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.

Ran a full load of dishes today.

Today's dinner required little work.  I assembled the foods in the crockpot and popped on the lid.  I made salad yesterday.   I had enough leftovers for another we had them for supper.  It just didn't make sense to make a second meal when we had one ready prepared and tasty.

Gave myself a manicure this evening after dishes were cleared up from supper.

Sunday:  John mentioned a meal he'd really like to have next week for Katie's birthday.  It just happened to be one of his favorite meals.  I happen to know what Katie wants as her birthday dinner, same as she's wanted every year.  I expect it's like my favorite meal:  Nobody else really wants it at home so I tend to make it when we've company coming, lol!  Ditto for her favorite.  Anyway, I did listen to John and took out the steak to thaw.  Today I went into the grocery and bought just what I knew he wanted even though these are NOT my choices: individually washed and wrapped baking potatoes and bagged salad...He thinks this is just THE best.  Oh well.  I also bought a small Peach Pie at the bakery counter.  I paid for his special foods from my pocket money, my gift to him for Father's Day.

Just as a side point, because today was totally about spoiling my husband, but the two individually wrapped baking potatoes were $3 for the two of them.  I can buy a 10 pound bag of russet potatoes for that price...Our individually wrapped potatoes weighed just 8 ounces each.  $3.99 pound or 39c a pound?  An example of how the market can amp up costs...

I reheated frozen waffles and made fried Spam and fried eggs for breakfast.  That's the last of my big batch of homemade waffles, so I'll be making more this week to pop into the freezer for future quick breakfasts.  And no we don't eat just loads of Spam though I mention it often.  The rest of this can will provide the Spam for sandwiches later on this week for one of our suppers.

Before leaving home this morning, I washed a full load of laundry, most of which was our bedding.   I hung that on the line to dry and brought them in when we got home this afternoon.  It was lovely to see the white sheets billowing on the clothesline in the breeze as we came up the driveway.

I poured my dishwater, with just a couple drops of additional soap added, over the purple petunia which is heavily infested with Aphids.  I shall have to find my spray bottle so I can treat them better, but in the meantime I hope that warm soapy water does help.

Monday:  I didn't sleep well last night and ended up sleeping late this morning.  I don't know about you but let me sleep two hours late and my day is set on 'spent' already.  I miss that glorious early morning energy surge, find myself speeding through tasks trying to cram it all in.  Toss in an unplanned trip out of town to run an errand and zowie.  Suppertime came around mighty fast today.

I noted as I went to clean up the living/dining room this morning that my buffet felt...not tacky, but not like wood, either.  I took a soapy cloth and began to wipe it and it was just dirty.  So I amped up the cleaning by soaking the rag in soapy water and vinegar then scrubbing that top hard.  I rinsed it well and stopped scrubbing when I stopped getting up dirt.   After it dried I used Liquid Gold on it.   I didn't have time nor energy this morning to do the whole buffet but the top is certainly nice and clean and I can work on the rest of it over the next few weeks.

Late in getting dinner started and, oh darn, forgot to take anything from the freezer to thaw, sigh.  I had some Chicken Enchiladas Verde in the freezer. I popped them in the oven and made a big bowl of salad then I worked on preparing John's work lunch, cut up bread from the freezer for croutons and  cut up a big bowl of vegetables to roast alongside the Enchiladas as they were baking.  Croutons went into the same oven.   I'll have the vegetables another day this week.  The croutons got packed up in the jars with paper towel instead of a lid under the jar ring.   This insures the croutons dry well and do not mold if there is any slight bit of moisture.

I had enough Enchiladas left over to have for lunch tomorrow while John works.

John decided to go down and pick up his check even though he will be working tomorrow.  I took along a deposit slip, bills to send out and trash to drop at the dump.  I won't mention how many afternoon tasks I pushed off to go along with him as requested.  I was so relaxed when I got back that I decided it was just too late to worry over any more jobs today.

I asked to go by our peach shed this afternoon when we were on our way home.  Shut up tight.  No peaches.  Not even a skeleton crew working.  Sad.

As I worked this morning, I noted jobs I want to tackle next week.  I keep a running list, so I don't forget jobs I want to do.

Set up coffee and oatmeal for tomorrow morning.

Tuesday:  Sent John off to work having fed him breakfast, packed his lunch/supper bag and with a tumbler full of coffee.

Ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  I was going to start this load last night but I decided to wait and fill it up.  I kept adding pieces until it was full this morning.

Set the tomatoes and fern on the back steps to catch some of the rain water.

Turned off ceiling fans when I left home today.

I shopped for groceries alone today.  This week was shaping up to be pretty busy and with rain, I'll just bet John ends mowing again this Friday.  I decided to be kind and go ahead and do this task  alone, though he was mighty disappointed when I told him.  I'd no idea he looked forward to it so.

