Goals for the Merry Month of May

 


I have updated April goals post to reflect the things I accomplished.  You can view that here if you want to see how well I did.  I won't go through those on this post this month.       

I've been thinking long and hard about May all week long and what I want to get done.

First and foremost my thoughts are outdoors.  It's the season of the year when I like to get plants and flowers and seeds going for blooms later on.  Now that the pollen is not coloring the whole world yellow, I want to get started!   One thing I buy each year is a Fern for the back porch.  For some reason, Ferns do really well on the back porch but not so much out front.   So this year, I'm buying ONE fern, for the back porch and will look at other options for my front porch plant hangers.    I don't know just what I want there but I do know I want something with color this year.  

A Homemaker's Diary: Travels and Home Things






Sunday:  Since this shall encompass two weeks worth of diary I shall try to keep each day fairly brief.  

I slept quite well last night...Only because I knew I wanted to be well rested for our day ahead today.  You see, after church we left and headed to St. Augustine.  It's quite a long drive but so well known at present that we did right well.  Nary a cross word or getting lost at any point.

Frugal Personalities

 


Long long ago, John and I used to watch a comedy show with a character who was notorious for being a cheapskate.  He'd ask the cost of an item and the reply would always make him start shouting incredulously.  "Two dollars?!  Oh Lawd!  Two dollars!"   It was always a ridiculously low sum but it never failed to generate disbelieving outrage on the part of the cheapskate.   I'll wager that comedian based his character portrayal on someone he knew very well indeed.

This week, for whatever reason, my mind has been focusing on frugality as a way of life.  I've already shared "Frugal Seasons" in which I told the story of various seasons of frugality we went through, some by choice and some by necessity but all with a positive outcome of managing quite well through a sticky financial season.

Menus and Gathered Fragments



Well phooey on me!  Last night I sat down and wrote a menu plan and this morning, I got distracted and forgot to thaw a thing until it was past 1pm.  Which means nothing thawed in time for this evening's meal.  

There were not a lot of fragments in the fridge after our trip but I did have a few and then I have a few others in the freezer so here we start a new week with a plan to use what we have first and what we've most recently purchased last, but well before it starts to turn.

Another Perspective: Michal, Princess and Queen

 


Each time I come across the story of David, I can't help but look at the story of Michal, daughter of Saul, first wife of David.   Here is a woman all too often maligned for her behavior towards David when he danced before the ark as it was brought home but can we just stop and look at her from a human level?  The Bible is a true accounting of humans and  human nature as much as it is of God's nature.  We can't slice off one without getting some of the other.   We are intertwined even though we might choose to think otherwise.  And while human emotions are often tangled and confusing to us, they do serve a purpose to show us God's nature in some form.   After all, it is God who created emotion within each of us.

So let us look closely at Michal for a little bit, shall we?  What made her as she was? 

When David was a youth (supposedly between 16 and 19 years of age), he was an experienced shepherd.  He was  the youngest of Jesse's sons, and it was his duty to carry sustenance to his brothers in whatever military station they were placed.  There came a day when David arrived at an army camp only to hear Goliath maligning God.   David was deeply offended, more so than any other man in the camp.  He offered to slay Goliath.  The 'prize' for killing Goliath was to be Saul's oldest daughter, Merab, given to any man who dared face that giant.    But when David slay Goliath, he turned down the opportunity to be wed to Saul's daughter.  He felt what he had done was for God's gain not his own personal gain.    And this suited Saul quite well. 

Saul saw a chance to politically align himself with a more powerful and possibly wealthier king, something David was not.   So his daughter Merab was given to another.   Later when Saul discovered that his younger daughter Michal was in love with David, Saul offered her as a bride to David.   By this point in history, Saul had come to realize that even though he had not taken advantage of it, David had received God's favor.   That old saying "Hold your friend close but your enemies closer," might well have been written just due to Saul's position at this point in history.   

Saul then offered Michal, his younger daughter to David.   Saul's bride price for Michal was 100 foreskins from slain Philistines.  This highly unusual bride price was requested for two reasons: number one, as the youngest son of Jesse, David's portion of Jesse's inheritance would have been too small to allow him to pay a suitable bride price for a King's daughter.  Number two, Saul had an ulterior motive.  He thought surely if David were to attempt to take the foreskins of 100 fierce fighting men, he'd die in the process!    What a shock it must have been when David returned and gave Saul 200 foreskins and was unscathed.

So Michal became David's wife.  By this time, David was well aware that God's favor had been removed from Saul and given to himself.   He knew that in gaining Michal he was gaining a political advantage.  He was no longer a youth but a man and could calculate the benefits to himself.    Michal was in love.  The scriptures never mention David's love.  It was seemingly a  mercenary move on his part, and perhaps just a passage of adulthood to him.  But he was positioning himself for the future when he  would become the true king of Israel and a princess of the prior King as a bride was not an inconsiderable bonus.

Shortly after their marriage, David learns  Saul has planned to kill him.  He escapes with Michal's help.  She lowers him from an upper window and places a statue in their marital bed, covering it with blankets and states that he is ill when Saul's guardsmen arrive to arrest him.  When it is discovered that Michal has helped David escape, she tells her angry father that he himself had placed her in danger by giving her hand in marriage to David.  She hints that David has abused her and blames her father for placing her in danger with a man he knew to be lesser in his class status than the bride he was given as well as his own personal enemy.  Of equal truth here is that David himself has placed Michal's life in jeopardy.   Her love for him and her willingness to betray the King, regardless of his status as her father, meant that she herself could well lose her life.   As fortune has it, her reply to her father is sincere enough to warrant that her life is spared. 

Saul, on the advice of his counsel, reportedly chose to see David as dead already, though he was very much alive.  And so he considered his daughter a widow and passed her on to another man, likely one with whom he also might have some political alliance.   Poor Michal!  And I do mean that in sympathy! She is very much in love with David, has risked her life for him in facing the wrath of her father and yet she has become the wife of another man whom she does not love.  Her father has used her as a pawn a second time.  

There is no accounting of her marriage to Paltiel beyond the Biblical mention.   except  Jewish oral tradition holds that she never had children by Paltiel because of his own desire to honor God.  He would not have sexual relations with her until he was sure that she was a widow.   Perhaps so.  But that makes for a very frustrated woman, pining for one man in her heart and living with another who is too honorable to give her her true status as a wife and mother of his children.  

Some scholars say that David was gone 14 years as the feud between himself and Saul raged on.   We know that he took other wives during this period.  We know that he often was close enough to Saul to kill him.  Surely at some point he might have attempted to rescue Michal?  David was a man of legend in his battles and his ability to escape Saul and his armies.  Surely Michal heard of his later marriages and of his rescuing his two wives from the Amalekites? (1Samuel 30)  Surely she must have wondered when he would attempt to rescue her, too?  Surely that hope grew less and less as the years passed by. 

In the meantime, there is Michael with no real marriage from which to draw comfort.  Oral tradition states that she raised the five sons of Merab after her sister's death.  But they were not her own children.  At some point they would have been returned to their own father, where their inheritance lay.  Surely raising those boys brought her some joy but also heartache when they were returned to their father.     I'll wager that Paltiel had other wives.  He was a Prince after all.  He would require male heirs.  But it was not Michal who would provide those.  It would appear that Michal was always going to be without the very things that might bring a woman fulfillment.

