Wednesday Rambling: Always Near



I woke late this morning, sleeping until nearly 9am.  I dreamed I was busy working and Amie suddenly came into the room.  I didn't leave my work to visit with her though it's now been 15 years since I last saw her.  Later I found her with Granny and Granny was holding her as she would a child.  She passed Amie into my arms.  I held Amie and hugged her and kissed her. I told her how much I loved her, how I missed her.  

There's so much in a dream sometimes, isn't it?  Yes, I can be very work focused and forget at times that there is family with whom it's far more important to spend my time.  

My two oldest, Jd and Amie are not the sorts to stay in touch much.  They seldom call, they never write, and every once in a blue moon they might send a text.  

I see Jd only rarely.  He works away from home all week long, rushes home on Friday to pick up his children for the weekend, spends Saturdays with them and then drives back to whatever jobsite he's working on come Sunday.   There's not much time for him to visit here.  I've suggested to John perhaps we ought to plan to visit there, but it does cost us to rent a hotel room and it's a hard trip to make in a 24-hour period since it's about a 5-hour drive for us one way.   There's little point in staying over Saturday night since the mad rush is on for Jd to get laundry done and the children ready to go back to their mom's.  

I don't have that much with Amie. I remember birthdays and holidays and send gifts up north and I may or may not hear that they arrived, though here in later years I've gotten some sort of message more often than not to let me know they'd arrived.  Now and then we get a package from Amie, but I know money is often tight for them and I don't expect much, not even a card (heavens those are dear in price these days, aren't they?).  

When John was working, we often priced visiting.  We figured a long car trip with hotels, and we figured on flights, rental cars and hotel.  While he was working, there was never enough time to make that long road trip and the cost of both modes of transportation and visiting were very high.  We knew then that when he retired travel was going to be even further out of budget.

I have missed her deeply.  I've grieved and mourned over her and the children whom I've never met and the relationship I'll never have with any of them.  For years, I couldn't even speak her name, wouldn't allow the thought of her to pass through my mind because I'd be in tears.  

One day in a phone call, in which we both had sobbed, Amie said quietly, "We can do this Mama.  We can't visit and I know I won't write.  But remember that pioneers did this all the time.  They left home to go far away and many of them never saw or heard from their family members ever again.  At least we do stay in touch now and then."  Oddly enough, it was a comfort to hear her say that.  When I was tempted to weep, I'd remember she was a pioneer and in many ways she is.  She went off into what for us both is an unknown land, to live her life.  

It was Jd's daughter Hailey who helped me understand something important.  She asked me once if I ever thought of her. I asked Hailey, "Do you think of me?"  She nodded.  I said to her, "Remember when you think of me, that I'm thinking of you.  You're always near."  I thought I was teaching Hailey something, but it taught me something.  I've learned that I can hold Amie and Jd both close in my thoughts as I go throughout my day.  I know that on her side, Amie's thinking of me.  She is always near.   

Still, it was awfully nice to see her in my dream last night.  



What Would You Do? Small Town Grocery/Budget Meals Part II

 




I'd meant to do Part II a lot sooner, but never managed to get to Dollar General as I'd planned to do.  Well, I did it today!  I thought I'd remind you of why I've done these two posts.  You can go read the first one right here to refresh your memory of what I did in the first post of this challenge I set myself.

When I did the last shopping trip, I went into Family Dollar and Piggy Wiggly.   Today while out banking, I went past those two stores and had planned to stop again at Dollar General there in the county seat.  It was packed!  I came back to my own small town and shopped at my local DG instead.  Both stores are fairly similar, prices are the same, except the store in the county seat is a little larger and I suppose selections would be a little different as they are when you're shopping in any location.

I shared in the last post that for myself, shopping in my small town is even more limited.  We have a Dollar General and a local grocery, an IGA that I personally refuse to shop in due to the gambling machines lined up at the front door.   

Our store is about 4 miles from my home.  The county seat town is about 19 miles from my home.  In a real pinch, it would likely be this store where I'd do my shopping,

I went in with an open mind, didn't buy all I might have because I felt I wanted to keep the total as low as possible.  I did note prices and supplies even on the items I wasn't going to purchase.

First, I priced produce.  If I were buying fresh produce in either town, this store would be where I'd likely shop because of the freshness of the produce and the prices, while still high, are nowhere near as high as at Piggly Wiggly.

Prices I noted today: 3 pounds of onions, red or yellow, $2.99   I considered buying those but just yesterday John brought home both a large head of cabbage and four good sized onions with green tops attached from his friend's garden.  I chopped those green tops off and cut them into pieces and froze them.  I put the onions in the fridge.

5 pounds of potatoes $4.99 (I would skip these entirely.  I think $1 a pound is too high for potatoes.  Even at the overpriced grocery they weren't that high).  I have potatoes on hand that need to be used up bought on sale at Kroger three or four weeks ago.  I didn't see anything but baby carrots and completely failed to note the price on those.  They had iceberg lettuce for $2.50 a head and tomatoes $2.50 for a clamshell type container of slicing tomatoes that looked really pretty.  I bought the tomatoes, didn't buy the lettuce since I have two thirds of a large head on hand already.

They carry a good selection of salad mixes ($2.50/$2.75 a bag), avocados (99c each), bananas, grapes ($2.38/pound), strawberries and blueberries, oranges ($2.99/bag), mandarins, ($3.99 bag) and apples.  They also have mixed and green bell peppers ($2.99 pound), etc.  As I said, if shopping locally, I'd definitely buy produce at Dollar General because the produce is really excellent and while I noted prices were higher than I'd pay at Aldi or on sale in the larger city where we typically shop, they are far cheaper than Piggly Wiggly in the county seat town.  

