Coffee Chat: Here Is Where I Am
Do come in and join me. I'd love to do coffee on the porch, but as you can see they are both in a state of upheaval at the moment.
This morning I realized I'm going to do a little more. But when I'm done both porches will look just lovely for the last days of Summer and all of Fall.
If the back porch looks a little disorderly the front porch is a flat out a mess. Because in the midst of the cleaning of rails and the mini makeover on the back porch, I decided to paint the front porch chairs right there on the porch. Yes, I did use a drop cloth underneath (or newspaper but it's all the same in the end) and the resulting mess on the floor is from a nice breeze that only blew when I was actually spraying the paint onto the chairs. So the peeling floor paint is now red and gray and messy. I did find, quite accidentally that slightly tacky red spray paint on peeling gray paint means that you can peel up whole sheets of gray paint with the soles of your bare feet...But you mightn't want to know that little helpful hint.
There's one small section of railing I need to tackle yet for cleaning and then I can paint the railings all the way around. And then I must get the porch floor painted which means unsettling pets who fully believe that is their domain, most especially Misu. I'm sure I'll end with cat paw prints here and there and probably paint on her fur as well, as I've no doubt fresh paint will look particularly appealing as a spot to lie in.
Several have suggested I paint Maddie's dog house. It's a possibility I suppose, but you'd have to know what it is and I don't think there is any thing that can make it cute. It's a metal frame with a fifty gallon plastic can within the frame. Quite handy and well made and much appreciated, but ugly is the only word to use and I just don't think it will be pretty no matter how it is painted.
But that is the future, however near it looms. I'm all about the just recent past and the present, which seems only fair considering my unintentional silence this past week.
Do you know what I'm finding? Days are incredibly short and energy goes only just so far, but the list of things I want to do gets longer and longer. Write or do something about the house? Prepare a meal and clear up and go to an appointment and the day is done. Spend a morning prepping food for the week and the afternoon clearing up behind and the day is done. That's what I find.
John did some work on our dryer. It would run a few minutes then shut off. We'd start it up two or three times just to run a tiny load for 20 minutes (our usual since we hang the bulk of all our things). He went online and it was suggested that it might be lint buildup that caused it to shut down. We'd just cleaned it last Fall really well but he went ahead and cleaned it again...which did pretty much what the porches have done and sort of exploded into more. The vent tubing was torn and had already been patched more often than I'd care to tell you. He decided it was time to re-route the venting to the back porch vent outlet. We were provided with two options and we'd used the one that ran under the house all these years, which I've never been happy with. Anyway, we needed new venting tube. That led to a trip to Lowes.
I meant to take full advantage of that visit. I seldom go into Lowes and for good reason...but I do keep a running list of things I'm unable to find elsewhere and mean to get when I do go. This list included paint for the ironing board on the front porch (which I'm still debating taking back) and a lovely green paint I've wanted for my rocker and numbers and lettering for a project on the back porch and a blind for John's music room. This pretty much meant we walked past all the 'problem' areas for me at Lowes. New bathroom fixtures, kitchen mock ups, new appliances, draperies, lighting...you know, all that pretty, pretty stuff.
I turned sour somewhere between the plumbing section where we picked up dryer venting and the hardware section where I found my numbers and letters. I got downright despondent as I realized I had a can of paint and a package of black vinyl adhesive letters and numbers and not one 'pretty' to my name. Here I was with all these lovely dreams and visions, doing my very best to make do and use what I have and I know people who have redone their entire kitchens three times to my none and painted their homes lovely colors and...
Well it got ugly before it got better. On the way home, I voiced complaints out loud and whined to my husband who listened to my tear filled voice and then apologized. Apologized! For not making enough money to give me those things I wanted. Now I never once assumed he was responsible for giving me anything. I was thinking, behind the scenes in my mind, that if I went out to work I could have those things but then I'd have to give up home and that made me just as whiny. I apologized to him mighty quick and told him I'd get over it and get right back on the make do trail and be happy. And I did try hard to do just that. Heaven help me not to ever voice another whine about what I don't have when I know my husband has worked hard to provide for me!
