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Creative Gardening and frugal cooking

May 8th, 2022 at 10:46 pm

It's spring and that time when DH usually puts in a garden. This year we are looking for different places to plant besides the normal spots. With the way prices are at the grocery, we want to make sure we use every onion set and every seed in the seed packet. 

We don't have a huge garden area per se. But today I took an old kids' wagon we have had sitting in the back and we put dirt in it and I planted radishes. It is deep enough for them. Then we dug up around this one area that wasn't too big and planted onion sets. I had planted radishes, lettuce, and carrots a week ago in some spare pots we had sitting around. 

All winter I have been saving tea our of tea bags, coffee grounds, and egg shells and putting them in our garden areas. I guess I think I'm not only eliminating some trash, but also enriching the soil. 

We had an awful lot of rain in the past week, so DH can't plant his tomatoes quite yet. I figure the rain helped put those tea, coffee, and egg shells into the ground. We had worked them in with a spade last weekend.

We went to an Amish bulk food store a couple of weeks ago and I bought some white rye flour. I mix it with all purpose flour and bake loaves of bread. I think between the flour, water, sugar, yeast, and oil, the loaves are less than a dollar each. We had invited a couple over for supper the other night and she was shocked that I had baked bread from scratch. I commented it wasn't that hard, wasn't that expensive, and I know what's in it. She looked in some of my cabinets and was equally shocked with all the stuff I had canned. We've used quite a bit of it already but we still have quite a bit. I had her try some of the lavender jelly I made last fall and she asked me why I would even think about using lavender and I said, well, DH grew some and I used it for jelly and also for an all purpose cleaner, and why not use something he grows. He planted it originally because we read it was popular with butterflies. So, we figure that is good for both the butterflies and us. 

Trip of a Lifetime

May 2nd, 2022 at 04:36 pm

For years we saved and saved and saved. We wanted to go to England. Then when we thought we were getting close enough to do so, you know what hit and shut down the world.

We decided to start planning anyway. We didn't have passports so a little over a year ago we did all the necessary stuff to get them ordered. We received them a year ago this month. We then went to a travel agent to discuss what we wanted to do. Neither of us have ever been out of the country so we wanted to go with someone who knew far more than we. We made our wish list. We didn't want to go with a tour company because we didn't want to go to Ireland or Scotland or Wales in addition to England. 

I wanted to go to Manchester because my dad's paternal side lived there in the late 1880s. I had Googled the address and the house is still around. I Googled the address of the restaurant he ran before having to file for bankruptcy and that building was also around and being used as a jewelry store. I wanted to see these places and see the city where they lived before immigration.

DH and are big fans of the series, "All Creatures Great and Small" so of course Yorkshire was also on the list. 

Then, of course, London. We emailed back and forth with the travel agent...instead of 7 days total, could we bump it up to 9 so we'd have 7 days to see things? We discussed it and said yes.

So, the Monday after Easter we started our journey, our trip of a lifetime. We were excited and scared at the same time. We had a written itinerary from our travel agent who had worked with a travel agent in England. It was very organized. 

After the many hour plane trip across "the pond" we landed at Heathrow. We then made a connecting flight to Manchester. I sat at the window of the plane and at my first glimpse of Manchester from the air, I'll admit it, I became teary. No one I know in the family still lives there, but it was unbelievable that I was going to be there. We were met by a driver who had our names on a card at the airport who drove us to our hotel. Talk about feeling like we were important! We stayed at a very nice hotel, walked around the first night, and the second day took a taxi and in 77 minutes saw both the house and the building the restaurant had once been housed in. We also saw some parts of Manchester before being dropped off and walking around a downtown area. We had afternoon tea at the hotel. And it was all good!

 

Here is the photo of us in front of the house:

The third day we took a train from Manchester to York. Finding the right platform was a bit of a challenge -- you have to either climb stairs or take the elevator or lift and go down and come back up, but we succeeded, found the right train, and could sit back and relax and watch the countryside. We walked to our hotel, left our bags, and was met by a driver/tour guide who took us around Yorkshire. We visited Thirsk which is made famous by James Herriot and visited the house/vet office. We had a lovely lunch at a wonderful place called "Upstairs Downstairs." DH and I shared a sandwich which was huge and included a small salad and coleslaw. And the tea! It was delightful. DH loved that they offered both brown sugar and white sugar and he has taken a shine to the brown sugar in his tea. We were then driven through many small villages, shown the ruins of the Bryland Abbey, and saw the lovely pastoral countryside.

Our fourth day we took a train to London and had a fancy hotel near the Palace. We had afternoon tea at the hotel and more wonderful tea as well as sandwiches and sweet treats. A Blue Badge guide met us at the hotel and we did  a walking tour. We saw Westminster Abbey, Parliment, St. Martin in the Fields, St. Paul's Cathedral, amongst other things and she dropped us off at the Tower of London. We had a private tour of the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels. It was delightful that the three guides there, one for outside, one for inside, and one for the actual jewels loved their jobs and sharing their knowledge. 

On our fifth day we took a bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford. The tour guide was a man after my own heart; after teaching here all these years and he knew how to guide and give us hints for the easiest and best way of doing things. It was a long day, but it was interesting seeing all the grand things at Windsor, then wondering how Stonehenge was built, then going into what is considered academia of Oxford. DH loves the Inspector Morse and Inspector Lewis series so it was wonderful to be able to walk around Oxford and recognize some of the scenes we had viewed. 

On our sixth day we started with the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. I was amused that the band played music from "Mary Poppins" for this. This was pretty neat to see all the pageantry and tradition. As we stood by the fence, a family came up and we started talking. They were from Albany, NY, and this trip was a birthday present for their 12 year old. We talked about the best places to get our Covid tests in order to return to the U.S. We were fortunate, there was a testing site almost across the street from the hotel and we could make an appointment. They asked how much was it and I said 23 pounds each. They said the airport charged more as did the pharmacy -- the pharmacy was asking 60 pounds each and there was 4 of them. So, they were delighted to learn of the place we had an appointment with. Then there was a couple next to us on the other side and they were from Charleston, S.C. and we visited with them as we waited as well. That really was nice. They were there on a whim -- decided to hop a plane and come and see the sites. 

After the changing of the guard, we went to a 3 course lunch at the Game Bird at the Stafford. I felt like I was rich. We were waited on and served such delicious food and treated so well. We had three types of salmon that was thinly sliced served with toast. It was sliced in front of us. Then they brought out this beautiful standing beef rib roast and it was sliced in front of us and we were served roasted potatoes, roasted carrots, broccoli, cauliflower casserole, and Yorkshire pudding. Dessert was a small oval of ice cream and this type of cake ball which had a hard chocolate shell. This is an aside, but there were two other couples who were seated next to us. They came in slighty after we did. I guess we have Midwestern Manners becasue we looked our servers in the face and thanked them repeatedly and asked questions. These two couples treated the servers with aloofness. I noticed that we received the best service of the three of us, and I looked at the roast beef that was served to the table next to us, and we most certainly got the prime pieces compared to what they were brought. I guess I'm not too proud to be nice. 

