Iced Tea Chat...Spring!
The temperatures crept over 85F today. It feels as though Spring has come to stay. The pecan tree out back sprouted tiny leaves over night. Pecan trees are the last trees to leaf out in our area. Even The Faith Tree has tiny green leaves. I am afraid the pansies will soon be history. I'm planning to buy some petunias next pay period when I have a fresh supply of allowance. I'm pretty broke at the moment.
Broke, yes, but with good reason. I found a patio table and four chairs at the Once A Month yard sale in town this week and purchased them at a very good price. This is an old fashioned heavy iron mesh set, of the same quality as those two chairs I got from Grandmama's home years ago. I couldn't be more pleased, even if it took my allowance and a bit more to get them.
John and I were inspired last month when we sat on the patio at a nearby Subway shop. We agreed that we enjoyed that time outdoors and liked eating meals outdoors (our habit of picnics attests to that), so why weren't we doing this at home? We have a porch, a deck and a patio for goodness sake and we only ever use one as a passage way to the back door, the other to sit outdoors on the occasional evening in warmer months, and the patio never. So now we have a table and chairs on the patio. I'll purchase an umbrella to go over the table too, but Faith Tree shades most of that area so it should be very nice even without the umbrella.
Of course, that slightly battered patio set has my mind racing creatively: what color shall I paint it and what color cushions shall I get? Plain or patterned? And the umbrella? The same question applies there as well. How to arrange potted plants and where to acquire the pots needed and what types of plants and...Well you can see how I've run on in my own mind and here, too, over all these things!
Spring did seem to be taking forever to arrive and even as I enjoy these first warm days. It will stay in the 80's with only the occasional shower of rain this week. I think Spring in the South is here to stay.
It makes me restless, or perhaps that is the Back To Basics approach for this month. I'm finding I'm accomplishing more and more as this month goes on. All of the basic work is progressing nicely as are my basic goals. I think this might well be the very thing I needed to get me back on track at last.
This past week has been difficult in that I've had far fewer days to work than I'd normally have. First there was a holy day on Tuesday, in which no work could be done. Wednesday was John's first day at home. He took a morning nap in the living room which allowed me to work in our bedroom and bath, giving them a good basic cleaning. Those two rooms looked so nice when I was done. For the first time in months they were looking as spruce as in days of old.
Thursday we were out shopping for groceries pretty much all day long. I bought meat at that meat market we like so very well. I thought the meat I'd bought last was bought in early January but no, it was bought the second week of December instead. I'd stretched the meat for four full months. I bought a little less this time around. I knew we'd never eat those lovely cold weather cuts of chuck roast or short ribs in the warmer months. Tasty as they are, they do tend to be heavier. We drove to Aldi from the meat market. I bought every thing we needed except yeast and dog food. John picked those up for me at Kroger yesterday, while I stayed in the car. So much easier than me going on and determining which of the specials I'd pick up as well.
This business of shopping at Aldi is a good way to work with my 'Back to Basics' plan this month. Aldi has basic grocery items and then they have weekly specials. This past week was German items like Red Cabbage and Apples, Sauerkraut, Black Forest Ham, pastries. If other things are wanted you may or may not find them. This week there was no bottled water for instance. None. We don't eat pork, but we did choose a Black Forest Turkey Breast instead of luncheon meat since I knew I could slice the roast with my meat slicer.
I sliced it up Sunday evening. It was a smoked breast but doesn't taste heavily of smoke. It is so good. I told John that there's little chance we'll find it again next time, but I saved the label (washed thoroughly of course) so that we can look for this same brand next time they have it.
We like most of the products we buy at Aldi. I've found that the store brand is better than name brands. It's just that hit and miss factor of finding items. Hint to self: when the items I like are in stock, I need to stock up, too. There are only two basics I cannot buy at Aldi: decaf coffee and pet food. Neither of the available items at Aldi are liked by our household at all. However, the dog biscuits are liked a great deal, so much so that if we happen to walk to the laundry area, Maddie runs to the backdoor and waits in case we decide to open the door and give her a treat!
