Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

A Little Love Story by Roland Merullo
Love this author (Roland Merullo), and I liked this book, but I didn't love it.  About a carpenter/artist who falls in love with a woman who has cystic fibrosis.  The plot was interesting, the characters were likable, but the ending was very abrupt and left everything open.  It counted as 'a book you got from a used book sale' for the 2017 reading challenge.

Lucinda's Solution by Nancy Roman
I have followed the blog of Nancy Roman (author) for quite awhile.  I liked her first book.  I loved this one.  I'm not much of a crier, so if a book can move me to tears I count it as strong writing.  This one had me tearing up several times.  I believe the author based it on family history.  I don't know how much poetic license she took to flesh out the story, still it makes me think she comes from a very interesting family!  

The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
I am down to the final category of the reading challenge.  I thought it would be an easy category to choose a book for, but it proved quite troublesome for me.  'A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile.'  

I think I took this category too literally.  There are not that many books that I want to reread.  In fact, when I rate books on my 1-to-10 rating scale I only give a 10 if it is a book that I might want to reread someday.  When trying to select one of that short list for this category, I could think of only one that made me smile due to its humor...alas, I just haven't been in the mood to reread it this year.  So I decided to take the category prompt a bit more figuratively.  

The Diary of Mattie Spenser is the first book I read by Sandra Dallas, and I did rate it a 10.  I have since read the majority of her titles, and they brought me many hours of reading pleasure.  So in that way, yes, the thought of spending time with this book again does make me smile.  I started rereading it this morning.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Today is Tuesday...

toilet paper snowman - consumable gift everyone can use

Today I...

...saw the sun come up

...ran the cleaning cycle on the counter-top ice maker...repeatedly...then wiped it down inside and out

...did some laundry...but there is still more

...braved the hordes and shopped for Thanksgiving groceries...I forgot the red grapes

...put the groceries away

...ran the dishwasher

...took a nap

...had a nice long phone chat with my sister

...caught myself using the phrase 'hoity toity'  

...assembled a box full o' fun gift

...did some more laundry...but there is still more

...cleaned the bathroom sink/vanity

...had a nice long phone chat with my bff

...made ice 

...searched my craft stash for some clear bags for a craft project

...actually found said clear bags, and more than enough for project!!!

...used Paint program to draw/print snowman face for project

...assembled and photographed a prototype of project...see effort to gift consumables that will not be clutter for recipient (and with a sense of fun)...I'm pretty sure everyone could use this...thanks Pamela for the inspiration link in your Christmas in July

...cleaned up Rudy tummy expulsion...he took my tp gag gift literally  :(

...washed my hands several times

...cleaned out fridge

...took out garbage

...put new trash liners in all the waste baskets

...emailed a friend some requested information

...emptied dishwasher

Friday, November 17, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 46...

1.  Carey worked a couple of extra days this week.

2.  I worked yesterday.

3.  I received an email notification from my grocery store of special digital coupon savings for the upcoming holiday.  We only have one local grocery (well, we have a Wal*Mart but I rarely go to it, and almost never for groceries).  I loaded my phone with digital coupons for grocery shop.

4.  I'm going to the city for some Christmas shopping this afternoon, and I am picking up a reserved library book on the way.  I've been putting off the library trip till I had another reason to be in its vicinity.

5.  I've been saving water by not doing laundry.  :)

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Pasta Fagioli
Tuesday:  Meatball Stroganoff over noodles
Wednesday:  Spanish Rice w/ black beans and corn
Thursday:  Dublin Coddle
Friday:  *pizza

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

When I put library ebooks on reserve, they all seem to become available at the same time.  I laid aside Bettyville from last week for awhile since I needed to get some library ebooks read so I can turn the wifi back on to my Kindle.  (When the due date gets close for library ebooks, I turn off the wifi to my Kindle.  The books will get returned from my Amazon account, but the books stay on my Kindle and are readable until wifi to Kindle is turned back on.)

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Caroline: Little House, Revisited is a retelling of the Little House story from Caroline Ingall's point of view.  It was authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust.  I could always sort of take or leave the Little House stories, but I do like the idea of reworked books, and this one seemed to be well researched and it was very well written.  I enjoyed it.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

I wanted to read Our Souls at Night before I saw the Netflix original movie, but I broke down and watched it recently and enjoyed it.  I picked up my Kindle this morning and started the ebook, and made it halfway through, so it's a quick read.  The movie does very well at sticking close to the book.  Robert Redford and Jane Fonda did a great job, and I recommend the movie as well as the book.  I will probably finish the ebook tonight.  Then I need to get back to my 2017 Reading Challenge books.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 45...

