Living Frugally and Well: Sizzling Savings

Saturday:  I didn't prep food ahead yesterday for today's meal because it wasn't necessary.  I put meat in the crockpot early this morning to cook.  I needed only to chop a few vegetables for stir fry as a side dish.

I put leftover meat right into the fridge.  We didn't have the option of going back for seconds.

John offered to make pancakes for supper.  That's why we keep the mix on hand.  I have the instructions written a chalk board tag that is tied around the neck of the jar I store the mix in.  They were delicious.

I finished prepping John's work lunch.

I ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Sunday:  Sent John off to work: he had breakfast before leaving, lunch and coffee in hand as he went out the door.

Remembered to turn off the porch light when I came back indoors.  I don't always remember this and I'm trying to be better about it.

Stripped bed.  Washed linens and bath towels together.  I tossed in the few clothes in the basket as well.

Hung most all of the items to dry.

Bagged up all the trash to carry out the door with me when I leave.

Went by Kroger and picked up the free item I could find on the shelves.  One bottle of BBQ sauce, 19 ounces went into my pantry.  I only bought a Sunday paper while in the store.

After church, I went to get a haircut.  Then I went to another grocery to pick up a prescription and a few loaves of good bakery bread for our home use.  I stuck to the perimeter of the store.  I did note a sale on an end cap and knew I could find the variety I wanted as I walked past the other end of the aisle on my way to the registers.  It does pay to know the lay out of your store!  I avoided a double line of temptation by walking the perimeter and going to the right section of the aisle where the product was located.

The item I bought extra?  BOGO on Ritz stackable crackers.  I don't know why John prefers the stackable size but he does.  I agreed to purchase them when they were no more than Aldi brand of the same cracker.  Well, these BOGO sales are dead on the same price.  I stocked up with enough to last me until next sale.

I purchased a big bunch of gladiola for $4.99.  The usual bunches of common flowers are now $4 a bunch.  The glads filled a big vase and look lovely.  I don't consider these as 'extra' by the way.  I normally purchase a bunch of flowers about every two weeks.  Sometimes in summer I buy them weekly because they do not keep as well in the warmer temperatures.  I budget for them as part of my grocery money.

Do you know what else I did to save at the grocery today?  When I went into Kroger I was on my way to church.  When I came out of church I was beyond hungry.  I then went to get a haircut.  I'd eaten at 5am with John and hadn't had anything since.  After I got my hair cut, I went right to a fast food place, purchased a meal, and ate.  I used my pocket money to cover the cost.  It was a lot cheaper to pay $7 for a meal than to wander the deli and snack aisles at the grocery tossing in any item that looked good at the moment.

Filled the car with gasoline in that town where it's 20c cheaper than our hometown.

Found a good deal on a slipcover.  Ordered it for my chair.

I was weary when I came in.  I hadn't slept well last night and all I wanted to do was sit and chill.  You know what I did?  I brought clothes in off the line and folded them.  I made coffee.  I sat down at my desk and totted up the checkbook, wrote out checks to pay bills.  I balanced the checkbook against the bank statement.  I did what I had to do.  That's part of what gets things done.  After I was finished with those tasks, I had a cup of coffee and did what I'd wanted to do all along: chill.  No guilt, no worry over having to get up to do one thing.  I was done!

Monday:  I made breakfast sandwiches for us this morning.  They are filling and easy and quick.

John washed a load of clothes and hung most to dry.  Yes, we had a few more clothes, which included his work uniform.  He likes to have that ready to go right away even though he doesn't go back to work for two days.

Gave myself a pedicure.  I used the new Jamberry wraps I got for hostessing the party.  Bess had shown earlier in the month that a single accent nail wrap could cover five of your toes.  I actually covered SIX with a smidge leftover.  Pretty impressive.

Gathered bills to mail when we went down to pick up John's check.  We made our deposit in that town.

We wandered.  We did.  We hadn't had lunch and really hadn't been hungry when it was dinner time, so I didn't cook.  We took a very long very roundabout trip to our favorite restaurant.  I paid for our dinner out of my pocket money (recently refreshed at the bank).

Nothing more was done today.  We simply enjoyed the afternoon and the conversation we had.  We laughed.  We talked.  And then we had ice cream.  There's just something about a summer cone of ice cream isn't there?

Tuesday:  I placed an order this morning and remembered to use Swagbucks this time.  I have forgotten far too often of late to use those Shop and Earn points.

