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Archive for August, 2017

80

August 31st, 2017 at 03:03 pm

Eighty. That's how many tomatoes are now resting on our kitchen counter. That doesn't include the cherry tomatoes that are sitting in the colander. Eighty glorious round orbs just waiting for me to do something with them. I see canning in my future. We did have 84, but we had four of them sliced with our supper last night.

A friend came over the other day and I was showing him our pantry of canned goods and his comment was we didn't need to go to the grocery store. Not sure about that, but with tomatoes, green beans, jam, jelly, and broth canned, we do have a nice selection. DH has a bunch of bell peppers coming on and I will chop and freeze many for the freezer so we will have that.

I'm sorry it got too warm for lettuce. We had the last of that a couple of weeks ago, but it was sure nice while it lasted.

I think I hear those tomatoes calling....

It's exciting at first...

August 30th, 2017 at 02:48 pm

Do you ever notice how exciting it is to plan for updating a room and what a pain in the patootie it actually is?

Last winter we decided to update the vanity and medicine cabinet in the master bath. Now, don't get all excited. This is barely bigger than a closet, but it has a vanity, stool, and small shower. Adequate, but small.

Very little has been done to this bathroom for over 15 years so the new stuff with a new vanity top, new faucet and then I decided to go all out and get new towel bar and toilet paper holder and shower curtain rod was very enticing. And while I was at it, a new light fixture and new exhaust fan with a light. We bought the house 18 years ago so I don't know how old the current exhaust fan is and it doesn't have a light.

So, we ordered the vanity and medicine cabinet and had an Amish woodworker make it. It is lovely. It is oak, solid, and in Mission style.

We picked these items up in May and have been storing them ever since so I could make sure we had the money to pay to have them installed.

Five weeks ago I called for an estimate. We talked to the person and and we were put on the list. I guess the business has been slammed so they finally came out yesterday to install. But, the plumber and carpenter couldn't put in the new light or exhaust fan. So, we had to wait until another day for the electrician.

I've noticed that the times they give you are merely suggestions. Yesterday the guys got here around 8:40 and they said between 8 and 8:30. Today, the electrician was supposed to start at 8 so we hustled to get out of bed and cleaned up and dressed before he arrived. It was almost 8:30 by the time he got here.

I'm looking forward to having an updated bathroom. And, I'm sure I'll think it is all worth it once it is finished. But, waiting around while they work just isn't a lot of fun.

One Upmanship

August 27th, 2017 at 07:22 pm

Some folks just love to be in competition.

We recently went out to eat with this couple. I knew what was coming when he asked when our next trip was going to be. He didn't really want to know about us, he just wanted to open up the subject so he could brag about their next trip.

We aren't in competition. We do things because we want to do them and hopefully because they bring us pleasure. It isn't about bragging about them beforehand or afterwards. It is the experience we savor.

As you may know, we just returned from a lovely trip to Branson. We had a nice time. It was long enough to be refreshing, but short enough we were still home in a few days so the garden didn't suffer. We enjoyed the shows, meeting new people on the bus, and we felt it fit our budget.

We save for our trips so even if I put something on the credit card to pay for it, we have the money in our vacation account and we take it out and pay for the trip.

Not so with our friends. Between credit cards, personal loans, and home equity loans, they "finance" their trips. They have told us they are still paying for a major family vacation from three years ago. They will be leaving soon for another big ten day vacation and after that will be going on another vacation. I'm glad for them; they are better travelers than we and have been to more places, both in the U.S. and out of it. I'm not trying to be in competition with them.

We bought a new car last spring. It was a planned purchase. We put down a large downpayment and did finance a small amount because our credit scores have taken a hit since we had no outstanding debt. This person was almost grouchy when he learned about our new car. We didn't buy it to impress. In fact, it is just a newer model of the car we have that is now our second car. We bought it because we wanted it and we take pleasure in driving it.

I guess I'm not a very competitive person. I am not into bragging rights and such. I get it as far as contests and sports. But in real life. what a waste of time and energy. No one lives the same way.

Are we alone or are there people in your life who are always in the one upmandship mode?

Article on Finance -- Harder to become rich?

August 24th, 2017 at 08:05 pm

In our newspaper this week in the business section was an article stating that people are finding it harder to become rich.

