Update June 5, 2017

I see it has been nearly a week since I last posted. We have been recovering from the close of the track season, final awards picnic and on and on. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to pack up the uniforms and set the big containers away until next March. I know there are a few “missing” as a slight few (3) of the athletes claim to have turned them in, but they are nowhere to be found in the mix, but that is normal and actually pretty good as things go.

We also had my uncle Gene’s memorial service on Saturday. It was nice with family and people from town, and lots of his friends, teammates and classmates from this area and even some from rather far away, college and high school buddies. It sure showed what they all thought of him. It was good to hear everyone’s stories and I hope that gave those who are having a hard time dealing with it a little comfort. One of his friends choked up twice as he was talking and for lack of a better way to end his speech, he concluded with, “And then the sucker just up and died on me.”

Garden dry and bare waiting to be planted.

Today is another day of regular laundry and hopefully by the time James gets finished with his summer school for the day, it will be time to head outside to get to digging into the dirt. As hot as it has been lately, I am not really looking forward to the outside. Maybe we will clean the freezer instead and we can postpone the garden work until the sun starts to fade for the day.

Well so much for the garden issue. I finished the laundry, Paulina–the walking tomato–came home from the pool a little before James pulled in from Bowdle. After coming home from summer school in Linton and Strasburg, he stopped at the house long enough to grab a sandwich and trade the Neon for the van then head to the service station in Bowdle where we bought it because it smelled hot yesterday and there is a weird rattle in the back end. Results: there is a hose out on the heater that caused the anti-freeze to leak and there is a bearing going out in something, and they needed to order a part for one of them and so he couldn’t just wait for it and come home. When he called to tell me, I was afraid I would have to drive there to get him. Thankfully not.

In the mean time he checked out what was on their lot and found this 5-year-old, low mileage Durango. He convinced them to let him take it as a loaner to see what my reaction would be about purchasing it. I already have my counter offer in mind, but I don’t think they will budge because they already made somewhat of a deal with James. We have two ideas how to get this accomplished, but I reminded James that we need enough left in the bank to cover the trip and some updates on the house. So much for my list of priorities. A different vehicle was towards the bottom. When the owner of the dealership clued in that we had bought our van there and it is a 2009 model with almost 213,000 miles on it, he thought we should be the advertisement. Maybe we could line up all three of the cars we own for the end of the ad. Two of them are 1995 (original) Neons. They don’t even make them anymore.

Well everyone has left for work or meetings, the wind has died back a little, but it is still pretty hot outside. I don’t think that I will try to plant anything today, maybe just get a few things set up in my mind or on paper, or maybe I will get out the gloves and trim the dead stuff off the spirea bushes. They did not winter all that well. Why is it that I just don’t have the energy for any of it this year. I just would rather order take out. Perhaps I need to take a picture of that Durango. We might be eating garden spinach all summer in order to afford that thing even at the reduced used-vehicle price. Hmmmm. What was it my uncle always said, “If you need more money, no need to cut back, just make more.” Ya right easy for him to say, he owned a business. Maybe I better grow more garden and join the Farmer’s Market again.

Post on April 11

Junk outside

Hi, just stopped by to say I am still here. Things have been hectic around our place as of late, and I just have not felt the ability either by time or emotion to visit with the blog world. I have lots to say, but just can’t do it now. I will share a couple of pictures from well over a week ago. On Saturday, April 1, James and Paulina and I did some digging in the garden after we cleaned all the wet and damaged items out of my mother’s basement. We have plenty of signs of spring in the yard, and I am so very glad that we took the time that day to do it.

Later that evening after my message was finished and we were sitting in bed watching previously recorded television shows, my youngest sister called to tell me that my uncle in Phoenix passed away. He was laying on the couch watching the big basketball tourney and had a heart attach. My mind instantly went to wondering which member of the family was there to greet him as he passed from us to them. His passing leaves a horrible hole in the family dynamics both in his immediate family and in our larger extended group. He was so much the one we loved to call to share any of our great accomplishments. He was always so supportive, and even if he couldn’t be here with us so very often, we always felt that we mattered to him.

Peonies coming



Days like this so make me wonder how God allows us to have such pain in our lives, and then I realize it is not the pain and the heart ache that matter but what we do with it and about it. How we deal with the hand we are dealt is what matters in life. That was the point of my message last Sunday, and I will share that later. I am in school with James this morning as we are waiting for the time for the bus to leave for the track meet in Hazen. Should be a great day. Enjoy the pictures!!

Jan. 6. Third item revealed and dividing an aloe vera

Scooby doo burp rags!!

Scooby doo burp rags!!

