Diary of a Homemaker’s Week: Begin Somewhere


Saturday:  I've been fighting off anxiety for a week now.  Panic will suddenly rear up and I can't breathe and then it subsides just enough to make me feel that something truly awful has happened.  Nothing has but that's the way it's been, and it's gone on for a week now.   I hope as the Niacinamide builds in my system once more that it will begin to abate. 

I think part of it is barometric pressure which has been everywhere, up and down, and no rhyme or reason to it, but another bit of it?  John's back on his jag of listening to news and political commentary.  Yes, he does stop and put on a sermon, or a symphony performance or something that is soothing and innocuous.  He's being very balanced.  

But the truth is, I'm apparently very susceptible to the news.  I try to lose myself in a book and just as I think I'm buried deep in the pages, he'll suddenly stop the tv and ask "Did you just hear that!?"  I can't name the number of times I've assured him I was lost, don't care and on other occasions been downright snarky and said "NO, ON PURPOSE!"  It never stops him.  I must hear what has triggered his pique at that moment.  He doesn't rant or rage or fret.  But it's as though he feels it's imperative to tell me exactly what horror or stupidity I've missed.  He moves right on to the other thing but there I am, quivering inside, hating every last bit of unwanted knowledge being forced into my brain.

And then there's one more bit.  Reading online, listening to vlogs and hearing the continuous repetition of "We're all going to be facing shortages!  Prices are skyrocketing!  Be Prepared!!!"  and it makes me very nervous.  Truth. Two bloggers have taken the time to actually go over food prices based upon previous done videos and they both concluded that food prices have risen about 20%.  That is three times the amount of 'inflation' you're hearing about.  

Last night, I ran over to Katie's and noted that her front yard looked okay, the matting had held well through winter and wind, etc.  And then I saw the backyard.  It's over knee high.  I could see downed limbs and a broken plastic chair and something else sort of half hidden in there and I looked at the back of the house which needs attention.

On the way home, I thought of the broken piece on the front porch, the need to paint front and back and recalled that I'd noted the two sheds also needed paint.  I looked at our lawn as I came up the drive and I felt so overwhelmed and sick with anxiety about how to cope with everything.  

No, I wasn't tired or weary.  I hadn't worked particularly hard this day but again, it's that awareness that it's all a bit much, you know?  Without a doubt my exposure to news has beaten me down more than I'd realized.  

Today I had a nice distraction.  I had Taylor here with me.  Katie's ill and Taylor was scheduled to come.  She's done her nails, curled her hair, played with Barbies, read, and talked and talked and talked.  She's been good medicine to me!

Meals:  Bagels and Cream Cheese


Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad, Garlic Toast

Sunday:  This morning I woke naturally.  John had said we wouldn't attend church today.  I hurriedly dressed when I did wake, surprised that I'd slept to my more usual time.  When I opened my door there sat Taylor, dressed, hair brushed, smiling.   There sat John obviously enjoying his granddaughter's company.   It was a sweet sight.

The day has been well paced.  We had Gramma's Fried Chicken dinner with Caleb and Katie (all better thankfully) and played with children.  I saw them all off and then had a call from Katie who was going in the grocery to ask if I needed anything. I told her I didn't and then I got a second call from her a half hour or so later.  "Caleb's had a full blow out.  Do you have a change of clothes at your house?"  I did have a change for him as it happened.  Even though they don't live far from me, I understood the desire to clean the boy up as quickly as she could.  I told her to text me when she turned into the main road to our place and I'd run a bath.

So that was the second visit, a fast paced one with a lot of telling Caleb "NO!" because at this point he was tired and frantically busy to prove it.

It was a nice day.  At least today the sun shone brightly.  Between visits, I finished the Potter book which was mighty intense.  Probably not the best read for someone who admits she's struggling with anxiety at the moment, but it's done, I'm finished, there are no more.  I probably won't read it again for another 20 years, lol.

