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Archive for July, 2017

It's almost August

July 31st, 2017 at 02:58 pm

It is hard to believe today is the last day of July. The garden is going gangbusters which is good. Tomatoes! Lots and lots of them are coming on. I spent some time canning them Saturday. I looks like I will be canning some more this afternoon. No complaints about it either! I know it was sure nice this last winter to open up a jar of tomatoes and taste that fresh tomato from the summer. We have shared some tomatoes with some friends and they keep commenting on how good they are and they are.

My pie safe (where I store most of the stuff canned is starting to fill up. This past week I have canned some green beans, tomatoes, made sweet pickles, and made mixed berry jam. I buy fresh fruit every week to make a fruit salad that we have some once a day. With the extra fruit (some of the packages are larger due to it being in season) we can't eat it all so I put it in the freezer. When I get quite a bit saved, I then cook the berries together and make jam. I enjoy the jam, but I also plan to give some away at Christmas time. I make up baskets of goodies to some of my friends. Most of us don't exchange purchased gifts per se since we basically have what we need or too many knick knacks.

The garlic looks like it is about ready to be harvested too. I usually pick it and then clean and mince it and store it in olive oil in the fridge. We don't get a ton, but enough to use it throughout the year and have some extra cloves that we plant for the following year.

One of my husband's friends seems to have a problem with my husband's green thumb. It is almost to the point of jealousy. I don't know why. This person is very talented in so many areas and can do so many things. DH, and I love him dearly, isn't mechanically inclined. We usually have to outsource many jobs. But the lawn and garden are his speciality. As DH says, no one can be good at everything. Just wish his friend wouldn't have such problem with his ego and appreciate what DH can do.

Our pastor is retiring in two weeks. We will miss him dearly, but his replacement appears to be a good guy as well. The church had a retirement luncheon yesterday and a short presentation to thank our pastor for his service and caring for the congregation. It was very touching to see all the lives he has touched. I took my camera and took photos of and then uploaded them to the church's Facebook page. I then created a video to put on my page since I put in things I wanted to say.

We went to the Beef House on Wednesday over in Indiana. It is well known around here for good food and these amazing rolls. We actually did this on a bus trip and saw a play in addition to the meal. I just couldn't get over the feeding frenzy some of these people were a part of with the rolls. They are huge. Bigger than a large fist. Of course like most bread, they will bring out as many as you want. Well, so many at our table wanted to take some home. Not just one, but 2 or 3. They were snippy with the servers who didn't bring enough bags the first time. These servers were high school students donating their time in hopes of getting tips. Anyway, the ladies at our table were fawning over these rolls with that glint of greed in their eyes. The rolls were delicious when they brought them out...warm from the oven or warming drawer and very fresh. But white rolls tend to get stale very quickly. Guess these folks thought they were getting something for nothing. I wonder how many really ate those rolls or threw them out when they got home. Most of the people on the trip weren't poverty stricken, so I guess the offer of something free was too tempting. I didn't bring any home. I'm not above eating leftovers, but couldn't imagine even a few seconds in the microwave would make the rolls soft and good again. Plus, I'm trying to cut down on the carbs a bit.

Handmade

July 23rd, 2017 at 06:21 pm

When I was a kid, I remember a commercial showing a man laying bricks. I don't remember what the ad was touting, but i remember the bricklayer at his craft and was fascinated.

As an adult I'm still pretty fascinated at how things are made, both commercially as well as by hand. Growing up with a mother who crocheted I realized the work that went into many of her creations. She was a seamstress for the garment factories of many years and she could sew about anything as well. When she was in her 60s, she decided to teach herself how to quilt. I learned to appreciate fine talent.

We were watching television the other day and an ad came on for a show called "Handcrafted." I guess it is going to start a new season. I don't know if we get that network, but if we do, I hope we can catch a few of the episodes.

I am amazed at how talented so many people are with their different skills. Some people make things simply because they enjoy the craft. Others make things to save money or even sell their wares to make money.

When I was in college there was very little available funds, but I decided to crochet an afghan for one of my friends for Christmas. I scraped up enough money for the prettiest yarn I could find. I worked hard on this during the summer. It was a labor of love because we didn't have air conditioning and it's often hot and humid here in the Midwest. I was so proud of my work (My mom had taught me to crochet a few years before) and I worked hard on making it as nice as possible. I really thought she would appreciate it because it was a labor of love. It really hurt my feelings when I gave it to her and I could tell when she opened the present it wasn't anything she thought much of. A few months later I went to her unfinished basement to get something she sent me down for and there was the afghan thrown over some boxes. It still kind of bugs me because I worked so hard on something and she didn't appreciate the work. I guess I didn't know my friend very well, but she didn't take into account I didn't have a lot of money then and tried to make her something nice with what I had.

