What did we spend our stimulus on?

That’s the question everyone’s asking everyone–or almost everyone around here. So I’ll tell you what we spent ours on. First let me say, we were not in the position like many hundreds of thousands of people where we had back rent to pay or we were in the position of having to go without eating to pay the light bill. We are fortunate people in that we both have jobs that kept us working, we do not have children–yes we do have a high maintenance pet, but other than ourselves and him to provide for that’s it. We are in good health. So, no doctor bills, co-pays, er trips, or other things to stress over health-wise at this time. Neither of us are on medication which at least at my age is a miracle. And for that I’m also grateful and take absolutely nothing for granted. We would never have been able to not pay our rent–it’s just that simple. In the area we live in there is basically nothing halfway decent to rent. The apartments we live in are the best one can get vs. absentee landlords/bad neighbors or neighborhoods units otherwise available in this small town. If you think that means we live in a brand new spacious unit–we do not. The building we live in is almost 30 years old and really needs an update. High rent, a nice view for us, but absolutely no way we could have not paid rent even if it was the law and risk eviction when all was said and done. So, I’m thankful our jobs kept us working throughout because that was our number one priority. With our rent comes heat, water, garbage pickup, and a garage. We are lucky to have something that provides our heat in the winter for us.

A lot of people struggled with getting Covid-19 or having a family member get it and miss work or lose their job altogether or worse. We are ever so grateful that we’ve been in good health throughout. No Covid-19 tests–thank goodness– because we’ve never exposed ourselves or been exposed to it that we know of–we’ve always followed all the protocols/laws. For some that probably hasn’t worked, but thankfully for us it has. In saying that I mean my husband has wore a mask and gloves to work everyday and every single person at his work, including most of management, has had Covid 19 or been in quarantine because of being exposed. Many of his co-workers have avoided stores and restaurants etc. because of mask mandates, but we’ve enjoyed shopping and meals out and many other activities with requirements of social distancing/masks since last spring. Again, neither of us getting sick, missing work, or having to be quarantined. Masking up doesn’t bother us in the least (we’ve traveled in countries where masking is essential as soon as the annual flu season starts) and for us–we’re living proof that something we’ve been doing is working.

Both of us will be one of the last to receive the vaccine because we’re both healthy, we both have food allergies and we’re both allergic to penicillin. In the case of penicillin I’m not sure it matters, but right now our physician has told us to wait and see. Neither of us has ever had a flu shot–I won’t ever get one either for personal reasons, but we will submit eventually to the vaccine because we intend on traveling and I’m sure it will be mandatory at some point for that.

We did not expect the stimulus check any of the times that it arrived. Let’s just say we had our doubts and just didn’t plan on it. We lost money in our 401K when the pandemic first hit and we used money out of our savings for essentials when we were on lock down and everything but the local stores and online closed. We bought canned goods just like most people who could afford them and stocked up on non-perishables that were going out of stock. We didn’t go crazy for toilet paper–I actually purchased a bidet that fastens to the toilet and it’s worked great! We recently donated all the can goods (24 cans of various veggies) that we bought during the first stay at home/lock down of 2020 to our local food pantry. All the cans had been kept clean and safe and most had two years before they expired. It may sound quite privileged to some that I won’t eat processed or canned foods, but I won’t. I also don’t want my husband eating them. That said with all of the uncertainty last year we bought some things reserved if the end of days came lol. They did not so we donated them right away this year to our local food pantry.

