Diary of a Homemaker’s Week:  And Now I Know

Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: And Now I Know


Saturday:  I'd told John to expect to feel tired after his outing on Friday afternoon.  I remember how wearing it was to me to get out of the house after two weeks at home with sciatica and it was surprising how weary I was on my return.   Well, he did feel it and was glad to be home once more.  

What was unexpected was how tired I was.   We went right from supper into Shabat and then I settled in my chair and went right to sleep.  I woke after thirty minutes but yawned all through the evening until I gave up and went off to bed.  John came right along to bed early as well and as far as I know we were both sound asleep within seconds of saying prayers.  

I cleared out and reorganized the fridge freezer yesterday afternoon and found two croissants at the back of the thing.   I only had two bagels left in the last packet bought in February.  John seldom eats two but almost always eats one and half of another.  This was no problem at all this morning, since I had the croissants which I found toasted nicely.  I ate the croissants; he had the bagels.  

I guess I'm practicing for time change.  Late lunches have been the rule and not the exception of late.  It's been past 1pm every day before I think to start our meal.  Ditto for later suppers.  No surprise that time change will occur this coming weekend.  I should be right on time with everything after that...Ha!

The new kitchen island arrived this morning which surprised us.   It was slated for delivery later in the week.  I hope John feels up to tackling putting it together this week, but I'll be patient with him.  This piece will be heavy, far more so than the last island.  I don't want him hurting himself when he's on the mend!

Meals:  Bagels with cream cheese for John, Croissants for me and a cube of cheese.  I made Orange juice for us to drink too.

Taco Baked Potatoes

Beef Brisket Sandwiches, Fries, Fruit

Sunday:  John was convinced he'd manage church today.  I was less so but I won't argue with him over this matter.  I know he's frustrated and chomping at the bits to be back to normal.  I set my alarm as requested.  I don't know just what time he woke last night but he got up and came back to bed.  "You awake?" he whispered.  I grunted and he said "Just turn off the alarm..."  I could hear the disappointment in his voice but I shut off the alarm without saying a word.

We woke early enough but not quite as early as we might have if going to church.  I put together a breakfast and unloaded the dishwasher.  I had coffee while we watched the early service online.  I miss church as much as John does but I'm glad that we have this option for hearing the sermon.

After church, I headed into the kitchen.  I sorted out the fridge, pulled items out to make a lasagna and pizza toppings and salad ingredients.  Rhonda is on to a good thing in prepping salad ingredients ahead.  I'm much more likely to incorporate a salad with our meal IF I've taken that few minutes to prep ingredients ahead of time.  I find keeping them in separate containers and being sure that I don't over prep lettuce keeps things fresh.  I have enough at present for at least two salads each for us, but if I did more than that I've noted my items start to look less than prime.  I'm not so terribly picky about the rusty edge on lettuce but John is convinced it's not rust but decay and he won't eat it.

I wanted to make a vegetable lasagna for supper and so I pulled out zucchini that I'd grated and frozen, frozen bell peppers and frozen spinach.  A tomato and half of another that had gotten lost, were softer but still fresh enough to eat were also chopped up.   Onions and grated carrots also went into the lasagna.  I just layered the vegetables on top of the noodles, along with sauce and cheeses.

The carrot I pulled from the bag was HUGE.  I think it netted me about 2.5 cups of carrot.  I certainly didn't need all that in my lasagna (I just made a smaller one), so I decided making carrot muffins would be a good thing.   I put about 1.5 cups of carrot in a separate bowl along with raisins and the other usual muffin ingredients.  I put the muffins in to bake along with the lasagna.  

After I'd prepped the pizza toppings (for us and Katie, the children want cheese and pepperoni and nothing else), I mixed up my pizza dough.  I slipped the pizza stone into the oven to heat after the muffins came out.  