I can honestly say I make things now because I enjoy making them and give them to people I think might like them. I appreciate it when people give me handcrafted items because I know the labor involved. I give away some of the things I bake and jams and jellies because I like working on these items and think people appreciate them. I have decided that one couple will probably never get a gift like any of this again. Every time we give them something I've made or fixed, they admit that they didn't eat it, but one of the kids or grandkids did. It isn't a dietary concern. I don't give stuff to people that I know they can't and won't eat.

I wonder if we have become a society that no longer appreciates handmade items whether it is goods or foods? Yet, I have one friend who makes me feel very special. Every Christmas I give him a basket of handmade goodies and canned items. I asked him one time if he liked it and his comment was "I love everything you give me because I know you made it and gave it with me in mind." You sure can't beat that!

Monday, Monday

July 17th, 2017 at 09:07 pm

After reading Livingalmostlarge's post about the spending, I would say we often find ourselves in the same situation at times. For example, last fall we decided to fix up the hall bathroom. We ordered a new vanity and medicine cabinet. Of course a new countertop and faucet. While we were at it, a new light fixture and of course a new shower curtain and liner. Oh, don't forget the new shower rod and towel holders. Then we realized the ceiling really needed to be repairs and of course we didn't have enough touch up paint and...well, you get the picture.

Today we had someone come out to give us a quote to do the same in the "master bath." I do the quotes because it is tiny. Our house was built in the 1970s and although we are delighted to have a second bath, it's cramped. But, here we go again. We have the new vanity, countertop, faucet, medicine cabinet, light fixture and to really throw a monkey wrench into the mix...exhaust fan with a light. We've been here 19 years and this is the exhaust fan that was there when we moved in. I would like one with a light because it is sometimes dark in the shower with just the light bar over the sink.

It wasn't a no spend day either because it was a trip to the chiropractor. A $20 copay which isn't horrible so I'm not complaining and my back feels better.

Yesterday we had barbecue chicken sandwiches made with the leftover chicken from a supper last week. Saturday night we had chicken and noodles from the said chicken and so we basically got three meals from one chicken. I don't think that's too bad. I still have some chicken broth leftover and I used part of it for the turkey tenderloins I'm fixing tonight. Tomorrow night I'm doing some chicken recipe in the crockpot with potatoes and will use the remainder of the chicken broth. I would say I most certainly got my money's worth out of a chicken bought on sale for $4.31. Truly a winner, winner, chicken dinner.


When there was a scare that we might not get our August pension checks on time, I didn't put as much money into a couple of savings accounts because I didn't want the checking account to be short. Well, since there is now a state budget, that scare is over. We went to the credit union and put the rest of the money into the savings accounts.

I have one pillowcase finished that I was embroidering. I chose colors that friend likes since that is who I plan to give them to for Christmas.

Not Uber But Sort Of Frugal

July 14th, 2017 at 07:04 pm

Friday is the day we usually make a day of it. We eat lunch out and go to thrift shops and garage sales. I have been trying not to buy anything at the thrift shops for awhile since I really don't need anything. But, I succumbed at two of them. I bought two jelly jars with rings for 55 cents and at another one I bought some metal Christmas ornament hooks in a sealed package and a ceramic mini loaf pan for 53 cents. I bake sweet breads and give them away at Christmas. Last year I found enough of these ceramic loaf pans to give quite a few of them away and although I'm sure people would be OK with foil pans, I just think it makes it look nicer. I refuse to pay retail for these and most of the ones I pick up at thrift stores still have the price stickers on them. I originally had picked up a couple of greeting cards, but put them back trying to use up what I have at home before purchasing any more cards or stationery. Oh, at another place I bought 4 packs of brand new pencils for $1.32. I give them to a teacher friend since he can't keep pencils and the kids don't seem to think they need to bring them after they bring a few at the beginning of the year. I didn't spend a lot, but I can't claim I'm Uber Frugal either. Darn it.

I went to the knitting group yesterday at church. We are closing in on having almost 500 knitted hats so far. One of the ladies brought zucchini to give away so I brought one of them home and can I say I was delighted. I know there's the joke about neighbors leaving zucchini on doorsteps, but we never seem to have that problem. Wish we did. We like zucchini and if we can't eat it all before it goes bad, I shred it and put it in the freezer to bake with bananas for sweet bread.

Hot Wednesday

July 12th, 2017 at 08:28 pm

Holy Cow, it's hot. And humid. The weather forecaster says if we get to 94 it will be a record. Whatever it is, it is hot enough for me. I'm not a fan of extreme anything and heat makes it so hard for me to breathe.

