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Hard to believe it is May

May 10th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

Here it is May 10th. Can't believe it is almost a year since I retired. I've enjoyed it and I love the life I have. I have been so blessed to be able to retire and not have to do without things.

DH and I were talking. I guess we have become used to a somewhat frugal lifestyle so we don't have huge things on our want list. Well, we would like to get a new driveway and we are saving for it. A couple of summers ago when we met with our financial guy, he wanted to see our budget. I have all these different accounts...money market, savings which is our home improvement account, vacation, Christmas club, and then regular checking. I thought sure hew as going to tell me these accounts were ridiculous, but he asked me about them and we told him that we save up for stuff. For example, the savings account is for home improvements. We put in a set amount every month and have a goal in mind. Back then we were working on a new roof because we knew we would need one. Last May we had that new roof put on and paid for it with cash. He said that was wonderful because so many of his people want to take money out of their investments to buy a new car or do home improvements.

The saga has continued with the neighbor and the kickball. It came to a head last week when I saw the kids playing, so I opened the front door and stood behind the storm door and watched. He saw me, kept looking up to see if I was still there, and when he thought I wasn't watching, kicked the ball right into our yard. I went out and told the kids that this kid's dad needed to come over and get the ball. The dad refused. DH and I walked it over there (dad was working the garage) and explained that this is not the first time the kick ball has wound up in our yard and many times it has been in the flowers and the vegetable garden and we don't want kids tramping down the plants. It isn't like the ball can roll into our yard. We sit on a bit of a hill so it has to be an upward kick aimed at our yard. The dad didn't say too much except they were done playing today. I just said my husband works way too hard in the yard and garden for it to be torn up. The little boy never apologized or anything. I finally commented that I knew he was watching me in the doorway and it just makes me wonder what happens when we aren't home. I suspect I know because there have been plants broken off and one of our solar lights has been crushed. Anyway, for a week no kickball and then this week the kids gathered to play basketball. That's how it starts. Then they get tired of basketball and start kickball. So, I had a little yarn project so I sat out on the front step for an hour and a half working on my project. No kickball that night! I'm sure this kid thinks I'm the meanest thing on two feet, but I feel I have to be the adult here since the parents apparently don't want to be the bad guys.

We have started purchasing the materials to update the master bathroom. Let me tell you, master bathroom is certainly misnomer because it is tiny...the only thing master about it is it is right off the master bedroom. We ordered a new vanity and medicine cabinet and had them custom made by the Amish. They are beautiful. I need to order a new light. We bought a new countertop and faucet and I've decided that I'd like new towel racks and shower curtain rod. I realized the last time we updated this bathroom other than the floor was over 17 years ago. Fortunately the shower surround and stool are OK. We did update the floor a couple of years ago with a piece of leftover vinyl from another project. I'm kind of excited about having some new stuff. I realized my toothbrush holder is over 18 years old. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm kind of tired of the color. I paid $1 for it. I think we got our money's worth as far as it goes. The current vanity and medicine cabinet are still OK as is the countertop and faucet so we plan to donate them to one of the thrift stores. We did that with the other ones from the hall bathroom and they sold within a couple of days. They aren't the highest quality, but they look decent. We try to take care of things.

Health wise I have struggled with allergies and asthma the past few weeks. I think the mold and tree pollen are high and with not having a super hard freezing winter, I think a lot of stuff didn't die off.

I should be content, but...

April 23rd, 2017 at 04:52 pm

Most days I am content with what we have and feel pretty blessed. Then there are days...

A couple of folks I worked with are either buying or selling their homes or both. We've lived in this house 19 years this month. It is the longest I have ever lived anywhere. I didn't think we moved that much, but I realized that as a kid, I lived in 6 different places not counting college, and as adult, I've lived in 3. I realize there are folks, especially military families, who move far more. But for someone here in the Midwest, it seems like a lot of moves. Probably why I don't want to move again.

Anyway, back to the folks and their homes. My city is around 70,000 in population, maybe a little more if you count the villages near by. Cost of living is pretty cheap and we are still having economic problems. Our city used to be almost entirely blue collar, but we have lost lots of industry. The cost of an average home is $81,000 according to city data. Imagine my surprise when someone I worked with who is about 20 years younger just sold their home for $374,000. Wow. I'm in shock. I know I made more than she did, so her husband must have a big paying job. Another person made about what I made and she and her husband just bought a house for around the same price. I can't even imagine the upkeep or payments. Not to mention cleaning the huge thing. I'm talking these houses are big. Ours is around 1500 square feet. These houses are at least double that.

Then I start wondering if I made mistakes and didn't take enough chances. Our goal, when we bought our first house together in 1990, was to get the house paid off. We didn't pay off that one, but sold it with more equity than what we owed, and bought this one. We made extra payments on our mortgage and when something worked out we could actually pay it off early, we did. We then spent the money we were paying on the mortgage, well spent is the wrong word, but I just kept writing the checks and put it in a savings account until we had enough to invest. I guess part of me is just a little jealous of their fancy new homes.

I have been talking to myself and saying I need to be content with what we have. It's wrong for me to be jealous. Realistically, I don't want a bigger home and I certainly don't want to clean a bigger home. I don't know for sure, but something makes me think they may have outside help cleaning. I certainly don't want to pay for the taxes (Illinois taxes are outrageous) as well as insurance.

Anyway, forgive me for my coveting, but thank you for allowing me to think through this and put my thoughts down as I work through this. Hopefully I am feeling more content.

As Seen On TV

April 21st, 2017 at 08:33 pm

It's been an exciting week around here. Lots going on. I am involved in some things for both church and the schools where I volunteer. I can't say it's been a cheap week because we have purchased some things here and there, but nothing to break the budget by any means. Most of it planned too.

I know I've written about the knitting loom and making hats with some ladies at my church. And by now, you have probably figured out I have an ornery side to me. A few weeks ago we were watching the local news and the sports director commented it would be slow sports night and he might have to take up knitting. Well, I thought it would be worth a try so i emailed him and invited him to join our little group. Especially since Rosey Grier used to do needlepoint so why not be a good sport and join us. I wasn't sure if he would even answer, but he did. The sports director, Gordon Voit, took us up on the challenge and came and did a little knitting and broadcast a sweet story. I wish he hadn't spotlighted me so much, but he spent almost two hours with us and by the time he was ready to leave, he had endeared himself to all of us. One of the ladies, the one who talks about reading obituaries is 89 1/2. She is a spunky little thing and is always ready to do something for someone. So, if you have a few minutes and want to view this little clip, I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.wandtv.com/story/35194853/knitting-challenge-gordon-voit-goes-head-to-head-with-the-loom

SA problems and dinner

April 16th, 2017 at 09:20 pm

Lately I have had problems accessing the Saving Advice blogs. For two days I would click on a title and would get an error message saying the page had been removed. Today it is taking forever for the pages to load. I thought it might be my computer and or router, but I'm not having problems with any other sites, so I'm going to think it is with SA.

