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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Dinner

Of course, you know my Easter meal would be cheap because of my parsimony. I did spend money but not much. 

ham, potato salad, purple hull peas, jello salad

brown eggs dyed with food coloring and vinegar
 Jello Jigglers = a mess
I love the festivity of Jello Egg Jigglers at Easter. However, after a cursory search I could not find the little funnel to pour the Jello into the mold. If you have never seen one of these molds, it has a hinge, opens to release the Jello egg.
This was much messier than usual. I spilled enough to fill another egg. Red Jello was all over the counter, too, before I cleaned it up and then took the picture. There would have been yellow and green eggs, but I was not up to dealing with the mess I was making. So, red it is. Next time I make Jello Jiggler eggs, I will locate the little funnel well ahead of time!
Jello eggs--black cherry
 This meal was only for me. If others were eating, I would have cooked more dishes.
**things bought this week
eggs-free from my hens
Purple Hull peas, frozen--on sale bought two months ago
Jello--sell-by dates of 2011 and 2012, probably on sale
color--been here for several years
**bananas--on sale
apples--store sale, been here for a month
sweet pickle relish--half-price with coupon and sale, last month
dill pickle relish--half-price with coupon and sale, last year
**celery--sale on Friday
celery seed--very old container, still good
**fruit cocktail--full price yesterday!
As you can see, I did not have to purchase much for Easter festivities.
When I grew up, Jello salad was on the table for every holiday in a glass bowl shaped like an apple. So, it does not seem like a holiday unless I have a Jello salad with fruit cocktail, apple, and bananas. Mama always bought black cherry Jello and strawberry Jello, mixed in the bowl. I used the black cherry for the Jello Jiggler eggs and strawberry for the salad.
We always had ham, potato salad, Purple Hull Pea, green beans, and at least 3 or 4 more items. What foods other than chocolate were constants on Easter when you were growing up? The Jigglers are a recent addition just for fun.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cheap and Free Food

bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich for exbf

As usual, I am all about getting food free or at least cheap. A BLT this time of the year is so refreshing.
Bread: from loaf of whole wheat bread, no preservatives, $1.19
Tomato: free from chicken box on Wednesday
Lettuce: from a head that was $0.99
Bacon: from a BOGO package of bacon
All that is from raw material cost: $4.19
If I purchased all the items at the regular cost, the raw materials would be: $9.19.
I guess you might say this was a half-price sandwich. Even the mustard was cheap. I had bought the bottle of French's mustard several years ago with a double coupon. If I had had a sandwich, the Miracle Whip would have been half-price.
At the Grocery

At one grocery I looked in a refrigerated bin that said "reduced as marked." In there was the Minute Maid Orange Juice for $1.79. I usually pay $2.79. SCORE

At another store the next day, I bought milk again this week for $1.59 per gallon. This was the shopping trip where I needed another $4 worth of purchases to get the deal, and I purchased the brownies in the last post, an item that is sure to rise in price drastically if the Walmart price is any indication.

Chicken Box

Most of the peppers are in the kitchen to dehydrate. Exbf took divided the good tomatoes between us. The hens got ones that were not molded. I have no idea what happened to the potato.

Next few days purchases
White grapes on sale--$1.29/lb
Brown and confectioner's sugar on sale--$0.79
Kraft cheese--$2 for 8 oz
Celery--have to search for lowest price

I cannot wait to eat a BLT today. Yesterday, I was not hungry since I had just had scrambled eggs.

Your turn
Are you finding any good milk coupons? Are the Easter sales good for you this week? Were you the lucky recipient of free food for you, your chickens or other pets?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One Grocery Price Doubled

DON'T judge

I love chocolate. It doesn't have to be high end. I am no chocolate snob. I want my chocolate cheap. Cheap! However, I do have standards. I am not so parsimonious or stingy to eat nasty chocolate.

Betty Crocker is good and good enough. Yes, my homemade brownies are better. But there is a method to my madness.  Let's get on with this post as I am drooling on the keyboard on my laptop. I paid $0.98 for a pouch of brownie mix. I used the last of three or four I had bought. Since I usually just make a brownie in the cup one at a time in the microwave, this pouch can last for weeks.

As I was in Walmart this week, I decided to get another pouch of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie. I picked it up and the price caught my attention--$1.98...gulp. The price had doubled. DOUBLED! I put it right back on the shelf.

I don't recall any other item doubling in price at the grocery store?

Tuesday night at my regular grocery store, I had no intention of buying Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies. I went around to see how much it was at this MUCH more expensive store. I could not believe my eyes. It was $1. Only one dollar. Oh, it was marked down from $1.29. There was only one hour until this week's ad expired and I was on a mission and needed to spend four more dollars to save four dollars. I will explain that in another post.

There were no items on sale and I was going to invest in something.  I now have four pouches of brownies, hopefully enough to last me for the rest of the summer.  Don't judge me. This will be so much cheaper than any chocolate treat except for baking from scratch. I know you have a stash of something. Right?

They are kept out of sight, hidden so that when I rummage around and find them, they are a happy surprise. Yes, it is silly to trick me and surprise me. But, if they were in sight, I would mindlessly consume brownies.