1.  I don't normally feel moved to complain to a home office regarding unsatisfactory conditions at a restaurant.  In fact, I have done so only once before in my life; now twice.   After visiting a well-respected family restaurant chain on our vacation, I emailed through their website with a concern.  In my snail-mailbox yesterday was a letter of apology and a gift card for dinner-for-two at one of their locations near us.  The formal letter of apology was a pleasant surprise, and restores my faith in the company's commitment to customer service.

2.  I worked a half day on Wednesday.  On Thursday the same branch phoned me and booked two more days for next month.

3.  I used another token at Sonic for a free medium soft drink.  On the receipt it showed a $0.00 charge and had a survey request at the bottom.  The survey requests only come up occassionally, and normally I just ignore them, but this time I called in and completed the survey, so now I have a future free large soft drink to look forward to.

4.  I called and booked an appointment to get my eyes checked before the end of the year, so I can get it done before we have to start meeting deductibles in the new year again.

5.  I've tallied up the gas/lodging/food bills for the trip.  They came in at 2/3 of what I had budgeted and socked away in savings for it.  Granted there were some expenses that didn't get tallied like spending money, etc., but definitely not enough to break the budget.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  bagel and cream cheese
Tuesday:  *fried chicken
Wednesday:  late lunch, skipped dinner
Thursday:  goulash and garlic bread
Friday:  pork chops, mashed potatoes/gravy, broccoli

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

Almost done with this one.  Usually love this author, but this is not my favorite.

Bettyville by George Hodgman

Next up will be Bettyville.  It will fulfill the 'book you got from a used book sale' category of the 2017 reading challenge.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Decisions, decisions...

I couldn't motivate myself to pull fabrics to try out for borders.  Frankly if I pulled even one fabric right now a stack of junk would probably fall over on me.

So the lazy way was to take the photograph of the squares and doodle on them in different colors.  I'm still leaning towards the blues, but the black and the yellow in the top photos are not bad.

Vote for your favorite, please.  :)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Making it Monday...

Today was quilting day at the library.  For the past few months we have been making 12 1/2" blocks to exchange.  Oh, and they were to be stash-buster squares, so made only with fabric we had on hand, nothing purchased.  

Each member made two blocks per month...collected and held by our fearless leader...with there eventually being twelve in total from each person.  The photo above shows them all laid out on a table this morning awaiting the exchange process.  

We drew blocks at random from each person's contributed blocks, so each of us has at least one from every other member.  Then what was left we drew at random so that we all had twelve.

These are the blocks that I received.  I ended up with two of my own; the spool (2nd column, 2nd row) and the butterfly (bottom right corner).  We are to have all squares assembled by our next meeting on December 4th.  How we assemble them is left up to us.  I am pretty sure I will be adding sashing and borders, but I haven't even thought about colors or designs, since I wasn't sure what colors would be dominant in the squares I ended up with.  Now I'm thinking maybe blue and white for sashing and borders.

These are not necessarily in their permanent locations, but I love the way they all look together.  I'll post when it's finished.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 44...

1.  Have scheduled a day and a half of work.

2.  Batched errands to save on fuel and impulse shopping opportunities.

3.  I resisted the fleeting thought that there might still be price-slashed Halloween candy in some stores that needed to come home with me.

4.  Returned audio book (all 30 CDs!) to library before entering the dreaded fine zone.

5.  I used a token and received a free Coke at my favorite drink stop.  I tend to hoard these to use them as a treat to tuck into a card being mailed to someone, but I was thirsty, and it wasn't happy hour, so I treated myself.  Though it says 'free medium cherry limeade' the small print adds 'or any soft drink.'

Keep Tryings:
I destroyed a semi-new wallet in my impatient attempt to remove my ID when asked for it by the bank teller at the drive thru window.  Then I kind of ranted on her for a new regulation that she, personally, had no control over.    But come on...requiring a photo ID to deposit $ into my account at the branch where the accounts are held?  Stupid rule.  I would understand completely if I had been making a withdrawal.  It's been kind of a gritchy (grumpy/bitchy) day, what can I say?

