Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Birthday Season

Saturday:  Up super early to greet Caleb.  He was in good form and happy to see the goggy.  River had come to the house early, too, and was standing there wagging her tail when he arrived.   We did pretty well.  He took a nap and woke about the time the big kids all arrived.  

And then every one arrived at once, the pace was hectic and frantic and party-ish and on and on and then suddenly it was over.    Everyone went home.  John and I got a cup of coffee, breathed a deep sigh of happiness and relief.   It had been another grand party with only minor little disasters (Caleb discovered cake left behind and was feeding handfuls of it to himself and Millie.  Isaac sat in frosting, someone's glass fell from the table but that's why we use plastic cups...) 

Sunday:  John and I up early to go off to the first service at church.   Before we left home this morning, I gathered trash to go to the dumpsters, made our bed, and cooked a squash casserole and peach cobbler.  When we came home all I had to do was heat the chicken and we called Katie to bring the children and come on.

After lunch, Taylor and I played with Barbies.  Then we settled before the computer and chose a new packet of clothes.  This one has bathing suits and pants and shirts and shorts.  Taylor liked that bit of shopping...and Gramma got a good idea of some things she might like come Christmastime this year.

We colored together and then it was time for her to leave.   I kept Caleb.  No need of him making that three hour long trip up and back.  He played and played here.   At one point, John lay down on the floor to watch TV and Caleb wandered over to him and laid his head on his shoulder and patted his back.   We were eating supper when his Mommy came back.  I took him off to bathe him while she cut John's hair and then we all said goodbye and Caleb went home to go to bed.  He was one tired little boy but he called to me when I said goodbye "I Lalu".    I'm telling you...grandchildren just lift my heart high!

Monday:  Up early this morning and waited patiently for John to get ready to go to the house in town where we were meant to do yard work today.    Over the past few months some big yard jobs were started.  Shrubbery was pulled up from in front of and down the driveway side of the house.   A LOT of tree limbs were cut down on the driveway side and in the back yard.   However, the task of cleaning up sort of got stuck.    The house has looked pretty sorry for months upon months now.  

John wasn't ready to leave our house until nearly 9.  It was already hot and I knew the front yard where I was meant to be working, was going to be in full sun by that time.  I went to work with a very good intention of completely clearing one flower bed in it's entirety but it was more work than I'd anticipated and I pooped out after two hours.  It looked not one bit better than it had done when I arrived and I was just done in enough at that point to sit and weep over the fact that I was give out and that job not done.  Boy I tell you once you're bone weary it does seem like things look pretty hopeless over all. 

John and Katie, who were also working steadily insisted I go indoors to sit in the air conditioning.   Katie handed me snacks and a cold drink and said "Sit."   So I did with Caleb keeping me company in his high chair with his snacks.   After he was all done, I released him and he went off to his room to play and Katie came in to check on us.  I told her I was ready to go back outdoors.  She put up the baby gate in Caleb's doorway and I went back to work.   This time I cleared the flower bed and all of another portion.   Both of those are now ready to be planted, have weed mats put down and mulched.

sFour hours later we came home with an almost flat tire on the borrowed truck and two very weary souls.   There are still more limbs to cut up and a huge big front flower bed to clear yet before we can even pretend we're getting there but at least it's started.  

Tuesday:  Who slept like a rock last night?  That's right!   Not any wonder.  I was so weary yesterday and had things to do in the house before I could call it a day but I did what had to be done and ignored what could and would wait.   That included dishes last night.  Rinsing and stacking was quite good enough.  It took me only as long to load them into the dishwasher as it took to brew my cup of coffee this morning.

I made eggs and toast for our breakfast and then asked John to move the flour bin for me so that I could get to the trunk underneath.  I just felt today was my day to play fruit basket turnover/declutter in our room.   We had clean sheets and a clean mattress pad to pack into the trunk, which I planned to put under my bed.  Ha.

Yes, I said 'Ha'.  After sorting out the stuff in the trunk and finding new homes for it all, I took the trunk to our bedroom.  I filled it with fresh bed linens after it was well wiped out.  Then I went to slide it under the bed and the thing wouldn't GO!  It missed going under by about 1/2 inch.  The facts sheet that came with the mattress frame states that it will allow any item up to 14 inches to go under the bed.  The trunk measured in at 13 something.  The facts sheet obviously was incorrect.  Plan B was not even thought of at all because I had been sure the facts sheet was correct.

I went off to the kitchen to drink a glass of Peach Iced Tea and journal and pray and then I got up and started again.

