My Favorite Purchases of 2018

Tammy asked about  the hermetically sealing bins I'd bought.  I thought I'd included a link, but I failed.  I haven't done one of my favorite purchases posts in quite a long while.  I did purchase a few things I think you might find useful or helpful, every single one for the kitchen.

New Year Changes Ahead

I've spent the past week thinking about what I want  in the year ahead.  For all my whining at changes, I do like change when it's of my own making and I like it well enough to bring it about in my life on a fairly regular basis.  I see everything as a progressive step towards the ideal that I hope one day to achieve...and I find that the ideal changes ever so slightly as I take each step.  I'm never off course.  I just get a clearer picture with each change of where I want to head and why.

This Week: Ending and Beginning

I don't know about you all but I am ready for the holidays to be done.  We don't do much for New Year's Eve nor New Year's Day in our home...and this year it will be even less since John is working.  I don't mind at all.  I've set my mind for the year ahead and that's the way I like to celebrate.

In My Home: New Year Resolutions

I wanted to share my frugal and living well doings though I was taking a blog break. I kept up with what I'd done on a daily basis.

Saturday:  Quick prep of fruits and vegetables this morning and got them laid out in containers.  I came very close to buying cheap plastic serving pieces yesterday and I brought myself up short.  Hadn't I just thrown out loads of such things at Mama's and groused at the idea of how many really nice pieces she had that she'd never used while accumulating all those cheap plastic bits?     Well I'm glad I didn't buy a thing.  I found my usual daily serving pieces looked quite nice.  I've upgraded a good bit of those over the past year.  A big aqua pasta bowl was gorgeous with rows of fruits in it and I think the color of the bowl just made the colors of the fruit stand out even more.  A large French White corning baking dish (9 x 13) stood well for a cake platter with cookies laid out in rows by type.   A rectangular cake carrier worked well for the vegetable plate.  Various bowls and pretty plates from the cupboards served up cheese and crackers, sausage balls, chips.  Had I felt like squishing across the yard to the shed, I could have brought in milk glass, plates, serving platters, etc. to add to the wealth of items I had inside the house.  So take that! Dollar store cheap plastic pieces.

This Week In My Home: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Saturday:  Sam stopped by this evening to show us the deer he'd gotten.  I reminded him I wanted some shanks for stews.  I am so proud he was able to get a second deer.  He insisted that the dogs had to have a biscuit each as they had flushed five deer out of the weeds where they'd been hiding themselves.  I've told John before that the dogs are actually barking at something, not just nothing as he insists.  I expect they smell the deer and know when they are nearby.  Proud for my son to have more meat for his family.

Coffee Chat: Rainy Day At Home

Hello dears.  Coffee will be ready in a moment.  Did you get too wet outdoors?  Mind you it's been raining for about 12 hours and has only just slowed down a bit.  John asked me to stay home today since there was so much rain and I honored his request.  Traffic was bad enough yesterday when he and I were out that I wasn't too keen on going to Perry with wet roads and diving in and out of places getting soaked through and chilled, too.  Mama said she knew when it began to rain so heavily in the early hours that I'd be cancelling if it didn't let up.  She was none too keen to go out in it herself.

Date Nut Balls and other Christmas treats

Clockwise from back left: Raspberry Thumbprints, Sugar Cookies, Date Nut Balls, Magic Cookie Bars and Stove Top Cookies

Years ago I gave up making hundreds of dozens of cookies and culled my recipes down to the five essentials, per my husband and the children  requests.   What I failed to plan was to incorporate a favorite cookie for myself.  Each year I enjoyed the baked fare but always felt reminiscent over the things I recalled from my childhood and first marriage years that I had made and enjoyed.   This year, I decided to remove one of John's favorites which I make through out the year anyway, and add in one for me.  I chose to make Date Nut Balls.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Here's a recipe for a cake I made for the second time in 40 odd years.  I don't know why I waited so long.  I liked it quite well when I made it the first time but since I'm a recipe enthusiast I sometimes don't cycle back around to a recipe that I liked.

This is a good recipe following a 'rich' season of eating and shall go on my menu cycle for post holiday eats.   The berries are tart but not terribly and the cake is not too sweet.  I cut my cake into 12 pieces.  Whipped cream is nice but even plain with black coffee it's a nice treat.

