Holidays Coffee Chat: Ho Ho Ho, It's Nearly A New Year!

Oh Hello!  Miss me this week?  I missed you, too, but it was nice to take a bit of a break.  I've been UN-decorating the house, taking down and putting away Christmas things.  And then of course, I wanted to refresh the living/dining room/and entry doors but I ran out of steam before I got done.  When I run out of steam, inspiration seems to die down hard as well.  But do come in, don't mind the messy weather and is your weather being seasonal in the least?  Ours isn't.  Normally it doesn't look like the photo above either but it typically doesn't look like this:

Yep.  It's either quite warm and sunny or it's pouring rain.  And I do mean POURING.  We are at flood stages in all the rivers in the mid-state area.  Our yard is so soggy that Blossom walking across it causes a squelching sound.  On the other hand when the floods abate a bit, the heart shaped puddle shows up.  Remember that?

In My Home This Week: Holiday Week

In my home this week, I:

...plan meals

Steak, German Potatoes, Broccoli, Wedge Salads
John was given two extra steaks the other night at the work party.  I'll reheat them but all else was on hand.

On my own

Chili, Cornbread, Orange and Onion Salad

Pot Roast with Vegetables,  Tossed Salad

Chicken Stir Fry, Brown Rice, Oranges

to a friend's home for dinner

Brisket, Corn on the Cob, Coleslaw, Carrot Cake

This Week In My Home: Working to Save

Making do, so I can wear it out...John's repair of the rocker makes it serviceable once again and I'm not at all displeased about that.  We bought a two piece package of chair brackets which cost us a grand total of $2.73.  These rockers (sold at Cracker Barrel) are $160...The math works very well for me!

Saturday:  Our family holiday didn't work out.  Katie's moving this coming week into her very first home of her own.  Overwhelm set in with packing, baby and holidays all crowding in upon her.  With less people here, there was less food needed, so some things went back into pantry/freezer to be used at a later date.

I ran a full load of dishes before going to bed.

John did a late last load of laundry.  He hung many things to dry but did put our company's things in the dryer so they could get them packed up.

Sunday:  We saw our guests off and then, since we were up earlier than usual, we tackled household chores.  This meant we had the whole afternoon free when we returned from church.

Retirement Remedies: Fourth Quarter Report

Despite worries and hefty expenses, this year is actually ending on a better note than it appeared we could possibly hope.  I'm so happy to report that and I feel optimistic about the coming year.

In October, I discovered my lab costs were not being paid by the insurance company.  It seems they were not a preferred provider.  I was shocked.  Six months of labs every other week and sometimes weekly had really added up to a hefty cost.  I'd have loved to have known this information early on, but apparently even the hospital was unaware of it.  I reluctantly changed to the preferred provider and the insurance is now paying all but pennies of each bill.  I haven't yet received billing from the hospital but I did tell you all in late September that bills trickle in.  I'll stand in trust that when the billing arrives we'll be able to pay it.

I'm currently paying down an inpatient bill in increments but each month we've just managed to have a nice sized enough payment to satisfy the billing service and we've not dipped into savings nor increased our loan in order to pay any bills.  I have a small medical bill fund that I add to each month and it's always just enough.

Christmas Decorating 2015

Several years back, John insisted we should put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving evening.  Prior to that the tree never went up before December 15 and took a week to put together, string lights and decorate and it came down December 26 and that was the end of that.  Now we put it up Thanksgiving evening and take it down by December 31.  We've really stretched out the enjoyment of the tree in our home and I for one appreciate it a great deal.

All this year I've actually planned how I would like for the house to look in the holidays.  I've been happy with my farmhouse look overall and more and more I'm pulling in vintage elements and rustic pieces.  That's exactly the sort of things I've pinned to my Holiday in the Country and Holiday Table boards, too.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I went out to the shed to fetch my Christmas bins.  I gave a good look around while I was out there and suddenly I had this vision of what my Christmas decor would be this year.  It has nothing to do with vintage.  It has nothing to do with rustic.  It doesn't have anything to do with the green/white/brown colors I'd thought I might use at first, nor the silver and white with emerald I'd been thinking I'd really like to try.  And if we start with the back door where everyone comes in, you'll see the wreath I made on Thanksgiving Day.  It hasn't got a thing to do with what's going on inside of the house either.  Nope.

Coffee Chat: Pre Christmas Lull

Come in and let's sit down with a cup of coffee and a homemade cookie...What will you like best?  I've got Magic Cookie Bars which I made with a bit of a twist this time...Stove top cookies and Sugar cookies as well.  I confess the Sugar Cookies are my absolute favorites.  It's the best recipe for Sugar cookies I've had to date.  The Magic Cookie Bars were made using graham crackers but I didn't quite have enough.  So I crumbled Matzoh crackers and added those to the graham crumbs.  I was a bit nervous about that sleight of hand in using what I had.  These cookies are one of Sam's favorites so I told him right off what I'd done.  He said, "Ooh!  I'll bet that will be good!" And it was.  The slight bit of saltiness, the decreased sweetness of the crust, makes a nice balance with the rich topping.  I'll have to buy Matzoh crackers again next year to make these cookies.

Well the family week/weekend came and went.  I didn't get to see Katie and her family after all and I won't even lie that I wasn't a whole lot disappointed, but I did understand her need to decrease stress in her life...You see she's moving into her first house of her own this week and packing and moving and baby equals a stressful time.  Dear Bess did it during June all on her own with our almost 1 year old grandson, as Katie was busy recovering from surgery and tending to her baby and I was in the hospital and Sam was already working in Florida.  I was, I admit it, rather proud of Katie for being woman enough to see that she had to prioritize.  I'll also own that while I was deeply disappointed my pride nearly busted that all to pieces anyway.  It took me forever (as in until June of this year when I had that little life changing experience!) to learn to say NO and mean it and to omit those people who created the most stress in my life from having too much space in my life.

I have always been a people pleaser of the worst sort, the sort that just went off the deep end and fell apart while trying to spin every single plate I was handed.  And I am the sort who is always left standing about wondering just why, when I've tried so hard to please, no one ends up feeling the least bit pleased with me and I am even less than pleased with how things turn out myself.  No, I'd much rather Katie admitted to overwhelm and prioritize her life needs rather than try and please me and end up being miserably aware of all she might be doing were it not for a four hour road trip and a two hour family visit.

In My Home This Week

In the Blue House this week I...

Have been wishing the weather was more seasonable...  Temperatures have been closer to the 80's than the 50's you'd expect this time of year and the grass is green as summer grass very nearly.  I can plainly see buds on several trees.  I find all this very worrying, as the last time we had out of season buds on a tree in the yard we had a hard cold spell and the tree died.  I'm not keen to lose these big shade giving trees at all.  Still...what can I do?  The weather is very much out of my control!
I confess I was much amused by my Florida family's response to the weather.  Seems compared to their daily temperatures it was cold!  Well all righty then!  At least one set of us was happy with the weather and their much amused dad and I kept quiet and let them enjoy the cooler weather they'd so looked forward to finding, even if we felt it worthwhile to turn on AC in the mid-afternoon hours.

