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Fresh Food

July 19th, 2022 at 08:16 pm

Some of you have blogged about your gardens and I have as well. The tomatoes are really coming on and what a pleasure it is to enjoy them fresh from the garden. What a difference it is in taste. We are also getting some green onions as well as bell peppers and herbs.

Last year we did a half share of a CSA and we elected to do it again this year. Last week it was fresh green beans, onions, new potatoes, broccoli, corn, garlic, cabbage, and hot peppers. We gave the hot peppers away. We have enjoyed the fresh stuff with our own tomatoes. This week it was corn, potatoes, bok choy, a type of cabbage, and an onion as well as 2 green tomatoes. Lots of fresh eating.

I feel blessed to have so many wonderful fresh foods to fix and eat. I know it makes a difference in our health. I do wish more of the food pantries and government programs would encourage people to garden. Years and years and years ago after my Papa retired, we had moved to a small town north of where we live now and the government had a program called Green Thumb and his job was to help teenagers learn to garden. I wonder what happened to those kids and did they grow up and garden? As a former educator I refuse to even say schools should teach it; there are too many standards for a teacher to even cover as it is, as well as gardening. But think about how much money people could save if they could learn to garden. I see so many empty lots in our town and I wish the city would create a program that would allow people to make gardens on them to help feed themselves. I know that many of the inner city neighborhoods are basically food deserts. There's something immensely satisfying about growing and eating the food you have planted. Not to mention far healthier than the cheap processed foods many have to rely on. Anyway, that's just my take on it. 

Sometimes Pinterest is my Arch Enemy

June 19th, 2022 at 06:42 pm

I will admit it, I like Pinterest. Too much. It seems to be my go to site some days when I'm not sure.

As a result, I've tried new recipes, tried new crochet patterns, and even found some cool genealogy templates. I like blue willow dishes and I have one very big "board" of all sorts of blue willow. Peter Davison is one of my favorite British actors and I have a board with stuff about him. 

I have even searched frugal living on Pinterest. There seem to be quite a few things to pin there as well, but I've noticed there are a lot of repeats. 

I can't decide if Pinterest is valuable or a time waster. Hopefully valuable since I tend to get some good info from it.

My latest project was to make an apron using men's ties. It took me two days since I sewed everything by hand. My machine is not heavy duty and sewing through ties would be too much for it. It's kind of cute. I found the ties for 10 cents each so I have 90 cents worth of ties and used some other stuff around here. I was pleased the way it turned out and plan to give it as a Christmas gift for a man who likes to cook, but hates those "girly" aprons. 

I will admit Pinterest often tempts to try new things and get involved in stuff that hopefully has some value. It just makes it way too easy to find things. That's a good thing, right?

Being Frugal

March 24th, 2021 at 08:23 pm

A few weeks ago I happened upon 3 books at a thrift store for 50 cents each: "The Tightwad Gazette," and the next two volumes. So, for the sum of $1.50 and tax, I had all three books. Normally I get books from the library, but our library has been getting rid of older books (I'm not happy about it either), so they do not have these books. 

I just finished reading them. Yes, I realize they were set in the 1990s, but some things still ring true. I honestly think a lot of the things we discuss here on SA would make Amy proud. 

One thing she mentioned was although when things were no longer tight as far as money, she continued being frugal because it was so ingrained in her lifestyle. I think for most of us, we would say the same. 

Now that I have finished them, I plan to donate them to a thrift store and hope someone else can get some good from them. I think for less than $2, I derived a lot of pleasure of learning some new things and having some things validated.


Cold, cold Sunday

February 14th, 2021 at 10:31 pm

It's darn cold. And then another four letter word is also in our forecast: snow; they issued a winter storm warning for 6-10 inches.  I'm not a winter person, especially when it is this cold and then snow on top of it. Just hoping everyone stays safe. I'm scheduled to give blood tomorrow and I can predict if we get more than a few inches of snow, I will not be going. I know they need blood, but our road crews have not been good about keeping the roads cleared and I don't want to get stuck out somewhere on the way. Extreme cold and extreme heat bother my asthma. 

