Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Assistant Rufus...helping again. ;)

"Time to go to bed Mom.  I'll sit here and groom myself while you wash your face. Life would be so much easier if you could lick yourself clean like I do.  Humans...such strange animals."

"Hey Mom, I'm getting bored here waiting for you to turn the water on."

"You need to brush those back teeth just a little longer before you try to maneuver around or over me.  Just make sure you don't get any toothpaste on me when you try to spit into this sink I'm blocking." 

Earlier that day...

"I'll help you make the bed...just checking on these freshly line dried sheets for you.  Oh they smell good!"

"What do you mean this bed is not for me?  Why does Tutu get to have her own bed when she visits and I have to share with you?  You don't even let me have this bed when she is not here.  What's up with that?"

"I guess this will pass inspection once you get that pillow behind my tail put up where it belongs.  I still don't understand why this can't be my bed.  I thought I owned everything in this house."

Friday, April 29, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 4/30/16

Free groceries as part of our volunteer work.

   It has been a very busy week here getting ready for my parents to come visit for a long weekend and trying to reclaim the garden from the weeds.  I have been earnestly trying to stay on the frugal bandwagon and cut costs since I know our fuel bill will be higher here since my hubby had to use my car several times instead of his smaller economy car.  The light over the license plate was out on his and he got pulled over by the police for that.  He tried replacing the bulb but it turned out to be an electrical problem that was causing it.  UGH!  He went searching for a cheaper solution on Thursday night at the auto supply store.  Thursday was a "crash" day for me with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so not much other than some cooking got done.  My parents are coming for a long weekend and staying with us and we will have them and our kids and grandkids here, along with my cousin for some meals and family fun.  Here are my attempts at staying on the wagon this week.:

~Walgreen's had a free 8x10 photo offer so I took advantage of that and got a picture of the grandboys that I took this past week. :)
~I won 50 points one day in the Mypoints Umbrella game.  Woohoo!
~I worked my points programs.
~Pinecone Research sent me a survey to complete and I did it.  Easy $3 made there!
~Saturday was date day.  We went out to lunch (much cheaper than going out to dinner) and did some shopping at Goodwill and Ross.  I had to return something I bought at Goodwill that was not wearable and they gave me store credit for it. We came home and watched the movie "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" that we borrowed from the library.  It was very good by the way. ;) We then capped off the evening with a nice soak in our hot tub. :)

More free groceries

~I was thrilled to see that my basil seedlings are starting to come up in my big planter.  I love cooking with fresh basil and can't wait to use it soon!
~BBQ season is upon us and I needed a long handled silicone basting brush.  I found a brand new one at Goodwill for $1.99 and a shorter handled one for using in the kitchen for .99 .  I always try to look at thrift stores first for items like this because I frequently find them there for much cheaper than I can find them anywhere else.

Brand new silicone brushes bought at Goodwill.

~We again enjoyed SKYPEing with our son Josh.
~Sunday my hubby went through our chest freezer and reorganized it.  I pulled out meat for our menus this week.
~I went through all of my jeans, capris and shorts to see what fits and what does not.  Now that I know what I have that actually fits, it keeps me from buying more that I do not need.
~I seeded in some flat leaf parsley into one of my larger flower pots.
~Most of the laundry was again dried on the laundry line.

Basil and chicken pasta

~I borrowed a few more movies from the library including "The Good Dinosaur".
~Sorted through items in the gift closet and found a bunch of things for my mother an her friends (all quilting pattern kits).  She belongs to a quilting club and they share all their patterns and kits.  She will be here later this week and we will give them to her then.
~My sweet hubby went through the large pantry and purged and organized it.  I have enough tomato soup to get us through for a long time...just sayin. ;)

And more free groceries

~With Mother's Day coming up, we bought 3 beautiful cards at the Dollar Tree for our DIL and both our moms.  We will be seeing our moms this weekend so we will give them to them a week early.
~I cashed in my points at Pinecone Research for a $10 check.
~The mail brought 2 free magazines and my $10 Olive Garden gift card that I had cashed in for via Mypoints.
~Our weather turned cooler again early this week so I am back to enjoying a nice cup of hot tea in the afternoon.  I reused my tea bag to make a second cup of tea before disposing of it in the composing area of the garden.  As I write this I'm sipping on a cup of raspberry yummy!

