Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Adjusting To Change
Saturday: John was given a pizza at church yesterday. We both agreed that it would be our supper last night and so it was. What luxury! I like my homemade pizza very well but honestly last night's no cook meal was so welcome to this weary homemaking Gramma! By 9pm, John and I were both nodding in our chairs. By 10pm, I told him, "I just can't keep this up. I'm going to bed." Gracious but I slept well.
All the way to 6:45am. I think my body was just accustomed already to the sleep schedule from the week behind. So much for my plan to sleep in. It was easy to relax this morning though and take my time with Bible reading and Instagram scrolling. We had cheese toast for breakfast. I didn't take time to make Bagels two weeks ago and I don't know if I'll manage it this week or not. Worth while to do, for sure...Just making the time when the oven isn't going to heat the house too much and little boy isn't under foot is another issue.
Being up early also gave me another advantage. I put the whole chicken I took from the freezer to thaw yesterday into the oven early this morning. It was done by 9am and that meant the oven was off before it began to get too warm in the house.
John and I went out along about 11am and took off trash, carried something to mail, and headed to the peach shed. It was a beautiful day, with the whole world looking green and blue. I saw cotton blooms in some of the fields and we noted how many folks were cutting grass and who had painted or done work on a home since our last ride over that way.
The peach shed was busy but not packed and hectic. Someone had a BBQ going across the street with pure wood smoke rolling out of it and it smelled so good! I didn't smell meat cooking but assume they were getting ready to put meat on it shortly. I strolled around and carefully chose produce and peaches. I bought tomatoes, sweet potato, corn, zucchini, and squash. I didn't buy loads of produce but just a couple of all but the sweet potato ( just one as it's huge) and a half peck basket of peaches. I plan to put some of those in the freezer for winter cobblers. I told John it means we'll have to do the hard thing and eat last year's peaches up in cobblers soon. He wasn't unhappy at the idea of doing cobbler duty, lol. I got my little dish of peach ice cream and John opted for a hand pie.
I brought along my Yeti coffee mug and put my ice cream in the mug with a lid on it. It was still ice cream when I got home and later when I sat down to enjoy it. I thought that was a pretty good thing. The downside was that I couldn't put the cup in the freezer. Apparently it doesn't matter if it's not in the freezer. Although this is a soft serve type ice cream there was no melting while in the Yeti cup.
Our lunch was a simple tomato sandwich and the legs from the roast chicken. We'll be having more chicken for our supper tonight and then I'll take meat from the bone and put the frame in the freezer for future broth making. I kind of have a plan for the rest of the meat in the week ahead. It will be nice to have it already cooked so I can use it up easily.
It's been lovely to have a day of rest...and as usual I can tell I've rested because I'm just longing to get up and DO things. I'm probably going to unload the dishwasher just to avoid that task tomorrow and then I can load up what we've used since last night.
I hope tomorrow to be very productive after we get home from church. John, in the interest of staying ahead of our lawn, is out mowing now. He'll go and mow Sam's yard tomorrow and I think Katie's yard is on for Monday. I'll be here alone tomorrow afternoon so I can get quite a lot done if I'll just remember that's what will be most helpful to myself for the week ahead.
Sunday: Not feeling 100% today. Nothing much the matter with me, just short bouts of nausea. I woke with it and it's come and gone in small increments all morning long. John had something similar earlier in the week, only he was dizzy. He didn't do much of anything at all that day and then it was all over and done. I guess it's just something going around.
I realized this afternoon however, when I'd put forth nearly two hours of effort in my home doing basic clean-up, that I really didn't feel up to all that. I managed to finish a good amount of tasks but I've left floors and dishes are soaking and I'm not sure I'm really up to even thinking about making bread even with the help of the bread machine. In fact, besides doing those dishes and sweeping the kitchen, I think I may just be done for the day. I feel just that sort of way.
We did make it out to church, with a stop on the way for ginger ale. And never fear, had I been truly sick I'd never have gone out. As it is, we don't sit with anyone and people during first service are pretty well spaced out. I didn't shake hands, just smiled and nodded at folks. At John's insistence I checked my blood sugar which was high for me. I'll lay it at the feet of the anti nausea medication which is sweet and the ginger ale, sweetened being the only variety available.
