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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fruitful Friday


A fruitful Friday, actually a fruitful "vacation" week at home. Up early this morning, made bfst of eggs, hash browns (see product review post), pineapple juice, coffee/tea, toast/pumpkin bread. Lunch was fried fish fillet sandwiches (fzn) on toasted hamburger buns with homemade tartar sauce, lettuce. Sides were corn and a fzn chicken rice-veg mix that I recently purchased for $1.Dinner was 2 homemade cheese pizzas (all the kids here plus the GF), large tossed salad of iceberg lettuce (not a fav but I got 2 heads @ 50 cents each on marked down), organic baby spinach leaves, grape tomatoes, cannellini beans, grated carrot. Choice of dressings.

2 loads of laundry hung outside, the usual daily cleaning jobs but my main task was to tackle to mound of mending that had piled up:

-6 bath towels that were fraying
-2 hand towels-fraying
-9 socks
-a sweater with loose buttons
-a pair of cargo pants needing new hems on the legs as well as 2 patches (that's why I save twill cut offs)
-2 pairs of sleep pants (one patched with fabric from a cotton blouse I was going to upcycle into a quilt)
-5 pairs of leggings
-2 flannel bottom sheets with holes (now sporting new patches made from repurposed flannel boxers whose elastic gave out)
-a T shirt with an underarm hole
-a long sleeved T with a seam needing to be restitched
-a sweater with 2 holes where the tag was pulled off
-3 athletic undershirts

I may be missing something. As usual, I turned to my odd ball colored thread, using several spools finally up. I find that mixing a neutral such as beige/grey with a weird color helps the color to blend in better. Whenever crutial, I will use the "proper" color, but efforts are being made to make due with what I have. A hole in a sock can be chartreuse (yes, a color I am currently using up) while a black sweater, really needs black.

Addressed a "problem" earlier: the double kitchen sink has 2 sink strainers:

one is the standard type, while the other is a mesh screen gizmo that really gunks up easily. I found that I was sending it through the dishwasher daily, if not hand washing it. I really wanted a standard strainer for both sides of this sink. The I remembered: there is a sink we don't ever use at the "bar"-sure enough, it had a standard sink strainer so I swapped them out. Nice. I was actually considering buying one, it was that much of a bother.

DS #1 was here yesterday, earning some extra cash this month, while attending to some chores I can't yet do easily, for which I'd otherwise turn to the expensive, handyman service, which charges over 5 times what I offer DS-which is still double what he normally earns at work, so it's a win-win situation. One task I asked him to attend to, was to finish emptying out the back storage section of the garage. There, he found a glass storm door panel, and as I suspected, it's the missing glass storm panel for the front entry vestibule storm door that I have been putting 6 ml plastic over the screen to help insulate it for cold weather. Awesome! The landlord didn't know where it was (hasn't been here in years) and wouldn't spring for a new/replacement one. I priced them out at the hardware store-pricey. Should we end up staying her another year, we now have the storm window. Yay! It's the small things that matter sometimes! : )

Friday, April 18, 2014

Product review: Hungry Jack Hashbrown potatoes


Here's a new to us product, on our plates this morning: Hungry Jack hash brown potatoes that I doctored up a bit with onion, black pepper, and used reserved bacon fat instead of oil. Very good-an interesting product. Dried, shredded potatoes are reconstituted in the box for 12 minutes with hot water, drained and then fried off. Great emergency meal, camping food item. Normally $1.79/box at the pricer S & S, I had a cpn, bringing them down to $1.29. I had hoped to find them at the dollar store.

Additional bfst offerings: pineapple juice, coffee/tea, eggs fried in bacon fat, strawberries, toast/pumpkin bread.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting ready to celebrate!


Up and out early this morning for a PT appointment, then stopped at Aldi's for milk, 1/2 & 1/2 (kept a cooler in the car, but it's cold out), then on to my monthly hair appointment. Next stop, as I worked my way home: Target: 2 99 cents/lb fzn turkey breasts (the limit), 2 pkgs marked down ground beef, large eggs @ 99/lb, 2 pairs of cargo shorts for DS (who commented that he's not sure that he likes them), a navy cardigan for me (on my to find list) and a blue/white stripped, scoop neck T for me. I then headed over to Dollar Tree, hoping to get some tater tots-they were out. So I returned to Aldi's (next door) and got tater tots and hamburger buns. Once home, I made lunch, we cleaned up a bit, then I set to wrapping DS # 1's birthday gifts, having the boys sign their cards for him.  I intentionally chose loud, kid themed, wrapping paper that I unearthed from my craft closet. I hope DS gets a chuckle out of it! Now that we're set on the birthday celebration for this Sat, I can focus on making the cake tomorrow (assemble on Sat), and getting Easter preparations finalized. We're starting to gather a menu, from requests.