Picture of my maternal grandmother in a old picture frame that I had rebuild and modify.

~We had our volunteer work this week and received lots of free groceries as part of it.
~I freshened up the decor in our home by changing out the darker lampshades to more lighter colored and "Springlike" ones and also changed up the throws and afghans in the living room. I also hung some "new" photographs up including a beautiful framed series of my grandfather as a young child, my Tutu (great grandmother) as a young mother and my beloved Grandma on her wedding day.
~I took apart another framed picture and modified the frame to hang vertically and then put my grandmother's wedding day picture in that.

Framed photograph of my Tutu (maternal great grandmother) as a child in a frame that I also had to fix and found a watercolor painting hidden in behind the picture when I took it out to clean it.

~More dried eggshells were crushed to be used in the strawberry bed.  This helps deter the slugs that are such a problem here.
~I pulled a fully cooked chicken from deli that had been marked down and that I had thrown in my freezer out to thaw on Monday.  We had chicken and mashed potatoes on Monday night for dinner.  Tuesday night I cut up some of the chicken breast and added that to some pasta and pesto sauce.  Divine! Thursday I threw the remainder of the chicken into a big pot of water and proceeded to make soup with it and used that last little bits of 2 previously opened bags of noodles in it also.

Pictures of my Tutu (as a young mother) and my maternal grandfather as a young child.

~My parents will be here today and my kids and grandkids are coming out for dinner tonight and Saturday night, when my cousin will also join us.  Thursday I made a huge pan full of baked ziti and Italian sausage which I will just warm up for dinner tonight.  I found the Italian sausage on mark down awhile ago and just froze it then.  The penne pasta was previously bought on sale and I also used coupons on all the boxes that I purchased.  The pasta sauce was free with our volunteer work and the cheese was bought on sale.  I figured that I spent about $16 to make a huge pan that will feed our entire family and still have leftovers.  I will serve some garlic bread and rolls with it and my DIL Heather is bringing a dessert.  I also have salad here if anyone wants some.
~More of our favorite TV shows were watched online.

Huge pan of homemade baked ziti and Italian sausage for a family party and a large pot of homemade chicken noodle soup.

~Walgreens had some of their daily fiber drink mix on clearance for under $4 for a large container.  I picked that up along with some mints and other candy that were also on clearance.
~Walmart is still clearancing out a bunch of their jewelry.  I found a 3 pair of earrings set for $2 and a 3 necklace set for $2.
~We decided not to do a car repair on my car that would have cost us over $1000.  It was a computer issue that is causing my remote start on my car not to work.  I only use that feature once in awhile during the winter so it is not a big deal to me if it does not work.

Jewelry found on clearance.

~Used some of my homemade citrus vinegar cleaner in the guest bathroom and it works really well!
~Substituted some of the fruit I had planned to buy for cheaper fruits that were on sale.  I also decided not to buy a few things that had gone way up in price.
~I cleaned out a plastic basket and reused it to store most of our bread products on the counter.  It keeps them in one spot and makes life much easier. ;)

   Our weekend will be a busy one with family here and lots of visiting.  I doubt I will have time to do any posts over the next few days.  I do hope that everyone who reads this will have a great weekend themselves!  Be blessed!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Living with a Chronic Illness...Crash Day


   I recently wrote a post on living with a chronic illness and I was overwhelmed with the support that I found among so many of you that have contacted me both privately and in your responses here at my blog.  SJ asked me if I could do a blog post on what supplements I am taking that help me and that is in the works for next week. ;)

   This week I have been pushing myself to get everything done for my parents visit tomorrow.  They are coming for a long weekend and we will be having the entire family out here for several meals and some fun family time.  That, along with the normal craziness of throwing all the extra time and energy that have to be put into the yard and garden (the weeds are taking over here fast), have worn me out.  I overdid it and am now paying for it big time.  I "crashed" today.  I thought I would share with you what a crash day is like when you still have to get things done.

