Monday Afternoon Thoughts

It's breezy enough outdoors to warrant the above photo.  Especially since I had pillows hanging out to air earlier this morning.  Oh the air was so nice, the humidity practically non-existent and the cooler temperatures (at least for mornings of late) are most welcome.  Daytimes we're still hitting in the middle 90's but by end of week we should be seeing low 90's instead...lol.  Yes every little degree less is counted in these last days of summer, as we strain hard towards the new coming season.

Hurricane Irene missed us entirely.  Typically a hurricane means we see squallish rain, high winds and sometimes damage even here in our inland abode, but not this time. Other than the counter clockwise movement of fat fluffy clouds in an otherwise blue sky, all we got was increased humidity.  I have watched some of the news footage of the damage done and am certainly thinking of all those who live along the East coast who did feel the force of that hurricane.  Most of my online friends are reporting no damage in their particular areas and I am grateful to hear it. 

It's Thrifty Thursday!

I found this image in one of my August WWII issues.  The couple are looking over their ration book.  That seemed a fitting image for a Thrifty Thursday.

Do you ever have one of those spells where it looks as though you must continually reach into your pocketbook to take money OUT instead of putting it in?  I just need to adjust my thinking.  Thankfully I adjusted the budget last month when John mentioned OT was at an end.  What makes me nervous?  Not so much really except that now all the birthdays are over for the year, I begin to think of Christmas which is only months away!  Oh dear, and I have very little time.  However, it's nothing that being mindful of thriftiness can't cure.

Thrift IS routine in this house.  I can't, truly I can't, name all I do every day to save money.  That's partly due to the fact that so much of it is habit, ingrained and therefore just not notable.  I confess too that I tend to be more focused on what I'm spending and why instead of what I'm doing to save.  But now and then I do something that seems to me to be out of the ordinary and so I share it.  It might be something you already do on a daily basis, never think of, and wonder why I'm making special note of it.  Because it is new to me, and it might possibly be new to someone else.

A Changing Season


The day has been just beautiful...Heck the week has been beautiful thus far.  While our days continue unpleasantly hot (it was 100F Monday afternoon on my front porch) the mornings have been blissfully nice.  This morning the temperature was a mere 69F!  I was so pleased, that after feeding the animals, I rushed indoors to throw open all the windows.  It was lovely to have that fresh air in the house.  If only the breeze we had yesterday had been blowing today...Then the house might have been well aired for Autumn months ahead. 

I spied this blooming roadside three weeks ago and made a special stop to photograph it this past Saturday.  Isn't it just beautiful?  I hear often enough from people that golden rod is an allergen for them.  I beg to differ.  Nearly all allergies this time of year are ragweed which blooms at the same time as golden rod.  Golden rod is more noticeable and hence more people believe that is the allergen.   

Random Stuff of Butterflies, Loneliness and Telecommunciations, etc.


Isn't the above photo just beautiful?  It is an image from space, I think taken during a solar eclipse but not sure.  I think this particular one looks like a butterfly. 

Speaking of butterflies, that's something I've seen a lot less of this year, this dry summer with late rains and too hot heat.  I suppose that like most things, cicadas and gnats for example, there are just years without as many.  I've heard a few cicadas this year, but nothing like the never ending loud  droning of them in some years.  They are a cyclical creature and every seven years or so there is a gluttony of cicadas who hatch out and sing for all they are worth and drive you nearly mad as even a closed up house with AC and television running cannot quite drown out the sound.  I'm a huge fan of House Hunters International and a couple meant to live on a Greek island.  One of the houses they visited there were cicadas singing so loudly outdoors they could hardly be heard speaking to the camera.  I thought should I ever find that island in Greece I might close my eyes and hear the sound and dream myself back in my own Georgia summer once more and even perhaps wake in the night confused that I was in Greece and not at all in Georgia. 

