We Interrupt This Blog for an Emergency Broadcast Announcement...

Katie 's baby is fine and healthy and beautiful.  I, on the other hand, am very much not.  I am in hospital.  Will be back, but not sure when.

Retirement Remedies: Thoughts on Stretching My Spring/Summer Wardrobe...Final Post

At the beginning of Spring this year, I was certain I had to buy new clothes.  I had nothing to wear, a cry I believe started in the Garden of Eden when Eve first realized she was naked and fashioned fig leaves to cover herself.  My budget this year was very slim and I had decided to spend a good chunk of what I had on a gift for someone else and making over my kitchen.  No regrets...but no money left either.

So I inspected my closet and asked myself, 'What do I do?'   Obviously I rely on that old axiom, '...Make it do...'

I thought I'd share one last post.

My personal fashion history.  I have always loved clothes.  I haven't always loved the clothes I've had to wear. I was late developing my own tastes because until I was 18 and working, my mother made or bought all my clothing without any input from me whatsoever.  If she liked it, she made it, or cut it out and insisted I sew it up and wear it.  It took me a few years to determine my style, which is a little casual classic, a little bohemian romantic.  It took me a long time to learn how to put an outfit together.  I still struggle with it but have found that not waiting until the last minute is the best way to accomplish my goal of being fairly well put together on most occasions.

This Week In My Home: Up In The Air

Bored...BORED....Bored!  That's how I feel about food just now, just plain old fashioned bored.  The cause?  Who knows?  I suspect the real reason is that I love cooler weather foods and find them far easier to be creative about preparing and planning into menus.  Come warmer weather and all I can think of are salads and pastas and steaks and burgers.  Being the hot foods lover that I am, and I don't mean spicy but as in freshly cooked and served hot, the warmer months truly challenge me.  The very season when the most foods are available and at low prices, too and I can't think of a thing I want to eat?  I know...Sad, just plain sad.

Well, I'm trying to break out of my rut by preparing some new or seldom used recipes.  I tried a new to us pizza for Sabbath dinner.  It wasn't quite where it should be flavor-wise but it was good.  I'll figure out the seasonings on it and perfect it over time.  Now to see what else we might have.  And of course with a baby imminently due everything is all up in the air as I've no idea when we'll be taking off to see this grand little girl.

I'm so tired of tossing, or freezing, celery that I have been stuffing it for John and I to snack on.  Pimento cheese, pineapple cream cheese and peanut butter are all good stuffing.  It's a cool crisp snack, too.

In My Home This Week: Savings Routine

                                Keeping the freezers full, and organized, are key to savings

Saturday:  Birthday party for youngest grandson today.  I kept things within budget.  His gift cost no more than the big kids will get for their gifts, about $10.  I have a slew of birthdays coming up next month.  I'm going to try and set aside a little grocery money to help cover those costs.

We contributed to the birthday party very simply.  I don't know anyone, child or adult, who doesn't like cheesepuffs.  I sent John in for one bag, he came out with two.  Cost less than $5.  We brought a bag home and I shared the partial bag with my niece for her wee little girls.

I carried along a table protector.  Not to put on the table but to put under the birthday boy while he had his cake.  These cost about $10 at the grocery and are quite handy for little ones.  We put them under the twins high chairs when they visited here.  The thicker, heavier plastic lasts longer than a cheap plastic tablecloth and we just fold up, carry them outdoors and wash under the hose.

Iced Tea Chat: Fun, Sun, Run

Hello! ...we have been having fun!  We started out one morning bright and early and headed to lovely St. Augustine.  Besides the destination, we had no hard and fast plans.  It was freeing...and I admit I really enjoyed it.  Me, the planner, the mapper outer, the "I got the details" person just let go and went with the flow.  No anxiety, no sinking feeling.  Just say, "Okay," and go.

Gracious where are my manners?  Come in!  Have some tea and cookies?  Never mind that silly John in that photo above.  I like to get our annual 'We're on vacation' photo.  He was cutting up something terrible and I was laughing so hard I could barely stand up!

We did plan ahead enough to make reservations.  There is where my anxiety threatened to overflow.  The place where we planned to stay has sometimes upgraded us...not anything like moving from coach to first class, but more of substitution of equal value but not always equal quality.

 I reserved the room I wanted based on several criteria: smoke free, pet free (due to allergies), full ocean view.  And then I got picky.  I prefer balcony seating that is not flimsy plastic chairs.  I had to like the colors in the room.  Not for me the room done in red and green, nor all dark browns.  That is fine for home.  I don't care about high end furnishings, but I did not want to be in a space with some one's cast offs either, and sad to say some do furnish their rentals with those.