Next we went to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. England is 6 hours ahead of us in Central Illinois so at 3 p.m. in London, it was 9 a.m. back home and our brothers and sisters at Mt. Calvary Lutheran were having church at the same time. It was most certainly a wonderful service. The choir and cantor were amazing and that pipe organ! The choir master knew how to use the acoustics and would have the choir end in such a way that the last note would reverberate off the walls for a delightful effect. We walked back to our hotel and discussed what a fabulous day it had been.

Lunch at the Game Bird:

Our last day was busy with getting Covid tests, touring the Japan exhibit at the Queen's Gallery, and then walking tour of the sites that were Beatle related. We visited the building the Beatles had owned and did the rooftop concert in a very fancy men's clothing district, saw the Abbey Road studios and had our photo taken crossing where the Beatles crossed. Our last evening in London was a dinner cruise on the Thames River. It was fabulous seeing London at sunset and then the lights as it became dark. 

Our crossing Abbey Road:

I know we often discuss how to save money and investments and all that, but we did not scrimp on this trip. We spent a lot. We did a lot. Am I sorry? Heck no. All those coupons, all those rebates, all those leftovers, all those times I made do, it was a way for us to be able to fully fund and pay for this trip and not go into debt. 

My only regret -- the Queen didn't invite us to tea! But, we were told she wasn't in London when we were there. OK, I'm kidding about the tea invitation, but it truly was a trip of a lifetime!

Long time no blog

April 15th, 2022 at 09:20 pm

It's been a while since I've posted. Some is because I didn't have much to say, but the biggest reason is I couldn't do anything besides call up the page -- I couldn't comment on anyone else's posts either. It is very frustrating.

Things are just going along here. DH's ornamental pear bloomed and it is a thing of beauty. It's too cold to plant anything yet, but he's eager and I'm eager to start having home grown stuff. 

I continue to work with our church's looming group. Most loom knit hats and I used to, but now I crochet scarves since we give hats and scarves to our preschool and then give scarves with the hats as we have them. We are working to have 110 hats and scarves for CASA for our Lutheran High School's Student Council to distribute. We have 70 so far. We are also making dish cloths for a local food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets. Last year we had 200 made, but I think we may surpass that this year. We already have 124 made. I did make some and put in the Easter baskets for a woman's shelter we gave "Easter baskets" to last week and we usually give some for Christmas too. One lady knits those and I crochet mine. We figure getting something new and colorful is nice in the Christmas baskets.

It should be a quiet Easter for us, but that's fine. At least this year we can have services and attend which is a blessing.

Happy Easter!

Home Fix Ups

March 27th, 2022 at 07:44 pm

Each month we put money in an account that we designate as our home fund. We have other savings accounts too, but we have used it to pay for things like a new roof, a new driveway, and a new sink. Honestly, I cannot imagine not having some savings to pay for stuff, expected or unexpected. 

We have lived in this house 24 years. When we bought it, we figured we wanted to stay since it is a ranch, has few steps to get in, and is in a decent neighborhood. But things wear out. A friend from church has a son who has a remodeling business so we contacted him for a quote on updating a tub/shower, bathroom floor, fixing the wall in the bathroom, fixing a dishwasher problem (it wasn't the dishwasher, but the installer problem), and replacing a light in the closet. We talked to him and received a quote before Christmas. Like everyting prices have gone up since the last time we had anything of any magnitude done, and we had to wait until his crew was free, as well as when he got everything ordered. So, for the past two weeks we have been under construction. The crew was respectful not only to us, but to our house. They ran into a couple of problems, and we figured them out, but the house was built in 1979, so we assumed they would find some issues. At least nothing was major. They cleaned up after themselves at the end of each day. 

DH has a light in his closet that works. We have a new tub/shower that is lower than the old tub which was quite high and we have grab bars. We have a stool that seems to work far better than the old one. There is new flooring and the squeak that was under that floor is gone with some extra bracing. And my favorite part -- my dishwasher works! It was an easy fix -- we bought the machine in August of 2020 and paid a "professional" to install it. Twice. It never worked right. We had the warranty company come out and they said it wasn't the dishwasher. The fix was there are levelers on the bottom of the dishwasher and the installer never bothered to use them so the dishwasher sat at a weird angle and wouldn't run since it wasn't balanced. 

Was this expensive? You bet! Was it worth it! Definitely! It also has a great side effect...I've been cleaning and decluttering as well. Saving that money made it far easier than getting a loan. 

Yarn, Reusing, and Gardening

February 25th, 2022 at 08:48 pm

Recently I saw a little plaque that said, "Queen of Yarn." I feel like that sometimes when I look at the yarn I brought home from church. I continue to work on scarves and dish cloths for our Stitches of Love group. We have promised 110 hats and scarves to two non profits for next year, but we will have far more hats than that. Scarves take a little longer to make than hats. The dish cloths will go to a food pantry to put in the Christmas baskets.

Besides the crocheting, I also recovered two other hot pads with the fabric remnants. So, I have three new to me hot pods. I have been saving the bags the newspaper has come in due to bad weather and plan to make a wind sock out of them for the yard. 

Am I the only one delighted when something I buy comes in a glass bottle or jar? I'm so sick of plastic stuff. I recycle everything I can, but I wonder if it truly gets recycled. A lady from church is saving the caps off of plastic bottles to give to some charity that sends them in to make park benches. So, I made a newspaper sleeve to save them in. 

I bought a book at the thrift store today about small gardens. If food prices continue to rise, we may need to plant more things this spring and summer and this book supposedly gives ideas on small area gardening. 

We lost a lot of money in our retirement investments last month. I'm sure this month will be more of the same. Kind of scary how quickly it can drop.

I think if inflation continues as the chance of even more war and conflict, we will need to tighten our belts even more and continue to looks for ways to reuse things and find more reasonable alternatives.

I am praying for Ukraine and our world leaders.

This and That

February 13th, 2022 at 10:30 pm

This is going to be a mish mash of topics. I apologize in advance.

I don't know if I'm the only one, but the news about Russia and Ukraine is unsettling me. I know like there's not much I can do to even resolve this, but pray which I have been doing, but when I feel out of control I do something to give me control and that is bake. DH always knew when I had a bad day at work because I would bake sweet muffins of some sort when I was fixing supper. I explained that although I could not control what happened in my life, I knew putting certain ingredients together following the recipe would result in the same product: muffins. There was a comfort to that. 

A friend gave me 5 books in a tearoom mystery series and the last one talked about tea breads. I researched them since there was no recipe in the book and discovered one that you make with Earl Grey tea. I like that type of tea so I was delighted to try it. Instead of one big loaf, I made 3 small ones and gave two away. Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I also made some applesauce bread and gave those away with some cards. Here is the recipe I used and it came from the Food and Wine website:

Earl Grey Tea Bread

2 single serving Earl Grey tea bags

1 1/4 cup boilng water

2 cups prunes, diced

2 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar

1 1/2 t orange zest

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 t baking poweder

1/4 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brew tea with tea bags and hot water. Add prunes until some tea is absorbed and prunes are softened. Pull out and discard tea bags and let cool.

Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and orange zest. Stir in the tea and prunes. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold in until there are no flour streaks. Pour into buttered loaf pan. Bake until skewer comes out clean approximately 1 hour to 1 hour, ten minutes). Let sit on wire rack for ten minutes and then remove from pan and let the bread cool on wire rack. Serve with softened butter. 

