Challenge 1 for January 2017: Use It Up

                                                    photocredit: crazykouponlady

Typically come January I issue myself a pantry/freezer challenge to try to offset the costs of the holidays.  This year, I issued a challenge to myself during the holidays to only purchase what we absolutely needed or were out of and so there was my pantry/freezer challenge, because that was carrying us through the holidays.

I've just been freshening up several areas of our home.  Not doing a major toss out but simply looking into cabinets and drawers and pantry and freezer and cabinets and fridge and noting that there are a number of things we aren't using or haven't quite finished.  I won't throw away something unless it's absolutely useless or spoiled.  We've already spent the money on these things.

Frugal Friday: Good bye, Sweet '16

Saturday:  We ran the AC on some this evening.  I should have opened windows, as I knew it was going to be warmer.  We will definitely be doing that tomorrow!  I am not anxious to watch next electric bill rise just because I was careless in minding the weather.

Our meal today was simple and frugal.  Leftover spaghetti meat sauce and a salad.  I have enough leftover for a single entrée for one of the days John is working.

I failed to plan ahead for Channukah though I'd meant to do so.  Well, I wasn't completely unprepared.  We had gelt and I had a dreidel so we played that and enjoyed it.  I will say that John's left handed spin is far better than my right handed one.  It was my out and out refusal to give up all my gelt that left me with any at all, lol. 

It was a lovely Christmas Eve.  I had my books to read, we watched our favorite A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims and several other Christmas films.

I was inspired to look up one of the authors I'd been reading and found two of his books for $.01 each on Amazon, plus another for not too large a price.  I used the $10Amazon gift card I'd purchased for 170 MyCokeReward points.  Three books, a small amount of cash.  Love that!

This Week In My Home: New Year!!

This week in my home....
Pardon me while I feel nostalgic for what winter can look like...We're expecting temperatures in the high 70's mid-week...

...We are celebrating the New Year in our usual understated fashion.  In fact, as I type this it's New Year's Eve evening and our plans include going to bed about our usual time. This is typical of us.  We don't drink much and we certainly have no desire to be on the roads with those who might not know when enough is too much already.   Which reminds me of a funny conversation I had with my doctor during the intake process when I was getting set up with him.  He commented on my being hit by a drunk driver that I shouldn't be on the roadways during the hours they drink.  I looked at him and said "Oh okay...just so you know it was 8am in the morning on a weekday."  He looked at me and laughed and said "In other words let's just stay home!" lol
We've had a pleasant last day of the year and I'm looking forward to the New Year.  I slept very well last night (LOVE cold weather when my sleep actually deepens...of course being tired as all get out didn't hurt either!), got up this morning to make John a top quality BIG breakfast.  Mama came out about noon with a pizza in hand and I had a salad and half a carrot cake from the freezer that I thawed to go along with it.  We had conversation and food and it was nice enough.  Mama was in her usual form, lol, her first comment to me being that I looked really bad which surprised me since I'd looked in the mirror just a bit earlier and felt I looked as well as ever.  When I pointed out my copiously blooming African Violet and she said "Well that's ugly isn't it?"  I decided to let well enough alone, lol.

Coffee Chat: Goodbye Sweet '16

Good morning dears.  Come on in and let's have one more chat this year.  I've been busy trying to refresh my home once more.  Well I pretty much finished two days ago.  It took me far less time than I imagined it might.  That's not to say there's nothing to be done.  I expect should I go room by room I could quickly fill my To Do list full of things to organize, purge or just plain clean.  I know this is true because I LIVE in my home.  But I felt I'd gotten a pretty good refreshing done to the house early this week and I have felt restive once more.  I even managed to go out yesterday afternoon and prune the roses and that one lantana I've tried hard to kill that simply won't die

The trouble with the lantana is that it's one of those very old fashioned sort that grows tall and huge around.  And it hangs over the edge of the flower bed and slaps John viciously when he's mowing.  It has prickly sort of branches and they hurt, as I know too well from having worked around them.   It mars the view of the best of the spring blooming roses and what's more it mars their aroma which is heavily perfumed.  Lantana has the aroma of three day old cat pee and cuts the scent of the roses entirely if you happen to brush against it.  So I trimmed it down to the ground and am hoping for a deep hard freeze to halt it in growing any further.  We've attempted to dig it out at least five times and the roots are pernicious and deep. Even with the main root ball out of the way, any little bits left will send up new growth.  About the only no no in caring for a lantana is to cut out the dead growth prior to new growth showing in the spring, hence my great hopes that I've made it truly, most sincerely dead.

Pins I Actually Tried in 2016

I was just trolling around Pinterest (and yes, I do that almost daily).  I saw a pin and thought, "Oh yes!  I tried that and it worked beautifully.  Which made me wonder what else I did in 2016 that worked well and saved us money or time or better organized us?  Well here are a few highlights.

These first pictures are not mine.  I picked them from Pinterest.  I can only credit the second photo and that goes to Sunny Simple Life

Number 1: 
 Storing lemons and limes in jars of water in the fridge.  I even went so far as to just store the fruit in a jar without water in the fridge.  I can say honestly that MONTHS later I have lemons and limes.  I will also share that the limes are a little bitter along about now but we've had them in the fridge for going on five months.  I can say truthfully that this method keeps them fresh and usable for a lot longer than letting them sit in the open on counter or on a fridge shelf.

This Week In My Home: Holidays!

This week in my home:

...I am already starting to feel the pull of the New Year/fresh frugal year though we've just lit the first Chanukah candle and the sun is barely setting upon Christmas Eve...Normally I'd post this on Sunday but it's to be Christmas and I don't want to invade your homes on that day and honestly, I don't want you all invading mine.  I hope to hear from the children, but I'm going to enjoy my day with my husband.   We're going out to church, a little early.  We're coming home to a special meal.  I feel such a deep peace and thankfulness this year.  But the New Year does tug...  I guess it's just habit after all these years. 

I generally do a 'review' of sorts at the end of a holiday season and write out what worked and what didn't.  It's a handy guideline to look back over the years.  I've been doing this consistently since 2012 and I can say honestly that reading back through these pages before the holidays has helped me improve them. 

We stayed spot on budget for gifting and haven't spent crazily for meals, etc.  In fact, I might have adhered a little too hard to budget instead of allowing splurges we might have enjoyed.  We save all year long and a little indulgence at Christmas should certainly be part of the reward, agreed?

Frugal Friday: Merrily To Christmas Day

Saturday:    Reading through old blog posts I stumbled upon a recipe I'd apparently made but once, though my family raved over it at the time.  I've all the ingredients and then some on hand so I shall make it again this week, I think. 

We were gone most all day yesterday so no meal prep was done for Shabat.  I had to cook today which is not something I care to do.  I cooked half a pound of ground meat shaped into slider type patties to use for our supper tonight.  These served in leftover rolls I'd frozen last week after the Christmas and Family day. 

I cooked the other half pound of meat and made Cheeseburger Mac as I'd planned on my menu last week.  There's enough leftover to serve two servings with generous salad and a second side vegetable or one very hearty serving for one. 

We stumbled upon the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol this evening.  Lovely thing.  "There's more of gravy than the grave in you!"  is one of my most favorite of lines.  It makes me chuckle every single time.

I had set aside a jar of jelly for my niece.  I have a book for the grand nieces.  I was given a half sheet of Jamberry wraps that looked like little girls to me.  I tucked those in with the book.  The grand nieces love to have pretty nails and I thought perhaps their Mama might like to try these on them.

Food for Thought in 2017

There's a skit I remember seeing in my childhood years.  I want to say it was performed by a well known comedian whose face/name escape me at the moment.    It involved a sad sack going into a restaurant and ordering two cups of hot water.  Into one,  he dumped a dollop or two of ketchup from the bottle on the table, then added some salt and pepper and stirred it.  Then from his coat pocket came a used tea bag which was dunked in the other cup.  The hot water was free...and so was the 'soup and tea' that made up the meal...which he enjoyed very well until the restaurant staff caught on to his ruse.

