In My Home This Week: Push Push Push

In my home this week...

...We attended a memorial service for nephew Jason this weekend.  It was a quiet, calm, peaceful service.  Though it was a private service meant for close family and friends, the church was filled.  Jason's likeability came across in the wide range of people who were there:  Bikers, cops, business men and their wives, people who were very casual in dress and people who weren't.  There were only a few tears.  Oh he shall be missed!  There is no doubt of that.  But I think by the time the service came around, everyone of us, save his widow and mother, stepfather and brother were beyond that deep shock that shook us all and grateful...YES...Grateful we'd had the opportunity to know him, to be touched in our lives by him.  

It's funny, too, how one views one's own family.  My brother's ex-wife, his ex-girlfriend,  ex-wife's new husband, step-children...Well family just sort of extends into a lot of areas in the end.  Whether we mean to or not, we embrace people in our lives and when they move into a new life often we are still attached in some way.  So Jason's family was part of ours, and Ashley's step dad and his mother, and Phoebe's children from a previous marriage are ours, as well.   We were united through marriage and birth and death and say what we like, they are family and will be.

I was up extra early this morning and have accomplished a day's worth of work.  I'm not quite finished but if I quit at this point today, I wouldn't be ashamed and think I'd wasted the day!

This week, aside from the almost panic over the eclipse, it's a normal week.  I confess that I don't understand all the almost hysteria that this eclipse is manifesting.  I've heard more media focus on warning people not to stare at the sun, parents panicking over children viewing the eclipse even with special glasses, warnings of animals outdoors being protected...In our area, it's meant to be just a partial eclipse but I assure you I've no intention of standing outdoors and staring at the sun.  I've never once seen Maddie nor Misu lift their head to stare at sun or moon.  I don't expect they will make a special exception and do so on Monday either.

I don't have any hard and fast plans aside from work and meals and the day to day.  I'm resting my head and my hear still, you see, and not pushing myself to do any really deep thinking for a bit longer.  

...I plan my work:

I have artwork, found in my own home, which makes my heart sing.  I was all set Friday to get it hung and discovered that one of the frames is broken, and discovered as well that is unbelievably cheap.  I'm going to have to have something to replace that.  I also cannot find the disc hanger I had left nor the picture hanging kit...THIS week, I shall get this stuff on the wall and call that project DONE!!

I want to do a pantry inventory.  I worked back there for moments yesterday, marking menus on sticky notes to go on the shoe box meals and I realized that corn and green beans are getting low.  I'd like to keep at least 2 dozen cans of each item on the shelf (as well as many other items back there).  I figure while I'm doing inventory I can also set up the new shelves to extend the space.

Hair cut must happen this week.

That shopping list I started last week will actually move me out of the house this week.  I failed to go anywhere at all to shop last week, save that quick trip to the dollar and grocery stores.  I have now added black dressy sandals to my list as my 9 year old pair have started to come apart.  They were good shoes and I hope I can find a sale pair now it's time for Fall items to be on shelves.

Find the source of the odor in my fridge.  I don't know just what it is, but
I went over the fridge last week so it shouldn't be anything spoiled, but I may well have missed something.  The odor just became noticeable on Saturday morning.  I've tried using baking soda and it's not touching that aroma...ugh.  Had I not already worked so hard today I should clear it out right away but it can wait until morning.

Make slipcover for the chair I swapped from bedroom to living room.

Maddie has graced me with a new hole in my prettiest flower bed...I shall spend time filling that in and putting down fresh mulch and some moth balls this week IF the weather stops being so heavy and humid and hot even in the earliest morning hours.  Otherwise, it will wait, because just sweeping the porch off is a hard job when the air is as thick as it's been of late.

In one month, we will be having a family day.  I want to plan my menu now and determine what I shall prepare.

Promised John homemade cookies today at the grocery so that goes on the list, too.  I'll try to put some unbaked cookies into the freezer for future needs.

With more and more trees showing the beginnings of seasonal change, I want to seriously study my closet for possible Fall outfits.  If I'm going to purchase anything I'd like to plan ahead or at least have an idea what I'm looking for.

Get bill box in order for next week's pay day.  I'll do this later in the week.

Write up the book review and request another one.

...I plan meals:

Glazed Corned Beef, Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes with Sour Cream, Armenian Nutmeg Cake
(Put leftover beef into fridge for sandwiches.  This was an incredible shrinking piece of meat!  Not quite as much leftover as I'd thought there might be).

Roast Chicken, Cream Corn, Fresh Green Beans, Tossed Salad, Apple Pie
(Leftover chicken meat in fridge for sandwiches also.  John put the mini apple pie in the buggy today at the grocery).

on my own xs 2

Tuna Noodle casserole, Wedge Salad, Orange Wedges
(This is a new to me recipe.  I put tuna noodle casserole on my menus a lot.  We never ever have it.  I actually bought noodles just for this recipe this week...)

Stuffed Bell Peppers, Mashed Potatoes, Lima Beans, Fruit Cocktail

Panfried Sirloin Steak, Potato Cakes, Tossed Salad
(Potato cakes made up from leftovers from the Sour cream potatoes and any left from the Stuffed Pepper dinner).

...I plan leisure:

I have set out my September magazines.  I didn't make it through all of my August ones!  That's how busy I stayed even in my so called leisure time.

I've already picked out my next book so when I finish my current one I'm going to start on the next one.

I'll be strict with myself this week.  I did well for two days at cutting back on computer time and not working after a certain hour and then towards the end of the week I was back at my old habits.  They do not suit me in the least and I mean to change them.  NO computer games until 7pm.  No computer after 8pm.  No work on computer after 7pm.  None.  I mean it!  

Living Frugally and Well: Change of Perspective

Saturday:  I made up a batch of beef fajitas for our dinner today.  I used bell pepper strips from the freezer, some thin sliced sirloin I'd cut into strips and an onion.  My seasonings were all from the spice/herb cabinet.  It was tasty and filling.

I made 'yellow' rice, using some ground turmeric.

I used a free can of refried beans as a second side dish.

A Quick Note...

It was brought to my attention yesterday evening that sometimes the ads showing up here on the blog were questionable.  Fortunately Iris had taken a screen shot and could show me just what she meant.  I too found it objectionable.

I want to apologize to any of you who might have seen such ads.  I am not able to see the ads when I'm signed into my account, which is about all the time.  I can't click on any ads with my computer because of the user agreement I have with AdSense.

I would like very much to receive some sort of earnings from the ads, so I won't be cutting them out.  I put a lot of my time into this work and I would like to see some sort of monetary return on it.  That said, until Iris brought it to my attention I was unaware that this sort of thing was showing up on this blog.  I very much believed that the ads reflected content and there was NOTHING in any post to suggest that the content would generate such an ad.

