This Week In My Home...Migraine Version

 This week in my home...

Ugh.  I woke with a headache this morning and the thing has stuck with me all day long.  It's a migraine but I don't have the horrid headaches that I used to have with them.  These days the migraine manifests with a very mild headache but a general feeling of malaise, tension in my shoulders and neck, a bit of nausea, a desire for intense quiet (so you know my husband has been super chatty today) and a hypersensitivity to aromas.  I nearly lost it over a bar of Zest soap.  This shall pass, I know and if it's not done with by bedtime I'll drop some lavender oil on a soft cloth and breathe in deep.

Nevertheless, a plan for the week ahead must be tended to and rightly so.  No one wants a free for all week in this house.  Our stores of meat are getting very low and I need to use all my thinking powers to stretch what I have until I can get time and money together to visit the meat market.  Groceries must be bought, bills paid, money saved.  February will be a hard month for us.  Car tags, property taxes and and four birthdays in 29 days.  Yep.

Assigning Value To Our Days Frugal Friday, End of January

A manicure done for me by Katie.  She used gel polish and an LED light to set the coats.  This is one hard wearing manicure.  I'm duly impressed by how well it has held up over the week.  

January 23:  We left home today to visit with Katie.  I knew her planned menu and carried along Parmesan cheese and bread for garlic bread and a peach cobbler I made with peaches I put up two summers ago (still perfectly good), as well as whipped topping from the freezer.  I loved pulling items off my pantry shelf and not having to stop to purchase.  Oh and I can't forget I brought along my own whole wheat pasta  for myself (John ended up eating that, too) to help keep my blood sugars fairly stable.

We stopped and picked up mail on our way out of the drive and I found I'd been chosen to receive a free Wanda Brunstetter book because I'd written her a quick note.  I was very pleased with my new free book!

The visit was lovely.  Katie offered to do my nails and I decided to go daring and chose a color that surprised her.  Pretty teal was my top choice and Katie chose the accent nail color.

I took along the package of items I'd meant to mail off to her...You can tell our trip was last minute can't you if I had a package sealed and ready to mail?  That saved me about $12...which happened to be what it cost us in gasoline.  It was a very worthwhile trade and a prime example of what I mean when I say I saved money to 'use elsewhere'.  I'd much rather have driven up to see Katie and taken the stuff along than send it off and not seen her!

Katie gifted me a plum colored eye liner she didn't care for, which happened to be something I'd put on my mental shopping list.  I love when things work out that way.  Another moment of savings I can use elsewhere.

In My Home This Week...

This week in my home...

Winter has finally arrived here in Georgia.  That means it's cooler, what we'd call cold, but some of you might snicker at our idea of cold.  It's winter because it rains far more often and seldom a week goes by without at least one full day of showers and sometimes more often.  The propane truck came Thursday with a delivery of gas and left black scars on the lawn.  No complaints.  This too is normal for soggy ground this time of year.   The weather men tell us there will be snow, a chance of snow, no snow, well maybe snow...  It is not weather conducive to getting outdoors and doing much. It is perfect weather to rummage through drawers and closets and cupboards and reading good books.  It is weather for hot cocoa and grilled cheese sandwich suppers and pots of popped corn for snack.  It is the right weather to snug into a cozy sweat shirt and pants and a stack of vintage magazines.  It is the right weather to read a big deep book from which you wake with a sense of having been in reality and finding yourself now falling out of it.  I find I'm liking winter rather well at the moment and I mean that sincerely.    We'll see how I feel about it come end of February...

Assigning Value To Our Days on Frugal Friday

Homemade biscuits...Yum.  I learned long ago to add whole wheat flour to my biscuit dough ( you can substitute up to half the flour as whole wheat but remember when you use whole wheat flour to slightly increase the liquid) back in our low carb days so that we can treat ourselves occasionally.  Glad I did, as it's nice for diabetic diet as well.  Sure were good this briskly cold morning with a spoonful of sausage gravy.