There have been slim days in the food budget in the long ago past.  There have been sticky weeks here and there since then, but for the most part we've been blessed with food and enough money to purchase more when it was needed.  I say humbly that God often inspires me to stretch foods beyond what I dream they will go.  I've been very blessed in this area.

I've been thinking the past few days.  How should I manage if I had very little to base my food budget upon?  My mind has drifted many times to the contest ALL YOU magazine used to conduct several years ago, where one was allowed $25 per week per person.  I often used to do this challenge but  I used my pantry and freezer stock to carry me and  just limited my spending to $50 a week for John and I,  and still managed to replace some of the stock I was using. 

Coffee Chat: Cusp of Christmas

Come in, come in and have a seat.  I'll have a cup of coffee in your hand in a moment.  It's plenty damp and cool here!  Not so cold as up north perhaps but it's cool enough to make a wool coat feel good.

I've just finished watching the nicest short film, 'Winter Thaw'.  I found it on the BYU channel and it is the story of a cobbler who is estranged from his son.  He is told by his wife in a dream that He will visit him and all he must do is ask him in.    It is well worth seeing for those of you who access to the channel or who might find it on Netflix.  I wept at parts of this short film.  The scene which most made me sob was where the Cobbler is preparing for his coming visitor and is cleaning up his home and preparing a meal and setting the table.  I wept at the idea of welcoming The Lord into my home by making such preparations.  I wept because I often feel, on a Friday as I am cleaning the house for Shabat and preparing foods for the Sabbath day, a sense of anticipation as though truly God himself were coming to sit with us through those Shabat hours.  The film is not Jewish but it is truly worth seeing!

John and I were lamenting the lack of Christmas programming to watch.  It seems none of our most favorite films have been offered up.  I think we shall have to try and build a Christmas film library of our own.  I've only two, perhaps three, that I'm aware of.  There are some movies I really like that John cares for not at all ("It's A Wonderful Life" for instance, and I don't know why he doesn't!) and some he likes that I care not at all whether I see them ever again (A Christmas Story...ugh!).  But there are plenty we do love: Holiday Inn, The Bishop's Wife, An Affair to Remember (it ends with that lovely Christmas scene, remember?).  There are so many lovely movies with wonderful rich Christmas scenes, like "Meet Me In St. Louis" and "Little Women" that I think deserve to be watched at this time of year as well. sigh...I am sentimental just thinking of them all!

Working Out Our 2017 Budget

Debbie in KS asked me a few weeks ago if I'd  share how I go about determining our annual budget.  Really it is not that difficult to do.

I start by determining what we might expect for income.  Typically I'd use the last check stub and work with the net income amount on that but this coming year, I know that John will be working fewer holidays and that our income likely will drop.  I was conservative in my figures this year.  The annual budget sheet is just a roadmap anyway.  I'll take it month by month until the first quarter passes and then I'll have a better idea of exactly what our income is likely to be for the year.

So I start with our net income.  That is the first figure.  I look at the GROSS income figure and determine about what we will be paying in tithes.  That is always our first check each pay period and I make sure to plan for it.  God is much better at providing  for us on our income when we tithe than when we try to manage it all.

We have only a few fixed monthly expenses.  I list those on my sheet as well, right under tithes.  I then went through our 2016 check register and added up every check we wrote for electricity and divided that by 12.  I do this for propane, groceries, prescriptions, etc.  Anything we typically spend money on each month is totted up and then divided by 12.  Each of these are listed on my sheet of paper.

I then do the same for all the annual fees and payments and divide each of those by 12.  Then I list them on my paper, one by one.

Mini Boot Camp Crash Course

Since I had no big projects planned early this month, I wanted to make this month count mini boot camp came to mind.  I didn't read books this time but mostly trolled about Pinterest looking for new to me ideas, good reminders, etc. 

This go round I made an executive decision to STOP reading all those silly bulleted savings posts that repeat and repeat and repeat the need to stop doing the very things I never do anyway.  I also vowed  to stop reading posts like "Seven Habits of the Very Frugal" or "Things You Shouldn't Buy if You're Really Frugal".  And I promise I will try not to waste your time writing such things!

Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving. ~ Warren Buffett

Here's some of what I came up with, in no particular order, with random quotes scattered here and there.

This Week In My Home: Christmas Cheer

This week in my home...
Photos herein are of this year's decorations.  I've tried and tried to get up a post about this year's décor with the worst luck loading pictures up here on the blog.  So I've sprinkled these throughout this post.  I hope you enjoy!

...John and I stayed in pajamas all the day Saturday and it was lovely.  He'd noted the presents under the tree Friday.  "Whose are those?" he asked.  "Yours, of course," I'd answered.  Well he wanted to open them Saturday morning and I had no troubles with that.  After all, I'd had several of my gifts for weeks now and have worn or used them happily.  It bothers me not at all that there are no gifts under the tree for Christmas morning. 

I haven't made huge big plans for the coming week. Partly because there was a dinner to attend today after church at Mama's and then John off almost all the week.  It doesn't pay to make big plans when John is off, lol.  He does tend to be spontaneous and has a way of wanting me to come along with him or come to see what he's been up to, etc.  His being off today was a surprise, but not an unpleasant one. 

Frugal Friday: A Little Nearer Christmas Day

Saturday:  How did I save money today?  I had a house full of family visiting and it might seem I didn't save anything at all, but let's look at just what I did do:

 I'd gotten up in the middle of the night to put a light quilt over Josh so he'd have cover enough. It was cold when we got up, even with the heat pump running.   I turned on the propane heater, making sure to warn Josh that it was hot and not to touch.  Then I put my vintage coffee pot on the back burner of the stove with plenty of water in it.

Put potatoes to bake in the oven with the roast beef.

We used disposable dishes and cups today.  Not a savings perhaps on any one save myself, but it meant I could relax and enjoy my company, which was John's intention when he urged me to purchase them.

It was so sunny and bright we didn't even need lights indoors today.

We were having a big dinner so a light breakfast was had by all. Normally John and I just have a bagel with cream cheese on Saturday and that's what we served today as well.

Vacuumed rug immediately after we ate so the children wouldn't track stuff over the rest of the room.

John and I made sandwiches from leftover roast and rolls from dinner for our supper.

Coffee Chat: Christmas Cheer

Deck the halls with bows of holly....Fa la la la la la la la la la la!  Oh hello...Do come on in and let's have a nice cup of cocoa...How does that sound?  With a candy cane to stir about in it? Hmmm?

I was sitting here on Saturday, watching John's face all lit up like a child's,  listening to the squeals of excitement from this one and that and I could barely open my own gifts I was so enjoying watching everyone else.  For one fleeting moment, I thought "Oh!  After this it's all over..."  But you know it isn't all over at all.  Why it's only just barely begun well.  And I decided then and there I'd find something to enjoy about each and every day until Christmas Day comes and goes.

So this week I've been all about enjoying the holiday.  Sunday I enjoyed the day with a special viewing of Anne of Avonlea on PBS.  I do love Anne Shirley and her romantic kindred spirit.  I have been blessed to find that same feeling of kindred souls with my Katie and Sam and with Bess and Virginia, as well as Granny. 

Monday I am afraid I didn't do much about Christmas spirit except to use that beautiful new coffee mug Katie and Matt gifted me for Christmas,  but Tuesday I made up for it.  I sat outdoors and used the new electric bubble maker John purchased for me last week at Bass Pro.  I took a free gnome at the post office.  He just fits in the palm of my hand!  And today I treated myself to a meal of Chinese food because I've been hankering for it forever, but I tend to resist that hankering.  I was very careful to watch that I chose plenty of vegetables today and skip the sweet sauced fried foods I prefer most.  I came home and turned on the tree lights since it's cloudy outdoors and turned on the Sounds of the Season music channel.  Johnny Mathis crooning "The Christmas Song".  Well that's pretty awesome for a simple Christmas pleasure, agreed?  Or silky voiced Doris Day?  Sigh.