A friend told us they weren't sure if they were going to have Easter dinner at home or out. Then mentioned that a local chain restaurant had a deal for $110 for ham, 2 sides, and bread. I looked it up and then saw our local Kroger ad and tried to determine what it would cost if one bought stuff from Kroger to feed 8-10. I think even adding a dessert, the cost would be around $54 before tax. That is still less than $110 and most of the stuff was ready made, other than heating up the ham and the rolls.

Our dinner for the two of us was more reasonable and we have leftovers. Some we will eat again tonight and the rest will find itself incorporated into other meals throughout the week.

Hope you had a lovely Easter.

A little of this...a little of that

April 12th, 2017 at 07:59 pm

Today has been quite a busy day around here. DH and I cleaned house. I am happy that we did and I like having a clean house. I just threw in a load of towels after putting fresh ones out after freshening up the bathrooms. They weren't dirty, but I have found if I do touchups here and there, they don't get bad either.

Lunch today was chicken and noodles. I had purchased a whole chicken and cooked it in the Crockpot the other night with some spices, herbs, and a few vegetables to make a good broth. We had some of the chicken for dinner, and I used the rest to make chicken and noodles with the broth. I also froze the extra broth so I will have it on hand for something else. So, we have had three meals from that chicken and I think one more is on the horizon. Not enough to make it an entree, but we may be having potluck for dinner one night with the leftover pork chops from another meal. I like having extra food because it means it is easier to put meals together. I usually have some soup in the freezer so if we need a quick meal, I can thaw and heat it up, but I used the last of it. So, that is on the list to get done.

Well, after my rant the other day, I can say a couple of things seem to be worked out. I emailed the city librarian about the fact our books weren't checked in and we were getting fines. He emailed a response and within an hour, we received a phone call from the person in charge of circulation and our books were checked in and the fines wiped out. That was a relief. DH checks out bunches of children's books because he reads to classes during the week. It's one thing to pay a fine that you truly owe because you were late and we have done that without grumbling. But it is a whole different story when you owe fines on stuff you returned on time or before. Right now DH has 24 books out and I'd hate to see what the fines would be if he returned them and they weren't checked in.

Yesterday the neighbor kids played on another street. Hopefully they will find the other street a better fit for their kickball game. I don't like being a cranky neighbor, but I don't like it when you've had to ask them more than once to stay off your property and there is so little regard for both your request and your yard and plants.

I don't know when you get the ads for your grocery stores, but we get two of them on Wednesday and one on Thursday. I do wish we'd get them all on Wednesday because I prefer to make my lists on Wednesday night. So, i have to make a tentative list and finish up on Thursdays before I go shopping. Oh, well.

I just finished a fictional tome last night. If you like Fannie Flagg books, this one is similar, but it is a Christian novel. It is "Velma Still Cooks in Leeway" by Vinita Hampton Wright.It is set in a small town and kind of an interesting outlook.

I have been working on knitting hats for my church group. We meet tomorrow and I like to have some finished before we go and work some more. I have been making Swiffer covers and dish cloths out of the leftover yarn. I have a feeling one of the dish cloths is going to be wild because I have lots of different colors, but not enough to make anything out of just a couple. One of my friends has a tea room and I have been giving her some of the Swiffer covers and the dish cloths and she is delighted. She told me she didn't care about the colors, and on the dishcloths, she intends to throw them in bleach so eventually they will all be faded out. I just like that I can use up these leftovers. I have lots of dishcloths for myself now and can use a clean one every day since I have made so many. Guess I'm rich in dishcloths. Smile I used a Swiffer cover today to polish our floors. I bought some special cleaner/polish and like the fact I'm not using a disposable pad, but can wash it when I'm finished.

It is sunny here. Not super warm, but a pleasant spring day. We had so much rain last week that is makes it seem so much more like spring when we have a couple of days of sunshine. Hope things are nice where you are too.

Today is not the day to mess with me

April 10th, 2017 at 09:41 pm

Today hasn't been a relaxing day. Actually, some of this started yesterday.

DH is very proud of his yard and garden. He has certain plants that come up every year and then he plants annuals. He babies his lawn and garden. We have repeatedly had to remind the neighbor kids to stay out of yard and driveway. Our driveway is steep and I'm sure it is fun to ride down,sled down, or skate down. But, it also has some broken areas (we are saving to replace it in the next couple of years) and there is another neighbor who parks just at the edge of it. We have bushes too, alongside the drive. It makes it difficult for people to see traffic coming into our court and for the traffic seeing anyone leaving the driveway. I have had to ask them to stay off our driveway for their own safety. I don't want anyone to get hurt either falling down on the driveway (liability issues) or getting hurt because a car or truck didn't see them race down the driveway. I do believe kids are still playing in the driveway when we aren't home because last summer when I wash washing down the garage door, it was dented about a fourth of the way down. Neither DH or I dented it and it kind of made me think something was run into the door. We have also found some of our solar lights broken around the yard. OK, lots of wordiness, but we have asked the neighbor kids to place stay off our property nicely. Yesterday they were playing kick ball and within ten minutes, five times the ball came into our yard. We have a slight hill so it isn't like the ball just casually rolled into the yard. It was kicked and it landed way up by the house. Once in DH's garden. So, then we have kids walking around in the garden and the planting to get their ball. I finally contacted a parent and asked them to have their kids stop kicking the ball in our direction. She said the wind took it and I nicely suggested they kick towards her house in the future. I didn't want to be that neighbor who had to tell the kids to stop, but today, they started in and guess what, second kick, the ball winds up in our yard. I simply went out and asked the little boy to kick in his own yard. Guess I messed up their game, and I only can imagine what they do when we aren't home.

This about capped off my day. We received our car insurance premium and we expected it to increase a little with the new car (we asked before we bought) , but it went up more. Seems someone decided to delete one of the cost savings we have on both cars. The clerk told me the new amount, I started the check, then told me a different amount since it was prorated. I wasn't happy because I had to void the check and write a new one. She then talked to me like I was stupid and said I could have just changed it and put my initials on it. Maybe I could, but I didn't want the check coming back incorrect. I don't like being spoken to like I'm an idiot.

Then, we went to the library because I received a notice I had an overdue book. It was returned before it was due, but apparently wasn't checked in. Seems the library is changing to a new system and putting in chips so books can be checked in when they are put in the return chute. But, they don't have chips in all the books so they are putting returned books on carts and doing the chip thing and not checking in books. The lady at the checkout desk claims they will backdate the check in, but as it is, both DH and I have overdue books on our records at this point.

So, I'm already not in a very good mood and then have to become the cranky neighbor with the kids. I wasn't grouchy when I asked them to stop, but it just didn't make my day go any better. Hopefully things will improve. I ate being that kind of person, but I don't like things to get torn up.