One thing that bothers me about an article like this is they don't define what "rich" is. If it means being a multi-millionaire, or someone who had a decent savings and retirement.

I read it and grumbled to DH. Most of the people we know would agree with this article. The article basically said most folks don't have any savings, little retirement, and carry a large credit card debt. I wanted to say this is old news.

Anyway, I don't know what rich is. I'm sure to someone who is making minimum wage, I'm rich. We own our home, we have savings, we have retirement, and the only thing we have besides our monthly bills that we owe on is our newer vehicle which we financed so our credit scores would quit plummeting. We could pay it off right now.

One of the ladies I worked with commented that she couldn't afford to save. Yet, she was going out and partying, bought lots of new clothes and shoes, and when she decided to get married, had the big church wedding and fancy reception. The reception was a sit down meal at a pretty nice place. She had, in fact, invited more people than she had places to seat them. She was complaining to me that one paycheck a month was going to student loan debt. She wanted to know when I paid mine off. I told her I didn't have them because between scholarships and working before college and all during college and doing without a lot of things, I graduated debt free. My parents didn't have the money to send me to college. So, I did the best I could. She admitted she used her student loans for stuff over and above her degree.

Barely a year later she is already filing for divorce. She had been living in a condo her parents owned before she married because she couldn't afford rent. She married a guy and they immediately bought a big house. I imagine things will get hairy as they work out the divorce settlement.

So, on the surface she probably looks OK, with a newer car, nice clothes, and having fun. But I bet she doesn't have squat as far as savings. So, is it harder to become rich? For her, she would say yes, but I think for a lot of people like her, it is her own fault. It is different if someone is underemployed and can't find something else or has a horrible accident or illness. I'm talking generally that so many people don't want to do without and must have instant gratification and get stuff without saving up. As for retirement and regular savings, well they claim they can't afford it, even some who would have matching funds for 401K.

So, what do you say, is it harder to become rich?

Back from Branson

August 20th, 2017 at 08:23 pm

A couple of months ago, DH and I saw a flyer from a local travel company for a short trip to Branson, Missouri. It seemed like a good deal with six shows and some the meals being picked up as well as the hotel and the bus. We had the money saved in our vacation fund. We view bus trips like this -- it is like a buffet -- it may not exactly be what we want, but we do get to meet different people and try different things.

It turned out to be a pretty neat trip overall. We received the schedule a few days before and other than lunch on Monday and lunch on Thursday when we returned, all the other meals were either picked up or it was a free hot breakfast at the hotel. On our way, we stopped at a Sirloin Stockade for lunch. She had called ahead and they offered a deal -- $10 for the lunch buffet which included the buffet, drink, tax, and tip. The menu said the buffet alone before tax was $8.99 so we felt that was a pretty good deal. We have never eaten at one, but felt it had some nutritious and tasty items. On the way home we stopped at an area that had a McDonalds and Arby's side by side and we went to Arby's for two reasons -- we like their food better and they give a senior discount.

We actually saw 7 shows. The show Monday night was a talented couple playing at the restaurant. The other shows were diverse -- one was singing and dancing in lovely costumes with music by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and another was a Creedence Clearwater Revival group. We left the hotel at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and didn't return until after 10 p.m. Busy days, but fun ones.

We owe no money. We did shop a bit. DH bought a belt at a leather shop to replace one he has that is worn out. I bought a couple of gifts for people. One was a jar of jam -- what do you get a 94 year old besides food? I also bought post cards to send to the ladies I write each week and wrote those out and mailed them. But, the trip was paid for with savings and we took some spending money with us, so we didn't charge anything. Other than the two before mentioned meals, we wouldn't have had to spend anything.

I will say, and I know that part of the price was for tourists, but as expensive as jam is, those jars I have been making and canning are worth far more than I ever thought! Yikes!

We had a nice time, it was a great get away and what even added to the enjoyment was it was the first week of school here -- I always wanted to travel when we were in school so that was an added benefit. That was the reason we went to Tybee Island in January last year -- we went because it wasn't as busy and we couldn't when I taught. Same thing with the Branson trip -- there were plenty of things to do and see, but it wasn't so overly crowded that it was a hassle.

