Thanksgiving Count Down: Thriving Through the Chaos

It's the week of Thanksgiving as I'm sure too many of you are well aware.  I've seen Tammy's array of pies on facebook and there's not only a turkey thawing in my fridge but about 20 baked sweet potatoes waiting to be peeled and mashed for soufflé.  There's cornbread and bread cubes, diced onions and celery in the freezer and four quarts of broth thawing in the fridge.   Yes we're well under way for the holiday week...

I don't know about you but stress and tension starts to mount this time of year.  Not only must we deal with family members who may be a stressor as much as they are loved, we are trying to do too much and accomplish everything at once.  I woke in the middle of the night and began to go over our plans in my mind and at some point this sense of calm came over me.  "I got this..." I said to myself.  And went right back to sleep.  That was pretty awesome.  Awakening with a sense of purpose, I hopped to the next morning and next thing I knew I was hit out of the blue by a feeling of illness.  I was sidelined for the most part the rest of the day.  Not fun.  Not at all a happy day of cleaning and shopping and planning.  I lay about and wondered how on earth can I say "I've got this?" when I'm sidelined at the start?

Well I do have this.  I am feeling much better.  I expect there's a good explanation for the ailment and since it's lately a recurring thing I mean to see my doctor to try and sort it out.   But NOT this week, lol.   In the meantime, can I just share what I'm doing to keep things rolling smoothly along?

#1.  Clear the clutter.  Now don't think I'm crazy.  I used to be one of those perfectionist types who thought the whole house had to be spotless and that included drawers and closets I hadn't touched in months.  No.  Don't even think it's a possibility this week. 

I'm telling you to clear the clutter from your work space.  Clean off the kitchen counters of everything that is not necessary to food prep for this week.  Put it in the garage or stash it on a counter that is out of the work space but move it.   Put away the clean dishes in the dish drainer or that you stacked on the counter after unloading the dishwasher.  Put the toaster away after breakfast.  Put away the cute chotskies.  They will only hinder and impeded you when you need every inch of counter space you have.

Clean off the dining table and leave it clear all week long.  I don't care if you have to stash stuff under your bed, move it off the table for this week.  Put a pretty centerpiece on it.  Now move on.

Walk into your living room and bedroom and quickly clear the side tables and coffee table.  Put away clothes that have been left sitting.  We are not cleaning.  Now is not the time to tackle anything but the most glaringly obvious cleaning needs.  If there are dust bunnies ON the table...well yes, you might want to tackle those, but if they are hiding out under the couch, let them nest there.

#2.  Organize your head, first.    List out your menu.  If you're going to have guests stay beyond the holiday (as I am) then plan meals for those days coming up as best you can.  You may or may not need them but don't plan on leftovers unless you have a 20 pound turkey and only four showing up for dinner.  In my case, I have 18 coming to dinner and 6 potential guests for the weekend.  Yes, that's right, I don't really know how long these six plan to stay but I must have a plan to execute if they are here.   So plan those meals.  Hopefully you'll plan with a eye on what you have on hand and won't need to run to the store for more than whipped cream (don't we always forget that?) and bread and milk.

#3.  Organize your groceries.   Right now I know where every component of the meal I'm making is.  The turkey and broth and baked sweet potatoes and eggs are in the fridge.  The canned soups, beans, canned onion rings, instant potatoes, salad dressings are all together in one cabinet.  Hold on a minute...I want to move the brown sugar to that cupboard, too...Cornbread and bread cubes, chopped celery and onion are altogether in the fridge freezer.  I'll be moving that to the refrigerator tomorrow so I'm sure they are thawed.   I know where every single component needed to complete my meal is right now.  No digging through the back of the cupboard Thursday morning trying to find that can of cranberry sauce that is doing a very good job of hiding like the hunted turkey...

#4.  Know your cooking times and prepare your schedule.  There is no point at all in putting the green bean casserole in with the turkey...It will only be  over baked and dry and who wants that? 

But there are things you can do ahead.  My rule of thumb is that if it contains eggs, I wait until I'm ready to start the cooking process before prepping.  Stuffed turkey should never be stuffed ahead of time.  Only just before it goes into the oven.  Elaine at Sunny Simple Life shared with me that she makes her mashed potatoes early in the day.   She allows them to be a bit wetter than usual then plops them in the crockpot and adds pats of butter on top.  She then lets them sit on LOW (my crock has a "Keep Warm" setting) and says to stir them every half hour.  And in case of any of you who are going to do as I am and are using instant potatoes, Lana left a comment earlier last week that adding a mashed cooked potato or two to the instant potatoes transforms them from boxed to "Hey you made real potatoes!".   Pies and cakes may obviously be made ahead and stored in a cake or pie keeper in a cool place (doesn't have to be a fridge). 

So do what you can ahead but by all means be aware of what can't be done ahead and set yourself the task of figuring out exactly what time that turkey is going to be done and how much longer you have to cook the green bean casserole if the temperature is a little lower and you've had to triple or quadruple the recipe.  Then pin that up where you can find it come Thanksgiving morning.

#5.  Give in.  Most people invited to dinner will call and ask, "What can I bring?"  Or "May I bring a pie?", etc. 

Now just take my word for it, I have planned my dinner and I've let myself get over anxious about someone else needing fridge space when it's already packed full, and worried about having a glut of leftovers, or bringing in something to be baked when the oven is packed full.  These are legitimate concerns on my part...but...

You know what?  Let everybody bring what they'd like.   It's so much easier to just say "Yes.  Please do!"   If they haven't a clue what they might bring, have a list nearby with something simple and easily picked up like a gallon of tea from a store deli or a container of whipped cream or extra cups and napkins.   In the end, it's really about the gathering together isn't it?  So when one of my guests offered to make Pumpkin Bars, I said "Sure!  That will be great!" and when another offered to bring a ham, though her husband was horrified since John and I don't eat pork, I told him "Let her bring it.  We may not eat it but everyone else we know does and it will get eaten."

If there are leftovers then send them home with someone else.   My two youngest live just far enough away to make travel easy but to present a hardship when they arrive home to put a meal on the table.  I'll fix them up a plate and send them on their way with enough to at least feed them supper.  Those who must travel further run the risk of having food spoiled before they might arrive home.  Keep this in mind when insisting someone take leftovers.  Something is portable.  And if you're having company for the weekend then happily accept the provision and use the food to cover the need.

#6.  Take time for yourself.  When I'm focused and busy I'll work on all sorts of jobs and tasks that might well have waited.  It's as though I can't quite be sure my wagon is full enough already to stop loading it up.  Well it is!  So what did I do this morning?  A manicure.  While I sat and listened to a series of praise songs.  I took time to read my Bible and will be sure, once company arrives, to take my books to my room for just that purpose before I present myself.  I might even set up my little single cup coffee maker in my room just so I can have my first cup in peace.  (That's a good idea!)

Take a favorite book and put it near a spot where you can put your feet up for a few minutes.  If things get chaotic Thanksgiving Da putting yourself in a five minute time out will work wonders, believe me.  There are generally plenty of people willing to watch the timer and if they are the unreliable sorts you can always keep an eye on the clock, but just taking a bit of time away from the melee and the football or parade or whatever, in a quiet room will restore and center you.  It's a good time to make a quick prayer, too, by the way.