January 16:  Kept it simple today.  I couldn't completely prepare our dinner ahead yesterday but it took only minutes this midday to have it all ready.  I made calzone using some meatballs I found in my beef basket in the freezer, some leftover sauce from a spaghetti dinner a couple of weeks ago and variety of cheese from the fridge.  I priced ricotta yesterday ($3.99 for a 1 cup sized container) and cottage cheese (2.99 for a half pint, both at local store).  I opted to not buy those items and used what I had on hand as a substitute, a little dab of Neufchatel cheese which added the creaminess I wanted in the calzone without adding a ton of fat or calories.

Spent the afternoon perusing some of the vintage magazines.

Applied for a free subscription to Family Circle magazine.  That's a savings of $12 at most subscription rates.

It was so nice outdoors that we opened windows and aired the house a little bit.  It kept it from getting stuffy indoors and necessitating use of the air conditioner.  Such weather we have in Georgia!

We tag teamed the kitchen this evening.  John made supper of pan fried hot dogs (reheating leftovers) and I made his work lunch sandwiches.

I Wonder As I Wander, Winter 2016

A fat yellow bud is dangling on one of the daffodils.  It is in a spot where by rights it should be the last to bloom as it's facing due north and is in a shaded spot.  But's getting ready to burst forth in joyfulness, not at all caring that it is far and ahead of the other daffodils who only this week sent up stems with gently swelling heads.  Watching it there in that spot, in that shaded, cold spot that rarely gets sun, makes me wonder why I have struggled so with blooming where I am.

My growing conditions are hardly difficult...well there are worries here and there but you know what I mean.  I have a decent home and have been blessed to make it as beautiful and lovely as I might with my limitations.  I have a loving husband and altogether a happy abiding place.  And I'll grant you I'm about 90 times happier where I am today but two years ago?  In this exact same place?  Grumble, grouse, weep and gnash teeth, complain complain complain...

What changed?  I decided to bloom where I'm planted.  I was always waiting for the next move, a move that hasn't come in 20 years and from all appearances may never come.   I'm not sure why I was so certain that this was not a forever place.

Oh maybe it's because I had such high hopes and dreams when I moved here.  It wasn't just about giving my children the land to play on as I'd had as a child.  It wasn't just about being nearer Granny.  I'd thought, I'd hoped, I'd reconnect with my brothers.  I'd hoped to resolve the stony (because rocky hardly begins to describe it) relationship with my mother.  The children grew quickly, oh too quickly!, and moved away and Chuck took his life, Mama and I continued to struggle, and my younger brother made it more than plain that he had no need of me in his life, not even as a distant acquaintance.  Grandchildren were born and lived far away.  No third generation to run and play and imagine here as I'd dreamed.  And Granny died.  So many dreams gone kaplooey.

We went to the mountains on vacation about two years ago.  While we were weaving our way around a stony old mountain face, I spied a wildflower growing out of the face of the rock.  Just that one flower, right smack in the middle of heaven knows how many tons of granite.  How that seed lodged there and found enough nutrient to bloom is only God's knowledge because it is beyond mine.  That was the vacation I spent weeping and moaning and being angry about how disappointed I was to find myself in this place in my life.  That flower brought me up short and it made me determined to find my own way to get my roots down into where I am and bloom for all I was worth despite the disappointments and losses and hurts.  It made me determined to make my home a home and to stop treating it like a temporary lodging place, putting off doing those things that would make my soul sing simply because I might move off and leave them one day.  Like planting daffodils...

Waste Not...Frugal Lessons

This photo from some time back but I've just heard on "The Kitchen" on FoodTV that you can freeze whole lemons, limes and oranges.  They said just to thaw in the fridge, or if you want to zest them, do so while frozen.  You can also microwave for about 15 seconds if you want to thaw quickly so that you can juice them.  And here I'd thought I'd had such a great idea freezing lemon juice in cubes and slices of lemons.  To be sure they took up a lot less room...And can you imagine getting bonked by a frozen orange that rolls out of the freezer?  ouch!

 I really enjoy "The Kitchen".  I like the pace of the program which is a bit quicker than most food shows and I like the chattiness of it.  I also love the quick hints given here and there.  This week's program was called The Savings Show, so you know I had to tune in to hear that one.  I do look for new ways to save on an almost daily basis because honestly being frugal is my nature but it's also my hobby in a way.

