Being a Helpmeet

I don't believe when I was first married I thought too much about what being a wife really means.  By the time I'd been through the hurt of a divorce, I found that attending a wedding was a sweet agony.  The marriage vows, as they were read off by the pastors, were especially meaningful and I was aware of my own failings as a wife. After I became a Christian I read the New Testament and the words Paul wrote to wives about being submissive to their husbands.  I took these things to heart. Even so, when I took my vows with John, I still had little idea of the full meaning of what it is to be a wife.

The world view of a wife tends to be that the woman is stepping into a protective covenant, that she is weaker and needs that additional protection.  I was ready to embrace the idea of myself as a 'weaker' sex after being placed in a lead role in my first marriage.  I had no problem with the idea of being submissive to my husband. And yet...I struggled. I'd been an independent woman.  I was not, am not a feminist. .  It seemed to me there was something I'd missed, however.

This past week I think I discovered what that was.  John and I were watching a ministry channel and saw a telecast of Mike Barber ministries.  The pastor who spoke took his sermon from Genesis, about Adam and the creation of Eve.  He began talking to the women (who were prisoners) about the need of every woman to be strong in who she is.  Not equal. Not better than a man.  But strong in order to go into a relationship as a partner to man.  That spoke volumes to me.  My background is a background of strong women.  Women capable of standing on their own two feet.

Randomness - The Thoughts that Wander Through My Mind...

I have allowed my thoughts to have free reign now and then and go where they might.  I'm rather surprised where they wind up at times, lol.  Much like Hansel and Gretel, who wandered away into the forest, I think sometimes I should leave behind me bread crumbs so I can find my way back out once again.

First I was looking over at BH&G site this evening and one whole section is devoted to gray.  I don't like gray...or so I thought.  I do like gray as it turns out...Just certain shades of gray.  For instance, I think doves are the perfect color of gray.  And I do dearly love the idea of a meek Gray and white dress with tiny black buttons a la Jane Eyre. And of course, I love gray and white so much that I painted our sheds gray with white trim (which goes nicely with their red roofs). I happen to love my gray cat (who is referred to as a 'blue' due to the deep hue of gray she is). And  I bought a new shower curtain a few weeks ago which is, of course, gray.  So, I clear my throat and say I do like gray.  I like shades such as the ones used in these rooms: 

Not The Day I Planned

Today is not the day I planned. 

I planned to do the grocery shopping today.

I planned to send my husband off to work well armored for the new day, the last day of a tough week.

I planned to leave early and beat the heat.

I planned to bring home something delicious for dinner.

I planned.  But my plans failed.

All Grown Up

I was reading a blog yesterday about a young woman who had a troublesome day with her two year old.  She linked to another blog with another woman who'd had a troublesome day with her little boy as well.  I was amused and went to the comments section to leave an encouraging word, but many others had been there before me.  Most all of them had small children and they told of their bad days.  I read, and I laughed, and I commiserated.  I am a mom.  I know.

Amie was a good baby, except for her desire to stay up ALL NIGHT LONG.  She did not sleep a full night through until she was  eight years old.  For all that, she truly was a good child, with only two 'bad day' memories for me. There was the first day. She was two at the time.  On that day, she locked me out of the car.  Thankfully on a cool autumn day.  When I finally convinced her to unlock the door it was because she had to go potty.  And so did I.  While I was in the bathroom she snitched my house key and lost it.  Forever.  Never to be found.  Conscious that we had to run our errand to a distant city, I prayed over the unlocked door, pulled it shut behind me and asked the Good Lord to watch over our household. 

We drove to a city some 50 miles away to a big bank downtown.  We rode the elevator up to the fourth floor.  Amie was fascinated.  Push a button and up we go!  Such fun.  I promised her we'd take another ride shortly and handed my paper work to a secretary on the floor who indicated a bench against the wall next to the elevator and told us to please wait...So we sat down and Amie amused herself trying to push the button to make the machine open up for another ride.  Only she couldn't quite reach it.  So she used the handy little handle next to the button to pull herself up.  It happened to be the fire alarm.

Thrifty Thursdays

Deep breath...Can I just say I am TIRED and it is only just after 10am?  I have made breakfast, made the bed, fed the animals, watered the plants, spread 8 bags of mulch, started a pot of strawberry jam cooking, have yogurt incubating and bread rising and have diced nectarines to make muffins and blueberry/nectarine pancakes (the last two for the freezer) and I am weary already.  How I shall manage to do more today I do not know, but I am waiting for energy to pick up so I can continue my plan of attack.  Needless to say, however, mopping floors will most assuredly WAIT.  We've looked at the drips and drops for the past week.  One more day won't hurt.

Now seriously, a lot of what got done today was thrifty thrifty thrifty.  How so?

We don't eat breakfast out except on dates.  I haul myself out of bed at 5:45am on work mornings and make my husband a meal.  It may not be elaborate, but it's good solid food and a nice balance of protein/carb to give him energy. He very kindly makes coffee when he gets up so it's ready when I get up about an hour later (he likes a bit of alone time).  He could stop in town and get a breakfast but why pay $3 for what I can rustle up in ten minutes here?  $21 for a 7day work week is our savings.  Double that for the month.