So there you are, my few survival tips for the week ahead.  It's going to be all right.  We got this!

In My Home This Week: Turkey Talk

In my home this week...

...I usually start these after Shabat on the weekend.  As I start this week, I am tired.  I had visitors today.   Namely two little boys.  I was so glad to see them both.  I didn't know until a chance conversation came up that they were coming to visit me today.  Mom and Dad had business to attend to and asked if they might go out to dinner after.     I haven't seen any of the grandchildren since my family day in September and I was anxious to see them.  I've been aching to see Katie and Taylor but it hasn't worked out for various reasons.  So when asked if we'd keep the boys for a couple of hours it was no hardship as far as we were concerned.   John was just in from work this morning.  I'm happy to say that all three of the 'boys' got a nap this afternoon.  And I got a couple of hours free time to read.

The sweetest moment occurred when Josh and I were looking in the refrigerator for supper ideas.  "Gramma...I love you!"  "Well I love you too, Joshy."   "And Gramma, I LIKE you, too."   That made me smile from ear to ear.  I don't know that he's ever been around us to hear it said before, but it's something John tells me frequently when we're alone.  It was just lovely to hear it from that three year old boy.

The littlest boy isn't crawling yet but he gets about.  He just moves along on his bottom and stretches a bit to get this or that and the next thing you know he's gone from the blanket you'd put him on to the middle of the floor.  

Josh had the chance to go outside all alone and play in the yard.  He doesn't get a chance to do that at home because he lives near a very busy country road with some pretty fast traffic.   Here there is little worry he'll be in the road.  Our rules are the same for all the grandchildren once they are old enough to follow simple directions:  You can play anywhere in the yard as long as you can see the house.  Our yard is vast, encompassing about three acres and the children generally take full advantage of it.  This is the privilege of country children: freedom.   I'm so happy it's ours to offer to them.

....I worked:

I do stick to my Shabat rules of no work, no shopping, etc.  However, once Shabat is over (25 hours after the start), we generally do some quick light housework.  It was a little more intense this week.  I waited until just moments before the family got ready to go home.  One of them picked up most of the toys, John walked about the house looking for the odd thing that might be left behind.  I cleared the kitchen and dining table and emptied the trash.   When the house had emptied, John ran the vacuum while I swept.  It was a full on housecleaning.  I kept reminding myself how much easier it would make Sunday morning to have all that work attended to Saturday evening.

All the usual of washing full loads of dishes, full loads of clothes, hanging to dry all we could.  It's been a bit damp and chilly so not a lot of hanging outdoors over the weekend, though I've made sure we did on the sunny day that happened along. 

I opened the dishwasher as soon as the cycle was done and allowed the moisture to evaporate into our dry air.

I've kept a pot of water on back of the stove to help moisturize the air indoors, too.   Added bonus...It's made it easier to help myself to a cup of hot tea most afternoons.

Despite wearing layers and socks and such, I found myself miserably cool if I wasn't up working.  John is even more prone to feeling cold than myself and less likely to put on the layers of clothing I will.  I decided after watching him shiver terribly one evening that it wouldn't kill us to turn the heater up a degree or two.

My day out with Mama isn't technically considered work but it was work this week.  Just saying.

Got the guest room close to ready.  We need to hang a mirror and as soon as I've hemmed John's blue jeans and my black pants the sewing machine will be put away.  I need a fresh plant or flowers for the room (still don't know if I'm having guests or not).  I'll take out the children's mattresses we have in there and I still need to determine what canned goods I need from the pantry but figure that can wait until next week then I'll shift things when I've planned meals (in case we have guests).   I've bought curtains, a blow dryer and a couple of extra towels to cover guest needs.  I still don't know who will be here or when or for how long.  Not keen on this up in the air sort of thing but it is what it is.

All of the guest bedding was washed from spread to shams to quilt at foot of bed.  I figured they needed to be freshened and nothing does that as well as a wash and hanging on the line in my opinion.

I planned to spend one day out shopping this week, then John announced his intent to do some minor shopping.  Well.  It turned into a major day of shopping and there were still things to do.  BUT we added presents for two, got the turkey and a few other necessities plus curtains for the guest room on his day.  I also got nine packs of winter plants for the pots in front of the back porch.  Lots knocked out just not completed.  I'd hated to have had had a larger list!  I spent a second day shopping but it was more saying "Right, well we're not getting that..." and looking for any alternative I could to work instead.  I spent a lot less on my day out but my feet were just as tired.

I'd scratched up my pantry stock up list so badly I could barely make out what I needed any longer.  It took a few minutes to rewrite but will be completely worthwhile next time I reach for it while shopping.  I adjusted amounts on several items as I realized that my figures were off for a six months supply.  

...I made meals:

Roast Beef, Potato Casserole, Steamed Broccoli
I have to share about this roast beef.  It was a Rump Round Roast.  I've bought these plenty of times and tried to slice them but they were generally a bit chewy.  I was always so disappointed and then I read in a vintage magazine that these cuts aren't meant to be baked and sliced.  They are best used as pot roasts or for braising.   Well I had no idea because there was no such information in any of my current cookbooks.

I decided to use a marinade to tenderize and mixed up my own from scratch using ingredients on hand.  I let it marinate overnight and even turned it during the middle of the night when I woke unexpectedly.  I cooked the roast in a covered casserole dish at 350 for 2 hours then lowered it to 325 for another hour and half.

Y'all...That roast stayed together when I took it up out of the casserole but the moment I laid a knife on the surface it fell into tender chunks.  It was delicious.  I'll find another cut to use as a slicing roast but I now know how to properly cook a Rump Round Roast.

Rotisserie Chicken (White Wine and Herb), Asparagus, Wild Rice
This meal went together so easily prior to church.  The chicken was cooked.  I'd had it in the fridge and put it in the crock pot on high for an hour or so, then cut it back to low before we left.  I cooked wild rice and poured into the crock pot with the chicken.  In future, I'd add a wee bit of moisture.  I'd expected some to cook out of the chicken but it didn't.  I just heated asparagus when we came in from church.  Frankly this went together so quickly and I am again reminded how lovely it is to come in from the cold to a hot meal ready to eat at little expense.

out with mama one day

Leftover Roast Beef and Potato Casserole, Salad of Lettuce, pomegranate and apples with walnuts

John took me out to eat at our favorite restaurant.

I ate out on my own.  I was tired, hungry and still had a bit of shopping to go though it had been a frustrating morning for NOT finding what was needed/wanted.  I decided I would take care of me first, and take the time to eat.

Chicken Fried Rice, Steamed Broccoli, Mandarins

...I saved money

Learning to cook that rump roast properly was probably one of my best money savers this week.  I had plenty of meat leftover.  Well, three meals into the roast I still had some leftover.  I thought perhaps it would be a good thing to put the rest of that in the freezer.  I'll make something with it later on.

I meant last Friday to leave out meat to use to make dishes this  week but realized I would have leftover rotisserie chicken and leftover roast beef. I'm glad now I didn't leave any out.  I don't know when I might have gotten around to it and it would have spoiled.

