Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Big Bites

Saturday:  "We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs. . .I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. . .Begin in a small way, … and gradually build toward a reasonable objective." (President Gordon B. Hinckley) 

Is food storage on my mind for a reason?  Not for any more reasons than usual.  I have heard the stories of shocking price increases in some parts of the country.  I've seen a more gentle rise, but a rise nonetheless, of costs here in our area.  My interest in food storage has indeed increased over the past few years only because of what we've had go on in our family.  We've had children move in which would have strained the budget unduly had we not had a pantry to help us along.  We have had children moved out,  children that got married and  children go through divorce, all who needed to literally start pantries from scratch and my gift to them was a supply of basics to start them off.   I know too well how costly it can be to start with nothing and try to set up just a basic starter pantry.  We've had spells of  illness or family members who required care and shopping was the last priority so I dug into my pantry to supply us all in those times as well.  There were a few tough months financially that necessitated going deep into the pantry and minimizing grocery trips.  So I know too well how valuable my pantry has been as both a resource and an 'emergency fund'.

But yes, the past  year has shown me that the pantry can be a source of supply for myself and our family when things are scarce and limited or non-existent on store shelves.   Because of that I'm more determined than ever to build up my food storage to a one year supply for the two of us, with enough to spare to share with family if need be.  I am now studying about longer term storage of basic pantry items.  My first goal is to build up that year's supply for our household.   

I know that some of you have asked before "How do I go about it?"  "How can I build up my food storage on a budget?"  "Where do I start?"  "How much do I need?"

There are lots of resources available to help us figure out the how to-s.    There are books like the one I've shared these past few weeks, A Year Without the Grocery Store  Patsy over at A Working Pantry blog has posts and runs workshops on building up a pantry and emergency supplies.   There are many You Tube vloggers who have food storage like Kimmy Hughes at "She's In Her Apron" and she shares many of her resources with her viewers.  That's how I heard that anyone can buy a LDS Manual for food storage and about the book A Year Without the Grocery Store   

Frugal Measures  shares a lot of inspirational quotes from Mormon presidents about food storage such as the one I featured at the start of this day's post  and she includes links for skill building as well as for food storage organization, stocking up and use.  Becky's posts are full of information for anyone who wants to learn. How to build food storage for $5 a week is one Becky shared this past week.  

The Prudent Homemaker has a lot of resources on her site.  She shares great inexpensive recipes, discusses purchasing in case lots, gardening and preserving, often shares resources for purchasing items at the best prices online, etc.  

The point is, though, that we take it all ONE STEP AT A TIME, in as small a bite as we must to suit our budget and skill level until we've accomplished our goal.   Can you spare $5 a week?  Then start there.  Can you figure out how many cans of tomatoes you use in a week?  Or two weeks?  A month?   Then start there.   If you find you can devote 10% of your current grocery budget then do that.   

Sunday:  While at church this morning, I was watching a young worship team member who recently announced her first pregnancy.   The team was singing a song based on the Mosaic blessing and one verse says "May his blessings be upon you and your family and your children and their children and their children..."   I've always thought it a very powerful thing to know that God blesses me and promises to bless my children to the thousandth generation.   I could see as she sang the song that the full impact of that blessing had suddenly hit her and tears shone in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks as she sang the words.   It was an awesome moment to see that realization come over and impact her in that moment.   It's not often we get to see someone have those revelatory moments and it blessed me mightily to see it.

We went to Walmart after service today.  I bought 50 pounds of flour.  Most of the baking I've done this year has been breads and at present I have used 75 pounds in the first five months of this year.   I'm keeping count so that I can know how much I need to purchase each year in order to have a year's supply.  I don't have to purchase it all at once, but truth is that I could with flour being so reasonably priced at the moment.   It was just $5.18 for 25 pounds. They had a lot of the 25 pound bags of flour on hand so I felt comfortable taking two bags today.

We picked up a few other items: John's favorite cookies which are cheap as cheap (we can hardly say chips anymore because those are pricey unless you're buying them at Aldi!), a bag of chicken pot stickers, a big box of vegetable egg rolls, a pound of turkey sausage, 10 pounds of sugar and a half gallon of milk, and bananas.   I didn't go in for a lot and the turkey sausage is a new brand I'm going to try.  I also noted that the Butterball turkey sausage is just $2.97 at Walmart so I am more puzzled than ever by the nearly $8 per same pound roll at the discount store. 

