Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Mild July


Saturday:  We had breakfast with Katie and the children today and enjoyed it very much.  Breakfast is not a meal we typically eat all together.   Taylor was quick, however, to remind me that 'tomorrow is Gramma's Fried Chicken Day!'     John reminded me this evening to go ahead and put in an order for some to insure they had it.   The store has been sliding on that score once again and ordering ahead is absolutely necessary.

Thursday we saw rain out of the east due to the hurricane but today rain came in from the west.   Granny used to say something along these lines:  East wind brings the rain and west wind brings it back again...I'm not complaining.  The rain has brought a flush of buds to the coral rosebush on the front patio.  It will do the hydrangea a world of good and will only help all the rest of my plants to flourish as well.  I might not have had success with flower seeds this year but other things are doing quite well.

Sunday:  I groaned inwardly when John began to stir this morning.  Frankly, I didn't see why he couldn't wait until the alarms went off...Well good thing he got up when he did because I had set my alarm... for next Saturday.  I had gotten up to go to the guest room last night when his snoring and my wakefulness had combined to keep me up until all hours.   I had to hurry to get myself ready this morning.   You know I managed quite well.  I even cooked French toast and made the bed, loaded the dishwasher and fed the pets before walking out the door ON TIME.  I impressed myself.

We stopped to pick up the chicken, some tomatoes that have been very good in the past, and cheese on sale for less than Aldi's regular price.  John and I priced soda but the size bottles I wanted were not on sale and I wasn't in the mood to pay full price for the ones I wanted.  We'll go without.

Came home to put green beans on to heat and barely had time to get them hot before the family were coming in the back door.

While Caleb and Grandpa played, Katie chilled, and Taylor and I sat in the kitchen.  I'm so glad that we decided to sit there because for one thing, we girls were all alone and this pleased Taylor to have the boys in one room and girls in another.   Well welcome to life honey, this is the way it will play out the rest of your life at most every party and social gathering, lol!

But later, when it was just she and I, after a rain shower, I noted that two mockingbirds were squabbling over bathing rights in a puddle.  I pointed out the enthusiastic bath the mockingbird was having and Taylor laughed.  A bit later, a Brown Thrasher and still later a couple of Doves, took turns bathing in that same puddle.  We watched a pair of Quail stroll leisurely here and there all across the yard.

And then a Doe and fawn showed up at the bottom drive.  Taylor was so excited she ran outside.  I assured her before she went that she couldn't pet them and likely wouldn't get anywhere near.   She stood at the top of the hill and looked at them and they looked at her, but when she decided to run down hill, they took off with great leaps and flashes of their white tails.   She was so disappointed but it tickled me that she truly thought she might get near enough to touch them.

Afterwards when she returned indoors she asked if deer would hurt her.  "They are not predators, are they?"   I explained to her that a mother doe protecting it's fawn might well do her harm but assured her they wouldn't hunt her down or try to eat her.  "Well...I really did want to touch one!"   Of course, you did.   I remember at her age wanting to touch deer, too.  Then Mama and Daddy took us to a state park that had tame deer who licked my hands and their tongue was slimy as a cow's...I was not impressed in the least and that's as far as wanting to touch one has ever carried me!

Caleb stayed with us while Katie took Taylor back.  It is a challenge to keep up with an 18 month old who has just learned to climb and is intent on touching all the things and retouching those you've said No! to at least fifty more times to be sure you really meant No! about that particular item.   And that is with a happy baby.      John and I were worn out when he left to go home, bless him.   He too was tired though and I guess that's all right if he was as tired as we were.  

Monday:  I kept falling asleep last night during a favorite program and even though I soon got interested in a war documentary (Battle of the Bulge) that John was watching, I was soon toddling off to bed.   The last thing I remember was hearing a Baron something or other who had been in the armed forces telling how many men complained of the food rations in WWII.  He assured the audience that as far as he was concerned it was all delicious and he was happy to eat everything that was put before him.   "But I've noticed,"  he said in his aristocratic voice, "the people who complain the most that the champagne is bubbly enough of the oysters aren't fresh enough often never have such things to eat at home anyway."  That amused me.  It was an old documentary, probably shot in the 1950's or very early 1960's.

At any rate, I slept very well indeed last night and woke early this morning with a leg cramp.  I do despise those but I knew I had been leaving off the mag-E that the doctor told me to take and so I resolved I'd get right back to taking it this morning.     I wanted to go back to sleep, because I woke when it was still dark outdoors and even though the sun comes up quite early now, it didn't start to get light for sometime.  I figure, if I calculated my waking hour right, that I'd gotten a good hard 7 hours sleep which is excellent for me.

