Diary of a Homemaker: Only The Best


Saturday:  Not every day is perfect.  In fact, if you scratch the surface of most days there will be an upset, a hastily spoken word, a neglectful or thoughtless moment.  It might color the entire day.  It does, at the very least, tarnish a perfectly beautiful and blessed day otherwise.

I'm learning still, to navigate around these moments and not worry them to death while I examine them over and over again.  It's a difficult lesson, one I've needed to learn for quite a long while, but I'm trying my best to take each day as it comes, leave those single moments behind me and dwell long and hard upon the loveliest parts of the day.

Today was cool and overcast and drizzly with rain.  It was not a beautiful sunny day as I'd hoped it might be.  But the day was planned more or less in advance and in discussing it that morning we determined just what we'd do with the gift of a whole day to ourselves.   Did it turn out exactly as we planned?  No there were lovely moments tossed in as icing on the cake of the day and there was one fly in the ointment but only one.

We began by sleeping late and then leisurely taking coffee.  We each got ready for the day and without even bothering about breakfast we made our plans and left the house to enjoy a date.   We combined a couple of errands because we do that normally anyway.  They weren't time consuming errands and all went well.

We had lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We both ordered a new to us entree and cups of steaming hot coffee because there was a steady draft from customers coming in almost constantly.  We were served coffee promptly and our meal arrived piping hot.   

In the meantime, while we were chatting and waiting for food, I was watching the parade of young girls come in, all dressed in short thin (looked like a a slick t-shirt type material, mostly of nylon?) skirts and tanks, with equally thin jackets over the top.  The girls were not scantily clad, but the skirts (with shorts under for modesty) were very short and they also wore pantyhose.  They appeared to be a cheer or dance team, as it was obviously a costume, with big gaudy gold bow in their topknot of hair and bright red lipstick on each face.  

Frankly I'm glad I had a hot cuppa to watch them over because I shivered as each came through the door and I couldn't help but think they surely must be cold.  Only one apparently had a mom or forethought and brought along a pair of sweat pants to pull on over her abbreviated bottom.   There must have been two dozen of the girls and that was the sole one I saw with anything reasonably warm on her.

Our meal was delicious.  As we were waiting for our check, Katie texted to say she'd meet up with us in the parking lot to drop off the grocery items she'd picked up at Aldi for me.  I'd asked her to purchase some of the special items of the week, namely a bone in turkey breast and a shoulder roast, as well as some fried onion rings (think green bean casserole and you'll know what I mean).   I knew the turkey would be frozen and so we made our way over to the Publix next door to buy shelf stable milk which is the only place I've been able to buy it in our area, a steak and baking potatoes for our dinner that night.  You see we'd planned to make a real full day of treating ourselves to special things and for the first time in months steaks were reasonably priced.

We did our shopping there and then we found Katie circling the parking lot when we came out.  Caleb was surprised to see me and rather upset with us when we didn't take him out of the car or get in with him, poor fellow.  John loaded our groceries into an insulated bag (knowing that frozen turkey would keep things cold) and we headed off to our next destination, which was the movies to see the latest Bond film.

We drove home in something closer to sunshine than we'd seen all day long and arrived just in time to see the three children from across the field in their costumes.   Katie forwarded me a photo of Taylor in her costume and then sent one of Caleb in his.  I was bustling about putting away groceries and making a salad when the children arrived here with their parents.  We gave them candy and took their pictures and saw them off on their way.  It was during this brief interlude that the fly landed smack upon my caramel apple day and I might have gotten stuck along with him...But we're going to focus on the best, aren't we?

So we saw the children off again and then we returned to making our supper.   I found that Katie had gotten everything on my list but had substituted most of the items out.  I'm not knocking her effort.   She's convinced if I want something I need it now and she's determined to fulfill my wants.  I sincerely appreciated what she'd done and as John said "We'll use it...."   A nice treat was included of a box of Dark Chocolate hot cocoa k-cups.   That's also like Katie to add in something a little special for John or myself.