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday: 50¢ corn dogs at Sonic (Halloween special)
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, baked potatoes, green beans
Thursday:  Meatloaf sandwich
Friday:  *barbecue

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October travel highlights...

Well, our two-week trip may be over, but I'm enjoying going through the photos.  Here are a few.  I decreased their size for the blog, so they may have lost some quality, but I hope they look okay.

It may be odd to start a vacation with a trip to a cemetery, but this was first on our list.  My sister (who took the journey with us) and I hadn't been to Nebraska (almost 900 miles from my home) to visit our parents' graves in a long time, so we started with that at the top of our list.

They are buried in an old cemetery along with previous generations of family, so I took the opportunity to take some photos to document dates, names, and locations.  The one above is the monument marking the graves of my dates from 1889...there is a group of little headstones near the foot of their monument belonging to their five children who died in childhood.

From there we headed east into Iowa and began seeing a bit of autumn color.  We stayed two nights in Lake Wapello State Park near Drakesville.

After that we went on to Indiana where we spent two more nights at Chain O Lakes State Park near Albion.  We took a day trip up to Shipshewana to visit their Amish and Mennonite shopping district. 

Then onward to Ohio.  We passed this landmark office building in Newark, Ohio which was (formerly?) Longaberger headquarters.  We stayed three nights at Dillon State Park near Nashport, Ohio.  As our trips progressed, the cabins we stayed in got better at each park.  We really liked the one at Dillon.  My sister and I agreed that considering some of the odd rent houses we had each lived in early in our marriages, if we had come across a little house like the cabin we stayed in to rent back then, we would have been in heaven.

We took day trips during our stay there, and saw lovely Amish communities east of Columbus.  There were great Amish thrift shops, and I wish we had been able to visit more of them, but our time was short.

We took a full day to drive up to Cleveland and visit A Christmas Story House Museum.  We love that movie so much, and this has been on my bucket list ever since I heard about it years ago.  I wouldn't describe myself as a 'fan' of very many things that would warrant making a visit a high priority, but I associate this movie with so many special memories and wonderful times with friends and family.

From Ohio, we headed south to Kentucky, and spent the night with my friend the other Kathleen.  She had dinner in the works for us, but I was a thankless guest, and asked her if we could please go out instead.  (Not that I don't like her cooking...when we lived in the same town, we used to prepare multiple meals at a time for the freezer and trade them with each other regularly to add some diversity and happy surprises to our menus.  In fact, she called me recently to tell me she had broken the last of the bowls we used to trade back and forth filled with meals.  We had shopped for the bowls together for our freezer meals, and we each had maybe four or more originally.  I still had four, two of which were in an upper cabinet never used, so I took them with me on this trip to deliver to her.)

Back to the dinner out.  Since we would only be in her town one night, I wanted to celebrate my birthday eve with my favorite sushi roll from my favorite sushi restaurant.  That's my favorite roll there wrapped in foil amid the flames!  SO good and SO much fun!  :)

On the morning of my birthday, we went to Berea, Kentucky where I started out a very lucky birthday by finding the perfect parking spot on their busy main street.  We got some shopping in at the shops featuring beautifully crafted handmade items...I only spent $9...there wasn't much room in the car for souvenirs.  Berea College is a tuition-free school, and claims a tradition of educating the head, heart, and hands of its students.  Craftsmanship, design, and marketing are alive and well, and many students work in its student crafts department.

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website
We stepped a few doors down and had lunch at the fabulous Boone Tavern. 

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website

We really weren't all that hungry, but who could pass up the opportunity to celebrate turning 60 in this luxurious setting? 

I started with a yummy cup of Creamy Pimiento Soup.  

photo credit:  Boone Tavern website

Carey and I shared a beautifully-presented Hot Brown, and he had coleslaw with his.

Then we proceeded to our last state park at Cumberland Falls inside the Daniel Boone National Forest.  The cabin I booked had 26 stairs to get to it, so I opted to change cabins.  They had a more access-friendly cabin that was two bedroom (one with two queen-sized beds which was super as the other Kathleen stayed with us one night) and two bathrooms.  It was a higher rate than the originally booked cabin, but they gave us a discount, so it was affordable and gorgeous.  And the scenery was definitely the prettiest autumn scenes we saw on the trip. 