It has been a NSD so far. Hopefully it will remain that way. I have been doing some housecleaning. That silly maid never ever shows up. Smile I wound up washing some walls and dusting and mopping. I would like to do some laundry, but I don't want to tax the electrical system any more than I have to with the heat and humidity. I'm just happy we have a/c. I grew up without it and believe me, what a lovely thing to have.

Yesterday I fixed a chicken in the Crockpot. We had a delightful meal with it and I have enough for some other meals. Tonight is leftover pork roast. I was going to bake sweet potatoes, but I think I'm going to peel and boil them instead and then mash them because I would prefer not heating the oven. I don't care for them microwaved.

A friend was telling me how he didn't like leftovers. Heck, so many of our meals are made up leftovers. I can't imagine not using them. It is difficult to just make enough for one meal. My chicken that I fixed yesterday was caught on sale and I got it out of the freezer. It was a decent sized one and cost $4.31. Between the meat and all the broth, it will provide more than a couple of meals. I freeze the extra broth so I have it when I fix noodles or make soup. I use some vegetables, garlic, herbs, and a few spices when I cook it so the broth and chicken are well seasoned.

We are starting to get some tomatoes. Yesterday we had a salad with DH's lettuce, onions, pepper, and tomatoes. I just love getting fresh stuff.

Hope you are staying comfortable.

Some unplanned spending

July 11th, 2017 at 10:57 pm

Although it isn't a huge amount, I did wind up spending money that I hadn't planned on Sunday and yesterday.

Memorials for my friend were to the children's education fund. Since all are younger than 15, and there are three of them, We felt we had to give a decent gift.

Then yesterday out of the blue we receive a notice that a friend's son and his wife are having a baby and here's the link to the registry...btw, the baby is due in a month. I sort of felt put on the spot. So, I sent a gift certificate through the site. I don't want to sound cheap and/or snarky, but we haven't seen this guy for years and years. We still keep up with the parents, but I sort of felt pressured.

Neither will break us by any means. Just a little unexpected.

Thanks and more

July 9th, 2017 at 07:32 pm

A big thank you to those who commented on my last post about losing a friend to suicide. I read somewhere that it takes three days for a person to adjust to a change and I think that is really true. There are still questions and I doubt if there will be answers. My heart goes out to the family and friends. We are going to attend the visitation and it should be a lengthy wait since he was a popular guy and his wife has many friends as well.

A friend suggested we do something different yesterday to have a mini getaway so they drove us to St. Louis. We had lunch at an Irish Pub. We've never been there and it was quite good. We went to a place called "The Hill" which is a neighborhood with Italian restaurants and stores. We shopped at an Italian grocery and viewed more types of pasta than I have ever seen in one place. We walked around to some of the other stores and bakeries and then stopped and had some gelato. We then went to another part of St. Louis where Concordia Seminary is located. I am Lutheran and in the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod, men who are called to the ministry must attend a synodical seminary to earn their master's of divinity in order to receive a call from a congregation. We walked around the lovely campus and went into the chapel. It was a relaxing day spent with good friends. We did spend some money - we paid for our lunch and bought a couple of things at the grocery as well as purchasing the gelato, but I don't think we spent more than $50 in total. We offered our friends money for gas since they drove, but they turned us down saying that they planned on going anyway.

It looks like another hot week. I turn the thermostat up when we leave the house so the a/c doesn't work as hard and we use ceiling fans to help as well when we are home. DH mowed the front yard and did get pretty overheated. Because we haven't received much rain lately, he hadn't mowed in a few weeks because the grass was dormant. We received about half an inch over two days so the grass grew a little and became rangy.

DH picked his first bell pepper and ripe tomato on Thursday. Both were delicious. We had another ripe tomato with our brunch today and there is one for supper tonight. We will have more than one at meals when they start coming on, but they are like a treasure when they first come on. Homegrown certainly taste different than store bought.

DH has had problems with a baby bunny wanting to live in his garden and eat his carrots. He chases it out and uses something called liquid fence. It is a product that has garlic and rotten eggs that is pretty stinky. But the rain the other day washed it off and Baby Bunny decided to visit. I had to chuckle over DH's comment as he chased it -- he said that if he ever caught the little twerp he would kick it over the house. I rather doubt if he could catch it and knowing what a softy DH really is, he wouldn't kick it anyway. But the entertainment is pretty good!

Emotional Roller Coaster

July 6th, 2017 at 06:51 pm

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me.