But butterflies...Not so many this year.  I saw more yesterday on my way home hovering over what we call butterfly weed which is a tall twiggy looking plant with few leaves and the tiniest of purple flowers atop which butterflies love beyond reason considering the general un-showiness of the plant.  Yesterday I saw more and the roadside seemed to be alive with fluttering.  And still it is much, much less than in years past.

Re-Visit July 15, 2011



http://inthebluehouseonthehill.blogspot.com/2011/07/ten-things-i-learned-from-all-you.html

About a month ago I finished up the All You grocery challenge.  It was a personal challenge for myself and I learned quite a few things, which I enumerated in the post link above.  I believe the value of lessons learned is how you apply the new knowledge.  I thought it would be interesting to see where I am a month later and how I applied what I learned.

#1 I don't know how much to cook.   And I still don't.  But I'm trying harder to be more creative with  the foods I cook.  Last week I made tacos, a tortilla tower and taco salad out of a pound of taco seasoned ground beef.  And this week we've made 'new' recipes from chicken, roast beef, and another ground beef dish.  More variety and a few less leftovers than in the past.  I'm getting nearer the mark of cooking for two.  As well I'm going to be rethinking how I package up my meats.  I don't know why I lean towards putting up a pound of hamburger when we're only going to eat 3/4 pound at most and usually 1/2 pound.  So still more to learn, but this time about how I store my foodstuffs.

#2  My current method of menu planning doesn't work well for us.  And my lack of planning hasn't exactly worked well either. For the past month I've not written out one menu plan at all. However, by NOT planning I've been forced to be more creative with the leftovers.  See #1.  Personally I don't recommend this method at all.  Obviously I need to really work on this.  In the past I did a twice weekly menu planning session that worked rather well.  It worked like this: I'd plan meals on Monday and on Friday I'd sit down and plan meals based upon leftovers/produce/dairy products that might need to be used.  I think I'm going to adopt that method again.

Thrifty Thursday

Another week just past.  I don't know, honestly, where all the time goes.  We spend a bit of time working and a bit of time playing and a bit of time sleeping and a day is done and before we know it a week slips by and then a month or six and a year.  Granny wasn't kidding when she said it slid away from you fast after you passed 18!

Saturday was our usual Shabat at synagogue.  I'd planned ahead and thawed steaks bought on sale on my regular shopping day.  With baked potatoes and a big tossed salad my husband was a happy man...I know because he posted about it on Facebook, lol.  Well he did the cooking, I just did the budgeting and planning ahead part.  I'd say we were both blessed that day.

Typically our Saturday is a quiet afternoon at home and this was no different.  No work for us, just quiet pursuits like reading, watching  a movie, playing computer games.  It suits us just fine and is very restful after the usual busy pace of the week.  By evening I've begun to feel restless, a sign that I've rested enough.  I usually do some light housework then, and meal planning. 

Sunday morning I was up early, ready to do housework and make my usual Sunday trip into town.  Despite being a bit over budget, I'd noted in our local paper that sales were quite good on several pantry worthy items.  So with John's permission, I did some shopping while in town.  I added grits, Spam, sugar, and a couple of other items to the pantry shelves. 

Gracious! Shall I Ever Catch Up?



Internet has been problematic here the past few days.  We went without all day on Sunday and were away from home a long time yesterday, but it was intermittent in the morning hours.  Today internet is cutting out about every thirty minutes.  Just about the time I think I have a clear path to write, off it goes.  So I'm writing anyway.  At some point I feel sure I'll just be able to save and finally post whatever I write. 

Saturday we had rain after we got home and it was so cozy to be indoors and hear the rain outside.  Trouble was it made us terribly sleepy, especially after our dinner (Steak/Baked Potatoes/Salad).  John was especially happy over the menu.  Since he does the pan frying of steaks I hardly have a thing to do but set the table, make a salad (easy peasy when the lettuce is all washed and ready) and wait, lol.  I jokingly tell him all I have to do is budget for the steaks.  We didn't bother with computers that afternoon.  The eyestrain just made us more miserably sleepy.  We didn't dare nap though as it would have meant not sleeping well.  I was more than ready for bed around 10:30 and was about to head off when John found an old English cooking show I love, Two Fat Ladies.  I still like that show a lot and it's one of the few John willingly watches.

