Coffee Chat - The Very Long To Do List
Come in, won't you? I've made the pie Brenda featured on her blog last week. It's good, but I"m proudest of the crust. I made it myself and it's so flaky and delicious. It's a recipe I've not tried before and I think the secret to making it is that I did two things differently than I've done in the past when making a shortening crust. I used the Kitchen Aid mixer to cut the shortening into the flour but quit well before it got too fine looking (definitely not to the cornmeal phase). And then I added just enough water that it just began to come together with some portions remaining as crumbs. So it wasn't a wet dough. It held together nicely though when I pushed it all together. No chilling, just put between waxed paper sheets and rolled it out and popped into the pie pan. It really is the absolute nicest crust I've ever made. It's only taken three years of making my own crusts to get a good one!
The pie itself is good. It's a bit like eating chocolate chip cookie dough in a crust, so it might well be perfect on one of those days. I like that it's just basic ingredients you would normally have on hand so it's a great recipe to keep in your file for when you need something sweet for unexpected dinner guests. John wasn't crazy about the pie. I kind of pushed it at him and he ate because he knows I hate to waste groceries, but I won't be making it again for us. I do urge you to give it a try. It's easy, it uses basic ingredients and it may just the thing your family will really like.
I've admitted more than once that I am a rutty person and that I'm trying to overcome my tendency to 'always' do this or eat that, etc. Well, I followed John's lead about two weeks ago in selecting something 'different', as he put it, when we wanted a soda. He chose an orange soda. I haven't had an orange soda since childhood. Oh.My.Goodness. I can't get enough orange soda now. The one we got that day was Fanta. I've since branched out and tried Sunkist and Orange Crush, but Fanta is the winner still as far as I am concerned. So. good. Now to start cutting back and not allow this to become another rut I get stuck in!
I was thinking back to our last coffee chat which was after Passover and Easter. Isn't it truth that three = four weeks can just go by in a snap? Granny always told me that time sped up once you hit 50 and I've learned she was too right, as usual.
Mother's Day for me was the weekend before the actual day. I had two sets of kids here visiting. Lori and JD came to stay the weekend, Sam and Bess came down for the day. Katie had to work, she'd started a new job and hasn't quit her old one. I felt super blessed to have the children I had at home. I made dinner and cleared up behind it, too, but I made one of my favorite meals: meatloaf.
I used to make meatloaf on a regular basis. I always thought it was not only good but a very economical way of stretching meat without feeling it was a stretched meat, if you know what I mean. Katie was never fond of meatloaf and it was always a grousing sort of meal when I'd serve it. Then one night, John had had enough. "I don't like it either, but I eat it, so hush!" Oh my. He'd never said a word before about not liking meatloaf and I was slightly crushed. I took it off the rotation list of tried and true entrees and satisfied myself by making it only when no one else was home and then in very small quantities, which defeated my love of meatloaf because honestly, I liked the leftovers for open faced sandwiches.
Then John went to a Mennonite restaurant and mentioned he'd ordered meatloaf. I was curious. "Why?" I asked him. "Well it looked good. And it tasted good, too. There weren't any green bell peppers in it and it wasn't full of tomato sauce either." Ah. A clue as to why he'd disliked meatloaf. I altered my recipe, adding in a mere 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, just enough to moisten the bread crumbs, eliminating the green bell peppers. He enjoyed it a great deal and proclaimed it good. So meatloaf is back in my menu rotations and I am happy, happy!
Lori brought Mother's Day gifts:
The blue flower pot with 'flowers? Cake pops, ladies. Homemade chocolate cake and frosting hand formed into balls. Awesomeness on a stick, let me tell you. John told Bess and Sam that it was 'gourmet food'. Ha. Now we know what Derby pie isn't, huh? Lori pulled apart the silk flowers, and put the cake pops in place of the stamens. Then she took the leaves and stamens and used those as filler for the spaces between the cake pops.