Plans for the week ahead just changed slightly for the better.  Katie sent photos of her mown front lawn. She did that this afternoon after she got home.  We'll need to do the back with a weed eater because it's too tall for the mower.  But that's half the job done at that house and it is much appreciated!

Meals:  Cereal, Toast

Gramma's Fried Chicken, Brown Rice (for me), Mac n Cheese (kids), English Peas, Slaw, Corn Muffins

Burgers and Chips

Monday:  The house looked very nice this morning and needed only very minor tidying up.  After breakfast dishes were done and I'd walked through the house and was satisfied, I told John I was heading to Kroger.  He had plans of his own, intending to get the lawnmower up and running and possibly weed eating the edges about the house.  

I also decided to skip doing any of the Publix sales. I reviewed them last night and felt nothing was such a deal that I ought to go into that store at all. I will, even if I'm out of budgeted money, if sales are really good, because these days, I feel that if something is in stock and the price is really good, it's best to go ahead and stock up on those items.  

I did run by Hobby Lobby with a very short list: candles (I found 3 pairs that I liked.  They still have extremely limited stock on candles), a frame for the smaller St. Augustine print that I wanted to hang (1/2 off sale) and then I looked over upholstery fabrics, thinking of the ottomans we plan to recover.  I found a pretty woven tweed like upholstery fabric that I liked a lot, which had navy, gray and ivory mixed.  I'm not sure if I'll opt for that or not.  The price is $35 per yard. I think I'd need 1.5 yards per ottoman and would have some leftover for pillow covers if I wanted to make them.  The deal breaker isn't the price, but that it's a dry clean only fabric.

On to Kroger where I prayed that I'd have self-control and stuck strictly to aisles I knew ahead of time I meant to go down.  Before going into the store, I went through the customer appreciation coupons sent to me this month and found several that matched items on my list.  

I headed first to buy eggs. I got 5 18ct-cartons for $1.47 each (loyalty card, digital coupon) and had a Kroger coupon for 40c off an 18ct.-carton Kroger eggs.  We won't need to buy eggs again until June, I think.

I had another funny grocery store moment.  Sam called while I was picking out eggs and I backed up with a carton of eggs in my hand.  I saw, with the bare minimal peripheral vision left, a boy standing behind me.  I said "Oh! Excuse me! I'm so sorry!" and then I started to laugh.  Sam said "What's going on?"  "I've just apologized to a child sized ad poster behind me, " I told him and he laughed, too.

Not a bad thing I 'backed into' that boy because my attention was caught by the freezer case of frozen orange juice.  I've been picking up cans for $2.29 to $2.99/12 ounces for the last few months.  John likes orange juice but not all the time.  Frozen concentrate is a good way to keep it on hand.  Kroger juice/12ounce concentrate was $1.25 a can.  I picked up six.

As I looked over the cheese, I caught a sale I'd missed in the ad.  32-ounce blocks of Kroger cheese typically run $6.99.  Not a bad price but I wanted to see what I might do at Aldi.  However, the sign above the case said that with a digital coupon those blocks of cheese and 32-ounce bags of shredded cheese were $4.97.  That's about $2.50 a pound which beats Aldi's lowest price point by about 50c.  I quickly went to the app, loaded up that digital coupon and bought five packages of cheese, 2 cheddar blocks and 3 shredded mozzarella.  I also had a $1 off store coupon.  So one of my blocks of cheese ended up being $3.97!  

I headed to spices next.  The Kroger tins of spices and herbs were on sale buy two get one free and I had a coupon for 40c off.  I picked up oregano and poppy seeds.  I put the poppy seeds in the freezer because they are quick to go rancid (as are sesame seeds)

I had seen another ad on the app for Ground Beef chubs, 5 pounds of 80/20 on sale for $14.99.  The regular price of those was $21.99.   I picked up my free Hillshire Farm sausage (customer appreciation coupon), then a bag of red grapes ($1.68/pound) and an 8-pound bag of navel oranges ($6.99 with a C.A. coupon of $1 off a lb. bag, making the oranges about 68c a pound).  Remember at Piggly Wiggly this past week a 4-lb. bag was $8.  HUGE price difference between a larger town grocery and a small town one, huh?

