Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last Day of January

It might appear by my general lack of postings this month that I've been doing a lot of not much.

But au contraire, ma cherie.

To start, I allotted the whole month to decluttering my bedroom.

Yes, the whole month.
Most people could likely do in a day what I've taken a month to do, but I function a little differently.
I have to break projects down into manageable parts, or I get overwhelmed and can't even get started.
So I pick one thing to do, and I get it done.

For instance, one day I went through the drawers of my dresser and weeded out pajamas, undies, socks, and intimates.
Another day I sorted through my clothes. Shoes. Another time, J's clothes.
The bottom of the closet, the top of the closet.
And so on.

When I was done with my task, I'd usually go and work on another project allotted to this month - making (4) Putz/Glitter houses.
Which, except for the embellishments, I did get done.

(I've even already started on February's (4) Putz/Glitter projects, but it's a short month and a harder build so I'll need all the time I can get, and to forgive myself if I don't finish them by the end of the month.)

In addition to some children's books I've been selling off on ebay for the past couple of months,as part of my bedroom de-cluttering I found several items in my closet I also listed for sale.
I made about $100.00 this month, after fees.

Previously I had stacks of coupons, household binder/papers, bill paying, store rewards info, etc. etc. in the floor here beside my desk chair. I weeded through all of it and threw out old/expired/useless stuff and relocated (most of) it (to the livingroom, I'll still have to deal with finding a regular place for it sometime later).

Some of the stuff in the bottom of my closet was boxes of my genealogy/family research notes and books and such from when I started family history researching years ago, before we or most anyone had internets full of data.
Most of the data can be found now on the internet, but I had put a lot of work into recording, noting, and making connections, that I didn't want to lose, or try to have to figure out/piece together again.

But neither did I want to keep all these boxes full of old papers around.
In the end I decided to start digital scanning the papers.
There's a ton of papers (and I lose interest after about an hour of scanning) so it's going to take me a good while to finish, but I've made a pretty good start, and will keep chipping away at it.

I also had one of (one of) my Grandmother's photo albums I had brought home from Mom/Dad's a few months ago to scan/organize the photos. For whatever reason I just never could seem to get started on it, so since the album was here in my bedroom I made it a task, and got all the pictures scanned and date sorted.

But that's not all!
A few days that J was off work and was at home (he's spent a lot of his off-days this month dealing with his Dad's medical and financial issues) we got some projects done around the house.

We got some trim put up around the french doors between the kitchen and livingroom.
Got some more "planking" on the kitchen wall.
Got a corner shelf installed above the doorway/pot-pan wall:

It'll look better, hopefully, when there's a ceiling and new floor, and it's all painted.

We had been tearing out the old ceiling a section here and there, to make it easier to dispose of, but the other day J says, "Might as well just get it all done", which I wasn't prepared for, and spent the entire following two days cleaning up the resulting mess of plaster and dust and dirt and filth from everything.

Another day, the weather wasn't too good for being able to work outside, which meant we didn't drag the table saw out to cut more "planking" for the kitchen walls, so okay, next project, the upstairs bathroom.

The upstairs bathroom is directly above the downstairs bathroom, which is on the other side of the (what was the previous kitchen).
We needed to cut into the (old kitchen) wall to be able to get to the bathtub drain line reaching from upstairs to down under the house.
Long story short, we ended up taking the sheetrock off of almost the entire wall.

One day a couple of weeks ago the weather was nice for getting outside and I said, I want to work on the chicken house!
J was agreeable, I guess because, while I've been wanting/trying to have chickens for a couple - or several - years now, our friends and family have chickens now.
He sees them posting pictures of their chickens and the eggs they're getting on FB, so now I'm not as crazy as he thought as I was and now having chickens is a great idea.

Unfortunately we couldn't get a lot done before running out of materials.
There was still a good bit of the free scrap wood we'd collected a couple of Summers ago but sadly most of it was weather rotted and wasted.
But now he's more on the stick trying to scrounge up more free scrap wood for us to use to finish it, so maybe we'll be able to get this going on soon.

Plus, things like, K's doctor appointment, loading/carrying a load of firewood to D's, picking R up from work one day, running errands with R, going to nursing home with J, coupon/deal shopping, and the usual things like laundry, dishes, and fixing meals.
Not to mention all the hours required keeping informed by FB and checking out all the ideas on Pinterest! lol.

So it's been a pretty full/busy month, but it's been good.
Getting things done, but not in a stressful way.
I start my tasks at my leisure, take my time, whatever.  It gets done.