They had sugar in 25 pound bags as well and I wanted that but John kept saying "No, it's too much..."  Pricewise, it might not have been the best price at $11.29.  I haven't priced it elsewhere and haven't bought any sugar since the first part of the year.  I used my last bag from the pantry about two weeks ago and knew that I needed something in my supplies.  NOTE: $1.94/4 pounds of sugar at Aldi.  I figured it up and I can get 25pounds for about a $1 less than I can buy 24 pounds at Aldi and get a bonus pound.  I'll be returning to get one of those bags.

However, his protest wasn't at the cost.  It was the idea of my purchasing 25 pounds of sugar. I typically keep about 30 on hand in the house and  that is not quite all we need in a year's time.   However, sometimes you must just bow to the head of the household and do a little rather than a lot.   I've no idea what the 10 pound bag cost.  Once I am distracted from my initial purpose my thinking tends to come to a complete halt. I may have overspent greatly on that item.  Must check my receipt!

When we got home, I heated sandwiches that John insisted we pick up at Walmart deli. It was nice to have a quick lunch and it allowed me to get busy on housework.  I stripped and remade the bed prior to leaving for church this morning, but I had that lot of clothes to wash and needed to attend to unloading the dishwasher, putting away my groceries and a couple of other tasks.  Nothing heavy on Sunday for me.  I try to keep it to a light work day over all.

Katie and Caleb came out later in the afternoon.   Katie has an instinct for about the time we're having coffee and often joins us at that time.   Caleb was in roaming mode today and is a busy little boy.   He knows exactly what we're going to say 'No' to and will go to the cabinet or item he's not meant to touch and look at us as he slowly reaches out his hand towards it.     

He and I sat in the rocking chair in the back and played with the oscillating fan.  I'd turn it on low and let it blow in our face a few minutes, then switch it off and we'd watch the blades slow down and then we'd do it all again and again.  I was teaching him at the same time not to touch the fan cage while the blades were on, but that it was okay when the fan was off.   He caught on fairly quickly and attempted to push the button on and off but hasn't quite got the hang of that yet.   

They stayed to supper.  I'd completely forgotten the menu this week and my need to cook supper, so I made good use of a handful of vegetables from the fridge (zucchini, onion, broccoli stem that I peeled to the soft inner portion, fresh carrots)  to make a stir fry, steamed pot stickers and baked egg rolls.  It was a really good supper and we thoroughly enjoyed eating it.   

As an appetizer, while I prepared our meal, Caleb walked about the kitchen eating tiny slim sticks of fresh carrot and zucchini which he seemed to like very well indeed.   These pre-meal tidbits usually generated conversation which I cannot understand but he sits down on the floor and says whatever he's saying to me, looking me in the eye the while and then he nods his head emphatically up and down and I nod mine back.   Then he gets up to go play and eventually comes back around to gibber something more at me and gestures which I took to mean he wanted something more and I hand off the next tidbit which again generates the conversation and nodding bit and off he goes.

It was a pleasant day that ended in a soft gentle rain falling.  Not enough to wet my potted plants I put on the edge of the step (I set them out there too late).  We had a few good rumbles of thunder for added effect but there was no storm to speak of.   After our family departed we settled into our chairs for the evening and watched our favorite narrowboat vlogs...It was a lovely end to our day.

Monday:  Thunder is rumbling as I start to type.  No lightning just thunder.  It was heavily humid this morning but didn't stop me from going outdoors to tend to plants and speak to everybody out there, including Mr. Frog who was in the water bucket,  as usual.

This morning, having looked at the forecast ahead, I noted that finally the temperatures will be over 70f every night which means it is time to put the orchids outdoors for their summer air.  I will bring them in again in the fall when night time temperatures go below 65 consistently and then they will reward me with a fresh lot of blooms.

The coleus I rooted over winter has done very well and is leafing out all up and down the stems.  I have a gladiolus about to bloom.  The peppermint is responding well to the loosened soil and is springing to life.  The old fashioned petunias are putting forth new leaves after a hard pruning back of last year's growth.  I harvested more oregano and noted that I have two or three tiny little lavender plants and possibly basil coming up in the herb box.   

