Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Living Well


Saturday:  "The counsel to have a year’s supply of basic food, clothing, and commodities was given fifty years ago and has been repeated many times since. Every father and mother are the family’s storekeepers. They should store whatever their own family would like to have in the case of an emergency … [and] God will sustain us through our trials." (James E. Faust) From Becky's Frugal Measures blog

I put the portion in bold there.  It's something I mentioned this past week, not knowing that Becky was sharing the same essential thing on her blog.  I'm not Latter Day Saints but good sense is good sense no matter what denomination you belong to!! 

Friday was a much nicer day and most of that had to do with my determination to turn my week around before it ended.  I'm not saying I was dancing on the rooftop in mad glee, but I did manage to pull my spirits from the puddles where they lay wailing and walk sedately and with something nearer optimism than I'd managed all week long.

But I have been thinking.  I know too well that when I start my stinking thinking I can do a few things to lift my spirits.  I can journal which allows me to sort out my head in a far more rational manner than simply mulling and mumbling ever does.   I can play uplifting music while I go about my daily tasks.  And I can remember that each day I really do need to refocus and think on the things for which I'm grateful.  I have periodically added a "Living Well" section to these daily postings and I think I need to return for that for a bit.  Sometimes it's merely a list of things, sometimes it's more meditative, but it's always helpful to me.

One other thing I've thought of that would be helpful.  There's a lot of prep work that goes into getting big projects accomplished, agreed?  I'd love to have an HGTV life and go right from the plan to the demolition and into the finished product in less than half an hour but that's NOT reality as we all know.  However, there's always a starting point to every project and I haven't even started to get ready for any one of the many projects on my list.  I've narrowed down where I could start on at least two and that's my goal this week, to get those beginning steps taken care of.  

I spent a portion of my afternoon reading blogs.  Annabel of The Bluebirds Are Nesting On the Farm is doing a 30 day preparedness challenge on her blog.  Do go by and read and take notes.  Just as Patsy does, she's issuing a daily challenge to help us get on our feet towards being better prepared.

Living Well:  Watching Millie dance to Baby Shark song.  She loves the silly song and she marched all over the house with my Kindle while it was playing on repeat and stomped and hopped and danced and sang along.

I had lunch with my boys in the house.  Sam and John took the boys to the car show at church today and then stopped for lunch on the way home.  It was delicious and to sit here with my baby boy and his boys and daughter made my heart happy.  

John told me of the fawn he watched this morning, cavorting across the lawn this morning, an irrepressible spirit of kicking up heels and speeding around and sudden stops, lol.  I'm sorry I missed it but so glad he got to see it so he could share with me about him.

Sunday:  This is one of those busy weekends for us.  We had our small group meeting to attend last night and that was so uplifting and generated a lot of good conversation amongst our group.  I was truly uplifted by it.  Though I'm not posting this under our 'Living Well' segment, it's truly part of living well to be among likeminded people!

Home quite late last night, far later than any of us planned to be and I didn't settle in well because I enjoyed chili at the meeting and it exacted a price once  I ought to have been ready for bed.  I doubt I got more than three hours sleep last night but I did note as we came through the town east of us that there was a full moon and police cars with flashing lights all over the place due to disturbances (nothing out of the usual just routine misdemeanor sorts of things).   Full moons are hard for police, EMS and first responders and nursing homes and psych units.  Just sayin'.  It's not superstition it's truth and having spent a goodly portion of my life dealing with some of those professions I can assure you it's very real.  And lots of sleep disturbances occur during full moon weeks as well.

Up earlier than I wanted to be this morning. I had cooked squash and onions on Friday and diced potatoes and left in water overnight last night, but this morning I made squash casserole and potato salads before leaving home for church.  We made it to church on time, too.

After service, we went to see if there were other small groups we wanted to join in the lobby.  I joined the women's bible study group and if I can possibly make the meetings I mean to be there.  Those are held Wednesday evenings.   The other group I was deeply interested in was a food preservation group...Man I wanted to sign up for that one but 10am on a Friday is hard if I'm keeping Caleb.  The woman was offering classes on dehydration, hot water and pressure canning and preparedness 101.  If I Katie gets her schedule this week I'll see if it could possibly allow me to attend and try to get in touch with the woman.    John and I are part of the Coffee House and our other small groups and I felt that was quite enough for me, lol.  He didn't see anything that he wanted to join and nothing he wanted to join as a couple so we'll see what winter quarter brings.

