cakes I made the weekend before last.  Every single cookie recipe I thought I might make called for butter, something I am very low upon at the moment and not too keen to use up before I buy more.  I also got John's work lunch packed before I had my lunch today.

I have had most of the afternoon free.  All I've needed to do this afternoon was to run the vacuum and wash dishes once the bread pans were cool enough to handle.  I did that shortly after reading emails.  It has, in honesty, been a fairly nice day.  I've gone back to the guestroom and contemplated my options using what I have (still not happy with anything) so nothing accomplished there.  I did organize a few things that were out of place in that room but nothing big.  Of course, I've chattered away to you all and had coffee and slice of pound cake for an afternoon break.

Plans for this week:  Grocery shopping,buying mulch and soil so I can do a bit more yard work and potted gardening.  John has classes Wednesday and Thursday, so I'm taking two extra work days this week and using that time to work on my food storage areas in the kitchen (badly disorganized, and I need to check expiration dates on the canned stuff to make sure I use all that will expire shortly) and general cupboard organization.  That should be just enough extra with the routine work to keep me busy.  If he's done with music selection by Thursday, I hope to get the Power Point done for worship service.  I'd like to bring out my October vintage magazines.  I also hope to begin working on October goals for home and person.  I imagine by Friday all we'll either of us do is the bare minimum.

Meal plans this week:
Tuesday: something from deli I think
Wednesday:  Cheesesteak sandwiches (using roast from Sunday), chips, baked apples
Thursday:  Chicken Sausages, red cabbage and pierogi
Friday:  Loaded Baked Potatoes, Salad, Apple turnovers
Saturday:  Who knows?  Never know how long service will run, if business meeting is being held after or John has a particular want, so I've just quit planning for this day.
Sunday: Mac n Cheese, Broccoli, Salad 

Guess I'll go wander back to the guest room and look in the closet one more time, just in case I missed something inspiring...then get cracking on that final grocery list.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

Friday:  Home all day long and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Yesterday's fall cleaning work took its toll on me.  I needed a quiet day of work to recuperate. 

It was a very cool morning.  Cool enough to warrant opening windows and taking full advantage of that cool air.  We didn't turn on the AC until after 4pm when the house just got stuffy and too warm to bear.  But all those morning and early afternoon hours of 'free' air didn't do a bit of harm to our coming bill.

We washed clothes, hung to dry.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I turned off the auto dry feature on my machine.  Instead I open the door once the last cycle is completed and let the dishes air dry for an hour or so.  This works very nicely.

I watered plants with water I saved from water bottles and glasses that weren't finished.  I also added in a pan of water used to boil eggs yesterday.

Dinner was an easy meal of chicken enchiladas, using one chicken breast and some cooked bell pepper and onion strips.  I also added to the bottom of the pan 1 cup each of rice and refried beans. I used odd slices of cheese left in packets and nearing time to use up. With a green salad we had a very nice meal, quite hearty and had enough food for three people.

I spent the afternoon making peanut butter cookies.  I like to make 'fancy' cookies while using a budget recipe.  Simple as pie.  I rolled the cookie dough into balls and then in white sugar to coat.  Then I put the balls on the aluminum foil lined pan, pressed with the bottom of an old fashioned glass.  The design on the pedestal bottom was of a small square with lines radiating out from it.  The size of the pedestal was perfect cookie size and the cookies are just beautiful.  Don't just take my word for it.  John commented several times over how much he appreciated that simple little embellishment.  Never discount beauty when saving money.  You'll be surprised how it uplifts spirits.


As the temperature dropped we left the AC turned up high so it wouldn't come on until the next afternoon when it was quite warm once more.  We turned on the whole house fan and let that cool the house, drawing in that cool outside air.  Oh we slept well under our quilt!


Saturday:  Bananas...all those bananas I bought on Tuesday despite being bought in varying stages of ripeness were perfectly ripe this morning. I made peanut butter toast with sliced bananas on top for our breakfast.  A nice combination of carbs and protein to carry us through the usual long synagogue morning.

We went to lunch with the synagogue.  Our meal was heavy and late so supper need be light and easy.  John ate a bowl of cereal.  I opted for saltines and cheese and a glass of milk.  We were both well satisfied.