I went out to the shed flower bed.  I have to concede that the seeds upon which I spent a small fortune have done nothing, are going to do nothing and were a total waste of money.   So I guess I start from scratch.  I'll not go through private seed sellers but a proper business this time around.   

 Ditto for my rose campion.  Dead.  Totally and completely dead.  However the touch me nots are standing tall and proud in their bucket so I'll at least have the Achimenes and the touch me nots out of my Mother's Day present to myself.  I can't say how disappointed I am in  that flower bed.  I had such high hopes for a really burgeoning bed of cutting flowers this year off all those seeds I put out.  I think I've got six cosmos plants and those were from a packet of seeds that were two years old.  Sigh.

I was sweating heavily once I got indoors.  It was just so very humid even though it wasn't hot per se.   I came indoors and did my Monday routine in all my rooms but no kidding that outdoor bit of walking around and weeding and watering was very draining.  Never mind that I had a whole list of other things I wanted to get done today I was already tired.  I pulled meat from the freezer to thaw and left it on the counter.  It won't all thaw completely but I start it and then I put it in the fridge to finish thawing over the next couple of day.

I have been making a cold brew tea from the  Harney and Sons tea that Amie gave me for my birthday.  It's called Indigo Punch and has butterfly pea blossom (that's what makes it blue violet), raspberry flavor, apple pieces, lemon peel, and rose hips in the tea.  It's so refreshing over ice.  I tried it as a hot tea and it might taste very well with sugar as a hot tea, but I like it unsweetened as an iced tea.  It's fruity and flavorful.  I imagine with the fruit and rose hips in it, it's nutritional, too. 

While I sipped the tea, I read emails and cooled off considerably.   I really was not done with my day.  I had a long list on my desk of things I meant to get done today over and above the housework.  The yard work was all bonus work.  I knew it had to be attended to but I failed to plan it into my day.  I'll try to remember that it needs to be planned into a day so I don't over do.

I made us lunch from leftovers in the fridge and agreed to watch a program on TV with John.   But after that I got up and went to work.  I tackled the refrigerator.  I organized it, noted what was beyond eating (a tablespoon of pimento cheese and about 2 tablespoons of Ranch dressing) and pulled out the produce I meant to work with today.

I went through the new potatoes I was given and took all the marble or golf ball sized ones for supper tonight and put the rest aside to use later this week or next.

I cut the stems and leaves off the carrots and put the greens in a glass of water in the hopes I'd sort of revive them because they and the carrots were limp.   I put the tiniest carrots in a separate container so that John can eat them.   He likes those 'baby carrots' from the store...Maybe he'll eat these genuine baby carrots?  I put the larger carrots in  with the store bought carrots.     My plan is to use some carrot leaves on the potatoes tonight.  I tasted a bit and it's not really parsley like in taste but it's green tasting and not unpleasant.  I thought I'd mix a bit of the fresh carrot leaves with some dried parsley.

I stripped Kale leaves and put them in the freezer.  I can use in smoothies or cook them later and now don't have to worry they'll spoil before I get to them. 

I sorted through the strawberries and lost six of those that were just too squishy.  I put a half dozen into the freezer.   Those can also go into smoothies or a berry cobbler mixed in with other berries.  I put the fresh blackberries into the freezer.   I did taste a few and liked them very well.  These are the seedless, thorn-less variety.

I cut up squash and onion and have them all cooking.  We won't eat all the cooked squash tonight. I could...I love summer squash!  But it's unlikely John will eat much, so what's left I'll put aside to make a squash casserole this weekend.   No one complains over squash casserole and it will go nicely as a side dish to our Gramma's Fried Chicken this next weekend.

I put the fennel fronds into the freezer.  They can stay there until I determine how to use them.  I'm researching the item though.  Someone suggested using a few fronds to go inside a roasting chicken and that idea does appeal to me.

I bought a tiny cantaloupe at the farmer's market last week that I peeled and seeded and cut into segments.  I also peeled the last tangelo I found hiding in a vegetable drawer.  That is segmented and will make a quick snack  for the two of us.

