Diary of a Homemaker: Making Choices


* Designates a leftover or gathered fragment that I've used to prepare a main dish or side for our meal.

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Saturday:  John mentioned the fair again today and after discussing the three weeks ahead and the obligations before us in the coming months we've determined we'll skip the fair altogether.  Yes, we'd love to go, but we've been making choices since we got married and determined we'd be debt free.    Well, you might think skipping the fair will hardly put a dint in any of the obligations coming up and that's true.  We seldom spend more than $20 when we go to the fair but it's $20 more than we want to spend at the moment.  I could pay for so many other things with that $20: a Christmas gift for someone,  for instance, or it could be set aside and saved towards next month's propane tank rental fee.  Never fear, we do treat ourselves and we like to do so but we don't choose to do it with every single thing that comes along.

John sometimes gets a little frustrated with me about choices I make with my diet.  I'll encourage him to go ahead and treat himself while I hold off.  It's another one of those 'choose' moments.  I can indulge right along with him, and sometimes I do, or I can consider the other choices that I will have to make in the day where my meals are concerned and choose health over high blood sugars.  For me it's not a hard choice.  I like feeling well.  I like having pre-diabetic level blood sugars and not full blown diabetes.  My desire is to get my blood sugar down to normal levels. I have to make still more choices.    It's not always the fun choice.  It's not always the choice I most want to make, but I make it.  

Disciplining oneself is the hardest discipline of all.  You might be a stern parent and lax with yourself.  Something that rang true to me years upon years ago was said during a Joyce Meyer teaching.  "You want to have authority over a ministry but you don't even have authority over that sink full of dirty dishes at home..."   Ow.  She was speaking to me that day and I knew it.  I decided then and there that I would take authority over my home.  And my bills.  And my desire to write.  I made the decision to be the one in authority when it came to diabetes.  I made choices that led to where I am at present and  I showed up everyday and  did what had to be done, fun or not, feeling well or feeling blah.  That's more power than you'd think in saying "I choose not to...." instead of whining "I can't afford..."

Today I made pizza for lunch.  It's been a couple of weeks since we had a pizza.  I used the last bit of the Mississippi Chicken* on our pizza.  The sauce from the meat was the sauce on the dough.  I added feta cheese, green olives (only because I had no pepperoncini and I wanted that added vinegar-y bite) and a little onion then topped with Mozzarella.  I was a little worried this mightn't taste good but it was really good!  I pulled meats this morning from the freezer to start thawing for next week after I made my menu plan.

 I have Pele mums that I bought two weeks ago on the mantle.  I trimmed the flowers one more time this morning and put them in a pewter stein instead of in a taller vase.  This morning I went out to gather a little bouquet of flowers for the dining room table. The flowers on the dining table replaced the artificial picks I'd used. 


Isn't it pretty?  The marigolds are the ones from the dollar store packet. I have some of those left to plant again next year.  I call the color Paprika.  It's a reddish orange color and quite autumnal looking.

We've stayed home today.   John looked at me this afternoon and asked if I wanted to go anywhere.  I told him I'd prefer to go out tomorrow after church.  I want a haircut.  We'll run into Publix which is next door and pick up a sale item, a needed item and perhaps Gramma's Fried Chicken for next weekend if any is available.  What we do after that is up to him.  I think he has a short list for Lowe's.  I honestly can't think of much else I need that can't wait for grocery day this week.

Sunday:  Up early.  I was having a tense dream.  I'd gone to Starbucks and they refused me coffee.  I woke with the alarm just as I was whining loudly, "I just want my coffee!!"  And you know what?  That's exactly what I wanted this morning!

It was admittedly a funny dream but it was the sort of frustrating dream that made for tense muscles.  I was already aching something fierce.  I think the weather must have changed during the night because I haven't had my bones ache like they were this morning in a very long while.

After a week at home, I finally left the house to go further than the mile to the dumpster, lol.  It felt good to be out of the house and I find that I want to pay attention to the scenery, to note what has changed.   Today I was shocked to see how very high the river was.  I told John that it was wintertime high or even early springtime high.   I'm not accustomed to seeing the water that high  in autumn.