I looked at milk, but they only had one brand and it doesn't taste good to me.  I didn't see a price on either half gallons or gallon sized jugs.  We have a half gallon in the freezer; I have four or five of the shelf stable containers in the pantry as well as dry powder.  

I checked the prices on grits, oatmeal, hamburger patties, loaf bread, boxed mac n cheese, pastas and noodles, canned and dried beans, cornmeal, flour, baking powder.  



Here's what I ended up purchasing:

1 pound Elbow Macaroni $1

1 packet burrito sized tortilla $2.66.  10 to the package

1 packet store brand cereal (12 ounces) $2.15

1 jar of peanut butter $2.00

1 jar grape jelly $2.00

1 can mixed vegetables 69c

1 can green beans 69c

1 can whole kernel corn 69c

1 can spaghetti sauce 1.30

2 pounds of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts $9.95. There are 5 breasts.  The package says they'll serve 8 and that works out to about 4 ounces per serving.

1-pound of 80/20 frozen ground beef chub $6.00

1 loaf frozen garlic bread $2.25.   This was cheaper than a loaf of bread and says it will serve 8.  I've always found these servings to be a bit too generous

1 pound of spaghetti $1

1 pound of Roma Tomatoes $2.50

Eggs $3.35       

$37.23

From the last post, I had these items left:

At this point, I'd have half a bag of dry kidney beans, half a bag of rice, some bread, probably 6 cups of flour, 4 ounces of pasta, well over half a jar of Parm/Romano cheese, half an onion, the saved pan drippings, juice from the green beans and rinsed cans (freeze it!  It's good to add to soup), and quite possibly some cabbage if it looks like it's going to make too much salad. 

And of course, I have all my seasonings, condiments, baking powder, milk.

My purpose today was to buy enough to make three meals for two, as many as I can manage from what I purchased and what I have on hand per the paragraph from the last post, plus the head of cabbage and onions we were given, 8 smaller Russet potatoes, onions, lettuce already on hand that I haven't yet used up.  If we were to add those things to the total for meals today I think we'd be very safe in saying it comes up to $10...

For breakfasts:

Cereal with milk (3 meals) The package clearly states that there are 8 cups of cereal in the box and a serving is 1 cup.  I typically will eat 1 cup myself but John has never eaten just one cup of cereal in his life.  Hence my reasoning that we might get 3 meals from this box of cereal.  I'm not planning to serve toast or any other bread with this, so I think I'm being reasonable in my assumption that he'll eat about 1.5 to 2 cups.

Pancakes: use 2 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 cup milk (3 meals of 2-3 pancakes each)

Breakfast Burritos: Scrambled eggs, 3 eggs with 1 cheese slice each, wrapped in a tortilla and heated in a pan.  I have a partial jar of salsa in the fridge. I'd plan on 1 for me, 2 for John (1 meal)

Omelet (2 eggs 2 slices cheese), with Biscuits: 2 cups flour, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup shortening or oil  (1 meal with leftover biscuits. A recipe typically makes 10 biscuits and we can plan on 2 each with 6 leftover, I think)

Egg Biscuits (2 each)

That's 9 breakfasts.

I'll plan dinners next because leftovers of that often serves as lunches for us...

Dinners: 

Spaghetti with Sauce, Salad of Lettuce and Cabbage, Garlic Bread   I'll set aside 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce and rinse the can out well, saving that water (2 meals one without garlic bread but likely having toasted split biscuits)

Burgers on Garlic Toast, lettuce, tomato and onion, homemade potato chips Using 1/2 pound ground beef, two sections of garlic bread, 3 potatoes (1 meal)

Red Beans and Rice, Coleslaw  I'll cook all the kidney beans and all the rice. I have about 1/2 pound of each.  I won't need but half of each for this meal. I'll season the kidney beans as red beans (a bit of onion, a bit of crushed celery seed, dried bell pepper from the pantry and liquid smoke)  (1 meal with leftovers)

Chili and Rice, Tortilla chips, shredded Lettuce and Green Onion tops salad : I'll use 1/4 pound ground beef, 2 cups cooked kidney beans, three of the tomatoes diced fine, chili powder, 1/2 cup onion, water and some of the chicken and tomato bouillon powder I have in the cabinet.  (1 meal with leftovers)

I'll slice up two of the tortillas to bake and make my own 'chips'

Baked Chicken Breasts (2 smaller ones), Green Beans, Steamed Cabbage, Rice (1 1/4 cups of rice) w/ pan gravy (Chicken Bouillon with a tbsp of flour) (1 meal)

Chicken Pot Pie, Coleslaw, Corn  I'll cook the two remaining breasts and dice them up, mix with the canned mixed vegetables and bouillon-based gravy.  I'll make a single crust pastry top for the pie using 1 1/4 cups flour, shortening and water. (2 meals without corn at second meal and with leftovers.  I should get six generous slices of Pot Pie)

Kitchen Sink Soup Cabbage pieces, the drained veggie juices, whatever's leftover of green beans and corn, a chopped potato, onion, a bit of the spaghetti sauce (about 1/2 cup), chopped tomato tops, kidney beans, 1/4-pound hamburger, 1 cup macaroni, beef bouillon, all the canned vegetable liquids I've saved in the freezer and seasonings from the spice rack. (1 meal and leftovers)

Macaroni and Cheese, Sliced Tomato and Lettuce Salad I'm experimenting with this one. I'll use 3 cups macaroni and cook it.  I'll use 6 of the cheese slices with a bit of milk and if that isn't quite enough cheesiness, I have a packet of cheese sauce mix from a box of mac'n'cheese I used to make chili mac a while back.  I stashed the cheese powder packet in my jar of dressing mixes. The salad will use 1 tomato per person. (1 meal with leftovers)

That's 9 dinners and leftovers to go to lunches.

