Thursday, June 30, 2016

July Goals



Hello all.  I've been doing a world of thinking these last two weeks and with May and June pretty much having flown past and very little accomplished over the last 8 weeks, I thought I'd try and make July count HARD.  I have three social/visits already on the calendar for July, too. I'd love to think that all of life is summer and like the photo above but I need to do a lot of work about here.  It might well prove to be a busy month.  There are nevertheless things I MUST do this month and I thought I'd like to add another thing or two just because, you know, I might not have enough to do...

#1.  Frugal Boot Camp started last week of June.  Why?  Because I need it just now.  I have this feeling I need to refresh my knowledge, find new ways and means to save.  Typically July is always a sticky sort of month and I don't mean because of the heat, which by the way is meant to be in the 100f range.  It always feels as though we have a slow down in the income, an increase in the outgo and enough wants/needs besides to frustrate.  I'll be reviewing several books from my bookshelves.  So all throughout July I'll continue to read and look for methods I have forgotten or need to now employ.

#2.  Really clean up the guest room and work hard on finding solutions to several problems I've noted over the past visits.   Naturally, the bulk of my work in that space will be 'Use what you have' generated.

#3.  Sort out the pantry/little freezer.  I've offered the smaller of the freezers to Katie.  I need to clear the pantry shelves so I can move them to move the freezer and then put the pantry stuff back.  Not a short job.  In this case I need to clean the guest room in order to have space to put things and be able to move the freezer out of the room.  BIG fruit basket turnover scenario...

#4.  Give notice at the flea market and clear that space...another fruit basket turnover situation.  I need to move some things meant for donation from the shed so that I can move stuff from the flea market into the shed.  Bonus:  I've two sets of shelves I can use in either the pantry area or the shed or both spaces.

#5.  Get my house back into shape.  It's not horrid, but it's looking careworn and is suffering from minor neglect.  I'd love to do a whole deep clean thing but I know too well with all my other plans I don't have enough time nor energy to do that this month.  I will get it back to neat and orderly though.

#6.  Shopping:  I need some things for my wardrobe.  I don't have shorts or lightweight pants or skirts I can wear about the house, nor do I have decent t-shirts.  I'm so over looking in the mirror and grimacing and tired of panicking at state of my clothing when the UPS man or the mail lady comes up unexpectedly.  It is a rare bit of clothing that doesn't have stains or paint on them or that isn't miles too large.  I don't have anything in my closet that can filter down to fill this gap.  I'm saving my allowance diligently in order to meet this and a few other clothing needs.  Other items on my list: robes (lightweight summer, heavier one for winter and I am up to sewing these if necessary).  Pajamas and nighties.  Fresh summer tops are needed as well.   My spring ones looked nice, but were just not fitting me well.   They did fit Bess perfectly.

#7. Get my pantry and freezer restocked.  I'll work on this slowly.  I've noted that Patsy at A Working Pantry and Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me both mention the challenge of slowly building pantries with low cash amounts.  I thought I'd like to give myself an allowance of $20 per pay period to start with.  I'll make a list, watch for sales and try my best to get big bang for small bucks.

#8.  June was a heavy month for grocery spending.  I was over budget and why shouldn't I have been?  While Bess and Sam helped out, we also had four family gatherings during the month.  I'd like to be below normal budget amount this month.  I've thought seriously about this and think I'm going to try to spend $50/week this month, which must include any cleaning, food, pet, and paper supplies needed.  I'll allow the $10/week for restocking (total of $60/week). 

#9.  Further my Diabetes Education.  I told myself last year that I needed a break and to do things slowly.  I concentrated hard on the basics: losing a few pounds, learning to balance carbs and lowering my blood sugar numbers.  My numbers are very good and I've maintained my weight loss.  I've had a few questions through out the year but reminded myself that I was focused on just those three areas and I stuck to that.  Now I'm ready to educate myself a little further, perhaps lose a few more pounds and learn more about what my body really needs in order to be healthy.  I've been collecting two different Diabetic magazines over the past year and I've pulled a few articles here and there.  I want to read and study and decide what my next focus areas will be for the coming year.