After I settled to rest again and have a cup of coffee, I tackled the bookcases in my living room.  I am aware of two facts at this moment:  I have come very near twice ordering books that I already have on hand but didn't realize I had.  So it's obvious I need some sort of inventory or book list to refer to before I start placing orders.  I found one of those books today, Dorothy Canfield's,  The Homemaker.  Someone mentioned to me the other day they'd just read it and I almost went and ordered it right then.   Glad I didn't!  

I also noted that I have many books I've never read on my bookshelf yet.  If I do read one and decide that it was a nice acquaintance and not a long time friend sort of book, I put it with a stack of books in the other room to be sold or donated to the Women's Club book sale.   But I have a LOT of books I've not yet read, too and I can honestly say they are all books I really do want to read.   So I pulled out a few and put by my chair.  If I say I want to read, I might as well make it convenient to do so.

The bookshelves look better.  I had to stack more books vertically to fit everyone nicely in place on the shelves.   I told John it's becoming increasingly obvious I need another bookcase.  

Supper tonight will be Cubed Steaks (cooked in the oven), Roasted potatoes with carrot leaf parsley and butter, squash with onions and green beans.  I'm hungry!  Best go check that meat and see if it's getting done.

Tuesday:  I'm afraid this week's diary is going to go on and on at the rate I'm going this week.  I'll try to keep it briefer through the rest of the week!   

I really enjoyed the hour or so I had alone to read Bible and drink coffee without worrying about getting breakfast.  John slept in for a change which is nice for him because he's usually the early one out of bed.

He asked for pancakes last night at bedtime.  Almost every night, just after we've said prayers and goodnights he'll ask "What's for breakfast?"  I really really don't want to  think about tomorrow's food at that hour and seldom have a plan for breakfast at all.   Were it up to me almost every morning would be cheese toast and coffee.  It makes me happy.   My husband wants to hear 'eggs' and a number of other items to make up the menu.  Never mind.  Last night he asked if I had pancake mix and sausage?   I did.   So that's what he got for breakfast.  

After breakfast and clearing up, I did minor housework and headed outdoors to the compost.  I stopped along the way to deadhead the petunia, which I find necessary in order to keep diseases down, especially just now when we're getting rain every day.    

When I came back from the compost bin, I noted that there was no bird droppings on the railing under the nest.  I'd cleaned it up yesterday but I knew the mess would be there again as long as the babies were nesting.  Sunday evening when we took off trash and came home, I stopped and looked up and there was a young bird standing at the ready on the edge of the nest peering down at me.  I was sure then that our first lot of fledglings was ready to fly the nest.  Mother Bird will hatch another 2 or 3 sets of babies before her birthing season is done.  We had four baby birds and I'm assuming they all took flight as I've seen no feathers round about.     

Stopped long enough to pot up the coleus I bought a week or so ago.  I had a pink pot sitting on the table and the purple coleus was beside it and seemed to just ask to be put in that pink pot.  I used some lime green coleus to fill in the edges of the pot.  I love coleus.  They last really well, grow in sun or semi shade,  are easy to gather seeds from at end of season and easy to root from a mere slip.

Back indoors I took the carrot leaves and put half in the oven to dry and half in the freezer to use for pesto.   Then I started my Bagel dough and mixed up sour dough English muffin.  The English muffin dough will sit on the counter all night.  The bagel dough had to rest for an hour or two so I went off to the sewing room to make my pillow covers.  

That turned into a mess that I righted enough to do for now but I'm not very happy.    The fabric does look well with the gray chairs in the living room and would go with John's brown chair as well but the pillow covers look wonky.   John says nothing at all is wrong with them but a seamstress just knows when what she's done is just not quite right and I  don't mean perfect, I mean  right.   As I said, they will do for now, perhaps for this summer.  I paid a good price for that fabric and I might as well enjoy it.   I do like the lighter colors it brings into the room.

I ran back to the kitchen to get bagels on to boil between sewing.   I took the carrot tops from the oven and found they were completely dried out.  That took maybe an hour and ten minutes at 200F.  I got the bagels on to boil and into the oven.   It wasn't until I took them out, I realized I forgot to put Everything but the Bagel seasoning on half of them this time.  I suppose I can always sprinkle it atop the cream cheese when we eat them.   

