The Week Behind: Before and After

This so closely resembles the weather we've had since Sunday that I felt it just had to be the lead image!

 Saturday:   I took breakfast casserole out of the freezer to thaw last night.  I reheated in a moderate oven.  It was as tasty as the first time I served it.

We ate lunch at the other household and had cookies for birthday cake.  It was a late lunch so a light supper here at home.

It was a lovely day for a birthday party.  Both boys played outside a good bit.  I'm glad they had such a pretty warm day to be outdoors.  John and I stayed a bit past the party breaking up and saw Isaac rise from his nap and help himself to a cookie.  He doesn't eat as he was eating this time last year but he's a very healthy little boy overall and lacks in nothing.  I couldn't help but think back to the two weeks he spent in NICU at the start of his life.  How glad I am that those two little boys live so near now!

Sunday:  John loves bagels.  Me...not as much, though I do like them.  I took raisin toast from the freezer to thaw for myself.

Not well today and no real clue as to why I'm not.  Thankful that I got to church and nearly home again before the ill feeling hit.

John requested an easy enough meal for today's dinner, and no need of any real prep work before hand.  Considering I was not well this afternoon it was just as well the meal was so easy.    Leftover roast beef warmed over with baked potatoes.  I opened a can of three bean salad to go with our meal.

John washed a full load of clothes before lunch and I washed a full load of dishes after lunch.

Before we left home this morning, I stripped our bed and washed a load of towels and sheets.  I hung them on the line before leaving home.  I was hopeful the fog would clear up, but it didn't.  At least sheets and towels may stay on the line until tomorrow when I hope it is clearer.

When I fed the pets, I added pan scrapings and water from cooking sausage yesterday morning to their bowls.

John ate Bbq Chicken sandwich...I stuck to simple and soothing yogurt for my supper.

Monday:  I am not 100% quite yet, but I have less pain than yesterday.  However, I noted that my energy ran out very quickly this morning.  Never mind.  I can run on half energy for a bit if need be.
Accomplished today: a quick home routine (except for sweeping kitchen) and for my zone work I touched up the paint on the wainscoting in our bathroom.  I'd been overzealous cleaning a few months back and scrubbed the paint right off one spot.   It occurred to me today as I stood looking about that I could just as easily take that pot of paint and touch up the wall as not.  I don't know why on earth I haven't done it until now.  I ended up giving the whole wall section a fresh coat and it's looking much more spruce.

Dusted walls in the bath (before painting bathroom wall) and bedroom.  I gathered the pictures I want to put above our bed and eyed the multiples of holes I've made in the walls over the years.  I'm going to have John teach me how to putty those holes and sand them down nicely.   Since I'm the one putting them in the wall it seems only right I should be the one fixing them when I'm done with an area.

So yes, I gathered the pictures I want to use but I need one or two frames before I can hang them.  I'll have to go out to the shed first to 'shop' there but I think between Katie and me, we've pretty well cleared me out of anything useable out there.  I bought a couple of frames from the Dollar Tree and they were so poorly made I don't wish to repeat that.  I think I may have to go to a thrift store and as a last resort Walmart or Dollar General where I can buy sturdier frames.

Katie came out this morning to sit while she flea bombed her house.  She was crocheting, and had taught herself a new stitch.  It spurred me to go and look up those sites that Tammy and Frances shared in the comments of last post.  And then I found a how to segment in a new to me 1950's Womans Day magazine on knitting.  Definitely going to have to buy myself some yarn!

I got the arm section finished on the slipcover and there I stuck.  I was tired at that point and not feeling chipper enough to tackle the piecing that is required to close up the side to the back.  I don't know just how I came up so short on either side but I'll figure out a way to fix it.  Odds are, no one but myself and Katie will ever know it wasn't quite right.  I opted for a simple seaming on the arm.  I fitted front pieces on the wing back chair and discovered that the moment you tuck in the excess fabric you pull those front pieces out of position and I just didn't want to have that struggle with this chair.  As it is, I can tuck in the extra fabric and the front of the arm looks fine.

