Coffee Chat: Christmas is Near

Hello dears.  Come in, come in.  I've those lovely spicy and crisp Spekulatis cookies from Aldi to go with our hot cups of coffee or tea or cocoa.  Take your choice and come sit with me here in the living room near the softly glowing tree.

I confess ever since I put it up, I keep it lit pretty much all the time if I'm home.  Josh came in yesterday afternoon after school and insisted I had another tree.  I assured him it was truly the same tree, just a few ornaments more added on but no, it must be another tree and this one was 'even prettier than the other!'    Isaac pronounced it "itty" which is his word for 'pretty' at the moment.

John and I were in the middle of trying to get the new kitchen cabinet together.  Josh was everywhere and all in the screws and dowels and wanted to handle everything and see what we were doing and it got very chaotic.  It was a short visit that ended abruptly after Josh decided to stomp the support piece.   No harm done but Bess rounded him and Isaac up right quick and took them home.    I did the gramma thing and sent the boys off with a mandarin in one hand and a cookie in the other and kisses on the foreheads.  After all, little boys are lovely and appreciated even if they do bring a tiny bit of chaos in a five minute span of time.

The new cabinet is smaller than the piece that was there before but it  works better overall.  Not everything that came out went back in.  It would have fit, but the container I had did NOT and the things needed to be contained.   I could buy something that fits better but I used what I had.  I downsized to accommodate just the necessary things but, as I told John, we didn't really need all of that stuff to be in that cabinet anyway.  I've been thinking for some time that some of those items should go elsewhere and so they shall.  Which means I now must 'turn out' that place where they will go  and rearrange it to make room for those things...And then move still more stuff to another place, all the while sorting out what is necessary and letting go of what isn't.

This is not a new concept to me, this fruit basket turnover part of organizing an area but it never fails to amaze me that as you move something, other things must be removed, and shift and shake down into new places.   And we wonder why our lives seem so full of upheaval when someone leaves, or a circumstance changes...Ha!  I think it must be a life thing, too,  don't you?  Everything left must shift and settle into new places, which changes everything and at the same time changes little but it feels like so much more, doesn't it?   There's just always that initial chaos and then settle, settle, settle down until everything is stable once more

John has been working on the music room closet which has been considerably emptied.  He was at it yesterday morning when I got up and he was at it most all the afternoon and went back about 8pm last night to put a few more things away.    By the time we were done yesterday evening, the house looked like it had never known a clean moment...yet I'd cleaned all day long!  I got the cabinet set to rights and dinner cleared up behind and then I sat down in my chair to read emails.  I figured the housework could wait.  It did.  It was right here this morning waiting on me still.

So when John left this morning, I tackled the house.  I did the laundry.  I washed a load of dishes.  I vacuumed all the floors.  I cleared surfaces and organized the new cabinet a little more and switched this piece here and that piece there.  All the time I was cleaning, I was also steadily getting ready to go over to Mama's today.  And good thing I had been, because in the middle of my cleaning, I walked past John's chest of drawers and my stomach sank...There was his wallet.

We have a couple of little rituals of a work morning.  I get up when John is dressed and ready to leave the room.  He begins his morning study while I pack his lunch and make his breakfast.  After breakfast, he gets out his daily meds and puts them in his pocket.  He puts on his shoes and gathers his things and I kiss him goodbye and then I ask, "Got your glasses, knife, wallet, keys, coffee, lunch?"  Only this morning, I didn't ask him anything.  I just kissed him again because we've had colds in our house that lasted about six weeks and I marveled that it had been a lot of mornings with out a proper goodbye kiss and he agreed and kissed me again.  I almost asked him when he made his final stop beside the back porch if he had everything, but reminded myself that he'd set up his uniform the night before.  Of course he had everything!  So off he went.  And two and half hours later, I find his wallet.

I called him to say I had the wallet and would bring it to him.  Naturally while I was putting on my makeup (five minute face this morning), he called to say they had a call and he was bringing a patient to a hospital near our home.  I told him I'd meet him there.  Things went to plan on that part but I was a good hour and half early for Mama's this morning.  I was however, nearer her home than mine at that point and it seemed reasonable to go on to Mama's, so I did.

