I'm sorry if all I seem to write about lately is the pantry, but it seems to be what takes up a lot of my thoughts and time.
Our kitchen has a small reach in pantry. I was thrilled when we moved here 22 years ago because my previous kitchen was tiny and no pantry. But like my dad said, you always grow into your space. The pantry only had three shelves and the shelves are held up by wood around the three sides and then the shelf sits on the edge of each. A few years ago I found a shelf at one of the hardware stores that would fit without having to be cut. It's not as deep as the others, but that's OK because it makes it easier to get things off the floor of the pantry.
I'm almost ashamed to admit that the pantry walls and shelves look bedraggled. The contact paper on two of the shelves was not nice. I couldn't get it off. The wood on the three original shelves was really dark. The shelves themselves seemed sturdy so I couldn't see paying to replace them. So, I ventured out into the garage to look for a can of paint I knew we had. A few years ago we painted the bathroom and when we had some work done in there, we needed some touch up paint. The paint store wouldn't let us buy a small amount or even just a pint. Nope, had to buy a whole gallon. We didn't need a gallon and I have been irritated ever since to think about that almost full gallon of paint sitting in the garage. Well, I put it to good use. I had a paint brush and a small roller and plenty of newspaper to catch the drips. It took two coats, but I think it looks far better.
I have been browsing Pinterest and I know there is no way my pantry will ever be Pinterest Pretty, but I did get some ideas on better organization. I hoped I would find some things on our weekly thrift store outing and I did! I bought 4 square soft sided containers, one small metal basket, one wire basket that attaches to a shelf, and one of those spice things that slides out and turns for $13 and tax. One place had everything half price and we spent $11 there and $2 for the wire basket. I had two baskets and a couple of other things that I washed and reused. I'm sort of proud of the pantry. I felt like I did decently for some elbow grease and very little money.
I made more applesauce last week as well as apple juice. I think I have maybe 5 wide mouth quart jars and 3 regular mouth quart jars and 5 half pints left from all the canning. I have a lot of stuff canned. So, my pie safe as well as pantry is about full and what a blessing that is!
I noticed the other day I had stupidly stuck a bunch of papers in a drawer. I made myself go through all the papers. Most of them I could recycle. I had a few that needed to get to the shred pile. I really need to stop doing that kind of stuff and just deal with these papers right away.
Viewing the 'Cleaning/decluttering' Category
I'm sorry if all I seem to write about lately is the pantry, but it seems to be what takes up a lot of my thoughts and time.
There are things that I tend to procrastinate about. One is the kitchen pantry. I keep telling myself that I will straighten it up, and then I don't.
Well, today was the day and I did. I had straightened it up when we were first locked down, but I'm sad to admit that a lot of times I tend to put things where it is easiest instead of putting things away like I should. I always mean well, but...
Anyway, I had been saving a few things here and there. One thing was those mesh bags that fruit comes in. I had enough to make a scrubby out of them. Hubby was laughing at me as I was putting it together wondering what I was doing with them and I said getting ready to make a scrubby. It took me about 20 minutes to cut and trim the labels off the bags, but got it put together and with a little thread, sewed it into a nice fluffy one. Basically something out of nothing.
I am a jar collector. I like buying things in glass jars because I like the option of using them later. I used some of them as well as some canning jars to put things like oatmeal and popcorn in. It does help the pantry look a lot better.
We haven't been able to use our reusable grocery bags and we have a ton of plastic bags. I asked this week at both Aldi and Kroger and they said we can bring our own bags in. Kroger said we have to bag our own groceries if we do, but that's fine. It's always a gamble when you have them bag them because sometimes you get a kid who doesn't understand that cold stuff should be all put together. I have a lined bag for that and prefer to use it. So, hopefully I can recycle the plastic bags somewhere.