Cashed in Pinecone research points for Paypal cash.   I shall put that with the Lowe's gift card I got first of the year and use the funds to replace the last mini blind with a nicer one.  That would be our guest room window.  I've no idea why it took me this long to notice we had that one last window to do!

Kept breakfast simple this morning when John announced his intentions to mow lawn.  I know he dislikes to go out in the heat with a heavy breakfast sitting upon him.  Pushed plans for our dinner to be something simpler and quickly prepared.  We postponed getting groceries until later in the week.  I'll likely go buy another half gallon of milk (and incidentally pick up some cottage cheese that is on sale and carrageenan free) but we've plenty of fruit, lettuce, eggs and bread to see us through the end of the week.

We had another very late dinner today.  No supper for us again tonight.  Tomorrow I shall likely eat four meals because we'll be starting our day so very early, so it balances out.

Made John's lunch/supper for tomorrow and set it aside in the fridge so I can easily pull it out in the morning and not miss anything.

I used Matzah crackers we've had in the cabinet since Passover to make Sweet and Saltines...Only mine is Sweet and Matzah, lol.  I packaged up the confectionary  pieces in an old cookie tin.  This is a very fast recipe.  It takes about 15 minutes start to finish.  Five minutes to boil and five minutes in the oven.  I had the oven on to make oven baked fries already so it was no trouble.

Took advantage of the nice mild weather to make those oven fried potatoes.

Katie fired my imagination this afternoon with some Jamberry nail wrap pairings she set up and forwarded to me through photos.  I went through my stash and pulled together a few more looks, including mimicking some of hers with wraps we had in common.  I figure I just extended my ability to use my wraps efficiently by 50% which is pretty good.

John had a phone holder that clipped to his belt.  It broke the other night.  He remembered when he purchased it and that it had a warranty so he wrote the company.  They wrote him back asking for measurements.  Today he received a brand new phone holder from the company. No, it's not exactly like his previous one but his phone does fit in the new holder.  The company is called Nite Ize...

This morning as we were about to eat breakfast, I happened to glance out of the kitchen window.  Two young bucks walked across the yard, strolling leisurely about.  This afternoon from the same windows I watched as a hummingbird fed from the hibiscus and petunias.

John mowed our yard.  It costs an average of $50 to get a lawn mowed in our area and John mows the equivalent of THREE yards with our big lawn.  That's a HUGE savings for us.

Wednesday:  Have had a very productive morning thus far.  I'll start with the usual work day morning drill:  breakfast, coffee, packed lunch.  Yep that trinity of work morning savings took place again today.

Remembered to turn off the porch light when I came indoors.

Maddie gets biscuit treats when John goes to work.  Misu has been coming around this whole month and started demanding a treat, too.  She'd happily eat a small piece of dog biscuit but I splurged the other day and bought a trial sized packet of cat treats.  She enjoyed having her own treats!  I will get another bag for her but will look for coupons so I can indulge her.  Maddie's biscuits are from Aldi and very similar to Milk Bone...Maybe I'll check Aldi for cat treats...

Washed a full load of clothes which included the slip cover off the wingback chair and my ottoman cover.  The other chair hasn't been sat in by anyone so I didn't feel washing that slipcover was necessary.  I run the vacuum over it every couple of weeks to keep the dust off it.

Went outdoors and cleaned up the porches and patio.  Since we hang clothes on the front porch, it is especially important that I wipe down those railings after John mows.  I've not done it once or twice and rued the dirty marks that ruined my clean wash.

Watered the patio plants using water we'd caught from roof run-off of rain.

Dug up the iris then went to work pulling up all that soapwort under the Faith Tree.  There must have been a million ants living in that mess and about 18 big brown spiders went scurrying away, too.  Ugh. I shall be quite happy to make that space look neater!   I worked a good 45 minutes on it all and decided I'd do more another day.  I did quite enough this morning.  I sure wish I could determine where to plant some of the soapwort.  It needs sun to bloom.  It also needs a space where it won't invade places where I don't want it.  Not sure where that could be.

Washed a full load of dishes.  I didn't have quite a full load so I put in the coffee pot, filter basket and filters, the sink strainers and my sponges and scrubbies.

Cleaned out the fridge.  I have had plastic liners on the shelves which is nice for catching spills.  I just took all the liners off the shelves.

Found three or four items that had gotten buried and forgotten.  Not a lot of waste, perhaps 2 cups of food overall, but more than I'd like to have go to waste.  Noted what foods I have on hand and need to use before I start using the produce I plan to buy this week.

