Friday, June 21, 2013
Coffee Chat - Weekend At Home
Won't you come in for coffee? I've got sticky buns on the counter. John's been wanting those for some time now and I finally found a recipe that had only ingredients I had on hand. I put an extra pan in the freezer since this recipe made a dozen and a half. I just didn't think I needed that much temptation about, lol.
This week seems to have just flown past! We left home last Saturday morning for synagogue and from there we went to visit the grandchildren. It was a lovely weekend and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We arrived much earlier than we'd planned. We were debating texting the kids and telling them we were in town 'early' (they thought we were coming in Sunday morning) when they texted us asking where were we...seems they'd been debating how we'd manage to arrive so very early Sunday morning given the length of the car trip and they were taking bets about where we'd be spending the night, lol. Of course, we went over and visited with them for a bit. The babies (hardly baby-ish any more) kept their distance and watched us, but Daniel was more than ready for a visit with us.
Sunday we stayed pretty much all day at their home, from the time the children got up until they were headed to bed. By mid-afternoon the twins had decided they liked us well enough. I just love the whole chaotic household thing. I love it when Amie calls home and the children are screaming in the background and she's fussing at them and I love it just as much to be in the midst of it all. At one point, John and I just looked at each other and laughed. The puppy was barking, Daniel was running around like a dervish, one of the twins was crying, the other climbing over the couch, the parents were trying to keep calm and losing the battle...It was wonderful! Of course, I confess I find it wonderful in part because I can walk away from it all if it gets too much, lol. That was missing in parenting!
My favorite highlights of the weekend was when our grand daughter who is very stand-offish, crawled across her Grandpa and laid her head on his chest. That is her way of showing deep love and we kind of held our breath as she did it, because she is truly the least affectionate with us of all the grandchildren. My other 'moment' was when the oldest grandson came in from outdoors. He had that lovely boy-ish smell of sun warmed skin, dust, grass and puppy that go so very well on little boys. I sniffed deeply and said "Oh! You smell like a boy!" And he laughed gleefully, took a mighty deep sniff of me and said "You smell like a gramma!" lol Well all righty then! The younger grandson was grinning from ear to ear every single time he looked at us on Sunday.
We came home Monday and did absolutely little once we arrived. I think I unpacked and we had leftovers in the fridge that were our supper and that was more than enough for the day. Tuesday passed as a very rainy day, a bit over an inch. I didn't stir much from my chair that day, beyond meal preparation because my knee hurt so badly. I think I must have turned wrong or something.
I was beginning to feel a bit antsy about housework and home stuff by the end of the day. I slipped into my new routine that evening, even though the house wasn't in bad shape. I just walked through and put away every thing that was out of place, set up the coffee pot for morning. It isn't a lot, perhaps 15 minutes of work each evening, but it makes all the difference in how the house looks first thing in the morning. It certainly allows me that extra bit of time to relax with coffee rather than rush through the house setting it to rights first thing.
Well that bit of evening work was about all the house saw of me Wednesday. Mama and I went out for our lunch date day. We 'shopped' but it wasn't really shopping per se, at least not on my part. For one thing, I'm low on personal funds. I was almost in a permanent state of shock in the store we visited because even at 60% the items I liked were very far from any budget I might have had. I think I finally started breathing again sometime after lunch.
We went down to a farm stand in John's work county where I bought a watermelon and a bag of corn. I promised myself that this year I was going to put up cream corn, the way Granny used to make it, while corn was in season. I should have bought more...I put up only three bags of corn. I'll definitely be going back to buy more and I will get more than I did yesterday.
Thursday I meant to do so many things but nothing seemed to come out as I'd thought. I turned off the alarm and then overslept a bit. I thought I still had time to prep our breakfast and have my first cup of coffee, but no, John came in earlier than usual so I started breakfast right away. I went out a bit later to do Bible study while I fed the pets, but Trudy and Misu both decided I needed to pay attention to them both. I cleaned up the porch, repotted some plants and then came indoors to shower. By the time I'd put up the corn and made dinner I was tired. But I still had to tend to the peaches I bought last week. I put two bags of sliced peaches into the freezer, cleared up the dishes from dinner and then gave myself permission to stop for a real rest.
I often feel I get so little done, yet when I look at each thing I've accomplished by day's end I see that I do more than I realize. It's just that every thing takes a certain amount of time to accomplish. It's none of it really hard work, but time consuming work. The repetitious jobs take up the biggest chunk of time: dishes, preparing meals, clearing up all over again so that you can make the next meal. I'm trying hard to simplify our meals, at John's request and have only one 'big' dinner each week.
I think I'm finally getting the hang of night shift life. These days I do more during the day and less in the evening hours, which helps promote sleep for me. I think the idea of going back to basics is what made it all work for me at last. That one change really focused my attention on what was most important. I found that the other jobs of housework, the 'extras' of deep cleaning, were easily accomplished in odd moments of time. Not all of the extras, but enough of them to make me feel I am making some headway.
And then I went back to basics with my cooking, as well. We're eating fewer new recipes now and more of the old tried and true dishes. I've gone back to measuring exact amounts, as part of my back to basics movement. Why? Because over time we tend to eyeball. The foods taste well enough but aren't quite right or start to cost more than they might if measurements are correct. If I need to make an adjustment for flavor I note it on the page of my recipe. Few of the old recipes require expensive ingredients, just good old basics. I am forever amazed at how often you can combine pantry staples and come up with so many dishes, each of which tastes different from the others.
