Diary of a Homemaker's Week: Well Done!

 


Saturday:  I was asked to keep Caleb today and so I'd sort of prepared the house the night before.   I might as well not have bothered because he only got into places where he'd normally not get into and didn't both but one of the places where he typically does get into.   Mostly though, he played happily with the toys.  He and Millie both love the toy dish set which I keep separated from the other toys in a separate little bin.  That was what he chose to play with first, just as Millie did yesterday.

Then he likes to look into the toy box and pull out a few things but he never plays with them.  He just wants to get them out.  



Off to the kitchen to play with the  plastic containers.  He'll put one inside the other and spread them all over the kitchen.  And finally he'll come over and play with the puppy walker and the box of toys meant for the babies.  Then he will go right back to the start, the box of dishes and go round the circle of chosen play spots  all over again.

The one thing that I found terribly funny is that at home he has a little car he likes to ride on, but the puppy is a walking toy, meant to help the littles walk.   But he wanted to ride it and when he found that once he'd climbed on it, he couldn't make it go, he screamed at me until I rescued him.  It seems he can go UP just fine but getting down again is an issue.  

He was really sweet and I enjoyed every minute of his stay with us.  Millie and Isaac yesterday and Caleb today...I think I've had my fill of baby love for a few days but boy has it been nice!

Sunday:  Up early so we could get to church on time and we did make it but only just in time this morning.   After church I needed to pick up a prescription but there was an hour to kill between pharmacy opening and end of church service.  We headed over to Lowes to pick up a couple of items which multiplied into five.   We did very well restraining ourselves.  The place was crowded and since we went to the garden center to check out we found people piling carts FULL of flowering plants just loads of them.  I was overwhelmed with the work I saw was awaiting them when they all got home.  

It was quite warm already and I couldn't imagine working in the yard when I got home but there they all were buying loads of things to go home and plant.  Who could blame them?  It was warm but so beautiful and there were flowers everywhere.  It was hard not to buy things myself.

So what did I buy?  A new flag to replace mine should it give in to decay as they are want to do, two cans of spray paint to paint the shelves in the kitchen, two packets of Rudbeckia seeds.  I want to fill the one flower bed to the maximum with seeds this year.  In my mind's eye, I see it bulging and spilling over.  Here's hoping!

We went by the grocery and picked up Gatorade on sale.  I have a big tub of the dry mix but find it is awfully sweet.  We bought some low and zero sugar types.   Ice cream was a BOGO item. John decided we should try the lactose free Breyer's Ice cream and I have to say, I'm sold.  It's really quite good and while I don't think (yet) that I'm lactose intolerant I found I had no  digestive issues with it.   I got a bag of Tangelos because the ones we carried to Florida were so very good.  And that was it, besides the prescription I went in to pick up.    Oh yes, we grabbed a couple of deli items for lunch at home.  

And then we came home where I collapsed in my chair and John collapsed in his and we both took a nap.  That was the whole day.  Just easy as it could be.  Supper was a quick grab from the freezer.  The whole day was relaxed and easy and just what we needed.

Monday:  I woke late this morning, but it was a hard deep sleep and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was just what I needed.   The weather is oppressive at the moment, heavy with humidity and John tells  me the rain came in early this morning.  

 I stripped the bed this morning and washed sheets and towels.  I had a long list of things I wanted to get done, nearly all in the kitchen.  I bit off more than I could chew and that's the truth.  And it has proven to be a disappointing day in some ways.   Was it the weather?  Too much at once?  Both?

Well, I'll back up and start again.  I stripped the bed and started a load of wash right away.  I made us breakfast and scrolled through Instagram while I had coffee.

After breakfast, I remade the bed and put out fresh towels in our bathroom.  I started bread in the bread machine and bagel dough in another bowl.  I mixed up Dinette cake batter for mini Pineapple Upside Down cakes and Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, with extra batter put into the loaf pan.  

I started eggs boiling and in the same water later, I boiled the Bagels and then when I'd boiled those I poured in Macaroni and cooked that.

I made tuna pasta salad and sliced Turkey breast that had thawed and I made Turkey Salad.

And somewhere in there I got supper in the crock pot...and indoor and outdoor plants watered. 

But the pineapple upside down cakes sort of exploded and flopped.  The Poppy Seed loaf came out crispy on top and the muffins stuck to the pan.  The bread stuck to the pan too and the bagels were slightly over cooked.   Oh well...the Tuna pasta salad turned out great and the bite I took of turkey salad before I put it in the fridge was pretty good.

I found, in my digging in the fridge for salad ingredients, a half can of chick peas I'd opened a week or so ago and so I tossed them into the tuna pasta salad.  I didn't have many things to put in that salad and  I wanted something more to go in it.  I am not sorry I added them.  The chick peas, in my opinion, have no flavor, but they did add some needed texture to the tuna pasta salad.   John was so happy!  He said I'd combined two of his favorite things...so there you are.  Usually he's upset because I have experimented with his favorite dish but he had nothing but praise for it today.

After lunch, there was a third huge pile of dishes in the sink but all I wanted to do was sit and rest.  And then I remembered the laundry, which was still in the washer.  Oy!

After I'd started the sheets drying, I did sit and rest.  And later when the obnoxious dryer buzzer went off I went into the kitchen to get it and saw that stack of dishes.  Surely I could get that out of the way...and get the rice and green beans ready for supper.   Well the darn sink backed up.  I plunged and plunged and plunged and finally I had to stop John playing guitar to come help me.   He plunged and plunged and plunged and we got it unstopped but it took quite a lot of work.  It's all soap scum that has it blocked and it's my own fault because I haven't treated the drains routinely as I should have done.  Well I will from now on.

And if the messy dishes weren't enough to deal with the mess we made splashing water everywhere certainly messed things up very well indeed.  Ugh.

Never mind.  Supper is cooked and waiting on me.  John put on a silly good movie, with Bea Arthur called "First Love".    Not the greatest movie in the world nor the worst.  Silly but not stupid.  It brought up some good questions about what a woman wants at 40 and what a woman wants at 60 and what men are looking for in their partners.   It was refreshing to have a story of mature love without it stemming from a sexual contact right off the bat.  

But then the movie was made for TV back in 1988 and things were portrayed much differently then than now...and to think we thought it risque back in 1988!  Another example of how the frog ended up being boiled, isn't it?

Tuesday:  I was up before John this morning and settled in to read.  I've been reading two books at once since Saturday.   I have both  The Honor Girl by Grace Livingston Hill and The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge going and it's because the second book is quite heavy for me at the moment as I've had to face a few facts of life (which I shared in this week's Neighborly Chat).   The other is not all dandelion fluff but not so heavy so I needed it to balance out the time spent with the Elliot Family and their guest.  Indeed.  I think, after finishing this Goudge book which completes the trilogy I started a couple of months or so ago, I shall read another author for a bit.  Perhaps get back to Miss Read or D. E. Stevenson perhaps.

However, this morning, I tackled The Heart of the Family and made breakfast, then settled back to finish off The Honor Girl before I went to do proper work.   Somehow, though it wasn't really in my plans when I rose, I had to get outdoors and so I tilled up and weeded the Shed Flower bed where I've dreamed of a lovely overflowing border of flowers and then planted it full of every seed I had in the house.  But not Zinnias because for some inexplicable reason I had NO Zinnias and I can't imagine why on earth not.   

When I returned to the back porch to rest and cool off from the humidity, John smiled sweetly at me and asked "Did you just plant that bed with seed?"  I nodded.  He smiled bigger.  "Well there's a bird dashing in there gobbling them up!"  I groaned.  I told him, "Never mind.  I'm going to buy Zinnias this week and put out there and I'll just pick up a dozen or so more packets of seeds and plant them too and cover them all so the birds can't see them."  Perhaps they've left me something.

I don't know what anyone has experienced with seeds of late but the packets I had might have contained 1/16 of a teaspoon of seeds and I'm being generous in that estimate.   That shed flower bed is the only place I choose to plant  seeds and I am trying to gather seeds from plants but someone I've lost all my Zinnia seeds I collected last year.  Mindful now of the cost and the scant supply in a packet, I'll try my best to collect seeds from here forward.

After I'd rested a bit, I came indoors and tackled the dishwasher and made the bed and then I went to my chair, while John was outdoors messing with the mower and decided to get that Neighborly Chat post finished up.  I started it on Saturday but I wasn't done thinking it over so I had to wait until today to finish it and I most certainly needed full concentration to say what I wanted to say.   John came in along about 1pm and I suggested we have lunch.

He asked for the tuna pasta salad again.  He wanted it on crisp lettuce leaves this time and that's how I served it on a plate full of lettuce.  He ate it right up.  He kept telling me how very much he liked chick peas in it so I shall have to be sure and keep a supply on hand for future Tuna pasta salads.

After that he went back outdoors to fight with the mower.  I swear it is a continual battle to keep it up and running.  Today he had to replace one of the new spindles which had broken last week and then he had to replace a blade.  He was all set to mow when he noted he had a flat tire.  Sam borrowed the air compressor a couple of weeks ago and it hasn't found it's way home yet, so John had to go there to blow up his tire.   Poor man...He walked about doing weed eating and the heat and humidity were almost too much for him and now he's mowing.     I'll just bet he's not going to want a hot supper tonight either...but I do!  I do like my hot meal every day.  I'll see if I can make some sort of reasonable compromise that will suit us both.

While John was out doing yard things, I decided that I would tackle every little thing I've put off doing in the past few weeks. I made a firm lunch date with Mama.  I needed to give myself a pedicure as mine was looking very shabby.  I wanted to make that venison sausage.  I needed to make a phone call reporting an income change to the insurance provider.   I had to track down some records regarding a subscription I said I'd paid, and the lady at the paper said I hadn't but was reinstating the subscription anyway.   

I was dreading every single one of those things, even the pedicure.  I decided that I wasn't going to let these things hang over my head any longer.   I tackled them one right after the other and in a hour's time I'd done them all rather painlessly and pulled summer things forward in my wardrobe. 

