Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Spring Cleaning Time, Again

This Monday morning has started out cloudy and cold.  The first thing I did after prayer time and the OPC vitamin drink I down each morning was brew a hot cup of coffee.  Hits the spot every time removing the chill in this body of mine.

Breakfast consisted of half a left over grilled cheese sandwich and some left over green beans. (cold)  I added a protein bar because the sandwich and veggies didn't fill me up.  I found I'm in love with Cliff bars, specifically, the peanut butter ones.

 Yesterday morning my daughter's family and I went to Golden Corral for breakfast.  I ate like I had never seen food before.  This kept me filled up for the day with the exception of a Cliff bar for dinner that I shared with Marley.  (just a small piece.)

I spent a couple of hours on Sunday watching videos on yoo toob.  The plan was to watch videos that were about Lottery winners, then watch videos at the other extreme end - about billionaires - to get a feel for people who have been blessed monetarily.  The one about lottery winners was interesting.  There was a group of 16 small town women who worked in a school cafeteria that won 95 million dollars.  Their lives changed little.  The money did not change them.  One of the ladies was more impressed with a garage sale find she got for ten cents than with the lottery winnings.  She and her husband continued to build their home themselves from the ground up.  Her only desire?  A refrigerator with an ice maker!  Now that's class.

There were two men profiled in the video as well.  They were both from NYC and their behavior was quite the opposite.  Each won five million dollars in the early eighties and are currently penniless.  Their money was spent on - you guessed it - limos, alcohol, large homes, drugs, and sex.  I thought this was quite interesting, the opposite reactions to the windfall. 

The billionaire video highlighted men who were hedge fund CEOs.  I'm glad I watched this one because even in this top of the food chain slot are people who are wise and good.  They just happen to have a gift of making money grow.  They admitted; 1)  they didn't need so much money, but continued to work because that's what they do, 2)  would not want their children to grow up thinking life would be handed to them 3)  were concerned about donating money to charity.  This group of billionaires  had little to do with the ones who were flashy and wanted to accumulate toys.  They had little respect for them.  I'm glad I watched this one.  There is a difference in goals and life style even in the billionaire group.  The only difference between this group and us is they have more money.  Just as we would come across materialistic middle class people, they come across materialistic billionaires.

On to this morning's activity.  The house got a bit of a cleaning that is generally done in the spring or fall.  The bathroom fixtures and all of the  lamp shades got a cleaning this morning.  I used the home made orange cleaner to clean the light fixtures and a lint roller from the dollar store to clean the lamp shades.  In just a few minutes the house felt cleaner.  Then all three screens in the house were cleaned with dollar store electronic wipes.  I only have my computer, a TV in the living room and a small one in the bedroom.  Since it seemed like a waste to pitch the cloth after just doing those three items, I cleaned all of the glass on every picture in the living area then followed up cleaning the front of the refrigerator.

A year's worth of built up crud on the bathroom
light fixtures.  The orange cleaner leaves nothing behind.

When the living room and bedroom get cleaned the shades
get dusted.  Who knew all of this dust is left behind?  The cleaning
strategy just changed.  The shades will get the lint roller once a month
from now on.

The plan this afternoon is to wash and break up a head of lettuce.  After it's dried, it will get sealed in a jar for salads during the week.  I bought a block of blue cheese that will be used to make a salad dressing.  I would also like to find a recipe for Italian bread that I can make in the bread maker.  If I accomplish these things, dinner will be a large salad and home made bread.  I guess I can have that for dinner anyway because I have the bread I made last week in the freezer.

For my California pal, look what's popping up out of the soil.  Two centuries old heirloom melons are greeting the world.  I'll transplant these in a couple of days when the plants are a bit more hardy so they can grow into lovely plants.  I'm so looking forward to these melons.  I've saved a spot in the strawberry bed to grow them.

They shall be named Robert and Steven and planted in the same hill.
They better get along!  LOL

Saturday was price match day at Wal Mart.  Butter was $1.99, beans, .99 cents a pound, asparagus, 1.99, melon .99 cents each, and iceberg lettuce .99 cents a head.