Can I ask you all something?  I mean, seriously...does your mom ever say things that sounds fine on the surface to anyone overhearing but you know the background of seemingly innocent statements and so you are left in a state of angst?

I've never made it a secret that I have issues with my mom.  And I am well aware that when we have issues with others we must dig down hard and scrape at things to get them OUT, to prevent further damage to ourselves.   Here's more talk about organizing, even though I now am speaking of thoughts and feelings, can lead to those chaotic moments when other areas are disrupted and so  must be resettled. Today something was said that was Mama's version of the truth.   It has little resemblance to my knowledge of the situation as it is.  I explained to her why things are as they are...but in her criticism of another, I heard her past criticisms of myself in a situation over which I had NO control and for which she held me to be fully to blame.   A portion of my circumstance was similar in her own mind.  I felt my anger rise hard at the reminder of that past circumstance and how very difficult she made it for me because of her endless harsh criticism.  I told John later in a tearful voice that I truly despair of ever fully ridding myself of all the negative emotions and the sometimes very deeply buried anger I have with my mother.

I want to be done with it all.  I want to lay it down and walk away and never again think on it, but I remove one bundle of things and feel relief and then I find there's still more to deal with.  While I am not a hoarder of things, I am a hoarder of harder emotions and hurts and  I sincerely desire to declutter my soul.  I do.  I've worked hard at it.    I just didn't expect it to take all my adult life to do it.

Now let me lay that down because heaven knows I've carried it quite long enough today alone, forget all the years between,  and I am weary of it.  Just please do tell me 'It's not just you..."  if any of you feel you have the least idea of what I mean.

Do you know what I was thinking of this morning on my way to meet John at the hospital?  Angels singing on high and shepherds herding flocks.   What started this line of thought.  I saw the most adorable sheep here.  And while I love the size of the ones she shows it occurred to me that I have all these mini clothespins leftover from my window frame that would make adorable baby sheep.  And if I had those old fashioned peg clothespins I might make shepherds and all could adorn a small Christmas tree.   Shades of Christmas 2020 already dancing in my head...

Anyway, that set me off this morning.  I thought of the adorable sheep this girl made and about the shepherds and the song "Angels We Have Heard On High" began to filter through the thoughts and "The First Noel".  I thought about the text of the birth of Christ in which the angel appears to the  shepherds.  How they must have trembled!  Out in the dark fields, thinking they were alone and suddenly there is an angel, a light so bright that it 'shone around them'.  In the middle of a dark field...

If you live in the country then you can understand how startling this must have been.  I recall my sister in law coming in at dusk to tell John it was simply too dark out here, he needed flood lights, and she had been standing in the yard under the LED light which I have likened to the piercing eye of God in my own backyard.

So there are the shepherds watching over their sheep in the darkness, no light but that of the stars (and moon?  Scripture never says)...How symbolic is that?!  I know how darkness surrounded me until I saw the light for the first time.

There they were.  Watching in the darkness for danger and suddenly there is light shining all around them.  It must have been a bit like sunshine when they knew full well it was midnight, don't you think?    It was certainly odd enough that the angel said "Do not fear..." and after he made his announcement of the birth of the Savior, he was joined by 'a host' of angels.  Imagine the light then!   It was enough to make the shepherds believe that Christ had come.  It was enough they went to see the babe in the manger.  How could they ever be the same men after that?

It makes you think, doesn't it?  Have you ever noticed that every reference in the New Testament to shepherds and sheep thereafter is in the context of spiritual leaders and congregations?

Do you suppose one of those shepherds ever again looked at the darkness about them without remembering that angel appearing?  No, they probably didn't think of it every minute, but something like that must have been recalled at some point in most every night.  An incident such as that doesn't leave you the way it found you.

That was what I thought of this morning when my day was already turning itself around to be a day other than the one I planned.  And I think it's fitting I come back around to that this evening, with the sun setting, and the tree lit.  I gather peace to me like a warm robe on a cold, cold night and appreciate the day all over again.