Happily this week it returns to the normal temperatures for this time of year.  I suspect the propane company will be more than relieved.  Usually they've been by to touch up our tank at least once at this time.  I'm sure they need the business...and we can't forget my number one concern for cold days and nights: PEACHES!

Plan meals...

This Week In My Home, I Saved Money...

Sometimes the sweetest decorations come from what was meant to be tossed.  In organizing the Christmas things I found my little bottle brush trees and as I worked in the living room I suddenly thought of putting one of the trees here with the little reading girl and kitties.  I picked up the curly ribbon and the gold present up from the floor in the guest room meaning to toss them in the trash,  Instead, they became part of this little vignette which suddenly became a  holiday decoration.  

Saturday:  John and I enjoyed our spaghetti dinner today.  I had only to add a bit of lettuce to leftover salad from Thursday, make a piece of garlic toast and boil the pasta.  No big deal for making quite a good dinner.

Noted the '1 pound' sized box of whole wheat pasta contains 13.5 ounces....No savings in that for me now is there?  Just another example of paying attention a bit too late to the incredible shrinking packaging of items...Make sure I'll be on my toes next purchase and be sure I buy the pound package no matter what brand it is.

I put away leftovers.  There was enough pasta and sauce to make dinner for tomorrow following church (easy to heat in the microwave) and enough extra to make up a spaghetti pie for a meal at a much later date.  I topped the pie with waxed paper then reused the same sheet of foil I'd lined my garlic bread pan with to cover all.  I slipped it into a zippered freezer bag, made sure to label and date it.  Nice to know we've a ready meal for one of those days when projects or crisis creates the need of an easy meal.

I mixed up pudding for dessert cups.  I poured the remaining into pre-measured serving portions.

When we determined that leftovers for after church tomorrow was the order of the day, I broke up that package of marked down cubed steaks I'd bought yesterday and planned for Sunday's dinner into two packages.  I hadn't much paid attention to price yesterday but I saved $2.18 over the original price. There were four large pieces of cubed steak and a smaller steak which will do fine for a 'second' piece for the man of the house.  I packaged the meat in 2 previously used (well washed) zippered bags.  These I will throw away after use. I try to never package meat in new zippered bags but well used ones.

I washed a full load of dishes following dinner.

Our favorite Saturday afternoon snack just lately is home made popped corn.  It is so easy, takes barely any more time than microwave popcorn and tastes awesome.  I can make just enough for the two of us or make a big pot full.

This Week In My Home

This week in my home...

I continue with the Freezer challenge:  

Did you ever decide mid-way through something that really you just don't care for it overall?  I've decided I'm that way about frozen green beans.  They just lose something in the fresh/frozen/cooked stages that can't be recovered.  So when I use up this lot of green beans I'm going to stick to having them fresh or canned but never frozen again.  Just my personal taste on this one.  John could care less.  Turns out green beans were never a favored vegetable for him at all.

I did make a tiny bit of room in the biggest freezer, but I've yet to clear them out and defrost.  That is going on my list even though I think it's a pipe dream this week.

I Plan Meals:  Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic Bread, Lemon Pudding

Spaghetti Leftovers
I planned another meal but we had so many leftovers John asked for a repeat meal today, too. We had this after church and it took me about five minutes to heat in the microwave while I made a quick salad.  Easy peasy.

Tuna Pasta Salad, Crackers, Mandarin Oranges
I wouldn't normally serve this in cooler months but John asked for it especially.  I'd planned to make tuna salad sandwiches or even a tuna casserole, but he wants this and seldom makes a request so I will indulge him.  I just need to get my grocery shopping done so I can have plenty of fresh colorful vegetables to put into it.  And olives.  Black and green ones.  Requested.

Savings Season In My Home

 I refashioned a wreath I've had a number of years and added a bit of ribbon from my ribbon drawer.  The ribbon and the wreath were bought on clearance in years past.

Friday:  I woke extra early this morning.  I got up and started my Thanksgiving meal.

I learned my lesson about not labeling things I've put in the freezer.  The second quart jar of broth proved to be from a corned beef and not chicken broth as I'd thought.  Fortunately I was able to boil the turkey neck and make a bit more, just enough to make gravy.

I put away leftovers immediately following dinner.  Enough for meals for tomorrow went into the fridge.  The rest of the meat was stripped from the carcass and packed up as sandwich/casserole meat.  and soup making pieces.

I planned to make extra stuffing yesterday and then changed my mind.  I am glad I did.  I put three pans of dressing up today.  One for the fridge, two into the freezer.

Started decorating for Christmas last night really, but decorated the mantel today.  Wanting an autumn/Thanksgiving look on the dining table for our meal kept me from decorating the dining room side of the room.

I re-used some pretty Christmas cards I had saved over the years to freshen up the shadow box and the little frames on the end of the collage wall (formerly framed individual leaves, formerly Indian arrowheads).

The morning was much warmer than we've had lately.  I opened windows early in the day which kept the house from getting too hot during the afternoon.

I cooked the giblets planning to make giblet gravy only to discover that John dislikes giblet gravy.  No matter, the pups and cat will enjoy the giblets and the leftover gravy as well.

Clipped the ends of the flowers I purchased three weeks ago. One thing I love about cool weather and keeping my home cooler than the average?  Flowers last very well indeed.  I kept looking at one of the items I'd put out to decorate with for Christmas against the red/bold of the mums in the old floral arrangement and decided it would make a nice combination for now.  And it did.  I split the arrangement between the kitchen window sill vase of rooting coleus and mums and the pretty container from the living room decor.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My: Nov 2015

Well here we are with one more month tucked in and put to bed for the year and just the busiest month of the year ahead of us to get through.  What a year it has been...  There will be little time for thinking deep thoughts this month, little time really to think at all.  I'm glad I did all my deep thinking at the very beginning of November.

Let's get started, shall we?

This Week In My Home where in I plan menus started out the month with a planning the year ahead session, mentioned in the first paragraph above.  Well I planned out next year and got a lot of good thinking done along the way and even cleared up some last loose ends that I'd let trail along behind (but not the front porch which is apparently destined to remain my loosest loose end this least it's painted).  I laughed when I read the first comment on this first post from Sew Blessed Maw where Judy mentions getting her house holiday ready and then planning meals.  I somehow completely forgot that particular step!  And so I had a panicked post a bit later in the month.  Foolish me.  I think I'm going to sit down with my notebook and calendar pages and lay out my holidays/birthdays/special Holy Days etc upon the pages so I won't be caught so terribly unawares this year.  I felt like I scrambled hard to catch up for all these things this year.

Book Review: The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Scneider

I promised myself I'd buy no more cookbooks, but when I saw this one offered up, I couldn't resist.  It combines two of my favorites: Mexican recipes and slow cooker recipes.  It seemed like an immediate win on both counts.