So, getting back to the stimulus checks we weren’t counting on. When they came we held on to the first two not knowing what was to come regarding vaccines, worse economy, work, etc. Of course like everyone else our amounts were based on the financial thresholds set by the government. We were paying our bills and affording food and when January 2021 hit we were both working overtime to play catch up with our savings, retirement, and things we need to take care of in 2021. We both know how privileged we are to have jobs and to have kept working and not have to pray the stimulus bills passed. So when the last one did we added it to the first two and put some into our savings that was drained some by purchasing masks and gloves and foodstuffs and the rest went to:

CSA share-bi weekly from a local farmer (veggies throughout summer/fall)

1/4 hog local farmer (14-15 packages of pork)

Share in the community garden (small plot)

Money donated to our PD K-9 department

Gifts for different occasions throughout the year–local shops

Donation of two copies of a local author’s cookbook to local library

Personal purchase of cookbook by local author

Meal out at a local restaurant

Donation of $ to local food pantry

Donation of $ to our church for families/individuals in need (rent assistance fund)

Donation of $ to a local shelter for victims of domestic violence

Donation of bird seed to a local park/rec area

Had Covid 19 never happened the things we donated to and have now taken part in would have been paid for out of our pockets from wages earned. We have donated to the places above for years, just not every year, and sometimes just what we could afford.

We know we could have paid extra on bills or bought things for ourselves or apartment/future house but we did not because as I said above it was money we never planned on. Although we’ve been affected by Covid-19 like everyone else to one degree or another we have been working overtime to make up for some of the financial loss. We’re happy we’ve been able to help others with some of the money we received. We are looking forward to receiving veggies from the CSA we joined and some fresh pork from a local farmer. In our minds putting some of that money toward organic food was once again an investment in our health as well as helping to keep the local farmers that have provided for us in years past in business. For us and for them–win win!

So, that’s how we spent our stimulus money!

Have a great weekend friends and enjoy the lovely spring weather if you can.

Be safe and be well! 🐝

What’s New–harvesting lemons, time for a haircut, container gardening

We got this lovely charcuterie board, featured in our cover picture, for our anniversary in February and finally I’ve found a reason to use it!  I was going to wait until we had guests around and drape it with meat and cheese, but decided to show off the lemons we’ve grown.  Every year our tree gives us a few more–this year was no exception.  I believe it’s been about eight years since we started our lemon tree from seed.

You can see our lemon tree and get a delicious Ina Garten recipe for Lemon Napoleons here  

Our friends purchased our charcuterie board at Macy’s at Christmas time –I don’t see it on the site anymore, but you can buy it on Amazon  here for $45.00  (not an affiliate link).

So let’s get down to what’s new around here, it’s been awhile.

Container garden 2020 is in–this year I have:

  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • french lavender
  • marigolds
  • bee balm
  • fuschia
  • lamb’s ear
  • hibiscus
  • tomatoes
  • pumpkins
  • green beans
  • carrots
  • peonies
  • and
  • a pepper plant
  • sunflower
  • zinnias

I’ll have to take some more pictures, I’ve been doing more videos lately than picture taking–so I’ll get them up in my next post.

Well, it’s been three months since my last haircut and though I survived just fine it’s time to venture out to where I get my hair done–less than a 1/2 mile from home, mask up and get it done. Good thing is it’s just a haircut and like everyone in the state she has guidelines to follow, to which  I know she will, and my hair which is now shaggy and shoulder-length will get a long overdue cut. Salons have been open for awhile here. I’ve just been putting it off–but with precautions taken I will be just fine. Thankfully our state is starting to come down in its numbers which is a promising sign for all of us.

Meat is still expensive–nearly 4 times the regular cost and some meat not at market at all. We cannot get roasting chickens from Just Bare–there are none to be had. The brand of lunch meat my husband eats is also not available as well as certain sausages, bacon, or ham. I still cannot find clorox wipes, but have found gloves for sale (5X reg. price) masks for sale (1.00 a piece) which for now isn’t a bad price–both at Walmart. Still to this day I cannot order toilet paper, paper towel, masks, cleaning products, gloves, or certain foodstuffs online.

That’s what is new around here–summer is almost here, the heat is starting, parks are overcrowded, very few people following any guidelines since the beginning around here, sadness all around the world in the news, and a lot of hurting. The world needs healing and I pray wherever you are you are safe and well.

Until next time here is our boy watching out over his territory–which includes birds of all kind, rabbits, other cats, neighbor dogs, and a muskrat!

Stocking your Pantry

First let me say–Happy Spring, Hello April, and How is everyone doing?

