The Week Behind: Blue Skies Smiling At Me

Saturday: I planned to roast a chicken today. I didn't want to use the pan with a rack, so I made my own rack in the oval casserole: cut up carrots and celery and let the chicken roast atop that 'natural rack'. These vegetables will also go into the bag with the bones to season the broth I make.

John turned on the propane heater when he got up. I kept thinking we'd shut it off at some point int he day but the heat pump continued to come on all through the day even with the propane heater going.

Ordered Amie's birthday and had it sent directly to her.

Gave myself a pedicure.

We kept the propane heater on most of the day. It felt nice, but I kept thinking I really ought to turn it off. Shame on me for not following instinct. What I thought was the heat pump continuing to come on was actually the AC!

We picked up a box of stuffing mix at Aldi when we shopped for groceries last week. I don't typically buy stuffing mix, preferring my homemade stuffing but this was something John noticed and added to the buggy: Caramelized Onion flavor Sour Dough stuffing. I don't know if this is a once off item or something they will carry routinely but it was most excellent.

Sunday: We went to church this morning. I'd told John I needed to get a haircut and we might as well go over after church since the salon is only about five miles from our church. I went into Kroger after to visit the Starbucks kiosk. My brother in law gifted me a Starbucks card for Christmas and I used that to make my purchase of a Smoked Butterscotch latte. I didn't look at flowers at all, though I do especially love the floral department in that grocery. They have a huge selection of florist quality cut flowers.

I might not have gotten anything else at the grocery but John surprised me with two deli sandwiches. Pricey...but we'll go with the 'it's the thought that counts' thinking. He wanted me to have lunch of some sort instead of waiting until we got home. We only ate half of one of the Sub type sandwiches. He said he'd bought extra to have here at home for lunches in case I didn't feel like cooking. And we won't go belly up for buying a couple of sandwiches.

Home and though I really just wanted to loll about, I set myself the task of unloading the dishwasher (filled and run this morning before we left for church) and getting the checkbook and bills in order for tomorrow's Harvest time.

I put the chicken enchiladas in a casserole dish to bake. They were mushy as I expected they would be. I won't make enchiladas ahead to freeze in the future.

Katie came out to borrow some potatoes. She planned to grocery shop tomorrow afternoon. I gave her a short list of things to get for me along with cash to buy those things. These were items I knew I needed to have on hand this week. I will try to avoid making a trip to the grocery myself this week but will set money aside for the month ahead.

Monday: What a long day it proved to be! Full from beginning to end, too.

I woke early-ish and contemplated my current holiday mindset and decided I'd best go straight from bed to shower and getting dressed and then I stripped the bed and towels and started a load of clothes to wash. That happened before coffee.

John did a share of chores and I tackled the whole of the household cleaning. And while I was working I stopped again and again to think about that holiday mindset I've held on to since oh about November or so. I jotted down some notes for a blog post. I had a great idea last week while working and didn't jot anything down and no post came of it because I couldn't remember a single thing at day's end. I won't lose this mind work today!

Made the bed, cleaned the bath, straightened living room and dining room, cleaned kitchen. I refreshed flowers and watered plants. Swept the front porch and went out to empty the compost bucket and took time to rake the new flower bed. The soil is too wet to cultivate but it's at least going to be worked and reworked until I can plant something in it either now or later.

I stopped long enough to do Bible study then tackled my pre-Algebra work. Let me just say now that I can figure things out for the most part but I have a very real struggle with rounding and estimates. Ugh. I keep plugging and sometimes I see it and sometimes I don't. But I do know this...I can do this. I CAN. I am not a failure in this area.

While I was working on the algebra Katie came in. I finished up my work then took up Caleb and fed him and sang a variation on Willie Nelson's Blue Skies to him, altering it to be "Blue Eyes..." because this little boy's eyes are navy blue and you can just stare into them for days. He apparently approved (Of Willie? Or the compliments to his smiling eyes? No clue) and rewarded me with a smile and joining me in song. Gracious that just made this Gramma sing more!

We had lunch courtesy those sandwiches John bought yesterday. Expensive? Yes, but worth the cost. These were meaty and delicious and John and I agreed that really we need only 3 inches of sandwich to feel full. Katie had lunch with us before going up to see her new niece. Bess sent a lovely picture of she and Sam sitting side by side, Katie holding baby girl and Sam holding baby boy.
She picked up eggs from Bess while she was there and brought them back to me. I've tentatively suggested to John that we get a group of 4 or 5 chickens for ourselves to have here...