I walked about the house this morning and took a few photos of the  Christmas décor this year.  It is simple and not at all elaborate.  My theme was to be 'A Walk In Snowy Woods'...I didn't stick too hard to my theme because I discovered I had little to work with and I had no ready cash to spend on new items, and when I did have cash, well....I couldn't find just what I wanted anyway!

Postal Order

At the post office today I learned quite a bit of new information and I thought I'd pass it on to you all, because I didn't know any of what I was told today and apparently neither does every postmaster/mistress either.  We stopped by another post office Friday on our way to Macon and this lady never mentioned any of this information to me at all.

First, if you are mailing fragile or perishable items you must say so via a computer prompt at the pay kiosk.  The post offices no longer are supposed to mark contents as fragile (the lady on Friday DID).  It is right on the postage label that prints and this is a prompt to the service to handle that piece of mail differently than they might others.  Anything perishable or liquid is going to cost more to mail than other objects in the same packaging.  This is because they must be handled differently and while they do not necessarily require special packaging you'll pay extra for that specialized care. 

This Week In My Home: Holidays Ahead

This week in my home....
                                                  Another tree from a past Christmas...

We have just had our family gathering.   It was Bess' idea to have a once a quarter family day here at our home since it's about halfway between Katie and Sam.  This time we shared Christmas with them.  Early yes, but I put up the tree on Thanksgiving week as a rule anyway, so no hardship to have Christmas early.  I made a single batch of a family favorite cookie, we had a nice meal, we opened presents and enjoyed one another. 

We went to Bass Pro to meet up with Bess and Sam and watched Josh run with excitement all the way to the entry to Santa's chair...and there he hung back, suddenly shy, crying as usual when placed upon his lap.  But oh the joy as he watched the train run through snowy mountains and tunnels at the train table, played with Lincoln Logs with his daddy, rode the elk on the carousel and watched the fish in the huge aquarium. 

But my favorite part of all was when I lit the Christmas tree lights once we were all home and his eyes lit up, too.  "Happy Kismas Genny Genny, Happy Kismas."

Frugal Friday: A Hurried Week

Saturday:  I was up super early this morning.  I awoke perhaps 5am and at 6am I knew I may as well go on and get out of bed.  I turned on the propane heater, put on a pot of water to add humidity to the air and turned on the Christmas tree lights.  I made sure to dress warmly today, too. 

My reward for early rising?  A most gorgeous sunrise, a fitting background to my prayer time this morning.  Somehow the intimacy with God is greater when you're looking out on the glory He's created while you pray.

I used small pieces of a loaf of bakery bread to make French Toast this morning.  I wanted very much to have nutmeg and vanilla in my French toast this morning, so I made sure to pour up the leftovers into an almost but not quite empty Strawberry jelly jar.  I've shaken it well each time I've gone into the fridge today.  I'll use that to make muffins another morning and will likely add a bit of frozen berries to the batter.

I made a small pan of brownies for us to have as snacks over the next few days. I reduced the sugar the recipe calls for and noticed no difference in taste or texture.

No Discount

I love a discount, when it means money off, don't you?  What I don't care for is the sort of discount that  occurs when someone takes a snooty attitude towards an opinion or action that others might be taking part in.  Not politics, but money saving is still the topic.

Not long ago, as I tooled around on Pinterest looking for new to me ideas or reminders of old ones for saving funds, I came across one of those bullet point type blog posts "Ten Things I Won't Do to Save Money."   Do you know how many of those things I do?  At least 8.  And it sort of riled me a little that this blogger would discount the efforts others make!

One of her points was that she would not wash zippered baggies.  That's fine.  It's not something I'd do either if I was short on time.  It is a savings but it's not necessarily the most time effective method of savings and I acknowledge that.  Her reason?  She wasn't sure they were really clean...uhm ever hear of HOT water and soap?  And she didn't think a baggie could be gotten completely dry.  Well you can completely dry a baggie but that's where the time and effort come in. 

I wash my baggies in very hot water and with plenty of soap in clean dishwater first before I do any other washing up.  I turn them wrong side out and wash the outer part of the bag well (now inside), rinse in hot water and stand it on the drying mat.  When the outside is completely dry and free of water, I turn it right side in once more and stand it on the drying mat and let that dry thoroughly as well.  THEN when it's dry in and out, I flatten it and put it in the drawer to reuse.  It generally takes a couple of days to get a baggie air dry.  I've never stored a wet baggie to date.   

Coffee Chat: Sanity Savers

Hello dears.  Come in and have some coffee.  I'm in the midst of stirring up Christmas cookies and wondering what on earth I did with that sugar cookie recipe I had in hand two weeks ago.  Isn't that always the way it is?  Have a seat and I'll have you a cup of coffee, or even cocoa if you'd like, in a moment.  It's awfully cold outdoors isn't it?

I really want to make a load of cookies but I will not.  For one thing butter is not as low in price as it might be for this baking season and for another there is the fact that I love cookies.  I'm making the 'We can't have Christmas without..." cookies.  In our house that is a jam thumbprint that is rolled in coconut before you put the jam in the thumbprint, and stove top cookies, Magic cookie bars and chocolate chips.  And then because I use the sugar cookie dough as base for the thumbprint cookies and Katie and Sam take those home, I'll have a few pretty sugar cookies that I'll roll in coarse sugar and press with a pretty pattern from the bottom of a drinking glass.  Those are my favorite ones.

Katie recently saw this idea on Pinterest and sent me a note.  "Why did we never do this?"  Well I did but I guess she wasn't paying attention.  It's just a little detail but it's a pretty one.  Here's an old photo of some cookies I did long ago:

Questions and Answers and Comments, Oh My!

Come on in!  Have a piece of chocolate and a mini candy cane.  No worries, we're staying low carb though they are both sugary treats.  I promise you're under 14 carbs with those two little bits of candy.  Don't mind my pajamas and robe.  I got a bit chilly and decided that nothing short of cozy would do with Christmas music, Christmas tree lit and a tiny bit of holiday candy.    November seemed to just fly by, didn't it?  Well the year has seemingly flown by as well though I realize it had only as many hours in it as every single other year (save Leap Year).  Maybe it's because I USED so many more of those hours this year than I'd used in a long time?

I've been hearing Christmas music every where I went today.  Loved it!  I sang along and didn't mind if anyone heard but I promise I didn't get obnoxiously loud about it.  Just enjoyed myself, doing a tiny bit of Christmas shopping and very nearly finishing it off, doing a bit of grocery shopping (oh the need to visit the grocery store does come often enough!) and then home to do routine housework and check the bill box and I've the evening alone.  I thought it a good time to write a few posts, even though it is Shabat as of 5:12 this evening.  Tiny admission: these very early Shabat evenings are a little bit hard to cope with when you're trying to cram in lots of finishing up of things.  Fortunately today was not one of those days.

This Week In My Home: Mad Dash

This week in my home...

Christmas 2014 door.  Oh the mess the glue dots made on that door!  And still didn't hold on to those delicate snowflakes, lol.  All photos here are from Christmas past, 2014.

...we are caught up in a mad rush.  It seems nearly every one wants to get things out of the way before Christmas so dinner parties get planned for that first week of December.  And the rest of December is a tad downhill from there.  This week we'll attend John's work dinner and then we've got the kids coming in to spend the day with us on Friday and the rest of the family comes in on Saturday and we have our quarterly family day and incidentally, Christmas, too.  We always give an early gift to our kids so they can use as needed to help the season along in their homes.  We combine these activities with a Sunday at church and John working one day so we'll have to push grocery shopping in somehow and prepare for company as well. It will all get done, it always does and we'll enjoy it all, but thinking of it before hand is always a tiny bit stressful, lol.