 Beauty beckoned to photograph distant vistas...

 ...and spontaneous vignettes.

The falls were teeming, and though we weren't there during a full moon to see one of its famous moonbows, the sun played beautifully in its mists.

 We had gorgeous weather during the entire trip.  Cool and sunny, just like I'd hoped for.

To quote Anne Shirley (and L.M. Montgomery) of Green Gables fame, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

I finished The Practice House by Laura McNeal while we were gone.  We didn't finish the audio version of 11/22/63 by Stephen King (barely got it started, truthfully), so it remains to be read...someday.

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

In the wee hours of this morning I finished A Column of Fire by Ken Follett.  It fulfills 'a book that's more than 800 pages' category of the 2017 reading challenge. Great story, loved the history, but tons of characters to keep up with.  Liked it better than the second in trilogy, but not as much as the first.

Next up...
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman

This one will fulfill 'a book you bought on a trip' category of the 2017 reading challenge.  I picked this one up at a thrift store in Ohio on our recent vacation.  It's described as a retelling of Wuthering Heights.  I  just noticed that it was an Oprah's Book Club selection.  Sigh.  I've sworn off of those as they mostly seem too dark or just too cerebral for me, but since it's the only one I bought, and since I've loved others of Alice Hoffman's work, I'll give it a shot.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, weeks 42 and 43...

SOOOO happy to be home.  We just got in from being away for two weeks.  We logged over 5,000 miles during that time.  Here's a bit about the frugality of it, even though it is Saturday.  :)

1.  The only things I forgot to pack were a shower cap and shampoo.  The first hotel (first night) had both in the room, and they both lasted me for the entire two weeks.

2.  Out of 14 nights away, we only spent 4 in hotels, and they were surprisingly less costly than I had expected.  We all (Carey and I and my sister) shared one room with 2 queen beds.  Three of the hotels offered breakfasts.  We spent one night with my friend, the other Kathleen, and she fed us breakfast as well.

3.  The other 9 nights we spent in cabins at various state parks...very private and peaceful as there weren't too many other people at this time of year.  We stayed at least 2 nights at each location.  All but one of the cabin stays had been paid in full before we ever left home.  Since all the cabins had kitchens, we mostly ate in.

4.  I had planned and packed the food to take with us.  I pre-cooked meats for soups/stews and vacuum packed them and froze, and we borrowed a Yeti cooler which kept things mostly frozen between locations (when we got to each destination we moved everything from the cooler to the fridge/freezer in the cabin...including the bags and bottles of ice which refroze and were ready for the next leg of our journey, so not much spent on ice, and I didn't worry about refreezing the meats that had already been cooked ahead of time, since they were for soups and refreezing didn't affect the taste or texture).  For the foods that didn't need refrigeration, I packed each recipe's ingredients in a separate zip lock bag (canned goods included) and placed them all in a single box 'filed' in order that they would be needed.  That saved rummaging through everything, as each time I was ready to start cooking I could just grab the next bag, and then add its items to the matching ingredients (also labeled) from the fridge/freezer.  I also packed a 'breakfasts and snacks' bag.  We didn't eat many meals out, but we splurged on a few really nice ones.

5.  Foregoing souvenirs was not much of an issue, as we were very limited on space in the car.  I did buy gifts to bring home to the family at A Christmas Story House, as everyone in the family loves that movie.  I did buy some fabric as I had planned stops at some great quilt shops, but truly, I limited myself.  And we did stop at some thrift stores and picked up a few small things which I will blog about later.

Keep Tryings:
1.  We worked on the jigsaw puzzle one night (who knew my sister wasn't a fan of jigsaw puzzles?), and the puzzle board I made did work.  However, a cooler bag leaked on it in the car and I'm waiting for it to dry out to see if all is lost.

2.  We never got around to playing cards that I bought to take along.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  stew and cornbread at my sister's
Sunday:  *pizza and salad buffet
Monday:  No-Peek Chicken
Tuesday:  Roast and Dumplings
Wednesday:  Virginia's Taco Soup and cornbread
Thursday:  Old Fashioned Goulash
Friday:  Jambalaya
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  i can't remember
Monday:  *sushi
Tuesday:  Lentil Soup and cornbread
Wednesday:  Frito Pie
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  *dinner out

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Practice House by Laura McNeal
Reading this one on the Kindle.