I've had the book now for several days and have read through it.  Here's what I like about the book: there is a basic explanation of the various chilies and how they are best used.  This is information I didn't know.  The author also explains why she prefers the ceramic insert crock pot and the basic cooking techniques she uses to prepare food for the crock pot.  What I find unrealistic is her expectation that we have a kitchen equipped with multiple sized crock pots and sundry piece of equipment.  I tend to run a pretty basic kitchen overall and my appliances include the crock pot and a blender.  I don't even own an electric can opener!

There are photos for about 1/3 of the recipes.  The recipes are clearly written and every single ingredient is listed in the ingredients list as it should be.  There are no surprise ingredients buried in the instructions.  I like that!  Not all authors do this and it can lead to a bit of frustration.

There are recipes for soups, main dishes, street dishes, sides, and desserts in this book, all of which are made in the slow cooker.  I think I'm most fascinated by the idea of making Tamales in the crock pot!

There are insets that explain how to make tortillas, how to use various chilies, what constitutes Moles, etc.  These are all very helpful.

What I don't like:  Some of the recipes are labor intensive prior to the slow cooking stage. I would have liked to have had a list of possible Hispanic grocery items I might use to cut down on some of the labor.  After all, I don't work in a restaurant!  Could I used canned roasted chilies in place of fresh, just roasted myself chilies?  

This Week In My Home

Hello!  Did you survive the first holiday of the holiday season?  There's plenty more ahead.  I was amazed at all that happened here in a week's time, all because I had a list of sorts to help me think. Guess who found Christmas cards as soon as all the newly purchased ones were addressed and stamped?  Yep.  That rule about 'A place for everything and every thing in it's place.'  I fudged a bit on it and stuck them in an odd spot.  So odd that I did a stumble upon after I was done.   Guess who has cards in the card file ready for next year? That would be me.

This week in my home, I:

Continue the freezer challenge.  
I didn't get into the big freezer last week very much.  I did pull out two items that had been there awhile.  And I'm going to go ahead and declare a bit of A Pantry Challenge for myself as well. Mama is always giving me an item she'd seen a TV chef use or that she's found in a store.  She buys two, one for her and one for me.  One of those items was currants.  I'd never used currants, never had a recipe that called for them.  I happened across one the other day and so I pulled out the currants...and they expired in 2013, which I think is about when she gave them to me.  Now I have no troubles using expired foods but these were no good anymore.  I took one look and dumped the entire box in the trash. 

I planned a meal from the leftover turkey last week, then we decided to have our Thanksgiving meal on Friday.  So Turkey Fried Rice never happened last week.  I have another idea for this week.

Plan meals for the week:

Leftover Makeover: Thanksgiving Leftovers

I have heard people say time and again how much they dislike leftovers.  Don't count me in!  I like leftovers for the possibilities they offer for future dishes.  I believe in transforming them so they become a different dish/meal.  I have the convenience of starting with a cooked item that cuts down on my preparation and cooking time.  My family seldom realizes they are leftovers.  I never heard many complaints about leftovers in my house.

I don't have photos to go with these recipes and ideas but I thought some of you might appreciate having an idea of how to use up Thanksgiving meal leftovers.  Especially if you did like I did and cooked a whole turkey and a full Thanksgiving dinner for two.  Some of these are tried and true and I'll be sure to let you know which of these are, and some are just inspirations I've had today while I was putting away my own leftovers.

Turkey Fried Rice (TNT):  It's best to start with leftover cooked rice.  I have rice in the freezer which I will thaw and use and by the way rice is one item that freezes beautifully.  When we used to get Chinese take out for the family, we'd always have more rice than we needed.  I'd just pop the cardboard container into a zippered bag and freeze it.  All that aside, start with leftover rice.

I use whatever vegetables I have in the refrigerator.  Here's a great way to use up a crudite platter of vegetables by the way.  Broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onion, snow peas, any color of bell peppers, green peas, celery, broccoli stems (especially nice by the way, if sliced), etc.   Dice about 1 cup of leftover turkey and about 2 cups of vegetables.  You'll want about 2 cups of rice as well by the way.  And 1 egg.  For seasonings: minced garlic, grated fresh ginger root and soy sauce.

My Savings This Week

Another of my 'trash' to foodstuffs.  Here I have used pieces of leftover dried bread, end pieces and odd shaped slices to make breadcrumbs,  crostini and croutons.  Five and a half quarts from a month or so of pieces many people just toss in the trash.  Oh and I have enough slices of slightly dry bread frozen. It will be perfect to French Toast.

Saturday:  My last job last night was to wash a full load of dishes.

Rinsed dishes and stacked for the day today.

John suggested we have fried chicken from the local diner for our dinner.  I made the side dishes at home.  He paid for the chicken from his allowance.  We had our meal and had enough for lunches tomorrow from the leftovers.

Sunday:  Saw John off to work this morning.  He had his packed lunch and his breakfast before going off.

I washed a full load of clothes and hung the bulk of them to dry here in the house (since they were done well before sunrise).  I dried undies and dishcloths in the dryer as I had less room for hanging those smaller items.

Colored my hair this morning.  I used 1/3 of the solutions.  This was a bit trickier than using half of each.  I measured with a ruler and divided by 3s.  It worked very well, my color turned out just fine and my hair was well saturated.  This stretches my current supply of hair color so that it will last me through 2017.

Went through the bill box and wrote out checks for tomorrow's Harvest day.  As I worked on my half payments, I realized I could push the electric bill and one other half payment over to the medical bills account, which allowed me to pay another portion of a good sized bill.  I will knock this one out a bit at a time, without borrowing or touching savings.  I had a portion of money left in that fund that will start the payment for December.

This Week In My Home

I plan a Freezer Challenge:

Two good reasons for this challenge: I have found my freezers are all three packed to the gills.  That means I need to use some of what is in them.  I hope to clear out some old things in there as well, provided I have time this week.  I might end up making freezer meals from a few of the items but I need to have a few of those on hand anyway.

I am also hoping to pick up one or two or three turkeys while the prices are so very low.  I cannot beat these prices at all, haven't seen anything like them in years upon years and it seems to me that turkeys (which keep frozen up to a year) are space worthy and very budget friendly.

I plan a Thanksgiving dinner for John and I:

We're simple folks and that is all there is to it.  Our menu seldom varies and the reason for that is my husband leans strong on tradition when it comes to his Thanksgiving meal.  He wants what he wants and turkey sandwiches to follow up with.  Normally for the two of us I purchase a breast only but with the excellent prices on whole turkeys and John's love of stuffing, which works best in a whole bird, this was the better option this year.

Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts in Cheese Sauce
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Cranberry sauce and Cranberry Relish
Pumpkin Pie

I have all but the canned fried onions on hand.  I thought I'd just make my own onion rings.  It takes next to no time and can be done ahead since I will be putting them in the bean casserole to bake anyway.  I plan to 'work ahead' this weekend, since our dinner will be either Wednesday or Friday depending upon John's preference.  The turkey has been thawing in the fridge since Wedneday when I bought it.  I'll bake the sweet potato, make my onion rings and make my Pumpkin Pie today.  I plan to get my stuffing breads crumbled and onions and celery chopped.  I have broth thawing for gravy and stuffing.  

