Deep Cleaning Routines

Angela wrote after reading my Shiny New Year post:  " Terri, could you please speak about your deep cleaning routine? I would love to eliminate the big seasonal clean. As I get older it is just not doable and I find myself always behind!"  Girl, I so understand!  The reason I broke my cleaning down into a 3 month long routine was to eliminate the seasonal deep clean.  Yes, it's nice to have all the house at once all clean and fresh but it takes too much effort the older you get.  I'd rather have it continually clean, rather than just once every six months or so.  You'll note too that I said I do these tasks every three months.

Daily routines are easy and accomplished in a matter of an hour or so.  I've shared before what my daily routine is.  It consists mainly of the top five: make the bed, clean the floors, wipe down the baths, empty trash, clear the dishes.

I divided my home into four zones (five really but you'll see why I say four in a few moments).  I allot one week (six days of cleaning) to each zone.  The final two or three days of the month are usually allotted to maintenance cleaning/clearing in the shed, so I can keep that in some semblance of order, hence that is my 5th zone).  I have monthly cleaning tasks and quarterly cleaning tasks 

Meal Plan for the Week

A quiet finish to the week in my home.  John is not feeling up to par.  He reminds me periodically that he is not sick but simply resting to keep from being ill.  It's cold and cloudy and very windy today.  Ever since we've entered winter season on the 21st the weather has been decidedly wintry.  I'm not complaining.  Winter here means cold days with freezing nights and bouts of rain.  We had rain again last night.  I noted that there was only a 10% chance of rain on the weather forecast.  I should be so lucky with a lottery ticket!

Meals...Nothing appeals to my husband just now.  So I am just making whatever I want myself and hoping he'll eat some of it.  I'm trying to plan meals that are Vitamin C rich, nourishing, aromatic enough to penetrate a stuffy head.

Tamale Pie, Green Salad, Clementines
I'll use thawed chili from the freezer and add corn to the mixture, then top with cornbread  and cheese.  I haven't made a tamale pie in quite awhile and don't want to make a big 9 X 13 pan of it this time, so I'll try to keep the proportions smaller.

Stuffed Cabbage Soup, Corn Bread, Peach Cobbler
Leftovers from our porcupine meatball dinner last week will be 'madeover' into my version of stuffed cabbage soup.  I'll make a peach cobbler with peaches that expire this month.  I hope it will tempt John to eat a bit more.

Sprucing up the Entryways

I wanted to put something on my doors now that the holiday season is over.  Typically winter is my 'bare door' time which is rather depressing when you consider that 9 months out of the year something is usually hung on the doors for decorative effect.  This year, I've decided that winter is not going to depress me with lack of flowers, door wreaths or  curb appeal.  So I've set aside money to purchase pansies to plant in the pots (and parsley and cilantro seeds to sow, nice cool weather herbs), and daffodil bulbs which should make their appearance in a few weeks time to add to the joy.

It meant a good bit of work to create the curb appeal, such as it is.  The leftover pots from summer and fall blooms had to be cleared away.  I had to move a few furniture pieces off the deck and onto the patio.  I rearranged what I left there and then arranged my pots.  Then I hung my wreath on the back door.  I mean to paint this door the same color red as the front door, which I love.  I got it at Walmart and it's a mix called Candied Apple.

All Shiny and New

That's the way I like to face the New though every last thing were all shiny and new and all the old things were swept away.  Well it's hardly ever so, is it?  We face the New Year with whatever cares were ours when we ended the old one.  I don't suppose I'm any different from all the millions that magazine publishers target this time of year...yes and telemarketers and inspirational speakers and weight loss companies and home organization experts.  There's good reason for all this focus and industry:  we all want change with the New Year.

However, I do believe that I have the power to improve my lot each year.  So what am I looking to improve in the coming year of 2013?

I've been walking through my home this past week looking at areas that just aren't working for me.  Some areas are merely cluttered and just need a little time and attention that has been sadly lacking in the past six months, like the back deck and entry, the bookcases, my clothing drawers.  Some have just never worked well at all, like the plastics storage area in the kitchen, that storage area above the trash/cleaning cupboard  and a few other small areas.  Some just need to be refined or completed; what's in place is working well up to a point: my closet, the baking area I set up, the storage area for appliances.

Coffee Chat - Post Christmas/Pre-New Year

Well...It's all over and done now isn't it?  It was a most lovely time for us this year.  We had a long weekend with the littlest grandchildren, and conversations with the older ones.  We had phone calls, and family gatherings of various sorts and of course, there was good food, cookies, presents to be enjoyed.  AND there was lots of hard work, cleaning, holiday work and long days to be got through as well.  It was a long, tiring, glorious time.  I felt positively exhausted in the nicest way when it was all said and done. Christmas night I settled in my chair as soon as John left to go to work.  I turned off the television, settled in my chair with what had become my go to supper in these hectic paced days, spinach dip and corn chips, a few Christmas cookies and small whiskey and Coke.

I gazed at the Christmas tree in all it's glory and decided I'd slowly undecorate it this year instead of all at once.  I decided to remove one set of ornaments each day.  That allows me to keep the tree up until the very last day of this month.  I never leave my tree up for New Year's day.  Not superstition but simply the feeling that I should start a New Year with a clean slate (and a clean house and no evidence of previous holidays).

My interest in leaving the tree up this year is that it's our last year with this tree.  It's shedding, and leaning crookedly no matter how much we straighten it.  The top portion ceased to light up last year, so we bought new lights for that section and this year when I plugged in the tree the whole middle section refused to light up but then suddenly did.  John announced this year as the last year.

This tree was 'ours'.  John chose it and ordered it in early August and it didn't arrive until just days before Christmas.  That was the year of the dock worker's strike and there sat our tree until the strike was over some months later.  It was a big change to go from an 8 foot tree that took days and days to decorate to a four foot pre-lit tree that took just a day to decorate.  I think this tree is twelve years old...It's lasted well. I just feel a wee bit sentimental over it.

Merry Christmas!

No snow for us. Rain and fog and today, thunder and lightning.  Not complaining.  The Blue House yard hasn't had puddles in eons and the rain is very much appreciated.  I'm doing just what one ought to be doing on Christmas Eve, sitting here gazing at the Christmas tree, watching A Christmas Carol and letting my mind wander over tomorrow's menu plan trying to determine if after all I can't come up with one more fab recipe from the pantry?

But then I thought of all of you.  Your comments, your encouragement, your loyalty and steadfastness.  Thank you.  And let me say quite sincerely, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a very Merry Christmas indeed.

Shabat Thoughts - Word Power

"You is smart, you is pretty, you is kind...."  This line from the book/movie 'The Help' has been echoing in my head today.  John often did much the same over our children: "You are smart.  You are handsome.  You are pretty.  You are intelligent."  He believes above all things that what he speaks over our children will be manifested in them.