Save money. Live better. Huh?

Your turn
Have you found any one grocery item has doubled in price in the last three months? Are you as stunned as I am?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oven Temperature Conversion Chart

Sometimes, but not often, I run into a reference to a temperature for the oven that I am not familiar with. I don't want to ruin or waste my food.  So, what to do? I look at this chart that I found somewhere.

Now, I cannot type  below the chart I copied from my documents.  Tell me if you will, do you still read and hear these terms instead of a definite temperature?

Very slow ovenbelow 300 degrees F.
Slow oven300 degrees F.
Moderately slow oven 325 degrees F.
Moderate oven350 degrees F.
Moderately hot oven375 degrees F.
Quick oven375 - 400 degrees F.
Hot oven400-425 degrees F.
Very hot oven 450-475 degrees F.
Extremely hot oven500 degrees F. or more

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Farm to Market Roads--2nd try to Post

Even into the middle of the last century, farmers here in northern Alabama often lost their whole harvest, picked and loaded onto a truck. The loaded produce rotted on the farm while the family watched and waited. Rain made the unpaved roads impassable for days. However, even a one-day delay was all it took for a truck full of produce to be unsalable.

A friend agonized as he told me of the plight of of his neighbors' rotting harvest sitting on the idle trucks. He thought that Big Jim brought north Alabama into the 20th century. People in north Alabama still idolize Governor "Big Jim" Folsom (elected governor in 1946). Farm-to-market roads lifted people out of desperate poverty. People had hope. The roads effectively deflected one of the weather problems associated with a successful year on the farm.

We take it for granted that our food we raise or buy will have no problems traversing local roads. Food just automatically comes to the farmer's market. This week has been rainy and more is expected. As I was out driving in the rain in the country at 6 a.m., I was grateful for the vision of Governor Folsom. Read the article below for more of Big Jim's vision.
(By the way, I knew Big Jim. Our daughters were in the same grade and played together often.)
"Former Governor James E. "Big Jim" Folsom, father of Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. was inducted into the Alabama Road Builders Hall of Fame April 14th at a ceremony in Montgomery.

The Alabama Road Builders Hall of Fame was formed in 2002 to properly recognize the many individuals and companies who have contributed so greatly to the transportation construction industry in the state of Alabama. The mission of the Alabama Road Builders is to honor, preserve and perpetuate the outstanding contributions of individuals and companies that have brought and continue to bring significant recognition to Alabama.

Folsom was honored for the implementation of Alabama’s“Farm to Market” Road program. Folsom rightly understood that the entire economy of the state would be stimulated if we facilitated getting products to market in a cost effective manner. Beginning with the vision of paving 100 miles of road in each of the 67 counties in Alabama, Folsom eventually spearheaded the construction of over 18,000 miles of paved roads in the state. Folsom’s infrastructure program also constructed 217 miles of bridges statewide. (bold mine)
Approximately $650 million of federal, state and county funds were invested in the program. Historians have judged Folsom’s “Farm to Market” program as one of the most efficient and effective uses of combined state and federal funding in our nation’s history.
The legacy of Folsom’s vision is that Alabama entered the mid-century poised to attract new industry that would restructure the Alabama economy and lead us down a pathway that continues to bear economic fruit today.

The Alabama Road Builders Hall of Fame was formed in 2002 to properly recognize the many individuals and companies who have contributed so greatly to the transportation construction industry in the state of Alabama. The mission of the Alabama Road Builders is to honor, preserve and perpetuate the outstanding contributions of individuals and companies that have brought and continue to bring significant recognition to Alabama."
This information is found here.
Your turn
Can you imagine working all year, fighting the weather all year, finally picking a crop and then watching it rot in the yard? Year after year, some people lost their harvest due to the lack of roads. Farm-to-market roads exist in many states, possibly yours. Were you aware of the projects in your state? Some far-to-market and ranch-to-market roads are marked as such. Ours aren't.

Friday, March 22, 2013

47 Reasons I Like. . .

How about starting with 47 Sunday coupon inserts?
. . . Exbf.

Okay, I am not shallow. He does have other redeeming values that are more impressive than paper.
Who thinks I will have fun with my little scissors? Have you ever had this many new, in date, gleaned coupons fall in your lap without moving a little finger to acquire them?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yardsale Pots

a quarter each

Last week when the temperature was in the mid seventies, I bought pots to plant flowers and herbs. Yesterday, when  it was in the mid fifties out, I got them out of the trunk of the car. Today, now in the mid thirties, I am thinking about planting.
Each of these pots cost a quarter each. When I said I would take them, they were stacked. So, I bought a stack of plastic pots for $1.75. Seven plastic pots made me happy. They are not pretty, but they will do. Yesterday, when I took them from the trunk of the car, I discovered that two were actually terracotta. Sweet! Look at the two in front, the largest and smallest. Exbf came to see why I was squealing with delight. He was disappointed to see it was just the little pot below.
this little pot is the one in the group picture--cute!
Look at the little one above, the one about 7" tall. I love the design. So, I am especially happy with my really good deal.
Since I am not into self-torture, I won't plant anything today. It's too cold. I just need to muddle along to the next project...when I get warm.
Your turn
Do you ever find pots for your use at yard sales? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Food: Some Free; Some Cheap

free apples for me  from the chicken box

chicken box with chicken share left in box
There were several avocados and pears that may be okay. Ex bf had already put about the same amount in his car as I have in the bowl. I had him take the best since I will be cutting and cooking my bowlful. These apples I have for my house are barely bruised. His were almost perfect. None were soft! The chickens got the softish ones.

