Coffee Chat: A New Season


It looks like a birthday cake doesn't it?  And I suspect from the clearness of that brew it's tea, but that's okay with you isn't it?   I bought a Peach Green Tea a couple of weeks ago on sale.  I liked it well enough.  I confess having had black teas all my life, a green tea tends to look 'weak' in my opinion but I know some really prefer it.  I think it will make a lovely iced tea this summer.  But that is another season isn't it?

I have seasons on the mind at the moment.  There are all sorts in this world you know: spiritual, physical, natural, emotional.  There are seasons of plenty and seasons of drought.  There are age related seasons.  There are seasons for prayer and for answered prayers. Right now I feel very strongly that this is a new season in my life but I haven't quite pinned it down to tell you what season that might be.  It doesn't feel like a physical nor natural season.  But there are, as with all seasons, little signs of the new season.

 I've been unable for nearly two weeks to make any headway at all with Swagbucks. I have counted on that small earnings each month but as of right now I'm not even one tenth of the way to the next gift card and this month is nearly done. I tried hard last week but I missed the daily window for the work to go quickly and smoothly.  We spent a whole morning and portion of the afternoon away from home one day.  Then we had unexpected company come in to stay and it's just rude to sit for an hour or two on the computer while a guest is with you, or so I think.  I tried to work while he and John visited all the next day/afternoon but it was no use.

The day company left I was ready to jump right on Swagbucks and did and my computer locked down.  I mean to the point that Windows wouldn't even open!  I worked all day long with the thing and finally was able to  restore the  previous settings.  I thought I understood what caused it, but it was an all day process to get it fixed.  By then it was end of the day and time for Shabat.  I've made it a point to do no surveys nor Swagbucks on Sabbath, so no point in even trying.

 I am convinced I'm meant to let that go for now.  I've already stopped doing NFS surveys due to some crediting problems that went uncorrected despite repeated requests.   John stopped drinking Coke products and switched to Diet Rite.  Coke points are rare birds these days and I finally entered in all that Tammy sent me.  I have points to spend for a $10 gift card, but any new earnings will be extremely slow to add up to that amount again... these were all my little earnings venues besides the booth which is more miss than hit.  So I'm wondering just what is in my near future for earning pin money?

In My Home This Week: Lovely Spring

In my home this week, I...



...am appreciating the new season.   And I don't just mean the new season in the natural world...Do you ever have the feeling you've crossed over a milestone somehow?  Not a birthday, nor an anniversary, nor a move or anything like that has occurred, yet something feels brand new and different.  It's a funny sort of feeling when you can't see the change, or count it off, but I can still tell that something is definitely different than it was before.  It will be interesting to see what manifests in this new season in life.

I have been watching in awe as God answers prayers of many.  Kathy reports that her husband found a new job  which is great news.  I sat down earlier this week and noted ten items of prayer had been answered in the past two weeks, which is mighty awesome.  I guess God means for me to keep right on praying as he added two to my list last week.  It's very reassuring to see that this small ministry of prayer is something He will pay attention to.

In the meantime, the natural season has been predictably all over the place.  Last week we had frost...twice!   It made me awfully glad I hadn't planted anything and that much more impatient to do so.  Especially with three and four time weekly bulletins from Katie who spies something new growing in her yard with each passing day.

I think I'm just gonna start each day with "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!" and end each one with "Oh What A Beautiful Day!".  It's all so lovely, every single thing.

Assigning Value to What I Do: Spring Is Here

Mar 19:  Earlier this week I emptied the freezer of all the odds and ends of bread and combined them into one bag (what wasn't used for French Toast).  I washed out the bread sacks and hung them to dry and then turned them inside out and dried them some more.  Now they are folded nice and flat and stored in a box where I can pull them out next time I want to put meats up in the freezer.  So much less expensive than using a zippered freezer bag and I can double or triple up as needed if I'm worried about leaks.  Mostly I store like items together and then put those in a heavier duty plastic bread  sack.

Cooked our corned beef today and as soon as I'd glazed it, I determine the best way to slice it so that it could be cut thinly and not shred.  Across the grain is always best and the meat slices beautifully well.  We'll have plenty of sandwich meat and perhaps another meal of corned beef from this piece of brisket.

Leftover mashed potatoes went into the fridge for potato pancakes, which makes a terrific side dish for beef steak or roast.

I had a wedge of cabbage leftover as well.  I'm sure I can stir fry that with some other vegetables for a side dish.

I mixed up some lovely muffins with diced apples, soft raisins and chopped walnuts.  I topped with a little streusel topping.  They are really good and tasty and seem more substantial with all the lovely fruit in them.