He often cautioned me to be more careful of the words I spoke.  As a new Christian, I studied my Bible and I became more and more aware of why:

Proverbs 12:18  The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (NIV)

 Matt 15:18, But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.(ESV)

Menu Plans - Holiday Countdown

I've been busy busy busy, just like everyone else I'm sure.  So busy that I meant to write out this week's menu plan last night then got busy with a project and forgot until this evening!  I'm going just as fast as I can, mind reeling with a dozen things and for some reason, already focusing on gifts I'd like to make for next year and I'm not even through with this year yet!  We just won't mention the projects I keep thinking I'd like to start.  I considered one today around noon when I was up to my ears in tasks and lists and had to stop myself.  "Seriously think about this before you start.  Do you really want to spend this precious bit of time doing this task that can easily wait until after holidays or work on holiday lists?"  Well...the answer of course, was to get done what would give me relief from stress so holiday work list it was.  The other job will wait.  It's only one more week and one day after all and then the big rush is over for us here in my home.

Salisbury Steak, Onion Gravy, Rice, Butter beans and Green Salad, Biscuits
Cold and rainy out and all warm within.  For all that this comfort food, truly it comes together quickly.  The butter beans take the longest to cook.  I used frozen hamburger patties and dusted them with flour and seasonings.  They just need to brown either side, then make the gravy, plunk in the meat and cover and simmer while the rice is cooking and the biscuits are made up and baked.

Shabat Thoughts - The Calling

Just after Thanksgiving I had the flu.  The last thing, the very last thing,  I wanted to do was to entertain anyone.  And yet, I had not one but two of my circle suggest a long visit and a third one call on me in the hopes I could offer a bit of tea and sympathy for her own case of the flu.

There are times, when I feel burdened by others' expectations of me, when I want to just run and shelter somewhere until everyone's needs are met and I can sneak out of my hiding place while they are happily occupied elsewhere.  Being an introvert by nature, prone to feel overly anxious about my ability to meet the needs of multiple people at once, I am an unlikely candidate to be favored by others for company.  I struggle with this often when I am hale and hearty.  When I'm ill or stressed otherwise, I can go to pieces over the idea of having to meet anyone's needs, no matter how undemanding they are.

Frugal Week In My Home

In the Kitchen:
If ever there is a month to feel unthrifty in the kitchen, it has to be December.  I find it a challenge and I haven't even begun the baking I mean to do!  To help offset costs, I've been trying hard to avoid any waste.  This week I score high on that.  The only thing I've tossed this week is the butt end of a loaf of Challah bread.  John used most of it for peanut butter sandwiches but that last bit lingered around too long.

Made pancakes from scratch this morning and put some in the freezer for a future breakfast.

Organized the refrigerator so that all the leftovers were in one area.  That worked nicely for supper tonight. I  just took out containers and we played Catch Can.  I only had one item to put back in the fridge.

Using What I Have Celebration, Pt. III

I've continued to take my time decorating.  The mantel got a little decor.  I've since added the two quail to the mantel (they are visible to the left on the small shelf on the wall).  What's on the little shelf now?  A pretty little red bird sitting upon snow covered pine cones. 

This week I focused on two areas: the back door and the dining room table.  Last year I used a pine swag on the back door and covered it with copper cookie cutters and cinnamon sticks.  Two years ago I decorated it with sugar plum fruits (beaded fruit picks).  This year, I wanted something else.  Here's what I came up with:
I added one of the pine picks I bought this year ($3 at Hobby Lobby) to the original pine/berry swag and the porcelain quails I'd been using on my autumn wreath this year.  I love the creamy color on the birds. Not only do they really stand out against the green swag they are gorgeous up close as well. 

You can see the quails  here on the autumn wreath.  At the time I just whitewashed the birds.  The original finish on them was flat brown paint.  I like the cream colored paint much much better.

I was so happy with that, I decided to redo the dining table centerpiece.  Originally I set up the cornucopia with beaded fruits, just as I'd done last year.  I thought it was pretty then, but this year...It just seemed fussy compared to the simplicity of the buffet.  I was setting the table for Shabat this afternoon and happened to see the little green urn I bought at the local flea market.  Wheels began to turn and here's what I came up with:
I had a Styrofoam ball that I'd never used, which I covered with glue and moss.  And in the true spirit of 'use what you have', when the moss failed to stick to the glue, I used floral wire to craft my own u-pins to hold the moss in place.  Then I stripped down the fruit picks and began to work my way around the moss covered ball.  This is the result.  You can see the hurricanes on the buffet in the background match the green urn rather nicely. (I had John move the poinsettia/pine arrangement from the center of the buffet as it kept competing with the urn in the photo.)  John says he likes this much better than the cornucopia which seemed strange to him for Christmas. 

And that's this week's "Using What I Have Celebration".  I'm linking to:

Coffee Chat Sunday - Holiday Helter Skelter

Well, do sit down.  I'll have you a nice hot cup of coffee in a few moments.  We're 'getting by' at present with this single cup coffeemaker but we'll remedy that later this week I am most certain.  There's a chocolate pound cake.  I didn't have time to bake proper this week and knew I'd be starting Christmas baking this week so I didn't have to think too hard about taking that cake from the freezer.  Who couldn't use a tad more room?

I haven't been up to much yet, the week just past still being partly one of recovery from flu and not housekeeping for another week.  Oh my gracious!  It does just sort of slide off downhill doesn't, that housework I mean?  I dusted this morning.  I do so loathe dusting but it is easy enough I suppose when you're decorating to clear off a spot, dust, then put up the decorations.    There's much to be done just yet.  I thinned out the things on top of my big tall bookcase and now that looks too bare.

This Week's Meals

Another week is gone and that means we're one week closer to both Christmas and the end of the year.  Yikes!  We'll be singing "For Auld Lang Syne" before we know it!

I sat down last night and began to try and plan meals for the holiday season starting with weekend before Christmas which is when I expect my family to come if they can make it at all.  I've got a couple of meals planned out but need to work on the rest of them.  For the most part I'm planning to make and freeze and then thaw and heat that weekend.  It seems the best way to manage company and holiday moods and food to me.

In the meantime, it occurred to me last night after I'd gone to bed, that I'd been better prepared if I'd planned this week's meals first and then taken something out to thaw.  Oh. My.  Well I wasn't getting out of bed once I'd hopped in, so I waited until this morning.  That worked out the best anyway, since John came in, got called out to go back to work and I was home alone all morning long to do housework and make plans.

Shabat Thoughts - Kindness

This past week I noted with interest the photos of the young police officer who bought a homeless man boots to keep his feet warm.  The story went viral.

It wasn't long, of course, before the media 'busted' the story.  It turned out the homeless man wasn't homeless, but actually had a place to stay, was an alcoholic and had 'misplaced' the shoes.  Media sources I listened to were outraged that this young officer had provided for someone undeserving.

Of course, since the story initially went viral, there were questions asked amongst the populace about what to do to prevent such things happening and about personal opinions.  Well you know what they say about opinions:  everyone has one.

Using What I Have Celebration Pt. II

I am so pleased to be featured at Hibiscus House for Farmgirl Friday with my Christmas pillows!  I'm joining up again this week, linking through Hibiscus House. 

I'm also linking up with Sunny Simple Life for  Sunny Simple Sunday.