We picked up our fried chicken order.  Name was right.  Order was right.  Time was WRONG by two hours.  Fortunately the clerk offered to make it good with 8 pieces right from the hot food case.  We came home and Katie was soon here with the two children.  I had just enough time to get the dishwasher unloaded, not reloaded and the food hot enough to serve.

And then I had a perfectly lovely time with the children.  Taylor always wants me to play with her.  She wanted to play with Barbies and that was fine but Caleb was jealous today.  He sat on my lap and watched us play but he wanted to play, too, so I called a halt after a half hour and told Taylor we needed play something that Caleb friendly.  Well he had a ball.   Taylor decided she'd be a mean kitty cat and went around crawling and slapping at toys and Caleb laughed so much he had to lie down and he still giggled madly.  Then they cooked for me and we took blocks from the big jug and put them back again.  Littlest boy was happy as he could be to have Taylor and I including him in play.  And that just made my heart swell with pride, because Taylor really is a good and loving big sister.  She's very patient with him and tries to please him.  He adores her.

After the house was picked up once more they left to take Taylor back to her dad's.  Caleb generally stays here for a nap while Katie does the drive but today he's with them.  Katie couldn't get back before we had to leave for the Senior Supper tonight.

Living Well:  Taylor mmmming her way through chicken legs.  She really does love what she refers to as Gramma's Fried Chicken!

Watching Caleb laugh at Taylor's play.

Taylor reading to me from a 'big book'.  She's in first grade and hasn't really been taught reading yet but darn if the girl didn't read me the first paragraph from the book and only missed one word!  No wonder they chose her as student of the month and will be transitioning her into gifted classes this next month.

Hearing John play guitar and praise God.

Counting tomato blossoms...there are 15 on Champion and I hope that all turn into tomatoes.

A rousing good sermon from our Seniors pastor after dinner tonight.

Monday:  I puttered around the kitchen this morning, then cleared the fridge, wiped out baskets and took an inventory.  I'll share my findings here as they were minor: Veg Beef Soup (which will be supper tonight), a bit of corned beef (will be hash for tomorrow night's supper), and some leftover fried chicken that I will skin and use in some dish or other this week.  Since I still have some corn tortillas I am thinking enchiladas again.  I like enchiladas and John doesn't seem to mind them.  I let the zucchini go almost too long but salvaged most of it.  It's chopped and in the fridge to make a sheet pan meal one evening this week which I'll have with some Chicken Italian Sausages.   Now note  that I just planned four meals in this paragraph which pretty much covers us until Friday.  I may not have them in the order in which I've shared them but all four meals are definitely on the menu for this week.

After I was done with the housework portion of my morning, I got myself ready to go out. All. By. Myself.  Not the getting ready part, but the going out part.   I went into town to the Dollar Store namely to get a birthday card and spent a little chunk of money there as is my wont when I go into the dollar store (hence why I try to limit my visits to once a month.

I walked around and looked and looked and looked.  It was easy to do today because the store was incredibly neat.  I found out why as I kept wandering and listened to various conversations between the manager and customers.   A customer came in and said "I'm sure glad y'all sell produce.  I needed potatoes to go in a pot roast and went to the grocery here in town. I got the roast I wanted but they didn't have any potatoes at all and there were lots of empty shelves besides!"  The briefly discussed the local grocery store, which has suffered for business this past two years.  I partly blame a nasty lot of rumors because locals were suspicious of the new owners and partly the fact that so many brands were no longer carried and cheaper more generic type brands had filled the shelves.  The store dropped prices but folks want their LeSeur Peas and their other name brand items especially if they must shop in the local store!

She and the clerk spoke a bit about the making of the pot roast who it was for (someone with a family member in the hospital...) and then the clerk said "I'm afraid we're not going to get in any of our holiday weekend items at all!  I have empty shelves here, too..."  