Sent Katie into town to get me some Ginger ale and something for our lunch.  I had leftovers from mine, which went right into the fridge.  I don't want to over eat at all right now, am trying to eat just enough to keep my blood sugar stable.

I went out this morning to feed the pets and checked the clothes I'd hung out yesterday afternoon.  They were just this side of being dry.  I said out loud, "An hour  more in this breeze and I can skip the dryer, provided it doesn't rain."  Immediately rain began to fall.   I gathered things up quickly and brought them indoors.  20 minutes in the dryer saw the full load fully dry.  Bah humbug on the weather!

Set up five outfits this afternoon.  I was flipping through my nearly full notebook of inspirations and ideas for recipes and homemaking gathered over the past six months and a loose leaf sheet of paper slid out.  It was one of my cheat sheets for matching my clothing pieces into outfits.  Just the incentive I needed when I was beginning to be a little restless once again.  And just the inspiration I needed when I've grown bored with what I've had to wear of later.  I  also took note of the things I never match up but which I like too much to give up on just yet like those slim legged olive green jeans.  When  I do feel like shopping I'm going to look for some tops to go with that pair of pants!

I culled out two magazines from my February issues and have four more to go through.  The truth is that likely three of those four is going into the trash.  Brittle torn pages are simply no good for reading anymore.  Even though I've been through them this month, I want to go through one more time before releasing, just to make sure I've culled all the good recipes/ideas from them.  I know one has a very clever idea for a side snap closure on a fitted slipcover that I think would come in very handy for future sewing projects.

It is so lovely out just now.  The sky is deep grey blue and the white blossoms of the old wild pear is such a stand out it makes my heart ache.  I've been seeing new leaves on the privet and fat buds coming up on the Sweet Gum.  I think spring is pushing ahead though we've four weeks of winter to go yet.  I took a picture of the scene from indoors and then hiked to the back yard to get a closer view but the light had changed and what was spectacular was just ordinary stuff all over again...but oh the wonderful sounds out there of peepers humming along as they await spring.

Tuesday:  Forgot, until I opened the freezer last night to look for something I couldn't remember when I got there (anybody else or is that just me?), that I'd promised John the frozen remains of Thanksgiving dinner.  I found stuffing and sweet potato casserole and took out chicken breasts to thaw.  Somewhere we have turkey gravy and a broccoli rice casserole but I don't guess we need the extra carbs. He'll be pretty happy that I remembered my promise and only you and I know that I've gone off menu.

Before I'd completed the little housework needed today, I got aggravated with the slipcover I'd made for my desk chair.  It was too big and baggy and too long.  I went right to the sewing machine and hemmed it up a bit more, then took it in as well.  Now we shouldn't catch the hem in the wheels as often and the shape is much improved.

Strike while the iron is hot is the saying.   John's Grampa used to say, "The best time to chop wood is while the axe is sharp," or something  along those lines.  I decided since my sewing mojo was running strong, I'd be wise to get the slipcover finished.  It's done.  It's not perfect, there are flaws and things I'd do differently next time I make a slipcover but it's done.  I just want to say that the biggest thing is never put off doing a job like this because you're afraid it won't be perfect.  No one is ever perfect the first time (or the second or third or fourth times either) but if you never do it, if you never start, you'll never learn new things.   Here are my before and after photos.

Not such a big difference in those two shots is it?  The chair seldom featured in any photo because the slipcover was seldom so neat.  The former slipcover had khaki colored binding at the mid point and about the arms as well.  The portion which went over the seat was as narrow as the back was wide,  being about one and one half times the width of the chair.   It hung so loose in back that two little boys might have hidden under it and remained unseen.   The slipcover was all in one piece, with no seat cushion.    I apparently had tidied before the boys arrived for this photo because typically the chair's slipcover was terribly askew.   It just looked sloppy all the time and untidy.

The after has a proper seat cover.  The back is properly fitted and overall the thing looks much neater and doesn't pull out of place each time one sits in it.  I'm pleased with the job I made of it.

Wednesday:   I bought Hemp Hearts the other day to add to my breakfast cereal.  It's another source of heart healthy proteins and fiber.  I must say it's bland, as is flax seed, so makes no noticeable difference in the flavor of my cereal, but it does add a bit  more texture, which is not at all unpleasant.