Second–Here is my Pantry Essentials List

Third –here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • When something scary/unknown/ unique/ health /or weather related happens in the world the first things to go are water, toilet paper, bread, flour, wipes, and over the counter medications.
  • Even though I don’t like to eat processed food, canned veggies, and junk food–I still need to have some on hand for pandemics/ and or events that cause the power to go out.
  • To use absolutely everything up–not to throw one single thing or one single serving away. And big tip–most expiration dates are not concrete dates when item goes bad. We just got done eating Yoplait yogurt that was 4 days past expiry.  We lived.
  • With consideration to finances and necessity always stock the pantry with staples-flour, sugar, yeast, brown sugar, salt, b. powder/soda, beans, rice, and pasta. All very affordable and long-lasting in the best of times and hard to find in the worst. Thank goodness I had just stocked my pantry up for the year in January with our annual trip to Sam’s. Also-canned or packaged shelf-stable meats esp. now considering there may soon be a meat shortage.
  • I can shove things all over in the refrigerator and freezer wherever they fit vs. everything in its place, straight, front facing >> Martha Stewart inspired.  🙂
  • Meals don’t need to be meat, potato, veggies, and dessert. Sometimes they can be reheated pancakes, lunch meat that needed to be used up (yes, I cringed at this impromptu meal idea), and bananas/ peanut butter that needed to be used up. We lived.
  • I can let go of my rigid attitude about shopping for our groceries and let a personal shopper at Walmart do it for me. Sometimes!
  • Look around for news I can trust. Mainstream news is way, way too conflicted.

The “experts” cannot seem to agree on whether or not a second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic will occur this coming fall. What that means for us, if we manage to flatten the curve, and businesses and production can get up to speed sometime this summer, is that you and I need to begin building a good solid supply of goods/pantry essentials and create our plan b for fall.

For my entire marriage (25 and counting years) we have been bulk buyers and pantry stocker’s. Since the pandemic hit a lot of people look at people like myself as hoarders. We have never hoarded anything …. even now we are not hoarding. Plus–if you live in the Midwest like I do there are certain things you always have in stock in your home just in case of a blizzard–yeast for baking bread, toilet paper, Tylenol, rice, beans, ingredients for making cookies, popcorn, rice krispie bars. Am I right? That said food security has been and always will be our family’s #1 priority. We do not have smart phones–we’ve never had them. We have flip phones and very reluctantly pay $90.00/mo for them. If and when I can find reliable, less expensive cell service, I will definitely switch. As is, we’ve been with US Cellular 17 years under the exact same plan 🙂

Also, our priorities don’t include new, or new to us cars. We’ve driven the same Saturn for 14 years which has just 130 k miles on it–because we also don’t go very far from home very much. Work, groceries, and home year after year because it is all we can afford to do. We have gone on a few trips, even a couple abroad, by saving air miles through a card we carry loyalty rewards and bonus money. Had we no miles and no bonus we would never have afforded a trip anywhere here or overseas. We also gave up cable television –no television or television programs; even local channels, almost 20 years ago and no landline for 17 years. Lots of money saved just by giving up those two luxuries..

Our lifestyle is very simple. We live simple, dress fairly simply, eat simple local food, and really and truly don’t want for much. A luxury for us is an ice cream cone and date night at Walmart… lol

Our life wasn’t always simple. In the beginning of our marriage (many moons ago) we were driven by necessity or rather lack of money, job instability, and a family arrangement gone wrong–basically forced to live as simply and inexpensively as possible. After about 15 years it kind of stuck and we’ve been living that way ever since. It’s not to say we don’t have unexpected expenses, or emergencies, or times money is really tight.

Our lifestyle is such that now 25+ years later we can pay all our bills, save a little, put some in retirement, and still have a little left over for renting a movie and getting an ice cream cone!  Moving forward through the uncertain times to come and doing so wisely is going to take money, skill, and resourcefulness.