I also packed his lunch while waiting for the bagel to toast (this morning's breakfast: bagel and cream cheese from an 8 ounce block not that fancy whipped stuff at twice the price).  I pack enough food for lunch/snack/supper, so more savings there.  A lunch/snack/supper would cost at least $12 if bought from fast food or convenience store.  That's $100/week we're saving on his work weeks and well worth the savings.  And let's double that for the month, too.  It's pretty obvious why we keep doing this over and over again isn't it?  Those meals I make at home save us almost $3000 a year.  That's $3000 we can use to pay off our car loan or make repairs on our home.  Note too that is a low savings...really it is.  I know my husband will eat dollar menu selections.  Restaurants cost far more so if you're eating out daily at a restaurant you could easily save that much money annually on lunch alone.

Hurrying July and In The Kitchen

I've been struggling with July all month long.  It seems to me that it's past time for this month to end!  And no, it's not been a particularly bad month, but it does seem to be just dragging by us for some reason.  In my mind, you see, we are already in the last week and just days away from August.  August is not a month of which I am particularly fond but somehow it does seem it ought to be here by now.  Maybe, subconsciously, I am wishing for autumn and August is the 'almost there' month...Sounds good as any other theory I might have, lol.

No matter how I might wish to hurry it along the truth it is here for as long as it is here, right?  So I am gathering my thoughts and realizing that it is not Zone 4 work week but Zone 3 work week, which means I shouldn't be planning to spend all day tomorrow in the kitchen, but I want to and so I shall.  Oh I'm just a real rebel, I am!  I expect I'll get plenty done in the bed and bathrooms on Friday to make up for my lack on Thursday.

A Good Day's Work

John warned me last week that the overtime we've enjoyed this year may soon be coming to an end.  With that warning, I knew it was time to look over our budget sheet and adjust my figures to our usual take home pay.  It's been nice having the overtime, no kidding, but I'm happy to say that if we are careful we should be able to manage just fine and be able to continue our current rate of savings.  Of course the variable areas of the budget are the ones we'll have to keep an eye upon: Electricity, gasoline and groceries.  Everything else is 'fixed'. 

One item I didn't remove from the budget is the amount we normally set aside for our car insurance.  We've been paying our car insurance in monthly installments for quite a few years now, but this renewal we were offered a substantial 20% incentive to pay in full.  Savings of $150 a year plus the $36 we've been paying as a surcharge to divide the amount into monthly payments pretty much means we've halved the cost of our insurance for six months.  We agreed after looking over the savings that we'd rather take the full amount out of our savings in a lump sum, but we'd continue to set aside a monthly amount, just as though we were making payments.  Then when the bill comes due again in six months we'll have the money already set aside in our account.  I'm curious to see if we're offered the same incentive when we renew our house insurance later this year.

This method of setting money aside monthly even if the bill isn't due for six to twelve months works well for us because we are very disciplined.  That money doesn't get touched at all for anything else.  We have literally trained ourselves to see it as money already spent.  If you don't have this dedicated discipline where money is concerned you might find it a better solution to have an auto deposit to a savings account you cannot easily access.

Satisfied that we'd be doing well enough financially, I thought I'd get the rest of my Home Keeping Notebook in order.  I checked the calendar for upcoming birthdays, appointments, events... Nothing else this month.  I made out new Zone cleaning sheets.  I wanted to add quarterly jobs to be done to further offset the need to do seasonal cleaning.  I'm satisfied if I work per my worksheets each week I'll never again have to do a major Spring/Fall cleaning. The time saved on spring fall cleaning will save time and energy which I plan to use in yard/garden work.  Occasionally there are a few extra days in each month. I'm going to use the 'extra' time to work on my shed, getting it cleaned, organized, prettified. 

Make Do and Mend Monday

A couple of years ago a friend gave me this plaque.  I'm showing the back here because Terri-like I started the project before I took the before photo...The plaque has a raised heart on the opposite side and the base heart was this shade of red, while the raised heart had a bright green background upon which a rooster pranced, with the word WELCOME above his head.  I liked the piece a lot and hung it on the backdoor.  One day I noticed that the bright green and the rooster, too had turned a sickish sort of blue color.  I removed the plaque from the backdoor at that time.

I kept the piece because it was sturdy and I figured I could do something with it.  Well today was my day to do something.  I used scrapbook paper and a picture cut from an old calendar.  I used paint I had on hand to cover the red paint.  This is what I ended up with:

Currently Reading

I made time to go to the library this month and managed to read three of the books I checked out. D.E. Stevenson's Amberwell and Fletcher's End and Agnes Sligh Turnbull's Whistle and I Will Come.

