Early Evening Coffee Chat: March Showers

Come in, dears, come in.  March is nearly away from us and I wanted one last visit with you this month.  It's nice enough outdoors I suppose but the pollen is rather heavy at the moment so we'll take our coffee in the kitchen sitting area and admire the views from the windows, all right? We are due thunderstorms this evening, but thus far we've only cloudy skies.

There are few flowers to see but the world is certainly green and blue these days...or green and gray as the day may be at the time.  We've had plenty of showers of late.  Not great puddle makers, just showers, but sometimes they've lasted very nearly all the day.  In Georgia, March seldom roars, but it certainly does sprinkle us liberally, a baptism into a new season.

I've been busy...did you notice?  I've had the fun of working hard on my home, both cleaning and what I call playing, which is the part where I decorate and refresh and such.  I tend to over do but gracious, a  good day's work does usually make for a really good night's rest I've noticed so it sorts itself out.  I'll confess we had a few worrisome days as well and housework is always good for what worries me.  It takes my mind off things...or if it's repetitive work it sometimes allows me to mull over the troubles and get some insight and clarity.

Spring Fresh: Freshening Up the Kitchen

Fair Warning:  This is a picture heavy post!

I've been longing to do something fresh and new to my kitchen for the longest time.   I'd had the same drapes, cafe curtains and rugs in the kitchen for 8 years and I was so thoroughly tired of them that I knew I had to make the kitchen my priority this year. I had a budget of $150 and some of that went into the living room ($20) and the master bath ($15).

After spending months looking, I finally found flat sheets at Walmart that I felt were perfect for curtains for the kitchen and these rugs (Better Homes and Gardens line for Walmart).  I really hadn't planned to introduce browns into the room but it actually pulls out colors already in the wall covering.  Just as I'd been looking at and contemplating fabric for months, I also had been looking for new rugs.  I liked these best of any I'd seen.  Sheets enough to make curtains, the two rugs, new dish towels and a couple of new items to organize the cabinet space, cost about $120.  That's not exact but it is definitely within $10-$20 of the amount.

This Week In My Home: Spring Has Sprung

That's me...not sure if she's daydreaming, tired from Spring Cleaning, contemplating yet another house project, thinking of yard work that should be done, or the week ahead, but yeah...that's me.

We're just done with a hectic paced Shabat in which we both slept incredibly well Friday night and then rose early Saturday morning to drive to Athens to spend a whirl wind time with children and return home again just in time for going to bed and starting all over again.  We made it to church this morning, and I'm glad I went, but as I told John a little later, I'm done.  Today is going to have to be recovery day.

There was no meal at home yesterday save breakfast.  I made breakfast this morning and John picked up chicken in the grocery when he went in to buy bread.  And that's what we ate for 'dinner'.  Chicken and bread.  Supper is not looking too hopeful around here.  Tomorrow, I'll be back at it all over again, swinging away but today can be our nutritionally unbalanced, eat to live, sort of day.

This Week In My Home: Fresh Savings

Another of my copy-cat crafts.  I fashioned this basket after an MSL design...It cost me $3 for                             the Spanish Moss I used as my filler.  Everything else was on hand.

Saturday:  I made pizza from scratch.  I put homemade yeast dough in the fridge Friday, along with prepared vegetables and cheese I grated.  Today I spread dough on the pan and let it rise a bit then topped and baked.

Dug about in the fridge and found some green olives I'd bought that had pits in them.  I sliced the olives away from the pit.  I put the pits aside and when I was done I sat down and ate the remaining flesh off the pits.  I think I prefer the flavor of green olives with pits in them.

Went through the magazines Mama gave me last week and pulled the pages that interested me.

Retirement Remedy: Getting Savings Straight

In a conversation with a younger married person this week I heard an all too familiar story:  Credit cards were all paid off with the tax refund and now the slow creep has begun.  "It's not that we're using the cards to eat out or travel, it's the emergencies that come up.  The car needs new tires or the oil needs to be changed..."

uhm hmmm...

Shall we get it straight once and for all?

I'm going to make myself mighty unpopular and say this.  Oil changes and the need for new tires are NOT emergencies (unless you have a slashed or punctured tire right away after buying new).  They are routine maintenance issues and should be dealt with by setting aside a small monthly amount to cover the costs at time of service. This is not savings per se, it is planning ahead.