Cheap Food

At the grocery this week, they had a $2 coupon on a gallon of the store brand milk ($3.69). And, I was able to get the limit--2 gallons.  My milk was $1.51/gallon. I used the Internet coupon for their pineapples for $1. Yes, I got the limit of 2 earlier this week. Then, I got my 5% off because I am a senior citizen. Cokes were still $11 for 4 12-packs. That is $3 less than buying the Cokes at WM would be. With a $2 coupon, I paid $.98 for lettuce. I managed to buy a lot of food for a little. I did buy other items. This was on two separate receipts which I did not check for the percentage saved.

Today, I cut the one pineapple that was ripe. It was delicious. Without coupons and sales and senior discount, I could not buy all I do. I really like deals. I love free.
Your turn
What free food have you scored lately? Any good sales?

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients I had on hand

Okay, today is the 20th of the month and I have no money until March 1st. This is rough. I need to run the dishwasher. Standing long enough to wash the dishes in the sink is just not possible. So, I did what I often do--start throwing different cleaning products in the dishwasher. I measured nothing but here is a guess as to what amount I put in.

Salt--1 tsp
20 Mule team Borax--1/4 cup
Washing Soda--1/4 cup
Vinegar (white)--1/4 cup

I may have possibly put more. As I said, nothing was measured. It would have meant standing longer. My back was hurting and would have complained even more.  Everything was just tossed all over dishes. No, I did not make an attempt to put it all in the bottom of the dishwasher. I would have had to bend!

My dishwasher has two compartment, both of which should have liquid. The door on the compartment for the second wash will no longer open. So, I deal with it. But, I don't deal with it very well. At first when it broke, I opened the dishwasher door and added anything from the list above (except for the salt). When I remembered, I added a second wash dash of something.

Today was the first time for this particular combination, and it works well, best combination so far.

Someday, I will figure the cost on this formula.  I spend about $4 on the Palmolive, so this might be cheaper.

After I used this, I found a formula for dishwasher cubes. Maybe I will try this with some juice from a free, scrounged lemons.

If you use Baking Soda, you may be upset at the white coating on your dishes. I figured out how to control this issue and resolve the white coating issue. When the rinse cycle comes on, put 1/2 cup white vinegar in the dishwasher--no more film.

For this load of dishes I used no vinegar for the rinse, just in the wash. The dishes are sparkling.

Your turn
Does anyone ever use homemade dishwasher detergent? Well, I suppose it is not detergent! Do you have another formula you like?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How To Cut A Hotdog

This post is about waste! I suppose you did not know you need a cheap piece of garbage that is over-priced to do so. Sooo, $9 will get you this.

The child can put the hot dog on the blue piece. Lay the brown dog on the blue piece and hot dog. The hot dog is cut lengthwise and crosswise at the same time, forming small pieces of finger food. Catsup goes in the dog bowl. Oh, my gosh. How have I ever survived without this?

I am not impressed.
The only possible explanation that would justify this purchase would be to encourage a child to eat. But, really, do we want to encourage hot dog eating?

Your turn
What could you do with $9?
I could buy almost enough milk to last me a month.
I could buy oranges, apples and bananas, about 2 dozen pieces of fruit.
In order to have milk, fruit, vegetables, and meat for a week, I could spend this $9 and have all.
$3.49 gallon of milk
$2.50 four pieces of fruit, probably more
$1.00 head of lettuce or other vegetable
$2.00 one lb of meat that is not processed like hot dogs
Sure, I could make a different list, but that is off the top of my head.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Cast Iron Cookware Restoration Part 1

this is not the worst
I have lots of cast iron skillets, pots, and lids that are all rusty. When I read a blog post, four blog posts, about soaking tools in vinegar to remove rust, I thought I might have the solution. So, today, I started. The skillet and lid above did not originally go together. The lid cost me $5 and the deep skillet was given to me.

The brush is a new, nylon brush. No matter. I have lots of cast iron and the brush was only $1. The brushing made lots of red dust in the air. Then, I had red dust on my fingers and then on my clothing.

When I used a rag to try and remove some of the red dust, it did not seem to work very well. Notice the rag with candy cane print. I sewed from that about 25-years-ago. Storage for scraps was no problem until lately.

My $5 lid is Lodge

The free skillet is a Griswold.
I cooked in this all the time.

18 gallon Rubbermaid tote
I poured one gallon of vinegar in the skillet and watched as a bit trickled into the bin. Obviously, I planned to put more vinegar in, but two gallons of vinegar will not be enough. I had other pieces of cast iron to add to the bin, but the weather turned bad quickly.