I haven't read a great deal of Mrs. Turnbull's works but I thoroughly enjoyed The Bishop's Mantle several years ago and I thought I'd read more of her work. I was disappointed in Whistle and I Will Come. It is a mystery of sorts and I was pretty sure I knew whodunit and I was right but I found it disappointing how the conclusion of the mystery was settled.
I failed to find the depth of character development I'd found in my previous reading of her work. I also felt the book was wrapped up a little too quickly. It almost seemed as though there were a page limit and the book had to be finished within that limit. Most unsatisfactory. I will have a few more selections by this author to try and I am hopeful they will be less disappointing,

Drawing Nearer

Last night we had our usual Shabat candle lighting and prayer time followed by communion. This is such a sweet time to me and a moment of the week for which I find myself yearning more and more. Typically on Friday evening we watch a ministry program televised on World Harvest Television from World Revival Church. I suppose coming fresh out of the Shabat evening ritual, which I find so very intimate, I was especially open to the music last night and I felt myself near to tears. The sermon was quite good as well and all in all it was a very moving evening.

After we'd said our nightly prayers, I didn't feel quite ready for sleep so I read for a bit. As I got up to tend to my nightly routine prior to shutting out the light, I happened to glance at the photo I keep on my bedside table. It is one of the few photos I have of my husband and myself together. This photo was taken last autumn when we went to the beach.

Ten Things I Learned from the All You Grocery Challenge

Forgive the lack of pictures with these first few posts. I wanted to find something new instead of the same images I've used over and over again.  Give me time and I'll have some newer images.

Thank you to those of you who are coming along for this new journey.  I admit earlier today, just after I'd hit 'publish' and submitted the final PennyAnn post, I was talking to Samuel (aka Alan) and told him I'd just 'killed' Penny Ann.  His initial shocked reaction of "WHY?" made my stomach sink.  Had I made a huge mistake?  Had I really spent enough time making this decision over the past two years?  Yeah.  That's the way my mind works.  Then he said, "Well, I can see why you might feel you need a change after ten years..."  Whew!  Katie was more to the point with her remark.  "It's about time!"  My girl never wastes words or fears sharing her opinion.

In honesty, it was a hard decision to make to walk away from a fairly popular format with a good following.  John and I talked about it at length, I spent a lot of time in prayer.  I didn't make this decision lightly.  I think it says something of my current mindset that I was so quick to worry about the decision once I'd sent the final post.  I note a certain lack of confidence that no doubt needs to be changed.

While the main focus of this blog is not to be solely frugal living, I did want to share what I learned from a recent challenge. I've just finished participating in the All You grocery challenge.  I didn't submit my entry but did follow the guidelines. I spent an average of $52 per week, which is close enough to $50 to suit me. I did the challenge to see if I could manage.  Truth: I wanted to see if I still had Ninja Savings skills.  I think the most revealing thing about this challenge was not how to trim costs but what I discovered as I participated. 

1.  I don't know how much to cook.  All of my life I've cooked for five or more.  It was hard to adjust to our smaller family of three and it's been hard to adjust to cooking for one and two.  With John's work schedule I often end up cooking just for me during the work week.  I've tried to cope with this by making half recipes, freezing the main portion of a recipe and simply holding out a single portion for myself, or making foods that will adapt well to his requested salad/sandwich work lunch.  Some days are easier than others in that respect.  Most days are a fail.  I grow to loathe a recipe by the time I've eaten it two or three or four times in a month.

Goodbye and Hello

Say goodbye to Penny Ann. Say hello to me.
Still a bona fide homemaker, writer, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, member of the Bon Bon Club... but not Penny Ann.

Lest you think this change is sudden, believe me it's not.  I've been struggling against the constraints of being a one dimensional character for about two years now but I just couldn't bring myself to 'kill' Penny Ann.  She has been a fun sort of character to be and a safe place to hide from the realities of a not so perfect life.  Penny Ann was good at coping and covering.  Me....I stumble and fumble through and seem to come out on top at the end.  I find more than ever I need to be authentic.  So, hello.

I'll start by introducing my real life counterparts.  There's my husband, John.  Myself (Terri).  Maddie, Misu and Trudy.  That's who lives here at the blue house on the hill.  We do have children, but they are indeed grown and flown to various parts of the country, with grandchildren.  Katie (Kay) left home last August to move to Tennessee after she married.  John and I spent these months on our own trying to figure out how to relate to one another.  Thank goodness, we like one another very well and have plenty in common besides our children.  We are now settling in nicely but here we are nearly a year later and only just beginning to feel fully comfortable with our new stage in life.

So what should you expect from me, myself and I?  As said I'm still a country girl, so certainly observations about the natural world around me.  I continue to be a homemaker so plenty of homey things including how to save.  Revelations as I pursue my Bible studies.  Personal opinions about current events.  Reflections upon life.  Personal philosophies.  Questions to which I'm seeking answers.  Poetry that moves me.  Books I've been reading,  movies I've seen.    I'm planning to keep it real, not raw, but real. 


Diary for July: Week Two

July 7, Shabat Saturday:   So very much I want to chatter over today and perhaps I will...I don't typically write on Shabat, having al...