After church I was feeling a good bit better, at least for a longer spell of time. We went on to Kroger and I tried to stick to my list but didn't quite manage it. For one thing, I bought more ginger ale. And for another, John had asked me last night if we could have Chili Cheese dogs for dinner today. I had hot dogs here at home but he wanted a specialty brand. They were a store brand but $4 for a packet of four. I thought of the four hot dogs I had at home that we'd paid less than $1.25 for...Never mind. Name brand chili must also be added in and hot dog buns. Then he insisted on my getting a box of 12 Blueberry coffee k-cups. I kept telling him I had a packet of ground coffee in my cart on Amazon ready to purchase this week but he insisted I must have these. I'll just push that other coffee purchase off. I'll reserve the k-cups for weekend coffee only. That will carry me through September and after that I will be thinking of fall, not summer blueberries.
I was disappointed that the most excellent price on bone in chicken breasts and whole chickens was for a brand that has carrageenan in it. They at least prominently displayed that information right on the front of the package so I could clearly see it. Skipped that purchase. Then I let John talk me out of some of the quantity of other things I'd meant to buy. It was the last of the 5x digital coupons and I wanted to stock up on juices for the children but I cut back on that item.
With eggs added in to all that, I came out of the store with a total of $63 spent and a $30 savings with sales and coupons.
But I'll tell you I almost didn't manage that at all. Kroger apparently is going the way of Walmart with more self check out and fewer open registers. There was one register open this morning after 10am and the line winded around and down neighboring aisles. Not even all the self checkouts were open but they were more numerous than I'd seen last time I was in store. So we went to a self checkout. John just wouldn't believe me that he was the source of the woes we experienced, but he certainly did contribute to them!
As quickly as I'd put an item down on the bagging side of the register he'd snatch it up and remove it. The machine went crazy commanding us to "Please put back the item you just scanned!" "Do not remove items from bagging area!" I opted at one point for the 'skip bagging' option and that shut it down entirely even though the machine itself said "Or put items back into buggy," Every single time John moved an item into a bag, the machine stopped working. He started telling me in a fierce whisper "Just LEAVE it! We don't have to have it! Just put it down!" I persisted and got every item scanned but it was a tense situation between my not feeling well which had returned by then, the machine and my impatient husband.
When we got to the car with our stuff, he turned and asked me "Seriously, did we save any money at all?!" I was happy to say to him, "Yes, we did. I got things cheaper than I could get them over at Aldi. That's why I wanted to come get these items. But it's also true there were splurges, like pricey hot dogs and k-cups..." Truly, had I had free rein I'd have spent less money. Sometimes having someone else along is a detriment, that's all there is to it.
But there's also another side to having someone else along. John pointed out one more time that if I would just use the order ahead method we'd never have had to go through the stupid machine fiasco at all. Well....he does have a point. But would they have known to weed out the carrageenan injected chicken? Those are the things that sort of keep me on the fence about using Instacart. Y'all weigh in if you have used this and let me know what your overall true impression is.
That led to a discussion of our pantry overall, I explained that I really wanted to stock up more flour, especially since we're baking our own bread and I'm thinking wheat prices will be off the charts this year. I told him about the Gamma lids and their cost which made me hesitant. He encouraged me to buy the buckets with Gamma lids, pointing out that they would be a worthwhile investment. He's quite right. Noted that Food Storage Organizer suggested food storage items as stock up items for the pantry for the month of August and shared several ideas of things to stock up on. Now mind you all, it's all well and good for him to say 'Go ahead..." but we can't really afford to do so just now. But I'll definitely keep them in mind.
At home, following unloading of groceries, I made our bed fresh with clean sheets, while John started sheets and towels washing. I prepared our lunch, put groceries away, hung out clothes to dry and cleared up the kitchen once we'd eaten. And it was along about then I decided I'd stop for the day. Or at least for a few hours this afternoon.
I took a brief nap and after that the nausea was all done. I missed the window of getting clothes off the line before the first rain shower, but I did get in things before the second one came around. By the time the third storm hit, I figured the two items outdoors on the line could just stay there. I hear round four rumbling off to the west now.
I made an easy supper dish tonight. I told John I wanted soup, but I wasn't prepared to make soup this evening and what I have in the freezer is solidly frozen. I diced some Yukon potatoes, diced onions, sliced half a Beef Smoked Sausage (another of the good sales items this week at Kroger) and then cut up some of the green beans I cooked last week to go in with it all. I cut up the other half of the tomato I sliced for sandwiches yesterday. It all made a really good supper, easy as pie, and oh so comforting.
I had to put off washing up until storm three had gone through. John and I talked over the old lightning rules. We agreed that we both shower quickly if it's storming but it's less fear of electric shock and more that we're concerned we'll get caught all lathered up with no water to rinse off if the electricity goes out. But I am very cautious of running water in the kitchen sink when there's lightning popping about outside.
You know those dishes just sat right there and waited on me, don't you? Of course they did! But they are all done now.
