Not much to report overall. DH and I went on two day bus trips this week. Not exactly great planning on the travel agency's part, but they were things we wanted to do.
The first was to go to Joliet to the Jacob Henry Mansion. It is a Victorian home that has been kept up and there was a luncheon complete with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln visiting. After a delightful meal (usually these aren't all that great, but this one was) the Lincolns talked about how Christmas was celebrated during Victorian times, especially in the White House during 1861 - 1864. Then a Civil War General and his wife talked about Christmas music during that time. Following that meal and program, we walked across the lawn to an old church for a holiday pipe organ concert. The pipe organ was original and was lovely as was the stained glass windows. It was a nice day get away and other than spending what the trip cost, we spent nothing else. It was just an experience.
Yesterday we took a bus trip to the Galleria Mall in St. Louis. We honestly didn't need to shop for anything, but just wanted the chance to get to someplace else for a little while. We had a nice lunch and walked around the mall admiring the decorations. I noticed that leopard print is in this year for both men and women. Just in case you were interested. We didn't buy any. Lots of dresses with sequins as well as men's sports coats with sequins. We didn't buy any of that either. Good thing the mall didn't depend on our spending. Our local mall is dying a slow, painful death, so it was nice to see that every store front at the Galleria was occupied. It was just nice to do something different without spending a whole lot of money.
Our Thanksgiving was marvelous. Another couple joined us and we had a great time visiting. I made extra stuff so I could send plenty of turkey and other sides home with them. We have had 2 meals off the leftovers and tonight is another. By then we should be about done with the leftovers. I don't mind leftovers and it sure makes fixing a meal a lot easier since it is already cooked.
I have been working on our Christmas cards. Most of the people I send cards to don't do social media so the cards take awhile. I about gasped when I counted them...51. That's a lot of postage. Egad. Oh, well, It's a nice way to catch up with some folks.
My shopping is finished. I do have some baking to do for our church bazaar which is next Saturday, but I want to wait until closer to the date so the cookies and baked goods are fresh.
We didn't participate in the Black Friday shopping. I have found it is a perfect day to grocery shop since people are at the other stores rustling up bargains. I guess I've gotten to the point in my life where there really isn't anything I want to get up early for or get out on Thursday night to buy. I must be getting old.
Hope you all have a terrific holiday and weekend.
Not much to report overall. DH and I went on two day bus trips this week. Not exactly great planning on the travel agency's part, but they were things we wanted to do.
We did our final hat delivery yesterday to one of the schools. It has been a challenge getting them delivered between DH's eye surgeries and doctor's appointments, school issues, and the weather. But, they are where they need to be and I'm so glad.
The local paper came out and took photos and did a story. Here is the link if you are so inclined to read it:
This school which is slated to close at the end of this year, was the building where I started teaching in 1986. It was called Garfield then, but that school moved to another building and took the name and it is now Durfee. Funny thing, I taught at Garfield and transferred to Durfee and I was teaching at Durfee when it changed buildings to what was Garfield. I took the opportunity to walk through the school one more time. The district has a dwindling population so they are closing buildings.
Believe it or not, we have already started making hats for next year!
Looking back on the past few days, it seems like it has been a whirlwind of lots of little things.
We made some more hat deliveries. One is to a school that apparently is often forgotten, but has some high poverty kids. The secretaries and principal couldn't thank us enough. We also gave some hats and scarves to a ladies' homeless shelter and the people working there were thrilled. We have one more school to deliver to and that will be the 2018 hat season finished. We met Thursday and have started counting and we already have 91 hats completed and over 11 scarves. We have a local group that sends Christmas gifts to soldiers, many local, and we are going to make hats in the colors they suggested for them. I find if we add different groups, it keeps things interesting.
DH had his second cataract surgery on Tuesday. We never dreamed we would get such bad winter weather this early in November, but we did...very cold, snow that hit warm ground that then froze. Driving him to the surgery was not fun...I was the proverbial old lady driver poking along. I didn't have a death grip on the steering wheel, but I was not going to be hurried or rushed. We got there, he had his surgery, and we arrived home, safe and sound after lots of praying and white knuckles. Usually the surgery center is like a revolving door, but I guess they had lots cancel Tuesday morning. DH was the last one of the three that still had an appointment. But, it is over other than doing the eye drops and so far things seem to be going well.