Our steak dinner was delicious.  We finished off our evening with coffee and a quick visit from Katie with Caleb, still in costume, in tow as they headed out for further trick or treating adventures which involved a round of visiting an older woman friend of Katie's and Caleb's daddy.     

So you see, aside from one little fly the day was quite good overall.  And heaven help me to please remember this all through the week ahead!

Sunday:  I didn't realize when I cut off my alarm this morning that I'd roll over and sleep an additional hour before I got out of bed.  Fortunately I had my outfit picked out and set up, I knew I had a quick breakfast to put together and my makeup routine is fine honed.  We were out of the house on time, barely an hour later and arrived at church on time.  I needed the extra sleep but I'm glad I didn't push us into being late.

We came right home after church and I went to work.  I do as little housework as I can on Saturdays but make up for it on Sunday by putting each room to rights.  I don't do floors nor do I clean bathrooms, but there's always dishes to wash and/or load up, bed to make, and odd little areas that somehow get cluttered in that one day of doing no housework.  Today was no different than it's ever been.  By the time I had lunch ready to go on the table I'd worked for all but fifteen minutes of the two hours after we arrived home.

I went out to the compost cans to dump compost and deadheaded cosmos and scattered seed heads in the flower bed they're growing in.  I don't know if any of them will survive winter or not but they're being scattered there anyway.     I went into the shed and retrieved the big clear bin to store the plants I mean to keep from freezing.  We found the bin the best way to move the plants in and out each evening and morning and they can stay in the bin all day long with or without the lid, usually pulled over to sit in the sunny area of the porch.  I put in the freshly repotted begonias I hope to keep through winter, along with the Mandevillas (due to be repotted next spring), and the Kolanchoa.

I gathered the corms from the few remaining Achimenes and then put that pot in the bin as well just in case I missed any corms.  I brought the snake plants, Christmas Cacti, and Poinsettias indoors.  Those will remain indoors all through the rest of the fall and winter months and they don't go back outdoors until late spring temperatures rise considerably.    

What remains outdoors is the Bougainvillea which didn't do a thing last year except put out leaves. No growth and no blooms.  It's looking the worst for wear and I decided to save the begonia if I might rather than that plant.  I'll start fresh with a new plant if I can find one next year.   The last of the coleus and touch me nots are outdoors as well.  I will likely take my seed filled pots and dump those in the shed flower bed and hope for plants from that area next year but I still have saved seed from those as well.

I was able to get the leaves and dirt blown off the front porch and then my battery died.  We hadn't charged our second battery so I'm charging them now.  It felt good to get most of one porch cleared up though.  I'll tackle the back porch and patio over the next few days.

John urged me this morning to 'not worry about supper tonight'...I've heard those words before and as I pointed out to him this morning, it's all fine and well to say 'not to worry' but if everything is frozen solid, I'd need something thawed wouldn't I?  I suppose I might have thought of a Shoe Box Supper to have but I decided that while he was wrong he was also right.  It's our day off.  I determined to have the BBQ chicken sandwiches and Brunswick Stew tonight.  Especially considered it a worthy thought when we sat here shivering after drinking a soda with our pizza lunch!  So an easy meal for us tonight.  I'll do what food prep I might need to do over the next two days.   For today, I'm back in 'day off' mode and going to enjoy it.

later:  Supper was really good but I will say that the sun came out and the house warmed up and the soup and hot sandwiches seemed a bit overkill compared to the shivery thoughts of supper right after lunch, lol.

Looking through a 1943 vintage magazine issue, I noted the chart which recommended quantity of foods recommended for each age group.  Curious, I decided to look up and see if the USDA had a newer guide than the one from 1943.  Of course they do!  It's dated 2007, but you can find the link for this pdf file here.  There's a ton of information here and if you wonder if you're getting the government guidelines nutritionally speaking it's a good tool to use to determine where you might alter your own meal plans.

If you're curious what food costs were for various meal plans in September of 2021 you can find the thrifty plan costs here and the Low, Moderate and Liberal costs here.   I was surprised to find that per the September thrifty charts we  should have been spending around $400 a month...and we were!   But I daresay we did better than the government thought we might because I added to my pantry and freezer supplies from that amount. 

