Friday, October 31, 2008


Today I was thinking that I have saved money this fall by staying out of stores. I go the places that I have to go and try to work all my errands around those trips. I am sometimes tempted to stop at a favorite store just to "look around" with no specific purchase in mind, but have resisted those temptations lately.

Lately, I have been trying to evaluate purchases more carefully and determine if they are "have to" purchases or "want to" purchases. There is a distinct difference and I believe I have saved a bunch of money by resisting those "looking around" stops and avoiding those "want to" purchases that might not be totally necessary.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Elections

I have become quite overwhelmed by the number of conversations about the elections that I have encountered lately. Seems like that is all folks are focusing on.

However, I did read an interesting comment on Elyse's genealogical blog where she states the following: "The bottom line is this: Maybe you should be considerate to your descendants by making sure there is something that is saved that shows how you felt about this election - and maybe even how it changed your life. Maybe save that newspaper editorial you wrote or print out the blog post you wrote about your favorite candidate. You could save your yard sign or pin. Even a simple letter that explains your feelings on the issues would work."

I must admit that I am so close-mouthed about my political views that I rarely enter into conversation about such matters with anyone. But Elyse's blog did catch my interest and made me think that I need to record my feelings somewhere--maybe a journal entry or a story in my folder for future reference.

Write how you feel about this year's presidential election. Do you have a favorite candidate? Have you been open in campaigning or discussing your feelings with friends and/or family? How will your descendants know about your political views in this historical election?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whee! Finished the Picture Today!

I finally finished the white flower picture today and I am dancing in excitement! I am quite pleased with the finished project. The covered bridge picture is ALMOST dry enough to work on and I am working on two more with a limited palette--just using three colors. That is interesting.

I will share the new pictures with you when I get a little farther along. I also planned a water lily picture and the teacher wants me to do a triptych or threesome with a large square single flower in the center and two other pictures on either side. I am not sure about that. I might be sick of water lilies by the time I finish, but will definitely do the center picture and see where I go after that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Busy Days!

The past weekend went by in a flash! On Saturday and Sunday I helped with a Story Circle Writing From Life workshop. It was a wonderful experience with about 20 participants exploring "the women we were," "the women we are," and "the women we hope to be." We also learned more about writing Legacy Statements or Ethical Wills. Some recommended sites for more about writing Legacy Statements can be found at and

Sunday evening we had a neighborhood gathering and birthday party for one of our neighbors. It was a beautiful evening and we had wonderful potluck food and a great time visiting. On the left is a picture of the "birthday boy" with a marvelous cake that his daughter and wife made for him!
We tried for a group neighborhood picture and it was interesting and challenging as we tried to get that many people still and paying attention at the same time.
And, finally, our big buck came in for a bit of food this morning. He was very rude because he used those horns to run off all the females who were also heading in for a late meal. The ladies did not argue with him much, except Bossy Mama, and she got poked in the side. She only tried to eat with him once and then moved on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Frugal Friday

This morning I had to wash a load of white clothes and it occurred to me that one of my cardinal rules around here is to only wash a load of clothes when I have a full washer. Day before yesterday I put my white clothes in the washer but it was only half full so I waited until I had a full load today. I also only use cold water unless my husband has a lot of dirty, greasy work clothes. That saves on the energy needed to heat up the water.

And, of course, I am still hanging out my clothes on the clothesline to dry, although this morning it was 46 degrees outside and that was a bit cool--my hands were really cold! However, it is supposed to be in the 80s this afternoon and very low humidity, so things should dry quickly once the sun begins to hit the clothes.

I am the same way with my dishwasher. I do not run it until it is chock full of dishes. I use the sanitizing part of the cycle when one of us is sick or we have had a lot of company, but I keep it turned off when we are well. I do use the dry cycle because our dishes spot if the hard water is left on the dishes and I hate to take things out when they are still wet.

And I have begun reading the grocery ads more thoroughly now to seek out items we need that are on sale and to comparison shop for things that we use on a regular basis. For a long time we only had one grocery store nearby, but now we have two in my regular travel pattern, so that gives me more choice in where I buy my groceries.