So, hopefully I will do a little better, at least for awhile, in keeping things straightened up in the pantry. I'm just glad I have a small one. At our other house we didn't have a pantry or much storage. I always drool over the food network shows where the cooks have a walk in pantry, but maybe it's a good thing I don't have one...more pantry to clean!
As Ceejay wrote, everyone's life has been touched by the pandemic and everyone's is a little different. Yes, indeed.
DH has put in a little bigger garden as far as tomatoes this year. He had 18 last year. He has 20 this year. We've been enjoying green onions and radishes so far and a little bit of lettuce. Our cool, damp, gloomy weather has not helped. I sure hope we get some sun this week.
I took stock of my canning pantry. I noticed I was about out of sweet relish. We don't use tons of it, but I like to have some on hand for things like egg salad, tuna salad, tuna cakes, etc. So, while at Aldi I bought some cucumbers and some bell peppers. I used the green onions I had on hand. I made 2 pints and 4 half pints. The two 2 pints will be enough for us (I still have a little left from last year) and I plan on giving the half pints as part of Christmas presents. There's a meme on Facebook of people wrapping up rolls of toilet paper for Christmas presents. Funny, but a little of sad truth. I thought, perhaps I could make some food baskets for Christmas gifts this year. In the past I have shared some of our canned goods at Christmas with a couple of people, but thought maybe I could do a little more this year.
I bought some grapes and after using some for chicken salad and fruit salad, I thought I could make some grape juice and make some grape jelly. I have the grape juice made. I plan to make the jelly later this week. Again, a jar for me and the rest for Christmas gifts.
I have already crocheted a few Christmas presents. I am working on a table runner for a friend that I am embroidering. Fortunately I had everything I needed. I guess I could order stuff, but at this point, I don't need anything.
So, anyone planning for Christmas yet?
The weather here in Central Illinois has been nothing short of gloomy until yesterday. We actually had an afternoon of sun after a morning of pea soup fog. DH got a chance to go out and work in the yard which delights him. He found two baby bunnies in the front yard. They've since moved which is good. He will be planning his garden and hopefully when it warms up, planting a garden and he doesn't like bunnies to use it as their personal buffet.
Illinois has been ordered to shelter in place since Saturday night. Two days ago I suggested to the Facebook group that our subdivision has that maybe we could do a zoo with stuffed animals for kids to see in windows since yesterday was supposed to be nice. One lady took the suggestion and ran with it so to speak...she made a list with street names and which animals, and it was nice seeing families going out with the checklist looking for the "zoo animals." This was not my original idea; I saw it online somewhere else. The best thing was people who normally never say anything would shout a hello if you were in the yard.
I guess one bad thing is I can see some neighbors who are not following the shelter in place order. People can still go to work if their place of employment is considered essential and that's not what I'm talking about. It's seeing people going to other people's homes and having people over or going shopping for non essential stuff. It angers me because it means they are doing this and however many other folks are doing it which is going to extend the outbreak as well as the sheltering in home.
I've kept busy doing cleaning and some crafting. I don't have the ability to make masks. So, I've worked on other items for donations later when this passes.
I think our grocery spending has increased some as some items have sort of increased. Last week there was so little bread at the store we wound up paying $4.50 for a loaf of organic. Granted, it was tasty, but, that over $2.50 more than what we would pay for a loaf. Last week the grocery stores were slammed and there were empty shelves in so many areas. When we went this week, there were many items there that were not there last week, including toilet paper. We didn't need any so we passed. Figured let those who were without get it. It was weird seeing the yogurt aisle riddled though. We eat yogurt for breakfast and although we found some for our breakfasts, not the kind we normally get, but oh, well. Guess it means we are having to be more flexible. As we walked by, we saw the ice cream case was pretty empty. I wonder if many of us will have put on weight once this is over. LOL
Hope you are all staying safe.