This evening we spent time looking for a new oven door gasket for my old gas range.  Per the sticker on the stove door my model was manufactured in 2000...I'd say that's about when we bought it for sure.  I remember we'd lived here about 3 years and for three winters running we'd had sleet storms or snow that threatened to knock out power multiples of times.  No fun!  We'd already purchased the propane gas heater to use as back up heating and after the third year, when we actually lost power for a day or so and I'd had no coffee...well it wasn't hard to convince anyone in our family that we actually needed a gas stove.   I've never regretted giving up the electric stove at all.

So before we had a model/serial number I went to look up gaskets and was pretty shocked at the prices.   After we had a model number and sourced the replacement parts for what is now obsolete, we ended up ordering a new gasket for $14.  My gracious that is a really really good price compared to the $165 that one of those I'd looked up earlier cost!    John ordered it and said, "If it fits, we'll go on and order another one."  Yep, we will.

While looking for the model number I think I found a way to fix my oven door which has not been shutting fully.  There's an illustration and I'll get John to help me with it later this week.

Monday:  I didn't want to get out of bed this morning and that's not in the least surprising.  It's dark until well past 7am at present and it's chilly, as well.   Even though we are keeping the heat higher this year (70F) due to Caleb coming in so early in the mornings, it's still chilly in our room which is on the north end of the house.

I've been trying to figure out what our breakfasts and lunches might be this week.  I know that this will only be a help this week if I just do it but somehow I'm not in the mood to think of foods.  I get that way now and then.  I've plenty of choices I might make.  It's really just a matter of planning so that I can be prepared.

I took time this evening to clear out the utensil drawer on the island and the drawer where I keep my reusable straws and the toddler forks and spoons.  Both drawers had gotten into quite a big mess and it was a relief to sort them out, rearrange and declutter.  I put the most used items in the crock of knives and wooden spoons next to the stove.  It will be more convenient than pulling the island away from the cabinet doors to retrieve what's needed when Caleb is here.

If I'm looking for the best in each day this month then I must really try hard to remember what is 'best'...I suppose that Caleb is healthy and strong is the very best thing.  He's now climbing onto chairs he couldn't quite manage a week ago...and that meant he got his smart little self on top of my freezer today.  Yeah.  The day was a merry go round of rescuing him, contemplating what dangers there were in each situation that might need to be corrected right away, brainstorming places to put things I think will be within reach shortly and admiring his accomplishments.  

Tuesday:  Still no real plan for breakfasts and lunches. Just letting myself go with whatever strikes my fancy.  Fortunately my fancy is not experiencing a need for luxury foods, lol.   Today we had French toast and for lunch I dressed up some of the 7 can soup a little bit.  It actually tasted better today with the additions (taco seasoned lentils and cheese).

While Caleb was down for a nap, I defrosted the freezer.  It wasn't so terribly bad, but a lot of the frost had started to build up at the top level around the opening and I wanted to clear it off before it began to prevent the freezer shutting fully.    I was shocked at how quick this went.  In about a half hour, I'd sorted, defrosted and repacked the freezer and sorted out the fridge freezer, as well.  I have room for another deep basket in the deep freezer which means I'll have room for venison if we get any this year and I've got room for a turkey as soon as I find one.  

I culled a few items that I hadn't used, kept pushing aside and realized I was probably not going to use.  Like two dozen lemon quarters and lots and lots and lots of unpleasantly brown frozen bananas that I hadn't used.  There were a few other odd bits and pieces.  Now all things are tucked into their respective baskets and I think I will use more of the items I know are waiting there.

I'm taking a short break and thinking about supper.  I have options so not a hard brain strain to figure that out.  But I will share that I'm finding my menu plan this week less than inspiring.  So we'll be eating things that have the same components perhaps but not just what I planned.  It goes that way some weeks.