Friday I cleaned house. I didn't bother with meal prep for the weekend. I cooked steaks, our treat from the meat market. As we ate, John expressed the desire to eat more steak, say once or twice a month. I'll have to see how I can go about stretching my budget to cover the extra. Had the meat market a cut such as the flank steaks Lori brought up last time they visited, I might manage. But here's a thought: perhaps Aldi has a flank steak? I've only tried the bone in chicken breasts and corned beef from Aldi. Perhaps I should try other cuts of meat as well, not as a full substitute for the meat market but as a budget aid?
I meant to make yogurt and cookies, but simply didn't have the time. I did make a batch of cupcakes. I'd been hungry for a cupcake and I had butter cream frosting in the fridge. I made pineapple cupcakes using my favorite yellow cake recipe. They turned out nice and moist. John says they are the best I've ever made. I don't know about that, but I did jot down the variation in the cookbook so I can make them again.
John had announced his intent to visit another synagogue Saturday. This one is a bit more than an hour away from home. I figured my best bet was to plan a breakfast that had a nice mix of carb/protein to hold us for the drive, service and drive back home.
I really liked the synagogue. It was smaller and more intimate than the one we visited in the autumn. The people were friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed. We'll take it slow but will be going back. John stopped at Dairy Queen on our way back to the main highway. We tried the $5 lunch menu, which came with a small sundae, small fries and a medium drink as well as a sandwich or chicken fingers. Very nice meal and such a treat to get ice cream, too.
It was a beautiful day, slightly warmer and sunny. Macon is well known for it's Cherry Blossoms this time of year (so is my little town, too, by the way) and between the rainy weather and the sun on Saturday, the trees were putting on quite a show. I love cherry trees and mean to have one or two of my own one day. I know just where I'd plant it, too. I've been 'seeing' it in that spot for years now. John actually wanted to give me one several years ago for our anniversary. That was the year we had to put a roof on the house and two months later we had to buy a new heat pump. Ow. An expensive cherry tree was the first casualty of that year, along with most luxury items and wiggle room in the financial department, too. I've never thought to ask for one since.
Sunday was a quiet day at home. We didn't do a thing. Nothing. John made breakfast because I was so late dragging myself out of bed. I've had allergies bothering me for a good couple of weeks or more. It started with the usual stuffy nose and hoarseness, which cleared up rather quickly. But my ears...Ack. Stopped up ears are no fun. For ten days I felt like I was walking around with my head inside a fish bowl full of water. I've been taking allergy tablets and finally have the rate and dosage set. My ears do not hurt, they have just been stopped up.
Sunday I still hadn't quite determined how much and how often to take the medicine, so I was still dealing with the effects of the medicine and the ears combined. John must have seen by looking at me that it was definitely a "two cups of coffee before breakfast" morning. Since he'd been up awhile, he was good and hungry and decided he'd make breakfast for the two of us. There is nothing nicer than being pampered on a lazy Sunday morning. John made a delicious breakfast of omelets for us. The pace of the day was pretty well set by my slow appearance. We lounged about all day long. I had a batch of spaghetti sauce in the freezer and I heated that for dinner. I mixed up a batch of Italian dressing to go on our salad. It was good, but I didn't give it time for the flavors to marry. I'm curious to try it again this week to see how the flavors come together.
We were 'out and about' as John calls it yesterday. We've been trying to agree on a piece of exercise equipment for some time. I wanted one item and John wanted another. While we were in Macon on Saturday John and I wandered over a store that specializes in sportswear and outdoor activities. I looked over a table and chairs set that day, and priced an umbrella. I remember thinking as I looked at prices, Oh Zowie. I knew we couldn't afford that this year, so you can see how especially happy I was to find my patio set later Monday afternoon.
Back to my story: while we were in the store Saturday we stopped by the exercise equipment department and discovered that we could both get what we wanted in one piece of equipment. Yea for us. We came home and looked online at various models. One was especially well priced through online sales. However, I started reading reviews and discovered that one problem with the elliptical bikes was that one size apparently did not fit all. For one person it was too small and for another too short. After reading reviews on other machines, it was pretty consistent in the matter of size. We decided we'd go back to the branch of the store nearest us and 'try on' the machines. So glad that we did!