Optional, but I did do this suggestion and was to toast it lightly. It was amazing! 

 

Besides the bread baking, I did some frugal stuff around here. I still had some material left from the last hot pad I covered, so I sewed a cover for another one. I will say it did brighten up the drawer I keep them in; they look so much nicer and newer. I have been saving and washing bread bags and using them to store things as well as marinate meat. I'm also one of those folks who will wash and reuse foil? Are you?

Our newspaper comes in an orange plastic bag when the weather is bad and a few years ago I made a windsock out of them using an old yogurt container. I still have the old one and it is pretty beat up, so I have been saving the bags and plan to make another one for this year. I have also been looking for sites on reusing things as much as I can. We already use cloth bags for the grocery when we can. For awhile during the worst of Covid, they wouldn't let us bring them in. I wash mine frequently, but I understand, because you never know what kind of homes they come from. And I believe I've mentioned my love affair with glass jars, especially Mason jars. I am sorry so many places use plastic jars because I really don't like them. I'm sure it is cheaper, except I won't reuse them for food stuff. 

I also spent an afternoon clearing out some papers in my desk. It was long past the time I should have done that. I figured if I hadn't used or needed them in the past year, I didn't need to keep them. Many will go into the shred pile, but most went to recycling. Kind of sad how I like to hold on to silly things. But I did feel better doing some decluttering, even if it was a small space. 

This was my mish mash of the week. I kept busy as you can tell. 

 

Snow Days

February 6th, 2022 at 08:51 pm

This week was not a fun one as far as the weather. Here in Central Illinois we started with a lot of rain Tuesday afternoon, which then became ice, then it started snowing. We received over 11 inches of snow from Wednesday through Thursday and then we had high winds which meant we had huge drifts. Then, as if this wasn't enough, the temperature dropped. Sadly our city road crews did not keep up with things and we were snowbound for three days. Fortunately we did not lose power. I had already slipped to the store Monday morning when they started talking multiple inches because I wanted to avoid the panic shopping. I didn't think we'd be able to do our usual Wednesday morning grocery shopping. I didn't get fresh fruit other than bananas and tangerines since we still had some, but I did pick up a loaf of bread and a half gallon of milk as well as some yogurt. 

Because of the extreme cold and the ice under the snow, I did not even try to shovel. On Friday a kind neighbor came and used his snow blower and cleaned out our driveway. DH and I did the sidewalk from the driveway to the front door.  The city snow plow didn't come until Saturday morning around 6 a.m. Our streets were so deep, we couldn't have gotten out even with our driveway cleared.

I spent some of the time doing genealogy, but I also spent some time sewing. I am hard on pot holders. I cook a lot and I use them a lot and although I try to keep them clean, I still spill or touch something and therefore I wash them a lot. I had two that I've kept for sentimental reasons. They weren't really pretty or anything, but my mom had given them to me years and years ago. But, even after many washings, they looked kind of icky and they were getting thinner and thinner. The stuffing inside had compressed. I looked at them and being frugal, I decided I didn't want to throw them away. So, I sewed them together and then made a cover to recover them of some leftover material. I did it all by hand because I didn't want to get the sewing machine out. It kept me busy Thursday afternoon and I felt like I had made something out of nothing so I counted it as a win.

We were able to get out yesterday and to be honest, after being homebound for over 3 days, it wore me out. We did hit the store for some fresh fruit and kitty litter. We use the kitty litter on our driveway since salt is so corrosive. People were shopping like crazy and fortunately we didn't need any bread because there wasn't any on the shelf. I guess Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday during the start of the snow, the shelves were bare at most stores so it made me feel good I have canned what I did this last summer, plus I buy extra things when it is on sale. 

We have a Facebook page for our subdivision and a dad said his son wanted some money and he said this was the perfect time to go out and make some. He offered a deal for his 12 year old to come and shovel the snow at the end of our driveways for $10 that the snow plow had left. We jumped at that offer! It was darn cold out there so it was a pleasure to give this kid some work and some money. DH gave him a little more since he came on time and was police and respectful. 

I'm ready for winter to end!

Old fashioned skills

January 30th, 2022 at 07:35 pm

Handwritten notes, button sewing, and leftovers -- what do they all have in common?

I believe they are old fashioned skills.

A week or so ago, a friend and I were talking about writing thank you notes and how we still like to send and receive those thank you notes in the mail. Recently I read an opinion column where a man said writing thank you letters as well as letters to companies have resulted in some grand things for him. He complained to a CEO of a company that he had had the repair people out over and over and eventually had to fix something himself. He said he didn't get nasty or threatening, but wondered if the CEO would at least reimburse him for his doing his own repair. The CEO apologized and went a step further and not only paid what it cost the man for the parts, but gave him some of the money back he had paid them initially. 

I think we can agree with the cost of food going up due to inflation, we are trying to squeeze more and more meals out of what we buy and make. I've always used leftovers either for lunches or what I tease DH as our buffet dinners. Some of the meals you get when you out are so huge, so not bringing the leftovers home is almost wasteful. I see lots of recipes for making use of stuff and I know that is going to be the case for us tonight. I made a huge pot of vegetable soup this week. We have had one meal already. We plan to have another tonight. A couple of days ago I fixed spaghetti and I don't put the sauce with the spaghetti, but serve them separately. We didn't eat all the spaghetti so I will chop it into small pieces and will add it to the soup as well as the little bit of leftover sauce. It will make the soup a little different than what we initially had. I am predicting we will have enough soup to freeze for another meal as well. I know I keep a bag in the freezer for leftover vegetables, you know a spoonfull of cooked carrots, or a few green beans, and I often use that to make vegetable soup with the other stuff. 

I recently ran across an article about sewing on buttons. Here is the url if you want to read it: 

https://www.southernliving.com/culture/do-you-know-how-to-sew-on-a-button?utm_campaign=southernliving_southernliving&utm_content=link&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=61f48c445ce2c700010cd246&fbclid=IwAR1kSLiAfLIJ8czHsEJr2COkjBykeFsiZ0qogXpexr6CyA3rUB3JbMB5IhI

Anyway, I just can't imagine taking it to someone and paying them to sew on a button. I cut off buttons of stuff that is no longer wearable and keep them in case we lose a button so I can hopefully find one that will work. A few years ago a woman I worked with popped the button off her slacks. She said she would be throwing them out and buying new. I told her to bring the slacks and the button and I would sew them on, but she refused. I thought it was wasteful. Before teachers were required to do all the state testing and basically regimented on what they had to teach and when, I used to do an art project where we would "decorate" felt Christmas trees by sewing on buttons. I figured that was a sneaky way of teaching a life skill. I would ask my friends for any stray buttons they had and I would teach the kids how to thread a needle and sew on buttons. I had to stop doing that since administrators felt since it wasn't on the state test, it wasn't a worthwhile thing to teach. 

I like reading articles on different skills and what people used to do. So  many were to save money and make do with what one had. 

Food Talk

January 16th, 2022 at 08:24 pm

So many of my conversations revolve around food. Even online ones, it seems.

I was very tickled today when another couple came near to us at church (we still socially distance and wear masks), but asked if either of us liked fried mush. Well, the mister and my husband went on and on singing the praises and how much they loved fried mush with syrup. I reminded them not to drool in the pews! 