I got up well before John awoke and took my book to the kitchen.   Yesterday afternoon, when I was hopeful I might do a little reading while Caleb was here, I'd picked up Elizabeth Cadell's Return Match and immediately gotten interested.  And in case you are wondering, no I haven't finished Understood Betsy nor have I finished A Year Without the Grocery Store, The Supper of the Lamb, or Jane Austen's Town and Country Style.   I have no excuse for starting the Cadell book when I'd only just started the Fisher book but the rest are the sorts that you want to take in small bites really or they begin to overwhelm ones head with things.  Too many facts, history, interpretations, intellectual thought.   Not to say that either of the first two books are silly reads, but they require less of my brain power.

So I read in the kitchen, choosing the Cadell book and sailed through 5 chapters before making us breakfast.   Then I set in to work and worked hard with a cool down break (one or two chapters) until we had lunch and had gone off to town to get mower gas.  

I did not get an opportunity to do any sort of first of the week routine work yesterday and so that is what today was all about.  I swept and vacuumed, stripped bed and bath and washed and hung laundry.   I sorted out my fridge and looked over my freezer, did dishes.   I've made breakfast, lunch and have a soup for supper simmering on the stove as I type.   I picked up limbs under the Faith tree and then directed John which of the lower hanging branches needed to be trimmed if we were to see the main drive from the porch or front windows.

I did a plant inspection this morning as well.  It is time for me to prune back the basket of petunias.  I find this to be a heart breaking task because this is a beautiful pot of flowers that blooms itself to death and looks absolutely lush and full.   But it's also beginning to look terribly lanky and leggy and the foliage is thinning out.   I know it's time to prune because of all those things, but I find it painful to do.   It will not be pretty for a couple of weeks and then it will put out new foliage and new blooms and look lush and lovely within three weeks but that three week period of looking as though it weren't going to make it at all is hard for me to bear.

Fortunately I have a wealth of freshly rooted coleus and touch me nots and mint and things on the kitchen sink shelf that must be potted up and the coleus at least will take off like a race car on ethanol the moment I put them in soil and set them in sun.  That's one thing I do truly love about coleus.  Plus they are so colorful that you don't miss the flowers they will replace.  But first, I must buy soil.

Tomorrow is a big grocery shopping day for me.  I am indeed focusing on my pantry/freezer for foods this month.  In fact, the soup is part of my freezer stash of things that I've mixed up to make a meal and I shall keep on doing just this all month long, but I'm stashing things for next month and the months after with my usual grocery budget.  I need to go over my list again.  I don't want to forget anything that might help us in the coming months.

Tuesday:  I have to share last night's supper because it was something John did not want.  And then when he'd finished eating he looked at me and said sincerely, "Now that was GOOD!"  I was very surprised.   It wasn't until after supper I told him what I'd done.  

I had some of the Kale and Farro soup in the freezer, which was fairly thick.  I've noted that like most grains, Farro soaks up the juices in a soup as it sits.  I put that, some water (should have done broth, meant to do broth) and about 1/2 pound of rice and ground venison I'd meant to make cabbage rolls with that I'd also frozen.  Dumped both, frozen, into the pot along with the jar of leftover tomatoes/tomato sauce.  I tasted it after it had cooked a bit, added in salt and a good bit of lemon juice.  It was still pretty thick, but that's the way John likes his soups.   This was so good!  It really was, but I never dreamed John would enjoy it as much as he did.

I went grocery shopping with Katie and Caleb today.  We went to Aldi.   I wanted to focus on fresh produce and pantry items.  I did stock up a bit but it was a hard shopping trip in that there were huge pallets in front of areas where I'd have liked to get, odd outages (no red or yukon potatoes just big russets and those tiny potatoes, no cornmeal, no paper plates or aluminum foil), and impatient customers who asked me to move even though I was not taking my time but merely trying to come through and was there first. Eventually I found it best to just ignore all but the most vocal and go on about my business, because it was soon clear that others were in a rude mood... One of the rudest was a girl who was pulling an insta-cart order.  

Caleb was busy, busy, busy today taking up everything he could reach and either throwing it back out of my shopping cart or putting it in his mouth.   Katie and I both were DONE by the time we'd gotten through with our shopping and we literally threw groceries in bags and left, regardless of who bought what for which household.   We sorted it all out here at the house after we got home.  Not ideal but it saved loads of aggravation at that moment.

I did get a LOT of produce today and I'm glad to have it.  One thing I've had none of in the past few weeks is fresh greens and fruits and I've missed them.  I bought some longer lasting things and pushed them to the back of the fridge.   Funny thing is John will skip eating those even though he likes them.  I'll portion them out at meals so he'll be sure to eat them.  I'm planning to redirect him to eat the things likely to spoil first and then nudge him to the longer lasting fruits.

I put a chicken in to roast for supper.  Though I'd let it thaw yesterday afternoon for a while at room temperature, it was still partially frozen.  I don't mind saying that I'm quite hungry and waiting on that chicken is taking some stamina, lol.