Eventually Saul dies in battle.  His son Ish-bosheth is named King.  Abner, an advisor to Saul takes over as counsel for Ish-bosheth.  Ish-bosheth however accuses Abner of a moral crime he has not committed.  Abner then  aligns himself with David.  David agrees to enter Israel as King but tells Abner his price, "Return to me my wife Michal for whom I paid 100 foreskins." (2Samuel 3).  

Paltiel follows behind Michal weeping loudly all the way.  No word is made of Michal's feelings.  We know that she returned to her rightful place as the wife of David.  We can gain only a little inside information about her emotional state.   The Bible refers to her as 'Saul's daughter' from this point onward.  Her status is due only her relationship to her father.  No personal desire on David's part prompted him to demand her return.  No, it was merely one more political move.  Still, he would be king.   Michal too had learned to calculate position.  As a daughter of Saul, she was returning to Israel as Queen.

But the intervening years had done her damage.  She'd faced the reality that she would not be first in David's affections.  She faced his other wives.  She might have been the first wife, she might even have been queen, but she was not a beloved wife of anyone but Paltiel who had denied her a wife's rights of affection.   Each of these other women had children by David.  She, Michal, had nothing but her status as Saul's daughter.  She leaned hard on that identity.

Michal faced these same sort of human responses and her heart was hardened within her by disappointments and rejections.  As so often happens when we are hurt, she focused her self-loathing and lack of status on  the one person who remained in her life, David, the last person who caused her harm.   I am not letting David off from his part in this.  He was a grown man.  He'd learned what loss was.  He'd learned to love.  He'd learned what rejection felt like.  Any of these circumstances should have aroused compassion in him for Michal, but it did not.   She was a possession, a right that had been taken from him and he wanted her back for that fact alone.  And that, I'm afraid, was what sealed Michal's identity forever.

When Michal saw David, scantily clothed, acting as a shepherd boy might have acted before the ark of the Lord rather than the way she felt an earthly King should, 'she despised him in her heart' (I Chronicles 15:29).   She not only despised him but when he appeared in the household ready to give them the Lord's blessing, she greeted him with a scathing and accusing tone. Scripture tells us that she mentions how he has exposed himself before the maidservants(2 Samuel 6).  Jewish oral tradition says she went on remarking how she nor her father would have acted in such a way before all the public. She accused David of seeking the sexual admiration of both other women and of men.  She was harsh and ugly in her criticism.

David is righteously angry.  He replies that his joy was in the Lord God.  What she saw as a humbling and humiliation of David the King he saw as high praise for the King of All and furthermore he would humble and humiliate himself willingly in future for the same.   

It is unknown if bitterness of heart prevented her having children or if David put her away from himself, never calling upon her to perform the duties of a wife.      What we do know is only what scripture shares in the final verse of 2 Samuel 6:23 "So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless all the days of her life."

Michal might have been redeemed.  She might have been known as the wife of David, instead of the daughter of Saul.  She might have accepted this new role in life and seen it as an opportunity to step into an era of grace,  but it was her past hurts and rejections which she allowed to rule her emotions and to become her identity.  And in so choosing,  her place in history is that of a bitter and angry woman.  But then she might be any of us hadn't she?  

I think women tend to lose sight of who they are, to lose identity.  That's because we tend to identify with our physical circumstances.  I am a wife to John, a beloved wife.    I am a beloved mother by my children.  I am a writer and a homemaker and a frustrated gardener.  I am limited by physical abilities and artistic inabilities.   I might identify with negative things such as anxieties and insecurities and rejections.   But none of  that is  all  I am.   We focus on our earthly identity which is often bound by circumstances or robbed from us by others.  Things over which we've no control dictate who we come to identify ourselves to be.   Often in our quest to discover who we are, we forget that we are always daughters of the most high King. We are always a child of God.  And in the end that is all we are truly called to be.

This Week In My Home: Let's Get Busy!

 


Our kitchen for this week is right out of the Art Deco era this one from 1935.  You'll likely recognize that soft yellow on the walls as a color we often come across in that era of kitchen.  This one is a little more creamy, but it's still a soft yellow.

First thing I want to address is the floor.  Do you see how the pattern was set so that the lines are coming right at us.  It makes the room look BIG.  The kitchen is bigger than some we've seen of late.

I'm going to the dinette first.  Do note that black rug that grounds the chrome and vinyl set and makes a clear boundary for where the breakfast nook might is.  Also notice that the yellow chair cushions and the yellow in the nook above where china is stored are the same color.  It's a clever way of drawing the eye up to that shelving.  The orange plaid curtains appeal to me.  I think orange and yellow are a lovely compliment to one another and always have done.

Now let us stop at the telephone table.  There appears to be a mirror there and I can only assume it's to be used as well for a quick check of hair or lipstick if someone comes to the door.

We'll go on around that telephone table and here we are at the stove.  There appears to be free standing cabinets set up either side of it.  I do wonder though if there is a cupboard or storage on the bottom back side of that dividing wall?  What do you think?

There also appears to be a storage bin for pots and pans/lids and such on the cabinet nearest the window next to the stove on the right hand side. 

The sink is one of those big huge cast iron babies with drainboards on both sides.  I LOVE those sort of sinks, I do truly. It's well placed there on the wall with the window above, the stove to the left and the other wall of cabinets to the right.   That wall appears to be built in cupboards and counters.  That should be ample storage for our kitchen, I would think.  


Work:  


I enjoyed my week 'off'.   Yes, meals got made and so did the bed. Floors a got swept each day and the place was tidied....but it wasn't all my own place!  You see, we went off for a short time and visited St. Augustine.  We left Sunday morning and came back on Friday evening.   We left the house all neat and clean and simply relaxed.  It was good to get away and good to come home again.   

This week sees the end of April...I think every month has flown by except possibly January which seemed to linger on and on.  We're looking more like summer here than ever and now the danger of frost is past I can think about planting flowers and seeds.  I can't wait to get started on it all!

We'll need to make a trip to the grocery store this week. I must have milk which I don't like to buy locally.  I really dislike the taste of that brand.   We'll need a handful of fresh items.  Mostly though, I'm just getting by with a few purchases.  I'm going to push hard for waiting until after May 1 before we do a big shop.

One goal I had for this month that I have done nothing towards: buy charcoal, bug sprays, paper plates, sun screen etc.  I would like to start on getting those supplies.

Get the bedrooms dressed for Spring/Summer and get the pillow covers made for the living room.  

zone 4 work:  Clean the porches properly.   Especially the back porch.  The floor and rafters and railings all need a good cleaning.   And I'd really like to stop and think hard about what to do with the patio.  It is prime real estate for pots of flowers and such but I want it to be pretty and have some sort of seating, as well.  So that's something to think about.

This will also involve coaxing John to get the dryer off the back porch.  I've no clue what he means to do with the washer but I did make room in my shed for the dryer.  I will not offer up more of my shed than that.  I'm pretty sure he could put both in his second shed if he only would.  I'll lobby for it...