I was able to refine the settings and hopefully this will work to discontinue any such ads showing up.  However, I am going to enlist your aid.  If you see an ad that contains nudity or is suggestive would you please jot down the URL and message it to me?  I can then block that particular seller's ads and prevent further problems and embarrassment.

Thank you ahead of time for helping me in this.

Iced Tea Chat - Eclipse

Hello dears.  Come in and have a glass of tea with me, won't you?  I'd offer to sit outdoors but, sugar, it is like a steam sauna.  I'm not a fan of sauna and cannot imagine ever willingly entering one.  I think it's quite enough to experience the Georgia summers!

So much on my mind and heart these days.  I'd meant to take time out to sort out my head and then was thrown a complete horseshoe curve with Jason's death.  That opened another whole set of thoughts.   My head feels crammed full of unopened mail, all just stuffed in and crumpled and too tight to fit another thing.

In My Home This Week: We Go On

In my home this week:

...Sometimes the hardest thing is to go on.  We had a tragic loss in our family last week.  My niece's husband died.  He turned 26 the same day and leaves a 3 and 4 year old daughter.  The disbelief melted into shock, the shock into grief for such a young life lost and as the weekend went on, acceptance slowly sank in.  This morning, I woke with gratitude that I'd been allowed to be a tiny part of a brief life.  It will be a longer time before his mother and dad, his brother and sister in law, his wife and family, can come to that place.  

I don't normally share this sort of thing but if you're on Facebook there is a Go Fund Me set up for Ashley and the girls.  This I is a young mom and the family had no insurance for final expenses, nothing set aside for the future.  Katie set up the fund to benefit the little girls really and I would so appreciate it if you'd contribute to it.  Just message me on Facebook (Terri Cheney) and I'll send you the information link, if you'd like to contribute. 

Living Frugally and Well: Rainy Day Savings

Saturday:  Katie texted that she'd be down to visit today and I wracked my brain trying to decide what to have for dinner.  I took some things from the deep freeze last night.  I finally decided on a new to us recipe and sending the frozen Pineapple Sweet Chili Chicken home with her for her supper.

My dinner was from Pinterest and now I can't find the recipe anywhere.  It was breaded chicken breasts that were pan fried and then a lemon and cream sauce was made and served over pasta.  It was pretty good!  The chicken breasts were thick  heavy things, so I filleted them and set some aside for later in the week.  We just didn't need that much meat...Though after watching Taylor reach over and take her mom's I might have served that little eater a bit more.

Made up a big bowl of salad and put toppings in smaller covered bowls.  We should be good for a couple or three salads.  I took a hint from Rhonda at If You Do Stuff with making the salad and toppings ahead.  I have found I will eat a salad when I'm on my own if the lettuce and toppings are all ready in the fridge.

August: Slowing Down for a Bit

I may slow down with posts for a little while.  I am just not bouncing back after I get tired these days and I am sure it's a combination of being busy in home, busy with family and the new schedule.  I hate to admit that it's knocked me for a loop this getting up twice a week early but combined with poor sleep, it's just hard and that's truth.   I find the older I get the less able to sleep I am especially if I know that an alarm is going to sound off.  As well, the lack of proper time alone to restore has been of consequence.  I am grasping at family times as often as I can because I know this is a very short season.  After all, I have three children starting school this year and two starting school next year.  Childhood is a fleeting time anyway, and when it comes to grandchildren it seems to go four times as fast.

In My Home This Week: Wet Dog Days

In my home this week:
...I have finally gotten near the finish line for July goals.  I haven't forgotten all about August, though.  I did make some headway on the next area of the yard this past week, since I hadn't materials to finish off the Faith tree bed.  What is my next area?  It's two areas actually. 

One is the long bed in front of the back porch.  Maddie dug quite a deep hole at one end which is filling with rain water like nobody's business. It's muddy and mucky and some of the bordering rocks and iris that were there fell into the hole.  I noted last week that weeds were taking over that bed rapidly.  I didn't put down a thick layer of mulch last year.  I got all of the weeds up and next I plan to plant the iris I took up from the Faith tree bed at one end.  This will mirror the opposite end of the bed.  

Living Frugally and Well:

Saturday:  Bess brought in a bag of peaches the other evening when she returned which she wanted to share with us.  This morning they were nicely ripe for eating. I made peach pancakes for breakfast.  That is a summertime treat for us.

Bess and boys left later than planned.  I had never done anything about dinner yesterday and didn't feel at all up to going into town to purchase food.  John was too tired, as well.  Fortunately I had those pre-formed burgers in the freezer which thawed quickly.  I cooked German potatoes to go with the burgers.  It was simple and easy and required little clearing up.

Both beds got stripped and linens were washed.  We used the dryer today.  We had a crazy weather day with lots of heavy rain, then sun, then more rain and more sun and heat and then more rain.  It was less stressful to use the dryer!

Closed curtains on the sunny side of the house to keep heat outdoors as much as possible.

Iced Tea Chat: Just Peachy

Hello dears.  There's peaches.  Try a few slices in your tea.  I think you'll find it very refreshing!

That's my second gift of peaches in two weeks.  God knew I just needed some sweet nearly  local Georgia peaches.   Bess brought in a bag last week from Dickey Farms in Musella and Mama purchased these to give me on Monday when I took her to her favorite farm stand in Montezuma.  Both places are within 30 miles of home, so I think that qualifies as 'local' peaches.  I sure do mis my own Taylor County peaches though...Anybody interested in buying a peach shed and orchards?  It's up for sale...

I had a cup of peach ice cream at Brown's and I must say I don't really care who makes it, peach ice cream is GOOD.  This one had tiny little chunks of peaches and the cup from Dickie's had peach puree mixed in the cream base.

Ten Things I've Learned Shopping At Aldi

About five years ago I began experimenting with shopping at Aldi.  It was a brand new store to my usual shopping area and all I knew of it was what I'd read online at other money saving blogs.  The reviews were all positive.  I'd been struggling to pull down our grocery budget but simply couldn't manage it even when shopping at multiple stores, purchasing in bulk and buying loss leaders, discounted meats, reduced price produce, etc.  I felt like I kept getting a lesser quality of food and was spending as much as ever.

So I gave Aldi a try.  I was aware from my reading that I'd need to rent a shopping cart for 25c and bring my own bags and cash to pay for my purchase.  I was fine with that.  The parking lot was neat and clean and the carts are undamaged because people want to get that 25c back!  So carts are less likely to be everywhere but in the cart bay at the front of the store.

In My Home This Week: The Next Step

In my home this week, I...