The total, with tax, was $34.21.  Over $5.00 less than my budget amount.

That's it for today.  I best stop yapping and start working on preserving the lettuce.

Stay safe.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Goal That's Set, is the Goal That's Met

The goal that's set is the goal that's met.  I'm not sure how many times my children have heard these words come from their mother, but I'm close to positive they secretly roll their eyes  saying under their breath that they know.  They know!  Of course the eye roll means nothing to me.  I'll say it anyway.  Repeating something is one of the benefits of being a mom, no matter how old the 'children' are.

These words ring true with any goal set, whether it be a conscious plan or a goal we are not aware of. 

A conscious plan is when we want to meet a goal.  Research is done, conversations take place (even if they are within yourself) and a load of thinking that threatens to  provide steam coming from our ears.  As an example:

A person wants to get out of debt.  The decision is made, the goal is set.  Researching the way to accomplish this comes first.  Should we tackle the smallest debts first, then snowball the rest of the debt?  Or perhaps tackle the debt with the highest interest when the journey begins?  The next step is talking about the benefits of each way then coming to the conclusion what will be more comfortable.  Finally the steam starts poring out from our ears because we have thought about how to meet the goal until a bath and a glass of wine sound pretty good.

An unconscious goal can come under the heading of foolish behavior.  Most young people can exhibit foolish behavior.  It's what they do.  No one starting out in life is wise.   Wisdom is obtained through experience.  Even if we were taught the right path, our wings have to soar and we have to make mistakes.  Mistakes are made once and we learn from them.  Maybe twice with a reprimand from ourselves to ourselves and a decision to end the behavior.  It's all part of growing and maturing.

When a mistake becomes a habit, then the goal has been set.  This type of goal usually has a negative effect on a person and those around them.  An example of this goal could be as simple as keeping a home environment that is unhealthy.

There are days, now and then, when we will wake up and all we can do is walk through the day like a zombie.  Everyone has those days.  To walk like a zombie everyday and not care about a healthy or clean environment  is a habit that turns into the goal met.  One day we wake up and dislike what life has become wondering how it got this way.  The cycle begins, then defeat sets in. 

The ideal path would be not to fall into the trap.  Life, however, often times is not ideal.  As a matter of fact, life seldom exhibits ideal situations.  I can't say how many times I've fallen on my face only to have to pick myself up and move on.  Moving on wasn't always easy, but my main goal was to learn to be content in any situation.   Somehow I figured out that was one of life's little hidden truths.  Looking for the best even when the sky is falling in.

I can tell you the things I did to improve life and mental health, if it will be helpful.  (This is where I wish I were gifted with words of magic.)

The most important thing I ever discovered was the power of prayer.  For everything.  When I was overwhelmed with four kids, I prayed and thanked God for the children.  When my husband was young and came home from work only to deposit his socks on the bedroom floor, I prayed and offered up my anger to heaven.  That sounds strange, but I figured it was the only place that a negative thing could be turned into a positive.  When our son wanted to go out on his own (I knew he wasn't ready) I  gave up worrying and gave him to God.  God was the only one who knew my anguish.  God was the only one who could help me.

I made myself, with a prayer, keep our home clean and healthy.  Especially when our son had cancer.  I would wash every surface every morning with a disinfectant.  I did this out of love for my family.  Were there days I slacked?  I had to, but the important things got done every day.  For someone else there may be other weaknesses they don't want to be turned into habits, then goals.  Pick anything and seek the path to turn the habit into a positive goal taking one step at a time.

Being honest is the first step.  There's no need to be honest with anyone else, just yourself.  List turn around goals on paper and hide the note.  Work on one thing at a time and be kind.  After all, we are  works in progress.  Patience is the answer here.  Time can't be stopped, so we can make  goals to use time to our benefit.  Taking small breaks from a goal is also healthy, if they are short breaks.  Before you know it, life will be something that is living, not something to wonder about.