In today's episode it was stated that the average American wastes 20 pounds of food a year.  Now I'm personally sure that you, like myself, have worked pretty hard to lose nowhere near 20 pounds of the foodstuffs in your home, but remember that figure is an average.  However, having just tossed about a half pound of Brussels Sprouts due to their extreme bitterness and unpleasant texture after freezing, I can tell you that I am not immune to wasting food here and there. It happens to all of us.

Retirement Remedies: Winter Wardrobe Options

It's time for a seasonal change and time I pieced together a few things for real winter weather just in case we actually have some.  Mind you, here in the deep South we don't get the negative readings friends further north get, nor do we very often find ourselves in snow, so my wardrobe is naturally a little lighter than some of you might wear but it's definitely 'bundle up' sort of wear for me.

I'll start with the camel wool coat Mama gave me which fits me just so.

It will be especially nice over these next two outfits I think:

The one above is meant for a dressier outfit.  I paired my own short sleeved sweater vest with along sleeved shirt Virginia gave me (more terracotta and less peach than the photo makes it appear) and a vintage crocodile handbag.  The pants are a plaid lined wool pant that Mama gave me as a pants suit.  The jacket does nothing at all for me, being both boxy and collarless and I've skipped it entirely. You can get a better idea of the pants below.

In My Home This Week: January 17-23

This week in my home...

I've just finished flipping through a magazine from January 1937.  Lots of advertisements for Canned Pineapple and lots of suggestions on how to use it.  One author suggested taking spears of pineapple (saw an advertisement so you could certainly buy them cut in that way) rolled in brown sugar and then tucked into pie crust and sealed well, then baked.  Or what about doing a twice baked Sweet Potato and adding crushed pineapple to the mashed filling?  They topped pork chops with pineapple and served it with ham. Pineapple rings placed in a pan and meatloaf packed in on top?  I think this one would be really good with a ham loaf!  Another dessert suggestion is to put ice cream between angel food cake slices (or a cut cupcake) and then top with crushed pineapple.  A Pineapple Egg Nog is suggested, too, using chilled pineapple juice mixed with a raw egg yolk then mixing in whipped meringue from the egg white. And last but not least, another entree idea, this time of broiling pineapple rings alongside pork sausage patties and piling the sausages in the middle of a ring of the broiled slices to serve.

I suppose this was a great month for Pineapple back in 1937 and I don't know if that is because it was seasonal or if it was the lack of fresh fruit available and the need of Vitamin C in winter diets.  Still, it all sounds pretty good...except maybe the egg nog.  I'll have to think on that one.

Assigning Value to our Days/Frugal Fridays

January 9:  I was surprised today as I cleaned out the vase/salt cellar on the shelf above the kitchen sink.  I was pulling out the dead flowers and one of the ones I pulled out was the hydrangea stem...which apparently has taken a notion to put out roots.  I put it right back in that vase and will let it continue to devlop.  Then I'm going to plant it!  A free plant from a former bouquet is a pretty good thing in my opinion.

We had a very nice dinner today of spaghetti and meat balls.  The ground turkey (a clearance item)and the spinach I used in the meatballs have both been lanquishing in the freezer for months and I'm happy to have used them up.  However, I couldn't help but note that the flavor of my sauce was 'off'.  I'd opted to leave out bell peppers and remedied that by pulling some from the freezer and adding in, but the other thing missing was elusive...I finally decided that it was the beef flavoring we're most accustomed to, since we typically use that meat when making spaghetti sauce.  I added my last two bouillion cubes and when they'd simmered in the sauce a bit I found it was 'just right.'

My bargain meal netted me two extra portions of meatballs and sauce and though I'd cooked just half a box of the whole wheat pasta, I still had two extra servings of that as well.  Those leftovers were packed up in individual serving portions and put in the freezer.  Nice to know I've a ready meal to eat on hand, which brings my total up to something like six meals now.  Always handy and convenient to have something frozen and ready prepared.

I had about 2/3 cup of the sauce sans meatballs leftover as well.  I will puree this sauce and use atop pizza dough, taking a note from Samuel's book.  I froze it in the meantime though.  It thaws easily enough in the microwave, even in my saved pickled jar, means I won't find it back of fridge shelf at the end of the month, forgotten and spoiled.

This Week In My Home...