My best advice for anyone is to slowly and gently start to build a pantry of non-perishables and if you can>>> find yourself a farmer. There are many farms all over the U.S. growing produce, eggs, milk and meat. Start right now or as soon as possible building a relationship with one. Plant a garden if you have space–plant enough to freeze, can, and share with a neighbor.

If you can– use any stimulus money you get to make sure your bills are paid, high interest credit card payments made, some into savings, and the rest toward supplies little by little.

Financially speaking my opinion along with several other accountants/analysts/ financial folk is we will see a recession within the next year. Whether the current crisis throws us into a recession or inflation does– life will be different for every one of us. Restarting our country will be done in steps–spread out across many weeks/months. Nothing will ever be like it was, or very little, once we go back out into the world and start living as we once did in it.

Whatever comes and really know one can really tell us with 100% accuracy– we will make it. Plan, prepare, and be resourceful!

Until next time–stay safe and be well.

What are you grateful for today?

Today I’m grateful for “having little bits and bobs of food in our refrigerator & freezer from which I can put together simple, easy, and inexpensive meals.” 

Today was a major cleaning/organizing day of which I cleaned out our refrigerator, pantry, and freezers. I found a couple pounds of ground beef and used one pound to make the following meals below. We aren’t big meat eaters which is a good thing especially now as the shelves are bare of it, locally. We ate the stuffed peppers tonight because they don’t freeze well for me and we’ll be eating the meatball cup stuffed w/ mashed potato this weekend. I made the cheeseburger pasta and Swedish meatball pasta without the pasta noodles and froze them for another day. When I decide to use them I will make fresh pasta.

#1 of ground beef = four meals for two Voila!

  • Cheeseburger pasta
  • Taco stuffed peppers
  • Swedish meatball pasta
  • Mashed potato stuffed meatball cups

The video below shows each dish using a pound of ground beef but I decided to get all four dishes out of 1#. With the cheeseburger pasta I will use more pasta, the taco peppers just more corn and beans, the Swedish meatball pasta more pasta, and I made less meatballs for the mashed potato stuffed meatball cups but we still got two each and had a side of mashed potatoes to go with them.

^**all recipes by Tasty–here is a great video showing how to make each dish.

Today’s Tip- fill up on healthy food right now–eat as much produce as you can afford, are able to purchase, and can work into your daily meal plan. Now more than ever you need to eat as clean as possible and limit your sweets to the bare minimum. There is no time like the present to eat like your grandparents once did by focusing on healthy foods, which are still more affordable than processed food, and eliminating sweets from your diet except for on special occasions. Eating sugar in general causes us to want more sugar–hence bad carbs.  Right now the only food I still see in the market that is plentiful is produce. If your diet has a lot of breads, cookies and cakes you are setting yourself up for hunger cravings.  Unfortunately, you will probably choose something with sugar in it to satisfy your hunger. It won’t. (As a reformed sugar addict I know all of this only too well). A great site that discusses sugar addiction and it’s connection to anxiety and health issues here

If this virus has made anything clear to us at all it is mortality is higher if you have comorbidities. This virus is especially hard on those with respiratory problems, diabetes, and heart disease.  Sweets in our diet to the excess I see so many people ingesting them = diabetes and most likely heart disease.  Read, paint, exercise, learn a second or third language,  clean, organize, plant a garden. There’s never been a better time than now to learn how to eat healthier and get in shape for summer.

Today I am thankful for:  🌼🌸💜🌼

  • the lessons I’m learning in no waste/reheating and reusing/conservative meal planning.
  • that I am responding to the current crisis rather than reacting–I am in plan and prepare mode vs. emotional basket case.
  • my husband who as an essential worker (for now) still goes to work every day with a smile on his face knowing he may contract the virus.
  • thankful that I remember in all of this that I must be strong because my husband needs me to be.
  • I’m thankful to the nurses, doctors, researchers, lab technicians, Emts, law enforcement officers, firefighters, truck drivers, grocery store/retail employees, factory workers, USPS, UPS, FedEx, delivery people–so many others, clerks, farmers, food suppliers, business owners and so many others that I’ve probably forgotten who are on the front line- taking care of us.
  • an Organic CSA that we were members of this past fall still had carrots and sweet potatoes available and we were able to pick up 4# of each today.