Packaged up the wild rice and chicken that was leftover. It was such a tiny chicken that I'm lucky to get to meals off it!  However, there's enough rice and meat left to make a batch of fried rice for dinner one day this week.

Used a bag of really poor French Fries to make the potato casserole.   I bought a 5 pound bag of frozen French Fries back when I was prepping for the Hurricane Irma refugees.  I was sure it would come in handy if there was an extended stay.   The potatoes were all of 1 inch long.  I was so disgusted and I had a five pound bag of those tinky little French fried potatoes!   It occurred to me the other morning that while they are a little larger than hash browns they most certainly could be used as a substitute.   They worked well enough so I'll be sure to do this again while I have all the ingredients on hand.  I've frozen these casseroles ahead and they do very well.

We didn't go into the grocery at all on Sunday which I can assure you saved us a good $40 right there.  Yes, there is a needed item I might have gone in for but inevitably that means picking up items we 'need' but hadn't planned to buy.   John and I went to the drive thru to pick up a prescription and he got a paper at the gas station where we stopped to fill up my car.

Filling my car in the same area where we go to church saves us 20c a gallon.

Looked over sales sheets and riffled through Sunday newspaper pages.  Why go through the whole paper when I find news so depressing?  Simple.  One year I stumbled upon a grocery ad for $5 off the purchase of a turkey in the sports pages of all places.  I have, since then, made it a point to go through the newspaper start to finish looking for random coupons.  No luck this go round but it cost me nothing to look.

Went through ads and determined I really needed nothing much.  I went into the discount grocery in the next town to get turkey sausage patties and  incidentally stocked up on canned pear halves packed in juice and John's favorite crackers which I reserve strictly for his work lunches.

Repaired the dishwasher rack all by myself.  It took me a few minutes to find the trouble but it was quite easily fixed once I had focused on the area.

Packed John's work lunches and sent him off with breakfast and coffee.

Washed all the linens from the dining room drawer.  I really do need to set them all to soak but time is busy just now with getting ready for Thanksgiving, planning a Jam party for a customer and getting house and yard ready.

Ordered that King sized quilt for our bed.  I was able to get the same color, teal, but not able to get the shams I'd hoped to buy as well.  Before I finalized my order, I looked up discount codes and found one that saved me all of the shipping amount which was substantial.  I also checked Swagbucks shop and earn but the store was not covered by their rewards.

The day I was going out with Mama, I had an idea of how to style the white blouse which is a tad large on me with my skinny jeans.  I played about with scarfs at the waist and decided that with the right scarf I could carry that shirt off with the other pants I felt it wouldn't work with as cinching at the waist both brings in the width and shortens the length giving a thinner silhouette overall.

This last pay period, I needed to use my allowance to cover my credit card charges.  I could whine about having no money but I knew full well what I was spending at the time I spent it, so no whine.  However, it was my turn to pay for lunch out with Mama.  I happen to be saving $1 bills just now and I used some of those to cover our meal.  It made me feel good to have cash on hand and NOT to go to the bank to get cash I'd really already spent.   Later this week when I was out shopping on my own and overtired and hungry, I went into a restaurant alone and ordered a meal.  Again those $1 bills came in handy and I felt strong enough to carry on with a rather tedious and tiresome task after.  I felt sort of proud to not have taken money from our joint account but used what I had instead.

An absolutely beautiful planter at Lowe's Garden center: Maroon dianthus with an Italian rock Pine tree in the middle.  It was very lovely but I'm leery when there are no prices on items.  I looked over just the Italian rock pines but again, no prices.  John suggested, quite rightly, that I might dig up cedars in our fields that were roughly the same size and plant with my flowers.  I turned a corner and there was a plethora of small cedars for $10 a half gallon pot.  John's quite right! I'll likely expend $10 worth of labor getting them up but for that price I can have all I want...

I priced curtains at Lowe's and at Walmart and was prepared to go further afield if need be.  I was very color specific on these curtains which were for the guest room.  I love my little guest room and it's nice to sew near the window there but at night the security light with it's LED bulb is like the piercing eye of God peering in that window right through the blind and the lace panel I was using there.  I thought my guests might appreciate just a little more darkness.  The curtains are not room darkening but they are the proper color and the price was such I could afford to put up four panels which gives a deeper coverage than two would have done.

There were better prices on turkeys at other stores but Walmart had a brand I especially like, as it's very consistently good and tender.  It was still a 32c a pound savings over Aldi's offering so I'm not yelping too loud about paying more than I might have elsewhere.

I kept careful track of all food spending this week.  It will technically be coming out of next week's food budget but I'm shopping ahead to save my sanity this week.  Next week when we get paid it will be CRAZY out there.   Gracious if you'd seen the traffic and the shopping centers this week you'd have thought twice about being out in it all.  As of Thursday evening, I'd determined that save the purchase of bread and one other item, I am officially calling myself DONE until after the whole Black Friday weekend.

I looked for more folding chairs but they were every one of them gone and the offerings left, while nicer, were certainly pricier. I counted up guests and visualized seating and decided that indeed we should manage with what we have.  I can pull the piano bench from the music room and a stool from the back porch too if needed and we'll use the toy box as seating for two as well.

I walked into and out of three stores Thursday without purchasing one single item.  I was looking specifically for certain items and when the stores failed to produce those items out I went without looking at anything else.

Birthday card shopping was necessary Thursday and I was so unimpressed.  It wasn't cost, though that is galling enough, but the inappropriateness of most cards, and the sheer lack of any sense of sentiment on the others just underwhelmed me entirely.   Some of the cards were so impersonal they would best be suited for someone you'd only just met!  Ugh.  I've an idea of how I'd like to do cards this next year.  Personally I'd love to make them but I don't always take the time or get good results.  However, I'm convinced I can come up with a better solution than what passed for best wishes on the store shelves.

Remember those reindeer at Hobby Lobby I so wanted?  And how I discovered one was broken and was tempted to ask for a discount but decided that I didn't want anymore broken castoffs much less to BUY them?  One thing I stumbled on today while I was looking for other things was two cast metal silver reindeer for about the same price as those two were going to cost me a few weeks ago.  They are just beautiful and I snatched them up and purchased them right away.   They were from Target by the way and in the home décor section.

Ordered a wreath I just loved from   I used Swagbucks to get shop and earn points.  It was quite reasonable, impressively so compared to what I'd priced elsewhere and happily in the color wave I am using this year for my theme.   I will be using this one indoors above the mantel.  I'll make wreaths for the entry doors.  I've already seen what I'd like to do.  It will be easy enough to execute using what I have on hand and I'll need purchase only one item which won't be expensive.

Went into a party store to purchase some items to use for dinner on Thanksgiving and having looked it all over and priced it out, I think it well worth going in to get pretty napkins and matching cups.  I saved 33% this week on Thanksgiving dessert plates and paper cups for coffee and plastic cups for drinks.

Sorted out the freezers.  I needed room so that I could make a few meals ahead for next weekend and now I have room to store food.  Now it's just a matter of making it and putting it in.

While I was digging about I realized that I had plenty of soup making stuff, and two entrees I could choose from for our dinner on Saturday.  It's meant to be pretty cold Sunday and Monday and I think coming in from church to a crockpot full of hot soup would be awesome.  Especially since I mean to do a little grocery shopping after service so I can avoid going back to the store next week.

