Bits and Pieces: Aunt Leeza's Box

I was perhaps 12 years old when Big Mama gave me this 'jewelry' box as she called it.  I loved it right away just because it was old and Big Mama had a habit of giving me things that had belonged to others and had some special meaning to herself.   This box was Aunt Leeza's.  I am spelling her name phonetically at the moment because I'm not sure how it was actually spelled.  (her name was Eleazar, but the family always shortened it to what sounded like  Leeza) I was given several of Aunt Leeza's things because, as Big Mama put it, "She was so taken with you."

Aunt Leeza was my great-great-great aunt and I did indeed meet her once when I was perhaps 5 or 6.  I clearly remember meeting her at Big Mama's home.  I was sort of 'taken' with her too, firstly because she was without a doubt the tiniest adult I'd ever met.  Second because she was dressed in a pale blue peignoir that was without a doubt the finest and most beautiful nightgown I'd ever seen outside of a magazine.  And third, because she was so very old.  I'm not just sure why Aunt Leeza was with Big Mama.  She lived in Montezuma and I suppose she'd been ill, though I recall her as smiling and happy that day I visited.

Aunt Leeza died shortly after and hers was the first funeral I attended.  I recall going down to Montezuma with Mama and Granny to clear out some things in her tiny little house and taking them back to Big Mama's.   Mama shared with me later that the house was so poor that Aunt Leeza had a big trunk, a small table, a bed and one chair.  That was the furnishings of her two room house.
Big Mama kept all the things stored in the huge old trunk in her front bedroom and it was my great pleasure to 'plunder' and look through that trunk, which Big Mama allowed.  I am sure at one time this box was also in that trunk.  I thought it the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen and I especially loved it for the picture on the front of it.  You see...even in my youth I was taken with hay bales in a field!

This is the mirror inside the lid.  Isn't it lovely?  

I used this box as my jewelry box for years and years and then used it to keep the most precious things I owned.  Things like the first hair lock cut from my babies' heads and the first tooth they lost and the little bracelets they wore at the hospital when they were born and a few other little items that were given to me by my children and the children of friends.

The detailed carving is really quite beautifully done isn't it?  My box is missing a foot on the back side but I've loved this box for years on end.  It wasn't until the past couple of years that I found a second box...and then I saw a third and fourth, though I didn't buy those.  A friend also had several in her home and she told me they were candy boxes!  Can you imagine getting a box of chocolates in such a nice keepsake box?  That would be a real treasure indeed wouldn't it?

I was given many items over my young years from my family that really helped me form a connection to family roots, either in the form of objects that belonged to someone or through stories.  I've said many times I felt especially grounded and blessed in family in those days and I believe it's because of things like this box being in my possession.  Perhaps that is why I so love history and am so enjoying tracing out family genealogy lines now.

Frugal Friday

My 'new' wall in the living room, redone with things I had on hand and the thrift store pictures (the two long ones) I bought several months ago.

 Saturday:  A quiet day at home.  I cooked food yesterday and needed only to reheat today to eat.  Microwave reheating is a lot cooler than turning on the oven.

I finally have the summer measures of food down.  Maddie likes about 1 1/4 cups.  Trudy is a 1 1/2 cup measure.  The cat prefers just under 1/4 cup.  I seldom have leftover food these days to pour back into the container.

Sometimes doing nothing at all is the biggest money saver, lol.  I watched a couple of programs on the food channel but for the most part I spent the day reading, thinking about the week ahead, planning meals, working on goals for next month, planning a small grocery shop to restock pantry items that were out or low and were advertised as sales.  Besides the Air Conditioning there was little electricity used this day, no gasoline used and because meal and snack had been planned, I had limited the usage of those items.

Sunday:  I always feel so energetic after Shabat rest.  Today I started a full load of clothes and hung to dry moments after John left for work.

It took about 1 1/2 hours of housework to get house in good shape.  I used baking soda to clean the kitchen sink.  It works wonders on stainless steel and doesn't scratch.  I used a bit to remove a spot on the counter where a label had left a stain.

Went to the grocery store, list in hand and bought items on sale to restock pantry.  It wasn't what I planned to do this month but it was necessary.  I had several outages when I did my inventory at the end of May and they've increased over the past 2 months.  Mayonnaise was not only on sale but a new variety of the brand had coupons attached to the top to encourage buyers to try it.  I got a brand name mayonnaise for $1.79 a jar.  I can't get that low a price on Aldis brand mayonnaise.

Lesson brought home today:  I like chicken livers occasionally.  John does NOT.  I bought a liver dinner from a popular chicken place.  I realized as I drove away with my dinner that the amount of livers was about 1/3 of a pound...and for $1.69 I could buy a pound of chicken livers and cook them right here at home.  I paid a good deal more than $.56 for my liver dinner!  I like to eat out but over and over again I find myself comparing what I might have bought compared to what I got.  The truth is I could have bought ALL the components of that meal for about the cost of the dinner and had enough to serve four, with leftovers of the vegetables to use in other meals.  Truthfully every single item I buy through a restaurant or fast food cannot be translated into such a quantity, but let's face it cabbage, potatoes and livers are cheap foods already.
Did I enjoy my treat meal?  I did.  But I enjoyed thinking about how I could have it at home for far less a great deal more.  I'll definitely buy some livers and divide them into portions to cook for myself in the future.

I turned up the AC to 80F before leaving home.  I didn't turn it down when I came in either.  It was pleasant until late afternoon when the western sun heated up the house.

Prepared John's work lunch.  I share this now and again, but John eats breakfast at home and takes a lunch and supper in an insulated bag to his workplace.  This saves us hundreds of dollars each year and he's insured that he (a) has time to eat something throughout the day, (b) gets good foods not junk foods for his meals.  Paramedics (cops, firefighters, etc) who ordered food from fast food or restaurants can tell you that nine times out of ten they are called out to do a job before they ever get more than a few bites in their mouths.  Leaving food behind and having to order more later would be very expensive don't you agree?

Used dishwater to water the front porch plants.

Monday:  A day planned to be at home.  I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish, made out yesterday afternoon.

Turned up the AC as soon as John had left.

Started a load of laundry.  I had two loads to do today and wanted to get them both hung out to dry.

Sat down and planned out meals for the first part of the week.

Organized coupons.

Balanced checkbook and got bills ready for payment.  This is Harvest Day in our home.

My big projects today: clean off the front porch and get the living room wall finished at last.  The front porch was the easiest job of all.  Amazingly a good sweep, removing dead plants and picking up items we'd dumped and left made the front porch welcoming once more.

The living room wall took a few hours and a bit more work.  Lots of measuring, scavenging inside the house for items that would work, rethinking some choices, etc.  In the end, I was very pleased.  I re-used a frame I had on hand.  Other items used I bought at thrift shops or store clearance and set aside.  I am well pleased with the overall arrangement now.  John needs to hang one item for me that is too far out of my reach even with the step stool.

Packed a work lunch for John.

Used dishwater to water the plants.

Tuesday:  Typically, I started a load of laundry and hung to dry as soon as John was gone.

Washed a full load of dishes at day's end, in the dishwasher.

Meant to go out to bank etc today but John and I are going to be within a 1/2 block of our bank Wednesday morning.  I'll wait and go with him.

Decided against running into town to pick up a lone sales item at the local grocery.

Wednesday:  John had an early morning meeting at work.  I went along with him.  Why?  Because the stores we shop at for groceries are the same distance from his work place as our home.  Our home is also the same distance to his work.  We saved one round trip with my going with him.

Scanned computer for new sales at one store (cycles start on Wednesday) to see what items we needed that were best buys there.  Glad I checked.  Several dairy items and a few others on my list were great buys there.

John decided to do local errands before we headed home.  He went into the automotive store to get oil and filters for the cars and truck.  This money was set aside over a period of time so not a hard hit to the budget.

Stopped at the peach shed and bought my last bag of peaches for the summer...sob.  The season is done and they will be shutting down this weekend.  Can't wait until they are ripe next year!  I bought just the usual $5 bag which contains about 14  peaches.  We like to eat them fresh and I know any more than that will be waste.

We made lunch here at home.

Our treat today was a homemade frozen lemonade.  I bought two bags of lemons to make more lemon juice cubes to use in our favorite summertime drink.

Thursday:  John off to golf. Sent powerade and water with John due to the heat outdoors.  I know he'll be drained when he comes home.

I did housework, then sat down to plan weekend meals.  I planned to use the most perishable fresh foods and fruits first.

Decided to bake a weekend treat.  I combined a recipe that sounded good with elements from two other recipes that had similar flavors.  I experiment like this all the time, lol.  My experiment was tasty: Blueberry lemon tea loaf.

Refilled water bottles.

Carried dishwater out to pour over the plants.