The room I had chosen was done in white, varying shades of sea blue, and sand.  It was furnished with a mixture of hand painted thrift finds and inexpensive but comfortable seating.  There were good quality wood chairs for the balcony.  It was perfect.  There were more expensive rooms, and larger ones, but this one had personality, charm, serenity and life.  When I experienced that first anxiety pre-trip, I said to myself that I would not allow myself to feel vacation was spoiled if we were put in another room.  I just wanted to enjoy myself.

State of the Union Address...Or How I See the Economy at Present

Annabelle of Bluebirds Are Nesting wrote a great post on being watchful.   She has seen a lot of strong storms and flooding in her country lately and that has prompted her to prepare for such.  I mentioned in a comment that in the past, I've watched economic forecasts...and realized this was something I'd not done in quite a while.  Annabelle wrote and asked me, "What are the economic signs at present in your country?"  We've seen some new construction in our area but what are the real facts?

In the U.S., with election year just around the corner it's obvious that a spit and polish is put on the economy as well as current programs that are in effect.  That's standard issue for just about anywhere I suppose.  So I am a little leery of government figures at the moment.  However, I need to be aware, this is an area where we all need to be aware.  It's important that we know where we are, so that we can prepare for where we are going, just like keeping a budget tells us where we are and where we need to go.

The area where I live in Georgia, is rural and economically depressed.  It has been for all the years I've been here.  We don't see construction as a rule.  Right now the Rural Electric company is building two new facilities in our small town.  That's the first new construction we've seen here in 10 years.  Will it provide local jobs?  I don't think it's very likely to be honest.  But new people will be coming into our community to work.  I hope that means new businesses (likely food related).  Sad news is that we're losing our only hardware/auto parts store.

In My Home This Week: Return to Home Routines

I'm  late, I know.  I just couldn't seem to settle my mind to thinking of meals...and oh does it show in my household because I haven't cooked a thing since I made breakfast Friday morning!  Yep, as we were getting ready to come home.  It's been scratchin' about and coming up with much of nothing the past two days.  Time to get myself pulled back up into routines, planning meals and preparing foods from scratch and grocery shopping.  You know, real life stuff.  Yup.

We bought a rotisserie chicken for Sunday dinner and a pint container of potato salad.  I do need to make a trip to the meat market but that will come later in the week.  I noticed the discount grocer in the next town, the one where I found that bulk package of Tennessee Pride Turkey Sausage patties, has whole chickens for $.89pound...of course, I have to add $.9 or 10%,  which really makes them $.98/pound but I'll be saving nearly $.80 a pound off the best price at the meat market.  These chickens are not guaranteed antibiotic free but they are Carageenan free.  I plan to buy about 10 whole chickens.  That's one start on building my meats back up.

But I don't really need to plan shopping just yet, which is where my mind wants to go.  No, I need desperately to plan meals, so let's us tackle that right now before I travel off down another rabbit trail and forget my whole purpose.  All week long the forecast says it shall be 90F...That's hot but not unbearable and it's perfectly seasonable here.

This Week in My Home: Frugal On the Go

I couldn't be happier...Free books for reviews.  I joined Blogging for Books last month and just received my second selection.  It's a nice hard back copy this time and yes, the books really are free!

Saturday:  I filled the coffee jar with the free bag of coffee I picked up yesterday.

John fixed the toaster, which didn't work earlier this week.  He didn't do anything much to it but smash the lever harder than I'd been able to do.  But it works!  That means we can put off buying a new for a little longer.

Bagged up ice this morning and put in the freezer.  It's not unusual as days heat up to run out of ice and I thought I'd get ahead a little.  It also is handy for grabbing to ice down foods when we're shopping or traveling.  Why buy when I can make more?

Made up a pitcher of Koolaid.  We are finding we like this quite well as a substitute for soda and it's good!  I'd forgotten how good it was.

Retirement Remedies: Stretching A Wardrobe Part III

I went through this last week's clothing with an outfit to spare...but I know that I'll use that last one early this week....So time to stock my closet with new ones if I can.   I went through my closet when I came home Wednesday from my day out  with Mama and pulled out a few tops and pants that I've yet to do anything with.  I'll start with this particular outfit inspiration:
                                                                   photo credit

My version used jeans and this teal shirt I found in the back of the closet. I carried my brown bag and wore the stone necklace with it.  I didn't get a photo of the outfit as a whole but at least you can see the shirt.  I staged it this time with a straw bag that will work nicely for summer if I choose not to carry the leather bag.   

I changed necklaces and kept the shirt and bag but styled the shirt with my white pants.  I could use my white purse and silver bangles, hoops and sandals for an alternate look with this shirt and the white pants.

Retirement Remedies: Basics Instinct

Today let's talk about basics.  My friend Dawn wrote on her blog awhile back that she'd been cleaning her pantry.  She said that as she tossed foods into the trash that had expired, "I noticed that I almost never had to toss the basics...only the convenience foods."