It is amazing how this financial crunch has made me so much more aware of ways to save our retirement dollars! And I am appalled at how much money I might have been wasting because I was not paying attention. Guess I needed a wake-up call!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oil Painting Frustrations

I am still enjoying my oil painting classes but I am a bit frustrated with two of my paintings. During the summer I began a beautiful white flower on a rather large canvas. The dark background and dark green leaves went in nicely and, in a few days, I was ready to add in the white flower petals. I painted them and began the shading in one day and it has been about 5-6 weeks since I put that white paint on the canvas. It is still not dry enough to work on the flower petals and center after all that time! I am very frustrated! I also painted a white covered bridge and, of course, it, too, is still not dry enough to put in the details of the bridge and paint a couple of tree branches over the side of the bridge. I am so impatient for both paintings to dry so I can continue working, but I might as well bide my time because they tell me white paint takes A LONG TIME to dry! Phooey!

Meanwhile, today I began another painting that has fog in it. It is an ocean scene with mountains running right down into the water. I put the dark mountains in and a green area of growth at the bottom of the painting. I have not done the sky or the water yet--and guess what? They have a lot of white in them! For the fog I will learn a new technique on this painting--AFTER the white dries! It is called scumbling and I have been reading about the process but cannot yet visualize exactly how it will work. Guess that is why I am taking painting classes!

I finished a sunset painting several weeks ago, but am dissatisfied with the colors in the sunset. The clouds are just too bright and garish for my taste. It grabs my eye when I look at the painting and keeps me from seeing the landscape. Today, in class, we talked about ways to mellow the sunset colors somewhat and I will probably work on that next week while I am waiting for all the whites in my various paintings to dry! I will either put a glaze over the color to mute it somewhat or just redo the sky.
Or maybe now is the time to begin that lovely water lily painting that I have been considering?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frugal Friday

In an attempt to be more frugal in the past saved my pocket change each day and put it into a jar at the end of the day. By the end of the month or when the jar was full, I added it up and deposited it into my bank account. It is amazing how much accumulates that way.

Another thing I have done is to write down everything I spend each day. Often, I will hesitate buying something just so I won't have to write it down. It is interesting at the end of the week to go over the list of things I have purchased and to note things that I REALLY did not have to buy. It helps with impulse buying.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Is Here!

We had a cool front come through last night and it was delightfully cool here today! That made me think that we have not yet turned on our heater and it is supposed to get fairly cool tonight. Guess that calls for a long-sleeved gown for a change!

This change in weather made me think about the kind of heat that we had growing up in the Texas Panhandle where it is already much cooler than where I live now! When I was a child the heat in our house came from the oven in the kitchen, a gas space heater in our living room false fireplace, a floor furnace in the middle of the house, and an open gas space heater in the wall of the bathroom. I think we all burned our feet on the floor furnace as we learned to walk, but it was great to stand over that furnace to warm up on a cold winter’s day.

I used to dress in the morning in front of the gas space heater in our living room because it was too cold in our bedroom. And I loved to stand over the floor furnace on cold days and let the heat blow up under my dress to warm me up. I always wore a dress to school but on really cold days Mother let me wear corduroy pants under my dress until I got to school where I pulled the pants off and put them in my book satchel until the afternoon.

Our school rooms were also heated by a large floor furnace on one side of the room under the windows. The desks near the floor furnace were really warm and the area across the room from the floor furnace tended to be fairly cool. The ideal place to be was in the center of the room unless it was a very cold day and then we liked to gather around the floor furnace. We could not circle the desks around the floor furnace because the desks were the kind that were bolted to runners in rows the length of the room.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Raining, It's Raining!