Disclaimer:  Please know I'm not in the business of judging or preaching.  My own imperfections often rise to the surface.  The goal is simply to assist those who seek a positive path.  After all, I don't want my 66 years on earth to be wasted!  (I can't believe I'm 66.  My mind feels 20!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Grape Juice? Yup! And Other Things in a Simple Life

I'm so happy to say two of my tomato plants have broken through in search of sunlight just this morning.  I planted them on March 16 and today is the 25th.  I eagerly await the other seeds to shine through.  Especially the seeds a friend sent me of heirloom melons.

Last week I prepared a salad in a vacuum packed jar.  It was an experiment to see how long the lettuce would stay fresh.  This is the way to go because I ate the salad for breakfast and the lettuce was still crisp with no signs of deterioration.  I'm now a believer in the benefits of vacuum sealing fresh foods.  Since a friend has been trying to encourage me to try this method, I have to give her credit for being persistent.

I took a trip to the grocery store yesterday to amend my fresh foods.  I found an organic grape juice that is made from fresh grapes with no added ingredients - not even sugar.  I found it after reading a few ingredient labels.  The first I picked up was a national brand totally associated with grape juice.   because the front of the label said all natural.  The word 'natural' could mean anything from nature and there are a number of things from nature I would prefer be left in nature.  The ingredients didn't seem so bad, so in the cart it went.  Then I spotted small bottles of the same juice.  With these there would be no waste.  The last regular sized bottle of grape juice I bought went bad as I only drank half of it.  So I thought going this route would be better economically.  My first thought was there was no need to read the label because it was the same product.  I read it anyway.  Those sneaky little buggars added two things that I couldn't pronounce.  Disgusted, I was willing to walk away without any grape juice - ever.  Then, sitting in all it's quiet glory was a bottle of juice than timidly announced it was organic.  The ingredient label read, 'Made from fresh grapes'.  That was it!  RW Knudsen makes the best grape juice I've ever had.  The company calls it Just Concord. And, true to it's name, that is all the ingredients in the bottle.  If you ever want to treat your family with a small splurge, pick some up and be spoiled.  I feel like the Queen of England drinking this treat.  Just to let everyone know, I have no relationship with this company since I just discovered it yesterday.

In the cart also went two oranges, radishes, distilled water, and a bag of salted peanuts in the shell.  The label read, 'Peanuts, salt'.  A good snack and I can make peanut butter from them.

Dinner was simple as I ate a half can of my favorite local baked beans from my home town.  Grandma Brown's are the best beans, so different from all of the other beans on the market because they have a creamy texture rather than a loose barbeque one.  These were a birthday gift from my son, requested by me.

Today I plan on going to the local mall with two coupons.  Another $10.00 off $10.00 to Penney's and a free $5.00 item from Bath and Body Works.  Most likely, since I don't need anything, these coupons will be used towards gifts.  I had a free undies coupon from VS, but decided to let it expire.  I also have $10.00 Kohl's cash that a friend sent me that is good this week.  Tomorrow is another day.  For this day I'll stay in the mall area.

What have you been up to?  Don't be shy.  Jot down your adventures in the comment section below and share with like minded readers.

Stay safe.

Monday, March 23, 2015

So Much Accomplished, In so Little Time!

Angie's got her groove back.  I had no idea that I had an infection as there was very little pain involved.  There was one time I let a sinus infection go, thinking it would heal itself, and I paid a big price for it.  So when there was a little pain on the right side of my face, the previous ordeal flashed before my eyes and off to the physician I went.

I've been busy re organizing and spring cleaning.  The spice cupboard is now in order as is the pantry.  The refrigerator is sparkling clean and organized and dried food jars are lined up military style.

I call this the spice cupboard, but it also contains baking ingredients
and items.

I purchased a Food Saver cap to seal my jars of dried foods.  I couldn't get that thing to work for anything.  I tried and tried, then got smart and looked at the comments others made about the item.  Many people were having the same problem.  Then the answer was there from a commenter.  Place an upside down lid in the cap then place the lid you want to seal over the jar.  Bingo.  It seems there is a bit of air space in the cap that was preventing the lids from sealing.  The commenter's suggestion came at just the right time as I was ready to spew some rather un-lady like words.

