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Archive for August, 2016

Just checking in

August 28th, 2016 at 09:19 pm

It's Sunday. Can't say I have monumental happenings to report, but I have been busy.

My church has a small group of ladies who have a group called Stitches of Love. I asked about joining although my crocheting isn't super fancy and was told to come and they would show me what I needed to know. It's kind of a neat idea -- they make items and donate them. They use knitting looms and in the two hours I was there, I made and finished a hat for a preemie. One lady was working on an adult hat that will be donated to either a homeless shelter or a group home, and another lady was crocheting a lap robe for a nursing home. Other people were making different things too. This goes along with my challenge I posted about making a scarf to donate to a homeless shelter. I will admit it made me desire a loom so I did go out and buy a set (the box of looms were on sale). I have finished the scarf and even made a hat to go with it using the loom. I can now work on other stuff at home as well attend the group. The ladies told me not to buy yarn because they have a cabinet of it that has been donated so I look forward to seeing what they have.

I have also been crocheting Christmas ornaments out of crochet thread and I found a small table top Christmas tree that I'm going to decorate with them and donate them to the church for the bazaar. At a thrift shop last spring I found a brand new candlewick Christmas stocking and I finished it a few weeks ago and sewed the stocking and other than ironing it, it will be ready to donate to the bazaar this fall.

I have canned a little more this week. Since DH's garden is small, I get things in smaller increments, but I don't mind because I can a little at a time. It all adds up.

Ten years ago I visited the Teachers Retirement System to start the plan for my retirement. Because I had been hired and worked a number of years when the TRS deduction was lower, they had something that was a 2.2 upgrade. A number of years ago to help with the pension fund, the amount deducted was raised. It not only helped TRS, but also would help with one's own pension down the road. The lady I talked with suggested I pay the 2.2 upgrade for the years I worked before this rate hike. She said it was a good deal because if I didn't need it for my pension, I would get it back with interest. Not a lot of interest, but some. I received a letter stating that I would get it refunded to me and I could either take it as a payment or roll it over into a Roth. I, of course, rolled it over. So glad I paid that money a number of years ago. Although it was my money, it felt like found money when I heard I would get it refunded.

DH's birthday is coming up in September. I asked him what he wanted and one item he asked for was a pair of shoes like the ones he likes from Lands End. I scored a great deal...I had received a 30% off offer in an email and because we weren't in any hurry, also wound up with free shipping. I felt that was a very good deal. The shoes weren't supposed to arrive until the end of next week -- we received them a day after I ordered. I know that was a fluke because they probably aren't busy, but it felt like a bonus nonetheless.

Antiquing we will go!

August 23rd, 2016 at 09:36 pm

Yesterday DH and I went to a couple of big antique malls north of us. We bought a couple of things at each, spent less than $40 at both, but had a great time looking.

One was in El Paso, IL. It's a small town north of Bloomington. We've been there before and they often have different things than what we see around our town. Years ago when Mary Engelbreit was hot, DH would buy me small things for my birthday and Christmas. We didn't have a lot of places to shop for it. One vendor had more Mary Engelbreit stuff that we've ever viewed before. I didn't realize she had that much merchandise out. We didn't buy any of it, but it was fun to look.

The other antique mall was in Peru, IL. It boasts 30,000 square feet. I believe it. It was almost overwhelming to look at so much stuff. Again, we saw some different things. One thing we really liked was a Morris chair by Stickley. A big name in mission furniture. Pretty cool to look at. We didn't even entertain the notion of buying it -- it was priced at $2,500. A little much for our pocketbook. But fun, nevertheless.

It's funny seeing how things are being sold in cycles. My friend collects Platzgraff Villager stuff. Her grandmother bought her a set of it a number of years ago when it was a hot commodity to buy these dishes. I remember she broke a cup and when we were going around looking a number of years ago, she showed me one and asked me to find a replacement if I could. It wasn't easy. Well, it seems that most antique places now have tons of the stuff for sale. We found some unique items for her yesterday...I didn't tell her what, but told her she will have a surprise for Christmas!

It's wasn't a super spendy day other than the gas -- we drove a little over 200 miles for the round trip and we did eat supper out. But, a local told us a reasonable restaurant and our supper was about $20 with tip and it was a decent meal so we didn't feel like we were hurt. We also picked up an Illinois state publication that lists all the antique shops in Illinois by city. So that may be quite a find in and of itself.

Facebook challenge

August 21st, 2016 at 09:27 pm

I've been reading up a storm this summer. I finished book #67 for 2016 a few days ago. It was actually a fictional tome by John Grisham called "The Street Lawyer" and is about a very well paid attorney who decides to leave the big firm to help the homeless. I don't know why, but it truly spoke to me that perhaps I could do a little more than I do.

I put a challenge on Facebook asking people who crochet or knit to make either a hat or scarf and donate it to one of the organizations that helps our local homeless. I didn't ask for gloves because a friend of mine who manages the homeless center says that although anything is appreciated, they prefer specific lined gloves for the best protection for fingers. I did encourage anyone who didn't craft to perhaps purchase an item and donate it. I didn't want to leave anyone out.

It's kind of funny...the people who said they would get busy making something are the ones who aren't what you would call rich. Yet they are the ones who eagerly volunteered.