I stopped at the Manager's special rack, got a small loaf of Pumpernickel/Rye bread for $1.29 and a box of Croissants for $1.79/4.   Then around to the baking flour where I discovered that bags of flour here were far more reasonable than at Publix 3 miles away.  Kroger brand flour was $2.19/5 pounds.  I had a 40c coupon off and bought one of those.

I was pleased with my shopping today.  When I got home, about 2 hours after leaving, John and I had a bologna sandwich.  I admired the freshly cut lawn and he admired my grocery haul.    

Happy to report that mowing did no harm to his back and I'm glad of it. I expect he'll probably cut Sam's yard at some point this week but while I was gone today, Sam had called a septic service and arranged to have their system looked over and for us to get a pump out while he was in the neighborhood.  This is something that should be done about every three years, and I think it's been four years since we last had it done.  

 I got a call from our pest control fellow and he's coming out tomorrow, too.  Good thing it's a planned day at home!

I have to share one thing with you all.  As you know I've been sticking to home harder than usual.  That little outing last week to the county seat and again today, all on my own?  It's done me a WORLD of good!  I needed that!  Since we are currently a one car family, I'd not feel comfortable being gone all hours and him stuck at home (nor if he did me the same) but these small excursions on my own have been beneficial.

Meals: Fried Egg, Toast

Bologna and Cheese Sandwich

Leftover Pizza, Salad

Tuesday:  I sorted out the fridge yesterday as I was putting away groceries.  I wiped out baskets, arranged things to be found more easily and took note of what I have in the fridge that we need to use.  Hence we had pizza for supper last night as we had plentiful leftovers.

I pulled out the last of last week's bread and cut into croutons.  The last two times I've done this, I've forgotten I put them in to bake and they got burnt!  John doesn't mind eating burnt bread but I don't care for it, lol.   Today I set the oven a bit lower and then I set the timer, so I 'd be aware of how long my bread cubes were baking.  Once they'd cooled, I stored in a canning jar with a folded paper towel and over the top and the ring put on over that.  This allows the bread cubes to remain dry and all the moisture to escape the jar.

I also made a loaf of bread, rolled out the remaining cheese pastry and made cheese crackers, and baked a peach cobbler, using peaches I'd put up in the freezer last summer.

I cleaned out the buffet in the dining room today and got it all organized and cleaned.  I only removed one small object.  Everything else went back in, only in a more orderly fashion.  You'd think this was a small job.  I thought it would be a small job.  It took the better part of an hour and a half.  

I was reminded again that I have some lovely China.  Why am I not using it?  Is it simply because it must be handwashed?  I wash dishes nearly every day, so that is a lame excuse on my part.  Why don't I use it now.

I found a number of candles that were about four or five inches long, partially burned.  I saved them...I couldn't help but think that if we had a power outage, I'd appreciate those candles come nightfall.  Would you have saved them?  

We had our septic tank pumped out today.  The crew came to work on Sam's tank, and he went ahead and scheduled them to come to us immediately after.  Everything is fine with our system and we don't need to worry about making any repairs at this time.

At the same time, the pest control guy came up.  He went right up on the front porch and took a few minutes to watch the process, asking John questions about it.  He's apparently a rural dweller and also has a septic system and wanted to know what to expect when he called for service.

I always ask that my shed get sprayed as well as about the house, since I keep pictures, Christmas decor, and such out there.  There's no extra charge for it and it's nice to have it bug free.

Meals:  Cheese Toast

Hot Dogs, Chips

Cubed Steak, Chicken Wings, Potato Pancakes, Black Eye Peas, Corn Muffins.  The only 'new' thin I made tonight was opening that can of black eye peas.  I had just enough steak for one so added in the two wings from the leftover fried chicken.