... am ready for the next step.  What do I mean?  I'm ready to do the next thing that will lead me to the life I want to have.  My brain has been ticking along at 90 miles per hour here this weekend thinking along these lines and I'll be writing more about it in the days ahead.   I've been feeling restless and a little dissatisfied for a few months now.  I wrote earlier in the year about my frustration in finding new ideas to increase my thriftiness in my home and I noted that at this stage of my life, what I need to do is look long and hard at what I want to accomplish and learn new skill sets in order to bring about those changes which will increase savings.  Well,  ditto that for every area of my life.  I want to move on to the next level of learning in diet and wardrobe and decorating and yard/garden work and even here in writing the blog.

Living Frugally and Well

Saturday:  When the work was all done at last yesterday and I was more recovered from shopping in the deep heat, I went out to check the compost pile.  John said I had a squash plant out there and he was quite right.  One squash and four more blooms.  I don't know just what sort of squash it is, but it's a squash.

Nosed around the flower bed in the back yard and discovered a Star Gazer lily had bloomed in the shade of the lantana.  I clipped it and brought indoors.  I pinched back some petunias that have returned to their original cultivar and set them to root in water.


I had every intention of posting something this week, but between all the comings and goings, I got ill.  UGH.  I'm still recovering and still have coming and going to deal with.  I'll see you all next week.

In My Home This Week: Last Week of July!

In my home this week:

...It will be an 'in and out' sort of week.  I  have just sent John off to visit his brother in Texas. In the meantime, Bess will be in and out with the boys as she treks northward to see her family.  John comes in and then heads out to work.  Bess comes in and out again on her way back home.  It will be a busy week and a good balance for me with alone time and companion times well mixed.

It is the last week of July.  It does seem I have done more this month and certainly I am pleased with what's been accomplished if all of  my goals aren't finished they've at least been worked at.  It's so hot just now that being outdoors is a misery.  Nevertheless, as soon as John can mow about my Faith tree I shall get to work and finish off that project.  I'm not sure it will be done this week but I've done what I can until he does his part.

August Favorite Things

Here it is August and time to do another of my Favorite Things posts...It does seem I just did one for July!  Each month I wonder if I shall have anything to share with you the next month but then someone asks a question or I become aware of how often I use a product and I know that for at least one more month, I've got something to post!

Remember these posts are strictly my personal choices.  I am not being sponsored by any of these products nor am I receiving any compensation.  I'm not even an Amazon affiliate yet, though I have used all Amazon images and links this go round, simply because it was convenient and I've had a very busy morning.  So let's see what products I'm sharing this month as my favorites.

Living Frugally and Well: Sizzling Savings

Saturday:  I didn't prep food ahead yesterday for today's meal because it wasn't necessary.  I put meat in the crockpot early this morning to cook.  I needed only to chop a few vegetables for stir fry as a side dish.

I put leftover meat right into the fridge.  We didn't have the option of going back for seconds.

John offered to make pancakes for supper.  That's why we keep the mix on hand.  I have the instructions written a chalk board tag that is tied around the neck of the jar I store the mix in.  They were delicious.

Iced Tea Chat - Goal Oriented

I have lemon and mint today if you'd prefer those to go into your tea...  Oh and Orange and basil.   And why not a cool but so tasty little appetizer of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on Whole Wheat crackers topped with a slice of cucumber?  It's my new favorite munch mid-afternoon.  Cool and crisp and full of fiber and protein and low carb, too.

I've been busy trying to accomplish my month's goals and so far, I'm on target with them.  My desk area is as complete as I can make it at the moment.  I am still searching the house for artwork and frames to finish off the wall space. I've also worked on that flower bed beneath the Faith Tree. I'm not done, but I've plodded on.  It's slow progress but it's progress.

In the Good Ol' Summertime...Outdoor seating

In summer in my childhood, we seldom visited indoors.  Oh no!  Visits took place outdoors, usually under the shade of a big old tree.  It wasn't at all uncommon, nor is it to this day in the South, to see a grouping of chairs or table and chairs under a big shady tree someplace in a yard.  Perhaps they are the sort who like to see and be seen, so they set up their seating in the front yard.  Perhaps they are more private people but don't have fences and you catch a glimpse, as you drive past, of the seating in the back yard.  

And just possibly, you might see someone with a sitting area arranged under an open carport or on a deeply shaded front porch, but mostly, most assuredly, company was entertained in the yard in summer months, where shade was plentiful, breezes were all about and the views expanded across flower beds and fields and you were serenaded by drowsy buzzing bees and birds.

Summer Eating: The Best Homemade Salad Dressings

Salads are delicious aren't they?  Let's face it though...A salad without a dressing is not going to cut it.   Plain lettuce?  Blech.  That said, despite the variety of dressings one may buy at a store, homemade dressings can be incredibly good, far better than anything you might buy.    I have a small repertoire of recipes that I use.  Given the opportunity, I'd make my own 100% of the time.  My husband however, seems to feel deprived if certain items are not bought.  That said, he's happily eaten the following salad dressings when I do make them, so I know they must be tasty or he'd completely refuse.

A Few of My Favorite Things - July

I've had good reviews from you all about sharing my favorites the past few months and I still find there are a few items that I just think are well worth the money spent on them.  Remember these are items I like and use routinely and I do not get any compensation from anyone for promotion.

I love to hang platters and trays and such on my walls.  We just hung a trio of Tole painted Nashco trays on the wall in the kitchen.

In My Home This Week: Summer Sizzles

This week in my home...

...the weather has decided to be summer-like.  I have every intent of continuing to work on that flower bed  around the Faith Tree, but I'm sure not going to push myself on doing much more than watering and sweeping porches unless I can go out very early.  Goals tend to somewhat lose importance when the temperatures soar into the 100f range for days which is what they are meant to do this week.   Gracious, I don't even want to do so much as think  when it's this hot.  When Summer sizzles, work fizzles! 

Hot weather is the best time to plan, though.  For one thing it's time to bring out my August magazines which is fun to contemplate.   I'll bet hey have plenty of hot weather recipes in those magazines.  And it's time to dig around and look for as many good crockpot and frying pan meals as I can conjure up because it's too hot to even think of turning on that oven.

Living Frugally and Well: Summer Breezes

Saturday:  Played it smart this morning: baked a cake, cooked biscuits and started a chicken roasting in the oven early this morning.  The cake went in first and the biscuits and chicken went in as the cake came out.  Cakes like dry heat in an oven, while pies and muffins and breads don't mind moist heat at all and can be baked all at once if need be.

Wish I had remember to start the zucchini while the oven was going.  I didn't and so I heated it up again nearer midday and boy was that a mistake.  It warmed the house up, made the AC run harder than it would have done and necessitated turning on room fans as well as upping the speed on our ceiling fans.  Sigh...Noted and will be sure to pay attention to that in the future!

In the Good Ol' Summertime: Water Play

As a child, summertime was hardly summer if water wasn't involved in some way.  My father was a little afraid of water.  I've no idea why but he was, so we were banned from going down river with Granddaddy when he fished in the river swamp.  He also wasn't keen on our going into the swimming pool, either.  Since I've pretty much spent all my life in the country not going to the swimming pool was far more common than going.