I found some beautiful soft yarn and started a scarf. I've made scarves before so I didn't go with a pattern. I wound up tearing it all out last night and starting over because I found an error. I really want it to be something nice for someone.

Anyway, do you respond to challenges like this? I do sometimes, but I don't like the ones that ask for a lot. Most folks I know unless they are broke don't mind donating one small thing or making one small thing.

Zucchini Recipe

August 18th, 2016 at 08:41 pm

About this time of year folks complain that they don't know what to do with zucchini. DH doesn't grow it and we don't usually get a lot of it given to us. Last week we went to an open air market and bought some zucchini. I fix it year around anyway, but found this recipe in the Chicago Tribune a couple of weeks ago in Leah Eskin's column.

Savory Zucchini Clafouti

3 pounds young zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs
2 large shallots, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 T butter for pan
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 t vanilla
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t fresh thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon

Toss zucchini and shallots with olive oil and roast in a single layer in a 425 degree oven, turning zucchini over once for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

Butter a 9 inch round baking pan, sprinkle with half of the cheese

Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, flour, vanilla, 1/2 t salt, and a few grinds of pepper, set aside
When vegetables are roasted, toss with thyme, zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Let cool a few minutes.

Scrape vegetables into the prepared pan. Pour in egg mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and slide onto center rack of a 425 degree oven. Bake until clafouti is brown, slightly puffed, and set (knife stabbed in the center should come out clean) 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a bit. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

I made this last night and DH liked it. Thought I would share.

Breakfast out

August 15th, 2016 at 07:40 pm

Today is the official day of my retirement. A group of us went out for breakfast. We met at a local place and it was funny, when this restaurant posted their lunch and dinner menu on Facebook, they congratulated me on my first official day of retirement. Kind of cool!

School Starts Tomorrow...

August 14th, 2016 at 08:34 pm

...and I'm not going! Tomorrow is when retirement truly becomes real. It has seemed like summer break for me, so when teachers and students return, it will hit me that I'm really retired.

I have had so many people ask me if I'm going to substitute teach. I don't intend to. I guess it's a way to make extra money, but if I wanted to make extra money, I would have continued working. I subbed when I first started out -- I was told I had to sub and prove myself before I could get hired full time so I subbed and worked a couple of other jobs besides to make it until I was hired full time as a classroom teacher. Then I also worked some freelancing for awhile because back then teacher salaries were pretty darn low.

The other thing that people have asked is what I intend to do with myself. I hope they are just making conversation, but do they really think I have to be accountable to them? I have worked over 30 years in education, and I've worked at outside jobs since I was 16. Before that, my folks had a used furniture business and later an antique shop and it was expected that I help with them so it isn't like I'm lazy. I'm not planning on watching videos and eating bon bons all day. But, I'd like to actually do some things fun that I couldn't do because I worked or didn't have the money.

This has been a busy week. DH and I went to a play at a nearby theatre and it was a blast. Yesterday we went to an outdoor market in a small town about two hours away and enjoyed looking around and then visiting the shops on the square. We didn't buy much, but the experience was pleasurable and something a little different. I have canned some green beans and some tomatoes this week, did some volunteer work at church, and even helped my former principal with something. And, I finished book 66 for this year Friday night.

We ate supper out last night and I told DH this is why I took my lunch all those years, took coffee to work in a Thermos, and we ate at home so much and had so many leftovers...so if we wanted to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy the experience, we could because we had the money. I'm spending some money as we saw the play and then took the short trip. But, it is money we saved and we paid cash for stuff.

We were talking to another couple and I had posted the photo of my pantry with my canned goods on Facebook and they happened to mention it. The woman informed me she wouldn't can because it smells up the house. Granted, when I canned the small amount of onions we had, yes, it did smell some, but green beans and tomatoes aren't super stinky. I felt like she dismissed me as the poor relative. Maybe so, but I can't see all of DH's hard work in the garden go to waste and I think eating these vegetables is probably pretty healthy for us. I shouldn't let her comments get to me; she usually has something to say that I find hurtful. I'm sure having some tomatoes in a soup or chili this winter will make it all go down that much more smoothly and the hurtful remarks will hopefully be forgotten.

On to book #67! Smile

Pickles, Tomatoes, Beans, and the Pantry

August 7th, 2016 at 06:35 pm

On an earlier blog, I mentioned DH's cucumber seemed to have a blight. Fortunately only one of the two plants did, and we have been getting some cucumbers. I made pickles yesterday and they are canned and in the pantry. Some we will use and some I will give away at Christmas.

Right now, our tomatoes are going very well. DH has a very small garden area, but what he does have, we are making the best use of it. We had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and when given the choice for eating, DH likes regular tomatoes sliced. So, I juiced the cherry tomatoes and canned that.

Unfortunately we don't have room for growing green beans, but someone we know does. We are going to go and buy some today. I've been buying them all along and canning them so we will have them. This may be the last go around however because the extreme heat earlier made the beans stop, then we had better weather, and it's been hot here, cooled down a couple of days, and it is supposed to heat up again.

I don't know if we truly "save" money by buying the beans, but I know I like knowing where they came from and since I don't can them with salt, I figure it is a health benefit. I have a pie safe that I am using for a pantry and it is full with beans, pickles, tomatoes, onions, and jelly. I will have to find further storage as I continue to can, but what a good problem to have!