Diary of A Homemaker’s Week: Fall Arrives



Saturday:  I promised John pancakes this morning, since I have no bagels on hand for our more usual Saturday morning breakfast.   Though I am the one who insists on a constantly changing menu, on Saturday's we eat two things routinely: bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter for our breakfast and at some point during the day on a Saturday we have pizza.   I started that bit of habit this year and it's easy enough that I can make a pizza from scratch in under two hours start to finish.  I've developed quite a repertoire of different pizzas.  I make Buffalo Chicken, a Bbq Chicken with Pineapple, Taco pizza, Sausage, Supreme, Veggie and Cheese, Four Cheese.

My pizza dough recipe is something I've worked out on my own.  It makes enough for two large pizzas.  I get 12 slices from each one.  I have learned that I can make dough one week, divide it, freeze half in a plastic bag I've sprayed with non-stick spray.   The next week, I have a ready made dough that I take out on Friday and put in the fridge.  It rises a bit overnight as it thaws and works out very well for us.

I usually serve the pizza as lunch and then we have leftovers or something pre-prepared for our supper but today Katie called offering to bring us lunch on her way back from picking up Taylor.  We enjoyed the visit with her and the children.  I made our pizza for supper.

Sunday:  Formed an idea of my menu yesterday evening, then hammered out last night's post for the week ahead.  

I woke at some point last night to the sound of rain simply pounding the house.  It had been raining earlier but that hard rain was unexpected.  No clue what cycle we're in at present, but I do wish it would bring in some cooler air!   It was warm and heavy outdoors when I went out to feed the cat.

One our way to church this morning, Katie texted that Taylor was ill and had been off and on since 4am.   Caleb woke with fever as well.  He's been teething and we assumed it was that which caused his fever.   No Gramma's Fried Chicken dinner for Taylor and she was not in the least pleased about that.  She told her daddy she was hungry but I think Katie was wise to hold off feeding her anything and letting her have only Gatorade.  They stopped here about lunchtime to drop off Caleb.  Taylor stayed in the car but looked pale and sickly to me when I spoke to her from the porch.  

In the meantime, I dosed Caleb for his fever and encouraged him to eat an ice pop which he seemed to enjoy.  His little lips were dry and chapped, and one eye was red and swollen under.  He looked like he had more than teething woes to me and I told Katie to keep an eye on him.

John and I had our Gramma's Fried Chicken Dinner all to ourselves today, so there's leftovers enough to make another meal.  I think I might freeze these.  We've a whole roast chicken in the fridge minus one breast and certainly don't need more chicken leftovers at present...I'll have to think about what we're going to do with it all tomorrow.   

Now we're off for Senior Dinner.  I will be glad to see the end of the weekend.  It's been busy and we've had many late nights this past week and weekend.  I'm looking forward to a Monday slowing down spell.

Monday:  I fought hard all weekend long to set aside a worry...and I succeeded right well.   I reasoned there wasn't a thing I could possibly do until Monday anyway,  but today I had to face up to it and meet it head on.   Not the way I prefer to start my day to be honest with you and the result of this one is that there's simply nothing I can do at present.  We've had a hard summer financially and this was one more chink at it.  We've slid as far backward as we dare.  This is a need but not an emergency at present.   It shall just have to wait until finances are far less strained.  It sucks.  I hate it, but even optimistic me cannot deny that there is an end to a line and non-emergency needs can sit on the shelf with all the unfulfilled wants I have at present.

Tiredness from a long weekend, struggle with my  feelings over the financial concern and loathing it as I did left me a little weepy.  I sat right down and lit a lavender and chamomile candle and proceeded to journal out all my feelings and then I said "Enough!" and headed to work.  I sorted out my closet, two of my dresser drawers, cleaned the house and then went outdoors to spend an hour tidying and cleaning my shed which  needed it pretty badly.  By the time I'd done all that cleaning, I was whipped, lol.   But it did a great deal towards relieving my sorrow and angst over all and I needed that far more.

Bess ran over this afternoon brining in excess produce that she didn't need for making freezer meals.  I had been planning, tentatively, going over to the discount grocer to get reduced price produce but I guess free produce beats pants off any prices I might find there.   She also brought whey from her yogurt making.   I use this as a liquid replacement in making breads so it doesn't go to waste.   I pulled the last 2 quarts of whole milk from the freezer and told her to take it home.  Even just that much will spoil in my fridge before we'll use it, or at least the majority of it will.  The kids love drinking their glass of milk and eat enough cereal that it won't go to waste at her house.