   Last night I fell asleep quickly (which is not like me at all and should have been my first clue that today was going to be the big crash).  I slept for 7 hours, which again is not like me since I usually average about 5 hours a night.  For me, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, combined with menopause, makes sleeping very difficult, even when I am exhausted.  This complicates things and makes it even worse since your body needs lots of rest with this particular illness.  I woke up at 9 this morning and felt like I had been hit by a truck...a very large truck. :P

   After I got some coffee, I emailed my mother to see if they were indeed going to be coming over. Yesterday I got an email from my mother telling me that she had been sick with a bad cold and if she was still feeling the same or worse, they would be cancelling their trip over here and we would reschedule it for a different time.  She had given us the option of cancelling them coming over also. We emailed back and forth because my hubby and I still wanted them to come (she is past the contagious stage) if she felt up to it but we would understand if they had to cancel.  I explained to her that I was having a crash day, but that I should be better tomorrow if I rested today.  Bless my wonderful mother's heart, she told me they were coming and that I was to take it easy today and not worry about getting the house all cleaned because they just wanted to come and see us.  We are what is important, not how the house looks. ;)  She is so amazingly supportive of me and knows how this illness takes it's toll.

   Anyway, I still knew that there were some things that had to be done today to make things easier for everyone this weekend.  So I got my very achy and tired self up off the couch and got two large pots of water boiling.  Into one of the pots went the rest of the deli chicken to make homemade chicken soup and into the other went 2 boxes of penne pasta.  While those boiled, I cut up the veggies that were to go into the soup and dug out 2 bags of pasta that just had a bit left in them.  By then I felt like I needed a nap but I powered through and grated up a pound of Mozzarella cheese for the pasta dish. My hands ached while I grated the cheese, but it needed to be done.  I got the chicken out of the pot so it could cool and threw the veggies into it.  By this time the larger pot with the penne pasta was ready to be drained so I got that lifted up (it was heavy) and put the noodles into the colander to drain and then put the pot back on the stove and got 2 packages of Italian sausage browning in it.  I used my potato masher to break up the sausage and by this time my back and arms were hurting so badly that I wanted to cry.    I added some minced garlic to the sausage and let that go for awhile.  While that was cooking away, I added the other noodles to the soup pot and got busy picking and shredding the chicken meat and throwing that back in the soup.  My son Jaysn called while I was doing all of this and although I would have loved to have a long chat with him, it was taking everything I had to concentrate on cooking so I had to end our phone call before I would have liked to. :(   Finally the sausage was cooked so I added 2 large cans of spaghetti sauce to it and let that simmer while I wrestled the largest baking pan I had out of the cupboard.  I'm afraid I woke my hubby up with all the noise I was making and felt like I had been beat up while maneuvering it out from the top shelf way in the back.  I finally got it out, sprayed it with some cooking oil and then added the grated cheese to the pasta and sauce mixture and then put all that into the large baking pan.  By then I was done...totally spent...collapsed on the couch.

   My sweet hubby got up shortly after all this (he sleeps during the day since he works the graveyard shift) and kindly cleared out space in the refrigerator for me to get the big container of soup and the huge tray of pasta into the fridge.  I then told him about my parents coming over and that I had told them not to call Friday morning before they headed out since he would be sleeping and I would be running over to get his paycheck and then taking it to the bank.  Jeff gently told me that I would not have to run his check over to the bank and that we had already had a conversation about how he would just get it Friday night and we could deposit it on Saturday morning since we would be in town.  At this point I was a bit confused and then remembered the conversation and again wanted to cry out of frustration because of this darned "brain fog" that is again part of this illness.  He could see that I was about to lose it and listened to me as I expressed how frustrating this illness is to live with. I told him what the rest of my "to do" list was like baking banana bread and that I would do that tomorrow and a few things left to do today.  He again gently reminded me that I had some banana bread in the freezer and told me that he would take care of the other things on the list for me.  I honestly would be lost without this man.