Catching Up

August 11th, 2017 at 03:18 pm

Yesterday was our meeting for our knitting group at church. I had to chuckle over the ladies because they counted the ones that were brought and it made for a total of 597 hats. Well, they wanted to know who could finish a hat before time was up for the day and said we have to have 600 before we leave. Too funny. One lady said she just had to put a pom pom on hers and another two said they had to do a little more. Not all of our members were there, but when two came in, they had a few more hats and when all was said and done, out total was 605 hats by the end of the time. That's a lot of knitted hats. That doesn't include the scarves that people have made nor the preemie hats. The preemie hats are donated to NICUs at local hospitals and to a group that helps women who are pregnant. We are small, but I think we are mighty.

An added benefit was one of the ladies brought in some produce. She had cucumbers and bell peppers. She asked if anyone could use any and some people said yes. But, when it was all said and done, hardly anyone took the cucumbers. She asked me if I could use them and I said yes. I see sweet pickles in my future.

A couple of years ago we went to a Bed And Breakfast in the Amana Colonies and part of the breakfast was Mango Juice. DH can't have orange juice since the acid really bothers him, so he tried the Mango juice. And he was smitten. Whenever Aldi has mangoes on sale, I buy them and let them sit on the counter to ripen. Actually, I prefer them overripe because they are juicier that way. I made DH a quart of it and he has been enjoying it. I looked up on the Internet on how to make it and it really isn't hard. I don't have a juicer or anything, so I do it by hand. I guess if I were making gallons it would be an issue, but it isn't. And it's a nice treat for DH. I make apple juice for him too. I refuse to purchase apple juice that has had apples grown in China. After reading some of the conditions of the growing of apple trees and other fruits and vegetables, I choose not to go there.

DH's tomato crop has been good one. We have been eating lots of fresh tomatoes and I have been canning some. I believe that is also in my future...some more canning. I don't mind and they are sure nice to have in the winter. I spoiled myself and made tomato juice the other day. Last year we didn't have quite enough for me to do that and felt I needed to can just the tomatoes. But, since DH planted more plants we have extra and I'm making myself some juice. Funny as I type this there is an ad for V8 on the bottom of the screen. I also intend to make spaghetti sauce since we have onions, bell peppers, garlic, and basil.

The other day a friend brought over some turkey he had smoked and 4 ears of sweet corn he had gotten from someone. We had over three meals off of that turkey. We don't have a smoker so it was a real treat. We are so blessed to live in a country where so many fresh foods are available, aren't we?

Dignity and respect are history

August 10th, 2017 at 06:40 pm

So many of you wrote so many lovely comments about my last post about my friend, Barb and her love for cornbread.

We attended her memorial service yesterday. The service itself was quite nice. But, what happened at the end was not, in my opinion.

The pastor ended the service and thanked us all of attending. She was the wife of Barb's nephew and the family stood up to walk out so they could greet us. One of the workers at the funeral home immediately ran to the front before they could leave, said this concludes the service for Barb, and we will dismiss the family and then dismiss you. If he had left it at that, I would have been fine, but what came next...he said the family of Barb ____ was served by (insert the name of the funeral home) and we will be happy to serve you in your time of need.

Really?!?

What happened to respect for the deceased and the family? So anything goes when it comes to self promotion? I posted this on my Facebook feed and some friends said this has happened at other funeral homes as well.

I would say that dignity and respect are history as commercialism has taken hold. So very sad.

Cornbread

August 7th, 2017 at 05:50 pm

It is interesting how food plays an important part of our lives. Take for example our friend, Barb. Barb was a former neighbor. DH knew her years before I did since she would frequent the bookmobile he worked on. Anyway, after she was widowed, I would invite her to Thanksgiving. For a number of years she didn't attend, but made other plans with friends because she had no local family. Then she started accepting our invites. She admitted a few years ago the reason she came (besides the company) was my cornbread. She said the turkey, potatoes, and green beans were fine, but it was the homemade cornbread she liked the best. Barb died this weekend. She was 88 and when she came for dinner on Memorial Day, she was telling us how she couldn't believe she had lived that long. She gave up smoking over twenty years ago and it probably helped quite a bit. But she also went and exercised some. She kept social and kept her mind alert. And other than some arthritis, she got was slower, but still got around and did things. I just chuckle over the comment about the cornbread.