I may have mentioned that DH and I really like British mysteries. Awhile back we subscribed to the streaming service Acorn TV and have really enjoyed quite a few of their programs. I was looking the other day and I found one that wasn't a mystery, but look intriquing. It is called "Wartime Farm." It is a documentary by two British archeologists and one historian who live for a year as if they were running a farm during WWII near Southampton. My parents grew up during the Great Depression in the United States and of course told me about the war shortages and ration books here; well, after watching some of these episodes, the U.S. had it made compared to the English. The English before the war were having to import 2/3 of their food so when the war came and food supply chains were cut off, the English farmers were told to step up and grow more. Many had to get rid of their pigs and beef cattle because you could feed more people with plants than animals. The government stepped in and basically told the farmers what to plant and how much and if the farmers didn't meet the strict standards, they could lose all or part of their farm. I could go on and on, but it has been fascinating. I have one more left in the series, and I can honestly say I have really enjoyed it. I learned a lot. If you don't have Acorn TV, you can also find these on YouTube. There's also a book I guess. My library doesn't have it so I won't be getting to read it, but just an FYI. 

The interesting thing is I went to the library and checked out a murder mystery, British of course, and as I was reading, they mentioned "Lumberjills" which were women who cut trees in England since many of the men were off fighting the war. I had just seen an episode of "Wartime Farm" and it talked about the Lumberjills. 

One thing I really am enjoying is the creativity people had to use to make use of things that were originally cast off.  I think our world would be a better place if we recycled and reused more things. DH laughs at me because I'm always saving glass jars for this and that, but although I can recycle them, I really like having them around. I know I'm probably nuts, but I always thought soft drinks taste better in a cold, glass bottle, and I think milk does too. 

It's Valentine's Day and hopefully you have been greeted and remembered. DH and I exchange cards. I'm fixing a pasta dish and baked garlic bread to go with it for our Valentine's Day dinner. The beauty is these will probably make an encore performance later this week in some form. 

If you are in the path of bad weather, hope you are safe, warm, and cherished. 

I got riled

February 28th, 2019 at 03:41 pm

As a retiree, fortunately I can now express my opinion with little retaliation.

Last Tuesday was a school board meeting for the district from where I retired. The district is at 66% poverty rate with some individual schools having some even higher levels. At this meeting, the issue of reapplying for the grant to give every student free breakfast and free lunch came up. One of the board members said she didn't think they should because it doesn't give the district a positive image.

OK, I'm not going to talk politics here as far as entitlement programs and stuff. But having worked in high poverty schools for over 30 years, children cannot control what their parents do. There should not be an issue with feeding kids just because being poor might have a negative connotation.

I commented on the article on the newspaper's Facebook page and I had some current teachers inbox me to thank me because they were shocked at the comment, but didn't want to comment for fear of retaliation. So, I decided to write a letter to the editor pointing out the data for the district and if this board member is unaware of it, perhaps she should either study the data or resign. Egad.

I guess part of this is fueled by a local case where a 2 year old was starved and froze to death in a home while her mother and boyfriend let her. Kids should not go hungry because their parents are jerks.

And school board members should know their population.

Sorry for the rant.

A State Storyteller for Education

January 31st, 2018 at 02:59 pm

There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.

Illinois has big financial woes. Many of our larger city school districts are low performing. Most school districts that depend on local taxes are hurting big time. Starting salary in my city for a teacher is $39K. Most young teachers can't afford that because they owe so much in loans. Or if they take the much needed job, they live at poverty level if they have a family. Yet, our state is going to hire a storyteller. I'm wondering if this storyteller is going to tell fictional stories because the truth is pretty scary!