Hurry along home dears.  I'll see you again before Christmas is truly here.

In My Home This Week: Fa La La La La

We're just in from church and have had our Sunday dinner.  It's been wet and cold all weekend long and we've been snug and warm in the house.  In my book, this is a perfect winter weekend, albeit that it's late fall.  It's been a cozy sort of weekend though I have yet to pick up a book.  There's just something about the glow of a Christmas tree on a grayish day and the lighting of the candles for Chanukah come evening to soothe the spirit.

I think, just possibly, this is part and parcel of the 'hygge' we've heard so much of the last year or so.  Pronounced 'hue-gah', this is a Danish word that essentially means a cozy sort of seasonal nesting that engenders a feeling of well being.   I am all for a word that encourages me to nestle in and get cozy...aren't you?  Most especially this time of year.  Christmas can be a rather crazy time of year if we let it, but it has the infinite possibility of contentment if we remember to take the time.   Hot cocoa on a rainy evening?  Yes please.  And a throw to snuggle down under when the evening cools the day still more.  And a stack of good books at my side.

Our Christmas service was today.  The adult and children choirs put on a special program and it was funny, and awesome and lovely and just right.  I've felt a little badly that I hadn't made much of a fuss over Chanukah this year, nor Christmas either really but it all feels perfectly right for this year.  Every bit of it.  And that's worth singing over!

I plan my work:

This week it is meant to be cool, but not too cold to consider going out to work in my shed which is what I really need to do.  I'd like to get a few things packed up and take to donate when I go over Mama's way early this week.

Make up rolls for Shabat and for holiday breakfast.

As things come in this week, assemble and put into place the new kitchen cabinet I've bought, remove our box springs and frame from our bed and set up the new one, shift things about in the guest room,  etc. The rooms are temporarily in disarray until things get settled into place once more.  All should be delivered by end of week, provided nothing is coming via Fed Ex in which case it could be whenever the mood strikes them to drive this way.

I'd very much like to complete my Christmas shopping and mailing off of packages that must go out this week.  Fortunately John is working two days this coming week and I shall have at least one day to do those things.  I'll spend one day with Mama attending to her shopping and try to think ahead to do what I can of my own holiday meals shopping while out.  I never count hard on that bit of shopping though as all too often I am overwhelmed with her need for help.

I also need to buy some fabric bins that will fit the new kitchen cabinet when it arrives for storage to go in it.  John needs storage bins for his music room closet.  He has finally determined to work on that space and hasn't got the equipment he needs to make it as neat as it could be and be more efficient with the space he has.

Zone work:
I plan to concentrate on bedrooms and baths this week.   I am admittedly all over the place of late with my homemaking.  I find myself tackling jobs wherever I see them but I am tending to the zone work areas first each week.

I plan meals:

Homemade Vegetable Pizza

Pot Roast, Steamed Broccoli, Rolls, Cheesecake

on my own xs 2, dinner out/leftovers

Chicken Pot Pie, cranberry sauce, Green Salad with Apples and Walnuts

Red Beans and Rice, Coleslaw, Corn Muffins

 Roast Beef Hash, Green Beans, Tomato Salad

I plan leisure:  

I really do mean to get together my favorite Christmas books...I haven't done it yet.  I'd also like to pull my vintage January women's magazines.  I've entirely skipped the November and December ones this year and I find I'm missing the reading through of those old magazines.

I found in my shed this past week some pretty tea cups with holly on them.  They are small and I find that drinking my usual amount of coffee (BIG mug) in these small cups often means I have several cups of coffee.  As well, it means that I concentrate on drinking the coffee because otherwise it gets cold pretty quickly.  This week I'm going to take time to have coffee each morning (at least the mornings I'm alone) in the living room with the tree lights on contemplating the season and the end of the year that is approaching and just soaking in the pretty lights.

In My Home This Week: Planning and Working and Working

Saturday:  Easy meal day.  Beef Stew and a cake were made yesterday.  All I had to do today was make a salad and cornbread.  That was one good pot of stew.  I almost think it's worthwhile to make it a day ahead and reheat slowly in the crockpot every time.