The Doppler Radar indicated bad weather was on the way--SOON. I rushed to put the hens up halfway through this. The lid to one of their Rubbermaid homes had blown off, so I got them in, fed them, put the top back on the bin with a brick to hold it down.

Back to the other side of the yard I hurried. Only pouring the vinegar in was left. There was no time for more vinegar or more cast iron pieces. Since I had not gotten the mail, I hurried out front. The back yard I left had a black horizon and sky above me. Thunder rumbled near and far with a bit of lightning glow, no streaks.

3 PM--the only light in the sky is in the east.

I was amazed by the stark beauty of the limbs in the middle of the lighter space. The wind kicked up so swiftly and violently that I ran as well as I could back to the backyard and the side door. I only got this one shot before I became alarmed. The bin with vinegar and cast iron had already lost the lid to the wind. As I ran to get the lid and ran to the other direction to get a brick to anchor it, I thought, "I cannot believe I am risking my life for a lid to cover the vinegar." A limb had already blown across the porch steps, blocking my way.
These rusted pieces have caused me consternation for a long time. I managed to clean one piece myself. All have been through my gas grill to remove the worst crud/grease/rust. Exbf cleaned one and hurt his hands. If he did not scrub so hard, it would be easier. Then, way back in the fall, Mark clean two for me because I promised him one. When I read jambaloney's tool restoration post, I thought maybe I had hit upon a solution. Things are looking good.

Your turn
Have you ever used vinegar to clean rust from cast iron?

I Bark at Night...Yes, I Do!

This is an ultra-cheap means of controlling the raccoons in my ceiling. It works. Since my raccoons are habituated to light and noise, what else is left? I started by snarling and hissing. Hissing seemed to work. But, it did not work for long. The mama raccoon is back, probably pregnant, possibly with already-born kits.

One night when the hissing seemed to have lost effectiveness, I decided to bark. Terrified that a neighbor would hear, I just continued. Each time I heard the slightest movement, I howled and barked. Did you know that is difficult on the throat? It is. I don't know how dogs bark so much and not get really hoarse after the first few seconds.

I stomp around the room, bark, hit the walls and ceiling with a paper, sort of raking it along. Glossy paper won't leave ink on things, I hope.

The real problem with all this is that I cannot spend the night up and alert, barking. I need sleep. Maybe the raccoon just lies still until I leave the room. One of these days, I am going to throw a coon dog up in the ceiling and let all hell break loose.

Your turn
Did you ever try barking to rid your place of raccoons or other critters?  If you hear me barking, please don't call the authorities to the old lady who has finally lost her mind. Thanks.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vaccines: Pneumonia and Others

Let's talk about the most important thing, the most valuable thing, to all of us, our health and how vaccines can help us to stay healthy, to ward off cancer.

Let's face it, we get vaccines to keep us healthy. However, saving money is not a bad thing at all. Three vaccines, pneumonia, HPV, and shingles will keep you healthy AND save money on future health care. Unfortunately, no matter how healthy I feel and how young I feel, the press says I am old and more susceptible to certain illnesses than a younger person would be. My only 'conditions' are orthopedic, so far.

Pneumonia vaccine and sinus infections

By the way, not only will you be protected from pneumonia, you will have fewer and less virulent sinus infections and ear infections. Children who have numerous ear infections are helped by the pneumonia vaccine. Do you know a child who suffers ear infections? An adult?

Fortunately, the pneumonia vaccine is only required every five years. I had a pneumonia vaccine in 2008 and another last month. I have had sinus infections and ear infections, but usually I can get rid of the symptoms, even the fever, with home remedies. I have required fewer antibiotics the last five years.

Charlie and exbf both have sinus problems, so they are scheduling a pneumonia vaccine.

My pneumonia vaccine was administered at the Health Dept in 2008. There is no need to schedule an appointment with a doctor and no charge if you are over 60. Now, call the Health Dept first and check the procedure in your area. Drugstores now administer both these shot. So, there is no doctor's office visit. Again, check first to see if it works in your area as it does in mine. Drugstores take insurance as does the nurse sitting in Walmart administering vaccines.

I still have allergies, sinus infections, and ear infections. Now, I spend less money on antibiotics and doctor office visits. Of course, the best part is that I feel better and take fewer antibiotics. Not only have I improved my health, I have improved the status of my wallet.


Let's talk about the HPV vaccine. This is to protect from the Human Papilloma Virus. HPV causes cancer of the cervix. However, any adult activity, even kissing, can cause the virus and subsequent cancer in teens and adults. Throat, tonsil, and other mouth cancers are caused by HPV. Of course, there are other causes. This article from Web MD will shed more light. By the way, condoms will not protect a  person from HPV.

Various places on the Internet, various sources, give the ages for which the HPV vaccine has been approved. Some sources say that the age is as low as nine-years-old and up to twenty-six-years old. Hmmm, I have not kissed all the frogs that may come into my life, so maybe I can still get this.

The Pap smear women have is to determine if there is cancer of the cervix, mostly caused by human papilloma virus.

