Coffee Chat - March In Like A Lamb
Come in, come in! Time for coffee. I don't know what weather is like where you are, but this past week has been lovely for us. I couldn't resist this outdoor coffee illustration, it's so like our own weather at present. I'm not bragging but it couldn't possibly have been a better week to have a brand new porch to sit on. There's a marble cake in the cake holder. A recipe straight from a 1946 magazine and it's tasty. I added a chocolate glaze to the top, but original recipe calls for it to be served plain.
Lovely weather was with us nearly a week and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then we plunged back down into cold which seemed three times as cold as it was also very damp misty rain wind sort of cold. Then it all dried up this Friday and warmed up a lot. A light sprinkling of pollen showed up on the cars, but it was nothing to sneeze at yet. It will surely be something major in a couple of weeks but we enjoy open windows in the meantime. I say enjoy but it's truly a necessity. I have only turned on the AC for about an hour towards evening when the heat indoors peaked what was outdoors. As soon as we were level once more, it went off and stayed off.
It got quite warm indoors but we're being very strict with our electricity. The last bill showed another $10 increase. It's not strictly rate increases. Some of that is the very cold weather we had January and early February and the heat pump's efforts to keep up, but a portion of it is rate increases, too. So we're ignoring the idea of using the AC just yet, knowing that in a few weeks when pollen is heavy we'll have no choice on warmer days but to use the additional electricity and then it's unlikely it will go off much until October! Pollen season is a long drawn out thing here for us and usually leads right into hot weather.
I'm so excited over all we've got going on at home. I thought long and hard before making any home purchases from my Christmas money. I finally decided what I'd be doing and then found some wonderful blessings in the form of bargains/clearance prices. I am redecorating our bathroom. When John painted it a few years ago I was so pleased with the new paint but we were not able to purchase new curtains etc. I used some fabric I had on hand that had some of the same green as the wall paint in it and bought a couple of new towels and we called that finished.
This past summer I saw a photo of a 1940's suit in a magazine that was green with an aqua blouse, and I thought of doing the bathroom with a teal blue, not a color I'd have thought of usually. I was walking through Dollar General around Christmas and saw a stack of washcloths in gray, green and aqua blue and I thought of my bath again. I was playing around last month on the computer and found some gorgeous towels at Target that I knew I wanted immediately. They were marked down online and in the stores. Now some might have thought they were too pricey still but we all have our little things where we are a little adamant about buying a certain quality. For me that includes good quality thick towels. I've found that often my towels last me years and I mean that sincerely. I get awfully tired of them before they start to even think of showing wear, lol.
The towels were my first find. Then I looked for several weeks for reasonably priced rugs. Those never last more than a year or so (I wash them fairly regularly) no matter how much I pay, so I save money there if I can. I found rugs that went well with my towels at Dollar General and I spent less on three than I'd have paid for one at Target.
This past week while John was working, I went out to run a few errands, the sort he dislikes being part of. I did some thrifting and then went into a fabric store and Hobby Lobby. My purpose was to find material to recover the bench in the bathroom as well as some material to use for a shade and some valances. I found the bench material in a pile of remnants for a bit over $2.
The fabric I bought was enough to cover that bench twice. I ran a seam along the cut edges to help circumvent fraying and then just used safety pins to put it on the bench...I trash picked this bench and I've recovered it about four times now. I've never yet used staples, just plain old safety pins. It's easy peasy to put on/take off and I can change as often as I like.
bench newly recovered...color improves seen in context with the guest towels.
Artwork is use what I have. The antique print was found ages ago, perhaps two years? I buy what I like and keep it until time to use it comes around, lol.
I found two baskets that were half priced to gather all the odds and ends we keep on the counter. Done! The gathering process is finished. I've spent $80 which is less than I first guesstimated as I'd forgotten how low priced the towels were.