In My Home This Week: Inspired to be Frugal

 I make a large portion of the foods we eat from scratch...and most I had to learn how to make.  I didn't know how to make cinnamon rolls or yeast raised breads as a young married woman.  I made plenty of mistakes until I learned.  Now it's all old tricks and I'm looking for new ones to learn.

Saturday:  We had the propane heater on this morning to chase the chill of the frost morning away.

I made chili for our main meal.  The recipe on the seasoning packet (a favorite of John's that I buy occasionally) calls for 1 pound of meat and 1 can each of tomatoes and beans.  I double the beans and tomatoes and serve the chili over rice. It's a bit spicy and I can't imagine how much heat it would impart if we made it as the recipe reads.

I cut slices of Challah and made cheese toast to go with the chili.

I put a little more than a standard quart of chili in the fridge for a 'Leftover Makeover' dish later this week of Tamale Pie.

Washed a full load of dishes this evening.

Spring Fresh

Well winter is over...At least in my neck of the woods it's most likely over.  We've already seen days with temperatures at 90F, though nights and early mornings can be cool and yesterday was miserably damp and chilly.  Nevertheless a new season is here.    

I don't know about you but I needed to see the change of season indoors.  I wanted something fresh.  I had a budget of $20 to do all I wanted to do.  Yeah.  It didn't go far, lol. I spent it all in one place and it made exactly one spot look nice for about a week.  

Well...now my budget was $0 and I'm shocked to tell you that I made it go a long way towards making things look different.

Here's what I did:

This Week In My Home: Fresh Wind

Janell was rather amused by this old gal...she does look a bit manic doesn't she?  I love the colors in this old vintage ad and I admit her 'crazy eyes' as John would call, them amused me, too.

We've had the usual assortment of weather for spring.  Mornings and nights can be a bit chilly and afternoons can be downright hot.  While a hot breakfast is most welcome, something less heavy and hot is wanted for the later meals.

I've been busy as can be the past few days.  Determined to have a 'new' look in my home, freshen things up.  I am operating with a $0 budget for the most of it, having spent my small bit of money on stuff for the kitchen makeover.  All that thinking hard and working hard makes me hungry and tired and more than ready for a few quick and easy meals, too.  Shame I didn't get around to making any!

This Week In My Home: Frugal from Sunup to Sundown

I am the sort who, when I see something pricey I like, am willing to try to create the same thing at home.  I'll never win a prize for 'best copy cat' but I sure do like to see what I have on hand translate into something that is at least reasonably near what I wanted.  This tabletop was pretty beat up but the map decoupaged on it, covered that right up and totally transformed my sad table into a better piece.  

Saturday:  Easy breezy day at home.  We were quite lazy about the day today and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of it.  John spent the morning doing research on our options for 'Life Without Satellite TV'.  We watch three or four channels very consistently and sort of tune in to five or six more once a week or so and then flip through the rest.  I was happy to hear that one we watch often is available for live streaming online.

I planned meals for the coming week.  Then we ate the leftovers meant to incorporate into two main entrees.  Oh well.  Plan B works too.

Made John's work lunch for tomorrow.

This Week In My Home: Planning With an 'Up In The Air' Mindset

There are times in our lives where all our days seem the same...and then we suddenly find ourselves with a possibility of a change.  Such a thing has happened in my life.  I may have a temporary change or a permanent one.  Or nothing at all might happen and everything go on as usual.  Things are all up in the air.  And until then I must plan ahead, planning twice really, for the normal usual stuff and for the unexpected 'might be' stuff all at the same time.

To that end I'll be trying to put a few extra easy meals in the freezer for the unexpected while at the same time attempting to begin the long process of going through pantry/freezer to clear out yeast and the cleaning that comes right behind that.  I also need to scrap my plans to finish spring cleaning my bedroom which, like the living room, was so nearly finished when I was sidelined last month.  I'll be switching into the guest room to sort out that room right away preparing for a temporary stay of guests.  And if this becomes a permanent thing,  I'll need to have the shed clear because a massive lot of stuff (two rooms worth) will have to go in there.

Questions, Answers and Comments, Oh My!

Do you suppose that whoever figured out the calendar as we know it decided February should be short because people would be so thoroughly sick of winter?  Personally I'd like to see August about 4 days shorter due to the heat but that's just me...

I feel I did very little blogging last month but you dears sure did me the favor of commenting a lot and I do appreciate it.  It was fun to read and uplifting too on those dreary days of feeling unwell. Thank you all for that!  Now let me get started and see what I need to reply to or comment upon.