Lunches:

Chicken biscuits with lettuce, tomato, mayo (2 for John 1 for me) and oven fries (2potatoes) Leftover biscuits, 1 sliced tomato and 1 pan sauteed chicken breast cut into 3 pieces (1 meal)

PBJ roll-ups 3 Tortillas with peanut butter and jelly, Kitchen Sink Soup (1 cup each from leftover soup)

Garlic Toast Cheese and Fried Egg Sandwiches I should have about 4 pieces of garlic bread left, top and bottom.  I'll top with 1 slice of cheese per two pieces of bread and we'll have one fried egg each. 

Burritos 3 tortillas, using leftover chili and rice and the last of the cheese slices

Leftovers:  Red Beans and Rice, Coleslaw

Mac and Cheese

Chicken Pot Pie 

Chili and Red Bean Leftovers mixed with Kitchen Sink soup leftovers

That comes up to 8 lunches.

All total I have 26 meals averaging $1.81 for 2 people or about 90c each...I am not upset about this.

At this stage I have little or nothing left of what I began with.  I think I've used all the pasta and at best I might have 1/3 cup of flour. 

This is not an exercise I'd want to do repeatedly but it was fun and made me think.  I'm quite happy with what I could do with just under $50.

 Amazon Associate Link

The Homemaker Plans Her Week: If at First You Don't Succeed...

 


In my home this week, I'm making plans but not planning to be quite as ambitious as last week.  I have Millie to keep one day but only for a couple of hours or so and beyond that the week is wide open for any plans I hope to make of my own.  And I do hope to plan well and get a few things accomplished.  Shall we get started?

Work:



I don't know if Katie's mown her yard or not.  Just now she's working full time, taking college courses and studying for the last part of her licensing as an agent.  I don't expect much with her tending to Caleb, too, except the indoors things that any mom must attend to.

I'm pretty sure we can find limbs to trim there and a few other tasks that need to be done.  That's one thing about a home that has been neglected where yard work is concerned, there is always something that is needed.  John will attend to yard work, mowing and weed eating and possibly doing some trimming

My personal plans for the other house are these: pick up the blocks I moved, try and wedge up the rest and move them.  To do this I mean to take along leather work gloves and my little red wagon which will easily fit into my car.  Also pick up the bricks I removed and tossed over the fence and stack them all neatly.  I plan to get some of the blocks/bricks loaded into my car to bring home for use here.  

I found, in an out of the way corner behind the shed, lots of plastic flowerpots and plan to see if I can't weed out those that are cheap old nursery pots and those that are broken to haul up to the dumpster at the end of the road.  We generally try to keep work sessions there to about two hours and I suspect we'll do that this week.

Zone 3 is bed and bathrooms of the house. I'd planned last month to paint the mirror frame in the guest bath. I also need to get the master bath painting finished.  I knew when John took the step stool out of the room that he'd never get back around to that task as he'd promised he'd do, so I'll just do my best to finish it on my own.  It's been months.  That's quite long enough to wait on anyone to do what's been promised.    I won't plan anymore for the bedrooms, etc. as they've both had a very good going over in the past two months.

And if I possibly can, I hope to get mulch and soil.  I know that keeps coming up on the list and it will keep coming up until I actually get it started and finished.

Last, I hope to start painting porch furnishings this week.

Kitchen:  



I promised John I'd get busy and make bagels this week.  It isn't that lengthy a process, but I simply put it off last week and didn't even attempt to make them when I found I had the free time to do it.  I'd also planned to make up a sizeable batch of French toast which freezes and reheats well.  I have most of loaf of bread from this past week that will work wonderfully well for just that purpose. I'll use my big griddle so I can make several pieces at once.

I have one project in the kitchen I want to do, and that has to do with the area where I'm storing plastic containers, yogurt jars with lids, and such for storage of leftovers.  The system I've devised is more aggravation and less organized than I'd like.  I'm going to find or purchase a deep basket and shove all that stove in the thing.  In the end, I think I'll be a lot happier with that than having to dive to the back of that cabinet to retrieve pieces that slipped and slid away from my grasp as they are doing now.

Meals:



I'm having one of those moments where I know I must cook in the week ahead, but I don't want anything in particular.  Nothing sounds appealing and John is no help at all, as I can pretty much count on two hands any food he's ever mentioned wanting and which he could eat on repeat ad nauseum.  It is me who likes to cook and try things out and it's myself who will end up doing the cooking.

What I have at present moment is a variety of things that are ready to thaw and heat in the freezer.  Casseroles, pasta sauces, etc.  So, this week, I'm going to just play it by ear on a daily basis and see how things fall out.  If I'm stumped I can either rely on John's personal list of favorites or what's already in the freezer.  

Personal/Leisure:



I just finished reading In This Mountain by Jan Karon.  I think I'm ready to step away from the Mitford series for a bit.  I'd like to finish the last of the Merlin and Arthur series by Mary Stewart, and then we'll see where I go from there.

Spend one hour setting up a few more outfits and making out a list of wardrobe needs which are few but there are one or three things I could use.

Get a haircut.

I've found a series of videos by makeup artists who are over 50-60 years old and I'm watching those with an eye towards better skin care and a fresh look with my makeup.  I call it 'Continuing Education'.  I've also picked up a vlogger who is over 60 and shares fashion tips.  If any prove to be especially good, I'll share links with you in future.