...I take my leisure:

I finished the Emilie Loring book I'd taken up late last week and opted for one by Faith Baldwin.  I have several of Baldwin's books on my bookshelf and though I seldom mention her I enjoyed her books when I was very much younger.  I thought it a good opportunity to determine if I find her worth keeping on my bookshelves. I started with Private Duty.   After 7 chapters I felt pretty much as though someone were telling me a rather bad story.  I decided life would go on with out that book in it.  I didn't find it such a great book, but I did find myself curious about Baldwin.  I know that like Gladys Taber, with whom she was friends, she wrote magazine articles and non-fiction as well as fiction books.  A few of her novels were turned into movies.  She was successful and popular, especially during the depression years.

I got two new books in the mail.  Not ready to read them but just knowing they are upon the shelf waiting for me makes me happy.

Shopping is not what I consider 'fun' but I do like to go out with John.   This season of the year it's especially fun to me because John sets the Christmas budget each year...and then he gets antsy and wants to shop for everyone so the budget is sort of blown.   But it's fun to watch him get a person in mind and start looking for gifts.  I find it interesting to see what he'll choose.  I'm certainly not going to discourage him because even if we do go over budget it's never a very high amount and he really does enjoy himself which is part of what makes it fun to me.  He has gift giving anxiety but a lovely generous heart that desires to give just the same.

We ate out our favorite restaurant on the day we shopped together.  Our meal was really good and served piping hot as it well should be.  We had a grand chat while we were waiting and later while eating.

One evening this week, while the tv was off (oh I do love the off button which is in use more and more these days!), I pulled up 1920's songs on youtube and listened to them, getting a feel for the background of what was going on musically in that era.  Some of it was quite nice, not all that jazzed up hyper stuff as you might think given the Charleston was of that era as well.  It all started with a song lyric that popped into my head as I closed curtains one day at sunset: "When day is done and shadows fall, I think of you..."  which was appropriate that day as it was my niece's second wedding anniversary and her third month as a widow.

Coffee Chat: Are We There Yet?

Do come in and sit down.  There's coffee and hot tea if you'd rather have that.  Funny to think that as of January this year I'd never had a cup of hot tea and now I find I crave it. Come mid afternoon when I make John coffee, often as not, I put on the tea pot and heat water for tea for myself.   It puts the chills on the run on these cool days.  It's nice and autumnal out there.  At last.

Are you crazy busy yet with the Thanksgiving prep?  At this point, I just bought  a turkey and it is in the fridge preparing to thaw.  I have a list made out of things to do but the grocery part of the list isn't long.  I've delegated a few things to others.  I'm still trying to figure out how to handle all the sides and the turkey in the oven.  I bought a 20 pound bird.  And that means it will need to cook about 6 and a half hours.  With dinner at 12 or so I'm going to be getting up mighty early to put that stuffing in that bird and get the turkey in the oven.

A Few of My Favorite Things

  I didn't mean to let this posting slide in September or October but hit a busy spell of time and poof! there it went.  However, I do have a few things I'd like to share that are new to me or which are old things but favorites.

For one thing, I splurged a bit in late August and bought these from Amazon because they were pretty and I really wanted them.  There are two sizes in the set.  I absolutely love this color.  You'll find it in nearly every room in my home and often find it in my wardrobe as well!

I didn't need mixing bowls but I had need of salad bowls and since these are a little shallow in my opinion for a mixing bowl I thought they'd be nice to use at table.  I haven't regretted the expense even once.  They do very nicely for a lovely serving bowl for fruit or salad either one.

In September, when the electricity went out after Hurricane Irma's visit, I used my old thrift store purchased aluminum percolator to make coffee on the top of the stove.  One of my guests is a coffee drinker like myself and a little bit of a coffee snob.  When we took our first sips of coffee that first morning we both looked at one another and said "Ooh!  This is good!" at the same moment.   I was so impressed by the end of my four days of perking coffee that  John and I decided it would be nice to have percolated coffee on all but work mornings.  It takes a little time to come to a boil and then 9 minutes of perking before it's ready, but it's worth every minute it takes.   We find the perked coffee smooth and less acidic for whatever reason, even though we didn't change brands just at first.

I did not w

This Week In My Home: Glory Days of Autumn

This week in my home....

...I  wasn't sure just how this week would go.  John said Friday afternoon, after our wonderful ride up northwest of us, that his throat felt a bit scratchy.  Allergies or cold, he was not well despite his continual upbeat attitude and words of healing accomplished.  Saturday afternoon I had a tooth start to ache and it kept it up all through the day, through the night and then suddenly went away as quickly as it had appeared  and ached all day Monday.  I had a swollen cheek to show for it.  However, between the two of us, we decided to stay home from church on Sunday and we pretty much lolled about on Monday.  It wasn't a fun way to spend the little time off he had.  Nevertheless, we had last Friday and it was a good day, a grand day.

If a week is what you make it, then I was determined to make something of this one despite not feeling well for the first few days.  In the end, I accomplished some tasks, though not all the heavy duty stuff I'd anticipated doing.  I had some leisure time.  I  made meals.  It was a week.

Coffee Chat: November Is Autumn

Hello all.  Do come in.  We've coffee and some of those wonderful German spice cookies sold at Aldi this time of year.  I hit the jackpot that shopping day.  I found the Speckulatias and Salted Caramel creamer without carrageenan and the sole container of salted caramel cream cheese spread.  It was a bonus day.  But do have a seat, have coffee, have cookies and let's talk.

It's not cool outdoors at present.  But it seems silly to have iced tea when you can see how like autumn it appears with all those lovely leaves that have changed color and which are slowly drifting to the ground.  As always November proves itself the true month of autumn in our state and I really should just adjust my mind to that fact and stop thinking it will be cool or pretty until November.  I wish the cool would come along once more!  Still it is quite pretty out there and it's kind of nice to see the green grass contrasting with the trees isn't it?

Book Review: Nourished by Lia Huber

I've made it my habit this year to opt for books that stretched me hard.  I haven't done very many reviews this year because it was sometimes a lot more stretching than I'd anticipated.  The books were difficult and sometimes took a lot of work to get through.

I expected to skim my way through Nourished by Lia Huber.  I expected to find it an easy, fast read.  Instead I found myself drawn deep into her story.   There was a familiarity about it, as she sought meaning and fulfillment in her life.   There was a sense of being part of a personal journey that kept me interested, deeply interested.  An easy book?  Yes and no.   There was a feeling of being challenged as I recognized in myself some of the compartmentalization I manage even yet in my spiritual life, carefully dividing the 'real' world from my spirit life.

Huber shares her early life of travel and of learning to appreciate beautiful, locally grown foods.  She shares her Christian walk.  She shares her physical travels.  She shares her She shares memorable meals she's made over the years.  She even shares a few recipes, though just a few at the end of the chapter, one or sometimes two, not many but enough.  The recipes are not the sole focus of the book.  They weren't meant to be.  It's about a journey, both physical and spiritual and food just plays a natural role in that journey.