Supper this evening was a cool and easy cheese, fruit and crackers plate.  I had a variety of cheeses in the fridge, a variety of crackers in the cabinet and all sorts of summer fruits.  It was a light meal with enough fiber and protein and carbs to make us feel full.

More and more lately we're shutting off the tv when either of us finds we're endlessly channel surfing.  It saves electricity, it saves frustration and it makes the house seem so peaceful.

Friday:  John off to work that extra shift.  This may be the last of the extra work unless someone is on vacation but it sure has been nice to get almost through summer with an extra bit of money every other pay period.

Made out a list to go to Walmart with today.  I go so seldom these days that I was surprised to find my list was considerably shorter than I'd imagined it would be. And I stuck to it pretty hard.  I used my cell phone to take photos of things I saw that I thought I wanted rather than putting them in my buggy and changing my mind when I got home.

One item I purchased today was a slipcover for our old blue recliner.  That recliner is so old that there are still milk spots on the wood runners from Katie's bottles!  Nope not ashamed of that fact in the least.  I left them there on purpose.
I've been pricing slipcovers at various places online including Overstock.  I could find some good deals but never the color I wanted.  Today the two coincided: right price/right color.  I snapped it up right away.  I'm proud of that recliner now.  It may be old but it's good and solid and just needed a cosmetic makeover.  Done and done.

I thought if I felt up to it I'd run into the local thrift stores and plunder around but there was a storm brewing.  I wanted to get on home.  I'd already gotten hard soaked by one storm as Mama and I were out and about.  It wasn't my wet clothes though, but the idea that I'd like to be home to unplug the tv and computers in case of any power surges.

Brought home half my lunch.  I ate 1/2 of that for my supper and saved the other half as a tasty treat for John when he comes in.  Then I think we'll share that last bit of Hazelnut chocolate we bought the other day at Aldi.

The rain came and lowered temperatures so that the AC has actually been cutting on and off.  Hooray!  I'll appreciate that come next billing time.

That's it for this week!

July $25 Grocery Challenge Week III

Week III July 16-22
Monday:  peach pancakes/sausage*
lunch: Submarine sandwich, john's treat we were out doing errands chips, ice cream*
supper: Cheese omelet, sliced tomatoes, grits (leftovers t and g) toast, turkey bacon
all ingredients except turkey bacon on last weeks cost line-up.  Turkey bacon purchased end of  May and stored in freezer.

Tuesday: breakfast: cereal with peaches, toast
dinner: Broiled sirloin, corn on cob, salad
supper: Turkey sandwich wrap, chips
,turkey deli sandwich meat leftovers, steak purchased last month and frozen,

Wednesday:  breakfast: me: raisin bread and cheese toast

John: 2 eggs, toast
lunch: John: turkey sandwich wrap (same as last night), chips, granola bar, nuts, cookies
me:  out with Mama (turkey salad plates with black berry cobbler)
*paid for out of my allowance
snack: Frozen Cherry Lemonade
supper:  leftover sub sandwich, chips/queso dip leftovers

Thursday:  breakfast:  John: Peanut  butter toast
Me: ??I think I forgot to eat this particular morning
Dinner: Basil-Peach Chicken/Rice
John's lunch/supper: fruit cocktail and cottage cheese, coleslaw, hot dogs
Snack: peanut M&Ms*
Supper: me: nachos, Frozen Cherry Lemonade

Chicken bought last month and frozen, peaches leftover from last week, leftover hotdogs used in John's lunch.

Friday: breakfast: John and I had the same thing: Eggs, leftover steak, toast, coffee
dinner: me: meatloaf, green beans with potatoes, mac and cheese
peanut butter and jelly on raisin bread
                               Chicken Tomato Pesto sandwiches (breast cooked from packet on Thursday)
                               Plum  peanut M&Ms
snack: ice cream

Ground beef purchased and frozen last month, canned beans from pantry stock, potatoes/mac and cheese from pantry.  Plum left from last week's purchase.

Saturday: breakfast: toast with strawberry cream cheese
dinner: Me: meatloaf, green beans with potatoes, sliced tomato
John: cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, peanut butter crackers, cookies, 

Strawberry cream cheese from previous week purchase, my meal all leftovers and John's burgers made up of 1/2 pound ground beef.  I used 1/2 pound to make meatloaf.

Sunday:  breakfast: John - fried eggs*/toast
me: yogurt and cereal with peaches
dinner:  me- chicken leg*, cream cheese stuffed celery, whole grain bread*
John work lunch - Turkey and lettuce wraps, chips, fig bars
supper: chicken liver dinner from KFC<
 Peaches left from last week's purchase, the last two. 
Sausage $.99
Fig Bars $1.79
Deli roast chicken $7.99
Eggs $6 (3 dozen FRESH brown eggs)John got these from a man who raises chickens.
Italian bread $2.89
 ice cream$3.00 
Liver Dinner $6.59
corn: $.20/ear xs 2
pepper jack cheese $2.50
raisin bread $1.29
M&Ms $1.89
bread $1.29
milk $1.00
coffee $4.99

Not looking good is it?  The truth is I splurged on that liver dinner.  Won't next time.  I realized after getting the meal that I could easily buy a pound of livers for $1.69!  I'll make my own next time I have a craving.  I even have a plan to buy them, divide into bags and thaw as wanted.  Ditto with the deli chicken.  I went to the grocery store hungry...that's all I can say and all I shall.  We've had three servings from that so far, have enough meat to make a generous salad dish (and possibly one more dish) and the carcass in the freezer for use later.  Not such a big splurge as the livers...I went to the grocery today to stock up on some exceptional sales (Kraft mayo was $1.79 with sale/coupon) and restock my pantry, so did not include all those costs in this week's total.  The sales were truly too good to pass up.  Between guests and my stocking up my 'vacation savings' was depleted entirely.  Oh well. 

John met a guy selling fresh brown eggs.  Grocery store eggs have no relation to homegrown ones.  I asked for 3 doz and he complied.  I've got eggs coming out of my ears at the moment since I still had two dozen in the fridge but they will be used up over time.

A big 'THANKS!" to Dawn for stopping by to read and letting me know that she did a breakdown of last week's meals and I averaged $1.19 per serving with company here.  She figured my breakdown put me right at the $25 mark for the two of us.  

I thought you might be interested in this blog/web I visited last week thanks to Tracy.

Be sure to click on the link for the 'new budget' recommendations included in that first article. 

Iced Tea Chat

Before July gets away from me completely I thought we'd sit down for another Iced Tea Chat. I've not been baking this week as you can see.  There are however, some German chocolates in the jar on the counter and Honey Roasted Peanuts.  I'm afraid things get a bit low the day before our bi-weekly shopping trip.

John and I spent the first part of last week recovering and catching up after our weekend of guests.  We had to run an errand on Monday to the home improvement place for heavy duty ant poisons.  I really like the Terro traps but I confess I'm completely unnerved when the tiny trail of ants suddenly increases to epic super highways of ants coming in to gather that bait.  It just seems to me it's not working, though I suppose it is.  John got some stuff to spray around outdoors, more of the ant traps and then decided to add in a bottle of stuff from Hot Shot that is natural and supposed to be safe for children and pets.  That made me feel good  because I do worry when we're using heavy duty sprays.  

I'm glad we did that on Monday because Thursday I went into the kitchen to prepare my dinner of Basil-Peach Chicken and opened the spice cabinet door to get the olive oil and out swarmed ants!  Ack and double Ack!!  It's a long cupboard and just the end opening is devoted to spices.  The next two doors have pasta/rice/beans and snack foods respectively.  Now I'm here to tell you, I don't like sharing my food with the ants, but I HATE sharing my snacks with ants!  Fortunately it must have been a relatively new trail as none of the foodstuffs were affected.  I took ever single thing from the cabinets, sprayed that all natural spray, waited, killed ants by hand that were scrambling over the counter, washed out the cabinets and then sprayed again and let dry when I discovered still more ants trailing about.

The all natural stuff has a clean sort of smell, a bit like Murphy's Oil Soap and it slows down the ants it doesn't kill on contact (contact being the key word).  It took pretty much all of the afternoon to get that cupboard squared away once more.  I bagged in double zippered bags every thing that I couldn't fit into a glass jar.  And you know, that cabinet looks pretty and neat when I was done.  I can't tell you I was happy about the ants, but they certainly served a purpose in getting me busy about cleaning out that cabinet.

Friday I'd meant to go off and have a fun day but as I thought it over I decided about the most fun thing I could do was stay home and thoroughly enjoy it.  And I did, too.  I did light housework and piddled about most of the day and I'm pretty sure I took a nap that afternoon.  I sure can't tell you what else I did besides work on a Frugal Friday post.  The day went right along just as pleasant and nice as could be.