(I used to be a lot different from this. I stressed out over everything. Everything needed to be done, like yesterday. I set goals for myself I could never meet, and was constantly failing my own expectations.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

While grocery shopping the other day, I passed up buying our semi-regular pre-packaged packages of chocolate chip and oreo-type cookies.

I've been trying to make more things homemade, like my Grannies did before there was (were?) pre-packaged cookies, or extra money to buy them, using basic staple ingredients I typically have in my pantry anyway.
So as I stood there in the cookie aisle I thought: I have flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, chocolate chips at home...why am I buying it all again and paying for someone else to bake it for me?

Later I searched for chocolate chip cookie recipes, found a likely one and whipped up a batch.

As I pulled the hot, delicious smelling cookies from the oven, I remembered.....

They were edible, for a little while, but not very good.

.....I can't bake cookies.

I don't know why, I just never have been any good at cookie making.

I'm not a very good cook, admittedly, but I've always liked to bake and make sweets and desserts, but cookies have always been trouble for me.
I even manage to mess up cookie mixes from a box or envelope.

I recalled it's why I don't bake cookies at Christmas, or why when I see/hear/read about Cookie exchange parties I feel envious, but, No.

BUT! I'm going to try again. And again, and as many times as I have to, to figure out what the problem is.

Because, sweet tea and biscuits.

I had never made a pitcher of sweet tea until after I got married (the first time, when I was 17 years old), and the first time I tried to make it, it was bad.
I learned to make sweet tea pretty quickly after that, but it was another probably 20 years before I learned to make biscuits - like my Grannie & J's Mom/Granny made them.

I made Bisquick biscuits sometimes, but mostly I bought canned, or occasionally frozen biscuits, but they weren't Grannie's/Mom's biscuits.  We'd have to visit Grannie, or my Mom or J's Mom if we wanted biscuits.
Eventually Grannie passed away, my Mom moved away, we stopped having dinner much with J's Mom, and now she's passed away.

So it's a good thing I was so determined to learn to make them, or we'd never have them again.

I need to teach my boys to make biscuits. They like my biscuits very much, but what happens when I'm not around or able to make them for them anymore?
Daughters-in law?

I have one of those. She says, "I can't."
I tell her, "I couldn't either...."
I messed up menia batches of biscuits before I could make good ones.
"Put more gravy on it, it'll soften it up." LOL
(Gravy is another one that takes some practice, and I still sometimes make it too thick or runny.)
But you just can't give up.*

Well, I had given up on making cookies. But no more.
I'm going to learn to bake some good cookies, by golly.

(*Whether it's biscuits, cookies, painting, learning a new language, playing a musical instrument or whatever, things take work. Some things take some people more work than others. You just have to keep working and trying and don't give up. It may take a lot of tries, or a lot of time, but eventually you will succeed if you just don't give up.)

(My kids give up on things so easy. It kills me. I need to succeed at something I want to do. I may lose interest after that, but I'll be danged if I let something get the better of me.)

(Well, most of the time. I wish I could do construction work. I might could, but I have a weird fear of hurting my hands. Even wearing gloves, I've had hand injuries. Injuries to my hands feel...traumatic to me. Traumatizes me. Along the lines of, having an arm or leg cut off or something horrible like that. I don't know. It's a dumb thing, but I can't seem to help it. I try to tell myself, "Get over it" and tackle a project, but find myself unable to do the work because I'm being so careful not to hurt my hands.)
(J likes to trace the veins on the backs of my hands and tease me about how good they are for sticking IV's into, and it literally makes me nauseous to think about.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Georgia Peach Cobbler

While browsing Pinterest the other day, I came across a Pin for Georgia Peach Cobbler.

I thought, well that looks pretty yummy, and so happens I have a few bags of Georgia Peaches from my Dad's north Georgia mountain fruit orchard in the freezer.

(Some may consider this a Summer dessert, but I live in Georgia - Georgia peach desserts are ok all of the time.)

It's not as dark around the edge as it appears in the pic!

I put my bag of peaches in the fridge to thaw a couple of days, and then when I was ready to make my cobbler - today - I knew I had my Mom's fruit cobbler recipe in my homemade recipe book, so I used it instead.

I checked it against the Pinterest pinned recipe and it was basically the same. For some reason it took mine more like an hour and a half or so to bake, rather than the 40 to 50 minutes.
Maybe it bakes faster in the Summer? :Shrug:

Yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I had mine with a delicious glass of cold milk.

Printable recipe:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Milk Syrup

Mmm, chocolate milk.
I've loved chocolate milk ever since I was a little kid and my Grannie made it for me by mixing Hershey's cocoa powder and sugar.
Sometimes I still make myself a glass of it so I can eat the chocolatey clumps at the top of the milk that don't dissolve well.