I didn't worry about doing everything perfectly.  I didn't do a full on pedicure, I just put on a fresh coat of polish.   I decided that was good enough for today.  I made the phone call at a slow hour  and had to hold the line only 1 minute.  The result was that even with an increased income there was NO extra charge each month.   I checked my check registers two months before and two months behind the month I swore I'd made the subscription payment and no, I didn't, so I wrote an apology email and then I sat down and made out a check to drop right in the mail and another note thanking her for her kindness.   I mixed up what I liked best that was in my seasoning cupboard and dumped it in the venison and we'll see how that tastes tomorrow.   And finally I discovered that after the big clearing out of my closet this past winter, I have only 10 items to wear all summer long.  It seems rather silly to set up outfits when it's obvious I'll be limited.  I have another Stitch Fix box coming in June so we'll see how that one goes before I say it's time to shop.

And that's been my day, just a whole lot of pushing myself to do things that I have mostly been putting off doing.    

Wednesday:  The weather is cooler and cloudy.  We've been in a rainy portion of the week, all due to change tomorrow.  When we went to bed last night it was rainy and thundering, a state that has been ongoing for the past three nights.   

I didn't have much gumption this morning and I can't tell you why not, but I just didn't.  I didn't want to do anything at all.  However, that weekly to do list on my blog raised it's head and demanded I do something.   So I dragged myself from the chair and got to work.

I cleared the kitchen floors so I could sweep and mop.  I stacked dishes in the sink, then removed the items on the two decorative shelves and took them off the walls. I found not only the shelves needed to be cleaned but so did the walls behind and just under them.    This also prompted me to get busy and clean the underside of the stove hood, soak the filter on the vent and remove the light cover which looks pretty horrid as it's discolored over the years.  

Then I cleaned out the fridge and finally after all that, I swept and mopped the kitchen floor.  And no, I didn't want to do it anymore when I finally got to it than I did before I started it.  Some days you just don't want to do what needs to be done.  

I fretted and worried all last night and again this morning over what we'd have for dinner tonight.  It finally occurred to me I'd not only made a menu but I'd made a copy and put on my fridge.  I had an easy meal right there on the menu and that is what we shall be having tonight.   It requires little of me and I like it all the more for that.

Thursday:  I succumbed to the not feeling good that was ongoing yesterday and spent all afternoon in my chair doing nothing at all but sighing.  I had the most painful jaw/ear that I've ever had.  It was so bad that John fetched me a prescription pain reliever which made me feel drugged but not any less pain.  Ugh.   When it came suppertime he didn't want the item I had that was meant for supper.  I offered a compromise meal and then discovered I hadn't enough of one item to make that either and so I made a third offering.

That was all fine and well but somewhere in there we crossed wires, I was very rude and disrespectful and let my pain get ahead of my tongue and said something I shouldn't have and he sulked.   Just as supper was ready and it wasn't the sort of supper you could hold over and keep warm.   I ate alone and apologized for my rudeness and reminded him that church service would air in a few minutes, so he came out of the music room to eat and listen to the sermon but things weren't fun in the least in my home last night.  

I was still in deep pain and worrying about why I was having the pain in the first place.  I don't know about the rest of you 60 somethings but it does seem this year it's been one complaint after another and heaven help us if we look up a symptom online because it's always possible that it's this or that and everything is dire and you'd best see a doctor now.

What I did do was toddle off to bed with an over the counter combination of pain relievers that eased the pain finally and put me right to sleep.

John was still moody this morning.   Mind you all, he's been going through his own little shadowy lane recently and with good reason.  We've just passed the anniversary of his youngest son's death and while John doesn't grieve for him he doesn't forget him or what he missed of his short life either. He had had a difficult time fixing the mower that broke down again and  with a couple of other family concerns ongoing as well, we were both just primed last night for sharp words and we got 'em.

I was up far earlier than I supposed I might be but I guess if you sleep the night through you actually feel rested and want to arise.  The pain was slight compared to yesterday and over the counter pain relievers knocked it down to nothing once more.  I've continued dosing myself fairly regularly today when I can tell the pain is coming back.  It is thankfully nothing like yesterday when I would happily have put my head down and cried hard if it hadn't seemed so unwomanly.

After John left the house (golf and lunch with his best friend and former partner), I took the two kitchen shelves out and painted them.   I showered and dressed after and went off to run errands which proved frustrating.   The items I wanted and hoped to find were no longer available.   One store had only one clerk who was busy with another customer.   In what I thought was a kindness, I chose to use the self check out.   Gracious will those things EVER work right?   The poor clerk had to come unlock the register three or four times and finally said, "Just go to register one and I'll check you out..."   And here I'd been trying to save her the trouble.

Our lunch order was wrong.   Another store had none of two items Mama specifically wanted.  At her home I forgot to put the outgoing mail in the box, so I had to go back to do that and then I pulled up too close for her to get into her own walkway and had to move the car again.   Just a day of minor irritations but please tell me why these days always follow on the heels of what was a bad day the day before?   

I found myself muttering darkly on the way home, irritated with John's mood, irritated with Mama, irritated with myself, irritated with every.single.thing.   Ugh.   Not even my standard treat of a Starbucks cup of coffee on the way home put me right because you see...It wasn't hot.  It was only just warm.  Sigh.

That's the way it goes...Tomorrow may it all be much better.

Friday:  Here we are and the week is almost done.   Deep and happy sigh.  The good days were good, the bad parts are over and I can look back with some sense of accomplishment.  Did I do absolutely every thing on my list?  No I did not, but I made progress in many areas and that is good enough.   One thing that She's In Her Apron, Kimberly Hughes says often in her vlogs is "POP"  which stands for Progress Over Perfection.  I've made progress!

Last night I sat down and did something that might seem quite reasonable to some and rather silly to others but it was a treat I gave myself.  I'm giving myself a Mother's Day gift.  I bought seeds online.  I got two rather old fashioned things, one is called Balsam and the other is Achimenes and I ordered a variety of Zinnias to put into my flower bed.  Then I went on to order two of another plant, Rose Campion.   The Balsam will go in the shed bed as well but the Achimenes will be potted up and set on the porches and I'll try to find a suitable spot to plant the Campion.  I used to have some in a flower bed and it returned annually but I may decide to put this in a pot this year.

Have you ever heard of Balsam or Achimenes or Campion?  




Aunt Mary Jo gave me seeds one here that she called "Touch Me Nots".   They were lovely and I enjoyed them.   Apparently they are called Impatiens Balsamina.    She had gotten seed from one of the aunts (my great aunts...they were always passing seeds about).   I thought they would be easy to find but it took years before I finally knew their name and then it was purely an accident.  A few years ago, I printed off old seed packets from the internet to hang on my living walls and one was for a flower simply called 'Balsam'.  I stood looking at the picture and realized it was "Touch Me Nots".    Now they are sometimes called by their old fashioned "Touch Me Not" name online so they are more easily found.  

The Achimenes Grandmother used to call "Blue Bells".   Hers were deep purple and I simply loved them.  I stumbled on the name in a seed catalog years ago but I'd keep forgetting it.   All I could remember when I went to search for them was that the proper name began with an "A" and they grew from what looked like tiny fir cones (actually a rhizome, I know now after seeking high and low yesterday evening).   Not one sight lists them as "Blue Bells" as she called them.   

According to online sources they are called "Stars of India", "Hot Water Plant", "Widows Tears", "Magic Flowers", or "Cupid's Bower" and they have been cultivated since the 1700's.  The age of the plants doesn't surprise me in the least.   Again, Grandmother and her sisters and her husband's sisters and sister in laws would all have shared plants and pass along plants were a big thing in that family.   

I hadn't had Achimenes in nearly 40 years, y'all because I couldn't find them under the one name that Grandmother called them "Blue Bells".  It's possible that was merely a local name for a common houseplant.   I was so happy last night to suddenly have a flash of memory that led me to the plants by their Achimenes name.   The variety I ordered are referred to as "Stars of India".   Grandmother always harvested and saved the rhizomes over winter and replanted them so I shall likely do the same with these.

The Rose Campion was a pass along plant from my Aunt Mary to Granny.   They too relied heavily on Pass Along Plants to 'furnish' the copious flower beds in their yards and they often gave each other things which meant that once I started keeping flowers, they were occasionally also passed to me.   I simply loved the Rose Campion but eventually we lost the space where it was planted to the back porch and then I was never able to find it again because we simply called it 'Campion' and no one seemed to carry it.  I found most of the seeds I'm purchasing at Etsy by the way...which is just our modern day way of acquiring Pass Along Plants!  I think I'm going to plant them in front of the rose bushes which gets full sun.  My reading said they are akin to Pinks or Dianthus only their foliage is wooly and the flowering period is shorter.

So I spent a ridiculous amount of money on seeds of all things but I'm so happy to think of having these  plants once more in the garden that I can't even be upset with myself.   

I've spent the morning well: I had the bed made, bath cleaned and trash gathered before breakfast.  After breakfast I rehung the freshly painted Kitchen shelves and decorated the one above the stove.  I went out to empty the compost and spent a good 45 minutes weeding, spreading mulch and rearranging items in the flower beds to try to find something pleasing to my eye.  I'm happier at the moment but not sure anything will stay as I left it.   I'm still trying to use what I have and while I long to go buy lots of new things, I'm only going to buy what I must this year.  I'll need to replace a few bigger pots but I've also plenty of smaller sized pots on hand that can be reused.  

I came back indoors and folded the laundry John had put to wash and dry and then I flung open all the windows.  The air is chilly but it's breezy and there's just something very refreshing about putting the windows open on a breezy spring day to sort of cleanse the indoors, you know?  I'm so glad that the majority of the pollen season is over.

Now I must plan the weekend meals and determine what we'll have for lunch (Soup sounds good with all this cool breezy air, lol).  I'm hoping the weekend proves to be fairly quiet here.  We've had grandchildren two Saturdays in a row and I feel I owe it to John this week to not accept any offers to 'let me have the children'...Much as I love them all.

How did your week go?