Sunday:  I stripped our bed to wash linens and decided I might as well add in the curtains from our room as well to make a full load.  Since John had the line full of wet clothes, I dried in the dryer, but timed them carefully to be sure to remove before they were completely dry.  This allowed me to hang the curtains right from the dryer and wrinkles fell away as they finished drying on the rods.  No need to iron.

We had plenty of sweets in the house, what with cookies and banana pudding...but remember those ripening bananas?  Once they get sugar flecked John doesn't touch them.  I had three left and I was determined not to waste one bite.  I need three to make my banana pound cake recipe.  I bake in two loaf pans and these freeze beautifully.  With room in the freezer, it made sense to make the cakes and freeze after they cooled.  I upped the recipe a little combining the Banana Pound cake recipe with a chocolate Pound cake recipe.  Chocolate banana pound cakes...Oh yum! Compared the two recipes and found most measurements were very similar.  Those that were different I halved the difference and added that in.  Result was two moist delicious (of course we had to try a little!) beautifully crusted pound cakes.  Safely stowed in the freezer for future treats.

About ten days ago I made a trip to a small town grocer with good prices on beef.  I found a marked down packet of t-bone steaks for $2.99 a pound.  I took them out of the freezer Saturday to thaw for our Sunday dinner.  John was very pleased to find we were having steak.

I made homemade croutons from leftover sliced whole grain artisan bread to top our salad.  This is so simple to do.  I just dice, toss into a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil and cook over low heat until toasted, turning the pieces frequently to prevent burning.   It is shocking how much better these homemade croutons taste than those stale, rock hard cubes in a box from the grocery.

I paid attention to an email from Directv on Saturday and discovered we were getting two free bonuses this month.  One was for Sunday: Free NFL Sunday Ticket showings.  John was so pleased to get to see NFL games!  I felt I'd given him a real treat and all I'd done was read an email I normally ignore.  The second free offering is a weekend of free Showtime and HBO channels the last weekend of this month.  I'll try to take advantage of that, too.

Monday:  Errands day:  I always try to see how many things I can accomplish when we're leaving home.  This day it was to take off trash and stop by the car wash to clean the outside of the car.

I took note of the mention of mums for $.50 at Lowe's in a friend's email last week.  John and I had a short list of needed items from Lowe's and since we were going to be in the area this day, we stopped. I got my mums, some daffodil bulbs (40 for $9.98) and grape hyacinth bulbs (no clue how many but the packet was $6.98) and 8 of the mums.  John also bought a piece needed to repair a broken doorknob and three other items from our list.  We seem to always have a list for Lowe's and so each time we go in to pick up necessities we try to pick up one or two of our wants from the list as well.

John went on to get his haircut.  That salon is next to a grocery.  I needed the usual list of items: milk, bread, eggs, cheese.  Yes, we added a few more items but I'm not too upset.  On behalf of my budget I opted for store brand acetaminophen which was $6 a bottle less expensive than the name brand.  Also picked up three bags of candy.  The sales prices on Halloween candies is quite low at the moment.  When a bag of chocolate candy is less than half the usual price, it seems a good time to stock up, don't you think?  And even though we don't celebrate Halloween, those candies are beautifully wrapped for FALL color schemes as well.  I'll be buying more next week when I go the grocery and putting it away for later.  Chocolate is a year round food in our home and getting it at bargain prices is a good thing!

Note: pay attention to packaging labels when buying your seasonal chocolate candies.  We very nearly came away with a white chocolate covered candy...John is not fond of white chocolate.  And we did get home and discover that another bag of candy was a mixed variety and we didn't care for half the types in the bag.  Oh well.  Lesson learned here, but you certainly do not have to make my mistake.

I'd meant to surprise my husband with a 'picnic' luncheon, bought at the grocery deli and had under a shady tree with a nice breeze to blow over us...Humidity and heat put that idea down quick.  John suggested we 'picnic' at home inside our air conditioned house, lol. I agree with him. So we skipped the 'side items' I'd meant to pick up and just bought a deli sub sandwich.  Turned out to be a terrific buy.  A foot long submarine sandwich cost just $6 was made from the premium deli sliced turkey and cheeses and bakery fresh bread.  It was the BEST submarine sandwich we've had.  I just might have to do that again sometime when they are on sale.  Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative for a picnic next time, too.

