This Week In My Home: Marching Forward

Well...uhm...last week?  I made ONE meal from that menu I posted.  One.  John asked for a special meal one day, bought dinner out another.  He asked to use the baked potatoes I'd cooked ahead for hash browns, and I decided that we really should have some chicken so made Chicken Curry.  I didn't purchase a thing for any of the meals we made, used only what we had here at home. much for planning, right?  Well it gets worse.  I didn't do even one task on my job list.  Not one.  I moved the duster from the living room to the bedroom.

I'm just going to admit that February, while pleasant enough, was a bit of a bust where work and plans were concerned.  However, I feel much better and I think I will be able to get back on track.
We'll start in the kitchen.

Retirement Remedy: Friend or Foe?

Looking back over my adult life I can see milestone moments in my life with money.  I am not just referring to financial landmarks.  I mean my life with money.

I grew up in a home where two subjects were avoided like the plague: sex and money.  Everything else was up for discussion but the moment either of those words came up, mouths shut tight and glares ensued.  ""  I recall that statement being said just like that in my tender years.   And we didn't discuss it at all.

We didn't discuss it when Mama and Daddy went bankrupt and lost the house and car and Daddy lost his job.  We didn't discuss it through months of unemployment.  We didn't discuss it when we moved into a house that had cracks wide enough to put our hand through in the single layer of board walls and no indoor plumbing, not even running water.  We didn't discuss it when Daddy worked three jobs.  We didn't discuss it when electricity or gas were lacking.  We didn't discuss it when the house went up for sale for non-payment of taxes.  We didn't discuss it when creditors called repeatedly.  We didn't discuss it when I asked my parents to fill out financial paperwork to see if I qualified for college scholarships.  I'll never know.  They refused with "No. We don't tell others what we make."  We didn't discuss money when the car insurance had been cancelled...and three months later the new car was totaled.  Completely taboo.  Swept under the rug and ignored, just like Daddy's alcoholism.

Coffee Chat: And It Most Surely Isn't Spring!

Hello dears...Do come in and yes, we are a bit more formal this time around.  I think this is such a pretty image and much happier than what many might see at the moment.  The winter weather continues, even here in the deep South.   We're due more rain but have had sunshine chasing clouds several days. Today we are back to dull brown and gray clouds.  What do you think of the 'outside', the new fresh spring look for the blog with a bit of greenery and daffodils?  I suppose some might leave their pages pretty much the same but I love changing the look up just as I do in my home.  Do the same for my facebook page, too.  It's like a new wreath for the doors to put up a fresh photo and alter the backgrounds a bit.

I would love to tell you that all my being quiet that week of the illness allowed me contemplation of world matters and great moments of insight resulted from all that silence, but no.  I was too tired and weary of fighting off that rotten cold to do any deep thinking.  I slept.  A lot.  And I rested and I rested and I slept.  I have learned to give my body what it asks for.  Years ago, I suffered from severe and repeated bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.  I truly believe that the push to keep going was what kept my body ailing.  Well, that and depression which is an auto-immune suppressor...did you know that?  I've many and many blessings to be grateful for, not the least of which is the freedom from depression.

This Week In My Home: Making My Lists

I really felt, when I started this post, that I'd missed every single thing on menu and job lists.  Yet, I found, when I reviewed last week's post that I had done far better than I supposed.  I am feeling completely recovered and more than ready to tackle things.  Good thing.  February is shortly to be over.  I'd hoped to accomplish more.  I am already working on my March list of tasks to accomplish.  I'll have to hustle a bit to make it through the living/dining areas between now and March 1.

I've had loads of ideas for meals.  I think it's all the cold weather we've been having and the knowledge that it is on it's way out.  Soon I'll be looking for warm weather meals and there are so many of my favorite slow cooking meals to enjoy first.  If some of these look like repeats they aren't. They are meals I never got round to making.

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Mashed Potatoes, Corn Muffins
John requested this meal to day while we were at church.  I promised him I'd make it for him this week.

Shabat Thoughts: Poor Souls

I've had quite a struggle over someone for the past few months and finally I had reached the point where I had no words for prayer.  I could only say "Lord, you know what 'X' needs..."  I felt so helpless to help them and I kept asking God to show me what to pray.  He remained silent on the subject and so I've kept on with the old prayer, "Lord, you know what 'X' needs..."

As time has gone on I've become very aware that the relationship between myself and this person is not growing, had not grown in years.  I realized that I had reached my personal limit for dealing with them but I am stubborn in my prayer life.  Because I can make no headway, I believe God can make headway, that my failure can be his success story.  "I don't like 'X', Abba, but still I want to see You work in that life."   That was my confession last night.  As though God needed me to say that I didn't like this person, that all my efforts to find common ground had failed.  He knew that, of course, but I had to 'own' my dislike and stop pretending that I didn't feel as I did.  Perhaps I'd been hypocritical in not acknowledging that I lacked depth of feeling.  I don't know.