In other "factual" news, I almost have the room straightened up where we had the carpeting stretched. The guy showed up, on time, and after he finished, he said the job was more than he anticipated and that he had to restretch the whole room. I asked if he was going to raise the estimate and he said no, that wouldn't be fair to me. He also fixed a closet door in another bedroom because I asked him to show me how the bifold doors worked. He showed me, fixed it. So, I gave him $25 more than he said and he thanked me profusely.

Today I volunteer at school. I am working with some fifth graders on writing. It is sad how poorly they write and spell. A couple of them give me attitude claiming I don't know how to write and I just laugh as I work on their papers with them and correct the many grammatical and spelling errors. One of them said I didn't know what the teacher wanted and i finally told him that I have known the teacher longer than he has been alive, and I was the one who used to demonstrate in this teacher's class the writing model.

Our local paper is raising their rates yet again. This is the second time in a year. We seem to get less for more money and the mistakes continue to escalate. DH loves getting the paper and we can afford it, but it irks me we have to pay more and the quality isn't there.

Lambs Don't Wallow

June 19th, 2016 at 11:00 pm

We attended church today and part of the message was a parable in which a lamb is talking to his father saying how jealous he was of the pigs wallowing in the cool mud on such a hot day.

Papa Sheep told the lamb not to think about getting in the mud because "lambs don't wallow."

Of course the lamb waited until papa was out of sight and jumped in the pig pen and oozed into that cool mud...but the mud not only stuck to his legs, but to his coat as well and he became stuck. He cried for help and the farmer came and rescued him and cleaned him before putting him back in the fold. The father told the lamb the reason you don't get in the mud is we aren't like pigs, we get stuck in the mud so we don't wallow like them.

The message was basically this: we need to listen to our dad's advice.

A pretty cute parable for Father's Day, don't you think?

So, what advice did your dad give you that has served you well? One thing my dad always encouraged me to do was if anyone ever offered to teach me something, let them because you never know when it will come in handy.

How true that was. Long story short, I worked for a small newspaper in the late 70s. One of the typesetters called in sick so the other one after press time asked me if I wanted to learn to typeset. I said yes, and she did. That little education helped me pay for my college because it was a skill that I could use to make money.

Happy Memorial Day!

May 25th, 2015 at 09:04 pm

Happy Memorial Day! I'm sure most of us have been touched by someone in the Armed Forces whether it is a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, child.

Today the news stations broadcast the president putting a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. It was a beautiful ceremony and made me remember a number of years ago when DH and I were on a trip and we saw the changing of the guard there. The ceremony was moving and everyone in the crowd was quiet and respectful. I think that helped make it special.

As we remember our soldiers, both those we know and those we don't, think good thoughts of how blessed we are to have people who have fought for us. I'm including a couple of photos from my vacation in 2009 and the changing of the guard.

Monday, Monday

September 23rd, 2014 at 12:19 am

Mondays are always a different day simply because it means getting up and at 'em and getting to work. Don't get me wrong, I really like my job, but that bed on Monday mornings is so comfortable.

Today was a tough day for a couple of reasons. My asthma has started to flare up and it means my lungs hurt. It makes breathing and talking uncomfortable. I think it is because of the change in weather and the high pollen count. I often get like this when weather changes.

The other reason is one staff member has decided not to do what was instructed. I don't make the rules. I try to help teachers with their work (I'm an instructional coach) and I'm rooting for both staff and kids.

This person, however, decided not to do the interventions our problem solving team developed because this person claims to know more. Hmmm This person just started at our school this fall. This person has had less than six weeks with the students. The intervention was started last year because this child was falling further and further behind. Yet the teacher said the child doesn't stand out.

I get that it is extra work and extra time. But, with the state laws, teachers are to provide interventions for students who are discrepant. And this teacher only has one child identified so it isn't like there are a ton of kids to work with.

Yet this teacher didn't make the effort and is making excuses instead.

I had a difficult time keeping my temper from flaring. I don't get angry easily, but this set me off. This kid needs help and this teacher didn't even make an attempt.

