My Little Corner of the Web

What does a 50-year old retiree do with her time? This is my little area to talk about thrifting, repurposing, cleaning, organizing, decorating, gardening, cooking, family, and whatever strange and unusual thoughts come to mind. My dd and ds have both moved out, so it is just DH and me living out here on 20 acres near a small town in Missouri. My sister-in-law and I are going to open a booth at a local fleamarket/antique mall, so I am excited to work on all kinds of fun projects :) I hope you enjoy and find something of interest.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Housewife 2010

I love being at home.  I can go days without leaving and almost hate when I have to go out sometimes!  When my kids were younger and I worked full-time, we were constantly on the go.  The only day I almost always knew I'd be at home was on Sunday ~ and then I spent the day cleaning, doing laundry, grading papers, etc., etc.

I have learned so much about "building a home" in the last couple years that I've been retired.  Being raised in the 60's and 70's, I bought into the "Women's Lib" movement.  I still do, but I now believe that a woman can be liberated and still enjoy being a homemaker.  My dh told me, after I'd been retired for a few months, that he liked coming home to a clean house and dinner almost ready.  He quickly explained that he didn't want me to take that the wrong way.  He thought of me a much more than "just a housewife."  If I admitted that that made me feel good, was I abandoning my liberal ways?? 

I have definitely come to terms with this.  I have found that I love making our house into a home.  It's a place that's comfortable and homey feeling.  My kids love coming home and flopping down on the couch.  DH and I both love being here.  People always comment how comfortable my house looks.  Dare I say it?  I love being a housewife!  I love cleaning (ok, maybe "love" is too strong a word, there...)  I should say I love when my house is clean.  Now when I clean, I take my time and enjoy it more, knowing I am taking pride in my home when I "bathe" it!  I know it's hard to slow down and enjoy cleaning when you've barely got time to clean, but maybe a quick clean-up every night of the week (5 min.) will give you time to enjoy doing some cleaning when you do have time.  Don't think of it as drudgery, think of it as making your house a wonderful home....your wonderful home.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Procrastination - can it come back to bite you?

Lately, Sunday has been my "veg on the computer and/or read day."  Since I haven't had to work this summer, I treated myself to that as long as everything was basically cleaned up.  This weekend, the house was basically clean, but I wanted to get some stuff  done upstairs.  I knew I had plans to go out Monday and Tuesday, but the rest of my week was free.  Therefore, I figured I could work on that stuff later in the week.  I proceeded to do very little on Sunday.  Tuesday I got a call to sub on Wednesday.  Today while subbing, they asked if I could sub on Thursday and Friday as well.  You know, money is money...

So, now all the things that needed to get done won't be getting done til this weekend.  This is why I should go ahead and do the work when I have the time.  HOWEVER>>>> I refuse to work all the time and worry about cleaning!  I am so over that!  My house is clean.  It gets messy in spots at time, but it's clean and organized.  Life is too short.  I should not feel guilty about spending a day relaxing and doing something I enjoy.  This is the mantra I'm trying to get into my head.  I have worked and mothered so long, I feel guilty if I'm not busy doing something.  Ridiculous.  Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Monday, August 23, 2010

She loves me (or, rather, my cooking!)

Dd came to visit today, and I took her shopping for her birthday.  She'll be 20 next month ~ hard to believe!  She lives about 45 min. away in a house with some friends, and will be starting school to become a massage therapist next week.

She decided to stay for dinner, and while I was cooking, she copied down several of the recipes in my box.  This from a girl who would never come in the kitchen with me!  As she was going through the recipes, she kept oooohing and aaahhhhing and telling me how much she loved my food.  I guess it took her moving away and cooking for herself and her friends to appreciate me.  So for those of you out there with teen-agers, they do come around and and finally appreciate you. :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Cleaners

I've been retired for 2 years now, and have been fiddling with several homemade cleaners.  I thought I'd spend a couple of blogs talking about what works and what doesn't for me.  I am also dying to know what some of you out there use that works.

Why do we try the homemade cleaners?  To save money?  To help save the environment? To make sure our homes aren't filled with toxins?  All of the above?  Something different?  I go back and forth on this.  My answer would be 'all of the above.' So why do I still occationally buy the other stuff?  Actually, the only thing I still buy is Dollar General window cleaner.  It's a dollar, does a great job, and lasts me forever (which gives you an idea of how often I clean my windows...)