There were other substitutes for the elusive pools in our lives like getting wet under the water hose or running through the sprinkler, all of which suited us admirably.  Not something we got to do nearly often enough because when you live in the country the pump runs on electricity and wells have a nasty habit of running dry.  Water was to be conserved...But I must say that aside from Granny I've never known but one other who had a well run dry.  Granny's wells were generally near the surface hence the running dry (you pay per foot for the drilling).  As well, she watered the cows daily so there was already a tax upon her well and electric bill that most didn't have to worry over. 

COP and What I Did...

Hello all.  I had plans yesterday...I had a heavy duty sort of day planned.  I started well and was just about to wind things up and walk out of the door when my plans were suddenly cancelled. That's the COP part of the title.  Change of Plan.  I wasn't upset about the cancellation.  The truth is, I saw it as a gift.

A few weeks ago, our music leader pastored for the day.  He gave a rousing good sermon about sacrifices and what we're willing to give God and what we aren't.  I was convicted twice already in telling others that I really needed alone time and so I generally stayed home on the Sundays John was at work.  The people with whom I shared this didn't say a word, nor even look at me hard.  It was a conviction I felt deep down in my spirit that something was wrong with that statement.  And then I heard Pastor Jason's sermon.  It wasn't that he stepped on my toes...but he surely opened up my heart and revealed to me why I had been wrong.

Summer Eating: Vegetable Salads

Yesterday for dinner, I served a 3 Bean Salad.  My salad was from a can but it was quite good and nice and cool.  It made me think of other salads that have no lettuce.  It seemed a category worth exploring for cool summer eating.

I have a recipe I haven't made in quite a few years.  It is made up of fresh green beans steamed but still quite crisp.  One the beans are cooled, add diced tomato and make up a vinaigrette to dress the salad.  Chill.

This Week In My Home: July Showers

This week in my home...

...I am amazed but the weather men have been on a roll of late in predicting the weather rightly.  There is a chance of showers every day.  Every day it rains just enough to soak plants.  The flowers are so appreciative they are just overflowing with blooms.  April showers may bring May flowers but July showers bring a frenzy of summer blooms and I'm loving it!  Who knew what a mild summer with rain could be like?  I'd gotten so accustomed to last summer's hot dry wind and lack of rain where everything curls up and turns brown right away.  Our temperatures are not meant to get much above the high  80s  (the 'feels like' temperatures are much higher) which is unheard of for this time of year.

Living Frugally and Well

Friday:  I have many address labels that are very specific to a season or simply not to my taste.  I found I could cut off the design on the labels and they were simply plain address labels, which suited me very well.  As well, I have myriad labels with MY name on them but none with our name.  Really all that is needed as a return address is the address.  So I clipped the name portion off nd now have plenty of address labels.

Set up bill box and wrote out checks.  Nothing will go in the mail until we're paid on Monday, but I am so pleased that I was able to pay the renewal for the car insurance two weeks ahead of time, and refill the sub account that I borrowed from two weeks ago.

In the Good Ol' Summertime: Firefly Summer

Fourth of July when the fireworks were going off in the neighborhood, I'd slipped out on the porches to see if I could spy any of them over the trees.  Not a single flare did I see but I did see a load of fireflies gently lighting the brush along the sides of the yard.  I stood there in the semi-darkness watching them as they flashed on and off like a slow turn signal and smiled at the memory they brought.

Iced Tea Chat - Better Things to Come

Hello all.  Come on in and let's settle right down with a glass of iced tea.  I've had a busy day today and a busy one tomorrow and heavens, then there's Friday and the week will be done and where did it go?!  Well it's still mid-week and while it's true it's flying past, I'll not rush it on.  However, I am ready to take a bit of a break and hope you're ready for one, as well.

What on earth have you been up to?  I can tell you what I've been up to and what I haven't rather quickly I'm afraid.  What I've been up to is trying to pinpoint what I want to change in my home and life.  I've started with my desk/work space.  It's not suited me for a long time and irritates me no end because I can't push it flush up against the wall without interfering with the blinds and curtain to the window.  If the desk were but 4 inches less wide it would be perfect, but it's not 4 inches less and there's no real way to manage to make it so without messing it up entirely.  I could, if my wood working son were at home tell him what I want and he could alter what I have or build me something fresh.  Alas the Coast Guard insists upon his staying in the line of duty so I do without, lol.   So I'm looking for an affordable alternative.  In the meantime....I make the best of what I've got.

Have a Terrific Fourth of July!

Isn't this a lovely image?  I love the way the flags and her dress both are moving in the breeze.

Have a happy Fourth of July!

Setting Better Goals

I mentioned earlier last week that I was thinking of revamping how I go about setting goals.  I have been studying this all week long and have learned a few things about how I might improve my goals. 

 I am on target in one way: I set goals in focused areas of my life. I focus on seven areas of my life: Spirit, Marriage, Family, Self, Home, Blog, Finances.  You can certainly choose any focus areas you like and be even more specific than I've been if you'd like.  These are the areas I have chosen to focus on for the past few years.

In My Home This Week: Refocus

In my home this week...

...I am writing this on Friday, the day before the 'great reveal' at John's workplace.  We had a brief discussion of it this morning at breakfast and we're of the mind that whatever the outcome tomorrow morning...We go on.  Whether he has a job, whether he hasn't, we go on.  Whether it's with the county or a new entity, we go on. All we're certain of is change.  Period.

Regardless of what is ahead we must refocus a little this month.  There are changes ahead and we must face them.  That means we change, too.  We change what we can where we can and as we can.  

Living Frugally and Well

I just love this photo of the petunias on the windowsill.  I could just sit and look at it all day long.

Oh dear!  I've been replying to comments with my new email at gmail for the last few weeks.  Well...It's not posting my replies on the blog itself.  So for those of you who are wondering why I'm not answering questions or replying to comments, I am! I have been anyway, it's just now showing up where you can see it. I will, however, be sure to answer them online in the comment forum from now on instead of via my email.  I really thought they would post directly to the blog comments and I've gone a month without one of them coming up as I thought.  

Summer Chicken Salad

                                                            Photo credit: Southern Living

Well!  I couldn't have been more surprised, but the new to me chicken salad idea was a big hit with my husband.   Yes, it really was and I very nearly had NO leftovers, at all.    It was simple enough to make and didn't involve heating the kitchen up, so a big score on that side, as well.

I'm calling the dish Summer Chicken Salad.

Book Review: As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene H. Peterson

I wanted a book to make me think a little more deeply about God and this book has certainly done that.  It's a series of sermons that Peterson preached over the years after he'd found a deeper personal  relationship God.  He longed to impart that feeling of personal relationship to his parishioners and I think he succeeded well.