...We are temporarily a one car household.  This bothers John far more than it does myself.  I have often felt of late that we might well be a one car family, now that John's job only has him gone 1, or at most 2, days per week.  It bothers my husband a great deal, however, to have me home alone without a way to 'go'.  Never mind that only perhaps twice a month do I ever bother to 'go' when he's at work.  For the most part, I am wonderfully content to be home and to focus my attentions hard upon household things when John is working.  It suits me best to have time alone to piddle about, tackle projects and deep cleaning if I so desire and sometimes simply sit and just listen to the quietness surrounding me.  This is not something my husband can fathom.

I expect we shall have the Honda back by end of the week but in the meantime, it will be fun to pretend I am back in Granny's homemaking days and one car households were the norm.

Coffee Chat: An Old Fashioned Girl

Hello there!  Come on in and let's have a nice chat.  There's a cheesecake in the fridge, made fresh this morning.  Now sit down...

So how is your New Year going?  I did very well on  the first Monday with work and had a productive if frustrating day on Tuesday.  Wednesday we slowed down to a light housework day and Thursday I was right back at busy and productive.  Friday, John insisted we had to leave home.  He made it worth my time.  After he got a hair cut we stopped in at Kroger where I intended to get my free loaf of bread and he bought me the first cup of Starbucks coffee I've had in months on end.  I do love Cinnamon Dolces this time of year.  I thought to ask for decaf but forgot to specify sugar free.  Oh well.  I counted that as my 'dessert' that day and enjoyed it.  And then he took me out to lunch at our favorite restaurant, a chain place, but this particular one is a little tucked away and cozy and small and the staff is familiar.  It's nice.

Wanna know the two highlights of the day on Friday?  You'd think I might mention the food or the coffee again but nope that isn't it at all.  One was watching John walk across the restaurant.  I glanced up and saw him coming towards me and I couldn't help but think what a nice looking man he is and how dear he is overall...and I remembered with a jolt that 20 odd years ago he'd walked up to me in a restaurant and I'd had much the same reaction...Kinda nice after all this time to realize that I still like him, still love him, still feel that spark when he comes into view.

The other thing is perhaps not to be understood by the 'modern' woman but he helped me into my trench coat before we walked out of the restaurant.  Gracious, just take me back to the era when men did such things as common courtesy!   Still, I don't often wear a coat, our weather being so mild here even in what we call winter, and so it took me by surprise when he reached out to take the coat and he pulled it up on my shoulders.  And I liked it.  Oh I liked it a lot!

A Year of Savings: Giving Value to What We Do At Home in 2016

I've done these sort of posts in the past.  My last was in 2013 and I felt it got a bit tedious at times but the truth is, like housework, tedium often has purpose.  We keep washing dishes and sweeping floors and the end result is a clean and neat home (or at least it is most of the time).  Keeping track of what I save by being home doing repetitious tasks, attempting to learn new skills and putting them into practice routinely if they work out, and even those once in awhile things that we happen to do that saves us money now and then...they all add up!  While not every single thing brings in a viable sum of money, these savings are the measure of our value in our homes. And so tedium may ensue at times but it's necessary to remind myself, and you, that it's not all for naught, we're not just wasting our time.  We are contributing to our household, truly contributing, just as the wage earner does!

This year I'll combine the savings posts with my usual thrifty posts once a month,because it is all savings in the end, isn't it?

January 2:  I have been stingy with my perfume of late.  My every day bottle and my really good stuff are both very nearly empty.  I can replace the every day stuff easily enough.  The cost of that has been very stable.  The good stuff?  It jumped nearly 25% in cost.  I was flush with funds in my personal account when I bought that bottle and didn't blink at the price last year when I bought it.
This year...I'm not quite so flush and that 25% jump gave me pause.  I can't justify the expense, much as I believe in splurges on things we love.  I could use that money elsewhere and that's truth.

So I looked at the stuff I used to wear, another good scent that I like very well and which is real perfume.  I noted that the cost of it is up a little but nowhere around  the big jump in price on the new scent.  In fact, it costs less than HALF.  So I ordered my former scent.  I will have good perfume once more and I saved money which will be spent in other more needed areas.

