Iced Tea Chat - Calm Cool Collected

Now doesn't she just look like she's got it altogether?  Sigh.  I so wish I felt I did!  But do come on in and have some tea with me, won't you?  There's mint to go in the tea, or fresh lemon slices.  I like to do both. There are sugar cookies in the cookie jar, nice crisp, sugary ones.   I don't know why I don't make sugar cookies more often.  I really like them, simple as they are.  I'm finding more and more of late, I want simpler things.

I've been 'hiding out' the past few days.  I've spent hours upon hours reading the archives of a favorite but now closed blog of a gentle, sweet soul and a pile of vintage magazines.  Frankly I feel ill equipped at the moment to enjoy present day life. Nothing, I'm sure, that a decent night's rest and perhaps a deep hard news fast couldn't cure.  I am deeply saddened by the world at large lately, personal and otherwise.  News is enough to make me forget that there are still good, decent, kind people in this world; to forget there has been progress over all these years; to feel overwhelmed at how much damage a few can do to undo the sacrifices made by far more worthy men and women.  Yes, I am disheartened by the world.  Oh I'll brush it all off and start up once more, you betcha, but I am feeling battered at the moment.

I've had some poor night's of sleep of late and have awakened with a headache the past three mornings.  Migraines are much better these days, with far less pain than they once dealt, but the nasty side effects (aversion to noise, tummy upsets, tension) are still my undoing.  As said, I'm sure I'll feel better when I have had a good night's rest and a bit of a reality fast.

I think I'd like to spend our time today answering questions and showing a few photos, if that's okay with you.  Just sort of ramble about a bit, taking the long cut, as we call it, when we don't choose the most direct route to our destination. 

I'm looking back one month in the comments and will work my way forward.  The financial history I gave really struck a chord with most of you.  I knew I wasn't alone.  I've talked to many women who had similar backgrounds.  It's a very insecure place to be and it's nerve wracking for children as well as adults.  Deanna mentioned a windfall that allowed them to purchase a home, despite naysayers telling them they should 'invest' in mutual funds.  We've 'been there/done that' as well.  At two different times we invested in highly recommended rock solid investment funds.  We lost everything we put into them both times, fortunately not a huge investment but enough it hurt.

When my grandmother's estate was settled and we paid off our home, we went to a banking officer that we've dealt with many times.  We told her we wanted to pay off our home.  She told us frankly that no bank officer would recommend that we do that.  Then she quietly added, "But it's what I think you should do."  No, the financial world wants to keep you in debt, and even though the bank didn't hold the loan on our home, it did have a mutual fund they'd have just loved for us to dump that money into.  As Deanna pointed out, when the market crashed, she still had a home that was debt free.  Same here, Dee, same here.  Value on the house may have dropped as the market fell but it was still a paid for home.   

Ann mentioned that CVS might honor expired ECB.  Originally, when the program first started, my local CVS did.  They stopped that after management changed.  Kroger will refund your coupons, etc if you forget to use them, CVS does not do that, either.  However, policy apparently is different from store to store for CVS so by all means check to see what your store's policy might be.

Gramma D commented on "This Little Piggy Went to Market" that one hint she seldom sees anyone mention is serving just one serving of  each food to each person.  Now that is something I agree with.  I've been in many homes where a meal is served with an 'all you can eat' type of mentality.  We kept strictly to serving portions when we were struggling and we kept that habit up when we didn't have to strain quite so hard.  Even now that it's just the two of us, we serve our plates and if there are extra servings, I put them away for a second meal, usually a leftover makeover meal.   

We had two exceptions to this rule of 1 serving: On Christmas Day, John and I agreed the kids could have all the cookies, food and soda they wanted.  I will say for my children that they never spent Christmas Day grazing and guzzling all day long.  They did feel free however, to eat all they wanted at regular meal and snack times.  I don't recall ever finding they'd wiped out the full supply of anything.  It wasn't in their nature to be piggish.  We did the same thing on family vacation as well.  Often the kids spent all day long on the beach or in the pool and they were hungry!  It was part of "This little Piggy Had Roast Beef" plan of plenty to let them have all they wanted at those two times each year.

Now that said, I grew up in the South.  Company is an Occasion, especially if company is invited for a meal.  Two meats, four or five sides, two desserts, is more or less the rule.  And it's also pretty much a rule that you are over generous in putting food out.  I wanted to be a good hostess and to manage my resources well, too.  I figured rules are made to be changed.  That's when I really started using menu plans.  A well balanced, well seasoned, beautifully served meal trumped volume every single time.   Guests never left hungry and judging by the many who came over and over again to eat at my table, I think my approach worked very well.