I highly recommend the book if you happen to be a foodie, a Christian or someone on a spiritual journey, or if you love travel or coming of age stories.  That this book just happens to include recipes too is a bonus to all the rest.

This book was provided to me courtesy

Giving When Funds Are Tight

I think one of the most beneficial things we can do is to give to others.  Why is it beneficial?  Because it switches our focus from what we don't have to what we do have.  Often we get caught up in the feeling that we lack abundance.  Giving switches that focus of 'not enough' to 'more than enough'.    That said, I know that there have been times in our life when giving financially was asking way too much of our over stretched funds.  We never let that stop our giving.

So how did we do it?

In My Home This Week: Roller Coaster Weather

In my home this week...

...I decided the blog was due a fresh perspective.  I thought it would be a good change to bring together "This Week In My Home" with "Living Well".

One of the reasons for the change is that often I don't make the meals I share early in the week.  I thought it would be better to share what we actually eat.  Then too, there was the work.  It was great incentive to share a list of jobs I wanted to do with you all, but there were additional jobs I didn't share that were pretty big jobs.  I'd much rather tell you what I did do, especially on those weeks when I might not have accomplished my listed work.  I'd at least like for you to know why I didn't get things done!

Hard Places

I've been reading through Genesis this week.  I read about Sarai and Abram (God had not yet changed their names at this point). God had spoken to Abram and told him his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, which is pretty awesome when you consider that even at this point he and Sarai were old and had yet to have a child.

Sarai offered Abram a servant girl.  "Here take my slave girl.  Perhaps I can get a family from her."  Hagar was an Egyptian slave.

 In their culture it was common for a barren woman to offer up a slave girl to her husband but here Sarai has gone all these years and not offered one to Abram.  They've long since left Egypt and been in Canaan about ten years.   No Sarai has not offered him a servant girl  and  more importantly, Abram has not complained!   In fact, when Sarai does offer to give him Hagar, her words are selfish: "Perhaps I can get a family in this way."  She has no thought for Abram having an heir but she wants a family for her own standing as well as perhaps her personal desire.  Hagar soon became pregnant. And her behavior towards Sarah creates a problem.

Planning Ahead: Holidays

We don't do anything for Halloween in our home.  When the children were here we did try to make fun with the day even long after there were past the age of trick or treating.   Living so far off the road here in the country we don't get any trick or treaters, either.  So  Halloween  has become sort of a beacon light.  Time to flip the calendar to November...and that is a reminder that the holidays are coming up and I'd best get busy with my planning if I haven't already started!

I don't do deep cleaning this time of year, unless a job is just glaringly obvious in need of being tended to.  Deep cleaning can wait until the New Year is well started when I go on a declutter and cleaning spree.  It suits me best that time of year.  This time of year, it's enough to work on holiday stuff.

This Week in my Home: Changes

I've been thinking for some time now that I'm ready to change up the way I post.  I don't want to do away with the Living Frugally and Well posts nor the This Week In My Home post, but it seems to me I might combine them into one post simply titled "This Week In My Home" and be done with it.  So starting this Friday, November 3, I will post my first combined post.  I'll share what I did in my home, how I saved money, what meals we ate and how I spent my leisure time.  I feel these posts will combine well into one. 

Living Well: More Than Enough

Saturday:  John worked last night.  That means a big breakfast is wanted this morning.  I made breakfast sandwiches, but broke my own rule.  I know never to start breakfast until he calls.  Sure enough he was late coming in this morning.  I wrapped the sandwich with aluminum foil and left in te warm oven.  It was plenty hot when he came in.  Nice to have the extra time, two and a half hours of overtime.

While I waited on John to come in, I put all the printed material into the proper genealogy files.

Coffee Chat: Rainy Days and Mondays

Hello loves.  Hurry in out of the rain.  We'll try to time our chatter so at you can dash out when the rain lets up once again.

Stand here with me at the window for a moment.  Doesn't it look like autumn at the moment?  All those leaves that have blown off the trees, the colors of gray skies and brown and copper leaves.  Sigh.  It does make me happy to look out the window.

Have some gingerbread with your coffee.  I made it late last week when I had the oven on to bake a banana bread.  I have tried many recipes over the years for Gingerbread and I think this may be 'the' recipe.  It's such a lovely dark but moist ginger bread!  John likes it with a dollop of whipped cream.  I like it plain.  When the kids were growing up, I almost always served gingerbread with a bowl of homemade applesauce.   It was lovely on a cold night to have a piece of spicy gingerbread with warm applesauce following our meal.

This Week In My Home: Homemaking Hymn

In my home this week:

 I have once again been enjoying the bird bath that sits under the pecan tree.  The view is directly across from my chair in the living room and so I am well able to see the birds that visit that bird bath throughout the day as I am meant to be working...We won't discuss the fact that I'm truly meant to be working in the kitchen at my desk.

Here is one benefit to the lack of rain.  The birds flock to the bird bath to bath or drink.  This week it was mostly Blue Jays who visited.  I watched Friday afternoon as one turned from the bath after drinking, his beak still glistening in the sunlight before he flew off.  A few minutes later it was a Brown Thrasher which is our state bird and most aptly named as it wears a decidedly brown suit of feathers and it makes a huge noise when it's seeking food on the ground as it 'thrashes' about in the dead leaves.  On days when the windows are open and the sheers have been pulled back, I can see the birds clearly but other days I catch silhouettes more than color.

Follow the Cloud by John Stickl

I've had this book for a few months now on my reading table.  I pick it up  and put it down.  That's not because the book is boring.  It's thought provoking.  I can only take in so much of what Mr. Stickl has written and then I must digest it for a bit.

No, it's not a difficult book.  It's written clearly and feels as though I'm in a personal conversation but the content of what he's saying makes me stop and examine myself and my relationship and my ideals and adjust them as I feel led after the soul searching.

I recommend this book to anyone who is wandering why you are stuck, or who wonders if you really do have a mission in life or how you will ever hear from God.

Living Well: Autumn Breezes At Last!

Saturday:  We slept in this morning, something we seem to do more and more of lately.  It's very unusual for us to sleep beyond 7am and to make it until 8am is really something.  Kinda nice though on Saturday morning, agreed?

Watched what there was of sunrise.  It lightened up.  But sunset was worth viewing.

I didn't do any dinner prep yesterday, but dinner was easy enough.  I chopped butternut squash and onion and an apple, halved some petite potatoes and nestled these all around a whole chicken that was well seasoned.  I poured a little apple cider in the pan and then salt and peppered the vegetables.  I let it cook slow in the oven then cranked up the heat for a half hour at the end so the skin on the chicken would crisp and the edges of the vegetables would brown a bit.  Oh my!  Cider Braised Chicken is so very good.

At Last! A Lovely Gift

Not a very clear picture but there's a reason why I wanted you to see my bulletin board a little more closely...

Back in the summer, I wrote about my desire to refresh my embroidery skills.  Well I had a lovely surprise from a reader who told me she'd been decluttering her craft room and she had a 'few' embroidery items she'd love to share with me.  

She understated 'a few'!

This Week In My Home: Second Verse Same As the First

In my home this week...