A friend and I recently were discussing ways we could cut more of our plastic consumption. I know we will never be able to totally forego it, but we figure anything we can do to help the environment helps. In an earlier post I talked about making bags. I have sewn a bunch of grocery bags for us and I even made some for some friends to use as well. And recently I have been knit looming some "market bags" that I will use for produce as well as gift bags.
I was thinking about my coffee maker. I use paper filters. Now, I know I'm going to offend some coffee experts, but I don't use a new filter each time. I'm the only one who drinks the stuff and I don't make a full pot each time. I put the coffee grounds on our garden, but throw away the filter. I thought, I wonder if there is such a thing as a reusable coffee filter out there for my machine.
There is and I bought one yesterday. I thought about sewing some, but I didn't have any muslin, so I figured maybe this would be the best bet and I can rinse it out without having to run it through a washer and dryer.
Speaking of which, I make my own laundry detergent. I've been using the same old vinegar bottle for years. It's scary how much water is really in laundry detergent. I also make my own knock off of Febreze.
I try to reuse any jars I get besides my canning ones. I use a ton of canning jars not only for canning but for other food storage. I have some Pyrex that is probably older than I am and cook and store things in them.
My friend wants to learn how to make bags. We are challenging each other to come up with ways to reduce our plastic. I was very careful with a plastic bag I had in the freezer with tomatoes. I washed it out and it looks like I can use it again. Hopefully my doing what I can will also save me some money!
I'm happy to report that DH caught a kid who was shoveling the driveway for his girlfriend's parents and asked him if he would shovel ours. He said yes and wanted to refuse payment. DH said no, you work, you get paid. What a relief.
Just finished cleaning house. I know I'm probably anal, but I have a schedule of sorts to clean and it helps me keep on top of stuff. I have an allergy to dust so that means I need to keep things pretty clean. I'm not thrilled with the process of cleaning, but sure like it when I'm done. We received a little more snow last night, but I could clean it off today. I also dug out around the mailbox since it seemed like it was pretty deep. Our mailbox is near the road.
I was going through papers and found one of those memorial book marks for a great uncle that had his obituary. Since I've been doing some genealogy, I was thrilled with finding it. I was doing some research yesterday afterwards and may have located a very distant relative in Colorado. We promised to email after Christmas and see what we can come up with. That's pretty exciting for me!
I just pulled 5 mini loaves of Snickerdoodle bread out of the oven. I think this is the last of the baking for gifts. I was gob smacked last week at Aldi -- they were totally out of white sugar. I was not out, but I try to keep a bag in reserve. Guess lots of people were baking for the holidays. Anyway, I'm going to post the recipe for Snickerdoodle bread. It calls for cinnamon chips and none of our stores locally have them so I have to buy them at an Amish bulk food store in a small town about 30 minutes away.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1 package of cinnamon chips
topping: 3 Tablespoons of sugar
3 Tablespoons of cinnamon
Cream butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until fluffy. Add vanilla and sour cream and and mix well. Mix flour and baking powder in. Add cinnamon chips and stir in batter. Spoon batter into buttered loaf pans until 2/3 full. Mix the topping mix and sprinkle over the batter. Bake until toothpick comes our clean. For a mini loaf pan, between 35-40 minutes. For a larger loaf man, closer to 50-60 minutes.
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.
Been busy around here trying to get things done. One thing was to work on decluttering. I still have a ways to go, but at least I made a little progress.
On Sunday I begged my husband to help me. I cannot get rid of towels. So, I pulled all the bath and hand towels out of the linen closet and let him go through them. There's a bag of them on the way out. The decent ones will go to the homeless shelter that allows daily showers. The decrepit ones went in the garbage.
I then got rid of some raggedy throw rugs.
Then the kitchen towels. I struggled, but I think I got rid of 5 of them. One of them I was still using. A couple went in the garage to clean up messes and the rest are history.
Yesterday I messaged a friend who had admired one of our chairs that we replaced a few months ago. I asked him if he wanted it. He did and he was over in less than 2 hours. I helped him load it and it is now in his house and he struggles with figuring out how he's going to get rid of his old chair. Better him than me, right?