Kitchen:  

This week I haven't any leftovers to gather but I will be looking over the expired items box and going over the freezers to see what I might need to address using.  I'll post the meal plans separately and will go a little more in depth this week and  share  breakfast/lunch and snacks in addition to dinners.

I would also like to get that pantry and freezer inventoried this week.  I don't have any big cleaning jobs indoors so I should be able to tackle that.  It will be a good time to insure I've not got a bunch of stuff expiring again.   I don't recall much that was going to expire before autumn from my last inventory but it's good to keep an eye on things.

Not much else to report for the week ahead in this section so I'll move on.

Leisure:

I will not be as leisurely this week as I got to be last week and that's quite all right.  However, the quiet reading time and just sitting thinking times were so deeply nourishing that I am going to truly try hard to limit my computer  daily rather than just sitting down and being mindless with it.    

I also want to focus on reading more.  I remember when I read a book every day and couldn't wait to take it up again.  I'm just as interested in reading now and when I actively choose a book and choose to read it, I really come out of it feeling relaxed and centered and restored.  

I haven't touched genealogy in a few weeks and I do have some things I'd like to do.  

That's how I've planned my week.   What are your plans?

Over The Fence: The Things We Learn

 


One day I shall find a nice set of vintage ads or pictures to share with this post.  Right now it's a painful thing to look for anything with fences in it.  I'm sure I'll come across something if I stop trying to search for it.  So far I've had the option of a man leaping a fence his neighbor is painting to get to the beer sitting on the picnic table nearby,  a scantily clad young woman with the oddly named 'fence' net hose (instead of the more common fishnet) and a lot of photos of fences taken in someone's gardens.  I'm a little leery of using a photo that is someone's real home.  I'd rather it was a photo set or illustrated...

I've a confession to make.  There will be no Homemaker Diary this week because I haven't written one just yet.  I know, it looks very remiss of me but  you'll understand  and forgive me I'm sure.  I promise I'll have one for you next week.  In the meantime, let's have a neighborly chat over the fence shall we?

I unwittingly touched a nerve in my own life and that of others when I mentioned the anxiety of being a latch key child.  

We lived in the country for all but one year of my latch key years and we had no near neighbors.  I didn't know how to call Mama, Daddy, or anyone save Granny (Tilden 4282 was her phone number).  She and Granddaddy had only one car and they lived here in Reynolds and we lived some 30 minutes away. I  daresay in a real emergency though she'd have been able to contact Mama or sheriff or someone had I called but I admit at 7 I wasn't adept at using a phone nor was I encouraged to use it.  It was, as with so many other things, a gap in my education that  some adult ought to have thought to help with but didn't.  

These were the days well before cell phones or 911.    For six years I was responsible for my brothers and myself.  I was expected to also clear up the dishes from breakfast and to start supper heating on the stove.  Not onerous tasks I know but it added to my sense of feeling unsure of myself because I was out of my depth.   There were so many uncertainties.    I daresay we weren't alone that long but it felt like a long time.  And then there were the rare days when we were suddenly sent home early for weather warnings and such that meant longer times at home alone.

Oddly, in later years when we might have gone home alone after school, daddy put his foot down and demanded that Mama pick us up at school each day.  We sat in the car in the parking lot at her workplace each school day until she got off.  

Summers were another story.   We were home alone for about 8 hours.  Mama called to check on us but also to discuss what I might make for supper each day and to instruct us in what she expected us to do but mostly we were unsupervised and unchecked.  There were neighbor houses within a little walking distance but like our own parents they worked and weren't home. By this time, my brothers were less inclined to bow to the authority of the oldest child regardless of who made her boss and there were difficult days that often ended with me being upbraided for their misdeeds after spending a day quarreling with them.  

I think part of the anxiety too was that our being home alone made Daddy anxious.  He didn't want us to open the doors to knocks, or be out in the yard in case  a stranger came along and realized we were home alone especially way out in the country.   He saw dangers everywhere and we children felt his anxieties.   Some days when he came home from work he'd be upset and angry when he came in.  I could put it down to sheer bad temper in Mama, but not Daddy.  He'd worked himself into a state worrying on his way home.   Not to say that Daddy was the better parent and Mama the careless one.  But I do honestly believe he felt the strain of our being home alone as much as we did.    

I am not by any means feeling sorry for myself nor faulting my mom.  All she ever wanted to be was a nurse and what's the point if you're stuck at home with a bunch of children?   Being a mom was secondary to her.  Again, I'm not faulting her.  This was the reality of our lives and while I longed with all my heart not to be the responsible one, I understood even in my younger years that what she did was important to her.  Coming home to be with us wasn't on her options list.  

I was quite earnest in my desire to avoid that with my own children, though there was a time when they were latchkey kids out of necessity.  I was especially blessed in that situation  because we lived on a quiet dead end street in town  that was just packed with modest little houses and very pleasant neighbors who kept an eye on the three older kids (aged 16, 13, and 9) and several were available most days if any issue should arise.   My children well knew how to use a phone to call for help.  I worked only a bit over a mile away from the house.  I had Katie in a good  day care for those years.

And yet, I hated every single minute of it.  That situation kept up for about 2 years then John was home most days (he began EMS as a tech and worked nights).  

Later, after we'd moved here,  John worked nights and I worked days.  He went to paramedic school in the evenings.   Sometimes he had to make up time at work because of school and eventually he had to work rotations on weekends at other facilities in order to earn all the credits he needed to take the test.  My job kept me from home from  7am until 8pm some days.  The kids were in school then and got home about 4pm.  But Amie  was 17 and I felt she was old enough to watch the two younger children for a few hours each day.  I made it a paid babysitting job for her.  Granny was just a few hundred yards  away and they all knew how to call me at work.  My brother's wife came in from work at the time the bus arrived and picked them up to bring them home and she was only as far away as Granny on our other side.  Still, I was a 30 minute drive away and that bothered me.

When Amie was graduating and wanted to get a 'real' job,  I knew things had to change.  We looked for  day care  in this county (none) for the summer months ahead and for day care in my work county. Then there was the next school year to consider .  Out of county school tuition and day care in the area where I worked and the cost of someone to come stay with Sam and Katie each afternoon, etc.  The job just wouldn't support any of those options, though it was a  good job.   It was more than clear that I should be home with the kids and so we made it happen.     

There was one particularly tight financial period about 2 years in when we began to discuss my going to work once more.   I shall never forget Samuel coming to John saying "I know how bad things are right now but please don't send Mama back to work.  Katie needs her to be here.  I've got my summer job and I can find another and I'll give you all I make."   John looked at me and said "Apparently you need to be here..." and he told Sam "Thank you for making the offer but we'll get through this.  You've helped us make the decision we needed to make."   

Again, I'm not saying my choice was better than that others made.  In the end, we made the right choice for us, for our family and that's about the best thing anyone can do.  

I didn't plan to always be at home, though I confess I had no particular career desires.  I liked being a homemaker.  When Katie left home, I asked John if he wanted me to look for a job.  I wasn't keen, mind you, but I felt it only fair after all our years of living on a budget to at least offer.   By that time we'd paid off our home.  He  said "How can I afford for you to work?!  All the stuff you do to save us money wouldn't get done and we'd be bound by your job schedule and mine...No, I think you belong at home."  I didn't argue with the man.  I was just grateful he'd seen the value of having me here.