I ordered a new spread for my bed. I've wanted a matelasse spread for years and I found one online that was clearance priced at Target for $45. It only came in blue, but you know I've wanted a blue bedroom for years, too. I am forever pinning and posting photos of bedrooms that are done in blue. I even did an inspiration board of a bedroom that was done in blue. I decided enough was enough. It was high time I had a blue room! So I ordered the spread.
The spread arrived and I discovered it was a spread SET which included shams! It made up for the fact that it wasn't the cotton quilted matelasse I thought I was getting but a different sort of fabric, pretty but not quite what I thought. I am pleased overall and do feel I am being blessed in my efforts to freshen my home. However, the end is the end is the end of spending. I am waiting for bedskirt/curtains. I am prayerful they will turn up at an awesome clearance price or thrift store somewhere. In the meantime, I'll make do with what I've got and do what I can with it.
Looking at the photo now, you'll see I reversed my cathedral window quilt and am using the natural colored backside as the top. I recall now that somewhere about in the house I have some khaki curtains and perhaps even a bedskirt. Must look about some more.
I was flipping through a magazine and saw a cotton duck slipcover and a blurb stating that Overstock had the best price on slipcovers. Gracious goodness! I've been hunting slipcovers for two very well worn chairs in the living room and contemplating the difficulty of sewing my own for at least three years now, way back when I first started my living room redecoration project. I never looked at Overstock. I decided to check them out and found the two I needed plus the ottoman cover and I spent less than the cost of 1 slipcover elsewhere. I am finished with the living room except the 'stuff' part and all of that is coming from my own stash of things.
The afternoon after my brother got the roof on the back porch, John pulled the cafe table and chairs out onto the porch and we took our coffee out there. Oh it was so nice! I told John that I'd been reading a post from last February when we'd stopped in Roberta at the Subway shop to have lunch. They have a big covered porch there. That's where we ate our lunch that day and while we sat there we talked about how much we enjoyed it. During that conversation we decided it was something we wanted to do here at home. One year later....here we are! We thought about this far longer than just that conversation. It wasn't until the end of the summer that we determined how much we could spend and contacted my brother and asked him to work up a quote. He was a smidge under what we'd thought it would cost us. He told us then it would be a few weeks before he could get to it. Months later he finally got to our work a couple of weeks ago and here we are. And how right it seems that it took us 12 months to see the reality.
Some folks might have gotten impatient waiting for the project to get going, but I believe the timing was just right. We paid off the car loan last month. Not having that payment will allow us to recover the money spent on the porch before the end of this year. Well I say the end of the year. John suggested it would take a year but I told him I like a challenge and so I'm already planning where I'll cut back and stretch and work things out so that we have repaid ourselves sooner rather than later.
We haven't been to synagogue in about a month. We still 'keep Shabat'. No work gets done though on that day. I try to have easy meals that are 'heat and eat' type. I stopped at the grocery one Friday while I was out and picked up a couple of sale items in the frozen foods section: a pizza and chicken wings. I prepped celery and carrot sticks, we had a variety of fruits, and homemade salad dressing. I paid $10 for the two items I bought and we had two meals from them. We went to church the Sunday following and had leftovers when we came in. I thought that a pretty good bargain and it tasted better than most take out meals. I think in future I'll try to stock a few items like that for us to have on hand when an easy meal is wanted.
Speaking of groceries, I have decided to lower my budget by $25-$40 a pay period. Right now I have it set at $350/month, but I'm convinced we can cut down more even despite the dire predictions of rising beef/dairy costs. The savings will add up nicely in saving the money spent on the porch. As well it means we can cut down on the waste I think, which would make me really happy. I've been looking through my vintage magazines and gathering some 'stretch' type recipes that I think will be helpful in cutting corners.