The shelves are still pretty bare in the local grocery store and local Walmart’s which can be nerve-wracking. A lot of local people initially didn’t believe this virus was as serious as it is and when suddenly the Shelter at Home order went out it was panic city. We don’t go to the grocery store anymore instead opting for grocery pick up only.  First off,  I can’t get over how friendly and helpful the Walmart staff and local grocery store employees have been. It’s been hard for me to hand over the reins of grocery shopping to someone else. I am the ultimate control freak/diva/micro-manager of our food budget-meal plan-head cook and bottle washer. My perception of ripe banana vs. most is not the same thing at all. That said everything has been just fine. I said no substitutes on lunch meat last week–they did anyways and it worked out but no charge.  So I’m learning to be less rigid with things like this and let some of the super duper micromanaging stress go.

At the end of this crisis I will no doubt, as you will, be changed and in some respects a whole lot more prepared for whatever comes next. We are all getting the experience we need and the training first hand on how we will come together, unify, and fight to survive -be it climate change, disasters, pandemics, whatever it is.

But it isn’t pretty– and it really is too early to be sure on silver linings.  At this point my husband and I have lost thousands in his 401 k. This year I was  all set to start one with the company I work for –but that likely will not happen. Either will our move and maybe not having our own home right now is a good thing? Hard to tell at this point. I take calls all day from colleagues and clients asking what I think about the current economy, what’s going to happen, is it as bad as they say? I’m at a loss for answers to any of it–I have degrees in both business and finance and maybe should be able to tell them something? But this crisis is different from any other and it is too soon for me–an accountant at present to form any type of opinion or to answer their questions with any kind of true accuracy. In time I hope to be able to help them as best I can. One thing is for sure everyone, except maybe the very rich, will have financial problems of some kind once this is all over with.

This week hubby and I are embracing “hearts in the window” for all the scavenger hunters in the area, and also putting up a set of Christmas lights as a sign of hope.  ❤

Resources–Things to do for free!

NetGalley— a great site you can register on for free and become a book reviewer. It’s a great time– to read books and help an author.

Recyclebank–a great site where for free you can earn points by taking recycling quizzes and then use the points to get free magazines and other cool items.

Quarantine/self-distancing/shelter at home bucket list:

  • Phone a friend
  • Send hopeful upbeat emails to your contacts.
  • Take pictures/make videos.
  • Read-catch up or start a new hobby–audible books are free right now.
  • Learn to cook one new thing–or learn to cook.
  • Do that one thing or two that you never find time to do.
  • Try watercolor painting–this is what I’m putting on my bucket list.
  • Fix the things in your house you now have time to fix.
  • Snuggle
  • Play with your pet.
  • Wash your windows–it’s spring!
  • Start your garden seedlings–that’s what I’m doing.
  • Read a poem out loud.
  • Clean and organize closets and all your stuff–get things ready for garage sales, sell on Poshmark, eBay, give away and more.

Before I end my post here are a few things I learned or learned to do this week:

  • save coffee not drank and rewarm the next day–first time and it was just as wonderful day two.
  • learned to eat stale bread because we don’t have the option to throw the ends of the bread away–and I probably won’t ever throw them away again!
  • settled myself for the road ahead one day, and sometimes, one hour at a time–no one knows what’s to come. I’d rather go into things far less stressed and far more rested.
  • prayed more than once a day.
  • stretched a pound of ground beef into four meals.
  • took breaks away from news–helped keep my anxiety down.
  • tried not to feel so guilty for being able to work from home–I know how incredibly lucky I am to have a remote job.
  • looked around in my surroundings searching for little things to be happy or comforted by–hubby watching the birds, our cat cozying with his toys (babies), robins singing at 6:00 am, quiet freeway–just semi’s on it for the most part, and green grass poking through–soon the dandelions.

Until next time stay safe and be well.

Source

 

Easy Christmas Cookie recipes and What’s Ahead in 2020!