My boys, who also still love chocolate milk even though they're adults now, too, don't appreciate the delicacy, lol.
They were raised mostly on Quik powder, that dissolved away, and eventually liquid Chocolate Milk Syrup. 

Yes, my boys are in their 20's and I still have to buy Chocolate Milk Syrup.

As part of my quest to do more home-making things, I decided to try making homemade Chocolate Milk Syrup.
(Scroll to the end of this post for a printable recipe.)

The only ingredients are ones pretty much everyone probably already has in their kitchen - water, powdered cocoa, sugar, salt and vanilla extract.

That's it. No high fructose corn syrup, glycerides, sorbates, artificial flavorings, perseratives, etc.  

I whisked the powdered cocoa, sugar, water, and salt in a larger sized pot and heated it over medium heat.
(If you're using a non-stick pot, use a wooden or plastic spoon.)

I whisked constantly, bringing it to a boil, and let it boil for a minute to two minutes.

Then I removed it from the heat and added the vanilla extract.

After letting it cool down some, I used a funnel to pour it into the empty Aldi brand chocolate syrup container.
You can store in a mason or other glass jar or any empty plastic squeeze bottle you might have on hand.

It turned out delicious, and it was so easy to make, I'd say it was as convenient to make at home as it is to buy it in the store.
(Not to mention, way cheaper.)

The website I got the recipe from says it'll last several weeks in the fridge.
We know it's good for at least 2.5 to 3 weeks, lol.

Printable recipe Via BabySaver$.com

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

Our regularly scheduled Christmas plans went awry, but this time it didn't have anything to do with the work schedules for a change.
Unfortunately, it was due to my Aunt and Uncle, who were hosting our traditional Christmas Eve Day family gathering at their house, were sick.

It worked out okay. Except for not getting together with the family and all.
J was scheduled to work Christmas day, so I had already planned to have our own little family Christmas deal Christmas Eve night, after we got back from my Aunt's.
The day before, while I'd been fixing all the treats and goodies they all like, I had put together a lasagna to pop into the oven when we got back, so that was already done and ready to cook, and I didn't have to pull a Christmas meal out of my, ear.

My other Aunt came up and joined us later.
She brought me this funny cross-stitched piece:

It's a funny picture, but she doesn't really think I'm a bad cook (even though the smoke detectors call the fam to dinner sometimes, lol). She mostly got it because of the frog.
Because my last name is pronounced "croaker", and at one time I collected frog-themed junque.

I did end up having to pull a Christmas dinner out of...the blue the next day.

I had thought it'd just be me, R, and K at home on Christmas Day, and we'd do whatever we usually do on any other day.
Basically, Christmas was over for us the day before. So I had thought.

Ended up, D and T stayed over a couple of days longer.
At one point T made a comment about a lot of her friends on FB posting about they were having this and that for Christmas dinner.
It occurred to me I probably should think about feeding us all.
I would have just made chili or spaghetti or was R that said we needed turkey and all the fixings.
Luckily I had roasted and froze an extra turkey at Thanksgiving (when they are on sale cheap, cheap!), so I heated it up and made tater salad, creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, and some rolls.

I had considered going to Florida again the week after Christmas to visit my parents and sister/family, but, meh. Couldn't get in the mood to go/leave home/long ride.

Didn't have any special plans for New Year's Day, other than eating some collards and black eyed peas for good fortune through the new year.
Didn't have any pork, but I had some Venison cube steaks, which should be just as good, and just in case, I fried them in bacon grease.

Also had cornbread, biscuits and gravy.
MmmmMm, them's some gooooood eatins!

Kicked back, yummy dinner and sweet tea, watching some "Twilight Zone" episodes on the tube big screen (gotta move into the next century, I guess!).

Like most everyone else, I have "resolutions" for the new year, but most are the same as the past few years: clearing out the house/fixing up the house.

I've joined a hoarders support group online, and it's really making a difference already, getting/keeping me motivated to let go of stuff.  It's a great group.

Didn't get much in the way of home improvement done the past few weeks, but we did get the kitchen window and the french door opening trimmed out.

My one new resolution is to try to get the interest rates on our mortgage/loan lowered.
I don't deal well with financial, personal business stuff, so I don't look into changing things when I should. I know I should, we've wasted a ton of money because of it.

I just hate, hate, hate talking about something I don't know what I'm talking about, and I do not comprehend the tricky terms the financiers use to get way more money out of you than you thought you would have to repay.
I thought if I borrowed (for example) $10,000 at 5% interest, I paid back $10,000 plus 5% interest.
Ohhh nooo nooooo, that's not the way it works after all!
I don't have a clue how it does work, just that it's not like that.