Well, I posted a photo of her on Facebook (see below) with my husband at a Thanksgiving meal. One of the guys from church commented on it and of all the food on the table, the thing he commented on was the cornbread. He wanted to know if I made it and was it Jiffy or homemade. I told him it was homemade, baked in a cast iron skillet. We discussed this at some point and then I made the offer to teach him some Sunday afternoon when he isn't golfing.

All of this just because of cornbread. Too funny.

Frugal Kitchen

August 3rd, 2017 at 03:31 pm

I cannot count the number of Frugal Chef parties I have been invited to in the past 20 years. Because people know I cook, they think I'm just overjoyed to be invited and expect me to buy tons and tons of stuff. Boy, are they ever wrong.

One look at my kitchen would tell them otherwise.

I have a few of my grandmother's things like some Pyrex and pots and pans. I have a couple of my mother's items as well.

Most of the things in my kitchen have been purchased second hand. I have quite a few Pyrex dishes in different sizes and shapes that I use constantly. Vintage stuff. Not made in China. I enjoy using it, and feel I am not only cooking more safely in stuff that is tried and true than the stuff that might have problems down the road. Plus, in my small way, I am recycling.

I have 5 Crockpots. They are all different sizes. Two are about ten years old or older. One is 3. My newest two were purchased at thrift stores. They were clean and work perfectly.

Don't get me wrong, I do buy some new things, but why spend big bucks if I can save some money and buy used? We went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago and found a set of stainless flatware. It was vintage. The nice thing about vintage stuff is it has a bunch of the extra pieces. We paid $16 for the whole set. It wasn't my first choice in pattern, but hey, for $16 I have an extra set. I have a set I bought over 30 years ago and some of the pieces are missing. Not sure where they went to -- maybe the same hiding place as socks -- and we did buy a new set about five years ago, but there wasn't enough to get through without hand washing some stuff in between. I don't like to run the dishwasher unless it is totally full. I could hand wash stuff, and I did on occasion, but having the extra stuff is helpful and it even had pickle forks. I like pickles with my lunch so that was an added benefit.

Anyway, I was perusing Facebook and there is a site talking about saving money by buying used kitchen stuff. Guess I'm finally chic! Anyway, here is the URL for the story:

http://rootsy.org/low-cost-kitchen/

The tomatoes are coming on. Yay! DH also has bell peppers, onions, and herbs. I made a fantastic marinara sauce to serve over spaghetti the other night by cooking down some tomatoes with bell pepper, onion, mushroom, basil, and oregano, and adding some shredded Parmesan. I paired it with a small lettuce salad (lettuce, tomato, pepper, onion) for a delightful meatless meal. I thought DH would be upset over the lack of meat, but he wasn't and said it was delicious. I had purchased the pasta on sale, so I figured besides using up some of the fresh stuff we had, I made an economical meal. Oh yeah, served on some of the plates we bought second hand.

I am amused

August 2nd, 2017 at 02:59 pm

Yesterday i was catching up with someone and learned something I find amusing.

Years ago I became friends with an older lady at church. She was always careful with her money. We did things together. When I went to college we kept in touch. When I returned home, we would do things together. One summer we attended plays at the local university.

A few years ago she became unable to take care of herself and her meds so she entered a nursing home. I visited her each week and would bring her things that she would say she missed. I knew she and her late husband had worked and she said they had invested in savings bonds, but she was always very careful with her money. I took her out once (I had to get permission) and we went shopping and she said she wasn't sure she had the money to buy something and I told her if she didn't, I would pay for it. She did, but I did treat her to a snack at a place of her choosing.

She died and I knew her house was for sale and I had heard the only family she had left was in another country. I didn't think anything of it. Each Memorial Day I put flowers on hers and her husband's grave.

Well, yesterday the person I was catching up with happened to mention her dad was the executor of the estate and that my friend had money. Lots of it. Like over a million.

Here I thought she was broke and she had over a million. Wow, looks can be deceiving. I am quite amused at this because she certainly fooled me. But I know there have been more instances of this that I've read about people living frugally and then when they die, having quite a bit of money accumulated. I'm glad I didn't know she had this money. I would never want people to think I did anything for any gain.