We determined we'd stick with our traditional holiday breakfast of  canned cinnamon rolls with a less fatty side and we'll have that on the proper day itself.  We'll at least have that much of a tradition for the day proper.

I plan meals for the rest of the week:

Coffee Chat: My Forgotten Mantra

Hello there!  Now isn't that heavy silver coffee pot just something?  I never really noticed it before when I'd used this photo but it came up very large just at first when loading in today and the ornamentation of that spout was something to behold.  And then I realized the heavy silver coffee pot, the wide gold bands on the cup and saucer, and the rare coin collection were all about the precious metals.  Ha.  It only took a few years of looking at this image over and over again, to gather all that information that came to me in a mere moment today

A lot like reading the Bible, is that photo.  I'll read over something dozens of times and all of a sudden 'click' and there is a revelation I've never had before.  It's kinda awesome.  I had such a moment this past week.  I've begun a daily Torah reading again, which is just working my way through the first five chapters of the Bible and then repeating as I finish it up.  Why?  Because there is a verse which says something to the effect 'I shall study Torah every day and be blessed',(why can I not find this verse at the moment?  And isn't that always the way?) and a whole lot of other verses which mention the importance of hearing or studying Torah...which happens to tie right in with the verse in Deuteronomy 6 which says:

 6And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

My Weekly Savings

A practice run Thanksgiving table possibility...using what I have had for years mixed with the Brockaway amber glass I bought this year.

Saturday:  Poured cereal into a glass jar for storage.  This keeps pests at bay and means that we are the ones who eat the food we bought and paid for.  I save jars but also have purchased 1/2 gallon sized canning jars just for this purpose.

Saved the cereal bag to use to wrap meats in.  I have determined I shall forgo using zippered bags for this purpose in the future as it is an unnecessary expense.  I also emptied out several bread sacks and saved those.  I rinsed well and hung to dry in the laundry area, using a hanger and some clothespins.

Reused an empty canister to store brown rice I'd bought this week.  I put a label on the canister and wrote instructions for cooking a standard measure of brown rice (1 cup).

I don't have very dressy clothes but I needed something to wear to my niece's wedding. This brought about another closet clean out.  Nearly all my things are just too big.  I have no dress trousers at all. Thankfully Katie came down for the wedding and put together a nice outfit for me but it really pointed up my need to actively shop for a few key items.  Fun part was her creative use of accessories to go with my outfit today.  I wouldn't have paired up the bracelets she did but I could see right away how sophisticated it looked.

Katie gifted me another lipstick.  I won't need to buy any new fall/winter colors courtesy of her generosity.

The roast beef I cooked today netted me lots of leftovers.  I've planned leftovers into one meal this week but shall also be packing some of this into the freezer for future meals.  I cooked the beef only to rare, which will make it possible to reheat and prevent drying out the meat.

BOOK REVIEW: When Lions Roar, The Churchills and The Kennedys

With my interest in history overall, and having become a little fascinated with Winston Churchill (courtesy the BBC productions such as "Wartime Kitchen and Garden" and PBS "Homefires") and the fondness the British people held for him, I couldn't resist this title, which includes the Kennedys, another family I've only recently become interested in.  I was not disappointed in this book at all.

The book covers decades, starting with the Franklin D Roosevelt years in the White House and going beyond John F. Kennedy's assasination.  The Kennedy family ties to Winston Churchill first began in 1933 when Joseph Kennedy brought his family to England and spent some time at the Churchill home.  There began a long and sometimes tenuous association between two great families in two great countries.

The book is a tell all story, but not written in a trashy sensational manner.  It is however, an accurate accounting of the real and public lives of two families with enormous political influence in the world as well as in their own countries and the connected power influenced history in each other's country as well.

This is a hefty read at 643 pages but so fascinating that it hardly seems a lengthy book at all!  I highly recommend it if you are interested in historical and personal accounts of the Kennedys or the Churchills.

Planning Ahead, Starting Behind

This past Saturday, we attended my niece's wedding.  I had company over the weekend and mentioned a 'save the date' event coming up for my immediate which my daughter replied that it was just a month away.  I didn't panic right away but it occurred to me Sunday afternoon when the guests were gone that indeed in the next five weeks or so I have no less than ten events before the year ends and that every single one of them requires some effort on my part to pull them off.  True several of those holidays will be just John and I on our own but I do like to do things for us, too.  And thus far, I have done nothing...  YIKES!

I felt downright lousy Sunday.   I greatly enjoyed the wedding but it was outdoors Saturday evening, which was a cold evening.  Brrrr...And the cold came back with a vengeance.  Not a lot I could do while feeling bad...but I had to do something.

So I started making lists.  We have agreed to do family gifts for each family group but we do purchase items for one another and Mama.  I've bought nothing thus far.  I don't even have Christmas cards, having failed to purchase cards last year at end of season sales.

I started with the Thanksgiving holiday.  I must purchase several of the components for a holiday meal.  I've nothing at present but cranberry sauce and pumpkin.  And there's that holiday breakfast thing.  No canned cinnamon rolls this year but we must have a nice diabetic friendly but special holiday meal.  Oh dear.  I do, at least, have an idea of what I'd like to do with the table for mine and John's Thanksgiving meal.  I haven't done a trial run of it yet, but will try to get that done tomorrow.

Then we'll have visitors before November is over and done. I'd like to have items ready to send off with them, so I must hurry and purchase that and gather the other items .

This Week In My Home: Format Change

I decided this past week, while I was still recovering, that I'd like to change up the format a little bit. So the title of this post each week will simply be "This Week In My Home".  I'll divide the post into meals, jobs, plans (not work but appointments, etc) and play.

I did very slightly better in using planned menus this week, but not as well as I ought.  This was partly due to creatively using leftovers and partly due to a sandwich we bought for our lunch that proved so hefty it served us supper as well.  My appetite is off.  I get plenty hungry and then I want something to eat nearly immediately but I could have cared less about making meals overall, so that too threw me off.  However, I am feeling better and mean to get back on the better path of making and following menu plans.

I've just been over at A Tray of Bliss to read this post  on menu planning.  I love the format she's used for her form and that it has a separate block solely for prepping for the next day.  Love that bit of time savings she plans into her day.  I was duly impressed, and I'd say I've pretty much seen every form of planner/planning available out there over my years as a homemaker.  This is just genius as far as I'm concerned, right up there with planning twice a week (to insure you use up all the leftovers).

So here we go with our new version of "This Week In My Home"...

In My Home This Week: Time and Money Saved

It doesn't look like much yet, but it will be lovely very soon.  I know exactly what color I mean to use to paint this old bed.  I'm showing it again because this is a case in point...The biggest way I save money is to wait.  I've been asking for a bit over two years now about a bed in town that is much like this one but at the price asked I couldn't even afford a good counter offer.  $10 was far more in line with my budget.  And here's another thing:  the bed wasn't even part of the sale but I saw it and asked about it and that was the price because it had no rails.  Now it happens I have rails in the shed I could use but I mean to attach my current bed frame to these pieces.