Speaking of chicken, the Never Any brand at Aldi were up by $1 a pound.  I ran over the receipt and I can say assuredly that for the most part prices are only ever so slightly increased.  We're talking 1c or so, no big jump at all.   Several of those Never Any roasting hens had a markdown ticket but I knew I couldn't put any in my freezer so I skipped them, though I was sure tempted to buy them.

We ate lunch here at home.  I'd bought Uncured Beef Hot Dogs and Macaroni Salad and washed grapes.  It served the four of us well and was a huge savings over lunch out anywhere.  Bonus: I have leftovers of everything so we'll eat those later this week.

Wednesday:  I believe in the benefits of cultivating beauty in the home on the smallest scale and using the brain endowed by the Almighty for creative pursuits (even of the simplest kind).  JES Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

I'm keeping Caleb twice today.  I had him for a few hours this morning and will keep him this afternoon and into the evening while Katie works.  He's usually an early to bed baby so we'll see how that goes.  I hope to get him down by 8:00pm.   

He too is a hobbit and had to have a second breakfast with us this morning.  Apparently he loves crisp toast because that was pretty much all he wanted beyond a handful of diced tomatoes.  I'm glad Josh and Isaac had me trained to feed little boys who've already had a perfectly good breakfast all over again.

I've puttered about the house when I could.  I folded laundry that we did over the past two days and had hung to dry.   We've had lots of brief but drenching rainstorms so it's been a challenge to get things good and truly dry before rain returned making air heavy with humidity.   No complaints.  Clothes finally dried and were folded and put away.

Everything is looking so lovely and deeply green, but it does mean John is cutting grass more often than usual, so the rain is 'costing' us in his time and gasoline.  Still more rain water means more ground water means my well isn't going to go dry anytime soon and I think it's a good exchange!

Trimmed back the petunias today though it really did pain me to do so. I put all the cut stems into water.  I've checked two stems that broke last week and both have put out some roots, so here's hoping that these will all root and I can spread the plants about.   Really, really must go buy potting soil to pot up all the plants that I've got rotted on the kitchen counter!

We ran errands after Caleb left to go home this morning.  We batched them as usual. I gathered trash, outgoing mail, John took the gas can into town and we did all our errands at once.  On the way home we picked up incoming mail.

Placed an order for a few necessary grocery items at Amazon that I cannot find in any of our local stores at a reasonable price.  I compare prices across several online platforms before I place any order.  These will come from next month's grocery budget and will go into the pantry.  They are not for right away usage, just for replacement of items.

We returned home to eat lunch of leftovers from our weekend meals.  Today we ate leftover fried chicken and as we ate we both agreed that we don't particularly LIKE leftover fried chicken that has been reheated (and John won't eat it cold).  I told him I think in the future I'll strip off the skin and remove it from the bone to make chicken salad or another dish that we DO enjoy.  Still using our leftovers.  The dogs can eat the skin and I can put the bones in my broth bag in the freezer for my next broth making session.

Thursday:   Caleb was as good as gold last night.  He got tickled when he brought me a hard hat and I put it on.  I don't know just why he thought that was so funny but he did and he laughed so much we thought he'd never stop.

When he went to bed he went down without a fuss and we never heard a word from him.  Katie came back from work about 10:45 and Caleb never fussed when she got him up and changed his diaper before taking him home.

Yesterday afternoon, Bess had asked if I'd keep Millie and Isaac while she took Josh to pick up his glasses.  I had planned to run to Lowe's for mulch and so I said I'd keep them but I really needed to leave here at 12 today.  Bess assured me that if she couldn't get back, Sam would be available.

The morning was a good one.  Millie, unlike Caleb, doesn't go into anything she's not been shown she can go into.  Those are the only places she goes.  Isaac...was in the pantry, got into something on the back porch. In other words, acted like a boy.  He wasn't bad, just interested in stuff that really shouldn't have interested him in the least.

Bess picked the children up about 11:45 and we headed out just past 12n.  At Lowe's I got six bags of mulch, a big bag of potting mix for myself and a large roll of weed mat for the other house.  John had to buy a new lawnmower battery and while he was in the store picked up a hook and eye to put on the pantry closet door.

I went into Goodwill.  Caleb needs bigger pajamas and zippered ones are the ideal though snaps also work at the moment.  He's just learned how to undress himself and undo his diaper with not nice results.  I found several brand new onesies and jeans and even overalls for him today so I'm glad I went in.  It takes quite awhile though to sort through a rack looking for items in a certain size because as anyone who thrift shops know at Goodwill, they are all pushed together.  At least they have two racks, one of bottoms, one of tops that are 0-24 months.  And for the record, apparently sleeper pajamas count as a top.  I found one pair and they looked pretty worn, so I passed and opted for the knit pants/onesie combination.