John and I have a number of obligations for several evenings this week ahead.  I'd hoped to sneak away for a date one day but honestly, I don't see it happening this week.  I'm going to set my sights on planning something nice for our anniversary and we'll see if we can manage that.

Amazon Associate Affiliate Link 

Diary of a Homemaker: Big Plans Big Results?



 Saturday:  I forgot to share Friday's meals so here they are, in order:

French Toast, Sausage (French Toast from Freezer)

Cheese Sandwiches, Grapes

Beef Pot Pie, Pineapple Salad (used leftover steak and leftover stew, a packet of brown gravy mix, and homemade pie crusts).

Another very windy day and much cooler than it's been in a week or so.  I was glad of the warm sunshine in the kitchen sitting area and the hot cup of Blueberry Coffee I had to enjoy this Saturday morning.  I sat there and read for quite a long while.  It was so pleasant and peaceful.

I spent some time entering genealogy notes into one of the family notebooks this afternoon and got some photocopies I'd made put with the person they referenced.  I really enjoyed that little two hours of my afternoon.   Then Katie called.  Taylor didn't come this weekend after all as she's not feeling well.  I expected Katie to come out to cut John's hair.  She asked if we'd be willing to keep Caleb tonight for a bit while she went out.  We said sure, just bring him early enough to have supper with us.  

We enjoyed our time with him.  He threw a couple of tantrums over who knows what.  I found that speaking quietly and telling him to stop acting in such a manner was more effective than anything at getting him to stop.

That child can put away some food.  A full sheet of graham crackers, half an apple, two hot dogs, half a hot dog bun, baked beans, 1 of my ginormous strawberries (they're the size of tomatoes!), chips, a cup full of juice and one and half cups of milk.  I'm telling him he's all but bottomless.

He came up to the stove while I was cooking and said, "That's hot hot hot!"   That's the only sentence he's spoken to me today. Mostly he just says one word.  But it's proof he can speak a sentence. 

Immediately after he passed the stove, he snatched his plate off the counter and sent food flying across the floor, sigh.  Gramma isn't as quick as she used to be and even when she thinks she's got things well out of reach, littlest boys grow more than you realize between visits!   He played cook and mixed various concoctions, we played with matchbox cars and then he found my wireless ear buds that no longer work and played for a good forty minutes with those before he began yawning widely.

He's not asleep, a fact that makes John very nervous.  In checking on him we've found he's piled all the pillows from the bed on his cot but beyond that he's staying on the cot and talking to himself, banging his sippy cup against the wall, etc.  All of this makes John incredibly nervous.  I've been around Caleb at night when he goes to bed, and he always spends time chatting and talking to himself and then he finally goes off to sleep.  He really doesn't get off his little bed and mess with anything.

Meals:  Bagels with cream cheese

Pizza

Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Fruit

Sunday:  Happy Mother's Day!  

I thought I'd sleep in this morning, but I didn't.  I got up about the usual time.  I seldom go to church on the 'big' holidays because it's usually crowded and heavy traffic in the parking lots, etc.  We planned ahead of time to watch here at home this morning and that's what we did.  

John helped me make the bed, I prepared breakfast and loaded the dishwasher and had a lunch plan though it ended being just the two of us.  I made a dessert I like for Spring.  I heard from all my girls and Amie's partner, but thus far nothing from my boys.  

I do not get hurt over lack of cards or communications on Mother's Day.  In my lifetime Mother's Day was always a big deal and it was lovely on the one hand when we could be with extended family, but on the other, there were things that made it unpleasant.  Those who are perpetually disappointed will rather spoil things for others and I'm sorry to say that's what happened to me.  

As an adult I made a fuss over Mother's Day for Granny and Mama, but we'll just refer back to that previous sentence and that will be enough said about that.  My children got a bad taste for Mother's Day due to that and it was just not something they wanted to be involved with.  

My children do many things for me throughout the year.  I don't just do for them.  I only share what I've done because that's my business to share.  What they do, big and little things, we keep to ourselves because that is their business and I have no right to publicly announce it.  But let me assure you that most especially the two who are nearby give plenty in return for what we might do for them.  

John found an old series on YouTube called "The Lieutenant" about a Marine, William T. Rice.  It's a really good series and we have enjoyed several episodes.  I highly recommend it to anyone else who likes a black and white vintage drama.

I finished reading Elizabeth Goudge's The Scent of Water this morning and as always, immediately upon finishing a book, I'm too caught up with it still to move right on to the next one.  I've a large stack of books I want to read, but I can't quite decide at the moment what's next...I'll keep you posted!

The rest of the day was spent catching up on vlogs I've skipped watching over the week.  I really enjoyed that quiet afternoon of doing nothing.

Meals:  Kielbasa and Potato Hash with Steamed Eggs, English Muffins

Fried Chicken, Stuffing, leftover potato salad, Green Peas, Strawberry Cobbler

Leftovers of above

Monday:  Perhaps it was the exhaustion from several nights running of not sleeping well, or brought on by the pain we've both been in the past couple of days.  Maybe it was the cooler air in the night.  Or perhaps the heating pad on achy joints but we slept in this morning and I do mean slept in.  I haven't slept so late in quite a long time.  

John had asked last night for a special breakfast.  I assured him that was already on my list for the week and that's one thing I got done.  I doubled the recipe and put all the extras into the freezer.

The morning seemed to fly by after that and before I could even think what else I might get done, it was time to get ready and leave the house.  Even though we left a bit early, we were a little later than I'd hoped to be and that meant not stopping off for the stroller. 