With all of the spring decorations out and a clean house, I got a thought.  I'd like to try to make some Italian bread.  (By hand, not in the bread machine), but I wasn't sure if I had a recipe.  In just purchased a cookbook by Lida Matticchio, 'Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking.  To my surprise there was no recipe for Italian bread.  There was one for Focaccia bread.  That will have to do.

The Kitchen Aid came out and the recipe was read a number of times before action was taken.  Flour, yeast, (with a teaspoon of sugar to activate it) salt, and olive oil was all the ingredients called for.   The wetting agent was warm water.  I four minutes the dough was formed with the assistance of the mixer and the dough hook.  The only work I had to do was put the ingredients in a bowl and knead the dough for a few seconds on a floured surface to form a ball.  The dough is currently rising in a cold oven with the light on.

The dough before the first rise.  It doubled in 15 minutes instead of the 30
minutes suggested in the cook book.  It always pays to keep an eye on
what's brewing.

The mess I made for the dough to be kneaded a few times.

After it rises it needs to be punched down.  That's just a way of saying to gently push out the air bubbles the yeast created.  I use to literally punch the dough.  I wouldn't suggest that avenue.  Another short rise and the dough needs dents formed on the top using a finger.  Into the oven and a coat of olive oil after ten minutes and the most gorgeous bread is mine to admire.  Before I can admire it, the topping of olive oil, parm cheese and parsley is spread on top when it's just out of the oven.

Baked and ready to eat.

Tonight's dinner.  Created by my own two hands!  LOL

I made cream of mushroom soup yesterday which will be my dinner tonight with a slice of warm bread.  Holy taoly, life doesn't get any better than this!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Evolution of Holiday Decorating

Since it's raining and quite gloomy this morning I have settled in to watch videos on yoo toob.  There are a few ladies I have been watching because I learn more about decorating - specifically, holiday decorating, from them.  This is something I have just gotten into thinking about.  Christmas has always been a big decorating time for me, but all other holidays pretty much went to the wayside with the exception of window clings or a table center piece.

Today I watched a series of videos about table scapes.  I had no idea there was such a thing before.  A centerpiece on the dining table is all I have ever seen anyone do.  Maybe a candle on each side of the centerpiece.  These ladies go the mile with place settings, center pieces, as well as other small items such as name cards and menus.  I know I won't go the whole mile, but I will travel down the road of tablescaping for maybe half of the mile.

One lady explained the benefits of raising items up on a stand.  I have a springy looking cake stand, so I used it to prop up the wooden bunny I have in the center of the table.  With a place mat under the cake plate there was enough room to put the candy jar and jar of pink polka dotted straws to the side.  I like it.  I don't know if the evolution process will continue, but for now I'm comfortable with what I have done.  I keep reminding myself this is a work in progress.

I took things from around the house to add to this centerpiece. 
The cupcake candles are from the dollar store, as are the candy
and the straws.  The placemat under the display was
on sale (clearance) at Dillard's.  The four placemats surrounding the
center were also from Dillard's clearance section.

Remember the sticker paper I got at the dollar store earlier this week?  I was under the impression it was sticky paper, but soon realized it was paper that can be used to place favorite stickers on to create your own sticker book.  Even with the new information, I went ahead and cut squares out to match the size of the plain card stock ones I made for the Easter tree.  They got glued on top of the plain squares and have added a bit of festive color to the tree project.  The grandchildren can use the backs to write their names or draw a picture.  Again, this may evolve even further, but for now I'm satisfied.

In this photo you can see the evolution of the hanging tags on the Easter tree.
I left some of the tags plain card stock to, hopefully, add interest.  Each
tag has a small doily sticker in the center.  The ribbon is cream and
mint green that I bought at the dollar store.  That store has the
neatest things in it.


The tulips were moved onto the counter to finish off this display.

I am evolving.  From using only the scientific portion of my brain into awakening the creative side.  I don't think creativity will be full blown in me, but I'm happy it is being somewhat explored and developed.  Thank you for going on this journey with me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Small Dollar Tree Haul, After a Visit to the Physician

I had some annual blood tests done on Friday.  When the doctor called me with the results she asked me if I had recently been sick because my white cell count was a little high.  No, not really, just a bit tired and an ear that was difficult to hear from.  She advised me to follow up with my primary doctor, so as a dutiful girl, I did just that.  I'm not really dutiful, as I was looking for ways not to call the doctor.  Until I woke up this morning with a painful face.  Yep, it's time again for the semi annual sinus infection.  So off I went to visit my primary care physician.