Over the Fence: Roses and Rain, Sunshine and Shadows

 


I watched Caleb on Saturday.  He loves to stand and look out the windows here at my house.  I have to raise the shades because they are too heavy for him to push aside.  He will look and look.  Saturday after his nap, he came to the windows here in the living room,  sat in the sunshine coming through the window and played in that spot for the longest time.  I watched him stand up and look out into the yard and I was glad that the spider wort and the yellow iris were blooming and that the grass was green.  Will some vague memory of that backyard come up in his mind, some Deja vu sort of moment in his future,  when he is reminded of something pleasant that's mixed up with the warmth of sun on his head, the view of flowers and freshly mown lawn and the deep shade of a tree,  outside the window?  I hope so!  Oh I do hope so!

It will be a lovely little something to hold onto in the future when things aren't going so well perhaps or life has seemed particularly harsh.

I have my own memories from early childhood that I hold tightly to.  I remember coming home with Granny and Granddaddy and as we'd top the hill before we came to the River Valley  the sky would absolutely fill me with awe, especially if we were arriving near sunset.  I was convinced at three or four that I was viewing the very shores of heaven and I remember asking Granny over and over again about heaven.   I still get that sense of complete peacefulness and serenity that I had way back then, a surety that I was entering a place that was a sort of forever home, a feeling I never got anywhere else I've lived.  

And then there is the bend in the road from town that leads to our main roadway.  You go down a slight hill, cross a creek with an old concrete bridge and then uphill on a curve and there's just something about that little space of 1000 feet or so that makes my heart swing upwards and a smile come to my lips because I know I am near, nearer than I've been yet, to coming home once again, even if I've been away for just a few minutes.  You can only imagine how my heart leaps when we've been gone a week or more.  

I guess what I want is for Caleb and Millie, Taylor and Josh and Isaac to feel here is the true depth of love for something more than soil and trees and sky.  It's the feeling of the place itself, the same feeling that has endured through my whole life long and I suspect has been here for many, many more years than I've been alive.   It is a place to come home to.  There's no denying it.  It's a place that was meant to be home.

Not every one feels it. Mama grew up here and yet she has no particular feeling one way or the other over it.  She had ownership over it and with Mama possession is 9/10ths of the law but there is no heart in owning something and in the end she gave it to my brothers and I.  She speaks pleasantly of memories of the place but it doesn't seem to have got hold of her heart the way it did mine or my brothers, no, nor of my oldest cousin and later my son.   I can't say if Katie has it or not.  She's at home here but is it home to her or is that a place yet to be found in her life?  I can't say.  I shall have to ask her sometime if I think of it.   

JD never lived here.  His children love exploring the grounds  but do they love it, feel it as Bess and I do?   Bess tells me that as attracted as she was to Sam, her first visit here the sense of the place hit her hard.   "All I wanted was to come here to stay and it be mine."   Perhaps Bess fell for the land first  and Sam after and loved the  land before she had feeling for the family.   That's quite all right.  It unites us all the same.  Her bloodline will live here and it's partly mine.  

Josie has a vague memory of the place but Ross nor Lily have ever known it.  And Amie...does Amie miss it or is she content where she is, far away from peach trees and cicadas and the river valley?  I don't know.  I don't know.

But I am sure of this much: we love it.   There are members of the family who love it.  It is home to those of us who have that feeling.  And after us there will be others who come here to call it home and love it as we do.

For all that I ended my day wondering about Caleb and if his heart will come here to be rested the morning was nearly lost in tears.   I have been reading the last book of the Elliot family trilogy, The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge and the opening chapters were hard, so hard, to read.    That morning they were hard to read though I've never noted before they were so difficult.   But Saturday morning they were hard and heavy and I could have wept for the characters whose souls were tortured by nerves and near madness and deep despair.   It brought back too clearly the days when I lived in those dark places and couldn't see enough light to find even a tiny crack to reassure me that light existed.

Perhaps too it was brought on by the knowledge that some I love dearly are suffering at the moment, in their own dark places.   And the knowledge that there are others whom I don't know, struggling and straining, attempting to hold on to the very last bits of what remains of sanity and salvation and feeling they shall never find their way out of the dark deep pits where they are currently residing overwhelmed me.

Does this seem incongruous with a morning spent sitting in the sunshine, admiring the wealth of roses that are mine only in this season?   It is not incongruous.    That warming sun, the green and blue gloriousness of the day, the abundance of rose bloom,  only served to point up still further how deep the darkness was..  I  lived there.  I longed to die there.  The contrast between the brilliant light and the darkness is why so many who have mental health issues and depression will choose to die in this season.   Yes, truly, more will choose to take their lives in this season, the season known for renewal and new growth, than in any other this year.   It is proven fact, with statistics to back it and it makes me ache so each year knowing that others are battling along, trying so hard and some lose.   They lose heart, they lose reason, they lose to the battle of self loathing and they are tired.  Hopelessness in the face of hope is the saddest thing there is.

I put the book down.  I stopped where I was and I grabbed hold of my blessings of which there are many and I thanked God I was not where I had been.   I swallowed the aching lumps in my throat and I got up to fill my head and hands with things to do and thoughts of the day ahead because I just could not deal with it, the knowledge of the wealth of sorrow hanging about me, past and present.   

Soon Caleb was here and there's nothing quite like a busy 18 month old to distract you.  But I am humbled, because much as I long to be impactful in my grandchildren's lives the truth is they do more good for me than I've had a chance to do for even one of them, yet.  They lift me and revive me.  

Later in the week, I kept thinking of my days of struggling.  I apologized to Amie during our last call, for my failures, but I was wrong.  I apologized for the things I'd done wrong not knowing I was wrong.  What I ought to have apologized for, what I owe Sam an apology for, are the things I did wrong knowing full well I was wrong.   

I want to tell them I'm sorry for the days I put my mental woes ahead of their needs.  I want to say I'm sorry for the small ways I neglected their care, for the days I came in and locked the bedroom door and screeched at them to go away.   I want to say I'm sorry for those times you watched me take the six pack of beer to my room and come out with empty bottles and left you alone with the TV.   I'm sorry for choosing numbness over honest feeling.  I'm sorry for making you less important than the ways I felt could numb me enough.   Busyness with volunteering and busyness with friends and even just being alone for hours on end in the room next to them.  Those were choices I made, consciously and without a thought of the impact it might have upon them.  Not caring enough to care for them first.

I could excuse it away. I could own that I felt such a failure already that it seemed an inconsequential thing to fail them in one more way.  It would be truth.  But there were enough ways to fail them that I was so very unaware of, and why heap on the ways in which I knew I was a failure?

And yet redemption comes.  It does come if we choose to hang on long enough.   There was a day, after the marriage broke and the  drunk driver hit me and I'd been away for months, that every thing was redeemed.  We finally had a home the three of us, we were a family once more.   It had been raining and there before us on our way home was the most beautiful rainbow in the sky.  

One of the children asked "Is there really a pot of gold at the end?"  I remember saying "Well, let's find out..." and we went on down the road riding towards that rainbow instead of going home to do homework and make supper.  We came to one end of the thing in a field.  We could see it there just before us.  There was no pot of gold but there was another side.  Perhaps the end was there...  We decided to find the other end and we drove for miles and miles trying to get to the other side before it disappeared.  We got home after dark that night.  We had soup and grilled cheese and the kids went to bed without a bath or doing homework but it was all right.  It was.

Something wonderful happened to us, the three of us, that day, as we chased that rainbow.  It was as though somehow without saying a word I was making a promise to them.  And somehow, without their saying  a word they accepted my promise as a good one,  without pointing out how many broken ones were behind us.  We made a covenant between us that we would go on and forget what was behind us.  We'd take the fresh start and move ahead.

I still had bouts of depression and dark days but their care was my first concern.  They never again saw me take comfort in a bottle or spending long hours away from home showing others what a great volunteer I was, or ignoring them while I spent hours and hours with friends.    I wasn't a perfect parent.  We can't any of us be.  We will fail in hundreds of little ways because we don't have experience to do better until after we see our mistakes, but I never again failed them in the old ways.  I held the demon darkness at bay until they were gone to their father on weekends and then I might well lie in bed weeping all weekend long, but when they came in Sunday evening, I was present as a parent once more.  They never again saw me shut the door to keep company with beer or wine while they fended for themselves.   They never again had to wonder if they'd done something wrong to make me act the way I did.  

And I suppose that's what I really want to apologize to them for.  To say "If I made you feel it was your fault it wasn't.  It was me.  It was only about me."  I'd tell them I was sorry I put my own mental health issues ahead of what theirs might be.  I'd tell them it's okay to fail their kids in small ways, but I'd also say, "Please....Let the children know NOW that it's you and not them when you're having a bad season.  Meet their needs first and fall apart after they are in bed...even send them to bed early if need be but let them know, it's not something they did.  It's just that mommy  is hurting inside right now."  That's what I'd say.

How did I survive?  Why did I?  Why did I keep going on when all I wanted was to just not be any more?  How did I make it through those last final days before I could make a promise once more and keep it?

One of those weird things that happen once or twice in a lifetime is why.  You see, I'd made another promise, when I was 16.  I went to sleep filled with despair and I remember my last prayer that night was "God please just let me die."   I had a dream.  

I stood before a map on a table, the sort you see in those war movies from WWII where everyone is standing about the maps of the battlefields.   I stood looking down at this map and was filled with awe.  I remember looking up at the people about me, no one I knew, all dressed the same and asking "Is this really how my life will turn out?"   And one stood before me and said "Yes.  But tonight you have the choice.  Live or die."   I gazed a few minutes longer at the map and I remember saying slowly "Then I choose to live."  And just like that it was all gone, the map, the people, the room.  I was back in my own room staring at the dark ceiling (Lord, how many times over the years have I found myself doing the same, staring at the dark ceiling of my room?), committed to life, promising to live.

Somehow, I kept that promise.  I'd plan my death, how I'd  kill myself and sometimes I'd go far enough to equip myself with the means.  I'd imagine the relief of letting go of life and floating into whatever lay beyond, much as one floated on a pool of water.   But somehow, that dream always reasserted itself in my mind.  "You promised...." I'd hear whispered somewhere in the back of my mind and I'd nod.  I'd promised.  Somehow I believed the promise that had been made to me, even though it was many many years before I'd feel I'd finally reached the promised life.  You see the memory of what I'd felt in seeing my life mapped out before me, though I couldn't tell you one single thing that was there even half a second after I'd dreamed, somehow that memory of something wonderful ahead, sustained me.  I would resolve all over again to choose life and I'd go on until hope faltered and stumbled and fell face down and then I'd promise all over again.