The knife is there because JD made a new handle for a knife that Granny gave me about 35 years ago. The old handle was rotting and I was seriously concerned about using the knife any longer, though it was sharp as ever. It's been the absolute best knife I've ever owned until JD gifted me a set of Wusthof chef knives. I still found this knife very suitable for slicing strawberries and tomatoes.
Lori also made me a lovely necklace (there's a cross charm on the end along with the pretty glass bead) and then the pump bottle of hand soap in a mason jar. I was pleased as could be over these thoughtful and fun and sentimental gifts and proud as could be of my creative daughter-in-law and son.
To top off my weekend Lori brought me the swivel rocking chair and hassock from her nursery (no room for it now that they are slowly transitioning into a little girl's room). I moved my wooden rocker onto the back porch which proved to be a blessing because I spent many, many hours there that weekend, as we all visited on the back porch. I can testify that the new upholstered chair is very inviting in the corner of the old breakfast area and convinces me still more that I was right to see that as a future seating area for guests and Bible study. Mama even popped herself into that chair yesterday as she waited on us to grab a quick lunch before heading to the baby shower.
Now I enjoyed every minute of that pre-Mother's Day weekend, but I was so weary and tired by the time they left on Sunday...John had gone off to work early that morning and even with the extra sleep I got (he sent me back to bed as he left), I was still worn out. Nevertheless, I went ahead and put my house back in order. I figured John and I could relax together the next day when he came in from work and we did just that. I had leftovers to reheat for our meal and no housework needed doing and we pretty much had a Sabbath day rest on that Monday.
John had a fairly big day on Saturday before Mother's Day. He had been asked to perform for the Women's Club "Arts in the Park". He did very well, playing a variety of songs he'd been practicing for weeks. He played two of his original songs. I was so focused on him that it took me a moment to grasp that the park had gone dead quiet and every one else was intently listening to him as well, while they'd chatted a bit during his other selections.
I saw Nancy at the Park. She gave me two slim slips of roses years ago and I told her how they had multiplied and grown. Just look how those two little bushes have grown:
Aren't they just lovely? There are two varieties of them, one a full rose that is a deeper color and has the most heavenly aroma and this one which I've done the close up of. Smells just as heavenly but is a bit brighter, more red than the deep magenta of the other. No two bushes any more either. I think there are about 14 of them in there!
Mother's Day, John worked. I heard from all my children between Saturday evening and Sunday evening. I called Mama. She was expecting company that afternoon. I spent the day solely alone and you'll not hear one complaint from me about it. I love that my children called and enjoyed talking with them, but I also enjoyed just doing the homey sorts of things I'd normally do about the house.
As I was making my bed, I opened the shade at my bedroom window and looked out and smiled. Just outside that window is a rose that I've enjoyed every single Mother's Day since I became a mother.
Granny used to cut me big bouquets of them and when we moved here she gave me six small slips. Two 'took', but one of them never did anything much and eventually I dug it up and passed it on to a friend who had a better spot for it. My photo isn't very good. I took it Monday or perhaps Tuesday while we were out. It was looking rather lush and full of blooms on Wednesday. The yellow rose there is the one that was by my old deck steps, tucked into a corner with rosemary and Campion. When my brother built the new steps so nice and wide, he dug up that rose and potted it in a galvanized tin bucket. It's just full of blooms and still in the same container he potted it up in. Usually the New Dawn is much more full, but I ruthlessly pruned the roses very late in the season. Not sorry I did, because I discovered there are about six of those bushes and they were very tangled. I've plenty of work to do yet in that area, but it will get done eventually.
It was a nice moment, looking out the window and seeing the New Dawn roses blooming and thinking of how many bouquets I've had from that bush. Granny told me that she received a cutting from a woman in the late 1930s. Here we are nearly 80 years later still enjoying that tiny gift. Granny planted hers along a fence in her yard. It ran a good 20 feet or more, and was always lush with blooms about Mother's Day. Sometimes it would bloom again in early fall, just after the cool days began and then would warm. Mama has a bush of this as well. Hers is planted near the edge of her deck and it's HUGE, perhaps a good six or seven feet tall and it drapes and drops here and there with pale pink roses. I'd love to wrap up a small plant and ship it to Amie and I might yet. It does seem to me that pass-along plants are the most giving gift you can give or get.