I bought a new bag of fresh cranberries so I can make this again after Christmas.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Bake at 350F 40-50 minutes

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

This Week In My Home: Ding Dong, Ding Dong

Santa Claus photos were taken on Friday afternoon.  Josh balked at first but the idea of Isaac getting a candy cane while he got none was too much.  He went to sit on Santa's lap and the photo was gotten.  We walked through Bass Pro with only a few 4 year old incidents.  At one point, going through the women's department next to the big fish tanks, Josh spied hats.   "Look!  I wanna cowboy hat!" he said and put one on his head and Isaac's and then gave one to me.

In My Home: Jingle All The Way

Saturday:  John had to run down to work to pick up something, so I went along.  It was gray and brown and overcast outdoors.  All the glory of autumn leaves drifted to the ground this weekend, turning brown on their way.  It was cold out there but the car has a great heater and so on our way home we took the long way, literally over hills and dales and forested roads.  It was lovely to do something out of the ordinary on our Shabat and yet not really 'do' anything at the same time.   We held hands for most of the drive and chattered away, which is also lovely.

Coffee Chat: Christmas is Near

Hello dears.  Come in, come in.  I've those lovely spicy and crisp Spekulatis cookies from Aldi to go with our hot cups of coffee or tea or cocoa.  Take your choice and come sit with me here in the living room near the softly glowing tree.

I confess ever since I put it up, I keep it lit pretty much all the time if I'm home.  Josh came in yesterday afternoon after school and insisted I had another tree.  I assured him it was truly the same tree, just a few ornaments more added on but no, it must be another tree and this one was 'even prettier than the other!'    Isaac pronounced it "itty" which is his word for 'pretty' at the moment.

In My Home This Week: Fa La La La La

We're just in from church and have had our Sunday dinner.  It's been wet and cold all weekend long and we've been snug and warm in the house.  In my book, this is a perfect winter weekend, albeit that it's late fall.  It's been a cozy sort of weekend though I have yet to pick up a book.  There's just something about the glow of a Christmas tree on a grayish day and the lighting of the candles for Chanukah come evening to soothe the spirit.

In My Home This Week: Planning and Working and Working

Saturday:  Easy meal day.  Beef Stew and a cake were made yesterday.  All I had to do today was make a salad and cornbread.  That was one good pot of stew.  I almost think it's worthwhile to make it a day ahead and reheat slowly in the crockpot every time.

In My Home This Week: December to Dream and Plan

In my home this week...

Katie and Taylor were here for a good part of the afternoon.  What a great time John had!  Today, after three years of patiently waiting on his part, was the day that Taylor suddenly decided that Grampa was more than all right.  Today she followed him about, sat near him to play, chattered at him non-stop and referred to him as Grampa and willingly gave him a good hug when it came time to say "Goodbye".   I have become "Gramma Gramma", always doubled.

In MyHome This Week: A Cheerful Homemaker

Thursday:  A quiet enough holiday for us.  I made our special breakfast and we've agreed that while we love sausage balls they are just a bit much, too bready,  with a sweet roll.  I think we need to find an acceptable sausage or breakfast meat that will work for us that is not our usual fare but something we save for special occasions.

I baked the chicken, sweet potato casserole and dressing this morning and made chicken gravy.  I packed everything up spanking hot and wrapped the dishes in a thick towel and loaded it into our insulated bag.  Do you know that the chicken was still warm in it's dish when we brought it back home?  This works incredibly well for packing a hot meal.    We had a nice meal with Mama and it was just the three of us but we heard from all of our young families during the day.

Coffee Chat: Happy At Home

It's very early but come in for coffee just the same.   I'd planned to visit Katie before she left for work this morning but her hours changed slightly for the rest of this week and so that visit was cancelled.  I'd looked forward to it but I understand that work comes first as well it ought.

So there's the coffee and creamer in the fridge.  Have a cup and let us sit for a bit before the day begins.  I have an idea of what I'd like to do today but it's very early and the day looks long from this place, lol.  Hope you don't mind the Christmas music this morning.  I felt in the mood for something peppy and cheerful.