I am much amused by the men who drive the golf cart at church.  Both know John and both beg me to let them give me a ride to the door (or the car if it's after church).  Now it's especially funny when they ask to see me to the door because John puts me out right at the walkway and it's really just a few feet to the door.  This morning the man who offered to drive me to the door then went to John to tell him I'd refused! lol   I continue to use the cane when I'm going to walk any distance and I feel that's really all the help I require.  Even on a morning like today when my bones ached, I felt I could walk just fine.  It wasn't painful to walk at all, just a general weather change sort of ache and those of you who have those will understand quite well.

This morning we left home with plans for what we'd do after church.  I wanted a haircut.  Last weekend I'd trimmed about my ears and shaved my neck in an attempt to stretch my last haircut a little further.  It did help but by end of this week I was looking a bit shaggy again.  So I asked John if we couldn't go to do that.  The salon didn't open until 12.  John has two projects he's determined to do here indoors and he wanted to go by Lowe's.  I wanted to pick up a few sales items and Gramma's Fried Chicken for next weekend.  So we mapped out our plans and drove to the other side of town after church.

First stop was Lowe's.  I did seriously consider getting mulch but after the rainy week we had last week, I figured there was no point in trying to lift sopping wet, overly heavy bags into the trunk of the car.  The bags of wet mulch always end tearing and frustrate John.  And the black mulch I'm using at the house in town leaves a harsh black stain when it's wet.  No desire to have that on my clothes nor in my car!

John did his bit of spending in Lowe's, though he did skip one item because we both were completely confused by his measurement of the  area he wanted to work on.  Turns out he was right but it was a blessing in disguise to not get that material.

Then we went over to the small shopping center where I get my haircut and went into the smaller, slightly more intimate Publix grocery there.  My goal was to buy mayonnaise, tuna fish and instant potatoes to go into the pantry.  I wanted fresh fruit.  We got a box of fried chicken, which I put in the freezer once we got home.  It thaws on Saturday and we warm it up on Sunday and it tastes just as good as fresh.     What I forgot: dishwasher detergent.  I do have some powdered on hand and I'll use that until I remember to pick up the liquid that I've been using.

We bought a sandwich to share and had lunch right there in the parking lot.  It was cool this morning and very pleasant.  No hardship to sit in the car and eat our bit of lunch.   Then I got my haircut and we headed home.

My first job when we got home was to organize my pantry a little differently.  I boxed up all the pasta together and then  I put all the rice and rice mixes in a much smaller bin. Eventually I hope to have another bin just for instant and dry potato packets.  I don't really like to have a miscellaneous gathering of things in a bin because I sometimes miss what I do have on hand.   

I shifted things about on the upper shelf of the closet and organized that a bit more logically.   I'm pleased with how my pantry is looking.  I'd like to do some things differently but for the moment it's organized enough I can pretty much find what I'm looking for right away.

After I'd done that, I sat down to cool off.  John put on a wonderful old mystery movie with Olivia de Haviland called "The Dark Mirror".   

 It was totally absorbing and I didn't move the whole while it was on.  It's a rare thing for me to sit and watch a movie all the way through as I did this one.  I highly recommend it by the way, especially if you're a fan of Film Noir.

When the movie was over I started our supper.  Another new to me recipe...I'll share in a bit.   While supper was in the oven cooking, I swept and mopped floors.

John's projects: making a cabinet above the guest bathroom door in a spot where the wall is narrow and will naturally form three sides to the shelf.  That entry to the bathroom is a tight spot and the bathroom is tiny.  John suggested months ago that he could put a cabinet there on the wall (it's towards the peak of the ceiling).   Plan at present is to just put a simple tension rod and curtain of some sort there.  I plan to use it to store toilet paper and towels that are currently on the back of our toilet.   We do have a small sink cabinet but I've never liked to store paper products under a sink.  One leak and you lose all your supply.