Italian Lemon Cookie recipe is  here

Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is here

I haven’t started baking yet, but will the second weekend of this month. I have thankfully purchased all the ingredients and can’t wait to try them! Something a little different for the holidays to go along with the thumbprint and sugar cookies I always bake.

What’s Happening with my blog in 2020?

I started my blog in 2009 as an outlet from all the school work I  was always doing–I was in my second year of college and needed a hobby or? something to de-stress and get myself involved in that wasn’t school or work. I decided to blog about my food journey because we were about five years into changing up our lifestyle and I thought that would be fun to blog about..

My blog posts were private for three, maybe four years? Then one day I decided to make some of them public and eventually my blog went public and I began to receive feedback for some of my posts and the rest as they say is history. Through the years this blog hasn’t changed much–at least it doesn’t feel like it. My posts have almost always centered around food, or foraging, or recipes, meals, farmer’s markets, and gardening.

I had zero goals for my blog–it stayed a place for me to write and share what I’d learned about any given subject but mostly those mentioned above.

Through the years I’ve made some great friends, I think learned to write better( better grammar, punctuation, and better story-telling) had a couple of my essays make it to food research/resource sites, and been lucky to have had over 100 followers (40 added just this year) which to some may seem like nothing but to me means an awful lot.  I feel so thankful that people hit the follow button on my blog which really has never been more than my journal and followed along. Thank you!

Through feeling more confident about writing, I began to do something that had always been a dream of mine and that was writing book reviews. I’ve shared several on the blog. From those experiences I’ve been contacted by publishing companies and authors and now regularly join author book launches, which are a lot of work, and read for publishing companies and authors an average of 5 books a month and write reviews. This is not paid work mind you, which is fine for now, and may someday (I hope) be compensated. That said I work full-time, run a household, have volunteer work, and a pet that has special needs filling up my time as well.

My blog has helped me in several ways meet my dream of being a book reviewer.  So I’m not throwing in the towel completely.  I will continue to blog now and then–returning here when there are container garden pictures to share, and our forever gardens some day soon we hope–once we move, farmer’s market hauls, and a recipe or two. Here and there it will contain a book review  of mine –most likely any cookbooks and/or food related books I review. 

I feel my blog as it has been for the last few years has come to an end.  I’ve always put a lot into every post I’ve written even when it was just me reading my posts. Once I started getting followers I imagined we’d talk passionately about all things food related until all hours of the night–but that never happened. That’s o.k.  I still made friends and found great blogs to follow and I’m thankful for what has come out of it.

So with that my friends I say–  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I’ll see you again at some point in 2020 with a new blog post.

 

 

 

Fall is fast approaching–harvest then cleanup—100 tomatoes this year! 🐛🍅🍅

Happy First Day of Fall!! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁

Lots of pumpkins in the store to choose from!!

I bought a hubbard squash and a white, green blue, and orange pumpkin. I plan to carve them out and then feed them while still fresh to the birds and other outside critters.

Last photos of this years container garden–

Last of my tomatoes ripening–

Last summer Farmer’s market haul–

Some pretty good food cooking with fresh produce–

Some interesting things I learned with this years container garden were pretty interesting. I started with three tomato plants planted in organic soil. I bought the plants at a nursery that I’ve been buying plants at for years. I also spent $34 on a large geranium plant that looked dead by day two on my deck. After a careful inspection I found two of the plants in the geranium bush to be rotten so  I replanted the entire large geranium plant. I then went out and purchased two tomato plants from Home Depot and two tomato plants from Walmart of which I did not plant in organic soil. A few weeks later I purchased some herbs and a single geranium plant. Once the flowers were on all my tomato plants I was pretty sure I was going to be seeing some amazing results. A short time later all the plants I’d purchased from my favorite nursery were dead and I was down to five tomato plants, some herbs, and my geranium plant. These plants were planted in potting soil called Expert Gardener and it’s sold at Walmart. It must work great for everyone else too, because it was always sold out when I went in to purchase more. By summer’s end my tomato plants produced over 100 tomatoes—mostly salad and cherry tomatoes. My geranium is still blooming, my herbs were absolutely awesome this year. My butterfly bush and the tropical flower I bought in June are thriving–prettiest hardiest plants ever and to think both were basically dead when I bought them! So mixed feelings on all this as I spent an incredible amount of money on nursery plants and organic soil and had zero results.  On top of that in years gone by having spent an enormous amount of money on fertilizers, soil, and such also very little in the way of production. Yes this year I had more plants so rightly so more tomatoes—in years gone by I had two to three plants and they produced between 10-20 cherry tomatoes in total. I have a lot to think about going forward. This was my last year for growing tomatoes on our deck. We will have one more spring here as our move has been delayed by the health issue I’ve been dealing with all summer. I am getting better but it is slow going. Next year’s garden will be mostly flowers for bees and bush beans!!