In My Home This Week: Looking To My Saving Ways

You might well wonder what daffodils have to do with being frugal.  I bought the bulbs in a big bag last fall and took the time to actually plant them in the ground.  The bag cost about $10.  This is just one little clump I planted.  There are bulbs planted in pots and other spots in the yard.  The sheer pleasure I get looking out the window these past few days reminds me that sometimes what we get for $10 is all out of proportion to what we pay.  I've promised myself that this coming fall I'm buying TWO bags.  Joy doubled.

Sunday:  I took a bit of leftover hamburger meat, substituted some hash browns for the usual mashed potatoes and made a favorite shepherd's pie recipe.  Yum.  Good use of items on hand and tasty.

My appetite has been very much all or nothing.  I'm either starved or could care less. I'm letting it take the lead and eating only when I'm truly hungry and not when I'm not.  I've about figured out that the fever is the thing that doesn't care to eat and the cold is hungry.

I ate the last of the pineapple slices I'd saved from the can opened earlier in the week.  We're out of fresh fruit at the moment but the extra Vitamin C in pineapple is most appreciated.

I felt better today but took care not to overdo.  I stripped both beds.  I was so ready to get all the sheets washed!  I put them in the dryer, too, unusual for me but I felt the heated dry would help sanitize them.  I also washed our spread and hung it on the line.  When John called he suggested I open windows and air the house out but it was honestly too cold to do that.

Retirement Remedies: CAN We Do It?

Growing up, my mom had an awesome array of foods in our home.  She gardened and canned and preserved.  She bought foods on sale.  She stocked up a big deep chest freezer.  With a family of five hearty eaters to feed she knew the food end of her household very well.  There were many things we seldom needed to buy but somehow Mama always had a buggy full of food each grocery day.  It used to puzzle me no end.  Then I had a family and understood all too well.

Over the years I've only had a garden a few times and harvested little from them.  I did do some foraging and happily put up any fresh foodstuffs given us as well, but despite living in a rural area for all my adult years, I've never really had the luxury of putting up food that I'd personally grown, at least not in a quantity to feed our family.  However, I did quickly learn that the concept of a pantry is just as easily translated into canned and dry goods from the grocer.

This Week In My Home: Looking Well to the Ways of This Household

Hello there...I have quite the challenge before me this week.  I haven't properly shopped for groceries in two pay periods.  It wasn't meant to be a pantry challenge month but it turned into one.  I had that big unplanned family gathering one weekend that I knew recquired extra cash so I saved a good portion of that pay period's grocery funds.  Then we went off to visit another portion of our family last week during the time I'd have shopped for groceries.  I figured I'd take time out this past week to run to the grocery but hadn't counted on being sidelined...or spending the last of my funds on cold meds either.

So as of right now the items that top my list are GONE: onions, potatoes, celery, cabbage, fruits, catsup.  I can't name the last time I ran out of catsup!  Paper towel (not a great tragedy as we seldom use these.  The roll we just finished up had been in the paper holder for nearly two months).  Q-tips, all sizes of storage bags, applesauce, white rice, dried minced onion... Oh the list is long and it's short pay period coming this week, so I'll have to trim it down.  I'd thought to ask John for extra money which we'd have to take from our savings but in the end I decided no.  I purchased the mandatory 'affordable' healthcare that I couldn't afford and need to figure out where that monthly amount is coming from.  I don't need to 'borrow' to buy extra groceries.  I will likely end up cutting down on groceries yet again in order to help thing along.  And here I'd thought I was doing so good to finally crunch it down to $350 a month, (which includes our good meat purchases).  No need like 'must' is there, to make you work a bit harder and pinch a bit tighter?

This Week In My Home: Frugal All the Time

Not my pantry but certainly mine is based on the same principle.  I just use what's available at the grocery store to stock my pantry and a few things put up from local farm stands.  Pantries are good strongholds for the frugal minded.

Saturday:  Our breakfast was made up of frozen leftover pancakes and French toast.  There was just enough of each for breakfast for one.  They thawed in the oven while I cooked sausage on the stove top.

We have apples that John just isn't eating.  I gathered up the halves in the fridge and piled them in to roast alongside potatoes, onions, garlic, and chicken for today's meal.

John had on the propane heat when I got up.  I left it on until later in the morning, when the house was up to our usual temperature, then I turned it off and made sure the heat pump was set to come on to keep the temperatures regulated.

I cut the stems of the flowers I bought 8 days ago, and gave them fresh water and preservative. For an $8 bouquet those flowers have lasted nicely.  It helps a lot that they are not in direct sunlight and the house is fairly cool, key to keeping cut flowers fresh and long lasting.