John and I were gone when Katie brought the eggs back. We went down to pick up his last check. The accrued vacation pay came in at the same time. Wow. Taxes were ridiculous and ate his paycheck...Never mind when we got home I sorted funds out and every sub account is filled for the coming year and that's a bit of security that is worth while let me tell you. Not much left over but we'll get through this month between checks just fine. I have enough for gas and groceries and funds set aside for the three bills we must pay between checks.

Stopped at the Dollar store on the way home. I didn't walk about and look. We got Valentine's Day and Birthday cards for family/children. I'm so happy that they are just $1 or $2 rather than $6 or $8 as they are elsewhere. Still...I do think it would be worthwhile to make cards that would fit in a standard short envelope. I do think I can be more sentimental than most cards these days.

Supper is off menu. I just never got around to getting dinner prepped today. So we ate the legs from Saturday's roasted chicken, leaving us a full half breast to use for Brunswick Stew later in the week. I put Sweet Potatoes in the microwave to bake and steamed frozen Green Peas to go with the meal. John was pretty happy with it all.

Retirement Realization: MUST start planning breakfasts ahead and trying to prep ahead a bit on those.

Tuesday: I can feel a cold coming on...ugh. I am not happy about this. I'm just slightly stuffy and have a scratchy throat at present...that and a general feeling of malaise that led me to do nothing much this afternoon when we returned.

I urged John last night to plan to take my birthday outing today. We had a nice lunch out. I was disappointed to find all the antique stores in the area closed but we did get to take a sneak peek into the historic hotel. They still serve ice cream in the old ice cream parlor that was attached to the hotel.

It was a low key day overall but the ride over and back always makes my history radar come alive. I wanted to come home and plow into genealogy but instead I pushed myself to go to my closet and contemplate a new capsule wardrobe which is proving tricky to plan. Our weather is very up and down at present. Today we wore t-shirts and no jackets and even turned on the AC in the car for the ride. Thursday we're back to frosty nights and cooler days. I stood and stared at my clothes and noted that I have several things I might choose from but very little that makes a cohesive wardrobe. I've tended to buy just whatever I liked rather than think in terms of a wardrobe...and there's the problem I am running into. When I bought for winter, I did think wardrobe. It's the warmer weather portions that aren't playing nice with others. As I stood there I just felt overwhelmed and tired so I shut the door and walked away. I'll give in to this cold this evening and rest.

Katie picked up a few grocery items for me today. It's kind of nice to pass off a list and receive groceries in return. It's about as near as I'll get to delivery in my area, lol. Sweetest thing was her gift of Reese's hearts. Lovely to have her see them and think of me.

Since we had a good dinner out today I kept supper simple: Tomato and Rice Soup with Cheese Quesadillas. I cooked rice especially for this soup (Campbell's right from the can with milk). I went ahead and made a full recipe of rice. I packed up the rest to have with Brunswick Stew later this week.

Ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher.

As evening came on I felt worse. I do have plenty of cold supplies on hand and will make use of them.

Wednesday: I had a miserable night with ear aches and face pain and deep muscle aches. I finally got off to sleep and stayed abed this morning until almost 9am. John is very patient with me. He knows my sleep history and never rushes me from bed unless we have an appointment. We had plans today but no appointment, and so I slept in a little later. I do believe rest is beneficial when you're not well (mentally, emotionally or physically).

I started our dinner for tonight right away. One advantage of not sleeping is that you can get up in the middle of the middle of the night and take out meat to thaw for morning. Ha! So my meat was frosty cold but thawed this morning. I chopped vegetables and started my Short Rib dish cooking in the crock pot.

I took time to look over sales for the week at the three groceries where I generally will shop. I noted that Publix had the best sales for my pantry this week. I end this pay period with $12 of my grocery funds left after our shopping today.

John had some maintenance repair work done on his car. The money was set aside already in our car maintenance fund. While at the workshop we asked if they did another bit of work that we know must be done to keep the car in good repair. They do. We were given an estimate and as I told John, next month we can get that done as I'll have the amount in our fund. This will complete a cycle of major expenses on both cars over the past four months but it should be years before any of these things need to be done again.