I'd thought I needed new ribbon on my Christmas tree.   I added several ornaments this morning and the tree looks full and lush and just right.  I won't be buying anymore ribbon.  When Katie came in she seconded my thought.

Realized today that I'd wanted to add touches of red to the living room, to sort of spread around the Christmas cheer, you know, and I had a red and white quilt in the bedroom and a red and white toile pillow and a red chenille pillow in the guest room and it seemed easy enough to move them to the living room.   I might well wish I had them in the guest room but then again there's plenty of red and white in there just now and it's easy enough to add a bit of holiday flair to that room without the pillows.

Sunday:  John's work day.  The usual routine to begin it: breakfast, coffee, lunch.

As soon as John left this morning I got busy with loading the dishwasher.  I was sure it would be full to the brim but there was enough room to wait another day before doing a load.  I was wiping the stove top when I discovered that the grates were quite greasy.  Into the dishwasher with them and that did fill it up.  I air dried them.

Worked on bills and balancing checkbook.  I'm very aware of how much spending has gone on of late and yet, I can also see that none of it was frivolous or mindless spending.  It all had purpose.  Just the same, I am glad we have holiday pays this last month.  We will need that added boost to our accounts.

I went out to the shed and brought in a bin and stumbled upon an item I was sure I had donated.  So happy to discover I had not and it was still in my keeping.  It's now on my mantel...that big platter right in the middle:
It will all look a bit more festive when I hang the Christmas cards as they come in.  It will help fill the space, too.

I cleaned the living room deeply, except for vacuuming.  The day got away from me on that one.  As I cleaned,  I tried to decorate.  I'm not entirely satisfied but it's dissatisfaction with what isn't done rather than with what was done.  I've discovered that quite a few things I had were just plain tatty, many falling apart in my hands as I touched them.  I filled a trash bag full of things from one bin but managed to salvage enough to get the mantel, dining table and buffet decorated today.

It's really a good thing John has that dumpster coming because I cannot get to most of my Christmas stuff because I've got things to donate stacked in front of those bins.  I need to move that donation stuff into the car trunk, so I can get to the stuff that must come out of the shed.  I feel a bit overwhelmed looking at it all but it will be so much nicer when I'm down to the things I really want and not all the excess things that I see when I'm out there.  As I contemplated a bunch of the donation stuff I was glad that I never paid that much for any of it...but it's time to let it go to a home that will appreciate it if it's nice and to let go of what isn't nice.

Back indoors this morning, I sat down to cool off.  It's incredible that we were barely over 44 three days last week and today the AC has been coming on since noon.  It was heavy and humid out and I got really warm while working.   While I was cooling off, I contemplated the foods I might make for our family day, jotted down a few gift ideas for various ones, made out a baking list of cookies and wrote out a long to do list for today, too.

It was sunny early in the morning and I jumped right into washing the bed linens and towels, thinking I'd get to hang them out.  While they were washing I went to work on mopping the kitchen floor.  Then the sky clouded over, the humidity set in and the floors stayed wet for the longest time.  I knew the laundry would do the same if put on the line, so I dried them in increments in the dryer.   Not sorry I mopped that kitchen, because it really needed it pretty badly but definitely prefer a less humid day to do that task.

I did a routine cleaning and straightening on the living room, dining room and front entry.  I dusted the furniture and wiped off the tables with a warm soapy cloth.    I haven't bought anything for the d├ęcor this year and after thinking it over long and hard, I ordered four red placemats and eight napkins.  The napkins and mats will be nice for year round use but I certainly can use them both for Christmas and what's more I have another lovely set of napkins in a bin in the shed that will be nice for Christmas with those mats.  And yes, I am the same woman who just spoke of how much money we've spent of late.  Never fear. If I'm going to be indulgent, I will be paying from my private funds, not from the household accounts.

I had turkey and mushrooms and spinach in the fridge.  I knew it was time to use them.  Unfortunately,  I was too late on the spinach.  Not my only waste today.  As I was getting the mop bucket out, I smelled a bad onion.  That went into the compost along with the spinach.