Cleaned out that kitchen cupboard I'd kept promising myself I'd tackle.  Found I did indeed have several packets of Italian and Ranch dressing, sigh.  It got pushed back into a corner I loathe and can't reach.  I put ALL the packets of dressing in a tin that is too big to lose in the cupboard.  Now to remember that's where I stashed those packets.  I might better put them in a jar where I can see them!

Happy to find there was no 'loss' in the cabinet, just a 'lost' that was found.

I bought a big 1 liter bottle of soy sauce a few years ago.  I've nearly drained the big jug and so I decanted what was left into a salad dressing cruet.  Takes up far less room and also gives me a far better idea of about how much I have left.  Somehow it looked like a lot more in that big jug.

Cleaned the guest room and found the fabric I thought I had used up. I have enough to cover the pillow for my bedroom chair which pleases me very much.

Result of cleaning the guest room: 1 trash can filled, one box filled for donation and one laundry basket filled to go to the shed.

Forgot the clothes on the line when the rain came in (not forecasted) but did think to run put the fern under the eaves to catch the runoff from the roof.  Oh well...I've heard often enough that rain water softens clothes.

I ate a leftovers supper but my main meal today was a combination of a special entrée I treat myself to (chicken pot stickers) and leftover stir fry veg from this past weekend.

Thursday:  Made a welcome home breakfast for John of French toast.   I used pieces of bread I'd stashed in the freezer that were too small to make a sandwich.  I cooked up the egg/milk mixture leftover after making the French toast.  John likes that eggy mixture for some reason.

John washed a full load of clothes, hung all to dry.

I washed the plastic shelf liners that were in the fridge.  I hung them on the drying rack to drip dry.

Started to work on one of the UFO's in my sewing room.  Then I walked to the cabinet to get something and stubbed my little toe and broke it.  I'm so sick of breaking toes!  Anyway, that sidelined me from working on sewing.  I am sitting with my foot elevated instead.

Prepared taco salad for our dinner today because it is quick and easy.

John brought home plenty of leftovers from his work yesterday.  Someone catered a meal for the crew so he didn't need the food I'd sent.  He will have it for supper tonight.  I am in 'use it up' mode.

I have onions and peppers prepped for a meal for this weekend.

We did not go buy groceries today, so that is on the list of things to do tomorrow.  I shall most certainly not want to prep foods for weekend then so I'm doing all I can, in stages, today.

Friday:  It's been very hot.   So hot that I'm watering plants practically daily if there is no rainfall.  We really should have left home super early this morning to run errands and shop for groceries but we didn't.  Failure on our part meant we suffered through the 100F part of the day at stop lights and in heavy traffic, ugh.

John wanted to get a haircut.  We remembered the Kroger next to the shop has added in a full pharmacy, a jewelry store, clothing and home goods aisles.  It's a huge expansion into a sort of super Kroger.   John and I have had a saga over underclothes.  He needed some.  I suggested we go to the store and buy them.  He suggested I just order.  I ordered and they filled the order as they pleased.  My husband only wears certain colors, mostly blacks and blues and dark greens.  They sent bright green and blues and reds.  As well the packer must have pulled from the boy's department to fill the package....It was a disaster and the packages were shredded in the opening so no way to return.  Let's just call that whole bit a total loss.

Anyway, I said I would pick up the few non-Aldi items needed and he suggested he'd look at underclothes there at Kroger.  I guess his wait time at the shop for  a cut was far longer than planned. Not only did I order and drink my coffee, I browsed the whole store, picked up the items I went in to purchase (no impulses) and checked the underclothes.  I was shocked at the cost.  Same brand, same style we'd just purchased but they were $8/pair in a package of 5, $39.99.  We'd paid only $2 a pair for the ones we'd ordered.  I walked out of the store shaking my head. I told John how much they cost in that store and he couldn't believe it.  So naturally he went in to check for himself.  He called me from the store to rant over the cost...I was headed to the car, because I knew I wasn't wrong, lol.  Ridiculous!

So we headed to Walmart to shop for underclothes.  I sat in the McDonalds and had a cold drink of water while he did the shopping.  He found the same brand, the same packaging for $13 for 5 pair.  Isn't that just ridiculous all around?

Drove to Aldi to get our grocery items.  I remembered that I needn't stock quite so heavily as we are already heading into the last week of the pay period and John will be gone for four of the seven days counting his next work day.  Good thing I didn't want much.  It was scarce pickings on much of the produce.  