My afternoon work on Mother's Day was to go through my now completely filled genealogy composition book and compile all my notes on each family member. I worked for hours and was just as content as I could possibly be as I pulled the scattered notes together. It's a work in progress, mind you. There's a lot more work to be done. This is one hobby that I have most thoroughly enjoyed. Just this week I had a stumble upon moment wherein I discovered letters written by a great great grandmother to her parents. The letters included one her husband wrote following the birth of their first child. He stated that she'd gone into labor on Sunday and delivered on Friday, "the baby weighing only 12 pounds." Oh my!
This week has flown past. We have several social obligations to attend, work we want to get done, etc. I was thinking of this earlier today. There's so much to do. Part of that is due to winter. While the weather's nicer here than in many places in winter, there are many outdoor jobs that can't be done until warm weather and new growth arrives. Then suddenly we're nearly overwhelmed with the tasks before us. John and his work partner trimmed several trees in February but I was out trimming trees this week, as branches that looked just fine then, hang awfully low now that they have the weight of leaves upon them.
I spent one full morning clearing off the patio. I started to clean off the front porch but once everything from the porch was unloaded I noticed how dirty the patio was and beyond sweeping there was little I else I could do for the porch at present. So I started to clean the patio and rearrange the furniture and pull the few weeds growing between the skirting and the patio...and that's when I discovered a family of toads. I do not like frogs. I. do. not. like. frogs.
There was a large toad, a medium toad and two smaller toads. I later discovered a drowned small toad in a bucket of water on the patio. The medium and smaller ones hopped off to shelter behind another clump of weeds at the opposite end of patio. Mr. Big Daddy Toad decided he'd had enough of getting wet by the hose as I washed the patio and he came hopping his big self over my way and literally hopped about me until I danced about on the patio, screeching the whole while. Ugh! I was not a happy woman but the water eventually ran him over to shelter with his family. I guess that was my exercise moment for 2014.
Those toads are still there, too. Yesterday I was attempting to finish clearing up the porch end of the patio and trying to decide what to do with the myriad of pots I have. As I stacked my little odds and ends of brick, the smaller toads hopped out, one landing right on my foot. Screech, screech, Ewww! And this morning as we were saying goodbye on the back porch, there was Mr. Big Daddy T. I suspect the convenience of the porch light and bugs it drew in was the reason he was there. I noted that Maddie slept on the railing side of the porch. Apparently she's no lover of toads either!
Happy discovery as I worked on the patio last week. I cleaned off some of the siding on the front of the house and accidentally sprayed some of the bleach solution on the porch railings. They came up as white and fresh as new paint. I won't have to paint those this year, just clean them, but the decking on the front porch must be painted. The last paint we put down not only peeled, it pulled up all the paint underneath as well and is still coming off in great long strips.
I was not just toad minded yesterday. I tried to figure out a suitable place to put the glider. On the back porch we found we were tripping over the legs as we'd walk to the back door. It was plain dangerous. In the back yard under the pecan tree, it blows over in every strong wind, which meant that from about September until April, it was upside down. I moved it to the patio two weeks ago but dislike having it bar the way across what is commonly seen as the entry end of the patio. At present it's near the steps but the only place to put it is directly under the downspout or just shy of that downspout at an angle that seems to block the steps. I think the solution will end being a flower bed at the end of the patio and the glider settled in there at that end, while I use an arbor and more flower beds to designate an entry nearer the steps. I have long envisioned the patio surrounded by a low fence. John is also looking at a slight renovation of the front porch and the steps from that would take up a portion of the current patio. I think my overall plan for the patio would work best with the new porch when we get that work done.