The turkey, mushrooms and the last of a box of spaghetti made a pan of Turkey Tettrazini for the freezer and a dish of same for my own lunch as I had leftover pasta, extra mushrooms and turkey and made a bit extra of the veloute sauce.

Folded clothes, put away the dishes, washed another sink of dishes, and finished the decorating I will do for today.   They filled my day, all these odd jobs and I stayed busy, but I took just enough breaks through the day that I didn't crash early.  I was still going strong at 5pm but every job should have a quite time and my housekeeping day stopped at 5pm.  I was happy I had all the makings of a salad ready to go.  All I had to do was dice meat for it and that was easily done.  I waited until after I'd lit our first Chanukah candle tonight to have my salad supper.   Then I lit the votives on the mantel and ate supper by candle and tree lights.  Quite lovely with the sun setting outside the living room window.

Monday:  I slept a little bit late this morning.  I'd just sat up in bed when John called to say he was on his way home.  I had enough time for a cup of coffee before he arrived and had breakfast prepped and ready to cook.

I reheated grits.  Grits are funny things.  Once cold they all clump up.  I heated the leftover grits in a little milk.  Once warm I was able to mash the clumps with a fork and they separated and made a nice creamy dish once more.

I was telling John about the mess in my shed.  He was unsympathetic and almost short in his reply which sort of upset me even though I did agree with what he had to say.  I went straight out after loading up the breakfast dishes and went to work.   Now the big items that need to go into the skip are at the front of the shed...and about half the shed is cleaner.  The rest needs to be moved and that area cleaned but I did quite enough today.  It took me more or less three hours.  I'm seriously considering trying to save one item and just as determined to NOT be swayed about throwing away another.  I am sure there are smaller items that need to go as well but I didn't look at small things today.  I was determined to just concentrate on moving those big things.  Now they are up in the front of the shed and will be easily moved into the dumpster.

Lunch for today ended up being frozen chicken pot pies (a premium brand) and peach salad with canned asparagus.   I sat and rested while the pot pies baked.

My knee has been bothering me again and is determined to ache now that I've stood for hours.  I sat down after lunch with a heating pad on my knee.

John has opted to work a half shift tomorrow, from 7a to 7p.   I am not upset about this since he's got Wednesday off.  It does change getting groceries to later in the week since he won't pick up his check and deposit it until he's at work tomorrow.  No point in wasting gas to go down today when he's got to go tomorrow.   I have reworked my plans.  I did not expect to have a second day alone this week and I am grateful for the opportunity to get more work done than I'd thought I might.

That photo I showed of our mantel yesterday...Well that beautiful platter does not work on that mantel at all.  It doesn't show up in the candlelight or in lamplight.  It is lovely but it's got to go.  I found my old blue and white tin platter while working in the shed this morning and I think I shall use that instead.

Tuesday:  Oh dear. I've had one of those days.  You know.  If it can go wrong or aggravate it likely will?   That was my day today.  I've waited patiently on an order from Chewy which is an excellent service for pet supplies and it's being held in Macon by Fed Ex whom I LOATHE and no kidding.  If we're to miss receiving a package it's almost always sent Fed Ex in our area.  So the form plainly shows that the dog food has been sitting in Macon since Saturday.  I called Chewy and was told that it was being held because the service had stated it was 'too busy'.  I am frustrated because my purpose in ordering from them is because I find it a real chore to lift a 50pound bag of food umpteen times from store to car/car to porch/porch through house to lift and pour into the bin.  Ordering saves me a lot of labor, costs me the same or less than the store price and I only have to move it from porch through the house to the bin.  Now I'm thinking I shall have to go buy food after all.  I can complain all I like to Chewy but it isn't their fault, nor can they use another delivery system as Fed Ex has a contract with them.  Ugh.

