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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
I took this photo one night when we had just had rain...and more was coming in:
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:
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!