And to be fair to us both, I did work hard at making home my job.  

John's been talking a lot lately about Purpose and Calling.  He's read books by a pastor he enjoys and  watched sermons by another who are explaining it all.  He's convinced he has had no calling on his life and is debating whether he has purpose.    

Listening to him, I've questioned my own calling and purpose but I can say assuredly that all of my life long I wanted just five things: I wanted to learn to read.  I can remember just aching with the need to read words on pages.   I tackled that in first grade and never looked back.  

I wanted a  a good  husband and family who loved me dearly.  I wanted my own home.   I wanted to write.  

I spent many years in my 20's through my 50's feeling I'd missed out on something, hadn't achieved much, pitied myself for the ways in which I'd had to make do with what came my way or with which I'd gone without.  I shake my head right now in wonder at that foolish woman.  And please don't think she's too far off because she tends to pop in now and then even yet! Right now, in this moment, I can say most sincerely that I'm glad it all happened as it did.    

Would I have given up reading?  No!  It's carried me to lands I'll never travel to in this lifetime.  It taught me history and fed me spiritually and transported me in some of the more heartbreaking days to a better place.  It shaped me in ways I couldn't even see, giving me life lessons I might have missed otherwise.

Home, I've discovered, is more than just the house you live in or the place you came from.   Home is something that is in the very heart of you and you carry it with you.  Some people, some women, only ever live in a house but there are others like myself who have a knack of making a home wherever they are.  I've made a home in a hospital room and home in rundown houses and home with next to no furniture.  I take no credit for this trait in myself.  It was born in me.  I can only assume that reading helped to cultivate it because I loved reading of how others made home.

Could I have given up my family?  Now there's a question I'll have to answer truthfully.  When my first marriage was ending, I considered it.  It's not something I say with pride.  I was in a sad and sorry place and I couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel.    I earned little, their father earned a good deal more.  I wondered how I'd care for my two children on my own and whether I could do so emotionally as well as physically.  

As well,   I'd listened too hard to people who assured me I wasn't the mother I ought to be, both family and friend, who seemed to always see a need for improvement in me.  There were no brownie points being handed out for doing your best.  It was a constant criticism that wore down my confidence.  

And too, there was a part of me that wanted to claim that freedom I'd never known as a teen and young adult. I felt I'd always been taking care of someone my whole life long.  I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from fighting depression for years upon years, too.  Did I have enough left in me to spare to love my children sufficiently, too? I'm being very real here with you all. 

I used to daydream of just fading away.  I don't mean running away so that I could ever be found but of fading into nothingness.  Not ever having been.   But life had a grip on me and I would not end it myself, though I often thought of it.  I'll tell why one day, but not today.  This is about something else entirely and that is the sense of exhaustion and utter overwhelm a parent can feel when they're doing it all and getting blasted from all sides despite trying so very hard.

 I went through these things in the same season when my marriage was failing hard.   Then my husband was called up for duty in the Gulf War and I was left alone with the kids.   I discovered that without the physical,  mental,  and emotional strain of beating on the chest of a very dead marriage, I was enough as a parent.  I didn't go hang out with my friends.  I worked.   I came home to my children.  We were enough together.   I learned I could manage financially  and provide for my family, too.   

And then , then...when I'd learned so much about myself that I'd never known, I was hit by the drunk driver on my way to work one morning.  I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and in a rehab hospital for 6 or so,   and my children were God only knows where for while I did all I could to be improved enough to go home to them,  I had the agonizing experience of living without those kids. I didn't see them or hear their voices on the phone.    I wept at night with the deepest, most sincere yearning.  I called every friend I could asking if they knew where my children were. If I called my husband he said they were with this person or that.   I've never known such a deep absence in my life.  I knew then that if I had to go through hell, I'd never let them go again if I could possibly find them.

And so I was right back to what I believe I'd ever wanted to be: a mother.  I knew it without a doubt.

It's true you know.  What we call catastrophe, what we call horrible, tragedy...They are all just words that really mean opportunity.   It was as if God was giving me  insight into myself.

In all those weeks that my husband was gone for active duty, I never missed him.  I found life, even though it consisted only of work and home, was full and satisfying.    But when my children were nowhere to be found... I learned what yearning truly is.  What I wouldn't have given to hear my children's voice on the phone, to have listened to them share their  day at school, to hug and kiss them  a dozen times, to fuss over them and to fuss at them, to have the opportunity to be Mama!

The hard things were not over and done.  No they were not. I was on the road to who I was going to become.  Mistakes were still ahead to be made.  And I made them, oh I made them!   I make them still.

But now and then I'd get something incredibly right.  I had Katie.   She was solely mine... I was done with men, I knew that for sure

God apparently had other plans.... I met John, after years of living near one another but not knowing each other. We talked and talked and talked our way through more hours of time than I ever imagined possible.  In just two weeks,  I knew without any doubt that whatever mistakes I'd made in my personal life in the past, this man would never be one of them.  Six weeks later we'd progressed to the point of talking of marriage and he moved in with me eight weeks after we'd talked in my office.  30 years later I can say that I regret nothing.  

I won't tell you he was perfect.  No, nor was I.  Together we've done a whole lot of growing.  We've been through things as a couple and we've been through spells where we went through some hard  things all alone and the other could only stand patiently by...We've had fun and we've worked hard.  We've lived our way through a real marriage. 

Only John ever knew of my dream to write.  I never told anyone else, but the internet came into my life and here I am.  You see where the desire to write has gotten me.  I'll spare you another long story for which I'm sure you'll thank me.

I've taken time this month to share what I've learned financially over the years.  Some of you have shared similar stories, or harder ones, and I know that those journeys taught you much as they mine taught me.  

I've learned from my childhood experiences and from my teen and adult years.  I've learned from every relationship in my life, be it a relationship with a person or with less tangible things like money and fear.   Not all lessons are big ones.  Some are small ones but the small lessons add to our experiences, too.  Some lessons are just hard.  They're hard to go through and hard to review but they teach us just like the less hard ones do.

Well time I stopped chatting and got busy.  Shabat will be here soon.  And then we'll rest...

Changing the Financial Mindset Part II

 


I left off in my story where I, as a single mom, proudly paid John back every penny he paid out on my behalf in that year of unemployment.  But I was by no means the smartest thing financially at that point in my life, and I'd be remiss not to share the 'Rest of the Story' as the late Paul Harvey used to say.

John was the sort of man who always had a big jar of change hanging around and a little cash tucked away and there were times during that season of unemployment when he'd tell me to take some of that to go by the necessary extra milk and bread or a pair of shoes for Katie.  That was a revelation to me, what it meant to have cash on hand.  I never had had any, and indeed during that first year of our relationship the cable got turned off Super Bowl weekend because I didn't have enough money to buy a stamp.  I had the check in hand but no money for a stamp and rather than ask him to buy one, I did without.  I was foolish.  The cost to have the service reconnected was 200 times what a stamp cost back then.

We had quite a few words over that.  I felt I was in the right at the time until I had to pay that reconnect fee.  What a silly lesson I'd set myself to learn!