This time I pulled the file boxes from the closet.  One contains my Genealogy stuff and is packed full  The other has all our necessary files.  I stacked the one with files on top of the Genealogy box.  I don't like stacking as they are heavy and I'd prefer to have easy access to the family history box but there's no room for both.  And no, neither of these will fit under our bed.  They are too tall.   

Putting the trunk in the closet also meant that I needed to neaten the closet and vacuum it and rearrange things.  I pulled the suitcases out to slide under our bed and that freed up shelf space above the clothes.  The trunk with bed linens went under John's rack of clothes.  The two filed boxes stack under my rack.  

Then I cleared my dresser drawers and sorted through my things.   My clothing drawers were neater and nicer looking when I was done.  I decluttered three costume jewelry items I haven't worn for years and threw away a badly stained white t-shirt.  

Next I tackled that messy towel storage and medicine/personal care cabinets.   Now the towels are stored neatly once more and the medicines are better stored and well out of reach of any small ones who might think it looks interesting.   

All in all it took me about three hours to do all this but it all looks so much better and makes more sense than it has in a long while.  I have a section of upper closet shelving empty and the left hand side of the antique washstand is empty at present.  I added one storage piece (the trunk) and just rearranged things from there.     

The pantry looks neater and has more room for future storage too, but I'm cautious.  I think I want another shelving unit because the bins can be very heavy to handle if stacked one on top of another.  I'll measure my space and look into what will fit.   Then I'll have still more room for storing food and paper items.

I brought the vinegar I made back in December out of the closet and bottled it up.  It smells like vinegar and has no mold.  It's slightly cloudy but apparently has made just fine.  I poured into sterilized bottles and labeled it.  I also examined the jellies I'd put up and found one with some mold.   All the others appear to be sealed just fine but that one jar has been emptied and the contents gotten rid of.   

At this point I was feeling rather tired.  John had gone off to mow at the house over across the field and I slipped outdoors to water the plants on the back porch.  I repotted the tiny tomato plant and took Lana's suggestion of adding egg shells and coffee grounds to the pot.  I deadheaded the petunia which as been glorious in bloom since I brought it home.  I put the galvanized chicken waterer in the flower bed and clipped mint to try and root.   I also noted that the bloom ends I'd clipped from the poinsettia and tucked into the pot have rooted!  I will have two more poinsettia this year which is pretty awesome.  

By the time I'd done those things and folded the laundry from yesterday that John had hung to dry, I heard the mower coming back across the field.  I made a tall glass of iced water for each of us and took them out to the back porch.   John and I sat there and sipped our water and talked.   When we came indoors we opted for leftovers from Sunday dinner for our lunch.   And then it was 2pm.   He went off to shower and I cleared up dishes.   I think we've done quite enough for the day, but do feel it's been a lovely day with plenty accomplished behind us to make the day worthwhile.

Wednesday:  TMJ pain really pestered me yesterday and so I succumbed to pain relievers and went to bed last night to sleep, sleep, sleep.  I slept until nearly 10am this morning!   John never bothered to get his own breakfast, though he always threatens he shall if I don't arise before 9am.  However, there's something in him that will wait on me to get up and make breakfast.  He says it's because I always come up with something that looks far better than anything he'd make.  I wonder if he felt that way over cheese toasts this morning? lol

After breakfast, I did some housework and then headed into the pantry closet to do that inventory I've been saying I'd do for the past three months.   It's done now!  The light in the closet absolutely refused to work yesterday and again today but I took one of those little LED snap on lights in with me and it worked just fine.  I could even read expiration dates.   Our pantry right now is pretty far out for the most part with little expiring through the end of this year.  

In between rounds of inventory work, I took a break and sat down at the sewing machine where I worked on the curtains in that room.  I was going to add a trim piece to the pillows on the bed but in the end I confused myself mightily about how to add on the piece I'd made and so I lay it all aside and went on back to finish the inventory.  It's probably just as well because the bobbin thread was messing up a good bit today.  I think it needs to be unwound, but gosh I hate to lose all that thread, so I just worked with it until it demanded I do something about it.

I reheated leftovers for lunch and we enjoyed a pleasant meal together.   Then we both headed outdoors.  Perhaps not the smartest move on our parts as it was now well and truly hot but still, one must get things done!  I went out to empty my compost can and noted that the petunia which has put heart and soul into blooming was looking wilted and so were the touch me nots and Hydrangea.   So I watered plants both around back and around front.   Then I refilled the bird bath and washed out one of our rain buckets.  I noted the water was looking pretty scuzzy and discovered a frog had drowned.  This is not the big black frog who has enjoyed the 5 gallon bucket but one of the smaller brown toads.   