...I am mostly repeating last week's plans since I was out of commission all week long and then Friday John and I took advantage of my feeling so much better to finally make a trip to the grocery and then go out to the missed but much planned for meal.  It wasn't exactly the day we'd planned originally but some things don't get repeated right away.  Ho hum.

I do feel much better and have already been hard at work this afternoon.  I'm merely sitting down to cool off at the moment. 

Living Frugally and Well: Working on a Profitable Month

Saturday:  John and I slept in a little late then lazed about the house.  This is our Shabat and we take the 'rest' part of the day as seriously as we take our daily reading and study.  I didn't prep dinner for today yesterday so I thought long and hard before committing to any plan.  In the end, I made a salad, reheated the leftover pan of Chicken Enchiladas and called that good enough for our dinner.   I offered leftovers to Bess for supper that evening.

Put all the leftover salad into a bowl for my supper tomorrow night.

Pulled chicken breasts from the freezer and thawed last night.  I wasn't sure what time to expect Bess, so I decided against making the casserole dish I'd planned.  Instead I put those on to boil with a half onion and a very big carrot.  I made sure not to salt any of this.  I wanted that carrot to blend with some of the chicken broth for Mr. Isaac who thinks food is good stuff.  He's been eating baby food packets all week and I thought he might like a 'homemade' bit of baby food.  He seemed to really enjoy it.

Iced Tea Chat: Autumn, Where Art Thou?

It's not cool outdoors, not in the least.  The gnats will drive you pure distracted as well, so you might just as well come on inside and let's have an iced tea chat.

No cookies but a chocolate cake.  I don't know why I baked a chocolate cake except suddenly I could taste chocolate cake.  I typically don't make chocolate cakes because I haven't found a good recipe for one.  I've tried a new recipe this time.  We'll see.  I'm letting the layers cool and then I'll fill them with vanilla buttercream frosting.   I've promised a baking to someone as a thank you gift for a kindness and then John has asked for his favorite cookies, as well.  His are the no baking required stove top cookies and as long as this heat is to continue I'd say his odds of having his favorite cookies are quite good!   I want to bake.  Autumn lends itself to baking I think and to slow simmering stews and pot roasts and heartier meals.  Don't you think so, too?  The trouble is the weather isn't cooperating in the least! 

Living Frugally and Well: Starting the Last Quarter of the Year

Saturday:  Prepared a nice breakfast for John's coming in from work this morning.  I'd made a breakfast casserole (savory) and fruit salad for our meal this morning.  I prepared the casserole ahead yesterday morning.

Disappointed it wasn't cooler outdoors.  Air conditioner started coming on before it was 10am this morning.  Despite this, it was cloudy and gray so I took advantage of how the day looked and made a big pan of chili to serve over yellow rice.

In My Home This Week: Fair Sailing

In my home this week...

...I am psyched for the fair this week.  This is a big deal in Middle Georgia, the Georgia National Fair and the fairgrounds will be packed for the full 10 days it's in town.  John and I are going this week.  We set a portion of our vacation funds aside just for this and planned a special dinner out at our favorite restaurant as a grand finale to the day.  I'm very much looking forward to this date which we planned months ago.

Bess was here overnight last night and then went to meet Samuel at the fairgrounds this morning.  He brought Josh up.  Bess has been tending to her mom this past week and she was quite ready to rejoin her husband and Josh.  Things worked out rather nicely for them, since Sam had some time off this past week and so he kept Josh at home while Bess took Isaac with her to her mom's. Her mom is doing much better but she was a pretty sick lady for a few days there.

John and I won't be eating any fair foods.  I've never liked funnel cakes, caramel and candy apples do nothing for me.  I've had my share of the seasonal boiled peanuts already this year, so I don't want those.  I do not care for turkey legs and we don't eat pork so none of those grilled foods for us, either.  What I'd really like is a single bite of cotton candy but you can't buy it by the bite and I'm leery of asking a stranger to let me have some, lol.   I wish I could find a guaranteed all beef corn dog, but most folks don't bother having the all beef ones so that's out, too.  I figure after all those things get crossed off the list every thing else is just ordinary stuff I could have any old day, so why bother spending the money?   I'll just wait until we get to the restaurant and then we'll have our big splurge!

...I plan my week:

First on my list this week are the few items I didn't attend to last week.
Finish cleaning the kitchen walls... just the area about the stove is it.
Hem  my pants.  I did all the other sewing but didn't even put those on to see how much I needed to hem.
Mail the package to Amie.
Spruce up the door wreaths to look more autumnal.  Especially now that so many leaves have started to turn color and fall.

Post the bills after we get check in the bank.  Banks are closed Monday.

Grocery day worked in here somewhere.

Continue work on the porches.  I got the front porch porch siding cleaned and washed windows there last week.  I ran the soapy brush over the porch and along the algae rails but they need more scrubbing.  I didn't do anything to the back porch last week at all.

Go by Kroger and see if the Ball jars are still buy one case get one case free as they were last week.  This is a clearance item.  I'd like another two cases of the wide mouth quart jars which are very handy to have for storage.  I'll pick up my two free Friday download items while I'm in there.

I have $6 in ECB for CVS that I'd like to spend but must do so before Tuesday is over.

Gather a load of stuff to take out to the shed.

Start a restock list of supplements and vitamins, so I'll know what must be ordered.  And place the order!

Make John's requested cookies.

I have a day out with Mama on the calendar

Start working on the Jamberry party I'm hosting October 23-27.  Pay attention girls who want to join in.  You can find me on Facebook.   I'm planning party games and my theme is all things Fall.  Jamberry has introduced some new products and is expanding their line to include some cosmetics I think.  They've just introduced a matte finish lipstick line.  Message me here or put in a friend request on Facebook if you'd like to join in.

While I'm out this week I hope to find some more mums to replace the two that dried up in the stupid heat last week.   I think I can deadhead and trim and then  replant them but they do not look nice enough to be there in front of the back porch.  I'll see what I can find that's suitable.  I should be able to start adding some pansies and possibly parsley to the area about now.

...I plan meals...though I don't know why I bother!

No, I haven't had good luck of late in making the planned meals.  I'm constantly failing to prep ahead, or even to thaw meat a day earlier than it's wanted.  Then John will decide he wants to go out to eat or wants a certain something that wasn't on the menu.  I know I'll be eating out at least twice this week and possibly a third time when we're out getting groceries unless I plan ahead to have something quick and easy.  I've already shared our meal for Saturday...I guess I'll plan a couple of meals just in case.

We still have a bit of egg salad and pimento cheese left for sandwiches.  I'll make some chicken salad as well since I cooked extra chicken breasts on Saturday.  We also have some Marinated Smoked Turkey and Cheese sandwiches in the freezer as well as some Chicken Noodle Soup so suppers are pretty much taken care of this week.

Chicken Pot Pie, Pear Salad, Cranberry Jelly

Fancy Pants Burgers, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Garlic Toast
I never did get to make this meal and I really was looking forward to having it.

Pan Roasted Chicken Apple Sausages and Vegetables, Green Salad, Gingerbread with Whipped Cream
I usually buy turkey sausage and they have a tendency to get very dry when pan roasting.  I expect the same of these Chicken Sausages.   For this reason I'll start the pan of vegetables with a foil cover and then just let the sausages and vegetables brown a bit under the broiler afterwards.   I'll use butternut squash, onions, apples and perhaps a potato or two.  I'll use a little apple cider in the pan to steam them.