Here's my new favorite homemade cleaner:

The one on the right, silly!  I've read about it on other blogs and on some of the yahoo groups I belong to, so I take no credit for it.  It's the vinegar/Dawn cleaner some of you may have heard of.  Fill half your spray bottle with white vinegar, put in your microwave for about 30 seconds to get it warm. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with Dawn detergent.  The recipe calls for the original blue Dawn, but all I had was the orange, so I used that.  I started with the refrigerator.  Ours is white, and the handles were dirty.  I had tried everything on them, but figured maybe they were just worn down and the "paint" was coming off.  I used the new cleaner on them and, amazingly, VOILA!  Clean as new.  I then used it on the little drip pan that's below where the water/ice come out on the door.  I had also had trouble getting it clean.  It cleaned up great!  I love it when something homemade works so well!

I had read that the cleaner worked on soap scum.  I took it up when I cleaned the bathroom (if you remember the disgusting "before" pictures from a previous post...), and it worked great on the soap scum.  After awhile, I opened the cabinet and found the other cleaner (the Scrub Free, above,) and decided to try it.  Well, it worked the same, but the fumes forced me out of the bathroom.  I quit using it altogether, and it is going out to the curb.  This is my new bathroom and kitchen cleaner.  Cheap and wonderful. 

Please share what you use!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Men are from....???

A different galaxy, obviously.  My dh is one of those men who can fix anything and build anything.  I am sitting in the office he built me by knocking out a wall and building out over part of the front porch.  He is very talented.  I sometimes have wondered what my role is.  What are my strengths?  Ok, I was a good teacher, a pretty good mom, keep a pretty clean house, and am a pretty good cook.  A lot of "pretty goods," huh?  I'm not crafty, nor do I sew (I do the basics, and can sew, just not very well - nor do I have much interest.)

 One thing I really enjoy, and feel I'm good at, is decorating.  I feel like our home is our...I don't know...our sanctuary?  We planned and built it together, and it's our dream home.  When we built, we did everything top notch, but we saved on several of the accessories.  We have been replacing and redoing as we go along, a little at a time.  Since I've retired, I've re-painted the entire downstairs.  It's been redecorated mostly with things I've repurposed, so the process hasn't cost us much ~ very few, if any, splurges. 

One thing we've replaced as we've gone on is the bathroom hardware.  We started with these ugly, cheap plastic towel and tp holders.  As I've redone each bathroom, I bought new nice ones (although I was careful not to spend too much money, I got ones that I liked.)  Since I cleaned the kids's bathroom, I decided it was time for new, which I bought yesterday while shopping with a friend.  Well, dh was not happy and said the ones we have are fine.  WHAT??  Does he realize he's taking away my one thing I'm good at and enjoy?  Does he spend money?  HMPH!  So I went up today and took the old ugly ones off (I'm giving them to him to put in his bathroom in the basement - so there!)  I'm going to try to put the new ones on myself, so I'm going to learn something new.  I love my dh, but what is up with this?  Are you all marriage counselors?  Well, maybe...

OK - I'm through venting now, and I feel better now that I've gotten this out, LOL!  Sorry for rambling and griping.  I'll post pics of the new hardware when I get it up.  I also got the landing cleaned and painted it yesterday!!  Woo Hoo - progress!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Freedom" tastes like...

SHOPPING!!!  By freedom, I mean, the whole empty nest thing.  I had $20 "free" money I had to spend at Kohl's by today.  We live about 25 miles from the city (where Kohl's is), so I don't go "shopping" all that often (good thing!) For the first time in over 20 years, I really relaxed and enjoyed my shopping trip.  I've always had to 'hurry up and get home' for someone or something.  I've been wanting to try a couple craft projects (I'm not crafty, so these should be interesting...), so I went to Michael's after Kohl's to get some things.  Normally I would hurry up and skip Michaels because I 'don't have time to go there and don't have time to do any crafts...'  I wandered around in there for awhile.  Then I stopped at a "real" grocery store ~ as opposed to our little store here in town ~ and got stocked up on lots of stuff.  I took my time, in no hurry.  Wow.  What a feeling of....Freedom!  This empty nest isn't bad at all :)

An afterthought... I was doing a really good job of being frugal as well as buying low-fat stuff for dh and me at the grocery (we're both determined to lose weight,) until I rounded the last corner.  Isn't it great how the stores make sure there's the deli that you have to pass on your way to the check-out?  Here it was, close to 6:00, and the place smelled like fried chicken.  As I started to pass the deli, I noticed they were putting out fresh chicken, and it was chicken Wednesday -- 8 pieces of chicken and 2 large sides for 6.99.  Guess what we had for dinner?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frugal or Organized ~~ Separate but equal?