That was truth, there were empty spaces on a number of shelves but not alarmingly so.  In fact, as I mentioned the store was very neat rather than boxes and over packed shelves and such and I was finding my shopping went quite easily overall as I could go down aisles and actually see what was there.  The clerk continued, "But it's not a lack of things as everyone keeps worrying.  It's deliveries and warehouses are backed up.  They can't get workers to load the trucks, and there are fewer truck drivers, too."

I did note as I wandered around the store that this store had plenty of paper plates which was nice to see. I don't need any right at the moment, but I might pick up another few packages to keep on hand.  These are a practical part of storm preparedness.  I might have to sacrifice water to wash pots and pans but I sure won't sacrifice any to wash plates.

I went on to the post office to mail the birthday card and then over to the next to the discount grocer to pick up chicken breasts that were on sale.  I spent a LOT there today and no it wasn't all on chicken.  This weekend I was reading Annabel's blog and thinking about Shoe Box meals since one of her assignments was to make up some freezer meals.  I don't have room in my freezer for chicken and meals too,  despite all my clearing out, because I still have quite a few pounds of venison.  

So I started thinking of the Shoe Box meals as a convenience meal plan once more.   I've actually had that idea cross my mind several times over the past few weeks and that assignment really pushed my thinking forward.  This weekend I thought about gathering the components needed to make up the meal kits I'd come up with several years ago, most of which items I had on hand, but I lacked a few things.   You can review those posts here and here.

I also wanted to go on a pricing mission.  I like to see what's on the shelves and how much it costs and compare this item to that.  I didn't really mean to buy all I did today but I have said, and still feel, that I should be stocking my pantry a little more heavily and I had that in mind, too as I went on my shopping trip there.

And I admit I was just curious.  Would I see empty shelves?  Higher prices?  So off I went.

First, I found, quite by accident that the store had two racks of marked down produce.  Now I happened to have just picked up a bag of onions and some fresh tomatoes over at the dollar store.  Prices were so so, not too high,  but the produce there was fresh and looked great.  Honestly it's some of the best looking produce I've seen in our little town aside from the occasional truck garden.  In fact, I was pretty impressed overall with the expanded grocery sections fresh items both produce and variety of dairy and other products, even frozen meat items, at the dollar store.

Here at the discount grocery I picked up cellophane wrapped produce for 50c to $1.  Zucchini, green onions (5 or 6 bunches), Roma tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, onions, collard greens...I think those are the only things I bought though they also had ripe avocados (too soft for my taste) and some things I didn't recognize that are for the Hispanic shoppers.  I was pretty darned impressed.  You can bet I put back that $4 bag of potatoes and picked up those for $1.  Overall, I spent on ALL the produce what I'd been about to spend on the bag of potatoes.

I walked around the canned good, pastas/rice, aisles and started adding some things to the buggy for shoe box meals and some for deepening the pantry.  Here's how I approach my pantry part.  If I see an item and think "Oh!  We might eat that..." but we've never tried it before, I'll buy one.   We will sample it and if we like it then next time I return I'll buy more.  Today's items were yellow squash with onions,  a can of cooked cabbage, a can of Ranch beans which I've heard about but never seen until today, a can of cheese sauce (like nacho cheese but cheddar flavored).  I also picked up several items that I knew I was out of like pickle relish or needed to restock like Turkey Spam (just needed to replace what we've used).  

As I said, I spent quite a lot of time pricing some items, comparing this item to that one, etc. I also noted what was out of stock like the store brand whole wheat pastas and what had returned to stock like plain brown rice. 

I keep looking for those good turkey sausage patties we used to get but nary a one on the shelf and not even the label remained at this time.  But the less liked Butterball Turkey sausage that had been priced at $8 a pound was marked to a far more reasonable price of $1.89 per roll so I got a few of those.  I can doctor them a little to make them taste more the way I'd like.  I can't buy ground turkey for that price!

I was only able to get one package of the sale priced breasts, but looked over the meat case and discovered a package of name brand breasts marked down below the sale priced ones and grabbed those.  Then I headed to the register to check out.   