I think the most peaceful part of the day was when I took photos of the sunlight creeping across the living room floor that afternoon.  I'm  partial to sunlight.  I like to have light flooding my home and if there's one thing I dislike about summer it's the need to shelter behind dark curtains for at least a portion of every day.  The sun has altered it's path a little.  It's not really something I notice by looking at the sky but by how it falls across the floor from an unshaded window or how much longer it takes for the sunlight to creep into the window in the first place.

I can't explain me but seeing sunlight spilled across the floor does more or less the same thing to me that seeing a field full of hay bales does.  My heart just goes soft and I feel peaceful and content, as though all is right with the world.

Of course, the next morning I had to take a photo of the sunlight coming in the window on the other side of the room:

Saturday was pretty much the same minus the housework.  I'd cooked ahead a little on Friday (part of my 'piddling about'), so all I had to do was heat and eat my main meal.  John's lunches were pre-packed on Friday for Saturday and Sunday and that left the day wide open.  We'd been up earlier than usual and because the alarm was due to go off at an unusual hour I woke an hour earlier than that and couldn't go back to sleep.  I know I took a nap that afternoon, because I moved from my usual seat and sat in the recliner and I slept hard.  When I woke, I felt as though I'd slept the whole night through I was so rested feeling.   I find that these Shabats when I can take the time to really rest are the most beneficial days of the month for me.

Sunday I did the usual housework then went to the grocery store.  Yes, I know, I'm in a challenge month and you'd best believe I still AM in a challenge month.  However, the dog food my Maddie likes best was on sale, as was bread and sodas and a few other foods we normally keep pretty well stocked and didn't have on hand.  I didn't buy any foods to use now except for one loaf of bread and a deli roasted chicken.  I got that chicken simply because my breakfast wore off while I was out shopping and I was so hungry I believe Rock Soup would have been good.  (Lol, that was what Granny used to say when we'd been busy all morning long and it was nearing dinner time).  I did a 'no no' and wandered up and down a few aisles.  My only excuse is that I am not that familiar with this particular store just yet.  This chain of stores are all supposed to be set up just the same but they are not.

I found a K-cup holder though I didn't know that was what it was. I thought it looked like a cool spice rack and then I read the description on the thing.  But you know, it still looked like it would hold spices to me, so I wandered back over to the spice aisle with the thing in my hand and tried a few different bottles in it to see how mine might fit.  I was pretty satisfied that it would do just fine.  I can set it on the counter or easily fit in my cupboard and it eliminates a whole basket from that space so it's a winner as far as I am concerned.

Here it is on my counter top.  I still need to label my jars, but you can see how well this might work out for me, though I must say I'll definitely be changing a few of the jars as they all are not quite the same size.  I prefer a more uniform look, achievable over time as I empty out spice jars.

I came home and had a chicken leg, a slice of bread and butter, and cream cheese stuffed celery stalks.  That was a good dinner.  I've always said Hunger makes a great appetizer for a meal.  As hungry as I was, I still took time to put away the cold things and load up this new 'spice' rack aka K-cup holder.

Yesterday I got up just ready to take on the world.  You know every single time I wake up feeling that wake I work at double time all morning long.  I cleaned off the front porch and did two loads of laundry and all the regular housework and made dinner all before noon.

The porch took a little time and a bit of sweat.  I had two or three buckets of dead things I'd meant to replace with fresh flowers and didn't, and it needed a good hard sweeping and general clean up.  I'm not done yet, but what I did do helped it to look a great deal better.  Then I took photos of my two favorite flowers there.  One is the variegated geranium and the other is my orchid.  It had begun to look quite sad in doors (and I guess so since it prefers exactly the sort of weather we have outdoors.  Humid, hot and it's all crowded up with a bunch of other plants. In the house it was getting temperatures between 75 and 79, dry air and sitting all by it's lonesome. Amazing how that thing perked up over night.

Lol...You know Maddie had to have her picture taken.  She was supposed to be eating, but she'd heaps rather see what I'm doing.  I tried to get one each  of Misu and Trudy but they literally turned their backs on me and just kept eating.  I can take a hint...

When I came indoors I decided it was absolutely beyond past the time to get rid of the old standing lamp.  I'd gotten that thing 32 years ago, when Amie was a baby and despite it's heavy base it had been knocked over by more babies.  I mentioned to John that I thought it time to replace it and when I came indoors from the porch and saw it leaning crookedly over the table I just couldn't take it one more minute.  I'd brought in a lamp from the shed that I mean to spray paint another color (haven't decided just what yet, but leaning towards oil rubbed bronze) but I decided I'd do like I do with other things I haven't been able to change:  Ignore it and use it anyway.

 I think this lamp turned out to be the perfect height to go between these two low backed chairs...

Not a great shot of the old/new lamp but the lighting was bad (see the drawn curtains?) and I wanted to avoid the full frontal shot of the 1990's design on the front of it.  I'm glad to put this lamp back in service because it was the very first piece John and I ever bought for our home together.

You see how full that lamp shade is on that wide ginger jar lamp (it's really quite hefty in shape)?  That was the shade I previously had on the tall urn shaped lamp.  I do not know how to buy shades for lamps.  I guessed at the size and used that big shade on that skinny lamp for the past few months.  The shade that is now on the tall lamp was the one I used on the standing lamp.  I am shocked at how much better I like that lamp with that smaller shade.  And relieved as can be that I will not have to pay another hefty price for a big shade to go on this ginger jar lamp!

Now these photos have convinced me fully it is time to start buying/making slipcovers for three of the chairs and the ottoman in this room.  I'm done done done with the red and green and gold colors (and the blue of that old recliner).  I still want warmth in the room but I'm hoping for a fresher look.  

The only things left on my list after all the cleaning and  were fun sorts of things like working on a craft project and finishing up the living room wall.  Since I'd had a nice breakfast of boiled eggs and toast and wasn't hungry at the noon hour, I just went ahead and determined to get started on that living room wall.  I'm really pleased with how it worked out.  There's one more item to go up there that was just out of my reach and out of my comfort zone for stretching or climbing any higher.  I'll get John to fix it for me this week but in the meantime would you like to see it? I moved the lamp I'd been using to the table where the crooked lamp stood and swapped shades between the ginger jar and the tall urn shaped one and I do believe I have two brand new lamps...for the cost of swapping them about!

This shot shows the little chicken sitting on the wee shelf with an old wedgewood creamer hanging on the peg.  That red star will hang either above the two long prints where the platter is, or as I think this afternoon, above the arrowheads to the right of the star.

This morning I got up and tweaked it a bit. I put the pair of brown partridges on the shelf and a mug with a hunting dog on the peg.  I've since added a second hunting dog mug.  I love the little partridges but they do tend to blend in with all the brown...Yet the little chicken isn't quite large enough.  Never fear.  There are ample opportunities to try other things (and larger chickens in the house, too).  

Besides tweaking the wall today, I've done what I refer to as 'quiet' work.  Sorting out shredding, working on organizing coupons, doing small housework jobs, hanging out sheets to dry on the line.  It's been a very pleasant day and a nice way to end a work week.  I've even crammed in a bit of reading today.

Katie brought me two books last weekend by Cindy Bonner.  I think that brings my official 'reading now' list up to 5 books, lol.  I'm nearly finished with two and half done with another one and the other two...well I'll finish them up too but perhaps not this month.

Sunday afternoon I watched a movie.  I mean, really watched it, not just listen to it as I did something else.  It was so good that I went online to read all about the author of the original book which turned out to be a series and I added her to my must read list.  I think I'm just going to be dead certain this year to give John a book list.  That way I can acquire a few new to me books for Christmas and perhaps finish some of the many I have sitting by my chair or in a pile on the shelf waiting to be read.  Is it any wonder I keep restraining myself from going to the library?  There's nothing worse than having to force read because I have a deadline to keep.  But I do love the library!

I used to want to be a librarian, surrounded by all those lovely books.  I did do some volunteer work in junior high and high school in the school library but I've discovered that sadly, librarians spend a great deal more time working than reading.  That made it a deal breaker for me, lol.

Well, time to wind up this little chat, I think.  I've rambled on and on and on.  Hope you enjoyed the tea and chocolates.  I shall have something nice baked by the next time we visit.  I'm thinking of cake...

Basil-Peach Chicken

Frugal Friday

Of the gifts we bought for our grandson this one was the cutest and the least expensive.  He has a thing about trains.  John found this at Toys R Us: a bandana neckerchief, conductor's hat and a wooden whistle that sounds like a train...

 What a full week it was!  I am just now getting all caught up once more. I'll try to walk back through the week just past and see where we saved money.

Friday:  The last of the housework done, I headed into town with my lists.  Three of them: grocery, dollar store and local packing shed.

Dollar store: I bought two extra towels and four pillows.  Two of the pillows were down alternative pillows and I'll be honest with you, I think they are better quality than the ones I bought at Target for half again as much money.  I'll be going back next month to buy about four more pillows to replace some on our bed and we should be set for pillows for quite awhile.  I paid just $7 each for the down like pillows and just $7 for a pair of fiberfill pillows.