I mentioned the day I visited Hobby Lobby, I also went out to do some thrift shop hunting. I did very well I think. When I got home, I took my notebook where I've tracked all my spending and costs and earnings. I have made rent 5 months out of 6, and that one month I only had to pay 1/2 of the rent out of pocket. I figure at this point it's costing me $20 a month to keep the booth going. I need to make that much over rent to break even. I promised I'd do this six months before determining whether I'd stop or go on. I've stuck with my original plan to use only my own pocket money. I looked at that $20/month cost and decided that likelyI'd spend that money on something every month anyway, probably things I'd enjoy far less than I enjoy stocking and arranging that flea market booth. I will continue for another six months and assess where I am at that time.
I did decide that now is not the time to spend more money on shelving (not included in rent at my market though I was loaned a couple of pieces by the owner to use as long as I'd like, free of charge). I will not try to move to a bigger space at this time, either. My current plan is to try to source items from yard sales and such more often. Thankfully yard sales are getting started now that weather is warming up. I've been offered gleanings from others' homes as they are de-cluttering and I really appreciate that source as well. That too has helped trim my out of pocket expenses. It's a hobby at the moment, one I enjoy. It gets me out of the house and I've met some awfully nice ladies who also have booths at the store so it's helping to make me feel more a part of the community. If you don't attend church locally or have kids in school in a rural county like ours it's easy to feel you don't really belong.
This weekend the most southerly grandchildren and their parents visited. It was a lovely weekend for them to come up on. The children ran about outdoors. I really enjoyed watching them and listening to them. I stayed pretty much aware of where they were even though I wasn't outdoors (but Grandpa and Daddy were). I think John must have walked the land over at least twice with them, lol. They wailed about coming indoors let me tell you! Later, big brother and the parents went off on a special field trip and left the twins with us. Not a peep, not a whimper. Hailey asked once "Mommy?" and I said "She and Daddy and Daniel went bye bye. They'll be back later." She nodded and went right back to playing. Zach didn't mind at all, which is funny because he's very much a mama and daddy's boy.
I made us all lunch and John and I stayed pretty doggone busy hopping about taking things away, removing things that shouldn't have been in reach, grabbing things that weren't in reach but somehow were gotten anyhow, lol. It was fun. And exhausting. After lunch, I gave them each a piece of kraft paper and a big piece of sidewalk chalk and sent them to lie down on the carpet in the breakfast area to 'color' which they did for 45 whole minutes, a lifetime in their age range for doing one activity. I got the kitchen cleared up and then it was nap time. Nobody was happy about it being nap time except us grandparents. I made coffee and as soon as the twins were actually asleep, John and I slipped out on the back porch and had coffee and cake. Then this gramma took herself to bed and napped, too.
That afternoon Hailey grabbed John's finger, commanded "Up. Come." and led him to the front door. We took the three grands out on the front porch and I blew bubbles. Daniel popped bubbles, Hailey did the bubble dance and Zach spent much of his time trying to sneak down the front steps into the yard. Another long stretch of minutes went with that activity. I had dinner in the oven and it got very warm indoors at that point. I can see I shall soon be thinking of crock pot, microwave and electric frying pan sorts of meals very soon. We turned on the AC but it only ran off and on for about an hour and then the temperatures dropped and it was quite comfortable indoors without any AC at all.
The evening went on and on and went too fast all at the same time. It's a lovely sort of tiredness having grandchildren around.
Spring forward...That's what they call it but let me assure you my spring didn't spring at all. I think my Spring was sprung! I didn't sleep well at all with the time change and truly I believe some of my old insomniac anxiety slipped back in to plague me that night. Knowing I was losing an hour's rest already just made me that much more aware of how short a night we had before us, with John's need to rise extra early to go to work. I was up with him the next morning, made him breakfast and even had a cup of coffee but I didn't have any pep in my step. John told me as he left to go back to bed. He knew I'd not felt up to par Friday and had lagged hard Saturday afternoon. I don't have anything at all, but I would venture my body is fighting something off or I definitely would have been/would be far more energetic. I did get an extra couple of hours in and even though I still felt my head was stuffed full of cotton, I at least knew I had rested.