Another friend that I rarely see, but so much of our emails revolve around food; we both chuckle over that. We share recipes too. 

Turning philosophical I think food is often a manifestation of love. I know if someone is ill, I try to drop off a meal. Someone did that years ago when I had surgery and it meant a lot to me. During Covid and we couldn't do anything as far as funeral dinners at church, some of us were asked to make some food and the food was dropped off to grieving families so they at least knew they were loved and thought of. For birthdays, it's a big thing to have a favorite meal and a birthday cake. I baked my own this year and I teased my husband there's something really wrong that I have to bake my own. But, it enabled me to share some cake with friends, kind of like we used to do when we were in school and brought birthday treats. It was mostly packaging it up and leaving it for people, but that is OK too. I at least could share some. 

This goes even further when we provide money or nonperishables for food pantries so others may eat. Or providing coffee, tea, bottled water, and packaged snacks for the homeless shelter. Although one isn't telling these people they are loved, hopefully they realize someone thinks enough of them to provide these items. 

Many of our holidays and celebrations revolve around food. Thanksgiving, of course, but then again Christmas and Easter. Valentine's Day is chocolates, but we like to go out for a special dinner as well as on our anniversary. 

One of the ways I demonstrate my love for my husband is fixing him meals he likes. I hit the jackpot last week when I made chicken pot pie, including the pie crust from scratch. He went on and on about it. I was pleased he liked it.

I told DH that so much of my time is spent in the kitchen because I make so many things from scratch. So, I'm letting my actions speak louder than words, perhaps. 

Considering how many people are thinking and saying negative things to each other, I feel talking about food is a safe subject.

This and That

January 2nd, 2022 at 08:57 pm

Hope y'all had a grand New Year. We didn't do much as far as celebrating, but that was fine. We had a good dinner and then watched a DVD and headed to bed at our normal time. We aren't party people, I guess. 

I've been catching up on the blogs and I must admit most who have their resolutions or goals stated have some good ones. 

It seems a big chunk of my time is spent in the kitchen, trying to stretch our food budget as much as possible and still eat healthy. A friend gave us a fruit basket for Christmas and I used some of it to make other things. We ate some of the fancier apples outright, but I used the other apples to make applesauce and apple juice. The oranges were huge and juicy and used them and some leftover tangerines we had purchased and made orange marmalade. Some of our friends made party mix so that's been a great snack and each one is a little different. Besides cooking, I washed the cabinet doors and then used orange oil on them (we have oak cabinets that aren't painted) to revitalize them. I then cleaned off the counters and washed them and the back splash and it made everything seem so fresh. We really need to think about replacing the ceiling fan and light in the kitchen. They will be 24 years old and although they both still work, I just know it will die and we'll be hard pressed to get a replacement and someone to install it. That is the major source of light in our kitchen; our home was built in 1979 and although we replaced the light over the sink, we don't have many other lights for the kitchen. 

Yesterday the financial person from church called. I couldn't imagine why should we would be calling me on New Year's Day. She was at church working on some things and it seems that our Stitches of Love group was sent a check by a local couple as a gift to their daughter. I guess every year they have her pick out a group or charity she thinks would benefit and she chose us. I was gobsmacked to say the least. I don't know her and she doesn't attend our church. It was a sizeable check too. What a blessing!

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I am struggling with getting rid of something. When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a pillow made of down. I quit using it years and years ago because due to allergy testing, it was found I'm allergic to it. But, I've held on to it. I was cleaning out a closet the other day and there it sat and I pulled it out and told myself I needed to get rid of it. How ridiculous is it that I struggle to get rid of it? I decided to research and it is decades past its prime so hopefully I can get it to the garbage can. I feel so foolish!

 

Christmas spending and saving

December 25th, 2021 at 10:03 pm

 Today is Christmas and I find it hard to believe it is almost over. All the excitement and planning and now it is almost over. It kind of makes me melancholy.

DH and I went overboard on Christmas presents this year. Everything is paid for, so no outstanding debt there. We open a Christmas Club each year and I put money in when we get out pension checks. But, it was nice not to scrimp. We plan to spend money on some remodeling and hopefully if Covid ever settles down, some traveling. 

We had Christmas Eve Candlelight Service last night and it was so sweet and moving. It was nice sitting with friends (masked of course) and getting to enjoy some sort of normalcy. We still socially distance, but at least we were close enough we could see each other and not do the Facebook virtual stuff. 

Today was quiet for us. We invited a man from church to join us for dinner. I know he's been vaccinated and also the booster since I'm the one who set up the appointments and filled out the paperwork for him. He is careful and wears a mask when he goes out as well. Our friend was in an automobile accident years ago and as a result, he often has short term memory issues. His parents go to Florida over the winter, so he is basically home alone and although he can take care of himself, we know it gets lonely for him. He joined us for the meal and left and I guess called his parents. His father just called to thank us for being so nice to their son and how much they appreciate us for doing so. That made my day! 

Hope your Christmas is a blessed and joyful one!

Christmas spending and saving

December 21st, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Again, I find it difficult to believe Christmas is already here! 

Every year we open up a Christmas Club and we use that to fund our Christmas shopping. I saw on the news last night someone said spending was up because people want to make this a special Christmas and give a little more. I thought, I bet inflation plays a part in that as well. I wonder how many people will be owing big time once the holidays are over. I noticed on many of the blogs many of you made your own gifts, or shopped throughout the year so you won't owe after the season is over.

We already started our Christmas Club for 2022. Just hope 2022 is less Covid and more joy!

Catch up!

December 19th, 2021 at 10:18 pm

It's hard to fathom that Christmas is less than a week away! This year has flown by!

Our British dinner a week ago was a success. We all made new recipes and realized there was a certain thrill to trying the unknown. We liked everything and I ordered those Christmas crackers and those were an absolute hoot. The other two couples are good sports about being willing to try new things. Although the dinner wasn't cheap, I'm sure it was still far cheaper than going out to a fancy restaurant. We all provided different things. And with this being the second year of Covid, it was just nice to have a little normalcy.

Christmas shopping has been finished and paid for so no January surprises there. I spent a lot in postage, both for Christmas cards and packages. Last year I sent two packages that took over a month to get to their destinations. This year things went better. Seems the place I mailed them last year has a worker (it's a post office annex, not the post office) who apparently doesn't know what she is doing, and puts something on them that sends them all over. One was to go to San Francisco and it went to LA, then SF, then came all the way back to Kentucky, then back to Springfield, Illinois, then finally back to San Francisco. The other one was to go to Terre Haute which is two hours away and it sat in Springfield for almost a month. I take them to a small town post office near us now and so far, have had no issues which is a blessing after last year's debacle. 

Unless things get locked down, 2022 may be a very spendy year for us. We have some trips planned as well as a bathroom remodel. We have the money in savings so it isn't like we have to go get loans, but we are both retired, and we figure if we can travel, we should before we get too handicapped to do so.