Peach shed:  Love our fresh local peaches and after stopping the week before at another peach shed, I'm happy to give my business to the local place. I never get bruised or spoiled peaches there.  Also locally grown tomatoes are offered there as well.  For under $10 I got enough peaches to feed a crowd and tomatoes for us and guests.

Grocery:  No slider rolls to be had, so I bought hot dog buns instead.  This worked in my favor as one bun equaled two slider sandwiches.    I did not by the way stick hard to my list.  I found some items on my list were simply too pricey to buy so I re-thought my meal plans.

At home once more, I worked ahead to make up sandwiches for  our supper. I made those marinated sandwiches that go over so well every single time.  I love that I can make ahead and heat when we're ready to eat.  And when we did eat, they were consumed right away.  Nothing like a favored tried and true recipe to be a hit when you've got a crowd to feed.

One inspiration at the grocery was the queso con salsa dip...A friend made a version that involved a jar of that mixed with a can of chili.  I happened to have homemade chili in the freezer and I thought it would make a nice addition to the meal or even a stand alone meal of nachos on it's own.

Simply a default thing that worked out super well:  with the house full of people, I closed our bedroom door.  As it happened my daughter in law baked the birthday cake after she got here and the oven had to be on for quite a while, between two cakes and my sandwiches that had to bake.  The living/kitchen areas heated up a good deal but our bedroom stayed really nice and cool.  So much so that the two guest rooms were shut up towards the end of the afternoon on Saturday so their rooms would be nice and cool too.

Smart daughter in law (she really is!) wanted to make a special cake for her son.  She bought a single big flat wedding cake layer pan and a small wedding cake layer pan.  She put the small pan inside the big one, poured in her batter around the improvised ring.  I'll show you a photo of the cake on tomorrow's section but it couldn't have worked out better.  Very smart of her to figure this out, I think.

I learned quite a few things having the number of guests that I did over the weekend and this was just one of them.

Ran a full load of dishes before going to bed.

Saturday:  John took over at breakfast time and cooked to order eggs, grits, toast.  While he did that I prepped potatoes to put in the crock pot for hash brown casserole.  Next time I'll know that parboiled are best.  I had to remove the potatoes from the crock pot and bake about an hour to get them cooked in time for dinner.

We called ahead and ordered chicken from our local diner.  It was not too pricey for the number of pieces of chicken we got, but I think if there's a second time I'll buy deli roasted which would save a little more.  Fortunately, the chicken was covered by my grocery savings the previous week.  I didn't have to spend any extra beyond grocery money.  By the way, Friday's purchases at grocery were covered by that saved grocery money as well.  Perhaps it didn't go into vacation fund as planned but it did come in handy.

Katie combined a trip to the trash dumpster with her trip into town to go to the diner and run into the grocery to pick up an item.

The breasts in the chicken we ordered were so big that I took my handy chef's knife and halved them.  I noticed most all the women chose a half piece while the men went for the whole ones.  

Smart daughter in law tip #2.  The cake called for black icing and she'd bought black gel color but one taste and every mouth screwed up with "yuck" face.  Quick thinking and she decided to use crushed Oreo cookies to make top the cake.  She had to make a trip into town but the end result worked out even better than the original plan I think.  Here's her cake:
 Daniel with his Mama and Uncle blowing out candles.

Not the greatest photo, but the cake was shaped like a number 3 and looked like a roadway with white lines down the middle of the blacktop (Oreo cookies) and match box cars.  Very very cute.  Unfortunately the best shot of the cake won't upload to my page.

Notice how blurry my photo is?  Well the man there in the photo gave me a hint.  There's a pre-focus mode if you lightly press the button.  Then a green line flashes and you have a clear shot...Since I don't have a manual with my camera, I hadn't a clue but hopefully we'll eliminate a lot of future blurry shots.

I opted for paper plates and bowls and disposable glasses for the meal.  My son Jd recommended we put a Sharpie pen on the drinks table so that each could initial their glass and save confusion.  Another great idea.

We washed a full load of laundry.

Leftovers of chicken, coleslaw and potato casserole made our supper that evening.

Sunday:  Easy breakfast of hot coffee, bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, toast and peaches.  Not pricey but certainly filling.

John and I were exhausted after every one left Sunday.  We kept things simple for the rest of the day.

Washed a full load of dishes.

Washed and hung to dry a full load of laundry.

Monday:  We were out running errands Monday, after a peach pancake breakfast. We made a visit to the DIY store to pick up pest control products.  We'd been fighting a steady stream of ant invasion.  John got an insect product that you apply yourself (comes complete with pump sprayer) around perimeter of house as well as the Terro Liquid Ant Bait Traps we bought and used last summer.  Those things are worth every penny we pay for them.

Another full load of laundry washed and hung to dry.  We had a lot of bedding and towels to wash after company but limited ourselves to one load per day.

John wanted to eat out and see a movie, but we saved our  money by default.  The movies had all started and we didn't want to hang around for 2 1/2 hours to wait to see it.  The pizza place was closed when we stopped by there.  We came home and bought a sandwich at the local Subway.  I saved half of my six inch sub for supper the next day.

On our way home John refilled my tank.  I was proud that in more than two weeks I'd used less than 1/2 tank of gasoline.  

Supper that evening: the last of the fried chicken and nacho dip.  That was 18 servings from the chicken we bought for the birthday party.  

Ran a full load of dishes and let air dry.

Used a dishpan full of water to water plants on the porch.
Tuesday:  I'm sounding like a broken record, but we washed a full load of laundry and allowed to air dry.  I promise you this was the last load of weekend laundry! lol

Mopped floors and used the mop water to water herbs and plant on the back deck.

Scanned the fridge and found two ears of corn and a handful of vegetables that needed to used.  I thawed a sirloin steak and made a big dinner of steak, corn on cob and salad.

Used the microwave to steam cook the corn.  I cut off ends, leave on shucks and rinse the corn well.  Put it in the microwave damp, cook on High for 5 minutes.  Perfectly cooked corn every time and so easy to shuck once steamed.

Used broiler and cast iron griddle to cook steak.

John did ant patrol with the natural spray he bought to use indoors.  It's supposed to be safe for children and pets and certainly smells better than the chemical stuff.  We've had rain two days running now and can't spray perimeter of house.  Forecast says rain for the next ten days...Not complaining.

Thunder storm came up and we unplugged TV and computers, cut off AC.  Electricity went out for three hours.  Fortunately I'd made wrap sandwiches earlier in the afternoon while packing his work lunch for tomorrow, so we had supper at the usual hour.

I sat down near a window after the storm passed and read my book.  It seemed silly to light a candle when all I had to do was move across the room.

Wednesday:  My day with Mama.  Started housework early but had a load of sheets from our bed to wash (another full load).  I put in dryer since it looked like more rain on the way.  I timed the load carefully and they were dry in 40 minutes time.

Mama gifted me magazines and coupon flyers.

My turn to pay for dinner.  Mama and I both meant to get cash at the ATM but it wasn't working.  I decided to just use my debit to pay for lunch, which meant I spent for lunch and only lunch, instead of having 'extra' cash.

Tipped waitress from my allowance.

We walked about the store (Cracker Barrel) after lunch but bought nothing.

Rode home through the back roads.  We stopped at the Mennonite Country store where they sell bulk spices and baking supplies for far less than any grocery.  I knew just what I needed.  My purchases were cream of tartar, ground mustard, a jar of local honey, a favored old fashioned candy (Bull eyes), chopped dates.  I spent under $10 for that.

Turned AC up to 80F before leaving home for the day.  I forgot to turn it down until John came in, so there was an increased savings for us, lol.

Supper for me was the leftover piece of sub sandwich.

Made a frosty homemade frozen lemonade.  Last minute inspiration was to add a bit of the maraschino cherry juice, since I have no Grenadine syrup.  Oh my goodness!  Cherry Lemonade was good!

Thursday:  A day at home for me, much looked forward to.  Per John's request did a small load of clothes, all hung to dry.

Washed a full load of dishes, and let them air dry as well.

Planned weekend meals.  I noted that I needed to use up cherries, peaches.  I used the peaches to make a new to me recipe of Peachy Chicken.  Yummy good.  I'll post recipe later.

I quartered the recipe but cooked two chicken breasts in the dish.  The larger of the breasts made up John's work lunch sandwiches for tomorrow.

I worked hard today and felt I deserved a reward.  Another cherry frozen lemonade seemed just the thing.

While making lunch discovered ants had invaded a food cupboard.  Went to work and cleaned, sprayed, repackaged foodstuffs in glass jars and double zippered bags.  The cabinet looks so neat and nice and well organized and I can easily see all my foods without a bit of trouble.  Sorry it took an ant invasion to get it looking so nice.