Two areas of my life that I am always working on, frugality and organization.  I feel that I do a good job of both, but there is always room for improvement, as well as questions...

When I cleaned out the bathroom yesterday, I took out a trash bag full of junk (some went to recycling.)  There were several bottles of shampoo, body soap, etc. that had "just a little" left.  There were several little bottles of lotion/soaps/etc that dd had gotten as gifts during her younger years - some were almost full.  The frugal part of me wanted to keep them all, or find something to do with them ~ surely I could come up with some great uses.  Nope.  I kept a couple bottles of things I'd use, and I threw the rest away.  I've worried about it, but have come to terms.  At this point, I am much more worried about having an organized house than I am about saving a bunch of junk I don't need.  If I don't need it and don't use it, I'm done with it!  Freedom!  Am I wasting money?  Maybe a little.  But my sanity is worth it.  Now that it's just dh and me, I hope we can live much more simply.

What do you think?  Is it "un-frugal" to get rid of things that could probably be used by someone else or at a later time?  Or is it just helping us to simplify our lives?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do boys ever learn to aim??

By my title, one might believe I have a young boy at home.  If you've been reading (I don't think anyone has...), you would know that we just took our baby off to college Friday.  I woke up today excited to clean the kids's bathroom.  Yes, excited! 

We built our house 11 years ago, and figured we'd live in it until they drug us out, kicking and screaming.  Therefore, we put all the rooms we'd need on the first floor, and put the kids on the second floor, with a bathroom and a landing.  Have I mentioned that my kids are complete slobs?  I know they do that just to annoy me.  Anyhoo, I clean their bathroom 2-3 times a year, and they manage to destroy it in-between cleanings.  Aside from my daughter living here about 3 months last year, it has been my son's job to totally destroy his bathroom.  Since it is upstairs, it is, sadly, easy to ignore...  Here is what I found when I went to clean today (warning: photos are not for the faint of heart..):

So, the pictures don't really do it justice, just believe me that it is a good thing DFS didn't come check it out, as they'd have closed us down!  I spent many hours in there and scrubbed until my fingers were raw.  Even took everything out of the drawers and cabinet and scrubbed them down.  I ended up with a load of clothes and a garbage bag completely filled.  As my title tells, I did have to scrub the walls around the toilet.  Seriously, how hard is it to hit the water??  I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the sides of/around the bottom of the toilet as well.  OMG!  How do people who were born of my loins live like this????

I am proud to say, that bathroom is the cleanest it has been since the day we moved in.  Here are some "after" pics:

VOILA!  I just love the feeling of a really clean room.  I suppose I won't be able to allow my children up there ever again.  Hmmm ~ perhaps I need to get them a port-a-potty?  I even put in a new shower curtain that I'd picked up at Dollar General a couple of years ago for something else, but never used it.  Anyway, this makes me feel so good.  So good, in fact, that tomorrow I plan to attack the landing.  I started on it a little bit today, so I don't have a good before picture.  Later, I'll move on to my son's room.  I'm going to have to purchase a gas mask first....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let my babies goooo....

We have boarders in our garage.  We live in the country and keep our garage doors open in the summer, and several years ago a pair of barn swallows decided to build a nest on the i-beam.  They return every year to have a couple "batches" of babies, as well as to poop all over the floor and our cars.  Drives dh nuts, but I sort of think of them as just more pets!  When we left yesterday, all the babies were out on the beam, walking around.  When we returned, all the birds were gone, flown off to wherever swallows go.
Where had we been, you ask?  Ok, you didn't, but I'll tell you.  We took our baby from the nest and moved him to college.  Now we, too, have an empty nest.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I have really been looking forward to it, but now it just seems odd.  Suddenly dh and I are  our own people, not just someone's mom/dad.  I always tried to be as involved in my kids's lives as I could, and now that is gone.  Don't get me wrong, I don't miss all that running around, and I really don't miss their messes.  Both my kids are slobs - probably because I was always nagging them to pick up ;).  I know I am going to enjoy this new phase of our lives, I think it is going to take some getting used to, though.  I've been cleaning like crazy today, and enjoying every minute of it - I know it is going to stay clean (although I'm not oblivious enough to know that dh and I will make some messes along the way!)

