Sunday, September 7, 2014

Not shopping and a chicken

Hmm. I started this post halfway through my "no shopping" month, and here I am, at the end of it already. I should have had all kinds of spare time, what with not shopping and everything, but it's been a busy month.
I did make a few mindful exceptions to the "no shopping" rule. There was some French sea salt butter that had date-expired at Grocery Outlet and I was determined to snag some, so I haunted the dairy section for a few days until I caught the dairy manager and persuaded her to mark it down. Came home with five pounds of deliciousness, as well as a few Lindt bunnies that I couldn't resist. On an earlier haunting, I bought a big box of Haagen Dazs salted caramel ice cream bars that spoke to me. What can I say? Also bought a 20-pound box of peaches with a bulk order I was running, but figured that hardly counted because it wasn't from a store. So I wasn't perfect, but my fridge and pantry have a few holes in the shelves now, thank goodness. 

I am thinking that I will continue with the avoidance of shopping for a few more months. I have missed bananas and onions, and Jeff has missed his orange juice, so I will be less stringent. 

Here are some highlights from the month.

Jeff was up in the attic for some reason and said to me, a couple of days later, did you know that there is a bunch of toilet paper in the attic?
What? I said, I thought you had brought it all down ages ago!
Well, not, apparently. So this made an appearance, a stash from at least twenty years ago, I am sure. Amazingly, it is still usable, a testament to the durability of the product. I am trying to ignore the dead spider parts that are scattered throughout the packages.

 Early in the month, I used up the last of a very large bottle of soy sauce (Costco-style) that has been in my fridge for about the same length of time that the tp has been in the attic.
Awesome. Annihilating FDA guidelines in as many ways as humanly possible.

I started blinging my remaining bowling ball and ran out of glue. I really tried to resist, but ended up sneaking in and out of JoAnne's as quickly as possible to get some more E6000.
Guilty as charged.

Not sure why I love these as much as I do, 'cause they're kind of tacky, if I was to be honest about it.
But love them I do!

Halfway through the month, a friend called and asked me to take a chicken that had been badly injured by a wild animal who broke into the henhouse. Julie nursed her back to health, but every time she put her back with the flock they pecked her and re-opened the wounds.
So, meet Shirley.
Jeff says it's a dumb name for a chicken, but I'm pretty sure it's really her name.

The dear bird has spent the last two weeks making a complete mess of my formerly-tidy flowerbeds. She came with a small cage, but hates it. The second night of her residence, I was out puttering around the garden and it was getting to be close to sundown. A little voice told me I should put her back in the cage, but I told it to be quiet and I would take care of it in a few minutes. By the time I looked for her again, she had disappeared and, although I spent close to an hour looking for her, was nowhere to be found. I went to bed hoping that she had found a safe place to roost, because we do get raccoons in the yard occasionally and they would love to make a meal of her.

The next morning, at 6:30, I heard a gentle clucking outside the bedroom window. I still haven't figured where she spent the night.

Here she is, sheltering under a big hosta leaf from the sprinkler.

She lays one beautiful big brown egg every other day.

Natalie likes to feed her nasturtium leaves.

Jeff and Chris spent most of sweltering yesterday building Shirley a nice coop out of wood that I scavenged from a building site. 

I've been roasting and canning tomatoes this week. Some of them are from my garden and some from the senior centre, where excess produce and bread is often available. It's kind of ridiculous how easy it is to get free food around here. I'm still struggling with the Tattler lids and had four jars out of fourteen that inexplicably didn't seal. And I won't elaborate on the accident that splashed boiling tomatoes onto the end of my nose which then lost a perfectly round section of skin and has been looking very weird all week.

Such is my life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A story

Once upon a time, a nana booked a yurt for a night so that she and the papa could take the seven local grandchildren camping for a night. Tents scare her any more, so a yurt seemed like a good compromise. There were very few dates available by the time she went looking, so she chose a date and hoped it would work.
But then Papa got scheduled to work out-of-state on that very same night, so Nana decided to be brave and take the beloved progeny by herself. 

The bathrooms were a small hike away, so they all made a field trip of it every time someone needed "to go."
Unfortunately, Josh had a real trip, but Daniel, like every good Boy Scout, was prepared with a first aid kit.
Which was just as well, because Nana was woefully unprepared for gore.

Thomy had had a busy week and was tired and grumpy, so he ended up going home instead of staying the night.

Nana put together lots of craft supplies, and the favourite was the lanterns, made from plastic peanut butter jars, tissue paper, and battery-operated tealights. They were a big hit, so thanks to friend Brenda for the idea. Those lanterns added a cozy glow to the yurt all night long.

Daniel wanted to light the fire, but Kenzie insisted that he always got to do it, so she demonstrated a rather beautiful log cabin design that lit in a trice.

The lanterns kept watch.

They ate s'mores and hot dogs and sang "Under the Lilacs." 
It goes something like this, only in a slightly different horrible way, without the "boom-chinga-chinga" thing.