Well never mind that.  His nursery school experience has made him quite capable of walking along (or just ahead like any male) of me and he led me out of the labyrinth of halls to the door that took us back outside.

At the doctor's office, he quickly discovered that I had 'cookies' (grahams) in my bag and we had a major tantrum over my refusal to let him have one right away.  I wasn't sure what was entailed in his exam and didn't want him eating in the exam room anyway.  I made good on my promise and gave him a cookie as soon as we were back at the car.

We'd missed lunch entirely today with our late breakfast and hasty leave-taking and such so John stopped to get us a sandwich.  We pulled over into our church parking lot and ate. I sat in the back seat and Caleb ate easily half my plate of grape salad, pickle and pimento cheese sandwich.  That little boy can eat!  I am always surprised.  I don't know why, because I do recall that Isaac was the same.

Once home, he ate two of those huge strawberries, another graham called "Mamama, eat!" the moment he realized I was getting supper together, lol.  He and Katie had dinner with us and then headed home.  Little boy blew me a kiss and I don't mind telling you, I melted into warm puddles over that. 

I got the dishes done after supper and quit for the day.  It was a lovely day, but it's felt inexplicably long.  Tomorrow is a free day though, and hopefully much will get done then.

Meals:  Pancakes, Sausage

Pimento Cheese Sandwich, Grape Salad, Pickle (shared with Caleb)

Leftover Beef Pot Pie, Chicken/Broccoli/Rice Casserole, steamed broccoli    Truthfully supper fell flat. I knew Katie and Caleb would be staying to supper and thought there wasn't enough of either thing to make a meal for four (might as well go on and count Caleb as an adult, that boy can eat!) so we all had a bit of what I had to offer.  It filled us but we were roaming about later looking for snacks.

Tuesday:  I haven't gotten to work yet on the living room but I keep finding plenty to do all the same.  I suppose it's the cooler mornings making us sleep in much later than usual because we slept late again this morning.  I made a quick breakfast and then got busy.

My first task was just to clean surfaces, putting things away.  I worked my way through the rooms doing that and then went to make the bed.  That's when I discovered the fitted sheet had two tiny tears.  I decided to use scraps of white sheeting and mending tape to repair those.  I know that it's time to replace it, thought as much when I put it on the bed this past Friday.  I didn't take it off the bed, simply slipped the scrap of fabric with a bit of the hemming tape trapped between the sheet and scrap and laid the warm iron right on it.

I cleared my desk of mail and then fixed the printer.  I had to purchase the regular ink cartridges.  The refilled ones were not the same, though the labeling underneath said they were.  There was a difference in how the ends looked, not where the microchips are inserted but the other end.  The printer is happy once more...The difference in costs is big, and I won't feel nearly so free to use the printer because of costs, but so be it.   I tried something new and it was a fail.  Small loss.

After puttering around indoors, I went out and blew off the front porch and patio.  Then I fed the cat and walked around back to cut out the tree I'd spied growing in the midst of the big rose bush.  Glad I did that because now there were six trees of various sizes hidden in the growth.  I also trimmed out the roseless canes, cut back the overhanging branches now the roses are pretty much done blooming and cut back the lantana canes from last year.  I was pleased to find another of the Asian lilies coming up near the lantana that I'll try to rescue later.  Also loads and loads of tiny baby gladiolus corms have come up again near the base of the house.  I'm going to try to move those and replant them.  

John came out to watch me work and then decided that we needed to trim some overhanging branches on the pecan tree so that the Gingko would get a bit more sun.  Those limbs got piled up and then I gathered up all the limbs and trees and such I'd cut this morning and walked around to trim the rose bush I planted in front of the back porch.  One branch hung way out into the yard and I just knew it was going to end scratching someone badly.  I had told John when the roses were done blooming I'd cut that branch back entirely so I did that.  I didn't pick up those branches. Instead I told John I was done and I came indoors.  

I wasn't really done.  I just put in lunch to reheat and settled in my chair after lunch for a couple of hours.   Then I decided to work on organizing the records and Cd's.  Let me tell you, I had no idea that was going to be such a big job!  As I was putting things in order, alphabetical by first names on most which will work for us very well, I decided I'd best check the CD cases.  Well, glad I did!  Because I must have two dozen or more that hadn't a thing in them.  Three hours later...Yes, really, it all took me about three hours.  Then it was time to start supper and who was it that completely and totally forget she'd been reminding herself to get meat out to thaw?  Yep.

I think I am done for the day now.  I plan to be away from home tomorrow for a portion of the day and likely will do little beyond the things required to accomplish those errands from start to finish tomorrow.  

I had big plans this week, but will I see big results?  I just don't know.

Meals:  Cheese Grits, Toast

Pizza

Kielbasa, Cabbage, Potatoes, Carrots, Rye Bread

Wednesday:   Another beautiful day.  The sun is shining and the trees in full leaf offer up some shade.  

It's very dry outdoors.  There's no chance of rain in the forecast and some hot days ahead.  John won't mow grass because it's so very dry already.   I think I'm going to have to resort to the water saving ways and use dishwater and shower warm up water to keep plants alive.   I'm feeling very uncertain of whether I should plant seeds or not.  Perhaps I should just tuck the tomato plants into my usual flower bed.  That would save the purchase of soil, too.   Decisions must be made.

I picked up the house this morning after breakfast, going from room to room.  It doesn't require much upkeep these days, true, but it's always a little surprising how much accumulates on surfaces after I finish 'work' for the day.  Even though we clear the dishes from the living room (usually just a glass or cup), I put them on the kitchen counter.  So why does the house look a big mussed in the morning?  Seriously, are there fairies who come in and make things look less than nice?