I'm pleased to say that while there are many insights I'd have been sadder for missing, the book is not written in a complicated theological language.  It's written in laymen's terms, easy to understand, but with all the depth that an experienced pastor would bring to a hungry congregation.

This book is lovely and well worth the time to read.  Because it's set up in sections you can easily read scriptures consecutively that tell the story Peterson is aptly retelling.  It's set up in chapters, with breaks, so that one might easily pause in reading and take it up a little later when a point requires further pondering.

I'm very pleased with this book and think it will become a well loved 'friend' upon my bookshelf, referred to again and again through the years.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for sending  the book as a consideration for review purposes.

In the Good Ol' Summertime - Porches

I seriously cannot remember a summer with any of my grandparents where the porch didn't figure prominently in memory.

Granny's favored seating area was on a side porch, where people tended to come if they weren't family.  She kept four chairs on that porch  and a handy set of stackable chairs just inside the door.  Also  just inside that front door was a stack of hand held paper fans.  These were mostly passed out by some local funeral service and featured photos of  guardian angels holding infants from tumbling over a know lighthearted themes like that.

Granny's porch happened to be on the shady side of the house and overlooked her garden and flower beds.  This only added to the ambience of the porch.  It was always peaceful there and I say truly I spent many and many an hour on the porch with her as a child and as an adult.  Many of my deepest life problems were sorted out and many a heart ache soothed there.

Summer Eating: Chilled Soups

How do you feel about chilled soups?

This weekend as I was reading through a cookbook I discovered about 8 soups that were meant to be served cold.   Frankly, I'd forgotten all about the concept of chilled soups until I saw the first recipe and then I recalled that a friend used to bring a Blueberry Soup to synagogue on the days we had meals after service.  It was lovely really, but I must say here that John would have none of it.  In his mind, soups are hot and if done to his taste they are thick and heavy like a stew.  So it's not likely something I'd have when he's home but I might consider trying one or three for just myself some of these days that he's working.

In My Home This Week: Slipping Into Summer

In my home this week...

...It was a busy week for me last week.  I had so much fun hosting my online party!  It took a chunk of time and required staying near the computer pretty much from dawn to bedtime,  but it was worthwhile.  I liked it so much I told Bess I'll probably do another one later in the year, along about mid-Fall.   And then there was grocery day on my own which wasn't so much fun.  I got very wet.

Our weekend didn't quite go as planned.  Katie didn't make it down after all and so I had a lot of extra food.  She wasn't very happy with the change in plans at all and I felt it for her as much as I felt my own disappointment.   I put the Key Lime Pie I made into the freezer.  When I do see her, she shall at least have that.

Can you believe that we are in the last week of June?!  I somehow was under the impression we had another two weeks to go but we don't.  Just one week and June is gone and we're into July.  That's a little bit scary yet for us.  For all that we're thinking positive we don't KNOW and won't until July 1, what the true verdict is: yes or no on the job, yes or no if he's still working with the county, how we will handle the new schedule, etc.  Well, we'll know by Saturday week won't we?

Frugal Friday: Summer Savings

Saturday:  Do you realize that in a few days summer will be here?  Our weather thus far has been nice enough with only a few days in the high 90's.  That's more like spring for sure.

Decided last night that after all I'd really like to have pizza for supper.  No delivery here in our area and no conveniently located pizzerias either.  Option was to drive into town for frozen.  Nope.  I mixed up a yogurt crust that contained 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp of baking soda and as much salt then just mixed it.  I wet my hands to pat it down on my greased sheet.   Do you know, that was a really good quick crust!  It wasn't biscuit tasting as some yeast free crusts are and had a nice crisp texture.

The yogurt I used was from the last batch I made.  I have one unopened jar in the fridge.  I'd like to wait to open it  Monday when I plan to make a new batch of yogurt.  I think I made this last batch mid-April.  It's kept well all this time in the fridge.  I believe that's because the jars seal so well when it's incubating.

Summer Entree Salads

I don't have picture number one to share with you all today with this  post.  It's still very mild here but the sunshine just popped out for the first time this week.  I'm willing to bet it begins to warm up now!  Which puts me right back to the summer food dilemma.  How do I keep cool and provide good nourishment, too?

Here are the few ideas I've come across thus far.  I plan to keep looking and keep sharing all through these warmer days of the year so stay tuned.

In the Good Ol' Summertime....Summer Fashions

June 21 and what do we have here in Georgia?  Temperatures in the 70's range and humidity in the 90% range, which means that 76F feels thick and heavy.  It's been raining the past two days.  I'm not complaining.  The first day of summer comes in meek and mild.  I take that to mean we'll have a pleasant summer.  We've had them before, where temperatures are rarely much over 90F.   They are imminently the most pleasant of all summers, with enough rain to keep things green and lush and enough sunshine to keep us from going stir crazy indoors.

I've been thinking about summer, the old fashioned sort of summer I knew growing up and maybe even the summers before I was born when fashions for summer were modest and lovely.  Yes, it's clothes on my mind today.

Keeping Cool or I Love Air Conditioning

I mentioned in this week's Iced Tea Chat that I love air conditioning but you know the first years of marriage I lived without it. Not just during my first marriage but also the first five years John and I were married, too.  We had window units but to run them cost more than we could afford.  Our house  was set up to allow for cross breezes.  That's one fault to be found with many modern homes, you know.  I remember Big Mama's home was built with plenty of doorways and windows that allowed air to flow from one room to another.  Yes, there was a loss of some privacy since bedrooms opened off one another but not so much that  you were bothered by it.  And the result was a home that was somewhat cooler even in deep summer heat and a good bit warmer in the winter too because the heat could flow better.

How did we keep cool?  Oh there was a science to it!  It mostly employed using what we had and doing all we could to insure the indoors stayed cooler than the outdoors, no easy feat.

We put up reflective shades on the sunny side of the house.   My 'reflective shades' were mostly sheets of cardboard with aluminum foil over them.  On the big patio doors it was just straight sheets of heavy duty aluminum which was wider.   I use duct tape to hold in to the glass.  You'd be surprised how well this worked.  Of course, the taped on foil did not get moved on a daily basis but the foil covered boards were moved from the shady window to the sunny one.  I'd say it helped reduce the indoor temperature by at least 10 degrees.  That's pretty substantial if it's 100F outdoors!

A Proper Iced Tea Chat: I Owe You One!

Hello there.  I feel I should apologize for my morose attitude last week.  It was my mood and it came across plenty in the Iced Tea Chat post.  Not the way I'd like to have been, so let's have another shall we?