Went by Dollar Store and picked up a second birthday card for Josie.  This one went into a box of things sent to Amie along with Rosa's gift.  I sure hate the last card got lost.  I picked up dog food and Lemon Pepper seasoning and Sure Jell for the pantry.

Went by post office to mail off two packages.  I sent one media mail since it was all books.  I left confused when the lady said 'No printed material' right after I told her it was books.   Aren't books printed material?  She stamped it as media mail, but I'll have to look up those rules on that deal.  I sent the other box regular mail since it had other items in it, too.

Off to Aldi at last.  I did rather well.  I did pick up some plastic freezer containers they had in stock this week and if I'd had more money I'd have bought more.  They are white and come in  squares or almost loaf pan sized rectangles.  I couldn't help but think the square ones would suit me for creamed corn.  I'd been thinking of just such containers all last week but hadn't looked them up online.  I can write on these in grease pencil or use labels either one.  They'd also be perfect for freezing soup or homemade ice cream.

I amused myself.  I was just a bit hungry when I went into the store and I do know the rule of never shopping when hungry, etc.  I was looking at the cookies which I don't need (must.lose.weight.), and noted the 'homemade' chocolate chip cookies...or so said the package.  I came this - close to buying them but then realized that they'll taste nothing like homemade.  I'd rather have really homemade cookies.  Anyway, saved by my 'But real homemade is sooo much better' thought.

I'd planned to buy a roast or a turkey breast for luncheon meats but no luck there.  The meat counter was  rather empty.  I ended up with a corned beef brisket.  I haven't determined yet how I'll cook this.  It will be a start for sandwiches though not my favorite.  I'll also make some chicken salad I think and pimento cheese.

I found breasts without carrageenan in them but looked hard to find them.  I am grateful that it is now listed on ingredients.  Speaking of which, some brands of cottage cheese now contain carrageenan, as well.  I'm really having to read  labels on dairy items and meats to try and avoid that product.  I bought the last two packs of organic breasts on the shelf.   I think I'll plan to go to The Fresh Market for chicken in bulk when wanted to fill the freezer.

Ack.  I reached into the fridge for my last 1 1/2 pint jar of yogurt and doggone it, it had spoiled.  I put it down the drain, figuring if it's good for my gut, it's got to be just as good for the septic tank.  I have a 1/2 container of plain yogurt thawing that I will use (3 ounces) to make the next batch of yogurt.  I shall not be so slow to use up this next batch!  Note to self also to label the jars when I put them in the fridge.  I've no idea how old this last batch got to be but I know I made it well before we went on vacation in May.

I'd planned to shop at two more stores, picking up little items I can't buy at Aldi, but got soaking wet in the parking lot as I unloaded cart into car trunk.  Yuck.  Looked and felt like a drowned rat.  A hungry one at that. Big savings, I'm sure.

Talked myself out of eating take out for lunch.  Reasoned that I had a car load of food and leftovers at home but my thoughts were having none of it.  I decided to get fish which I don't ever have at home unless it's Salmon patties.  Well, $10 later I had my fish dinner and ate it in the graveyard where I like to stop when I'm in that town.  It was greasy and the malt vinegar did little to help cut the grease. The broccoli was delicious however.  Not a very satisfactory $10 take out meal...I'm broker and hopefully wiser for the next battle.

Treated my shirt for grease stains asap after I got home.   Sigh.  Not a $10 lunch if it spoils a shirt, too... later note:  Dawn detergent to the rescue once more. Shirt came clean with no evidence of grease spots. 

Came home and unloaded all that food and put it away.  I had just enough room in the freezer for the extra milk and the meats I'd purchased.

By the way, two weeks ago I bought two quarts of strawberries which are still pretty inexpensive here in Georgia.  I put them all in a glass jar with a lid.  I'm still eating fresh tasting strawberries two full weeks later!  I'm well pleased with this method of keeping berries fresh.  I bought two more quarts today.  I plan to put some in the freezer for making jam.

I always feel so happy when I walk out of Aldi with a big big bag of produce and I know every bit of it is not only fresh but inexpensive as well.  Today I bought lettuce, grapes, plums, peaches (California bred), strawberries, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus and a seedless cucumber.  I still have squash, green beans, peppers and broccoli from my last trip two weeks ago.  We'll have all the fresh vegetables and fruits we can eat each day for the next two weeks.

Learned how to use a new program on my computer to create images for the Jamberry party.  I felt really accomplished at day's end, lol.  I'm serious.  We are technology challenged for the most part, so to figure out a program and be able to use it easily is about awesome in my book.

Ate leftovers for supper as I ought to have done for my dinner. ha.

