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.

My Word for 2020 is Savor 🌱 🌿🍃


verb
taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely.

noun
a characteristic taste, flavor, or smell, especially a pleasant one.

http://www.wordoftheyear.me/index.php

I have another word I’m going to be focusing on this year as well and that is reuse.

verb
use more than once.

noun
the action of using something again.

A chicken carcass cooked up and homemade chicken noodle soup for a cold, wintry day.

The babies of my mature hens and chicks plant from last spring.

I purchased and replanted the momma plant in May and had it in my patio garden all summer, fall, and part of our mild November. I really didn’t want to part with it so I harvested some of the babies and brought them inside. I’ve been watering them and providing sunlight and ventilation. They seem to be doing fine–they’re in loose sandy airy soil with some gravel underneath them. We shall see if I can make this work and perhaps not have to buy another expensive hens and chicks plant this spring.

2019 was an exhausting year for me and really our household. Between looking at houses to possibly move to, working full-time +, keeping up my volunteer hours, writing, reviewing books, gardening, and social media, I was kept way too busy. Then mid-year I developed a health issue due to a lifelong issue and spent the rest of the year in pain, worried, and worn out.. A part of me even at 55 still feels like I haven’t accomplished anything unless I’m completely worn out at the end of any given day. I almost always choose finishing up work, projects, or home tasks before I take a break or go do something fun. Even with my health issue I never missed work, never really rested beyond my nightly sleep, and continued working/volunteering/putting in 60 hour work weeks. Upon year’s end I sat down and took inventory of my life/schedule/hobbies/ etc. and made some changes.

Both this year and last via social media all I see are people equally burnt out, worn out, and looking for simplicity. Though I’m not much for social media, I do love taking pictures and keeping up with friends and accounts I follow that I really like on IG. Most people I follow –maybe 99% are selling something and relying on internet sales for their income.  I am very thankful I don’t have to do that anymore.  Back in the old days I used to create web pages/sites for income and maintained PowerSeller status for ten years on eBay.  Between the competition, and costs, and self-marketing/advertising every day was a challenge. Thinking back though nothing like things are today. I loved it and made many friends all over the world selling on eBay.

Today is very different in the online/internet world. Competition is fierce and things change fast, and people change their minds fast, and are distracted a lot, and definitely trying  100% of the time to stay relevant. Not too long ago, after I hadn’t sold anything online for maybe a year or more, I got an email from someone I’d sold something to 2 years before that. I’m not sure exactly what was going on but she wanted to know if she’d bought anything recently from me and for me to send her an invoice and she’d pay it. She apologized profusely for not taking care of it right away. I of course had no idea what she was talking about but did have her name in my eBay sales contacts as someone I’d shipped something to. We finally figured out that she had ordered from someone else more recently and just hadn’t checked her purchases and finding just any name in her email account she began emailing sellers so she could pay her bill. She had been so busy online that she hadn’t had time to check her email account in several months. Busy people. Things like this happen all the time and the main reason for it is people are distracted, too busy, and most of all competing/keeping up with/updating their status with someone or something online–usually connected to social media. 

So back to my end of year inventory–I decided to:

  • cut down on social media
  • not move and not look for out-of-state home until 2021
  • look at local homes for sales in 2020
  • volunteer at places more local to me
  • smaller patio garden
  • less blogging

More time for savoring every moment of my life! Until next time –be well ✨❄️

 

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.

 

 

 

Turkey Dinner for 12 & gratitude printable

This week I found a fantastic printable that I copied onto my chalkboard.
givethanks5x7

Source for printable–  & may I say that I just love this blog-All Things Bright and Beautiful

Well folks, its Thanksgiving week already. Where does the time go? My husband and I went shopping this past weekend to avoid the big rush and purchased a ton (it sure felt like it) of food. We helped friends host family members and a deer hunter get-together and helped feed over 40 people for 3 days. On top of that we finished our Christmas shopping, painted the bathroom, picked out new carpeting and both worked overtime at our full-time jobs. But oh the reward of the big feast all weekend. I made a lot of homemade sloppy- joes, bbq’d what seemed like an endless supply of brats and baked 6 pies. Now after another full week of work, we’ll be doing it all over again come Thursday. It’s very rewarding to cook for people who love to eat and we are extremely grateful to have friends and loved ones near us throughout the Thanksgiving and holiday season. I’m thankful to know such wonderful people not only through work, but through living in this area and through the various organizations we volunteer for. It’s  really a labor of love to entertain the special people in our life.

For Thanksgiving dinner there will be 12 people give or take 5 more. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of food and also some leftovers as well as something here and there to send home with everyone. So I perused the internet until I found some pointers about how much food to prepare for 12 people. I will be the main cook/hostess so it’s all on me. Here’s what I found at Taste of Home .   I think we nailed it with what we bought and have on hand- I currently have two 20-pound turkeys defrosting in the refrigerator and I’ll be baking 1-13# ham.  We’ll be having sides of mashed, rice and stuffing, along with cauliflower, squash, brussels sprouts, corn and sweet potatoes. We will have both veggie and fruit trays for before the meal and cookie and cake trays after the meal. The desserts are yet to be decided, I’m thinking cheesecake, pie and creme brulee . On Wednesday, after work, I’ll be making the homemade bread and rolls. Having a lot of people for dinner isn’t new to us but this is the first Thanksgiving I’ve cooked alone for more than 10 people.

Until next time, I wish all of my readers a wonderful Thanksgiving day(if you celebrate the day)and as always until next time–be safe and be well.

fabulous-thanksgiving-hanging-mantel-decoration_white-pumpkin-ornament_old-scale-pumpkin-stand-holder_thanksgiving-wall-banner_wooden-frame