Hopefully I will deal with this wisely. I just know if I were this child's parent, I would be very, very upset to think my child didn't receive help when needed. The majority of our school staff works hard to help our students. Too bad this person isn't doing the same.

History ... American and Mine

September 18th, 2014 at 11:17 pm

The last few evenings we have been viewing PBS' program on the Roosevelts by Ken Burns. Both of us enjoy history so it has been something to look forward to as well as enjoy.

We always knew Teddy was quite the character and this biographical flick validated and expanded on this.

Intermixed were stories of FDR and Eleanor the first couple of nights since they were still pretty young when Teddy was up and coming.

FDR has always been my favorite president and I think it stems from my father talking about growing up in the Depression and how FDR took some pretty strong action to try and help people work. I know I was devastated to learn years ago that he wasn't loyal to Eleanor and it still bothers me how such a smart person can make such stupid mistakes and have an affair. Nevertheless, I think FDR is someone who battled a lot to even become president.

The historian who wrote the series as well as one who is interviewed almost broke down in tears last night talking about how much FDR struggled with polio and how much pain he was in the rest of his life trying to appear "lame" instead of crippled so he could realize his dream of being president.

Yet I still believe seeing FDR and seeing history has become more real because of my dad's stories and his history. Often times things in the past are just things in the past, but my dad told about listening to FDR on the radio and how my uncle was a member of the CCC which had a project nearby -- refurbishing New Salem, IL.

The Depression was brought about by a number of things, but some of it was unsecured debt...sound familiar? People borrowing more than they could repay...Can we see in our own not to distant history our recession?

There's a quote about those who don't learn from history will repeat it (I'm paraphrasing) and this is so true. I know the economy goes in cycles and is unpredictable. But, folks who continue to make the same mistakes certainly aren't learning from them.

As I climb down from my soapbox, I look forward to another installment tonight of the Roosevelts.

What I have learned...

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Well, we have three months of having the booth under our belts.

I finished doing the paperwork today to see how we did.

One thing I learned is people around here do not buy deviled egg dishes. I sold the ones I had for what we had in them to a kind lady who was going to give them to a friend to replace the ones he lost due to divorce. I feel fortunate I didn't lose money.

Another thing I learned is to look at what everyone else has in their booths and not buy the same stuff. If it isn't selling in their booths, chances are it isn't going to sell in ours. So, we usually do a sweep every month to see what everyone has and look for different items.

In an earlier post I told my husband that we have to buy things that we ourselves might not like, but because someone else might collect it. It is difficult to do this because we usually gravitate to those items we ourselves like, but I have some things in our booth that I personally would not want. But we all have different likes.

In a previous post someone suggested to buy in such a way you can mark the price up to three times the amount. Sage advice, I might add.

I have been listening to what my friends say they buy and look for those items. One friend likes snowmen so when I find them reasonable, I pick them up and am storing most of them for more seasonable shopping, although I have a couple of things out. Another friend likes bird items and she has been a very faithful customer.

I think another thing I've learned is I have to do what I call, "hustle." I post photos on Facebook each week of stuff. I email people when I have items I think they might like. I move items around in the booth and exchange things out every few weeks so it looks different. We have seen booths that have looked the same for months. I wonder how they even make booth rent.

Our booth is small. I have it pretty packed. In all honesty, it has been fun.

So, I'm pleased to report that for the first month we broke even. The second month we made about $24. And last month we made about $36 after paying expenses.

We are using the profits to buy more items, but I think the education has been a benefit as well. I have no desire to go into business for myself, but it has been enjoyable.

Booth update

June 21st, 2013 at 09:35 pm

We checked in on our booth and we have made enough to cover the booth rent for this month and a little besides! Yay!

I have decided it is a game...what can we buy that truly interests others? DH is having to learn that just because he likes something, doesn't mean a lot of others do. I bought a couple trinkets that he questioned me on last week. I put them in the booth and they both sold over the weekend. It was luck, shot and simple, but it wasn't something I would particularly like for myself. So, it is learning to think beyond my own likes and dislikes.