I took the long cut coming home, driving down back roads and traveling through small once upon a time communities.   I admired the roadsides and noted new houses and abandoned ones and the autumn clematis that once graced a yards in several places now just clambering over a tree or shrub at roadside, the home long gone.  All in all, it was good to get out of the house on my own and good to think without interruption on my pantry.   Will I go out next week?  We'll see how my babysitting task goes.  Katie should hear from the job this week about getting her equipment and start date and I shall know more about how my schedule will shape up. 

Living Well: This is the same store that keeps a supply of potted plants for sale outside the store.  I was admiring what few plants were left and thinking of buying an item when I began to notice bees flying about the flowers.  There were a few bees not just one or two and as I stood watching them, I realized that there was a whole swarm!  I've never seen a swarm of bees before.  I asked a man who was seated nearby if he'd seen them.  He told me they had someone coming to gather them up but we agreed it was a neat thing to see.  I told him I'd heard of bees swarms but never had I seen one.  "They are neat to watch!" he agreed.

You can see the swarm there where the caution sign is set up...I just had to get a photo of it.   I forgot all about getting any plants...Oh well.  I went on into the store still admiring the bees, lol.

Tuesday:  I started the day strong, I did really.  But I petered out pretty quick.  Oh well.  I guess I just needed a quiet day and so I've had it.

Saturday on our way to the small group meeting, a small black spider suddenly jumped on my arm.  It startled me and when I jumped, John jumped too even though he was driving.  He quickly knocked the spider from my leg and then apologized for slapping me so hard but you know he didn't slap me hard at all.  I was far more concerned about where that spider went!

When we arrived at our destination, I turned to get out of the car and the spider was on  my pants leg.  I slapped it away and that was the last I saw of him.   But when we got home, I suddenly felt my leg was itching.  I reached down to scratch it and noted that I had two bites, one of which looked pretty bad.  I said "John that stupid spider bit me!"  But as I looked harder I realized I had a tick!   We keep Camphophenique on hand and John got some put on the tick immediately.  He removed it with tweezers.  Later, I found two on him...This is not something we typically have to worry about in our area unless we're walking through the fields.  These sorts of ticks were more common above the 'gnat line' as it's called. My grandparents, who lived 40 minutes northeast of here and Katie when she lived 3 hours away have fought them in their yards in the past, but our pest was always the gnats.   Well this year the doggone ticks have moved in! 

I went out to work on the back porch railings this morning, and I did step out in the yard to get the water hose, even walked down to the mums barrel to put some coleus in a blank spot, but other than that I worked on the back porch.   The heat was pretty rough but the railings are clean.  However, I was wiped out.  And as I sat here in my chair recovering I had an itch and sure enough found another tick.  Tomorrow we are going to buy some Sevin to put out.  If that doesn't stop this we'll call our pest control company.

However, that was the last big job I did today.  Sure the bed got made and dishes got done, but very little else except for a lot of reading and thinking.   That's okay.  Some days are just a bit more laid back.

Living Well:  I found a new vlog today called Little Blessed Nest.   This girl bought a 2 bedroom 1988 single wide for $1000 and has redone it.  It's more than livable now but not quite finished.  I was so inspired by her and I'm not even kidding.  I think they ended up with less than $10,000 in the place, including moving and remodeling and it looks so nice.  

Anyway, she served as a good reminder that it's not in how much we have to spend but in how well we put it to use.  I need that reminder more often than I care to admit, especially after I've just spent an afternoon reading past blog posts about how I haven't the money to do this or that...

Wednesday:  We went out this morning to buy Sevin to spread for the tick infestation.  I bought collars for the dogs and cat.  I looked for repellant spray for us but not a drop to be had in either the hardware or dollar store.   Then John mentioned he had some stuff in his car and he did.  It's not a large container but it's enough to keep us tick free for a day or four if we must go outdoors.   Which is a good thing because the Sevin bag was dropped on the back porch and has yet to be opened.  I reckon the sight of the bag is meant to warn the ticks off?

John has been saying we were going to work in the yard in town but after waiting until nearly 11a.m.,  I finally had to ask when we were to go.  He said he'd changed his mind.  I was more than a little frustrated with that as I'd tried to back out of going yesterday when he asked if I'd go with him and he wanted me along.  I could have gotten a load of stuff done today but instead I was waiting on him all morning long thinking I had no time to start any task.  I'm just a touch irritated over it at the moment...and guess what we're meant to do tomorrow?  