I spent a little time creating this past week.  I wanted new wreaths for my doors.  I stripped down an old wreath and decided to use what I had to make a new one. I will be working on the second wreath this weekend.  In the meantime, I'll show you what I came up with for my front door:

My Frugal Week

My little 'Christmas' project, using just what I had on hand...

In The Kitchen:  

We went a full pay period without purchasing groceries.  I picked up milk and bread and a snack item for us for here at home, but we skipped the whole grocery store experience entirely for one whole pay period.  I spent about the same amount I'd normally spend on one of those 'in between' trips to the store, right at $40.

Second grocery frugal:  we bought a few grocery items while we were on vacation because we always cook most of our meals while we're away.  Does that sound like  I spent grocery money, and didn't really have a savings?  Wrong!  I had money set aside for vacation foods.  It's planned into our budget for the trip.

We planned to visit with the grandchildren (it was the twins first birthday) on the way back home and because that was another over night stay we didn't want to pack up a lot of food to try and keep cold for 36 hours.  We decided Friday to go out to eat for our dinner meal and opted for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our supper.  I think we spent about what we probably would have at the supermarket for snacks and food for Friday on our dinner, so it was an even swap.  And the bonus was not having leftovers to haul about.

This Week's Meal Plan - Gobbleish

I came to a conclusion this weekend: a whole turkey is an awful lot of turkey for just two.  Next year I mean to have my turkey on Thanksgiving Day regardless of who has planned to claim the day.  I mean to have my feast on the feast day and if it's the second time I eat or the first, it will be just as tasty.

I am recovering well from the flu.  IF I stop pretending I don't feel a little weak and keep pushing myself to do just two or three things more.  John has been a wonderful help, doing the bulk of the meal planning and such this past week, but I roused myself Saturday and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for two.  I kept the menu simple, no need of four sides and two salads and three desserts for just the two of us.  I made Turkey, stuffing, Mashed potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie.  I put a pie, half a turkey breast, stuffing and a prepared entree of turkey and stuffing in the freezer.  We still have plenty for turkey salad sandwiches, plus two quarts of broth from the carcass and another cup or more of meat bits.  John's mentioned having numerous favorite turkey dishes.  For my part, I'm starting to feel gobble-ish.

Shabat Thoughts - Lost

Two weeks ago we took a road trip to Warm Springs and got lost.  It was the most awesome time we've ever spent being lost and if getting lost were always like that...Well, it could happen  more often! 

But getting lost isn't wonderful.  Getting lost usually ends up with a harsh word or several and every now and then it ends with cold silence and no truce/no surrender flags to show that the war isn't going to end anytime soon.  

At best, being lost momentarily spoils a few miles of a trip. And that's just a road trip.  There are those times when we're lost spiritually, not "I don't know Jesus" lost, but confused and unable to discern the path and feeling like you're in a black out sort of lost, where waiting on God is mandatory.  And very difficult.  Getting lost brings up all sorts of control issues and fears and anxiety and multiple unknown factors.  Getting lost is not nice.

Using What I Have Celebration

 I have an iron clad rule: no buying Christmas decorations until I finish Christmas shopping and I am not quite finished.  So nothing new for me though I did see something I just longed to have last Wednesday.  Even if I had been finished with my gift buying I'd have hesitated over the price of those two items...but you know, there's nothing like wanting something new to make you even more tired of what you were already tired of using for Christmas decorations, lol.

A few years ago I wanted to go glitzy/glamorous with my tree and it was just beautiful.  But in the past year or so I've been trying to change over my rooms to better reflect the beauty of a farmhouse home.  I've made good progress, but the tree stayed the same.  This year I mean to change things up with my Christmas decor and because I am frugal and get such a kick out of 'making do' as Granny used to call it, I've been looking for ideas that I can use.

Simply Southern At Heart posted a photo of a cute Christmas pillow on their Facebook page the other day and immediately I knew this was something I could do for my own home.  It plays in well with my natural farmhouse theme. This design is NOT my own, nor original to me, but it is my variation on a similar look.

More November Fun: A Stormy Sea, Sweet stuff, and Intrigue

We started our journey very early.  We left the house far earlier than we've managed to yet.  It was cold and drizzly and bleak and for once we kept the heater on in our car all day long.  I brought along a sweater and my fuzzy warm slippers, too.  John chose to drive along old state highways to Florida.  We thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace from the usual interstate route.  I didn't take many photos that day.  It was so dark and drizzly and foggy and drear that none of them turned out very well but it was a journey worth making all the same.  We drove along Highway 341 at first, very familiar territory to us as we've taken that portion of the route so many times now in visiting the oldest son and his family.

In Baxley, we turned onto Highway 441 and drove South to Florida.  The surprise wasn't the tiny little towns that 'used to be' and still clung tenuously to life.  The surprise to us was Douglas, Georgia which appeared to be a very good sized city, a college town.  It appears seemingly out of nowhere in an area of the map that is dotted with lots more blank spaces than tiny old towns and when you leave it, you're right back in the middle of seemingly nowhere all over again.

I noted that cotton in the fields was white as snow, ready to be picked.  And blueberries, field after field of blueberry bushes that stretched to the horizon.  Honey refineries, too, with big 50 gallon drums stacked high all around them.  The sheer volume of honey manufactured in south Georgia stunned me.  I had no idea and I've lived here all my life.

I do find it interesting to compare what I see growing now to what crops were grown when I was young.  In my youth, pecans, cotton, corn, oats, rye and soybeans were king.  In my teen years, watermelons and soybeans and pecans were the main crops.  Now I see sunflowers, more corn this year than in years past, cotton, soybeans and things like blueberries and honey.  Of course in my area the fruit crop is mostly peaches, and up north of us, it's apples, but blueberries are a fairly new crop and so are sunflowers.

On the Mend...

Wondering where I've been?  Under the weather, sick abed.  But I'm on the mend and feeling a bit more ambitious than I've felt in a couple of days.  I'll be back shortly with plenty to share.

Our Fun Friday

Two weeks ago today, we were expecting the son and daughter in law and grandchildren to come up from south Georgia.  John knows I tend to (a) work too hard in preparing, and (b) get anxious and a bit snippy as the day goes on and I get more and more tired.  He'd taken menu planning in hand himself for this particular visit, leaving me to tend to the shopping only.  Then he said on Thursday night, "We're going out tomorrow," which tossed me into a momentary panic but he added, "after all, I'm on vacation."  Well he knew full well that would put me more in a frame of mind to leave the house and let go of my 'must do' list.  I asked only one question: "Shall I pack a picnic lunch?"  This time he said "Yes, do." lol 

So we started another journey on a bright fall morning.  I took all sorts of photos along the way and filled my memory card long before we got to our destination.  Sadly I had to delete most of them in order to take other photos, but since most were of blurry autumn leaves, you'll appreciate the deletion more than the photos.