#10.  Blog.  I have several ideas for extra posts and of course, I hope to have more ideas as I do my budgetary work, study, boot camp, etc. 

And I think that is quite enough planned for July, don't you?  What I'm not adding in is working in the yard but if a few early mornings prove to be pleasant enough to allow it I might well do a few tasks over and above watering plants.  Ideally, I'd find a substitute plant for the petunias that are suffering in the full sun and heat.  I'd also organize the shed, read a few hundred books, cook up a few new recipes, etc. etc.  I know myself well.  I'll be busy aplenty without adding any of those tasks!

What do you have planned for July? 

Monday, June 27, 2016

In My Home This Week: Summer Daze

This week in my home...

 ...It was a quieter week than we've had in the week's just past.  The big news this week was getting the kitty out from under the back porch where she'd hidden herself for four days.  We got water and food bowls set up for her until we could concentrate on removing her to the pet crate.  This is one of Bess' cats that managed to escape last week when she picked them up from kennel.  Violet is now at home with the rest of the kitties.  They moved her there yesterday. 

Bittersweet.  That's what this past week has been and I expect this week will be also...It's the last week with the family here.

I'm torn, truly I am.  On Saturday the kids went down to spend time at the new home, albeit the empty home.  John and I whisked around and moved furniture and vacuumed deeply and cleared up toys and the house looked neat and pretty.  I realized I've missed the orderliness of my home, though it's hardly been a mess.  I suspect I shall also miss the clutter and the cars on the kitchen counter (Josh can just reach them now and is constantly pushing cars up on them).  I shall relish the peace and quiet and miss the mayhem and noise.  I'll enjoy being alone and miss having ready company. 

It's always so isn't it?  Can't have this without losing that, can't have that without losing this...One more week...

...we plan meals:             

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Iced Tea Chat: The Eyes of the Beholder


 So come on in, but please be very quiet...It seems every one but myself is taking a nap.  And that's just fine by me because it means I have a few moments to be myself and not 'Gah' or "Mama" or homemaker, housekeeper, cook and chief bottle washer.  I think, really, I've almost forgotten who 'Terri' is these past few weeks. 

Just ignore the state of the house.  Despite all the tags I wear I don't keep up so very well these days and my back is giving me a little trouble at the moment so I'm further behind than usual.  I've gotten very philosophical about housework in the past seven weeks, lol.  A two year old is good for that sort of thing!

No sweets, dear, but mint or lime for tea...Doesn't that sound refreshing on this hot afternoon?  We had a brief break in the heat over the weekend and the week started out with cooler weather.  Tuesday morning after I saw John off to work and felt the sweet cool morning air, I came indoors and opened the windows all over the house and let the house breathe in fresh air.  I was able to keep them open until Josh got up.  Then I worried he'd bump one of those wobbly windows and have it come crashing down on his little hands.  I couldn't bear the thought of that so I closed them right up again, but gracious!  I just wish I could have bottled some of that clear, cool air and recorded the sweet, peaceful sounds of bird calls that trilled all about the house.  The birds certainly did relish that cool air as much as I did.   For all that it was mid 60's Tuesday morning, it was soon mid 90's and not in the least refreshing that afternoon!  And so it's been very warm ever since.

I mentioned in 'This Week In My Home' that I've suffered a little home envy this past week.  Truth is that it's the shiny new finishes I'm envious of, not the size of a home, etc.  It just seems to me that after twenty years of living in our home it's no longer fresh...and frankly the money to refresh is just not there.  I try hard to make the best of what I have but you know, now and then it's just not hitting anywhere near the mark of my own ideal...and so I find myself wishing I could do a lot more rather than a little here and there. Then I walk into a lovely little home that's been thoroughly refreshed and there I am with a hard dose of envy trying to wiggle it's bitter way down my throat. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Frugal Friday: Proceed With Caution




Saturday:  I was certain I didn't have anything to make a big breakfast for John as he came in from work today but I went to the freezer and looked anyway.  Sure enough I found some sausage I'd forgotten about purchasing two weeks ago.  I had just enough eggs to fry and made toast.  Good enough!