I have been keeping a running mental list lately of things I need  to purchase.  My swivel rocker in the kitchen sitting area is broken.  I'm so tempted to haul it outdoors and move the wing back from our bedroom in there but I'll wait a little bit only because I don't want a chair sitting on the back porch waiting to go to the county dump while we've got company coming in and out.   But in the future I hope to purchase a glider rocker to go in place of that ivory one.  

I have such sweet memories of that ivory rocker, which Lori gave to me when she and Jd moved to Georgia.  It had a squeak that incurable.  I know because we have all tried over the years (about 10 now) to stop it from squeaking.  It once went two whole hours without a squeak and then inexplicably started right back.

My ideal would be to have two matching gliders there, because so often when we have family in someone, grandchild or adult, will settle in the rocker and rock.  I have a lovely photo of Isaac who was stubbornly refusing a nap one day sitting in the chair with his bottle in hand, his lovely long curls all around his head and him sound asleep...lol.   I have lovely memories over that rocking chair and will miss it but I know that things are seldom going to last a lifetime.  

I also noted that Maddie, whom I love, but who truly does bug me with her habit of lying upon the back door mat and shedding mightily on Coir or non-Coir doormats alike, has completely worn out the door mat, including rubbing the color and raised pattern off it.   I was scrolling through Instagram this morning and saw an ad for Bed Bath & Beyond with a pretty door mat for only $3.99.  I put two in my cart and will use one at each porch door.  That was a future need that got met right quick.  I tend, once I note that I need something, to often find things like that on very good sale and I jump on them right away.

I stood at the window this morning and watched the sun sparkle on the dew, bring depth of color to the leaves and wash the world golden.   That was a lovely moment to stand there and just admire the morning.

And then there was the moment when Caleb, who has discovered the harmonica in the past week, sat down with the baby doll and began to rub the harmonica across it's mouth.   More and more I'm seeing little glimpses of a growing imagination, a tendency to pretend, that I hope grows as strong as any of his  muscles and carries him often and often into wonderful places. 

Wednesday:  Last night about a half hour before bed, I had a headache.  I felt positively ill with it, something I haven't experienced in quite a long time.  I was feeling a little sick this morning, too.  Apparently Caleb was also not feeling well because after he started acting really hyper, I asked if he wanted to go night night.  He literally ran to the bedroom door!  He not only went easily to bed, he slept for four hours.   I was able to go crawl in the bed myself and sleep a good hour and a half after taking some nausea medication (I'd already had some Ginger Ale).  Neither Caleb nor I felt 100% when we got up but we both appeared to feel better.  I guess we were sharing a bug of some sort.  I'm so grateful today that I was able to lie down and recover as much as I did.

Katie supplied us with supper tonight.  It was really good.  It was a new recipe called Tacos Baria and had chipotle peppers, cloves, bay leaf and other seasonings  It was nice to not have to make supper tonight and clean up was easy  enough since all I had to make was a salad. 

Thursday:  Every night this week I've accidentally taken my melatonin tabs extra early.  I'm beginning to think while it's been an accident, my mind might have been urging me to do it on purpose.  I was so ready for bed last night at 10pm and asleep before John got in the bed.   That makes three out of four nights this week that I've been asleep within five minutes of lying down.  I think sleep was just what I needed last night even though I'd have said I'd slept rather well Tuesday night.

I slept very well last night, too.  And it showed today in various ways.  For one thing, I didn't feel done in when Caleb went down for his nap.  I spent a happy two and a half hours playing with genealogy stuff.  Got absolutely nowhere with anyone but it was still interesting and fun to me.

This evening after Caleb left with his Mommy, I swept our bath, cleared up the kitchen prior to supper (a new habit that I'm appreciating more and more.  It means that once our dinner plates are put into the dishwasher I am done with my kitchen for the day), set up the changing station for tomorrow's diapers, emptied up the trash and pulled shades down.  After supper, I set up bread ingredients for in the morning, gathered some ingredients for a dish I have to take to a dinner over the weekend and put away the last clothes from the laundry.  I didn't even feel tired after all that...I lay it all at several good nights of rest.