Do you suppose that mama bird cried when her babies left the nest?  Well, I suppose birds don't cry, but I did!  I didn't think I would, but emotions overcame me.  However, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only mama to cry when her last fledgling left!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The fruits, er, "veggies," of my labor...

Let me start by saying that my dear MIL is the queen of frugality.  I try to be frugal, but she takes it to a whole nother level (more stories later...)  She has always grown a huge garden, and pickled/canned/frozen every single piece of vegetable that grew there.  She has more done by 9:00 than I get done all day  (gets into her garden as the sun rises, picks, weeds, cans, etc. ~~ I'm still lounging between the sheets!)  So her son, my dh, thinks we should also have a huge garden.  The deal is, he does most of the taking care of it, and I take care of the produce after it's picked.  This weekend I worked on taking care of some of it.  Here is what was in my kitchen last night before I went to bed:



Yes, those are onions.  They've been "drying out."  Dh went through them and these are the best.  However, he said that some are a little mushy.  I think that's what I'll work on next.  I'm thinking that I'll go through them and take the 'yuckier' ones, cut out the bad parts, cut them up, and put them in small bags to go into the freezer.  Those can go into soups and such this winter.  Has anyone ever done that?

On Saturday, I took several of the cukes and made these:

Pickles!!  This is my 3rd batch this summer.  I've used the "Mrs. Wages" mix on all of them, and added extra dill and lots of garlic.  I don't usually use any mixes when I can, but my MIL says that's what she finds to be best, and if SHE will actually fork over the money for a mix, who am I to argue??

When I was working, I found canning to be kind of a pain.  Tomatoes were always ready right when school started, so I was stuck trying to get ready for school while canning tons of tomatoes/salsa at the same time.  Now that I'm a lady of leisure (HA,) I find it somewhat calming.  Weird?  I just love having something that you can look at and it's DONE.  Think of the time we spend cleaning and doing laundry.  And how long does that last??  When I can, I often leave the jars out for two or three days so I can admire my work.  It makes me feel like I've completed something that will benefit my family.  And me, lol!  I also made 2 batches of zucchini nut muffins that I split up and put in the freezer.  We'll eat on them over the winter, and I'm positive some bags will go to college with the kids when they com home searching for food like little squirrels!  Here's the recipe I used:  zucchini muffins .  Here's another great recipe for too much zucchini:  zucchini pancakes .  The recipe calls for carrots and zucchini, but I used all zucchini - as well as regular onions, since I didn't have any green ones.

Today I took those tomatoes, skinned and cored them, and got them ready for salsa - along with the peppers (cut them up.)  I don't have enough for a batch, so I'll keep them in the fridg until I get some more.  I bagged up most of the rest of the zucchini and cukes and will take them to bridge club tomorrow to pawn off on my friends! 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Blogger Here

I spend a lot of time reading the blogs of other people, so I decided, "why not start my own?"  I am hoping I have something to contribute, although I'm not sure what it is. 

I retired early from teaching 2 years ago.  I taught 25 years (mostly middle school, hence the reason I retired early!!) and I am now only 49.  Only 49?  It wasn't long ago when that sounded REALLY old!!  My daughter has been out of the house (for the most part) a little over a year, and my (baby) boy is leaving for college this coming Friday.  I will miss him, as he is a lot of fun....However, I'm totally looking forward to the empty nest, as is dh.  I volunteer for many things at school, and also do a lot of subbing in the middle school and high school, so I manage to keep busier than I sometimes want.

We live just outside a small town in Missouri on 20 acres.  We don't farm, but we do have a large garden that dh mostly tends, although I do the canning.  Growing up in the city, I never thought I'd enjoy canning, lol!  I am also really getting into frugal living, making as many of my own products as possible, and living as simply as possible.  I also "enjoy" cleaning - ok, maybe 'enjoy' is a little over the top.  Let's just say I enjoy having a clean house, and no-one but me is going to do it, so I'm trying to get into it.  I'm a list-maker, and maybe doing this blog will help me list what needs to be done.  Any suggestions?  When I work, I work hard, but I've also gotten good at relaxing...maybe too good!  Cooking is also a love of mine, and now that the kids are gone, I'm hoping to get better at planning my meals, especially planning around the sales (from our one small grocery store in this one-horse town!)

Again - this is a start, and I hope I can contribute some good thoughts and ideas to the blogging world.  We'll see what happens.  Thanks for stopping by :)

My back garden - dh working on our new fish pond.  It's wonderful!  This was about 2 months ago.  The garden isn't looking so good now in the 100 degree heat :(.