Going back to basic dishes, simpler meals doesn't mean I'm not making any new recipes at all. I've tried two recipes for Challah bread (John and I agree the second recipe I tried is our favorite) and two new dessert recipes, one of which was very fussy (Wellesley Fudge Cake). I tried this sticky bun recipe, too. I'm learning when I want to make something that takes a bit more time to set up the baking supplies the night before. For instance, I cut in the shortening with the dry ingredients, chopped the nuts, mixed the cinnamon and sugar, set the butter in a measuring cup and popped into the microwave, mixed the eggs and milk. I covered everything, put the milk and eggs back in the fridge and this morning more than half my work was done. Which was a great thing as I overslept yet another morning!
I've been in the yard more than I thought I might be this month. The weather has been relatively mildly hot, we've yet to hit 95F (highly unusual this time of year) and humid, but not the draining heaviness we so often have. Mama and I noted how many wild flowers are still blooming roadside. It's been a real proper Spring this year. I think the one thing I've enjoyed seeing most is the corn. It's been years upon years since I've seen such fields of corn. It's so tall! It's green and lush and the fields seem to be so tightly planted.
Last week when I was buying peaches I asked the lady if the corn a bit further up the road was theirs. 'Oh yes,' she said, 'but we'll never sell that. It's meant for silage, not for eating. It's just old field corn' "Why field corn makes the very best creamed corn!' I told her, but she shook her head, unconvinced. Both of my grandfathers planted two types of corn each year, a yellow corn for eating off the cob as boiled and whole kernel corn and a white field corn which was cut off the cob raw, and cooked with butter and water over low heat. The starches and the corn milk made the corn 'creamy'. Some in the South call it 'fried corn' because it's often cooked in an iron skillet on top of the stove, much in the manner of a risotto, with stirring and added water as needed. Granny used to cook hers in the oven but it requires attention all through the cooking process, too. I was happy to find that the corn I bought was a white corn with an almost sticky starchy milk. It will make good cream corn.
The peaches I bought last week were good, once they ripened a bit more. That's one thing I've learned with peaches. Buy them hard, set them aside for two or three days and wait, impatiently as I do, or patiently if you're that type, but wait. Then the peaches come into the full ripeness that is juicy and sugary sweet. Ours were just beginning to ripen last Friday and so I pared one for breakfast Saturday morning, then put the remaining ones in the fridge. They ripened more slowly in there than they would at room temperature, but it bought me a little time.
The local peaches come in two different sized bags: $5 bag (about 7 pounds of peaches I think) and the $7 bag which is about 10 pounds. I always buy the $5 bag because we really want to eat peaches out of hand, but we never finish a bag before they are fully ripened. I always put the 'extras' into the freezer, which is what I did with my peaches this week. I'll buy another bag of them on Tuesday. Most summers I buy a bag a week but as I've said, this week simply flew past and I haven't been into town except for that day out with Mama. I was sooo ready to get home Wednesday that I wouldn't even consider stopping anywhere.
I plan to run into town in the morning. CVS has a good price on canned soda, 3 12-packs for $11with a $3ECBs reward. I have $5 in ECBS I need to use before next week or lose them, so I'll buy sodas, 3 packs for $3 out of pocket and receive an instant 'refund' of the $3 in ECBs. I told John if it weren't for FREE soda, I'd never go to town at all this weekend, but then I know it's good for me to sort of push myself to get out of house. That's the only grocery buy I've seen this week that I think worthwhile. I'll take time to plunder through the local thrift shop perhaps but it's not likely I'll get much. I need too many other things to spend all of my pocket money in the thrift store.
I am at the point where the only projects I can work on now are the sheer hard labor sort. You might notice I've not mentioned working on any of those! lol. Well it is hot, you know, and I'm afraid I'm lying abed in these early mornings which are prime time for working outdoors. Mind you I'm still up around 7am but I could get so much more done if I'd only just get up around say 5:30...I just can't convince myself I really want to do that, lol. I think I've gotten spoiled now that there's no alarm going off each morning to remind me I must get up at that hour.
However, I got off on a tangent...I was discussing projects. I am at that point where I need one or two or three very necessary items to complete each of the items on my project list. (Which I might add I am missing one necessary item for those outdoor chores, too: MOTIVATION). So I must make out my list of items and then set about buying items as I can afford them. I'm going to try and focus on materials for each project so that at least I buy what is needed to allow me to work on one while I'm waiting upon funds for the next items on my list.
Other than that one little trip into town tomorrow, I mean to spend this weekend at home. It's getting mighty close to the end of the month (I KNOW! I'm surprised, too!) adn I want to think out my goals for next month. I'd like to pull out my vintage July magazines and look them over. They are so much fun to read through, far more so than our modern day magazines. I'd like to plan my list of things to be done next week, start that shopping list for projects. I'm pretty sure that this next week I'm going to be doing a pantry/freezer inventory and I may just possibly limit grocery purchases to dairy and produce unless some excellent sales come up. I'll set aside some money for a bulk purchase of meat I think. I'm nearly out of beef, turkey sausages, and chicken breasts.
But that is jumping way ahead into next week and I have a whole lovely weekend to enjoy, right here at home. If the rest of the weekend is as nice as today was, I might find that needed motivation to get outdoors. I'm just betting the blackberries are getting ripe...