We visited with a couple the other day and it's interesting that when you think people are the same as you are, then realize they are not. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing. But, they were talking about some issues they have. They are always looking for a deal. Seems she saw some ad on Facebook for some shoes that she thought were name brand, but seems they were a knock off and the name on them was similar, but not the same, but only discovered it after she received the two pairs she ordered -- not well made and the soles are slick, not treaded. Apparently they cannot be returned and they were less than half of what the name brand would have cost. The other thing was they received a notice from a company that claimed since they were good customers, they could pick a prize and only pay postage of $5.95 or something like that. So, they picked something, and gave their credit card number to pay the postage. Well, besides the postage, another charge of over $70 was added. These are not stupid people, but we believe they have gotten scammed. It is just scary! 

Hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and let's hope 2022 is a successful year for all of us!

A little of this and that

December 7th, 2021 at 08:36 pm

Sadly I'm a bit behind in keeping up with blogs. The past couple of weeks have been a bit busy, but I'm not complaining one bit. I'm trying to catch up!

We delivered hats and dish cloths after Thanksgiving that our Stitches of Love group made. I am working on researching who we may be making hats for in 2022. We delivered a bunch to our local CASA as well as a women's homeless shelter and to a school.  

Our church had its Christmas bazaar. Some things were changed due to Covid, but it was still pretty successful. I baked 26 dozen cookies in addition to some sweet breads and a pan of fudge that was cut and packaged. I also made some things for the craft section. 

I believe we sent over 75 Christmas cards. Yes, I know that people don't think that is economical, but honestly, I like doing it and my husband who calls himself a Ludite when it comes to technology so enjoys when we receive Christmas cards back. I'm anal enough that I draw lines on the envelopes because I cannot write straight to save my life. 

Fortunately my shopping is finished and we had saved money throughout the year so everything is paid for. Yay! 

Two other couples are getting together and we are going to create a British Christmas dinner for Saturday. I looked for a cookbook in the thrift stores with recipes and eventually found one,  but between that and doing research online, I found some recipes I thought we could use. I ordered some Christmas crackers which should be fun. I've already told everyone we all have to wear the crowns that come with the crackers. 

A friend from church nicely loaned me the newest John Grisham novel after he finished reading it. I read it in two days and was pleased. I had put my name on the reserve list at the library. I read a lot of books but honestly cannot see purchasing a book that I'll read once. That was just a joy to get it so much sooner!

A man at church does not have any techy skills, so I signed him up for his Covid booster. I had gotten him his original two vaccines. Honestly, it is a shame that so many places make it so hard for people to do stuff who cannot use technology. He was in an auto accident a number of years ago and just cannot do the technology due to a brain injury. I did the same for a lady at church too. 

Like many, it has been a spendy few weeks, but we have saved the money and figure we might as well enjoy ourselves a little bit. We aren't going into debt. 

Hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy.

 

Thanksgiving is almost here

November 21st, 2021 at 07:51 pm

I find it hard to believe Thanksgiving is almost here. But then again, I saw the crazy grocery shopping start this week, so that should have been a been indication. We got to the stores early for our weekly trip and by the time we left the second store, the parking lot was getting quite full.

I have to admit I'm a bit jealous of those of you who earned free turkeys! Sadly our stores did not have any of those great offers. I remember growing up, my father would be given a turkey for Thanksgiving and a ham for Christmas. I wonder if many employers do that anymore. 

I invited a friend from church to join us for Thanksgiving. I had invited some others, but they had better offers. No, I'm kidding. They were already invited so that was fine. I just don't want to see someone spend the holiday alone. 

Our church Christmas bazaar is coming up. I'm not sure how they are going to do it with the Covid requirements, but knowing these ladies, they will work something out. We wear masks at church and for any activities, and they wear gloves during the bazaar, so I imagine that will continue to be a part of it. They are not having a luncheon like they used to. 

I hope you have many things to be grateful for this year. I know I do. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

How can it be November already?

November 12th, 2021 at 09:14 pm

November is flying by! I feel like I'm on a speeding train or something.

We had our Stitches of Love group yesterday at church. We have made 851 hats this year, 37 baby hats, 46 scarves, 30 blankets, and 186 dish cloths. The hats and scarves will be donated to kids' charities. I am working to make 14 more dish cloths so we have 200 for Christmas baskets for one of our food pantries to put in their Christmas baskets. The blankets we sent to a nonprofit called "Blankets from Ben." We made fewer hats and scarves this year due to Covid and the death of one person. Our group is pretty small, so even having over 800 is an accomplishment. 

In other things, I pulled a turkey breast from the freezer yesterday and put it in the fridge. I had bought a couple of them from Aldi and when I went to fix them, they aren't as good as they once were. I wonder if the farm is different where they get them had problems or what, but we didn't like them. I hate to throw them out and honestly, I would be embarrassed to donate them, so I decided I wanted to make some broth. I realized about 5 quarts of rich turkey broth. I plan to make soup tomorrow and wanted some broth and I will freeze the rest and thaw closer to Thanksgiving. As expensive as food is, I just hate to waste it.

Speaking of expensive, our grocery bill seems to be more expensive every week. And it is weird what is missing from the shelves. We are limited as far as grocery stores in my city. We have Aldi and Kroger and Walmart. I don't shop Walmart if I don't have to. Aldi had empty shelves as far as mandarin oranges and applesauce this last week as well as evaporated milk. I didn't want the mandarin oranges or applesauce, I just noticed it when I went to pick up a can of peaches to replace the can I used. Kroger doesn't have cans of red beans. They have kidney beans and Navy beans, but not red beans. They haven't had any beans other than their store brand for years so it sort of limits one if one is shopping for beans. I just thought it was weird what was missing from the shelves. I wondered if it was that way everywhere. Anything in particular not showing up on your grocery shelves?

Soggy Sunday

October 24th, 2021 at 08:38 pm

 

Fallingwater

Lots of rain today -- woke up to a storm and could just hear the rain pelting down. I guess we have a chance of bad storms tonight. Certainly hope that doesn't come to pass.

I went out and picked a few things from the little bit that remains of our garden. I want to make some soup for this week and use up some vegetables I have in the bin. I waited until it stopped raining for a bit.

We had purchased a bus trip in 2019 for 2020 and of course could not go. We did get to go this year and went to the Laurel Highlands to see two of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes: Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Both were really amazing in their own way. Kentuck Knob is supposed to be Usonian which supposedly is for the average man -- but with the final cost, I don't think it was for the average man, but cool nonetheless to visit. Fallingwater was, of course, amazing. We had budgeted money to eat out and buy a few things. My purchases were basically postcards. DH did find a shirt he wanted. But, we used money we had saved so we aren't in debt. Of course the trip was totally paid for in 2019 and to be honest, I was a little worried we might lose that money if the travel business went under. Fortunately we did not. We enjoy our time away and got to see a part of the country we had not been to so that was really cool. But, I can tell you, it was mighty nice to sleep in our own bed when we returned. 

I have tried to finish my Christmas shopping. I thought I had succeeded, but one item did not fit DH so I will have to return it and see if I can get something that does. But, other than buying stamps for the Christmas cards we send, I believe I am finished. I know they have said there might be problems getting things, but hopefully people will have planned ahead if they planned on shopping. 