Life went on.  We both worked decent jobs, and John bought one car and we financed another.  We were slowly but steadily improving.  The day came when we were ready to look for a home of our own and we diligently began the search, viewing houses, looking at land and at doublewides.  Mama had been given half the land of Granny's place and she agreed to sell us 1 acre.  I was over the moon.  It took (through no fault of hers) over 8 months to get the deed.  When we had the deed in hand I discovered we had quite a few acres more, about 9 in total.

We began to eagerly search for a doublewide to put on the property.  We finally found the one we wanted and we were approved for the loan and we began the process.    I was so excited about the house but goodness all the ancillary things that had to come with it were costly.   Well, septic system, drain field for the septic tank, land to be cleared, a driveway to be made, electric poles and running connection to electricity and phone lines, someone to dig a water line and on and on it seemed to go.   We had quite a few small loans when we started getting this place together, plus a car and a house payment and rent, too!   

At that time, I was working with a friend and was rolling in money and I mean that quite seriously.   He had his own business and was in the height of his busy season.  I was paid a commission for every appointment and getting an appointment set was easy peasy during that time.   I paid off loans as quick as I could and in the end, besides the house and car payments, we had only the loan on the well to keep paying when the hot streak on the job ended and I found myself receiving two Bass for two weeks of work...Unfortunately my car didn't run on fish and when the next pay period came and went with only one fish for pay, John insisted it was time to quit  and find a 'real' job, at least one that paid out in proper checks at the end of the pay period!

So I moved into a new job and eventually left that job as I explained in an earlier post, because someone needed to take care of children at home.  

Now here's where the next hard financial lessons came in.  Though I'd saved us money in reducing the car insurance, things had to change on other fronts.  Leaving home at 7am and not getting in until 8p often meant we'd relied on whatever shopping I had done that evening for a meal, or we'd bring home takeout.   I had to learn all over again how to shop for groceries and how to make what we bought last.   I wasn't at the same level of frugal I am now where I think nothing of making bread...I was still at the stage where the cheapest I could buy was the best I could do.  One thing about living here and not working out of town was that there was NO fast food option or delivery. 

Amie got a job about 40 minutes from home.  I drove her to work, came home and drove back to pick her up and bring her home.  This went on for roughly seven days a week with hours that often meant I was out of bed and home around 5am and picking her up as soon as the children were in off the bus that afternoon.  

During those days, I often ran out of some needed item in the grocery department.  Not ice cream or chips but milk or eggs or bread.  There were days I was so weary.   And if I ran in to get milk and eggs or bread there were invariably impulse items or frozen food items that were meant to ease my weariness and help me get a meal on the table...Or fast food since I was in two towns with lots of options.

John was paying all the bills in those days and I still wasn't carrying any cash or even a check with me.   Our bank finally insisted we get debit cards.  They were very savvy about it.  They CHARGED us each month for NOT having one and using it.  For me, it was like turning a child loose with a box of matches.  Suddenly, I had ready money on me.  Not only that, I had a means of spending that John couldn't check up on and fuss over.  Because he didn't check the bank statement and we couldn't access our account online, and no checks were gone from the register he had no clue I might have bought an extra $10-$30 worth of groceries that week.  

At first I kept up with it and made sure it got entered in the checkbook, in a sort of Rob Peter to Pay Paul scenario.  It came out of my grocery budget but it came from the next week's...So I started that week with a deficit and at the end of that pay period, I was borrowing off the next week's.

That became a very slippery slope.   Over a couple of years time, I neatly and quietly overspent our account by about $2500.    The balance that John had patiently and diligently built up over the years was eaten away almost entirely.  Every now and then I'd get a gift of money or earn a tiny bit or save my pitiful little allowance and I'd throw it all at the balance and cut groceries super hard and I'd start to rebuild it.  But then we wouldn't have something necessary and I'd be out of budget and I'd fall right back into my bad habit of buy now and answer for it later.

I won't tell you I did this without my conscience eating me up.  No indeed.  This began a period of time when I lived on the adrenaline of anxiety in overdrive.  I would wake at night filled with dread. I lay awake nights and planned how I could repay the account.  I thought about it all day long. I was obsessed with 'finding' money to throw at that sunken balance.

At one point, Mama suggested we take a trip with my niece and Katie.  We'd go into the mountains and enjoy a two day trip.  I agreed far too quickly for what could only have been misery.  Mama and my niece have as dysfunctional a relationship as I have with her and mine alone was reason enough to say "No thank you."  But the idea of escaping the troubles I'd created for even two days was so appealing.  

Providentially, the bank statement arrived the day before we left.  I tucked it away, secure in the fact that John, who never looked at it anyway, wouldn't pick it up and learn the cold hard facts.  

The room we stayed in overlooked a main street and right directly in front of the bed and breakfast was a branch of my bank.  Misery filled me every single time I dared glance at that window or we left that B&B...I hadn't gotten away from my troubles at all.  They were with me where ever I went.

About a month later, John and I went to the bank to conduct some business and we were sitting in the officer's office when he casually asked her "How much is in the account?  About $xxxx..." and she looked at him and laughed and said "$xxx."  He said "You sure?" and when she said "Yes", he didn't say a word but I could see the climax had arrived. I took a slip of paper and wrote on it, "It's true....please don't say anything just now."  He read the note and put it in his pocket.

Can you imagine?  Can you?  Neither can I now.  My ears and cheeks burn remembering how stupid I'd been, how much I was willing to risk for an extra gallon of milk here or a bag of produce there or a stupid frozen pizza.  At no point was it his fault, nor were we about to go hungry.  It was just that I still lived in the land of dread of  fussing over money and rather than say I needed or wanted those extra  things, I'd stupidly and blindly  put myself into a situation that risked everything instead of facing my old fears and wrestling the damned things down.

What happened?

Once in the car, away from any witnesses, I made a complete confession.  "I did it.  It started out small and got out of hand and I couldn't catch it up no matter how I tried."   "WHY didn't you tell me?   Why couldn't you say, "I can't manage on this budget." ?"   I hung my head and said " I thought you'd leave me..."   Only my absolute misery convinced him I was telling the truth.  And yes, that's how sick my mind own mind was in regards to money.  It was stronger than a marriage...  I added "I'm turning over my debit card.  I'm never touching the checkbook again!  I'm no good with money, I'm just not and it's not fair to us..."   And that's when my husband yelled at me.  He pulled over to the side of the road and yelled "What?!  You think I'd let you off that easy?  No!  You're going to learn to handle money and handle it well!   What kind of husband would I be if I didn't teach you to take care of yourself?!"

I'd always been with John when it was bill paying time.  It wasn't a one man affair but now he actively involved me.  We discussed, and we 'discussed' if you know what I mean, why I'd spent money where I did and what I bought when I spent.  I hated every single minute of it.  It was a rare day not to burst into tears on bill paying nights.  Not because I hoped to manipulate him around to my way of thinking but because of my sheer frustration and absolute dread of having to explain myself.   But there were positives as well.  I began to see clearly that there were areas we might improve upon, areas I'd never before dealt with.  "Why can't we divide annual fees into monthly payments and set the money aside that way?", I'd ask.  "Then savings wouldn't have to be touched..."  "Why can't we start writing down charges from the gas and credit card as though they were already gone?"   