One thing I did this afternoon, was to empty out all the odds and ends I hadn't used in the last two Gathering Fragments challenges. I tossed only a few things but I can say for sure that July was a hard month financially and also a wasteful month where my odds and ends are concerned. I've no one to blame but myself on the wasteful end. Well it's a new month. I shall do better...And in order to do better, I am going to change my way of doing things. I've always planned meals and then looked at fragments. No more. I'll be looking at fragments and planning meals. Let's see how this works out. I'll post my meals in a separate post.
Monday: Poor Caleb is teething. His little cheek was red and he drooled fiercely all morning long. He was overly tired this morning and went down for a nap early and then slept for a shorter period of time than normal. This afternoon he was ill as beans. He wanted me to pick him up, so I did, then he wanted down immediately and the moment he was down he would lie at my feet and wail because I'd put him down. I told him quite sincerely at 5pm this afternoon that I'd happily put him down for a nap once again if only it wouldn't mean no sleep for his mama tonight.
His temperament is such that he actually gets tired of being miserable and will go off and play for a bit. During those play moments, I managed to get bread in the oven and to make English Muffins, too. I made lunch and he was so ready to eat that he ate his in stages, one item at a time as I had it ready. While he napped, I worked on the bill box, wrote a letter I've been meaning to get written for a month, prepped supper and did Bible Study. By the time I'd folded laundry and picked up our bedroom Caleb was already awake once more. I'm so grateful for 'servants' like the dishwasher that can attend to dishes while I try and entertain a lovely little boy.
This afternoon was a little bit wild. If there was a No situation or place to avoid, Caleb was all up in it. When he's in this sort of mood he can be extremely stubborn about what he's doing even though he knows it's something he's not supposed to do. If a drawer or cabinet door should be closed then he'd open it. It was done as almost a sort of tease. He wasn't rummaging in them, but simply walking by and opening a drawer or cabinet door as he passed and then looking at me to see if I was paying attention to him. If he was meant not to touch something, he not only touched it, he knocked upon it, he stroked it and he slapped it. And in between he was lying at my feet sobbing because I'd just put him down as he struggled against my holding him when he'd just asked to be picked up. Sigh.
I wanted to do so many things once he'd left but we had a storm and it then settled into a quiet steady rain that lasted a few hours. It was so relaxing and so peaceful at that point that I had no desire to move. No need of planning to go outdoors to do anything. I am going to just chill in my chair.
Tuesday: Another day with the little boy. He seemed to feel better today and he was certainly in a happier mood overall. Mind you, we try to give him all the attention he wants. I love that he goes off to play all alone for a bit and apparently enjoys his time and then he will turn to us for hugs and kisses or snuggles.
I slipped out of the room this morning while he was playing quietly and emptied compost, repotted our tomato plant into a larger pot and fed the dogs. Then Caleb and I went out on the front porch for a little while. We don't stay out there long, but it's 20 minutes or so while the weather is still pleasant and he seems to enjoy it. Later, I took advantage of a quiet play spell and went off to our bathroom and got it tidied up, a late Monday morning routine job. Then I made our bed. By the time I started making the bed, Caleb was leaning in the door watching me and saying "Hey!" Never mind that John was right there with him, he needed to see where I was.
I pulled a lunch and supper idea out of my hat this afternoon at 12. It's amazing but you can still make a slow cooker meal that will be ready in time for supper at 12 noon. And I know you're not meant to use frozen meat in a slow cooker, but I've done it for years upon years with good results almost every time. Tonight's supper was excellent.
After lunch, when Caleb was down for a nap, I made cookies and got sauce ready to go over Spaghetti for a casserole dish tomorrow. I cleaned up dishes and then little boy was awake once more.
We had a much better afternoon than yesterday. John laid down on the floor and this delighted Caleb no end. I was in the kitchen sitting but could hear the two of them playing about. They roared at each other like dinosaurs and Caleb shouted and yelled and John kept saying "Don't do it!" Apparently Caleb was climbing over him, falling onto him, scrambling across his back, etc. They both enjoyed that enough to do it again later in the evening. Katie got a chance to see them at it when she came to pick Caleb up.
After Katie left this evening we straightened up the house. I removed my toe nail polish and put away clothes. I straightened up my house drawer. I did several other simple tasks.
There's a vlogger, Three Rivers Homestead, that I follow both on YouTube and Instagram. Jessica issued a challenge last August that she's repeating this August: to put by or preserve something every single day of August. She uses the hashtag #everybitcountschallenge on Instagram. I don't have a thing to put by this year really. The peaches we bought on Saturday are nearly gone already and not one has made it to the freezer. I haven't had time or place to go pick up produce from the organic farm. I felt like I just couldn't participate at all.