Antique booth update

June 16th, 2013 at 07:20 pm

We are halfway through the first month of this antique booth. We have not quite made booth rent yet, but I am hopeful. It is a learning experience...things we thought would sell immediately haven't and stuff I added for filler have sold. Go figure!

Today they are supposed to have a vintage car show in the parking lot and they are supposed to sell food with the profit helping a homeless shelter. I certainly hope we have good weather for this to bring in lots of customers. I know not everyone will buy, but I figure if we have lots of folks going through the antique mall, the better our chances are. They were supposed to have an outdoor flea market a couple of weekends ago and because of the bad weather, they cancelled it. This place isn't quite a year old so the foot traffic isn't great...I hope activities like the car show help bring in other people.

I'm going to post some photos of some of the stuff in our booth so you get an idea of the stuff we are trying to sell.

Thank you to everyone who comment on the previous post about the booth. I am taking your advice that was generously given.

High School Lessons

June 29th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

It is interesting that one’s high school experience can still forge one’s lifetime decisions.

For many, high school was their greatest time of life – making friends, going to dances and parties and growing up. I made friends and learned an incredible amount of the politics of society. I wasn’t in the popular crowd. I didn’t go to dances. Some of the folks who were in the popular crowd were pretty snobby. I had friends and we did things and it was OK.

I’m 50, yet I’m surprised at how some people my age are still trying to relive their high school days. Someone I work with was a wanna be, in other words, she wanted to hang with the ”in” crowd. Well, she is trying to relive this time because someone she went to school with is someone she now works with, and they are now “friends.” Yet she copies everything this person does, right or wrong, because she still wants to be what she perceives as the “in” crowd. It is kind of sad, really. This person’s “friend” is accepting of her because she is using her, not because she really likes her. How incredibly shallow. I guess everyone wants a peep or two. And this person still wants to be accepted by their “hero.”

Some folks talk about high school being the best time of their life. And I’m sure it was. It wasn’t for me, but I learned that being popular isn’t always the most important. Doing what they consider boring isn’t always boring. It is often lonely standing up for what is right. I learned that even when a school district has little money, they will save the sports program at all costs, even if it cuts into academics, and that there is a pecking order in both the student body and the faculty. I saw emotional turmoil and such hatred in those who vied for the popular status and the hollowness of those fake friendships. And one day they were friends, the next day they were back biting, venomous enemies, only to start over the vicious cycle. Yet, I saw the depth of the good people I hung with who were not considered popular – they were the ones who stood by their friends, even if it meant getting made fun of. I saw teachers fighting for what was right. There was both good and bad and so much to be learned besides what was in the textbooks.

Some of these were not fun lessons, but they were certainly life lessons.

Attitude of Gratitude Day 12 or My Pastor is a Hoot!

November 14th, 2010 at 07:56 pm

I think my pastor likes to be funny. So far we haven't been rolling out of the pews laughing, but he does have his entertaining moments.

Today he was talking about people think that good people shouldn't have bad things happen to them and if it does, why some folks believe it happens. He was discussing that God still cares for us and although bad things happen, it isn't because God quit caring or that he is powerless. It's because we live in a fallen world and that there are consequences to our actions. No kidding.

He then went on to share how he needed to be someplace that was an hour and a half away but only had an hour to get there. Being the brilliant person he is, he figured that if he drove a third faster than normal (he figured it out mathematically...I told you he was brilliant) he could make it. Unfortunately, that was 85 mph and police officers rather frown on one traveling so quickly. He made a choice and paid the consequence...he received a speeding ticket.

It's nice to have a religious leader who will admit to mistakes. He uses it as a way to teach us things. And it makes us smile as well.