About that time everyone arrived at once.  Katie came out with Caleb.  Poor little fellow, has allergies something fierce.  So does Millie.  Neither of them can breathe very well and Caleb's eye kept watering up as well.  Both children are on allergy meds.   Millie refused to do a thing but sit in my lap once Katie and Caleb arrived.  Caleb came over and crawled up for a hug and kiss and hoped Millie would come down to play but she stubbornly refused to do so.  I finally set her down and told her I needed to finish lunch, which set up a cry of "Eat!  Eat!" from the two youngest.  Isaac sweetly allowed Caleb to hang over him as he played on the Kindle and I saw him reach out and put his arm around him a couple of times.  Those two have always had a sort of bond.

Katie and I made up plates and glasses and we all sat down to eat together.  I love the moment when we all take hands and sing a little prayer that Bess taught Josh long ago.  "God our father, God our father, once again, once again, we will ask for blessings, we will ask for blessing, Amen, Amen."   The children end it unconventionally with a shout of "Yay!" and clapping, but God loves praise and I think the praise of children must be more than sweet to His ears.   It was a joy to see Caleb singing along with the other children.  John and I have taught it to him but he seldom gets to sing it with other children.  He was especially pleased to show off how well he could sing along.

I fed the children heartily but they all asked for seconds and then about half an hour after we'd eaten, Josh and Isaac both claimed hunger all over again.  Katie took Caleb home.  He wasn't in the least happy over that.  However, his mom has homework to attend to for her next quarter of classes so home they went.

The children played well, and I really enjoyed them.  However, about the time we were having a snack (homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk) it was noticeable that Isaac was tired and testy and so was John.   They had a mini spat, both apologized and made it up but it was clear the day was drawing to an end.  I'd meant to have them a bit longer.  Millie was antsy to get outdoors.  I texted Bess they were heading home earlier than planned saying they wanted to play outside.  I added, "I'll lay money they claim it's too hot once they arrive home..."  I was right, lol  Bess texted me about five minutes later saying that they Isaac was begging for iced water and Josh and Millie had gone indoors to play.

I'm so glad that I cooked our dinner earlier today!

Meals:  Eggs, Toast

Pizza, Muffins, Apples, Mandarins

snack: Chocolate chip cookies, Milk  Note to self to make more freezer cookie dough.  The kids were so totally impressed that I made them cookies.   All I did was lay frozen dough balls on the cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. 

second snack: for the children.  They ate a second muffin on the way home and took some muffins home to their parents.

Veggie Lasagna, Salad with homemade croutons  BTW I bought the Tucsan Garden knock off of Olive Garden salad dressing at Aldi.  It's really good.   I think it's worth the extra cost over their usual Italian dressing. 

Monday:  I'm sitting here in my chair, having recently had lunch and trying to get up enough oomph to go finish off the kitchen cupboards.  I am overwhelmed.  Part of that overwhelm is the tiredness I feel after weeding that back porch flower bed which I did first thing this morning.   

All the upper cabinets are empty and clean (food and storage cupboards only.  The dish and glass ware cupboards will not be emptied until I find the dresser and shelves I want to use there).   I have relocated some items which emptied more spaces.   I need to empty the whole lower food cupboard now.  It's not an ideal storage space.  For one thing there is a shelf that runs the length of the thing that is 1/3 the width of the cabinet's depth.  There is a good 12 inches behind where I typically store food that just remains empty.  The shelf is so low that you might well stack things five or six high on it but the lower level won't allow a double stack of anything.  So there's a lot of thinking to be done.  

And then it occurred to me that likely when we do take down the upper cabinets, we'll probably take down those above the baking center as well because it's attached to the stupid useless cabinet above the fridge.

I sat down with pencil and paper earlier and tried to sort out my thoughts on paper before executing anything and that worked well enough.  I realized that the cabinet under the sink is underutilized and always has been.  Again it's a horrid little spot that isn't conducive to being used for any sort of storage.  I have most of my filled water bottles there but I had decided some time ago that many of those could go into the master bath sink cabinet which does free up space.  

Now I've put all the storage pieces, glass jars and plastics in the space under the sink.  The empty drawer I'd left for Caleb now holds all my baking cloths and drawer liners for the fridge.  That frees up about four sections of cabinet on the baking center wall.