Wednesday:  More rain today.   John worked late and then washed a full load of clothes when he came in.  I brought the drying rack indoors and we hung most of the load to dry.

It's cool enough to warrant thinking of a soup meal today.  John suggested chili a couple of weeks ago so I made that today.  It's not likely we'll have a whole lot of 75F days for summer so I'll change the menu when we do get one.

Found a half cup of mashed potatoes I'd forgotten, sigh.  I love having a full fridge but really need to check it more frequently when it is this full.

Shopped at home: minced garlic, chili powder, black pepper from the pantry today.

Made up a batch of sugar free chocolate pudding.  Immediately poured into individual serving dishes and covered for the fridge.

Nicest thing about the lower temperature is that I slept well last night without any fan at all and AC barely has come on.

John brought home a copy of his July schedule.  He'll be working two days a week every week which does indeed mean NO short pay week after June.  Hallelujah!  Another positive sign: the county is in process of renting a new building for the EMS...

Cleared out the toiletries cabinet in our bathroom and straightened it.  Happy to note that it didn't have clutter or trash this time.  Then I went to the kitchen and tackled that awful cupboard above our broom closet.  It's always an 'at your own risk' sort of cabinet.  I moved all the light bulbs out of the closet and into the pantry closet.  Then I put all the bug sprays in the basket and used a shoe box to corral all the tapes and glues which we use the most often.  I also decided it was more than time to get rid of some car products that John has had stashed in that cupboard since he purchased them some 15 (!!) years ago.  Into the trash with them and I did NOT ask first this time.  I've asked him every single time I've cleared that cabinet in the past.  He still hasn't touched them to use.  OUT.

Thursday:  We had an early appointment.  I prepared breakfast as I did other things.  I will share that our toast and cheese became one crunchy thing.  Sigh.  We ate it anyway.  Yes, it was crispy but it was still edible.  And it held us until we got our lunch.

The appointment was to have a recall repair done on John's Honda.  We were given a list of jobs that needed to be done at the current mileage rate.  We figured we could get some of this work done at the tire place where we do routine maintenance on  our cars. It will be far less expensive than at the dealership.  We figure it will cut costs by more than half.  John also went online to see what experts had to say about the suggested service.  Some are just money makers for the dealership which we expected.  So we'll pick and choose the more important tasks to keep the car maintained and skip the others.

We went by the car wash with the free vacuum service and cleaned up John's car.  I noted how bad our floor mat looks on the driver side (honest I've tried to clear that 'our' and put in 'his' nineteen times.  It keeps locking up my page so it's 'our', ok?).  Honda wants a ridiculous price for Honda car mats but I'm sure we can find a replacement somewhere for a LOT less.  So I went online.  Yep, we can buy a new mat a lot cheaper than Honda sells them for.  John has decided to research them.

We went out to eat.  This was paid for with money that John received as a gift a few weeks ago.  It was so nice to go to our favorite restaurant and have a quiet meal with a good heart to heart talk.  John played an awesome CD with a sermon I'd wanted to hear on our drives today.  I have some food for thought as well as food for my body.

Came home and continued my Jamberry party hostess tasks.  I have so enjoyed this party and so appreciate the ladies who joined in, looked at the product and ordered.  It's been a lot of fun.  I'd love to do another party further down the road.

Friday:  Found ants had gotten in the dog food canister this morning.  They must have just started going in because it wasn't completely over run nor were there super highways of ants making the trek (I think ants aided in the idea of creating 8 lane highways...).  I sprayed the floor under the can, I sprayed the top of the lid and shut the lid tight.

Maddie just wasn't that hungry this morning so I put her food away when she left the porch and headed back to her shaded spot.  It was mighty humid and I'm sure if I was wearing a heavy fur coat in this humidity I'd have hunted for shade, too.

Worked hard in the kitchen today.  For weeks now my kitchen day has been a busy one outside the home.  I cleaned the kitchen very well today.

Prepared Katie's Key Lime Pie for her birthday.  I made the pie from scratch.  Often we will purchase these when they are on sale, but Aldi's store brand was $9.99 and the local store had only small ones at $7.99.  I used 5 limes from a bag of 7, a can of condensed milk, three eggs and a pre-made purchased at Aldi graham crust.  Total cost of my pie comes in at $4.03 and would have cost less than that if I'd made the crust myself!

Made a spaghetti pie from leftovers of our dinner today.

I went through the fridge and decided we just needed to use up the mushrooms and green beans now so I made them to go with our spaghetti dinner today.  I'd only made enough spaghetti for two but with a bowl of salad and all those green beans we didn't need big servings of pasta, too.  Hence the leftovers which I mixed with some cottage cheese and popped into the freezer.  I'll top with Parmesan cheese and serve us another meal later.