Our AC has remained at 76F.   If it begins to get the least little stuffy we turn on the oscillating fan (the ceiling fans are already going) and this helps make it feel much cooler.  So much cooler that I'm sometimes tempted to turn the AC to 78F but I know John would feel it right away.  As it is, he's the first to turn on the fan!

Menu Monday - Week 3 Pantry Freezer Challenge

This past week proved busy and I ate out three times.  Gasp!  I know!  Three times.  I didn't pay for a single meal and at least twice I brought home half a plate of food to use as a second meal.    It was frugal enough but you know I kinda missed my home cooking.  However,  those meals I didn't make last week will fill our menus later this month.

The pantry challenge is proceeding very well.  I've added quite a bit of stock to the freezer and pantry cupboards.  We've limited our usage to pretty much dairy and produce. I've even added to our freezer with some of the foods I've prepared. Yesterday I added a large serving of Chicken Fried Rice and 16 egg rolls.  I'll be adding more oranges this week and strawberries for future jelly making and sundae topping. Check out the end of the menu for my planned baking  to see what else I mean to add to my freezer.

The first meal I'm going to share this week is one I actually ate last week, but it was so good I just have to share it.  As for the rest of the week, I need to make a batch of broth to keep in the freezer...but first I want to cook the turkey breast that's in the freezer so I can toss that carcass in with the rest of them.  John will be happy.  He really likes turkey.

Fish Tacos, Corn, Strawberry Sundae
I used fish fillets from our meal out last week to make fish tacos.  They were tastier than I thought they might be, and in future I might not wait to have leftover fish!  I fried corn tortillas into taco shells, filled with sliced fried fish fillet pieces, savoy cabbage, shredded cheddar and chopped tomato.  I used Thousand Island dressing on mine but the local Mexican place uses Ranch dressing.  

Roast Turkey, Scalloped Potatoes, 24 Hour Layered Salad
I like to make my scalloped potatoes from scratch.  This week I have no potatoes.  I'm debating whether I will buy a bag or not.  It really depends upon sales this week.  Otherwise I'll likely use a box of dehydrated Au gratin potatoes.   We like the layered salad as a change from the usual tossed salad.  It holds up well if you use a sturdy lettuce such as romaine in it.  You can vary the toppings from to suit your family.  

Cheeseburgers, Lettuce, Tomato and Onion plate, Cinnamon Baked Beans
I haven't made cheeseburgers in a while and I 'm sure John's more than ready for a good burger.  I'll make my own rolls for this.  Have you ever tried adding a bit of cinnamon to your baked beans?  You really should try it, it adds depth and richness to the bean dish and everyone raves about it.

Turkey Tetrazzini,  Green Beans with Almonds, Crusty Italian Bread
I like this dish and we haven't had it in a long time.  The hard part will be to make enough for two and not six!  I like to have mushrooms but it isn't necessary.  I'll add a bit of lemon juice to the green beans.  

Cowboy Chili, Coleslaw, Biscuit Bread
I'm sure to have leftover beans and will thaw extra ground beef to make cowboy chili, a simple dish that people tend to love: browned ground beef, a little onion, canned pork and beans (we use vegetarian) and ketchup.  That's it!  Men and kids will eat this simple dish right up.  Mama always served this with biscuit bread. I'll make a very small biscuit bread and use the rest of my dough creatively...

Turkey Club Salad Plates, Croutons, Brownie Sundaes
I'll use turkey slices, cooked turkey bacon to make our salad for this meal.  Homemade croutons from our Italian bread loaf will top the salad.  Any dressing you choose will be delicious on this salad.   
      
Roast Beef, Green Peas with Mushrooms, Wild Rice, Rolls
I plan to buy meats this week to stock the freezer.  Since it's been a good long while since I last cooked a roast I mean to buy a nice one.  We'll have it for dinner and I'll slice leftovers for sandwich meat.  I'll use up the last of the mushroom purchase by sauteing and adding to the cooked peas.

Baking:  Cinnamon Rolls( using half a recipe biscuit dough), Freezer Crescent Rolls(frozen unbaked but will use some with our Roast dinner), Brownies (double batch, one for the freezer), Oatmeal  Cookies (will make enough to add some rolls to the freezer as well).
  

This Week In My Home:




This week in my home...

...I gladly welcome Spring.  I was up early this morning as I have been all week long and looked out the window.  It seems my flowers are determined to bloom in ones or twos so each day there is a new surprise awaiting me when I look out the window.  Everything looks very healthy and although I'd prefer to see a mass of daffodil or iris bloom they make me just as happy when seen in singles and doubles.  Last week there were flowers upon many trees.  This week there are new leaves.  And happiest harbinger of all, the metal racks of herbs and hardy annuals appeared outside the local grocery this week.  I long to go wild over plants but I won't.  One could easily go bankrupt of both money and time (and back muscles!!) if all the plants were bought.  I'll choose a few and plant a few seed and perhaps I'll put in something really new this year but I'll try hard to keep it reasonable.