While in the laundry area, I unpinned the bread sacks I'd hung up to dry there.  I clipped them to a hanger and let them drip over the laundry basket.  I am saving bread sacks to pack casseroles and meats for the freezer rather than use zippered bags for those things.

I made a broccoli and cauliflower salad.  It's not one of my favorite but it was different and saved lettuce for another salad at another meal.  I mixed the two vegetables with a bit of shredded cheddar, a little mayo and sour cream and a sprinkling of dry Ranch dressing mix.

I mixed up sugar free pudding.  I used up about 1/2 cup whipped topping, mixing it into the pudding.  This makes it 'mousse', lightening and enriching the pudding and even though my whipped topping was the fat free sort it still had that effect on the pudding.  The whipped topping had been in the fridge for some time and I didn't want it to sit there and get too old to use.

I saved the whipped topping bowl.  I find them handy for storage of leftover salad in the fridge.

I ran out of dog food, so I supplemented their bowls with cat food today.  We're going out tomorrow and will stop by grocery then.  Just in time, too.  I need fruit badly and I've just enough milk to have coffee in the morning.

I made oven fries tonight to go with our supper.  I love these low fat fries as much as deep fried ones and they are quickly made from fresh potatoes which are cheaper per pound than most frozen french fries.  A bag of frozen french fries, weighing one pound costs about $3 at the grocery.  My 5 pound bag of potatoes cost $2.29 at Aldi.  If I used the whole bag to make oven fries, I'd have saved $12.71, just to give you an idea of why I choose to cut up my own potatoes at home. Yes, it takes a moderate amount of time, compared to opening a bag and dumping on a baking sheet to go in the oven, but really it's barely 5 minutes work to scrub and cut potatoes and from there the steps are just the same, even the cooking time is about the same, so the monetary savings for that five minutes of effort is well worth it.

Book Review: A Refuge At Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

I've enjoyed this book.  It has been a great read.  It has all the components I love: romance, English countryside, history.

This book is the third in the Highland Hall series.  Fortunately, the author is skilled and the book is a great stand alone novel.  I never once felt the need to refer back to the other books in the series in order to understand the current novel.

This book centers around Penny, a young woman who has moved to London to help her sister and brother in law care for their orphaned foster children.  When England is threatened by the World War, Penny and her sister return to their childhood home, Highland Hall.

Penny keeps up a correspondence with a young pilot she'd met while in London. The story of their romance is interwoven in the day to day problems of a household in war time.

I enjoyed this book so much, I hope to read the earlier novels in the series and plan to seek out more of Turansky's books.

This book was courtesy of Blogging for Books.

January 3, 2016...This Week In My Home...

Welcome to the New Year!  I don't know about anyone else but I am certainly looking forward to a fresh start this year.  It does seem last year was awfully hard in so many ways for us all.  That's not to say that this year will necessarily be all roses and lavender, but you never know.  I do recall one year without any major upsets, hurts, heartaches or worries and I remember thinking, "This is one year I shall remember for a long time to come!"  I'd not mind another year such as that, you know?  But God is still in His heavens and I shall be strengthened by that knowledge.  No matter what comes, God will be faithful.

So I took a little time off over the holidays.  I'd love to say that I lounged about and did nothing but relax or then again that I got loads and loads accomplished.  Nope.  Just about the usual amount of both lounging and working.  Knowing that we'd be on the road on our natural Shabat on Boxing Day and getting out the door early and home again as soon after dark as possible, John and I treated Christmas Friday as a sort of Shabat and rested.  Rightly so.  It paid off for us both this past week as we worked about the house.

I think my urge to go into the New Year with a fresh face on things affected John.  He went into his music room and went to work on sorting things out and he went at for more than one day.   It feels good to go into a year with a fresh outlook.

For myself, due to the pouring rain I couldn't do a bit of work outdoors and so I sorted out the bookshelves and found some of my treasures hiding there.  I organized and culled.  I set up the living room fresh with blue and white china and on Thursday decided I just had to swap curtains with the bedroom.  I'd ordered two new pillows on Wednesday and Thursday I covered some of my existing pillows with leftover fabric from the kitchen and sitting area.  It looks nice.  And it cost me two new pillows which I bought on sale for less than $30.  Ta Done!

Well let's get busy with the week ahead of us.