 Late in the afternoon, the cleaning service came for my monthly deep clean so, I popped a tray of fzn enchilladas and a tray of stuffed shells into the oven for supper. These are extra "frozen assets" I prepared prior to my surgery. A quick salad, dinner is done. I hope to turn in early tonight, I am tired.

While it's been a "vacation" it has really been about getting stuff done. The house looks great (except for my stack of mending and the stack of clothes I still need to cull through) but it's clean, well organised otherwise.  : )

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday!


Woke up to a scene, much like the one pictured above! Crazy, overnight dusting of snow, left a final (hopefully!) Winter wonderland. Naturally, we had to be on the road for 7:30 a.m. as 2 kids had 8 and 8:15 appointments at the same MD. Worst was the iced over car. If I know there may be snow, I back into the garage, nosing out my car. No power last night meant no late evening news broadcast. We made it to our appointments on time, with no issues.

Immediately returned home, got the wood stove going again, as temps may not climb out of the low 30's, and the forecast is for record breaking cold tonight (24 degrees F). I've placed plastic grocery bags over my planters, to protect my recently planted Panseys.

Breakfast was naturally quick this morning-just the usual. Lunch is pizza leftovers and dinner is the spaghetti and meatballs that we didn't have last night. The CP is again simmering them.

I've done a load of towels, they are now drying. Today was my baking day, a bunch of black bananas have been staring me down for a few days. I made a batch of what I call "Monkey bars"-a banana-mini choc chip cookie bar recipe, as well as 1 loaf of banana bread (with the good 1/2 of a bad apple finely chopped as I didn't have enough leftover banana for the recipe), 2 loaves of pumpkin-pecan bread. This baking also keeps the home warmer.

Next up: the mountain of mending needs attending to. That's this afternoon's project.

A crazy night!


Tuesdsay started normal enough: early PT appointment, back home after stopping at Aldi's for milk, ice cream for upcoming birthday celebration, 2 pkgs sliced cheese for sandwiches. Grabbed 2 kids and headed to the orthodontist. Made arrangements for last kid to finally get braces off in May. 5 of us have had orthodonture through this MD, it's the end of an era, to be sure! Back home again, leftovers for lunch, hung out a bit then left with one DS for late afternoon appointments. Meanwhile DS #1 and his GF came over for the afternoon, and to stay for supper, as I had a CP of homemade Italian meatballs in homemade sauce awaiting, I had made a loaf of Italian herbed garlic bread to accompany. Sides were to be salad and sauteed Swiss Chard.

DS and I returned home, to be greeted by my older 2, with DD telling me that she had a good story to tell me, oh, and the power had just gone out. Ugh. Turns out that the new neighbor had stopped over, only after having his crew of landscapers walk all over my portion of the property (including the deck???). Neighbor told the kids to tell their Mom that he got a quote for doing the entire property for plowing and landscaping services. Remember-this same new neighbor already told me of his plans to do all sorts of things to the landscape, to bring it up to speed/aka his standards. Note that this is a more rural town, surrounded by trees/forests and old, colonial stone walls. This isn't necessarily a town where one sees many pristine manicured lawns. I've re-read my lease, it is specific that I am required to do "lawn mowing" so that is all that I will be paying for. I had previously advised this guy that I am in a contract with a plow service. I would not have any interest in a plow quote. Bundling lawn services with this neighbor-no thanks. What happens is we end up moving? What services is he contracting for, expecting me to go 50% in for?

 What irked me more was that I had recently been talking to him, and  he mentioned that there were 2 cars in the driveway, he wasn't sure which was mine. I told him that the more beat up car is Dd's (DD is saving to have the body work done on her Honda, as a result of a crash in Dec)-typical college kid/young adult car IMO, and that I drive a Prius. Pretty different models. He knew that I wasn't home, yet felt the urge to approach the home anyway. The youngest are sometimes home alone for a short while, with instructions NEVER to open the door. He never asked if I was home, he would have been told that I was out, "do you want to leave a message?"