I realized that she was very right and wise in that assessment as I thought back to my own recent pantry clearing.  I seldom had to throw away good basic foods or ingredients.  


My inspiration today was a reminder of that statement of hers.  I  came across two sources on Pinterest today: my wardrobe boards and a recipe that was just a few ingredients different from a basic recipe in my own kitchen.  What am I on about?  Well, simply put,  if you deal with basics (classics in fashion design terms) you'll double your mileage nearly every single time!

Let's start with the kitchen example.  The recipe I read on Pinterest (and saved) was for a Coconut Ginger red beans and rice.  A simple enough change in seasonings and  you have a basic beans and rice meal with enough twist to feel you've got a new dish. The basics are beans and rice.  Think of these other examples: Kidney bean and rice salad, black beans and yellow rice, bean and rice burritos, Santa Fe Beans and Rice casserole.  You're still using the same two basic ingredients with minor changes in the beans and seasonings or presentation,  yet each recipe makes an entirely different meal.

                              A pan of Sweet n Saltines, a perfect example for today's post

The recipe in the photo above is another good example.  In the past, I have made the Sweet N Saltines recipe as it is written, and then I've made it  with Matzo crackers left over from Passover and sprinkled sliced almonds atop.  I've used graham crackers and vanilla chips and sprinkled over toasted pecans.  I might also sprinkle over peanut butter chips for a whole new flavor.  It's the same recipe every time, but it tastes different each time I change up the ingredients just slightly.  None of the ingredients cost much more than the others, so the recipe remains economical but versatile.

Here's another basic foods example: diced uncooked chicken, celery, carrots, onion.  Simple enough in itself.  But with those basics I can easily make: Almond Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken a la King.   Cook the chicken and keep the other ingredients and I can  make Chicken Salad, Chicken Turnovers, Chicken Lo Mein or Chicken Fried Rice.

This Week In My Home: Meals to Go

Meal planning is difficult enough when you know just what you're going to be doing all week long and where you'll be.  It's another thing entirely when you are bid to be open and spontaneous.  That's what is asked when my husband takes time off work in May.  "Let's just have a vacation frame of mind," he'll say, and so we do for the two or three weeks he's off.  I love every minute of it except the part where I'm expected to come up with a meal on the fly, or an impromptu picnic.  Then I tend to panic.  I mean to be well prepared these two weeks.  Fortunately for me, his vacation doesn't start until mid-week.  That gives me time to do my thing: Plan!

The meals that follow may look odd.  They are in no particular order.  They are ideas of meals I might serve if day/time/circumstances coincide.  So you'll find a couple of picnic worthy meals, and some deli/take out meals and some home cooked meals.  All meant to cut down on my time in the kitchen, cut down on my worry about what on earth will I do for this meal or that, and  not too severely restrict my husband in his spontaneity.  I'm including breakfast and supper ideas as well since those meals tend to  be ones where John requests 'vacation foods', lol.  Even if we don't travel much we do enjoy having our vacation.

This Week In My Home: Gung Ho to SAVE!

Purchasing six packs and planting my own baskets and pots is a great way to save on flowers for the summer months.  It's even less expensive to grow them from seeds...but I'm seldom that patient!

Saturday:  We were up early this morning.  I don't know just why I couldn't sleep but I couldn't.  We decided to take advantage of our restlessness and go off to an estate sale.  I was impractical and bought an old Windex bottle...and practical: I also purchased HIS and HERS embroidered pillow cases for use in the guest room as well as another lovely old scrap quilt.  I'm getting quite a collection of these old quilts.

John and I had coffee and bagels at home.

Rinsed dishes and let them sit in dishpan until evening.  I really struggle with dry cuticles and skin and this saves some wear and tear on my hands and nails.

Made a big dinner today.  I baked potatoes to go along with it though not on my original plan.  The potatoes are getting lots of eyes on them.  I'm anxious to use before they spoil.

Frugal Boot Camp: April Gleanings

I said at the beginning of April I was going to go to Frugal Boot Camp and I meant it.  I missed out the last week of April on the study end but I have been working hard all the same.  Probably the most intensive bit of work I did the last two weeks was trying to piece out a wardrobe for spring/summer without purchasing anything new.

A few things I read through were just so much 'peat and repeat stuff that we all know.  It wasn't new information nor was it a reminder of forgotten skills.  But I did find myself reminded of two very important facts:

#1 We must be and express gratitude daily for the blessings we receive each day, whether it is a bargain or an inspiration that spurs us on to savings. 

 #2  Time is a commodity.  If we save time in one area we are free to pursue yet another venue of savings during the day.

Most of my work this month focused on Laine's Letters.  I continued perusing Pinterest and other sources for articles on other frugal and financial information.  I came across two or three that were interesting and informative.