[My sister and I learned the song when we were in Brownies in England, and this is the second generation that has learned it from me.
I am so proud.]

Nana was very thankful that no one fell into the fire.
How would she have explained that to the parents?

Nana didn't sleep well, as the mattress was like a rock (big surprise) so she woke up early. This rabbit was having a feast outside the yurt. He wasn't at all fazed by the presence of six rowdy children and their befuddled Nana, but she couldn't get a photo of his face to save her life.

Bat boxes in the morning sun. They were right next to the yurt, but no bats were spied.

Miss M stayed up way too late and slept in.

It made Nana happy that the grandkids were enchanted with the spirograph, which hasn't seen any use for about twenty years.

Nana had found a new giant bubble recipe and after everyone got tired of quiet crafts they broke out the wands, once again borrowed from friend Hope. Nana inadvertently left her camera on the night-time setting, so the pictures aren't very good, but they're all there is.

Young Jeff turned out to be the master bubble-blower.

Papa turned up just in time to get in on the last of the bubbles, play some ball with the boys, and help pack up.
Nana was very glad to see him!

Madelyn was especially fascinated with the squirrels, who hovered around, hoping for snacks.

They headed home around noon, delivered Jeff to his happy mama, then re-packed the car and took the five Mitchells out to the Ranch for the weekend while their parents escaped to Canada for an anniversary celebration.
Nana was so busy that it occurred to her at the end of the weekend that she had hardly taken any photos.
But they went swimming and ate and played games and ate and went swimming again and ate some more.

And Miss M was being ornery about something so Nana took her photo and she said "Me see" and when she saw it she said "Oh coot."
And she is.

And late Sunday night the parental types returned to the fold and everyone was very happy to see them.
And then Nana went gratefully to bed.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My name is Sue and I am a food-storage-aholic

When we had four kids at home and not a lot of cash to spare, I saved money on groceries by couponing and shopping sales. My grocery bill was always minimal and I always had plenty of food around. Jeff kind of hated it it but was always impressed when he would go to the store with me and I would pay two dollars for a bag full of food. 

I was a super-couponer before it was popular. I can't even do it the way these young moms do it these days, all the websites and store rewards programmes make it more complicated than I care to deal with. But, thanks to the omnipresent (in our part of the world, anyway) Grocery Outlet, I find bargains galore and my cupboards are fully stocked all the time. I have come to the point where I really need to use up my supplies before they get so old that even I won't use them. Every time I think I am making progress on that front, I run across another great buy and I'm back to square one.

Case in point, my fridge. 

Freezer on top of the fridge, where it has become hazardous to open the door for fear of being hit by falling frozen objects.

Pantry. Similar risk of falling objects.

Second freezer, full to the gills.

Closet in spare room, full of long-term storage but also some things that need to be eaten.

Closet in Jeff's cave, with buckets of wheat and other long-term storage.

Because I have no willpower for ignoring bargains when I shop, I decided the only way to fix this is to do it cold turkey and not shop for a month, starting yesterday. I think that we can survive easily without shopping for that long and I will be able to make a good-sized dent in my excess. I plan to eschew stores completely, not just grocery stores. Amazon will also suffer from a loss of my patronage. 

I barter for milk and eggs, and I often find free fruit and vegetables at the local senior centre, so that should keep me supplied with enough fresh things to keep me happy, along with berries, rhubarb, and salad greens from my garden. I am also allowing myself to buy used things if I happen to run across something I need, but I'm not going to visit thrift stores or garage sales, so it's unlikely to happen.

It will be interesting to see what tempts me, although I plan to stay well away from my favourite couponing websites. There have already been a couple of challenges:

1. Jeff has been hankering after some new cowboy boots and Wilco put out a coupon for $70 off last week. Unfortunately, he was out of town till late Thursday and we have been busy with grandkids all weekend, so I told him he can go buy them without me tomorrow. A little cheat, I suppose, but he is happy to not suffer for my aspirations.

2. I need some more glue for my blinging of a bowling ball, so it may have to wait until September. Which is killing me, because I was on a creative roll. 

Anyone have some spare E6000 around? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

One last bit of doting

The title is a lie, 'cause you know I'll be doting again as soon as you turn your back.
I'm going to pack all the remaining photos into one blog post, so here goes.
Annie's family left for home on Thursday morning, so I snuck a few more photos. Here's Edwin and his little clone.

The three littles with their Nana quilts. How can they live so far away from me?

Elsie loved being the older cousin, and London loved all the playmates.

Victoria and London decided to play in the dog cage.

And then Victoria tried to close the door on London, who didn't mind a bit!

That evening, Sam and I took the babe for a hot and sweaty walk, so we had to visit the splash pad afterwards.

Friday morning was almost cool, albeit humid, so I sat out in the back garden with the dog and the babe.

And then it was time to go home.
We dropped the lad off at work on the way to the airport.