Sunday morning I got busy with the housework and had the sheets and towels in the washer early.  I watered plants on the front porch, using the rain water caught on Saturday in our bucket, then made a nice dinner for us.  At least I'm sure it was nice but I can't remember what on earth I made...sigh.  Oh yes, I do remember!  I made a pan of meatballs in tomato sauce and served with spaghetti.  John made mention of seeing a plate of spaghetti and meatballs while watching a movie and I know my husband well enough that if he mentions noticing food served it's something he'd like to have himself.   I used a pound of ground sirloin and added in Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, an egg and tiny bit of grated onion and garlic. 

Late But Still Thrifty!


I meant to do this post yesterday but time got away from me.  I put in a good day's work, sat down to rest and poof! Time disappeared and it was time for us to head out to John's worship practice.  It had been rumbling thunder all afternoon long at the time we left.  Not a drop of rain to show for all the noise though.

We had a neat thing happen and of course, I had no camera with me to capture it.  We tend to use a little dirt road to sort of short cut into the main highway in front of the church where we synagogue.  This is actually far safer than the harum scarum intersection.  The road 500 or so feet in front of us looked odd and I mentioned it to John.  As we got a little nearer we realized that probably 100 feet or so of road was covered with a thousand little brown birds.  As the car came nearer still they rose, one row at a time before us...It almost looked like one of those 'wave' things at a stadium!  It was so cool and words hardly express the wonder of it but my camera was at home, so a great photo op was missed yet again.  One day I'll make good on my promise to start taking that camera with me every where I go.

The week has flown past.  I was busy busy all week long, John has been fairly busy these past three days.  We've accomplished a lot between us and it feels good to look back at the week and see how productive it's been.

Before and Afters , Sitting Pretty Pets, and New Recipes

 Yep.  It was a mess.  That old quilt ended up in the trash though it broke my heart.  It photographed BETTER than it was in person.  In person, it had holes the size of my fist in it and smelled to high heaven.  I remember when Granny used it as her bedspread in her room and how nice it was.  I think my great grandmother hand pieced and quilted that one.  The stitches were beautiful.  Fortunately I have another quilt top she made and it is in really good shape.  I just need to finish it off.
The sunbonnet on the chair was one of Big Mama's.  Granny used it when she was working in the yard too.  As much as she enjoyed being outdoors working, Granny insisted she had to be covered up, wearing a sun bonnet or straw hat, long sleeves and long pants, too.  She wore gloves on her hands to keep them from getting tanned.  Her care paid off in very nice skin that didn't wrinkle until she was in her late 80's.

A Brand New Day



Confession time:  I love getting up early but...somewhere along about the fourth day of a work week, it starts to get really hard to get up especially when the week has been busy.  This morning I felt it especially hard to rise when the alarm went off and at one point after John left, I switched off the lights and prepared mentally to go back to bed.  Trouble was I was really hungry as well as really sleepy.  And hunger won because I've never yet managed to sleep if my tummy was growling.  So I went out on the front porch to feed the dogs and cat while I ate my peanut butter and sliced peach toast (Yep, it's an odd combo but it was recommended in Weight Watchers and it's really good!), sipped my cup of coffee and listened to the birds calling.

We had rain yesterday afternoon before I returned home from synagogue and everything looked dewy and fresh and green.  A slight misty haze arose amongst the trees as the sun began to warm the cool damp spots and suddenly I felt that rending of the heart that comes with beauty that can't be created by man.  The world was silent save the call of the birds (since the cat and dogs had finished eating and were not longer crunch crunch crunching their dry food).  The sun touched the lawn and shone through the leaves of the faith tree and I thought, "The world must have looked like this when it was new."   Then I was reminded of the passage in Lamentations 3 "His mercies are renewed every morning."