My eighteen-year-old  grandson is has taken the three vaccines for HPV, and my granddaughter will get them when she turns twelve-years-old.  Yes, just kissing can spread HPV to mouth and throat structures..

Read this from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for more information. Here is more information from Web MD.


Anyone who has had chicken pox still has the virus within the body. It re-emerges as shingles. My friend's mother had shingles on her forehead and became blind. The pain is excruciating. I do not want to experience that pain after friends have described the torture.

Recently, I discovered shingles is contagious! This article gives a great, comprehensive overview of shingles.

Remember, you should not be around babies or pregnant women or women who can get pregnant. There is a great risk of passing chicken pox to certain populations.

We are not going to debate the use of vaccines. I will never get another tetanus vaccine because of horrendous reaction I am my two-year-old had about three years apart. So, I understand fear. I will never have the tetanus vaccine and neither will my daughter.

Bacterial Meningitis

Since I am facing spinal surgery, the thoughts of infection from the surgery terrify me, literally terrifies me! Two weeks ago, the pharmacist administered the vaccine for bacterial meningitis to me.


I have not had the flu since I was a teen--over 50 years ago. Maybe it was not even the  the flu. When I turned sixty, it seemed like I should go ahead and get the vaccine.

Tuberculosis Test

To keep my teaching license current, I must get this done. Anyone can get this done at the Health Department.


It is next.

Like I said, this is not a discussion of the pros and cons of getting vaccines. The post is for the encouragement of those who do believe vaccines have a place in our health care--get your vaccines and have your children immunized. If you are passionately against vaccines, I respect your opinion to rant on your blog and I will rant for them. Okay?

Your turn
Were you aware of the pneumonia vaccine's connection to sinus and ear problems? Have you had a pneumonia vaccine? Were you as shocked I was a few years ago when I read the HPV and throat/mouth cancer connection? If you are over sixty-years-old, have you had your shingles vaccine?

Friday, March 15, 2013

To Save A Life

As an infant, I was adamant about not getting my feet in grass. Mama said she tried to put me in grass to walk, but I shrieked and drew my feet up higher than my bottom when I was first stood in grass. Certain foods never passed through my lips. Mama said she entertained friends with my grass avoidance antics.

When I was 23 and had allergy tests, I reported all that I am allergic to--basically everything and specifically, grasses. She was sad, cried, and said she thought the grass avoidance was funny. She apologized for days, sometimes through tears.

Some foods or scents make me woozy at times. They always have. I am labeled a picky eater by people who are into making judgments. My lifelong ear and throat problems are the first symptoms of my throat swelling shut--anaphylaxis. I feel like skewers are being poked into my eardrums. It is excruciating.

Anytime anything green touches me, I have itching and possibly hives. Until I was six, meat was just not going to come near my mouth. Until I was twenty-five, the smell of chili nauseated me and made me weak. Can you imagine how I spent my days at school when chili was served? I walked around in a stupor. Finally, once home and after a little recovery, I felt almost normal.

I believe that all the foods I turned down with "I don't like that." were foods that my infant and toddler body reacted to with an expression of "dislike" because my mind did not have the knowledge to express " allergic." Having fed infant siblings, other children, and three babies of my own, I know there is lots of food rejection going on that probably makes it difficult to determine what is texture/taste rejection or allergy rejection.

If you have a child that complains about different foods, maybe it could be an allergy. Read this story of a young man who died from half a cookie. Often, one bite of bread will throw me into excruciating neck, ear, and throat pain.

Your turn
Does you have allergies that are sometimes disabling? Experience with others' allergies? Do you label people picky?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Many Cups In A Pound Of....?

2 cups of dried Lima beans
If you have ever wondered how many cups in a pound of anything sold by the pound, just look here. This site tells how many cups various items are that are sold by the pound but measured by the cup when consumed or cooked. Think: beans, sugar, flour.

We buy dried beans by the pound but measure the beans by the cup when cooking or eating beans. I never measured beans before I cook them, but it is nice to know the yield if I am cooking to add them to a recipe. Anyone storing food long term needs to know how many servings are being stored. Conversely, if a person is using storage and needs so many pounds of fresh apples, that person needs to know how many cups of dried apples will make the pounds required for a recipe.

If I am cooking directly from the pound bag of beans, there is no problem. But, for people into long term food storage, there is no bag each time to reference this information. When baking, I look on the sugar bag if I have not opened it to make sure I have enough for marathon baking. Of course, that bag has usually been emptied into a canister I can seal. Then, I need a chart! You get the idea.

Update: I copied this to a document. copy/select all/copy/paste

Your turn
Don't you love charts like this one?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Have You Ever Received a Pounding? I Have!

Now, this is not naughty or hurtful, just good clean, frugal fun. Have you ever had a pounding? The good kind we can celebrate and talk about fondly in front of children? If you hear someone will be given a pounding, never fear.

A pounding is a gathering where someone new, usually a couple,  is welcomed to the community, church, or group of people. A pound of food is the only gift from each person.  People also give poundings to people down on their luck.