I indeed did have a sinus infection on the right side of my face.  The left ear was plugged, not because of the changing barometric pressure, but because it too was infected.  A double whammy!  Off to the drug store to fill the antibiotic prescription, then on to the Dollar Tree.  I couldn't waste the trip out without checking what the dollar store was offering this week.  I spent eight dollars. 

Four of those dollars went to 4 eight pound bags of soil that will go into planters for tomatoes.  This year the plan is to put three pots in the driveway close to the house where the tomatoes will get all of the morning sun light.  It will also be more difficult for predators to find the plants.  I hope!

I also packed in the cart four packs of seeds, two of them being heirloom varieties - carrots and lettuce.  I know these veggies are not expensive in the stores, but they are so tasty fresh from the garden.  The other two packs are not heirloom varieties, but radishes and parsley are two favorites, as well.

They also had well made decorative pots that looked to be mistakes from a high end manufacturer.  The mistakes were in the glaze, inside of the pot where no one can see once the soil and plant are in the pot. 

There were multiple colors of this pot available, but I'm more
of a natural color girl, so black was chosen.

The remaining items are not so exciting.  I picked up a pack of 25 screen cleaners.  If I knew what the cleaner is made from, I'd make my own.  Since I have no clue I bought a pack that should last at least twenty five weeks.  The main reason I needed them is my computer is a touch screen model.  The fingerprints - even if they are my own - bother the hey out of me.  I also invested a dollar in small pieces of sticker paper to see what I can come up with.  I'm thinking of using it on the Easter tree squares I made to add a bit of spring color.  We'll see.

Who knew sticker paper was available? 

The time has come to take a short nap.  These infections are beating my butt!

Stay safe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can You Guess What Today's Post is About?

Today's weather in my neck of the woods can simply be described as perfect.  Monday was perfect as well, prompting me to go out to the garden to clean the yard up a bit.  I raked out the leaves and pine needles from the larger portion of the garden yesterday, as well as cleaned up the patio furniture and put out the umbrella.  Then I went into the house and planted seeds in the K cups I saved.

It feels so nice to have the table and umbrella up again.  I
sprayed the umbrella with lavender to discourage bees from creating
nests on it.

The work station for planting seeds.  I have a section of
counter that is far from where I prepare food that is convenient
to use.  The sink is the barrier between the two sections.
Of course I will sterilize the area when the task is completed.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and heirloom melon went into the small receptacles.  Three of each were planted and covered with plastic to create a little greenhouse effect.  I slipped on a large baggie over the seed cups not completely sealing it for air to circulate in it.

The task will be completed this morning so I left the planting equipment on the counter rather than putting it all away just to get it all out again.

This morning I turned the earth in the larger garden and put coffee grounds and egg shell powder in it.  Then raked it over to incorporate the organic material  and level the dirt.  After a short rest the seeds for spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, and beets will go in.  The crops will not go in the same areas they were planted in last year.

The garlic is growing nicely as is the strawberries, blackberry bush, and the small rose bush my daughter gave me for Mother's Day last year.  All of these plants have new growth on them.  How exciting it is that they all survived the rough winter we had this year.

This year I will add asparagus and tulips to the mix.  I think both of these plants will go along the fence.  It will be a couple of years before the asparagus comes up, but it's worth the wait to me.

The Swann's man just left.  He was a bit ornery this morning because I asked what ingredients were in the ice cream.  He didn't know each one so I could go online to check for myself.  Well if you don't know and did not offer to grab a carton of vanilla to show me, I can only conclude that there are additives and preservatives.  So, no, I have no need to go online.

I read an article yesterday that was specific about how food items are labeled.  The word 'natural' is often currently used as a draw for a public that is becoming well informed.  Wood pulp is natural.  Shredded cheese is all natural, including the wood pulp that is now used to prevent caking.  I guess the corn starch they use to use is too expensive.