The whey made me think I'd like to make yogurt myself, but I'm sort of torn.  John won't touch it.  Even making a small portion means that I have far more than I can use in a month's time, but I do miss having it on hand.   Do I want to go back to buying cartons of yogurt? That's a question I ask myself often at the grocery and only occasionally do I pick up any yogurt.  Right now I've packets that Katie bought for Caleb but he struggles with lactose intolerance.  We'd hoped he'd tolerate yogurt but not so much.  I've suggested Katie try coconut based yogurt if she can find any.  It's not really made in a toddler friendly form i.e. tubes or packets. He's not yet as handy with a spoon as he needs to be to eat on his own and he's very resistant to anyone feeding him, preferring to do it himself.  So we'll wait on that.  In the meantime, there's all this yogurt.

Supper tonight will be leftover Roast Chicken and Vegetables, along with the rest of the Green Bean Casserole I made for yesterday's dinner that we ended up eating alone.    I know John is about over chicken, lol.  We ate Chicken on Friday, Saturday, twice on Sunday and again today.  I'll be sure to look at my menu and pull out something else to prepare for the next couple of days.  I like chicken but enough is too much already!

Tuesday:  Early morning texts seemed to be the order of the day.  Our first came in from our oldest son at 3am.  Ugh.  It was an accident on his part which is good to know.  And yay hey!  He is alive which is more than we knew but felt safe to assume, having ceased to worry long ago when Katie pointed out quite rightly in her elementary days that "If he dies someone will notify you so stop worrying..."   

Then Katie texted, not nearly so early, to ask if we were up yet.  I wasn't.  In fact, we'd just snuggled in and gone back into a deep snooze once more.    I got up but didn't put on my day's clothing, since John was asleep.  I knew if I opened my big old heavy dresser he'd wake right up, so I slipped out of the room and went to get my coffee.  Katie was coming up the driveway before I had my first sip.  She stayed long enough to have a cup with me and then headed out.  Caleb was fine watching her leave but pitched a fit soon after over nothing at all and woke John.   It was well past 9:30 at that point.  I fixed breakfast while he took coffee and watched Caleb who'd gone running to him the moment he heard John's footsteps.

From breakfast on it was jump hop and say stop.  There comes a point in every day with me that Caleb will shrilly say "No!  Stop!" and I feel guilty as can be over it.  But as we tell him, there are thousands of yeses so why choose the dozen No things to get into?  

I managed to start tonight's supper.  I upped my menu a bit.  Instead of red beans and rice, I have decided to try my hand at Jambalaya.   I've never made it and what's more I've never eaten it either.  I've always wanted to give it a try.   I had leftover chicken, leftover broth and plenty of fresh bell peppers since Bess gave me some yesterday.   Though this recipe calls for both chicken and smoked sausage (some also call for shrimp but I don't eat those) the rest of the ingredients are good basic pantry/fridge items.  It happens that I generally keep a smoked sausage on hand anyway.  It appears that even though I cut the ingredients in half we're going to have quite a lot of food leftover.  That's one thing about budget minded recipes.  No dibs and dabs on a plate, just lots of good tasting, hearty food that stretches and stretches.  

The red beans I used today were old.  They were 'best by' August a year ago but I find that cooking them a little longer means they come up as tender as if they were newer.  It's never necessary to throw away dried beans.  Keep that in mind.  Just be prepared to cook them a bit longer.  I started mine in a boiling pot this morning then turned them off, let them sit an hour then drained them.  I put in fresh water and cooked them, adding water to keep them covered as needed, for about three hours or so.  They are tender as can be now.

Before I could get lunch ready, Katie was back.   Caleb was very reluctant to let her move far from his sight.  He doesn't make a big fuss when she leaves him but he makes it clear that he prefers to be with her.  Well little boy will have to get used to coming to Gramma's and saying 'Bye' to Mama all over again.

Wednesday:  As I begin savoring Autumn this year I want to share each day for the next 90 days one thing I appreciate about the season.  Today that one thing is the slant of golden sunlight across the land as the sun set.  I noted that the position of the sun had indeed changed and now we get late evening shadows all across the whole back of the house, from back porch all across.   This is different than in years past.  I appreciate noting the differences in the way the sun might move.  