In the meantime...I have about a dozen pots of various sorts and that's just what's on the patio at present, not including those in the shed. I suspect I need to spend some time really looking hard at all the containers and determine which are keepers and which just need to be stored or discarded. I'd love to go out and buy a bunch of brand new containers of varying sizes but that's not happening this year. The redesign money is flat gone, so it's a matter of what we can do for pennies or borrow from elsewhere. My options are to paint the pots I have in two or three coordinating colors, repaint the glider and begin to construct the large end flower bed right away.
I want to fill my old lidless teapots for the front porch ironing board. It was so pretty a few years ago and I think I enjoyed seeing those pretty teapots put to good use as much as I enjoyed the flowers in them. I need to paint my chairs and I do have some curtains to hang on the very sunny end of the porch so we can shade it on the hot days.
Then there is the set of old steps that used to be at our back door when we moved here. Iron and solid wood and sturdy as can be. They sit against the pecan tree and can be seen from mine and John's chairs in the living room. I put potted plants there last year and it was so nice to look out at. I'm thinking more should go there this year, plus a shallow water bath for the birds. I saw a similar plant stand at pottery barn (with iron steps) and it was extremely expensive. I couldn't help but see what I might have in my old set of steps were I to paint them solid black (or any other color for that matter) and arrange pots upon them.
I am in one of those seasons. There are myriad things I want. I mean want, not need. I always have a limited amount of money to play with each year and I'm very satisfied with how I spent it. Every time I walk into the master bath and I see that teal blue towel or those new valances against the green walls my heart sings. Ditto for the slip covered furniture in the living room. I'm pleased with the bedroom, not fully satisfied, but pleased. Overall I've nothing to complain over and I mean that sincerely. But every where I look I hear myself say, "Oh, I wish I could...", "I want and in this space..." Add to that Iwantitis of mine a veritable overflow of items: furniture, books, clothes, stuff, more stuff.
I've been watching Tracy as she's working on her home, simplifying and decluttering. It's not that my home is messy, but there are just many things I don't need or want any longer and yet, I've held onto them. Books (I always feel a traitor when I say books), vintage magazines, old dishes I don't use. It's just taking up space that items I would really enjoy could be kept instead. It's a matter of identifying and tackling those areas. I've been saying for the longest now that I need to start reselling on Ebay and Etsy and even using these items to stock my booth. I think it's high time I got started.
Does it seem odd to say that my Iwantitis is the result of too much? Have you ever noticed how being in an overcrowded store with far too many choices can leave you feeling dissatisfied, unhappy with your choices, indecisive? Same principle in the home. At this point I have so many things I don't use that I often feel I can't buy new(er) items (mostly from thrift stores) for myself because I have an embarrassment of riches already. It is definitely a sign that the time to declutter further has arrived and I must determine what has resell value, what should be tossed, what should be donated.
It seems a huge task at the moment but it is my hope as I do this I can gradually shift some of the better pieces of furniture to replace some of those that aren't so nice, fill needs I have in other rooms and freeing up space in the crowded rooms. That's my thinking anyway. What it really means is that my project list just got a whole lot longer!
I need to really marshal my time. I lose so much time every day. I'm just about like most folks, I guess. I work hard and when I stop, I stop and that's that. I don't want to work non-stop. I do mean to start trying to work more of my daytime hours as I did once upon a time. It's so easy to stop when you're tired when you're working at home as I do, and sometimes (too often!) I don't get up and get busy once I've rested. No, I continue to sit and piddle away at the computer and do nothing much, not even blog posts or reading or genealogy.
I want a firmer begin and end time to each work day. I tend to be very very casual these days about when the day 'starts' with pretty much a 'day off' attitude to every day except John's work days. I really do best when I make a point of rising early and start work early and I know this. I wrote about this last year in Front Loaded Day. As well, returning to the 7pm quick pick up of house and clearing of kitchen sink is like adding an hour to the next day. It's little things, you see, that will help.