We have been without rain for so long. I believe our last big rain was in April. Today I put my clothes out on the line and we had two small showers that dampened them but then the sun came out and I left them to dry. This evening about 9:15 I saw the clouds gathering and gathered my clothes to finish drying in my clothes dryer for the first time all summer. About ten minutes after I brought my clothes in it began to pour down blessed rain! It did not last long, but it was really music to my ears! I went out on my back deck to listen to the rain. It smelled so wonderful! Tomorrow it is supposed to rain some more. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Penny Pinching Memories

Today I was thinking that some of my penny-pinching stories might be of some value in the days to come. Then, this afternoon we watched part of the University of Illinois football game and I was transported back to three very lean years there while my husband went to graduate school. The campus looked beautiful this time of year--my favorite time there with all the color, pumpkins, fall festivals, etc. In an effort to make use of any free foods available I made applesauce from the Jonathan apples in our yard and canned it for future use. I also cooked up the rhubarb that grew wild along our back fence for pies. Yum! After Halloween I asked neighbors for their Halloween pumpkins before they pitched them into the trash and cooked them up to make pumpkin bread, cookies, pudding, pies. Yum! Yum! Good memories of using what was available naturally.

One of my neighbors was from a farm near Kankakee and she often brought back bushels of corn, green beans, and peaches from home. She shared her goodies with me and taught me to can these things for our winter eating. What a savings that was for our family of four living on a small fellowship each month.

As the weather turned cool (cold! Brrrrr!) and we stayed in more, I began making Christmas gifts for family members. I remember painting an oil painting for my brother, making bread boards shaped like a piece of bread out of some scrap lumber I found by a trash can, and knitting and crocheting hats, bags, and scarves for the adults. I also crocheted and lined book bags for students and my husband sold them on campus.

I am not sure how I did all that with two toddlers running around, but I managed somehow. Good memories!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frugal Friday

With the recent news about the economy, I have decided that my husband and I need to develop more frugal habits. I believe I first saw the idea of Frugal Friday on my daughter-in-law, Kara's blog, but I have noticed that several other bloggers that I follow are beginning to post money-saving ideas or ways to simplify their lives. Barbara has posted several great sounding recipes for hot roll and bread mixes and a homemade sausage mix. Linda talks about simplicity. Ms. Smockity , when she isn't moving her large family (seven children!) across the state, is great about posting her frugal hints.

My hint for this Frugal Friday is to clip coupons! Mercy! I have not done that since we were trying to feed four hungry boys on an educator's salary. However, this week, in my efforts to be more frugal, I
1) read the Wednesday grocery ads in the newspaper,
2) made my list of needed items from the sale items and determined to stick to the list,
3) went through the coupons that I still clip (but rarely use--until now!) and found several coupons that matched the sale items,
4) shopped the store and resisted impulse buying (except for the brussel sprouts that looked delicious and were half their normal price!), and
5) got my flu shot in the pharmacy because they were offering 10% off the grocery bill with a flu shot.

At the end of the shopping, my bill totaled about $81, but by the time the coupons and the 10% deduction from the flu shot were deducted, my bill came out to about $62 and the only item that was not on sale was the brussel sprouts!

I felt like I had pocketed a crisp, new $20 bill at the store yesterday! And that is my hint for Frugal Friday.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Cousin Mike

I spent many happy summers at my grandparents’ house in Amherst, a tiny town with red sand and heat and gorgeous days. While I was there, Grandmother allowed me to roam freely. My grandfather was a banker in Amherst and my grandmother was a gardener, artist, marvelous cook and so much fun to be with.

Across the street from my grandparents’ house, Aunt Alma (grandmother’s sister) and Uncle Neil lived with their youngest son, Mike, who was about four years older than me. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and had gorgeous sparkling blue eyes. He and I “played together”—or rather, he tolerated it when I tagged along behind him most of the time. In the picture to the right, he is giving me my first driving lesson in front of Aunt Alma’s house.

Mike was my idol. He was always the leader and I believe he thoroughly enjoyed that role. I was his willing follower and worshipping slave. Anything Mike said or did was perfect and I did it—from jumping off barns with Superman sheets tied around our necks to climbing their tall windmill to touch the blades to crawling up inside a nearby revival tent to listen to the Pentecostals (we called them “Holy Rollers”) sing and shout and wave their hands. This was a new kind of religion to me after our quiet and sedate Catholic experiences!