Tea's there.  Mint, orange or lemon to add in if you'd like.  I find mint and citrus very refreshing together.  Of course, it's hard to imagine anything mint can't make refreshing.  It just has a cooling quality that suits doesn't it?  Do you remember in Grace Livingston Hill's Recreations how they made mint ice for a dessert, something like a mint sherbet?  Now doesn't that sound as though it would be the perfect cooling dessert on a hot summer's day?  Oh my!

I've been amused lately at the spate of young homemakers making old fashioned desserts, like Ice Cream Bombes and Baked Alaska.  Both rather nice desserts for summer, I think, but I'm amused because I remember making those in my very early homemaking days just shy of 40 years ago.  They sounded so nice somehow and fancier than mere ice cream and cake which is all they are, just a different form.  I suspect that's why the new homemakers are all trying them now.  They're special without being something pricey or terribly complicated.  They don't require speciality ingredients either, just the usual ones that are likely already on hand.  If I weren't in the middle of working on reducing I'd be so tempted to join them.  But of course, I could do something similar on a MUCH smaller scale for John and I.  A mini Bombe so to speak, or a cupcake sized baked Alaska perhaps.

This Week In My Home: Moving On

This week in my home...

...I am moving on.  I let a whole week go by with me mooning and moaning and I'm done.  A rather astute observation from someone I love who I know loves me was, "Hmmmm...aren't you letting the worry over that relationship become a new addiction for you?"   It was said with love and it was spot on.  I'll likely have a post somewhere along about addictive relationships but for now, suffice it to say that I felt this sudden overall lightening inside and had peace about it once I saw my behavior for what it was.  Done!  Let's move on.

John goes back to work this week, just one day, so nothing to shout hurray over as I will still be at his whim on planning anything real.  BUT, I have already attended to the bill box, so there's nothing but the totting up to be done this week.  I've planted all my current lot of plants and freshly rooted petunias so the last set of pots I had ready to plant are filled in.  I have to dig about to find more pots but I'll strictly need true shade lovers for the next area of the back flower bed.  Shade loving plants I don't have at the moment so I'm going to begin working on the south end of the house and the front as I've been just hankering to do.  I have to remove some plants from a bed about the Faith tree.  Some of those can go in the ground  (iris) and the rest will be saved to put in a pot.  I'll begin with what I've got...Moving on.

Frugal Friday: Last Week of Spring

Saturday:  We traveled today.  John wanted a to go breakfast, from a fast food place.  I had a Burger King gift card and told him we'd use that to pay for our meal.

We had to stop to pick up buns, our contribution to the birthday party meal.  I priced packages of several brands taking note of quantity since we had to have a specific amount of each and found some that were on sale and recently stocked.

Gramma failed.  She had no gift bags and Grampa didn't think it necessary anyway.  Present went along unwrapped and stayed that way.  Of course, Josh's first choice were all the wrapped presents and the unwrapped ones were so so in his opinion and who can blame him?  Unwrapping is half the fun of a birthday gift, right?

On our way home John stopped at Subway and bought a sandwich, heavy on vegetables which we'd missed in previous meals this day.

Iced Tea Chat: Tiny Irritations and Tangled Webs

Hello dears, do hurry and come in and have a seat.  The gnats are fierce out there and they seemingly want in out of the heat and humidity as much I do when I've been outdoors.  I tried to water plants the other morning and ended up beating the air about my ears trying to get the things out of my ears.  Ugh.  I knocked my glasses askew and then bumped them off so that they flew across the yard.  I retrieved them and laid them on the porch railing. I'm not completely able to see without them but doggone it I can't afford to wreck them while I fight off gnats either.

I walked down to the mailbox later to put in some outgoing mail and ended hiking up the neck of  my tee shirt so that I could cover my ears.  That was a help.  It made me think that a scarf wrapped about my head  might be the solution when working in the yard.  If you wonder why I'm not using any sort of repellant it's merely because I have had an abundance of purchases and birthdays (with three still to go this month) and our leeway has given out in the budget.  Gnats are not life threatening, just tiny irritations.  I will say however, if anyone were to be minded to try torture I'd start with mosquitoes and gnats.  Forget the old tricks of slivers of bamboo under nails or those torture stretching rack things (which John always thought looked rather therapeutic, lol, he always says it looks like it would pull kinks out of your back rather nicely).  Just shut me out in the yard with a thick cloud of tiny buzzing insects all about and I'd probably spill state secrets if I knew any!

Well that got me thinking about all sorts of things.  Tiny irritations are enough to break a person if they keep right on being permanently irritating but most things of that nature we do build up some tolerance for in the end, now don't we?  I expect the first 24 hours would be the hardest and thereafter I'd be coping a bit better.  It's the way we're made that makes the first onslaught so hard and then we learn to just deal with it.

But what about those tangled webs?  I am really talking dense spider webs of relationship patterns.

Two years ago, when I was laid up in the hospital, there were three people conspicuously missing in well wishes and support.  I can tell you honestly that of the three there was not one good reason why any one of them couldn't have been there for a visit at least once.  Of the three, one made a phone call to let me know that my illness was an inconvenience to their personal life plans.   In no manner could these three be bothered to go our of their way to actually wish me well.  It was very sobering.  It brought home to me the number of days I'd devoted time and energy to these people in trying to build solid relationships and how often I'd accepted less than nice behavior in return.  Honestly, petty as it may sound to some of you, there's nothing quite like not knowing if you're going to live through the next 24 hours and noting that of the people who reach out, three in conspicuously important  relationships with you are silent.  I get all the 'Well some people don't know how to tell you how they feel..." etc.  I do understand that some are just reluctant to be near illness.  I get that.  This was not the case in either of these three situations.  They've done this plenty for many people in their lives.

So yes, it took some deep and serious thought.   I had to let go of bitterness and fully forgive.  It's a bit like trying to rid yourself of mice or some other particularly pesky  destroying thing.  You think it's all eradicated and you start finding evidence elsewhere in your life that you aren't done yet.  It's painful and it gets wearying but you have to continue to do all you can or it takes over, and it does mean to take over.   Bitterness and strife and unforgiving attitudes do nothing at all to harm those who inflicted the pain but it is physically and spiritually poison to the one who decides to live in it.  It's a bit like playing in poop and then wondering what stinks and why you're infected.

Well as it turned out, of those three relationships, one is exactly as it was before.  It's in name only, truly. It was I who held on to the relationship and I was all alone in holding on.  I live in a small town, a small southern town at that.  There's a pattern for introductory conversation.  Southerners want to establish relationship with people.  They start by asking "Who are your people?"  because families in small towns and rural counties intertwine throughout the years.  My cousin marries yours, or your aunt happens to be my great grandmother or even the looser connections, my butcher is your brother in law's first cousin.  It all counts as connection.  In a rural Southern area we 'claim' folks as kin even if the relationship is diluted by several generations and branches off multiple times.   In this particular close blood relationship where DNA is beyond evident, to have someone look at me and say, "I've known 'x' for thirty years and never knew you were family..." it pretty much sums up how close we aren't and never will be.  