The other project is to blank out the useless galley rack above my stove.  The measurement John had written down was correct but he didn't buy wood to make the panel there.  On a whim, he held up a sheet of the shelving wood in front of the galley so we could get an idea of what it would look like with the galley filled in.  I liked it!  We both agreed a thinner bit of wood would work better.  And then we walked into our bathroom and saw the wainscoting and John said "A bit of that would like nice up there..." and I agreed.  The ends of the cabinets are all that sort of paneling.  It also happens we have about two packs of that wainscoting in our closet.   So it really was a happy thing that we doubted his measurements and didn't buy the additional bit of wood!

The recipe for supper isn't a new one but using the products I did in this particular way was new to me.  I got the idea from a pin I found somewhere.  It was Parmesan Crusted Turkey Tenderloin.  I bought the turkey tenderloin at Aldi, getting the deli seasoned one. There were three tenderloins in the packet and I made two of them as Parm crusted and kept the other one plain for sandwiches.   I coated the two with mayonnaise (you can do sour cream or yogurt if you prefer) and then rolled the tenderloins in a mixture of Italian bread crumb and Parmesan cheese.   The recipe called for it be baked at 325f for 55 minutes.  I made up foil sheets and cooked the tenderloins and roasted cauliflower at the same time on the same cookie sheet.  

And by the way, the roasted cauliflower is something we are really enjoying!  It's so simple to make but it tastes so very good.  I just break into smaller florets and then sprinkle with oil and Everything But The Bagel seasoning.   So good!

Monday:  Since I have to use my phone as my alarm clock, I keep the volume turned on low at night.  At 3am, an Amber alert went out...I have been awake ever since and boy did I feel it about 3pm this afternoon.  

Not much to say about the day really.  I finished the book Kerry by Grace Livingston Hill and while I don't recall ever reading it before I don't know that I want to read it again.  Truth, I got more than a little bit frustrated with the rather pitiful heroine of this novel.  I like some of Mrs. Hill's books better than I like others.  I couldn't help but think this heroine kind of deserved some of her troubles.

Caleb was happy enough today but in a very testing sort of mood.  Tell him no once and he'd look directly at you with his lovely blue grey eyes and reach out and touch the item again.  And again.  And again.   I caught him twisting the temperature control knob on the deep freeze.   After he left this afternoon, I rearranged the freezer and little cabinet so that the little cabinet is now at the end of the freezer where the controls are.  He won't be able to get his hands on that control knob now.  And I shall have no worries that I'll wander into the kitchen to find my freezer defrosted while it's full of food!

I washed the quilt/coverlet that was in the bottom of the pack and play last week.  When we got it dry and I went to refold it, I discovered that it had many seams that had come apart.  I repaired a few yesterday and then realizing that there were many many more, I left it on the bed, planning to repair it a little at time over this week.  I told John I wouldn't put it back in the pack and play until it was mended.  Today I put Caleb down for a nap and when we came back in later to get him up, the little stinker had pulled that quilt off the bed where I'd left it and pulled it into his crib with him!  I guess I'd better make repairing it a top priority.  And keep sliding every thing known to man further back from his reach.

I managed to get both porches cleaned off.  While I was on the back porch, I noted that the vent cover from the dryer was caked with lint.  I suspect the week of wet weather and lint blowing out combined to pack that pretty tight.  Glad I noticed it.  I cleaned the filter cover, John got the vacuum and cleaned out the vent hose and then we reconnected it all.  

Tonight's supper: Italian Pepper Steak and Brown Rice.  I didn't get an opportunity to do any sort of prep work today so I opted to use the instant brown rice I'd bought.  Must say that 15 minutes total beats the pants off waiting almost an hour when you want supper right now.  Too tired to even consider making a salad or anything else to go along with this.  I used three bell peppers and a whole onion so I'm calling it a one dish meal.

Tuesday: Slightly more sleep than yesterday so I didn't have that dragging sensation mid afternoon.  And good thing...One just can't be dragging about with a two year old to keep up with!  Caleb apparently didn't get enough sleep because he asked to go Ni Ni and then slept for two and a half hours early this morning.  I should be more like him when I know I'm overtired and have the option of staying busy or lying down.  I did take a rest spell today while he was down for his nap.  