That’s it for gardening.

Stayed tuned for my next post about School & Farm : country living in the 70’s.

 

Summertime on the farm in the 1970s

If you drove past our farm in the 1970s you would have seen two things right away in our front yard–my dad’s old B (John Deere) and our tree swing.

Summer in the 1970s was a time of absolutely nothing to keep us indoors except sickness– and even that didn’t do it sometimes. Mother would be hard pressed at days end to get us indoors as we were so busy running around in the dark, feet wet from dew, chasing lightning bugs and scaring each other. Whether it was bike riding on gravel backroads, riding to the store and buying lollies, or dipping my toes in a wading pool or better yet running through the sprinkler–seventies summers were the real thing. –A time period now only revived for period piece sitcoms or movies.  One none of us will ever really experience together again except in memory– of growing up on our family farm and summertime in the 1970s.

I grew up in a valley full of farming families in the 1970s. A time where television meant one channel for us, if we were lucky, and if our antennae wasn’t acting up due to wind—weather was our televisions greatest enemy in the 70s. Of course we only got NBC which for the most part had lots, and lots of sports–not our family’s favorite thing. Saturday mornings, bugs bunny, and after school specials were a highlight for us. We lived thirteen miles from the nearest town which for years had just a mercantile not an actual grocery store. There you could only buy the staples and most of them were limited or outdated. So we would drive over the hill and through the woods to another small town and buy groceries—again from a mercantile but this one actually had stocked shelves and a butcher shop in back. I have great memories of walking the wood plank floors of this stores three aisles and eyeballing the large barrels full of candy at checkout. If we were good we’d be allowed to go into the Rexall across the street and I’d happily browse the magazine racks–my favorite thing, buy the newest Tiger Beat, and a pack of gum if I had any change left over. On Sundays if my dad could find some free time we would take a drive up to this same town and get rootbeer floats at the local A& W.

Life in any year, every generation, has had its hardships and the 70s was no exception. Farming had some rough patches in the 70s and money was tight the whole while I was growing up. My dad had two farms, which was quite a bit of land for a small scale farmer, milk cows, beef cattle, and crops to put in and then harvest seven months out of the year. We didn’t take vacations, but sometimes we would drive to see something of interest–clock museum, steam engine museum and parade, historical marker–things like that would take all of us from the farm on a Sunday afternoon and give dad a break. An ice cream cone, hamburger, or a rootbeer float was always our treat before we headed back home.

Food in the 70s was not at all what food has been for the last 40-50 years. For most people there was no such thing as fast food. I was 18 when they built the first McDonald’s in one of the larger cities we visited to buy school supplies every year. School supplies another favorite memory of mine–also, when Levis first came out in this city and we all took a trip into it to this large warehouse style store and asked to see a pair of Levi jeans. I remember the store was owned by a family and two brothers worked in sales. When we asked to see a pair the one brother whipped out a measuring tape, measured my waist, and then from a large stack of denim jeans tossed a folded pair at me. That was all there was to it–no changing rooms at all. If they were too long, and they were, then you got your mom or grandma to hem them for you. School supplies were purchased at Osco Drug which was right next door. In grade school I think crayons, pencils, and an eraser were probably all we were required to bring. Once in high school we were then required a notebook for each class, book covers for the textbooks handed out, and pencils.