 

Kentuck Knob

 

Retirement savings frustration

October 10th, 2021 at 10:26 pm

Years and years ago I started an IRA when I worked a number of part time jobs. None of my jobs would allow me to put in money before taxes, but I saved up and started an IRA on my own. This was before the beautiful thing called a Roth IRA came about. Anyway, I wasn't making much, but decided the fact I was young and compound interest would be my friend.

When I finally got hired full time as a teacher, I went to a financial advisor and we opened a wonderful 403b. We let my IRA money basically alone which was fine. So, after over 30 years, I have made some money on my investment. It isn't huge, less than $10,000, but it is mine.

However, the original company sold out to another company. A few years later that company was bought out. and now in 2021, another company has taken over. This last company, doesn't seem to be a really good one. So, my financial advisor and I decided we would move it to another IRA that I have. Shouldn't be an issue, right?

Wrong! I filled out a bunch of papers and they were sent in and within 24 hours, we were told they were not the right papers, although these were the ones the person on the phone said we needed. So, another batch of paperwork was filled out and then we heard nothing. Finally we called and spoke with someone and they said that they were just getting around to processing the papers. I had to sit in the office with my financial guy as he asked questions (I'm glad he knew what to ask) and then verify everything, and he took copious notes. They thought maybe the money would clear in the next 24 hours, but she wasn't sure. The paperwork itself done by the company was one big mess -- they sent me a statement, but instead of using my Social Security number, they were using the tax number for my financial guy, and had the wrong address. 

I'm happy to report that three months have passed since we first put in to transfer the money and it is no longer with this company. Fortunately  my financial guy knew the questions to ask, and what to do, and called repeatedly. It is scary when you think a big company screwed up the paperwork to begin with and then took almost three months to give me what was rightfully mine. It is now in an IRA where things are done correctly. But wow! 

Trying New Recipes

September 26th, 2021 at 08:55 pm

One of the things I've been doing is trying some new recipes. I like to challenge myself and see if I can make new stuff. I did two things this week and both I felt were a success.

 

One was making zucchini marmalade. A friend had dropped off some zucchini so I felt like I could experiment. The link to the recipe is found here:

 

https://practicalselfreliance.com/zucchini-marmalade/

 

The other  was a buttermilk corn bread, but instead of putting it a square pan or cast iron skillet, it was baked in a loaf pan. It isn't as rich as the one I normally make, but DH pronounced it good. He must have liked it, he had three slices!  Anyway, here's the recipe:

 

 

Buttermilk Corn Bread Loaf

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon of white granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of shortening

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles course crumbs.

Whisk together buttermilk and eggs in small bowl. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add buttermilk mixture, stir until mixture forms stiff batter. Batter will be lumpy.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth so mixture is even. Lift pan and let it hit the counter a couple of times to remove air bubbles.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cetner comes out clean. Cook in pan on wire rack for 10 mintes and then remove from pan and cool on the rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes one loaf.


 

DH's 75th birthday is tomorrow. I have a cake cooling in the kitchen. We plan to go out to dinner tomorrow night and figured he might not want to have cake after a big meal, so I decided to bake it a day early. He was all over that with grins. So, after it cools, I plan to frost it. I actually doubled the recipe. A friend had her mom die overnight, so I'm putting together some food to take over to their house and thought a cake might be OK. I am using one of those foil pans so they don't have to worry about bringing back the pan.

 
 

Potpourri

September 21st, 2021 at 07:13 pm

The past couple of weeks I've stayed busy, but nothing really earth shattering. I thought I was finished canning, but did wind up with some more tomatoes. Then a friend gave us some zucchini which I'm working on using. I made some zucchini relish, and am itching to try zucchini marmalade. We purchased a half share of CSA this summer and there were cucumbers in it, so I made some sweet relish too. 

It's hard to believe September is nearly over. DH's 75th birthday is Monday. I plan to bake him a chocolate cake and we hope to go out for supper. I spent some time cross stitching some towels for Christmas baskets as well as crocheting some dish cloths. I plan to make those little baskets up with those and some jams, jellies, and relish. 

There was a spot on the news a couple nights ago saying to do one's Christmas shopping early because they think there might be shortages of stuff.  I hope they aren't just saying that to put people in panic mode again. Other than DH, my shopping is basically finished. He usually tells me some clothes he wants. We give money to those who do things like cut our hair. 

The group at church branched out a little this year and we adopted a group that gives blankets to people who donate organs of loved ones. We made 30 blankets and I mailed them yesterday. We continue to make hats and scarves and dish cloths. 

I guess we are saving money because other than the normal stuff like groceries and medicine, we aren't going shopping. There isn't much of anything I need or want at this point, except for people to stay healthy and the Pandemic to end.  

Mish Mash

September 4th, 2021 at 08:06 pm

Sadly, I think my canning is over for this year. I think we have enough, but I always like to have extra on hand. DH had a good tomato crop, but he grew more heirlooms and they don't produce as many. But they sure were tasty. 

A few months ago I found this small weaving loom at a thrift store. Someone donated some rug yarn at church and no one wanted to use it -- a couple of skeins are not going to make much of anything plus it is rough stuff to work with. I decided to use it and make a scrubby for myself. I'm almost finished. I plan to donate the loom when I finish because it is OK, but nothing I really want to use. I did use one of the skeins to make a crocheted basket and one of the other ladies wanted it so I gave it to her. 

We continue to work on hats and scarves with the church knitting group. I finished a scarf and had some yarn left over. I saw a pattern using the rings from milk jugs and have been saving a few of them. You crochet around them to make a mini wreath ornament. So, I did that since the yarn was green, then made a dish cloth and used up the rest of the yarn. We have been making dish cloths to donate to one of the food pantries and women's shelter. A friend of mine is involved with the local CASA group and asked if we could provide hats for the kids so that is one of the groups we intend to give the hats to. 

I had some yarn left over from a hat and I used it to crochet a small bag to hold soap. I guess you can put a whole bar in it, but on a couple of the frugal sites, you put in parts of bars and then use that to keep the pieces together and lather up. I made myself one a few months ago and it did work. So, the bag is going to a friend for Christmas, but I'm going to include a whole bar of soap with hers. I also crocheted a dish cloth and then a smaller dish cloth and attached it to a scrubby. I'm not making as many Christmas presents this year simply because I haven't had the initiative. A lady and I were talking about this at church. She's a big crafts person and she said lately she hasn't felt like doing much of anything either. I'm wondering if the fact the Pandemic seems to never end and if we are just getting mind weary of it all. 

We received some much needed rain here today. DH is delighted because he was worrying about the yard browning. He hopes it will bring it back. I used the time inside to clean and organize the linen closet which I have been procrastinating about. It wasn't as bad I as thought, but I still was dreading it. 

The first Tuesday of the month, our Walgreens has senior day where if you are 55 or older, you can get a percentage off of anything not on sale. This doesn't include prescriptions however. But, I often try to make a list of things we use and often are not on sale and save a bit stocking up. It's fall and I'm in my stock up mode anyway on so many levels. Anyway, I'm making my list for that. We don't need a ton, but saving a bit here and there is always pleasant. 

Recipes with coffee/tea

August 24th, 2021 at 04:25 pm

In my last blog post, I commented I started a new book that had coffee recipes. It was a murder mystery by Emmeline Duncan called, "Fresh Brewed Murder." The main character, Sage, runs a coffee cart with her business partner Harley. 