I noted on John's check stub that the overtime he earned this year had increased our annual salary.  So I went online to change my current application for health care and insure that I was making the proper payment at the first of the year.  My payment increase 1.5 times over what I'd thought I'd be paying.   Then I immediately received notice that GPSHC will cancel my insurance if I do not immediately provide proof of income...Cancellation with three weeks to go on my current policy?  Seriously?  Well yes, they are serious.  I was told a few years ago to NEVER provide any information that changed your current policy by one of the employees of the group but it didn't occur to me that updating an application for next year's coverage was going to jeopardize me for the remainder of this year.   And even more frustrating they ask if you are sure you will earn the same in 2019.  Well, no, I'm not but I can't very predict what we will make as I've no clue at present and I must have an income amount in order to get the policy in the first place.  Ugh.

I went through the house this morning cleaning and looking hard at things.  John had told me to be sure I put everything I want out into that skip when it arrives.  I realized that we'd meant all along to replace the small armoire we use in the kitchen but at the time I'd been ready to order one, John asked me to hold off.  Well the skip arrives tomorrow.   The armoire sits there, as broken and battered as ever.  It needs to go.   So I sat down and ordered a new one.  I noted the address in the billing area but didn't look at the shipping.  My address is set as the default address.  The last order I placed was to be sent to my address, and indeed that package arrived today.  It wasn't until I looked at the email copy that I saw the armoire was being shipped to my former son-in-law...Crud!!  I desperately looked for a way to change this information and guess what?  There was not one on Amazon.  There was an area where you could send an email to the company fulfilling the order.  I sent them an email and then received notice that it takes up to three days for these emails to go through.  If I couldn't correct this in time, it would mean undeserved trouble for son in law who would have to haul the thing to UPS to return it, I'd have to wait for credits to go through before  could get another, etc.  UGH. Sick to my stomach with frustration at this point and absolutely loathing the amount of tricky troubles I'd had to deal with all the morning long.  When I shared my day with John later he was completely unsympathetic, laying full blame on my shoulders for each trouble.  Deserved perhaps in this last instance but still...

John worked a half day today.  He didn't take his lunch by his own choice.  I did make him breakfast and send him off with coffee however.   His work day means an extra early start to my day.  I'd been super frustrated and worked harder than I might ought to have done and completely screwed up by not eating enough breakfast, forgetting my morning medication which I'd slipped into my jacket pocket and then had a crash after eating my lunch.

Wednesday:  P.S. to yesterday:  By the time he came in from work I was feeling pretty fragile and to have him irritable was the final straw. UGH.  I sat down and played a game on the computer then went to bed and fell right to sleep.  ENOUGH of this day!!

No Chewy order by day's end yesterday either.  UGH.  Well never mind.  John texted me while I was out dropping off mail and going to the bank and dollar store to say the skip had arrived.  Shortly after he texted again to say that the Chewy order had arrived.  Will I order from them again?  The prices are awfully good...and customer service is excellent as I know from Bess and Virginia.   And it is not Christmas all year round, but I might use someone else.  At least for the next month or so I don't have to worry about it.

So John stayed home to await the skip (and Chewy order) and I went off to run errands.  It was cold outdoors!  The ground had been heavily frosted this morning, so much so it looked like snow.  The air was very crisp.  I was glad I had on several layers of clothing.

I went to drop off mail, and having forgotten it was Wednesday, thought I was going to pick up stamps and money orders.  Oh well.  I went by the bank and then over to the Dollar Store to pick up a few gift bag items for the children.  When I came in with the bags in my hand John asked if I'd gotten things for the children. I answered I had.   Then he later told me I was going over budget.  I'd spent under $20 total and reminded him that come family day he would be the one who bemoaned the lack of gifts under the tree, which he hotly denied.  In future, I shall keep a stash of inexpensive gifts on hand but not buy specifically for anyone and if he wants to forgo that gift, fine.  If he wants to have something to give, we'll have it.

On my way home, I went by the local restaurant which we want to help support but the special today was Pulled Pork BBQ.  I went by the local grocery instead and found four 4packs of  ground chuck burgers marked down to $2.49 each.  I bought all four packs, a ripe tomato and a packet of cookies for John's sweet tooth and spent no more than I'd have spent for two BBQ sandwiches.  I will wager I went through the grocery, drove home and cooked the burgers in about the same time it would have taken me to wait on my order in the crowded restaurant.   I put all the extra burgers in the freezer in packs of two for future quick meals.   I was quite pleased with the meat which was not overly greasy.