Jobs and Meal Plans Week 1  I mentioned pansies in this post and quite a few of you told me of how strange it sounded to you.  Isn't it strange that we all live in this same country and have such different weather zones?  Truth told, I think it sounds so strange to hear of flowers here when you've snow there because there is a sense of being in the same neighborhood amongst us all, when in fact, it's only a neighborhood of the mind...sort of an June Cleaver neighborhood I think.

This Week In My Home: Pressing On

I did very well last week sticking to my menu plan.  I only deviated slightly and so the week balanced the previous week rather well and hopefully I am now back in frugal mode.  It feels rather nice.

I figure warmer weather for us is just around the corner.  I base that on temperatures last week which warranted running air conditioning two afternoons.  That will mean switching over to spring/summer menus and away from the cooler weather ones I've been enjoying.  I thought I'd try to squeeze in as many of the favorites as I can while the weather warrants it.  Like Chili simmering on the stove as I type...

Chili, Rice, Cheese Toast, Applesauce, Grahams
I found one of John's favorite seasonings in the local store.  It's a packet of chili seasoning his mom used in his childhood years and that made me think of chili obviously.  So here we are.  I always double the beans and tomatoes and add a bit of onion.  The packet is a bit hot for my taste so I used my old standby rice to tone it down a bit.  I used Challah bread from Shabat last night for cheese toast. Plenty of rice and chili leftover.

This Week In My Home: Frugal Saves the Day!

                         Spray paint transforms thrift store finds into pretties for my home.

Saturday:  This is almost always a slow day in our home.  I look forward to it all week long.  Today's dinner main dish was cooked yesterday.  I prepared Turkey and dressing in the crock pot yesterday and reheated today.

I used a box of stuffing mix that was on my pantry shelf.  I added some leftover cornbread to the mixture along with some homemade chicken broth.

I missed up a squash casserole using cooked squash from the freezer and baked in the oven.  Rather than use the stove top, I put broccoli in a covered dish to steam alongside the squash dish.

I cooked all of the broccoli though it was too much to eat at one sitting.  I was worried that it might spoil if I didn't go ahead and use.  I put the cooked broccoli (and stems) into the freezer.

This Week In My Home: Saving Time and Money

I bought this bag of light bulbs at an estate sale about three (four?) years ago.  I'm still using bulbs from this bag...Cost to me then? $4.

Saturday:  I was up early this morning and had opportunity to see the sunrise.  Not thrifty perhaps and has nothing at all to do with saving time, but it was a lovely sunrise and I noted that the sun has done a seasonal shift.  I expect we'll find the days a little more pleasant.

I put beans on to soak last night and this morning rinsed them and put them on to cook.  I used a bean soup mix and added in sausage, onion, garlic, chili powder and tomatoes after they were tender and then let them simmer another two or three hours.  It was cool and damp today, a perfect day for soup. I put up two quarts of the soup for the freezer.

The cake I made yesterday got frosted with a lightly lemon flavored butter cream.  John is not fond of sharp lemon tastes.

When I'd emptied the bean pot, I filled it with hot soapy water and rinsed/hand washed dishes in that pot.

I prepped vegetables for tomorrow's dinner.

Coffee Chat: Peepers and Blooms

Hello, hello...Come in!  I'd meant to make cookies but bananas ripened and so I decided that called for Banana Pound cake.  I love to make this in 2 loaf pans and freeze one for future use. The tube pan is big and hefty and must cook far longer than the 2 loaf pan.  It took 76 minutes to bake these this week, a bit longer than usual perhaps due to the humidity. There's coffee which will be most appreciated now we're back cool again.  It was so pleasant the first part of this week that we had the windows open.  It was so nice to sit here in the evening hours and listen to the peepers outdoors that we turned off the TV and let them serenade us.  How peaceful it was!

I noted on our way to church Sunday morning that at last our maples are starting to bloom here.  This is a full month later than the maples we saw in the coastal area at the first of February which were fully in bloom.  As well, the river willows have a healthy yellow tint to their uppermost stems...Soon they will be covered in a soft tender green.  Like the red of the peach trees branches, the yellowing of the stems indicates sap rising.   I found several early bloomers in wild plums, wild pear and Japanese magnolia on the way back home that day.  But just to show us who is boss and who is not, it has turned off cool once more.

In My Home This Week: All Routine