   So here it is about 2 this afternoon and that wonderful man of mine is in the kitchen cleaning it up while I am curled up on the couch with heavy eyes, an aching back and neck, arms and legs that feel like lead weights and am fighting back tears of frustration.  My brain is in fog mode and I just want to feel normal and be able to think clearly.  Days like these are horribly frustrating and depressing.  I am very thankful that I am usually a pretty upbeat and positive person because if I were not, I could see how this could lead to terrible depression.  I have to remind myself that this too will pass or I would go into a horrible downward spiral emotionally.  

   I think I am going to end this post here and go curl up in bed for awhile.  The tears are welling up again (out of frustration and pain) and I'm in serious need of a nap.  Tomorrow should be a better day so I am holding onto that.  Such is life with this illness of mine.





Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Following Your Dreams...An Inspirational True Story

                                                  To Teach is a Gift

   Years ago, when I was about 19 and in college studying to become a Special Education teacher, there was a woman who truly inspired me.  She was 60 and had done what society had expected of her at that time when she was young.  She married, had children and stayed home to raise them and kept a beautiful home while her husband worked to bring in the income.  Life happened, the children grew up and she ended up divorced and on her own.  For the first time in her life, she was free to make her own choices about her life without having to worry about everyone else and how it would impact them.  

   She shared with me that she had always wanted to be a teacher.  It was her dream.  There had not been money for her to go to college after she graduated from high school.  She got married and settled into being a homemaker and mother, but the dream never left her.  She volunteered at her children's schools and in their classrooms and the desire to become a teacher just got stronger.  When she found herself divorced and alone after her children were all raised and had established lives and families of their own, she decided to finally do something for her and went to college to become a teacher.  

   I remember there being some students and even a professor who thought she was crazy.  They would comment behind her back that she was wasting her time because she was too old to become a teacher and no one would hire her because of her age.  Oh that made me mad!  First of all, here was a woman who had all this life experience raising her own children and helping out in classrooms for years working with students.  She clearly knew what she wanted to do and her determination to get her teaching degree and help students learn was inspirational!  She also knew that her age might be a stumbling block for some people, but that hopefully others would see it as an asset.  She used to joke that she would have an advantage teaching kids with special needs because she knew how hard it was to have to learn all this new stuff for the first time and struggle through it when the "other students" had the advantage of having been in school continuously and not having had a 42 year "break" in their education where everything had seemed to change. ;)  I loved that she was not afraid to ask questions in class when she did not understand something, even if the mean professor would kind of roll her eyes and huff when she did (to be fair, this particular professor did the same thing to all of us that were studying to become Special Education teachers...she seemed to think we were all beneath her).  

   I was blessed to have many classes and be in a study group with this amazing woman.  Her wit, determination, and passion for teaching quickly won over most of her sceptics over.  By the time we were all ready to graduate, she, like the rest of us, was nervous about trying to find her first teaching job. One of the things that will always stick with me was our graduation ceremony and seeing her beaming with pride and her children and grandchildren there supporting her and clapping and cheering for her as she walked across that stage to receive her hard earned diploma.   It was one of the most heartwarming moments I have ever witnessed. 

    I lost touch with her after graduation.  I got my first teaching job and moved out of state shortly after I graduated from college.  I have always wondered where her first teaching job took her.  I do know that she had glowing recommendations from her time student teaching.  I also know from having worked with her over the years in school that she was going to make an awesome teacher and her students would be blessed beyond measure!  After all, she followed her dreams and would teach her students that it is never too late and that nothing can stand in their way of accomplishing their own dreams.  Now that is a teacher that I would want for my own children!



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Glimpses from the Garden

Please don't mind all the dandelions...they have gotten way ahead of us this year...but they are cheery looking! ;)

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Laundry "Assistant", Oh So Helpful

  Rufus is like my shadow, he is right by my side for much of the day and night.  He loves being my assistant, making sure that I do everything right.  Whether it is getting ready for bed and brushing my teeth, where he has to be up on the counter (it makes spitting out the toothpaste into the sink interesting to say the least) or helping me with the laundry, there he is!

Disclaimer:  No cats were hurt in the making of this blog post.  There was no washing or drying of the cat or throwing him off the clean clothing (he was however gently lifted off the clothing and told to knock it off). ;)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 4/22/16


   It's been another busy week here with lots of projects being tackled and more time spent working out in the yard.  Spring came early so that means the weeds did too and everything needed to be pruned, and some needed to be planted.  All the while, we have still been trying to keep to our frugal ways.  Here is what we have been up to this week.