 Instead, he was almost forcing his way in, with DS #1 and DD physically blocking the doorway.  Luckily, DS is tall and has a strong presence about him. He stood his ground, alongside his sister. Neighbor initiated the conversation with the statement that his power was out and is there a breaker switch for his cottage, somewhere within this home. DS advised him that this house was also out of power, and no, there is no breaker. This neighbor has 2 older kids, he should "get it." Older DS sensed that if this guy could have, he would have entered the home and later gone down cellar to check for himself. Pushy, nervy and arrogant. None of us have had a good vibe from this guy. Don't get me wrong, I don't want any issues, and would be more than happy to do a good turn, accept/sign for mail/package for him, take in mail/newspaper should he be away, but that really is it.

With guests over for dinner, I had DS call for pizza and he went over to the next town and grabbed it, I paid for it. Naturally, within an hour, it was back on, the fire was going, it was toasty. : )
We had a "picnic" all the same, in the living room as one DS asked if we could. Fine. Leftovers for lunch the next day.

I was almost done with a carefully worded e-mail to the neighbor (going on record that I do NOT intend to bundle snow removal/lawn services with him), when the power quit AGAIN around 8:40 at night, not returning until 4:40 a.m. Wed. Remember: no power=no heat, no toilet, no water. Luckily (?) we're used to this. DS left shortly after the power quit and reported that he couldn't get down one end of our road, power crews, police, Fire Dept there-looked like someone ran into a pole or something.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Today's theme: cars, taxes, emergency meals


Up early this morning, and off to the Toyota dealership, as I received a recall notice in the mail on Friday. Strange thing is, that when I called, I was told to just bring it in, and to do so before 8 a.m. if I wanted a loaner car. I arrived shortly after they opened, and made arrangements for the recall repair as well as an oil change (free to me since I bought the car through them), new wiper blades, a new battery for one of my button openers. I got a Corolla to drive, and was told to just top up the car with whatever (little) gas I would use. Fine. I got the call at 11:30-car is ready. After putting $5 worth of gas in, I returned to trade vehicles, pay my bill: $41.81. I set aside $ every month for auto maintenance, so not an issue. I noted to the service tech that my car was now covered in bird poop (assume that they had parked it under a tree at some point), so he gave me a car wash voucher. Nice.

Freebie: recall repair on a sensor
Freebie: loaner car
Freebie: oil change
Freebie: car wash voucher (will use next month)

Bfst this morning was quick; I grabbed a piece of Danish and some coffee before heading out to the dealership. Once home again, I had the rest of the strawberries, some juice, a second cup of coffee.

Laundry for the day was only a fleece blanket and some towels. DS #1 came over to do his laundry. I made burgers for lunch, with canned baked beans on the side.

Dinner will be just me and DD (twins return for 8 p.m. tonight), and we have enough leftover pot roast for us. Easy.   Scratch that-kids just came home unexpectedly. No word as to why. Shrug. It's 6, we eat for 7 most nights, so time to grab a frozen asset-this time, it's the tray of stuffed shells I made some time ago. Winds picking up, temps dropping, dampness setting in (rain is forecasted for tonight), so good to have the oven going. Leftover French green beans on the side for them. Pot roast leftovers for me at least, perhaps DD, who may choose to have pasta instead.

Next on the agenda: finally getting my taxes over to the CPA, an all female firm that I use. Love it. : )   A lot less complicated this year, I no longer have a home to declare and have less dependents. No promises, but they'll try to get it done for tomorrow. I also enclosed DD's taxes, at her request. She will be billed separately.

Not yet done with car business, since I knew that I'd literally be driving right by, I stopped in at the carwash that I buy prepaid vouchers for, and had my car washed. The voucher I received this morning is for a location in the opposite direction of where I was going this afternoon, so it's being saved for another month/time. I have 9 more pre-paid or freebie (today's) vouchers plus a freebie (the 10th wash is free at the car wash I frequented today); I won't need to shell out any cash for the rest of the year. I will again take advantage of the Christmas gift vouchers offered in December and set myself up for 2015.

On the way home, I pulled in at the post office and bought 4 books of stamps, as I was down to 2 loan stamps this morning. Item now taken off the list.