I tried a new recipe the other day. I wrote it down after seeing it in one of the magazines I was going to donate. DH liked it and I think you could change it out to use whatever you had one hand. I'm going to write it down below, but I didn't use sausage with it. I substituted bell pepper and mushrooms and DH loved it. If we had sausage I would have used it, but instead decided to use what I had.

Brunch Pizza Squares

1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 8 oz tube refrigerated crescent rolls
4 eggs
2 T milk
1/8 t pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet, cook sausage and drain. Unroll rolls onto a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan. Press dough 1/2 inch up the sides and seal seems. In a bowl, beat eggs milk, and pepper. Put sausage on rolls, then pour egg mixture over sausage. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered at 400 for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Sunny Sunday

April 2nd, 2017 at 09:36 pm

It was a nice surprise -- it was sunny this afternoon. It was supposed to be rainy. So, it was like a gift -- a pretty spring day!

It's been busy around here. Not too much out of the ordinary, but busy. Well, one thing big..we bought a new car. I'm not going to apologize for buying a brand new one. Yes, I know a used one is better because of it doesn't lose as much value. But, we are at a point in our lives we don't want someone else's problems. We deal with a great dealer and any service we have needed has been fabulous. Actually, DH got the new car. I got his old one which isn't that old...a 2013. He's a happy man and that's what I value. I tease him that he has a new lady in his life. Men and their cars!

Other than that, I'm just trying to keep my head above water on things. We finally got our taxes done. It seemed like we waited forever to get one of our 1099 forms. We are getting a small refund. We would rather get a small refund than pay. One of our friends who is also retired is getting a huge one. We can't figure out how.

Since I've retired, I have tried to keep a schedule on cleaning the house. I tried doing that when I worked too and sometimes couldn't, but as a retiree, it is easier. I did then when I was off school in the summers. My mom would ask why I would do this, but I told her it was far easier to clean the house when it wasn't really bad then it was to have to do a deep clean. With my asthma and allergies it is helpful if I keep the house pretty clean.

I'm on the call committee at church as we seek a new pastor. Our current pastor is retiring so we have been working on finding a replacement. Plus I volunteer at two schools and do some other things at church. I'm pretty satisfied with how my life is going and I have found I am not spending a lot of extra money (OK, except that new car). I guess I'm not a high maintenance person.

Today I visited with a lady who is 93. Fortunately she still lives at home. Her sons look out for her. We were talking how little things mean to her now. She was always a careful shopper, but she said it doesn't hurt her to part with things anymore. I know some of you have blogged about decluttering and have voiced this same opinion.

DH has been working in the garden putting in lettuce and radishes and onions. I'm already looking forward to eating them!

Hope you have had a nice Sunday.

Rediscovering an older pleasure

March 17th, 2017 at 09:08 pm

Years ago I had a sewing machine. It was my grandmother's. Big heavy "portable" thing that you had to be a weight lifter to put it on a table. I used it. A lot. I then decided to buy a newer machine with a cabinet. My mom was an expert on machines and she picked it out and we brought it home. We both used it. She used it far more than I did. When I moved out, I gave it to her since she was using it more than I did. When she died, I didn't have room for it, so I gave it to one of her friends who had a daughter who wanted a machine. It's been ten years since my mom died.

Since I am retired, I have time to do more than just sew on a button. I decided I wanted a machine. I found one at a thrift store for $20. It isn't perfect, but it works. It also isn't as heavy as my grandmother's. I have no idea what happened to my grandmother's machine, by the way. This one has a few problems, but for the little bit of sewing I plan to do, it is workable.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to try and make a cloth grocery bag. I had no pattern, but I measured one and made my own pattern. As I'm pinning the pieces together I just felt a degree of satisfaction. I won't be making anything big or fancy, but it certainly is nice to make something I can use. I bought some scrap material for $1 and I didn't use it all, so my bag will be less than a $1 when I get it finished. I decided to crochet the handles so I'm not quite finished with it.

There is something so satisfying to creating something and finishing it, isn't there?

I think I may have mentioned a group from church where we knit hats on looms. One of the reports for the local paper is a school chum and I told her about our goal of making more hats than this year and adopting some classes next year and giving them hats. The story did make the paper and as a result, we have had four people donate some yarn and a couple more promise. It's kind of nice when people like to get involved. Anyway, here's the link to the story if you are interested:

http://herald-review.com/news/local/stitched-with-love-lutheran-women-knit-hats-for-decatur-students/article_92359267-25af-5b5a-b3d7-35d95df884cf.html?haa=123&utm_content=bufferfeddf&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=LEEDCC

To follow up on an earlier post, I did cancel the subscription to the Sunday Chicago Tribune. It wasn't easy. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Trib and I haven't seen it published, but received another phone call this morning begging me to reconsider. I refused. DH said he didn't want me to have to bother with it anymore and I'm relieved.

Hope your Friday is a good one and if you are Irish or Irish wannabe, hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day!

Leftovers and a vent

March 15th, 2017 at 05:10 pm

Fixed lunch a few minutes ago. Used leftover pork roast to make pulled pork. It was pretty decent. Tonight will be leftover pork chops with baked sweet potatoes and a salad. Last night we had chicken I lightly breaded and baked. The chicken breasts were so thick that I sliced them in half so we have enough for another meal. Yesterday for lunch we had chicken noodle soup which was leftover from Sunday's supper. We tend to repurpose leftovers around here. I do like the idea of cooking once and getting a couple of meals out of it. I still have so much soup left I will be freezing it for another time. A pretty good deal for a whole chicken I got for 69 cents a pound.

Now that I am retired, I try to volunteer. I was not a happy camper yesterday. State testing is going on in the public schools in Illinois and I know how stressful it can be. I volunteered to help out. That means more than just showing up. I had to watch some required videos and sign off on them before the testing. I asked what time I needed to be there yesterday and was told 8 a.m. I got there a few minutes before and the person then realized the first set of testing wouldn't start for an hour. She hadn't bothered to check her schedule. I was not pleased. I realize I am retired, but that is a waste of my time to sit around for an hour. Schools aren't exactly comfortable spots to just lounge around. She sort of apologized, but I didn't say too much. For years I had run the state testing in the buildings I was assigned to. If I had anyone kind enough to volunteer, I made sure they had the exact time they were needed, followed up if things changed, and made sure they were felt appreciated.

A few years ago my husband who is retired from the library and quite a fabulous reader of children's books volunteered to read each week in one of my schools. The two teachers decided they couldn't set a time that he could read back to back so he read at one class in the morning and one class in the afternoon. I told him not to agree to that because it wasn't a good use of his time, but he didn't want to upset anyone. So, he would show up in the morning, read for 30 minutes and then leave and show up a couple of hours later to do the same. These same teachers would conveniently forget when they were going to be gone on field trips or something else came up and he would show up and they would tell him he couldn't come in or one time they weren't even there and he walked into an empty classroom. The following year I told him not to even think about volunteering for those teachers. I lined it up for him to volunteer in another teacher's room. She stayed in the room with him (which is what teachers are supposed to do), thanked him profusely every time he read, and if something came up, told both him and me ahead of time.