Washed a full load of dishes this evening...Allowed to air dry overnight.


Tuesday:  Nasty surprise.  A bill came in higher than we expected it to be and further reading convinced us it might well be almost as high each month from now on.  That was not what we planned or budgeted for!  I reworked our budget sheet and we agreed that this month, due to the unexpected and unpleasant surprise we'd sacrifice savings to cover the bill.  I'm just as convinced that next month we'll have money set aside in our budget and savings will not be touched!  We'll trim elsewhere, even if it does mean shaving it a bit close in places.  We're counting on seeing our electric bill drop and having a lower than estimated propane bill (which we're already setting money aside to cover).

We had a very nice lunch today: BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, Harvest slaw, cornmeal breadsticks.  The breasts were a bargain price: boneless skinless FROZEN for $1.49 a pound.  They come three to a package and I prepared all three.  I set one aside to make two sandwiches for John's work week.  Corn on the cob bought last week on sale and brought in for Labor day, will likely be the last of the season.  Harvest slaw was just a little shredded cabbage, half a diced apple, a spoonful or two each of craisins and walnuts and mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice and sweetener.  The cornmeal breadsticks were a bread making experiment I made last week that were leftover.

John kept telling me how good the meal was as he ate...But I must say I was distracted.  I've never really learned to figure the cost per serving of meals.  I just always try to buy things on sale and be cautious in putting too many high cost items into one meal.  I think it's about time I learned how to figure out what each meal costs us.  I might well find I can make further savings if I do and I'm definitely feeling today that I want to 'earn' all the extra income I can whether I'm cutting costs or working at a task that actually generates an income.

I overspent my grocery budget this past month namely because my budget amount changed mid-pay period.  I'm thinking I need to pull myself back in line.  So it's a pantry/freezer challenge time for me.  I'll try to go the next two weeks buying as little as possible beyond fresh produce and try to get back on track.  I think I've enough stock to carry me two weeks and if I find I can go a little longer I'll try for a month.  Remember this is NOT a no spend challenge but a pantry/freezer challenge wherein we try to use what we have first to plan meals and buy only necessities to round out menus or extend our foods.  Anyone up to joining me?

I don't have extra money just now to buy pillow forms to go in my pretty covers friend Susan crocheted for me.  I used some rather flat bed pillows to stuff them instead.  They look just fine for now.

I wanted a few pieces of art or something to fill up a blank wall in the dining area.  I came up with a clever reuse of items on hand.  I'd seen these on blogs and thought they were cute: platters with silver pieces mounted on them. Well mine are not really silver.  But they are antique pieces: a sugar shell and sugar tongs.  The tongs were a huge surprise.  When Granny gave them to me they were rusty brown and I didn't much care for them, but I decided yesterday to try washing them under warm running water and rubbing gently with a steel wool scrubber.  Honey!  Those tongs are just as pretty as they can be.  There's all sorts of detail I was missing due to the buildup of rust/dirt/whatever upon them.  I'm glad I decided to give that cleaning a try!




Wednesday:  My day out with Mama. I knew I had to stick to a hard and fast rule of not using the checkbook or debit card to make purchases this day.  I had some cash on me and that was all I could spend.  Just to reinforce this, I took a long look over the budget sheet once more, then looked over the checkbook and brought the balance up to date there.  Those two things were more than enough to convince me!

Mama wanted to go to two stores that I find challenging when I'm strapped for cash.  I'd also looked at my personal savings account and determined if I found a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes that I truly could use for the coming season, I'd purchase it if it fell within a certain dollar amount.  That was my 'hedge fund', lol.  I didn't use it however.  I found a jacket I liked, and it was half off...it also had an ink mark and I wasn't sure it would come out.  I went right ahead and put it back.  Why spend money on something you're unsure of? 

At lunch we trimmed costs very nicely.  Mama and I ordered the same entree.  She got salad with her meal and I opted for a side dish of seasonal vegetables.  Well both are very generously served, so we split those two items between us.  And we had a nice tall glass of lemon iced water  for our beverage.