After lunch I rubbed the carrot leaves between my hands and picked out the tough stems.  I had a complete little jar full of leaves, about 4 ounces I think.   Then I sat down to write out checks for our few bills and get an idea of how our month ahead is looking.  I think we'll do okay if we use care and remember that that's all the income we'll have for this month. I made progress on one of the sub accounts and set all the funds required to meet our obligation when that one is due this month and I set aside funds to eat out.

Remember the discussion of the grocery budget last month?  How I wanted to raise it, and John then suggested I lower it by 30% below what I'd been spending and we had to have a discussion over it all?

Well in the end we agreed we'd increase the budget by a certain amount and it worked out just fine for us last month.  We stayed within budget, fully within, for the first time in months and while I won't tell you we had all we wanted of every single thing, or that we stocked the pantry well, we made fewer trips to pick up necessities than we have in months on end.  So I am happy to settle my budget at this new rate and call it good.

But an interesting thing happened this evening.  I've said that there are times I'm tempted to just take a sum from the bank, go to the store and stock up those slim areas I see in my pantry.  Not the freezer mind you but the pantry.    This evening, John was watching a homesteading vlogger who mentioned their very small food storage and their plans to build it up further.  He turned to me and said "I think it would be worth it to just take some money and get things up to par..." and thinking he meant for us, I agreed and said I'd been thinking along those same lines.  I told him about how much I'd thought I'd get and turned to tell him what I'd stock and his face was horrified.  "What's happened to our pantry?!  Aren't you keeping it up?  I thought we had plenty of food!  What are we out of?"  I explained that it wasn't anything huge but I'd like some instant potatoes and to get a couple of cases of green beans and peas and tomatoes and pineapple...all  things I'd not been able to buy much of lately.

"Well why not?  Haven't you had grocery money?"   I explained to him that in the interest of gathering other items  that were needed, I'd skipped buying others and those items were now low.  "Well but why are they low?"   The grilling went on for a few moments and I reminded him that I'd had a budget that wasn't quite stretching to cover our needs and that was why I had been unable to buy everything necessary and why I'd raised my budget last month.  He quieted off but he looked plenty worried.

At supper he asked if the children were borrowing a lot of food lately.  "No I can't say they are.  And on the rare occasions when they have, they've brought me back a new one to replace it each time."  "Well I just don't understand why we're low."   

I contemplated going back over the whole budget thing one more time but just told him, "Look, I'd planned next month to do a sort of pantry/freezer challenge anyway and take my full grocery budget to just buy the things we're lowest on and bring the stock up to the level I want it.  I daresay if necessary we'd last a good four months on what's in the house now minus a few things we might miss,  but we'd manage.   It's just that I want to be up to a year's worth of food in the house is all.   I'm sorry I alarmed you.  I would be very surprised if I couldn't bring it up to a solid nine months level and maybe twelve if I took the sum of money I told you I'd been thinking of using and probably have some money leftover as well."   He gave a deep sigh.   "I just didn't know..."   "John seriously just walk into the pantry and LOOK..."

But here again, I have to point out this is the same man who felt that a 25 pound bag of sugar was simply too much sugar to keep on hand...I think I'll just keep quiet and do my own thing with my grocery budget and purchases and if he balks hard when he's shopping with me I'll  go shopping on my own and acquire what is needed.   But I had to promise him this evening I wouldn't make us 'poor' by stocking up.  As if I would! 

Wednesday:  It's been a long day of work.   We were up early this morning and I settled with coffee to work on the checkbook and put checks in envelopes to be mailed while breakfast cooked.  

I did some minor housework in the morning before we left to run errands and grocery shop.   I even took time to check sales ads at the three stores we were most likely to shop at today.  Nothing much on sale this week to be honest.   I decided that aside from a handful of items at Publix, I could do just as well at Aldi and I had a long list of things I meant to buy.  And then, we left the house.  And the list.   