But you know how things go. We came home and he went to work on the dryer and pieces that formed a frame on the outside vent broke. Not John's fault mind you, it was old brittle siding and due to break at the least touch anyway. The vent portion that he installed was too small to cover the area without the framing. John took duct tape and some foam pipe insulation and went outdoors to work and I...well I'll admit to my failings... I sat in the house and sulked because 'making do' is one thing but doggone it duct tape right out there before every eye of every visitor as a repair job wasn't the sort of making do I wanted to do at all. I wouldn't even go out to look at it. As it was he'd already covered the floor vent with an old license plate and duct tape and my consolation on that one was that no guest ever crawls behind my dryer to inspect things...and if they did they shouldn't be invited back! I sulked but I bit my tongue HARD...
And as a second test (which seem to come up mighty fast after a failure these days for me!), we had to go back to Lowes on Monday to get more stuff for the dryer and the blind we couldn't buy the day before because we'd not had the proper length measurement. Which meant of course, that we walked right back by all those beautiful things all over again. Well I kept mum, let me tell you, and thanked my husband for the new blind but not before he'd quietly noted that he'd worked about two hours for that blind. He had, too, but I worked hard saving and skimping to pay for six others in the house and frankly felt it wasn't too terribly hard on him to pay for one. Tongue bitten though. Hard.
I told him I had spaghetti at home for dinner if he cared to head home instead of eating out. Spaghetti is one of his favorite meals. And yes, I often do think of how long he has to work to provide an item, even groceries, but I don't remember it nearly often enough! Nor do I stop to think how hard I have to work to stretch things when we do make those sorts of purchases for the home.
John finished the dryer work that afternoon. He did a very nice job on venting it and making it all look really nice. He found an additional housing to go over the new vent outdoors and as it turned out, had done a very neat job of insulating the area and not made the awful 'repair' I'd sat indoors and sulked over...fail on that score for me, huh? Bonus: the dryer works very well. I am so pleased as I hadn't wanted to purchase a new dryer just now, much as I admired all those new ones...so maybe we'll get a little longer use out of this. It's 'only' 19 years old!
On Monday I also went to my doctor and we discussed the pricey supplement versus two others I'd read about in the past week and the pros and cons of each. I was happy to find he felt I could take those and the cost to me will be considerably less monthly. He still feels I might reduce my diabetes medication down once these new supplements are in my regime. I'd lost a little more weight and my numbers overall pleased him. He suggested I continue with my eating plan but if I wanted something especially, to eat it and test afterwards to see how it affected me overall.
John had gone by his doctor's office last week to schedule an appointment which was basically meant to renew his prescriptions. He got a nasty surprise. His doctor had sold out and moved on, and there was now a new group in place who considered him a brand new patient and he had to fill out paperwork, etc. I suggested if he was going to be a new patient anyway, that he consider my doctor. Well he thought it a good idea and while we were there Monday he asked. Was he shocked to hear that they weren't taking any new patients...but then the clerk said with a smile, "but you've sort of got your foot in the door," and she looked at me and smiled and then told John, "So I feel sure the doctor will take you on." All in all that was a good visit.
Monday evening, I found myself planning an impromptu ladies luncheon. My daughter in law Bess had texted she'd arrive about noon. Mama had already called and let me know how very much she wanted to see Joshua, and I knew my niece wanted to see Bess. I was just longing to see her two little girls together with Josh since every one is now mobile under their own power. I called or texted everyone and got yeses from all invited guests and planned a meal using just what I had on hand. Everyone seemed concerned that it was 'too much' but you know it wasn't. I mean it was all simple foods and easily prepped and it didn't feel like it was anything extra, just a normal dinner I'd have naturally made anyway if John were home.
I'd made the table pretty and touched up a spot or two in the house and felt it was all looking quite nice. I started my dinner in a timely manner. And then I waited.
had above the bed. I think it's much better.