After I'd picked up the house and tidied things, I sat down with my checkbook and brought it up to date.  I worked out our budget for the month.  I wrote out checks and have them ready to go into the mail.

After I worked on that task, I went back to the kitchen.   I went in with the idea of making something for lunch.  Opening the refrigerator, I realized I needed to start my supper prep and while I was gathering ingredients for lunch and supper, I noted that I really should go ahead and make egg rolls while the ingredients I'd purchased are still fresh.

One thing leads to another doesn't it?   Lunch prep, egg roll filling prep, supper prep and then I thought, while the oven is on, why don't I also make up a batch of muffins?  It's always handy to have those to heat quickly for a breakfast or for a snack.  I was grating carrot for supper, as well as for lunch.  Why not grate a bit more for muffins?   It only took a couple of minutes more work.

That little bit of work in the kitchen carried me right up to lunch time.  After lunch I finished each item off and then everything went into the oven at the same temperature.  I had to put the eggrolls on the bottom shelf and that meant turning them about 10 minutes into baking but it also means I got a nice crispy shell on them.  

End result is that the main dish for supper is finished already.  I need only make sides to go with it.  I also have 1 dozen carrot muffins and 14 egg rolls.   I have more egg roll wrappers but I have used all my onions now so I can't make more right now, but I will because I like to really have a good supply of these in the freezer.

I said last month I'd purchased egg rolls for $2.99 at Aldi.  There are four in a package so about 50c each.  In a conventional grocery they are a bit nearer $1 each.  I bought a finely shredded cabbage on sale for $2.50 and egg roll wrappers for $2.50 a package.  I used one carrot, a bit of celery and onion and a bit of shredded broccoli stem.  I opened and used packets of take away soy sauce that has been in the fridge.  I keep a bag of those packets of things in the fridge and usually take it on vacation with us.  It's surprising how often I want just those things only in a very small amount.

All told, I spent $5.50 tops for 14 eggrolls at about 39c each.  I have shredded my own cabbage to use in them in the past, but the angel hair cut is a lot nicer in my opinion.  I plan to price another bag of that at Aldi when we shop there, just so I can make another batch of eggrolls.

I had planned initially to go grocery shopping today, but I think I'm going to put it off.  I'd like to get whole chickens at Publix this weekend when we go over for church.   Their price per pound is cheaper than the last sale at the discount grocery in the next town.  I can buy some onions then, too.  At present we've plenty of milk, flour, cheese and eggs.  I have 2/3 of a big head of iceberg lettuce, 1/2 head of cabbage and two more broccoli stalks to use as salad ingredients and we have plenty of potatoes, carrots and celery.  I figure if I put off going to Aldi another week or two, I can manage just fine.  This may be just what I need to get myself turned back around with the budget.

Oh dear!  The propane company came back to spray a fresh coat of paint over the tank.  Rufus ran out in front of the truck and his little paw got pinched.  The service driver was the same young man who turned off our gas last time he was here and forgot to turn it back on.  Poor young man was in tears over Rufus who is fine.  He's holding his paw up, but when we checked it there was no yelping or crying.  I think he's more miffed that he actually got caught by the truck.  This has been a constant battle here and generally when someone strange comes up in a vehicle, we offer the dogs a biscuit when the stranger starts to leave.  That distracts them from chasing and acting protective.  I've given him a baby aspirin and hopefully that will help his hurt paw, whether or not it helps his hurt feelings I can't say.

Meals:  Cheese Omelet, Toast

Buffalo turkey Meatballs and salad    Bess brought these to us early this week after she'd made them and boy were they delicious.  I've just gotten the recipe from her so I can make more of those.  I noted in the picture she sent me, she'd gotten 2 dozen from her batch.  

Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Corn, Muffins

Thursday:  The consensus between the two houses here on this place is that we won't mow grass until we get some rain.  It is too dry to cut it and the blades of grass are twisting.  There's been little growth in the past ten days or so.  So that is off the agenda for the moment.  Does it mean John is done with yardwork entirely?  Nope.  We will try to get over to Katie's and weed eat about her fence and mailbox sometime in the next few days.  And John will do mower maintenance, sharpening blades and such to ensure that the next time he cuts he's ready to go.

I was up much earlier this morning than I have been all week long.  I knew Millie was coming to spend the morning with me and I wanted to be fully awake and full of coffee when she arrived.  Overall, she's easier to keep than Caleb.  Her ability to communicate is slightly greater than his and that is in her favor.  Admittedly with Caleb, as with Isaac, I seem to have an instinct for what is wanted.  Millie has already made up her mind what she wants and having her able to communicate that makes it somewhat easier to keep her.  Of course, she's just as adamantly sure of what she does NOT want and often that's whatever she's just specifically asked for, lol.

I did note that she seemed to be running a low fever.  The boys were both sick earlier this week and I suspect that Wee Miss has succumbed to whatever they had.  She spent most of the afternoon either sitting on my lap or lying draped across me in some way.  She wasn't whiny nor fussy nor lethargic, just a little more than warm.

John was gone from home today having lunch with his EMS partner.  Dear man sent John home with a big, lovely cabbage and a handful of fresh onions, yellow and red.  I know John thought I smiled rather foolishly over the onions but it's always amazing to me that these little things I need are somehow just given to me.  I explained to John that I'd just used the last of the onions and needed to buy more, the only thing I really need for groceries this week.  