So yesterday I wrote about making three items, then stopped short of telling you the third one. Today I am able to tell you what the third item is because it has been delivered. Item three is a set of 4 burp cloths. They don’t really look like a set, and I did a horrible job of setting them up to take a picture of them, but they are off to the left. The picture shows two with print side up and two with the burp puke on me side up. I used some material left over from making a shirt I made for Victoria when she was a CNA. Little did I know that the neck line wasn’t right for her, and I ended up donating it to a thrift store. I sure had fun sewing up that top. My big thing was doing the pockets. They were matched up so well you couldn’t tell they were there. Anyway, I did some research on what material is the best at absorbing liquid and I came up with a flour sack dish towel. I had James pick up a couple of new ones at the drug store before he came home from school. I used less than half of one on this project.

Samples of notches

Samples of notches

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a simple matter of having two pieces of material that are the same size with the right sides facing and sew around three sides and part of the fourth. Trim the corners with a V notch, turn and press or press and turn then top stitch the edge that was open in order to turn it. This is basic common sense and beginning to end it took me less than an hour. The hardest part was squaring up the scraps of print material.

The plant I took apart was the one in the background.

The plant I took apart was the one in the background.

Gift for Marva

Gift for Marva. I tied it up to brace it for a bit.

One other item that I want to show off is the aloe vera plant that I repotted and took off the new little ones and repotted them. I was after a gift for my church secretary. She had picked up one of the little aloe plants that I took to church a couple of years ago, but it ended up dying. I always give away plants with the idea that they have a life-time guarantee. So here is her replacement plant. I took the main plant and put it in a rather large pot, but because these aloe vera plants are so large and top heavy, I realized that it needed to be braced up.

The large plant repotted and baby plants given a new home.

The large plant repotted and baby plants given a new home.

I had just been in the cupboard filled with old flower pots and ribbons and such, and had seem a bag of small dowels. I used them around the plant to hold it in place. I also took one of the long plastic sticks that holds the card in a bouquet, and used it to brace up the plant for Marva. I also found a cute decoration that is a silver wire that curves around the plant perfectly. I also tied them up loosely to give the plant some support until it gets settled in the pot and takes root. As much as I want to get rid of the clutter, I just can’t toss things when I can find a use for them as I did in this project. I think more than tossing, I need to do some sorting and reorganizing so that I am better able to find things when I am looking for them. Well, hope you have enjoyed these little projects. I love to give things I have made myself or something that I have. Making all three of the projects that I wrote of yesterday and today, were really fun to put together and to sew. I also am very happy when I have a plant that is good enough to share. If anyone knows me they understand that when I give you one of my plants it is like giving a part of me, so you know it is special.

Leaving Linton

Leaving Linton

Well that is all for today, catch us tomorrow and hopefully there will be something exciting, though I am not sure that I will really have anything. We are currently in Jamestown. We drove here today to help Paulina move onto campus at University of Jamestown. We are one day too early to get in on a couple of basketball games. Rats!!! We will try to get home in the light tomorrow. The roads coming on US 83 were not the best, though I 94 was just fine getting into Jamestown. OK. enough!

Philosophy for more frugal living

I have been kicking around the idea of doing periodic posts about my ideas on how to live more frugally, and even how to live with less clutter. That last part is really going to be a test of my skills since I am so tied into things because of what they represent. During 2017, I will be sharing some of my ideas and practices and life style not to mention the whole experiment of trying to live with less, live on less and how I plan to make at least my corner of the world just a little bit better. I am not a published or awarded expert on any of this, but I feel that living on this earth for just about 60 years and having spent much of that time in the presence of people far older than me, I have learned from many on how to get by when you need to, and how to enjoy what you have. Besides I am sick of reading posts and pins that tell me to toss out everything to have a less cluttered life, and some of the plans on frugal living go a little beyond what I see as good for the economy as a whole. So here goes.

Today I will share 5 areas that I feel we can all start to make our lives better financially and in terms of the space we occupy.

1) Let’s begin with Appreciation for what you have. You could start with a list of 10 items that you have or people/or pets that are around you that you appreciate. Yesterday the new Gov. of North Dakota started his first State of the State speech with a segment about gratitude. Maybe that is a good place to start. Put together a list of 10, 20 or more things for which you are grateful or things you appreciate. Just doing that might prevent you from chasing after something new and better and more elaborate. It might make you think less about getting your happiness from spending.