Mama arrived just about 12:30 which is late for her, but she'd had to wait upon her housekeeper to finish her tasks. Ashley sent a text that she was sick and couldn't make it after all and apologized. Then Bess called and she hadn't been able to leave her Mom's as early as planned...and in fact, didn't think she'd be able to leave for another hour or so. Ladies luncheon went kaplooey. It was Mama and I and quite honestly it was a wearying afternoon. My morning energy was gone. The sun kept disappearing and the house was gloomy looking. I was disappointed naturally but determined to make the best of it.
The conversation soon took a negative turn and no matter how hard I steered it didn't get off that lane at all for hours to come. It seemed things I said or didn't say irritated Mama in one form or another. Bess arrived about 5:30 and we had leftovers from the luncheon for supper. Josh has just learned to say "No" and being overtired he was contrary to every suggestion of a hug or kiss or bite of food. Mama stayed a bit longer then went home. I felt drained and even the sunshine didn't seem to penetrate the house after that.
My late father in law had a saying, "Well sleep on it. Things always look better in the morning." He was good with advice like that and "Nothing's so bad you should miss a meal over it," lol, which is just one millimeter of why I loved him dearly.
Indeed things did look better come morning, despite my staying up far, far too late with Bess and then not sleeping well and rising early again. John came in from work and Bess and Josh decided to stay another whole day and night before making the long drive home to Florida and the sun shone in the house from every angle. Then Josh took his first steps...It was a lovely day and I mean that sincerely. We didn't get to witness that moment with Katie. She took her first steps at the sitter's house, boo hoo. Not one grandchild have we seen take their first steps. The plus side to Josh taking his first steps was that Bess happened to be running a video of him. She'd only meant to send his daddy proof of how long he could stand...and instead the little boy took his first four steps. So courtesy modern technology Daddy got to see him walk, too, as did all the other grandparents.
The rest of the week was cleaning and cooking and going to shop for groceries. Not really chat worthy stuff unless you want to talk about the price of eggs...$2.69 a dozen at Aldi this week with no limits on them. We bought three dozen and it's my firm intent to try and make those eggs, and indeed all the groceries we bought, last three weeks. That includes bread, milk and produce. I was over my budget limit by $69 this month and I suspect all those 'extra' trips to the store on Sundays or when we filled a prescription and were told to go ahead with our shopping, etc are the cause of this overage.
We stretched hard this past week and made it through to grocery day on Thursday with no lettuce left, no cabbage, no fresh fruit. The butt end of a celery stalk, four each of carrots, potatoes and onion was our sole produce in the house. We had applesauce for fruit and that was it. To discourage me further from thinking I might shop a bit I watched the bank balance sink right back to starting point all over again once we'd bought groceries this week and I am so over that situation as well. It makes the temptation of the Red Velvet Apricots seem slightly less appealing...or at least if they are to prove very tempting, then they should certainly be worthy of purchase from my personal allowance!
I'm not complaining over the cost of anything. Truth told, I am a lot closer to the budget I set after I lowered it again in July. I've an idea or two about how to save a bit here and there. Nothing new or earth shattering, just more old tricks, pulled out and polished up and put into service once more.
I've been purchasing a few items in small portioned quantities, prepared and pre-measured and I think I shall cease doing that for all but items meant to go into John's lunch. I buy what I do for his lunch based on being shelf stable. The reason for this is that he can't always put his lunch bag in the fridge and the ice packs last only so long on a 24 hour shift. But for home life...Well I've got enough of a handle on this diabetic eating thing to prepare things and measure my own portions and eat only what's allowed and no more, so I'll do just that. That will bring some minor relief to the budget.
I also determined this past week that though it's awfully convenient to buy chicken breasts or chicken already cut into pieces, I cannot deny that purchasing whole birds and cutting them up myself is far cheaper. Most stores will even cut them up into pieces for free if you ask the butcher to do so. Debating on chicken boneless skinless breasts at $4.99 a pound or bringing home a cut up chicken for $.96/pound (when on sale) and boning my own breasts isn't a hard debate when the savings is so great!