Noticed my African Violet is blooming once again.  So pretty and so worth while to nurse them along for the reward of blooms in the house.

John came in and said he'd worked hard and wanted a treat, too.  He wanted a frozen Coke.  I used half a can of soda and covered the remaining soda with foil wrapped tight around the top then put back in fridge.

Keeping snacks out of sight has truly kept them out of mind.  We bought peanut M&Ms two pay periods ago and I 'found' the bag I'd set aside while cleaning the cupboard.  Fortunately the ants had not gotten into any of the foodstuffs in that cabinet.  John was surprised to see M&Ms in the snack cabinet when he came home.

Found my single cup coffee brew station while clearing out the upper cupboard.  I'll use that to make a single cup of coffee for myself on those days when I want an earlier than usual cup or when John wants coffee and I don't. This will eliminate the waste of having to make 4 cups (or about 2 mugs worth)  of coffee for one person.

Found my sheets meant to be curtains for that sunny end of the porch (per John's request) and hung them on a clothesline strung between two columns.  I cut the ends off to hem to length.  Noted I had enough width fabric to make pillows for the chairs.  I like these striped sheets so much I think I might buy two more twin sized sheets to use as window curtains for the guest room.  I want to buy grommets to put along the top of the curtain and then will use shower curtain hooks so we can slide the curtains open or shut as we choose.

Friday:  Another small load of clothes, washed on the shortest possible cycle with the least amount of water and hung to dry.

Unloaded the dishwasher this morning and refilled the water bottles to keep chilled for weekend drinks.

1 pound of hamburger meat made up two burgers and two mini meatloaves (added saltines, onions and dried tomato pesto).  I baked the burgers and meatloaves in separate pans.

Cooked a box of organic mac and cheese then divided into portions and set aside for work lunches for my husband.

Reseasoned the old cast iron I found in the back of the cupboard.  I meant to give the pieces away but just couldn't.  I found a recipe for bread baked in a cast iron dutch oven that I want to try.  The one pan that was in the worst shape succumbed nicely to a hard scrubbing with salt/oil.  When all the rust had disappeared I brush all the pieces with oil and baked them for an hour and then let sit in the warm oven.  I did this in the early morning hours so the house wouldn't get hot with the oven on.

Took the second meatball hero from the freezer and thawed for work lunch on Sunday.  I cut 1/3 off to save for my own lunch on Sunday.  The heroes were 12 inches long when I made them, so John and I shared one last week and I froze the second one.

Pitted the cherries I had in the fridge.  Because they are sour cherries I thought I'd make mini pies from them tomorrow.  I mean to mix up pie crust today and let it chill overnight.

 Used the touch up packet of color from my last box of hair dye.  I didn't do this last time but I see the merit of it for root touch up.  I hope to get a bit more mileage from this coloring.

John bought fresh from the chicken eggs today.  We will get 3 dozen for $6, a bit higher than grocery store price but oh so much better tasting!  I am looking forward to lovely golden orange egg yolks.

Packed two work lunches today so I can fully rest tomorrow.  Put a plate of leftovers into the fridge for my own dinner.

Biggest savings today:  decision to just stay home and not go out for a fun Friday.  I knew that any spending would be 'extra' and I couldn't think of a thing I needed or wanted more than a day at home to piddle about in the house. 

And that dears is another week of savings in my home.  It was fun and a bit of a challenge but I think we made out all right.  Now I'm off to make a pot of coffee (I'll share with John tonight) and have a light supper of yogurt and peaches.

Week II Challenge Week/Company Meals

Week II of my $25/per person challenge was uninspired and strained my imagination a wee bit  having guests.  I don't really know how to count the overage.  I know I'm in budget with the number of people we had through the weekend but I don't really know how to figure it other than in breaking down the costs overall.  Friday afternoon I had four adult guests, 1 toddler and two infants in the house and fed six adults and 1 toddler supper.  Breakfast the next morning totaled the same number of people fed, but dinner was for ten adults, 1 toddler.  Supper that evening was leftovers from the noon meal and consisted of feeding 5 adults and 1 toddler.  Sunday morning breakfast was for 5 adults and 1 toddler.

I confess that the week was super busy, the weekend was super busy times three and Sunday at noon when we sat down to lunch it was grab as can and then melt into nearest easy chair repeated for supper.  I've included Sunday in this week's lineup even though it makes 8 days total, only because I didn't want to split the company meals between weeks. 

Monday's meals may look rather slight.  I had unexpected company and didn't take time to eat properly that day and Katie never ate at all. I did not include the cost of the restaurant meal John provided on Wednesday.  The money for that meal came out of some entertainment money we had set aside for use this week.  We'd meant to see a movie and have dinner out. We managed the meal out last week but were too busy to go to the movie.  An asterisk next to an item means that the dish included items purchased during this week.

Sunday: breakfast: John fried egg and toast
Me: toasted cheese biscuits
dinner: ranch chicken*, ranch potatoes*, oriental green beans, molten lava cakes (me and Katie)
John:  Roast beef sandwiches. chips, peanuts, banana pound cake, peanut butter jelly and lettuce sandwich, pineapple and cottage cheese 
supper:  leftover Philly Cheese steak Pizza
The biscuits were made last week and were leftovers I wanted to use up.
The chicken was purchased last month and frozen.  The green beans were frozen, purchased several months ago (glad I used those up) and potatoes left from two weeks ago.  I did use a purchased packet of dry Ranch dressing mix.
The rest of the meals components were left from last week's purchases.

Monday: breakfast: Peanut butter and peach toast : me
John: cold cereal and peanut butter toast
lunch: 1/2 slice of pizza, french fries (frozen baked)
John: turkey sandwiches, chips, cookies and crackers with cheese
supper: 1/2 leftover roast beef sandwich from John's lunch day before, milk
Leftovers from last weeks meals except the french fries purchased early last month and frozen

Tuesdaybreakfast: me cereal with yogurt
John: sausage biscuits
lunch:me: tuna salad plate (made for John's lunch day before)
John: cheese sandwich, pbj sandwich, nuts, canned fruit/cottage cheese
supper:Peach/cottage cheese
More pantry freezer items and a few leftovers from last week.

Wednesdaybreakfast: eggs and toast
lunch: John took me out for wings and fries
supper:  John: leftover pizza
me:  egg salad sandwich

Thursday:  breakfast:  pop tart and cheese
lunch: meatball heroes*, chips, peaches
supper:  turkey and Swiss* sandwich, fig newtons*, plums*
The meatballs were made up of ground turkey, frozen bread end pieces crumbled, parmesan cheese and half a bag of baby spinach purchased two weeks ago which I steamed, drained, squeezed dry and mixed with the ground turkey. I've had that ground turkey on hand for about six months, frozen of course.  Glad to use it up this go round. 

Friday: breakfast: pop-tart for me
egg and toast for John
lunch: John: cheese sandwich, egg salad sandwich, wheat crackers, plums*
me: hometown burgers/fries (paid for with my allowance)
supper: marinated sandwiches*, nacho chips* with chili cheese dip*

Marinated sandwiches used Swiss or cheddar cheese, turkey sandwich meat, a mix of butter/mustard/onion and hot dog buns.  The Chili cheese dip used a pint of homemade chili I thawed and stirred into con queso dip  that I purchased.

Saturdaybreakfast for a crowd: grits, toast, eggs* your way
dinner: hometown fried chicken*, homemade coleslaw*, potato casserole*, sliced tomatoes*
supper: leftovers

We bought the chicken in town from the local diner, I made coleslaw (bought cabbage), potato casserole (potatoes were this week's purchase).

Sunday:  breakfast: peanut butter toast/bagels* w/ cream cheese*
lunch:  hot dogs on loaf bread, nacho chips and chili cheese dip 
supper:  leftover chicken, plums, fig cookies
Hot dogs were bought last pay period and frozen. I need to include the cost of them in this week's food list.

Groceries/Food bought:
peaches $5
tomatoes $3(used 2 of the 4 purchased)
bread $1.29xs2
milk $1.99
Italian 5 grain mini loaves $1.89 (2 in package we used 1)
Parmesan cheese $1.99
chips $1.79
nacho chips $3.99
queso dip $2.99
cabbage $1(used 1/2 head)
potatoes $1.99
chicken $31 (for 24 pcs)
burgers/fries $3.00
eggs $.99 xs 2
Ranch dressing mix packet $.69
chicken $2.50
Swiss Cheese $2.29
Cheddar slices $2.29
hot dog buns $1.79 
turkey luncheon meat $3.49
bagels $1
cream cheese $1.20
plums $1.29
hot dogs $3.50
ice cream $3.00
fig newton cookies $1.79

Total spent for week(8 days): $79.56
(not including the meal John paid for out of separate funds or the burger I bought at local diner and paid for from my allowance)

And there's last week.  I'm trying to be more careful about planning and preparing meals this next week.  I don't foresee any problems with it.