I planned a steak dinner for today, using the last of the steak from the freezer.  I also used lettuce, previously sliced tomatoes, red cabbage, a carrot to make a salad to go along with the meal.

I had to go into town.  I knew I'd need eggs, was out of milk, wanted to treat John to a russet Baked Potato, something I haven't made in over a year. I also wanted to provide birthday pie for my two youngest who have birthdays just six days apart.   Katie was visiting today and I won't likely get a chance to see her again until her birthday is long past.  I spent about $30 today.  I realized I've spent about $80 the past week on groceries and still I need things.  I've cautioned myself to be mindful and very careful in the coming two week period.

Washed a full load of dishes. 

Bess washed two full loads of clothes, one of which contained some of our laundry.

Don't have to water plants courtesy the cooler weather and end of week rain we've had.

Pulled coffee from the pantry.  Bess had an extra gallon of whole milk for Josh's nightly bottle that she brought out of the freezer.

I dug about in the fridge and realized we had plenty of stuff for sandwiches tonight.  We used the last of a bag of Cheese Puffs from Josh's birthday party last Sunday.

In My Home This Week: Sweeter and Sweeter

In my home this week: 
 Another week behind, another week ahead.  On Friday this past week, I went down with Bess and Sam to see the new house.  It's a lovely place.  I admit to a wee small bit of home envy, which has taken root in me of late anyway courtesy the foolishness of having spent an entire afternoon viewing a bloggers' summer tour of homes that contained lovely things I have no way of possessing myself at the moment.  Not deep rooted envy, just a little moment and  I did quickly uproot it and put it aside. My family is so happy to have their home in their possession.  There's a bit of reno work to be done first, nothing too earth shattering and only delaying them about ten days before they can move in for good.

 I needed this weekend to remind me how very blessed I am.  I had a lovely day for the second time this month:  I had grandbabies in the house as well as my great nieces.   My niece is just a couple of years younger than Katie and Sam, Ashley and Katie all have children near in age.  There were just four here but at one point the house felt a bit like it was rollicking as aunts and cousins loved on children not theirs and children ran about screaming and laughing and playing.    Funny how four very little children can fill a house right up with noise.

It might not have been the most peaceful Shabat, nor the most restful one on record, but this sweet season keeps getting sweeter and sweeter!

 ...I plan meals:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Seriously?

  Confused by posts that have appeared and then disappeared today?  Wondering what on earth is going on?

It's me.  I've been doing some much needed work on another blog with blogger, a recipe blog.  I'm trying to make a companion blog to this one.  Between computer glitches, a two year old running about, breaks and such, I've gotten confused.  So posts have mysteriously been posted to this blog that ought to have gone elsewhere and some posts were posted well ahead of time here that are meant for later in the week. 

Pardon me while both sites are under light construction, won't you?  And please accept my apologies for any frustrations it might have caused you.

Frugal Friday: Freezing In the Heat




Saturday:  Nearly 100f today.  We pulled curtains closed on the sunny side of the house, ran fans to help circulate the air.

John washed a full load of clothes. He hung the bulk to dry.  I washed a full load of dishes.  This is not usual for us but it was necessary.

Samuel replaced the ceiling fan in John's music room.  That's a nice bit of home improvement done over these two weekends that should help keep the house a little cooler.

I cooked dinner entrĂ©e in the crock pot.  I made mashed potatoes from scratch but I think in future if it's this hot I'll use the instant potatoes.  I can boil water in the microwave and keep that heat down.  I decided to make cornbread, which used up the yolks from yesterday's birthday cake recipe.  I put a coffee cake in the oven to bake alongside.  I won't be using the oven again when it's this hot though.  It's just too hot and makes the AC work that much harder.

I mixed up frosting for Josh's birthday cupcakes.  Bess wanted blue and green.  I made a half batch, divided it in half and colored each to suit.