Of the second relationship I've never seen the person again.  Nor heard another word.  It was as though I really had died as far as these first two relationships are concerned, as though who I am today is a ghost to them, an embarrassment of vapor that  will not pass on to the other side.

And then there is the third relationship.  It's not a relationship I want to completely write off.  It too is a close blood relationship.  I want to tell you it's because I respect this person but that's not really all of the  truth.  I do have respect for some of the things done, for the relationship itself, but if it were not blood relation  I would absolutely walk away.  I've been asked before, "If this were a stranger named Smith would it matter?  Would you let Stranger Smith treat you in such a way?"

I'd say it was a matter of admiration of the individual , because I do admire some of the things this person has done in life.  But that too isn't completely true.  There are a lot of things this person has done to destroy relationships between others and succeeded quite well in doing.  There are a lot of petty jealousies and hurts that have garnered retaliations that were embarrassing and painful and extremely hurtful.  There are a lot of resentments that one is expected to make up for, even while being assured that you never can make up for them.  It is a relationship in which one is expected to sacrifice all other relationships because no other shall have any importance compared to this one and if you so much as hint that another is at least equal, we're right back to the retaliatory behavior.  That may mean physical as well as verbal abuse or it can mean being cut off completely until you are deemed necessary once more.

That is not to say that I hadn't realized long ago that I needed hard boundaries with this person.  I created many and after that late spring 2015 crisis I realized that my boundaries needed to be still tighter and built with greater fortification.  I won't tell you it isn't hard.  I long to do certain things but I can't because if I do, the walls are breached immediately.  It's that insidious a relationship between us.

What brought all this to head over the past week has been an ongoing physical deterioration of the individual. It is a concern.  I made a suggestion of something helpful and perfectly reasonable and offered to attend to it immediately.  I was told no, as I have been told no  to every reasonable suggestion that would help.    Seven days later, I get a phone call and it was suggested that now the suggestion is valid and it would be a good time for me to tend to it.  

Only it wasn't a good time to go ahead.  I discovered in questioning that I'd have to travel many miles, and attempt to contact several people to get key items that were necessary to perform the act and none of the preliminary work that might have been done had been.  It wasn't that it was just an inconvenience at that moment but what would have taken an hour at best the week before would require at least a full day of my time at that moment.  I had not been feeling well and  I said apologetically that I couldn't do it.  I suggested an alternative that required much less time on any one person's part or merely asking the person who lives with them to tend to it.

Not only did I feel guilty in saying no, I could hear the disappointment that I wasn't willing to just drop everything at that moment and do as told as I would have done in the past.  It was obvious I was not playing the game and it was considered not fair play on my part.  I struggled with all sorts of things as I said, spiritually and mentally and emotionally and thought I'd ought to just give in when John put his foot down and said "No.  Absolutely no."  Unreasonably, I felt even more torn and resented his thinking he had the right to say no.

So to insure that I didn't, my body immediately reacted to the stress.  I've had a bout of a painful condition that isn't life threatening but does drain my energy and leave me unable to attend to my household.   It also insures I don't leave my home.   I've laid about and been depressed and been sharp and irritable.   My mental anguish had become physical and I knew I literally needed to heal in more ways than one.

And so this week I ran smack into my own fortifications and it hurt like running headlong into a stone wall should.  It made me mad and sad. It left me confused and questioning my own wisdom and my Christianity and the very core beliefs that I not only espouse but try to live by.  It hurts to say that this person is my enemy but it's truth.  Because you see, however much I've built up my walls, this person knows full well that I am weak somewhere and is seeking that weak area where I break.  I've called this person my torturer in the past and it's truth.  The behavior that drove me to build my walls has not changed one whit.  The manipulations have changed slightly, a reaction to the changes I wrought in distancing myself from certain behaviors two years ago.  But the enemy still lies in wait.

I cried out to God asking why this is so, asked how I can cope and asked what I should do.  "Give me a sign, just one sign, that tells me how to proceed!  Please!"   And the answer came, but it was hard to understand at first.  "Heap coals on your enemy's  head."    Heaping coals on his head does not mean to set fire to this person, which sounds harsh enough to be mildly satisfying in nature,  but is actually a charitable act. A pastor explained  in a sermon we heard this past weekend:   In the old testament days, when  cold days came, beggars who had no money for wood would walk the streets with a flat pan on their heads and beg for embers.  People would drop a live coal onto the pan as the beggar walked past their window. He took his coals, went home and cooked his meal and warmed his home.  So I am to be charitable, not vengeful.

In the New Testament, Paul instructs us to do all we do with love, because he says that all we do without love is meaningless.  Had I no love at all, it wouldn't matter how this relationship goes on would it?  I wouldn't struggle so hard to forgive, to try to forget and to wipe away every bit of bitterness.  I had no choosing in the loss of the two other relationships.  In each instance, I was dropped out of that person's life by none but themselves.  I didn't remove myself. I simply stopped being pushy about being given a place in their lives.  But in this last relationship,  I am entangled in a web.  I continue to hold onto a stubborn hope that things will change.  I seem to feel that if this relationship too is a failure it makes me a failure. The truth is, I haven't chutzpah enough to cut it off completely because I am certain it would make me a horrible, terrible person.

It's not all untangled to my satisfaction but it's the best understanding I have at this time.  And so I struggle to determine just how I must act within my safe boundary and do what I can without creating an opening that does me harm.  No, it's not easy, not one little bit. I don't have a very good sense of balance at the best of times.  In situations like this, I have none.  It's hard.  I don't really understand why our relationships with some must be so difficult and painful and with others it's easy travel.  I don't understand it at all, but I know it is so.  That I do.

The past few mornings I've been watching a deer graze on the front lawn.  There is nothing more peaceful than a deer when it feels perfectly safe.  This doe grazed like any cattle does and was out the same time each morning.  I'd grown rather used to looking out the window at her as she ate, her tail flicking gently.  As she walked across the yard, she was never in a hurry but just slowly walked across.  I was pretty sure she had a fawn somewhere near.  It's common that at least one doe raises a fawn here on our property.

I missed the doe on Tuesday morning.  I missed her Wednesday, as well.  And then Maddie took off from her breakfast Wednesday and ran into the brush and barked and came back with a fawn's leg bone in her mouth.  The aroma told me the fawn had been dead for some time.  Maddie didn't kill it.  I suspect the coyote that treks across the place from one pasture to the other  had discovered the fawn and killed it and Maddie just stumbled on the remains.  I found myself weeping hard.  It seemed too much this physical ailment and the tangled webs I'd been fighting my way through and the spiritual seeking that had felt like beating at skies of bronze, to have the one peaceful thing I found shattered, as well.  It was as though the evil world had intruded on my last frontier of peace.