Wednesday:  John is mowing at Sam's today.  It's meant to rain tomorrow and as I pointed out to him, we can grocery shop in the rain, but he can't mow in the rain, nor the day after if the rain is substantial, so he's making hay while the clouds are holding on to that rain!

Curiosity hit me this morning, after I'd worked on bills.  I went over the first quarter of spending to determine exactly what I have spent on groceries. One month's total came in at a shocking number and that just before I determined I could get by with less money in my budget.  I did much better the next month but was still over budget by about $50.  Last month, I was over by 1/3 of the new budget.  I am not in the least happy with myself over these numbers and am determined that this month we shall do much better.  

I've said before that this one area of my budget is one where I am the most prone to be over.   One thing that has helped me see how I might be better (aside from a falling balance!) is using online sources to purchase personal care, over the counter and some household items.  I began doing so because it was usually cheaper to purchase in that way, and when items were out of stock elsewhere I could generally find them somewhere online.  These items are consistently included in my grocery budget but I have been slowly weeding those items out and making notes about what I spend and about what I average in those areas.

However, I can say most assuredly that my current issue is letting panic/anxiety lead me to not only shop sales but to consistently give in to the 'might as well' purchases for the pantry I will make while I'm in the stores.  That's been my true downfall.  From here on, if it's not a pantry basic, I'm not buying it to go into my pantry.  By basics I am including some of the 'nice to have' items but the experimental ones, like canned cabbage, I won't stock.  I'll just stick with what we typically have used and will continue to use and leave off the experiments for the time being, as well as making sure I'm very aware of where I am with my spending.  

By the way, I noted last night on the USDA food plans costs for February 2022 published in March the Low cost food plan for adults in the senior category was $485/month.  The thrifty food plan was estimated to be $442/month.  In 2021, the low cost plan was $439/month, with the thrifty plan coming in at $347/month.  Thrifty meals are now $100/month more than they were a year ago.  That's about a 27% increase if you eat according to the thrifty plan. So anyone who has no place to budget extra for groceries will get 1/4 less food than they were getting a year ago.  

Since new data came out yesterday stating the inflation figures were in at 8.5% (remember that doesn't include a thing we use or eat...Those figures are higher!!), I'll be curious to see how the USDA figures look in two months time when the figures for April are finally in.

I did nothing much today but putter about, aside from the brainwork required to figure out how much I was spending, paying bills for the month, figuring out the checking account balance, etc.  Not to say that wasn't work.  It most certainly was, and then some!  I tidied up the house, blew the dust off the porches and planned today's lunch and supper meals.  I did banking, sent off outgoing mail, prepped lunch and had just finished eating, when I saw John step through the gap in the hedge.  

I went to the door to ask why he was on foot, and discovered he was out of gas.  I offered to run him into town to get more gas, sat with him while he ate lunch and then drove him over to Sam's so he could fuel up the mower.   

Just that bit of work has led me right up to coffee time this afternoon.  

Even though it's not been a lot of physical work today, I feel like I've been through hard labor.  

Meals:  Buttermilk Pancakes, Chicken Sausage (this is a new to me brand of chicken sausage.  I didn't catch it at the register, but on the shelf the sticker price was $3.49.  It rang up for $4.29.  A bit high for me and in future I probably won't buy it but it does taste really good).

Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Southwestern Chicken and Rice casserole (made up as I went), Black Beans, Whole kernel corn, Peach Cobbler

Thursday:  That Southwestern Chicken Casserole was really good last night...and good thing since we have half a pan of it leftover.

John nor I could sleep this morning.  I'm not sure what time he was up, but it was 7am when I came out of the room.  I took time to have a very leisurely cup of coffee and read for an hour.  John made us breakfast.  As usual he went the extra step and made it pretty.  I so appreciate that he does that!