Now, years after the depression, free of that horrible prison in which I dwelt for too long, there will come a threat, a whisper from the enemy.  "Why bother?  It is hard to live...  Just die..." and I laugh, literally laugh in his face  and say, "Oh no!  Not yet...I want to see this thing all the way through..."

That was me.   My brother couldn't see that promise, perhaps he never heard it.  Nor did a lovely friend.  Or my nephew...

Recently though I've had another thought.  To stop denying other's mental health struggles.  I see them.  I acknowledge them.  John doesn't 'believe in' depression.  That's not to say he's never struggled with it.  I lived with him through two different periods when depression won him.  He came out of it but he still denies that others suffer more deeply, can't see the way out the way he did.   And I've been compliant and kept quiet even though he knows my back history.  But lately, I've spoken up.    I'm speaking up.  

There is such a thing as mental illness.  No one chooses it.  Some fight hard against it and still have bad spells to be got through.  They take the pills.  They struggle through the bad spells and when it's over they pick up life and get on with it all over again.  But now and then there is damage they can't undo.   I know this to be truth.  I've seen it first hand.

All I can say is what I've said.  Apologize to those you've harmed and vow to do better by them.  And be better.   Yes, it's hard to schedule a breakdown.  I get that.   And yet, I know firsthand that you can...It takes a lot of strength to wait until bedtime or to make it through a morning until the school bell has rung.   But it can be done.   It's hard not to want to self medicate with alcohol or drugs or sex or compulsive eating and bingeing.   But you can do it.  I know you can do it.  You've held on so hard for so long.  I can see you have it in you to keep on without leaning on those faulty crutches that make you fall to your lowest moments when you've employed them.  You're strong.  You've been strong all along.  That's why you keep fighting your way clear through time and time again.  

But we won't end here on the dark side of the day.  We'll go back to the sunshine shall we and let it warm us through.  We'll take deep breaths of the fragrant air and glory in the sound of leaves that sound so fluid and lovely, like waves on a shore.   We'll breathe in peace and breathe out prayers that all will find their way.

I could write, here in this space of home and housework and gardens and such.   I have at times.  However, I promised you something long ago: I promised when I left Penny Ann behind that you'd see me, as I am, as I was.   It is part of the one who stood behind the persona that hid her so very well.  My life is not perfect.  It is a normal life with ups and downs, with flies and mosquitoes, roses and rain, sunshine and shadow...Just like any other.

Hugs to you all...And lots of love, truly.  



Gathering Fragments and Meal Plans

 



No leftovers?  Well almost none.  We have three leftover slices of pizza and a small amount of pizza dough left from Saturday.  I think I have half a can of Spam in the fridge and a little coleslaw (will have to check to see how that has held up).  Half a can of sliced pineapple.  That's it.  Seriously proud of myself on that one because I seldom plan so very well that there are that few leftovers to consider in the new week.

My supplies of the expired items have dwindled to just these few things:  I found another can of peaches.  I won't say this is the last one...Honestly those things keep multiplying on me!   A can of table cream, a jar of artichoke hearts that have been sitting in the cabinet/pantry for a long while.  Packets of dry milk, a bottle of French dressing, a jar of Chicken Better Than Bouillon, a jar of Lemon Curd.  A packet each of dried cranberries and dried cherries (tossed both those in the freezer).  I typically use the cherries in a lovely roast dish that is excellent in winter and too heavy for warmer months.  I'll use the cranberries in everything from bread to cereal to slaw or salads.

One thing I've not really done yet is a fresh pantry/freezer inventory even though I keep putting it on my to do lists.  I am certain that everything expired or expiring since last inventory has been pulled off the shelves.  The last dates on items that were coming up were 4/22/21 and those have all been used.  So there is that.  I'll get the inventory done, never fear, but I'll likely fit it into moments of time when I find myself ready to do any thing and nothing has presented itself.  

So let me go ahead and make a menu plan for this week.  I'll share what we ate yesterday and today and then the official plan will begin on Monday.

Breakfasts: Bagels with cream cheese, I'll make bagels this week.  It's not a hard process and I think they are tastier than any store bought ones we might purchase.  Besides, it's another week until we have grocery funds and I'd like to put off going to the store if at all possible.

Bacon, Eggs and Toast

Oatmeal, Toast for John  I'm going to make myself open that can of table cream.  No reason why I can't make oatmeal using some of that.  And if it proves to be something I don't think I can use, I'll mix up some powdered milk to use in the oatmeal.

Sausage and Biscuits I will thaw some venison and make into sausage.  I'll use a bit for patties and make up some sausage balls to pop in the freezer for future breakfasts or afternoon snacks when we need a little something extra to carry us through until supper.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, Boiled Eggs I use Brandy's recipe at theprudenthomemaker.com

Fried Eggs, Grits

Cheese Toasts

Lunches:  Pizza

Chicken Tenders with Mac n Cheese

Turkey Sandwiches  As I was digging out meats to thaw I found a cooked turkey breast half from January...Guess I'd better use that.  We'll get several meals from that I think.

Turkey Salad Sandwiches

Tuna Pasta Salad Never made that last week and this will likely be leftovers as I plan to have it one night this week

Leftover Pizza and Bread Sticks 

John and I both out one day

Now here are my supper/dinner plans:

Saturday:  Leftover Chicken and Dumplings.   Caleb LOVED this dish and I confess it was even better to me than it was last week when I made it.  The dumplings didn't hold up to reheating very well, so after we all ate, I gave the last of that soup to the dogs.  No harm in giving what was essentially a scratched together batch of scraps.   I knew John would never want to go for that a third time and it was far too much for just one.

Sunday:  Lasagna, Three Bean Salad, Bread Sticks Lasagna leftovers from freezer and using the Pizza dough to make bread sticks

Monday:  Catalina Chicken over Rice, Green Beans A jar of homemade cranberry sauce, part of the bottle of French dressing, onion soup packet cooked in crock pot over chicken.

Tuesday:  Taco Salads, Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes  I'll use French dressing on this which was the way my original recipe called for it to be served.   I can make six cupcakes with the leftover pineapple slices.

Wednesday:  Chicken and Rice Alfredo, Green Salad I'm thinking I may add some chopped artichoke hearts and julienned slices of dried tomato to this casserole.  I had it in the freezer, took it out to offer Katie on Saturday in case they hadn't an easy supper.  She had eaten and didn't need the meal so we'll eat it ourselves.

Thursday:  Tuna Pasta Salad, Saltines, Cucumbers 

Friday:  Cubed Venison Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Turnip Greens

This Week In My Home: May I?

 


Because of an old home economics book I'd picked up at a thrift or antique shop in the past, I know that the 1920's ushered in a somewhat new trend in kitchens.   The reason why we see so much linoleum in kitchens in the 1940's is something that began to be a big push in the 1920's.  Home Economists were quickly becoming aware that Hygiene and cleanliness truly were key factors in good health and they realized that many of the kitchens in which people made their meals were unsanitary.  Wooden surfaces, floors and rough tables, walls, etc.  were breeding grounds.  Hence the push to make kitchens both functional and lovely with glazed tiles.  However, the cost of a full tiled kitchen was out of reach of most humble purses.  And that is where linoleum came into play.  

Nevertheless, there were many forward designs in kitchens in the 1920's and early 1930's and while the depression might have made the possibility of having a lovely and functional room dedicated to the preparation and preservation of food seem far distant, eventually kitchens were remodeled and made into better, more sanitary work spaces.  

Some of the pictures I'll be sharing over the next few weeks are black and white renderings but remember that color was very much at play.  I'll also share some lovely color images that will help you to see how bright and happy many of these kitchens were and not just clinically clean work spaces.  But we'll start with a black and white image today.

If you open the image in a new window you can see the various things I'm referencing far better.   This kitchen features tile.  There are tiles on the floor, the walls and quite possibly on the ceiling as well.  This would have insured that every surface could be most thoroughly cleaned.   The enamel sink too was obviously meant for the very purpose of allowing one to thoroughly clean it.  But let us look to the left of the sink for just a moment.

I may be overreaching here, but that looks very much like an old fashioned ice box that is built in with the front facing into the room and the back most likely on the service porch behind.  I'm wondering if that is so or if it's just a cupboard?  I suppose some models of refrigerators could have had back openings into which to put the ice block each week.

We have the sink with a drainboard on one side with a clock above and what might possibly be a telephone on the wall next to the door.  This kitchen was most certainly being innovative for the 1920's if it had a telephone in the kitchen.   There is a door to the right of the sink and then a china cupboard for the storage of dishes on the exterior wall of the house.   

There, under the trio of lovely windows, is a big table for prep work,  most likely with an enameled surface.  However, I can't quite figure out that thing underneath.  It almost looks like a drain pipe doesn't it?  I can't see taps there but I do wonder if this table had a hidden sink for washing vegetables perhaps?

Then we have the Hoosier cabinet or baking cabinet that no proper kitchen was without.  

And another doorway leading out of the room and there on the last wall is our huge old wood stove with warming ovens above and hot water tanks on the side.   

The kitchen is not cluttered in any manner, yet it has all the functionality one could want in a kitchen, plus the lovely advantage of being able to thoroughly wash down every surface.  Some effort was made as well to make the kitchen efficient so that few steps might be wasted between stations.  I'll lay odds that the dining room is there near that china cupboard so it's convenient for both table setting and putting away dishes after they are washed.    

There's also a central light in the room which would help make it bright and well lit for evening or early morning meal preparations.

One of you was kind enough to send me this video of a Step Saving Kitchen.

Chris also shared these two which were fun to watch as well.

Work:  






Zone 1: Kitchen, Back Entry and Laundry    I'll have to hustle and see if I have any paint on hand or postpone my project in the kitchen this week entirely if I can't get out to get some.  I really do want to paint those two shelves, most especially the one above the sink which is looking chipped and worn.