My First Estate Sale

I started housework extra early yesterday morning and took the local paper onto the porch with my coffee when I was feeding the animals.  I like our little local paper.  Mostly it's a page of local news, a page of editorials and a page of sports with a mixed page tossed in of births, first birthdays, the occasional milestone anniversary (usually 50 years and up) and obituaries, then legal ads and general advertising.  It's a homey sort of newspaper.  I don't think it will ever win any journalism awards but it's our local paper and it does at least keep us aware of local mandates, businesses and the occasional human interest story.  Reading it generally takes a bit over five minutes...

I happen to like to read the ads in the back, not the legals, but the real estate, help wanted and then the yard sale notices and most importantly the local antiques and flea markets stores.  This week I found a notice for an estate sale.  I noticed the name of the main road was one which I'd seen earlier in the week while I was out and since the housework was pretty much done, I promised myself I'd make it my goal to go to this estate sale while I was out running errands.  I'd never before been to an estate sale and I was excited to see what it was all about.

Thrifty Thursday

The air conditioning is pumping, the temperature is 97F and there is a light breeze blowing.  I've grown so accustomed to our heavy humidity that this temperature actually feels...nice...pleasant.  I went outdoors a few minutes ago to water the deck plants and the freshly planted rosebush...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's thrifty Thursday here and this is where I like to review how we saved money all through the week.  Last Friday I took myself off for a lovely day out of the house, all by myself.  I really look forward to these little forays of mine these days.  John was working an extra shift and the kids had all gone home and I was alone, alone! for the first time in days.

Well first I wasted a lot of time.  I couldn't find a much needed address (and still haven't found it).  No package mailed yet.  Someone is going to send me the address eventually here.  So finally I went off, with two bottles of water because it was hot hot hot outdoors.  I picked up prescriptions and vitamins and supplements and if nothing else found that it put me in the mood to pinch pennies.  I went to Goodwill and picked up some onesies for the Crisis Pregnancy Center and a couple of cookbooks for me.  I paid just a $1 each for the cookbooks. I had been looking for one of those books for years, after losing my own copy.  Score!  And for just $1.

I spent a few more hours tooling about town.  I went by Walgreens to take advantage of a sale on Deerfield brand butter.  I bought two pounds and I'm glad I did.  While the sale listed the price as 2/$6 you had to buy two to get the sales price.  One package rang up for $3.99, the second one for $2.01.  I'd meant to treat myself to ice cream and decided to choose a single pack from the freezer section of the drugstore.  That cost 1/3 what an ice cream shop treat would have cost.

Quality vs. Quantity

Yesterday as I shared my sewing frustrations, I was also looking online at various sites to help explain why I was having problems.  One cause for the issue that was repeated from page to page: cheap thread.  I could have cried, because you see, the thread I was using had been bought for the express purpose of cheapness.  I hung my head as I realized that yet again I'd been bitten by the 'but this is cheaper' bug...

Katie and Sam have a habit of rambling through my cupboards and freezer when they visit.  I think it has  to do with looking for ideas of things they might purchase to jazz up their own meals.  However, both commented on a product on my pantry shelf this past week on separate days.  "Mama, are you kidding me?!" was Samuel's reaction when he saw the packets of Alfredo noodles.  "Well they were cheap!  I only paid $.20 each for them."  "You're not going to like it at all, Mama.  You make a great Alfredo sauce. It won't taste the same."  Katie's reaction was spoken with her usual bluntness after I explained why I'd purchased them.  "Cheap is cheap!  You should have gone for the quality!"  Indeed.