I cut up a chicken for that flubbed luncheon on Tuesday and it took me less than five minutes to do it. I wasn't hurrying along, either. It's just an old skill I had seldom used in the past few years and earlier the previous weekend, I'd boned two breasts because I didn't care to cook a bone in cut for that particular meal. So I can 'butcher' chickens on my own and certainly it's worth while cost wise. Let's not forget all those pieces and parts and such that can go into making more good homemade broth.
The thing with my grocery budget is that we've cut and cut and cut until there's no item to be left out any longer unless we reduce the good foods we eat. And so it's finding ways to reduce the cost with out reducing the quality or quantity too much. That might well mean watching harder for sales on canned/frozen foods and butchering my own chickens and perhaps making a few items from scratch more often (like salad dressings). If I find whole milk is best priced I can mix it half and half with fat free powdered milk and make my own lower fat milk (and double my savings). I did that this past week with a half gallon of whole milk and it tasted just fine. And it might well mean that as I eat seasonally I put some up by canning or freezing or preserving a little along. Again, nothing new but just polishing off things I did once upon a time and had stopped doing due to lack of need, time or whatever. It was once a habit and can be a habit once again, now can't it?
With eggs higher I'm working to cut down on how many of those are used. Because they were cheap, I'd often make John three for a work day breakfast but I've reduced him to two and put on an extra piece of toast instead. I'm not baking much these days courtesy diabetes so no need to reduce that area over much. Still, despite their current high costs, as Mama pointed out, eggs are still a relatively inexpensive item to eat. And let's face it, I can't say I've ever wanted an egg sized piece of steak or chicken or burger but an egg or two is a gracious plenty for any one. A three egg omelet stuffed with lovely vegetables makes a most economical supper for two. So yes, eggs are still a 'good' buy, albeit a bit more expensive than in times past.
I had a lovely morning on the back porch. I was trying to get the rocker finished. I started it yesterday. I sanded it yesterday morning. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, the air just cool enough to make the task not in the least unpleasant. I came indoors for a drink of water and heard rumbling. Surely not thunder? I went out and looked. Blue skies all over, sun shining, no clouds I could. Rumble, rumble. Now where on earth was that coming from?
In about twenty minutes the sky was that bruised gray/blue sort of color and thunder clapped hard overhead. Rain poured. I thought after an hour that it had settled in and was re-planning my day when the sun came out once more. The sky cleared. It was lovely and hot, too.
So after lunch I hurried out and started painting the rocker...rumble...rumble...Are you kidding me? It was a repeat of the morning. Blue skies, sun and thunder. Sure enough the storm came up and went on for a good bit, just as it had in the morning. I decided to just skip the rest of the painting since storm clouds seemed tied to my paint brush.
This morning, John called to say they were on a late call and he'd be later than usual coming in. I hurried into my painting clothes and went out to finish up the rocker. It was so peaceful. The birds were quiet in their morning work and no traffic stirred on the highway. I could hear some work men on the hill where they are remodeling a home as they stacked lumber, a rhythmic sound that was pleasant. Their voices rose and fell in conversation. The quiet of the morning overall just seemed to soak in deep, like sun on a hot hot day does. I painted and cleared my mind of worrying things. An hour like that is worth ten in a spa being massaged and soothed and sanded and such, I swear. Just as I dabbed on the last touch-ups John called saying he was on his way. I had time to shower and do Bible study. It really set the pace of the morning well.
After he'd come in and had his breakfast I started my weekly meal prep. I put on a pot of soup, a pot of chili and marinated chicken for another meal, all while I prepared our dinner. I will need to prepare a few dishes during the week but the lengthy part of the cooking is done.
I think I shall bid you good day. Much as I would love to continue to sit there's work to be done. It seems nearly drawer in the house is in disorder and of course, these porches, sigh. Oh these porches! Have a good day!