John and I went to a prayer service held today at our church.  The grocery where we usually buy bread is just across the roadway.   There is also a kitchen supply store and John wanted to look for an item he wished to give someone.  I had noted my last 7x11 pan was starting to rust and thought I'd look for a couple of new ones.  No luck there but I did stumble upon a packet of 12 stainless steel pot scrubbers that were well priced and said so to John who insisted I buy them.  I seldom see them for as good a price and I do like having them to scrub pots and pans

Into the grocery where I scanned the sales sheet and purchased a good supply of whole wheat spaghetti which was on sale as a buy one get one free.   John asked about purchasing soda (also on sale) and insisted we pick out something for lunch.  We bought our fresh bread and then he added in two packages of bagels which were also on sale this week.

I could easily have managed a meal at home but John is very kind to want to save my energy.  I will share here that I am still not feeling quite well and the outing proved to be a little taxing.

I decided to read another Grace Livingston Hill book, A Daily Rate.   I keep meaning to sort these books out but so far, I'm just reading the ones I am sure I want to keep.

Thursday:  I am ashamed to admit this but I haven't done a bit of vacuuming since last week.  I cleaned the vacuum canister and filters at that time and I've only just put it all back together.  I ran the carpet sweeper over the area under the dining table on Monday and over the kitchen rugs, too.  I swept the baths but haven't touched the kitchen floor all week long.  Why tell you this?  Because for all that I do get done there are tasks that slip under the radar or which I let slide because I've lost energy or got distracted by another task.  I'm going to tackle both those jobs today.

I sat down with a cup of coffee after John left today and read three or four chapters of A Daily Rate.  It's another of those well loved homemaking books by GLH in which the lead characters make a home and incidentally make a mighty huge difference in many a life because the power of the home draws them in.  It is just such novels as these that keep me reading Mrs. Hill's works because I do believe that home has a major part of bringing a family together or pushing them apart.   Our childhood home was not happy.  Life in it was often uneasy and angst ridden but Granny's home was always a happy one, though it wasn't as nice as ours nor did she cook half as well as Mama.  Atmosphere is a great deal and the atmosphere of Granny's was always peaceful, secure, and pleasant overall.  I've tried hard to bring that same atmosphere to my home and I've watched with pleasure as I've seen my children try to do the same in their homes.

I finished off the zone cleaning this morning, though I didn't attempt to hang any pictures in the guest room.  I did put away all my sewing things very neatly and dusted well and readied the room for guests if any should happen to come to stay.

I went over the fridge this morning and gathered leftovers, took out a few jars of condiments that had been in far too long and just generally checked over the contents.  Aside from those three jars (one of homemade cranberry sauce that I don't remember how long it was in the fridge, another of a homemade mayo based salad dressing that I know well has been in there quite long enough and a small portion of a grainy mustard I'd decanted before Christmas) I was in good standing otherwise.  A simple rearrangement helped all fit in the baskets neatly and insures the door closes properly.

I mixed up a batch of roll dough.  I'll make half into cinnamon rolls and half into dinner rolls.

Having taken a brief break from the housekeeping, I had a cube of cheese and a can of V8 juices as my morning snack, and read a few more chapters of my book.  I'm going to hop up now and go tend to those floors and then I'll get my dough formed into cinnamon rolls and rolls and prepare them to bake, and make some sort of dinner for myself out of the leftovers I have on hand.   Done!

The fog has lifted and I do believe the sun is trying hard to break through the clouds overhead as it's considerably brighter.  Not warmer, though.  The heater is still coming on regularly.

Trimmed and sorted the flowers.  The carnations are still going strong.  I set the statice aside to completely dry out and tossed the stems of the stock which were well spent.  Carnations went into a clean vase and are on the dining table still.  Good value for my money on those lovelies.

later:   The sunshine did not come out as I thought it might.  Instead it poured rain.  So far, I've seen no point in going outdoors to do any work at all this week because it has either been drizzling fog or it's been pouring rain.  However, late this afternoon the sun did make an appearance.  An hour later, as the sun went down the fog suddenly rose up all over again and took over, sigh.  At least, I can say I saw sunshine today!

