Sunday, November 23, 2014
Coffee Chat: Autumn Wooing
Hello loves, it is early in the week, isn't it, but I'm ready for a bit of chatter. Do come in and have coffee...or cocoa if you'd like...and let's have a bit of quiet time here before we begin the hectic pace of the week to come.
I have looked forward to returning to this lovely vintage A&P coffee ad. I love the very tangible sense of fruitful harvest that is present in it, don't you? I am puzzled by the big basket of fruits outdoors, and I don't believe I've ever in my life seen squash strung up to hang, but overall it's a beautiful photo isn't it? My weakness for lovely china finds the coffee pot and cup especially beautiful. So beautiful that I spent time on eBay perusing china this morning in the early hours after John left for work. I do not need china, but I do enjoy the beauty of it and the variety of patterns. I am impartial as to whether it's new or old.
Granny and Mama both had rose patterned plates, but Grandmama Crowley had wheat patterned plates. I see these now and then as I'm in the thrift stores and I tell you truly that I really love the wheat pattern myself. I suppose I love it so because Grandmama actually used her china, but also because she had both china and a milk glass/fire king type plates with that wheat pattern, so I know she must have been especially fond of that. I'll lay odds that all of Grandmama's plates were from the five and dime or grocery store incentive purchases. She was not one to spend a load of money on things except coats and shoes.
Well, china is china is china, a passion I cannot quite afford either in cost nor in storage needs, lol, so let's move on shall we?
I was trying out a table setting for Thanksgiving dinner (just John and I and not on Thanksgiving but after the day). I wanted to use the Royal Doulton Mandalay china once again, but I have yet again allowed the holiday to come close without planning well enough ahead. I wanted to play up the buff and blue colors in the pattern, rather than just the browns. I didn't like the centerpiece on the table at all, nor the tablecloth I had. I promised myself as I played about with the table that I shall try and plan ahead far better. In fact, this week I mean to start working on my Christmas dinner table setting (again, it won't be on the day of and there will be no one but John and I). I am trying to make up my mind if I'll use the grocery store china with red roses and greenery on a white background or the white ironstone. I must confess that though I hardly need them I found TWO sets of glasses at the flea market this past week that I am longing to go back and purchase. One set was a lovely delicate set of stemware in green that would be just perfect to go with that rose china...And quite reasonable as well. The other was cobalt blue with a clear stem and they looked old to me, though the coloring sounds rather modern. I have no need of those at all but I am drawn to cobalt glass simply because it is so beautifully blue. I've been talking to myself about it since I lay eyes on both sets...and I can truly justify the green glass but the blue is purely an indulgence, albeit a small indulgence because they are very reasonably priced.
We are not having a Thanksgiving Day with our family. I will go to Mama's for dinner with her and my brother that day. I'd planned all along to have a small Thanksgiving dinner with just John on the day before or after. Initially I'd planned to have Mama as well but plans seem to never really solidify for me. Mama was reluctant as she wanted a BIG dinner with all the family, even though 'the family' she wanted to come all have ample pulls upon their time with in-laws, and multiple parents etc. Then John took an extra shift for the Wednesday before. That threw my plans up in the air entirely. Working an extra shift meant my husband would be extra tired when his work day ended 36 hours later. It also meant he wasn't going to want a heavy meal the day he's to go into work the night shift. So I changed my plan to baking a turkey breast and having turkey sandwiches. In the meantime, others plans changed and the annual struggles began.
I loathe the annual struggles. The attempt by others to wrest things as they want them rather than accepting that they are what they are. It just adds unnecessary angst and tension. Sigh. I decided to just wait and see how the dust settled and the small dinner is the way it settled. That was plan 'H' I think. As for a personal Thanksgiving meal, I decided that it's unfair for John to miss out entirely on a holiday meal that he looks forward to and so seldom has the opportunity to enjoy and since no one ever seems to be keen on working with his schedule in planning family gatherings, I'll just make our own gathering. I'm going to stuff a small turkey breast, will have Sweet Potato casserole, Green Beans with mushrooms and onions, Gravy, Cranberry sauce and Pumpkin Pie. I won't make a huge meal but it will be large enough that we can eat it Friday and have leftovers on Saturday.
Two weeks ago the weather was beyond cold. I decided on that Saturday night to make breakfast for supper. We had French Toast and turkey bacon and it was delicious, easy, hot. I asked John how he felt about having breakfast for supper on Saturday evenings through these cold months. He had no objections. I keep forgetting to actually put it on my menu plan each week that we're having breakfast for supper that one night. We had pancakes and little beef sausage links last night. I have a new to me casserole dish called Salvation Army Breakfast, which sounded good. It calls for Bisquick, but I will be using a homemade mix.
We went to the meat market Friday. I noted that prices were up slightly but not shockingly. In fact, they are only just now what the grocers were marking up to 18 months ago. The one price I found surprisingly high was chicken wings, at $2.89 a pound. It only adds to my resolve to buy whole birds and have them cut into pieces then parcel out when I get them home. We did not buy meat for our household this past week, however. I am determined to stretch what we have (with the addition of turkey) until late December or early January. I bought a rotisserie chicken which we used for dinner Saturday and I saved the breast meat for sandwiches this week for supper.