...I plan my leisure:

And again...why bother?  Honestly last week my leisure looked like a round of 1 each on my favorite games at the end of some long days.  I didn't do any of the things I'd thought I'd might but I did enjoy a glass of iced tea on the porch after I'd finished cleaning.  Hardly felt like leisure as much as necessary so I could keep going that day.  Oh yes, I did manage to work my way through the September issue of modern day magazines I had stacked by my chair. And one vintage October issue.  I did that yesterday.

This week I hope to:
have a spa morning.  I want to do a proper mani and pedi and put some wraps on those fingers and toes!

Really.  Work on genealogy.  I'm yearning to do this.

Read the next book in my October pile.  I forgot but I did read a book last week.  When I was all done I sighed deeply and John asked me why.  I told him I'd just finished my book.  He told me he was sorry.  I told him it was the last book in that particular series and he looked concerned and said he was very sorry, lol.   About how I felt about it myself.

What have you planned for your week?

Time for Yourself...What's Keeping You From Taking Time Out?

I just love how relaxed this woman looks.  She's got that whole pot of coffee sitting at the ready there.  You can tell this woman is ready to indulge herself in a little bit of 'me' time.  

I haven't children to send back to school any longer and John's schedule is more erratic than ever.  Admittedly, by the time I pencil in time with Mama, contemplate the must attend to items on the calendar, and peer hopefully at any possible family engagements, my calendar is pretty much full these days.  I've heard often and often from newly retired folks that they not only don't have trouble filling their 'empty' days but they need a vacation to get a bit of rest from being retired!   A little time alone is as necessary for me as breathing.   A little bit goes a long way towards restoring me and curing what likely is ailing me, too.

This Week In My Home: Present and Future Possibilities

This week in my home...

...I have been thinking about this week and this month and a little beyond.  It's getting nearer our holidays and John's mentioned both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  When that man of mine starts thinking of holidays ahead it's high time I started my planning!  

The weather is  nice.  Friday it was 97F and I was one wretchedly hot and wrung out woman after my day out.  I was irritable when I arose Saturday morning and it hadn't cooled noticeably but this morning, at last, I stepped out on the porch and sighed deeply with pleasure.  I braved the chill air without a sweater but honestly?  It was a bit chilly out there.  Lovely!  Typical of Georgia autumns it will slowly warm it's way back into the 80s this next week but I am hopeful that we've seen the last of the mid and high 90s for months yet.

Living Frugally and Well: Running Out of Track on the SpendyTrain

Saturday:  Today was our quarterly family day...I was so excited that I was up early this morning in anticipation but not before the sun!  It was lovely to know that I had all the main prep work done and I was down to chopping cilantro for the garnishes and making up the guacamole.  

I put the pit in the guacamole to keep it from turning brown then covered and put in the refrigerator.

I decided to add the Mexican Rice to the menu.  I used chicken bouillon and a single 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, half a chopped onion and brown rice.  This turned out rather nice and is something I'll attempt to make again.

I Wander....The Autumn Version

I haven't done one of the wandering thoughts posts in quite a long while.  I think I'd like to make this wandering post autumn themed...


Granny had a few bulbs she'd planted that bloomed in late September and early October.  She called them Spider Lilies and there was always a bouquet of them in her home.  Other folks call them October Lilies.  I think they are lovely regardless of what you call them.

The chipmunks and squirrels dug up the bulbs, found them inedible and obligingly replanted them in various spots.  It was a good thing that along about now the lawn needed far less mowing because those lilies came up in the most random spots usually in the midst of the lawn.

I see these lilies about older homes this time of year.  And I'm so pleased that my single bulb which I have had for years has tripled this year and I now have three.  Mine are growing right up against the forsythia that Granny gave me. 

I mentioned to John that I supposed she didn't even know it was in that clump of soil that surrounded the forsythia but he pointed out that Granny never seemed to do things without knowing exactly what she was doing.  I like his thinking.  I like to think that Granny saw the bulb in the soil and left it purposely to share with me believing that one day I too would have a yard full of Spider Lilies in some September when she wasn't around.

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 late to be hanging out a load of clothes but if they are not dry come sunset I can leave these on the line all night long and start the day with them there tomorrow.   That's our second load this afternoon and the dishes are running in the dishwasher now.  The bed has recently been made afresh with clean linens for the start of this fresh week and fresh season in our home...

Living Frugally and Well: It's AUTUMN!!!

                        One of my revamped summer wreaths dressed  for early autumn

Saturday:  John said that we simply HAD to get out of the house after our week of coping with evacuees and no power.  He said we deserved a special day, so we went out for breakfast.

We followed up the breakfast with a stop at Lowe's.  I eyed the mums that I saw displayed but didn't get out of the car.  John went in and purchased one item, a container of poison to go on the many anthills we've got here.

We stopped at Aldi.  I bought stuff just for the upcoming family day and very little for our own use this week.  I did double up on milk since I wanted to make yogurt but I didn't have plain yogurt to use as starter.  I knew I'd be going to Publix tomorrow to pick up a newspaper.  Remember those mums I saw at Lowe's.  I knew full well the ones at Aldi displayed by the front door would be a much better buy and they were.  I picked two to bring home.

We stopped at a  Kitchen/Restaurant supply store as we drove to the Publix Pharmacy drive thru window.  John insisted we stop.  He 'treated' me to stainless steel dry measure cups, and two fry/saute pans.  He said I'd been a trooper and deserved something special.  He knows that quality cookware is to me what quality guitar accessories and strings are to him.  I didn't protest a bit when he insisted on treating me.

Afternoon Coffee Chat: Weathering the Storm

Hello dears...Do come in.  I've a fresh pot of coffee and though it's hot outdoors, I confess that after my day in the kitchen this coffee is hitting the spot.  It is my signal that, except for completing the soup that we'll be having for supper, I am DONE for the day.

Do have some coffee and a cookie, too, if you'd like and come and sit here near me and have a good old fashioned chat of  this and that and nothing much.

September has proven to be a very busy month.  Far more busy than I'd anticipated when it was not quite here.  Oh I had plans made, I generally do, but then there were so many things I hadn't planned upon.  Those things took me by surprise and yet they were right and purposeful.  I do love how I can have my plans and then God has his plans for me.

This Week In My Home: Ending and Beginning

In my home this week...

...I hit the floor running this morning.  The first load of clothes is on the line, our bed stripped, and all but the dishes from our breakfast already loaded into the dishwasher.  I have had multiple things on my mind this morning.  I sat right down before 6am and planned out this week as nearly as I can plan it.  

It is my plans to attend church this morning.  I missed it last week.  When I return home, I will be busy trying to finish laundry, calling for Air Conditioner repair, sigh, and getting a head start on next weekend's meal which I mean to prep and put in the freezer.  Yes, it is promising to be a busy day and I confess I'm a bit weary of this day already.  I am praying to be fully refreshed by church service this morning!

I shall not delay further but go right on and type out my plans for the week.