Of the $100 I had planned to spend for two weeks, you can see that I spent most of it.  I did manage to put aside $20 towards vacation and am desperately trying to stay away from stores until next pay day.  Wish me luck...

Whee! Time is Flying By...

 I finally figured out today how to shut off the date on photos.  This one taken two weeks ago one morning around 6:15am as John left for work.  It's surprising how dark it's already getting these early mornings, even on non-cloudy days.

I feel as though I've barely had time in the past few weeks to even bother to write at all.  I've been very busy of late, as I shared.  It's been another full and busy week and another weekend filled to the brim with family.  I do believe God is giving us a season of family time to enjoy our kids before we are moved into a new field of ministry.

Since our sabbatical time from synagogue ended a month ago we've had some changes in our life.  John and I are no longer attending the synagogue we'd been part of for four years and indeed have not yet visited a church or synagogue anywhere. It was not intentional on our part to step away from the ministry work John had been doing but it was God's intention and brought about by His desire for us.  Following that stepping out, John immediately gave notice at work that he would no longer be working on Sundays he'd normally be off and would instead work another day of the week. Our plan was to be open to visit synagogue or church.  But it all coincided with our children's move to south Georgia from California. After four years of his being occupied every single weekend it was, it seemed, a great time to take off to visit our children.  Of course, last weekend was his regular week of work, but Katie was here and then Monday Bryan and Virginia stopped by to visit while home from Texas.  Mid-week we got a call from our farthest south children asking to come up and celebrate their son's third birthday a wee bit early (on Grandpa's weekend off)...I think we're in a season of family.

Does it seem odd that we'd stay away from church or synagogue when God is obviously central to our lives and who we are?  In years past, I would have fretted mightily over it, but I feel strongly that we are doing exactly what God means for us to do right now.  We'd been prayerful about what He wanted to bring about in our lives and honestly after nearly ten years of being caught up in worship team and practices and services every single weekend, I don't feel badly about taking this time out session.   We've seen and heard some powerful sermons on TV, online, read books that are spiritual based, have our daily Bible and prayer times. We want to continue to be in ministry (I am prayerful that I too will be used in active worship once more) but this is a time of waiting, too.

This past week Katie and I were pleased to see Bryan and V.  John, sadly, was working and didn't get to see them as they had another visit and a dinner to go to that evening.  Coming home is hectic for family who live out of state.  Bryan said he'd enjoyed it all but was ready to get back to the routine of home!  I understand that very well.  And, as mentioned earlier, we had a big family gathering here yesterday with our family and my daughter in law's brother and his wife here to celebrate our grandson's birthday.  My son and his family arrived Friday, and to my surprise so did Katie!  It was good to see her but I was out of places for her to sleep.  She said the recliner suited her fine, but in future I'll try to have a cot or air mattress extra.  Samuel and Mama came Saturday along with my daughter in law's family and the house rocked and roared.  Now honestly there were ten adults here and only two infants and 1 toddler but ten adults were actively kept on all 100 toes keeping up with those children!!  LOL  It was fun!  It was EXHAUSTING.  It was glorious.  I fell into bed at night too tired to close my eyes and woke the next morning with a huge smile on my face when I'd hear that toddler's feet running up and down the kitchen, lol.

Gratitude...I PRAYED for this and God answered my prayers!  While all the family was gathered yesterday my oldest daughter called.  Her circumstance for calling wasn't joyful but I felt I had my little bit of people gathered tight around me for about an hour there.  I have another prayer...That my daughter and her children will be near enough to visit one day soon.

Katie and Samuel left yesterday but Jd and family stayed through until nap time this morning.  Do you know that when you have twins in the house, the volume of crying is amplified almost four times? lol  They were sooo sleepy, to the point of fussy and rubbing eyes but I understood the reason for waiting to leave until nap time.  It's a long ride home for them and if babies sleep part way it's a good thing.

All that roaring and rocking that went on all weekend long sure did leave this house quiet when it was all done and gone.  It was, without a doubt, the fastest lived 44 hours in my history.  "More, please!",  That's all I want to say.

Thrifty Thursday

 Friday: I had big plans for this day...and my plans were shortened considerably by Mama's announcement that she was coming to stay for three or four hours!  Nothing like an unexpected visitation to make you hurry up and finish up the business of homemaking!  I had meant to cook ahead for the weekend.  I did manage to put together a casserole of Spaghetti Diable which calls for cooked chicken.  I split the called for amounts between two dishes and froze half.  I had a  meal that Mama and I could share (and enough leftovers for John to take to lunch the next day) and a casserole for later when John and I need an easy meal.

While the morning went rather fast I did begin rather early.  I started immediately with a pan of biscuits for breakfast meals and put flour, salt, sugar and oil in another bowl to begin pizza dough a bit later.  I measured out the last of the yeast (just enough left in my jar) and added warm water and sugar to the cup later in the morning.  I pinched off a bit of the dough and made bread sticks to go with  mine and Mama's lunch.  They didn't really have time to rise for the second time but they were delicious.

Most of my spare time Friday (what there was left of it after cooking and cleaning and napping, lol) was spent on the internet looking for census and marriage records for family research.  I do enjoy that a great deal and it rarely seems tedious to me.

We didn't buy enough bread for Shabat and I didn't think to make a small loaf while I was baking in the morning hours.  I decided a bagel would do just as well.  

I put a roast beef in the crock pot to cook. A portion of it will be used to make pizza for tomorrow's dinner.  The rest will be sliced for sandwiches.  I had some for my supper tonight.

John's lunch entree today was leftover sliders made on Thursday.

Saturday:  What an easy day!  I took pizza dough from the fridge to warm and rise slightly.  I had the vegetables that I'd prepped yesterday morning on my kitchen day in the fridge, and all the topping ingredients bagged up together.  I just stretched the pizza dough to fit the pan, assembled the pizza with the ready prepared ingredients and baked.  

The rest of my day I spent watching my Netflix film, researching family on the internet and planning out the work week ahead.  

I took time to enter Coke reward points into my account.

Sunday:  Work day for John and I.  Mine went relatively easily.  The house held up very well over Shabat.  I worked on cleaning out my closet bedroom closet.  I moved a short bookcase into the closet that there was no room for elsewhere in the house.  I put my shoes on that and tossed shoe boxes into the trash.  The closet looks so neat and nice!  

Went out to feed the pets.  One of the pots of petunias had finally died out. I removed the dried stems  I spent some time snipping seed pods and scattering them over the pot.  Fingers crossed that I'll get a 'third' life off those old plants through the seeds.  

Cut back the mums which have had buds or blooms all Spring and now into Summer.  I want them to be lush and pretty come Fall.

Since Katie was here and she'd not yet had her homemade birthday meal, I decided that would be the ideal menu for today.  Ranch chicken, ranch mashed potatoes and Oriental green beans. I had all the ingredients on hand and it was certainly not a hard meal to make.  I made molten lava cakes for dessert.  I couldn't find my copy of the recipe and didn't want to stop working in the kitchen to look it up online.  So I pulled another recipe.  John said he liked that one better.  Katie agreed.  Guess that recipe is the keeper recipe then.

Washed a full load of dishes.  The dishwasher works best if the water is HOT when it begins to run.  I find it best to NOT waste water so I use the water running to rinse dishes, fill the dishpan, etc. until it's good and hot.  Then I start the dishwasher.

Used water I'd boiled eggs in and then steeped my used tea bags in to boost the poor geranium which had taken a beating during that heat spell we had. Granny told me that her grandmother always used tea water to keep her geraniums healthy.  (*note: worked like a charm.  I have two new blooms and new leaf sets coming out on the plant this Thursday).

I 'shopped at home' this afternoon when I noted several items were low or nearly out.  So nice to do that!  I just went right to the back pantry and freezer and got out milk/bread and peanut butter and mayonnaise.

Worked on the checkbook and bill box this afternoon, preparing for Harvest Night tomorrow.  

With no TV in the house we've been making good use of the antique replica radio that John bought at the pawn shop earlier this year.  We'd been wanting one of those for the longest time but we seldom bothered to turn it on.  It seemed such a waste until this weekend.  We recalled that twenty years ago we almost always listened to the radio and seldom watched TV.  We talked over whether we want to keep our satellite service or let it go.

Monday:  Washed a load of sheets and towels and hung on the line.  I almost didn't...There were some odd bugs just sticking to everything outdoors but it was hot and a steady breeze was blowing.  It seemed more than reasonable to hang the clothes out and brush off any bugs before bringing them in.  They were dry in about the same time they would have been in the dryer and the sunlight and air cost me nothing at all.