John would look at me and say, "We can try..." and we found those things worked.  When he complained that some item he wanted wasn't in the cupboard I'd point out that my budget was gone.  I'd offer him the option of waiting until next pay period or going to buy it now.     When I wanted to do a little shopping now and then of the non-grocery kind, it was John who suggested I start a "shopping fund".   We agreed on a discretionary spending limit of $50 each.  No fussing over sums under $50 but asking each other before we spent more than $50.  

We also agreed upon a cash allowance and I did leave debit and credit cards and checkbook at home and when my cash was gone it was gone.  Mama wanted someone to clean her house and I offered to take the job. I cleaned her house twice a month.  Half the money was mine to do with what I willed and the other half was used for groceries or household necessities.

And then one day, John didn't feel like tending to the bills.  "Can't you just do it tonight?" he asked.  So I sat down and made out checks and paid the bills and totaled up the checkbook all on my own.  Due to his job hours, it became easier on paydays for him to simply deposit his check and then call me to tell me how much it was.  When he came in from work, the bills were done.  I took great pride in showing him how I'd saved little sums here and there that added up to bigger sums.  

He didn't just blindly turn it over to me.  No indeed.  For this I'm glad.  Our bank progressed to online statements and he checks the balance pretty regularly.  He sometimes asks "Who did you write that check to?  Why is this sum of money going out?"  But the confrontational scenes between us decreased dramatically over the years because I had learned.

And the proudest day of my life came when he told someone, "I used to wonder how Terri would fare if anything happened to me, but I'm so proud that she's learned to take care of herself.  She can go toe to toe with anyone she's gotten so smart about our money!"

There are months when it feels like our funds are water and I can't hold onto them no matter how I try.  We've just been through such a season of time. I was talking to John about it yesterday.  He nodded in understanding, but we both knew there was nothing I could have done to hold on to it.  What was spent was necessary.   We've had to put money into mower parts and cars and plumbing and appliance needs. We've had unexpected bills and unexpected increases in expenses.  But we're weathering the storm with a decent balance under us still and not touching our savings (though stimulus money did help prevent that!).

I'm not perfect. I still struggle at trying to keep to a grocery budget.  We could perhaps get by with less than what I spend, however I do more than I've ever done to save money and John clearly sees that.  We've been spending roughly the same amount now for the past ten years and each time prices increase I find a new way to save so we can stay near the budget we mean to keep.

There are days when I want to just walk into a store and shop for the sheer pleasure of buying something new.  I want new things for my home to replace some of the worn out things we have.  I want...but I know that what we have is what we have and with patience something new will eventually be mine.  

I've learned to appreciate most that what we have is OURS.  No one can ever have cause to walk into my home and demand I give up anything new I do have.  I remember that happening when I was a child of 3.  Men walked into our house and took out all the nice new furnishings my parents had.  Yes, and Daddy lost his job, too, because you weren't reliable if you'd gone into bankruptcy in those days.

And yes, if John were to go before I, I know now that I can truly manage on my own.  I know to play for keeps with my financial standing and not to be foolish.

One last thing. I 've shared this testimony before and I'll keep sharing it because some one of you is not being truthful with your partner or spouse.  You've dug yourselves into a hole and you're sick of living the lie.  I don't know how or why you are there.  I do know that you have every desire to change.

Start with a confession.  Don't want until your other half finds out on their own as I did.  John is an exceptional man but I did hurt the trust between us.  I urge you to STOP what you're doing and come clean.  If that is absolutely not possible and I do realize that some situations won't be helped with a confession then STOP the behavior and get yourself square.  Go find a financially responsible person you can trust, who you will allow to hold you accountable,  who will help you to find ways out of the situation you've gotten yourself into.  Learn to budget wisely and stick to it.  Earn extra money if you must. You can live free of this tangled mess you've gotten yourself into.  You can.

Worth Sharing: Fiesta!

 



Until the 1930s, most dinnerware was sold in full pre-determined sized sets and still followed a traditional Victorian pattern of a common pattern on all pieces.   But in 1936, Home Laughlin introduced a new line of semi-vitreous dishware in a less formal more Art Deco inspired shape that featured concentric circles.  This line was revolutionary in that it was solid colored.  It was not the first solid colored dinnerware marketed but it was the first that was mass produced for the U.S. markets.  

The line was first introduced at the 1936 Annual Pottery and Glass exhibit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in January of that year.  The dishes were designed by Frederick Hurten Rheade.   The dishes were affordable, could be purchased as sets of four, six or eight or as open stock pieces.  This appealed to American homemakers.  I can see the appeal.  There's nothing quite so disheartening as having one of a set of four plates break...The ability to replace or even recreate would be a huge bonus.

When initially introduced the dishware line 37 different pieces which expanded to a line of 64.  This included platters for serving in various sizes, vases in various sizes, pitchers, divided relish plates, candle holders, an ash tray, and a nesting set of mixing bowls.  I think we can guess that this might have included some decorative items like the Roosters that grace the top of the china cupboard in this week's picture.  



Eventually some of these items such as the mixing bowls were discontinued in the early 1940's but in the expansion of the line more items were added.

The color line was meant to be cheerful and bright.  So much was being done in those days to brighten the lives of those most deeply affected by the Depression years.  I certainly like the colors myself.  The colors originally produced included Red (red orange in color), Blue (called Cobalt but actually was the lighter blue featured in the kitchen I featured this week.  I've inserted that photo above so you can easily reference the colors).  Green (a light green), Yellow (deep golden color), and Old Ivory (a yellowish cream).  In 1938 Home Laughlin China added Turquoise ( a Robin's Egg Blue).

In WWII, with war production demanding so much of the manufacturing processes, the line was reduced to about one third it's size.  For a full decade Fiesta Ware remained popular with middle class families.   

The line continued to be produced until 1969, but before 1944 the color Red was dropped from the line.  The dishes began to drop in popularity in the post war years and many larger serving pieces were discontinued during this time.

During the housing boom of the 1950's following the War, the Homer Laughlin Company added four new more modern colors.  Only the Turquoise and Yellow from the 1930s remained.  The colors introduced were Rose (a dark pinkish brown), Gray (medium color), Forest (dark green) and Chartreuse (bright yellowish green).  In 1959, these four colors were discontinued and the company re-introduced the original red and a new green (medium green) as well as the turquoise and yellow offered since the 1930s.  The color line was reduced from six colors to four at that time in order to try and limit the costs and wait for an increase in sales once more.  However, sales continued to slow and decrease through the 1960's.

In an attempt to save the line, pieces were redesigned. Finials topped serving pieces, handles were put on cups, bowls were changed and shapes of dishes changed in an effort to Modernize pieces.  The company reduced the colors offered to three with the five major serving pieces offered in only one color.  Colors offered in the 1960's were Red (called Mango Red), Turf Green (Avocado) and Antique Gold (harvest gold).   They even renamed the line as Fiesta Ironstone.   It was not enough.  In 1973, the line was discontinued.

Suddenly, Fiesta Ware grew in popularity.  People were seeking out pieces and buying them in quantity from antique and thrift stores.  A secondary market of collectors grew.   New homeowners found the pieces desirable.  Homer Laughlin Company took note.  13 years after ceasing production they reintroduced the line with new colors in 1986.  