But the phrase "Every bit counts..." has had me thinking all day today. I've thought of it as I worked with my fragments...As I put the tip end of a zucchini into the veg broth bag...as I moved a plant from one pot to another in the hope that it will do better...as I pulled a weed or three from the flower bed... as I removed the pillow shams and laid back the sheets to make the bed look extra welcoming this evening as night fell. It was all just little things, just minor things that somehow helped, improved, or somehow made life easier. Every bit of it really does count. It counts in homemaking, in using foods in our kitchens, in saving time, in creating, in life. So I might miss the food preservation side of it this year but I'll be mindful of the idea that it all counts in the day to day.
Wednesday: I'm learning to use little pockets of time to accomplish a few things. It's as simple as making the bed, while Caleb watches from the doorway. We don't have baby gates but we do have dining room chairs that we lay on their sides block the doorways. He doesn't climb over it...yet. I know the day will come when he will but for right now this works. He can see me while I make my bed and is happy enough about letting me do that task.
I watered the plants on the front porch while Caleb enjoyed his morning play there. Part of his play then became to splash in the small puddles that accumulated on the floor. I don't mind. It's plenty warm enough that he can get a little damp and he'll dry before we head indoors again.
In a moment when he was fully occupied with his own quiet play again, I polished my toenails. This mightn't seem a big deal to you but it was a mighty big deal to me! A pedicure is something I've done for myself for years upon years and this time around my toes had started to look pretty shabby. I had to do the task in stages. I removed nail polish last night and attended to my feet. I polished this morning in steps. One coat and much later I put on the second coat.
During nap time I cleaned up the kitchen, finished prepping supper for tonight. I'm pretty proud of myself because I was making chicken salad and wanted to add celery to it. I went into the crisper drawer and there was a round object. I thought it was a cabbage but then remembered I didn't have cabbage. It was the last of a head of Iceberg lettuce. I was glad I found that lettuce!
I slipped outdoors and found two five gallon buckets with drainage holes that I planted my potato skins with eyes in. I don't know if they will make potatoes or not but it is no loss if they don't. However, if they DO make potatoes, then I'll come out ahead won't I? I also potted up a handful of plants from the windowsill rooting jar. Then I used the blower to blow off the porch and make it clean and nice once more.
Caleb mostly played with a hat of John's today. And a plastic whistle. I'm so impressed with him over that whistle! Isaac still has a hard time figuring out how to blow a whistle (he covers the hole on top with his finger) but Caleb has already got this figured out. So he walked about looking like an umpire with his whistle and black hat, lol.
While John was outdoors this afternoon mowing our lawn again (he did Katie's this morning), I made a Blueberry and Peach Crisp to go with our supper tonight. After that came out of the oven Caleb was again engaged in quiet play on his own, so I sat down at the dining table with my computer and looked up prices on several items I would like to buy over the next few months. I had a list and went right down it. I didn't total up what I'd spend if I bought everything. I can't do that right now. But I now know what each individual item costs and as I have the extra available I'll buy one or two items at a time until all the needs are met.
Thursday: Not a great night's sleep behind me. John was up extra early as he had plans to go golfing with his partner. They skipped last month entirely but were more than ready to catch up with one another again. John is concerned about leaving me alone with Caleb on the one hand and apparently not all that concerned on the other since he's either been off volunteering, out mowing in our yard, Sam's or Katie's, or golfing...Just making an observation. Frankly, I don't find keeping Caleb any more or less difficult if John's in the house or out of it.
I wasn't feeling perky at all today and Caleb looked tired when he came in. He acted tired, too, as the morning went on and I found myself giving him lunch and putting him to bed earlier than I usually have been doing. He never fusses about being put to bed, but this morning he fussed after he'd finished his bottle and then I heard him talking to himself. Eventually the room got quite and about fifteen minutes later he was crying and then he was quiet again and in about thirty minutes he was crying. But after that he apparently went right on back to sleep and slept until John was back home once more.
I just couldn't shake my lethargy today. Nothing got done, truly nothing, beyond thawing milk and ground beef. I find myself now second guessing how I'm feeding Caleb and how much I should feed him. I hate being unsure of myself. And frankly there's no reason why I should be but I'm so out of practice feeding a tiny toddler that I guess I just forgot how to do it! Fortunately I can look up recommendations online.
He's very active. Those short little legs go and go and go and go. I sometimes take him up to hold him just to make him stop for a few minutes and rest.