Never mind.  I did what I could when I got home.  I am slowly working my way through the marked down produce I bought at the grocery on Monday.  It wasn't such a load of stuff but it takes me time to think of how I will use it.  I prepped the collards for the crockpot and shredded zucchini today.  I still have tomatoes, oranges, green onions to determine how I shall use.  

This evening, John went to church, while I attended the women's Bible Study.  I'd never heard Priscilla Shirer before tonight and I must say I really like her method of teaching.  She explains things and tells the meaning of place names and words used in the Hebrew and how it relates.  Exactly my own style of study so I'm well pleased.  There were about 40 women in attendance.  The pastor stepped in prior to his own service and I told John, I'm kind of glad he did.  I've been lamenting the lack of things for the women of the church to attend and I hope he sees that there is a true thirst and need of more women ministries.

Thursday:  I woke this morning with nausea.  John and I were discussing that this afternoon.  He kept throwing out suggestions and I kept telling him, "No...it started before that..." lol.   I told him I'd been reading past posts and this is about standard for me this time of year and I've no idea why.  I suggested it might be weather related, part of my old migraine reaction to incoming storms, though I seldom have migraines anymore, at least not the headache part.  I do believe I still have symptoms related to migraine though.   At any rate, I regretted mightily having mentioned to John we'd have eggs and corned beef hash for breakfast and regretted as much that I'd promised to go to Katie's to help do yard work. 

 I am however, a woman of my word, and while John made breakfast just as I'd planned it last night, I still went with him and put in a minor amount of labor on the yard overall.  I almost dislike going over just now because the unfinished work on that flower bed really gets to me.  I can't get what I need just at the moment and it irks me that I have a partly finished project there and is not complete.

While I waited on John to spray down poison and weeds in an area where the mower won't go, I noted that there were plants I recognized coming up on one side of the fence.  It was the leaves of the Coreopsis that Granny always had in her yard blooming and I remembered that Mama had, at one time, planted them along the walkway in her own backyard.   Apparently John's been weed eating them each time he's gone over and so I quickly rescued those that I could gather.   Gathered me a handful of fire ants, too!  OW, ow, ow, OW.

I brought those home and put them in pots with the last of the potting soil. I had to scramble to find pots for them but at least for the moment they are safe from being sprayed or mowed or cut off.   John was doing some work on the mower and I happened to glance out and see him sitting on the front porch, so I went out to sit with him.  It's very thick and humid outdoors but now and then this lovely cool Gulf breeze blows in pleasantly cool air and it's incredibly nice to sit outdoors.  Fortunately that breeze blew up while we were sitting on the front porch.   Misu, Rufus and River all joined us.  I think everyone was glad of the shade and the breeze.  That was one of the most pleasant parts of our day.

Poor John has been fighting with the lawnmower since he started mowing.  I believe he said he'd shredded the new belt we just picked up this morning, an old one he'd found in the shop and had put on a third one.  This job normally only takes him 2.5 hours for our yard and right now he's hitting hard on 3 hours and is only half done.  I've said a lot of prayers for him while he's been dealing with his problem mower today. 

Living Well:  As we sat on the front porch this morning, cooling off before John started to mow, I admired the pot of Achimenes flowers.  I'm so happy that I decided to add them to my potted plants this year and I love that each time I look at them I think of my Grandmother and how she loved those flowers enough to share them with me many years ago.  

Then walking out the back door later, I passed the small pot of Touch Me Nots that I'd rooted from the blighted stems and how they are flourishing and so pretty...There's Aunt Mary Jo, I said to myself and smiled for it was she who shared the Touch Me Nots with me years ago.    I'm so grateful I was able to find both these seeds this year and was able to plant them all over again.  I remembered how much I loved the flowers but I'd no idea how often they would bring a loved family member to mind.

I hope that the Coreopsis I brought home from the town house today will do the same next year.  That they shall bloom and each time I look at those sunny yellow flowers I'll remember Granny's own patch of cottage flowers just outside her front and back doors where Coreopsis shown like sunshine on cloudy days...