We got the electric bill.  We had the expected jump which will likely be higher still next month if this current heat keeps up.  I pulled curtains on the western side of the house this afternoon and yesterday afternoon as well.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

John washed a small load of clothes, as he meant to take some things he'd been wearing today with him on his trip this weekend.  There's plenty of heat and sun to dry them.

We stopped outside of town and picked up chicken tenders.  I told John we had plenty of salad already to go so we skipped sides.  I paid for that meal out of my pocket.  I'll repay myself next pay period.

What did you do to save this week?

Living Well

The store was packed with screaming babies and children running around and just far too many people in a small store.  The streets were nearly as bad with cars piled in lanes at stop lights, wrecks, sirens, firetrucks wailing...I was one glad country girl to arrive back in my quiet spot!  Today is not typical of the town where we shop.  I seldom hear sirens when I'm in that place, nor is Aldi generally so hectic but it sure was a chaotic sort of day out there today.

Even the highways were crowded with traffic and mowers working along the sides of nearly every road we traveled.  And in our little town, there was a backlog of traffic because the Department of Transportation is repairing a very rough patch of railroad track and pavement.

You can just bet this country girl was sure glad to pull into our roadway today and turn up that long winding drive.  It felt so quiet and peaceful and I felt tension just oozing from me as we drove up towards the house.

Iced Tea Chat - Goal Oriented

I have lemon and mint today if you'd prefer those to go into your tea...  Oh and Orange and basil.   And why not a cool but so tasty little appetizer of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on Whole Wheat crackers topped with a slice of cucumber?  It's my new favorite munch mid-afternoon.  Cool and crisp and full of fiber and protein and low carb, too.

I've been busy trying to accomplish my month's goals and so far, I'm on target with them.  My desk area is as complete as I can make it at the moment.  I am still searching the house for artwork and frames to finish off the wall space. I've also worked on that flower bed beneath the Faith Tree. I'm not done, but I've plodded on.  It's slow progress but it's progress.

It sometimes takes a bit more gumption than I have to draw upon to get busy right now.  I think my problem is that I'm a little discombobulated with this new schedule.  I didn't think it would be difficult and really it isn't difficult.  It's different, however, and is taking a little time to adjust.  John and I are cramming in as much as we can into two days between two shifts.  It feels a bit like someone turned up the speed dial on our lives.  We've moved from 33rpms to 45rpms.  We might be keeping up but it's not our accustomed pace.  

"No sitting around." proclaims the man of the house, "I don't want to lose a day now that I've only got two days between shifts."   Indeed, except for one day when he'd spent the whole 24 hour work shift running one call after the other, he's made a point to mow  and to run errands and get tasks done on the other days.  Which means that I work the day he's gone and the two days he's off and in the end I've put in a full week of work.  Add in the time I spend writing posts for the blog and I really do get in a full six days of work each week.

One day last week I took John's work day and drove up to Katie's to visit.  Katie had been unwell and I was a little anxious to check on her.  She had gone to the doctor that morning but is doing much better.  She wasn't really into conversation that day which told me a great deal about how she felt overall but she seemed to find some comfort in my just being there. (

There was one little bit of conversation, something I thought was interesting, since I've been feeling  the same thing myself.  She expressed her desire to do something to change up her house.  I so understand that. I've been looking about for nearly three weeks now trying to decide what it is exactly I want to change.  Katie's house is cute as it can be but it's pretty much the same as when she moved in a year and a half ago, so her restlessness is likely far more genuine than mine.  She spent early Spring redoing her bedrooms and now she's ready to change up the main living spaces.  

I am always amused how she, Amie and I lean hard on a more formal/traditional look but none of us are formal  traditional.  I think what we like is classic style which is often portrayed as formal traditional.  What we do, of course, is our own thing with what we acquire.   Katie's shared some things from Pinterest with me that are inspiring her.  I can't wait to see what she manages to do.

As I said, I've been feeling rather restless about my house as well but so far, as I  look at a space I'm thinking of changing, I find I really do like it as it is. I did order another slipcover to put on the newest chair because I find I just like the look of slipcovered chairs.   I also like the lightness it brings into the room. But so far that's all I've come up with to change besides recreating my desk area.  If John's recliner weren't an unusual shape I'd order a slipcover for it, too, but it's not a standard reclining lounge chair. 