As it happened, the one model we were certain we'd like best was all wrong for me. I had to bend nearly double to reach the handlebars and the seat had only a one inch adjustment that could be made. It was too big. Another was too small, not giving enough room between handle bars and seat to work the elliptical step feature. We found another model that suited us both very well. And so it was that we were out Monday and discovered the patio furniture which I purchased. Later that evening we ordered the elliptical bike. Big expenses, but we felt both were worthwhile investments for us. As John points out now and then, "What are we saving for?" Well, for just such as this.
I was proud of my husband, too. He has a tendency to make do for himself, while insisting that anyone else have needed items, especially in the clothing department. This week he bought several shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts and when he found a long looked for plain ball cap he bought three of those, too. As I said, I was terribly proud of him, because this is highly unusual. Now he's regretting it a little I think, especially as we have eye appointments for new glasses next week, but as I pointed out to him, these things are necessities even if they are for him. He'd buy for just about anyone else besides himself as a rule.
When we got back home Monday, John had a text there was a work meeting Tuesday, to be followed by lunch out. I nearly sang a hallelujah chorus, I was so excited by the prospect of a few hours alone at home to work in. As soon as he pulled out of the drive I was busy. I'd pretty much taken care of the housework Monday afternoon in a two hour space of time while John mowed the lawn...That lawn looks pretty awesome now that it's all neat and trim, by the way.
I decided after John left that I'd do a quick pick-up. There were a few areas that had been bothering me so they were neatened up right away. Then I went to work putting together those wire cubes I'd used in the pantry. I have a cubby area in my walk-in master closet that just cried out for shelving, but I can't put permanent shelves there due to access panels in the walls. The cubes, stacked one on the other, were the answer to that. I only went five cubes high, as that was a stretch to reach the top of for me. I could do more for extra storage of things I don't need often and I might do that yet, but I'll need the step stool to assemble it further.
For now, that space of the closet looks very neat and nice. My shoes and purses are neatly put away now and I can easily remove the little bookcase I'd put in there to hold my shoes. Now to decide if I can use that bookcase elsewhere or if it should move out to the shed. Then I went into the master bath and organized that cupboard where we've stored all the paints we've accumulated John turned it topsy turvy looking for something a couple of months ago and I'd ignored it ever since. Now it's all nice and neat once more and having learned that my previous arrangement was the reason for the topsy turvy business, I decided on a different arrangement that should make it more accessible.
From there to creating more storage in the closet section of the chiffarobe, then on to the kitchen drawers which now sport new lining, and were emptied of junk items and made into proper kitchen drawers with space for dishtowels and cloths. I worked hard in the three and a half hours while John was gone and by the time he came in I was hot, overtired and irritable. I tried to contain the irritability but not nearly so well as I wanted to. I decided I should stop and rest and cool off. I'm a lot nicer when I'm cooler, lol.
I finished the kitchen drawers later that evening and it went so much more quickly when I was no longer weary and hot. Amazing how that works, isn't it?
Today was my day out with Mama. We took a very long drive, mostly rural areas and small towns. It was so nice to see the azaleas, dogwood, and other blooms, not to mention all the lovely green on the trees and ground. It was a very long drive and took hours overall. The sunshine was just wonderful.
I'd meant to do more work indoors this evening but I was sitting on the front porch looking at the hay that has served as bedding all winter long and decided that I just couldn't stand it any longer. It's unlikely we'll have any cold nights in the coming weeks. I brush about 2/3 of the stuff off the porch onto the patio and then I couldn't stand it on the patio either, lol. So I decided to lay down a thick layer of newspaper in the flower bed and put the hay down as mulch over that. To keep Maddie from pulling up the newspaper and Trudy from laying on the hay there, I wet it down.
Now, I'm just plain tired but it's been so nice to get so much done this week. I've noticed more and more that if I just stop trying to control time and I work steadily in the time I do have I get so much done. Especially if the basics are taken care of...proof positive that I'm on to something with my goal this month.