We all have consequences in what we do whether it is to speed or skip a step in baking. If I skip a step I might not get the finished product I had planned on. Or, I am wearing the consequence of not being careful when I pulled something out the oven, not once but twice. I have two "brand" marks on my right arm where I touched the hot rack. Stupid? Yes. Have I learned my lesson? I certainly hope so. I just tell folks that my modeling career is over. Which is the truth to an extent...I am not modeling material to begin with. But, I digress.

I am thankful that we have a great pastor who is willing to use every day activities to show us a better way to live. It certainly doesn't hurt that pastor has a good sense of humor and can teach a lesson in a humorous way. I am grateful that I have had many good people in my life who have cared enough to direct me.

So, what about you? Are you grateful that you've had someone in your life teaching you?

The Gift Goes On...

September 14th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Sandi Patti has a Christmas song called, "The Gift Goes On."


The basic premise is we were given a great gift and we then live joyfully and in a giving spirit.

OK, it's not Christmas...but I read an email from a friend of mine that made me stop and take a breath.

He's superintendent of a Chicagoan surburban school district. One of his teachers has been diagnosed with ALS. She's only 50. He said he wanted to keep her working as long as possible for her sake ... both money as well as doing what she loves...teaching.

Fellow staff members are stepping up by helping with things to make her life easier. They are even collecting money to help with financial concerns.

But the most surprising thing I read was the school board told my friend to do whatever it takes to keep this gal working as long as she wants. So, he's been rearranging jobs and schedules to help her and keep the education of the students going.

Are you teary yet?

This school district is teaching a great gift of showing compassion and kindness...can you think of any better lesson for children to learn?

High Stakes Tests

August 30th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I live in Illinois and for grade school and middle school we have the ISAT which is Illinois State Achievement Test.

It's a component of the NCLB -- No Child Left Behind. It's a way we are to be held accountable for how we educate students.

On the surface that sounds so good. I mean, no one wants a teacher doing nothing and a kid not being educated. We all know there are great teachers out there who do their best and then are the duds.

However, we've come to the point where a school has to make 85% to pass. On the surface that doesn't sound totally unreasonable. But it's not a straight 85%. Each year it goes up and each year it gets more and more difficult. This percentage not only means the total folks taking the test, but the subgroups. Subgroups contain 45 students and can be gender, race, special education status, and economic status. All subgroups have to make 85%. Confusing? You bet.

My school district is a poor district so we have a lot of folks on free and reduced lunch so just about every school has that subgroup. Of course we have boys and girls subgroups. We have some race subgroups. Some schools have the special education subgroup.

On top of all of that, the school has to maintain a 91% attendance rate. Even if they pass all the academics, they have to have that magic attendance number or they don't make AYP or adequate yearly progress.

This is just a simplified version. I cannot really figure the scores the way they do because there's a lot of this and that ... it's not just 85%.

If a school doesn't make AYP they are labeled failing. I understand the reasoning behind it, but some of the questions on the test I'm not sure are things children will use. We spend so much time teaching to test -- we have to because we don't want to fail -- that so much other stuff is left out.

We look at kids as test scores -- remember when people complained that they were more than a number? Well, it's getting that way in education. A kid is a test score. One school that isn't a true district school, but sort of has district privileges didn't make AYP when the scores were lower. They do now. How, you ask? Well, from what I can tell they don't keep kids who don't pass the ISAT. They send them back to their home schools. Truly survival of the fittest!

I truly believe there should be accountability in education. But I don't think a test given in the spring should be the only way to hold schools and districts accountable.

One of my former schools didn't make AYP. It's not a bad school. It's in a high poverty neighborhood. The teachers work very hard instructing kids. I've seen teachers bringing in things from home to help the kids like clothes, snacks, shoes, etc. One teacher's church has volunteers who come every week to work with the kids on materials she puts together. When a family had a fire, the staff collected money and items to gift to the family. Kids brought in what they could for donations. I think educating people for life is far more important that teaching them to take a test.

I bet you won't see a question on how you can best serve your neighbor on a high stakes test.