The last couple of days have been spent house cleaning and laundry. The hardwood floors and laminate were vacuumed, then dust mopped, and then wet mopped. They sure look nice. I'm ready to meet DH at the door telling him he can't wear shoes inside. LOL
A couple of times a year I use orange oil on my kitchen cabinets to clean and preserve them. I think that will be a project in March. I had a brand I really liked, but can't find it, so I guess I'll have to use another type. Our cabinets are 16 years old and I don't think they look half bad. I do think taking care of them has helped.
Well, the dryer went off, so unless the laundress suddenly appeared, I guess I better go get the laundry out.
Tonight another couple is joining us for a casual dinner. I'm making goulash which is basically ground beef, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomato sauce mixed with elbow macaroni. We have garlic bread sticks and a vegetable and they are bringing dessert. It is far cheaper than going out and we enjoy being with each other so it should be a pleasure. She is already planning on what she is going to fix when we go over their house. I like this because we can have a nice time visiting and not spend a lot of money.
Speaking of spending, this weekend was sort of spendy one. It was my birthday. For Christmas we had received a gift certificate for a restaurant so we used that for my birthday dinner. DH gave me some money to buy some clothes so I did do that. I have lost a little weight and have gone down a size or two and some of my clothes are really looking big. I'm still wearing some, but I did buy a couple of things in my new size for when we go to church or I volunteer at school. I was fortunate that we had nice weather -- it was nearly 60 degrees and sunny. In past years we have had cold, cold weather and even a blizzard on my birthday so the weather was certainly a much appreciated gift.
Some of the larger items we donated to a thrift shop. Hopefully I will continue to lose weight and can declutter my closet more.
A couple we know has a trailer in a warm climate and they go there for 3 months. I'm glad for them if that is what they want to do, but his messages are what I call a brag fest -- "it was 77 today and sunny and I wore shorts and a t shirt and this is why we do this." I'm not jealous. I have no desire to have another residence nor do I want to spend extended times away from our home. Financially, they really can't afford it -- they live on loans and credit cards and his favorite hobby is shopping. In the past he has tried to make things a competition and I guess he feels this is also a competition, look what I've got and you don't. At this point, we could probably buy a small trailer outright and go there too, but I don't want to. I like my home, my friends, my church, and my community. I like going to the library and checking out books and visiting with some of the people who work there and catching up. And I most certainly would not do this to brag about what I have.
We are dreading getting our statement on our investments this month. The stock market rock and roll ride last month was crazy. Just hope we didn't lose too much.
I went and bought extra stamps since they are raising the price at the end of January to 55 cents a stamp. I know I'll eventually pay that, but I'm putting it off as long as I can. I did score some greeting cards at thrift stores last week. One place had a package of ten for a dollar. I bought 3 packages. A couple I couldn't use -- you couldn't mix or match. One is a birthday card for a son and I don't have a son. We have a box at church where we can put unused cards and they go to the women's prison here in town for the ladies so I bet someone can use that card and a couple others. I think we spent around $6 on cards, but I have birthday, anniversary, get well, sympathy, and a couple of anniversary cards for the year.
A couple other things I did to keep busy was to cut all the coupons out of the coupon flyers in Sunday's paper. I could use a couple, but most I could not. We collect the coupons and a couple sends them to some place for the military to use, even if they are expired. DH bought a Chicago Tribune last Sunday and they had lots too so I spent quite a bit of time cutting out coupons. Hopefully it can help some military families save some money.
I also cut out used postage stamps. Our ladies group collects them for some mission. I dropped the stamps, cards, and coupons off at church today when we went to fill the oil in the altar candles.
DH wasn't happy yesterday when he picked up some prescriptions. The news had been saying some prescriptions were going to go up and unfortunately some of his did. Not a huge amount for his copay, but it all adds up.