A pounding is a party where people help someone out by giving them a pound of food. When 30 or 100 people participate, the recipients end up with a pantry full to help out in a hard situation. The hard situation could be newlyweds setting up house. It could be to help a person out of work or after a long illness.

The custom dates back to Quaker days. The food was gathered in a wagon and delivered. Or, everyone brought it at once to the couple's  home. They dropped off their pound and left.

It is not a party in the sense of food and drink. A pounding can follow a church service. Mostly, it is just the act of bringing something weighing a pound. Food can be presented in two ways: The group can gather the items and present it in boxes. Or, the items can be brought one at a time and presented by the giver to the beneficiary. I like the gathering of the food and presenting it in a box or boxes.

Typically, the 'pound' is ingredients, but maybe some people give boxed meals today. I hear toilet paper and paper towels are also part of modern poundings. At any rate, people give shelf-stable items. Items can be mundane like flour, green beans and corn. Items can be more 'exotic' like olives and anchovy. Okay, those are not exotic, just not what the great majority of people open for dinner for their families.

When we moved to one new church, we were given a pounding. My ex-husband was concerned at first, thinking he was going to be slugged by multiple men. I cannot remember what we got, but most of it was appreciated. All was used. We had not bought food for weeks before moving, so my pantry items were low.

Your turn
Have you ever had a pounding? Who gave you the pounding? Have you ever helped to give a pounding to someone? Would you like a pounding?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hunger and Hard Times IV

This is the fourth in a series of five articles written by Johan, my friend from Romania who lived under Communist rule in the 1960s and 1970s. If you want to know his background, read the first three parts.

Hunger and Hard Tmes I

Hunger and Hard Times II

Hunger and Hard Times III

I learned that nothing is forever, but at the time you don’t think too much about it, just live and try to make it somehow better. So, tired of my kitchen camping, I threatened the government locators to give me a place to stay or I will stay in their office. Shortly thereafter, I was assigned a room in a rundown building without running water or a toilet. It had a brick gas stove which could have come in handy if was not half demolished. October can be cold in Bucharest.  I had to sleep wearing two pairs of pants and my winter coat, besides being under some blankets. Not having a place to wash was the worst part. At least, public and restaurant toilets were plentiful in Bucharest at the time, assuring I could find a toilet.

But, things started to look up. With Lenuta’s intervention—my Mom’s best friend—I got a lab job at Policolor, the ink and paint factory. It was a long, over one-hour commute in two crowded tramways. But, I had a job. My coworkers were slightly deranged and used to tell me, “You stink!” It was not a happy situation, especially for them. Besides my weekly shower at Lenuta’s hospital where she was a doctor, I did not have many other places where I could wash.  Luckily, this did not last every long because the government locators, under my almost-daily pressure, soon gave me a different room.

The L-shaped room in a much better building with a wood-heated, terracotta stove and a share sink just outside the entrance door in the staircase. The neighbor was a nice, single mom and her young, ten-year-old boy. Therefore, there was no overcrowding for the cold water in the sink.  We were almost like a family, just each living in their own room. Ohh! I almost forgot there was also a toilet, this time on the ground floor. We were on the second floor, but it did not matter much. Cold, running water seemed and was so much better.

Who needs a kitchen when you can live on bread, salami, bologna all your life? I also had the cantina at the factory where a quick lunch cost next to nothing. It had to cost next to nothing because I was making next to nothing. A few months later I learned that next to nothing is better than nothing at all.

Being such a spoiled kid by my previous living conditions with my mom in the one bedroom and living room apartment which included a kitchen and a full bath, I decided I will not sign the government papers for the L-shaped room and told them that I did expect something else, something better.
This something else and better came in the spring about 6 months after my return to Bucharest—a cozy room on the 3rd floor of an old building. It had two windows overlooking the busy street and a gas-heated terracotta stove. And, on the same floor hallway there was a full bath, and another separate toilet and one sink. We had to share all this among the five or six people living on the same floor, but it was practical, warm, and I could take a shower daily.

 Once I signed documents taking possession, I made some major cosmetic improvements  to my place. I painted flowers on the terracotta stove with lacquers and inks taken from Policor. I wrote ostensibly on the window so everyone could see it.
                                               I HATE YOU ALL

This was a misstatement because I did not hate anyone.It was just a  hippie rebellious slogan attitude.

I had my factory job, and life there was good for a single, 18-year-old young man. I was centrally located next to Bucharest central train station, close to public transportation, and had my own place. I could invite girls over and discovered that sex is wonderful!  All this was in a warm place with a toilet and hot water on the same floor…not bad at all.
Your turn
I am not sure I could have been so outspoken when he was. Could you?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"This Does Not Have To Be THAT Particular!" Waste of Money and Time

A friend (NOT EXBF) uttered these words in exasperation after I mildly complained about how he was making a mess and doing this all wrong.

Then, "this house is a piece of shit anyway, so what does it matter?"

Have you ever seen someone who just skips a step or does something entirely wrong if you don't keep an eye on him? Or, her?