11/22/63 by Stephen King
And listening to this one in the car.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 41...

1.  Finished menu plan and shopping list for next two weeks.  Made the supreme effort of the grocery shop.  Spent $117...which I thought was pretty least considering that we would have been eating out daily on the road if not for this effort and it also included some ground beef and stew meat that I precooked and vacuum sealed for the freezer for later.

2.  Carey changed the oil in the car, and gave it a thorough once over in preparation for its road time ahead.  I SO appreciate his skill in this area and the fortune it has saved us over the years.

3.  Payday...yippee!  Paying bills...meh.  But getting it done on time means no late fees.

4.  Had an appointment with my primary care physician this week.  I needed to have the dosage adjusted on one prescription, and I asked her to renew a prescription for a muscle relaxer.  She prescribes it for me annually.  I almost never take them, but I once had to make a VERY expensive trip to the ER, in an ambulance no less, due to a muscle spasm in my back.  Since then she agrees that keeping a few on hand would help me be able to avoid the expense of a repeat ER visit.  

5.  I didn't give in to snack temptations while at the store.

Big Fat Frugal Fail:  You may remember me mentioning that I ordered state maps from state tourist bureau websites for free.  Yes.  Well.  Only two arrived within the two or three weeks stated mailing time frame.  In fact only two arrived period...and it has now been almost seven weeks.  I had to order them from Amazon after all...they were crazy expensive ($5 and up each, and I needed SEVEN different states.  Ouch.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  sandwich
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Creamy Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom Tortellini Soup
Tuesday:  Sloppy Joes
Wednesday:  *Schlotzky sandwiches
Thursday:  Spanish Rice
Friday:  ???

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

I have snuck in a few books this week.  For the 2017 reading challenge category of 'a book you loved as a child' I chose:
Dolly Madison: Quaker Girl by Helen  A. Monsell

This is a set of books called Childhood of Famous Americans that were on our bookshelves when I was growing up.  I could have picked any one of the set for this category, as I probably read each of them half a dozen times or more, but I chose Dolly Madison: Quaker Girl by Helen A. Monsell.  Pamela at The Lady of the House Speaking posted recently about visiting James Madison's Montpelier, and it made me think of this book, and reminded me how much I loved the whole series when I was little.

Then I was notified that my turn had come up for the library's ebook that I had had on reserve for quite awhile:
Faithful by Alice Hoffman

It doesn't fit any of the last remaining challenge categories, but that's okay, it was worth the reading...although until about a quarter of the way through I wasn't so sure.

And then, yet again, I was notified of another reserve at the library being ready for me.  This time a hard copy of:
The Child by Fiona Barton

I had put a reserve on the library's hard copy and ebook of The Child, figuring that I would take whichever came available first and cancel the other.  It's very tempting to just sit and read, but I have a TON on my to-do list right now, so I'm reading what I can, and then will return the hard copy and wait till I get the ebook to finish it.  It doesn't fit anywhere on the challenge list either, so it's an 'over and above' book for the year.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 40...

1.  Two stay-home, no-spend days since returning home on Tuesday from the retreat.

2.  We ate the last of the twice-baked potatoes from the freezer this week.  It will be time to make another big batch for the freezer very soon.  Having a well-stocked freezer makes it easier to withstand the temptation of takeout.  

3.  I worked a full day today, and it was local.  Not having to commute saves time and gasoline.

4.  Batched errands near the office today.  The office I worked at was just blocks from the library, so I picked up some reserved items at lunch, then dropped by the bank next door to the library to deposit a check.

5.  I dropped by the kids' house on my way home from work.  Chloe had just finished the first Harry Potter book, and she asked me to take her to the library to pick up the second.  I brought her home with me instead and gave her the first three of the series, which I have had forever.  I told her to donate all of them to the library when she was through reading numbers two and three.  Saved me gasoline (and I didn't want to make another trip since I had just been there at lunch today), and got stuff out of my house.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  @ quilt retreat
Sunday:  @ quilt retreat
Monday:  @ quilt retreat
Tuesday:  pot pies
Wednesday:  meatloaf, twice-baked potatoes, corn
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  *burger

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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