We took a winding roadway, an old federal highway, and when I say federal I mean Revolutionary federal.  It's known as "The Old Wire Road" but historical plaques state that General LaFayette traveled that roadway from the U.S. Capital to New Orleans in Louisiana territory, not yet a part of the U.S.  I thought this over as we traveled.  Yes, I am a history buff and I deeply appreciate walking or riding in the paths of history.  I doubt seriously the road we traveled was the original roadway since I could see at intervals some old stone bridge piers in the woods near us.  Old roads followed Indian trails, and most highways still run along or very near those old pathways.

Coffee Chat: Time to Put Your Feet Up

(Started Thanksgiving Eve)  Hasn't it a been a long while since our last chat?  And a long day today for many of you I'm willing to bet.  Some worked outside the home and have been hurrying about this evening to put the house to rights and start as much of tomorrow's great feast as possible.  Not so in my home...No, not at all.  I've a tiny turkey breast roast thawing in the sink which I'll pop in the crock pot tomorrow morning for sandwich meat for supper.  And that my dears is the big Ta-Da! for Thanksgiving in my home.  Don't think that sounds too sad, please.  I've had a perfectly lovely two months of time with my husband which culminated this past weekend in an early Thanksgiving dinner at my eldest son's home combined with a celebration of one year of life for the twins.  So no sad tears here for what I've already had and enjoyed thoroughly. (And now I'll wish you all Happy Thanksgiving. I'm sure many of you ARE sitting with your feet up about now.)

I know it's been a while since our last chat.  I've done so very much since then!  So much that I must share in increments all that we did. So consider this part 3 for October and then next I'll share all about the most wonderful November ever!

This Spiritual Journey...Part 4

"I wonder what it would be like to worship God the way that Jesus, His Son, did..."   What a journey began in that moment!

There was a ministry group (several members belonged to our church) which began to have monthly meetings at our church on Saturdays.  This was the day the worship team came in for practice and as things will work out we were soon asked to provide the music for their ministry.  I confess I was put out by this and didn't want to participate in this ministry at all.   I had good reason to believe that 'somebody' belonged to this group.   I was especially upset one particular Saturday, almost to the point of open rebellion.  The guest speaker had been announced (and as memory goes, I cannot for the life of me tell you who she was other than her name was Gisele something), and I was adamant to John that immediately following the music portion of the program I was going to walk out and go home.  John had attempted to coax me to change my mind, but I was having none of it.

As I stood at the dresser, fastening my necklace, I had one of those moments in which the leading of God is so particularly strong that it cannot be ignored.  "You must stay and here this woman speak.  She has a word for you."  That was what I heard in my spirit.  I attempted to argue, to reason it out, but no it came a second time "Stay.  She has a word for you."  And a third time.  "Hear her.  She has a word for you."  I wept with frustration.  I did NOT want to stay but I am a child who wants to please my Father and arguing had gotten me nowhere.  John was surprised to see me crying when he walked into the room. "What's wrong?"  "We'll stay and hear what this woman has to say."  "But if you don't want to..."  "I have to.  We have to."  "No, we don't..."  "YES, we do.  God said she has a word for us."  No more arguments from my husband who had been trying to coax me into leaving, because he thought I was just trying to please him.

This Week's Meals

It's been two months of vacation and off time and very little work time for us.  And I say this quite sincerely...If we could just figure out how to have an income and no need of heading out to work, I'd enjoy this on a more consistent basis, lol.  Well it all ends this week, the day before the holiday starts to be exact.  From here until well into next year it's routine work weeks and squeeze in what we can during the off week.

So what did we do this past week.  Rather than sit here at home we took off to go to the beach!  Yep, went to the beach and then we stopped off to visit the grandbabies, so we could have our family Thanksgiving and celebrate the twins first birthday and wish a happy anniversary to their Mama and Daddy.  We came home yesterday and as I said it's pretty much routine for the next several months.  Well, truly, life is anything but routine with my husband around.  He likes to shake things up routinely, so who knows what routine is really all about? lol

Meals come around regular enough though, as does laundry and dishes and any other form of housework.  It's one of the few jobs that knows no season.  It's work all year round, isn't it? 

You'll note there is no Thanksgiving day menu for our house.  We had our family dinner with the grands' and their parents Saturday.  Mama is having dinner at her house on Thanksgiving day and is NOT having turkey (she dislikes it, sigh).  John has a promise of a proper Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday though Lori did as good a job as any could.  John just wants the stuffed turkey (I bought a breast) and I'll make a pumpkin pie.  We skipped that at Jd's since birthday cake abounded and Mama has also NO PUMPKIN PIE, sigh, just as she said NO to turkey, sigh.  I do not understand this prejudice that she has against turkey. Oh well...Meals:

Lasagna, Salad, Bread and butter, Ice cream
Frozen lasagna from the store at that.  Yes, really.  John had jury duty today (cancelled last week but we were out of town) and I had errands to run in town since we did not shop for groceries this pay period.  I can easily get buy with what we have here but I had needed the trinity: milk, eggs, bread and a turkey breast and while I was at it, soda and something for supper and a few snacks.  We also happen to need fruit but will use canned until we can do our regular grocery shop.  There's plenty of lettuce and cabbage and carrots for raw veg this week.

Taco soup, Corn bread, Pineapple Salad
I'll attempt a leftover makeover and  use some of the leftover chili liquid base with additional ingredients to make our soup.  I'm thinking a bit of corn, perhaps some black beans, a little scrambled hamburger, some cumin.  That should make it taste like taco soup.  Fingers crossed on this experiment!

Alfredo Chicken and Pasta, Green Beans, Green Salad, Garlic Toast
I'm going to slice the boneless skinless chicken breasts the way I did the other day, so two breasts  should net me two meals worth of meat.  I'll make the Alfredo sauce from scratch and I'll check to see if I've got any broccoli before I commit to the green beans.

Thanksgiving Meal at Mama's, I am taking Jiffy Corn Pudding.

Oven Fried Chicken Fillet Sandwich, Oven Fries, Carrot Raisin Salad
My second chicken meal. Ha. Technically the THIRD since Mama is serving chicken for Thanksgiving.  Seriously.

Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Coleslaw, Corn Muffins, Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Yes, I am making a lot of cornbread this week.  It's a ruse to get plenty of dry crumbly cornbread to make that stuffing next week.   I'll use up the pineapple I opened to make salad and my Lazy Day Yellow Cake recipe to make a small upside down cake.

Macaroni and Cheese, Creole Green Beans, Oven Fried Okra, Pear Salad 
I've found that having a mac and cheese main dish can be a satisfactory thing if I am careful to make a rich cheese sauce, balance the macaroni and cheese with savory side dishes with plenty of texture and make things as colorful as possible on the plate.  This menu will hopefully hit all those marks.

And there we are,  a week's worth of meals planned to please, and not a single bit of turkey in the week. Boo!

Weekly Meal Plan

I love my husband and I'm pleased as punch that he has thoroughly enjoyed football this season...but I definitely think I might as well stop talking to him until this season is over.  Even when he initiates a conversation his attention drifts back to the television before I get my reply started, sigh.  I think I've got this thing figured out, the football thing I mean.  He is available Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  Football is on the other four days, lol.