I wanted to run away and hide until all my worries went away.  They never do go away though do they?    And it's not in my nature to hide anyway.  I tend to face my troubles head on, much as I'd rather not.  I can't protect myself in any way except to be strong.  Even when being strong is the hardest thing I know to do.  I have to face the hard things as well as the soft easy things.  There is no safe place that will go untouched by some form of disaster or pain.  I can only choose my best path, not the easiest one, but the best one.

John has borne the brunt of my not feeling well and being snippy.  He's well aware of what a struggle this relationship is for me and has been.  I had to stop resenting him and recall that because I was damaged in other relationships before him,  in this relationship I have been nurtured and pushed to grow in equal measure.  His interest is not what makes his path easiest but what makes for a healthy happy relationship for the two of us.  He's learned the same as I that peace at any cost is never ever peace.  It's bondage.  Peace is standing firm assured that your best is not necessarily what another wants but what is right and true, even when it's hard.

No happy sunny post this week.  No easy chat.  If the vague references frustrate you then I'm sorry.  I have never wanted to harm anyone with my blog posts and even though I'm assured that not one of the three mentioned here reads this blog or cares to, I'd rather not have them lose their privacy or anonymity.  Yet, I did want to share that difficult relationships require more of us than those which are easy.  I wanted to share because someone else out there is struggling hard as I have.  Perhaps you aren't aware that the troublesome relationship has been affecting your marriage or your relationships with others.  I wanted to share too because I find writing therapeutic.  On page, I can edit and worm out those other thoughts that get caught in the webs and confuse things still more.

Charm School: Wedding Etiquette

I found the following tips in the June 1952 Better Living magazine.  I thought they were interesting and I certainly learned a thing or two, so wanted to share them with any of you who might not know these particular etiquette rules related to weddings.

More Shoe Box Meal Ideas

As I worked in my pantry this week.  I arranged my few shoe box meals a fresh and added ingredients to one or two.  I've not really worked with this the way I'd planned.  For one thing I haven't purchased all the ingredients I need for the few I'd put together.  I'll do that shopping and set them up proper.

Naturally as I worked I thought up new boxes and would like to share those ideas with you all, as well.

I'd thought about breakfast boxes: dry individual boxes of cereal perhaps and envelopes of dry milk and a bit of canned fruit such as blueberries or plums in light syrup for one idea.  And why not a box with a packet of pancake mix and a can of spam?  Oatmeal packets and muffin mix in another, and perhaps biscuit mix in another box with Vienna sausages or something like that.   This is another idea I need to work out more fully and really I must make an appointment with myself to go to the stores and scout around as to what I might purchase.  I needn't purchase it all at once but to have an idea would allow me to build my list and purchase a bit along.

Other ideas that came to me: Baked Beans and Brown Bread and Potato Salad.  Brown bread used to come in cans as did date roll.  I hope I can find that.

Summer sausage with Canned Potato Salad and perhaps Beans.

I used to have a rather nice recipe called Spoonbread Supper.  It began with chopped ham (canned will do obviously) and a box of cornbread mix with a bit of green onion (chives would do as well) that was baked and topped with diluted cream of mushroom soup.  It was quite good as a meal.  Here again, it's a matter of adding in sides such as peas and carrots and perhaps a fruit or gelatin or pudding as a dessert.

Macaroni and cheese with a can of tuna and green peas to make a casserole.  A packet of bread crumbs or potato chips to top this dish would be nice.  Again, you'd want to work out your sides.

I'd completely forgotten those microwaveable shelf stable meals.  I admit I've only ever had the one with roast beef and gravy and mashed potatoes.  It was okay.  I'd perhaps like to try another brand.  You can add green beans to this and it will do rather well.

What about a jambalaya mix with a can of tomatoes and okra, canned chicken or shrimp, some minute rice, a bit of dried onion and peppers.

I was just thinking of so many other canned entrĂ©e items I'd forgotten: beef stew or chicken and dumplings. 

Those jars of Tamales used to taste very good.    You could do a Mexican dinner with a packet of Spanish or Yellow rice and a can of refried beans to go with the tamales.

As you can see the ideas abound.  I'll be the first to confess I'm not overly fond of many of the canned pre-made entrees but they are all reliable and easy to make if you're ill or if someone unaccustomed to making meals must cook.  Because I'm not fond of them I wouldn't make the mistake of overstocking but a single can will do no harm on that score. I'd like to do a trial run at least once a week with the boxes I've set up, so I can work out kinks.  That would allow me to note which were successful and which were so so and which I'd just rather not do at all.  Making them will let me know quickly enough which are tolerable!  

Have you come up with any new ideas for shoe box meals since the first post back in April?  Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Kitchen Organization on a Dime

                                                 Olive oil tins as utensil holders.

I am an organized person.  I love nothing better than to have a place for everything and everything in it's place.  For one thing, it helps me to remember where something is.  If a certain item is found in a certain spot every single time, I never have to go hunting for it.

I would love nothing better than to spend all my time in one of those sorts of stores that has every organizational aide known to woman or man for closets and cupboards.  I don't want to pay big prices though for clever organization and since most of those stores are located in big cities, no desire to travel to find items, either.  So how do I stay organized?  It's a combination of using what I have and making the most of what I have on hand.  Here are some of my most recent organizational tools.  You might be surprised.

First I am a saver of things: boxes, containers, jars, jugs, etc.

In the top kitchen drawer I keep my baggies.  I store washed and dried cereal bags in a bread sack.  I fold them tight and press the excess air out of them.  I like to store meat in the cereal bags.  It's something I don't mind tossing in the trash after, I can tape them shut and mark directly on the bag what is in them.  I can put like cuts of meat together (say all breasts) and tuck those bags into a large zippered bag to keep them together.  Easy organization, a nice reuse of something that typically is thrown away once empty, and if needed I can even cut on bag into squares to put between pieces of meat or homemade unbaked piecrusts and prevent them sticking together.

I also have a small mustard jar in use keeping my rubber bands all together.

Cottage cheese and sour cream containers are nice for storing leftovers, but I tend to forget items I can't see, so I rely more heavily on glass jars and glass containers.  I'm slowly collecting those glass rectangular pieces with snap on plastic lids.  Love them!   I  pick up one or two at a time when I'm in Ross or Marshalls where they are cheapest.  I do save the lids off the sour cream and cottage cheese containers to put between homemade burgers.  Makes taking out one or two from the freezer a cinch and because I can pat the burger out to fit the lid, I have a controlled portion as well.  And individual ice cream cartons or yogurt lids make great slider burger portions as well as keeping them separated.

In My Home This Week: Push Push Push

In my home this week... ...We attended a memorial service for nephew Jason this weekend.  It was a quiet, calm, peaceful service.  ...