Being disrespectful of a volunteer's time is one way to make sure one doesn't eagerly volunteer again. Sorry I had to just vent.

So very frustrated

March 14th, 2017 at 09:55 pm

Earlier I wrote about our struggles with receiving the Sunday Chicago Tribune. It has been ongoing. We would get it a Sunday or two and then not get it. I would call, email, message, and it never seemed to help. I have decided it isn't the paper carrier. I believe it is the same one who delivers our local paper and she is top notch. I believe it is whomever distributes the paper downstate. We haven't received the darn thing the past three Sundays. DH stopped into Walgreens where he can sometimes snag a copy and they were sold out, but the clerk told him something interesting...the week before last they didn't get the Sunday paper until Tuesday. We haven't had horrible weather around this time, so there really isn't an excuse.

I have called their number on Sunday mornings and get the blasted automation system which says we will receive a replacement paper in 90 minutes. Yeah, right. Call me skeptical because it has never happened. And it didn't.

The past three Sundays no paper and I call on Monday, and get it promised it will be delivered if not later in the day, on Tuesday. No paper, Then I call on Tuesday and they will credit my account. What good is it to credit my account when I don't get a paper. It isn't like I'm going to get interest on this so called credit.

Each time I call, I get someone who cannot pronounce my first name correctly. It is Debbie. I can't imagine that being THAT hard. They can't pronounce our street name nor our city. I finally asked where their calling center was located. He said Philippines, but I really think it is India. The guy yesterday promised me a newspaper within an hour and a half. I told him we are three hours away from Chicago and I rather doubt if anyone wa going to speed and drive here to give us a paper. I asked to cancel and was given he same spiel I was given last week. Basically, give us a chance, we promise you will get the paper Sunday. etc. I told them I wanted to talk to someone from Chicago and he promised someone would call me later in the day. I kept my cell phone with me and no call. Not a surprise. I called this morning, got another person who couldn't pronounce my name or city or street name, started in with the same verbal garbage about giving them another chance and I just said I was tired of it all, I had better things to do with my life than call about a newspaper that wasn't being delivered and no, I didn't want to access it online. My husband wants a real newspaper, he doesn't read things on devices and I wanted the coupons, so cancel. She argued and I told her again I wanted it canceled and the credit to be returned to me. Supposedly it is done. We shall see.

Sunday Musings

March 12th, 2017 at 06:14 pm

Sunday afternoon here in the Midwest. We didn't get the snow they predicted yesterday. It wasn't going to be much, but still glad it missed us. Overall, we haven't had too bad of a winter so far, but we do need some precip. I would just prefer it wasn't snow or ice. Picky, aren't I? There's a chance of snow tomorrow. Fortunately if there is snow, we don't have to go anywhere.

We went to a small town near here (Arthur) for the Home and Garden Show yesterday. Other than the money for gas, we didn't spend anything at the show. We go most years because we like to look at the booths because many of them are Amish businesses. Some of the handiwork is nothing short of amazing. We did stop by the Amish bulk grocery and buy a few things. They were planned. We stopped at a thrift store too, but didn't buy anything.

After church and brunch here at home, I usually pay bills, and update our church's Facebook page and then head over here. It seems like I'm visiting old friends as we keep up with each other.

Not much to report new really. Last night I fixed a pork roast and we will have pulled pork sandwiches from the leftovers for a lunch or two. I also made chicken noodle soup for tonight's supper. I bought some whole chickens on sale about a month ago and fixed one that week and put one in the freezer. It made it's appearance this week for a couple of meals and I used the leftover chicken and broth for the soup we will have tonight and probably for lunch one day this week. I did our weekly grocery shopping on Thursday (one big advantage of being retired) and I planned meals for this week before going. I just can't imagine not planning meals to some degree.

I don't miss packing lunches for work. I would often take leftovers, but I still don't miss that. I have a friend who is always complaining she has no money, but often puts on Facebook where she had lunch. Granted, she hits fast food, but even that can rack up quite a bit if you eat out every day. If she has to work overtime, she moans and groans on Facebook how hungry she is. I really want to tell her to grow up. She knows she has to work overtime on these occasions so why not pack something to heat up or eat later? Guess I'm kind of snarky. I have suggested she read stuff on this site when she has complained about being broke and she informed me she knows how to save money. She might know, but unfortunately she doesn't use that knowledge if her posts about being broke are true. That is the key, isn't it? Use what you know.

The newspaper came out to do a story on the knitting group at church. It is supposed to run sometime this week I think. We are making hats to donate to the public schools next fall. I counted the hats we have made so far on Thursday and we had 70 made. That's pretty good for just a few ladies working together. One lady joked if we keep up this pace, we might be able to adopt a whole school. Wouldn't that be something?

Hope you all have a great week!

Feeling blessed

March 5th, 2017 at 07:42 pm

It's Sunday afternoon and there's a routine around here. We attend church in the morning, come home and have brunch, clean up, and then DH goes to finish the newspaper and I head to the computer. I update our church's Facebook page and then pay bills, then relax by perusing SA blogs. Not a bad routine at all.

After reading folks' blogs and then seeing a gal I went to high school with, I realize both DH and I were very blessed to have the jobs we had for as long as we had. DH graduated college and intended to be a high school history teacher. Well, he didn't coach and in the late 60s and early 70s, that was pretty much an unwritten requirement. He worked a couple of different jobs here and there and then found a job on the public library's bookmobile. He worked there 35 years and loved it. He enjoyed books, liked helping people, and every day was different.

My start was a bit different. I wound up working about 5 different jobs before I was hired full time as a teacher for the public schools. There were times I worked two jobs and did some free lance writing to make money. But, I never forgot what a struggle it was. When I was hired, I remember what my dad told me when I was 16 and getting my first job -- go in early, do more than they expect, give more time, and never stop learning. He said you never want to give your employer a reason to fire you. I realize there are always circumstances beyond one's control, but he was right. I never was fired from a job so I guess I was very fortunate.

As I mentioned, I saw a friend I went to high school with and she just was laid off from her current job. She had hoped to stay with it until she retired at 62, but no such luck. It wasn't too long ago she was laid off from another job because of money problems with the place she worked. They had to cut back and she and a couple of others lost their jobs. I told DH I guess we were really lucky to have the same jobs for over 30 years.