I also came across a video that revealed what the numbers on those tiny stickers on fresh fruit and veggies means.  
1)  Four digits beginning with a 3 or 4 means conventionally grown.
2)  Five digits beginning with a 9 means organic
3)  Five digits beginning with 8 is code for a GMO product.

Please know I'm not pushing for any type of food item.  My goal is to only inform my readers of the information I come across.  Each of you will figure out what fits into your budget and lifestyle. 

Here are a few pictures to confirm that spring is welcomed in my home.
Isn't she a little cutie?  I purchased this last week - at full price. 
There were only two in the store which was an indicator that none
would be available in an after Easter sale.
I tweaked the center piece on the table to include only three items.
I like it better this way

My favorite flower.  They're so happy and care free looking!


Time to get back to planting.  How's your weather?  Are you able to clean out the yard and prepare for planting, if you plant?  If you plant, do you start from seed or purchase plants?  When readers share in the comment section, others have an opportunity to learn new things.  Don't be shy, you're among friends here. 

Stay safe!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Easter Crafting

I watched a video this morning on yoo toob that Noreen, of Noreen's Kitchen, put up.  She has started a new channel that's called Noreen's Crafty Corner.  This woman is very gifted in many ways.  The recipes I have tried from her cooking channel have never let me down.  This morning I tried a simple craft that turns a piece of card stock into a bowl. 

I only have small card stock because I'm working on a small project, but since she said this would work with any size card stock, I thought I'd give it a go.  I came up with something that didn't look a thing like the bowl she made, but I'm thrilled with what I did create.

A small box that will hold jelly beans for the grands that I can hang on the
Easter tree.  This one is a prototype so I will make 4 more for
the grands that will be with me on Easter.  The small
cards hanging here are going to be designed by the kids and signed by
them as well.  This activity will be another way to exhibit progress
as they grow.

You can watch the video here:

Next time I'm at the craft store I will pick up a couple of sheets of large card stock to make the bowl Noreen demonstrates in her video.

Stay safe.

PS:  I just found a way to improve my images on my camera.  Just in time since the first snarky comment I have gotten showed up on my FB page yesterday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Has Spring Sprung in My Part of the World? (And some good bargains. Really good bargains.)

Our weather has been gorgeous.  The thermometer hit 73 yesterday and in the upper 60s today.  It's raining right now so it has gotten a bit cooler.  Could this mean spring is here?  I'm not sure, but I think I will begin my seedlings in the morning.  Six weeks in the house then out to the garden at the end of April.  Under normal conditions, April is spring weather in my area.

Yesterday I went to a couple of stores that offered me coupons for free items.  I picked up a pillow and two play shirts for my grandson's birthday at Penney's.  The out of pocket cost was $2.10.  (How could I resist the nice weather?  It was calling me to leave the house.)   The next stop was Victoria's Secret where I turned in a coupon for a free pair of undies.  They will be gifted to my daughter as they were not my style.  They were made more for a younger woman.
I wasn't expecting a top of the line pillow for free, but
I was happy to see they gave me a firm one.

The shirts were priced at $10.00 each.  On sale they were offered for $5.99.
With my coupon I paid $2.10.  The lady behind me told me what a good bargain I
got.  I agree, don't you?

I did a couple more errands then came home instead of going to Kohl's to turn in my two free $5.00 coupons. (On $5.00)  The errands did me in so I thought I'd come home for a rest.  Today I went to Kohl's and the Dollar Tree.

I found an outfit for my grandson for his upcoming birthday.  Pants and a long sleeve top for his next growth cycle.  You know the one.  When a child wakes up one morning and nothing fits because he/she grew during the night.  It's normally a quiet process and takes a mom unaware.

It's a bit difficult to see the color, but the outfit is
in different shades of blue.  Grandma's favorite color.

The Dollar Tree was busy this afternoon, but I took my time anyway, ignoring the hustle around me.  I found a couple of items for the Easter table to add a spark for the grands.  The candy jar was calling for some new treats so I got bubble gum shaped like Easter eggs and Life Savers in spring flavors and colors.  Adding the colorful pink polka dotted straws to the table will create a bit of an excitement.  The religious part of Easter has always been the part of the adults to explain to the children, and the bunny part is the excitement part for the kids.  This way they know the meaning behind the day and have some fun, too.

