Monday, April 6, 2015
Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!
Hello there. I'm a little late this month starting this post and came very very close to not writing it at all. Why? Because of a silly survey I read that stated those commenting rarely go back to see if anyone has replied to them and therefore it is a waste of blogging time to answer the folks who write in...Then I thought of you all and decided that we are not the norm for bloggers/readers. We chat among ourselves rather nicely and answer one another and I do read and look for replies on my own comments and always feel rather gratified when a blogger is a homey sort such as myself who believes it is right and good to answer those who address you. In the end, it came down to knowing that you all are YOU and like me, you enjoy getting answers to your questions and comments on your statements. And some of you might miss the wonderful wisdom that others share.
So we'll begin at the beginning of March with the first Coffee Chat. Dora shared some of her spring plans and it seems a rather nice list of new Bible study, sewing, reading, etc. Just the sort of things we all like to do. Like you, Dora, I am ready to get out in the yard and the weather is to be very cooperative this week. All is overgrown and wild looking here and needs much work. A friend of mine built a house a few years ago and she too planned her whole kitchen with nothing but big deep drawers in the bottom cupboards. She said it was the best possible choice she might ever have made.
Rose shared this link to the white garden at Sissinghurst images. Oh my goodness! The loveliness is amazing! Thank you so much Rose. I have read of the house and gardens but had not read that there was an all white garden. How very lovely it was. I lost myself for a bit there and it was a lovely sort of lost.
Sarah and Karla, I shall look for "The Paradise" and watch it. Thank you for sharing that hint.
Karla, Your front porch ideas sound rather pretty. A wheelbarrow as a planter is one of my favorite things. Hope you saw I replied to your question about the hood vent and old greasy build-up. Again I'll list my two 'remedies' which is of course frequent wipe-downs and the use of either a dishwasher detergent with bleach or Pinesol. Gloves are wanted for both and the bleach will take color from your cloth so use an old one. I use them undiluted by the way which seems to hit grease HARD.
Kathy, Paying off a mortgage and being dedicated to that is a wonderful goal. Previously John and I put our birthday/Christmas monies into household needs, like the year we purchased bookcases that were much needed. It's not really different now, is it? I use those monies I receive for clothing needs and household wants and John uses his to treat me to special things and the odd something he wants in the line of clothing.
Lana, Karla, Sarah, all of you really are with me on clearing counters and the need to have a place for a microwave or coffeemakers or mixers etc. I agree, too! For years I didn't have a toaster and didn't miss having one either but it's awfully convenient for making breakfast on those mornings when John works. Had I under counter space to store it, off it would go. No room at present. Same with my dish drainer. I have no room to store it, or off it would go. The microwave at least is in a section of counter top that is useless to me otherwise and the crock pot sits atop that. So there's that much space saved, but I still feel cluttered even after moving so many things off the counter tops. I continue to brainstorm ideas.
Sadly I didn't have another Coffee Chat until end of the month. It was brief and not a lot was said but you ladies certainly had plenty of comments to make. To a woman you all made me feel I'd done right to share my home photos with you. We seem to all be members of the small home club. I never really saw my home as small until a few years ago when I realized that my home is roughly half the space of the 'average' home. When we moved in we had five here and it worked well enough. There is really no place to go to get away from noise or bother when there are five in the house and sometimes not even with just two! John doesn't turn the TV up terribly loud but there's no walking away from the sound of it when it's on as the living room is the center of the house.
Several commented on the sitting area in my kitchen. It's meant to be a breakfast room and for far too many years we crammed our dining room set into that small space and ate cramped and crimped and crowded around the table there in that little area...which is really barely big enough to comfortably fit two chairs (still looking for a second one) and ottoman and table. We finally moved the table to the living room dining area about six years ago when we had several very tall and broad shouldered young men show up for dinner one evening and Katie convinced her dad that it was ridiculous to keep cramming folks in like sardines in that tiny eating space. The space in the living room never ever worked as anything until we moved the dining table there where it was meant to be all along.
I tried to have a breakfast set in the back, but once the table was in the living room, John had no interest in eating a meal there when the dining table was so convenient to the television, sigh. He doesn't always watch TV while eating but every now and then he does want to. So I finally decided to claim that sunny kitchen corner as a sitting/reading area. It's a nice spot to have a visitor sit while I prepare a meal, or as a quiet spot away from the television when it's football season. And I do sincerely enjoy that space on cold mornings with the sun warming the room. Lovely!
Frugal Post I Vickie, I found some of those big rubber bands about a week ago in the grocery and snapped them up. John complained long over my use of the Aldi trash bags because they would not stay up and out over the lip. The Dollar General handle bags do work well but I've two thirds of a box of Aldi bags I don't want to give up on. So I'll try them with the rubber band thing. And when the Aldi bags are gone I'll buy the dollar store brand that has really proven to be a good value all around.