This book was mentioned two or three times to me over the past three weeks.  I am pretty sure at some point I came across this at a library.  The image above is from Amazon but the blurb says the book is not available.  Definitely one of those to keep a lookout for though.

One of the vintage magazines I have, has listed a menu for various income levels.  There was one menu meant to be used 'only occasionally' in dire financial needs.  I think the foods listed would feed four or five for $13.  I was curious what that menu would cost to purchase so I figured it out (this was about ten years ago now mind you) and the total came up to $74.  I can't even imagine how much it might cost today after we've experienced such an increase in grocery.  If I stumble upon that menu again, I'll take time to figure it up.  Mostly it relied upon canned milk substituted for fresh,  canned juice over fresh fruit, etc.

Sarah mentioned that she keeps a notebook in her purse with store headers on different pages and then places sticky notes of items needed at each as well as a page that lists basic measurements for filter sizes, store hours, etc.  She also puts a 'C' next to items that she has a coupon for.  I think that is super clever, Sarah!  You might just help yourself to an extra sugar cookie as a prize.

As for 'Cowboy Beans' from this week's menu: I never did find that recipe I thought I'd tagged.  I came across another labeled by the same name that was Pinto Beans mixed with Bbq sauce and onions and topped with cheese.  Well John suggested baked beans would be good, so I ended up making the BBQ version, minus the cheese (seemed overkill to me).  They were good, but rather sweet.  Not sure I'd do that again.  I'll keep looking for that other recipe.  I have four cups of cooked beans in the freezer and another pound to cook in the cabinet!  Plenty of room for experiments!  Note too that my package had a recipe for refried beans made from cooked pinto beans.

This comment was left by Anonymous on "Whom Shall I Send?"...I'd love to give credit by name but I was really moved by what she had to say and wanted to acknowledge it:
I am the only Christian in my family here. It sure feels outnumbered as I am the odd one. Their eyes are on me when I go out and makes me stumble at times when I want to witness more and say more. If Moses with his stutter can do so much and many others with their problems still went forth. They and so many others now and in history as a model I should lean on Him for guidance and help more shouldn't I... Thank you for your honesty. I do not have many others to 'talk' to about such things...
Yes, we too are planted among many who are not Christian or who have not yet (or have not chosen) to move beyond 'baby steps'.  It's a lonely walk and more often than not, if we stumble you can bet there are more eyes turned our way than you'd imagine.  I've found the best I can do is confess that I've stumbled.  No point in trying to recover and hoping no one will notice because you can just bet they did.  I'd rather others see me struggle and succeed after repeated attempts than appear to be perfect.  I figure my fumbling is an example, too, perhaps not the perfect witness, but a witness all the same.

Another Anonymous soul (please, please ladies put your name down in the comments after you've finished writing so I can address you personally!), asked if I worked out of the home.  At one point, I sold items on eBay that were overflow from my own and my Grandmother's home.  I made enough money to pay off our credit card and our car loan at that time.  The day I made the last payment on the car, I didn't have another sale go through, after two years of earning $100-$300 a month!  After two months of no sales, John suggested I stop listing .  Previously I have kept children (early first marriage years), done some light bookkeeping, etc.

 I do feel my work here at home is valuable and I will not go where I'm not meant to go.  And may I add that this too is a lonely calling?  Sarah mentioned that in her mother's era her mother had lots of company in the neighborhood.  Not so in my life!  My mother worked full time all my childhood and Granny did as well during Mama's childhood years.  It was highly unusual in both eras but by the time I came along, determined to be at home with my children, it was more unusual to be a single income family.  I've worked outside my home when my children were younger but was able to be home for more of their childhood than not.  I might also add that we were not necessarily at our lowest point financially when I've been 'at home' either!  Those working days were beyond lean. 

I'm open to working if that is God's plan for me but have never in my life gone out and sought a job.  Jobs have always come to me. If that sounds foolish then so be it. I've been in prayer about what God's desire for me may be.

Sarah,  I buy the Vidalia Onion Dressing (I think it's Ken's brand).  The fruit vinaigrette was so easy: 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 vinegar, 1/4 cup strawberry jam blended well.  Easy easy.