John made me chuckle when I was plating the chicken. The rotisserie chicken was a small-ish sort of bird. I put leg quarters on each plate and decided that I'd not be remiss adding a wing to each plate especially when John murmured he'd probably come back for more. So I told him to hold the plates and I'd put a wing on them. I put one wing on one plate and just as I turned with the other wing, he quickly put the plate I'd just added to back in front of me, lol. It was a bit of slight of hand, counting on the heat of the chicken and my fiddly handling of it, that landed two wings on his plate. He does make me laugh often that man.
I knew we were due rain today. I really hoped it would hold off until after the morning was past, but it began as a slow gentle rain last night and has built into a rather heavy rain this morning. I planned to go out to get groceries today, in an effort to avoid the holiday shopping crowds but I admit I've almost been put off by the heavy showers. I didn't have a long list but I did need to make multiple stops. Our local store has Del Monte fruits on sale. It's true that the fruit at Aldi is less expensive but I can't get pear or peach halves, only slices, and I don't find the pineapple tastes as pineapple-y as I'd like. I'd planned to stock up for the year on those if the expire dates and stock worked with me. I am always looking for items to stock the pantry that are well priced. The price on the pineapple is my set point price, the lowest good sale price I look for. The price of the other fruits is a good price, one I suspect is the new 'normal' sale price these days. Well there wasn't enough to stock up for the year, but I did get 3 cans of pear halves and 6 pineapple, which is better than nothing. I'd liked to have had a can of each for each month of the year ahead.
I stocked up on cranberry sauce as well. There was NONE to be had at Aldi which surprised me, but the shelf was bare. I shopped at three stores today. Local store for the canned fruit and that was all I bought there. Then Aldi for the bulk of my groceries. I stuck to the dairy/produce aisles for the most part there and came out well under $100 this week. Then to Kroger, where I wanted to cash in our charity box coinage and pick up turkey sausage, cinnamon rolls for our holiday morning breakfast and a couple of herbs/spices and the items I couldn't find at Aldi. The list was much shorter for that store but doggone if I didn't spend almost as much as I'd spent at Aldi. The bonus buys at Kroger were the Atlanta Constitution (more puzzles and more coupons) as well as a Gingerbread Latte at the Starbucks kiosk. Yum. It was needed in the misty rain. It wasn't quite chilly but once damp it began to feel a bit cool, so the coffee was really a necessity.
One thing that irritates me no end about that particular store is that they separate the paper goods by category across several aisles. So there's an aisle for bath tissues and paper towels and another aisle where they put trash and storage bags and a third unmarked aisle where they tuck waxed paper and foil and the plates and cups and napkins. That aisle isn't marked at all. John and I walked the store four times one day looking for that aisle. I found it today as a stumble upon and I mean that quite honestly.
I suppose that stores are like all other things. This particular one has it's own personality. There's a much nicer store not five miles away but the trouble was it was five miles out of the way and this one was just a block from Aldi on my way home. The aisles make no sense whatsoever to me, the store feels chaotic and disorganized and cramped despite being a rather large store overall. Not my favorite Kroger to stop at but it was convenient today and in the interest of hurrying and getting back home before more heavy rain fell, I took it as the convenience it was. As for the heavy rain, little more fell but the fog came in heavy and dense.
I was glad to be home. It's so gloomy that I haven't even opened the kitchen sitting windows at all. Today may not be the shortest day of the year but it feels as though it is just because of the gloom. Ooohhh! There's thunder! I wasn't expecting that. Maddie will go hide out in her dog house, bless her. She's not fond of thunder at all.
I debated various options for my dinner today but couldn't really think of anything I wanted to purchase extra or especially. Instead I came home and made a small batch of fried rice for one. Margie contacted me about ten days ago asking about cooking for one. I have written a Retirement Remedy post on that which I hope to post this coming week. Today's meal is a case in point. I had about a cup of rice left from yesterday's dinner. I chopped broccoli stem, some leftover onion, added in some red bell pepper, a few fresh green beans and seasoned with garlic and ginger root. The rice was a wild rice blend, which has a lovely nutty sort of texture and really amped up the fried rice dish. It tasted so good and all those fresh veg only added to the feeling of plenty. Yum! I don't know what the cost of it was but I guarantee that it was far far less expensive than frozen or take out options.
I've not thought overly much about cost per meal/ cost per serving, but lately I have been thinking hard about it and I may start adding that to my list of things to figure for Retirement Remedies. I was perusing Pinterest financial pins yesterday and it was suggested that we should learn to figure those costs. As the author pointed out, prices will change over time but to jot down a potential cost per serving on a recipe would at least give one an idea of how pricey (or not) an item would be to add to a menu. I have been thinking of this for some time lately, as I said and I believe it's time to take that step. It was while I was figuring how much we spent on turkey sausage in one month's time that I realized how much I needed to seek to change some things with our breakfast menu. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in meal costs and how it shall help me budget better. I have a feeling that it will change how I plan menus. And it just might make me aware of how I can trim my budget further.
One thing that keeps popping up in my reading is to buy a quarter or half steer. I've been thinking about that too. I may ask the meat market if they do such a deal on meat, but first I want to research what this means in cuts, weight and storage needs, etc. I always have something new to think about these days. It seems that Retirement Remedy thinking has really got the wheels churning.
I think I shall wind up here and send you on your way as the weather seems to want to be stormy. I will likely not post as much this next week due to the holiday. And I do wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Talk to you soon!