I also decluttered broken plastic pieces, things I can't see through and all the pickle and relish and condiment jars that I've saved for storage pieces.  I kept only the wide mouth salsa and Queso jars which I find most useful as storage for the fridge. I will put those other jars out near the dumpster so that if anyone has a use for them they can take them.  Every jar in that sack has a lid that fits.  I moved all the canning jars and storage jars I'm not currently using back to the pantry with the water bath canner.   So space has been cleared.  It's just a matter now of figuring out how to rearrange the foodstuffs and mixing bowls.

Off I go.  Not exactly with a fresh wind but at least with a will to see this thing through...

Meals: Carrot Muffins, Chicken Sausage Patties

Turkey Salad, Mandarins

Italian Sausage and Rice Skillet   I came across an old recipe I'd tried back in 2018 when Bess and Sam had moved in that just fell flat with us.  So why repeat it?  Well, I didn't exactly.  I sort of adapted it.  You see, I'd noted in a blog post way back when that we hadn't cared for it and why.  Then I thought, "Well why on earth haven't I tried to change those things?"  Oh this turned out good!  I'll share the recipe as I made it tonight.

Italian Sausage and Rice Skillet

1 package chicken Italian sausage (I used the ones from Aldi)

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1/2 large onion

1/2 green bell pepper

garlic, minced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/4 cup Italian Dressing

3 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

2 cups cooked rice

My sausages were frozen.  The original recipe said to slice and brown but I didn't.  I just cooked the sausages in the tomato sauce and water until they were thawed and cooked through.  

I cooked the onions and peppers in a separate pan until just tender.  I sliced the cooked sausages, then I added the vegetables, garlic, Italian dressing and rice to the pan with the sausages and stirred to combine.  I sprinkled with the Parmesan Cheese.  

This tasted so good.  

Tuesday:  John is playing a lovely old song by the Limelighters called Seven Daffodils.  Do go have a listen.  It's one of the first songs he played for me after we met and he didn't even know how much I loved Daffodils at the time.  https://amzn.to/373I8jU  <> if you'd like to go purchase this album or something else.  I earn a small commission from purchases.  That commission does not add to your costs at all.

He's told me often how he came to have the album.   His stepfather bought it and John 'adopted' it early on.  Joe bought a second album and John 'adopted' it, too.   I think his stepfather was flattered that John enjoyed music that he himself liked.  

Notice I included the Amazon Associates link?   I discovered today in trolling about on Amazon that Amazon no longer recognizes the widgets it passed to all associates to use on their sites.  Isn't that fun?  They do want us to continue to link products but build our own widgets.  I barely got the one they provided installed after weeks of struggle.  So, if you'll pardon me, I'll just stick a link in here and there when I am featuring something and if a post doesn't contain a link, I've included a coded link at the very bottom of the blog page (go all the way to the bottom) which you can copy and paste.  I'm sorry for the confusion.  I've removed the old widget already since I couldn't get it to work, and others said they couldn't either.    And now I know why that's been such a problem and hopefully it explains why I'm not seeing any type of commission from that source.   

I have done little today or it feels like little, yet I've been hours at what I have done.   I slept quite late this morning, as did John.  He was up only minutes before I myself got up.   I made a simple breakfast and sipped my coffee and decided that I'd make a trip to the next town and the discount grocer to pick up whole chicken for 98c a pound.   I urged John to come with me.   

He continues to improve steadily and I told him today that I think perhaps he'll manage church this Sunday.  I find that the more he moves the better he is and I'm trying to stay in behind him and insure he does get up and move on a routine basis.  Last night he tensed up as he was walking and ended up in some greater degree of pain than he'd experienced all day long.  I'm hopeful he's truly on the road to improvement now.

So, we headed out to take off trash and head over to that grocery.  He didn't go in.  He never goes into that store.  He seldom comes with me to it but he did today.

I always report on prices in that store because for me it's a testing ground of what prices overall might be in our area, as it's a store where prices might be about average.  It's not high end nor terribly low end.  Their 'discount' is price on shelf plus 10% added at register.  Most things there are a little higher than Aldi but now and then there are some exceptionally good buys.