Living Frugally and Well: Oh What a Week!

Hello all,
This week's posts were impossible due to a power outage.  You'll recall I left off my last Living Frugally and Well post with the note that I had people coming in to ride out the hurricane.  How ironic they all went home and soon had power but mine stayed out until past noon today.  I've made some notes of what worked well for me and what I'd wished we'd had or someone else suggested would have been a help.  All in all, we had little damage.  There was a mess of leaves and twigs to clear up and a few already dead but too high to reach branches fell from the trees.  Our biggest problem was downed power lines.   I thought I'd hit the highlights of this week's savings, because there were savings despite it all!

I really wanted to share a photo of the grandkids...I had 5 of mine with me during the hurricane/tropical storm and enjoyed them mightily.  Oh how they have grown!!  However, blogger is refusing to work with me on loading photos again, sigh...I'll try to upload later in the weekend and add in...

Living Frugally and Well: Autumn Savings Ahead

Saturday:  We drove up to Katie's this morning.  I made breakfast at home, urged John to pour the last of the coffee into his thermal mug and managed to prevent us making any stops along the way.  This was merely a savings a time.  We did pull off at the gas station on the corner of the final road near Katie's home.  I sent John into the store to buy Taylor a bag of M&M's.  I claim Gramma privileges in bringing her candy.

John stopped at the roadside stand in the gas station parking lot.  I bought some apples.  I asked if they were local and I didn't really get a reply but I bought four apples just the same.  I'll see if they taste fresh and local and if so then we'll stop by there in the future.  I also bought HOT boiled peanuts which was not what I got at the end of last month, though they were fresh.  They were cold.  Big difference in my opinion.

Coffee Chat: Nearly Autumn

Hello dears.  I've just taken cookies from the oven.  They are chocolate chip and quite warm so you must quickly take one up...I think as good as chocolate chip cookies are, there's nothing like a warm one filled with melt-y chips.  I almost always choose the largest one on the pan first, but then I think better of it and put it back, opting instead for the one with the most chocolate chips showing.  Does anyone else do that?  Have some coffee and a seat and let's talk for a bit.  It's too  full of gnats outdoors to be pleasant to sit outside on the porch as I'd like.  I've been out three times already trying and without a breeze to shoo the gnats away it's a botheration to be out there. 

And there goes the second reason I've no desire to outdoors...John is mowing the lawn.  It's slowed it's growth finally but not to the point of waiting more than 10 days to cut again.  You see his funny hat to keep sun off his ears and neck and the sunglasses?  Maddie runs and hides when she sees him.  We thought it was the mower that upset her but it seems it's John in his mowing garb.  Such a silly doggy!

Stockpile on a Budget

From my earliest memory, each summer the women of my family were busy  "Putting something by" as my Grandmama always called the annual summer activity of canning and freezing foods.   We pretty much lived off the produce for nine months or more from what they put up each year from the gardens and I can seriously not recall one family member who didn't have a garden.

After I mentioned my personal desire to have a year's supply of food on hand in my home, Jessica asked how one went about building a stockpile, especially if you were on a tight budget.

In My Home This Week: In September...

In my home this week...

...I am looking forward to cooler temperatures, especially at night, and crisp fall leaves, apple desserts and the smell of wood smoke drifting on the evening air...and I'm waiting impatiently for such a time to come as we finish up summer.  

My anticipation is enhanced by the appearance of trees about the place and in the woods in areas where we drove over the past week and this weekend.  The leaves are changing, some are noticeably changed, others are more subtle.  Outside the living room window a single stem of leaves on the pecan tree has gone solid gold.  I don't recall ever seeing the pecan tree change this early in the season.

In many ways, even though the season has two weeks more before appearing, this weekend signifies the unofficial end of summer for many folks.  From here we are leaning hard towards autumn, getting short timer's disease much as though leaving an old job for a new one.    

Living Frugally and Well: End of Summer Savings

Saturday:  Turned up the AC as soon as I got up this morning.  I've been lowering the temperature at night in an effort to get a little better sleep but remembering to turn it back up to 78F has taken a lot of effort.  I wish it were an automatic thought, but at least this morning it was!

Put the pot roast on to cook in the slow cooker.  I had all the vegetables prepared ahead and in a plastic bag in the refrigerator just waiting to go into the crockpot.

I didn't have wine.  Tracey McBride recommended in Frugal Luxuries to use grape juice and add a teaspoon or so of vinegar to the juice and once cooked it would taste much as wine tastes.  I had only cranberry juice to use and felt it needed even less vinegar since it was particularly tart.  It sure did make a rich broth!

Getting Things Done

It's a lot of fun to go out and buy something brand spanking new but, somehow, the thrill and novelty soon wears away and it's just another possession.  But when you use your wits and abilities to make something out of otherwise useless materials, the pleasure and pride lasts a long time.  At least that  is the way it affects me---Dorothy Blake, Woman's Day Magazine, August 194-

new, thrifted, repurposed and family pieces at my desk...

In My Home This Week: Planning Ahead

In my home this week...

...I started planning for Fall.  I wandered about Hobby Lobby looking for autumn floral picks to use in my home.  I tried to choose seasonal things in soft golds and well worn greens and colors similar to what we have most often in autumn here.  I went back to the fabric department to look for velvets to use to make those cute pumpkins on Pinterest.  No pumpkin-ish colors were to be had, but I found two lovely pieces of heavy material that I think will be pretty to use instead.  We'll see how they turn out!

Am I getting ahead of myself in planning for a season that is roughly a month away?  Am I hurrying summer away?  Not at all!  I'm just tired of waiting until Autumn is well underway before I start looking for things to use to decorate my home.  Then I'm stuck with the garish stuff in the dollar stores or what I've got leftover from umpteen years ago.  This year, I'll have something fresh and new.  I'm going to start looking for stuff to do wreaths with, too. I'd thought cotton bolls...but guess what?  NO cotton left at Hobby Lobby and yet I saw just loads of it three weeks or so ago.  And that is why I was out buying autumn floral picks a month early...So I could choose what I wanted instead of returning and finding it was down to the leftovers!

Living Frugally and Well: Over One More Mind Hurdle

Saturday:  Made a Dutch Baby Pancake for our breakfast this morning.  It is not the recipe I used the first time I made this.  I couldn't find that one and so I pulled one from one of my cookbooks.  It tasted just fine.  It did not, however, turn out as it ought to have done.  I shall read through several recipes and try and determine what went amiss.  I did this after I made an Armenian Nutmeg Cake last week and one cook had within her recipe a hint that no others mentioned.  Having looked at all the recipes I am certain it was not mixing nor ingredients that were at fault, but was instead in assembling the cake.  I am sure I can figure out this Dutch Baby failure and will make notes in the book about it.

Cooked a corned beef in the crock pot this morning.  I opted to leave out the pickling spices, rinsed it and then put in the crockpot with water enough to almost cover it.  This resulted in a milder flavored corned beef that I quite liked.  It shrank a great deal in cooking, but I guess I'll have enough for sandwiches off it.

Thanksgiving Count Down: Thriving Through the Chaos

It's the week of Thanksgiving as I'm sure too many of you are well aware.  I've seen Tammy's array of pies on facebook and...