I'm not sure what I would tell someone starting out looking for employment other than to not stop learning. When I was home on break during college, I worked as a reporter for a small newspaper. Back then, there were typesetting machines that you typed into and you saw one line at a time. You had to learn different keys to center stuff and to quad left and so on. One of the typesetters called in sick and the other one asked me if I wanted to come back and learn to fill in. I did with the editor's blessing. It worked out for all of us because when we would get close to deadline, he would put me on the typesetting machine because I could edit and type at the same time when time was short. Back at college I worked part-time for both the publishing company of my college and then for another publishing company which helped me pay for my school. Now typesetting is defunct with all the fancy computers, but because I was willing to learn it helped me finish college with no debt.

Anyway, just thought I'd say I feel very blessed and hope others seeking employment find worthy work of their talents and skills.

Well, Phooey!

March 2nd, 2017 at 08:52 pm

That sums up my feelings right now. I thought digging out DH's old pedometer would save me some money. I don't want to invest in an expensive FitBit or anything. So, I went and got a new battery...DH hasn't used it in years, went through all the trouble to unscrew all those little dinky screws to get it replaced. Then, it took me about a day to figure it out since DH has no idea where the little instructional book is. I finally got it figured out yesterday afternoon and did record some steps. I was all primed today to use it...did my morning exercise, went grocery shopping, and while cleaning, knocked the darn thing off my waist band. I will be giving it a proper funeral in a few minutes after I dissect it to get out the nearly new battery. Well, phooey! No good deed goes unpunished.

Stamping

February 28th, 2017 at 08:24 pm

As I go through some of my desk drawers, I have a bunch of stamps and a few stamp pads. I really used to enjoy stamping things. I never got into it hot and heavy like some, but usually at Christmas I would stamp some Christmas decoration on the envelope, and the same for birthdays and greeting cards.

Just for fun, I priced stamp pads the other day when I was at a sewing center. Holy cow! They have certainly gone up in price since the many years ago I purchased a couple. I also looked at an office supply store and they were cheaper, but they only had black and red.

I still have a couple of stamp pads and I have some ink to refresh one of them so I did that and have been using the stamps on a few of my cards and letters.

I guess I'm a dying breed because I still send birthday cards, sympathy cards, get well cards and even thank you notes. Of course with schools not teaching cursive, people may not even be able to read cursive in a few years. Sad commentary when you think they will not be able to read historical documents like the Declaration of Independence. Anyway, I still write letters to some people and I like embellish the envelopes.

Do you know if folks still enjoy using their stamp pads? I figure since I'm not spending anything, I can still enjoy using them.

Potpourri

February 26th, 2017 at 07:10 pm

This will be a potpourri since I don't have one really important thing to say.

Every so often, we share food with a few of our friends. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy sharing food, even if we can't meet for a meal. We had a surprise this week...someone called and said they had a surprise. They had grilled pork and gave us enough for two meals of pulled pork. Yum!

Someone on Facebook posted about instead of giving up something for Lent, how about collect a plastic bag of stuff to donate each day. That sounds like a great idea, but we have been giving stuff regularly anyway, so I'm thinking maybe of finding something each day to donate instead of 40 bags.

When I retired I joined a group at church called "Stitches of Love." The purpose of the group was to knit and crochet items to donate to various places. In the past they had crocheted lap robes. They recently started working on round knitting looms and made hats. We made hats and I took them to a few schools and they were passed out. It was fine and the schools appreciated them. However, a friend and I decided to adopt a classroom this year and we made hats for the whole class and the teacher and took them in. The kids loved knowing they were made for them. So, I brought this idea to the group and it has been interesting about the reaction. We decided to try and ask other Lutheran churches to join us and suddenly there is a zeal we haven't seen. It is pretty exciting to see people wanting to get involved with this. My DH said it is like we have a new purpose. So, that is kind of cool.

As far as grocery shopping, I've just been buying fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and dairy. I'm trying to use up things in the freezer and pantry. It has certainly made our grocery bill go down the past few weeks. I have tried to be creative in using some of the stuff too. Hopefully that is a good thing.

Sunny Sunday with a Side of Wind

February 12th, 2017 at 07:26 pm

It's a sunny, but windy Sunday here in Central Illinois! At least it is warmer. We had some pretty frigid temperatures Wednesday and Thursday. Now it seems almost like spring. I just hope it isn't getting our hopes up. I know I have been looking at a small garden area and asking DH if we should do a little fix up before planting. When we moved here almost 19 years ago, there were yard timbers outlining the small area where there were plantings. Well, like most things, they don't last forever and some are really rotting away. Neither of us are really handy, but I thought we could pull them out and replace them with some of the landscape stones or pieces to keep them separate from the lawn itself. We shall see.

We attended church and came home and did our usual brunch of scrambled eggs, cheesy grits, sausage, toast, and fruit. I'm thinking I'd like to fix some chili -- I am going to try and use more from the freezer and pantry. A friend gave me some of the beef she bought when she bought half a cow. This was for my birthday and I'm not complaining one bit. I have beans and I have canned tomatoes, so adding some onion and mushroom and spices, it should be a decent Sunday night supper. I like chili anytime and fortunately DH is a soup lover so that works out.

Because of my asthma problems, I didn't do my weekly grocery shopping which usually means Aldi then Kroger. DH and I went Friday and just did Kroger simply because after volunteering on Friday, I was tired and didn't think I could face going to two stores. Fortunately we didn't need a ton of stuff, but I do believe we spent about $20 more than if we had gotten the bulk of stuff I buy on a weekly basis at Aldi. I buy eggs, fruits and vegetables, and some dairy at Aldi.

I wasn't happy when we received our power bill. When we were gone for two weeks, we turned the heat down to 62. Our house is pretty well insulated and we have newer energy efficient windows as well as an energy efficient furnace. It was a little lower than usual, but not that much lower. I'm thinking for two weeks we didn't use as much heat and certainly not as much power since we weren't home running the washer/dryer, television, wifi, etc. I had unplugged some things like the modem and wifi as well as the television. And, we had colder temperatures the month before so I didn't think our power bill would be as much as it was. Must be all those stupid fees they tack on. Our water bill was far less since we were gone for those two weeks. I'm glad. I was going to wonder if we had someone living in our house while were away! Smile

I continue to work on the rug I'm crocheting. I think so far, I have about $2 worth of yarn in it. I'm sure it will be more since I'm not close to being finished, but when you get full skeins for 50 cents each, it does mean you aren't spending as much.

As I have blogged before, I try to use up the bits and pieces of yarn to make things. A friend of ours runs a tea room and they have a vinyl floor. I asked her if she could use Swiffer covers and she said sure. So, we gave her two yesterday and you would have thought I had given her gold! Each week we save our egg cartons, cottage cheese containers, and other plastic lidded containers for her and they reuse them. She has chickens and sells her eggs and the cartons come in handy. I told her it was always such a pleasure to bring her things because she is always so appreciative.