I baked a loaf of bread today.  We are currently going through about one and a half loaves each week.  That's because I'm serving a sandwich meal more often, I think, especially on these lunch days when I don't have leftovers to serve us.  

I cleaned and organized the fridge.  I may have a couple of items to toss to the dogs this week but it's because they are awkward sorts of leftovers that I just can't fathom how to reuse or reheat so that they are palatable. 

Tonight's dinner was a combination of a Shoebox Supper recipe and gathered fragments.  I had a half dozen taco shells left and so I toasted those with melted cheese in them as a side to our 7 can soup.  

Verdict on the soup:  It was okay once I added a bit more seasoning to it, maybe a 7 out of 10 score for flavor.  I won't say I will make it again nor that I won't.   It makes so very much that I seriously doubt I will make it  unless I have a crowd to feed.  I  have 3 quarts left and that is quite a lot of soup for us.  One quart is in the fridge for a lunch one day later this week and the other two went into the freezer for a future meal.  After reading many different recipes I opted for The Pioneer Woman's version.  I didn't have Rotel but I used a can of Ranch style Pinto beans which have a tomato based sauce and then added  a can of chopped green chilies.  I added in half cup or so of grits* that were leftover and the remainder of a can of chili* that was in the fridge (also leftovers).  I didn't mind the grits.  Didn't care for the canned chili. I find that tastes best on nachos or even on a baked potato, but not so great in soup. I'll make sure to notate that next to the recipe in my recipe file.

Do look up this recipe and the many variations online.  One vlogger, Julia Pacheco made a similar soup using canned chicken, green enchilada sauce and a variety of beans, corn and tomatoes.  It looked quite good and I'd kind of like to try that next time I'm thinking of trying a new Shoebox Supper recipe for our household.

Wednesday:  Caleb was beyond well behaved today and not in the least obstinate.  He played happily and quietly with cars and trucks most of the morning and went down for a nap about 10:30 and went right to sleep.  I slipped away from home, leaving John to watch over him, while I went to post our bills for the month and head to the bank.  I opted to head to Ft. Valley and wish I hadn't.  Nothing amiss happened but it proved to be an incredible waste of time. 

There is a Dollar Tree there in that town and I wanted to check on the shelf stable milk.  No such critter exists in that particular store.  I think I've shared before that it is not only a small store but it's 'poor' overall.  I did find Libby's pineapple for $1 a can and that was a good purchase and I bought two cans of pumpkin for the same price, but all in all, it's not worth my time to go into the store in that town.  There are simply no other Dollar Trees within easy riding of where we typically shop.  So scratch that idea and move on.

I went to the bank in that town planning to make a deposit.  There were only two bays open and both had a car each but I waited.  I waited and waited and waited and never saw a canister move up a tube or down it.  The man in front of me was talking loudly and cussing up a storm the whole while.  I never heard a reply so I don't know if he was on a phone but there was no one else in the car with him.   I let up my window and turned on the AC and continued to wait and finally just backed up and left.  I drove to the post office in that town and then looked at the clock and decided to head home.

I'd been gone right at an hour when I returned.  Caleb was still asleep.  John and I ate our lunch and then Caleb woke.  He had his lunch and we watched John mow grass from the various windows of the house.  

Bess had asked, while I was out, if I could take the boys for a couple of hours this afternoon.  Caleb was more than happy when the two boys came in.  Neither one consider him big enough to play with but Caleb has a habit of gaining the attention he wants and he wanted Josh and Isaac to pay attention to him.   He was happy to have the boys here.  Between Caleb and Isaac the toy box was pretty much emptied and every item in it was played with.

Josh considers himself too big to sit on laps any more but Isaac fortunately does not...

Turns out Josh doesn't really consider himself that big either.  He came and sat in my lap for a little bit but it's true that his legs are so long he barely can sit in my lap.  I didn't have my phone where I could a picture of him.