Bess contacted me via text and asked if I'd like some hot and sour soup.  We do believe it is good for you when ailing and she knows that I've been ailing in my own way as they have in their.  I thanked her and told her it sounded nice.  She brought it in to me this evening.

Katie came by late this afternoon and brought with her a bin of things she'd found at Mama's which contained crochet pattern books, hooks, yarn, a load of embroidery floss and needlepoint kits.  I had forgotten all about that bin.   She began to teach me crochet.  So far I have accomplished six inches of chain and turned it into six inches of single crochet.  I don't do it exactly right.   I cannot make my index finger do what it ought but my ring finger just naturally falls into position in that spot so we figure that is my way of doing things.  I'm going to keep practicing.  Novice that I am, I can tell that the yarn I'm using is not the best quality but it's good enough to practice with.

I was much amused by Katie's teaching method.  She caught on fairly quickly that I was not able to really understand the references she made regarding motions and such so she started talking in terms I did understand very well, "You are putting the tension on it Mama, just like with your sewing machine..."  "Now stir it, make a folding in motion like you would with a mousse."   God bless the girl.  She's a good teacher.

Friday:  I managed to pull 8 books from the GLH collection I have that I know for sure I would miss mightily if I didn't keep them.  I keep wanting to read these old favorites but am going to make myself get busy reading the ones I don't know as well and am unsure if they are keepers or not.  Otherwise, how am I ever to know?!

John and I had a nice breakfast this morning of homemade cinnamon rolls and farm fresh eggs.  It's kind of nice to know that what was on our table was homemade and home grown (not our eggs but a girl he works with brings them in and he pays for the ones she brings specifically for us or clears them from the fridge if no one else takes them).

John brought in the mail when he came in this morning.  Our electric was through the roof again.  I've no clue why.  It's not been horribly cold and we've kept the heat turned low.I do know we've had lights on indoors more often, though even on the gloomy days I did try to rely on natural lights.  I know we also had to rely on the dryer more often due to the extremely wet weather we've had.   We've long since replaced all bulbs in the house with LEDs.  As I told John, there's little I know to do at this point to further reduce our costs.  Thought..I wonder how much that nearly week long hot water leak played in that figure?    Thank goodness I was persistent with that plumber and got him out here to investigate! 

While we were eating breakfast this morning John asked me to go over our budget and see how it fit our retirement income.  I did that earlier in the year, but I'd like to go over it a little more closely to see how it looks before I present it to him.  He assured me there was no hurry as he really doesn't plan to do anything for a couple years yet, but he wants to know how we'll fare.  I've kept in mind all this year that retirement is getting nearer and nearer and I'm trying to be extra careful to build our sub accounts and savings.  Right now I'm spot on with the sub accounts, except our house insurance which will be built up with next month's pays...but I'd like to have two or three years worth of funds in those accounts.  And I'd like to once again be adding to our savings account.   Those funds early part of this year went right into the tire/brake fund I set up for John's car.  I'd also like to greatly increase our home and car maintenance sub accounts.  Lots of thinking to do about money over the next few days and lots of places to trim to fit those plans so that we are nicely set when retirement does come.

I confessed to a friend yesterday that I always speak of my grocery budget and I do set a figure for spending but often and often I give in to John's urge to buy what we need, which in his language means what we want to eat.  The truth is we're not frivolous people.  We don't buy fancy steaks or exotic ingredients and we stick pretty much to what we've been eating for the past 27 years except we now eat a greater variety of seasonal produce.   I am making as much food at home as I ever did, more in fact (i.e. yogurt, rolls, etc.).   Anyway, I have this 'set' figure I call my budget but I consistently end up at a much higher figure, somewhere nearer $400 a month when it's all said and done.  That figure also nets us a consistent pantry stock of things we're getting low on, but I doubt seriously we'd manage three or six months on my pantry at present.  It took a pretty hard hit last year.  Am I planning to reduce our grocery costs just now?  Well, no...but I am planning to look at being more consistent in looking for pantry items and stocking a goodly supply of things.  We are low on meats, don't keep pet foods on hand in any sort of supply and I am routinely completely out of some items that I know we use fairly often.   Obviously I have a good bit of work to do to build my retirement pantry.  Just my thoughts on budgets and pantry this morning...
Took a small box of stuff out to the shed.  Thought about looking for spring wreaths which I know I have but didn't feel like moving the pile of mess I have in front of them at present.