Back to 70s food- there was absolutely no such thing as prepared food until around 1979/1980. I remember this because our neighbors, whom I babysat for, began to purchase microwaves and Banquet chicken/pot pies/ and chicken dinners were introduced in local grocery stores. I loved Banquet chicken !! My mother probably had a microwave by the time I graduated high school, but never ever bought tv dinners or Banquet chicken to microwave in it. She likely used it to warm up tea or coffee as I honestly don’t ever remember it being used for anything else. Prepared foods were frowned upon by most if you were home and able to cook (as you always had been cooking) with staples, items from your garden, and of course your local butcher shop to supply you with everything you needed.

Once our garden started producing supper meals were sliced tomatoes still warm from the summer sun, cantaloupe, mac salad, and Wyler’s lemonade. When strawberries were in season there was lots of sliced berries, angel food cake, and of course everyone’s favorite–strawberry jello with sliced strawberries and cool whip on top. Lunch when we were younger was whenever we could hear my dad coming down the hill by our farm on his tractor. If it was a hot, humid day, he’d be standing up on his tractor all the way down the hill until he pulled into the driveway. Once or twice a summer my grandma and mom would put on a spread out on our picnic table and everyone would eat supper together outside. There would be a cold cut plate with cheese, white bread with butter, strawberry jello, pickles–usually watermelon pickles, and mac or potato salad. As a treat maybe a bag of plain Old Dutch potato chips. Mom would put a can of budweiser in the fridge for dad with a couple of cans of rootbeer for us to share.  Sometimes as a treat she would buy cones for ice cream cones and we would get one or two scoops of butter pecan, or neopolitan, or just plain vanilla. These were simple times and treats like this were a real luxury. Another treat was popcorn which wasn’t made very often, but when it was there were smiles all around. We tried making it in saucepans, air poppers–but what finally worked was when Jiffy made the popcorn you placed on the stove burner and moved back and forth until all the kernels were popped.

Life though busy was a slowed down version of life today. Our phone rang when one of the elders wanted to gossip. In the early days when I was nine or ten years old we still had the party line. There were certain rings that indicated when the call was for you. I’m not sure anyone ever went by that as all I remember was mom or grandma picking the phone up and then setting it back in its cradle right away. The phone was used for emergencies only unless as I said someone rang you. In our house the radio was on all the time and on a channel were there was non-stop grain reports, country music, and Paul Harvey at dinner time. By the way dinner time was the noon meal, supper was the evening meal, and lunch was the sandwich and milk dad grabbed before he went down to milk both in morning and evening.

Night time in the summer in our valley was a delightful orchestra of whipporwill, distant hound dogs barking, sometimes our dog barking, peepers (sometimes bull frogs), and cows mooing lowly. The smells ranged from fresh cut hay, to grain, to soil, rain/river, and manure. All of which I miss to this day. Every time I smell fresh cut hay I’m back home looking out my bedroom window planning my future self/life all the while smelling hay, hearing peepers, sleeping by whipporwill, and rising with the sound of a tractor start.

Just before school started it was fair time. I was in 4-H and always entered flowers, baked goods, and something from the garden. My grandma often helped me with the flower arranging and mom with the baked good. The fair was usually held a week or two before school started so if we got new clothing–which was rare, we sometimes wore it to the fair. With our new Levis, when they came into fashion, one would avoid all stains etc. as you didn’t want to wash them before the first day of school. Washing them would take some of the denim dye out and also make them less stiff–stiff dark denim was a thing once upon a time with no fringes, no holes, and absolutely no wear ! lol The fair was bright lights, lots of noise, ferris wheels, 4-H ribbons, trying to win big teddy bears– I always won the stuffed banana, and eating cotton candy. Oh and stopping in the 4-h barn for a hamburger and boy watching–lots of boy watching. Innocent, easy, summer time fun.

These are my memories of growing up on a farm and summer in the 1970s.