I spent yesterday afternoon, while John was off trying to mow the other yard before it poured rain once again, making meals ahead for this week.  I stripped fried chicken from the bone and removed the skin.  I used that meat to make chicken pot pie filling.  

I pulled all the roast chicken from the bone and turned that into Jambalaya yesterday as well as making a batch of pulled Bbq'd Chicken.  I used bottled commercial sauce this time but I can't just leave it alone.  I decided to mix up the very last of the too thick homemade plum jam into it and it was a good addition!   

I also mixed up my sausage rice stuffing for the acorn squash.  I added in a half box of frozen spinach that I had thawed and squeezed dry.  I also added in some of the rice I cooked to go with our Jambalaya.  I'd seen recipes with the rice cooked in the jambalaya but I just knew I was going to have  plenty of leftovers and I didn't want the rice in if I was going to freeze any portion.    I'm glad I decided to not cook it in the Jambalaya because I put a quart away for another meal, and carried Katie about a pint, too.

I ran into town yesterday evening to stay at the house while Katie went to pick up a prescription.  I asked her to pick up a packet of Knorr Vegetable Soup mix so I could make a batch of the Spinach dip.  I just love spinach dip but I can't eat a whole recipe.  I thought I could make a half recipe using the last of the Spinach.   Well Katie loves spinach dip as well and she offered me a full package of frozen spinach and a pint of sour cream to make a full batch of the dip.   I made that this morning, putting in the extra spinach.  

As I was making the dip, we discussed Spinach Artichoke dip.  I suggested we experiment and make up a recipe of that at some point in the future and put it in the freezer in smaller portion sizes so we can take out a portion at a time and heat it up.   I don't know if it will work or not but plan to try it and see.

Katie brought Caleb out earlier than I expected her to today and I don't mind saying it will take getting used to having him here full time once again.   As it was we ended the day with a boo boo that bled, a tiny cut on his forehead and bled far more than a wound that size warranted, and grandparents are feeling a bit shell shocked this evening. 

After he left, we ate a very silent supper and then John turned on church service, which we were planning to view online tonight.  I slipped off to the bedroom and listened to the sermon from there.  I knew I'd only allow something to distract me, computer or magazine or book, if I sat in my chair and I felt need of sitting quietly and paying attention.    The sun was shining in the window and I could see nothing but the sun for almost the length of the sermon, as though God himself was flooding the window so I couldn't be distracted by what was outside it.   

I don't know how much writing might get done in the days ahead.   I get only a very few things done while Caleb is here.  There's a lot of staying in behind him for the most part.  

Thursday:  The cool weather came in overnight.  My autumn note for the day is that I so appreciate when we have the first chilly mornings.  We might not yet need heat indoors but it was definitely cool enough to warrant a light jacket if one was to sit outdoors (yes and shoes, too!).

It's so refreshing outdoors that I can just barely stay inside.  However, one little boy would be far too cool outdoors and it's unlikely Gramma can sneak out without him.  It does, however, make me mindful that I need to try to get slugs out of the orchids before I bring them indoors.  Last year they were uninvited guests in the house and quite honestly if I dislike toads I dislike the homeless snails even more.  Especially when they come into MY house and start traveling about.  Last fall, I walked into the kitchen and found one on my desk.  Another time it was in my coffee cup.  UGH!  I've no desire to have visitors again.  I've found nothing online to help me with this but I'm going to keep looking.  The poinsettia can stay out.  It actually likes cooler longer nights but the orchids, which are tropical plants not so much.  

Millie and Bess are coming over in a little while.  Sam has a day full of meetings and Bess is trying to get Millie out of the house for a bit.   

Caleb's little wound is small but he  needs a bandage as it's oozy still.  Thankfully there is no goose egg underneath the wound.  It just about tears a hole through me to even look at that wound.  I was never so sensitive when I was just a mom, but I've noted that as a Gramma, I see far more dangers than I did when I was a mom.  Anyone else feel the same?

And one more question for you all.  I've had occasion to make pie crusts this week for various meals like chicken pot pie and pigs in blankets (no shortening to make biscuits with so I made pie crust with oil).   I noted that in the photos in my recipe book, all the crusts are thicker rather than paper thin.  But the pie Katie brought to us this week has very thin bought pie crusts.  I measured my crust this morning after rolling it out and it was about 1/8 inch thick.   If you make your own crusts is that generally about the thickness of them?  Or are they thin, like bought premade frozen crust?  I'm just curious.  And for the record, I prefer the shortening crusts over the oil ones but you use what you have.