These included Rose (pink), Black, White (Stark white), Cobalt (deep cobalt blue) and Apricot (a pinkish tan).   This color line expanded to 39 colors and later to a line of specialty colors.  In 2009 the company introduced square shaped dishes.  In 2016 the company discontinued the square mug and square bowl from the line.

In 2020 Homer Laughlin China was acquired by a new company.   The new company was then renamed Fiesta Tableware and continues to manufacture these colorful dishes today.   

In My Home This Week: Strictly Routine

 


This kitchen is called the "Fiesta Ware" kitchen, named for the colorful pottery dishes.  I love how the accents in the room also contain those colors and so does the floor tile.  I'll tell you all about Fiesta Ware in a moment, but I think it safe to say that this kitchen was designed in the latter part of the 1930's, since Fiesta Ware hit the market in 1936.

The kitchen truly is a testament to the chinaware for which it was named.  It was meant to be bright, open, cheerful and highly functional though compact.  Affordable would be a key word to use with this kitchen, something it also drew from the Fiesta Ware line that inspired it.

Armstrong was known for it's use of cork in it's line of flooring and here we see Cork used as the neutral backdrop to allow all the other colors to pop.   Honestly?  I'm not a fan.  I don't like the walls and cabinets all being cork colored.  I'd much prefer a pale soft yellow or even that deep pretty blue used on the stool and chair for cabinets or even the same bright white as the stove, but I'll just bet the idea was that this color would 'hide' dirty splatters and fingerprints.  I've yet to meet the material that does, just saying.

Criticism aside, let me share my views of this kitchen.   I expect that tall stool to the left is meant to be used at stove or sink...or so I'll guess since I can see no other purpose for it's being in the room.  I'm guessing it's likely the refrigerator is on the back porch and there's a 'service' door there on that end of the kitchen.  

I note that the countertops here also utilize tile.  In this instance it appears to be the same cork color.  I honestly can say I don't mind it half so much on the counter tops.  I think it's the pattern on the walls that is putting me off.  There appears to be a decent amount of storage on either side of the stove and work surface as well.  I like that there is a vent in this kitchen.  It would be key in removing cooking orders and I think it's likely a good thing, because if we temporarily look at the dining table it seems to be seating for 8.  I take that to mean that this room serves as a dining area as well, as it's unlikely anyone would put a table for 8 in the kitchen otherwise.

Back to the working part of the kitchen area, I like that window there near the sink and stove.  I'll just bet any breeze there is welcome when the weather is warm, not to mention the natural light in daytime when one is most likely working in the kitchen anyway.

Again in this week's kitchen we see that slightly higher counter above the kitchen sink.  I'm beginning to realize that this is a mighty clever thing.   For one, unless people are standing directly in front of that counter and peering over, any messy dishes can't be seen.  I've often thought that the greatest disservice we women have done is accept a completely open kitchen area.  You've nowhere to hide the mess dinner has made.  You're sitting there attempting to chat with guests and, if you're like me, your eyes will drift towards that piled high sink or the cluttered counter a dozen times.

What's more that high counter is actually a built in china cabinet.  Just look at all the storage.  There's display room for the pretty Fiesta Ware pieces and it appears that the far end has a cabinet door so one might put the other necessary but not quite as pretty items behind it.   And at the end we see best, there is a whole row of drawers of various sizes.  Just think of having the silverware and serving pieces handy in those drawers.  I'll wager that deeper bottom drawer holds tablecloths or dishtowels.

Now that we've gotten back around to the dining table, note how the chairs are painted various shades.  Now look at the windows.  I'm suspecting that subtly painted floral design is on a bamboo shade.  The window wells are painted the same lovely  blue as the stool and the one chair we can see and if you enlarge the picture you'll see the shelves in the china cabinet are painted blue as well.

Look for a post about the iconic Fiesta Ware tomorrow.  It was really interesting to learn about!


Work:   


I'm not going to do Zone work this week.  I went into hyperdrive last week and did all the curtains and a lot of other things and this week I mean to scale back and be a bit less of a servant to my own demands.

There's always work to be done...Agreed?  This week I've made my plans but they aren't quite all they might be.  I expect to do things this week.  Non-work sorts of things.  All work and no play, etc. make a dull girl as well as a dull marriage and a dull writer.  However, I wanted to take time to list routine tasks and jobs that I typically don't mention.  I tend to list other jobs over and above these routine things.

In any week I do a 'routine'  twice, on Sunday and on Friday.  This is basic housekeeping especially focused on the 'keeping' part.  A house that is decently kept can tolerate a couple of days with just daily chores being done in between the routine.   A routine  day involves picking up things and putting them away properly, cleaning  the bathrooms and doing minor chores like emptying trash cans, tidying surfaces, any obvious thing that must be cleaned or dusted and of course, sweeping or vacuuming the floors.  This is the day to mop floors if they really need it.  

In the kitchen,  I plan meals, gather fragments, etc. while I'm cleaning the fridge.   Then I clean the kitchen.  I   will remove all items on the counters and wipe them down as well as the appliance fronts.   I wipe cabinet doors, sweep and/or mop the floor.   This is the day the trash cans get washed out if they require it.

I will take time to sweep the porches and patio on those two days just to try and keep them tidier. I'll clean any smudges on the entry way storm doors. Routine days also see me watering houseplants and the plants on the porches.  

On Sunday the routine also includes stripping towels and sheets.  I'll remake the bed and then put out fresh  towels.

Daily cleaning:  make the bed, do the dishes, wipe down counters. Put away any clothes we've worn or laundry we've done.  Make meals (that's just a given isn't it?).   I don't work as long nor as hard on the in between days as I do on Sunday and Friday in the house.  I might (might is key here) sweep the kitchen daily but I do not sweep the front entry tile or the bathrooms daily nor do I vacuum daily.    

Most weeks, but not this one, I generally will do zone work or yard work on the days I do my daily tasks.   These are also the days I will work on projects indoors or out.  Routine days are full enough without adding any extra work.  

Kitchen:  

The kitchen this week is going to get a break.  I'm not planning any big baking day or kitchen prep days.  I want to keep meals simple and clearing up just as simple.  I don't do this often but every now and then it's nice to give yourself a break and this week that is my focus.  I find this much easier to do when the weather has warmed and one doesn't want hearty breakfast or dinners to get through the cold days and nights.  

We have few leftovers from last week, not even enough to gather a fragment from!   That's highly unusual. We've plenty of easily prepared meal items that can be made in a few minutes time.  

Plan a picnic and pack for it.  

Plan for afternoon snacks.  I don't want a big something but just a bite or three of something to hold me until supper time which we continue to eat later than we previously have.   One day I made cheese wafers and another day we had a small bowl of chips with a bit of dip.  It's just something big enough to tide us over until we get to the supper hour.   Lunch has usually disappeared by then and supper is still a few hours away.

Personal:

Read.  Do Sudoku.  Take a walk.  Journal.  Study my Bible and color a page or three in it.  Sit on the porch with a glass of iced tea or water.  

What I won't be doing: sticking my face in front of a computer for hours on end mindlessly looking at YouTube or checking Instagram or having a peek at Facebook or Pinning a thousand recipes I'll probably never ever in a hundred years make even one of.   