I was meant to keep the boys today.  Josh came home sick from school and John said no thanks to having them here.  I offered to go up to keep them.  It was a pleasant afternoon with the two boys and I enjoyed it.  I told John the thing that amazes me is I never know what will trigger their fun imaginations.  Today, of all things, it was a Piggly Wiggly sales paper.  Just a folded sheet of colored newsprint.  I was asked to read the paper to them.  Josh and I discussed the foods pictured and whether or not we liked them.  Isaac talked to the Pig on the front of the page.  He spread it on the floor and stomped on it.  He spread it on the table and looked and looked at it.  Josh was fascinated by trying to fold it up in the same way it had been when it arrived in the mail.  He then folded it several times over and finally, when it tore he gave me one sheet and he kept one for himself.  Isaac reached up and grabbed the paper I was holding and it tore in half along the fold line.  At that point we all started draping the paper over our heads, admiring each other's  long hair...That was a solid 45 minutes of play with a sales ad.

Poor Josh looked so little to me today.  He felt much better this afternoon but he had that weak look that comes with illness.  Isaac apparently felt much better.  He delights just now in randomly yelling at me "Mamama!"  or yelling at my phone "Ampa!"    I enjoyed my afternoon with the boys and they enjoyed the phone calls from Grampa who video called with them.

Thursday:  More and more of an evening, John is watching Netflix or Prime and little or no cable television.  This makes me happy.  I think we're ever nearer clipping that satellite tv from our budget.
We went to Aldi this morning and I spent a chunk of change, but reminded myself it was my first spending for December.  And we've plenty of money left for the rest of the month.  There were so many tempting pretty and delicious looking things, but I kept a restraining hand upon myself.   Today was meant to be a grocery day, not a Christmas shopping day!  The total was higher than usual but as I reminded John when he asked about 'the budget' we haven't been to Aldi in over a month, so naturally it's high.  I don't buy at other stores what I can buy at Aldi for we had quite a lot of things to purchase today.

I did a little bit of stocking up, mostly on baking items that were very well priced for less than usual.  I purchased two big chuck roasts for $2.99/pound and cut each in half when I got them home.  That's four pot roasts large enough for us to eat two or three times from each.

John and I stopped for Chinese takeout on our way home.

After lunch and putting groceries away, we went to work clearing the back porch and my shed and putting items into the skip.  All but two pieces are out of house now.  One is an armoire in the kitchen.  I've ordered a replacement for that piece.  The other is a perfectly good dresser that I do not like.  It was left here and it's been used here but I have no real place for it.  When Sam came to help John move the mattress from the guest room, they started to take the dresser out and Sam asked if they might have it for the boys.  I'd offered it before and was told they didn't want it but minds can change.  I said my only stipulation was that it be removed this week.

John was shocked to discover the skip is about half full already, even with him breaking down the furniture into flat pieces.   He's suggested we go ahead and throw away the guest bed mattress and order another of the foam mattresses.  They are certainly affordable enough...

He's also suggested we start looking for a new coffee maker.  Ours has been great for all these years we've had it but in the past six months or so we've noticed odd little things.  The clock changes time, it doesn't turn on  or it won't turn off at times.  I've had it for about 9 years now so likely it does need to be replaced.  John has a specific brand he'd like to buy.  I've agreed but I must say the one we've had has been an excellent machine.

The Christmas ads playing have tempted me sorely with things like a Cuisinart griddle.  Oh gracious now there's an appliance I'd enjoy.  However, I can't buy it just now.  I have other obligations to meet this month.  I'm with John...It would be nice to see these sorts of commercials at other times of the year.  Well, I've got my eye on that item.  And I've got my eye on a couple of appliances I've never used that I'd really like to rehome.  County Yard Sale site...Look for me in January!

Friday:  I'd meant to go by post office today but decided against it.  I set the bag of things to be mailed in my car.  I will go by the post office on Tuesday morning on my way to Mama's and mail things off then.