Everyone went home about 5pm.  John showered.  He was plenty tired after mowing the lawn and washing both cars, but we had stinky diapers in the trash...and I wanted to try to put my deposit in the night deposit at the bank.   We were driving over to the next town along an especially lovely old highway when that same piece that came out from under John's car a week ago while driving along the old field drive, decided it was time to fall out again...Really didn't want to run over that piece at 55 mph....Nor to stop and go back to get it but we did both.  This is just a plastic weather shield and fortunately did no great damage to it or the car.

Arrived at the bank to find there were no night deposit envelopes.  I told John, "Well I've tried twice to make this deposit today...Tomorrow I'm turning it over to you."  It was about 6pm and I rued my decision earlier to skip prepping supper because I felt Caleb needed my attention more.   Perhaps so but here's the deal.  No supper.  No supper ready to make.  It was late and I was beyond hungry, our light lunch having worn off.  There are NO fast food options in our area except Subway and John won't eat there.  On our way back to our town (we were in the county seat earlier), John had me call the two restaurants in our town.  Neither were open.  He didn't want to go into the local gambling parlor/grocery and I refused.  He refused to drive to the next town in the county next to ours. I  said "Never mind, just go home and I'll do something."  He asked "Like what?"  Really...does it even matter if you don't want to drive 30 minutes and wait for perhaps 20 more only to come home an hour later and eat lukewarm food?  I'd rather scramble together something, anything than go through all that only to eat cold food.

Fortunately I had pot stickers and egg rolls left from the things Katie brought in to us two weeks ago.  20 minutes and supper was done and served hot.  I made up my mind that I'm going to keep a few items on hand that we can heat and eat under 30 minutes for just such nights as this.  Another idea: smoked sausage, cabbage and pierogi.  Had I thought ahead even a teeny bit I might have mixed up pizza dough and left it to rise while we were running our errands.  It would have been a mere matter of minutes to heat the oven and top my dough with cheese and pepperoni.  It's not all convenience sort of foods per se that I mean to keep on hand but just easily prepared things that I might use in a tight time frame.

All in all, a good day.  I had the love of three lovely boys.  I'll try to remember tomorrow to see if I can get a decent photo of the picture of me that Isaac and Josh drew together.   Josh was putting hair on my head when Isaac said "Don't forget her earwings!"    So there I am with a lovely pursed mouth, short hair and 'earwings' on my ears and then Josh drew a picture of a house about me and a sign that read "Home Sweet Home".  

I expect today's mowing will be the last for these two homes here as temperatures are meant to slip down into the mid-40's over the weekend nights.  It's a reminder to me to push to get plant cuttings to root and gather the plants I hope to winter over together in a sheltered place...Tomorrow John plans to mow Katie's back yard and that should be the end of it for this year.  

 Thursday:  I did not want to get up this morning.  And I didn't.  Not for a whole 45 minutes after the alarm went off.  I was up in plenty of time to clear up the dishes I left last night and have a hot cup of tea before Caleb came in this morning.  He decided later to dip his hand into my hot coffee...It's a thing with him right now, sigh and the word 'hot' really hasn't any meaning to him.  John and Katie say he'll learn and he will but it pains me to have him learn these lessons on his own.  Then again, I've been battling that since my own children were small.  They do learn but wouldn't it be easier to just listen and not do things?

He has a new thing that just started today.  He barks and pants and crawls on his knees and is a dog.  About the cutest little dog I've ever seen!

No need to discuss the day.  Parts were okay and parts were difficult.  John went off to cut Katie's yard while I kept Caleb occupied more or less and finally put him down for a nap. I was so ready for a nap myself and closed my eyes and dozed off only to have John return as soon as I had.   