On the bills front: rent check mailed today (must be postmarked the 15th), as well as the second installment of our new CSA, which I learned today will start on the 25th-about 11  days. I'll pick up on my way home from work on Fridays-perfect. They open for 2, I'd be arriving around 2:30. Next up: the credit card bill, which is due the 17th (paid that on line through a transfer from my checking to the CC thru the same bank-so that is done) and the Verizon bill which came in today's mail. All bills paid so far, and 3 months worth of expenses remains in the checking account. Awesome! Still need to bulk that account up for the upcoming Summer (I have 6 more checks coming in) and then we hunker down until Sept 15th and the new pay year. I also want to get my savings account back to speed as well. It's been an unusual year.

Heard from our realtor, who I recently contacted regarding some rentals here in town, seeking additional info. She has a rental that will soon be listed and wanted to give me first crack, if interested. She sent me the link to last year's posting, so I was able to see the pertinent details. It's a raised ranch set back from the road on a 3 acre lot (big plow bill!), electric heat (ouch!) and a galley kitchen with NO dishwasher. Really a 2 bedroom but the finished lower level could be used as a 3rd BR-we're already making do in that dept, I really would prefer a proper 3rd BR, as would DD. Another deal breaker: listed as tenant's responsibilities, in addition to snow removal, lawn maintenance and landscaping (I only have "lawn mowing" now), is exterior home maintenance. Um-NO! Just what the heck would THAT include? roof? paint? broken window if a branch hit it? I can only imagine. So, I declined and stated the reasons above, thanking the realtor for keeping me in mind and to please continue to do so, as we weigh our options.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taking care of things Sunday


Busy day today, slept in a bit, then fixed an easy Sunday breakfast for DD and me: fresh strawberries, choice of juices, our Sunday Hazelnut coffee, and a selection of danish (from the marked down table). It has been a long time since we've had danish here.  Lunch was the other 2 hamburgers from a 4 ct pkg that I froze (had 2 yesterday). I find these to be greasy, and even with a screen guard over the pan, the stove was a greasy mess to clean up so, I broiled these today-much, much better. We again had these on toasted, onion ciabatta rolls that I cut into "burger buns." Canned peaches on the side.

 Dinner will be just me and the older 2 tonight, we've having the last pot roast (cooking away in the Crock Pot), the rest of my old potatoes (to be mashed), steamed carrots with fzn pearl onions in cream sauce, fzn peas, canned French mushrooms all seasoned with some additional black pepper. Easy.

We finalized our plans for celebrating DS's birthday; we're doing that next Saturday night.

We decided that instead of the annual visit for Easter at my uncle's, we'll have Easter here, at home. DS # 1 would be alone (from family) for Easter otherwise. While his GF would be welcome to join us, he feels that she wouldn't be comfortable so, plan B it is. I already have a ham in the freezer, and can easily come up with some sides, a dessert.

DD left in the early afternoon for work, so I've been alone today, getting quite a bit done:
-whites washed, on the line drying
-scatter rugs washed, line drying
-heavy, Bates, cotton bedspreads from twin's room are washed, dried and folded
-boy's quilts were washed, and are now drying
-Summer curtains up in my room, the twin's room, the powder room
-made the twins beds up with cotton sheets
-put twins flannel sheets away
-took down the plastic sheeting that covers the vestibule entry screen door (no glass panel) to allow air to flow into the house
-swept the floors, put new trash bag liners in the waste baskets
-removed the pushpins holding the large, picture window sized openings between the living room and dining room "porch" and DD's bedroom on the "porch" so that the curtains can be opened, allowing the sun to stream into the house, but closing them down come sundown. This is a Southern exposure in the dining room, Eastern in DD's bedroom, so there is significant passive solar opportunity here
-made a list of what I'll call "small jobs" and asked DS #1 if he'd be interested in doing any of them for some $. Cheaper for me to hire him, who is desperate for $, than the handyman service. Things like remove exterior plastic from windows, bring out picnic furniture, wipe it down,touch up paint, etc.

I also managed some down time, catching up on 2 missed episodes of Call the Midwife, season 3. A new episode is on later tonight. I watch so little/follow so little TV . . .

Tomorrow, I'll be up early, taking my car in for a recall notice, and asking them to check on the windshield wipers. Back home, I plan on attacking my mending as well as the large pile of clothes that I need to sort through and donate/keep.