We've a brief cool spell this week and then more of the lovely warm weather we've been having.  I'll take advantage of the cold to make one last round of hearty meals before transitioning into the warm weather favorites.  John has most of this week off and all of next, so trying to stick to routines and not giving in to a holiday frame of mind is going to be tough work.  I'll settle for a balance of the two but sometimes I just have to let go of the wheel and settle back and enjoy the ride.  It's gonna be interesting to say the least...

Assigning Value to What I Do: Prettying My Nest


Mar. 12:  Used up some strawberries and made a cobbler.  I decreased proportions so that my cobbler was just right for us. It wasn't a lot of strawberries but about a pint, not one of which went to waste.  Savings $.60.

I made Tuna Pasta salad for today's meal.  I  packaged up a portion to go into John's work lunch and there's plenty left for a supper one night this next week.  It's such an inexpensive meal to make, even using whole wheat pasta.  I used up the last of the jar of Tapenade in the dish since I often add chopped olives anyway.  That was a savings right there as I had nearly half a jar left!  Savings $1.50.  The whole wheat pasta in this dish was bought off the clearance shelf at Publix and cost just $.75 for a pound box.  I used vegetables that were in my fridge, including a red bell pepper that was getting rather worn looking, so another savings there of $1.

I forgot to share on Thursday but when I bought the carnations at the grocery this past week, I had several stems that were far too short for the regular bouquet.  I made up a little bouquet to put on my bedside table from those and filled in the spaces with a bit of the leafy stems.  Rosemary would work as well for greenery.

It's not quite time yet, but I've set ahead all the clocks except the one in the music room and the guest room and cars.  It will save a hassle later and while I'm wide awake is the best time to reset clocks not when I'm half asleep.  I want to be sure it's correct since John has to work tomorrow and certainly would be rightly upset to be LATE!

I've been easing up the thermostat on the air conditioner all week long.  It's now set at 75F.  I'll attempt to go up to 76F but we never made it past that mark last year as John complained that it was too stuffy indoors.

We went nowhere today.  No gasoline used nor money spent shopping.

Made a batch of pimento cheese for sandwiches.  Used leftover bits of various sorts of cheeses.

Iced Tea Chat: The Season Awaits


Come in!  The weather is so pleasant I thought we'd sit outdoors today and have peach iced tea and gingersnaps.  What shall it be?  The  not quite finished front porch?  It's a little shadier there just now.  The back porch is nice and shady, too, and freshly swept, if not painted.  Or shall we put up the wonky umbrella over the patio table and settle in the shade there? Hmmm?

We'll watch Maddie chase the bees.  I swear these busy carpenter bees spend half their time playing with Maddie.  I'll watch her minding her own business and suddenly there is a bee hovering over her as if to say, "Let's play" and off she runs to chase him down.  Woe to any bee (or wasp, etc) she does catch because she kills them right away.   The other day I was on the porch watching her as she went off to follow the cat to the front porch when a butterfly, a bee and a wasp all flew past at once, each going in different directions.  She literally was stopped dead in her tracks by indecision. Poor silly dog. I laughed at her but oh it's too like us as well to know our path and then suddenly find ourselves with distractions that halt us, isn't it?

It is almost spring and outdoors looks like spring.  Each morning when I get up, I am amazed how a few hours of warm air has transformed the world even more than it had the day before.  If the yard looked beautiful on Saturday it was amazing Sunday morning.  Here's Saturday's photo of the trees across the field:
Sunday those almost but not quite blooming trees on the fence line were fully bloomed and the whole world looked like a group of girls dressed for a wedding, with birds singing the wedding march at the tops of their lungs.  It's gorgeous and the air is laden with pollen and a subtle sweet scent too that is intoxicating.  Deep breaths and sneezes, and deep breaths and sneezes.

Recipes to Share: Tried and True from Our Homes

                                   

I'm so happy that you all have chosen to join in with this.  I've been looking over the recipes as they've come in and there are definitely a few I want to try myself.  Thanks again to Lana for thinking of doing this. I hope we can make it a regular feature once a month.

Since Lana suggested this post and was the first to reply, I'm going to start with her shared recipes:

Oh YAY! Thanks for doing this!