So there it is. A mish mash of activities so far in 2019.
I'm not talking about the Glenn Miller piece either!
It's funny how so many things revolve around how we feel about something. I know I have really been in the mood to can and fill up the pantry with home canned items as well as things that are on sale. I know by the middle of the summer when stuff starts coming on, I really am in the mood for canning.
I have also been working on Christmas gifts. I like to have them finished before Christmas. I'm not a person who handles working under a deadline that is stressful. I've finished all mine and I'm making some for a friend for her stocking stuffers.
DH is starting to clean up the yard and garden for winter. He surprised me today by cleaning the siding and the windows. He normally doesn't notice stuff like that, but he did. I do think "moods" truly effect many of our actions.
Tomorrow is garbage collection day and I've already planned on decluttering some things that cannot be recycled or reused. I'm in the mood for a tidier spot, that's for sure.
So, what motivates you?
It's been awhile since I've written anything. Nothing really very exciting going on, but that's fine. I am not complaining.
Have had a couple of expensive things, but not unexpected things come up. Our property taxes are due and we save all year for them so we have the money for them. Plus I made an appointment for DH to have his eyes examined and told him it was time for new glasses. His glasses are years old and I had him get out a pair of some of his older ones and he realized if he broke his current ones, his older ones wouldn't be much help. His eyes are weak and there is only so much one can do with the prescription, but the eye doctor did say they could add to the prescription this time so that might help with his vision. Plus, with the new technology and different frames, the gal helping him pick them out said that the glasses will be lighter weight so he's pleased about that.
I went through some items the other day to donate. I struggle with giving up things. We have more things in this house than we will ever use. I think it is the Depression Era mentality that was drilled into me by my parents. They lived through the Depression and had little. We need to drop those items off and get them out of the house.
We hooked up the rain barrel, but haven't had any rain in a long time. Hope we receive some rain soon because things are getting very dry and the corn leaves are starting to curl in many of the fields near us.
Last week one of the thrift stores had books on sale and hardbacks were 49 cents. I normally don't purchase many books and instead check them out of the library, but I did see a John Grisham that I had not read. It is "The Innocent Man" and there was no book jacket. I read the first couple of pages and realized I had not read it. I started (and finished) it this week and realized it was nonfiction about Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz and how they were convicted of a murder they did not commit and how DNA 12 years later freed them. I think I got my 49 cents worth and now DH wants to read it. We will donate it when he finishes.
I used a YouTube video to learn how to knit a scarf on a rectangular loom. The loom came in the package I bought over two years ago and it was a new challenge. It turned out well. I used some yarn I bought at a thrift store that was still in the package so I have less than $3 invested in my new scarf. I do need to take my coat to get it dry-cleaned. I haven't had it cleaned for a few years. I brush it every so often, but it does need to be cleaned.
Hope everyone has a delightful weekend.
It finally is starting to look and feel like spring around here. We did have a frost last night, but hopefully that is the last one. I don't think it harmed DH's garden. So far it seems like only the onions are starting to peep through so that might be a good thing.
We have an Aristocrat Pear in our front yard and it is simply stunning. This is the best it has ever been as far as flowering.
I've been on a tangent lately about trying to get things straightened up and cleaned up. DH is never on this page. Well, rarely if he is. He surprised me the other day and said he would like to get rid of a lawn mower we've had for over 20 years. It had been a nice mower and we've spent money in the past making sure it would work, but he hasn't used it for at least 5 years. He was going to just put it out for the garbage collector, but I suggested we offer it to a very handy guy we know. So, about 30 minutes ago he walked over, and took it home. DH had hosed it off because it was dusty, but hadn't tried to start it. He told the new owner he didn't think it would start. Well, the fellow put a little gas in it and it started right off. Amazing! So there are two happy people -- the guy with the new to him mower that needs a little fix up and me, because that is one less thing to stumble over in the garden shed.