Zombie Preparedness Month

February 10th, 2017 at 12:28 am

OK, only in Illinois would there be a piece of legislation stating October is Zombie Preparedness Month.

http://www.illinoishomepage.net/news/capitol-news/lawmakers-approve-apocalypse-plan/654167056

Granted, the person wants folks to be prepared for natural disasters, but even that goes beyond the norm for sensationalism. Yikes!

I'm on House Arrest

February 9th, 2017 at 09:51 pm

OK, I'm not really on true house arrest, but figured if the news can be sensational maybe I should too.

DH suggested I remain at home today and out of the cold air so instead of my volunteering and grocery shopping, I remained inside. I will say it was a nice day. DH left to volunteer and walk at the mall. I watched a movie he wouldn't have liked, did some crocheting, and watched a television show he doesn't like as well as some laundry, and breathing treatments. I can honestly say it was a no spend day for me. Smile

Supper is going to be sausage and cheese quiche with a green salad. I'm using up some sausage and eggs have been really reasonable lately. I am struggling with the fact I'm out of my routine of grocery shopping...I do find that rut so very comfortable.

A couple of no spend days

February 8th, 2017 at 04:36 pm

Today looks like a no spend day. Not planning on going anywhere. DH plans to volunteer at a school where he goes each Wednesday and then walk at the mall. I intend to stay home. We had a major weather change in the past 24 hours so my asthma has kicked up. We were 63 degrees yesterday and the temperature dropped almost 30 degrees last night and they are calling for a chance of snow. Yuck.

Yesterday we dropped off some things at the thrift store we donate to. The profits support the Lutheran School Association that is near and dear to us. We went to the library and checked out some materials so that was a good day. Fixed all meals at home. And a friend I hadn't heard from in awhile called and we caught up so it was a pretty good day overall.

Monday was a spendy day to an extent. The thrift store I mentioned before had just restocked and we bought a bunch of canning jars. I mistakenly thought I had enough last fall when I was canning, so I don't want to find myself in that situation again. I also bought some yarn there...50 cents a skein. I wasn't planning on buying anymore yarn until I had used up what I had. I was close, but not quiet. But the yarn I bought i wanted it to try and crochet a bathroom rug. We also met another couple we haven't seen in awhile for dinner so it was a nice day overall.

Tomorrow will be a day to spend...grocery shopping. But it won't be too much since we have lots of stuff in the pantry and freezer. It will mostly be fresh fruits, bread, and some dairy. So, not bad spending, I guess.

Use it up

February 3rd, 2017 at 09:30 pm

I've noticed that many have posted about eating from your pantry and freezer. I need to do that more because I'm blessed to have both filled. I do need to use up a lot of the food.

Since I've retired, I've gotten back to crocheting. I'm not an expert by any means, but I can do a few things. I joined a group at church called "Stitches of Love" and we make things to donate. Our current projects have been making hats on knitting looms. We have donated to some of our public schools since winter is upon us. And it is fun, kind of like what I would think a quilting bee would be like. But one unfortunate part is we often have left over bits and pieces of yarn. So, I've been working on things to use that leftover yarn. I have made covers for my Swiffer and also donated some of the covers to the church's bazaar. I've given some away. Right now I'm making dish cloths. My goal is to have one for each day of the week so I can use it and then have a fresh one. I'm pretty close to having those made for myself. I've given some away so that's why I haven't reached my goal. I at least feel like I'm using up the yarn. I don't want to get in the habit of buying yarn before using up what I have. I checked out some books on crochet and one suggested crocheting a rug so maybe that could be my next project.

The other thing I need to work on using up is paper and stationery. I am old school and I write letters and send cards. Egad...that ages me, doesn't it? Actually, I have a couple of elderly friends who enjoy getting mail. And I will admit, I've hit the thrift stores and bought cards and stationery. I need to use what I have before I buy anymore. I rather doubt if they care if I use the same stationery or card each week.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Informal Lima Bean Poll

January 30th, 2017 at 10:51 pm

Since My English Castle posted about having some lima beans and the fact they are haunting them...I thought for the fun of it, I'd ask my Facebook friends what they thought. My question was simple, do you like lima beans? The results were interesting and closer than I imagined they would be: 36 said yes and 45 said no. Those who said no, were adamant they disliked them. Many of the those who said yes often added they had to be fixed a certain way or in soup.

As you can tell, I am easily amused. Smile

Being Grateful

January 29th, 2017 at 09:08 pm

It has been a busy week getting back into the swing of things so to speak. DH and I both did our volunteer stuff, plus grocery shopping and all those other things you have to do to keep up with stuff.

When we were on vacation, we picked up sea shells to share with the classes we volunteer in. I did a little presentation for the fifth grade class showing them the beach and Civil War forts. This class is fairly high poverty so I imagine very few will ever travel outside of our city unless they travel to visit family. All the classes seemed to appreciate we thought of them while we were away.

There is nothing like appreciating your home after you have been away. The kitchenette in the condo was tiny. It worked, but I feel like my kitchen is huge now so maybe that is a very good thing. I also appreciate having a stocked pantry and freezer. I cooked while we were away, but cooking is far more fun in my own place. I fixed a pork loin roast for supper last night and we are going to have pulled pork sandwiches for supper tonight. I like it when you can cook once and eat twice off of stuff.

Last summer we went to a friend's garage sale and I picked up some crochet thread. It was her mom's and it had some age to it. I finished a scarf for a shelf last night. I'm trying to do projects to not only keep my hands limber, but there is something about making something that is so very satisfying. I don't have a lot of money in it so that doesn't hurt.

It is a dreary day with some snow flurries. We had some sun yesterday and it is amazing how that little bit of sunshine lifted so many spirits.

I was reading some of the other blogs and one person had posted about the things they did this month to save money. One thing I did a few months ago was to change our cell phone plan. We had a plan and when I decided to get a smart phone a couple of years ago, the salesperson told me I HAD to have so much data. I didn't think I would use that much, but stupid me, I went with it. He promised me I could lower the amount. Well, I tried, and he did walk me through lowering it a little bit, but I felt like we were paying for far too many minutes and far too much data. We went with Consumer Cellular a couple of months ago. My old phone was shot so we bought wo new phones...I got another smart phone and DH got a flip phone which is what he wanted. Other than buying the phones outright, the rest of it was easy and a lot cheaper. We are paying a lot less, over half in fact. I'm happier with my phone than I was with the other one that was far more expensive. DH likes his new phone too -- bigger numbers and less features. He had a flip phone before, but it had far more on it than he would ever need. So, I think it another month, the savings we have gotten over switching will have paid for the new phones. The service is fine and guess what? I haven't used all the data and I'm paying for less than half of what that rep at the other company claimed I had to have!

Hope you all are having a great Sunday.