One fellow blogger asked that I share some of the recipes. 

 

Simple Sage Syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar (can be white, brown, etc.)

20 fresh sage leaves

Bring water to a boil in saucepan and add sugar until it melts. Add the sage leaves and let it simmer about a minute, then turn off the heat. Let mixture seep for 45 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a closeable, airtight contaner. Sage syrup will last up to two weeks in the fridge.

 

Mason Jar Cold Brew Coffee

4 cups of water

3/4 cup of course coffee grounds 

Mix four cups of water and the 3/4 cup of coffee grounds in an appropriately sized jar and screw on the lid. Place in the refrigerator for 12 - 24 hours. When the coffee has brewed to your liking, strain it into a clean pitcher or jar. Service over ice and wilute with water or milk at a 1:1 ratio or to taste. To sweeten, add in simple syrup.

Sage Coffee Soda

3/4 cup of cold bre concentrate

1 tablespoon of sage simple syrup (or to taste)

Ice

3/4 cup of club soda

Mix the cold brew concentrate and simple syrup in a wide mouth, pint sized Mason jar or glass of our choosing. Add ice to the top of the glass, then slowly pour in the club soda. Light mix.

 

Sage Tea Soda

Tea of your choice(black, green, white)

1 tablespoon of sage simple syrup

ice

3/4 cup of club soda

Make your tea concentrate. You'll want to dramatically up your ratio of tea leaves to water. Or tea bags. Don't steep longer, just make the tea stronger, not bitter. Brew the tea for the usual amount of time. 

Mix the syrup, ice and club soda and enjoy!

Summer Time Happenings

August 22nd, 2021 at 06:54 pm

It's been a great summer of eating well. Between DH's garden and our CSA share box, we've had some marvelous eats! Hopefully I will get enough canned and preseved for a good winter as well. Today, at church, one of our pew buddies said his dad picked two large zucchini and did I want them? Of course I wanted them! If nothing else, I will shred them and freeze it. I bought the share box to force myself to try new things as well as enjoy some of our favorites. I never thought DH would go along with it, but sometimes we don't have a starch for supper -- just some protein and some vegetables and fruit for dessert. That makes me happy because I think we probably eating far better.

I accidently sent a photo of one of our suppers to a friend in an email. I meant to send it to another one and autofill got me. As I hit "send" I realized it was the wrong person. So, I had to send a follow up "oops" email, but then we started talking about what we both had for supper that night. He then mentioned something to do with genealogy, which got me to thinking, and I discovered he is distantly related to my husband after doing a bunch of research. That's kind of interesting. At least to me. 

I found a new author of a mystery series. It's about someone who runs a coffee cart. It has some interesting coffee recipes in the back that I think I might want to try. I've getting a little more adventuresome when it comes to cooking, probably because I did so much of it when stuff what shut down. I fear it's going to come to that as Covid cases continue to rise. 

I did some closet cleaning yesterday and have a bunch of things to donate to a thrift store. I need to do some more decluttering too around the house. I was proud of myself yesterday. We went to an antique mall and although there was a blue willow tea pot that I did not own, I did not get it. I didn't need it and honestly, don't have room to display it. I admired it and walked on. 

DH just went to go water the garden, so I may need to get myself into the kitchen in case there are some tomatoes that need to be processed and canned. At least I hope so!

Hope your summer is going well!

New bread recipe

August 19th, 2021 at 03:13 pm

Recently I mentioned that we bought a half share in a CSA this summer. It has been great -- all those fresh vegetables and I'm being challenged to use things I normally would not have purchased. I was delighted to get a zucchini. I know there are those jokes about people giving people zucchini in secret to get rid of them, but sadly, I don't know anyone who grows zucchini. Anyway. I ran across this recipe and decided to try it for a change. DH had a piece last night and declared it delicious. I did not make the cream cheese icing, instead just made the glaze with the orange juice, powdered sugar and butter. But felt it was a good use of vegetables and a nice treat too. Just thought I'd share in case any of you have some garden vegetables you'd like to utilize.

 

Carrot Apple Zucchini Bread:

 

https://www.momontimeout.com/carrot-apple-zucchini-bread-recipe/?fbclid=IwAR2z050D681jYJCYqAnR8C9ZDEGSnUNYueGITaQ2iO-xOtOuwb2KJcg7f7A

 

 

Not being trendy paid off!

August 15th, 2021 at 09:17 pm

I know I'm usually out of step with whatever is the current trend. I'm OK with that.

Let me briefly explain. For a time in my life, I wanted silence. Being a music lover, that was strange, but I didn't want music or talk or television or anything while I did things around the house or while I was in the car. 

Recently everything has become more pronounced in my life. Music seems sweeter. My enjoyment is immense.

DH has quite a collection of CDs, and one of them was the greatest hits of ABBA - very upbeat and fun. Except DH isn't always the most careful and the middle of the CD is damaged. Very discouraging when I wanted to listen to one of my favorites: "Money, money, money!" (OK, imagine that, eh?)

I decided I would splurge and go to Target and buy a new one. Imagine my chagrin to discover Target no longer carries them. We have no music stores in our town so that is out. I refuse to go to what I term the evil empire aka Walmart. So, I figured I would just have to do without. 

On our weekly thrift shop foray one place was selling CDs for a quarter each. And you guessed it, ABBA was in the group of them. Of course I snatched that up! What a delight. What a joy! What a bargain! How fortuitous!

So, apparently CDs are passe. All the better for me -- a quarter for some great tunes!

Garden Food

August 8th, 2021 at 07:31 pm

The last couple of weeks have kept me busy dealing with stuff from our garden. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm glad we have the fresh food and have either prepared it or figured out a way to preserve it. DH just pulled up all our garlic and I spent most of yesterday afternoon working with about 2/3 of it. I plan, once I finish this, to go finish up. I peel it, wash it, mince it, and then pack into jars with olive oil, and then store it in the fridge. Yesterday I had about 4 pints, so I think I'll get another pint or so. I share some of it. I also hold back some of the garlic bulbs so DH can plant it again for next year's crop.

His tomatoes started coming on early and once we got enough, I started canning. I can regular tomatoes, make tomato juice, and also make what I call spaghetti sauce with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, basil, and oregano. I will need to start drying herbs for the winter as well, but right now, the tomatoes are keeping me busy. 

 

We bought a half share in a local CSA so I have been using what has come every week. One reason I did that was I wanted the challenge of never knowing what would show up and then being forced to use it. We've tried things I never would have tried before so that is good.

A friend gave me some bunch of cucumbers so I made sweet pickles and sweet relish. 

I did a count on stuff I've canned so far. Some of it is from finding things on sale like fruits to make jelly. The green beans weren't on sale, but I prefer canning my own. But these are the totals of what I have on hand. I have actually canned more, but we've used it.

4 pints and 1 half pint of sweet relish

2 half pints of sweet pickles

6 quarts, one half pint of tomatoes

5 quarts, 8 pints of tomato juice

6 quarts, 16 pints of spaghetti sauce

12 quarts, 4 pints of green beans

9 quarts 2 pints, and 1 half pint of applesauce

12 quarts of apple juice

6 half pints of apple jelly

5 half pints of grape jelly

1 pint 2 half pints of lavender jelly

6 half pints of blueberry jelly.