Mixed up leftover chili and some brown rice and salsa and cheese.  I filled whole wheat tortillas and made burritos for the freezer.

Washed and quartered 1 quart of strawberries and put in the freezer.

Prepped ahead: John's work lunch for Sunday, most of the items needed for Katie's birthday dinner.

Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.  Did a sink full as well and then loaded some more into the dishwasher after I unloaded it.

Shopped the pantry: coffee, salad dressing, mayonnaise.

Well that's my week. Tell us what you did with your week!

Living Well:

I've been listening to the birds a lot lately.  It seems they are singing at full tilt here most every morning, busy about their daily chores of seeking and feeding and nesting and all that birds do. 

But it's not just here on the place that I'm hearing them.  I mean you do expect it out in the country, don't you?  But to stop in the middle of traffic and hear a piercing mocking bird call and then spy him on a Stop sign or street sign near by...To stop at a busy city bank and hear a bird singing lustily from the shrubs about the building...To go into a fast food restaurant and hear the birds outside the window as they hop about the parking lot looking for crumbs.  These are not the expected places to hear such joyful songs.

And bird song is almost always joyful isn't it?  Oh there are a few that aren't.  Mourning Doves with their soft 'Boo hoo hoo' certainly don't sound joyful and Blue Jays who must yell "Thief! Thief! Thief!" at the top of their lungs are certainly a nuisance (and a mighty good warning of a nearby snake to other birds) but for the most part, bird song is joyful and cheery.  Unfailingly so it seems.

It's made me very aware of my own tendency to be a little too sober and a little too prone to ponder instead of just experiencing joy, plain and simple, over the everyday ordinary things.   I think if I can cultivate the habit of being grateful, I just might be able to cultivate the habit of being joyful, don't you?  I'm going to give it a try.  Life is awfully short to be so serious about so much.

And besides, Ecclesiastes 3:4 says: A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

I've had my share of weeping and mourning. I'm ready to take my share of laughing and dancing.  Aren't you?

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.

This Week In My Home: Cramming in All We Can

This week in my home...
...I am weary this evening, and so I'm late in posting.  I do apologize. Inspired thinking simply isn't happening today. 

We made another flying family visit, going down to south Georgia so we could be with Josh for his birthday party.  Officially his birthday is on Monday but it was far more practical and better attended on Saturday than it might have been on Monday.  I was surprised at the changes in my boys in just two weeks time, just as I was surprised at Taylor's fast forwarding last weekend.  Josh was adorable telling guests, "Welcome to my home, guys!" I didn't expect to have a lot of his time or attention with so many guests, some of whom were his size so he had important things to do.  I did get a few snuggles and hugs and kisses towards the end of our day there.   

Tuesday Isaac will be 4 months old.  His eyes have cleared of that almost cloudy baby fuzz and are the clearest, most earnest blue you'd ever hope to see.  He had staring contests with everyone because he is a studier of people and there were plenty to study.  To Grampa he cooed and gurgled and the two napped together in the big recliner.  Then he happily snoozed on Gramma and took a break between naps to frown and stare at  Uncle Moose and then came right back to Gramma for a follow-up nap.  The big excitement of his day was getting his diaper changed at which point he kicked and gurgled and cooed and arched his back to let me know I could pick him up at any time.

But I confess it's hard to make that trek and then back in the same day and despite a good night's sleep I feel weary.  That's our third weekend of travel in three weeks time.  I'm worn down. I'm afraid we've done all we can this month to cram in the family visits and we won't likely do this again together for some time.  

Frugal Friday: Savings Is Always Normal

Saturday:  Off to visit Katie today.  I packed some chicken breasts and blueberry cobbler for dinner, had ice from the icemaker to keep things cold.  I also carried along a packed picnic supper for us.

I encouraged John to stop for breakfast.  Yes, I did.  I paid out of my pocket money.

Had a perfectly lovely day and that is priceless.  My little granddaughter is a delightful age, learning an amazing number of things daily.  There were lots of snuggles, and I loved that she had to 'cook' for me.  Perhaps we're raising another foodie who enjoys cooking and serving to loved ones as much as Katie and Sam and Amie and I enjoy it.  I love seeing it translate to the newer generation of our family.

Left my sunglasses at Katie's.  We have this ironclad rule that it has to be mighty important to warrant turning around and going back.  Sunglasses do not rate a turn around.  Instead we stopped at a gas station at roadside.  I got some big Jackie O type sunglasses (the only style available) for $3.99.  Out of my pocket though John gave me money to buy.  I won't allow him to pay for a silly mistake on my part.  Funny thing is Katie left her sunglasses here last time she visited and I'd just returned them to her today.

Katie sent home leftovers for a meal for us today.  John's portion went into his lunch.