There are pictures that need to be straightened on the entryway wall and a plague I want to hang.   I'm going to get behind John and see if we can't figure out a better place to charge his endless batteries for yard tools, too.  Honestly I'm tired of looking at them on the bench or atop the dog treat bin!

I'm thinking I might take down the two Tole trays above the little cabinet we put in the kitchen two years ago...I could use the prints from the dining room there but then I'd have nothing on the dining room wall.   There's a bowl on top of that cabinet full of John's 'stuff'.  I asked him to go through it last month and this month I shall just set it down before him instead of asking him to do it.  He's usually good to get the hint when I do that, lol.

Kitchen puttering will most definitely occur this week as I work my way about the room refining areas and making them pretty.   This month, Zone work is mostly about pretty with a light emphasis on any cleaning that requires doing.

And two jobs I'd very much like to tackle in my kitchen are mopping of the floor and doing a proper fridge cleaning.  I usually try to wipe up any spills as I note them but it never hurts to just take everything out and give it a good wipe down.

Out in the yard, I'll continue to weed, putter about trying to make spots pretty, get seeds in the ground as well as move the pink tiered planter away from the carport and into a better location.  Perhaps I should just put it out by my shed in the little area I keep telling John would make a perfect garden for me to putter in?   Certainly would motivate me to get busy on that project instead of perpetually putting it off.

I may go see Mama this week and have lunch with her.  

And that's about as far  as I'm going to plan because honestly these days I've gotten very good at staying very busy!

Kitchen:  

I don't have a clue at the moment what meals I want in the week ahead.    Part of the trouble is that I'm full at the moment and the last thing I want to think of is more food.   I do find it rather helpful, too, to gather fragments and then plan so I'll likely make that a separate post again this week.

I know there are a few expired items...and would you believe it?  I found another can of darn peaches!  I'm telling you those cans of peaches have multiplied many times over.  I only had 7 that were expired and I'm pretty sure I keep finding just one more can every time I look in the cupboard.  I don't really dare go look in the pantry...So a Gathered Fragments post will come up on Sunday most likely.

I'm going to share something that I am trying to do at the moment on a daily basis: change out the dishtowel.   I don't use a dishtowel to dry dishes but I do keep one at the sink.  John is prone to use it when he comes in from outdoors after washing up.  I might wipe up wet spots on the counter with it.  I really want to get into the habit of replacing it every evening with a fresh towel.  It's a small thing, I agree but it's taken quite a lot of remembering on my part to be just partially consistent with this.  And it might not be a thing every one has trouble remembering, but I will confess I do and I'm willing to bet someone else has the same issue.  So join me in the challenge to remember to change out the dishtowels for fresh ones daily.

Personal:

I think a date day with John would be nice.  It's meant to rain this week nearly every day so he can't mow.   I likely won't suggest a picnic.  Did I share that we got rained on for our first picnic on the Florida trip?  Yes, we did.  We stopped to eat and had just finished the last bite when it began to rain!  John said it was typical of any of our picnics that we either freeze, roast or get rained upon, lol.

I very much want to get a haircut this week.  

I would love to do a spa morning here at home.  I haven't done one since before we left for Florida.  A pedicure is also on the books for this week.

I'm happily reading away, this time settling on The Heart of the Family by Elizabeth Goudge.  

I've been so tired evenings lately that I haven't even considered picking up the Genealogy research.  I'd like to work on my next blog post for the Roots and Rabbit Trails site and to continue working on putting notes onto family pages.  Such a lot of work this little hobby of mine!

Worth Sharing: The Merry Month of May

 


Here it is May 1 and I gave in this morning to curiosity and began to research the practice of May poles and May baskets.  I was prompted to study it further after starting The Honor Girl by Grace Livingston Hill.  Mrs. Hill in the opening pages of Chapter 1 of the book.

Most of the programme was over.  The tall, white robed queen with flowing hair, and wreaths of smilax  and asparagus fern, like emerald frost-work over her white garments, had marched in with her fairy attendants dressed in all manner of fantastic costumes.  They had place her upon the throne, crowned her, danced about her and the Maypole; danced separately and together; danced with pink, blue and white ribbons around and around the pole until it stood sheathed in its woven rainbow.

I confess, we've never had such tradition here of a Maypole dance nor of May baskets and so I was curious as I see both referenced often  in older books.   

So how did these traditions become a custom?

There are a lot of theories and little evidence to support most about Maypoles, but it it seems to have been practiced most often in Germanic Europe and was taken to England during one of the invasions of that country.   The original purpose seems merely to have been as simple as the erection of a tree in a central location as a symbol of warmth, fertile fields and comfort after long bitter winters.  There is evidence that a tree was the original Maypole which later was replaced by a long tall pole which was often placed in the center of the village greens in England.   In Germany, Malta and other countries it was a tradition to try and still a village's Maypole and if one succeeded then the village that managed to make thievery was treated to drink and food by the community that lost their tree.

Some believe it is strictly a fertility symbol of ancient Rome that was borrowed by other cultures and some believe it is an old Pagan ritual of Spring but there doesn't appear to be enough evidence to fully claim either theory as fact.

Maypoles are still very popular all across Western Europe and different traditions are involved in each country.  In Rhineland and Cologne for instance, a Maypole is purchased by single young men and erected in front of the house of their sweetheart, complete with a red wood heart and decorated with crepe paper.   In other countries it is a time of communal gathering and celebrations.    Not all European countries celebrate a Maypole.  Some have a celebration in Midsummer and others in late summer nearer time of harvest, but all involve a pole erected in a central location in a village around which celebrations take place.

Maypoles were largely discouraged by the Puritans and though the tradition did cross the big pond and come to America it was largely frowned upon and squelched by the the religious leaders.  Part of this or course was due to the licentious nature of some of those practices in which  too much drink and too free behavior by a few no doubt led to the overall censure for all such celebrations.

May baskets came into favor and also were given on May 1.  The tradition was that as April showers came to an end, flowers were gathered along with small candies in little baskets made of various materials.    This became a tradition in the 19th and early 20th century and the day was noted by many newspapers as a tradition in many communities.



Louisa May Alcott notated the tradition in her book Jack and Jill:

"Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another's arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener."

Traditionally, one went out at night or  rose early to place May baskets on doorknobs of those loved or respected and if one had a crush upon someone and was caught it was permissible to chase down the giver and bestow a kiss upon him or her. 

It is believed that May baskets were a further part of the Maypole tradition, since traditionally  the Maypole was decorated with flowers, as well, but like Maypole dances, May baskets fell out of favor.  Some believe this was largely due to the loss of innocence of youth which declined rapidly after the second World War.  Perhaps so.  While there has been some talk of re-establishing such pretty and seemingly innocent traditions there are those who sincerely hope neither comes to favor once again.  The great fear of those who are against it is that some company will latch onto it and commercialize it as other holidays have been and perhaps that is so...but wouldn't it be lovely to re-establish it as a family tradition?

Many May baskets are just paper cones, formed from pretty papers and filled with a small bouquet of flowers and I can think of nothing lovelier than finding a basket attached to my doorknob on the first morning of May!


Goals for the Merry Month of May

 


I have updated April goals post to reflect the things I accomplished.  You can view that here if you want to see how well I did.  I won't go through those on this post this month.       

I've been thinking long and hard about May all week long and what I want to get done.

First and foremost my thoughts are outdoors.  It's the season of the year when I like to get plants and flowers and seeds going for blooms later on.  Now that the pollen is not coloring the whole world yellow, I want to get started!   One thing I buy each year is a Fern for the back porch.  For some reason, Ferns do really well on the back porch but not so much out front.   So this year, I'm buying ONE fern, for the back porch and will look at other options for my front porch plant hangers.    I don't know just what I want there but I do know I want something with color this year.  

I've been doing some plant research.  The two Mandevillas from two years ago are thriving.  Those will bring a bit of color to the front porch so I will add only one or two other flowering plants.  

I'm thinking perhaps I'll see about getting some Jasmine.  That should also do well on the front porch as it is in partial shade and gets 2-3 hours sunlight in the morning. We walked past a huge bunch of it in Florida and oh my goodness it smelled absolutely wonderful.  I can plant it on the rose trellis I think but if that's not suitable I can get another trellis for a small sum.

The Bougainvillea has not done well on the front porch and my research suggests I might move it to the back side of the house which gets more than six hours of sun daily.   That would be more ideal and hopefully it will bloom once again.  And it's thriving!   Hopefully this year it will bloom and really grow.

I'd like to look for six packs of annuals like petunias, impatiens, coleus (color even though it's not a flowering plant).   These are generally inexpensive and do well here.  

I have Dianthus that need to be divided.  These are perennials that do really well and will bloom for 9 or 10 months of the year here.  Dividing will net me more plants to spread about the flower beds. 

And of course, I want to plant my seeds now that frost dangers should be well past us.

There is weeding, mulching, etc. that must be done.  I'm just going to keep at it, doing a little all along through the months ahead.  Ditto for laying out landscape blocks.  My small bites theory has netted me more flower beds than I've had, though not nearly enough (my opinion) but I'm not nearly done!  I long to have  a blooming yard from late winter right through late fall.  

I also need to start cleaning porch railings on the back porch as well as the rafters.  I really really wish those rafters were not white...But I cannot change them at the moment because there is only so much time and so many plans I can make at once!

I've asked John to get the dryer and washer moved off the back porch and into the sheds.  That will make a huge difference out there. Bless the man...He got ahead of me and moved both this week while we were working outdoors...

And paint for chairs, tables and such on the porches is needed.  I have so much to paint though that I'm thinking I'll need to plan to do this in increments since I'll need to purchase so much.   So I'm going to set myself the goal of painting the cafe set and side table on the back porch first.  

Yes, I've set all that as a goal for this month and it's all outdoors.  So what do I mean to do indoors?

I have a good many houseplants that are showing signs they must be repotted and some will need to be divided, as well.  So that goes top of my list.  Most of these will also be moving outdoors this month if night time temperatures begin to rise a little bit more.  I have about half these repotted as of today.  I'll pass along a few to Bess.