2) Shop at home first! I don’t mean in your hometown, though that is a good idea. I mean in your house or garage or yard. When it is time to make supper, check the panty, the fridge and the freezer before you go out to eat, call for take out or head to the grocery store. Before you run out to buy another bottle of shampoo or lotion or house hold cleaners check the back of the supply cabinet. Before you go shopping for a new night stand or plant holder or any small furniture, look in the garage a storage shed, your basement and see what you might have in another area that will work for what you want. I learned this lesson so well when we were living in another town for a short two year stint. I went back to our house (we didn’t sell it, we just didn’t live there full time for a bit) and shopped there before I spent any money. I was amazed at how many items I had stored in various cupboards. I think we went a whole year without needing to buy some items.

3) When you are shopping ask those questions: Do I really need this? Do I have one like it? How will I use it. I need to do a better job of this with my clothes. I am forever finding the “cutest” tops and when I get them home, I have only one item to pair with them on sometimes nothing at all. I will do more on clothes when I get a better handle of them. This is also a question I need to ask myself when I am shopping for kitchen items. I have many things there that I never use, but most of them came from purchasing a $1 or $2 box at an auction sale. Seems to me this is more of a clutter issue than a frugal issue.

Garden produce

Garden produce

4) Learn to do certain things for yourself. The number one thing that I am thankful to have learned as a teenager is how to operate a sewing machine. I have been able to sew things for myself and my family over the years even to the point of sewing the baptismal gown and hat and booties set that was used for my own daughters. Over the years I have sewed some clothing, but mostly I have been able to mend things when needed. I realize that I don’t do enough of this in big terms, but it has helped somewhat. Growing your own food and preserving it is also a good thing to learn. I am not sure how much this is a savings except when you are able to eat fresh from your garden rather than purchase it. I plan this summer to keep very close records to find out the truth on this one. For me the preserving is about knowing what is in your food more than having it be cheaper. (On the other hand, sometimes hiring someone to do things for you is a way to keep the economy in your area rolling, but that is a topic for another segment.)

5) Finally, I am an advocate of using cash or a cash mentality when spending. Of course I will never do totally cash because I love the idea of cash back cards. The thing with using a credit card that is a problem and a reason that many “exerts” advise against it is that too many people just run up the balance without regard to the bottom line. My husband and I started our first credit cards when we were married in 1982 under the idea that nothing could be charged that couldn’t be paid off with the next pay check. Of course in those days credit cards were charging 18 to 21 percent interest and there was no way you could afford to over charge on them. The other issue with the first card we looked at they were not really credit cards, but it was a plastic savings account. You didn’t get the card until you put $500 into the savings account with their bank. In other words you could only use as much as you had in the account, so you were in essence borrowing from yourself. I haven’t heard of cards like this lately, but you could still use the concept. Our current issue is to only use the card that issues a yearly cash back. We have stopped using the cards that offer a points reward because where we live most of the places that accept the points don’t exist. Because we purchased a television this year that we had saved up for, we earned lots of extra points and are expecting a nice bonus check in February.

Good grief, I never planned to ramble on quite this long on just a little philosophy type of started post. At any rate, even if no one sees a value in this, I will at least be reminding myself of some of my expectations for this year. I really seriously want to live with less and feel free to use the space that is in our home rather than tripping over all this extra junk that is everywhere. I know that I could just toss and scrap a few things, but I always consider what all the tossing does to the environment. The best way to recycle is not to buy it in the first place, so that is where I will start for now with my plans to be a little more frugal.

Advent: Dec. 9, Bird watching…cat napping

I need to stop getting up so early. I have been waking way before 6 a.m. then staying awake in bed until James is about to leave for school, then I get up to make coffee and get to whatever the day will bring. It would be fine if I just woke when he did and got up, but it is that 4:30 a.m. wake up and watch television until he gets up that is starting to wipe he out. It was also so cold in my room last night and this morning I thought I would freeze. I guess that is why heater vents are supposed to be open in the winter. I also wonder if maybe the east door of the garage might not have been open last night. I kept hearing something and that might have been the culprit. We have the floor/ceiling between the garage and our room well insulated, but I am guessing that after 16 plus years, it is not the same as when it was first put in. Anyway you know it is cold when the floor is uncomfortable to walk on in stocking feet. I can’t imagine being outside overnight in this weather, but ….

Two Blue Jays all puffed up trying to stay warm

Two Blue Jays all puffed up trying to stay warm

So the title today mentions bird watching. I am so tired that the only thing I have accomplished other than a few loads of laundry and putting away a little junk is watching the Blue Jays have at the sunflower seed pod that I laid on the trailer before the first of our two snow storms hit. They were all over it today. I tried to get better pictures of them, but the only thing I could manage was through the kitchen window, and there I was juggling for a clean spot. I also think they noticed movement because they would grab a bit and take off right away. They are the easiest to spook of all the birds in our yard. I think some cat got one last summer, so it is good they are on the look out.