A great reminder from Sarah came in the comments of last week's frugal post and that is that I can buy sheet separates rather than sets.  Since it appears to be the fitted sheets that are the worse for wear I think I will buy two fitted sheets per flat and rotate those.

Sunday:  John off to work today.  I packed his lunch, and made him breakfast.

I don't always need to wash laundry.  Sometimes just hanging them out is enough to refresh them. Like bath towels.  They benefit from being hung outdoors to dry outdoors and seem to stay fresher longer so we can wash them a little less often.

Saved yesterday's pan drippings to pour over dog and cat food today.  It's an added treat for them.

As the sun came up today, I opened curtains and blinds and turned off the electric lights.  The house is bright enough to read easily without lights.

It mightn't sound like a frugal thing but I find it is true: the tidier my home the more satisfied I am with it overall.  It took me just a half hour of setting things right this morning and my satisfaction with my home grew and grew as I looked around afterward.

Coffee Chat: And It Isn't Even Spring...

Hello there!  Come on in. There's candy hidden in the Saltines can...An older mama's hiding habits die hard, lol.  I paid a whole $.50 a bag for that candy.  Love chocolate that is low priced, especially these days when the cost of chocolate will make you feel you really ought to give it up.

Perhaps it's all thinking of Valentine's day with chocolate...I broke down last week and bought flowers: roses and a mixed bunch of astromeria, chrysanthemums and Stargazer lily, all in soft pink and white and green.  It seemed to be an appropriate bunch of flowers for winter to me.  Sounds like an early Valentine's day doesn't it?   When I came home I found two daffodil had bloomed in the bed around the Ginkgo tree, shyly hanging their blossoms close to their stems.  It's a little early, really, for daffodil but they get more sun there than the rest of the bulbs get.  There are fat bulbs in a few other spots that I look forward to seeing bloom.  I'm so happy I made myself get out and plant those this past fall!  Gracious I really need to remember it's little enough labor for a whole lot of happy when I see daffodils bloom (or pansies or roses or morning glory, sigh).

This Week In My Home: Planning the Week

We had a lovely week behind us.  Who doesn't love family and travel and birthdays and such?  This girl here sure loves them all and enjoys them very well.  Our birthday was celebrated twice with cake that I didn't have to make.  John's partner's wife made one for him and Lori bought one for us when we visited our grands.   John bought me roses on our way home.  I made his favorite meal of chili mac when we got in from the trip.  I put chili to thaw in the fridge when we left home so it was easily prepared chili mac.

Yes, it was a lovely week but there's a week ahead to be productive in and to enjoy.  So here's to the second week of February!  Let's begin.

This Week In My Home: Frugal All Week Through

                                         Orchids filled with buds for the third year in a row.  My secrets for reblooming: I put them outdoors in a shaded area in summer, but where they get some morning sun.  I feed them with eggshells now and then and a little water from boiling eggs or steaming vegetables about once a month.  And I water them lightly just once a week.

Saturday:  We had a house full of company today, and while it was more people than we'd started out planning on having, I pulled this off within our grocery budget for the coming pay period.  I 'spent ahead' this time because we'll be busy this coming week and unable to take a day for grocery shopping.

I had enough leftover paper plates, cups, etc from our family party back in December to use for this dinner with family.

I bought only rolls, whipped topping,  fried chicken and 2L bottles of soda for the dinner.  Everything else was from pantry or freezer.

I left enough money in the pay period's budget to cover any need we might have of bread or milk.

Questions, Answers and Comments...Oh My!

I refuse to spend the year stating how quickly the past months have gone.  As it happens, January felt plenty long enough to me and ended in a most lovely way with a sort of unplanned family day.  My niece was here with her little girls and my youngest son was here with his son.  I realized after every one was gone that as usual, I'd not taken a single photo.  My son did and what he captured was so sweet.  Want to see?

That's Bess, of the famed coconut pie, in the back ground.  She is holding the very youngest member of our family at present, another great niece, sister to the hugger in this photo.  I'm not sure Josh has ever been kissed by anyone near his own size before but he knew how to kiss back!

This Week In My Home: Meals and Job Plans

I planned meals last week and watched my menu plan disintegrate.  Planned leftovers didn't happen, foods needed stubbornly refused to thaw in time, menus shifted to another day wouldn't work with the time frame on that day and then I felt poorly.

I hope that this week we can stick more closely to the plan.  John works only one day but we'll be out two days, so it will be a short week for meal plans.  I'm pretty sure we'll eat out at least one of those two days we're out of the house.  The first menu is our family dinner we had earlier today.  Nice to have family gather...and see my youngest grandson and my great nieces.

You'll notice I'm not making supper or breakfast menus any longer.  I've figured out we pretty much eat the same things over and over and while I will plan them on paper for my sake, I'll omit them from the blog.

Diary for July: Week Two

July 7, Shabat Saturday:   So very much I want to chatter over today and perhaps I will...I don't typically write on Shabat, having al...