In My Home This Week: Christmas Came Early

We had a quiet holiday dinner with Mama and a long visit after.  Mama had tuned into the Hallmark Channel where Christmas movies played non-stop.  I know many love those Hallmark movies, but I don't find them as entertaining as some.  I think it's because over the years it's become less special and more "How many movies can we put together for the season?"    But I do remember enjoying them when I was younger.  Did they have more depth then?  Or was it because they were saved for a special time?   And who besides me loved the Kraft theater?   I remember those special seasonal movies and the recipes that came in the commercials, all of which sounded delicious.  That too was another time though, when Kraft only featured a product or two that was an ingredient but the recipes were real ones, not just a combination of so many products from the same company.

In My Home This Week: Traditions Old and New

Saturday:  While digging in the fridge freezer I found some Raisin Bread.  John loves his bagels but I'm a little less interested in them as a rule.   Raisin Toast suited me just fine.

While at Walmart yesterday we picked out a steak for dinner today.  It was delicious.  John assured me that the $10 we'd spent was well worth it.  I happen to agree.  We compared our $5 steak dinner (cost divided by 2) to the $21 or more we'd pay per person at a restaurant.

Coffee Chat: Warm Hands, Cold Toes

Hello dears.  Come in and share a cup of coffee with me.  There are those lovely spice cookies from Aldi that I love so each autumn, or a piece of Dark Chili Chocolate if you're less cookie minded.  I was in a baking mood earlier this morning, but couldn't find the recipe I'd meant to attempt and was less interested in trying the alternate recipe.  Instead, I took up  paint pot and brush and tackled the chifforobe in the guest room

In My Home This Week: Non-Traditional Holiday

This week in my home, I have planned for a non-traditional Thanksgiving day...and the only thing stuffed this week is my head.   I did manage to get an overpriced turkey breast for us to cook here for the two of us, but our menu for the small gathering at Mama's is Chicken, not turkey.

Katie texted that she feels the 'funk' coming on.   Seeing as how I am now on day 10 of recovery, I don't believe she's going to be up to even such a small family meal as we'd planned.  I'll lay odds she opts to spend the day at home in bed resting hard, especially since she's on probation as a new hire and cannot miss work unless they send her home.   She'd told me on Friday that Matt is ill with the stuff as well...Ugh.  I'm most thoroughly sick of being sick and not feeling well and having family ill.  The little boys and Bess were not much better this past week and Isaac was sick in the night last night.  I am prone to agree that what we've likely had is flu given the duration of it for all households. Mind you not one of us was really ill two weeks ago when we met up except Bess who stayed home.

In My Home This Week: Recovery Effort

Saturday:  I started chicken cooking early.  My soup turned out very salty and I've no idea why.  I never salt my chicken broths when I put them up for the freezer, but this soup definitely tasted as though I'd salted both containers and  the chicken and the soup itself.  It was just too much. We ate it as it was for our main meal today but I watered it down for our supper.   Not having to chop vegetables made all the difference in the world in how quickly this came together and for that I was especially grateful.

In My Home This Week: Recovery Effort

I'm not really sure what is in that bottle...but I'm thinking with the lemons on the plate next to it that it might well be a homemade cough remedy.

In My Home This Week: All In the Family

Saturday:  Shoulda, coulda, woulda...I did not prep ahead on Friday for today's meal as I'd meant to do.  Partly because I was tired and didn't feel quite well and partly because I wasn't really sure we'd have anyone but ourselves here...Well we had plenty of folks, 3 adults and 3 children and I had one pound of ground beef thawing.

Coffee Chat: Less and More

Hello dears, Come in and I'll make you coffee.  It feels cool in here to me and it is a little but then I just finished a glass of iced tea, lol.  I have all that tea that John has bought me over the last few weeks and after pricing sodas at the dollar store this afternoon on my way home feel even more compelled to enjoy the tea.  However, coffee would be most welcome at the moment.

Why Do I Keep My House Clean? My Top 5 Reasons

Really the title sounds like a rhetorical question a mom might ask, doesn't it?

Over the spring and summer I fell out of the habit of deep cleaning, zones for deeper concentrated cleaning, and most routines.  The house held on with a few, oh so few, routines and manic cleaning whenever the family was gone away for a few hours.  But I think, looking back, that it was the fact that I had worked to keep the house clean prior to their moving in that really helped us stay atop the housework for five months with two toddlers in the house.