Bess and I went out to pick up supper as the guys vetoed any idea of baking anything in the oven this evening.  John paid from his allowance for take out for us all.  Bess and I carried off trash on our way into town.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Spring Projects: Indoor Projects/Retirement Remedies Decor





I worked hard and steadily in the yard this spring, but that wasn't all my work.  I did a few things in the house as well.  During a visit, Bess sort of inadvertently started things indoors when she had cuddled under the quilt one evening and folded it to put it back.  I'd always had it turned  to the cream backing fabric.  I was smitten with the colors of the quilt against the slipcover.  And since I'd purchased that bright old fashioned floral picture for the living room walls, the quilt was a nice balance on the other side of the room.  I'd bought inexpensive pillows from an online source in the winter, but the quality was lacking and I wasn't happy.  I found these brighter pillow covers for less than the two pillows cost, but they are so much nicer quality.  (see opening photo and the one just below).

               

The old fashioned floral picture that started the color wave in the living room

Sunday, June 12, 2016

In My Home This Week: Two Big

In my home this week:

...on Sunday, Josh turns two.  He's learned so many things this past year: how to walk, how to talk, how to climb, how to fall...Ouch!  Life lessons can be hard, can't they?  And the life lessons we watch our children learn hurt us as badly as it hurts them.  It all starts with that first fall.  I've told my children these days are just training them to deal with the hurts their children will face when they are older.  Sad but true.

I've made cupcakes for Josh's celebration.  His real family party will occur in July when the family is settled in their new home.  This is just an acknowledgement of his actual day.  Next year perhaps it will be more important to him than to us.  Do you remember how anticipated birthdays were when you were young?  I do.  It wasn't a big deal in my childhood home, but it was still anticipated.

Saturday morning his Grampa got him out of bed.  Where he'd fuss and complain to me, "No! No!  Mama!",  not a peep came out of his mouth when his beloved Gah picked him up.  He rode out of the room on Grampa's arm like a proud prince on his finest steed, smiling from ear to ear.  I'm telling you that Gah is something special in this boy's eyes.  Gramma Gah is okay but Grampa is the thing.

I think I'm liking this new season, this sweet season of life.

...we plan meals:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Frugal Friday: Trying To Make a Difference

          My last project, using mostly what I already had on hand...I'm pretty pleased with it.

Saturday:  I went into town this morning to pay booth rent.  I made zip again this month for the third month in a row.  I talked it over with the owner and told her I'll be giving in my notice at the end of July. 

Went by the post office to mail off Josie and Rosalyn's birthday gifts, which I combined into one box. 

I went by the grocery and picked up extra large trash bags and ice cream.  John has mentioned ice cream multiple times in the past week.  It's a small indulgence.

Stopped off at two yard sales.  I spent $.75 at one on two books and $7 at the other.  I purchased another rectangular frame to do a second set of the seed packet prints for the living room wall and a purse.  I also got a large bottle of Goo Gone for a very good price.

Came home and made garlic butter spread for toast and a salad to go with the Crock Pot Lasagna Bess made.

I've been raising the AC temperature 2 degrees more during the day.  It's been mighty warm of late and when I heard the AC kick on at 7am this morning, I knew it was imperative I follow my energy saving protocol.  I kept room darkening shades and curtains closed on the sunny side of the house and let in natural light on the shady side of the house.  We all commented this afternoon on how much cooler the living room felt when I pulled the curtains closed on the west side.  It's awfully dark and almost gloomy in the living room with the curtains pulled but cooler and I'll take gloomy with cooler temps rather than have it light and too warm.

Everyone said they were too full following our late lunch to eat supper, but I know better.  Sure enough, food was wanted but no one wanted a heavy meal.  I had vegetable beef soup in the freezer which I heated for three of us and John opted to have a bowl of cottage cheese with applesauce.

Every now and then it pays to have a financial conversation, whether they are unhappy or happy in nature.  I have two medical bills that I've been paying down steadily, but slowly over the last three months.  John has opted to take on more overtime in an effort to get these bills paid off in full.  I am determined that if he's working harder I can change a few things myself.  I indulged myself with a Birch Box subscription at the beginning of March and I've really enjoyed it but truly?  Well it's $10 a month I would rather put into something needed here at home which will free up $10 more to go towards those two bills.  It's a small amount but it's a start.