Meals this week are more iffy than usual.  We've a busy week ahead that involves more fun, our last opportunity to enjoy ourselves freely and fully until next May or so when John will again begin using up vacation days.  We have certainly made the most of these lovely autumn days this year. John surprised me Thursday night saying we were going out on Friday.  This was a subtle ruse on his part as well as an attempt to squeeze in a bit more fun.  He was distracting me from working too hard on the housework while we awaited the arrival of the eldest son and family.  I'll devote a post to that lovely day here in a while.  In the meantime, meal plans for the week ahead.

I don't plan to shop for groceries this week, though it is our Harvest week.  I'm sure I'll pick up a few things next week like a Turkey breast to stuff for John's favorite Thanksgiving Meal but that's next week.

Cubed Steaks, Oven Fried Okra, Potatoes with Green Beans, Tomato and Lettuce salad

Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches, French Fries, Apples and Fig Bars
I'll use the burger buns left from our burgers this weekend for our sandwich buns today.  Leftover roast from last week that I froze will be sliced and cooked with onions and peppers and Italian seasoning.

BBQ Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Harvest Slaw, Corn Muffins

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches, Waldorf Salad, Caramel Popcorn

Lazy Day Beef Stew, Corn Muffins, Gingerbread with Applesauce
I'll have to find this recipe once more, but it bakes in a slow oven and calls for tomato sauce.  It's chock full of good root vegetables and green beans, too.

Creamed Hamburger, Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas and Toast

Chili, Tortilla Chips, Green Salad with Ranch Dressing, Pumpkin Cornbread
I'll split the ground beef into two portions and use half for this chili, doubling the beans and tomatoes.
I haven't tried the pumpkin cornbread in a number of years, but I figure I might as well make some to use up the lasts of the canned pumpkin I'll be using in my pie for next week (making pie ahead this week).

Budget Stretcher - Wardrobe Essentials

Kelly Jo is a relatively new 'friend' online and she asked me a question that I felt was a great idea for a budget stretcher item: a working wardrobe.

Although I've been 'at home' now for a number of years, I have experience building a working wardrobe and still require a few good pieces to dress for certain occasions.  I'm not much of the jammy pants and tank sort of gal for going to the grocery.  I might wear jeans these days, since I've acquired a pair in the past year but I like to look well put together when I walk out of the door. I think it's a reflection of myself as well as John and I try to look as put together as I can.

Kelly Jo wrote: My current struggle is maintaining a professional wardrobe. Our office is "professional dress" - and clothes are so expensive. Thoughts?

Quite a few, actually! lol

Clothing is indeed expensive.  In my working days (as well as in my current wardrobe) I lean hard on classic with a few trendy pieces pulled in to add oomph.  I don't think a large wardrobe is necessary but I do rely on the multiple use of pieces in my own closet.

My Frugal Week

In the Kitchen:  I noted turkeys on sale this past week.  I'd meant to buy one because they are always a good bargain even at full price, but especially so on sale.  Aldi had a smoked Butterball turkey on sale which I thought would be good for sandwich meat.  I baked the turkey Sunday (it's a shorter time of baking but like any smoked meat must be cooked for a time to heat it thoroughly).  I divided the turkey into two breast halves, two thighs, 1 packet of legs and wings, and 1 bag containing the carcass and wing tips.  The meatier pieces will be our sandwich meats, the carcass will do nicely for soup and bean pot seasoning.

One thigh from the smoked turkey fed John and I supper one night with enough meat left on the bone to make picnic sandwiches for a day trip tomorrow.  I saved the bone and skin to add to the bag with the rest of the carcass.  I've found a recipe for a wild rice soup that calls for smoked turkey meat.

Do you do that?  Look at recipes and earmark those that call for ingredients you have on hand?  I've just made up a batch of applesauce muffins from a recipe that I set aside because I had half a jar of applesauce in the fridge that needs to be used up.  And the recipe for the wild rice soup that calls for the smoked turkey I have on hand. 

Katie made a big pot of chicken and dumplings during her visit this past weekend.  She used two of the boneless skinless breasts purchased last week.  There were enough leftovers for a second meal.

Home by Eleanor Scates Dulany


Give me a home that two have built
    With dreams and sacrifice and song,
Where youth and age have laughed and wept,
     And love has mellowed every wrong.

Whose walls have echoed with the ring
     Of children's voices in and out,
The merriment of festive board,
     And human kindness 'round about.

Give me a home where selflessness
     Is spent in doing little things
That rate so high in happiness
     The whole house breathes the peace it brings.

Then give me grace to understand
     That men may build from house to dome
With all the art of masonry
     But only love can build a home!
- Eleanor Scates Dulany
as published in the 1934 November Better Homes and Gardens Magazines

This Spiritual

Never underestimate a determined woman.  I wanted to attend church with my husband and after that Baccalaureate evening I saw hope shining before me.  I made a few phone calls and discovered that the church was in our home county, albeit a good little drive from home.  I happily informed John, who looked a wee bit like a deer in the headlights for a moment, but he is nothing if not a man of his word.  He did attend with me and while he assured me he had no intent of being there every single Sunday and absolutely no Wednesday nights at all, he did attend with me more often than not.

This was a little Baptist church in a rural setting and the young pastor was a gifted preacher.  We attended that little church for four years I think. I objected to one thing only when we joined that church and it was that the pastor insisted I had to be baptized into the Baptist church.  Stuff and nonsense as far as I was concerned but since I'd already been baptized twice, a third time could do no harm. The young pastor moved on after those four years and another pastor came in who was also a young man and gifted.  He loved music and started the First Sunday evening praise and worship service.  He discovered John played guitar and had written a few Christian songs and he announced one Sunday that John would be performing one of his original pieces at that evening's service.  This was our introduction to worship but we didn't realize it at that time!

Eventually that young pastor also left and John very much wanted to find our first pastor. We openly discussed this with the newest pastor and he gave us his blessings.  We discovered that our former pastor was now in another county but not much further away than the little country church we were attending in our home county.  We visited and eventually joined the church.  I don't know all the details about what occurred  but there was a brouhaha over the content of sermons (some didn't like Bible based preaching!) and  our young pastor was voted to remain in a rather fierce business meeting by 2/3 of the congregation.  However, the 1/3 who were against him 'owned' the church building and property.  They made things pretty miserable.  I was disillusioned yet again with a church body...when this young pastor decided to step out and start his own non-denominational church, we went right along with him.

This Week's Meal Plan

This past week we bought a Butterball Smoked Turkey at Aldi.  At $1.89/pound it is pricier than most turkeys, but I thought it far less expensive than most turkey sandwich meats and bound to taste superior.  I 'heated' the turkey yesterday (sort of like a 'fully cooked ham' this turkey required about an hour and half of baking to be 'safe' eating so be forewarned on that score), we sampled the meat and all proclaimed it delicious. We're thinking we might buy another one and store in the freezer for the future. Now is the time to stock up on turkey and holiday meal items for the rest of the year.  Turkey will keep (whole) up to a year in the freezer, so feel free to buy as many as your budget will afford and your freezer will hold.