Haven't been Around Lately

January 22nd, 2017 at 07:31 pm

I haven't been around for over two weeks. No, I wasn't boycotting SA. I was either getting things ready or away on vacation. Yep, you read that correctly...two weeks of vacation. Never in my life have I been on vacation that long. It as something we had planned and saved for. In fact, we've been planning this for a few years. A goal we had once I retired was to rent a condo in Savannah, Georgia, and spend some time there. A friend suggested we rent one on Tybee Island so we did.

It was an enjoyable time, but I can say from my perspective, two weeks is too long. I missed my home. I missed my routines (does that mean I'm getting old and crotchety?).

We planned to eat out some, but we ate the bulk of our meals at the condo. I took many non perishables and we bought some fresh stuff while there. There is an IGA on the island and we made friends with the butcher. I asked him to tenderize some meat and he told me it would be a little bit because he had to clean the machine...fine with us. But get this, we were going to come back to the meat case but we didn't have to. He found us and delivered the meat to us! I felt like Tybee was a small town. We had lunch at a place and the owner was friendly and learned our names and was happy to give us directions and advice. Although I took some things with us, it isn't the same as having things in my pantry and freezer, so I had to plan carefully what I would fix because I didn't want to buy unnecessary things.

Our condo had a beach view. It was fun looking at the freighters and fishing boats as well as other boats. One afternoon and night it was really foggy over the ocean so there was a ship that had a continual fog horn. Living in land locked central Illinois, this was truly a new experience.









We found Sandra Bullock's house on the island. We viewed it from afar, but DH is a big Sandra Bullock fan so that was pretty exciting, even if she wasn't there. We did eat at a restaurant there she supposedly likes called the Breakfast Club. It is a small building and not real fancy inside or out, but the breakfast was marvelous. We were fortunate because we didn't have to wait for a table...I guess there are often lines outside waiting to get in.





We went into Savannah a few times. Let me tell you, if you go to Savannah and Tybee, be sure and have a pocketful of quarters. You pay for parking everywhere from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. We mostly went to eat some place. We really like Leopold's Ice Cream Shop. We've been to Savannah three times before this, so this is a must do place on our agenda. It was as good as ever. While we were there and parked, we walked around to some of the different shops. I did buy some tea from a locally owned shop and some spices from another that sells only things grown/manufactured in Georgia, I am not a big shopper so I don't think we increased their economy much. We walked to some of the shops on the main highway in Tybee and I got a bigger kick out to finding some pinecones on the way. Georgia pine trees are much taller than those here in the Midwest and the pinecones are huge. We also collected sea shells on the beach which we will give to the 5 classes DH and I volunteer in as souvenirs. Here are photos of DH and then me on the beach. I hate having my photo taken, but I figured I'm not getting any younger and I'm not going to ever be beautiful, so why not?






We had saved money to pay for everything. I still owe the credit card for two hotel room stays, one on the way there and one on the way back, but I have the cash put in the checking account to pay that. So, we walk away from our vacation not having a big bill over our head.

I think the best thing was getting home. It was an adventure -- we have never rented a condo before and we haven't been beach folks either, so it was something different and sometimes challenging. The condo was small -- we knew that and it isn't a criticism. We couldn't see paying more for the condo than we would for a hotel room. But, after being in a place so small, our house which isn't huge seemed very roomy! I'm glad to be home and I'm glad to be back on SA.

Keeping busy

January 1st, 2017 at 08:59 pm

Happy New Year to all of you! Hope 2017 is a happy and prosperous year for all of us.

Last week I posted a photo of our table and tree and received some very lovely comments. I appreciate the comments and feedback and the fact so many of you take the time to read my ramblings and even comment on them. I posted the same photo on Facebook and I had to laugh when my pastor wanted to know if we had new dining room furniture. I guess the tablecloth and Christmas runner made everything look different. He has been to my home before and eaten with us. I have told DH repeatedly that moving stuff around and changing linens give things a different look.

This has been a busy week for me. Partially because DH has been under the weather so he hasn't wanted to do too much. He is getting better so that is good, but I used the time to clean and declutter. We took a bunch of stuff to a thrift store to donate this week. Some of it was hard to part with -- I hate getting rid of kitchen items, but I have run out of room and these are items I haven't used. It is crazy to keep them. I tend to use the same things over and over again. Only one item did I purchase new and that was several years ago -- everything else was bought used so I didn't have a ton of money in them. But they are useless if they are just in the cabinets taking up space.

Since I'm on the cleaning kick, I'm trying to do the same thing in my pantry and fridge and freezer. I want to make sure I use stuff before it either goes bad or gets freezer burn. Right now the fridge is starting to look a bit bare, but that is OK. It is by choice and not because I haven't been shopping. Years ago, and I might have mentioned in a past blog, there was a columnist for the Chicago Tribune named Mike Royko. He wrote a column where every week he would go grocery shopping and he and the kids would eat all the easy to fix foods and leave the other stuff. So, he made a new rule, they had to eat everything before going to the store. I'm sure he exaggerated a bit, but it was funny when he said they had to get creative with some of the stuff, like an onion, flour and some water. He said it also encouraged his sons to find friends or their families who could cook or learn themselves.

My newest vice has been crocheting and knitting on a loom. I joined a group of ladies at church and they taught me to knit on a loom and we make hats to donate. We make small hats to give to hospitals for preemies, and then we make bigger hats and donate them to schools and organizations. I also crocheted a scarf to go along with a hat and donated it to one of our places for the homeless. I encouraged my friends on Facebook to do the same because I thought they might be useful in the winter. I am struggling a little bit with the crocheting because I am not allowing myself to go crazy on buying yarn. My church has some yarn that was donated and I used a bunch of it to make the hats, but I refuse to use that yarn for stuff for myself. I did buy some yarn and crocheted a cover for a throw pillow. My mom sewed the pillow covering a number of years ago, but it was looking pretty downtrodden so I thought crocheting a new cover would be nice. I finished it and it does look pretty nice. But of course I have part of a skein of yarn, so I have been looking for little things to make that can use up the yarn. I made myself some Swiffer broom covers out of some of the leftover yarn. I am now making dish cloths. I have been experimenting with different patterns to see what I like best. As I tell DH, it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble!

Guess I better get back to cleaning. I think taking care of one's belongings is a good way to save money, don't you?

Decorating on a Budget

December 27th, 2016 at 10:51 pm



As the holidays were approaching, I was amazed at the decorating some folks were doing. Of course the merchants aren't helping much with all the advertising and how important it is to have your home holiday perfect.

I set the table for supper the other night and decided to get a few things out. Everything on the table other than the flatware was bought used. Some of it I have had for a few years. The green tablecloth was purchased last summer. It was still in the package, but bought at a flea market for $5. I say you don't have to spend a fortunate to have nice things.

A furniture company has a commercial running that the couple didn't realize their home had no style until they took down the Christmas decorations and how you should buy all new stuff to liven up the place. Yep, I bet that will fix everything, right? Maybe that mentality is what has got so many in trouble financially.