In My Home This Week: Kinship

I was thinking the other day about Taylor's upcoming weekend with Katie.  Josh and Isaac were here two afternoons last week and Josh asked John to 'name the cousins'.  Family is of utmost importance to Josh and I thought what a nice thing it would be to have them over today while Taylor was here.  I held off asking  but kept the idea in the back of my mind.   Apparently great minds think alike.  Katie texted this morning asking if I minded if she asked for Josh and Isaac to come over.  When I mentioned it to John he said, "I was thinking the same thing."   As it worked out, dear Bess is ailing and Sam was in charge of groceries and pharmacy pick ups and asked if he could bring the boys over early since they were meant to be coming over anyway.

Rinse and Repeat

I have been thinking this week that it's rather boring to keep writing about what I do to save money because it is so repetitive.  I admit, I did not come to this conclusion while working on my own Friday post, "This Week In My Home" but while watching another homemaker who vlogs.  I kind of like the woman, I do truly, but I've been through her house with her so many times I think I could find things myself if I ever were in her state to visit.  Seriously.  And I'd just about know what I might end having for dinner with her, too.

In My Home This Week: Sweater, Sweater... Who Got the Sweater?

Saturday:  Slow and easy day.  Just the way I like my Shabat.  I put a roast in the oven early in the day and let it cook slow.  I spent most of the morning going through catalogs and magazines and pulling those few things that inspired me.

Bess stopped by for a quick chat when she came to borrow my secateurs to cut saplings from under a tree in her dooryard.  She was reading off a list of things to collect for charity through her work.  When she came to 'soap,' I stopped her.  I told her that I had a world of soap and I'd happily donate it.  I gave her 10 three packs of soap, which are individually boxed, so they can be split.  Why so much soap on hand?  Mama and Granny decided some number of years ago that this soap was going off the market (it wasn't) and they'd better stock up (they did, oh boy did they!).  Irony is that Mama developed an allergy to it and the frugal girl in me reasoned that I could use that soap until it ran out or I died whichever came first.

In My Home This Week: (Mostly) Sweater Days

This week in my home...

This afternoon I glanced at the 10 day forecast.  It appears autumn temperatures have finally arrived.  Now for the trees to catch on to that fact once again.  They all looked lovely and colorful at the end of August but the leaves left behind on the trees remain steadfastly green.  Even the lawn is green.  I'm just hoping this last mowing is the last one and we won't have to mow grass again until at least the middle of March.

In My Home This Week: Planning Committee of One

Saturday:  We stayed in our hotel room this day and sat on the balcony when we could stand the humidity and heat and then went back into the room.  I'm so happy that they have both sliding doors overlooking the ocean and a mirrored wall that reflects those doors because I spent my day on the couch either looking out the windows or looking at that wall of reflected ocean waves.

Coffee Chat: Fresh Paint

Hello loves.

Do come in and have a hot cup of coffee.  There are butter cookies and dark chili chocolate to go with our cups of warm brew.  I've got the windows open on the sunny side because it got a bit stuffy indoors yesterday but if you get a bit cool, I've put out afghans to warm knees or shoulders.

In My Home This Week: Planning? What planning?

Hello all.  It's lovely to be back home though I will confess to being more than mildly tired this afternoon as I type this out.   We've been home not quite 24 hours and the cares of home were dumped right back in our laps almost immediately.  So goes the way of the world.

In My Home This Week: Radio-active

Happiness is little boys who think Grammas are fun.
Tired this morning after keeping boys yesterday afternoon.  They were good, very good, but Gramma was very tired by the time they arrived.  The nap I'd intended to take was cut out entirely before it was even begun by the arrival of  "Mr. Bug Man" as Josh referred to him when he came in after school.   Had a grand time with the boys, really, but these 5am days are so very long and I was worn out, too tired to even get up and go to bed after they left.

In My Home This Week: Radio Silence

In my home...