My family left as soon as they were all up Sunday morning, a bit later than usual with their own tiredness on top of time change. The twins were both suddenly extremely shy of me after a weekend of being so loving and open to me. Fickle two year olds, lol. Daniel at four is consistently open and loving at all times. At least they all whimpered a smidge when they were loading up in the van to go home. I waved them off and then Mama called to see if we could do dinner.
I contemplated the housework (the majority of which John urged me to leave until the morrow), but I really didn't feel I could. Then Mama called. I thought about it and finally told her I'd go but didn't want to be do anything too tasking. I'm glad we went. When we walked into the restaurant there were familiar faces amongst the strangers. Old friends are always good to see, aren't they? We chatted, likely a bit longer than we might ought to have, but it was good to catch up. Mama didn't seem to mind, which was nice of her. She commented favorably on them after meeting them.
Mama asked for a 'long cut' drive home. I obliged her. We talked and talked along the way of various things, some of concern, some silly, some just observations. By the time we were on the road that absolutely led home, Mama suggested another deviation but I explained I was just worn out and couldn't fathom finding the energy to go any further. I took her home and got in my car to head home but my car seemed to want to go a different route. I went by the church I attended in my childhood and young parenting years and turned in there. It still feels like home for all that it's different in many ways. I walked out into the graveyard to find a grave of a many greats grandfather who was buried there. I only discovered this past week that he was buried in that cemetery.
I like cemeteries, especially really old ones (and this one mostly is pre-dating the church that first stood there in 1840's and definitely pre-dating the formation of this county). There are many more graves than gravestones indicate. As you walk there are low places that are sunken, because before the county or town was even formed it was a community area. Story has it that my great grandfather hired a man with a tractor to mow the churchyard. Said man came along and PLOWED it instead, which tore up many old graves that were marked with cedar stobs or single stones. Hence the lack of marked graves that exist in that cemetery. Continuation of the story was that when my great grandfather went to the churchyard to pay the man, he took one look at the mess and sat down and cried.
Doing genealogy, I have discovered that many of my ancestors are buried there which intrigues me greatly.
I remembered how it felt to be a child there at the church and in the graveyard which is one of my first memories, and how familiar many of those graves were to me. Some were still marked by cedar stobs that were shaped with a small rounded top and a straight portion that stuck into the ground. Some graves were marked by cedar trees which are now tall and stately and thick-waisted. There used to be Civil War crosses on many of the veteran's graves but those have all been stolen over the years, which is a real shame. There were little areas surrounded by some of the most beautiful cast iron fencing, too, some of which is missing now and likely that was stolen, too. The church that currently has the old building my great grandfather built in the early 1900's cleaned up a lot of the graveyard but they'd have no idea of where many of the 'missing' graves are. I don't know if it was ever plotted out at any point or if anyone ever recorded where folks were buried.
When I was a girl, we children played in that graveyard after services, especially if there was a business meeting or it was a first Sunday of the month (dinner on the grounds time). We were taught never to walk on graves, never to push or topple headstones, but to respect each grave site, even those marked with a single brick at head and foot. I knew the names on the stones and birth dates and who was a 'beloved wife' or a 'dear child' or a 'faithful husband', old fashioned epithets commonly inscribed on headstones. I only felt sadness over the graves that merely said "Infant". Since some of the infants were many months old when they died it seemed such a shame they'd never been named! All in all, that old cemetery was a peaceful playground for a child and that's the truth, lovely in all seasons, full of interest. I don't suppose it's surprising I find comfort in it as a middle aged woman.
There was a huge old magnolia in the middle of the graveyard that was just about dead center of it, when I was a girl and it was tremendously old and huge. Our group was small but we had perhaps ten or twelve children and if we all stood holding hands and stretched really hard we could just reach around the girth of the old tree. Some said it was over 300 years old. An old woman who was a member complained incessantly over the shedding of the leaves. I've no idea why, since it was my grandfathers and father who kept up the church and grave yards and who faithfully mowed and raked all year round. You can well imagine our shock to come to service one Sunday and discover that the tree was gone, just a smoldering stump in the ground. The woman hired someone to go out and cut it without telling a soul. I don't think I could have felt any more grief if I'd found the church itself was gone. I still mourn a little for that lovely old tree and I don't even like magnolias...they give me the most fearful headache when they bloom.