I cleaned that out and partially refilled the bucket and then I had to clean the patio off of all the fishy smelling stuff.  While standing there working I determined what we ought to have done to help dry out that space between the steps and the house better.  I talked it over with John a bit later and he agreed it would be a good solution.   We've really relied heavily on rain buckets to catch water, which the dogs and cats consider their water buckets but there's still a space that gets damp, and either grows moss or mildews.  I don't mind the moss as it's rather pretty but it does hold moisture in a place where we don't need it to be.  

I took the loppers and trimmed the Faith tree's lower branches.  I'd noted I could see nothing from the kitchen window the other day except the tree limbs.  I like to at least get a glimpse of the main driveway in the bottom.   We seldom have unexpected visitors but lately we've had two deliveries show up and I'd no idea they were arriving until they were at the back door.  Mostly though, I like to watch to see if the neighbor's cats or dogs or deer or squirrels and rabbits are in that part of the yard.  It's just a glimpse of the 'other lives' here on the place I enjoy.

The other day as we were arriving back home, John glanced at a cleared area, well before we arrive where you can see the house, and then said "Wait a minute!"  He backed up and we were back at the clearing.   There was a black snake there just sunning himself.   John let the window down and said "Brother, you've forgotten the rules!"  That black snake lifted his head and then slid off into the trees.   John's rule is that the snakes can have all the wooded areas but they don't belong in any of the areas he keeps mown.    Obviously the snakes agree to this rule because every time we've seen a snake in the cleared areas, he goes out and warns them and off they go.  In all the years we've lived here we've only seen about 8 snakes and we've only ever found it necessary to kill one which was a rattlesnake.    

I was well and truly done in by the time I finished my yard work.   John had been working at sharpening blades and putting them back on the mower.  He came in looking as worn out as I felt.  But he wanted to go get gasoline for the mowers and I said I'd ride into town with him.   Sometimes it is just nice to take a quick little ride to break up the routine.  We talked on our way into town about him waiting until tomorrow afternoon to mow but when we got home he looked at the mower and then looked at me and said "I'm just going to go on and do it...Then we've got all day long tomorrow free from working."   Well, not really but it will be nice to have a day off this week.  We've been pretty steadily busy since Saturday and we're keeping kids on Friday afternoon so I'll take some time off while we can claim it!   

While John mowed, I gathered ingredients for big salads for our supper.  I think he'll be happiest with something like that than a heavy cooked meal.  He ought to be getting finished pretty soon...and I hope he does because I am hungry!

Thursday:  Last night for my salad dressing, I took an individual container of guacamole, some sour cream and mayo and mixed it up to make a lovely creamy dressing.  It was so good on those salads we had last night!   Of course, it is more expensive to buy the individual sized guacamoles.  I picked up a package of six at Aldi for something like $3 as my treat to myself.  John doesn't eat avocado and certainly doesn't eat guacamole.  I love it but to make up a recipe of it is wasteful for just myself.   So I'll do the splurge,  buy the six packs and have no waste.

This morning, I took leftovers from Tuesday night's supper which was a good serving of cooked potato quarters and half a kielbasa sausage and made a sort of hash which we ate with leftover muffins.   That made a tasty breakfast.  I am trying to not have so many leftovers as we come into this weekend ahead.   And yes, I've deviated from my meal plans but I've made them work for us.   I didn't purchase anything extra.  Everything we've eaten from the Kielbasa and cabbage to the salads were already on hand.  I'm just using what we have rather than what I planned.

We puttered around the house until nearly 11 this morning.  I asked John to go by Goodwill so I could drop off some donations, including those I had in the shed.   While I waited on him to come around to the shed to load up, I added a few more items to the bin of stuff I had.  Had I bothered to go out last month as planned I might have added still more but I didn't.   Next week, when it's cooler, I will be in that area of work.  I will try to collect another bin of things I no longer want to use in my home or with which I am quite ready to part.

We went on to get my haircut and this time there was a little waiting spell.  I didn't mind.  It was warm outdoors and it was cool in the shop.  I had a great stylist who not only listened to what I wanted but actually talked to me and asked me questions.   I hate to say that it's a rarity these days but it is.  I know that most of the stylists have to hurry to meet a certain timeline and I don't complain over that.  It's part of their job, but  I thoroughly enjoyed having someone make me the center of their attention while she cut my hair.  