The Front Porch Project - A Long Drawn Out Project



I've meant to focus on the front porch since summer 2014...but then we'd asked my brother to get us a quote on redoing one section of it and John suggested I wait.  He figured my brother could paint the whole porch at one time when the rebuilding was finished.  I agreed.  After all, why waste money on paint when you know it's going to be painted later?

Well here we were this past summer (2015) and the back porch still looked fairly fresh and new and the front porch looked terribly shabby.  I'd added to the shabbiness over the year as this porch became my studio for spray painting since it was going to be painted afresh anyway.   Looking at medical expenses and judging my brother's new job and his very busy schedule for carpentry work, I realized we weren't likely to see this rebuild any time soon.  I couldn't bear having the porch look so bad.  It got worse.

You see mid-way of cleaning railings, I decided to paint the iron chairs with a fresh coat of red.  And even though I carefully laid out newspapers, a rough breeze came up and slung papers here and sprayed paint there and...well what didn't get on  the chairs, covered me and the porch floor.  Now it really looked horrible.  Ugh.  To add insult to the whole affair the tacky (as in sticky) red spray paint over four coats of latex paint did no favors either.  Every step I took, great sheets of paint layers came up.  I got busy scraping the paint off the porch, working in ten and fifteen minute increments throughout most days.  I never did get it all up but I got up every loose bit up after something like a month of scraping floors.  That was August 2015...

An Iced Tea Chat: This Sweet Season


Hello and do come in!  It's been a little more difficult of late to have a chat or write a post but that is to be expected.  It does seem, even the sweetest little almost two year old boy is true master of the household and when he's fussy, the world falls at his feet in an attempt to make his world right once more.  Josh is pretty well behaved overall and not the messiest of children but there's enough extra to do to keep one hopping.  When he feels off then we all try our very best to soothe him. 

He calls John and I "Gah".  He's very fond of John who didn't woo or cajole him but simply was himself and let Josh decide on his own that Grampa was A-okay.  They now have a special handshake that is all their own.  It begins with a conventional handshake, a fist bump, a high five and then they snap their fingers and point at one another.  Josh can't snap but he twiddles his fingers and points, just to imitate Grampa.  It's all ended with a kiss.  It is the cutest thing to watch the two of them.  And now I see that indeed life without this little one about will be a little less than it was before he came into my home to smile his sweet dimpled smile at me.  This segment of our sweet season is rapidly coming to an end, if not at the end of next week then just a little further along

Well, it's all been lovely, truly it has, but they close on their home next week and are very much looking forward to having their own furnishings and routines and unpacking of clothes and not living in suitcases.  And most especially having all their kitty cats in their home once more. 

I had been thinking along the same lines about living from suitcases myself.  When we go on vacation I like to unpack and act as though I'm there to stay awhile, not on my way out of the door at any moment.  I told John that more than ever I'm determined to put a dresser and chest of drawers in that room.  I'd use one piece as storage for my fabric and craft items and have one piece reserved for guests to use to unpack their clothes.  I think the room needs a comfortable seat, some place to relax besides lying upon the bed.  I guess, given all these things, I'll give up my idea of a vanity and look for more appropriate storage pieces...A vanity is something I've wanted since I was a girl but as a woman I have to own that what is wanted from a childhood dream isn't always just what is the most practical nor the most needed. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

This Week In My Home: Happy Days

 In my home this week:

...I had a week full of grandchildren this past week and this grandmother's heart is happy.   Of the nine grandchildren, I talked to one via text, and visited with 5 others.  All in all, a rare week and a very happy one.  This week will be a happy one as well.  Those of you who shared with me how very much you've enjoyed having your grandchild or grandchildren living with you.  Well I'm finding Josh just such a joy in my life.  Daily he does something to amuse me or tug at my heart strings in some way.   Oh how I wish I had this opportunity with all, but just possibly not all at the same time!