Sunday:  Chicken and Dumplings
Yes just chicken and dumplings.  Katie came down to visit and offered to make the meal.  She said she'd made it earlier in the week but her dumplings hadn't turned out well and she needed to 'redeem' herself, lol.  Her dumplings are full of vegetables and boy was this good!  Not to mention my clever girl messed up one knife, one stew pot, one bowl.  I was really impressed with that.

Monday:  Roast Beef, Oven Roasted Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Waldorf Salad
The roast was the only meal I didn't make this past week and that's because I spent Friday out of the house and didn't 'cook ahead' for our Sabbath.  I opted to use one of my freezer entrees instead (time to restock those!).  It's cooler today and the heat from the oven is most welcome.

Tuesday:  Pinto Beans, Cornbread, Coleslaw, Apple Brown Betty
I'll use the wing tips from the turkey to season the pinto beans with smokey flavor.  Confession: I've never made pinto beans (or Cowboy beans) ever in my  life but I know a couple of Oklahoma and Missouri cooks who make them and my mouth waters each time I read their menus.

Wednesday:  Burgers and Fries, Milkshake
A planned out meal.  I don't know that we'll go on this day but it's planned for this week.

Thursday:  Beef Fajitas, Yellow Rice, Refried Beans, Green Salad
I'll use leftover roast beef, browned onions and bell peppers for the fajitas.  The refried beans will be leftovers from my pinto beans.

Friday:  Spaghetti Diablo, Green Salad, Italian Green Beans, Garlic Bread
I want a make ahead meal for this night.  The eldest son and his family are coming up to spend the weekend.  I can make this and just slip the casserole into the oven to heat while I admire the growth and new skills of the twins and their older brother.

Saturday:  Grilled Burgers, All the 'fixin's', Chips and Dips, Chocolate Poundcake
John planned this menu (all except the poundcake that's my contribution) for the kids' visit.  I'm not sure what dips we'll have and we still need to purchase chips but this meal is planned to suit the man of the house who says that I let meals get 'too complicated'.  Nothing fussy about this one and all I have to do is set up the food and drinks and yell 'Start!'. 

My Frugal Week

In the Kitchen:

Made cookies for the cookie jar (and a tin too as it happens, lol).  I used some graham crackers that had just expired.  It seemed a good way to use up most of the box.  

Bought a family pack of boneless skinless breasts this week.  I had 7 (why odd numbers in these packages? 3or 7?  Why not 2 or 6?).  I cut the last breast into three thin fillets and oven fried them for a chicken sandwich.

My soup this week was a mix of leftovers that I'd been popping into a container and ziploc bag.  Broth from a roast or two, some au gratin potatoes, mushroom stems, vegetables left from side dishes.  It was rather tasty with hot cornbread and all the better with the blustery day outdoors.

Bought flour while on sale at the local store.  It was priced lower than the flour at Aldi (which I think is the same). I got 20 pounds and put in the freezer to kill any bugs or larvae in the bags.

I talked myself out of stocking up further on two items: pumpkin and evaporated milk.  They are very well priced just now but facts are facts.  I'm only going to use those two items on occasion and any more on my pantry shelf would likely expire before I used them.  By the same token I mean to really stock up on cranberry sauce because I use it all through the year for various dishes. 

Brought out a 'hidden' bag of candy when we were low on sweet items in the house.  It is a help to have a little something put back for those between pay periods, haven't got time to make cookies days.

Perhaps not strictly a kitchen savings but the ingredients are kitchen staples: I made more of the baking soda/dish detergent cleaner to finish cleaning the kitchen cabinets and walls.  

Made 3 pints of yogurt.

Fed the dogs the rest of the soup (all from leftover leftovers) after our dinner.  John's not a big fan of my toss it in soups but he ate his fill from this pan.  I thought I'd be merciful and not make him eat it twice.  The dogs thoroughly enjoyed it and it was just enough to make a meal for each of them.

Skipped luncheon meats this pay period.  I've a roast beef I can slice for sandwiches and bought a whole smoked turkey to slice for sandwiches.

Watered houseplants and outdoor potted plants with water saved in the kitchen from glasses, bottles and dishwater.

Made french toast from the last of the Challah loaf.

Shopped from the pantry and freezer several times during the week as I ran out of ingredients in the kitchen.

 In My Home: 

Nothing like rearranging accessories to make things look fresh and new.  It all LOOKS new in different position.   

Those lanterns I bought at Marshalls were on the porch but when that heavy hard wind started blowing this week I brought them indoors.  That inspired me to make a simpler look for my buffet.  It looks very nice I think.

That wind shook the trees hard and stripped many of their leaves.  It also rattled pecans and they fell to the ground.  I sold over 40 pounds the other day.  That money will pay for our stay at the hotel when we go down for the twins first birthday party.  I have plenty on the ground again and noted many more still in the tree.

I painted the trim in the bathroom this week and suddenly just felt I had to DO something new in that room to match that pretty paint.  I went through my fabric stash and found a large piece of fabric that appeared a nice match.  Sure enough, the color legend on the selvage had the exact shade of green that we'd used in the bath.  I made two valances and a shade for the room.  I have a bit more to do (need sheers to go under the valances and a new cover on the bench seat).

The houseplants stayed outdoors all summer long and thrived.  I have the most beautiful Snake Plant in the bathroom, as well as a small palm.  Perfect accessories for that room.

Trudy is a short haired dog...she also has white hair and she shivers mightily these cold mornings.  John wanted to put something warm in the dog house for her but Maddie claims blankets and such as HERS.  John bought hay for the pet bedding, much less expensive than doggie blankets and nice and cozy.

Christmas shopping is underway in our home.  We sat down earlier this week and made a list, wrote out what we thought each would like and about how much we thought it would cost.  Now we know what our budget is we're doing all we can to come in UNDER budget.  Coupons, sales, direct shipping all help.

Ate out at a favorite Chinese place. I only get there about twice a year, because it's out of the way.  Today, when the plate was set on my table I realized it was a LOT of food.  I boxed up half of it right away.  The cost was reasonable before, but it's even better now that I have two meals from one.

I put back a couple of items today as I walked through a store.  It wasn't that I couldn't afford the items, it was more that I realized they weren't perfect for me.  Money spent on things that are wonderful is one thing.  Money spent on items that are so so...not a good buy at any time.

I saved a bundle today at CVS.  I combined sales, store coupons, manufacturers coupons and ECB, as well as my extra care card to reduce my total by over $30.  I like doing that.  I get a huge kick too when the clerk is astonished as my total goes down.

Clipping and sorting coupons was on my list of things to do this week.  You can see from the above that bit of time paid off.

John took an extra shift this week.  It was an especially long shift but we'll appreciate the extra pay on the next check.

Free this week: a sample of dishwasher tablets, a cd of praise music sent as a courtesy gift after we made a donation, a coupon for a free 12 pack of soda I 'bought' with coke reward points, a gift card 'bought' with points earned doing online surveys.