We went to Katie's this morning to do yard work.  I carried my blower and worked at clearing the deck and carport and back sidewalk.   John cut some shrubs and a rosebush back and took down a small dead tree and a smaller live one growing up in the middle of a huge camellia.  The more we do in the yard there at Mama's old house, the more apparent is the overall neglect of the place.  And yet each time we've worked an hour or two we've seen a noticeable difference.  It's both heartening and disheartening all at once.  I bagged the stuff we cut last time and rolled the trash to the curb.  These are all things Katie might do, but with her work hours is unable to get to.  I hope when she's done training her hours improve.

We came home to tend to household things.  I mixed leftover chili mac with leftover soup (beef and tomato based) and we had a hearty hot lunch quite easily.   While that food heated, I loaded the dishwasher, cleaned and swept the bathroom and did general pick up and clean up.

Finally convinced John that a new foundation was absolutely necessary under our new mattress.  We sleep really well on that new mattress but our box springs is broken and you can feel the difference when we're both in the bed.  I found a very reasonable foundation at  While there I looked about a bit and discovered I could get a mattress for the guest bed quite reasonable.   I will go ahead and toss the one on that bed while we have a skip to put it in.  I've wanted to replace that mattress for a good ten years or more.  It was a very old and lumpy mattress when we got it.  It's one more old thing that needs to go.  These funds will also come from my personal savings, as most furnishings usually do.  That will about end my savings.  I think it was well spent this year and now I get busy and try to save!

What did you do to save this week?

In My Home This Week: December to Dream and Plan

In my home this week...

Katie and Taylor were here for a good part of the afternoon.  What a great time John had!  Today, after three years of patiently waiting on his part, was the day that Taylor suddenly decided that Grampa was more than all right.  Today she followed him about, sat near him to play, chattered at him non-stop and referred to him as Grampa and willingly gave him a good hug when it came time to say "Goodbye".   I have become "Gramma Gramma", always doubled.

In MyHome This Week: A Cheerful Homemaker

Thursday:  A quiet enough holiday for us.  I made our special breakfast and we've agreed that while we love sausage balls they are just a bit much, too bready,  with a sweet roll.  I think we need to find an acceptable sausage or breakfast meat that will work for us that is not our usual fare but something we save for special occasions.

I baked the chicken, sweet potato casserole and dressing this morning and made chicken gravy.  I packed everything up spanking hot and wrapped the dishes in a thick towel and loaded it into our insulated bag.  Do you know that the chicken was still warm in it's dish when we brought it back home?  This works incredibly well for packing a hot meal.    We had a nice meal with Mama and it was just the three of us but we heard from all of our young families during the day.

Coffee Chat: Happy At Home

It's very early but come in for coffee just the same.   I'd planned to visit Katie before she left for work this morning but her hours changed slightly for the rest of this week and so that visit was cancelled.  I'd looked forward to it but I understand that work comes first as well it ought.

So there's the coffee and creamer in the fridge.  Have a cup and let us sit for a bit before the day begins.  I have an idea of what I'd like to do today but it's very early and the day looks long from this place, lol.  Hope you don't mind the Christmas music this morning.  I felt in the mood for something peppy and cheerful.

In My Home This Week: Christmas Came Early

We had a quiet holiday dinner with Mama and a long visit after.  Mama had tuned into the Hallmark Channel where Christmas movies played non-stop.  I know many love those Hallmark movies, but I don't find them as entertaining as some.  I think it's because over the years it's become less special and more "How many movies can we put together for the season?"    But I do remember enjoying them when I was younger.  Did they have more depth then?  Or was it because they were saved for a special time?   And who besides me loved the Kraft theater?   I remember those special seasonal movies and the recipes that came in the commercials, all of which sounded delicious.  That too was another time though, when Kraft only featured a product or two that was an ingredient but the recipes were real ones, not just a combination of so many products from the same company.

Coffee Chat: Christmas is Near

Hello dears.  Come in, come in.  I've those lovely spicy and crisp Spekulatis cookies from Aldi to go with our hot cups of coffee o...