I'm going to focus on projects as I come to each Zone this month.  I don't really need to do deep cleaning this month, just basic room maintenance.   I can focus on small projects in each Zone and call that Zone work, as well.   

In the kitchen, I've noted the shelf above the sink could use a new coat of paint.  I have a similar shelf in the same color above the stove and I'd prefer to paint both at the same time so the colors remain similar.  

In the back entry, there are crooked pictures and I've a plaque that I've wanted to hang for the longest.  It doesn't have a hanger on it but it suddenly occurred to me the other day I could put one on it...Duh!  Sometimes the things I don't think of do amaze me.

I'd also like to put out a fresh arrangement on the shelf above the stove.  I'll pot all the cuttings I've rooted that are currently living on the sink shelf and get those outdoors (and that too is done), except for the Australian fern which apparently just loves it's spot there at the kitchen window and is thriving. 

And the one job I dread doing but which I know from personal experience works very well is that both the big African Violets need to be beheaded and replanted.  This always makes me very nervous but as I said, I followed directions two years ago to do this and they thrived afterwards so I'll assume they shall do the same this time around.  I'm thinking just maybe they are ready for a bigger pot, too.  I do have African Violet soil in my shed. These must have known I meant to tackle them.  The things have put out a bunch of buds.  I'll wait until they are done blooming.  Obviously they are healthy if they are overgrown! 

In the Living Room, I'll make the pillow covers.  If I can determine what color I want to paint the dining chairs I'll paint those.  At the very least, I will recover the seats since we've just bought staples for our staple gun.  The seats would be removed when I paint anyway, so it won't matter if I go on and recover them now.  

When I come to the bedrooms and bath week, I need to get busy and find some new curtains for the bedroom.  I also want to put on my lighter Spring/Summer quilt  (done this week, too...I know.  I just got excited for May goals!) and make the new pillow covers for this room.  I changed my mind on the pillow covers.  The new spread looks so nice with the old shams that I'll keep them in this room and continue to enjoy them afresh.

I want to do something different on my dresser.  I'd like some greenery in the room and I think the dresser, which is not beside the bed, would be the ideal spot to put a plant.  Since I'm repotting things anyway, I may well wind up with a pot of something to go there without making a purchase.

I think a single wider panel would be fine to use there so I'll look for one while I'm checking around for bedroom curtains.

I also have a two plants in this room that must have a new pot.

In the guest bedroom, I'll try to change up the look there with a solid spread and perhaps some fresh art work.  I may replace the curtains with something in a pattern.   That window doesn't get lots of sunlight because it's well shaded by the old Sweet Gum tree,  so I can get by with just a simple drape in that room rather than blackout curtains.  I decided to use the pillowcases to cover the throw pillows on this bed and I'm very happy with this fresh look here.  

I have a HUGE framed needlepoint that is above the bed in the guest room but I want to take that down and find something different.  I want to like it but after two years I have to admit that I simply do NOT.  It's time to let it go!   I'd like a similar sized piece to go in that spot but I might well end up doing another gallery wall.  I've gotten rather good at grouping things.  Part of me wants something totally fresh and new but I'll start looking at thrift stores first and then at other sources if nothing appeals to me.

In the guest bath, I want to do a little something different but not sure what at present.  I'll have to think on it.  There's not much space so I can't plan to put out much but perhaps a faux green plant would look nice, and a new wastebasket.  I'd like a new piece of art to go in that room, too.  A little faux boxwood from Dollar General at $5 including pot worked out lovely.

The fourth zone is porches and I think I've pretty well covered those for this month so there we are.  That's in and outdoor goals for May...what about personal goals?

As usual, I want to set up a wardrobe for the monthI knew I'd culled the closet back in March but how deep did I go?  I have only about 10 shirts at present, which is generally all I'd wear in any given month anyway.  I might have to put shopping on next month's goal list for variety.  We'll see.

I'm due a haircut.  I don't plan to change my hair but I'd like to play and see if I can do different things with it.   

Truth told I'm longing for some change, my usual mood when seasons change.  A new lipstick might well be in order.  I'd say new makeup but the truth is I'm going to keep coming right back to the fairly neutral palette I wear 98 days out of 100 so why buy more?   But a lipstick...Yes, and maybe a fresh color in blush.

John and I have an anniversary later this month.  It would be nice if we could do something special.  I've told him I'd like to but I know it's pretty much up to me to determine what we might do and it will be myself who will also have to determine how it will be paid for, so there's some research and budget work to be done.  Then I can present him with options and let him determine which he likes best.

I see no reason however, why we can't manage a regular date and/or a picnic in this lovely month, as well.  

If we do go to do the picnic at a state park, I'm planning to go ahead and buy the annual pass.  I discovered that I can get one for half price since we're senior citizens now.  Just five visits will pay for the thing and we do go at least that often if not more each year.  

We have two family birthdays this month.  I need to get cards and determine what gifts will be.  And since I have a plethora of birthdays in June it would do me well to consider them all NOW and start planning what I shall do for those!

I've promised myself that starting this month I can spend  $20 on new to me books each month.  In the past, I've allowed myself only one book and if it was $2 or $20 didn't matter.  However, I might add a new issue or two to my selection of vintage magazines, and I would like to flesh out my collection of a couple of author's works.   

Now I shall stop here or I'll go on and on...

What are your plans for May?

A Homemaker's Diary: Travels and Home Things






Sunday:  Since this shall encompass two weeks worth of diary I shall try to keep each day fairly brief.  

I slept quite well last night...Only because I knew I wanted to be well rested for our day ahead today.  You see, after church we left and headed to St. Augustine.  It's quite a long drive but so well known at present that we did right well.  Nary a cross word or getting lost at any point.

The only thing we see we would change in future travels was the stop at the very busy grocery at Mill Creek.  Now to be honest, any grocery will be packed out and busy on a Sunday afternoon but to stop at one that is hectic after 5 1/2 hours on the road even when one is picking up only a single bag of items to tide you over until a proper grocery shop the next day...Well, there were no testy words but it was suggested that we stop going to St. Augustine altogether...

I find more and more often that when John has this sort of 'never again' thought pattern going on it's generally something easily solved.  We will NOT be stopping at any grocery on a Sunday afternoon when traveling again.  We will instead bring something from home that we can prepare easily once we arrive.

Monday:  We headed to the little grocery store down the road a bit from our hotel.  It's a fairly well populated area but you'd never guess it as the houses are well hidden from view for the most part.  The store however, obviously caters to the vacationing folks.  Many items are overpriced, more so than usually at this particular grocery chain.  I'd anticipated this and had scanned ads with a look towards what we'd eat this week and how we'd best utilize our funds.  

Our vacation budget is a good bit higher per week than our usual budget but even so, and even with bringing items I knew would likely be higher priced from home, we cannot say "Yes, please" to everything we desire.  We compromise on this and take that but we are constantly juggling wants vs. reality of what we can buy.  

In the end we were satisfied with what we spent and how our meal plans fell into place.

                                                            Our annual photo session


Tuesday:  We went into town and chose to park at the parking garage that is about a block off St. George Street. It's $15 to park there for an unlimited time  each day.  This allows us to take our time and really enjoy ourselves.  

We started at the coffee shop and sat on the patio outside with our coffees.  We talked with the cigar shop owner and an older man who apparently is a regular at both the coffee shop and cigar shop.  Another couple came along and sat down at a table a little ways from us but the six of us thoroughly enjoyed our talk.  And of course, there were plenty of people to watch.  

After we'd finished our coffees we walked down St. George street.  We came to a halt at very nearly the end and went into a bar and grill we enjoy.  It's really a family place so not a bar as you might think of a bar.  Many families come in and eat there simply because it is nice and wide open.   On this day the staff were so busy that patrons were chipping in and helping them to clear tables and coming to the register to get checks.  

After we left there we walked up the street in front of Flagler College and stopped at the second hand bookstore.  The very place I'd assured John we need not go...but we did and I find The Chilbury Lady's Choir book someone recommended.  And a few more to spare!   

Then we slowly made our way back to the parking garage and headed back to our car.  We stopped to rest along the way and spoke to all sorts of people as we went and were spoken to in turn.  It was really very nice.  

Wednesday:  It was not John's plan but mine to drive down along the coast line where all the national park beaches are located along old A1A.  Lots of older Florida homes and motels and such all along there.  We picnicked at the Lutheran Church though we missed hearing the Carrillion play.  

It was John who insisted we find a t-shirt shop and buy the 5 grands who are near us t-shirts.  This is where I discovered how picky my husband can be and why it is that we don't give gifts over much to our grandchildren.

"I think that Millie should have tie dye..."  I showed him a lovely pink in her size but he insisted on tie dye.  I finally had to admit defeat.  There was nothing in her size in tie dye.    Then for Caleb he wanted only black.  True the little boy does look good in black but again, nothing in his size.  I found a lovely pale blue and we agreed on having a pirate put on the front.  John wanted a skeletal looking pirate. I suggested a little boy one.

Quite a large sum of money later...lol...Well we have some cute t-shirts and we did save where we could but I confess I am still lobbying to visit the local Dollar Generals in future as I am pretty sure they too carry the beach merchandise and probably at a great deal less.

Thursday:  John promised me outright a walk on the beach this morning.  So we got up early to go out before sunburn could possibly occur.  It was COLD!  I mean like seriously cold and the beach was empty.  We and the sandpipers were the only ones who showed up.

We didn't walk far.  I had a jacket on but poor John had stubbornly refused to walk to the car to get his.  Knowing how prone he is to getting chilled to the core when he does get cold, I couldn't really walk in peace of mind.  And then there was the disturbing flute like quality of my cane as the winds whipped through the holes where one adjusts the cane height!  

No great loss to me to head indoors.  I had a scratchy throat yesterday and a stuffy nose today, sinuses no doubt inflamed from the cigarette smoke that kept drifting from another balcony to ours.  I am allergic to cigarette smoke and got an immediate headache the first night when a neighbor lit up.  And no, they are not supposed to do so.  Since the balcony's are very private you cannot see who is doing the smoking so I couldn't request they go to the smoking area.