Not a busy day and not a productive one.  Any desire to do much of anything had long flown.  I finished reading my latest Mitford book, A New Song.  I'd meant to read Karon's books in order of publication but have no desire to read the next book, A Common Life as it is not sequential.  Instead I'm skipping ahead to the one published after that, In This Mountain.

Since I knew I'd be home all day today, I took time to bake bread for Shabat.  It's one thing I won't have to do tomorrow.  John has set his plans for the day tomorrow.  I'll do my usual Shabat cleaning and then I'm going to run to the bank and tend to a blog errand.

Friday:  I'm very late getting this finished up this week.  I let myself get distracted by another blog post.  Last night John mentioned his plans for the day.  He didn't do one of those things at all.  I mentioned mine.

Did I attend to mine?  I did...I did everything I'd had on my list and then I got ready to leave the house.  Somehow though, I was reluctant to do it.  What I wanted to happen was for John to want to go somewhere with me.  He didn't.  He'd just had a whole day out yesterday and he was satisfied with that.  We talked briefly of going to Macon to see about getting something else done and that fell through.  John was back to his decision to stay home.  I was back to running errands on my own.  He said, "You look disappointed," and I told him "I am but I don't know why.  I've done everything I planned to do today and I was fine with my plans last night and I was fine with them this morning.  But somehow I feel let down."  

I went on to run the errands and then returned home, bringing a late lunch with me.  John had asked me to stop and pick it up and I obliged him.  

That's it.  That was my week aside from the work I was doing on the blog post this afternoon.

How did your week go?

Amazon Affiliate Link  If you order through this link I earn a small commission.  

Wednesday Rambling: Digging Deep

A few weeks ago, I had one of those incidents that triggered something deep and dark within that sent me into an emotional tailspin.  After fifty odd years of sorting through my issues and tediously digging into my mental health, must I still have these sorts of things happen?!  Well yes, apparently I must.

It started with an eye exam.  

As per usual, I had to fill out forms and of course, health history.  I ticked the boxes next to diabetes and high blood pressure, listed my meds and felt a little bit smug that I was on my one little pill daily for each and managing them just fine, thank you. Maybe pride was setting me up that day.  I certainly sound as though it was!  

And then I met the doctor.  

The doctor was insistent that the only reason I was having any issue with my eyes at all was because my blood sugar was out of control.  He had not checked my eyes.  He'd simply glanced at my current prescription and read my medical history.  "No one has blurry vision unless their blood sugar is going up and down!  You aren't taking care of the diabetes, and this is why you are having eye problems!"  I had not checked my blood sugar that morning and he wanted that number.  When I told him I'd not checked it, I was lectured further.  I had my kit with me and was about to tell him I would check it right away, but he began the eye exam.

Each time I failed to clearly read a line, I was told again, "It's the diabetes!  You are not going to see because you are out of control."   

On and on he lectured with each step of the exam. I was not monitoring my health and wasn't doing a thing to promote being healthy.  I was eating the wrong things.  My A1c number failed to impress him.  I wasn't taking medication.  I wasn't doing this or that.   

I found myself getting very frustrated and very defensive.  I went in with a great attitude, feeling healthy and well and strong.   I went out feeling I'd been telling myself and everyone else lies and had just been publicly outed, defensive as heck and ready to weep.  I had to remind myself that my personal physician is more than happy with my numbers and results.   

The conclusion of my eye exam was that I had had a 'significant' vision change from when I was last examined.  There is no sign of glaucoma, no macular degeneration.  The small cataract I was diagnosed with three or four years ago at the time of the last exam, is still a very small cataract.  The doctor had no concern over that at all.  I'd looked up what to do to improve eye health with diet and supplements and have taken those religiously over the past three/four years.  

No kudos from doc.  None.  In his mind, every single thing came right back to diabetes and mismanagement on my part.  Period.  Finished.  Done.    

I had a horrible feeling inside.  I was left with a feeling of shame. 

I felt that appointment with the eye doctor on an emotional level.  I did.  What I wanted to do more than anything was to march right back to that aisle with the beautiful display of thick frosted sugar cookies I'd walked past earlier and buy two boxes, then eat myself sick, just like I used to do when I was depressed and mentally unable to cope.   

What did I do that day?  I insisted we finish our other shopping and stayed well away from areas with trigger foods, drank a full container of water when we got back to the car and refused to stop for food on the way home.  I knew I had good foods at home.  Nor did I fall back on the equally as old habit of shopping to feel better in order to soothe my feelings.  I stuck hard to my list. Small victories.  Why didn't I feel like I was winning?

We got in the car and on the way home, John spoke of a post made on a social media platform that I went to read.  It was a candid post about a near and dear soul's battle with mental health: the victories won and the very hard facts of dealing with mental illness daily.  

I told John how very proud I was of the poster, not only because it was well written but because it was totally honest.  I felt the author was brave in a way I'd never dared to be.  John's reaction was different.  John's been nothing less than encouraging to this person.  He takes it as a personal rejection that despite his best efforts this person is not convinced of their value and worth.  

I tried to explain to John what a huge thing that post was, much as he might dislike reading the things it said.   I tried to explain to him how a mind tethered by both depression and a chemical imbalance works.  I struggled with my words. I dumbed it down a lot because there are portions of this particular mental illness that I don't fully understand.  I finally told him this:  It has to do with what we hear inside our own heads and that voice is louder, clearer, and drowns out every truth anyone else might speak to us.