Questions, Answers and Comments - December 2015

 This month I'm just going to start at the beginning and work my way to the end, rather than group comments by category(post title) as I've done in the past.  It was a short month for posts anyway.  December 2, I posted a book review  The Mexican Slow Cooker.  I made comment that I didn't have multiple slow cookers.  Well I do have a small round 1 quart and I have a larger one.  Lana commented that she had several of various sizes and I know Rhonda and a few others do, too.  I don't cook for anyone much except John and I and so I have no need of multiple cookers.  I have yet to try one of these recipes but I mean to change that in the coming month.  I am looking for fresh inspiration in my menus!  Dawn reminded me that some people love kitchen appliances and don't shun them the way I do, lol.  I have in my possession a waffle iron, a meat slicer, an electric knife sharpener, a blender and an electric frying pan besides my two crock pots.  There's also a pressure cooker and an ice cream machine that have never been used.  I might add that I bought only the meat slicer and crock pots.  All else were gifts and aside from the blender and waffle iron are sadly under or never used.

On the November Q,A,C post Rhonda asked if Virginia was back to blogging...Not yet.  I am hopeful she will pick it up again and I think she has some idea of blogging about her homesteading efforts.  So far they have the farmhouse and acreage but no livestock and they weren't able to garden this year due to a knee injury she suffered while they were moving in.  I think she's mended pretty well and I hope she picks blogging back up soon.

Kip, I went and looked for the Barefoot pink champagne...No luck in my shopping areas.  I even went into the liquor store to look for it.  I came away with a huge bottle of Moscato and that will have to suffice for this year, lol.
I am so pleased that you, too, are attempting to pull your wardrobe together.  I chuckle at how often I've said, "Oh I've nothing to wear!"  I didn't realize all the possibilities I did have and now here I am truly wondering how I ever thought a closet full of clothes was 'nothing'.  I saw a blurb in a magazine about a Good Housekeeping editor who wore the same white shirt and black pants to work every day for one?/two? weeks and NO ONE NOTICED because she accessorized differently each day.  Well...I can certainly manage with my handful of things.  I'm working up a winter wardrobe post already and hope to put together a few more outfits before posting.  I won't do but the one post this time and perhaps one for each season of the year in 2016.

In My Home: Holiday Savings

I was cleaning bookcases this week and found this little paper scrap tucked in behind some of the books.  It's a quote by Arthur Ashe that I tore from a magazine and I like it well enough to make it my theme quote this year.

"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."

                             My 'new look' using just what I have on hand and nothing more...

Saturday:  The coffee I bought yesterday was very strong.  I need to use less of it to make a pot than the Aldi brand.

We had bagels for breakfast.  I bought these on sale for $1, we'll get two meals off the package.

Worked on our 2016 budget sheet and set up the first quarter page.

I reheated the steaks John brought home from the EMS dinner.  They were very good and tender. The dogs enjoyed the bones, the cat enjoyed the trimmings.

Yesterday afternoon, I mixed up a yeast dough and put in the fridge.  I had only to pat it out on my pan and there was a pizza crust.  There's enough dough left to make another pizza.  I took a lesson from Sam's book when he was making pizza for us.  Easy on the cheese, easy on the toppings.  I let the crust be the real star.

I balked when I bought the kalamata olives I knew Samuel liked.  They were about $5 for 5 ounces.  Ouch.  Not so ouch as it turns out.  This is the fourth time I've used them and I still have a few left.  Truth is they have so much flavor that you don't need loads of them, as say I do when I use plain black olives...So yet again, I'm learning that quality vs. quantity and buying the best you can afford is a better option than lots of lesser quality ingredients.

I used the last of the yummy pizza sauce Sam made when he was here on my pizza.  I confess I've always used canned spaghetti sauce or canned tomato sauce that I seasoned but he made his sauce from fire roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion, cooked it down and then blended it.  It's something I'll consider in the future.

Made up John's lunch for work tomorrow.

I have no eggs for John's breakfast, but I do have a breakfast sandwich that I've thawed and will reheat in the morning.  I'll also heat one of those banana muffins I made for him.  I'll eat the other one with a chunk of cheese for my breakfast.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

In My Home This Week: All Routine