While DH was resting when we got home, I tried to find some quiet activities. My mom used to take two dish cloths and sew them to make what looks like a jacket. It isn't really and you use three stitches to hold them together and include a poem about don't get excited, don't get misled, these are not for you, but your dishes instead. I made ten of them and am donating them for our Christmas bazaar. I also started crocheting these little red bags with white trim that I'll put some Hershey kisses in for Santa's treat bag. They might sell too for the bazaar. We normally have quite a few crafters as vendors, but I guess this year with all the shows and bazaars, we didn't have as many. We have a cookie walk that is the big draw since we sell cookies by the pound and people tend to load up for the holidays. I see lots of baking in my future.
Other than groceries, we haven't spent much. I've been buying stuff when it goes on sale either for the pantry or freezer or for the upcoming baking. Most of my Christmas is done as far as shopping and making. I have one more item to finish, but have to wait for a bright day since it is counted cross stitch. I've noticed as I get older, my eyes need the natural light for cross stitch.
Last night we had our "Gone with the Wind" dinner. We had planned for it to be earlier, but life gets in the way. We had a delightful time and the food was great. Our final menu was:
mashed potatoes with pan gravy
sweet potato pie
I looked up some trivia and we had a lot of laughs over some of these isolated facts such as there were 1400 actresses who auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara.
One of the things that was brought up was how fun it was to host these dinners and how having everyone bring something meant the host didn't have to spend all day cooking a full meal, but just the main entree. It certainly is more reasonable than going out to eat, that's for sure.
We did our first hat drop off to one of our schools. I invited the local weather man from the TV station and he came with us and talked to some of the kids about the importance of wearing hats and gloves in bad weather. I took some photos of him with the classes and he showed them on his weather segment that night. I was pretty elated after we left and one of the teachers sent me a photo of the kids with the hats. We have two more schools to take hats to. One is tomorrow and the other is in a week. We also want to give hats and scarves to a woman's shelter as well as veterans.
With the colder weather, we tend to have more soup. We usually eat out on Friday nights as our date night. Guess we didn't date the past two -- I pulled soup out of the freezer two weeks ago and made soup this week. There's enough soup from Friday's batch to have at least one more meal. With DH's eye surgery and the fact it gets darker so quickly, he was happy to stay home. I don't mind either. There are only a few places we will even frequent because some of the restaurants in our town have had bad reviews from the local health department. And it isn't just once...some make the same mistakes over and over and they are major. I had food poisoning from a restaurant a number of years ago and I never want to repeat that experience.
This works out to be a very busy week. Today was running a couple of errands and DH having his pre op appointment for his second cataract surgery. For the first eye, we had to pay $1500 for a special lens. Today the eye doctor said he didn't think this eye would need it. We had the money saved, but I can't say I'm super disappointed. I had taken the money out of savings and transferred to checking so we would have it. I'm glad some of it will be returned to savings.
A friend of mine is a local reporter and she was complaining that she has a very long day tomorrow and won't be able to get anything for supper. After I retired, I had given her one of those ceramic mugs with a plastic lid to microwave soup. She said that between her running for different meetings she wouldn't be able to even do that. So, I suggested heating some soup up and putting in a Thermos. The issue is they only have one Thermos and her husband uses it. I had a couple, one is a wide mouth one, so we took them to her so she can heat up her soup tomorrow before she leaves for work and have it tomorrow afternoon before she sets off to her many meetings. I gave her a regular mouth one too so if she wants to take coffee or tea at some point, she can. I have been blessed that I had these things and I'm more than happy to help her out. The nice thing is she was grateful. Plus, it gives me an excuse to get a couple of things out my cabinets because I know they will be put to good use.
This afternoon I baked two sheet cakes. One is a belated birthday cake for DH. Someone had made him fancy decorated cookies, so I told him I would make him a cake later. The other is for church for a funeral dinner. I cleaned house today and other than cleaning the bathrooms, and doing a couple more loads of laundry. that is done for the week. DH worked in the yard and put away the hoses so they didn't freeze. It's supposed to get really cold by the end of the week.
Tomorrow we drop off the cake for the dinner and fill all the candles around the altar. I also plan on making my grocery lists. I will be baking soon for our bazaar and I'm trying to stock up on stuff a little bit at a time so it isn't one big bite at the grocery store. A friend is going to have knee surgery and she asked if we could bring her some yarn from the supply at church to make hats, so we will do that Wednesday when we grocery shop. I also offered to pick up stuff at the store for her as well.
On Thursday we will make our first delivery of hats to one of the schools. It is supposed to get really cold at the end of this week with a chance of snow on Thursday so it might be a very timely delivery.
Right now Friday is pretty open. I'm sure something will come up. Saturday is our long anticipated "Gone with the Wind" Supper. We were going to have it earlier, but then one of the couples had some things come up. The nice thing with this group is we like fixing food and eating together and it is far cheaper than going out.