I just loved this comment from Angela:   I feel so rich when we are eating a peach cobbler in Jan from peaches put up in summer. Or eating luscious strawberry jam made in May when snow is on the ground. The wealthiest people cannot get good peaches in Jan.  You have most certainly upon one fact that cannot be denied!  We are the richer for our frugal ways in off seasons when we can pull out food stored and have a treat such as blackberry jam on a winter morning or peach cobbler in January!

Louise, the cottage cheese is not necessarily supposed to be frozen but I had some to accidentally freeze in the fridge once and discovered that it actually froze the water out of the cottage cheese and left behind a dryer cheese product.  I figured that wasn't necessarily a bad thing when I wanted to make Calzone or other dishes where a less watery result was desired.  So now when I want to make one of those recipes or find my cottage cheese is fast approaching its due date, I just pop the cottage cheese in the freezer.

You also asked how I store my lettuce:  For ice berg, I core it, wash it and let it drain.  Then I wrap in my flour sack cotton towel:
 and store in a zippered gallon bag.  This works very well for me with most all vegetables especially lettuces, and cabbage and such.  I just washed the cabbage, don't bother with cutting the stem end or anything.  As for romaine, I cut off the root end and then wash, drain, wrap and bag.
 About the 'Southern Style Cream Corn', Louise, you can most certainly freeze it.  That's what I've done with mine.  I just take it from the freezer and pop into a casserole dish with a bit of milk or water and put in the oven.  I check it often, add more water or milk as is needed.  It does take about 40-45 minutes once thawed to cook though.

Kathy, the peach slaw dressing is just mayonnaise with a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and a tablespoon of vinegar.

Jennifer, it's the Bromelain in pineapple that is so beneficial.  You can look this up to see all the benefits, but it's especially good for respiratory ailments.

Now, that's all up to date on comments.  I had an unexpected thing happen last month.  I have a plant known as snake plant or Mother-In-Law's Tongue that I have nursed along from a tiny mistreated grocery store potted plant.  It's now in a 3 gallon pot and filled to the brim.  These are relatively low care, preferring only filtered sunlight and the occasional watering.  I was going to give some to my niece but the thing went and bloomed!  I've NEVER in all my years seen these things bloom before!  The blooms were very dainty and highly fragrant, very much a jasmine sort of scent.  Here's what it looked like in bloom:
 Besides working on my wreath I haven't done much beyond just routine housework.  I did however decide that I simply had to tackle this spot:

That's my kitchen desk.  I have collected a few (cough) cookbooks over the past two years and needed a place to store them.  The metal milk crate I got from my grandfather seemed a good place to start, but as you can see it left me little room for work space, so planning menus was a bit of a bust in that spot.
This was my solution.  I had the small bookcase in the guest/craft room and I decided that it would do very well here at the end of the freezer.  That left me with a desk that looks more like this:
I am enjoying that work space once more.  I sit there and plan meals, look over recipes, do Bible study there some mornings when I have something going on in the kitchen at the same time, sit down to rest and jot out a few thoughts for blog posts, work on shopping lists, go through my home notebook to find where I should be working, etc.  I'm planning to move my laptop to that desk on a more regular basis too because it's my old writing spot and I can easily  get 'in the zone' when I'm sitting there.  And just for a point of reference, my cookbooks used to fit on the top shelf of that in/out file!  I really have picked up quite a few over the past couple of years. I don't expect to add many more though, I really do have plenty!

One other thing about this photo.  My kitchen walls (indeed all of the walls in this house except the master bath) are still the original wall paper covered sheetrock that the house was built with.  I learned many years ago to ignore what I couldn't change and do what I wanted whether or not it 'matched' perfectly what I had already.  So you'll see that my wallpaper does not include black or green or red despite my using those colors to accessorize my room with.  One day, very soon I hope, I mean to paint every single wall in this house as I'd like to see them painted.  But 'some day' sometimes takes longer to come around than I'd like so I don't waste my time despising and wishing for different.  Instead I have as much of what I want as I can afford.  One day, I say prayerfully, I will have my house exactly as I want it.

We have had rain and rain and rain these past three weeks.  Just look:
Now honestly, this photo was taken back in mid-June but I kid you not, it looked about like this more days than you'd believe over the past three weeks.  Just Saturday we had 5(!) inches of rain in one afternoon!  You'd have thought we lived in a wetland instead of atop a hill.  I am deeply grateful that we sit well above ground level.