I'd planned a meal for the coming weekend but it turns out it was heavy on one of the few foods that cause Bess to feel ill. I laughed when Sam mentioned that my menu wasn't a good idea.  Bess never would have said a word about it.  So the menu was replanned and as luck would have it the substitute item was on sale this past week. 

Frugal Friday: Using What I Have, Holiday Style

Saturday:  I found it a good bit cooler this morning than the past two mornings.  I wanted crispy toast for breakfast, not our usual bagel.  I don't know what it is about nice crunchy hot toast and a hot cup of coffee, but it seems to go nicely with a cooler morning.

I made a recipe of pizza dough...then John decided he'd rather have a turkey sandwich, which turned into not a turkey sandwich but a plate of turkey with some of the leftovers.  More power to him!  That fridge is packed with leftovers and I am trying to put on my thinking cap and determine what I can do with them all and fill the gaps in my freezer with ready to heat and eat meals.  I do have a few ideas.

I fashioned a second wreath from one of the older ones and did some decorating on our back porch entry area.  I have decided that with all the cedar on the place I can afford to keep trimming branches and using that as fresh greenery...Why on earth should I go buy more faux stuff when the cedar is free?

I used a coupon code good through Monday to purchase two items, something for John's Christmas and a book I'd been wanting for some time.  It saved me $10, more than the cost of shipping and tax on the two items.

Winter Produce: In Season, Best Buys

December, January, February

Belgian Endive
Brussels Sprouts
Buttercup Squash
Cactus Pear
Collard Greens
Date Plums
Delicata Squash
Mandarin Oranges
Maradol Papaya
Passion Fruit
Red Banana
Red Currants
Sharon Fruit
Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet Potatoes

Coffee Chat: Sweet November Done

Do come in....We'll likely have a few more coffee chats for a bit.  I'm worn slap out at the moment and despite decorating for Christmas and feeling inspired, I feel tired and that means inspiration thus far sputters.  Sputters do not start fires.  They just light up for a quick moment and then they are dead ash.  I was hoping for more, but considering all in all, I'll go in sputters for the time being.

How are YOU doing with the Thanksgiving leftovers?  I quelled mine and ended up with an impressive little bit of freezer meal magic for those super busy days ahead.  Butternut Soup (with a surprise addition) and a future filling for a turkey pot pie, and even a double portion of dressing and turkey with gravy for one of those days when we're less near gobbling.

I will do a quick share of our Thanksgivings.  I went to Sam and Bess' on Thursday for the DAY OF celebration.  Katie was too sick to come and that was fine.  It's a long drive when you feel quite well.  Sam decided to try frying his turkey and let me just tell you, I opened up my car door and could smell that bird cooking and it made me hungry right away.  And he'd just put it in!  It turned out absolutely delicious.  It takes far less time to fry a whole bird than it does to bake one.   John also had a fried turkey at his workplace and the other guys all brought in side dishes.  John contributed potato salad and macaroni salad and rolls.  He came home raving about his turkey, too.

The grandchildren were busy playing and had no time at all for acknowledging the presence of Gramma....though Josh did go stand at the window for a moment and he said wonderingly "It's Genny's car!"  He turned and saw me and smiled and that was it, the whole grand greeting of the Gramma.  That was fine.  It was obvious the children were having fun.

The Proverbial Woman Vs. 31

Proverbs 31:31  Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her words praise her in the gates.

Tav (Tahw) is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Numerically Tav represents renewal and restoration.   It's meaning is 'covenant, sign, seal' .  The Tav is said to have a foot to the left (remember Hebrew reads from right to left, just the opposite of how we read English) and because there is nothing to the left of that letter it is thought to be an indicator that there is something more to come, something unknown.  The pictograph for Tav is a cross...

T'nu-lah is our word here.  It relates to 'Give her...' but in the lexicon the word used is a more ancient root word, Nathan which also means 'give'.  It is not simply a handing over though, it means 'grant, recompense, appoint' so you see, it's an honorary sort of giving not just my handing over to you what is yours but it is more that something is being bestowed.

In My Home This Week: Sparkling and Shining Bright

In my home this week, I:
                          decorating my home for Christmas.  Of course, the photo above (and all the rest in this post are, as well) is from last year.  This year's will be....different!  Different from that one, at any rate.  I've had a few inspirations already.  I've only just started.  I've already figured out that I don't have all I thought I had...sigh.  lol  Oh well!  I love being creative and having fun, too.  For me, decorating or changing up a room feeds my creative urges and that leads me to think about things in a different sort of way which leads to inspiration in the kitchen, and in my wardrobe and on the blog.  Sort of a domino effect comes from it.  So I like to be creative and feed that muse.

Do you know what just amazes me?  People who not only decorate this weekend but already have their presents wrapped and under the tree!  Oh gee!  And I've only just this week begun doing my bit of shopping in earnest.  So far I've ordered two presents and then I have a bare handful of items for a few folks.  Not that we do a lot of shopping, but John seems to have fallen into the spirit of a little thing I wanted to do and keeps adding items in.  I'd promised to keep it to a certain spending and thus far he's the one whose bought and keeps suggesting still more things, lol. 

I had the worst foul mood come on me Friday evening.  No reason for it, none at all, and no idea why it even showed up but had you asked me for a recommendation for my husband, I'd have been hard pressed to give a decent one!  What did he do, you might ask?  Nothing.  He was dead tired from his 24 hour shift and he ate a big turkey dinner and did what most do after eating a heavy meal, he went right to sleep and that's what he did all afternoon long.  Which left me free to do whatever I pleased and apparently what I pleased was to sulk and feel resentful and snarky.  Ugh!  Glad the beast got tamed before she opened her mouth to let it all out.

The Proverbial Woman Vs. 30

Proverbs 31:30  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Sin (sheen) is our next to last letter.  Sin is represented by a pictograph of a molar tooth, known for it's ability to crush or destroy.  It is a letter said to represent God (El Shaddai) and may be found on the cover of many mezuzahs.  Mezuzah are small boxes nailed to the doorposts of homes and contain a small scroll of scripture.

Because of it's shape it is said to represent a three fold cord: husband, wife, God.

Our word in this verse is Sheker and it means deceit or falsehood, lie.

Overall the verse and word seem very straightforward.  Looking further at the letter Sin and it's meanings however, I noted that one author wrote that the three prongs of the letter denoted man's attempts to bring God down to their own level by idolatry, just as the men in Moses camp demanded that Aaron make them a god to worship when Moses was gone more days than they thought he might be.  They did not understand the enormity of the God they were called to be the people of and so they attempted to create a god, rather than acknowledge that the Creator of All was indeed more than anything they might fashion on their own!

Frugal Friday: Holiday Daze

I have been trying for over a year to get my violets to bloom once more.  They were losing leaves left and right and just not doing well at all.  I stumbled upon a pin about African violets which suggested bright sunlight and watering every time that the soil even began to feel dry.  I thought they were getting plenty of light where they were but obviously not.  I moved them to the kitchen window and both now have buds forming.  Per the Pinterest post I should move them from the window as soon as they begin to bloom...I was soooo close to getting rid of them because I thought they were done, but apparently I was very wrong!

Saturday:  I have a slight cold.  Nothing major but just enough of something to aggravate me and slow me down.  Well today is a rest day anyway.  I slept in this morning, unusual for me but I did, until nearly 9am.  Nice to get the extra rest before the long day tomorrow.

Put a chicken in the oven to roast.  I had Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash that I added to the pan a bit later.  I also put the green beans in the oven to heat a little later, still.  Dinner ready and my prep was minimal since I did it all yesterday.

Gave myself a manicure.  I used some of the Jamberry wraps I bought earlier in the summer months.  I have given a lot of these to my girls, but I kept a few for myself.  Glad I did.  I really am enjoying a more durable manicure.

The Proverbial Woman vs. 29

Proverbs 31:29  Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.