And lest you think I'm not right I can report that symptoms started to dissipate as soon as they began to clean the two rooms either side of us!   Not quite 100% but better.

Friday:  Our last day.  We headed out a little earlier than checkout time simply because we like to get an early start.  We got lost a couple of times on our way back...and a third time that turned in our favor and actually led to a much easier finish of our route through the small towns.

We stopped at Publix to pick up lunch because we had no leftovers of the foods we'd bought for the week. I consider this a bonus!  It means that we didn't overbuy.

We decided to picnic at a spot where we've been before.  We tried to find it twice at different exits.  We know we've visited both sites before but nothing we saw today made us feel it was in the last familiar.  As well signage was abysmal.  We gave up.   We ate at a gas station parking lot under the shade of an oak tree on a little used overpass.

I found myself anticipating standing in my own kitchen and felt happy to be returning home.   That's something new to me because I've always had to adjust my thoughts for home before.  Not this time.  I was happy to get away but just as happy to be coming home!


Saturday:  Went to bed last night snuggled under a blanket and quite glad of it, too!  These cooler days are not going to last much longer.  One must wonder what summer has in store.  I can safely say, I never do know.   We've had cool days last well into summer and hot days drag themselves out in February and  parch the grass by end of May.  We've had rainy summers with lush green grass and soggy puddles that never seem to dry up and we've had summers as sere and brown as deserts.  We've had July's with night just this side of frost and Octobers that are still pushing the 100F mark.  If nothing else, weather is changeable and it does what it does and no one but God has any control over it.

I've been struggling all morning long contemplating the empty fridge and the piles of frozen foods trying to determine what we might possibly have for lunch and supper.  This is the disadvantage to having no leftovers...There's little to choose from that doesn't require lots of effort in thawing and making.  I've no mozzarella so do I do a cheese and pepperoni pizza today?   Perhaps a Chicken Pot Pie with a salad would be better.   It's chilly outdoors and I do have a bit of salad I can put out with that.  That does sound pretty good, but I shall miss my Saturday pizza.   Oh meal plans!!  Sometimes, I wish that it could be easier to plan meals...

Shall I share what we had last week?

Sunday: Homemade Chicken Salad, Sun Chips, Tangelo

Fried Chicken, Carrot/raisin salad for me, Macaroni salad for John

Monday:  Roast Beef and Swiss Hoagie with Mixed Fruit (Melons, berries, pineapple and grape)

Boars Head Franks on Brioche Buns, Chips

Tuesday:  Fish and Chips for me, Patty Melt for John

Leftover Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon  and this is the day I learned that some instant potatoes are really really good.  This packet was Idahoan and if I'm to keep instant potatoes on hand, we've decided this is the brand we'll keep in the pantry.

Wednesday:  Parking Lot picnic of Roast Beef and Chicken Salad Sandwiches, leftover fruit cup, Cookies

Cheese burgers, Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, 3 Bean Salad   The fried chicken and burgers are always John's choice of 'vacation food'...and at home food, too!   If it were my choice we'd have eaten other things but alas one must compromise and so cheeseburgers and fried chicken it was.

Thursday:  Leftover burgers, Chips

Steak, Mushrooms and Onions, Baked Potato and Tossed salad  I saved the leftover mushrooms and onion to fill an omelet next morning for our breakfast.  So good with Swiss Cheese!  We looked at steaks for quite a long while and settled on the sirloin steaks that were on sale because the two pieces were just right for the two of us.  All the rest were packets of two and would have been too much for us in their size.

Friday:  Picnic of  Publix Sandwiches, Cheetos and Cookies on our way home, another parking lotEv picnic

Last of the Boars Head Franks with Brioche buns, V8 juice for me, Sun Chips for John.

We did have a wee bit of waste.  I tossed two chicken legs and a spoonful of 3 bean salad.  I threw away 1/3 of the containers of carrot raisin salad and Macaroni salad.  But every thing else we bought was the perfect proportion and just enough to get us through this week of being away from home.  

Sunday:   About the time I finished my post yesterday, Sam texted saying the kids wanted to see us.  We wanted to see them, too but I was the reluctant one to say yes because I was so very tired.  John however, encouraged me to have them come on over.   About an hour later it was also John who asked 'How much longer will they be here?'  Ha.   I had gotten a second wind and we were having lunch by that point.  I suggested they'd stay until 2:30 and then we'd send them home to nap.

The boys and I had a game going where I was Lava Gramma and they had to step from pillow to pillow and reach me or Grampa or a chair or ottoman without getting burned up.  It was their idea, not mine, but we enjoyed it.   Poor John kept dozing off and just as he'd start to nod, Isaac would jump to the pillow nearest John's chair and launch himself into John's chest.  Rude awakenings, lol!

Millie was not left out.  She crawled from pillow to pillow and even lay down in the lava and squirmed so the boys decided she was Lava Sister.   In between swimming in lava, she'd bring me a toy dish and spoon and 'feed' me.  Do I see a future homemaker in our granddaughter?  Maybe!  

After the kids went home, John went to bed and went right to sleep.  I didn't realize he'd set an alarm, so I wouldn't let myself nap much as I wanted to do.  We had a small group meeting to go to and needed to be there  about 7pm.  It's a goodly drive there and it was pouring rain.   Does anyone else get tired when they must travel in inclement weather?  I know it's all stress related but still tired plus tired plus tired is TIRED.

When we came home last night, I pretty much fell into bed but was so tired I couldn't sleep right away.  

So this morning we were up early.  Off to church for early service and then to Aldi to pick up a few produce and dairy items to see us through the next week or so.  I knew about what I meant to spend but had no clue what was left in my budget so I bid low on what I allowed myself.  I did very well indeed, coming in $2 under my budget.   I bought chips, dairy, produce and as we went down the meat counter I picked up a package of boneless beef ribs and two of the Never Any whole roasting hens that were marked $2 off each.  That brought the price down to about 88c a pound which is a very good price on whole chicken for us.  I bought two of those.  I was pretty pleased with myself.

When we got home today I made a pepperoni pizza and unloaded groceries while that baked.   I left one of the chickens out to roast for our supper.    

After lunch, I took a sudden and unexpected nap.  Apparently stopping long enough to sit down was enough to give my body full permission to go to sleep.  Two hours later...yes, two whole hours!  When I woke I made myself a cup of coffee and since John was outdoors working on the mower, I sat down with the checkbook and brought it all up to date.   

I'd been dreading doing that.  This month, our spending has filled two full ledger sheets.  I cannot complain.   We came back from vacation with money still in our pockets that we will be redepositing.  We also had money in the account we'd set aside to spend for vacation and I discovered that we still had gasoline and grocery money leftover even after my little shop this morning.   For all that I dreaded that task it went easily and I discovered we were doing just fine.   Why do we allow worry to rule first?

Monday:  Nap aside, I slept well enough last night.  Just now I've got an allergy/sinus thing ongoing.  Once home, I found the pecan and privet blooming.  These two are my springtime allergy aggravators.  John started feeling it, too.  He truly does not feel well today.

I offered to ride into town with him today as moral support.  I know too well how he feels because I felt very poorly on Thursday and not so hot on Saturday.   We took off trash, got mower gas and stopped at the hardware/auto parts store to get the last items John needed to finish repairing the mower.  We had Alan check our battery in John's car today and that too is well charged and has good life in it yet.  Yay!

I really enjoyed our ride.  Even if it is an allergen, Privet smells so good!  Chinaberry, pecan and honeysuckle, blackberry and plantains and other grasses are blooming as well.  It's just a lovely time of spring and I do like it despite the sniffles and sneezes that must go along with it.  It all looks lush and lovely and any little breeze rustles the leaves on trees and the grasses wave back and forth.    

Back home, I was busy puttering, not as long as I puttered yesterday.   I found the cast iron Dutch oven and got it re-seasoned.  I need to find a space for it in the kitchen cabinet now but I didn't feel like sorting out cabinets today.   

I did some weeding in a flower bed and used the blower to clean off of patio and porches after John mowed.  I came back indoors to plan meals for the second time.   I did a couple of other tasks and wrote out the Gathering Fragments post.   When John finished mowing, I took him a cool drink outdoors to enjoy.  

I failed to take out things to thaw early enough today and had to re-plan my menu.  I had cooked taco meat in the freezer and I took that out and thawed on the stovetop over low heat.  I'm glad I did that because John really enjoyed those soft tacos.   I'm glad I slipped up this morning because it's such a pleasure to watch him truly enjoy a meal.

Tuesday:  I didn't feel like much today but nevertheless I set to and went to work in the kitchen.  I got quite a lot of prep work done for the week.   

First I started a batch of fresh chicken broth.  I have plenty in the freezer, it's true, but I also had this week's roasted chicken frame and I'd noted a bag in the freezer when I was digging around that was partly broth and a few bones we'd had left from another roast chicken dinner, plus a bag of onion root ends and tops, baby carrots no one had eaten, and celery root ends.   All went into my big deep stock pot with lots of water.   

I made up a double batch of biscuits.  We had 4 for breakfast and the rest are in the freezer.  I shall pop those into a plastic baggie later this evening when they are good and frozen.  

While the chicken broth was heating up, I took the meat off the chicken I'd roasted this week and put those bones into the stock pot, too, along with the pan juices I'd poured off and saved. I cut up the last half of the chicken breast for today's lunch sandwiches and then chopped the rest of the chicken and set it aside.  I chopped vegetables for sloppy joes, Chicken fried rice (I set aside some of the chicken pieces for that dish), coleslaw and the chicken soup I planned to make from the broth.

When I was done, I'd worked all through the morning hours.  It was time for a break in my opinion.   I sat down with a V8 juice and a glass of lemon water.  I read emails and wrote a couple of replies.   Then I was back in the kitchen.