Picked nearly all the back yard sticks this morning.   The sun is shining now, as it did when the light broke this morning, but we have had cloud cover at times, too.   I noted that I have a variety of daffodils blooming, crocus and forsythia.   That poor forsythia...the kids were constantly driving over it last spring and summer, but the stubborn old thing has declared itself not done yet and so this year has put on four times as many blooms as it's ever had in it's life despite being broken, bruised and trampled.

I still don't feel well and only stayed out as long as I felt up to the task.   I do believe I have a milder version of what Katie, Bess, Sam and the boys have had over the past three weeks.   Ho hum.

I sat down for a little and practiced my chain and single crochet stitches.  I think I have that part pretty well.  My third attempt shows far less shrinkage of my bit of work.  My first two bits, which Katie suggested might be a dishcloth shrank to what she called a pot holder proportion and then as she left yesterday she smirked a little and said "I'll leave you to your pot scrubber..."   I might actually make a dishcloth this time around.  I glanced through some of the 1980's crochet magazines that Mama had in the bin and saw some lovely vintage looking potholders and I confess making those really does appeal to me.  In the meantime I shall keep on practicing.

I've made my meal plans for the weekend by following my own menu.  I've two meals that didn't get made this week.  I'm going to have one for dinner today and will prep the other while I'm in the kitchen cooking that meal.

What have you done this week in your home?  Did you learn a new skill?   Did you further your pantry?  Tell us all about it!

The Week Ahead: Rawr

We've just returned from Bess and Sam's where we celebrated Isaac's 2nd birthday.  At one point, he came in the front door and smiled at each of us.  Not a grin, but a gentle sweet smile, a very satisfied one, happy that all the people he loves had gathered in one spot.   Josh is the showy one, the one apt to perform and garner attention.   Isaac is quieter in his ways, not so prone to demand attention but that little smile about said everything to each of us and made us glad we were there.

The Week Behind: Routine Things

Saturday:  John off to work this morning.  This is a day he'd normally have off, but the station is short handed this month and so no Kelly Days which are basically a built in extra day off, so that each crew member gets 5 whole days off.  It's all overtime.  It does not however, take away from the fact that it is a day I am quite accustomed to have with my husband and I miss him fiercely, no doubt because yesterday was so extremely pleasant and we'd had a super busy week before that.

Coffee Chat: A Made Over Life

Good Afternoon loves...I've been busy today already, as I usually am on John's work day.  Busy, but my brain just ticking along.  It has been for days now.  I can't share all the details of why my brain's been busy because it is another person's sad story and not mine...But  there was a bit of  "There but by the grace of God..." involved in my thinking and then the awareness that it was indeed by the grace of God that I am where I am today.

My Takeaway on Week One

I spent time this past week reading through blogs I'd set aside to read deeply.   Last week I explored the blog Frugal Measures and over the weekend I read through the oldest posts of "Down To Earth" blog. Both are good blogs overall.  Frugal Measures sticks to food storage, gardening and sewing overall.

The Week Ahead: It's Not My Plans Anyway

Last week was a mix of going and doing.  I was aware of this when I began the week but wasn't aware of how much time the going would take or how much the doing would be pushed aside.   I'm always curious to see how a week shapes up compared to my plans for it.  I gave up ranting over my ruined plans long ago.  It's so much easier to accept that whatever comes is God's plan for my week and to just hush up and get on with it.

This Week: A Pocketful of Posies

Saturday:  John and I had a quiet morning followed by a whirlwind visit from a little girl.  I skipped my planned meal in favor of one that was more child friendly.  Fortunately I was prepared having provided for just such a need while grocery shopping this week.

The Week Behind: Before and After

This so closely resembles the weather we've had since Sunday that I felt it just had to be the lead image!  Saturday:   I took ...