Lana, the bite guard I bought in the sports department has done very well for me. I do see that I clamp down hard at night but the guard has prevented the sore roof of mouth (due to my overbite) and I appear to be sleeping better with it in place which is a sort of unexpected bonus. It seems to keep my jaw from slipping when I lie on my back and has reduced my snoring. For $.99 I think it was a terrific buy and I plan to get a couple of extras.
In the "Living Well" section of this post I mentioned my switch from gratitude to negativity...a lesson I need to apply to one area of my life at present that has become very heavy on the negative speak. Boy is that proving a lot more difficult than I'd anticipated! But I also wanted to share that this gratitude thing was also applied to my life during a really really tough financial situation. I not only listed five things I was grateful for (non-material) in my life, but I listed five things I was grateful for in my financial life. Some days I wrote down an especially tasty menu that had proven to be frugal and delicious, or the blessing of gleaning/foraging wild fruits/nuts, a particularly good sale/coupon deal, a gift of clothing or foodstuffs, etc.
My point is that gratitude deserves a place in EVERY area of our lives, and a gratitude journal is a wonderful helpful tool.
Frugal Week II Sparky I like forsythia, too. I've never heard it called Golden Bells but I can see why it would be called such, it's so very descriptive of the plant. I love colloquial names for flowers and find it interesting to see how the same plant here is called one thing but 50 miles north or west of me is called by another name entirely.
Sarah I put up several L shaped brackets on the studs inside my shed, the sort that you hang shelves on, and use those to hold my wreaths which I place in a garbage bag and hang from the bag strings. It's kept them from being crushed and has kept them dust free, as well.
Pam, I confess I've always bought pricier towels. I like a nice thick, thirsty one and I know many folks prefer them to be thin. That said, I've noted lately that the pricey towels are snagging mighty easy and that bothers me. I always got good use from my towels (not having mechanics or painters or farmers in the house helps, lol) but it does seem that snags are just normal anymore.
Karla, I can't help but think of the double wide we saw at the fair two years ago. The master bathroom was nothing but a huge storage area with a whole long wall of cabinets and a walk in closet large enough to make into a bedroom. The laundry room was not a closet but a walk in room with cabinets and counter tops on every single wall. The storage space in the three bedrooms was awesome and even the second bath was storage heavy. The place overall was not much larger than my own home but the space was incredibly well used and planned heavily on storage. Wow, lol!
Like your home ours was NOT planned for storage. Yet I share honestly that we were so thrilled with the three closets at the time and the kitchen counter top space that we failed to 'see' how the house would live, which proved to be rather snug and fussy. Live and learn.
I love the way you took your lemon (having house wrecked by drunk driver) and made lemonade (adding a much needed storage area in a space that had been largely unused) when repairs were made.
Frugal Week III Sarah, I used this recipe for bread for those particular cinnamon rolls: after the first rising I'd roll out, brush with melted butter and then sprinkle lavishly with brown sugar and cinnamon, roll up and cut into portions which I let rise a second time and then baked. Rhonda's Grandpa's bread recipe is forgiving as can be about mix-ups in measurements. I never ever had a batch of it fail. It makes wonderful rolls and hot dog/burger buns as well as good loaf bread. I keep meaning to go back to making it but truth is my husband likes bought bread. He has compromised with me on the breads we typically buy at Aldi but the moment I turn him lose to shop for bread on his own he drags home a loaf of mass bakery goop all over again, sigh.
Another Grandma I wrote under the guise of PennyAnnPoundwise at Xanga but I cannot access that account any longer as I won't pay the premium subscription fee. I assume the content is still there. I also wrote here, many of the PennyAnn posts were cross posted here and there is also some original content as well. I've been writing for years now, almost a dozen in one format or another online, always with a frugal slant to my work because I believe we write best what we KNOW and this life I know.
Grandma D/Dorie I'd seen and heard wonderful things about Liquid Gold and stumbled across it when I was looking for some polish for the furniture. So glad I found this stuff. I hope to tackle two more antique pieces in the bedroom this week and see how they react.
All, It was in this Living Well post I whined about a 'might be' change in our life circumstances, which involved other family. I do not mean to be cryptic and sound like something is going on but refusing to share. I truly do try to protect the privacy of my family and their circumstances when I write. It's one thing to be forthright about my dislike of change hoisted upon me (which most change is) and my whining and hormonal woes and my financial circumstances, but I cannot allow myself to write out a child's hurt, a husband's upset, a family crisis, without stepping over a line that results in my sharing things that weren't mine to share. Thank you for your prayers. The situation is under control at present for which I'm deeply grateful and that proposed change is now an emergency contingency plan which is a whole other critter from an absolute life change.