Chicken is one of those items.  The brand sold there is carrageenan free.  About every other week, whole chickens are 98c a pound, and leg quarters about 59c a pound in 10-pound packages.  I priced wings today which were marked on the package as $3.98/pound.  I didn't price breasts nor other chicken parts.  There was plenty of chicken in supply.

In the beef counter, I noted boneless should roasts were $4.75 a pound, while bone in chuck roasts were $5.57/pound.  The ground beef looked abysmal, so I barely glanced at it.  Cubed steaks were $3.98/pound.  

In the cured meats section, Hillshire farms sausage abounded.  I've mentioned several times that is something I've been unable to purchase from Publix or Kroger for months now.  I purchased one package of Turkey Kielbasa.   The price was $3.75 for 14 ounces.   There was no sort of turkey sausage except two sad looking frozen Butterball brand tubes (I don't like that brand at all).  The last time I'd looked the cost of those was nearly $8 a pound tube but this week the shelf said $1.92/pound.  There was no Turkey Spam on the shelf at all.

I didn't look at meats any further, but I did walk up and down the food aisles and noted prices there.  Hunt's tomatoes were the highest at $1.79 a 15 ounce can.  Remember that all prices I'm mentioning would have an additional 10% added at the cash register, so those Hunts tomatoes would cost nearly $2 per can!  I found that very shocking, since I'm accustomed to getting the tomatoes at Aldi for 49c a can.  I'll be curious to see what they cost tomorrow when we shop there. I walked down the canned vegetable and beans aisles and noted that on that aisle the store brand tomatoes were $1.29 per can.   Most canned vegetables (they have a great variety at this store) were a few cents higher than in the past but nothing surprisingly high. 

I purchased Hunt's spaghetti sauce.  I've been accustomed to finding that for 89c a can but today it was 94c a can.   A small jump in price, but nothing to be aghast at.

What did jump considerably and surprised me, was the cost of the Knorr bulk loose powder beef and chicken bouillons.  I want to say it was a 64-ounce container.  Formerly it was at the high end of the $5 range but today it was $7.91 a bottle.  I went ahead and picked up two of the smaller jars which had been just over $3, now about $4.50 for each.  I noticed that any type of canned meat broth had risen in costs as well.

I did not notice a higher cost on flour.  Since John has asked me to not buy at Aldi after we had those odd little bugs, I've purchased at Kroger, Publix and Food Depot without any issues, but I was definitely paying more than at Aldi for flour.  I think the last I bought at Publix was $2.69/5-pound bag.  I found Gold Medal all-purpose with an expiration of March 2023 today for $2.12.   This was a 50c savings over the store's brand.   I bought 20 pounds total and am seriously thinking of going back and buying at least that much more. 

I was surprised at the higher cost of pasta and tortillas.  I've been able to buy a whole wheat spaghetti, macaroni and penne in 1-pound packages for 79c a few months ago.  Today those same packages cost $1.29.  Still a bargain compared to buying elsewhere but quite an increase in cost.  I typically don't buy a lot of tortillas, but I have some leftovers here at home that I wanted to make burritos from, and I needed flour tortillas.  The average cost was over $2 for all brands, in smaller packages.  There were no large bulk purchase packages.  Some of the name brand tortillas were nearer the $3 mark.  

Corn tortillas were much cheaper per package than flour tortillas.  I saw a lot of big bags of Masa Harina.  I've never noticed these in the store before.  The bags were probably 20 pounds.  I wish now I'd at least glanced at the cost of them, but they had at least two pallets in two different locations of the store.

Spices and herbs are higher of late, too, even the lesser-known brands or store brands.  I even checked the Hispanic spice sections.  Chili powder was nowhere to be found in the store.  Ground mustard is another spice that you can barely find at present and it's costly.

Eggs were about what I've heard they might be.  I think the dozen size carton was $1.79 but 30 eggs were around $2.97.  There were none of the 60ct cartons.  The last item I looked at was cheeses ($7.69 per 16-ounce bag.  That's high.).   I don't know why I only looked at shredded because I seldom buy that, though I do price it routinely.  Now and then at Aldi it's cheaper to buy shredded Mozzarella than blocks.  Perhaps I was thinking of that because I looked only at Mozzarella, but all the 16-ounce bags were that cost.  Cream cheese packets for an off brand was $1.72 and I considered that a great price compared to Philly cream cheese at $2.92 for 8 ounces.  The last cream cheese I picked up was $3 for 8 ounces for brands with which I'm not at all familiar.