Heaven help us, right after he himself had a snack, John went to the kitchen and came out with a cookie. He sat down and ate the thing in front of Caleb who had a complete meltdown. I was, at that point, trying to make his supper (also an early meal) and keep him out of cabinets and he cried and fussed and shook his finger at me and shouted and went to complain at John and fuss and then back to yell at me and cry some more. It would have been funny if I hadn't been trying to do everything at once. I told John when he gets a cookie or snack in future, for goodness sake just give the boy an animal cracker! Having heard all the ruckus, because Mr. Boy was so vocal John could hardly have missed a bit, he quietly said "Ok."
Along about 4:30 when he'd eaten and opened every door in the kitchen of every cupboard nineteen hundred times, he sat down and cried and said "Mama" over and over again. Well I know he misses her. You can bet she misses him, too. Katie has been home with me more often than not but work she must and he must stay somewhere while she works.
After Katie came to pick him up, John and I had our supper. I told him during the meal, "There's a bag of trash on the back porch that needs to go off...but don't you dare go do it without taking me!" He laughed at that and said "Are you that desperate to get out of the house?" "Yes, I am."
I had put bread on to rise, planning to make Shabat bread tonight while there was no little boy underfoot. As soon as it was in the pan for the last rising, we went out. John knew the very medicine I needed wasn't to go to the trash dump but just to get out of the house for a brief period. He bypassed our road coming home and we went into town along the back roads, following the detour that will go into place next year when they rebuild the bridge on our section of the state highway.
We went into town and got an ice cream sandwich and then drove by the little country club that had taken it's name 'country' far too literally in years past. We found it looking pristine and professional. I told John he should tell his partner about how improved it is.
The air was so pleasant and soft and a little cool this evening. We rode around with the windows down and enjoyed smelling the fresh cut grass. I told John when we got home, ''Remind me...I need to take thirty minutes and get out of the house a couple of times a week while I'm keeping Caleb. That was just what I needed.
I had enough wind left in me to bake the bread and pick up the kitchen area one more time. Then I called today well done.
Friday: Woke myself screaming last night, not something I typically do. It wasn't even all that bad a dream really, just a silly old white dog that snarled at me but there you are. I woke myself and John both. We neither of us had too hard a time settling back down.
Our morning started early enough that I could enjoy coffee before Caleb arrived for the day. This week, when he and Katie gets to the door, he knocks. It's rather sweet to hear that tiny little knock on the door.
We had a pretty good morning. Grampa wasn't feeling well this morning. So Caleb and I left him in peace and went out to the front porch to play. He really doesn't play with anything in particular. He just plays overall. He was happy when River came up to greet him this morning. He wanted the dogs on the porch but I'd rather not have them there, as I am afraid big old River will knock him over. She wouldn't mean to do so but she's a big girl, weighing in somewhere around 100 pounds or so.
I put together a decent supper dish I think while I Caleb was playing here in the house and then mixed up a cake while he was having lunch. I put the cake in to bake once Caleb was down for a nap.
I've made some changes this week that I hope will be positive ones for me. I can't control all of the messes Caleb's bound to make but I can limit them. I put away the plastics basket and put the shoes up where he can't reach them. Just those two things have made a world of difference. The other is to start feeding him in the kitchen. We'll eat there with him ourselves. It means we can protect the carpet from stains since the one thing we haven't quite got him controlled on (well there are lots of little things, and he apparently is training us more than we are him! lol) is that once he says "Done!" he doesn't have to throw the plate off the high chair. So much easier to clean up the floor in the kitchen.
After the cake was in the oven, John and I ate lunch together and then I cleared up dishes. I'm using my dishwasher more than I ever did the old one, at least three times or more a week. I don't mind at all using it either. I've found since we got these new appliances our electric bill has decreased still further.
When the dishes were loaded, I had a few that needed to be hand washed. I rinsed these over a plugged sink, using hot water. Then I used that hot water to mop the floor after it was swept.
Here's where a timer set me straight. I kept thinking I had 'no time' for mopping this week. I looked at the timer just before I started and noted that my cake had 6 minutes left until it was baked. I swept and mopped the floor in about five minutes...I'd never have believed I could get it done that quickly and I wasn't rushing. I had time to rinse the mop and catch my breath before the cake came out of the oven.
I shall end here for this week. Caleb's napping a little longer today than he's been doing. I hope he wakes in a jolly good mood. I've struggled some this week though I have tried to not complain. I've tried to be reasonable about what I might control and what is just a seasonal thing that I need to go through. I'll keep trying to make things pleasant for us all.