When we got to Aldi, I just walked up and down each aisle and determined what I'd add to the pantry and what was needed for right now.  I spent about $100 more than usual but we did get a lot for the pantry today.  I bought a case of green beans and two cases more of a mixed lot of canned goods. I bought a few other shelf stable items for the 

 John has gotten quite the eagle eye for spotting bargains in the meat counter and he quickly spied one of those lovely Never Any roasting hens with a $1 off sticker.  I have three whole hens in the freezer but one more doesn't hurt, especially when it's a good sale.   I priced sugar at Aldi and got just one bag.  John was surprised when he picked it up.  "This is just 4 pounds!"  "Yep."  "But it comes in 5 pound bags..."  "No, darling.  Not in quite a few years.  It's been 4 pounds for longer than I can tell you."  "Wow..."

We picked up sandwiches at Publix while we were in that store.  I wanted whole wheat noodles but they had none.  I'd promised Josh we'd buy sodas for his birthday party this weekend.  I am pretty sure his Mama and Daddy will supply them but he asked me especially and we will drink a few here and there ourselves.   I also picked up more of the shelf stable milk for the pantry.  John won't drink the stuff at all, but as I was planning grocery shopping yesterday I realized that he rarely drinks milk period.  He only wants it in the house for cereal once a week or so in the summer months.   So if I like the shelf stable milk, why not buy the shelf stable milk?  

We stopped for gasoline and I asked for a fountain drink.  John came out with a huge cup of ice with soda over it.  I was shocked because I never drink such a big drink, but it was hot, hot, hot today and even though I took water with me I'd finished it earlier in the trip and I really wanted something really cold to cool down.    I was more shocked when John told me that the huge fountain drink cost just $1.29!    Well for goodness sake!   You can't buy a smaller soda for that anymore.

We had one more errand after buying gasoline and finally we were ready to head home.  There were two items that I considered necessary today that we did not buy.  I'll get those later on in the month.  

Once home the big task was ahead.  Unloading and putting away.

Groceries are a JOB.  John never understood in the past why I was so tired after grocery shopping.  Back then I often visited six stores to pick up sales items and all the shopping, lifting and loading and unloading and unpacking was on me and me alone.  Even though back then we shopped for two weeks not four, we typically had as many bags as I brought home today.    Now that he's there to help with it all (and packing it up too since we do the bulk of our shopping at Aldi), he has a better idea of what all the job of grocery shopping involves.   He does not however, unpack and put away once things are in the house.  That is my job and mine alone.  Only one person in the house can be good at the Tetris game that is a quickly filling fridge and freezer!

After all the cold things were put away, John headed outdoors to mow.  As if he hadn't done enough today already...But then I wasn't sitting down on the job either.  I had a mess in the pantry and needed to get it squared away.   

Standing back there working on putting away the new items and organizing all that is in the there, I realized I think most clearly about my pantry and what I need in it when I'm actually standing there amidst the foodstuffs.    For instance, I know that I don't have nearly enough tomatoes to last a year but I'm closer to a year's supply of kidney beans.   I don't have enough pineapple but I'm about where I want to be with pears.  Not quite there with peaches or cranberry sauce but I have plenty of green chilies and pumpkin.   I'm going to make it a habit to go back there and just stand in the thing with my pen and paper and write notes from now on.   I'll take those with me to the grocery in the future.  

I also realized that I don't have enough storage for flour or sugar either one.  And I can create more room by moving out the black plastic 'trunk' that John gifted me after he retired from work (it was his work locker).   It will actually fit under the bed in our room.  It only contains seasonal paper goods anyway.

After the pantry work, I settled with a third tall glass of iced water and went to work on bringing the checkbook totals up to date after our errands and shopping this morning.   I noted that John was starting to mow the yard next to the back porch so went out to move his car so he could mow that space.   When I came back I picked up the blower and went to blow grass and dust off the front porch, patio and the back porch.   Then I made myself another glass of water and sat down to cool off once again.  I thought about supper.  I know what's on my menu this week and I have thawed foods but I also know how hot it is outdoors and that John would not want a hot heavy meal when he came indoors.  I decided to heat up a can of tomato soup and we would share the second sandwich from our lunch.  I'd also promised John I'd make popcorn...with fruit from the fridge that seemed a good supper to me.

Two things more to do.  I kept smelling onion after I put away the onions I bought today.  I went and checked the basket and sure enough one of the older onions had a bad spot on the bottom side.  I cut away the bad spot and threw it away.  I put the good part in the fridge to use later.    I also smelled bananas...After investigating, I realized that John had ignored the banana in the fruit bowl and instead opened the bag where I was keeping the other bananas in the hope of extending their life.   The banana in the bowl was ripe and the two in the bag were right there with it.  I peeled them and broke into chunks to put in the freezer.  I'll make banana milkshakes for us as a snack with those.  