Supper tonight will be the Sausage and Rice stuffed Acorn Squash with Brussels Sprouts.   Our Chicken Pot Pie was very good last night.   I won't be making the Cauliflower Cheese dish as Caleb can't eat the cheese.  I've got to be mindful of his lactose intolerance.  I might try to find some vegan cheese for him to enjoy.  In the meantime, I'll plan to make a meal tomorrow that will do double duty as supper on Saturday.   And definitely not be chicken...John's not complained but we've eaten chicken 7 times in the last 6 days...and I'm planning to make this week's pizza a Barbecue Chicken and Pineapple Pizza so I think I'll give the man a break and cook some beef, before he starts to crow.

Friday:  Autumn Savor:  The house getting cool enough for the heat to come on...In September!!

Busy morning this morning in the kitchen.   Bess and Millie came over for the children to play yesterday afternoon.   Caleb did his best to tease Millie into playing and finally wooed her by opening up the plastics storage and pulling out that basket of lids and cups that they both love so.  From that point on they played very well together.  Funny/Cute moment today was when Millie fell and being tired chose to lay on the floor.  Caleb rushed over, snatched a kazoo from her hand and flung it aside and then proceeded to try and lift her off the floor.  He couldn't, of course, but it did make us laugh to see him being so gallant to his cousin.

When Bess came over she brought three ripe bananas...the sort that are best suited to banana bread.  I've been just longing to bake a Pumpkin Banana loaf but kept forgetting to bring out bananas to thaw.   I took the bananas and made them into two loaves of Pumpkin Banana bread and a dozen Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip muffins.  I called Bess to tell her she was due half my morning's baking and she came by to pick it up on her way into town to get some ingredients necessary for making a cake she'd planned to bake...Can you tell that we are all in the autumn Mood here?  Katie made pecan pies earlier this week and now Bess and I both are baking up a storm!

When she came in she asked to borrow nuts, either walnuts or pecans.  I shared with her the family 'secret' for frosting and she chose to borrow those ingredients.    

Caleb has been one busy little boy but having had lunch, he's now down for a mid day nap.  Getting up so early these days he's less keen to give up that midday nap as he seemed to be earlier this month.   I think it's because he gets so tired.  He's pretty much on the go for hours each morning and then he does the same in the afternoon.  He does sit and play but not for long extended periods.  He's more prone to wandering the open part of the house and being go go go.    

When he wakes, I plan to run the vacuum over the living room before I get him up. I'd meant to strip the bed and baths this morning, but John got up and made the bed, which he typically doesn't do.  I'll just plan to strip it as we are getting ready for bed tonight and do the laundry on Sunday.  I hate to undo something nice someone has done for me, don't you?  

I decided to make one of our favorite beef recipes, but I'm subbing in a round roast for Short Ribs (roast is cheaper).  It's Cherry Braised Beef.  The recipe calls for dried cherries, as well as a mire poix (celery, carrots, onions and garlic) slow simmered in red wine (subbed ACvinegar and grape juice) and beef broth.  I love this rich broth and it gives the beef such a lovely flavor.   I usually serve the short ribs simply, over a bed of mashed potatoes and I'm thinking that sounds just about right for our roast beef supper tonight, too.   

I've decided the best solution for drawing the slugs out of my orchids is to put them in the bathtub with a small shallow bowl of beer.   I told Katie to pick me some up today.  She asked what I needed it for and I told her.   I said "Just go on and buy a six pack...No need of letting the slugs have all the fun!" Truth a six pack will leave us with beer on hand for several weeks because John and I usually share one.   But I thought it would be nice to have to go with pizza and should I pick up more brats it would be nice with those, too.

I am a tired woman, truly.   I'm looking forward to my down time this weekend.  John has decreed tomorrow to be a childless day, regardless of who asks.   I'm inclined to agree with him.  He's already planned our 'date' and I'm looking forward to it.

I'd been wanting to get Granddaughter Josie a baby present (she's due in late November) and found some incredibly good deals this week through JCPenney and Gerber.   I ordered her a few items and am having them sent directly to her.  I'd been looking for weeks to find something I could afford and then these sales came up.  It makes me so happy to be able to do something for Josie and stay within a strict budget, too.

Now to return to concentrating on Christmas gifts...

How has your week gone?  Did you tackle the jobs you'd planned to get to?  Find any great bargains? Tell us all about it...

(C) Terri Cheney

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