I had been remarking to John all afternoon that it felt like the temperature outdoors was dropping a bit.  Katie reminded me when she came in that we're meant to get frost tonight.  No wonder I was feeling chilly.  

We had pest control guy out this evening, because the first thing I found this morning was ants in the kitchen.  Just on the floor of the kitchen and only a few but having been through this circus a few times, I called immediately this morning to get them back out before we are raided.  We had supper as soon as he'd left this evening and then we took off trash.

Coming back in, I looked at the flowers.  The Angelonia has been beautiful for the past two months.  The marigolds and cosmos and the handful of zinnias have been lovely.   The hydrangea was wetting new blossom buds this week with the warmish days.  The Pineapple sage has been in full bloom.  The penta has been blooming and I noted one bud on the yellow rose bush.  I have a planter full of chrysanthemum blooming too, with two pretty coleus accenting that planter.  They all look just lovely.  I sadly told them all goodbye and walked indoors.  Then it occurred to me I could have a last bouquet in the house.  

So I went right back outdoors, minus my jacket which was a mistake and hurried along to cut cosmos and marigolds.  I had to watch for the sleepy bees once again and spoke gently to them as I saw them nestled in between petals.  I wonder where they will sleep once the flowers are gone?   And then I did something you might consider silly but I thought necessary.  I went about looking at all the plants and thanked them out loud for blooming and being lovely and giving me pleasure this year.  I thanked the lavender which has yet to bloom but keeps growing anyway, and the roses and other plants....Oops!  I need to run back to the front porch and cover my bin of plants so they won't freeze tonight...But yes, I thanked them all, each and everyone for all they'd given me this year.  

I just came back indoors and John was looking at his weather app.  No frost tonight after all...Oh well.  At least I've said my goodbyes so if the weekend gets a little hectic, I'll not have forgotten.

Supper tonight was a sort of Greek seasoned Chicken and Roasted Cauliflower and a Cucumber and Tomato Salad.

Friday:  A busy morning for us here in the house.   John stripped the bed when he got up.  I'd already stripped and put out fresh bath towels in our bathroom.   He started a load of laundry, I unloaded the dishwasher.  I started bread and made toast for breakfast.  I made the macaroni and cheese for tomorrow night's dinner and after the bread was in the oven,  I made up our bed with fresh linens.  When the bread came out of the oven, I began to mix up chocolate chip cookies.  I put half the batch in the freezer to flash freeze.  I'll dump those balls into a zippered bag and keep them handy for later in the year when we want cookies.  

Who am I kidding?   Cookies are almost always wanted here in our house but truly we don't need to eat four dozen chocolate chip cookies.   

Well the kitchen is all cleared up for the fifth or sixth time today.  My plans for supper: Hamburger Pizza which I'll make up later in the afternoon.   I cleared the fridge and scrambled things together for lunch today but it was one of those dump and delicious sorts of things.  I was glad it turned out so good.  It really was dump and go.  A partial can of meat ravioli in tomato sauce, a few cheese ravioli left from lunch the other day, some whole wheat spaghetti noodles, a partial can of tomato sauce and a partial jar of Alfredo sauce.  I then added in some sausage I'd browned and put in the freezer.   This turned out really good, saucy enough to feel almost like soup.

The weather is cool.  My devices all assure me it's in the low 50's today but my thermometers both read in the 47F range so I'll take their word for it and not devices that aren't even outdoors.  It's overcast and breezy.  The heat is still coming on routinely today a sure sign that it's chilly outdoors. 

Tonight, after Caleb leaves here and our supper is well started, I want to set up the children's table in the kitchen for tomorrow.  I've been bagging up ice for the party.  Opening my home, providing ice and possibly glasses and plates are my sole contribution to the party tomorrow.  Katie has everything else planned out and will furnish it all.   I need to run into town today or first thing in the morning and get a birthday card for Caleb.  Not that he'll notice if there isn't one there.

And that pretty much winds up this week for us.   Caleb is napping and I'm just that tired I'd like to try and close my eyes for a few minutes.   Hope you've had a lovely week...Come tell us of any bargains or special moments.  

(C) Terri Cheney