About the time I got all of that done,   I realized I was really hungry.  I was shocked to see that it was after 6...I started to heat soup and spread mayo on the sandwich and got the pan heating for popcorn.  John came in just as the soup was hot.   He ate watermelon and I had the last of the pineapple.   I'm not bothering to do dishes tonight though I will bag up the rest of the popcorn.  

It's been a long day.   Time to read...

Thursday:  One of my morning habits at present is to slip outdoors for a little while and putter about with plants.  I inspect and deadhead and sort of just putter along.  It's such a pleasant time of day no matter how humid or hot it might be.  It's just me, plants, and singing birds.  And usually a panting dog, as Rufus is my garden companion.    

I have yet to make it outdoors to just sit on the porch but that little bit of time is very grounding for me and seems to set a tone of peacefulness that just carries on throughout the rest of the day.

Today did not go at all as planned.   Bess needed a ride back from a car repair place.  I enjoy time along with her which is rare and we covered a myriad of subjects today as we waited on an order and rode.    That was very pleasant for me and something I much appreciate.   As I shared with my long time pen pal the other day in an email, it is a rare day when I can actually speak face to face with another female who is feline or canine!

My pen pal and I have been writing now for nearly 25 years and we seldom go longer than a day or two without sharing about family, health, weather, style, emotions, etc.   Her friendship has been a huge blessing to me but we both long for and crave for a live person to speak to other than our husbands.   It's true that we are both introverts but even so we both long for face to face friendships.   It's impossible for the two of us, because she lives in Australia you see and here I am in the southern U.S.

This evening, just as we were finishing up our supper, Katie called and asked if I'd like to run into town to have coffee with her.  What I wanted was a nice bottle of cold water but I said yes to the offer to come visit.  We didn't talk about anything really earth shattering but we talked.   So I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have had conversations twice today face to face, most especially with two women I do truly love.

Friday:  Early text this morning roused anxiety.  Nothing to it but Katie letting me know a total amount I needed to put into my checkbook.  However, sleep fled right away and I reluctantly got up.   Then I decided I'd just look at rising early as an opportunity to begin my day and get things done.

I haven't gotten nearly as much done as I'd hoped.  In fact, I'm not too sure how much more I'll do today really, but I shall not be ashamed to present the work I have gotten done, nor the many ways I have spread our funds.

Apparently this week is mostly about food so no surprise today's post involves my doings in the kitchen is there?    

I began right away setting yeast to proof for bread and mixed up a single batch of biscuits.  I'd prefer to do double or triple the amount of biscuits but I have NO room in my fridge nor freezer at present, so best to stick with the single batch.  I reheated the leftover cubed steak (I served the two larger pieces as sandwiches earlier this week and the two smaller pieces were meant for biscuits).   I poured out the last of the orange juice and we had a simple enough breakfast ready in about 25 minutes.   It's the mixing of biscuits that takes the time.  That's why I prefer to do several batches at once.

After breakfast I hurried to make the bed and shower. I was tempted to skip the shower but as my morning went on, I was glad I hadn't done that.   I went about the house picking things up and putting them away.

Then I took out the compost and planted the root ends of three green onions.  Last year I grew three or four sizable green onions with bigger bulbs, like those green onions Granny and Mama grew in their gardens.   The same onions the oldest folks in our family referred to as 'Spring Tonic' as they appreciated the sharp bite of a fresh onion and enjoyed the green tips, too.

I puttered outdoors inspecting things. Yesterday when I was leaving I looked over at the big antique rose bush and saw a tree growing right up the middle of it.  I told John as I was leaving we'd have to inspect that when I got back to see what was going on.  It was just three weeks ago I was deadheading the roses after they bloomed and there was no tree in there then.  But here it was standing tall and proud and where it came from I'd no idea.

When I came back from Katie's last night I'd glanced over that way again and no tree.   Had I just been seeing things earlier?  I made up my mind to ask John about it and promptly forgot.