When we left the salon we went to Walmart to their garden center.  No ferns.   There are NO ferns anywhere in my area...Is anyone else experiencing a fern shortage?  John suggested I find a nursery but gracious I don't know of any such creature anywhere nearby.  There's a huge one down in Baxley I think but that's three hours away from home.

I wandered around looking to see what Walmart did have: herbs for one thing.  I got Pineapple sage, purple basil and basil.  I picked up a begonia which should do well in one of the hanging baskets around front but nothing else.   That is a very low sun area and nearly everything required at least six hours of sunlight daily.  I picked up petunias and a Persian Shield plant to put in front of the back porch.  That was nearly my whole allotment of money right there, but I'm not unhappy with what I got.   Just to get a chance to actually go look at plants was a joy.  I admired lots of things I didn't buy.

We'd stopped at Dollar General and I found packets of seeds there for $1.50.  I bought two zinnias, an alyssum and marigolds.  I'm going to sow these into the flower bed along side the shed, the one that has three cosmos from all the dozen of packets of seeds I'd already planted...Hope that these take but at least I'll only be out $5 if they don't.

After we'd done our little bit of shopping we headed up to Buccees to get sandwiches and Icees.  I took Kip's hint of a White Cherry flavor there and tried that.  Yum!  It was delicate compared to the usual red cherry flavored drink but I liked it a lot.  John parked in such a way that we could people watch while we ate our sandwiches.   We'd been concerned it might be too hot to eat in the car, but with the windows down it proved to be pleasantly breezy and comfortable.   I can't say eating at Buccees is a pricey date.  It costs about what we'd pay at any fast food place.  We lingered in the parking lot watching folks come in and out of the store.  I told John it was a shame that Buccees doesn't provide a picnic area for customers. I don't know where they'd put it, or if it would even be worthwhile but since they have monitors to clean up the parking lots it doesn't seem unreasonable that they might have someone to monitor the picnic area, too, if they put one in.

Home looked lovely upon the hill as we came in today with the blue sky above and the pecan tree towering over the back.   The dogs danced across the yard to us as though we'd been gone weeks and not just a few hours.  The petunias in the basket by the back door nodded gently in the breeze.   How pleasant it is to come home once more!

Friday:   Here we are at the end of the week already.  June is apparently going to just fly through as quick as it can!   It might as well slow down a little bit.   We've a birthday today and three more to go in our family this month.  I need time to recoup here and there.

We were up quite early this morning.  I don't think we would have been but my phone rang at 7:00am and though I didn't recognize the number I answered it.  Waste of time.  Whoever was on the opposite side apparently never meant to call me or was aware they'd gotten the wrong number before I answered.  However, a phone ringing at that hour jolts me awake and John got up and started moving about, so I followed.   Coffee seemed to sound mighty good, as did snuggling down into my chair in the kitchen sitting and finishing that Elizabeth Cadell book, The Marrying Kind, that I'd started on Wednesday.  I shall have to make it a point to look for more of the Cadell books.  I'm pretty sure I have another here in the house, quite possibly in a box of books I'd meant to donate which have now been sitting in the boxes for so long that I've started sorting through them once again looking for anything that appears interesting after it's long break from living on the bookshelves.

John rushed us into breakfast this morning.  I'm seldom hungry at 7am and not quite there at 8am but he was apparently very hungry and he began the process I was still only contemplating vaguely as necessary.   I think sometimes I'd really like to do intermittent fasting but I can see quite well that my best method shall have to involve not eating after a rather early hour in the evening rather than attempting to prolong my morning with out food.   John is insistent that we should eat together.  He says he likes that time to just sit and talk and it's true that once the meal is over we do generally linger at the table and chat before we each begin our day.

This morning, I'd started bread as soon as I got up.  I was thinking of making hot dog and burger buns but didn't.   In the end, I just made another loaf of bread which we'll use for our Shabat tonight and then it will be our loaf bread for the rest of the weekend.  I opted out of hot dogs because I really wanted a homemade pizza tonight and it's something I know that the three children will eat without fuss.   

After bread was in the oven, I headed outdoors and I potted up the plants I bought yesterday, all except the begonia.   I discovered to my joy that some of my plants held bonus plants.   There were three of the Persian shield plants in that pot and three of the purple sage in it's pot and two of the regular basil in another pot.   I put all of the plants, including the pineapple sage, the Penstemon I bought a couple of weeks ago, the pot of petunias I purchased yesterday, some coleus I'd rooted over winter and planted and a tiny bit of Portulaca all in a big half barrel.   I added a bit of forsythia that rooted from a stem last year.  I'm nursing it along hoping it will grow into a plant big enough to put back in the soil.  I love forsythia in the spring and though I know it can be very hardy, mine have not done well here.  I am keeping fingers crossed with this little piece and we'll see how it does.   I used the bucket of soil it was planted in to finish filling in my planter.  I always buy really good potting mix (I prefer the Miracle Gro) and then I reuse the old mix adding it in with fresh when I pot things up each springs.  I've had great success doing this and feel it is worthwhile to spend that extra.