I thought, have thought all week long, that we were going to Warner Robins tonight for a men's meeting and I'd grocery shop.  For lunch today I made a bigger than usual lunch.  I did a leftover makeover of the Tandoori Chicken* that John had declared too spicy back in July and which I'd frozen.  You do know that freezing something spicy generally will enhance the spiciness?  I was sure that would happen and so I had planned to add some Coconut Milk to the yogurt sauce that originally seasoned the chicken thighs.  I cooked red, orange and yellow bell peppers with some onions then added in the last of the organic spinach I bought two weeks ago (which has lasted very well indeed and wasn't in the least mushy).   This made such a pretty sauce but a much thinner one than I wanted.  I decided to eat it as a soup with my chicken thighs, and left John the other two chicken thighs and enough of the vegetables in sauce to spoon over leftover rice*.    It was spicy but not hot spicy and to me was very tasty.   

I reheated the rice in the sauce when John came in and fixed him a plate.  He ate less than half of it and pushed the plate aside...so now you know what he thought of it.  

However, when it came time to get ready to go this afternoon John went to the church app to check what time the meeting started and we found it was next Thursday, not tonight.  Glad we found that out before we'd gotten ready to leave home but it changed the scenery so to speak.  I had nothing at all for supper because I was planning on stopping at McDonald's on my way to the grocery after dropping John off.   When I mentioned going ahead and doing the shopping, John vetoed it.  He was tired, he said I was tired (and I was but let me admit to it first otherwise you'll irritate me).  I had no supper plans and nothing thawed out.  Sounds like second verse to last night's supper song doesn't it?

I pulled things from the freezer and fridge and was just about to start the meal when John said a cheese sandwich would be fine.  Well it would be if I had enough cheese and if I'd had thawed bread.    In the end, after a bit of a misunderstanding between us, I went back to plan b instead of plans c and d and we had the Smoked Sausage, Cabbage, and Pierogi with apple slices.  It took roughly the same amount of time to make as last night's supper and that was starting from frozen with the sausage and pierogi.

I cleared up the kitchen ad started a load of dishes in the dishwasher.   I ought to have swept the floor, walked the compost outdoors to the compost heap and folded the shirts that I hung to dry in the laundry area but I admitted that I was tired to myself and quit.   I went off to take off my makeup and John looked at me when I came back and said  "Go lie down on the bed.  I'm going to rub your back..."  I very nearly protested but my lower back/hips have been aching since  I started lifting Caleb multiples of times a day.  I didn't know how bad all of my back ached until John started that massage.  The thing is when it was done, I felt as though I'd had a long nap.   

Friday:  The theme this week seems to be that I really don't want to rise when the alarm goes off.  I think next week I'll be kind to myself  and set it later.  I find that I still have plenty of time to get ready, do a quick chore or three and have coffee before Katie and Caleb arrive.

This morning, I unloaded the dishwasher and put away the dishes, stripped the bed and bath and started a load of washing, remade our bed and still had time shower and a coffee thrown into that, plus pulling up all the shades and putting out the barriers, etc.  I even got in some Bible study time.  It's not that I don't want to get things done before Caleb arrives, but a little extra sleep wouldn't come amiss either.  I'll see how fifteen minutes will do.

Caleb went down for an early nap today so it's iffy whether I'll have quiet space this afternoon.  Often he will go down for a nap but he might allow for a quiet time.  We shall all benefit from it if he does!

I plan to make pizza for lunch today.  I thawed dough from the freezer this morning.  I've hung one load of clothes on the line and folded two more ready to put away.   Oh by the way, when I stripped our bed this morning, I took off the summer coverlet and put on the heavy winter Matelasse quilt.  I figure with nights slipping into the 40's we'll be more than happy to have the heavier cover.

I pulled a frozen entree out to thaw for our supper.  We have a gathering to go to this evening.  Not enough time between Caleb's pick up and the event to get in grocery shopping, though I did try hard to figure out how I could manage both.  There's no hope for it.  I simply will have to go out on Saturday.  I'm going to try to push John to go early, like really early and get all done and come home...I'll just remind him how crazy a Saturday at any store can be.

That's our week and it was full.   I'm ready for a weekend, aren't you?  Ours won't be as restful as I'd like and next weekend will be a little busy too but that's the way it runs at times.  

How was your week?

(C) Terri Cheney