John pretty much just puttered about this morning.  I was dressed and ready to go well before 9am.  Finally, at almost 10:30, I asked if we were going to go grocery shopping or had I misunderstood his intentions yesterday.  He stopped and looked at the clock then said "No...No.  We can go."   He wasn't long getting ready.

Bess texted asking if we'd pick up a couple of items for her that she needed to try for a new recipe.  I told her I would since both were typically in stock items.  

John continues to put our bags in the cart when he comes in from outdoors and our buggy (that's what we call them in the South!) looked like it was filled to overflowing.    There's always someone who must make a comment about how much we appear to be buying and we always assure them that half the buggy is filled with two insulated bags and all our loose ones.  Frankly, I'm not sure why anyone feels it necessary to comment but I always have to say, "We only shop here once a month," by way of a second explanation.

One of Rhonda's readers mentioned that butter in Aldi at her store was $3.18 and sent a photo of the shelf sticker. Mine said the same thing, but I'd looked at the ad and noted it was on sale for $1.97.  Chocolate chips were $1.09 a package which is an unheard-of low price anymore, but the shelf read $1.59.  And Chicken leg quarters were 49c a pound but no price at all was to be seen for those.  Not one of those items was marked that price on the shelf, however.  I checked my receipt as soon as we were at the counter packing our groceries and yes, they all rang up at the sale price.  There were no limits on anything and I suppose they felt leaving the regular price tag in place was as good a deterrent as any for making people automatically limit themselves.

I did note a few price increases.  Milk was $3.09/gallon, the butter used to run $2.99 and was now marked $3.18 and olive oil had been $1.99 16 ounces and was now $2.49 a bottle.  However, the size of the spice jars has increased and the price remained at 97c.  As I've noted elsewhere it seems that there is some sort of attempt at a balancing act in most stores where increases are balanced by decreases.  It's not a perfect balance but there is an attempt to keep it going.

When we came in today, I put on chicken potstickers and egg rolls to cook for a quick lunch.  I debated about buying those things but for a bit over $5 we had a quick lunch cooking while I started the process of putting away things so I think it was worthwhile.  We even have a few leftovers.

All my can and staple goods are piled in the back bedroom awaiting putting away.  It's a big part of putting away and I admit I'm resisting it, but I do prefer to have it all done, otherwise it's all just in the way.  

Tomorrow Bess and Millie are coming for a visit.  Bess is bringing me a scarf that was her dear Grandmother's.  She told me it's one that Grand Bebe bought in Germany.  I didn't know Grand Bebe well but I could tell how special a person she was, like Granny in her quality of character and soul.  I'll be proud to have a tiny part of her for my own.  How generous Bess is to share a part of her belongings with me!

Meals:  Fried Eggs, Toast, Sausage, Orange Wedges

Steamed Chicken Dumplings and Egg rolls

John out to men's meeting.  I'll probably make myself a salad.

Friday:  Yesterday on the way to the grocery, John said "You know I mowed the graveyard on my way to Sam's."  I was so relieved to hear he'd been able to do it.  "There's work we need to do yet but I don't know how to get into that one section.  But I cut a path up to the gate and was going to go on to Sam's and looked in there and said to myself 'You've got to begin somewhere...' and so I went on in and mowed.  It's not perfect, but it's a start."  

I think those words of John's were inspirational.  "You've got to begin somewhere."  Isn't that the best advice?  Rather than sit and muse how it might be done you just jump in and start somewhere.  Even if you find you've begun at the wrong end, as I so often do when I have a project in mind, at least you've begun somewhere.

Was it just the beginning of this month that I sat down and wept at the sheer volume of things I felt we must do this spring?  The yards are cut, the graveyard is under control.  We just need to get into Katie's backyard with the weed eater because at present it's far too high to mow and a mosquito haven.  Once it's been strimmed, then it can be maintained with a mower by Katie or John.  

That's the week in this household...It seems it went very fast to me.  How was your week?  

(C) Terri Cheney