This was transformed into...

this.    Just a bit of fun for the children.

This day ended with a meal shared with my daughters and their children.  The four year old gets so excited when he's with his cousins and big brother. (From a previous marriage.)  I have so many good men in my life that I count this as one of the many blessings bestow on me.  There's nothing that can replace the pure excitement of an innocent child.  I eat it up with a smile.

Have you been spring shopping?  Have you found any bargains.  Do you have children in your family that are getting excited for the bunny's visit?  Let us know in the comments below.  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gardening, Family, and the Pup

Sunday in my part of the world reached 63 degrees (F).  This type of weather brings unexplained energy to this body of mine.  The immediate reaction is to go out to the garden to check on it's progress after all of the snow covered my plants.

The garlic looked a bit sad, but this morning is perked up a bit more.  The spinach is small, but still green, which is close to a miracle, while the parsley is holding it's own with a nice green color.  The carrots and beets never made it and the radishes are trying hard to stay alive.  Time will tell.  I now know not to plant a winter garden but rather wait until March to plant.  Something to write in my garden journal so I don't make the same mistake again.

One thing that is new to me is the long needles that fall
from the evergreen trees here.  The parks use them as
mulch.  If they do it, then I use them for the same
reason.  My poor garlic.  They need some TLC.  Winter
was hard on them.

Drying in the oven on a cookie sheet were 22 pods from the coffee maker.  The grounds had to go in the garden soil so they were cleaned out.  While performing the task of cleaning the grounds out, I noticed there was a coffee filter inside each pod.  There's also a hole in the bottom of the pods.  Brainstorm!  The pods got washed when they were emptied and dried in the sun.  My seedlings will find a good home in them this year.  I only need to purchase one more spray bottle at the dollar store to spritz them for moisture.  The soil has been purchased (dollar store), so I'm good to go.

Twenty two planting pods recycled from coffee pods.

The coffee grounds were spread over the garden soil then turned in with the dried leaves that were already in there.  In the spring I'll rake up what's left of the leaves and add a bit more organic soil.  Some of the compost is read to use soon as well.  The patio was swept and pots that still had soil in them were cleaned out.  (The soil went into the garden.)  I also gathered the sticks that flew into the yard and dried them in the sun to use on the rocket stove when I can this year.

Preparing to use the rocket stove is an ongoing thing.  I've made fire  starters from toilet paper rolls, dryer lint, and left over wax from the Scency burners.  None of those items will go to the city dump, rather be used in a helpful manner.  I guess I reduced my 'carbon footprint' by making these. 

This is the first time I've made these fire starters to use in the rocket stove.
Time will tell if they will work.
The dog's blanket and bed went into the washer then hung in the sun on a drying rack to dry.  Don't you just love the clean smell of clothes dried in the sun?  Marley may not be too excited by it and will try to put her scent back into it.  This may take a while for her to accomplish.

The beautiful Miss Marley just waking up.  This is my bed, not hers.  She keeps me warm at night!

I found the rooting hormone I thought I lost.  It was right where it was suppose to be - in the garden bin in the garage.  I put some on the olive branch I cut off of the olive tree when it was transplanted in a larger pot.  The best place I could think of to plant it was in the same large pot as the olive tree is.

The day ended with dinner at my daughter's house and play time with the grandchildren.  The four year old likes to play a game I created when my kids were little.  It's called "Stay still pillow".  I lie down on a pillow that's on the child's lap.  Then the child moves his legs and I say, "Pillow, stay still, I'm trying to sleep'.  They laugh their little heart's out with this simple game.  The baby thought this was hilarious and got into the game, too.  I want as much play time as I can get with them when they're little because soon - time flies - they will want to go to movies and be with their friends.