In Target I did very well indeed.  I bought three items on the dollar aisle that were actually $1 each and a DVD that was $5.  Under $10 and I was proud of myself!

Thursday:  Took advantage of this morning's cool temperatures and turned on the whole house fan, opened windows.  This kept the house very comfortable until about 11am.  I felt the temperature rising and shut the windows before the AC came on.

Looked over that "surprise" bill we got on Tuesday.  After looking at every page of it over and over again, I think I finally figured it out.  True this month's fee is higher than we expected but I understand why now.  We had a partial month's service, an activation fee among other things.  I'm thinking now that I've figured high for the next bill, but I'd rather figure high and find out it is less, hadn't you?  I can always use any extra we set aside to pay extra on the car. 

Washed a full load of towels and washcloths and kitchen towels.  Hung to dry on the line.  That heavy breeze we've had all day long might have been blowing warm air but it's a terrific fabric softener as well.  The towels felt like they'd been in the dryer instead of having hung in the sun and fresh air all day long.

Made buttermilk and yogurt.  Buttermilk is super easy to make. Combine equal parts cultured buttermilk and milk, shake well to combine then let sit on the counter up to 24 hours (I usually just leave it there all day long).  When you start to run low, just add an equal part of milk again and let sit. 

I use TheFrugalGirl 's recipe for homemade yogurt but Hillbilly Housewife has a version that uses dry powdered milk and yogurt.  I lightly sweetened my yogurt and added vanilla.

Set pizza dough to rise while I worked. 

While doing fall cleaning in the bedroom today I found a frame in the corner behind my desk I'd forgotten.  I mounted and hung an antique picture I bought about three years ago in the frame.  I had no idea that picture would fit the frame and mat I had put away!  I'm happy I pulled it out of hiding.  I was planning to use it for a different print but the older picture fit perfectly.

I meant to take time out for fun today, too, but all I did was work, work and more work.  I'd meant to start dinner in the slow cooker but never did.  I found leftover Two Rivers Chili in the fridge and warmed in the microwave for a fast lunch.  

I started to prepare John's work lunch for tomorrow, as well as cooking meat for pizza. I'd meant again to start a slow cooker meal but found my short ribs smelt just a bit off.  I scrapped those.  And I was prompted to clean out the fridge after that.  A few other items nearing toss date were fed to the dogs this evening.  Trudy was mighty happy.

I used 1/2 pound ground beef to make two burgers for John's lunch and 1/3 pound to make topping for my pizza.  Also used an onion I'd use a portion of earlier in the week, as well as a bell pepper I'd used a portion of.  Finished off a packet of julienned dried tomato slices and used the last of a package of turkey pepperoni.  That pizza became my supper and a portion of it went into John's lunch, was also set aside for him to snack on tonight when he comes in.  Boy was it good!  I was very hungry after working hard all day. 

Shopped my pantry this afternoon.  I brought out peanut butter, pickles, mayo, barbeque sauce, oatmeal, potato chips, pizza sauce, dog food and soda.  Now honestly, that is so much better than having to run to the grocery to get the same items!  And to think all of these were bought on sale at an excellent price.  Oh the joys of a pantry and a little stockpile!

And that winds up this thrifty Thursday. 

Time Out - Working a Routine

This morning, I was about to start my day and my mind began to race.  "I'm going to paint the back door, plant mums, oh look the flower bed under my window really needs to be weeded, I'd like to start fall cleaning, I want to make yogurt, pizza, cook those short ribs I thawed on Monday, write a blog entry, work no the newsletter, find those fall decorations..... and I want to get the house clean."

Too much planning going on!  I brought myself to a fast stop as I realized that the last line "and I want to get the house clean," was really my first priority.  Why?  Because the house needed a proper pick-up and straighten so that it would look presentable.  I know from past experience that jumping feet first into projects means I will be worn out by the end of the day and if routine work has not been done, then I shall be exhausted beyond words by the time John comes in from work because I will not rest until that routine work is done, too. 