Saturday:  Last night before sundown I pulled all the bread sacks with  one or two pieces in them from the freezer.  First I found two perfectly nice Hawaiian rolls.  One of those made a Shabat 'loaf' for one.  I combined all the pieces into one sack. I had so much more bread than I'd thought.  Again these are those end pieces, or the last couple of pieces that got a little too dry to be tasty.  I typically make bread crumbs and croutons from them but I can't make that many croutons!  I decided to make a breakfast Strata casserole.  I cut up too many bread cubes and so I ended freezing half the meat/veg/bread cubes/cheese mixture for a future casserole.  I'll just mix up milk and eggs when I get ready to make that casserole.

Today's dinner is leftovers from the week past.  I added a freshly prepared salad, and a Pineapple cobbler.  This was  sort of makeover of a 1950's recipe I had sometime ago.  I made this cobbler using juice packed fruit and making a cheddar streusel sort of topping rather than a full pastry crust. Pineapple is good for coughs and colds.  I drank the juice leftover from the cubes.

Rinsed and stacked dishes.

The only medication we have in house to help alleviate coughs and make them more productive happens to dry me out horribly.  As John took his pill this evening, I noted that they were scored...I took half a pill, which seems to be the right dosage for me.  It brought relief from the unrelenting cough and wheezing.

John received a statement from his insurance related to the doctor visit he'd just had.  The doctor he's seeing is not covered but...after reading his statement and realizing how very much his deductible out of pocket amount is for doctors within the network...I told him he may as well see the doctor of choice.  We're going to pay out less for him to see him now and then than we will to try and meet that deductible!

Coffee Chat: Sunshine and Shadow

Hello Hello and come on in...but keep your distance too.  I'd offer up a spot outdoors but here's where my summer seating arrangements prove to be less than cool season friendly.  Not one spot to sit where the sun is shining and that is so necessary just at the moment because otherwise it's a tiny bit cool for sitting in the shade even with a cup of coffee in hand.  Ah well, we'll have it here indoors and consider it just as well since everything outdoors is still wet as can be.  The sun has only shown an hour today and I'm afraid it won't do much about drying things up before it goes off to bed.

I am hoping there's a temporary glitch with blogger...I went to load up a photo for this chat and it tells me I have no photos.  Oddly enough I had plenty last night when I was looking for something new and fresh to put up as a header on the blog.

So I'm still coughing.  It only happens if I get the tiniest bit too cool or the least little bit warm.  In other words, I am coughing nearly all the time.  I seem to have a good day and then a tough one and then a good one which is an improvement.  There for the first 8 or 9 days of this mess it was all one long very bad day every day.

I went out this morning to pay bills, deposit a check, get our pay period cash for groceries and allowances and run by CVS.  I still had those Extra Cash Bucks I hadn't cashed out and we were down to the dregs of the shampoo bottle.  I looked long and hard at the sales ad, used coupons, printed off more store coupons at the kiosk and did rather well overall.  My first total was $34, coupons and ECBS lowered that to $19 and I earned $7 more in ECBS.  I felt I'd done rather well.  That netted me two toothpaste, two big bottles of shampoo, two bottles of Magnesium citrate, a big bottle of store brand coated low dosage aspirin, a card, and a gallon of milk.  I had $9.50 in ECBS when I walked in so to come out with $7 seemed fair enough to me.

I coughed myself silly while in CVS.  I guess I was on the too warm side, so I slipped off my jacket and loosened my scarf and soon calmed down.  I felt like such a heel though, really, because I appeared to have come away from home while deeply sick and all too willing to spread about my germs.  Truth was when I left home this morning I'd barely coughed in 5 hours!

In My Home This Week: Better and Better

Well here I am.  I'm not gonna tell a story:  this was a tough cold and it took a hard toll on me.  This woman, who enjoys working hard and is usually hard at work doing something, sat in her chair and did as little as possible for the bulk of a full week, yet.   It was all I could do just to be sick and I mean that.  Along about Friday I started to feel myself once more.  Whew!  It was a brief reprieve with Saturday finding me miserably backslidden.  Never mind all that.  This morning I was up early and the first thing I did was declare war on germs.  I've had enough!  I opened the windows and aired the house for over an hour.  I wiped and sprayed disinfectant on every surface we'd touched over the past month.  Enough, I say, enough!

Meal plans went kaplooey last week.  I don't think I made more than one of the meals on my plan. That's the way it goes some weeks, you know.  So I just used what I had on hand as we wanted to use it and didn't worry about whether it was on the plan, didn't plan to use a thing we didn't already have.  Meals were simple overall and most all included as much extra Vitamin C as I could include.  We had enough leftovers to serve us weekend meals.  Since these were not planned meals for last week I'll include those menus here this week.

In My Home This Week: Savings Now And Later On

It looks like just so much trash really and technically that's what it is.  I save the end pieces and outer skins (not the papery skins) from onions, the root end and leaves of celery stalks, and odd pieces of carrots including tops and tips to season stock.  I'm making something from odds and ends that normally might be thrown away.  It's one of the ones I try to make the most of the dollars spent on food in my kitchen.

Saturday:  Just before sundown last night I earned a $25 gift card from Swagbucks.

Used a bucket with a broken lid to store potting soil.  Ants may get in it but they can't do any real damage and it will keep it from spilling all over the porch.

Ordered supplements and went through a Swagbucks Shop and Earn e-store.  I don't know why I've failed to do that in recent orders but I'm determined to make my shopping count for as much as I can!

Took note that MyCokeRewards is offering double points on all bottle caps November 3 through November 5.  This allows me to get 150 points rather than the usual 75 allowed weekly.  I am saving for a gift card to Walmart which will cover a portion of my household shopping and diabetic supplies (test strips).

Reheated leftovers of the Moroccan Spiced Chicken for dinner.  Added butter beans and coleslaw to extend the skimpy leftovers.

Today's slaw was prepped ahead yesterday.  I grated broccoli stems with a bit of cabbage and a carrot.  Another good use for broccoli stems is to save to slice into stir fry or fried rice.  And of course you can always steam and make into broccoli cheese soup.  In the year ahead I mean to try and use every bit of food that comes into my household and get the most I can for my food dollars.  It will take a lot of thinking, planning and most of all doing.  I can plan and think all I want but unless I actually do it I've gained nothing.

Felt a scratchy throat starting up.  With John unwell just now it is a cinch I have been exposed.  I took Zinc, Vitamin C and am spraying my throat with the Pro-Silver.  I feel much better than I felt last night  and that's just a few doses in with the Pro-Silver.  I'll keep it up for a couple of days to insure I fully head off the symptoms.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My! October

Can you believe it?  October gone and here's November teasing us with the year end.  There's two months and then we'll be in a brand new year all over again.  I don't want to hurry this year out but I confess I can't wait to see what next year holds!

This month I'm listing posts/comments in order of posting.  I'm too strained with foggy brain to figure out how to make sure I get them all in the right category this month.