This time around I was straining the broth.  I took 2 cups of broth and started a pan of rice which will do us for both the Chicken Fried Rice and another meal I've planned.  I picked over the bones and added the meat pieces back to the pot.  I chopped a couple of cooked celery root ends and the carrots I'd used in to make the broth and put those back in the pot.   I rooted around for any thing I could find  to toss into the pot.  I am no purist when it comes to a soup recipe.  I add what I have and like.  Today: garlic, green peas, onion and zucchini.  I quite possibly will add a can of green beans, as well.   I seasoned it well with turmeric, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon pepper, soy sauce, garlic.  I learned from Katie years ago to add a chicken bouillon cube.  I don't know why but it just amps up the chicken flavoring and I would say it's absolutely necessary for a good pot of soup.  I'm so convinced that when I make a beef based soup, I use the beef bouillon to bring up that flavor.

I may add some sort of pasta in a little while.  I'd thought I'd make egg noodles this morning but I didn't ever get that far along in the kitchen today.  And that's quite okay.   I could also cut up and use flour tortillas in the broth which would make a sort of soft dumpling.   If John has a say, he'll request those big thick fluffy dumplings.  I'll see which he thinks he wants.

By this point the kitchen was looking pretty messy, lol, though I'd tried to clean as I went.  So I cleaned up the dishes, wiped down the counters and swept the floor.   That does seem to me quite enough work for the day!  I think quiet work is now in order, don't you?

Well not quite...I hear John back from mowing Sam's yard so I need to go mix up a pitcher of Gatorade and get his lunch on the table.   Then maybe I can take a break between afternoon coffee and suppertime!

Wednesday:  Last night I began to think about what I'd like to accomplish in May.  Truth told, I was feeling a little better as the evening went on and I was ready to tackle jobs.  I also did some research about plants and their prime growing conditions.  It was a productive evening.   Still, I was more than ready for bed when the evening ended.

I woke feeling much, much better this morning.   I think the key was that I got up and went on to the guest room last night when I found myself lying awake, despite my desire to sleep.  There are nights when the noise of the fan, and the white noise machine, and John snoring  (last night it was sniffling, bless him), and my own swirl of thoughts that I find going off to a quiet room is key.  Apparently it was just what I needed last night, that bit of quiet space because I went right off to sleep and didn't wake until just after 7 this morning.

John too must have needed the lack of a body tossing and turning in bed, because he slept until nearly 9am.  He's worked hard these past three days and hasn't been feeling well with allergies so I'm glad we both got much needed rest.

As soon as I'd made our breakfast this morning I did a little work indoors but then decided I'd go outdoors.  I worked my bottom off.  I was having a scattered day, the sort of day where I'd start one job and quickly turn to another and then another and look back and there was a trail of started tasks and I was already good and tired and not one task finished. 

At one point, I left everything and went to sit in the kitchen sitting and cool off.  I did my Bible study at that point and then I headed right back outdoors.   I pushed on and finished  all those tasks I'd started,  but goodness, I really need to be sure and focus on one job and then the next rather than multiples as I did today.   

The day warmed up a lot.   I was in the middle of a task (another one I hadn't planned to do but started) when Sam drove up.  He got out of the car holding a container.  "Whatcha got?"  I asked him.  "Chicken soup!"   I started shaking my head.  "Sorry baby, but we have plenty of it...I made chicken soup yesterday, too."  "But this has biscuit dumplings..."   "Yep, mine, too."   We both started laughing and he sat down to chat with me, as I started still another task...I'm telling you I was just scattered brained as could be about sticking to any task.

"It was cool yesterday morning, and I thought, 'We haven't even had chicken soup with dumplings even once while it was cool' and thought I'd better make it."  I nodded, "Yes, me too, Sam.  I guess you and I were just thinking alike yesterday!"  We chatted a little more and after telling me that I had a big spider crawling up the back of my leg, which made me slap at myself and dance, he went back home, taking his container of chicken soup with him.

John came out and went to work on a few jobs and then he sat on the porch and watched me repot some plants.  I caught myself talking out loud to the plants and looked up at him, feeling embarrassed.  "I guess you know now...I talk to all my plants.  I reckon I sound very silly to you."  He just said, "Not at all.  It must work wonders, just look at them all!"   Why is it we think we're so worried about appearing silly.  The truth is I've read for years that plants and even food items, respond positively to positive talk.   I've been talking to my plants for as many years as I've had my own homes and it's true that I do tend to have a rather green thumb and good results.  

When I finished and cleaned up the mess on the back porch, we sat and had an ice pop together before we finally came indoors to shower and change.  Then I made us sandwiches.   All I really wanted to do was sit and rest but there was a load of dishes in the dishwasher to be put away, a stack of dishes in the sink to be washed or put in the dishwasher.  I told John I'd just plan to do those few tasks then I'd have a nice sit down.  I decided to start our supper cooking while I was doing the dishes, since I'd done all the prep work yesterday for it.   All I really had to do was brown the meat and then add in the other ingredients and leave it to simmer.   Tonight we're having  sloppy joes and I knew that starting them and letting it sit for a little while would only bring up the good flavor in the dish.     The sloppy joes were all done just about the time I got the dishes all attended to, so that worked out very well.  I went and put my feet up without the least little guilt that I'd left anything undone.

Thursday:  John asked me last night "Why are you working so hard lately?"  Well gracious goodness, he just hasn't been around for years upon years to know that I've always worked this hard!  I slacked off last year since we didn't have money to freshen any area of the yard except that one flower bed, but this is pretty much my usual M.O.   I work.  I work hard.   And especially this time of year when the yard is beginning to bloom and show signs of life.  I weed and trim and plant and mulch.  I deep clean and scrub and paint.  When it starts to get too hot for me to stand any work at all, I stop and wait until it begins to cool off in autumn and then I go right back at it hard all over again.  

I went out this morning in the cooler air to work for 2 hours.  I made it back indoors about 3 hours later.  I showered and we got ready to go over to Katie's where John mowed her backyard.  He didn't work this morning when I was working so I felt perfectly fine just going on into the house and sitting with the bubby boy who loves to tease Gramma.  I was much amused to see him toddle right behind Katie from room to room saying "Mamamama" all the while.   He was a tired little fellow though and soon went down for a long nap.

That's when Katie, who wasn't feeling talkative put on a movie and I asked to watch another one instead.  Nothing wrong with her choice but I'd read a Meme of an Elle Woods quote the other day that made me laugh out loud and I suggested we watch Legally Blonde.

Katie and I have watched that movie many times before but it's been quite a long while since either of us had seen it.  What struck us both today was that Elle Woods set to with determination to win the guy she loved.  She went to work studying and researching and was undeterred by naysayers and well meaning folks who suggested she just be happy with her current status.   However, the challenge before her was to prove she could do it and she got into law school, moved across country and when she met her first obstacles she took a good long look at her options and leaped over them.   No, it's not billed as  a coming of age movie but it is under the guise of comedy and chick flick.  

And it's a good reminder to all of us women that sometimes the harder things we choose to do are often what leads us to come to know our true value.

Katie and Chad made us lunch of yummy grilled burgers.  They were so very good!  Hard work, baby loves, burgers, a good movie...That all adds up to a pretty darned good day in my opinion.

Tomorrow I shall do my pre-Shabat cleaning and planning for weekend meals.  I don't think I'm going to be busy outdoors, except I do want to go spray about the Faith tree with some Repels All to hopefully frustrate the dogs.  I've had to redo the mulch on that tree three times already and I'm so over having the dogs un-do all my work.  

Here's where I thank the me earlier in the week for meal prep time, too, because I am T.I.R.E.D.  Tonight we'll have Chicken Fried Rice and Sliced Cucumbers.   Tomorrow nigh we'll eat the Cesar Chicken.   Since we had Chicken Soup for supper instead of for lunch, and we had tacos on Monday,  the meatloaf meal will be scratched off this week's plan.   This is pretty typical of how a lot of my weeks go with meal planning.  That's why certain meals will pop up several times in a six or eight week period.  I keep planning them into the menu but they just never get made!

Friday:  I'm afraid not much of the Shabat cleaning got done today but I am not complaining.  I hesitated a bit yesterday when I wrote out my plans for today and thought "Perhaps I oughtn't say I shall do this or that," in case things change.  But no, I reasoned, I might as well say I would and of course, things changed.  

It was a happy change.  I was having my morning coffee thinking what I might do today when Bess texted and asked if she might come over with her two littlest.  I said "Yes, Please do..." right away and nary a thought about Shabat cleaning until after I'd said yes.  Then I jumped to and got a quick breakfast on the table, made beds, did some minor straightening and fed pets.  I was in the yard attending to a minor job of spraying the Faith tree bed with Repels all to try and see if I might keep the dogs out of the mulch there, when Isaac came running across the back porch.  I peered at him through the slats of the porch railing and said "Who's that?!"

He was so funny as he looked all around but never thought to look down at me.  His face was such a puzzled one.  He knew he heard a voice but where on earth had it come from?  He even peered into the back door to see if I was there, lol.  It was good fun to tease him.  

And then I spent the day with Millie and Isaac milling around and helped Bess do her annual seasonal sorting of clothes.  She has so many things for Isaac that are hand me downs and a big bag of things for Caleb to be handed down again but dear Josh has no hand me downs this year.  Not a big problem as she has another friend who sometimes passes things on to her and I guess buying for one child isn't nearly so bad as having to buy for all three!  

Millie has taken two or three steps on her own.  She did it at home first this morning and though we kept trying to get her to do it here, she'd take one or two and then plop to the floor again.  But when she wouldn't eat her lunch, I took her out of the chair and was trying to put her on the floor.  Her daddy was here at the time, and she was so mad at me that she forgot she didn't want to walk and stomped all over the floor trying to get back to that high chair!  lol.   Silly girl.  In two weeks from now she'll forget she ever walked on her knees at all (preferred over crawling these days) and be walking on her feet all the time the same as her cousin Caleb.  

When they all headed home after a made up lunch of all sorts of leftovers, we set to and cleaned up.  I have a big load of dishes washing, fresh baked bread on the counter, meal plan for tonight and tomorrow.   That's good enough.

How was your week? 

Diary of a Homemaker's Week: Well Done!

  Saturday:  I was asked to keep Caleb today and so I'd sort of prepared the house the night before.   I might as well not have bothered...