 

I'm looking forward to when DH gets bigger bell peppers because I plan to wash and chop,and freeze them to use over the winter. I was in sticker shock earlier this summer when I had to buy a couple since I had run out!

 

 

Busy, busy

July 25th, 2021 at 07:02 pm

Life has been busy. I'm not complaining though. 

DH's garden is starting to produce. He picked over 70 tomatoes and I made spaghett sauce with his onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and basil. I realized 10 pints yesterday, plus two pints of tomato juice and one pint of just plain tomatoes. I used to basically do quarts, but a pint will make up a meal for us. I still can quarts, but use it for soups and stews. Since it has been extremely hot and humid, DH has spent a lot of time watering his garden. 

We took a day trip to Fairfield, Iowa. That is about 4 hours northwest of us. It was a nostalgia trip for me. My great aunt lived there and when I was a little girl, I would go and spend a week in the summer with her. It's been 43 years since I've visited, and I wanted to go back one more time to see if the place had changed a lot. My aunt had an apartment in a huge old house; I looked it up last fall and saw it was no longer an apartment house, but a single family home. I wrote a letter to the owners (I didn't know their names, just put to the owners of and the address) and sent photos I had taken when I was a kid and asked them to realize it was taken with an Instamatic and I was a kid when I took them, and shared the sweet memories I had of the place. Much to my surprise I received a nice note back from one of the owners thanking me for the photos and a little history of the house and how they have worked to keep the original woodwork and plaster. So, it was nice to see it in person. I didn't go up in the yard or to the door. I also talked to the cataloguer at the local library about sharing some photos and other stuff from my great aunt and uncle for their genealogy department and will be sending that stuff along as soon as I label it. Anyway, I'm trying to post a photo of the house below:

 

I went to give blood three weeks ago and much to my chagrin, I was deferred. I have never been turned away. I was told my blood pressure was too low. Which of course made me worry that something was wrong with me. Fortunately I had a physical scheduled for the next day and my blood pressure was normal. Thinking back on it, I don't think the two people at the blood drive wanted to be bothered with me. I realized that the bp cuff wasn't very tight and one started the procedure and then said her boss wanted her and someone else would finish with me and that person didn't act like he was pleased being pulled over. I gave this past week with no problems at all, so I'm thinking it wasn't me that had the problem to begin with. With the shortage of blood, you'd think people would get over their petty little issues at work. 

The maid didn't show up yet again, so I see lots of housework in my future. But I try to remind myself that I'm blessed to have a home to clean. 

Shopping for clothes

July 11th, 2021 at 07:02 pm

Clothes shopping is just not my thing.

Years ago TLC had a program called "What Not To Wear" and I loved watching it and seeing how they helped people be their personal best. Being someone who has always struggled with weight issues, every time they had someone who was overweight, it captured my interest even more. So many times those ladies would leave the stores in tears. I felt their pain because that is what it was like for me. Being short and overweight did not make it a good experience. Plus, much of the stuff out there is just plain ugly. So, I would wear the same stuff over and over until it was so worn out and I would be forced to and find something and then the whole painful process would start. 

So, as I got older and made a little more money, I ventured to a couple of stores that I never would have thought of walking into. A couple of weeks ago we went to a store we haven't visited since before the Pandemic to buy some slacks and some blouses. One of the ladies took me to the dressing room and told me to let her pick out things and try them all on, even if I didn't think I'd like them. I discovered something -- I have been buying the wrong size in pants. She found me slacks that not only fit better, but I didn't have to hem them. She found blouses that were flattering. I tried on way more things than I bought, but we looked at things that I would not have looked at and it was amazing. One time I didn't leave clothes shopping in tears! 

I honestly feel better about myself thinking that the clothes look good. That made it worth the extra money for me. 

Kindness

June 29th, 2021 at 04:09 pm

I made my husband cry.

 

It wasn’t planned. I wasn’t attempting to do that at all. 

 

Last week a friend died. She had a good long life, although as humans we often crave to live longer and wish our loved ones do as well. When her daughter called to tell me of her passing, there was a catch in her throat and my heart went out to her. 

 

This friend was the person I wished I had had as a mother. I know you can’t always know what really goes on in people’s homes behind closed doors, but her treatment of me had always been nothing but kind. She seemed wise. I met her and her family at church and she was the one who struck up the friendship. I was kind of shy to begin with and due to never feeling like I’m good enough, suffered poor self esteem. She was just nice to me. She would seek me out to speak to me. When I was in college she wrote me letters. When I student taught and lived out of town, she said if the weather was bad, don’t drive in bad conditions, but come stay at her house because she had an extra bedroom. When I came back after college and lived here, we kept up with each other and after her husband died, we would sometimes go out to eat or I would go and visit her. 

 

Last week when I stopped in to see her family, it about broke my heart. One son was in tears. The other two sons as caretakers were wan. They were exhausted. What they did, they did for love and they were kind and respected her wishes. 

 

I held things together talking to the daughter on the phone, and even afterwards. I didn’t break down seeing the sons. Even at the visitation I was OK. But near the end of the funeral, I broke down and cried. And as a result, my husband cried with me because he said when I hurt, he hurts. As I said, I didn’t plan to make him cry.

 

My friend was ready to go; she was 98 ½ and her health was declining. As Christians, we believe we will go to heaven. It’s just that I will miss her kindness. I wonder if she knew how she touched my life and made me dream of what it would be like to have a “normal” family life. 

 

I just hope that somehow I’m showing an equal amount of kindness to people so that maybe, just maybe they’ll miss me too when I die.

 

Writing

June 7th, 2021 at 04:39 pm

Apparently I'm one of the few people who still writes letters and sends cards through snail mail. I have a couple of older friends who I know enjoy it, and although the majority of the people I know have email or Facebook, I still will sit down and write a letter or send a card. 

As I look at some genealogy stuff, I think, we will have a generation of people who will not have those letters or cards to leave behind. My great aunt and her husband would write letters to each other since he traveled a lot. Some were sweet and tender. Others were desperate -- one had him writing he hadn't heard from her and he was upset and sorry if he had done something to upset her. I never met him, but I feel like I've gotten to know him through some of the letters he wrote. 

During the Pandemic, and even now, I am still writing and sending cards. I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I sent a fan letter to a British actor I like just to say I enjoyed his work. I'm 60 years old and I wondered if I was acting like a teenager. But maybe he just needed to receive a handwritten note. At least that is my hope. 

I have a friend who is fighting cancer. I've mailed cards and packages to her in hopes of keeping her spirits up. She responds through email to thank me and that is sweet, knowing how she is struggling. 

A few years ago the local sports director of the local station made a comment about taking up knitting. I challenged him to come to our group at church and he did and did a sweet story. We became friends. The funny thing is I don't care for sports, but I cared for him. Every so often I would send him a note or letter and sometimes I would hear from him and sometimes I wouldn't. I didn't care. I just felt the need to write him. He left last fall to go somewhere else and he said that he may not have always told me, but those notes or cards always came at a time when he needed them most. I was truly touched. 

Hopefully you have someone in your life touching you in a way whether it is a note, card, email, phone call, or conversation. 


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