So this morning, I called "Time Out!" and restated my plans for the day, in order of priority.  "I'm going to do a home routine, except for vacuuming, dust my bedroom really well, then vacuum all the floors.  Then I will plant mums, start kitchen prep for other projects, write a blog entry, etc."  I knew that my home routine would take me about an hour to accomplish. 

What is my 'routine'?  It is a list of chores I feel I should do daily.  That routine keeps my home looking neat and presentable at all times should someone come by unexpectedly.  I thought I'd share that routine with you just in case you too are challenged by a long list of things you'd like to do in a single day's time.  My routine  keeps me from biting off more than I can handle energy-wise.  John likes to come home and see the fruits of my labors.  He's not at all keen on coming home and finding I'm draped across my chair looking haggard and falling asleep at 8:30pm. 

I start at the beginning:  I start at the door used most often by guests.  For us, that is the backdoor.  I look over the deck.  Is there trash or dirt or clutter there?  Usually there isn't because I'm very conscious that is our main entry and I dislike seeing it as much as I'd hate others to see it, but every now and then, I slip up.  So I start with the back deck. 

Then I begin in the back entry.  This is where my laundry closet is.  I fold any clothes hung to dry the day before, start a load of wash if needed.  I straighten the shoes and sweep the floor.  I check for undue clutter.  Since this is also where I'm likely to put items that need to go to shed or car, there are usually a few things extra here, but if there are lots of things, I'll sort them out and put them away before I move on.

On to the breakfast area to clear the little table of any accumulation that doesn't belong.  This is John's spot to drop keys and hat and sunglasses and such when he comes in the door.  I try to leave his things where they are, but now and then there are extras like tools and cd's he'd been listening to in the car or receipts that must be removed. 

Then I straighten the top of the chifforobe, straighten the kitchen desk.  Note that I am not dusting, cleaning drawers, organizing, I'm just straightening and putting away.  So far I might have spent about ten minutes doing all these tasks.  This is not about deep cleaning, it is merely making things presentable.

I start with the kitchen counter and wipe up any spills near the coffee pot, rinse our coffee cups, empty grounds etc.  I empty the dish drainer and put away clean dishes, wash breakfast dishes, wipe the counter between the sink and stove and then the stove top and the counter on the other side of the stove. The whole while I am putting things that might be sitting on the counters where they belong.  Then I do the same to the baking counter and island.  I sweep the floor and that whole section of the house is done.

Into the living room/dining area.  I straighten and put away.  Empty trash cans. Vacuum floor.  I check the front porch for clutter and sweep if necessary, move pet food buckets out of sight, just in case we have someone who is unfamiliar stop by (strangers usually come to the front door).  Again, this all might take fifteen to thirty minutes including the kitchen work.

Then into our bed and bath to do the same tasks: straighten, empty trash, put away, sweep or vacuum. I usually make my bed prior to eating breakfast or immediately after so that is not included but it could be.  In the bathroom I swish the toilet, wipe down the counter.  This morning, after skipping yesterday's routine entirely, it took me all of an hour to do these tasks, except the vacuuming.

I have one hard and fast rule about my routine:  I never leave a room to take an item to another.  I get distracted easily and will begin work in the room I've gone to rather than finish my tasks in the other room first.  Instead I create a pile (or fill a basket) which moves from area to area with me.  I put away items that belong in that area as I come to it.  So the clothes I folded will move from the laundry to the breakfast area, from there to the kitchen, to the back of a chair in the living room and then into our bedroom, for instance. I work forward, not backwards, so if I come across an item that belongs in the kitchen, it will be moved to the kitchen when I'm headed back to that room ( after I've finished our bath). Again, I never leave a room until I'm finished with it.  This is key for me.

Now I do not include the back part of the house in my routine unless I have had or am about to have company.  John's music room is his room.  It's the only place in the house where his things can be left just as he chooses and I think it's important he knows this.  So I just don't go in there unless he's specifically asked me to put something there or I find an item that I know he usually keeps there.  My craft room is the guest room.  I try to leave it in good shape when I work there, but again, this is my space and unless we're expecting guests I don't worry about it overmuch.  The guest bath is seldom used.  I usually will check it twice a week for supplies and cleanliness but it's not part of the daily routine. 