Got on the scale at Katie's.  We don't have one here at home.  I was aware that I'd gained weight but somehow seeing the actual number on the scale was just the wake up call I needed to refocus myself on my personal health.  I'll be changing up my eating habits and utilizing my measuring cups once more.

Thursday Homemaking Chatter

It was so cool outdoors this morning, I was able to open windows.  The AC didn't kick on until about noon so the house got filled with all that nice fresh air.  It was lovely to sit by the window and listen to the birds going crazy with busyness.  It's rained a good bit this week and was cloudy but the birds were just reveling in the sunny morning.  I couldn't blame them at all.  It's what prompted me to rush outdoors as soon as I'd had breakfast and play about in the flower beds. 

Would you like to mosey around the flower beds for a bit?  I've been working in them this week.  No, not around the front part yet, but here along the back.  I've shifted some pots about and moved some decorative items from one bed to another and then I filled two more planters with soil and lily bulbs with daffodil and muscari underneath.  I've been reading that layering planters is the way to extend the life in pots over a number of seasons.  One thing would be filling out while another is dying back.  I have day lily in one pot and Asiatic lilies in another.   They aren't showy just yet, but hopefully they'll get there before long.  I didn't take a picture of that end of the back bed since it would just look like five empty pots, lol.  But here's the little bed at the back porch this season:

June is Peach Season

In the late winter months when cold weather usually starts to pall, I remind myself that peach season needs those good cold hours to make the fruit.  Then sometime in late February (usually) the trees begin to bloom.  Often you can see acres and acres of trees blooming at once.  It's the loveliest thing!

From there on we pray the cold weather is over and done and no harm comes to our peaches.

I personally like freestone peaches which tend to come in a bit later, towards July.  However, this week we noted as we drove down to John's work place that peach harvest was in full swing.   These early peaches are known as 'cling' peaches because they cling to the stone.  These are generally what you find canned in stores.

Tuesday at Aldi we noted the peaches were small.  I skipped buying them because there is just something different about the peaches sold in a grocery store and those sold in a packing shed.  You can't say I'm talking nonsense, but I assure there is.

I generally buy my peaches while they are still firm but just picked from the trees.  Then I bring them home and let them slowly finish ripening.

I have two early memories of peaches.  One was of being at Grand mama C's home.  She always froze her fruits and vegetables in these tidy little white waxed boxes that you slipped a plastic bag inside and tied off with a twist tie.  The box kept the fruit flat.  I really must look for some of those little boxes because they do make for a very neat fit in the freezer!

June: My Favorite Things

I enjoyed doing a product listing of favorite finds in April and thought I'd keep it going.  I'd meant to do a post for May but as usual once I focus on a big theme like Charm School that's about all I work with.   

I'm giving an honest unbiased review of these items and sites.  I did not receive anything as compensation nor are any items, stores, etc.  in this post affiliated links.

Last month I shared food products and a few skincare items.  This month it's clothing and beauty products.

Bras are the bane of most of our lives.  Finding what fits well and is true to size and supports and lifts and prevents backaches, doesn't roll up or continually have sliding straps, etc., etc....Well you know.  Last year Bridgette Rae had a giveaway on her fashion blog for a Warner's No Side Effects bra.  I'm game to enter giveaways and usually don't win, but this time I did.   In my letter to the team doing the giveaway I'd complained that I was at that stage where I had side boob and was tired of that overhang and lack of support in my usual bras.  I think they felt I was their primary target audience.  I was so excited when I got the notification I had won. 

For June: A Fresh Start

 I confess, when I prayed for a fresh start this month, this wasn't quite what I had in mind...

Windows 10 updated over the weekend.  It was a massive update that required multiple restarts.  I use Microsoft Edge which basically hijacked my computer last year and refused to let me use any other operating system.  The update apparently does allow you to use other browsers but it essentially wiped out every one of my saved favorites, my blog list, my favorites files which were packed, my Pinterest boards...I've had to find passwords for accounts that I thankfully had to renew recently because of my email account exodus from Yahoo, so I can access my most important accounts online.  But yeah.  Everything was new and unfamiliar and every last old thing was gone.

I am a little sad to see some of my files and things gone.  I was much amused that all of the files are gone but I was able to migrate files from early 2016 over from Google Chrome which I wasn't able to do last year when Edge took over. 

It made me wonder what if we had something like this in life, where the clock was literally turned back, we were restored to a set date in the past and had the opportunity to begin anew from that point. I tried to think what date I'd choose to 'begin again'.  Food for thought, right?

I guess I've had that time in my life already.  It was the date about two years ago when I found myself in the hospital.  I had come very close to dying twice during that time.  I looked long and hard at my life and determined that if I was being given a second and third chance then I was doggone well going to change some things!  And I did.