I know there's a change I'm ready to make but I'm not terribly sure it's in my house.  So what am I wanting to change?  I keep telling myself I need to dig and delve and figure it out, but right now it's all I can do to cope with the schedule change.  Funny that as analytical as I am I seem to be just too befuddled to sort it out.  In my journal, I note the things I plan to do for the day or the things I did the day before, but little of depth.  And when I sit and ponder it all, I just end up with a blank mind, staring out of the window and come to with a start realizing that I've zoned out.  

I took the little wooden child's table and chairs I'd bought at the consignment shop when I visited Katie and Taylor knew immediately that it was hers.  She sat right down and played with her toys at the table.  She ate lunch at the table, too.  She watched a portion of a movie sitting at her table.  She tried to have supper at the table but Zoey, the big German Shepherd took advantage of everything being at her nose level and tried to help herself to supper, as well.  Taylor takes no stuff off that doggie of hers and put up quite a big fuss about it. Her mama moved her to the big dining room table to finish up her meal.

I so enjoyed my day.  The weather was gorgeous all day long which made for a wonderful ride home.  It's quite a long ride, two and a half hours.  Plenty of farmland and historic homes and ranches to see along the way.   Just 15 miles north of us Queen Anne's lace grows wild at roadside.  It doesn't grow here.  I love seeing that pretty flower in patches along the roadways and there was plenty to be seen on this trip.  

Still, it was quite a long day overall, pleasant as it was.  I confess I found it very hard to push through on Friday and get my tasks done for the weekend.  

John was back at work on Sunday and I did a number of tasks before heading out for the morning.  I'd planned to go to church and of course, had to do several things on the way out.  I was a little put out when I got to church because a sweet little old lady ran up to me and insisted that I commit to coming to the senior adults dinner that evening.  I wouldn't agree however, partly because  I don't feel senior adult.  I don't think I look old enough to be senior adult yet, either, I found the idea of being a senior citizen depressing.  Yes, John is getting nearer a retirement age, but he's just barely started his sixth decade and I'm not quite there yet.  The senior adult people aren't really old, but they do tend more towards mid-70's and 80's.  I'm not even near that yet.

John and I have had this discussion many times lately.  We're forever being invited to join the senior adults for this or that at church but we don't really seem to fit in anywhere.  We're hardly as young as the empty nester group and not quite old enough for the seniors groups.  We'd like a between sort of group.

I was less convinced later that I'm as young as I feel when I got out to the car and glanced in the mirror. I gave myself a slight pass only because (a) I'd not had a hair cut in eight weeks and (b) I'd only had about an hour's sleep the night before.  I decided a hair cut was priority before I even thought of heading home that day and that's just what I did.

No it didn't transform me.  I still looked mighty tired but I felt sure that with a sound night's sleep I'd look less senior and more just adult.  One can hope anyway, right?

I was going to the rather lux salon to get my haircut.  The truth: I felt so pampered going in there to have my hair done despite the cost.  However, when the stylist I was using left unexpectedly and no one bothered to give me a call but cancelled my appointment I was mighty upset.  I loathe breaking in a new stylist as much as I loathe shopping for a bathing suit, but I do prefer to choose the stylist myself.  Call me picky but if I show up to get my hair cut and you've not made your own personal appearance look nice, I don't expect you're going to give much care to my appearance, either.

I started going to the same cut rate, in and out in 15 minutes, place that John goes to.  The girl there does a passable job on my hair.  She does shape it well, but there is no shampoo or styling.  It's truly a 15 minutes hairstyle and penny for penny, I assure you that in reality I'm getting what I pay for though it is still an inexpensive option. 

I must look for a new stylist.  When I go in to get my haircut I don't go in just for the basic cut.  They don't even blow it dry at this cut rate place which is something I do every day here at home!  No, I want the salon experience.  I want the pampering moments.  I want someone to take the time to show me how good my hair ought to look...  I want more.  I guess because I cut corners so many places when it comes to clothing and makeup and house and home, I just need an area where I feel I'm indulged, you know?  But I struggle with it at the same time.

We had the most pleasant day on Monday.  I don't know why but I simply had no desire to do a whole lot of anything on Monday.  I had worked double time on Sunday when I was alone, as I normally do, and Monday just the basics was enough as far as I was concerned.  I'd made a big breakfast for John coming in from work.  I did nothing about dinner.  Nothing.  I didn't thaw out a thing, I didn't offer up anything.  Instead I looked at him and said "Perhaps we could pick up something to eat while we're out getting your check."  I guess he wasn't very hungry, either, because he agreed readily enough though he didn't plan to leave until a little later in the afternoon.