Well, that's my report on grocery costs and availability in my area.  Now I know about what we're facing in our area.    Tomorrow, I intend to visit Aldi and Publix.    I'll report what I see in those stores, as well.

We came home and I put things away, made us lunch and called to attend to a bill that I remember well that I paid but was undoubtedly lost in the mail.   Fortunately, not one of those vendors who charge a late fee.  I let them know I had checked my bank account and would be reissuing the check.

That sent me off to my desk to work on bills since we get paid tomorrow.  I wrote out bills, figured our true balance, and know where we stand for this month ahead.  I am trying to go to the lowest grocery budget balance I'd said I'd hit.  We'll see how that works, lol.  I'm still saying I can manage it but if I cut too deeply into what few wants John has, I'll definitely have to raise the bar a bit higher.

We ended the day with Caleb and Katie running by.  He's learned to open doors and I offered her the two doorknob covers that came with the baby proofing package she'd brought to us.  The moment he walked in Caleb shouted "Hey!" and then "Eat! Eat!"  We all laughed but I'd planned for them to eat with us, thinking it would save Katie a bit of work at home.   We had a fun supper but after supper that child was half wild.  He switched on and off machines and ran and ran and fussed back at anyone who fussed at him.   He looked and sounded better, as the allergy medications are taking effect.

Katie mentioned that she'd meant to fix Caleb milk before leaving and thought she'd left a full cup on the counter.  She'd never in fact poured the milk, just opened and rinsed the cup and set it down.  I'm glad she didn't make it as I was thinking today that I needed to use that particular carton of milk to make biscuits and possibly something else tomorrow.  It's been open more days than it's meant to be used in and I'd hate for him to have less than good milk.  She mentioned she had no milk at home, but I told her never mind, I've five cartons of shelf stable lactose free on the shelves and at least two expire this month.  I ran back indoors and grabbed them up and told her to let me know when she needed more as I have three more that will expire next month.  

And that was this day.

Meals:  Turkey Bacon, Toast

Pizza Leftovers

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole, Green Peas, Peach and Cottage Cheese Salad

Wednesday:  I should have listened to myself this morning.  I went off to the kitchen to have coffee without showering and dressing first.  I'd barely begun my coffee when I got a call from Katie saying nursery had just informed her that Caleb had thrown up. and would I please go pick him up?   I hurried to do the things I hadn't done on rising.  John insisted he go with me, and I had to wait a few minutes longer for him to be ready but we went on to pick up Caleb.

I'd read Prudent Homemaker's weekly post last night and went through all the comments.  I find that she, like Annabel has a good cross section of nations represented in her readers and commenters and it's nice to glean information about what's going on in other regions/states/countries.   A lot of them mentioned ga was over $4 a gallon.  The last time we filled up was on Friday and that was $3.69.   Katie mentioned on Monday she'd gotten 8 gallons for $25.  Imagine my shock as we went through our small town this morning and discovered gasoline here is now $4.45.   At the station where we typically fill up near Warner Robins and the interstate, the sign was blank but neighboring stations were all over $4.25 a gallon as well.  

We went on to pick up Caleb and I asked to run by Publix which was the nearest grocery (basically across the four lanes.   I picked up my prescriptions and the few sales items I'd determined I should get and then looked at a few other items on my mental list of things to buy.

Cabbage was 39c a pound.  I have never seen so many cabbages at once.   And they were beautiful! I wanted two of them, but the heads were HUGE and I knew I had limited space in my fridge to store it.   I may go get more now that I've learned this from "The Spruce Eats".