DH had a physical in June and some test results came back where he had to see a specialist. It has been scary waiting. He did see a specialist and the specialist doesn't feel things are anything to be concerned with so we check again in three months. At this point, we felt this is a blessing.

Personally, I am waiting on test results not only from a physical, but also from another test. It seems once you get to be a certain age, these checkups and tests get scary because you know what could be. There's probably new reason to worry, but unfortunately worry is something upon which I excel.

The thing that has really thrown me for a loop is a person I used to work with committed suicide. I can't even imagine the despair this person felt that he decided taking his own life was the solution. I makes me think how little we really know people. Of course there are all the questions of why which will probably not be answered. My heart goes to the family and friends who survive.

Currently the state House is meeting to decide whether to vote to override the governor's veto of the state budget. Yesterday they met but didn't have enough in attendance for a quorum. One wonders what they lawmakers are thinking when they aren't in attendance. It's their job. So, the waiting continues. We are supposed to have a dentist appointment this month and I'm wondering whether to postpone it. I could take the money out of savings, but I don't really want to. We are still living pretty frugally until we hear about the budget.

Happy Fourth

July 4th, 2017 at 02:48 pm

Happy Fourth of July! Hope it is a safe and joyous one for all!

Supposedly our Illinois lawmakers are supposed to vote on a budget today. The House passed one two days ago, but like the three branches of government (remember that in school?) it has to go to the Senate. The governor says he's going to veto if it passes because there are no changes in the budget -- he'd like to see some cuts and term limits. Imagine that, a politician wanting term limits. Smile Anyway, the state needs a budget because so many organization in the state cannot run without the stand funding. Many of our schools may not open on time. Some pensions may be delayed. Road work has totally been shuttered. If you've been on any Illinois roads lately, you know how necessary that work is.

Panhandling has become an issue in our city. I emailed the city manager who ignored my email, at least he didn't respond. That was three weeks ago. Last week I emailed one of the city council members who not only responded, but did so within two hours of my email. I asked about the laws concerning panhandling and he said that there is one against aggressive panhandling, but cities are cautious about passing new ones since a law was passed a couple of years ago in our state capitol and it was taken to court and considered unconstitutional. It has gotten to the point where if you go to our library these folks will knock on the windows of your car and follow you to your car or to the building and they don't give up. Because we have a mental health facility located in our downtown, one never knows if the person you are dealing with is also mentally ill which makes it even more of an issue. Our city is a very giving city, we have a homeless center that provides food and drink, daily showers, laundry facilities, use of the phone, counseling, clothing, medical services, as well as a place to send and receive mail. We have a men's mission, a lady's mission, as well as different organizations that provide food, clothing, and services, and one place, called Good Samaritan that provides a hot lunch every single day of the year and gives snacks besides. The director of the homeless center has said not to give money to the panhandlers because it isn't because they are needing the basics, they will use it for drugs or alcohol.

As I said yesterday, few plans here for the holiday and that's fine. If you like a great harmonic rendition of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" here is a super one:
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=1FEFBMNU&utm_source=GodTube+Must-See+Video&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=07%2F04%2F2017

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Third of July

July 3rd, 2017 at 09:30 pm

July in the Midwest is usually very hot and very humid. Today is no exception to this. Our a/c has run more than I wish and we did turn it up a little so it wouldn't run as much.

I had planned to grill turkey tenderloins for supper tonight, but to be honest, the idea of standing over a hot charcoal grill doesn't sound like fun. I don't handle heat well. So, I brought out the countertop convention oven I purchased a number of years ago. I actually bought it when I was teaching and would use it with my classes to bake stuff. I store it on when I'm not using it because it is pretty large, but I use it a lot during the summer when I want to bake something so I don't heat up the house. My plan is to get two meals out of the turkey tenderloins we bought at Aldi. I try to get more than one meal out of the meat we buy, not only for saving money, but also for health reasons. I went out and picked onions and used a larger one to cook with the turkey and vegetables and then we will have the smaller ones for the table to eat with salt. I had to buy radishes, but we like eating them with our meal too and I figure you can't eat too many root vegetables.

No big plans for the Fourth. I know this makes me sound like a little old lady, but it just isn't worth it to us to fight crowds and traffic to go sit on a blanket and wait for some fireworks that in the past haven't been all that terrific. We watch the Fourth of July program on PBS. So much crime has happened in our town lately, even during broad daylight; that is another reason we choose not to go out after dark, although some shootings have happened during the day. My mom used to have a police scanner and she would say the news didn't tell half of what really went on.

Hope you have a good Fourth. Other than paying bills that were already budgeted for, it has been a NSD for me. I have worked around here and enjoyed the afternoon with a book from the library.