Well, we went by a favorite local hamburger place in his work town.  Packed to the gills.   "Why is everyone eating so late today?" he asked me as we chose to bypass the place.  We drove past a spot that was closed on Monday's and then on to a mom operated place outside of town.  They closed after lunch every day.  John turned down a back road I hadn't traveled in perhaps ten years and we drove to a small town like so many other small towns in rural Georgia.  It's limping along just barely alive despite all the people that live there.  I so hate seeing these little towns dying out but you can't singlehandedly save them all.  

No, I don't think Walmart killed the.  In fact, there's only one Walmart within 30 miles of many of these towns and very seldom do any of these folks shop at Walmart.  I know many folks who would happily support small business if small business would just clean up their act a little.

I think there is a tendency to get a small town attitude at times.  You call for an appointment and they don't bother to get back with you.  You ask to have work done and they suggest they'll stop by and it's months and months before they call.  You want to keep a small time alive I say there are things you can change.  Do timely work.  Recommend someone to do what you don't do well.  Stock decent produce or meat at the grocery and rotate the stock so you don't have customers pick up expired products.   BE competitive.  I'll happily pay a higher price for a product that is not inferior to one I can get 30 miles away for half the cost.  I just don't want to pay the premium price for stuff that isn't any good.  And keep a little stock on the shelf.  I think it's ridiculous to find no Tylenol and be told they'd have to order it for delivery in two days.  No thanks.  I can drive the 10 miles to the next town and buy all I want without waiting two days to cure my headache.  And there is no Walmart 10 miles away.  No I'm afraid what has killed the small town is the absolute refusal to do anything differently than it was done ten or twenty years ago, the refusal to believe that people will stay and shop if the product offered is at least equal to what's available elsewhere or if service is a little better than it is anywhere else.  And lose the attitude. I don't want anyone being surly and rude because I shopped elsewhere when I've TRIED to purchase in your place and you didn't care to have what was wanted in stock and refused to order it.

Our little local diner is a prime example of people staying around town for a bit of quality service and food.  It's not expensive and it's not fancy, but it's good plain chicken and good plain hotdogs and hamburgers and the locals and those who drive through town flock into the place.  The service is always nice even when they are at peak busyness.   There are many other choices people might make within ten miles but to a person they choose to stay local and buy their lunch and their family reunion chicken because they know it's GOOD.  It makes a difference.

Oh I rabbit trailed off there didn't I?  Through the little dead town with  it's pretty old houses decaying not so gently we drove and then onward toward a town with a selection of fast food places because there was not even a diner seen in that little town. We drove past a restaurant and two fast food places. All were packed out.   We ended up going to our favorite restaurant which was a much bigger and nicer meal than we'd planned to have, but it's just secluded enough that traffic seldom builds in that area.  I treated John to dinner which is unusual because he generally insists upon treating me.  We decided to have a steak, something we never choose to indulge in away from home and it was so good.   And after, John stopped and bought us each an ice cream cone to eat on the way home.  There's something awfully summer-ish about an ice cream cone in July,  isn't there?  I mean you can't eat as slowly as you might in winter and yet it tastes so much better somehow when it's hot outside.  We took the longer drive home, too and laughed and talked all the way.

We seem, this week at least, to be in a pattern of eating a very, very late dinner and skipping supper entirely.  It's not been planned to have just two meals each day but it's where we've been this week for some reason.  Tuesday John mowed and trimmed the lawn.  I was busy indoors writing and doing some deeper cleaning jobs that I'd wanted to get done.  I think we finally stopped about 3pm and had our meal.  

So yesterday, John was back at work. I'd toyed with the idea of leaving home.  "Go do something fun..." I said to myself.  But in the end I wanted to be at home.  I wanted to tend to some of those goals on my list for July and my work list for this week. I wanted to putter about my house.  So I did.  I got so much accomplished. The fridge sparkles with little real effort on my part.  The cupboard I'd meant to clean out two weeks ago is neat and clean.  I loaded up a basket of things to take out to the shed and a trash can and a box for donations from the guest room clutter.  It looks restful and peaceful now in that room.  I pulled up the soapwort and dug out the iris from under the Faith Tree.  I did laundry and dishes and wiped and polished and straightened and in the end, I felt tired but happy, productive but not deprived.  