There's a concrete bench, still in one section of the cemetery, that sits between the graves of two different but related families. There used to be a huge bridal wreath spirea either side of that bench. It was possible to sit on the bench facing either set of graves and not be seen at all by anyone. The spirea are gone now. I wonder how old they were? They were so tall they were well above my Daddy's 6-foot height.
I didn't linger long at the cemetery. The ground was uneven enough to make me wary of turning an ankle in a deeper than expected hole, and it was very warm. It made me a little sad, too, to be there.
Sweet as memories can be there is a hint of melancholy that must go with them, a fine seasoning to temper the sweetness. I shall never again be a young girl among friends in that graveyard. I shall never again sit in the old pews my great grandfather made and watch corn toss in the breeze in the field nor see the ripple of clouds as they pass over a field of ripe wheat nor watch cows in their peaceful grazing. I shall never sit again with one of the elderly ladies who were seated closest to the old kerosene stove and with whom the youngest children were deposited in winters to keep warm. I shall never again be that much loved and cherished grandchild. I shall never watch my grandchildren play there as my grandparents and their grandparents watched their grandchildren. I shall never be married in that church building. I shook my head to clear it of memory and regrets and walked back to the car.
When I came home and walked in the house, I looked at the housework I could see, and thought of what I couldn't see. I did only a very little light work, such as putting things back into place or setting the dining table to rights once more. Nothing major. John called to talk briefly and told me again to just leave it all. And he was right. Housework waits...It's a very patient task.
I was still feeling a bit lagging in energy this Monday but I got myself underway and did a few needed jobs. I felt rather proud of myself as the kitchen and baths got their weekly cleanings and I watched laundry snap in the brisk breeze outdoors. John did the laundry. He enjoys washing clothes and hanging them to dry. I didn't do many jobs I'd hoped to do but I worked steadily all day long until late afternoon when I sat to do quiet work and found myself dozing off instead. Oh this time change! It's thrown me off entirely!
We went out yesterday. John wanted to go out to eat, and named a restaurant he wanted to go to. I was all for it. We don't really eat out often, he and I, at least not sit down restaurant meals. I enjoy his company. He's a good conversationalist and is funny as well and often makes me laugh. He asks me questions about my thoughts and dreams and tells me his. He's good company that's all there is to it. We were blessed to find the restaurant quiet, the waitstaff friendly and dedicated to doing a good job, the food excellent. It was just a pleasant meal all around.
All the fresh air and sunshine and taking a dose of allergy medicine (hello, pollen) and a glass of wine...Well they did their work at making me drowsy as I could be! When we came home we had coffee and cake and I dozed off over my computer as I tried to read emails. That meant I had to work through the late afternoon and early evening hours in order to accomplish anything resembling work yesterday.
Today I've been busy as well. I've found the day going past rather rapidly, and yet dragging a bit as well, despite all that's been accomplished. Some days are just that way aren't they? I've been going over small areas, removing excess items here and there, refreshing rooms as I go and it's been an all day sort of job but not tiring. It's kept my interest and has felt relaxing in a deeper way than merely resting feels. I can't really explain it but I have a feeling you might know what I mean. Today I freshened the guest room putting out another favorite older quilt and hanging fresh curtains in the room. It seems so bright and cheery now, ready for spring.
The day is nearly gone. The wind is roaring outside now that evening is approaching. In like a lamb, March came this year. Now we shall see the old lion of winter raise his voice a bit more and before we know it, Spring will be with us.
Time to clear up the coffee cups and cake plates and contemplate tomorrow's to do list. See you again soon!