I will still have plenty of leisure time overall. Let's face it, with John at home, I'm far less inclined to get deeply involved in any big projects because he's as likely to decide that we're going to go out for the day as he is to stay home and do nothing. I never really know what the plans are. I complained in the past about this but I have come to enjoy the mixture of routine and spontaneous days. It's made me a lot less anxious as I've exercised my 'lack of control' muscle and I needed that freedom. His spontaneity has opened me up to some pretty nice experiences. As a rule John is seldom one for spending a long day away from home, though we do have those days now and then. My goal is to work around the outing, doing a little work before, a little after; and to make more of the days when we are home.
I mean to plan a bit better. I might well make out a menu but then forget to thaw food overnight so I have to have a second plan come mealtime. Although we eat three meals a day I do not plan the other two which is foolish, as I spend a lot of time being indecisive and it's a waste of time as I sit about mulling what to do about that unplanned meal.
I should go back to my former habit of spending two days on housework, one day on food prep for the week and leaving the other 3 days for bigger projects, errands and spontaneous days. That worked very well for me when John was working night shifts. All that and just working a wee bit harder/longer should see me accomplishing a bit more.
Do I expect this leopard to change her spots? Not entirely. I just want to push a little harder, add perhaps 2 hours more to my usual working time each day, allowing me plenty of room yet for play, leisure and flexibility of schedule.
It's funny that as I was thinking all this out this week John gave me a compliment on how hard I work. He said I do far more than he thinks is necessary and he appreciates that I spend so much time taking care of our home overall but, he added, he would never care if I didn't do half so much. I chuckled at the idea that here I am thinking I don't work nearly hard enough and here he is concerned I do too much.
Way back up in those paragraphs I alluded to a baby shower. What came before the baby shower this last Sunday was Saturday. We had a proper weekend of our own. It's something we're getting used to having once more after 7 or 8 years spent in service or practicing for service on John's weekend's off.
Saturday we had a leisurely breakfast and then we went off to Lowe's. My kitchen sink faucet was meant to be a stop gap faucet. We replaced it last year sometime when the old one started to leak and couldn't be repaired. So John ran to town and purchased the least expensive one he could find. He put it in backwards but I refused to allow him to change it round rightwards because I LIKED it that way. It was the lever type faucet and it suited me perfectly to have that lever work the way it did when the faucet was backwards. The kids all complained when they came to visit but hey, they don't live here, right? I do. Done.
Well we are procrastinating folk for the most part evidenced by how long it takes us to work our way up to the projects we keep putting off doing. About a month or so ago I noticed that there was a trickle of water coming out of the joint where the spout joined the faucet when I ran cold water. I mentioned it to John. He looked at it and said it was a leak and we'd get it changed out. We reminded one another that it was only meant to be temporary anyway and it had lasted a year or so. And of course, we didn't do a thing about it, 'cause that's how the two of us roll around here. I noticed last week that when I'd push the spout from one side of the sink to the other, it would squirt a stream of water at me. I mentioned to John we might hurry up and get a faucet. He'd already picked one out and shown it to me way back when I first mentioned it was leaking.
Saturday was the day. We had a short list of things we wanted to get besides the faucet. I wanted paint for those flower pots and some flowers, too, and there were other things we needed besides. We went equipped with a list and we found all items on it except one. It took us a couple of hours of shopping, because this particular Lowe's is massive. It's not our favorite store but it is the most helpful store and that's what we needed Saturday.
Then we went out to dinner. We agreed we'd rather drive the extra 10 miles and go to the small Longhorn's that is a little secluded and well hidden in Perry. The service is so good there and the food is superior to the bigger city restaurant. It didn't disappoint us at all.
Sunday morning I got up fairly early, did some light housework and prepared pasta for our dinner. The sauce was made Friday and sat on the counter all weekend long. It's so good! I put the recipe, simple as it is, here under Sunday. After church we came home and hurried through a 5 minute meal and then we were off to a baby shower for Bess and Sam. I wasn't just sure we'd get to have Bess at this shower. She headed to the hospital Friday night with contractions but they sent her home. This grandson isn't due until mid June but he might not wait that long. He's apparently the impatient sort...just like his dad!
Well I really need to end up and send this off. I have been stretching this work day out entirely too long and it's nearly time for my evening cup of milk. Talk to you all again soon!