Easy and delicious-http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/salsa-verde-chicken-and-rice.html

Delicious but make sure to make exactly as directed for the yummy flavor-http://bellyfull.net/2014/03/11/kielbasa-and-cabbage-skillet/

This coleslaw will keep for 4-7 days depending on how fresh your cabbage is-I use regular milk instead of buttermilk which I never have on hand. http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com/kfc-coleslaw-copycat-recipe-card/

I freeze half of this for another meal for us. Delicious with mashed potatoes. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/italian-style-salisbury-steaks

This recipe can be simplified by using broth from your freezer and cooked chicken of any kind but it makes a ton and is worth the work as written. I frequently make it when a bunch of our kids will be home and they all love it and my gluten free daughter can eat it too. http://www.southyourmouth.com/2013/02/chicken-sausage-dirty-rice.html

This Week In My Home: Spring Has Sprung

In My Home this week:



I went out Thursday and noted that the peach trees across the road from my home were just beginning to bloom.  There were four or five blooms on each tree.  Not much, but enough to let me know they were getting started.  We went out on Friday and I told John, "My goodness!  Those trees had barely begun to bloom out yesterday!"  And there they were, every tree full of pink blossoms and pink stretching as far as the eye could see.  Not just the peach trees either, but the wild pear and plums and turkey foot oaks and oaks and cedars and pines have all bloomed out seemingly overnight.  The whole world, it seems, at least here in middle Southwest Georgia is determined to hurry up and beat the arrival date of Spring by a week or so.  And with temperatures in the mid 80's the past two days it's felt like a new season!

But I am not fooled by this Spring.  It will be cold again.  Indeed, today it is much cooler than it was yesterday.  There will be chilly Spring rains that will occasion turning the heater on once again.  There will be hot days and stupidly cold nights to confuse us.  Plants will bloom and keep right on blooming.  Pollen will haze the distances between here and there and coat the cars in a new hue.  One day it will be too cold to walk barefoot across the new green of the lawn or to sit outdoors without a sweater.  And the very next day it will be hot enough to sunbathe and wish for a pool.  Spring is fickle in her affections, like any newly engaged girl about to come into the commitment of  marriage, as though a little afraid to prove herself just yet as being this way or that.

Assinging Value To What I Do: Making Do, Doing Without



March 5:  I took the time yesterday afternoon when we'd returned from our day out to prep food for today's dinner and plan out what supper should be.  I used the last bit of chuck roast from the freezer (bought in November...the meat market dates the packets when they weigh and price them.  Very handy to help me keep track of what packets need to be used up first!).  I seasoned and browned the meat off today.  I used onions and potatoes I'd sliced yesterday (potatoes kept in water overnight in the fridge) to make a side dish.  The meal, served with a 24 hour layered salad, was very tasty and took me just a few minutes to prepare for the oven.

Everything baked in the oven together.  Most welcome warmth on this chilly day.  Chuck roast is so yummy when slow cooked but it can be a very heavy seeming meat for warm days.  I was glad to use this up now while the days are still cooler.

At the end of the meal, I had a small portion of roast left and about half the potato dish.  I mixed the two together to make a sort of hash dish that will heat in the oven (or microwave).

Recipes To Share: Tried and True from Our Homes


Lana suggested a couple of weeks ago that we have a recipe share post.  I thought we'd try it out this month and we'll see if you all are interested enough to participate.  So here are the rules:

It can be any recipe you like for a drink or entre or dessert or side dish or salad, etc. It must be a recipe you yourself have tried and truly liked.

For submission: post a link or the recipe in the comments of this post. I'll move them to a new post that will be published in 7 days, so your comments will disappear.  No fear!  I am simply setting up  the recipes in a regular post.  So that gives you all until March 14 to get your recipe in to me.  I'll try to get the post up March 15 and we'll see what we all have tried.

 Here's the caveat, too.  If you've tried a recipe that simply didn't turn out at all let us know about that too so we can avoid making a mistake, just post the link and your comments.  Please don't post recipes you made knowing that your family hated half the ingredients or had a flavor combination you knew from the start was distasteful to you.  I'm not talking about something that you made five substitutions and failed to follow directions but those recipes that you made exactly as the recipe indicated and it was an epic fail.   Perhaps someone will have a suggestion for a technique we don't understand or can explain what changes need to be made.

Coffee Chat: March To A Busy Beat



Come in dears, do come in.  And let us sit right down and rest, shall we?  The week has not been tedious but it has most certainly been busy and tiring as a consequence.  It does seem when John has a week off we end up being far busier than we might be otherwise.  Four days running I was out of the house and I realized on our way back home on the fourth day that I was done, weary, and ready for a good rest.  Could I rest?  Of course not. There was all the housekeeping I hadn't done all week long.  And I'd made big plans for Friday so, of course, I must work all day Thursday and get six days worth of work done.  I started by making out a list...Always the best place for me to prioritize and determine what must be done.  I soon had a plan.