John reminded me a little later when we were sitting in the living room.   He asked if I'd noticed two or three things.  I had noticed all and then he mentioned "And the tree?"  "Was there really a tree there?  You got it out!"

So back to this morning with my daily putter looking things over.  I cut hydrangea blooms for indoors and cut rosemary to dry and use fresh.  I watered the teensy tiny baby tomato plant that I keep nursing along.  It's not growing.  It's not dying.  John has high hopes for that tomato plant but it's got to do something besides stay 4 inches tall!

Indoors, I folded clothes that John washed and hung to dry yesterday.  Then I tackled the refrigerator.

Yesterday afternoon, while I was making our supper, I cooked a pound of ground venison with onions.  I also made one pound of venison into sausage.  I never follow a recipe, just inspect my spice cabinet and put in what strikes my fancy.  I'm looking for a seasoning I remember my grandparents using to make their sausage but no luck so far.  The company is online but the blends suit modern day tastes now.   I'm hopeful in one of our rural grocery stores I'll stumble on the old fashioned seasoning.  

So today I took out the cooked pound of venison, the chicken breasts I'd thawed, and a variety of other things and started prepping meals for this weekend and for tonight.   Here's what I made:

squash casserole from leftover squash I cooked the other night.  That will go with our Gramma's Fried Chicken on Sunday.

Spaghetti sauce, using half the ground venison and a variety of things from the fridge: bell peppers, mushrooms, grated carrot, garlic.  I put in some of the dried carrot tops, parsley, and oregano.  I found some celery in the freezer and a dab of tomato paste as well as some julienned cuts of sun dried tomato and dumped all those things into my pot.  John was good enough to bring me a jar of marinara sauce from the back.  I typically do tomato sauce and diced tomatoes but I figured using the jar of Aldi marinara costs about the same as the sauce and tomatoes.  Then I did something that might sound weird.  I rinsed out the marinara jar with the juice I'd drained from a can of green beans.  I figured it was just as full of nutrients as any of the rest of the vegetables and since I haven't room to freeze for future vegetable broth...In it went!

I made a twist on the Kid's Favorite Casserole that I love so.  It's really just a sort of Cottage Pie.  It has green beans on the bottom of the casserole and then tomato soup mixed with ground meat and onions goes on top of the green beans.  Usually Mashed potatoes and cheese go over that, but I used Tater Tots and cheese.  I just didn't feel I wanted to make mashed potatoes this morning, not even from instant potatoes.

And finally I chopped vegetables (green and red bell peppers and onion) and then put chicken breast pieces into the crock pot with a homemade Teriyaki sauce.   I'll add the peppers later in the day when I'm about 45 minutes or so from serving.  That will be our supper tonight instead of the previously planned Pineapple Barbecue.   Same ingredients but a different sauce. I can still add pineapple if I choose but we'll see how that goes.   I'll serve this with rice tonight.

All of that done, I cleaned up my kitchen.   Made lunch and while lunch heated put the chair cushions back on my newly welded, sanded and painted dining room chairs.

Our weekend is going to be hectic.   I need to take Bess to pick up her car this afternoon.  I'm going to pick up prescriptions that are ready while I'm out, since I go right by the pharmacy.  Very early tomorrow morning we're keeping Caleb while Katie goes to pick up Taylor.  I'll be very surprised if the three across the field aren't sent over early to get them out from under foot while Mama and Daddy prepare for the birthday party.    Katie will likely be here by 10:30 with Taylor.

The birthday party will be held here at my house.  I have a larger home and can fit more people about in the open space than can fit comfortably in the house over the field.  I expect by the time everyone goes home, and general pick up is done that we'll be more than ready for a rest break.

Sunday after church, Katie and the children will be here for lunch and I'll likely either keep Caleb while she drives Taylor back or will go with them.  So Sunday will be another very early morning and longer day.   I'm claiming all the afternoons this weekend as rest times for myself.  Because Monday, if it's dry, it's John's intention to start a big project at the house in town and I want to work on another portion of that same project.  I won't by any means get done in one day but at least I'll get the first step done and perhaps we can tend to the rest of it next week and get it all done.  It would be lovely if we could manage that!

So that's our week behind and the weekend ahead and a glimpse of the week beyond that...How did your week go?

(C) Terri Cheney