Again, notice what I didn't do: I don't dust, polish, straighten drawers, organize shelves, clean under funiture, or deep clean.  I simply straighten and make presentable each area of the home, starting at the point where guests are most likely to come and working my way inward.  If guests arrived before I began my bedroom work, I'd simply shut the door.  We've done that before.  The rest of the house looked neat and no one knew that what lay beyond that door didn't.

That's it. I average about one hour most days doing these jobs.  It's what keeps my home looking neat and nice and enables me to do the other tasks I want to tackle or fun things I might want to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Morning Chatter

The fresh air is blowing outdoors now and though it has warmed up a bit, I'm quite liking the weather all the same.  John washed and hung out a quilt to dry yesterday and I've felt compelled to change out my summer quilt for my beautiful Cathedral window quilt which I love for the rich autumn colors.  I'm weather is seasonable, just right for this time of year and not lingering in the high heat temperatures we've had for the summer months. 

John and I were at the garden center at Lowe's yesterday.  I always dream big in the garden center...then I look at prices and adjust my dreams to the someday list and determine what I can do for TOday, lol.  I suspect most of us are that way.  I bought eight of the $.50 pots of mums, which will nicely fill two pots for the porch.  Next pay period I'll buy a few more and perhaps a fountain grass and put on the back deck.  I also bought a huge bag of 40 daffodil bulbs and a smaller bag of grape hyacinth bulbs.  These have been on my someday list for far far too long.  It was definitely time to put them on the TOday list yesterday, and I felt the prices were just right.


Then we headed to the grocery where I picked up milk ($1.29 per half gallon if you buy five gallons).  My freezer is very full at the moment or I'd have been tempted to buy ten of those half gallon jugs.  As it is, I had room for three in the freezer and will need to use one of the two in the fridge for yogurt making.  I meant to make a typical grocery store run: eggs, milk, bread, cheese but I 'treated' my husband and myself to a few things I knew he liked very well.  I don't know why I was shocked at the final tally.  Gracious goodness, I spent it, I should certainly know where the total came from!  But it's never quite that way. I  spend, and then reel in shock for a moment.  Sad isn't it?  I shall have to be far more mindful in the months to come.

We bought lunch out yesterday.  The intent was to picnic on our way home, but you know it had gotten very warm and humid and we decided that we'd both appreciate a picnic at our own dining room table far better, lol.  If only the weather had remained as cool and temperate as it was last week.  Never mind, we'll be able to have the fun of a picnic soon enough. I've heard the warning bells that autumn is well on it's way.  Weezie has informed me that the geese left Canada this week, heading our way for winter.  And Amie texted last night that the first warning of frost went out for North Dakota.  Soon and soon it shall be real autumn here.

Last week we kept windows open several days but by Friday it was beginning to warm up too much indoors.  We do not have good cross drafts in the house, so the cool stayed outdoors and the warmth built up in here until we each agreed that it was necessary to turn the AC back on and shut the windows.  Just in time, too, as something blooming had begun to irritate my sinus.  Shutting the windows and turning on the air seems to have put a quick end to that.  If I linger long outdoors I must take a dose of allergy medicine.

This morning it was lovely outdoors.  The air was still and cool, the lawn sparkled with dew.  Maddie had no interest in food at all but insisted she needed to be hugged.  When I'd ignore her she would put out her paw and pat me until I reached out to hug her once more, lol.  She finally settled down happily at my feet, one paw extended to lay across my foot. 

After the dogs left the porch and Misu had gone down off the porch to get a drink, I listened to what sounded like a deer wandering in the brush.  It might have been a bird mind you, seeking his morning's bugs.  They too can make an awful racket in the dried leaves as they hop about, but because I occasionally heard the snap of a branch I think it might have been the deer.  I looked hard where the noise seemed to come from, but saw nothing.  It is quite thick in that area with privet and plum trees and impossible to see into.

Maddie and Trudy must have run off down to my brother's or over to the cousins home because they soon came trotting back up onto the porch, grinning and panting and soaking wet from their trip through the fields between us. 