I started this month with a Savings post.  These two comments I especially wanted to make note of here.  First from Lana  came a very good hint, sort of hidden like a gem in her posted comment.  She was telling how this past spring, rather than buy cut flowers for dinner parties, she used baskets filled with bulk purchased six packs of annuals.  After the party, she planted the flowers in her yard.  So smart!

And Erika  was pleased to discover that I found the canned potatoes froze better in prepared ahead entrees or soups.  They never seem to take on the soggy texture that fresh potatoes do.  I confess I'm not fond overall of canned potatoes but they are handy for Canned Vegetable Soup (that's multiple cans of vegetables dumped in a pan and heated with broth) and if you happen to have enough leftover to freeze, you never have to pick out the potatoes.  I've also used them in pot pies or stews I wanted to freeze.   psst....check out Erika's blog.

Settling Into A New Budget Season Sarah and Lana recommended a blog:  She is experimenting with meals and such from 1943.  If you garden you'll enjoy seeing her victory garden, too!

Georgene the series was BBC's Wartime Kitchen and Garden.  The link will take you to all 8 episodes.  Kathy this link is for you, too.  As for your question about whether I feel the need of stocking up check out my post, State of the Union Address, the Economy this week.

Vicki  I thought the broken pot would be cute on it's side, too.  I even bought the pansies to go in it but the two halves are too shallow for plants on their own and the doggone thing will not stay together unless it's sitting upright, so it's a broken upright pot.

Coffee Chat: Meet Blossom

Come on in and let's have a quick coffee...Let's keep it cyber today though.  I have a cold (ugh) and don't want to pass anything on.

Each year I do an annual 'summing up' of the year behind me.  Personal changes, family changes, family dramas and traumas.  And then, when the reflection is over, I look hard at the year ahead and where I hope to be at the end of it.  It is a daunting thing some years and this one...well it  just really didn't bear reviewing.  I mean who can forget a family drama such as ours or the health scare or the birth of a littlest girl to our littlest girl?  Who can forget all the worries that turned out to be nothings and all the suspicions that turned out worst than one would think?  Enough.  This year shall be done and I've had enough of it.  I'm ready to do the part where I look ahead and just turn away from the year.  Not that's it all been horrible/awful/sorrowful.  There have been far, far more things that made us grateful, but the drama and trauma part were unusually dramatic/traumatic this year, that's all.

Speaking of the front porch, there's another 'dog house' on the front porch now.  It's a garbage can on it's side and it works great for Blossom.  I cannot deny it's inconvenient to have pet housing on the front porch of all places.  Ideally I'd have them all set up in the kennel but at present the front porch offers a bit more shelter than the kennel does.  John keeps suggesting getting a shed of sorts and making it a dog house, which is not a bad idea but not in the budget at present.

Oh you must meet Blossom!  She's really very sweet and has shown so much joy in being a country dog.  She and Maddie have interacted some, mostly in playing chase.  Maddie seems a bit puzzled that this little dog can run so hard and so fast and so enthusiastically on her short little legs.  I've watched Maddie gear down when they are playing chase rather than run Blossom over.

This Week In My Home: Looking Behind To Plan Ahead

This week I'm spending my time looking back at the year past and planning ahead.  I'm planning ahead to next year (and taking a long hard look at the year just past as I'm doing it!).  I'm planning ahead for the holidays.  I always seem to lack something I really want/need to accomplish the table settings I want or the meals I want for the holidays and I want to take a bit of time to plan and then prepare.  After all, I've got Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas in a short 5 week span of time.  And we won't even mention New Year's Eve. (Since we seldom do anything why mention it?  We do however, often try to do something special on New Year's Day, so there is that.)

I feel, given the year I've had, that I've gotten quite a lot done this year.  I think sheer determination is 90% of the success I've experienced in the past few months.  I was just doggone determined to make this year (or what remained of it) a year of accomplishment. Today I reviewed the original resolutions for 2015 and the home projects I wanted to accomplish.  Wow.  That's all I can say, just wow.  I accomplished many of them and really stretched my dollars doing it.  And then I threw in the back porch decor for good measure.

First and foremost, let's get this meal plan knocked out.  I was really disappointed in the Moroccan Chicken recipe last week.  In theory it sounded really good.  It did tweak my imagination about using a spicy seasoning on oven roasted sweet potato fries in future, but otherwise...not so much.  I want to experiment and add in some new flavors but this week I'll return to TNTs, tried and true recipes.  I plan to go through my recipe files and look for new ideas to introduce in the next menu cycles...a little more planning ahead.

I'm finding that though I plan a full week of menus most weeks (five days this time since John is working two days), it's best to stop on Thursday afternoon and plan again.  It allows me to use up any leftovers that might otherwise end being waste.    So what is here for Sunday through Thursday is usually about right and Friday/Saturday is prone to change most weeks.

This Week In My Home: Seasonal Savings

It's taking a little time to make, but I'm enjoying the handwork, all created from fabric remnants I've picked up over the years.

Saturday:  Blossom the Beagle has joined our family.  Bess brought her bed, food and leash with her as well as biscuits.  Blossom has been quite happy over all and she and Maddie have played a good bit.  She's done well today with Bess gone.  I've got my fingers crossed that the transition to country dog is so fascinating she doesn't have a period of adjustment.

Despite it being Sabbath I ran a full load of dishes.

John washed a full load of clothes and hung them out to dry.

Josh wet through his clothes last night.  We took the pack and play outdoors to dry in the sunlight.  I'll spray with Lysol too, but the sunshine should really help with any aroma.

Our meals consisted of leftovers.  Leftover bagels I found in the freezer.  Leftover chicken and dumplings for dinner.  A mix of leftovers for supper.  The only item made fresh today was popcorn for a snack.

Packed the non-perishables in John's lunchbag to save time in the morning.

Visited my Target shopping cart...I put several items in it a couple of weeks ago planning to place an order but decided to wait.  I found that I didn't really want the items after all and I emptied the cart.

It got a little warm  but we left the AC off until mid-afternoon.

State of the Union: In Answer to Kathy

Proverbs 27:23-27  23Be sure you know how your sheep are doing, and pay attention to the condition of your cattle.  24Riches do not go on forever, nor do governments go on forever. 25Bring in the hay, and let the new grass appear.  Gather the grass from the hills.  26Make clothes from the lamb's wool, and sell some goats to buy a field.  27 There will be plenty of goat's milk to feed you and your family and to make your servant girls healthy.

I have mentioned the desire to deepen my pantry, to stock up on things we might find ourselves needing in the future.  Someone asked if I 'foresee' something in the future since this seems to be a common theme on many blogs at present.

So some of my thinking is just about being prepared.  You'll note the Proverb at the head of this post is really about just that.  It doesn't mention a great war coming nor a disaster about to occur, but it does mention changes.   The verses do seem to  say to know the state of your assets and to use what you have to provide for your household needs with an eye towards the future as well as the present.

I don't think we can any of us be totally prepared for all the things that might happen...and unless we've heard a specific word from God (think of the Pharaoh's dream of the 7 fat cows and the 7 skinny cows), it's unlikely we will know just what we're preparing for.  I don't want to go about my life living in fear but I do want to have something to carry us along if the unforeseeable thing happens.