I went inside before he started on the window to get the glass for him then brought back a rag. One pane was missing. The rest of the panes were either gone or had a 1/4 to 1/2 inch crack between the glass and wood. The tornado sucked them loose or out. He replaced two of them several weeks ago. FEMA said I could replace or repair them myself. It was explained that anyone could do this. Well, the bottom of this kitchen window is 9 feet from the ground. The panes are caulked to the outside, so this cannot be done from the inside. If so, I would have done this two years ago. I have an 8 ft ladder and a 21 ft extension ladder. I cannot climb either safely. Actually, even if I climbed either, I could not stand on the ladder.
So, a friend was going to do this for me--replace three panes of glass and caulk. And, at least put caulk on the loose panes to hold them to the window. I bought the glass and caulk. I have two caulk guns. When the wind sucked out two panes several years before the tornado, I bought enough panes so that I would have enough and had two left for this project yesterday, plus I had the panes sucked out but not broken. Two weeks ago, he replace two panes. That left one pane missing and the rest loose for him to fix on Saturday.
I was not present when he started, but two minutes after the job was begun, I arrived outdoors with a rag he requested. He was holding his hand flat against the pane and trying to hold it in place while he caulked. Immediately, I knew he skipped a step. He did the last pane several weeks ago and did it correctly. I know because I watched.
This time, he decided to skip the caulk that holds the glass to the window. He was just going to save time. NO. FAIL! He just kept working and finally said, "This job is not that particular."  I got his attention and gave him a stink eye. Finally,  I said, "And, I suppose when I write letters that are perfect for you that I should not take the time to compose them correctly?" He looked at me and held the caulk gun toward me, "Do YOU know how to do this? Here, take this and let me see you do it. You need to do this since you know how."
"Hmmm, then I suppose you will have to spell every word I type for you. And, you can tell me where the punctuation goes." By the way, he cannot spell well enough to even attempt the word and let the computer guess what he wants to spell. He cannot spell, seriously!
He turned around and took off the pane he was working on, the really messy one in the picture. He turned it over and tried to make it stick with the caulk he had gotten on it while trying to caulk it to the window! I yelled at him, and he took off the pane and put caulk on the wood outside the window, just like he could have done 15 minutes before. In the meantime, I am left with a window I cannot reach to clean.
He used a whole tube of caulk, a tube with 10% more. AND, I still have window panes still not free of breeze, flies, and cold air.
This person makes messes for spite to show you he can do the opposite of what is supposed to be done. This would not be so bad if he were truly incompetent. He is having work done at his house. He and he guy who is a woodworker do the job together. My friend knows how to do the job, so makes sure it is perfect, just lets the other guy do the work. He demands excellence.
On the window on the right, he finished the job by putting caulk on all the wood, using the wood to scrape caulk. See how white it is. He swears it does not have caulk on the wood. He did not have paint up there with him, so why is the bare wood now white?.
We barter but not on a strict trade off. So, he can get on the ladder, use a razor and get this mess off if I ever touch a keyboard again for him. However, he correctly pointed out to me that I only said do it, not how and not how neatly.  So, it is all my fault. Really, honestly, I take all the blame for assuming he would do a job correctly, efficiently, and not half-ass do a very simple job. Oooo, I would love to repeat those words back to him when it is time for me to compose an important letter for him. Yes, I know that is nasty, not nice, and tit for tat, not a game I like to play.  
For about 8 panes, he used a whole tube of caulk. Only one pane was out. The others were just ready to fall. Now, folks, that just cannot be right--8 panes for $8 worth of caulk?! This is not the first time I have purchased caulk for a job. No, he is not taking it, just dripping it all down the ladder and on puddles on the grounds and squirting it all over the ground. So far, I have spent about $30 on caulk. I went and got the last tube and it is awaiting his return. Thankfully, the friend who helped me with the plumbing was generous and I had enough left for the window supplies.
AND, he managed to get caulk all over the gun. I realize that happens, but this must be cleaned off because the silicone will not get hard. The old stuff did dry to a hard lump. Not this! Here, 24 hours later it is still tacky. I know that getting caulk  on a caulk gun happens all the time. But...that would not be bad, but our hands were sticking to the gun. Neither of us could shift our grip once we took hold of the tacky guy. Have you ever tried to handle the grip on a caulk gun the day after silicone caulk had been smeared all over it?
Whew, I feel better. No, not really. But, this is the quality of work I have come to expect as a single woman, especially as I get older. I found a screw left from another job, just half screwed in. I asked why and was told the screw was 1/2 too long and that it would be okay like it was. WHEN?

When I have helped someone out for free, I can tutor, give educational advice, sew, or write resumes. I never have just done a half-way job even for the poorest person. I treat volunteer work like I would a job and do my very best.
Now, I do not mind a volunteer being slow, not an expert, or grumpy. However, to deliberately waste material, time, and money is mean-spirited at best. Yes, there are other angry women who relate how he destroys things before fixing. Sometime, he just throws out items for his girlfriends because he does not want to do the job, just say he did it. We girls talk. Okay, they complain to him and to me.

Update: The cardboard in the window was what was taped there and retaped for the last two years. I have gotten it down now.