This is a lesson I struggle with repeatedly.  Mostly in the food department because that is the one area where I spend the most each month.  The marked down breads in the grocery are often about to expire.  Any wonder it doesn't taste well four days later?  Or that we end up tossing half a loaf because even the bread eater in the house dislikes the texture and flavor at that point?  Far better for me to buy a good loaf of bread and watch it all disappear due to use than watch it hit the bottom of the trash can.  Marked down meats and milk are fine if frozen but I seldom have the same luck with marked down produce lasting half as well.

Current Reads

I said I'd give Turnbull's books another try after the disappointment I felt in Whistle and I'll Come.  I'm so glad that I did!  First I read The Nightingale and found myself immediately immersed in the story and the mystery of the Nightingale music box that disappeared.  This was a wonderful read.  The characters were so real to me that I fancied I could hear their speaking voices.  The story takes place in the very early 1900's when automobiles were less common in small rural towns.  The young heroine is a school teacher, her housemaid/nurse her companion.  How to make ends meet is the first trouble to arise and from there the book goes on.  What transpires over the summer months is much like what happens in any small town.  Tragedy, love, triumph are all there.

My second book by Turnbull The Wedding Bargain takes place in the 1930's.  Thirty year old Eliza is about to resign her job as secretary to powerful Dan Morgan when he proposes.  I made one mistake with this book.  I started it at 10pm Saturday night and meant to read about an hour.  I didn't stop reading until after 1am!  I picked it up as soon as I could on Sunday and had finished it by end of the day.  Yes, it truly was that good. Yes, there's a mystery, but it doesn't really come in until towards the end of the book.  I loved the descriptions of rooms and clothes and getting to know the main characters.  I will definitely read both these books again in the future.


D. E. Stevenson's book Blow the Wind Southerly was up to her usual excellent standard of character development, description of place and romance.  Charlotte Fairlie is the central character, headmistress of a girl's boarding school.  Charlotte becomes involved in the lives of two of her students, and realizes her own intrinsic loneliness. 

True To Form  by Elizabeth Berg is a coming of age story.  13yo army brat Katie learns lessons about marriage, friendship and life in general in this story.  The story is told in Katie's voice.  I've enjoyed this book.  Admittedly I have taken my own sweet time reading it, a chapter here and a chapter there.  This book is full of wisdom and observations about every day life things.

Frustrations and Weekend Doings

The photo of the frustrated tailor above, can most certainly be me right at the moment.  I've just left the sewing room where I'd been working on a special item for a swap.  I've had birdnesting and tangles and jams for the past half hour.  I have just given up in complete frustration and came in to look up what the problem might be.  Believe it or not, I was once a rather expert seamstress.  However, as with most things Mama taught me, I learned only half as much as I really needed to know.  I have no clue about how to maintain my machine you see...and no manual to the thing to help either.  So off to do an internet search and now I know how to fix the problem (it's supposed to be very simple) and I'm happy that at least two things I was convinced were the issue likely are part of the trouble.  Now to get it all fixed up and start over again.  But not until tomorrow. I learned long ago that sewing for me is one of those jobs it's best to put off until tomorrow if you can't seem to get things to go right today.

Frustrated over sewing led to thinking of the things Mama never taught me, which I have had to learn on my own.  I know how to sew, but have no clue how to cut out fabric nor how to alter a pattern
to fit.  I have no idea how to maintain a machine.  When I married I didn't know how to operate a washing machine because ours was perpetually broken and required special handling.  Mama washed, I dried and ironed and folded.    I knew how to cook very well and had some idea how to plan a meal but no clue whatsoever about how to shop for groceries nor how to determine serving needs.  I knew how to dress myself but had never been allowed to shop nor to choose my own clothing.  I had no idea how to decorate because Mama insisted that I had no taste, so she always decorated my room.  I didn't know a thing about how to balance a checkbook or indeed even how to write out a check when I left home...Oh it goes on and on, my LACK of proper education, lol.

Afternoon Coffee Chat: Weathering the Storm

Hello dears...Do come in.  I've a fresh pot of coffee and though it's hot outdoors, I confess that after my day in the kitchen t...