Later in the morning as I was busy in another room, John asked if I had any idea how much a bill was going to be for the month...my stomach dropped then and didn't come back up for a bit, as he told me what it was going to cost.  We were both shocked.  This required a quick shuffle of plans (the extra needed will come from our savings), a rework of our budget and a determination that if this proved to be the cost a second month as well we'd have to really consider other options.  We are not going to delete savings from our budget!  I hate those sorts of surprises, don't you?  I was already nervous about managing the budget well and this really tossed me a curve ball I was not expecting.

After I worked on the budget sheet and we tossed around figures a bit, we found we'd manage with a bit less in other areas than we'd planned, but keep most of the savings intact.  Then John became the voice of reason: "This budget is nice and all that...you know as well as I do that budgets are just maps and we often find they cannot be followed precisely.  But we can always count on God to provide for our needs, and I think now we know what we can do, we need to stop panicking and let Him do what He can do."   I think I like his 'budget plan' best of all, lol.

Plans for this week include a day out with Mama (no spending for me however, no matter how enticing a sale I find).  I'll be making yogurt and bread this week.  We've plenty of sweet things on hand, but I'd like to mix up a batch of cookie dough to freeze for future use.

This work week also starts Zone 3 work: bedrooms and baths.  I have done a good portion of the fall cleaning in those rooms and should be able to do the cleaning in a day's time without undue strain on myself.  Then I mean to delve into my closet and my sweaters and determine what pieces to put together for a fall wardrobe.  I have a couple of hand me down jackets from a friend, a couple of new shirts I bought last time I was out with Mama ($13 for the two of them), a pair of pants bought end of season last year that I've never worn...  I like to try to shake things up by pairing unexpected pieces with costume jewelry and scarves and purses.

I mean to do something to the guest bath.  I like the shower curtain there but...I want something fresh looking.  I've an idea I want to try out that involves a clearance priced shower curtain and a rug from another room and towels from the master bath...I just want to see how that works out.  Nothing lost except a bit of time if it doesn't work and what fun if it does.

All of that is work for this week, but further plans for the month are to begin what I call 'Frugal Ninja' tasks. There are a lot of old tricks that can come out and be put into use once more.  There are new tricks to learn and I'm excited to find new ways to save.   

I want to continue to explore inexpensive, filling meals that incorporate seasonal vegetables and fruits and possibly start canning a few jars of soup, broth, etc that is produced from those seasonal items.  I call it Home Harvesting, since I don't have a garden, YET.  That too is something that is in the works mind you.  I am going to 'start where I am' which might mean a container garden of lettuce at first but why not?  I can learn while I gather materials to begin raised beds.

And last of all this week, John and I discussed something on Saturday that has made me stop and put on my thinking cap.  I shall be working on that and the ideas I've had and see where it leads. You see, we were both thinking along the same lines: finding a source of additional income.  I suggested going out to work but my husband had a whole new idea that I think is well worth exploring.  I won't be leaving home but will be contributing to our income and that pleases us both.   

Now, I must run.  I have so many things to do!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years...



This post is going to be a bit different.  Yes, it is about 9-11.  It is in remembrance of all those who died, no matter their faith, in remembrance of a day that changed the world,  and what it has meant to my life.

This morning as I read the last chapter of Hebrews, I came across the words "Bring a sacrifice of praise to the Lord."  And that's just what I'm going to do today.  I'm bringing a sacrifice of praise to the Lord for what 9-11 did to change my life.

It was a normal day for us.  Samuel and Katie were at school, Amie in Macon with her family, Jd in Washington DC where he lived at that time.  We were getting ready to leave home to run errands.  John was watching the Fox News Channel as I dressed.  We saw the footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center and heard the news reports and then suddenly they announced that a second plane had struck the second building.  "We are under attack," I recall Steve Doucy saying.  I remember feeling ill and frightened and shaken.

But the needs of the world, what this meant to us, was yet to come.  We left home to tend to our errands, a rather important errand.  I remember walking into the bank in the next town and it was obvious no one knew.  Everyone was simply going about business as usual.  It felt almost surreal to me.