This Week In My Home: A Temporary Normal

This week in my home...

...We return to a temporary form of normal.  John started back to work today and to my knowledge will work every day he's meant to of June and possibly an extra day or two that are half shifts.   This will end this particular work schedule.  Since we don't know just how things will go come July 1,  I am tackling the house and then going to start to work on something,  though I'm not really sure just what at present.  Perhaps I'll start to work on a half dozen somethings.  I am just anxious to get knee deep in a project.  I'm done with the excuses of 'no money to spend' and 'it's too hot', both of which are very true.  But bored is just no way at all to live and I cannot fathom going through summer bored to tears as I've been this last week with  I can't stand it!  I've got all sorts of things I'd like to work upon, some quiet, some creative, some hard labor and some routine.  Seems to me that's a pretty good mix in any day!

But first...isn't that the way we must always begin, at the very beginning?  Yes, it is.  But first, I need a plan, a focus point and a list to get me going.  I'll be working on those things this week.

I'm also sorry to say that I stepped on the scales at Katie's house this weekend.  Ack.  I've gone backwards.  I'll spend the summer getting that gain off me once more.  I remind myself that I've done this before and I can do it again.   I knew full well that the tell tale snug clothing was telling me a very true story but I just didn't want to acknowledge it.  I also know that a body has a weight set point just like our spending has a mental set point.  I'm creeping hard upwards to an old set point and I refuse to go there.  I'm going to make my former lower weight my NEW set point and that's my target for now.

Frugal Friday: Rainy Days and Holidays

Hello!  I missed blogging last week about my frugal week.  I'll add in the few things I can remember before I start this week's daily record.

I can remember little of the previous weekend.  I know that we stopped by the grocery but we picked up very little, as we knew we'd be leaving during the next day.

On Monday, we turned the AC up to 80F before we left home.  We unplugged many of the more easily reached plugs, all of which were not on surge protectors.  We went to John's workplace to pick up the paycheck and make our deposit and pay bills.  Then we were off on our vacation trip at last.  We chose a new to us route that was meant to be shorter.  I can tell you honestly that it just takes a certain amount of time to reach our destination and it takes that amount of time no matter which way we go.

We stopped at a grocery near our destination and picked up a few items.  We spent about $50 overall, mostly on things like fresh local fruits and adult beverages and deli meats.  We packed a lot of our food here at home, bought mostly at Aldi and frozen.  We used the frozen food to serve as ice packs for the cold stuff.

We didn't stop for supper though it got very late.  We waited until we were in our room and then we prepared a simple meal for ourselves.

Tuesday we visited one planned site and then ate our midday meal out of the room at a new to us restaurant near the hotel.  The prices were reasonable and the food was quite good.  Since it was meant to rain we decided to spend the rest of the day indoors at the condo.

Iced Tea Chat: Carefree Summer Days

Come in!  It seems like ages since we've had a chat.  I've got iced tea, strawberries and mint.  Choose what you'd like to flavor your tea and let's settle in here on the porch.  The weather is nice enough for April.  I'll pass out fans to keep the gnats away.

I've been so busy I hadn't realized that I'd not had a chat since the start of May.  There's so much I want to say, I hardly know where to start.  So I guess I'll begin at the beginning and work my way forward to now.

Charm School: All Finished

Yesterday's post on phone etiquette pretty much wraps up our month of Charm School.  I hope that you found this series helpful in myriad areas and that you are practicing away at becoming the best you can possibly be. 

Book Review: When God Made You

This month I chose a children's book to review simply because the cover illustration was so vibrant. The books is illustrated by David Cartrow and I can say honestly that ALL of the illustrations are vibrant with movement and color. I loved the title When God Made You.  The book is written in a rhyming meter that is very well suited to the illustrations which also seem to move with a speed equal to that of the verses.

Charm School: Good Manners for the Phone

In our very first post for Charm School, I added a postscript to "Conversation" about phone etiquette but I really didn't complete that section at that time.  In this day and age with phones practically attached to our ear nearly every place we go, I am afraid that common phone courtesy is no longer used.  I'd like for us to begin to correct that and return to the more mannerly side of phone usage.

Charm School: Tipping Etiquette

An anonymous commenter brought up the subject of tipping in various situations.  I answered her the best I knew at the moment, but I realized this is an area that truly should be addressed.  Emily Post does not fail to note this area of good manners and so I will share what I learned in reading this week.

In My Home This Week: Summer Breeze

In my home this week...

I feel so refreshed and relaxed.  John and I had a lovely week last week, full of sun and sea breezes and new adventures and family.  It was awesome. 