John took advantage of my time in the store to talk to his brother.  Their conversations can be long winded so it's a good thing he decided to talk to him.  There was one clerk. a long meandering line and lots of purchases being made today.  Customers had begun removing hangers from clothing to save the clerk time in ringing items up.  When my turn at the register came with no one left in line behind me the clerk decided that was the right time to deal with the hangers on the counter between the two registers.  It took her a good ten minutes to sort them out.  I waited patiently.  I think sometimes that a clerk tries to 'test' you.  I'm afraid that I don't often give satisfaction in being 'testy' when I'm tested.  

John and I went to Dairy Queen and got a late (oh so late!) lunch that we ate on the drive home.  You all know how much I loathe eating in the car...Still, we were pushed for time by that point.  John wanted to drop off mulch at Katie's on our way and Katie was due at our home within the hour.

We dropped off mulch just before the weather broke and rain poured.  At home, 3 miles away, we heard thunder rumble but there was no rain.

While Isaac and Millie were here this morning, I boiled chicken frames and baked bread.   I had left the chicken to cool and picked over the bones when we got back home.  I mixed up a simple and easy Chicken Pot pie, with no vegetables in the pot pie, just chicken and gravy for our supper tonight.  

Caleb is teething and was feverish, drooling a lot and prone to whine and cry this evening.  Poor little fellow...I'm glad that Katie came to get him early. He'll rest better at home in his own bed.

Friday:  I certainly slept well last night.  I fell into bed and by 10:30 I was gone.   I didn't get up until after 8 this morning so go me!   When I do get to sleep, I thankfully sleep very well indeed.  I have to say I think our mattress was a grand purchase and I'm grateful every day that it's still such a good sleep.

I kept breakfast simple this morning, just cheese and buttered toast for us.  It's not just a desire to keep it easy it's a case of being bored with everything at present and wanting to have something different.  Left to it, John would eat eggs 365 a year.  I've got my thinking cap on and will hunt up some recipes to try and make breakfast more streamlined.  It would be so nice to have things in the oven baking as I'm having my first cup of coffee each morning.

After breakfast I did some light housekeeping (making bed, helping to fold laundry John did this morning before I got up) I headed outdoors to put out the compost.  I grabbed up the vase and jars of rooted plants off my kitchen sink shelf and went out with them in arms, prepared to pot them up.  But I didn't do that.  No I didn't.  Why not?

Because I stopped to weed a flower bed on my way to the compost.  And then I stopped to pick up the pile of weeds I'd put on the patio last week when I was piqued with life in general and cleared the corner flower bed.   Then I started talking to all my plants and deadheading and by the time I'd made my way around the parts of the house that have plants, I spied my herb box over next to the carport.  I felt guilty for not 'speaking' to them.

When I arrived there I realized that the one lavendar plant has put on a lot of growth and there was a baby one nearby, which I transplanted a little further away.  I found the chives had regrown and snipped those then transplanted the ones that were growing up in the middle of the oregano.  I snipped oregano, then discovered that the lemon thyme had self rooted and I now have four plants in the upper box.  The rain had done a good job of encouraging the rest of the basil seed to grow, so I transplanted a bunch of those that were growing in a clump.    So by the time I'd done all that, I was exhausted and hot and decided I'd wait to transplant my rooted plants in soil until Sunday or Monday.

Back indoors, I sat down at my desk to clear it off but started planning meals for the weekend and week ahead and adding in the purchases made yesterday to the checkbook and determining where money was going to come from to cover those items.   I forgot all about cleaning my desk...

Then I started prepping the Chicken and Grape salad for tonight's supper (with hot biscuits or plain muffins and Key Lime Pie for dessert).  I dug about in the freezer and pulled out the taco burgers and quick thawed them in the microwave (I do not like thawing in the micro but it is helpful to have that feature at times).  I broke up the burgers and cooked that meat for taco filling.   I prepped the toppings for tacos.

I went into the fridge freezer and sorted it out more neatly.  I refilled my yeast jar, and toasted some Brazil nuts to add to a jar of mixed nuts we have on hand already.  I put a single sliced banana in the freezer to make Banana Chocolate Shakes for lunch (with tacos, yes it was good!).

After lunch I cleared up the kitchen and then I truly was tired and weary.   Here's the deal.  I still haven't finished housework.  The floors need to be swept, the baths need to be cleaned and there is vacuuming to be done.  But I am weary and I'm calling the afternoon done at present.  I will get the kitchen floor swept before Shabat begins but bathrooms may well wait until I do my Sunday work.   I think I have Caleb this evening and that will be quite enough for me to do in my opinion.

That's the week from this house....How was yours?   

(C) Terri Cheney

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