So, it is a busy week, but a good busy. I'm glad to have the bulk of the cleaning done. No one says I have to have it done by a certain time, but I do fret over it. I try to keep things pretty tidy and dust even if it doesn't look really dusty so things don't get real bad. I vacuum the floors at least once a week and then use one of those squirt mops on the hardwood and vinyl. It's scary how much dirt two people with no pets drag in.
It's a windy, rainy day here in Central Illinois. A perfect tea drinking day in fact. I like these kind of days as long as there is no storms and no flooding. I think they make me appreciate the really nice days. I have a beef roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots and it is an especially good day for such a meal.
Life has been busy. DH had cataract surgery on Tuesday on his right eye. It's been an adventure since he has worn glasses for over 67 years and seeing distance has been so bad, that he could barely read the alarm clock next to his head. He could read it the next day standing 4 foot away. He cannot read close up and the eye doctor doesn't want him to wear his glasses so his left eye is still weak and he struggles with that. He has surgery scheduled in less than three weeks for it and I imagine he will wind up getting reading glasses, but wow, what a miracle this surgery is.
A couple of weeks ago I made some apple sauce and some apple peel jelly. Usually when I try a new recipe, I always follow the recipe exactly. I just thought it would be fun to try something that you make from something you would not use anyway. Anyway, I gave a jar of it to a friend as well as a jar of apple juice. He criticized the jelly because it wasn't rock solid. Well, it isn't. If I make it again, I will include more pectin. But, it is still usable and I have been eating some one my toast. It really hurt my feelings that he had to find fault. DH said not to give him anything else.
We had our last meeting of the knitting group at church before we start giving away hats. Our totals are as follows for 2019:
Baby hats: 137
Not a bad total for a small group! We have three schools we are "adopting" and will give the schools enough hats for all the students plus some extras, and a few of the scarves. One of our church members purchases gloves that we include so each child will get a set of gloves. We have also given some hats to the Cancer Care Center. We plan to give two teachers who go to our church enough hats for their classrooms as well as hats, gloves, and scarves for our church's preschool. Another Lutheran Church is making Christmas baskets with food, and we will be sharing hats with them to include. We have a homeless shelter for women and their children in our town and we will be giving them a bunch of hats and scarves, and then the remainder will be going to a case manager at Lutheran Child and Family Services for Christmas. What a wonderful project that started 3 years ago with about 4 people. We have around 11-12 who come to our bimonthly meetings and it has been such a blessing that we have had people donate money or yarn to help us out.
So there is a mixture of what's going on in my life. Between eye drops for my husband and getting some things done around here, I've stayed occupied.
This morning I was just nosing around Pinterest. I am having to take a break from knitting and crocheting. I was crocheting last night and my fingers started to hurt and then later my shoulder was sore which is my body's way of telling me I've overdone it. Usually if I take it easy for a day or so and don't knit or crochet, I'm OK.
Anyway, I was looking at Pinterest because I had already read all the current blogs and saw a small recipe for Lavender Jelly. We just happen to have some lavender plants that DH hasn't gotten rid of yet (they are in pots) and I asked him if he minded if I cut off the blooms to make some jelly. He said no, he was going to get rid of the plants anyway. I had used some earlier to make all purpose cleaner with vinegar and Dawn so he's used to me using stuff.
Anyway, I have four small jars of jelly. Hope it turns out. It didn't seem like an overwhelming activity and I had the jars, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice.
Today was an expensive day. We replaced the tires on my car. Ouch. But, they needed it. The car is paid for and a couple of months ago we had some big bills, and now the tires, but far better than a pricey car payment every month. I had hoped to wait a couple more months, but the forecasters are thinking we might have a bad winter so I decided to spend the money anyway just to be safe. Plus, DH is going to have cataract surgery in the next few weeks and in between the surgery and post op appointments, I may find it hard to get in and get new tires.
Also had to pick up a prescription. It is asthma medicine and this is one of the worst times of the year for me. Sadly, when I called in for the refill, they didn't have it and had to order it and I guess because it was near the weekend, it took longer to get. Good thing I don't wait until I'm out to refill.
Other than that, I spent the morning canning. I think I'm done for this year except I may make some jam later on closer to Christmas. I refuse to buy any more jars so I'm using what I have. I tried something different this time -- I was making and canning applesauce and I saw on Pinterest a recipe for apple scrap jelly. What it is is basically taking the apple peels and cooking them with water, then running the juice through cheese cloth, and adding pectin and sugar. It has a pinkish tint to it. I followed the recipe, but I don't think it called for enough pectin because it seems fairly runny, but oh, well. It tastes good. Just a good way to use up something and I like trying new stuff.