Our pantry/freezer were a bonus to us at the end of Spring/early Summer this year when I was too ill to shop for groceries.  It would have stood us in as good stead if for some reason John was out of work.  I've said before that in my mind, a full pantry and a filled freezer are like having an additional emergency savings account, only it's assets in nutrient rich foods.  If necessary  we could probably manage a good month and a hard month on what we have in the house.  I say a hard month because we're low on fruits and green vegetables and flours at the moment. I don't have quite enough powdered milk on hand to see us through a full month if I couldn't for some reason go buy even milk. Those 'holes' I've mentioned in my pantry are such as that.

Here's where I am at present:   I foresee challenging times ahead for my own personal economies at present and I suppose that is partially why I feel the urgency to stock up while I can.

This Week In My Home: A Well Seasoned Saver

As I tried to determine what my theme this week would be, I worked on menus.  "Well Seasoned" seemed to be a good term to describe the hearty sorts of meals that were filling my menu...and I realized that as a homemaker and a frugalite I am well seasoned, having stood the test of time over these years, honing my skills year in and year out  whatever season of year or life I found myself.

I was contemplating this as I worked on the menus and then Samuel called to chat.  I put aside my work and went to the chair in the kitchen sitting area and listened to him talk of the work he'd done in his yard this week, his hopes for the future provision of his family and his dreams.  Then
he started telling me of a class he'd had to attend for work.  "We were asked to tell the defining moment of our lives, when we realized who we were for the first time," he began.  He told me of the stories others had to share as he waited his turn.  " I told the class that my defining moment was when I went into the Navy and a group of us went out to eat at Olive Garden."  He said his whole group looked at him with complete puzzlement. He went on to explain," 'There were seven of us having dinner and I thought Olive Garden was the nicest restaurant I'd ever been in. I recalled that my family had only really eaten out in restaurants twice in all our years growing up and suddenly I understood why.  It was a defining life moment for me because I realized then that we'd been poor.  I never knew it because Mama and Dad were always so good at providing for us,'   But honestly, Mama, I never knew we were poor until that moment in the restaurant."

I put my phone down and cried, ladies.  I recall those years of feeling sick to my stomach that I had only $40 to spend on groceries for 7 people and part of that had to be allocated to diapers for Danny and Katie (she was in nursery, Danny attended Special Education school) each week.  I recall standing at the meat counter wondering how much meat I could buy and how well I could provide for the childrens' diets with what was left after putting those diapers in the buggy.  Oh how it hurt me!

But there were blessings, too.  My brother provided us with deer meat for a season or two.  He liked hunting but didn't like eating the meat.  He'd have the deer processed and bring it to us and fill the freezer.  Mama would show up now and then with a big brown grocery bag of fresh fruit.  I stocked up on items on sale even if it meant buying just one extra item a pay period and Mama and Granny would sometimes bring us staples that were  purchased on sale at their markets. I employed every single frugal method I knew to make things stretch, to insure that we put healthy foods on the table, albeit stretched to the limit with pasta, rice or potatoes.

This Week In My Home: Well Seasoned

When it comes to meals seasoning is everything, agreed?  We can eat very bland meals or we can spice (and herb) things up until they take on a new personality.  The trick with seasoning is balance and knowing what compliments what.  Certain flavors just go together naturally.  Others are surprises to the palate but work very well.  For instance, did you know that allspice adds a nice little something extra to a pot roast or stew or even cubed steak?  It has a knack for enriching the beefy flavor somehow and making it richer.  That is especially lovely in the autumn.

Now many people love the taste of pumpkin or at least, per Pinterest they do.  I'm not a huge pumpkin fan but I must say here and now that the Pumpkin, Bean and Chicken Enchiladas I made last week pretty much wowed me.  They will definitely be on  my future autumn (and possibly winter)  menu lists.  Today I found a recipe for a roast chicken that has nice rich autumn flavorings and combines with onions, sweet potatoes and cauliflower which sounds very good to me.  

Let's start planning.

What you need to know about this week:  John works two days.  Those two days I don't plan my own meals as typically I have leftovers.  This week our Saturday meals have all been leftovers as well, but I'll throw in a bonus menu for you all to consider.

Saturday:  Bagels and cereal for John and Bess, peanut butter toast for me, an assortment of things to tempt the baby.



Now on to planning the rest of the week.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Roast Autumn Vegetables, Hearty Green Salad, One Hour Bread
Even though I don't have a whole chicken in the house, I can use the same spice rub, change up the roasting times and make this dish for us.  I have all other needed ingredients on hand.  I'll be decreasing the recipe a bit anyway, since it's just John and I.

I Wonder As I Wander

Autumn finally arrived here in a day of cool breezes, the bluest of skies and a flutter of leaves sailing through the air and falling to the ground.

My friend Susan came to spend the day with me Sunday, our first really cold morning.  I had on long sleeves and had put on socks, my concession to the cold.  She wore a thick hoodie.  At one point we stood at the kitchen window and I said "Oh look at the leaves!"  The Faith Tree had just let go of a spate of leaves, all of which sailed past the window.  "I just love fall!" Susan exclaimed next to me and sighed happily.

It was a nice reminder.  I've said in the last few years I feel a certain sadness when autumn days began to arrive.  Saturday I'd said to John that I felt a little reluctant to feel the cold...But somehow Susan's happiness was contagious.  She went to the living room and unpacked the projects she'd brought to work on.  I stayed at the window for another minute or two and admired the beauty of the day and the graceful flow of leaves on the breeze and embraced the season to come.

I've made it a point to stop each day at the window and admire the views.  They are fleeting in length. The turkey foot oak has gone copper and is lovely.  The Sweet Gums remain steadfastly green with a few yellow brown stars here and there.  But the leaves still flutter with each passing breeze.  It's worth a few minutes time to watch the season dwindle down.


I've been having a bit of trouble writing of late.  I'd come here to write and look at the blank page and eventually close it and go away.  I decided this past week I needed to employ my journal once more. I have, for the past few months, either journaling daily or writing nothing for weeks on end.  I've noticed that when I use my journal I seem to have no trouble writing or finding inspiration.  It's not that I do anything special on those days except emptying my mind of the clutter of thoughts.  To do lists and thoughts about what happened the day before or the dream I had during the night are all I ever write about in my journal,  but it's beginning to work.


There are times I simply long for places in my past.  Here of late it's the old church where I grew up.

I long to go sit in the old handmade pews and look out of the wavy glass in the windows at the field next door (or the graveyard on the opposite side which is usually where I sat).   I loved the hand made benches, the old kerosene stove, the plain white planked walls, the raised pulpit that was two steps above the rest of the floor.  I want to hear the old fashioned hymns and listen to an old fashioned preacher.

But most of all I want to see the old sweet faces of the dear old widow women I grew up knowing. Beautiful white haired ladies with ear bobs on the huge lobes of their ears and a pearl choker necklace about their necks.