When the repairman came to fix the satellite (it was actually a cable and port on the TV that got hit by lightning) I asked about various options.  We can 'buy out' our contract, buy an antenna and suspend service for up to six months, or ride out the contract time.  In the end the buy out will cost more than we could save in a year, so I suspect we'll just hold off for now, but I see an antenna in our future.

The day passed quickly as the afternoon was filled with company, children and phone calls. I didn't even have time to stop and eat a meal after breakfast.

Pared and sliced and put up in the freezer the last of the peaches I bought last Wednesday.

Tuesday:  Washed another load of sheets and towels and hung to dry.  Then I made the guest room and bath up fresh all over again for possible weekend guests.

Took off trash when I went out to run errands.

Planned errands carefully. I like to make a full circle whenever I can, instead of backtracking.  I managed to make that full circle today.

Decided against going into the dollar store today.  That's a savings of about $40.

Decided against takeout for dinner, too.  John had refused a Tuna Salad plate I'd made and I thought it would be the perfect meal for myself.  It was hot and humid outdoors.  A plate of cold tuna salad and a frozen lemonade sounded perfect to me.

Went into drugstore to pick prescriptions.  I had a short list of wants/needs but none of the items were in stock.  I was disappointed that my refills weren't ready, but instead of wandering the store and 'just looking' I sat down in the pharmacy area and waited.  That strategy probably saved me about $20.

Made up some meatballs from ground turkey and a bit of spinach we hadn't eaten.  I steamed the spinach in the microwave then squeezed it dry.  I chopped and mixed with the turkey, homemade bread crumbs and seasonings.  It took just minutes to bake in the oven.  I was doing more 'cooking ahead' for Wednesday dinner after grocery shopping.

Wednesday:  Checked the sales for new week at the grocery before we left home.  I noted a few items that were not grocery but good buys, namely pens that we prefer to use.  
Planned out our route before hand so that I could pick up ice cream that was on sale.  That was to be our last stop for the day.

We took ice with us from home so the cold bags were cold when we started putting groceries into the car.

First stop of the morning was a toy store.  We have a birthday boy coming up to visit this weekend.  Happily we have our little fund of money set aside for birthdays for the grandchildren.

John made especially sure to pack the cold stuff well.  He had a secret plan: taking me out to lunch at a new to us place.

 We checked our groceries before going into the last store to make sure they were staying good and cold.  They were just fine.  John decided to buy a second bag of ice rather than split one between the two cold bags.  His decision got our ice cream home in solid state.

Thursday:  Got news last night that we were definitely having company this weekend.  John and I went to work right away yesterday evening but today was about planning: meals, sleeping arrangements, chores and tasks that needed to be done prior to Friday afternoon.  

Decluttering these past seven days has netted us 6 trash bags of stuff to go to dump,  two big bags of donations and a couple of items to give away.  There's more to do and I'm amazed, I truly am.  We are continually going through our things in an effort to keep only what we are using or love.

We worked hard all morning long.  I mopped, and dumped the mop water over the plants on the porch.

John had been wanting a pressure washer.  We haven't gotten one yet, but he did find a special pressure washer wand that hooks to the water hose.  He cleaned the deck floor and and the mower today using it.  He was pleased that a $10 purchase worked relatively well.

We washed a load of clothes and hung to dry indoors.  John was mowing grass and I don't hang out laundry when he's mowing.

Today's dinner was easily prepared: Meatball heroes and chips.  I'm glad it was so easy too because I was TIRED by dinner time.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

We loaded up the truck with trash bags, the backyard can that had finally gotten full of dry trash items, etc and hauled all that stuff off.  It felt so good to see it leave the house!  I felt like we could breathe better and the house seemed to look neater and nicer even though all the stuff we accumulated was behind closed doors.

Moved some pieces about in the house today.  It's wonderful how just moving one item from one room to another or even from one location in a room to another suddenly makes the room look neater and nicer.  It's a whole new look without spending a dime.

Planned menus and made a small shopping list.  There were a few items we didn't buy earlier this week because we weren't sure we'd be having company.  I won't go into town until tomorrow.

It's been a week since we filled my car and there's plenty of gas to last until next pay period I think.

And that's my week of savings!  How did you do?

Iced Tea Chat

 Well here I am... I guess you thought I'd gone away, hadn't you?  Not at all.  For some reason my time these past two weeks has been premium.  And then this week I just felt the need to shelter myself a little, not even realizing until now that it's the anniversary week of Granny dying....It's been quite a journey since this time last year.  Quite a long journey it seems.  Maybe that too is why I felt the need to shelter a bit.

John's last week off seemed particularly long.  He started with a day of class, finishing up the CEUs required to be licensed another two years as a Paramedic.  We're glad that is done.  Then we shopped for groceries a day later than usual and the very next day, on Friday, we packed up,  left home early and went down to visit our son and daughter in law and the grands! 

John was a bit nervous about seeing the grandchildren.  After all, it's been a deep desire of ours now for six years to see something of some of our grandchildren and in all that time we'd only met Daniel once when he was 8 months old.  Nervous...Well, I was too.  First we had that long ride down (about 5 1/2 hours despite taking a new route) and I was so tired when we finally got into town.  I told John I was going to have to really give myself a hard bolstering and I meant it.  I did, too.  I reminded myself how long it had been since I'd had the privilege of loving on a grandbaby and dared myself to let being tired spoil this first opportunity.  Nervous too, about getting to know our son all over again, and dear daughter in law because we've only had limited opportunity to ever visit with her, but you know it all worked out just fine.

The twins were adorable.  Hailey has dark wavy hair and had just learned to roll from right to left and so was 'traveling' about the room until she'd roll into something immoveable and couldn't go anywhere else.  Zachary has not quite mastered that roll yet but was working on tossing one leg over the other. I expect in a couple of weeks he'll have that roll down pat as well.  And Daniel, sigh...Daniel is a little boy there is NO baby left in him.  He stays two steps behind his Daddy all of the time, but he did deign to tease me a bit with a game of peek a boo from behind his dad's chair.  Jd and I had a nice talk, Lori and I had a nice talk, we visited for hours, ate a great supper and just about Shabat time we went off to the hotel to collapse.  It was a very tearful and grateful Shabat held that evening, let me tell you.

Our room was hot when we checked in and it didn't cool down properly until after midnight but it did not stop me going off to sleep almost as soon as I began to read.  John said he knew immediately when I went to sleep.  He came over and took my book and my glasses and I slept until he got in the bed.  Then I was awake for a bit and off and on until about 3 am.  At one point I woke to hear the person on the opposite side of the wall snoring gently.  I mused, wondering if we'd been heard snoring on their side.  Oddly, I didn't find it creepy but sort of reassuring, the idea that  all in the hotel were bedded down for the night and all was safe soothed me right back to sleep.  I didn't wake again until my usual time of morning.  

We got up Saturday morning and after breakfast went back to visit a bit.  Lori apologized several times over when we'd get a little baby stuff on us, but we assured her we'd come to be baptized as their grandparents and you can't be unless they leave you with something.  Besides we'd packed extra clothes just in case we needed to change if we were overly baptized!

We left after about an hour of visiting and headed back home.  It was awfully hot outdoors but the car fortunately has a great air conditioner.  I was pretty certain it was hotter than usual when we passed a home where the truck was parked under a shade tree and birds were parked under the truck...I told John it has to be HOT when it's too hot for a bird to sit in a tree! We followed a slightly different route home and between the lack of traffic and the new route managed to get home at just 4 1/2 hours which was something we were very proud of.  I'd bought deli fried chicken and potato salad on Thursday and we had set aside the leftovers especially for our Saturday dinner when we returned.

I think part of why John's week off seemed so extra long was that he didn't have to work on Sunday.  That was mostly a 'recovery' day for us.  We talked about whether or not we'd be able to celebrate Daniel's third birthday with him, neither of us bothering to look at the calendar to see if John was working at that time.  We read and watched TV and did a bare minimum of household stuff and napped.  Monday and Tuesday followed pretty much the same patterns.  I don't remember leaving the house either of those days, though I did get a bit more work done than on Sunday.

Oh yes, we did leave home Monday.  I've been trying to get the dogs and cat all inoculated with rabies vaccine.  We've had several cases of rabies here in the county and I was determined to get our pets vaccinated.  I got Maddie and Misu done last week but the vet wouldn't see Trudy until Monday.  I was most anxious about her because Trudy, for all that she is pampered and petted, acts as though we spend our time torturing her when we have anything except a biscuit or food pan in our hands!  Just let me go to sip from a glass of water while feeding her and she is off like a shot, gazing at me anxiously as though I meant to pour it over her.  You can just imagine how she feels about the camphophenique when she has a tick on her and we won't discuss the tragedy it is to put a flea collar on her.