Resh (raysh) is the twentieth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It has a pictograph of a head and the meaning of the word is 'head'.  It represents enlightenment.  Every letter prior is a letter of goodness, but Resh, which comes near the end of the alphabet, represents that factor in all of us which is sinful.  However, it is not to say that the wickedness is permanent.  There is always the ability to choose to repent, hence, enlightenment.

Our word in this verse is Rabat which means 'many'.

Here we have the words of the husband, "Many women have done excellently..." I don't suppose any wife, once she has been married many years,  would deny that she'd like to hear the praise for a job well done.  Here at the last of her life, this woman is hearing the praise of her husband.

Thanksgiving Week Coffee Chat: A Mild Panic

Oh hello...come on in and let's talk a bit, shall we? 

I'm tired, battle weary sort of tired, and I don't see an end to it anytime soon. I'm talking, of course, about the state of things in the U.S.  I make it a point not to ask anyone for whom they voted, nor to answer should they ask me.  I don't think it's any more of my business to know for whom you voted than it's any of my business to know what you have in your bank account, or how often you and your husband enjoy that more intimate relationship.  In other words, I think that some boundaries are necessary and good.

I was wary this whole past 18 months (gracious it's felt like YEARS).  I've had my feelings hurt by the things people and candidates have said, but I kept quiet.  I knew, in my heart, that I wasn't those things they claimed I was if I voted for candidate A or candidate B.  I also knew that neither candidate was all they might be, but I listened too to hear where they stood on issues near and dear to my heart and watched how they acted in public,  as well.  Frankly I thought neither of them acted nicely.  I prayed hard and  long and voted my conscience.  It was not the first election in which I've had to vote for what I felt was the lesser evil and I mean it just as I say it.

What has hurt and wounded me most is that the outcome of the election has been so full of venom and awfulness.  It bothers me no end to hear a commentator on a news program state that she feels the rural areas have no business having a fair  number of electoral votes.  "I mean," she said "What business do farmers have to vote anyway?"    It bothers me to see videos of protestors being physically wounded.  It bothers me to see people sit and cry because they don't care for who won the election. It bothers me even more that many of those crying and protesting and now making public speeches, when pressed, will admit they didn't vote!   It bothers me to see public leaders at odds with the public.  It bothers me that no one seems to be aware that the newly elected President isn't going to not go into office just because there are unhappy people. You'd think it was the very first election in all these years that someone's party if we haven't been voting in this country for a good bit over 200 years now! 

The Proverbial Woman: Vs. 28

Proverbs 31: 29 Her children rise up and call her blessed;  her husband, also, and he praises her:

Kof (or Qoph) is our next letter. It is the nineteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The pictograph of this letter is a circle with a line through it. It is said to represent a thread being pulled through a needle.  The letter literally means 'nape' and  this symbolizes that which is behind.  Kof also has a meaning of holiness (kadosh begins with the letter kof) and with a cycle of some sort: of the week from the first day to the Sabbath, or a season, or of a life.

Our word is kamu and in the lexicon it is transliterated to the more ancient root word "quwm" meaning 'to arise'.  The expanded meaning of the word here is that her children stand up and confirm, establish, or decree.  I do not know that this is vocalized as much as it is confirmed by how they act in their adulthood.  ...her husband, also...

When I first began working with this passage it was another of those which required some deep digging and deep thinking.  I struggled with it but focused on the pictograph of a threaded needle.  I saw the Proverbial Woman's life as a tapestry, a larger tapestry than any she crafted with her hands.  That vision of her was confirmed later when I began to find other sites to help explain what the letter kof stood for.  In a larger sense, her sphere of influence was far greater than just her home.  So I asked myself, 'Who were her children?'   The word used for children is 'ben' which translates immediately as 'son of' but has an expanded meaning of community and nation.  I realized that this woman's sphere of influence was large.  The people whom she touched with her daily life were her
community.  In the greater sense they were also her children. 

This Week In My Home: It's the Most Wonderful Time...

This week in my home, I...

...will likely arrive a little bit late.  I'm going to go down to Sam's to see him baptized.  I can't tell you all what this means to me. 

Both my girls gave their life to Christ in their early years, but not Samuel.  He didn't want to talk about it or hear about it.  He often went to church for long spells of time and was genuinely moved by the preaching but he just stubbornly refused to take that one necessary step of surrendering.  So to have him give his life to Christ finally, I can't miss seeing him baptized!

We're gearing up here in the States for the big holiday season.  We lead off with Thanksgiving this Thursday and from there it's work party, family gathering, invites here and there and Christmas and New Year's.  The next six weeks are pretty much a breathtaking ride to 2017.

Weekend Reading

I love looking at old homes and it doesn't bother me a bit to see them in their abandoned state.  I'd prefer to see every old building and home restored but I still love looking at the history of the site.  These were interesting to me for that reason.

These 2017 color predictions were far more interesting than any that Pantone has come up with in the last few years.  I could see myself choosing several of these.

Some of these sweet potato recipes  sound really good.  I've tried sweet potato biscuits and sweet potato pie crust myself and will attest they are delicious.  But my favorite way to eat a sweet potato?  Pulled piping hot, in the skin, right out of the oven, split open with a generous pat of butter melting inside it and eating it right away just like that.

Frugal Friday: UnFinished Projects Week

Saturday:  Dinner in the crockpot this morning so we can eat at midday.  I mixed a half pound of ground beef with some leftover brown rice to stretch it.  That made my filling for stuffed green peppers.  Green Peppers are loaded with vitamin C, as is tomato soup, which also went into the same crockpot.  John was a bit under the weather with something like a cold/allergy.  I was sure this would help boost his body back to good health.

Rinsed and stacked dishes.  The dishwasher upper rack is broken.  I knew when I loaded the dishes, the bottom rack would be filled to capacity...I washed a full load of dishes this evening and let them air dry.

Finished making John's work lunch for tomorrow.

Sunday:  Packed John's work lunch and made his breakfast.

It was cold out.  I sent him off to work with a cup of coffee in a to go cup which we've had on hand since last December.

The Proverbial Woman: vs. 27

Proverbs 31: 27  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Tsade (tsah-dee) is the eighteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The 'ts' in this word is pronounced the same way the 'ts' is in 'nuts'.  Tsade  got it's name from it's shape which replicates a fishing hook or a bird trap.  Tsade is from the root word, tzod, meaning "capture, hunt, catch".

The word in our verse is tsaphah and means "to look out, to keep watch".  It derives from a primitive root word that means "to lean forward, to look into the distance."

Here I think we get a far clearer understanding of our Proverbial Woman.  In simply reading as the words stand it is quite easy to see the Western understanding of this woman is that she is always busy.  But in studying the Hebrew, one gains a deeper perspective.

In the day and age in which she lived, the cities were protected by walls and gates.  Upon those walls were watchmen.  Their duty was to look constantly beyond the walls of the city, both near and far.  Watchmen paid attention to what was going on: who came into the city, who went out of the city, who was coming from the distance.  While on duty a watchmen was not sleeping.  He had to constantly be about his business of watching, aware of the present moment right up until the moment he was relieved of duty.

The Proverbial Woman vs. 26

Proverbs 31:26  She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Pey is our seventeenth letter.  The pictograph looks like a mouth.  This letter is a caution to watch our words.  Following as it does upon the heels of 'ayin it is a reminder to let the inner eye assess and determine the situation in full before speaking.  Some Jewish sages believe that what we speak becomes reality, so it is truly a caution to watch what is said.  As a Christian, I long ago began to believe that my words had power and felt my spirit cautioned to be careful of those things I might say, in peace, anger or even in jest. 

Indeed the Bible has many powerful references to this.  When I was looking for one particular verse (Proverbs 18:21), these other references came up as well.  Just look at this link to that one page!

Proverbs 18:21  The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat it's fruit.

Book Review: In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett

I've recently read In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett.