At Publix we opted to grab sandwiches for our lunch. I am not unhappy about this expense. I knew we were leaving home very late today and the repair took quite some time. John and I ate for under $10 including our drink (bottles of sale priced water) and my sandwich included fruit pieces that we shared as well.

I couldn't help but note that in some areas we were spending more than we'd have spent at Aldi and I remarked to John that most days I'd have asked to do both stores and made my savings where I could. However, my cold medicine was wearing off and I was feeling that I wanted to be back at home shortly rather than later. We balanced our expenses at Publix by buying less than we'd have purchased otherwise.

Home once more and the house smelled so good when we came in the door. While I unpacked and put away our groceries, John set out my cold medicine and made us a cup of coffee. I put the berries I'd bought into glass jars before putting them in the fridge. I removed the breast from the chicken I'd roasted Saturday and put the bones and vegetables into a pot to simmer on the stove.

Just like yesterday, the late afternoon has proven to be the down time with this cold. I'm so glad that our dinner was already cooked. I only wished the dishes hadn't been the sort that I would rather do myself than leave to John's handling or I'd have asked him to wash them for me.

Leftover broth and a small bit of meat was put into the freezer. I've used this before to either make roast beef hash or vegetable soup or even as the gravy for a shepherd's pie, so it's well worth saving.

I knew I could make my own sweetened condensed milk at home but had no clue I might prepare my own evaporated milk. I discovered this on Pinterest this evening.

Thursday: Still struggling with the cold but it's remaining relatively mild and staying out of my chest for which I'm deeply grateful. I am going slowly into the mornings.

This morning, with little housework to do, I decided to work on my wardrobe. Trying to do this when I wasn't tired and feeling a little better than in the afternoons, it went fairly well. And I was able to make a list of things I think I would like to add to my wardrobe this spring/summer. It's not a long list by any means but even a short list is a good reminder of what I want to focus upon and help me to avoid buying needlessly. I just don't have a large budget any longer for clothing, not that it was ever a large budget. It will mean I can walk into thrift stores and know which specific racks to target and what I'm looking for when I'm in any department store and looking through the clearance racks.

I did order a new scarf from a clearance sale on Cato Fashions this week. It is perfect for adding to my wardrobe. To insure that what I ordered was worthy of adding, I set up my cart and went back to look at items every day for three days. I deleted several items and added nothing new. In the end, I was satisfied that I'd bought my best buy and one that would help my wardrobe get higher mileage.

I've been on plan for menu this week except for one meal and I'm pretty proud about that. I made the Brunswick Stew for tonight's meal and have meat thawed to make the Swedish meatballs tomorrow.

I put a bit over a quart of Brunswick Stew into the freezer. It will be nice to have on hand either to share or have at a future date.

I made peanut butter cookies for John's Valentine's day treat. He's pretty happy about it. I lined three cookie sheets and filled each one before putting the first pan in the oven. This went very smoothly and meant I was able to rest all afternoon long which is key I'm finding with this cold.

Ran a full load in the dishwasher tonight.

Friday: I am medicine free today. Still sound incredibly stuffy but I'm breathing on my own and that's something more than I did the past three days.

It's a beautiful day today, loads of sun and blue skies and cool air. I think I'm figuring out the weather pattern. Cold and sunny, cloudy and warming, rain and humidity, wind and cold followed by another clear day. Sounds about right!

Low key Valentine's Day. You know I'm all about that 50% off candy in the next couple of days. John and I said Happy Valentine's Day to one another last night after midnight. We stayed up late last night to finish up a Chinese drama we've spent the past 10 days watching...It was called, "The Dream Job" and was full of unexpected twists and turns...and no nudity, cursing or blatantly sexual scenes. In fact, most relationships were portrayed as very chaste and that is super refreshing. Besides that watching a drama that has subtitles requires you to invest your time in TV and TV alone. None of this multi-tasking business works when you're doing these dramas.

I did a nice Sabbath cleaning up of the house. I must say though that my to do list next week is going to look remarkably like the one I made two weeks ago...Just saying.

I made up Swedish meatballs and once I had the recommended number of meatballs, I made two burgers from the remaining meat. I thought the package looked a bit over a pound and I'm pretty sure it was indeed. We had the burgers for lunch.

The boys will arrive any time now to make Valentine's for their Mama...Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Tell us what you did this past week to save money.
(C) Terri Cheney