We rushed through the errands and left town.  As we did, I recall passing a small barber shop on our right and I saw everyone in the shop turned towards the tv in the corner staring...Then a little beauty shop on the left and again, everyone was turned towards the tv.  I watched as mouths dropped open.  "Turn on the radio, John, I think something more has happened."  I felt I was choking.  I remember being silent as we heard the news report that the towers had collapsed.  We drove a good five or six miles before I could speak.

"Is this it, then?  Is this the end of the world?" I asked John with a quavering voice.  And here's where my life was changed, even before he answered, reassuring me that no this wasn't the end...

You see, until September 11, 2001 I'd had this idea in my head of the end days.  I'd have my children and grandchildren all gathered around me.  Like a mother hen, they'd all be tucked safely under my wings, and I would protect them and carry them along with me...Suddenly I realized that this dream scenario was not  reality at all.  That my children, some of whom made a decision for Christ a long time ago and chose to forget, and some who have balked despite being faithful attendants at church were not going to be under my protection.  There was no reassurance anywhere, only facts.  Without my children making a decision to accept the salvation Christ offers, I might well never see my children again should I die and my heart ached with the burden.

We didn't lose anyone in the twin towers.  We lost the same things othesr in our nation lost: a sense of security, a feeling of right and power and invincibility.  We've since faced the realities of watching our nation struggle with what future attacks might mean and watched too as our nation has struggled financially.  We're vulnerable.  We all know it.  Nothing seems to have been done to satisfactorily limit that vulnerability.

But personally, I've changed still more.  I've become aware that as a Christian, I must continually pray for others.  Not just my own children but the family members of others who have chosen to turn their backs on Christ altogether.  I became a prayer warrior.  I didn't intend to be.  I didn't plan to be.  But I am.


I've watched my husband change.  As a father and husband he was already a good man, but 9-11 has made him a better man, a father even more willing to open his heart to his children and wife.  I've watched as he too became a prayer warrior, as he began to actively take on the role of head priest of our household and family and I've wept often as I've heard him go before the Lord to pray for each of us with the burden of our hurts and troubles upon his spirit.


We began to move beyond just going to church now and then to become active members of the congregations we were blessed to join with.  Had you asked me ten years ago where we'd be in ten years, here is not the place I'd have described.  I'd not have answered that we'd have become advocates for the lost, that we would have helped build a new church, that John would be worship leader at our Messianic Congregation, that I would find myself often confronted by strangers who needed prayer, to find myself so convicted that I would tend faithfully to those prayers day and night until an answer was received.  I say that humbly...God has impressed upon the need to be faithful.  Before I was pretty much a mouthpiece who said "Oh sure" and promptly forgot.  I often find myself now going before the Lord with prayers for people whom I've never met and I am humbled that they entrusted this task to me, a scatter brained homemaker in the middle of nowhere in particular.


I would not have said I'd have been driven to seek God on a more personal basis, to truly desire a personal relationship and not just an empty sky upon which my words bounced back down to me.  That we would seek out His word and His teachings and His outpouring upon us daily, that we would travel solely for the sake of experiencing His glory in an outpouring of revival, would willingly devote our weekend to going to church,would forgo other programs in order to hear an inspiring sermon on tv...


Nor would I have experienced a life that is fuller and sweeter.  I would not have felt so compelled to say "I love you,"  "I forgive you", "I am sorry,", "Thank you," to all who merited those words.  To let go of those stubborn deeper hurts and scrub away at the stains left behind.  To stop frequently in my day and be grateful, if only for the soapy dishes and warm water, the pot of food steaming on the stove top, the joy of sparkling clean glass, the beauty of a cobweb strung in a tree and glazed with dew, the sound of a child laughing two aisles over in the grocery store.


Nor would I be writing these words for a public I've never met to read.  9-11 made me mindful that the time to do those things we dreamed of doing was here and now.  Almost ten years now  I've been writing and sharing my life and for ten years, I've had the joy of hearing from others who were touched by something they read, for simply putting into words the joy of making home a haven, of appreciating God's creations, of being so caught up in the wonder of normal everyday tasks.


So today, I bring the sacrifice of praise before the Lord, grateful for what 9-11 did to me, for taking me up and shaking me awake and teaching me that NOW is the day and the hour and the moment to live and love and praise.