I loved watching the Carol Burnett Show when I was growing up.  I thought Ms. Burnett was personable and seemed very much a person anyone might easily get to know.  I was aware that she was a renowned comedic actress but she certainly seemed very approachable and that was in part because of her question and answer sessions at the beginning of her shows.  In this book, she explains how these sessions were meant to do just that: make her seem girl next door, approachable and real.

A Budget Balanced Meal

I've longed to make a certain recipe for a bit over a year now.  Last week I finally did.  It  came about as the result of a leftover makeover.  I thought about each ingredient as I put the recipe together: Broccoli.  I was using stems and a few florets that I steamed together.  I have been guilty many times of not using the stems as I've planned to do but this time, I did use forethought and steamed them while steaming the florets for a meal.  I had a few florets left and chopped the stems up with them.  There was the broccoli called for in the recipe and it was using up every bit of that food.  Not bad thus far.

Croutons was the next ingredient.  I make these using leftover slices of bread, those too small to make toast or a sandwich and the end pieces.  I generally put the cubed bread in the oven when I have it on to bake something else.  I remove the item that was cooking, set the pan of bread cubes in the oven and turn off the heat.  Generally within an hour or so I have a pan of croutons.  So this ingredient too was inexpensive.

I knew the recipe called for two different salad dressings:  Blue Cheese and Ranch.  I'd just made up a half recipe of  Ranch dressing over the weekend.  John prefers Blue Cheese or French.  The Ranch dressing wasn't  likely to be finished before spoiling.  No hardship to use it up to avoid waste.  The Blue Cheese dressing is more pricey.  I was cautious about using that ingredient.

In fact, from here the recipe and my made up version were widely variant.  I did not want to use half a jar of that dressing in my recipe!  That would have increased the cost by $2.  The recipe also called for 6 eggs...Nope wasn't going to do that either.  That was another $.50 in cost.  8 ounces of shredded cheddar...Uhm nooooo...Cost $1.79.  This simple little recipe meant to use up a variety of things leftover was now escalating into the $4 range, a per serving cost of about $1 each serving.  No, I just failed to see the economy in that!

Now I've shared that I seldom know the cost per meal I serve or even the cost per serving of any recipe, but common sense helped me this time.  Had this been a main course, $1 per serving is not too far a reach, but it was meant to be a side dish.  I decided at this point expertise was going to have to come into play over recipe.  Eggs are generally meant for binding in a strata type recipe.  I knew from past experience at altering these types of recipes that 6 eggs are just not necessary.  I decreased the Blue Cheese Dressing by half and used milk in place of it.  A thinner liquid by all means but it worked just fine and I did have the egg for thickening the liquid.  I added 1 beaten egg, and half the cheese called for.  In the end, my Broccoli Strata total cost came in somewhere closer to  $1.80 for four servings.  Still a little high but far better than $1 per serving.  And this was a half recipe I was making, not a full recipe!  By the way, the Strata set up just fine and tasted awesome.  Even the leftovers were good.

As I planned menus last week, I looked at several recipes.  Many I'd have loved to try or make once more, but I couldn't...They weren't part of my budget balanced meal plan.   I found myself looking at recipes and meal plans overall differently... All because of  that  silly bit of leftover broccoli I wished to use!


The Proverbial Woman: vs. 25

Proverbs 31:25  Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the days to come.

'Ayin(ah-yeen) is our next letter. Like the letter aleph  the letter 'ayin is a silent letter, having no sound of it's own.  The pictograph for this letter is an eye.    The word 'ayin means 'eye' or 'to see' and has an expanded meaning of 'understand'  and 'obey'.  It might be said that this eye is an inner eye, representing the Holy Spirit vision and helps us determine between good and evil.   In other words, we live rightly we can easily distinquish between right and wrong and will make the right choices if we've allowed Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and control our heart.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

Our word here is 'Az meaning "strength".  It comes from an ancient root word which has a deeper meaning than physical strength.  It denotes spiritual strength.  There is a second word in this verse that begins with 'Ayin and that is 'acharown which means 'latter'

I referred to the  Proverial Woman in our previous verse as being spiritually prepared.  This verse, in analysis of the Hebrew, gives ample evidence of that.  Her 'clothing' here are truly her spiritual character.  The word that is translated as dignity also translates into 'excellence' and 'majestic',both words which gives an added depth of meaning.  That she 'laughs' represents her joy in  her own latter  days when she is standing before the throne of God.     

In My Home This Week: Autumn Lull

In my home this week:

I had a full week last week.  Guests, traveling, groceries, errands.  John is currently nursing something that appears to be more allergy than a cold but it's wanting to settle in his chest.  He's taking lots of Vitamin C and drinking plenty of fluids.  He's not running fever, so there is that...

The entertainment value alone of the bird bath outside the living room windows is awesome.  Right this minute there are two Blue jays and a Red headed Woodpecker squabbling over water rights.  I've seen Blue birds, Cardinals, Mockingbirds and Brown Threshers out there but the Jays are the most predominant.  I think I shall see if I can't set up water in other areas about the yard, and see about getting some bird feeders and seed set out as well.  I've noticed Misu stops by for a drink when she comes back from the fields by the way.  She never bothers the birds, but she will climb the steps and stretch out to drink from the bird bath before heading back to her home base on the front porch.

Something went on with my computer this past week and I lost every single item on my favorites lists.  All the bloggers I normally visit on Friday evening and Saturdays, all my saved posts to share with you readers for weekend reading, recipes,  research sites.  Wiped completely out.  No clue why either.  Oh well.  I normally would clear that out in December anyway and start fresh.  And I figured since I had a head start why not sort out Pinterest (deleted a good bit there) and then went on to my Home Notebook and pulled out all the budget sheets, calendars, goals listings and such that I'd accumulated over the past year.  It too is now ready for a fresh start to the New Year ahead.

I've been thinking about Christmas plans.  There's a family dinner the second weekend in December and we should have our gifts ready by then.  I haven't planned a menu of any sort for that nor for Christmas and New Year's.  I have not planned our treats for Chanukah. I have Christmas cards...and that seems to be my sole preparation for the holidays ahead thus far. 

Well obviously this coming week will be about planning and executing my plans.  As far as I know I'll have two days this week alone, and those are my primary working days.  I will spend a few hours with Mama, but am by no means spending all day long with her, so there will be things accomplished that day. 

Well, I seem to be ready to plan my work week, so I might as well get started!

...I plan my work week:

Holiday plans will be made: menus, décor, gifts, treats, baking. 

Address Christmas cards and have them ready for John to sign.  It might seem early but I prefer to send them after Thanksgiving and since I am traveling and have guests and am cooking a proper Thanksgiving Meal for John and I that week I'd like to have them done before the busy section of that week begins.

Baking for Thanksgiving started.  I can make pastry shells and cookies ahead.  I can make up cornbread and biscuits for dressing.  and sweetpotatoes are baked.

Make a small batch of Apple Jelly.

Plan autumn wardrobe.  It's finally here and I feel I am ill prepared for it.  My wardrobe is limited, more than I'd thought it might be despite the new additions so I really need to plan out what I can wear and how many outfits I can manage.

Make a pillow for the chair in my room.

Paint something.  Backdoor interior,  kitchen cabinets, armoire in kitchen...I have plenty to paint!  I have plenty of paint.  I just need to get busy. all but the two above the fridge

Hang the two new plaques I bought from Katie.

Retrieve a few items I am seriously missing that I think we stored in the shed.  Not a lot of stuff but little things I'd like to have indoors once more.

Pantry and freezer inventory.

Try to knock out more Proverbs 31 posts and hopefully finish up that series this month.

Finish the review book I'm reading and post a review.

Go through books and determine which will make good gifts for others.

An afternoon of list making: clothing needs, pantry needs, projects for next year, items wanted for home and garden...