So I worked and when I rested I made out a list of things I mean to look for at the yard sales/thrift shops. I worked more and played about with that wall of art in the bedroom.  I worked and finally I was done and somewhat rested as well.  It was a good, productive day.  Dare I say that the best part of being home on Thursday was that we could eat a home cooked meal?  It was simple and not at all fancy but gracious goodness it was delicious, as home cooked food is when you've relied upon fast food too often.

In My Home This Week: Time Is On My Side

In my home this week, I...
am trying to find an appreciation for the in between season.   The trees in the swamp have only just begun blooming.  Granny called all the red bloomed ones maples, but I don't know if they are all maples or not.  There are gold and reds and rusty reds and beige blooms on the trees.   There is a reason for these colorings. The peach trees are only just beginning to show a bloom here and there. It is not spring... This is late winter.  Not a sign yet of the pines blooming.  The distant trees have a softened appearance, not as stark as they were a couple of weeks ago.  Buds are forming, but not yet ready to yield the soft greens.  The muscari which is the usually quick to bloom has only just come up and budded.

But what is this season really, this twixt and between that isn't winter nor is it spring?  And what do I do during it?  Too early to plant but golly things look dull about me.  I've been playing about indoors but I'm longing for out.  Too cold to paint (or too wet when it's warmer).   And it's even worse in the kitchen.  Pot roast when I am ready for  Pasta salad.

I've been between seasons within myself as well.  Where do I go from here?  What is the next season of my life to be?   Yet the signs of a coming change are before me.  There's the 'new' look in my home.  Calm and peaceful within and brighter and bolder without.  That certainly seems to be an accurate reflection of myself.  But what season is it?

Enough puzzling my head.

Assigning Value to What I Do: March Into New Savings


Feb 27:  John worked last night.  A 'better' breakfast is wanted on those mornings even if it is Shabat.  I make sure there is plenty of coffee, too.  This morning I kept it simple: Cream Cheese and Chive Scrambled Eggs, Beef Sausage, Toast.

Dinner today was made up of frozen leftovers and Ground Beef.  I used leftover tomato sauce and tomatoes and a pint of no meat spaghetti sauce and made Spaghetti for today's dinner.

I thawed the second pie that Bess made when she was home for Christmas.  It is delicious, not hurt in the least by freezing.

Our Shabat afternoon at home ritual includes Home Popped Pop Corn.  So inexpensive and so good.

While digging in stuff yesterday I found two pictures, both my own artwork that I'd forgotten I had. I think they will be beautiful in the bedroom.  I'll need frames for those two pieces.  I'm hoping to find I have some the right size lying about in my stash.

Questions, Answers, Comments, Oh My! February Edition


I worked on this rather late last night and may have confused my positioning of posts but the comments under each link should be in the right place so hopefully this won't be too confusing to anyone.  I just wanted to thank you all for making comments, whether or nor you asked a question or made a suggestion.  There were several who simply stopped by to thank me for writing, or to say they appreciated my writing.  I so appreciate that and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to comment.

My very first post of the month was a coffee chat, Geese and Groundhogs, Pam I did figure out the sour cream and Splenda idea.  I had noted that things tended to be drier when using it to bake, fat alone didn't increase the moisture...so I tried sour cream which had a greater moisture content.  It worked!  I'll take my bows and move on.  It's likely someone else thought of it at the same time and I just happen to publish it...

Geese continued to fly over most all of the month.  In the past week it's decreased to a few small squadrons, late leave takers I guess, headed home at last.  I love hearing them honking overhead.  Now I shall wait to hear them in October when those snowbirds return back our way.  And it seems they and the ground hog are exactly right: spring appears to be arriving just on time.

Questions, Answers, Comments Oh My!

February is a short month...well it always seems short even when there are 29 days which just makes it short by one day this year.  Still, it always seems to fly by.  Unless of course it's a rainy or sleety sort of February.  Then it appears to linger for at least 45 days.

Not knowing what the month shall bring weather wise, I thought it best to get this January Q&A post done early this month.

The first post of January in which I quoted Arthur Ashe and pretty much decided this would be my motto for the year, "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." 

I showed you my change in colors  in the living room and Susie commented on them.  I have to tell you that the room has a calm light feeling that is very appealing in these winter months where days can often be gloomy.

This Week In My Home: A New Season

This week in my home... ...I have just hung out a load of clothes in the breezy autumn afternoon and almost too warm sun.  It's lat...