I bought potatoes only because I'm out of fresh and don't expect to be able to get back to a grocery until probably next week.  I hear all the time how cheap potatoes are.  I paid about 70c a pound for potatoes today and that's a 'good' price here.  Potatoes are cheap compared to other foods overall but the 20-30c a pound prices do not exist in my area.    I bought one pound of strawberries for $1.66, again a very good price.  Last year berries were seldom below $2 per pound.  I live in the state next to Florida where strawberries are now in season.   In a couple of months they will be in season here in my state, so I eat a lot of fresh strawberries this time of year.

I checked on shelf stable milk.  I bought two cartons that expire in December.  Everything on my pantry shelves right now expire in April.  I looked at lactose free to keep on hand for Caleb but all the cartons on the shelf expire this month.    

I got corned beef on sale and bought two.  John and I priced these back in early December when we were gifted grocery money and they were $11 a pound then.  Thank goodness St. Patrick's Day seems to be the big sale on corned beef.  I usually divide mine in half but realize as I type this that I threw them whole into the freezer this morning when we got home.  Oh well.  Neither was huge.

The clearance spot is in the Pharmacy and I always check those shelves.  More often than not, while things are a good buy they more often than not are not things we'd use.  Every now and then we get lucky.  Anyway, I discovered these little Kodak 100 piece puzzles which I picked up.  I was thinking they'd be just about right for the middle grandchildren.  Taylor, Isaac and Josh should be able to put them together just fine.  I also thought they'd be a nice little something to take someone who was in the hospital.  It would easily fit a hospital tray table and help pass the time.   And I got diapers.   I had a few on hand but this time I listened to myself when I thought "I probably should get a box of diapers..."

As near as I could tell, prices were fairly near what I saw yesterday, except shredded cheese was on sale for $5 a pound.  There was more sausage in stock, including a full shelf of Hillshire Farm smoked sausages which have been out for months on end.  Shelves didn't appear empty at any point except in the dairy case were cream cheese is kept.  They were limiting that to so many per customer.  I bought cream cheese yesterday so I only glanced at prices, not what the limits per customer were.  Philly was $3.09 per 8 ounce package or about $6.18 per pound.

Caleb didn't throw up here but he definitely has a tummy bug.  Thank goodness I got those diapers!  He ate about 4 teaspoons of applesauce and a saltine cracker.  Mostly he sipped on his very watered down juice.  I tempted him with 1/3 of an ice pop this afternoon, meant to keep him hydrated since he wasn't drinking fluids at his usual rate.

He was obviously miserable and just wouldn't lie down but eventually I got him on my lap and put on a video on my phone.  He was asleep in seconds.  After about an hour or so he woke, found a more comfortable position and went back to sleep and still later, woke again.  I changed him and he went over to the pallet on the floor and wrapped himself in a blanket and went back to sleep.  I think he slept something near 3 and a half hours this afternoon.  

I'll have him here again tomorrow.  I'm hopeful he'll be all better but I'd rather he come here than have to go get him.  I think he'll be ready to go back to his group on Friday.

One of the bonuses of picking him up today: I discovered that his classroom adult is one of the girls I typically see on Sundays at church.  She recognized me right away as I did her.  There are only five children in the class.  The room was brightly lit, there's a door that opens directly onto the playground and the place was clean as a pin.  The children were happy and playing when I came in.  The kitchen is in his building as well and the aroma of the food cooking smelled pretty awesome.   It might sound silly, but knowing what environment he's in each day, makes me feel much better.  I felt the last tiny bits of guilt slip away.

Meals:  We never got breakfast.  I ate half a cereal bar.  I think John grabbed a cube of cheese.

Chicken, Potato Salad for John and me.  Applesauce and saltines for Caleb.  Picked up fried chicken for Taylor's weekend ahead and then went back and got a second one.  I only heated two pieces, put the rest in the freezer.  It will be convenient for us on another day.

A variety of leftovers.  I set everything on the counter and told John pick and choose.  I still have a few more leftovers.  One group I'd set aside to make burritos with.  There's another leftover that I mean to makeover into another meal as well.  And what is left yet, we'll eat for lunch over the next couple of days.

Friday:  Ending here for this week.  Caleb's better.   I have the viral thing.  Going to rest.

(C) Terri Cheney
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