This week, I shall be going quiet.  I've worked hard all this year and I am determined now autumn has finally arrived to enjoy it a bit.  No worries.  There is work to be done.  I am tired.  There are multiple worries I must face, and little griefs I must experience due to current life situations with family.  I hadn't quite realized all that I have been holding in a reserved corner of my mind until it began to filter out on Friday and again on Saturday.  There is nothing for it but to experience my personal grief and wait yet again for a bad situation to come to a head.

In My Home This Week: In Which We Adjust the Pattern to Fit

Sunday:  We had a date yesterday.  John insisted he must take me out.  It's something he's been very consistent about this past year.  My husband is courting me and it's a lovely thing, truly it is.  I don't say it to brag.  I say it because I know how remarkable it is that 27 years into our relationship/lives together, he wants to treat me as though I am still the woman he courted years ago.  It fills me with awe, truly it does.

Safe and Sound

Just letting you all know we're safe and sound.  This storm, for all it's bigness ended being less damaging than Irma was last September for us.  We lost a few leaves and a few dead limbs and had no damage or loss of electricity in our rural area.  Katie lost power in town last night but reported no damage except a small leak that came in through the chimney and considering the wind it isn't a wonder.  Mama has reported no damage except her trash can blew away.  I'm hopeful one of the neighbors will return it to her.  I checked in with Matt this morning and he and Taylor had no damage in their neighborhood nor town.  Here's hoping the rest of you remain as safe as we were!

Iced Tea Chat: I Win!

Come on in!  I'm longing to chat but keep putting it off for many reasons.  Things keep running through my mind and when I come to chat, those thoughts skitter away again.  Some are things I have been mulling but they aren't sorted properly yet.  Some of it is simply that in my 'hustle' I am tired at end of day when I allow myself to settle before the computer.  Nevertheless, we shall chatter and see what comes of it.

In My Home This Week: Planned Suppers and Breakfasts and Altered Dinners

Somehow or other when planning meals last night, I forgot all about the chicken I baked on Friday.  There's just loads of it left even after dinner today.  That alters my dinner menus this week.  So amended dinner menu:

Roast Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Salad

This Week In My Home: A New Pattern

I'm happy to report that last week was a success.  I had a bit of struggle and I realized that the very nature of our lives at present is just a constant interruption.  Like Sarah, I shall just have to do what I can, even if it means doing tasks in 10-15 minute jots.

This Week in My Home: In Which I Meant to Hustle

Monday:   John and I seem to have fallen out of the habit of a routine where grocery shopping is concerned.  I didn't need but a few items at the grocery yesterday, but without John along I'm afraid I took his place and there was no one restraining my impulse spending though my impulses are different than his.  I tend to stock up on things I know we'll need and since I don't know exactly when I might have a chance to shop again, it's just as well isn't it?  Well not really as it must all count towards a pay period and I don't especially want to lump it in with last pay period nor wait to use certain items until next pay period.  I've settled it in my mind that I shall just count it as next pay period's grocery and keep in mind that this last pay period was heavy enough without adding extra.

This Week In My Home: Hustle

As of this post I plan to return to my former way of doing things.  I'd like very much to share my plan for my week before the week is done, as that makes me accountable for what I do!   I will also plan meals and share those with you.  Both my work plans and meal plans have sort of fallen into the 'by a wing and a prayer' category and this is not good.  I hate hearing myself stammer when John says "What's for dinner?" and I realize it's 11:45 and I have nothing planned.  Not that he fusses, but it flusters me to come up with a plan on the fly.

In My Home This Week: Where Did September Go?

Saturday:  Sam and I were exchanging again this Saturday morning.  He made cinnamon rolls, I had an extra loaf of Pumpkin Banana Bread.   Those cinnamon rolls were lovely; light, finely rolled, well risen, and plenty of cinnamon with a surprise touch of lemon icing.  Yum!

Looking for Fall: Menu Inspirations

Eating seasonally is increasingly difficult this day in time.  Strawberries are in the market year round, and at current prices, it's often hard to distinguish what is actually in season, because prices may be about the same as they are all year round!  At least I'm finding this to be truth.  That's why I like to look at monthly or seasonal lists of what is normally available.   Every now and then I'll see a low price on an item and think "Is it the season for that?" and reading the label discover it is if you live in the southern hemisphere but not in our northern one!