I made myself an indulgent sort of lunch of Chicken pot stickers with stir fried vegetables and settled into my chair to read a couple of old magazines.  I had a long conversation with John and watched in amazement as rain poured down.  We weren't supposed to get any rain at all.  Silly weather man.  My
laundry got soaking wet and stayed on the line but I did have presence of mind to run go put the fern under the eaves of the porch roof where it could get a good watering.  It was a good day, a happy day.  Maybe my idea of fun just isn't the same as someone else's idea of fun but I will venture that I had fun as I played about my house, involved in what I did without stopping to do anything but what I was doing.  No division of attentions required.

Today started with promise and ended with a broken pinky toe which is throbbing painfully.  I've taken just enough Tylenol to lessen the pain slightly and fuzz my brain mightily.  I think I'm going to see if there's an unclaimed nap lying around anywhere.  I'll call it mine if  find it.

In the Good Ol' Summertime...Outdoor seating

In summer in my childhood, we seldom visited indoors.  Oh no!  Visits took place outdoors, usually under the shade of a big old tree.  It wasn't at all uncommon, nor is it to this day in the South, to see a grouping of chairs or table and chairs under a big shady tree someplace in a yard.  Perhaps they are the sort who like to see and be seen, so they set up their seating in the front yard.  Perhaps they are more private people but don't have fences and you catch a glimpse, as you drive past, of the seating in the back yard.  

And just possibly, you might see someone with a sitting area arranged under an open carport or on a deeply shaded front porch, but mostly, most assuredly, company was entertained in the yard in summer months, where shade was plentiful, breezes were all about and the views expanded across flower beds and fields and you were serenaded by drowsy buzzing bees and birds.

The first memory I have of being entertained out of doors was at Grandmama Stewart's home.  She was my great grandmother.  Near the road, just steps from her well, she had a big tall tree and under the tree was a split log bench.
 Her road was just a single lane winding sort of road and not a lot of traffic happened to go by.  Usually if someone did go by, she knew them right well!  I remember sitting with my cousins on that bench as they spoke of a song by Herman's Hermits...I'm dating myself...I recall asking one of them what a hermit was and then pointed to some seed pod that had fallen near by.  "Is that a hermit?" I asked.  I remember their laughter.

When Mama and Daddy were still quite young and they had three children with a very tight budget, they rented an old farm house with a shed and a couple of outdoor houses meant for the folks who worked on the place.  The old woman who owned the farm used the outdoor houses as storage for her unwanted items.  She allowed Mama and Daddy to use some old wooden deck chairs that she had stored.

It turned out the fabric was quite old and had not weathered well, so their first guests who sat down went right on through to the ground.  Mama, being a woman who sewed as naturally as she breathed, soon had made new covers for those chairs and they used them until the budget allowed the purchase of the next chairs I'll mention...

My next memory of outdoor seating was the aluminum and webbing sort of chairs.  Not exactly the most sturdy chair known to man but certainly they were lightweight and inexpensive and they were easily folded and put away.  I recall various patterns of webbing, mostly in greens though I do seem to recall a yellow one as well.  These chairs were not only in our own yard at home, they were in my grandparents yards as well.

Later Granny upgraded her outdoor seating, and I must say it was rather nice.  She had a couple of big water oak trees and the branches spread and met over the middle of the back yard area.  My brother and cousin built Granny a brick patio, sanded in, with a plant ring in the middle that was rather nice, though they were just 11 and 9 at the time.  

Granny's metal glider and chairs were green with white panels.  Three of us could sit happily on that glider and the polite question was always "Would you like to glide, or no?"  One simply didn't glide because you felt like it!  No, you had to be polite and all agree that gliding was what was wanted. Gliders of this ilk can still be found, in vintage condition.   Most just need a bit of sprucing up with a fresh paint job.

Those chairs, by the way, felt rather dangerous.  The more you weighed the deeper they dipped in the back and the older the chair got the more it bowed down.  It could be rather startling to find yourself with your feet in the air and your bottom on the ground!  

The chairs had two saving graces.  First, they were very sturdy.  I think Granny's were going on 20 years old when one finally broke.  Given that she often had family gathering at her place and had 7 grandchildren who were normal rough sort of kids, I think it's remarkable they held up so well.  The other grace of the chairs?  Because they had no back legs, you could slowly bounce the chair in a sort of rocking motion.  Many a baby was rocked to sleep in one of those chairs while the adults sat about talking.  