DH is happy because he's out puttering in the yard. I've trying to get bills paid, the church Facebook and webpages updated as well as some other paperwork. Not a bad afternoon overall since we are not rushed having to do things.
Next item on the agenda -- go through receipts and shred those that have been paid on the credit card. After that, maybe a nice relaxing read of a murder mystery.
Here it is Wednesday. It's gloomy. The thermometer says 57, but it is a chilly 57 with the wind. Winter just doesn't want to give way it seems. We had snow Sunday night/Monday morning. Yesterday it was at least sunny.
The past couple of weeks have kept me busy. We received our tax refund and decided to use it to replace our freezer that is in our garage and our refrigerator. They were to deliver them both a week ago last Sunday so we left church early to make sure we were home.
They called to say they would be there between 10:30 and noon. Guess 1 p.m. was close enough for them because that is when they arrived. The freezer was fine, but the fridge had a wavy side panel and was dented. I said I didn't want it. The delivery guy said they would probably give me some money off and I said I didn't buy a new fridge to have it dented and I refused it. I called the store and talked to the manager and explained why I felt the way I did and how I wanted to make sure the next one would be dent free. The earliest we could come to a delivery date was Friday. And then we weren't guaranteed anytime which makes DH froth since he hates having to stay home and wait. Add that to forecasted heavy rain.
Well, they delivered it by 11 and beat the rain. No dents, no wavy side, no scratches. So, I am very pleased. I really like the freezer as well. It is a little larger than our old one. They no longer handle the kind we had before in the size we had that is frost free. I have no desire to defrost a freezer. So, I feel that was a good use of our tax refund. Since last year was our first year of us both being retired, it was tough gauging what we needed to have taken out.
Other than that, I've been busy working around the house. Since we had to move furniture twice for the fridge, it meant cleaning under and behind stuff. I then cleaned out the shelves in the Hoosier cabinet (far easier to move if it doesn't have stuff in it. I went through the spices and herbs I have in there and got rid of some stuff that was way beyond its freshness date. For years I had used a lazy Susan two tiered shelf in there and I thought since I'm going to take everything out, I wondered if I needed it anymore. I had a hard time finding stuff on it. Well, I don't need it. I washed it and it went in the pile for the church rummage sale along with a couple of other items.
A couple of months ago I hit the jackpot on some material at a thrift store. I found 8 yards for $5. My goal was to make some table runners for the dining room table, the island, and the shelf of the Hoosier cabinet. I made those as well as 4 napkins. I think there is enough to recover a pillow. I have a pillow we have for years and I no longer like the covering on it. It was bought to match a couch we no longer own (and haven't owned for years). So, I'm going to remove the cover, wash the pillow, and then use some extra filling to plump it up before I make the pillow covering. I think little changes like this make other things look different. I finished the pillowcases I worked on and they are now on my pillows on my bed. I've two photos, one of the pillowcases after I ironed them and one of the table runners on our island.
Our knitting group met last Thursday at church. Our new total is 320 hats. We are a third of the way to our goal of 1000! I have since completed 3 more hats. I like to make at least 5 hats every weeks. Last time I made 7 full size hats and 5 baby hats to donate to a local nonprofit that works with mothers and babies. I don't count the baby hats as far as the total.
For the past few years I have corresponded with a friend of my mom's. She is close to 90 and her health continues to fail. I know mail is a day brightener. So, I dug around the garage to find a small box and sent her an Amish fictional book, a devotional book, 5 dish cloths (I use the leftover yarn from the hats for these) a bar of natural soap, and some flavored tea bags. I received a note today exclaiming how much she appreciated everything. Her daughters come in and clean her house for her so I suggested she share the dish cloths with them. She said she really enjoyed finding everything in the box. I am going to have to do this more often if it brings such joy to her. I guess we should all remember how a simple card or letter can brighten the day of a shut in.
Sorry this entry is all over the place. Just a catch up, I guess.