~My hubby was in need of a haircut so I gave him one at home.  I have 2 sets of clippers (I keep a spare pair just in case that I bought from our neighbors years ago at their yard sale) that have more than paid for themselves over the last 18 years of cutting my hubby and my boys hair.
~I  cashed in for another 25 Walmart Gift card via Swagbucks.
~The more than generous company that my husband works for had big 25 years Anniversary Prime Rib dinner for all the employees on Saturday evening.
~Pinch Me sent me some $ free samples and coupons.  I love getting free samples in the mail along with high value coupons.

~My parents sent out an email to all of us kids and the grandkids that they are coming over for a visit in 2 weeks.  My mother had bought a really comfortable (seriously, I have napped in that thing) recliner years ago when they moved into their home at the lake.  My father decided that he wanted to have matching leather recliners so Mom's recliner got put upstair in my brother's suite.  He already has so much stuff up there that he asked them if they could just get rid of it.  My mother asked if any one of us would like it.  I responded within 2 minutes of the email coming out that I would love it!  I will replace the one that we have now with it and sell the one here at the family yard sale next week.
~We took Caesar for several long walks.  Great exercise for us all!
~I made the decision to sell our elliptical exercise machine.  My knees have been giving me trouble and for whatever reason, using the elliptical machine irritates them further.

~There are certain supplements that my husband and I take to help us.  Some of these supplements are needed to manage my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I placed an order at Vitacost going through the link at Swagbucks so I will get 3 points per dollar spent.
~I finally got the two kinds of peas, radishes and the lettuce planted in the garden.
~We needed some more multivitamins and I found 2 bottles that were marked down to $3.19 each.  They don't expire until Jan of 2017 so we have plenty of time to use them before then.  I also found 8 bars of soap and some toaster pastries marked way down too.
~A stop at the thrift store provided me with more canning jars and lids, three new shirts (I am replacing a bunch of mine that no longer fit or are worn out, one of the shirts was brand new with tags), 2 dvds, a kids magazine and some new underwear (they get new bags of undies donated to them and then they break the bags open and sell each pair individually for .29).

~Most of our laundry was line dried this week.
~We borrowed more movies from the library.
~I made a big tuna and pasta salad using whole grain noodles, some green onions from our garden and added some grated carrots and some chopped celery to it to increase the fiber and nutritional value.  It was a huge hit with my hubby who was starving after weeding out the raspberry patch. ;)
~More of our favorite TV shows were watched online.
~I managed to get plenty of exercise weeding and planting the garden.
~Our meals this week revolved around what needed to be used up in the refrigerator.
~We SKYPEd with our son Josh.  It is always fun to  have some time with him. :)

~I made more bread for my hubby's lunches.
~I have been able to turn the heat off at night when my hubby is not here because it has been unseasonably warm here during the day.  There were some nights when I had to leave the windows open until I went to bed to cool the house down enough so I could sleep comfortably.
~My hubby and I had a date day on Sunday and one of the places that he loves to go is to the big home improvement store.  While he was checking out lumber prices, I wandered the aisles and found the clearance area.  They had some of the large Yankee Candles in the winter scents on sale for $7 each.  I found 2 that I loved and I thought others would enjoy too.  They are now in my gift closet.
~Sometimes I find seeds for the garden in the most unusual places.  On Tuesday I was in Goodwill and they had a huge box full of assorted seeds for .49 each.  I picked up some more lettuce, basil, dill and flat leaf parsley seeds.