Mike and I loved to catch horny toads in Grandmother’s garden. We kept them in a shoe box with a little dirt and we gave them grass and bugs to eat. Mike showed me how to rub their tummies to make them go to sleep. We put them on the sidewalk and watched until they woke up and turned themselves over again. He warned me not to let the horny toads spit “tobacco” on me because he said it stained and did not wash off. And, of course, anything Mike told me I believed!

Mike led me into many adventures and some that my parents would shudder if they had known about. I loved him dearly. After my granddad died when I was about eight, I no longer went to Amherst and Mike and I did not meet again until a few years ago. However, when I heard that Mike married Jeannie, I was angry and jealous that he was no longer “my Mike.” When I heard that he had become a pilot for Delta I was very proud of “my Mike.”

A few years ago we met again at a family reunion and we sat up until late at night talking by a beautiful lake with a full moon. Everyone else was inside the lodge playing pool and poker and rummy, but Mike and I talked about “old times.” For a brief evening, he was once again “my Mike” with the sparkling blue eyes, but with a bit of grey in his thick black hair. We laughed over our adventures of so many years ago and he told me that I made him mad because, when he teased me, I ran to my grandmother and told on him and he got in trouble. He said that he stayed in trouble a lot in those days!

The picture on the left shows Mike all dressed up. I must admit that I never remember seeing him dressed like that. Most of the time our summer outfits consisted of t-shirts and shorts and no shoes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More Good Stuff

Barbara, at Serenity Room has posted another list of ways to make things easier during this time of economic difficulties. I believe that her suggestions are good even if there is NOT a financial crunch going on.

Many of the things on Barbara's list just make good sense for everyday living and help with organization around the house. Things like making a shopping list and sticking to it while shopping; making nutritious snacks such as popcorn instead of buying chips or crackers; cooking beans, rice, soup and eating those things instead of buying prepackaged items or eating out; shopping newspaper ads and using coupons for items you buy. Learning how to make bread, learning to sew, consciously conserving gasoline and making handmade gifts for birthdays and Christmas are other great ideas to put into practice and make a part of our lives.

I know I have drifted away from some of the methods that I used to conserve money when we had 4 boys at home and I had to really plan our spending to make my husband's paycheck cover all our needs. Reading Barbara's past two posts on being prepared for an economic downturn brought back many memories of my conservative ways during those days. Funny how far I have strayed from those times.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Christmas Ideas

The past few days I have been talking to a couple of my daughters-in-law about Christmas gift giving and we have decided to curtail our spending this year in light of the impending financial crunch. We talked about: 1) focusing more on the children and 2) being more practical in what we give to the adults.

I am making some of my Christmas gifts. The past few weeks I have been creating some adult surprises for family members that I won't describe here. For neighborhood giving I am making knitted cotton dish cloths in glorious colors. I plan to make up some of my favorite spice mixes and put them with the dish cloths for adult-type gifts around the neighborhood. I also plan to begin making some of my food gifts early. I am open for more suggestions if anyone is into the Christmas-gift-making mode at this time.

I am hoping that we do not have to endure prolonged economic difficulties, but I do plan to use some of my ingenuity to create nice Christmas gifts without making a big dent in our budget this year.

Today I noticed that Barbara has a blog article on getting prepared for an economy crisis by saving for an emergency. She lists things that one might want to stock up on and in doing so might save some money in the long run. You can view her list by clicking on her name above.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Grand Time

I have just returned from spending time with my grandchildren (and daughter-in-law). Son #2 was out of town so I thought it was a good time to visit "the girls." We had a busy time and lots of fun. Here are a few pictures I would like to share:

The girls are off to school early in the morning. Little One is always eager to be off on new adventures and thinks she is at least as big as her big "Sissys" (as she calls them). Shopping is her favorite thing and she LOVES to carry a bag over her arm!

Little One likes to help her mother put out corn for the quail to eat on their front lawn--and, sure enough, the quail found the corn!

Soph and Em practiced their gymnastics and showed me how much they have improved on the monkey bars. Last year Soph could not do that at all and now she can swing across the whole set. Bravo, girls!

Kara, Little One and Em watching a Saturday morning parade in a neighboring town.


The end of a busy day for Little One--and I feel like I need to catch a few winks myself!

Thanks for a lovely visit girls!