...I plan meals:

Stuffed Peppers, Brussels Sprouts, Mashed Potatoes, Gingerbread Pear Trifle

on my own x 2

Chili Pineapple Chicken, Rice,  Snow Peas, Egg Rolls

Beef Pot Pie, Slaw, Baked Apples

Tamale Pie, Corn, Green Salad,  Pico de gallo

Kielbasa, Cabbage, Pierogi (homemade)

...I plan my leisure:

It's not really leisure but I do enjoy my Beauty Spa morning.  I haven't had one in a few weeks and look forward to doing this for myself this week.

Gather my study, Bible and devotional books for 2017.

Gather my Christmas books to read in December.

Put together a week or so worth of outfits.

Hook up the DVD player and see if I can't watch just one of my movies.

I am just longing for a good thrift store plunder.  I will try to get out to one or two of my favorite shops this week.

The Proverbial Woman Vs. 24

Proverbs 31:24  She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchants.

Samekh(sahm-keh) is the fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  The pictograph of this letter resembles a shield.  The ancient root work for Samekh means "to lean upon", "to uphold", "to support".  The sages say that samekh also represents the cyclical upward spiral of seasons.  It is also said to represent the sukkah,  a shelter that represented the omnipresence of God and his continual protection.

The Hebrew word here in this verse is samakh meaning "cloak, or linen garment" according to one translation of the Hebrew.  The lexicon word used is "cadiyn" which means 'to envelop' or 'wrap around'. 

Digging thru the lexicon meanings of each of the words in this verse, I get a sense of a much, much deeper meaning.  For one thing, the garments she makes are described as sheets or a sort of gown worn next to the bare skin. The sashes are described in the lexicon as a  'girdle'.  If you read about Jewish funerary traditions, the traditional burial clothing includes the sheets or shroud which envelops the body as well as a sort of belt that is tied about the waist.  The garments meant for death also are meant to represent the priestly clothing worn by the priests.  Tradition was that only very pious women made the garments worn by the Jewish dead.

Two things I note in the study of this verse.  First, we've already established that this woman has a strong spiritual character, is known for her devotion to God.  Hence she is making funeral garments for the dead.  As befits Jewish tradition she is seen as a pious woman in her community.

Second I note that while we've studied throughout these verses her impact upon the living in her community, she also has an impact upon those who've died.  Funeral laws and services were sacred and strongly adhered to.  A funeral would be postponed if proper funeral garments were not available for some reason.  It was considered an honor to be in attendance in the rituals of preparing a body to meet God. 

Her preparations on the behalf of others though is not all there is to this verse.  I think this verse also refers to her own state of spirituality being such that at any time she is ready to meet the Creator.  She has no unfinished business, she has no reparations to make, no tangles to continue to work out.  She has reached a state of spiritual preparedness. 

Frugal Friday: My Best Efforts

Friday: Packed John's work lunch and made him breakfast before he headed out to work this morning.

I was planning my day when my guest's  changed plans and announced he was arriving five hours earlier.  Boy did that throw me into overdrive.  Plans got tossed, new plans were made and some things just didn't get done.  We'll do our best to manage without those things.

Made a pan of Gingerbread and a pan of Brownies.  I hope that will see me through the company weekend but I'm not convinced it will...

The weather man promised cooler weather this afternoon but it hasn't happened yet.  Nor the heavy winds supposed to blow in that cold front.  Phooey!

Having the doors opened and shut a hundred times in a half hour made Gramma give a mandate:  Stay inside!  After all the AC was running and both doors were wide open.  I convinced them the gnats belonged outdoors.

Prepped food ahead earlier today for the two big weekend meals. 

I washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Read a saved pin on a sure fire way to care for African violets.  One step I can't manage exactly but I'm going to attempt a variation on it.  The other things I CAN do.  When NOT blooming the plants apparently like more direct sunlight.  When blooming they should get slightly less.  I swear they look happier already just having spent the day in the kitchen window.

From past experience I've learned the best time to work up my bills and write out my checks is when I am ALONE.  That means undistracted.  That means I can concentrate and have clarity about what I'm doing.  It meant that today when I was balancing my checkbook and getting ready to write out my check for house insurance I was able to clearly and accurately access just what I could pay (the needed amount) and couldn't (the extended amount I'd thought I could)...I realized that I would be two payments ahead, which means over the holiday season when things seem to be thinner than usual, I have a payment set aside.  And in January, when I'm trying to adjust to a new annual and first quater budget, I have that payment set aside.  Perhaps I can pay it off early.  Perhaps next year I can pay it in full, but there are blessings in having a little extra set aside right now to pave the way to a smoother finish for this year.

Saturday:  It turned off a bit cooler this morning, though the big blow in of cold weather promised failed to show up at all.  Phooey on weathermen!  However, it meant the AC only came on a few times this afternoon and not very often at that, even with the kids leaving the interior doors open most all afternoon.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner...Oh boy!  Meals were easy enough today.  I employed paper plates for two meals and the children each had a disposable cup that I used a permanent chalk pen to mark with their initials.  Snacks weren't asked for and weren't given which seems easy enough when you think about it.  The kids cleaned their plates and had dessert after two meals and that two seemed easy enough.  It was a sign of how good and hungry they were!  I have a few brownies left and half a Gingerbread and that's despite making just an 8x8 pan of each. I put out a bowl of fruit with the lunch sandwiches and allowed them each to eat a piece of fruit each before setting out a tiny portion of dessert each which suited them all just fine. 

My shoulder roast was rather substantial.  We'll eat roast and roast beef sandwiches this next week.

I poured off a quart of rich beefy broth from the roast before I made gravy.  That was set aside to use as soup base this week.

John washed a full load of clothes this evening.  We used the dryer so our son could go ahead and pack them up to take back home.  We 'saved' the load of towels and cloths for a separate load tomorrow and those we will hang out to dry on the line.

I washed a full load of dishes this evening.

I drained the water from the peas (no salt) I steamed before salting and buttering the peas.  That pea water went over the hydrangea which is putting out some new growth now that it's getting watered a little more regularly.

I cut up an apple to put in the salad today.  I put it to soak in lemon and water.  That was a bad move with this variety of apple (Cortland).  It got soft and mushy.  They are delicious for eating out hand but rapidly turn brown when exposed to air.  I think these would be a great pie or cake apple, too.

Sunday:  The one nice thing about daylight savings time is getting up at 7am and finding the sun shining.  I'd already gotten rather tired of getting up at 7am and until 7:45am until the sun rose. 

Made homemade waffles for the hungry horde who needed to polish off the doughnuts to get really full...

Fed cat and dog plate scrapings from yesterday.  There wasn't much, mind, but it was a nice addition to their foodbowls.

John washed a full load of clothes and hung to dry.  He commented that it looked like we'd used every single towel in the house.  I told him "No, there's one clean one in our bath and one you missed washing in the other bath."  lol.  He was amazed at how many towels 6 guests can use, even if they just use one a piece.

Dug down in my freezer and discovered that we had another full multipack of  sausage patties.

I was quite surprised at the children's appetites.  They do not snack, but at meal time they EAT.  I promise you they ate every bite I ate at all meals.  I was impressed.  No, they are not overweight but they are quite active as you'd expect.

What a joy to watch the children scuffle through the leaves in the back yard.  True it's so dry and dusty they stirred a bit of dust doing it but I well recall scuffling through a pile of leaves with Josie twelve years ago when she was but two and the sound it makes is quintessentially autumn, as is the aroma of the dry leaves.

I put out a variety of sandwiches for lunch.  There were a few leftover luncheon meat sandwich halves from yesterday, peanut butter and jelly and toasted cheese.

We went through the house three times separately, us three adults, trying to insure nothing of import was left behind.  The children had brought along toys but were forewarned if anything got left behind it would not be shipped home, it would just stay here until next visit.  Past experience on our's pricey to mail and nine times out of ten they are no longer interested in the item when it arrives.