Iced Tea Chat: Feeling Like A Chatterbox

Come in, come in.  I know it's late for a break, but with the daylight lingering so long these days, why not?  I'm feeling rut-ish lately, as though all I eat and everything I do is the same old same old things and I need change.  I'm debating (once again) making an orange meringue pie...or should I make a chocolate cake?  Undecided.  I'll offer you fresh strawberries and a messy but delicious chocolate ganache to dip them in.  Yum!

I've been fighting the urge to shop.  Now mind you, I've not started a single list of needs, nor even yet of wants, to do a shopping trip.  I haven't written down a  single thing, but I've got this almost compelling desire to have something new.  You'd think my estate sale this weekend would be enough to satisfy.  I did, after all, find lovely treasures, including another handmade scrap quilt.

Two things happened at that sale that were nice.  First of all, as I stood in the bedroom that was open and haggled over the price of the quilt, the girl hosting the sale asked where I lived and then who I was.  I always give my married name and then being Southern and part of the settling families of the area, I report my family names that are connected to this county.  Well she straightened up and said "Oh my!  We're related!" and she told me the name of the relative whose house we were standing in.  Turns out she is a genealogy hound like myself and so I collected her name and number.  I confess I've never before gone to a sale and discovered a cousin, but I did yesterday!

Questions and Answers and Comments

It's the start so a new month and time for me to respond to your questions and comments over the past month's posts.  I thought I'd change up my photo this month.  Doesn't this homemaker look busy?  I am sure she's tending to several things at once, just like we do.

Weekly Savings #1  I shared that one our meals was just meat and bread.  Sarah had this to share:
 ...we get an e-mail from the company that my husband got his medical bracelet from. It usually includes 4 or so articles on health related issues. One this time said that anyone old..and they said old is considered 50 and older... should increase their protein intake by 50% !! They suggested many foods and protein they included and a daily sample of how to get this amount. We need this to maintain and build muscle that is lost as we age. It is needed for balance and so many things other than just strength. They said that other health issues are related later too to this loss of protein in our bodies. The article said it was a necessity and that within 4 days doctors can tell a difference in patients. To continue this increase the rest of your life. Also of course if you can to do some strength training the protein increase in food though was emphasized as a Need. I thought that interesting. I suppose their are new articles on line about this.

Laurie if you or any other who blogs is interested in the Blogging for Books visit their site here, fill out the information requested, choose your book and after you've received it, read and review on the site as well as your blog.  I really enjoyed my first selection and have claimed my next book.  They have both hard copy and e-book formats.  Some books only come in one or the other, some you have a choice of format.  It is completely free to you.  You can't claim your next book until your review is posted so there's incentive to read.  They have a nice selection in different categories.  

Weekly Savings #2   Rhonda and Dorie both mentioned my cookie jar in the header photo.  That cookie jar is as old or older than I am.  Mama said the other day that she bought it at the 5c &  10c store just before I was born.  I saw a similar one in the April issue of Country Living.  It is made by the American Biscuit Company.  Their example, which was colored yellow as a chick ought to be, was valued at $65.  Mine has never been yellow, always white but the pom pom on his tam was red once upon a time.  

This Week In My Home: Feeling Gung Ho for Home

Between organizing my pantry Friday and the grocery shopping we did on Thursday, I'm feeling kinda flush in the food department.  That's amazing considering both freezers are a little low.  I've decided I'm going to fill those spaces with some ready prepared meals.  I have good incentives.  There's a vacation time coming up for my husband and May is the month I declare a holiday month more or less.  There's a little girl waiting to be born.  There's all sorts of celebrations from birthdays to Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Anniversary and EMS week.

Mind you, my idea of holiday is to take on umpteen plus 20 projects...Seriously.  I've traditionally taken time off from blogging, swearing I am going to read and relax and vacate my mind and soak up the month and I end up exhausted, tired and worked down to a nub because I immediately determine that all the time I'm 'saving' should be spent productively.  Well not this month!  Nope.  I will take a short bit of time off and I might be around a wee bit less, but I hope to blog a bit all through the month, simply because it means I will take quiet time each day to 'rest' which is generally what I consider writing, though I hardly know why, since it can be as much work as work is.

This Week In My Home: Savings Inspiration to Actual Savings

There are three outfits on the bed...all based around the same shoes, white tank and turquoise shrug

Saturday:  John worked last night, so I prepared a quick but easy breakfast of sausage biscuits, using his favorite canned biscuits.

Our dinner was prepared yesterday, except for the steamed broccoli which I served as a side.  I saved the steaming water to pour into orchid and violet pots.

We had a series of storms come through this evening.  Unplugged computers and router to prevent surges as the power went off and on again several times.   We also cut off the AC.

Cut up a hot dog and topped the frozen cheese pizza with that.  It was pretty good!  And a good way to use up that lonely last hot dog.

Gave myself a quick manicure this afternoon.

In My Home This Week: All Routine