Anyway we'd bought a brand new collar for her last week and I was shocked beyond words when she stood perfectly still and steady on Sunday and let me put it on her.  You should have just seen my face Monday morning when I clipped the leash to her collar and said "Come," and she followed me right into the house, out the back door, to the car (John did have to lift her in).  She rode like she was used to it, without the severe anxiety panting that Maddie did all the way over and back.  Trudy walked right into the vets and stood on the scale and walked right out again.  I kept looking at John as if he could tell me what great wonders had occurred, lol.  Trudy jumped into the car on her own when it was time to go home.  We were just speechless.  And to think I'd thought Maddie would be the easier of the two! Ha! 

We had a thunderstorm Tuesday evening with lots of rain and lightning.  It crashed our satellite and John wanted me to call on Wednesday to get it fixed.  I reminded him that was Independence Day and likely we wouldn't get a repair person that day. Mama had insisted we were going to keep our usual lunch day even if it was Independence Day.  I was thinking to myself on both counts that I really just wanted the day alone to do as I wanted in the house.  But I was dutiful and called the satellite company to ask for repair service.  I could nearly have screeched with frustration over it all...

First, let me assure you that we'd done all the trouble shooting moves listed both in our manual and online.  John had, in fact, performed them each a dozen times easily.  But before the computer would even let me talk to a technical support person I had to do it all over again.  And yes, I was tempted mightily NOT to do them and just pretend I had, but I at least tried.  After all there was a chance it might have been temporarily weather related and resolved since John's last attempt just before he left for work that morning.

Computer satisfied, I finally got through to technical support who had me perform the same steps another four or five times before suggesting it might be my TV that was at fault.  But, he said, it might be an issue with the communication cable from the satellite box to the TV and said we might need a new one which we could only acquire through them and he'd put one in the mail.  The cost was minor, well under $10 but it was the waiting period for the thing to arrive.  It couldn't be here for five days.  Five days...with no Tv. John was already feeling rather put out with a 12 hour outage.  Five days!

 I suggested we skip that step and go straight to having a service person come out.  The tech support was very unsure of the wisdom of that.  A service person would be considerably more and to be resorted to only if the cable didn't by chance work.  However, he was swayed by my argument that the service person likely would have the cable, and any other part should the cable prove not to be the problem.  As well, I pointed out, I was in the meantime paying for a service I couldn't use in order to 'save' money per his view and I didn't see it as a savings at all.  He reluctantly set me an appointment but no one could possibly come until the same five day period. Well that was that.  I praised them as I usually do.  Aside from the waiting service when the thing occasionally (rarely!) goes down, we've had exceptional service and I told him so.  That compliment earned us a discount for the service tech and a refund for the days we were anticipating not having service.

That taken care of, I was off to Mama's.  We drove into the foothills to the little town I only visit a couple of times a year and had a very good meal at a restaurant that was almost empty, even though it was a popular place.  We left there and Mama wanted to drive by my Grandmother's house to see if there had been any changes there.  It was a little distance away and we briefly drove through a little old town I'd dearly love to go back and visit.  The highway that ran eastward from there took us over to my grandmother's town and we found the house unchanged.

On the way back down the highway, we went down the old section of the state highway, formerly an old Indian trail that ran through the little town where my great great grandmother and grandfather lived.  We went into the old cemetery (driving only as the grounds were unkempt and we feared ticks) and noted that several graves were obviously extremely old and unmarked.  We drove up the narrow streets and down narrower lanes and talked over what I'd discovered in my research of the family history.  To be honest, I'd no idea that Culloden was as large a place as it was.  I'd always thought it was just basically along the main roadway and that was it, but there were a lot of homes there, mostly older ones. I do have to say I felt nearer these relatives as we pondered where they might have lived and where the livery/shoe repair place might have been and studied the church and graveyard where we're certain they attended and at least the great great grandmother are buried.

We stopped for peach ice cream and peaches on our way home.  It was so hot but the roads were fairly free of traffic.  The peach shed was packed with cars.  It's not air conditioned but has been maintained for years as it is a simple open structure with polished wood floors.  There were ceiling fans running and a plethora of rocking chairs to sit in while eating it.  The aroma of freshly baked cobbler wafted through the air, mixed in with the aroma of fresh peaches.  Wow is all I can say.  I like our local place very well for peaches (nicer peaches in my opinion) but for ambiance...well that place in Musella has it all wrapped up!

It was late, almost 4pm when I got home.  I reckon Mama and I had driven around 140 miles total.  I was worn out when I got back home.  I settled into my routine really quickly and made up John's work lunch (a salad made from my dinner leftovers) and then put my feet up in my chair and began studying genealogy charts.  I was so inspired to begin anew after that stop in Culloden, attempting to discover where the elusive Ann hailed from and what might have happened to her between 1860 and 1870.

Well the week went on pretty routinely from there.  Thursday I worked in the house, after getting my hair cut once again. I went to my old stylist and it's a better cut, but almost as short as before.  Just this side of being a tad longer, I can live with it.  Plenty of time to spend on research that afternoon as the housework went very rapidly that day.  Friday Mama called early to announce that she would be spending 3 or 4 hours at my house as hers was being treated by pest control.  She's an influx of fleas and so my planned day went into fast forward mode.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, prepping foods for the Shabat meals and making work lunches as well as dinner/supper for Friday.  Mama arrived about 11 and stayed until about 4pm.  I am ashamed to confess that when we'd had dinner and the kitchen was cleared up, I put my aching feet up and promptly went to sleep.  It was about 2pm then and when I awoke I apologized.  Mama pointed out I'd been working about 7 hours at the point when I sat down and she guessed I had reason to be tired.  She and I had coffee and banana pound cake and then she left to go home.

She wasn't gone three hours when Katie pulled in and John was home a half hour behind Kate.  The whole of Shabat slipped by in a restful mode. I made my dinner and that was pretty much it.  Loading up dishes and pulling up the bedcovers were all the 'work' I did that day.  Katie left to shop for a baby shower gift and then went on to the shower.  I'd thought I'd go but I was mistaken in the time which was late evening instead of afternoon.  Then too, when Katie left home she took the directions with her.  I'd asked if she was stopping by the house on her way back through town and she'd said yes, but she didn't.  I was sorry to miss seeing V and Bryan but happy enough to have a bit of time alone.  I do crave my time alone.

Today I've been contemplating menus, prepping the bill box and checkbook for Harvest night tomorrow night and doing housework in general.  The house really held up well since Friday.  That has freed me to do some work on my master bedroom closet. TWO bags of trash later, and I'm pretty much finished with most of the bottom portion of the closet.  I'll vacuum later and call myself done.  Truly I think anything I do beyond today's dinner is going to be the end of the 'hard' work for me.  The house looks nice, about as good it normally does and until Katie leaves I'll not strip beds to wash sheets or do towels.

I spent a wee bit of time on the porch this morning. It was about the same temperature as at 6:30am but less humid.  The cat was beyond starving per her complaints.  I have learned a trick that makes the dogs come running...eventually, anyway...and that is to take the cats empty bowl and bang it on the porch railing.  It sounds much like an old dinner bell.  One day I hope to have one of those to ring them in with.  The dogs came running in about ten minutes later, obviously having made tracks from some long wet trek on the back side of the place.  They ate quickly and just as quickly were off to tend to business once more.

The cat sort of wandered around the porch a bit checking things out.  I nipped back the budding chrysanthemums and shook seed from the pot of petunias that died.  I noted two or three tiny new plants coming up from seed that had already fallen.  I expect in six weeks or less I'll have plants big enough to bloom again in that pot, so I'll not toss it out.  I watered several other plants and then headed indoors to complete my Bible study.  I do like piddling on the porch.  I nipped off the tops of the basil while on the deck this morning and told Maddie that the leaves surely did smell good.  She took a deep sniff of them, too after I said that.

I am hungry and tired and wish dinner were ready to dish up.  I decided to make Katie's requested birthday menu for her today.  I don't have the ingredients on hand for the dessert she wanted, but am planning to make Molten Lava Cakes instead.  That seems birthday-ish enough to me and so rich and good that no one ever complains of having to eat them.

a little later...Our dinner was delicious and the molten lava cake the perfect something sweet for after a meal that was not heavy but was filling.  Katie chatted away for about an hour and a half after dinner then took off to visit friends.  I got the kitchen cleaned up one more time today and then made John's lunch (and consequently cleaned up one more time).  Then I settled down here in my chair intending to work on posts.  Got one done and then dozed off, only to be awakened by gunfire.  Welcome to the rural South where anytime after dinner is a good time for target practice!  And it was such a nice nap, too...

I've done a bit more housework (the vacuuming and a bit more work related to my closet) and finally have settled once more.  I'm calling the day done for housework and after this is sent off, for writing, too.  I'm already planning my approach on the housework front tomorrow.  I'm kinda thinking bedtime with a book this evening...

In My Home This Week: All Routine