I took this photo one night when we had just had rain...and more was coming in:
I actually saw the rain in the distance.  It was cool to watch as it came our way.  Made for a lovely sunset as well.

Sunday, John decided he just had to mow the lawn, though it did not look auspicious for it.  He was very nearly finished before the rain started so he just mowed right through.  As he was washing off the mower the sun broke through the skies and he called me outside to see this rainbow:
Isn't it lovely?  In person you could clearly see every single color in the prism.  The bottom most color was the deepest violet I've ever seen in a rainbow.  It's far more colorful than the double rainbow in my current header photo.  Mind you we had several heavy rain showers yesterday, but they were mixed liberally with sunshine, too.  And today?  It's been just perfect, a lovely blue and green mild summer's day.  I walked outdoors mid-afternoon to exchange a couple of items with my niece and even standing in full sun it wasn't hot.

I do believe I feel better for having had company with you...It's lifted my spirits considerably.  Thank you all so much for cheering me along.  You've no idea how I needed that chatty break!


Rhonda Sue said...

Good morning Terri,
I have that Jo Ann York book and refer to it often. Mine has a pink cover though. It is a small paper back book, the size I remember high school boys would carry in their back pockets. Just saying so if you look for it at a thrift store, look at the small books.

I have just added a desk to my breakfast room turned kitchen addition, I think I am going to use it a lot too. Like I have said many times, great minds think alike.

Hope you a much better day today

JoAnn Baker said...

Thank you for your chatty break! I so needed it as well!

JoAnn Baker said...

Thank you for your chatty break! I so needed it as well.

Kathy said...

Thank you so much for your post today! You have lifted my spirits.

Today is my birthday, and I have been in a bit of a funk.

Bless you!

gramma D said...

I have that book. It was published in 1975. She had a husband who worked in a store,and 2small children. They lived in Gaithersburg MD. I have an article from 1979 and she was then spending $20 a week. In 1979 she was spending $25 a week. In this pic they were showing her small garden which saved money in the summer.It would be interesting to take her menus and see what it would cost to reproduce them with today's prices. Would love to hear what she is doing today and how much her grocery bill is. She gives menus and the amount they eat.Her style of cooking certainly would keep me thin! Not much room in her budget for snacks or unexpected company.
Like your desk area. I have one in my living room and it is so nice to have my own office. Thanks for the visit! I know what you mean about the news. I only listen to a half hour of evening news. Gramma D

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

What a lovely chatty post!

Sarah's idea is very clever! I need to do that. I also need to keep my store/restaurant coupons in the car. Can't tell you how many times I've had to make an extra trip to Bed Bath and Beyond so they could credit me my coupon!

I like your little desk area in the kitchen. It looks like a good place to sit and do things while food is cooking. The bookcase was a fantastic solution!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post once again, Terri. Thank you for the chat. I like it when you answer our questions. I think it is fun to see another person's home. Thanks for the peak at your kitchen. Pam

Anonymous said...

I throw a map of the city and all the store/restaurant coupons in a zip lock bag I keep in the pocket on the back of the drivers seat. It is easy for me in the passenger sea, t to reach back and grab it to check and see if we have a coupon for a place we want to go. I also keep a word puzzle book and pencil always there for those times hubby wants to do something and I would rather sit in the car and wait! :-) Like when he goes in to get oil for the car at the auto store or such short trips. :)

I had this same JoAnn York book you showed but gave it to someone who needed it. I do have a hard bound copy of it...I forget..think it is black? I'll need to check. The used copy I still have did not have the jacket on it.

I am the one actually who commented anonymously to the "Who Shall I Send" I understand where you are saying if we stumble and get through it and they can see our lives through our loyalty to our Savior. Also if we act humbly. I have had Christians treat my husband like he was scum because he is not a Christian. I would have thought I was imagining it but they voiced comments that went along with this thinking. I am sure glad the women at the well did not find Christ to have the same attitude. How can we wind those to Christ's side if not with love and compassion? None of us is perfect. Sorry I do not want to snipe but it is upsetting. My husband is a good man in all ways but yes he is not a Christian although I am still praying he will at some time accept Christ. It is as you said, lonely [and wrong] though to not share your faith and have a split house. That is why the Bible preaches against it. Sarah

Spicy Apple Cake - I FOUND IT!

While sorting though Mama's cookbooks the other day I came across a Family Circle magazine cookbook that looked familiar.  I brought...