Leftovers for supper were from our pot roast meal.  There's enough left yet to make a hash meal sometime in the week ahead.

Monday:  Can I tell you what I didn't do today?  I didn't go buy bread or stock up on milk and eggs nor purchase a generator, etc.  Frankly I will tell you that there are good reasons to be prepared but an election seems the least of our worries in this nation.  I made a facebook post about this election business this evening and it's the only post there will be from me.  I'm about sick of it all and I mean it. Bullying, scare tactics, threats and such just don't appeal to me in the least.

What I did do:  Made a batch of banana bread using very ripe bananas.

Made a leftover makeover (no photos, alas) with some leftover broccoli.  All of our noon meal was leftovers.  I transformed two of those items.

We went down to pick up John's check.  On our way we picked up mail, took off trash, went by the bank, dropped off outgoing mail, and on our way home we deposited the electric bill.

We went to the DIY stores again.  I finished purchasing the blocks needed to complete the last flower bed I'd made up.  I also bought a half dozen snapdragons and a flat of nine kale.  It's a start on my fall plantings. I paid for the blocks and snapdragons from my pocket money.

John had a list of things he wanted/needed to do projects.  He'd priced items online.  We found alternate items that saved a few dollars.  We also didn't get a couple of items that we could not find nor could we find reasonable substitutes for. Nevertheless there's a 'setpoint' total we seem to keep coming to with our spending.

Although we were just blocks from Aldi, it was end of the day rush hour traffic.  Too hectic paced to even think of fighting our way down through several traffic lights to do the shopping.  We'll just do the extra trip over a little later in the week.

We opted to come home for supper where we finished off the last of several items.

In the mail, I received a gift card for $10 off a purchase from Ulta.  I needed primer and this was a wonderful 'bonus'.  I was able to get primer and a couple of other items for $7 out of pocket, less than I'd have paid for the same brand at stores 40 miles away. 

John washed and hung to dry two loads of  bed clothes.

No AC today.  We left home before it got stuffy indoors.  When we came in it was nearly dark and rapidly cooling down outdoors, so I simply turned on the whole house fan until the temperature dropped a few degrees.

Tuesday:  We were in no hurry to leave home today though we had plans to shop for groceries.  It happens this way when John has a full week of time off.  We slow down. A lot.

Shopped at Aldi first.  I did just what I said I'd do.  I bought only what we needed NOW for the two weeks ahead.  With the exception of cheese.  John pointed out two very good prices on cheese, both cheddar and cream.  He couldn't believe I didn't want to stock up.  I doubled my original plan and left it at that.  We also bought our Thanksgiving turkey breast this day because in two weeks I will have to shop during Thanksgiving week which is NEVER fun.  As well it will be our short pay period.  Not a good time to need to buy a pricier item.  I came in at exactly the amount I wanted to spend today, despite stopping off at CVS.  Then a stop at Publix where I picked up exactly what was on my list and nothing more.  I felt good about this shopping trip. 

We stopped at the local diner and got our midday meal.  John paid from his pocket money.

When I'd put away groceries, I pared four pears we'd had left from last pay period.  When they get spotty looking, John won't touch them and I admit I find them less appetizing looking.  I was surprised to find they were still fairly firm and juicy.  Nevertheless, I sliced them and cooked them with some sugar and a bit of water.  I couldn't find my powdered ginger (sitting on the counter last time I saw it...) so I dropped in a couple of slices of ginger root and a splash of lemon juice.  Letting it cook down until all the liquid was evaporated made a nice half pint of Pear Butter.

I had leftover roast, broth, green beans, gravy and green peas in the fridge.  I chopped the roast, mixed all the ingredients with a half can of tomatoes and half a can of tomato sauce (also leftover) and half a can of canned potatoes diced.  I cooked this most of the afternoon until it became a thick savory stew.  It was super good for supper on this chilly fall evening for supper.

Gathered items meant to go to Katie's.  I had new bath rugs I'd purchased over the summer that I'd decided I didn't want to use in our bathroom now the cabinets are white. 

I also carried a new blouse that was too snug in the hip area for me.

True to our word, John and I watched movies all evening long.  Not even a peek at Facebook, news feeds nor news channels.  Regardless of outcome we voted for the candidate that came nearer our personal convictions. 

Wednesday:  I did not sleep well last night.  I let a silly thing worry me and it went round and round and round in my brain until I very nearly felt crazy. Reason finally reigned.  And what was all this worry about?  That stupid house insurance bill, the very one I'd saved money to pay.  How unreasonable was my worry?  I didn't want to have the bank balance drop once I'd paid the bill!  Lordy the way I will let stupid fear get hold of me at times!

John woke me at 5am this morning to tell me who'd won the election.  Awake anyway, I figured I might as well work on Swagbucks.  Glad I did.  I managed to get a survey!

Normally, we stop for breakfast on our way to Katie's.  Since we were up so early this morning, John made me a beautiful breakfast plate with fruit and eggs and toast.  Lovely way to start an autumn morning with good things packed into it to look forward to.

We stopped to pick up dinner to take to Katie's.  I had John get extra for their supper.  It seemed unfair to have her husband miss our visit and a special dinner, too. Nothing fancy but a meal we all consider a treat.

Pleased I carried along the rugs.   Katie loved them for her kitchen.  She also loved the blouse.  And then she surprised me with a blouse she'd culled from a friend's donate/giveaway pile.  I loved it!

No apples found at roadside stands...or even open roadside stands either.

We drove home and made toasted cheese sandwiches here for our dinner.

Thursday:   We had a relatively quiet day at home today.

I was unloading the dishwasher this morning when my upper dish rack slipped  out of place.  This has been ongoing for 20 years and was no great surprise.  The roller assembly broke in two pieces this time however.  We found another set on EBay for $7.50 and ordered the set.  I told John that's none too shabby for a 20 year old dishwasher to need only one repair in all these years.  It's a GE by the way and I think it's long usage without a bit of trouble certainly is a great recommendation for the brand.

Although the lettuce from Saturday's leftover green salad looked a bit brown about the edge, the lettuce was still quite good.  I am so determined these days to let little go to waste that I picked out the brownest and put the rest in a bowl.

Katie sent us home with two dozen lovely ripe (or almost) roma tomatoes.  Her bushes decided to have a second life.  They were still loaded with green tomatoes and fresh blooms yesterday.

So much for the no waste mandate.  I found a tablespoon each of pimento cheese and egg salads at the back of the drawer.

Saw bluebirds at the bird bath this afternoon...That's a nice addition to the blue jays, cardinals, and  mocking birds.  I refilled the bath this afternoon.  It was bone dry.  I used some of the water I took out to water the plants I just bought.

Although the dishwasher might well be without a top rack I filled the bottom rack and washed as full a load of dishes as I could.

We hung jeans to dry on the line.  I hung our bath towels and mat out to dry and freshen after our showers.

Friday:  Made oatmeal for breakfast.  It is truly one of our favorite cold weather breakfasts and I can't beat the low price, even with adding an egg to the dish.

Stretched a half pound of ground beef with a bit of Italian turkey sausage (1 link) and rice to make stuffed bell peppers for tomorrow's dinner.  I set the other half pound of ground beef aside to use in another entrée for the first part of next week.

Made a half recipe of a new recipe.  I've been doing this often lately partly because I have no need of a recipe that serves 6-8 and partly to extend the meats we have on hand.  The recipe was delicious if a little more saucy than we would eat at one sitting.  I used the leftovers and the extra pasta cooked to set aside an entrée for myself for Sunday.

Planted all the flowering kale and snapdragons.

Packed up John's lunch for Sunday.  Because his sandwiches tend to dry out if left in the refrigerator over the weekend I put them in a zippered bag to keep fresher.

I used bottled water from my stored supply to water some of plants.

Turned off all unnecessary lights during the day all week long.

Keeping the heat down to 68f.

I'm calling this a week.  What did you do to save this week?


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...