My oldest son confessed his concern that a home task might keep him from visiting this past week.  And we weren't just certain if all three children would come with him, since in the past he felt overwhelmed with all three.  Happily my son finished his task enough to leave it behind and came with all three children.  The house exploded.  Honestly, it's been since I've had grandchildren that I realized that my home is a small house.  Before that I'd have said it was average sized but it's small (1100 sq. ft.) and never seems so small as when the grandchildren are literally racing from one end to the other and back again and the grown ups are ranged about the dining table and living room chatting. 

I enjoyed seeing them.  I hadn't seen Hailey in over a year.  The boys are taller than they were last summer when I saw them last, Zach almost as tall as Daniel though 2 years separates them.  What was the most fun was to hear Hailey mothering Josh during a crying spell.  And to watch Josh who is almost, but not quite, two suddenly realize that Zach, at four, was the sort of boy he wanted to be.  "Dack" soon had a shadow.  Josh declined the high chair and sat on the dining chair.  He ate foods he'd have shook his head at and said "No" to any other time.  He ran.  He followed.  He went up and down the front steps hundreds of times.  If the big kids did it, he at least attempted it too and he did a fine job of keeping up.

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Frugal Week: Beginning A Summer of Savings

Putting a fresh coat of paint or a new fabric seat upon a chair can be very inexpensive, and a good way to extend the life of a perfectly good piece of furniture once it begins to look shabby.

Saturday: We traveled up to see Katie and celebrate Taylor's first birthday. Mama was going with us and insisted we use her car.

I carried along a bag of things I'd been meaning to send to Katie.

On our way home, we stopped at a local grocery in the area and purchased supper from the deli and produce section.

Katie had tucked a zippered bag of coke points in my purse. 

She also gifted me with a bouquet of hydrangea.  I recalled reading that the stems needed to be seared to seal off the sap that prevented them taking in water.  I held the ends to the gas flame of the stove.  They perked up beautifully when I put them back in water.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!

If the comments from myself this month seem a bit sketchy it's because I am literally skimming and answering only those that asked a question or required a quick update.  I'm starting this late in the evening and I'd like to finish it just in case time flies away from me once again.

From last month's Q&AJulie Baker  I hope all goes well with your granddaughter.  It's certainly been a change of pace to have an almost 2 year old in the house, lol.  He's apparently determined that he really might not need a daily nap, but boy does his mama and I need him to take one, lol.

May I?  Sarah  I crumpled aluminum foil and made ring of it a little smaller than the width of the chicken.  It didn't take as much as you'd expect it might to make the foil ring.  I then put the chicken on top of the foil, so it was lifted up from the bottom of the crock pot.  I find that chicken really does require more salt than most meats, but the Mrs. Dash seasonings are good salt substitutes to add flavor.  Montreal Chicken Seasoning (McCormack product) is also good.  I personally add a lemon or onion or apple to the chicken cavity, season heavily with salt and pepper and maybe a little bit of garlic and find that it works well to season the meat.

Susie@Persimmon Moon Cottage also had this to share about seasoning chicken:
A little note to Sarah - A couple of years ago we were just tired of eating chicken. It was seeming dull to us. I decided to experiment with some different seasonings and discovered that we really like it with salt, a little black pepper, a little sprinkling of onion powder, and (this was the new to me seasoning), curry powder. I had never had curry powder until then and thought it was just a single seasoning, like garlic, or pepper. The curry powder is a mixture of several different seasonings, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, bay leaves, celery seed, nutmeg, cloves, onion, red pepper, and ginger. I use McCormick brand. Even though it lists red pepper in the ingredients, I have never felt the heat of it, and I don't notice a specific cloves flavor. I am not a fan of spicy, tongue burning seasonings. Somehow, the scent of the curry seems much stronger than the flavor after it is cooked. I use the curry powder very sparingly, because I believe it could become overwhelming To me it has made a big difference in the flavor of baked/roasted chicken. Embarrassing to admit, but I used to mostly only like the baked chicken skin, where the flavor was. Now with different seasoning it all tastes good to me.