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Hope everyone in the SA family is having a lovely Christmas. We attended Christmas Eve candlelight service last night and again I was amazed at having the lights turned down low and everyone with a candle, how special it was during the last hymn. Funny how the simple things can make the biggest impact.

We had regular worship service today and then DH and I came home and I finished Christmas dinner. DH has been fighting a sinus infection and it doesn't appear he is getting much better although he has been taking some antibiotics. With the cool, damp weather, my breathing is becoming a problem so after our lunch, we both napped. I will pay for that luxury tonight when I won't be able to sleep, but it was delicious nonetheless.

Hope all of you had a happy time and feel valued and loved.

Merry Christmas!

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

December 18th, 2016 at 09:57 pm

Here in Central Illinois it is 9 degrees with a wind chill of -6 and we have both ice on the ground and a little snow on top of it. The only good thing is it has been sunny today. I went outside to take out the garbage and it was not fun. It hurt to breathe, was slick as snot, and looking at our steep driveway made me worry how we could get out even if we wanted to.

Church was cancelled today because of the ice. Seems the ice we received Friday night has been a force many people cannot deal with. Apparently the elders decided the parking lot was too slick. I know there are those who think you should go to church even in bad weather, but sometimes you need to look at the safety issue. It is worth asking people to drive on slick streets and walk on treacherous parking lots? My one complaint is this...Food Network had been running new episodes of Barefoot Contessa at 9:30 Sunday mornings when we were in church and I had to miss it. The one Sunday I can watch, it wasn't being shown. Shoot!

One advantage of being holed up is I have gotten a lot of cleaning done. I know I have driven my husband nuts with dragging the vacuum here and there, but I want things tidy. I also balanced the check book this afternoon and didn't feel like it was taking too long. Heck, where would I go.

A disadvantage for my town is it seems like every weekend before Christmas in the past few years we have bad weather which cuts down on shopping. My shopping was done so that wasn't a problem for me, but the last weekend around here is usually a busy shopping time in my hometown. I imagine folks ordered stuff online since they were being told not to get out.

DH cannot complain he hasn't eaten well. We normally eat Friday night supper out, but we stayed in since the freezing rain was supposed to start around 3 p.m. Friday. I have to say it was probably more nutritious...i fixed fish. Last night we had pork loin roast and I'm going to use the leftover roast to make pulled pork for supper sandwiches tonight. I don't know if we have saved money because our heat is running a lot, but as far as eating out we have.

Hope you are safe and comfortable where you are tonight.

Million Dollar House

December 11th, 2016 at 10:30 pm

I live in Central Illinois. In our city of around 73,000, a decent house can be purchased for around $150K. Some more, some less. Of course this isn't high end finishes and such, but a decent home in a nice neighborhood. I wanted to preface what I'm going to describe by telling you these facts.

Yesterday, my husband's brother and sister-in-law took us through the house they are staying at that belongs to their friend. It is a million dollar house. It is a few miles from our house, but it is in a small community just outside of city, like a suburb, and the taxes are high, high, high. As is the water bills. This house has huge timber beams, quarter sawn oak trim, cabinets, and even doors. No hollow core doors here. The kitchen has a six burner gas cooktop that I drooled over. Many of the floors are hardwood, and the steps going into the lower level are slate. The floor in the lower level is tile. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, but the two second level bedrooms each have a vanity in them. The lot is fairly large and backs up to the woods. It has a fancy screened in porch with windows as well. The garage which isn't attached, is two car and the garage doors cost $10,000 each. It really was a show place. And part of me was just a little jealous.

Then, I thought how much the taxes have to be. And how much it would cost to heat, cool, water, and maintain this property. My little 3 bedroom ranch is just fine. But, it is just funny to see such an expensive house with all high end finishes. Except for one thing...the two shower stalls didn't have glass or doors. She had cheap vinyl liners. No curtain over them. So maybe life isn't perfect after all. But I'm still coveting those six burners! Smile

Our town has Millikin University. James Millikin is a big name in our town and there is a manse called the Millikin Homestead that has been preserved. Each Christmas they have tea and you can walk through the house and look at the furnishings and decorations, and enjoy either a cup of hot punch (rum if you want it added), coffee, and some cookies. A few blocks over there is the former governor Richard Oglesby mansion that also has a Christmas tea. Oglesby was a buddy of Abraham Lincoln so it is always cool to go through his house and see the furnishings. We were teasing one of the guides that Mrs. Oglesby truly had a master suite because in the bedroom was a washstand and a chamber pot. For its time, it was a "suite." Both of these houses really put on quite a spread and you can donate if you wish, but basically they are free. It was a nice way to spend some time on a raw, rainy afternoon.

The first photo is at the James Millikin Homestead Christmas tea. The other two are at the Oglesby Mansion and I thought the punch bowl was unique.






Another Cookie Recipe - Gingersnaps

December 1st, 2016 at 09:13 pm

A friend gave me a pile of cooking magazines and I saw this recipe. I like Gingersnaps and hoped it would be good. I made a batch and the cookies turned out picture perfect!

Old Fashioned Gingersnaps

3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses, beat well. Sift together dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Chill the dough. Roll into 1 1/4 inch balls and dip in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungraded cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until set and surface cracks. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 4 dozen.


Just an update: I baked 16 dozen cookies total for the church bazaar as well as 8 medium sized loaves of sweet bread. I need a break from baking before I start on the things I bake for gifts.

Anyone Interested in a Cookie Recipe Exchange?

November 27th, 2016 at 10:51 pm

Each year my church has a Christmas bazaar and at the bazaar they sell cookies by the pound. Before I retired, I would bake a few to send along, but my baking time was limited. Yesterday and today I've baked 12 dozen and plan to bake more in the next couple of days. The ones I baked yesterday and today can be frozen and thawed and they come out like they are fresh.

I was just going to propose something...anyone interested in sharing cookie recipes here? I'm going to share one I got from a Joanne Fluke book. Her protagonist Hannah Swensen runs a cookie shop in Minnesota and this was one of her recipes. I've been making it for years and it is a wonderful recipe. I've even just not put in the cinnamon and rolling the dough in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and added other things like different chips (milk, semi-sweet, and even white) and it is a great all around recipe. This original recipe is like Snickerdoodles if you are familiar with them.

Cinnamon Crips Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 F

2 cups melted butter (4 sticks)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 beaten eggs (large or jumbo)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of salt
4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs. Set aside. Mix dry ingredients together and then slowly add to wet mixture. Add vanilla at last.

Dough ball rolling mixture: 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Roll dough into balls, then into mixture. Bake at 325 10-15 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then on a wire rack.

This recipe, since I made the cookies about medium size made about 7 dozen. You can half this recipe easily if you don't need or want that many cookies. They freeze well after they are fully cooled.


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