Frugal Week IV Thank you for commenting on my story about the yellow rose in 'Living Well'. God uses those sorts of things to teach me and I am glad that you all saw the lesson I did in the rose. Sometimes we just have to bloom anyway!
Dale and Sarah commented on my ironing board. I have a full sized ironing board...on my front porch which I use as a plant stand in the spring/summer/fall, lol. I confess I have a love/hate thing with ironing and ironing boards and I much prefer them as plant holders. However, one does occasionally need to use an iron so I have a small tabletop ironing board that is about two and a half feet long. I didn't have a table handy where I could sit it the other day nor drawers so I put one of the cartons on top of the other and created my own perfect height sewing table. Gave me a great idea of what I need in order to set up my iron next to my sewing machine...when I get another sewing machine. I told John I guess I shall just start setting money aside until I can get a new machine, because I can't buy one any other way at present.
A new Sarah commented and shared that she'd made a special item for her daughter's Easter. I was so hoping to see it but couldn't.
Julie Baker I love to collect words, too. I collected that one from English/Aussie friends who use the word for those little berry baskets. I like the way 'punnet' flows over the tongue.
My second week's planning post Karla shared this recipe which she said was very good and made enough for a family meal and an entree for the freezer. This sounds delicious and is meat free for those of you looking for new meatless meals.
Third week planning Here Mable Hastings shared her way of preserving onions when she buys them on sale. Those of you who commented all agreed that it was worthwhile. Those of you who haven't checked comments, here's what Mable had to say: I buy a bag of onions when they are on sale. I peel and then thinly slice them. I put up to five pounds in my crock pot and add a stick of butter. I set it on low for 8 hours. About half way through I stir and I also take the lid off for about two hours so the onions are cooked and not steamed. The result is caramelized onions that I portion out into half cup sizes and then freeze. Since I started doing this, I have had no onions go bad and for a quick dinner I add a load of onions to chicken or beef bullion, melt some cheese on bread and in no time I have French Onion soup.
Judy has commented here often enough and finally shared her blog. By all means go by and visit, I've been and mean to keep going back. And if others have a blog you'd like to link leave me a comment. I'll see if I can't add them in the side bar for convenience. Just give me time to figure it out.
Dale I make what I know as Hash brown Casserole, which is also known as Funeral Potatoes. I make my own hash browns by par cooking potatoes and shredding but with the sour cream and mushroom soup in the dish it doesn't really make a difference in texture after freezing. I've put it up before baking as directed and then brought it out to thaw and bake without any issues.
Planning week IV Alyssa C I agree it always feels like frugal flies out the window when something breaks. The sewing machine was upwards of 30 years old I reckon Grandmama brought it to me when we lived in the other county and I was in that house for 5 years, we've been here nearly 20 and I know that she had used it so who knows how much older it truly was. It was just a small lightweight basic machine and it gave wonderful service. I plan to start saving for a new one and hope it is as long lived as that one!
Last month's Q,A,C post Sarah, the million dollar retirement is based upon several factors, many of which have no application to my life at all. It is based upon retirement age and life expectancy based on health and genetic factors, current lifestyle and hoped for future lifestyle. If, for instance, you want to spend a lot of your retirement years traveling then you'd want more money in the bank than someone who planned to spend theirs visiting family and indulging in vacation. So that is what the whole basis of the million dollar retirement is about. I don't expect to be traveling to Europe nor moving to Florida for the winters so that automatically decreases my future needs. But life expectancy in my family is long, often into the mid-90s and I have good health if I am overweight, so I expect to fall into that long lived category. I would need to consider my future needs, although honestly at this point it's all about getting what we can, managing the best we know how and relying heavily on God as our source! It sounds overly simplistic and foolish to some but you can only do what you can do. You can't start over at 40 and then start planning for retirement at 60 on a job that doesn't generate high pay. We are frugal and we're savers, and we are relying on those facts and our belief in God's provision. He's never yet failed us!
Retirement Remedies Well this post generated the comments! I am pleased that the Retirement Remedies series is of interest to so many of you.
A new Kathy who was trolling blogs commented that she and her husband were preparing for retirement when the economy nosedived (NOT a recession mind you, the government assures us even yet that was NOT a recession! ha), they both lost their jobs and early retirement was suddenly their only option. Thank goodness they were semi-prepared!
John and I know too well the pain of starting over lives just as you come of middle age and then finding yourself with retirement years looming. John's not convinced he won't work after 65 but he is thinking of retiring one day. In his mind that retirement might well include a new job that is part time and fills his days and keeps us in pocket money enough to continue savings.