The barrel I'd used is a heavy plastic one that we'd actually bought two or three winters ago to be our Christmas tree stand.    After we bought our new tree this year with it's own little wooden pot, we had no need of the half barrel, so I punched holes in the bottom to make a big planter.   This should add a nice bit of color there in front of the back porch.   

I was sweating heavily at this point and I figured "In for a penny, in for a pound" which is easily done when the humidity makes one sweat so with just slight exertion and went on out to the bed beside the shed and planted marigolds and zinnias after turning the soil there.  Fingers crossed this lot of seeds takes.   I would liked to have really gone for the gold medal and broken up another spot across from the shed  but I had no energy left.   John will mow it all right down unless I first designate it is a flower bed by putting out a lot of rock as a border and it was just too much to even consider hauling a lot of rocks and stones about at that moment.   I will do so, however, in the first part of next week, especially if it rains as promised.  That will soften the soil there and make it easier to turn.   At that point I shall plant Alyssum, Marigold and more Zinnias and take time to line the whole plot with rocks so that John is forewarned that it is now a flower bed.  I've nothing much to lose but sweat and energy really and if it does turn into something what a joy it will bring me!   

I've made up my mind that this year, I shall add something new to my yard in some manner every single month.   Not just annuals though they do really add pop to the other plantings but also perennials.  I'd like to have a butterfly bush and some more daylilies and a few roses and...You get the idea.  But it's all a matter of budget, of course, but I've determined exactly what I think I can afford to spend this summer in each month.   When it is colder I shall use those funds to buy border stones and pots if I can find them.

Yesterday's plants and seeds came in at $33, leaving me $17 to put into something else for the yard.  That will most likely be another huge bag of potting mix as I used all I had left in the big planter I filled  this morning.

While I was planting the Persian shields, I broke off a stem and brought it straight indoors to root in water.   I did check online and this will apparently work quite well.   My kitchen window shelf is a lovely place to root as it gets indirect sun and stays warm.  I've got mint and hydrangea on that shelf too, trying to root those.

I am still ambivalent about the pink begonia I bought for the front porch hanging basket.   I potted it in the pretty wire basket with a cocoa liner and a baby diaper in the bottom to help hold in some of the necessary moisture.  I know that I've had begonias before and they performed really well.  It was the only plant with a low sunlight requirement, hence why I bought it,   I broke off a bit of that accidentally too and it too is sitting in a glass of water.  We shall see if that roots as well.

I decided at this point to just give in to my urge to grow and cut several new growth stems of rosemary to put into water (remember they want at least 2 inches of needles under water unlike most plants that prefer only stems in water.     And when I went around to the front porch, I broke off some new growth pieces of the Kolanchoes and pushed them right down into the soil of the pot.   They don't require anything else in order to root.   What I shall do with all these plants I don't really know.  I only have so much room to winter things over but who knows I may end up selling them!   Someone might want them and I have a green thumb and plants to spare, so why not?

Once indoors I made up a pan of brownies from that mix I made earlier in the month.  I shall have to share that recipe with you all in a separate post.   It's good enough the first day but by the third day it is really really good.  I kept mine in a tightly covered container and they don't get drier nor moister but they do get better.  I've no idea why but they do.   Today I opted to frost the batch which is what the original recipe called for and I missed when I was making it up.  The boys will enjoy a brownie after they've had supper tonight.    

In two hours we'll have the three children here, freeing Sam and Bess to go out to dinner.   I'll have them until their usual bedtime and it is my sincere hopes that this visit will go smoothly.  They generally do.

John is in from working outdoors.  He cut branches on our place this morning and has hauled them over to Bess' burn pile.  He had a long conversation with Sam and the boys while he was there.  I've made egg salad for his lunch today which will make him happy.   I'm not half so fond of it but he likes it.  I boiled the extra eggs on Wednesday night when I was making eggs to go into our big salads.

I've still got dishes to clear up but those can wait.  For now, I've about 2 hours before the children arrive and I shall relax and rest and prepare myself for them.   I've just put a big bouquet of hydrangeas on the mantle.   The weekend is ahead...Hope yours is a great one!

(C) Terri Cheney

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