Another update: A commentor reminded me of points used to hold the window in place. No one that has fixed this window has been willing or knew how to use the points I bought for this occassion! The caulk in the gun was the only thing they would consider. Don't blame me for not knowing. Just blame me for being too broke to afford proper help.
Your turn
Do you subscribe to "beggars can't be choosers" when it comes to handyman offerings? Have you ever felt that you had to watch someone to assure the job is done correctly? I know guys do this with cars? Am I being overly-critical when I see vital steps skipped and only hear, "This is good enough for you?" It is hard being poor and desperate.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hunger and Hard Times III

Be sure to read the first two parts:

Several years later after doing some growing up and finishing high school I was back in Bucharest. This time the Big Brother has confiscated the apartment where I previously lived with mom who had escaped 3 year earlier to Western Europe.

From what Johan told me about ten years ago, when his mother escaped, he moved to live with his father. He graduated from high school and then moved back to Bucharest.

But they did not let me freeze on Bucharest's streets although for few weeks I was sleeping in my friend's Vlad’s kitchen. It was a small 6 by 8 feet place but had everything... shelves, table, two chairs, sink, stove and a fridge. I believe it was a fridge, but because probably most of the time it was empty I have no good memories of the fridge. I was sleeping on top of the stove and the table next to it, almost enough room for me, but the bad part was the  height difference between the two--about 4 inches, just enough to make my night uncomfortable.

 Most of you are asking yourself by now why 2 friends, boys, did  not share the bed or at least the room--because Vlad was already sleeping in the same bed and room  with his mother even if we were 18-year-old grown ups. ..Strange? Not at the time--those  were sometimes the  normal living conditions in Romania at that time. You will also think-- hold on now!--this is the exception to the rule. Perhaps it seems so. Just often it seems [that it is the exception]. 

I was an integral part of the exception. Before mom got the nice 1 bedroom apartment where so happily I was inviting my spitting/playing buddies, for several months we had only a small room underneath the roof of a five story building without  a lift/elevator. The one room did have a tiny sink and was furnished with a large bed, wardrobe, small table and two chairs and even a two eye electrical heating plate.

When one wanted to walk around in the room the other had to climb on the bed. The toilet had to be shared with some other fortunate people living in the same floor under the roof with five stories below. But it also had its advantages. It was in a nice old building, centrally located almost within walking distance to my high school and mom's working place.

Because we had no stove or dishes, I got to eat out at the restaurant almost every day..  I learned that nothing is forever, but at the time you don't think too much about it, just live and try to make it somehow better.  So, tired of my kitchen  camping, I threatened the government locators to give me a place to stay or I will do it in their office, and shortly thereafter I was assigned a room in a run-down  building without running water or toilet.

To be continued.... If there is any aspect of his hunger, hard times, or a specific issue you would like to hear more about, just include it in the comments. Johan returned to Romania because his mother was ill. I received an email that indicates she is probably slowly dying. He thinks she does not recognize him,  will only eat milk and cookies, and sleeps most of the time.

Your turn
I will convey all messages to Johan.

Monday, March 4, 2013

This and That and a Balloon

Improving social life
We were served spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. the guys playing in the back have a Peter, Paul, Maryish sound....very pleasant. It is a monthly occassion to catch up with old friends.

Why? What?

Why do I have a broken hen's egg in my back yard? My hen's lay brown eggs. Besides, my hens were locked up.

"Aha, food!"

I waited around to see what Thelma and Lucy would do. They were so excited, ran, jumped right on the the broken egg, helping themselves to breakfast.
Grocery bags

grocery bags to attach to cart
I was stunned when I saw these bags attached to the grocery cart. The couple was very enthusiastic about these bags. The clips attaching them to the cart came with the bags. They bought them from QVC. The husband told me they have two more just like these. Does anyone have these bags or know anyone who does own these?

 Not in my living room

This camo recliner struck me as bizarre when I saw it in a hardware store. I asked the clerk, "Are the wives really okay with this?" He assured me these were only put in hunting cabins. Yeah.....I really believe that.

On a lighter and irrelevant note

I was in Walmart about 1 a.m. and a young  woman approached me, offering me a balloon. Why? She told me they were leftover from the Twilight promotion at midnight. Who knew?

Anyway...I absolutely love a balloon. I remember as a small child no more than three-years-old, somehow we had a package of balloons. It was not a holiday. I think a relative gave them to us. I suppose we bought them or received them from someone. At any rate, my parents blew up lots of them, and I had so much fun. I begged my parents for years, yes, years, to buy another package of balloons. They never did, EVER.

When I go anywhere balloons are being sold or given away, I want a balloon. I need a balloon.  It makes me supremely happy and bouyant to have a balloon, to walk around with a balloon. However, when I leave a circus or zoo or festival, I always hand my balloon to a small child. It just seems right to share my balloon and bring joy. It will just die in the car.

Do you love a balloon or am I still stuck in some part of my childhood?

Your turn
Music, broken eggs, grocery bags, recliners, balloons. Any thoughts?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Windy Is It?

Can you see how ruffled their feathers are from the wind? They are in an area that is partially protected from the wind.