Looking for food at the base of the stalks.

The stand of sunflower stalks. The Blue Jay is in this picture someplace.

Sneaking up to the food.

Sneaking up to the food.

Last fall, I took plenty of pictures of them hanging out in the sunflower stand in the garden. This morning one did hop into the garden and dug around for food at the base of the flowers. We talked about cleaning out the stalks prior to the snow storms hitting, but there was still some seeds in them, and we agreed that we would leave all of it as cover for the birds and what they can eat is all good with us.

Roger sleeping on the freshly washed bedding, that will teach me to leave them there.

Roger sleeping on the freshly washed bedding, that will teach me to leave it there right out of the dryer.

Well, I do have more paper work to complete and I could do more in terms of clearing out some of the clutter. I was hoping that James and I would spend some time cleaning the fridge and the pantry tonight, but maybe that would be a better job for tomorrow morning. I think my time will be better served at the sewing machine today. Anytime we have as much sun as there is coming in the south window today, I should take advantage. The lighting at any other time stinks in that room, and this would give me the chance to really see what I am doing. On the other hand, a nap sounds really fine, and the sunshine means the room is nice and warm and …. I am drifting away already. I guess I will work on the clutter tomorrow, for now I will enjoy the day relaxing and maybe Roger will be interested in a nap, too. Well you can see from the picture to the right what I found when I went to check up on that crazy cat. Take care and stay warm and fed.!!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. — Trail Baboon

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota We have five grocery stores in our town. We gained one large Cashwise during the oil boom, along with a brand new, bigger Family Fare that joined the two smaller Family Fares we already had. Walmart was already here. It really is too many stores for a […]

via Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. — Trail Baboon

Advent: Dec. 3 Haak family Christmas

Today James and I attended the Haak family Christmas. It was right in Herreid, so sort of a no brainer that we should be there. It is always interesting as to who shows and who doesn’t. Two of his sisters were missing. One was on call (she is the nurse amongst the siblings) and the other was home because she had a reaction to getting a pneumonia vaccination. I tell you one doesn’t know which way to turn with some of that. No wonder my primary doctor is my chiropractor. I keep telling myself that as long as I don’t go to get checked on anything then I don’t have it. Of course in my family we all die of stupidity anyway, and there isn’t really a test for that. Enough said.

The gathering was at the local community center/skating rink and most of the younger ones put on skates and had a good time after we ate and the tables were cleared. Each year that we gather, most of James’ siblings exchange a small gift for each other as couples. It started with the idea that we would give each other something that we had on hand. The farmers might give everyone a ring of sausage they had made in the fall butchering. The gardeners (like me) often give a canned item, some would purchase a plate and fill it will baked goods. We have gotten items of woodworking or sewing and on and on. Lately it is more and more items that were purchased, and I am ready for it all to end because we have more than we need of items setting around the house.

Green Pepper Jelly modified version.

Green Pepper Jelly modified version.

This year, James and I, mostly me, decided we would give some of the pepper jelly that is in the cabinet in the basement. I went back into this blog to see when I first made this jelly, and found the initial write up on Sept. 12, 2014. It was somehow in a two part blog. I found the recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning and it is pretty good, though lots of work. I haven’t really used it because it turned out too runny. I think perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough. Well, today we took 10 of those little jars to the kitchen and dumped them into a kettle and began to boil them down. When they had boiled for around 20 minutes, I turned off the heat and added a packet of pectin then resealed them and processed them for 10 minutes. They are now thick. The only problem is that I thought I could go from 10 jars to 9, but ended up with only 6 1/2 jars. I needed 7 for the gift exchange. I gave one of James’ sisters a different jar of jelly as we see her quite often. Then we skipped the two who were not able to attend with the idea that we will get them their gift later. As it was, I took that 1/2 jar and used it for snacks at the gathering. I was surprised that there were good remarks. I served the jelly on crackers spread with creamed cheese. You couldn’t really tell that it was pepper jelly, so perhaps it would be ok to use more jalapeño if I ever do it again.

Not too much else to report for today. We did downsize by one cardboard box and seven jelly jars. I am happy about the cardboard box, but the jelly jars not so much. Someone in the group told me they don’t make jelly and would be happy to offer me some jars. Bring them anytime. I started to realize today, we need to get rid of the dead space in the garden and plant more tomatoes and peppers again. Enough of this cutting back. It is the canning and the garden work that keeps some of us going. Enough for now, stay warm and Happy 22 days until Christmas……

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