I think about those ladies often.  Miss Callie with her lovely curling hair and that soft sweet face and her cat eye glasses.  I see her daughter Louise now and then in town and it's like seeing a ghost she is so similar to her mother.  Mrs. Waters who lived in a story book cottage behind her daughter's home. Aunt Ruth with her tight little top knot of hair on top of her head, adding height to her small stature. Oh how I miss those ladies!

Each of them meant something unique to me and each of them were as familiar to me as any childhood memory.  They are all long gone, as are the handmade pews and the little girl who loved it all.


This Week In My Home: Practicing Thrift

I recently rejuvenated this broken pot.  It's now a unique vessel for my favorite little flower bed.  

We've tried to glue this pot back together before and it didn't hold up.  I suggested we use tape as well as the glue.  As long as the pot is sitting upright it stays together.  I really wanted it lie on it's side but this is the way it works.  I filled it with kale and a tiny seedling coleus that came up in front of the back steps.  

Saturday:  One of my favorite rituals on a Saturday morning is to take the pot of coffee, my pretty little cup and saucer from Katie last Christmas, a pretty creamer and put it all on a little tray.  Then I drink cup after cup of hot coffee.  In reality I am drinking no more coffee than I do on any week day but it feels like more because the cup doesn't hold as much as a mug.  With all the frou frou, it feels very indulgent and I like that feeling of plenty and extravagance for absolutely no cost to me at all.

Last night I toasted cheese sandwiches in a big skillet on the stove.  I didn't use oil or butter, simply let the heat of the pan toast the bread and melt the cheese.  I left the pan covered on the stove overnight and used it this morning with a bit of olive oil to sear my roast.  Then I decided to just go ahead and use the covered pan to simmer the pot roast I was planning to prepare.  I couldn't think of any good reason to mess up the crock pot, too.  I think I got a lot of mileage from that one pan and I had no fear of contamination since it was only used to toast bread.

I made a simple Apple Crisp for dessert. No sweetener or thickening agent in with the apples and a homemade streusel topping using oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter as the topping. Golly but it taste good and rich.  I often will use brown sugar in place of white sugar as I make these desserts.  I find I can use far less and it tastes as sweet as if it were made with a full measure of sugar.

It's a cooler day than we've been having.  In honesty we are getting very near that "It's cold let's turn on the heater," conversation we have each October.  At which point, John always replies, "It's not even November yet!" lol.  It is an issue of economy because in reality the temperature indoors is just a few degrees less than when we run the Air Conditioner.  He's quite right we should hold off and wait.  At present the coolness is nothing that an extra layer or two, and perhaps socks on our feet, won't cure.

The coleus I pinched from a pot full of bronze colored plants at the meat market has started to root. I'll be potting them in soil this week.

As I made the bed yesterday, I noted that the fitted sheet is getting threadbare on both sets we presently rotate on our bed.  These are prints and I've determined the better economy is to purchase solid color sheets which I might easily pair with same color fitted sheets and pillowcases as they wear out.  And then I thought about all the preppers who are setting up food stores and recalled watching the BBC WWII series about rationing.  What if we were rationed where dry goods are concerned? Could we get sheets and blankets and pillows?  Would we not be wise to have a spare set or two for each bed in our homes?  In my early married years I had 14 sets of sheets given to me and thought they'd last forever.  You know they didn't.  They lasted a good ten or twelve years but they didn't by any means last forever.  I think I shall not only purchase fitted ivory sheets and new ivory pillowcases to go with the ivory flat sheets I have at present but I'll get a spare set or two to keep for future needs. I can keep my eye out at thrift and discount retail stores where quality goods aren't too expensive.  I will also reaccess my need of blankets and such.

This Week In My Home: Practice, Practice, Practice

Saturday as I prepared our meal I thought out my choices very carefully, not for dietary reasons alone, but for economy and overall appeal.  It was cool and breezy outdoors and cool indoors.   I wanted a hearty warming meal that was inexpensive but delicious.  It meant planning both that meal and the leftover meal that would result from making the planned meal.  The meal itself was moved from last week when we had no need of this menu.

I've been thinking hard this week.   I spent more than I meant to spend on groceries and I did not fill any gaps in my pantry at all.  I'm not in the least happy about that.  As well, John and I were talking over various things we want to do and we must plan for spending even small amounts these days.  I've decided that instead of planning to buy more groceries this next pay period, other than fresh dairy and produce, I'll plan to spend what I have (without spending ahead) on pantry supplies and fill in some of those gaps.  I won't by any meals fill them all, but I should make good headway if I spend carefully and thoughtfully.  So it shall be a sort of amended Pantry/Freezer Challenge, in that we'll eat from the freezer and work on filling up the pantry.

This Week In My Home: Practice Makes Perfect

I'm expanding the "This Week In My Home" post and adding in one that deals with the same theme. This week's theme is "Practice Makes Perfect" and the inspiration for this post is gravy.  Just plain old gravy.

I've shared before that in my Southern family each woman is known for a signature cake, or meal, and that is something they work to perfect and then present flawlessly every single time.  In my family Granny made the most beautiful little biscuits.  Mama's biscuits were cracked rough looking things and my first efforts were the worst of the family.  I soon discovered a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook which I use to this day.  From my first batch, these biscuits were good, but I had to make them several times before I could honestly say they were perfect.  I could make them almost blindfolded at one point and Samuel learned to make them by watching me.  Now his biscuits easily rival my own as they tend to be super tender and light.

I perfected biscuits and then my dad challenged me to make gravy because the two went together in his opinion.  Here was an area where I had to work hard!  There is no real recipe for gravy and how you make it depends really upon your skill.  Roux didn't work too well for me, although I found it quite helpful when making a white sauce (which to my huge disappointment I discovered to be nothing more than a sort of milk gravy).  But gravy, thin and liquid yet with a certain weightiness to it that made it gravy and not broth, was a lot harder to figure out.

This Week In My Home: Fair Savings

Know what this is?  $8 worth of smiles that will last me months, from now until deep Spring.  

Saturday:  Rain woke me extra early this morning.  I turned on the light, took up my book and read in bed.  Gracious but that felt luxurious. And it cost me nothing but one hour of missed sleep.  No complaints over the rain.  It was a nice watering for my freshly planted things.

Made Apple Gingerbread waffles from Pancake mix, spices and one last wrinkly apple that was about three weeks old.  Boy were these good!

I put water in the pan I cooked sausage in and scraped it down good.  This went over Maddie and Misu's foods.  

I wanted a baked potato.  I'm allowed waxy potatoes but not Russets which have a higher starch content.   I decided to bake the Yukon gold potatoes I had.  I chose one about the size of what I'm allowed to have.  I wanted to dress up my potato so I sliced it, sliced onions thin, cut slices into the potatoes but not all the way through, and fit the thin onion pieces between the slices.  1 teaspoon of butter on each potato and salt and pepper.  I wrapped in  aluminum foil and baked.  

The Week Ahead: Blooming Season

The roses began blooming yesterday.  It was a surprise to me because the previous two nights and mornings had been quite cool.  But as B...