In My Home This Week: Oh My Aching Feet

Sukkot starts this Sunday.  It seems appropriate to feature a photo of a filled pantry with summer's harvest.  We don't have any special plans for this particular Holy Week.  John is working.  I'm to keep the little boys for a few hours twice.  I expect keeping up will be about all I do.  In the meantime, here's how I worked and thought this week:

Looking for Fall: Home Decorating Inspiration for Fall

Remember on the Fall Inspiration post I mentioned the blue plates with a copper charger?  I looked around in my Inspiration notebook and found I'd kept the photo.  I was absolutely wowed by both of these photos, one an ad for Dillards and the other from Country Door catalog.

Coffee Chat: Looking For Fall

Hello dears.  Do come right in...There's Spicy Apple Cake in the cake carrier.  Won't you have some?  It's really good.  So glad to know that thirty odd year old memory wasn't faulty and it really is a great recipe. I divided the batter into two loaf pans and made two cakes.  I put one in the freezer.  I like to have a little something sweet tucked away.

I am bone weary this afternoon. I started my day early-ish and went out early to pick up sticks about the trees.  We had some wind and a little rain but not at the same time this past weekend and sticks fell.  I noted that the pecan tree out back has dropped every single nut that was on the tree.  It was a considerable number and all lying on the ground.  They never got ripe enough for the outer green shell to open and let the nuts drop.  We'll have nothing off that tree nor the huge old one in the bottom that has flung nuts to the ground as though they were all surplus weight.  Sigh.

In My Home This Week: Reset

Saturday:  Today has not been a 'usual' day.  I did two things I'd normally not do on Saturday: I planned to go to the grocery where we get our prescriptions filled  to buy a handful of items. I also planned to buy takeout for our dinner.  Why?  Why when I'm about to tamp down on excess spending, am I out on a Sabbath flinging money away?   I'll tell you.

Looking for Fall: Outdoor Decor Inspirations

All of the ideas in this post today are from Pinterest boards.  I haven't even walked out to the shed to look to see what I might have to use.  I don't generally go for pumpkins in my d├ęcor because in our area autumn tends to be warm.  It is not conducive to keeping pumpkins fresh.

I chose photos based upon what I have on hand and to give me inspiration for what I might do with it.  As I am writing I'm also thinking of a large basket made from vines that might be fun to use, too.  Oh the ideas!

 I have a burlap wreath or two in the shed.  I think this one is very pretty with the touch of orange on the bow.

Looking for Fall: 2018 Outfit Inspirations

I know it's not quite Fall.  In fact, it's quite hot outdoors at the moment with a dry hot breeze and thunder sounding.   The lawn is looking very 'end of year'-ish and while leaves are drifting off the trees as though it were autumn, it's misery out there.  Great for drying clothes, not so much for putting on sweaters and ankle boots!

This Spiritual Journey: Dear Lisa

This year I've been struggling with a number of things as you all know.   The summer months were so bad for me and our family as a whole were under such a heavy attack that I fell away from my Bible study and prayer life and just barely slogged through the days.  It was a difficult time, but as the anxiety attacks decreased, I realized that above all I need God.  I need to get back to my faith roots.

That said, I was not quite prepared for Rosh Hashanah.   I was not even sure I would observe it at all, but I recalled my very real longing to observe Passover and how impossible it was at the time with my home full and a four year old whose dietary mainstay is bread.  If all else fails to appeal, offer Josh a slice of bread.  I knew that we could never follow the Feast of Unleavened Bread while he was in the house and so I told John quietly that we'd observe Second Passover, thinking the family would have moved by the time it came along.  They weren't and so it too passed and then the Feast of First Fruits came and went.

Looking for Fall

It's hot.  It's humid.  I have a load of outdoor work to be done and it's too uncomfortable even at 7:15am to even think of doing much of anything at all outdoors.   I'm calling the late summer cleaning of the house my seasonal clean for autumn, so there's nothing much left to do here.  Fall, where art thou?

In My Home This Week: A Lovely Week

Saturday:  Got up early this morning just so I could have a quiet coffee and devotional before John came in.  Lovely morning outdoors!  What a beautiful start to September!  Sunrise, coffee, a Bible reading that spoke to my heart, and finally my husband walking in the back door with every appearance of being glad to be here.

In My Home This Week: All Routine