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


Home

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 Journey...pt.3



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.   

Gift Ideas I've Found This Week.

I don't think I've ever written out a list of gift ideas for a holiday and I didn't suppose you'd find me starting it now, ...