I've shared before that I've dealt with my share of mental health issues in the past.  I wasn't very open about my mental health history at the time I was in the hard and fast places of depression because that was the day and age when you had to keep quiet about those sorts of things.  It was a time when society was only on the cusp of people beginning to speak of emotional and mental issues.   There was no societal understanding about mental health at all. You didn't tell an employer or friends and likely few of your family. 

Mention depression and most likely you'd hear some very pat phrases, none of which were helpful in the least. "Just think how much better off you are than most people."  "Just look at how bad someone else has it."  "Just look on the bright side."   There is no bright side, no comparison when the things inside you are deep and dark and suffocating.  Whether it is a chemical imbalance or whether there were past traumas, there is no bright side.  

 John asked, "Well what did you do about it?"  "The same as she has.  I went to therapy.  I took medications.  I self-examined and self-abused, and I kept on trying to be better until I didn't self-abuse anymore."  

I went to therapy.  

At 18, I went to my first therapist at my mother's insistence. We had sessions together.  I felt I had nothing to say...Or nothing I was willing to pay later for saying.  Eventually the therapist felt it would be best if she spoke to us in separate therapy sessions.  Needless to say, I was grilled hard after each session.  That too did not make me feel I could speak my mind.  

The therapist determined I was likely sexually repressed and sat me down for one session with a coffee table sized photography book in which couples of all sorts were making love.  I wasn't shocked or horrified but I was embarrassed.  I wasn't quite sure what the therapist thought I might gain from being exposed to such things.  Soon after our sessions ended.  Was it Mama's choice?  The therapist's decision?  I couldn't possibly tell you.  I was so unaccustomed to having any say in anything that I am certain only that it wasn't myself who ended it.

Later in my mid-20s I suffered a number of mental breakdowns.  I functioned long enough to get my children fed and out the door to nursery and school each day. Then I went home and lay in bed all day long, shaking like a leaf and crying.  I seldom left my house except to drop off and pick up the children.  In the afternoon and evening, I kept it together until the children were fed and bathed and put to bed, then fell into the bed shaking and crying all over again.  It was at this time I sought therapy once more.

I was a model patient.  I said the right things and revealed the right things, and the therapist was happy.  But one day, I didn't want to make the therapist happy.  I wanted the therapist to HEAR me, and I said how I felt. I told her the things I struggled with, how unhappy I was in my life, in my marriage.  And do you know what she said in return?  "You only feel that way because you are fat."  

What?!  My whole life boils down to this?  I'm fat?  

This was the memory that popped up as I was trying to explain to John how a person with mental health issues and depression feels.

"I never said to this therapist, 'I've been abused.'  I never told of the deeper inner hurts and the lack of understanding about a very difficult and overbearing relationship in my life.  I never told this therapist a single thing except that I was depressed until that day and that was her reply."  

I dealt with that hurt and misunderstanding the same way I dealt with most of my hurts:  I shoved it all back into that deep dark hole where it had been wreaking havoc for years and kept saying the right things until the therapist felt I was ready to be dismissed.  And this day, 30 something years later, this is the memory that resurfaced.  

I started sobbing for the girl I had been, the one who had tried to be brave only to be slapped back down, the one who didn't believe her feelings were valid, that she had anything of value to offer anyone because she was overweight.  I felt only shame.

I have always said my children 'saved' me.  I didn't lean on them emotionally and make them my co-dependents.  I'd been through that.  I saw their vulnerability and their need of safety, their need of care, their need of love. Because of them I got up each day and took care of their needs.  It was they whom I thought of daily when the thought of suicide was strongest each day. I couldn't bear to think of them raised by their father and that's the truth.  So, I fought the battle every day, though the enemy offered me every weapon right at hand over and over again with which I might end my own life.  I didn't see the victory in that.  I do now.  

 I didn't feel particularly strong that day a week ago following the visit to the eye doctor and the memory that surfaced.  I always feel I've backslidden when I feel the urge to overeat in a compulsive way.  I was very emotional that day and a goodly part of the next.  I talked to the two people I trust to understand, and both were supportive as I shared my story.   

My emotions ranged from anger at myself for accepting sub-par behavior from medical professionals and anger at them for being sub-par in their patient care.  There was grief at all the years I might have been happier had I not just accepted the statement of a very stupid therapist.  I was sad at the time wasted and wondered what I might have been had I been brave and told people "This is how it is for me."   I was angry at myself for allowing someone else to make me feel powerless.  I should have gotten up and walked out on that therapist and found another. I should have walked out on that doctor the other day.  But I didn't.

And yet, I also feel thankful to that doctor.  Because of him, I pulled out by the very deep root of something hidden that was preventing me from healing fully.    That is no small gift, for all that it might have caused me pain.

Spring Wardrobe/ Part II



Although it's rapidly warming up, I have a little leeway yet with my wardrobe.  In the past two weeks I've washed and put away the sweaters and the long-sleeved blouses made with heavier materials.  Most of what you're about to see won't be new to you.  I get more mileage from my wardrobe using my costume jewelry, shoes and other accessories to change up the look, as well as switching the pants/jeans I wear with each top.

The Homemaker Plans Her Week: Hup Hup Hup

 


In my home this week, I am enjoying all the lovely spring blooms.  I was in the yard on Friday and said to myself, "Now if I could just get blooms all summer and deep into fall..."  I know that will take lots of work.  I haven't even gone out to plant the few seeds I have just yet though all danger of frost has passed us.  Why the delay?  Too many other things taking priority for one thing.  And also, because it's been very dry here.  Other areas have had enough rain to leave water standing but we're dry as a bone.  I had to water container plants (which basically means nearly ALL of my plants) heavily last week. Even the herbs had started to curl up and wither.  

Wednesday Rambling: Always Near