I talked with our financial advisor about something and told him about my canning. He's such a nice man and has been a friend as well as advisor. When I finished canning and came back from getting new tires, I dropped off a pint of spaghetti sauce, a half pint of the apple scrap jelly, and a quart of apple juice. You would have thought I had given him gold or something. He kept thanking me and said he knew the jars really contained love. It is nice to be appreciated.
We have a new weatherman for our local station and I think he believes he is entertaining. I do not need to be entertained when watching the weather...I want the forecast basically, but he likes to think he's clever. Well, Mr. Clever kept saying we were not going to have a frost Friday night. DH happened to go outside Friday evening and came in and said he believed it would frost. So, here we are out with a flash light so he can pick bell peppers and Rosemary in case it did frost. I picked a few tomatoes that were starting to ripen just in case. Fortunately we had picked a majority of the herbs earlier that we wanted to dry.
Well, it did frost. It wasn't a killing freeze, but some of the herbs got it as well as some of the other plants and flowers. DH normally pulls up stuff when they predict a frost because he doesn't like dealing with the plants that get kind of soft and slimy after. That stupid weatherman was wrong and he assured us in the viewing area we would not have a frost. Glad DH was smart enough to go check.
We did go to an outdoor market yesterday that is about an hour and half away from us. It is in Morris, Illinois, along the Illinois-Michigan Canal. We also like to visit the downtown of Morris and go through the shops. It wasn't a huge spend day. We bought an acorn squash from the Morris FFA for $1 and some cinnamon rolls for our breakfast this morning as well as a cupcake from the local bakery to enjoy there. I had taken a Thermos of hot tea with us since it was a bit chilly and that was a nice treat. It was basically just a trip to get us out and about. I liked looking at the booths. I noticed that some had some knitting and crocheted items and I like looking at them.
When we came home I took some vegetable soup that I had in the freezer and heated that up for our supper and made herb cheesy biscuits. Not a super big spend day and we had a nice time.
I noticed that someone had posted that Christmas is 74 days away as of yesterday. I'm already thinking about all the cookies I need to bake for our church bazaar the first Saturday in December. Yikes! Most of my Christmas shopping is finished. DH picked out some clothes from Lands End that he wanted and they sent an email with a huge percentage off just that day so I took advantage of it.
DH will probably be pulling up the rest of the plants this afternoon. It supposed to warm up later this week, but you never know when the frost will be, especially with this weather man!
We took some things to one of the thrift stores to donate. DH had some lighthouse lamps that have been sitting on a closet shelf and never seemed to remember to get them out, but he did yesterday. He collects lighthouse stuff, but he never really liked the lamps -- they were gifts -- and he felt like that was a good thing to give away because they still worked. Maybe someone else can enjoy them.
We also had some other things to donate and it is easier to give a few things at a time...sadly the place we take them you have to climb up steps to take donations so it is a pain. Most of the volunteers are older than I am, so I don't feel like I should ask them to help either. So, doing it more often with less stuff each time seems to be the answer.
We went to our usual round of thrift stores on this cool, windy, rainy day. Did not find a thing we needed or wanted, but had a nice time looking. Of course when we donate, it makes me think how little we really need.
Yesterday I canned some applesauce and apple juice. Over the past couple of years I had given a friend some jelly and jam and had repeatedly asked that he return my jars and rings. I don't think that's much to ask -- just return them when he was done. Well, he didn't. Then he hinted he wanted more jelly. I made a comment that canning isn't free and besides paying for the stuff like fruit, sugar, petting, jars, lids, and rings cost money too. So, he made a big deal by going and buying some new jars. He bought a package of 6 and gave me three. I know this will sound like a snob, but they are not name brand. I've tried using generic jars and have not had good luck with them. I'm almost afraid to use them. I canned a jar of apple juice to see how it would work. They do not feel as heavy as my Ball or Kerr jars so I don't think I would want to use them more than once.
In other news, my knitting group at church met yesterday. We have over 1600 hats made. We are going to meet again in two weeks and that will determine our total for 2019. We will start in November knitting for 2020. We have chosen three schools, a preschool, the cancer care center, two classrooms of folks who attend our church, and a homeless shelter to receive our hats and scarves and we have a donor who buys gloves to go with the hats and scarves. I've contacted the three schools and have arranged dates to drop off the hats and show the kids the looms we use to knit. I know that is the teacher in me -- I think it never hurts to who kids how things are made.