Rose in NC has this to say: I just read that 47 % of all Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck and are not setting aside any money for savings at all. The problem is we have become voracious consumers in this country. People have little will power or self - control and just spend, spend, spend. The fact that people have to rent storage units for their stuff is very telling. I know that what I am saying might sound rather blunt but it is the truth.
I agree, Rose! I've watched for years as a family member has bought many new items and then stored them, unopened and unused and never thought about it again. But that is only one part of the problem. I hear all the time from another family member how tough it is to manage but I see the choices they make on a weekly basis and it's not based on necessity. It's "I deserve this because..." I tried to reason with them about what they really deserved but it fell on deaf ears...and they are in the same situation now as they were five years ago with no plans to change a darn thing except looking for jobs with more pay so they can spend still more money.
Kathi in Florida We budget each and every year. It isn't as hard as some might think.
It is not always fun to budget but it certainly isn't difficult. I agree with you on that, Kathi!
Wendi, I chuckled over your 'Christmas is not an emergency it happens every 365 days.' Lol. And
Frugalista Mama chimed in right behind your post about kid's school expenses. Those come up every single year as well. I recall visiting with a friend who was ranting about the need to buy school notepaper and composition books 'again' at the beginning of the school year. That ran came up right after she told she'd just signed up for a series of horseback riding lessons. Really?! And school expenses escaped your mind when? Argh! lol
As does summer vacation from school come around routinely. Our children qualified for free lunch and breakfasts at school. I always made breakfast at home, as I found the children got a better meal at home than at school, but Katie often ate at school simply because she was not a first thing in the morning sort of person. But summers when we had five kids to feed three meals a day were hard. John and I planned for summer meals. We began purchasing sales items in bulk that were meant just for the kid's summer lunches. It was a huge help to just plan it out.
Sarah When we got married we started to set aside money for savings. We spent our money on the basic necessities. Most everything else had to wait. Cause we waited several things we really really wanted at the time seemed silly later too! ;-) We may not have had much money but it was ours and we were responsible to use it as we should.
Sarah also touched on something I've mentioned often: the power of 'special'. Keeping certain events for special occasions (movies and eating out for a birthday treat or anniversary), having steak as a splurge meal and not a weekly indulgence, etc. This is something we've done and I confess I like those special days. Like the coffee I only buy once a month when I go into the coffee shop rather than daily, or the once a month that John and I visit a favorite little restaurant (a new indulgence for us in the past 6 months). I look forward to those days and anticipate them. I am not bored with them nor do I feel blase about them. Don't discount the power of "Special"!
Dorie: When we had been married a few years, had a home, 2 kids and a new car I was talking to some good friends. I told them we found out what Dick's unemployment would be and that is the amount we live on, everything else went into our savings account.
My husband never had a large income and we probably most of the time were not too much above poverty level. What people didn't see was that I sewed, shopped second hand, kept our belongings nice and never had to have the latest, or bought new things for the house on a whim, canned, couponed and pinched every penny until it squealed.
There's lots more wisdom in Sarah and Dorie's comments so please go by the link and read them in full.
Vicki in UT also commented on the importance of sub funds. I know Vicki personally and she's not kidding when she says she has a fund for this and a fund for that! She and her husband plan ahead in many areas and never touch savings for these everyday items.
My last two posts for the month related to the work I'd done in my home, with a low cost update on kitchen decor and a NO cost update on living room. Several of you commented about how neat things look and I confess I use the camera often to help me do housework and make things look nice. It's funny how often the human eye seems to skim over objects it's familiar with and not see them. But take a photo of an area and wham! Everything out of place, every spot on a mirror or coat of dust on a piece of furniture suddenly glares at you. To get those few photos in the first post took me nearly 100 photos to get, lol. Seriously! I wasn't looking for perfection, but I was looking for distractions and boy did I keep on finding them.
I am not unfamiliar with the idea of using the camera to 'see' an area and frequently use it in deeply cleaning rooms. If you haven't tried it, do. You'll be shocked how that stack of papers there on the corner of the table is horribly unsightly, or how crowded a cluttered area looks. It's a wonderful tool and while it might not seem the vintage homemaker way of doing things, let's just call it a great servant, as Laine calls all those helpful tools we have in our modern day homes.
That's it for this month. Thank you for reading, for commenting and for sharing! Its helpful to me and it's helpful to others who stop by and read the comments as well. We can all learn from one another's experiences and wisdom and I love it when you all share, too! And remember if you have a blog, share it here and I'll figure out how to get it up on a sidebar for others to click over to see.
Onward into this new month!