Friday:  Anyone remember Anne Murrays' song "A Little Good News Today"?    That's how I've been feeling for awhile now and in light of the world at large and the world up close, I am quite sincere.  

In the interest of living gently, I've reintroduced the 'Living Well' series to my posts once again, to remind me that each day there are still good things in my life.  We cannot judge our lives by the world at large or even by the world up close at times.   We can only center ourselves upon the truly good things, those with no value other than the joy/peace/hope they cause to well up within us, even in an heart aching world.

Yesterday, John and I pushed hard to finish off our week so that we might have today free.  I can't get to the beach, as we both long to do right at this moment.  I can't find a cabin to run away to at this time.  But we can claim a short precious bit of time to be husband and wife, a couple, partners in faith.    I hurried through making bread and getting the last household chores done for the week this morning and then we went off to the little town in the foothills and the one restaurant we go to in that area for a quiet happy lunch together.

It's no further away than driving over to the busier town where we typically shop and go to church.  Some of the stores and restaurants in that town in the foothills are the same, and it's a busy little town but it's smaller and more laidback and the restaurants, at least for lunch, are never packed out.   So the pace overall is just easy.   And the ride is lovely, going up and down rolling hills and seeing mountains in the distance.  Just the very fact of changing directions and heading to that area instead of the busier more commercial places is like a mini vacation.

So we had wonderful conversations and we giggled through lunch and had a wonderful meal.  And on the way home, we played a bit of the 'What if....' game where in we said "What if we had $X to play with?" and we expounded upon what we'd do and really felt as happy as if we truly did have $X to play with instead of it all being just for pretend.   It was a lovely date, a time we needed for refreshing and it worked just fine.  I'm glad I decided it was worthwhile to leave our eating out fund in the budget this month.  I'm glad we've had the opportunity to date more often this month.  I'm glad we can take these little excursions.  

Living Well: We made the choice years ago, when Katie was 5, that I would come home to stay.  I never thought of myself as 'just a housewife' but many others did.  I loathed going out to work parties and such with John because there was always someone who would turn to me during a lull in conversations and say "Oh Terri...Are you still just at home?" as though I'd chosen the least thing to do and it prompted John to reply to one woman "Terri's a blessed woman.  She's married to me.   All she has to do is sit at home and eat bonbons all day long."    It wasn't said meanly about my choice but it was said cynically to the person remarking because he too caught the 'just at home' slur that was passed to me and he knew how hard I worked daily and how much money we saved because I'd chosen the home path.

Today on the way home from our lovely luncheon we talked over past jobs and  I voiced my frustration at my past career.  I did have one!  I trained for a career in business.  When I graduated the teachers were upset that they could give me only one degree because they all agreed I'd excelled in my classes and the range of classes I'd chosen, actually qualified me for three degrees!  However, the school's policy only allowed them to give me one degree.   My first job was at the nursing home where I eventually became Social worker.  I was appreciated and rewarded well for my work there but the emotional toll was hard.

So I went to work at the hospital where, to be honest with you, I was undervalued and under rated.  After five years my boss was shocked to learn I had a degree even though it was right there on my application.  I came back a year later to work in a different position but the same undervalue, under rated business went on.  When I left to come home, I did so with a bit of a tail between my legs attitude.  I'd worked hard and done all I could to promote the offices I held but it gets to you after awhile that being undervalued, especially when employers feel compelled to tell you they can hire untrained personnel and would happily do so.

As I went over that passage of life with John today, he kept remarking "But you held the most important job here at home...But you were never undervalued here, I knew your worth...But you rated high with ME...But you gave our kids your best..."  And gradually I grew quiet because his words sank deep.  I guess in some small part of my mind, I saw my lack of success in the business world as my lack of success in life but I could look back over my homemaking career and see that these 25 years have truly been the most successful and most rewarding of my lifetime.  This portion of my life was the part I valued most highly.  And quite rightly, John pointed out one last time "But your degree helped you be successful here..." Yes, it had.  I just hadn't applied it in the area where I thought I might.

So no more regrets for choosing a business degree..  And no more thinking my education was wasted.  It brought me HERE and this is where I've been the most highly valued and rewarded. 

(C) Terri Cheney