~Tuesday afternoon found me with lots of "nervous energy" (we had gotten a phone call with some not so great news about one of our parent's health) even though I was already really tired from running errands for 5 hours.  I cleaned off the top of my dresser which had become the dumping ground for things, sorted through all of that and then decided to tackle my sweater closet.  Some of the sweaters I have date back to high school and I am in my early 50's was way overdue.  I purged all the too small, sweaters with turtlenecks (I can't stand to have anything tight around my neck now that menopause has hit), anything that is itchy (my skin has become way more sensitive) and anything that I have not worn for years.  That took large piles of sweaters out.  I also found a few that have moth holes.  I will take the buttons off those and repurpose them for other projects.  I will have my daughter in laws go through my sweaters and see if they want any of them.  The rest will be donated to the thrift store.
~While sorting through my jeans, capris and shorts, I found ones that needed to purged due to being worn out or not fitting me anymore.  I then knew what I needed to find a few more pairs of.  I did find another pair of skinny cropped ankle pants, a nice pair of dark gray capris and a brand new pair of jeans that fit perfectly at the thrift store to replace things that I had to get rid of.
~More goodies found at the thrift store were 2 more shirts to replace some others I got rid of and another nice lightweight longer length sweater that is perfect for those evening when there is a light chill in the air.

~Mercury Magazine had a complimentary 2 year subscription offer to Taste of Home magazine that I was able to get in on Thursday morning.  My DIL's and I all love this magazine and free is my favorite price!
~I had some leftover rice from a Chinese themed dinner I made.  For dinner the next night I used it to make jambalaya.
~The mail this week brought me 1 free magazine( Better Homes and Gardens).
~I continued to work on my points programs online.
~I have been using rainwater I collected in buckets to water all my little seedlings.
~Last year when we dug up the front garden due to having to fix our water line my hubby terraced it and made it look simply beautiful.  We turned the top terrace into another veggie garden.  Some of the irises that had previously been in that area got buried under the dirt and are now growing in the middle of my garden bed.  Hubby is digging them out and we are replanting them in the flower bed border.

~I was able to get in on an offer for a coupon for a free bag of Lay's BBQ potato chips.
~I used the $25 Walmart gift card to cover the cost of my prescription for a 3 month supply of thyroid meds, a large bag of instant yeast, 2 boxes of gelatin, a pie, a loaf of French bread, and a few other items that are slipping my mind right now.
~I have been using an old laundry detergent bucket as my weeding bucket out in the garden.

   I am thankful for all the free offers that I was able to get in on this week and for the $25 Walmart gift card.  This has been another tight month for us financially but God is good and always provides. :) For fun and inspiration, I am joining Mimi's link party with other wonderfully creative and frugal guests...come join the fun!

Pacing Myself


   It has been a busy week around here full of projects, errands and having the blessing of getting to spend more time with my grandsons yesterday.  All of this, combined with my rather erratic sleep   patterns have left me really tired and ready for a "down time" day.  However, there are still things that need to be done.

   The first thing that had to be taken care of was my migraine headache that I woke up with.  Between being really tired and the changing weather, it triggered another one.  Luckily I was able to catch it in time.  I had coffee and ibuprofen for breakfast.  I now just have that tight head in a vice feeling so that is improvement.

   I looked at my "to do" list for today and started on the first load of hubby's work clothing.  Rain is forecasted for tomorrow so I knew I had to get these done today an hung out on the line to dry.  My second load was the cuddly throws from the livingroom.  Both are now hanging on the line drying.

   Next on the list, weeding and getting the lettuce and radish seeds planted.  That took about an hour with me resting every few minutes in my garden chair since my back decided to join in the "let's rebel" party.  UGH!  My reward though while I was getting it all watered in was being able to visit with a friend who was out on a walk with her two adorable girls. :)

   Onto the third thing on my list.  I watered all the houseplants and the seedlings that I started.  The cucumbers are doing great and coming up, but I am still waiting on the squash to makes their appearance.

   Number 4.  I got some turkey sausage out of the freezer so that I can make jambalaya later for dinner tonight with some leftover rice from last night.  I also grabbed the stuff I needed to work on the hot tub and got that all taken care of too.

   Time for another break.   I needed to eat something for lunch and since I am quickly running out of energy I just make some Cup Noodles (ramen) and have some sparkling water with it.  Don't judge! ;) I also take this opportunity to answer email, check in with friends and work on my points programs.  

   It is now a little after noon and I am spent.  The tank is empty.  I do hope to be able to do more little projects this afternoon but I am not sure if it will happen.  Such is the life of someone who has limited energy and who has pushed herself a bit too much this week.