It was asked if all was well with us: YES!  John went back to work this week after some time off and I took advantage of it and worked hard.  I've been busy finishing up projects, starting projects, cleaning and picking up pecans.  I spent two days this week running errands and another day buying groceriesNow John is off again and we've got a month FULL of appointments, visits, and projects to work on.  I'm working on a post, have lots of ideas, but time is premium just now.   

This Spiritual Journey...part 2

Yes things changed.  They began to change that very evening.

When my husband came in that night he decided to open the mail that had been stacked by his seat for weeks.  I heard him gasp and utter a curse.  I got up from the bed and asked him what was wrong.  He handed me a letter which read, "Greetings from the U.S. Army..." or something to that nature.  He'd just been called up to serve in the Gulf War and his day to report was in three days...

As it happened, he didn't serve any time in the war.  His time was spent in a military camp in Missouri and I struggled alone with a number of issues at home that I won't go into. When he returned we both realized how broken our marriage had become and I left two days later. And before that week was out I was hit by a drunk driver on my way to work one morning. I went through my own sort of hell for the next two or three years.  I 'lost' the little non-denominational church during that time.  Second verse, not quite the same as the first, but it hurt all the same. I was asked to leave since my husband had joined the church during my 3 month hospital stay and I was the one requesting the divorce.

During this time there had been changes on my job.  A woman came to work in the office who had a God centered life.  We didn't work closely but it was obvious in all she said when we chanced to meet that she had a relationship with Him.  I, on the other hand, remained on a bare nodding acquaintance with Him.

Weekly Meal Plan

I sat down to plan meals this afternoon and had no problems whatsoever...That blustery wind outdoors, the gray skies, the chilly air all proved inspirational.  I don't know that this will last but it sure was nice to not struggle to come up with warm weather foods that I'm so bored bored bored with making for a change.

I have a November inspiration list that is two pages long already.  Can we say PROJECTS?  They abound  for the month ahead.  I've already begun working on that list, but nothing major to show for it.  My incentive fell away after John asked me to go into town and get a frozen pizza for dinner.  I didn't mind postponing my planned meal since he's put in no special requests for several weeks now.  Besides there were a couple of loss leader sales I wanted to take advantage of this week.  I put 20 pounds of flour in the freezer and another 6 cans of diced tomatoes on the pantry shelf.

Veggie Soup, Toasted Pimento and Cheese Sandwiches, Apple Dumplings
Cold and blustery forecast for tomorrow so I decided this is what we'll be having.  I usually have a homemade soup day in September with the first chill days, but there were none, so no soup.  I'm looking forward to this meal!

Beef Pot Pie, Fried Okra, Peach Salad
The pot pie is leftovers I'd frozen and thawed for today's meal.  I'll oven fry the okra while the pot pie heats up.

This Spiritual Journey...

Back in June, I shared that we had decided we needed a sabbatical from our synagogue.  At that time, as I wrote of what that sabbatical had meant to me personally, I was asked to share my spiritual journey.  I've thought about that request often.  I suppose because I am a writer by nature, and analytical, I like to begin at the beginning of things.  So this is the beginning.

I grew up in a Primitive Baptist church which met twice a month, first Sunday mornings and third Sunday afternoons.  We met only twice a month because the preachers serve multiple churches in the association much as the old circuit riding preachers did.

I have always been curious about things, all my life, and though I was in this church from age 6 weeks to 32 years I didn't 'fit'. 

I joined the church (aka was baptized) at age 9.  I joined because my grandfather asked me to do so, telling me that he was dying (and he did two years later). I wasn't questioned too hard about my decision.  The questions I raised were sort of pooh poohed and I went on with the thing, but I can tell you truly that even at that tender age I was very aware that  something vital was missing in my decision, though I was unclear what.  On the day I was baptized I became a member of the Primitive Baptist church.

From about that point onward, I was pretty much over church as a rule.  I went every single Sunday that our church held service but my parents didn't visit other churches, they didn't encourage Bible reading and the Primitive Baptist church I attended discouraged Bible study groups.  There were no Sunday school classes.  The branch I belonged to had no musical instruments in the church, nor choirs.  Women were pretty much ignored and it was assumed that they'd never speak during service. We didn't sing the usual church songs but only hymns published before 1900, lovely old hymns with what I now realize were powerful lyrics, but modern day music was discouraged.  The King James version of the Bible was the only bible allowed and members were strongly discouraged from even thinking of looking at other interpretations.  Communion was held once a year.  Our communion service included a 'foot washing' service as well.

My Frugal Weeks

 The most reasonably priced meal at the fair is at the VFW's booth.  We always go for their hamburgers knowing we're supporting a good cause as well as getting a hot meal...

In My Kitchen:
I had a couple of apples that were bruised or too soft to be eaten out of hand.  I cut them up and served them as caramel apples with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as dessert for one of our meals.

One chicken, four meals.  That was my goal and here's what I did.  I cut up the chicken into parts. 
Meal one: Barbecued chicken (two legs, two wings, one pulley bone).  Meal Two:  Chicken Kiev (using the two breast halves which I boned and skinned myself).  Meal three: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole (two thighs). I didn't have enough for a fourth meal, but  I got 2 quarts of broth from simmering the thighs, back, neck and bones.

Made a pot of chili.  I set aside enough to make a second meal for us before making chili mac for dinner.

I've found a quick and easy cake recipe that stirs up in four minutes.  It makes one deep layer or a dozen cupcakes.  I opted to make cupcakes this week.  Half became Boston cream Cupcakes.  The rest were frozen.

I had a bit of leftover ganache.  I put that in the fridge to save to make chocolate butter cream frosting for the rest of the cupcakes later. I know we'll be having the rest of the cupcakes this next week, so the ganache will keep nicely.

Weekly Meal Plan

We've just a few days of this vacation/off period left and then it's back to work for John.  I caught myself slipping into the work week routine one evening this week when John was working in the music room.  I dashed about the house and got a few chores done so we could have a free day the next day.  I'm ready for a bit of routine again, I reckon.  All these 'free' days begin to wear a bit after a while and routines look pretty good.  That's probably why I've been slowly working on deep cleaning the kitchen, one small area at a time.  Oh the woes of a desperate housewife, sneaking in a few extra licks at her housekeeping!

One thing we've not missed much of: home cooked meals.  I've been cooking and/or preparing three meals a day most every day.  It's a good thing I really enjoy cooking and don't mind clearing up, either.  However inspiration is wanted/needed.  I've turned to cookbooks, former menus and Pinterest many and many a time over the past three weeks.

I didn't find a whole chicken nor breasts on sale this past week.  Instead I bought a whole roasting hen...which got left at the grocery store, ack.  We had to go back the next day to get another but the store was very nice about it.  I put that in the crock pot when we went out Friday because I didn't want to greet another Shabat with the necessity of cooking a meal.  Glad I did cook that bird.  I had thought we'd have warmed leftovers for dinner, but we had company.  That chicken, meant for supper sandwich meat and a few other meals, came in handy at dinner.  We only used one breast for that meal (sandwiches, chips, apples and caramels). 