Charm School: Various and Sundry Links and Tips

Today I am finishing the series of Charm School posts for this week.  I have collected a number of notes over the past few weeks.  I do suggest, again, that you make it a point to acquire a copy of a book on etiquette and study it. 

Charm School: Hostess or Guest?

It's come.  That moment when you determine that you will host a guest in your home...or you've just accepted an invitation to be a guest.  Both positions require certain things of you.  We're going to keep it fairly simple here.  I am not going to go Emily Post nor Miss Manners on you.  I do expect that you'll be taking up either one of those books and start learning proper etiquette because the self-assured woman is the informed woman.

Charm School: We All Must Eat

We all must eat.  It's a fact.  Whether we're at home or dining out, we must use proper table manners.  And honestly dears, even if you're eating alone it doesn't hurt to observe good manners at home.  Much nicer than hanging over the sink shoving food into your mouth and let's be honest:  we are all guilty of that at some point!

Charm School: Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Etiquette, just like fashion sense, may be learned but no amount of learning either one will carry you through if your countenance is always a storm cloud and your tongue known for it's sharpness.  So let us begin now with how to dress that inner woman.

Charm School: Confidence

I have to share this comment that came in last week.  I share it because it illustrates a point.

Debby in KS: This post made me flash back to a comment a woman made to me at the Y pool. I was going to the lap pool and walking down the side of it to get my kickboard. Then I walked back. After I got in with an ungraceful jump lol, she swam over to my lane and said, "My gosh, you have the BEST posture! Do you practice walking that way?"

In My Home This Week: Pressing Towards Summer

In my home this week...

...I have been thinking long and hard about the summer days just ahead.  Not rushing from one season to the next, no not at all.  It's already hitting 90f routinely outdoors.  Fortunately, low humidity means that it's fairly nice outdoors if you can stand the gnats and flies long enough to be outside.  

Sweet June

June is just around the corner this week.   With six birthdays and a Jamberry party planned for one week it seemed best to plan ahead for June. 

Jamberry Party:

Frugal Friday: Reining In

Saturday:  My plan today was to have bagels.   Again this Saturday morning, John took over breakfast duty and made eggs to go with the toasted bagels.  Again, I made no complaint.  After all, if he wants to cook for me who am I to argue?

I planned a dinner of leftovers.  John wasn't particularly happy over that meal idea.  I opened up the last package of hot dogs and made French Fries.  I brought out the cupcakes from Family Day that I'd set aside and frosted them with a quick to mix up buttercream frosting.  That was a second meal planned and ready in under 20 minutes which made me happy.

Charm School: Additional Items to Contemplate

I thought you'd enjoy a repeat of these old vintage things.  I've posted before.  I'm sorry the print on this first one will be small, but if I enlarge it then it overlaps the edges of the blog page.  Enlarge your viewing size on your computer to get a better look at the text. 

Charm School: Best Dressed

Clothes make the woman and man and deny it though we might it's true.  It is generally our outward appearance that draws attention first and how we present ourselves is important.  First impressions are often the lasting impressions and that too is unfortunately true.  We might have opportunity to meet someone again but try as we might if we created that unfavorable first impression that is the lingering ideal they will have of us, regardless of how nicely we present ourselves or act thereafter.

Charm School: The World Bows at Her Feet

Now that we've discussed our hands, it's time to think about our feet.  How are yours?

For years now I've kept my toenails polished.  If my fingers bear the brunt of work my feet tend to stay rather nicely kept at all times...despite many broken, bruised toes due to carelessness.  If I failed in any other part of self-care, I did keep my feet looking nice.

Feet can be lovely or ugly.  Toes, like fingers are short, long, crooked, straight.  Considering that feet literally bear the weight of all our world (our whole body!) and are responsible in part for helping us balance (the rest of our skeleton and muscles do play a role as well) and definitely keep us moving through life, we really can't afford to ignore this body part at all.

Charm School: The World At Her Fingertips

My hands look worn.  They are scarred in places and the veins are slightly ropey.  I struggle with dry rough cuticles and despite repeated oil treatments they must be clipped, or produce painful hang nails.  I remember the hands of my youth, with long oval nails and the softness of skin.  I had dreamed of being a hand model.  That dream vanished a long time ago as my hands have taken on the mien of one who works with her hands day in and day out.  Just the other day my husband took my hand in his and told me how much he appreciated the strength of my hands, how glad he was that they were firm and strong and gentle at the same time.   He couldn't have given me a nicer compliment. 

I recall two friends who were contrasts.  One was a woman I met when I was a young newlywed.  She had lovely hands and beautiful long nails that she kept painted a bubble gum pink for all the years I knew her.  That was the only color I ever saw her wear on her nails.  She didn't dial the rotary dial phone (oh those old things, lol) with her fingers.  No, she took up a pen or pencil and used that to dial her phone.  When picking up coins or popping the top of a 12 ounce drink, she used the pads of her fingers.  She took great care of her hands, had made it a habit, and they were a lovely asset to her.