What generally happens following a few days of such treatment is that I get super inspired to do all sorts of things.  So I'll keep a notebook nearby me when I'm being leisurely and make notes.  I'm sure next week I'll be right back to my usual busyness but a break is what I need and a break is what I mean to take.

Diary of A Homemaker's Week: April Showers and Spring Flowers

 


Late Friday:  John and I got out of the house and did our bit of shopping.  I asked to run into the local dollar store so I could get a make-up item.   It was so nice to see the clerks smiling faces!  I don't think I've seen a proper smile in public stores in far too long.  It made my day.  

One thing that I didn't care for, but the boss was obviously quite all right with, was that a girl was stocking shelves and watching tv on her phone with the volume up.  I'll grant you she was working steadily but honestly, when did it become ok to watch tv while you were doing your job in a public setting?  Or a private one for that matter? 

Changing The Financial Mindset



I've been working on this series of frugal/financial posts this month in spare moments.  I don't know why I've been inspired to do it but it seems to me it's important to share.  Someone out there doesn't know my whole story, or needs encouragement.  So here I am, sharing with you all this little series.  I hope it helps someone to read.


 It is never too late to start repairing our mess ups. We have done a lot of mess ups in our lifetime but we learned from them.  We got in debt like many people do and we had to figure out a way to get out. It took time but we finally did it and for us getting out of debt has made us even more frugal.  Frugal is a good thing, it is not being cheap or anything like that.  It is being careful and understanding the cost and consequences of everything.  G-donna

I came across this statement this weekend in my blog reading and it hit me hard.  G-donna is so right on two counts. 

Worth Sharing: April Showers

 


Though the sun was shining brightly on this April day when I began this post, I'd just looked at my weather app and we're due rain in the next couple of days.  Immediately I began to hear the song "April Showers" in my head.  

When I was growing up, Granny gifted me a Reader's Digest songbook to use when playing the piano.  It had many of the older songs, including "April Showers".   I was romanticist enough in my teens to love this song.   The tune was a happy one and so were the lyrics:

 Life is not a highway strewn with flowers

Gathering Fragments And Weekly Meal Plan



First I gathered fragments and then I made plans as I was gathering.  I'm going to list the leftovers I've planned for with the proposed meal plan following right behind.  One thing's for sure, this planning session convinced me we'll do quite all right without doing a big grocery shop this week!

leftovers: 1/2 head steamed broccoli

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cups cooked chicken bits

1 cup cooked brown rice

Fragment: Potato Chip Crumbles  Why are there always so many crumbles?  I'm sick of throwing them away so I'm trying to repurpose them more often.  Ideas for you: Top casseroles, mix in with ground meat to stretch it instead of bread crumbs, or make chocolate chip cookies with them.

Meal plan #1:  I'm going to cook extra rice and will use the broth to do that.  I'll make Broccoli Cheese Rice with Chicken and top with the potato chip crumbles.  I'll serve this with mayonnaise muffins and Green Beans.

This Week In My Home: Full On Spring!

 


Yes, I chose another yellow kitchen this week...Honestly I'm beginning to wonder if I secretly am inclined towards a bright and sunny kitchen.  Fortunately mine makes up in natural light for what it lacks in color and I'm quite happy with it overall.  

I believe this kitchen is from the 1930's.  I'm not terribly sure how large this kitchen is nor how much is included in the room but we have a lovely little U shaped kitchen here which makes for an efficient work space though you might doubt it.   Turn from the stove to the sink, from the sink to the counter and I'll wager there's a refrigerator there in that U somewhere as well. 

I've said I like the color and I even like the flooring.  I'm less sure about that step down counter top there to the left of the sink.  The first level appears to be even with the sink but why the step down?

Diary of a Homemaker's Week: Oh the Plans I Made!

 



Saturday:  Friday night as we sat in church, a conversation that took place behind us made John and I look out of the side of our eyes at one another.   The woman, about our age, was relating to a much younger couple that she and her husband had gotten Friday and Saturday evening service times confused and so she'd suggested they go out to eat supper.  "But we had over two hours to kill and we've been married so long and are together all the time.  We got through one hour or so but we wer silent the whole while.  I don't know how anyone our age manages two hours of conversation!"

What caused us to look sidewise at one another is that John and I spend quite a lot of time together ourselves, and we do have quiet moments, but we seldom lack for things to talk over.  We talk at meals here at home and over meals eaten in the car or in a restaurant.  We talk when we're just sitting around and when we're driving somewhere and we talk all through out the day.   We talk when we're on our computers or reading or watching tv.  We talk when we go to bed each night and once I've had coffee I'm all too happy to talk with him all through breakfast and the rest of our day.

Frugal Seasons





When I was hemming my new white jeans, I flubbed the job.  I not only sewed it wrong twice, but I also cut it wrong before I'd caught my mistake the second time around.  Sigh.  When I told John that I hoped the pants didn't shrink, he commented, "If they do, then you'll buy new."   I felt protests rise upon my lips.  "But these are new!"  "But I just bought these!"  "But...." I stopped each one before it was ever uttered.  The truth is that if I'd really made a huge mistake in hemming these pants, then I'd move them to my drawer to wear around the house and I'd buy another pair.  We're not going belly up over another $30.

This morning, I was thinking of that conversation and realized that I've lived through many frugal seasons.  I have always been frugal, but the degree of frugality is directly linked to the needs of my life at the time.

This Week In My Home: Let's Get Busy




This week's kitchen makes me smile. I think it's the pale yellow that does it for me with those little touches of red and black.  Not much but just enough to give the room a little something extra.  Of course, being a designer room (late 1930's this time I think), there are the accessories that finish things off so nicely.  I'll confess now that I like matchy matchy things...

Well we'll start by saying that I've no idea ow much counterspace this kitchen really has...Is there more behind that bump out wall here to the right?  I have a feeling we can say no, but maybe just maybe it's an ice box or fridge in that space?  We'll pretend there is.  

Then there's one of those lovely stoves with all the added benefits of work space, storage.  I count six knobs across the front of the stove so I wonder if there two ovens here?  Or an oven and broiler?   At first glance it appears that the cooktop is one of our more modern day sorts with no burners visible but I've seen these stoves in other magazines and that top surface lifts up.   That's why the stove becomes such a handy thing as it's now countertop, too! 

Diary of a Homemaker's Week: Fleeting Season

 



Saturday:  I absolutely loathe these nights when sleep is nowhere to be found.  I have long given up going to sleep with a video playing but last night I dug up a podcast by Joy Clarkson and listened to that, hoping I'd doze off.  I listened to four and then decided my phone battery would die if I didn't stop.   These run about 45-60 minutes each so...yeah...I think I eventually went off to sleep about 6am.  I woke at 10:15 and was still plenty tired but dragged myself from bed.   

Good thing I did because within the hour I had a call asking if I could keep the kids at their home for a couple of hours after lunch.  I know I sounded tired but I couldn't help that.  Still, the prospect of going to sit at the other house while the children napped was not onerous.  I hurried and made up our usual Shabbat lunch pizza, ate and went up to the other house.

In My Home This Week: All Routine