Now to plan how I'll use the rest of that chicken.  While I'm listing all three meals right up front, they won't be served that way at all.  I will mix the menu up so that we have chicken one night and another meat  or entree the next night.  No need of making anyone in this house feel they might cackle and lay an egg from eating so much chicken.

Weekly Meal Plan

Last week was such a great week. I was pleased with what was accomplished at home and because I didn't tie myself down so hard that I couldn't enjoy the week.  John's extra time off was plenty of fun.  We've a few more days to enjoy, work, and relax and then it's back to routine for a bit.

This morning just flew by with routine housework.  I've been planning meals and checking out recipes, making out my grocery list, checking my budget (yikes!), looking over the pantry/freezer listing, etc. this afternoon.  That's a good half day of work right there.

Beef and Noodle Toss, Whole Green Beans, Crusty Bread, Pears with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
This is a simple recipe really but a 'different' sort of pasta dish.  Lasagna noodles are used for the pasta, topped with a slow simmered beef, grape tomato and mushroom sauce with a rich stock.  Very earthy and suitable for Autumn meals I think.  I plan to buy a nice wedge of blue cheese for the dessert tray.  If I find a bottle on sale, I might add a Moscato to finish off this meal.  Yes, it is a fancy sort of meal, but it's economical, too.

Warm Italian Sandwich, Potato Chips, Easy Tiramisu
I found this recipe in one of the magazines.  The recipe calls for a sliced Italian loaf but I will make individual sandwiches for us.  It has Provolone, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, olives, sundried tomato spread.  It made me think of a sub sandwich we used to purchase from an Italian family when I was a child and I'm anxious this sandwich.  I think it will be a great meal to prepare ahead and heat when we're ready to eat.

Another Glorious Autumn Day...

 It was another glorious autumn day.  Just beautiful with sunshine, blooms, cool breezes, blue skies...October is definitely putting on her best for us on a daily basis right now.  John suggested we 'Go somewhere,' and so we did.  We chose our destination at the last minute, packed up and headed out.  Through rolling farmland with far sweeping views...

 Past those hay fields with great huge bales of hay that makes my heart feel lighter and gladden, though I've no clue why.

We spied a bit  of autumn color here and there.

 And lots of lovely little ponds, most of them natural, bordered with blooms.

And gorgeous old houses...This one could use a bit of tender care, but I suspect if I could find out a thing about it that it predates 1850...

Coffee Chat - Fair Day

John has developed a new philosophy and his new philosophy is "What are we saving for, if we keep bypassing every single pleasure?  What about today?"  I do understand what he's saying.  We can save for tomorrow and we are and we will continue to do so, but every now and then we need to stop and think about what we're missing TODAY.

It is Fair season.  The Georgia National Fair is a big deal and it's within 30 miles of home.  It started last Thursday night and winds up this Sunday night.  There's a limited window of opportunity for us to go and this year, John meant we were going to go.  It did seem that every single thing came together to make the day about perfect.  First there was that 'littlest girl' as she's called who asked specially if we'd spend the day with her at the fair.  Flattered beyond words, we said yes.  After all, how many 20 year olds think it's fun to spend a day with mom and dad?  Then there was the weather which finally decided to act like autumn and turned off cool, then came out with sunshine, blue skies, cool breezes to mark the day as most excellent.

We started the day with waffles.  What's better on a cool morning than toasty warm waffles with real maple syrup and a sprinkle, just a hint, of cinnamon sugar?  The house was cleaned to a spic and span shine the day before, too.  Not a thing to do beyond stack the dishes and make the beds.  We went in two separate cars because Katie meant to stay until closing at 10pm.  That was not what we meant to do.  Our plans centered around the daylight part of the day.  John and I had to run a couple of errands and then we finally got to the fairgrounds.  Katie had called 20 minutes before to tell us where to park, "Just loads of open spaces," she said.  Apparently a lot of people arrived in that 20 minutes.  Katie parked at the fence.  We were parked somewhere nearer the entry road about a dozen parking lines farther away.  We met at the clock tower...That is center of the grounds and the tallest spot there.  A great visual for lost ones or for kids old enough to be turned loose on their own who must meet back up with mom and dad at a certain hour.

Weekly Menu Plan

The Autumn breezes are blowing and the leaves have that tissue paper sound they get this time of year.  I've been listening to it all day long, winding it's way down from the North and bringing a slightly cooler air to us.  Mind you, it's plenty warm in the sun yet.  I've aired pillows today and dried the load of sheets I did early this morning.  I took down the summer curtains in my bedroom and hung a pair that better matches my quilt.  I've contemplated the possibilities for the guest room's autumn/winter look and piddled about the house looking at the work I might be doing if only I felt like settling in to do something that takes more than twenty minutes tops.  But not even planning holds my interest for long.  I'm up to do a quick task, sitting down once more to think about the quilt's next portions, dreaming of the next quilt I'll make, then up again to do another chore or to plunder amongst the craft items to see if something inspires me.

I'm also contemplating the shelves of books.  I feel strongly it's time to start spending some quality time with one of my old dear friends but which? Or should I make time for a new one?  Or just stack books by my chair and read a bit here and a bit there until I feel I'm ready to settle in for a long,  long spell?  There's a tall stack of vintage magazines from 1925-1959, all from past Octobers to peruse as well.  Of course, I'll have to streamline meals, because we can't have cooking interfering with reading!   Slow cooker or quick and easy meals?  It does depend on the weather (doesn't it? so changeable in our neck of the woods), but I feel it, the cozy season is coming nearer and I'm ready to feather my nest anew in preparation for it.

My Frugal Week

 When I found this a couple of years ago at the Peaches to Beaches Yard Sale, I never dreamed it would be a money saver...But it is.  For one thing, I can only fit a small roll of aluminum foil (usually the store brand) in the thing.  And so I use less foil than ever.  I tend to cram the usual size of paper towel in the paper towel section but the cutting edge allows us to 'choose a size' of our own liking even if the roll doesn't offer that option!  I've saved the cost of this paper dispenser at least twice over in two years.

In My Kitchen:

Used this recipe for Banana Peanut Butter muffins to use the last banana from our previous pay period.  I made them on Sunday and the cooking time really is as short as it says.  I was certain it was a typo.  Be sure to check them for doneness at the given time range if you attempt this recipe. After cooling I bagged these up in groups of 3 and put in the freezer for easy breakfast bread or snacks.

Made a pizza for Sunday dinner.  I decided that we should go for smaller portions.  John and I agreed that we were plenty satisfied and so we had half the pizza left instead of the usual two slices.  That will make another meal for us.  I put in the freezer so we can heat and eat for a quick dinner on a busy day or for supper on a night when I have no clue what we will eat.

I had graham cracker crumbs near expiration and used this recipe to make Blueberry Graham pancakes for breakfast.  I had to add a bit more milk.  This recipe makes a very dense, heavy pancake, so one or two is more than enough for a serving.  I put the remainder in the freezer for another breakfast.

It's pure love of leisure that drives me...A half day spent in the kitchen preparing three or four entrees at once usually means I get a few free hours each day to do something else while dinner cooks or heats.

In My Home This Week: All Routine