Contrast her with the other friend who worked at a job that required her to type nearly all day long in full public view.  She was a nice girl who presented herself very well.  Her hair was shining and lovely, she had developed a fashion style that was all her own and which suited her perfectly.  But look at her poor hands.  Her nails were bitten back to halfway of the nail bed. Her cuticles were ripped and torn and often infected.   Her poor fingers looked mangled!  It always shocked me to see her fingers when she was so well put together otherwise.  It was as though her hands revealed a rather shameful secret about her.  Often people who were being waited upon by her would comment on the state of her hands.   Yet it did not stop her nasty habit of biting them down hard.

In My Home This Week: Whew!

In my home this week...

...I am shocked at how quickly May is going.  The month is half gone!  I feel like I've worked hard all month long and yet I'd be hard pressed to show you any amount of work done.  This despite decluttering all sorts of computer things and blog list and emails and old blog posts that I can't print off nor keep forever apparently after I lost something like ten years of work that I'd saved.  I've been slowly shutting down two mail accounts while I move to a different server and that's meant countless account updates and email updates, etc. 

I've been finishing up books I'd started reading and writing countless posts for Charm School.  I think I have two weeks of posts to go on that score and we'll finish it off.  I have appointed tasks to do each day and each week and the house and yards are looking spruce.  I've knocked out a lot of my shopping tasks which is saying something because I don't really spend a lot of time contemplating shopping nor making time to do much of it.  So yes, May has flown past and I've been busy working away.

Frugal Friday: Balance Beam

Saturday:  I'd planned bagels for breakfast but John decided he wanted to cook breakfast for me.  He made a really big meal.  That's fine.  I figured we could have a late dinner.

It may be Shabat but I didn't do any food prep yesterday.  I chopped vegetables to make spaghetti.  Why not double the batch?  It's really only just a matter of a few extra seconds of chopping.  I add lots of vegetables to my spaghetti.  Today's batch had carrot, zucchini, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes as well as tomato paste and tomato sauce.   I put this in the fridge overnight since we didn't eat spaghetti for dinner as I'd planned.

I'd left spaghetti sauce simmering when John mentioned wanting to try a new sandwich that is temporarily out at a sub shop.  He suggested we go picnic.  We went to a public park and had a lovely time. 

Wore a shirt I've had in my closet for some time though it is new.  I realized while away from home that I don't wear it because it is not comfortable for me.  If I lost a few pounds I'd like it a lot better.  I will pass it on to someone who can wear it more comfortably.

Charm School: Your Best Face Forward

I think I was about ten when my skin took on a pebbly sort of appearance and I began to be plagued with breakouts.  While my skin condition overall wasn't horrible, it wasn't perfectly smooth.   As I got older I had frequent breakouts.   I took a home economics class as an elective and can tell you sincerely that I gleaned one little bit of information from that class.  A woman who sold a cosmetics line came in to demonstrate how to care for facial skin and show us girls how to properly apply our makeup.  In her demonstration of cleansing she made mention of a fact that sort of changed my skin care routine forever.  She said that if you were prone to breakouts on the face a moisturizer could correct your skin.

This was revolutionary information.  True, Granny had instructed me at twelve to get a face cream and use it, but every bit of information available at that time suggested anyone with an oily complexion and breakouts should avoid moisturizers.  Despite the use of a Clair Sonic  facial brush and specialized soap as well as the twice daily usage of Sea Breeze astringent, and being very careful to remove all of what little makeup I wore daily, I still had breakouts.  I purchased an inexpensive moisturizer and immediately noted an improvement in my skin.  Just goes to show that sometimes the 'experts'  may be wrong and a woman who applied practical advice could be right.

Just a little note here to say that skin care on Granny's side of the family has often been important to the women.  Granny told me that her grandmother not only washed her face in rain water but she skimmed the cream off the milk each morning and evening, "and always used some of it on her face."

Charm School: Perfect Posture

Proper posture affects our overall health.  Poor posture can cause, at the very least, strain on muscles and bones that cause tension and pain.  It can place undue stress on vertebra and pinch nerves that further limit mobility.  It affects our ability to breathe deeply.  Poor posture can lower energy levels and affect mood.  Proper posture is not a cure all for every ail, but it certainly can relieve a great many of our physical ones!

Poor posture can also adversely affect our figures.  The stomach pooches, the breasts hang too low and the shoulders slope.  Or the derriere is extended too far behind and we look a bit sway backed.  It is truth that simply straightening up can make us look 25 pounds lighter!  We all want a weight loss solution without dieting.  Well posture is your solution!

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 ...