I remember one very hot summer day, Granny took her visitors to her garden.  We kids decided that it was so hot we should make a big picture of Koolaid to refresh them when they returned.  I've rarely seen adults so pleased to see a tinkling iced drink even if it was strawberry flavored Koolaid.

Grandmama Crowley kept her webbed aluminum chairs for years upon years.  She always took great care of her things so even if the chairs were inexpensive, she was more likely going to redo the webbing and keep hers going for years on end.  However, at some point she did purchase some cast iron patio chairs.  Her chairs were similar to these about this table:

When she died, I acquired the two chairs still in her possession.  I have them on my front porch:

A few years ago I was rather pleased to come across a patio table and four chairs of the same sort of metal.  I kept an umbrella over the table but after going through four rather quickly, I decided it was a waste of my funds.  The table and chairs still sit on the patio and it's a very pleasant place to sit in the afternoon in summer, after the sun has pushed past the front of the house.  I've been looking for some deep shade where I might put it but so far, I've come up blank.  Though just now it occurs to me that placing it between the Faith Tree and the front porch might be rather nice.  But then I'd have no seating on the patio at all and I do like to sit and soak up the sun in winter there.  

Of course, I could use one of these sorts of benches which is incredibly sturdy and far more comfortable than you'd expect:

Concrete blocks and 4x4 posts is all this requires.  We sat on one of these down in St. Augustine and agreed it was a rather good idea for inexpensive outdoor seating.

My favorite seating in a yard was my set of old bent willow or cypress furniture.

 How I did love my set!  I had two chairs and a loveseat and a swing.  It was a bit rough for seating unless you had a nice cushion, either your own natural cushion or a proper pillow.  I'm afraid my cushion was never in the proper place, so I usually resorted to folded quilts since pillows weren't in the budget.  I would love to have another set of this furniture, sigh, for all that I have perfectly nice furniture in the outdoor spaces.

That's my full share of chair memories.  Have you any summer memories of outdoor seating?

Summer Eating: The Best Homemade Salad Dressings

Salads are delicious aren't they?  Let's face it though...A salad without a dressing is not going to cut it.   Plain lettuce?  Blech.  That said, despite the variety of dressings one may buy at a store, homemade dressings can be incredibly good, far better than anything you might buy.    I have a small repertoire of recipes that I use.  Given the opportunity, I'd make my own 100% of the time.  My husband however, seems to feel deprived if certain items are not bought.  That said, he's happily eaten the following salad dressings when I do make them, so I know they must be tasty or he'd completely refuse.

A Few of My Favorite Things - July

I've had good reviews from you all about sharing my favorites the past few months and I still find there are a few items that I just think are well worth the money spent on them.  Remember these are items I like and use routinely and I do not get any compensation from anyone for promotion.

I love to hang platters and trays and such on my walls.  We just hung a trio of Tole painted Nashco trays on the wall in the kitchen.

In My Home This Week: Summer Sizzles

This week in my home...

...the weather has decided to be summer-like.  I have every intent of continuing to work on that flower bed  around the Faith Tree, but I'm sure not going to push myself on doing much more than watering and sweeping porches unless I can go out very early.  Goals tend to somewhat lose importance when the temperatures soar into the 100f range for days which is what they are meant to do this week.   Gracious, I don't even want to do so much as think  when it's this hot.  When Summer sizzles, work fizzles! 

Hot weather is the best time to plan, though.  For one thing it's time to bring out my August magazines which is fun to contemplate.   I'll bet hey have plenty of hot weather recipes in those magazines.  And it's time to dig around and look for as many good crockpot and frying pan meals as I can conjure up because it's too hot to even think of turning on that oven.

Living Frugally and Well: Summer Breezes

Saturday:  Played it smart this morning: baked a cake, cooked biscuits and started a chicken roasting in the oven early this morning.  The cake went in first and the biscuits and chicken went in as the cake came out.  Cakes like dry heat in an oven, while pies and muffins and breads don't mind moist heat at all and can be baked all at once if need be.

Wish I had remember to start the zucchini while the oven was going.  I didn't and so I heated it up again nearer midday and boy was that a mistake.  It warmed the house up, made the AC run harder than it would have done and necessitated turning on room fans as well as upping the speed on our ceiling fans.  Sigh...Noted and will be sure to pay attention to that in the future!

Living Frugally and Well: Sizzling Savings

Saturday:  I didn't prep food ahead yesterday for today's meal because it wasn't necessary.  I put meat in the crockpot ear...