What was the weather where you live?  What did you accomplish this week?  I'd like to hear from you.  It's a way of learning new frugal hacks or learning about a different culture.  Learning is one of my greatest joys.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lots of Surprises in the Mail

There are the days that I know when I go up front to the mail boxes there will be bills in the mail.  I don't have many, just the utilities and one credit card that I use all month to get points on.  I'm careful not to spend more than the money I have to back up the purchases.  If I had to pay interest on the borrowed money, then the points wouldn't mean much.

This week was different.  To my surprise there were a number of free offers in my mailbox.  So many that the excitement to share them is overwhelming.  Kohl's send me two different mailings with two different catalogs.  On each of the mailings was a $5.00 off $5.00 coupon.  JC Penney jumped on the bandwagon and sent a $10.00 off $10.00 purchase plus a free bed pillow.  Before those two offers came in Victoria's Secret sent a coupon for free undies -twice.  I gave one to my daughter and I'll use the other to put away as part of her Christmas gifts.

That's adds up to $27.00 in free merchandise plus the pillow.  I'd call that a good week.

The Dollar Tree had Valentine candy for twenty five cents.  I picked up a package of suckers to put in the grands small Easter basket they get from Grandma.   I also picked up two packs of three small spring colored bins to use as the baskets.  To top it off there was a pack of six Chicklets gum to add to the items I already purchased.

$3.25 cents bought the Easter baskets and half of the items that will go in them. 
The other two items were purchased last week at the dollar store.  I have filler
put away that didn't cost anything from packages that came in
the mail. 

My final trip today was to the Wal Mart grocery store across the street to price match items.  In the basket went two oranges for .50 cents each, two pounds of butter for 1.99 each, iceberg lettuce for .98, grapes at 1.49 a pound and bananas that were their regular price of .67 cents a pound.  The total was $6.67 plus 2.5% tax.  It's not the best thing that tax is on food where I live, but the general tax rate is 6.5% which is 2 percent less than where I lived in the North.

Fruits and veggies are my favorites along with dairy foods.
I know I should eat meat more than I do, but it's tough enough eating it once a week.
I never have enjoyed meat, even as a child.  My favorite meat is meatballs in sauce.
I never get tired of those!

I also pay thousands less in property taxes than I did in the North.  There may be vehicle tax here, but it's low so the savings on property tax is huge.

What did your mail look like this week?  Did you find any good deals at the grocery store? 

As always, stay safe and know I appreciate each of you my dear readers.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Trip to Michael's Craft Store

My daughter and I went to Michael's so I could pick up a couple things to enhance my creative streak. (The one I just discovered.)  A friend of mine is a teacher who taught religion (Catholic) and history.  Even though my formative years were spent with the nuns from another world, I never heard the Guardian Angel prayer.  I was so enthralled with it that I decided I was going to make something small with the prayer on it for my grandchildren.

After some consideration I decided on a small sturdy envelope in which I could fold card stock paper in with the short prayer on it.  With this technique even the oldest (15) could carry the prayer with them in their wallet.

This envelope is small enough to slip in a wallet or pocket.
The name of each grandchild will go on the white sticker at the bottom
of the envelope.
Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.

Also on the buying agenda was a small tube of gold paint.  I had a sponge brush at home, as well as a dollar store tin that was just the right size to fit a roll of tissue paper for the powder room.  I wish I could say I came up with the idea, but I think it will be a while until that much creativity spews forth.  I saw it on a yoo toob video.

After I washed and dried it, I sanded the tin so the paint would adhere to it.  A paper plate was brought out as a hack for a paint palette.  Brush in hand the project began.  The strokes were light and long.  Where ever did I learn to paint?  The story:

My husband was painting the wainscoting in the living room when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Thirty two days later he passed.  After a week or so I decided I needed to finish what he started.  What a mess I was making.  Nothing seemed to work for me and that paint brush.  Very gently - in the depths of my soul - I heard 'Use a light touch, Angie.  Long and light'.  I knew it was him and I sat and cried for a while.  Then I picked up the brush and the brush and I became fast friends. 

The tin with 2 layers of paint.
The only equipment I used was the small bottle
of paint, a paper plate, and a sponge brush.

The tin after 10 fast drying layers of gold paint.

The finished project.

Enjoy the day and stay safe.