October 14, 2014

Down with a Sinus Infection

Yep -- I have been sick for a while with bronchitis and now a sinus infection. Don't worry -- I haven't gone away and neglected blogging.  I have finally become smart in my 50's and realized that rest is the best way to heal from sickness.  In the meantime, I am reading when I am not sleeping.  I will be back soon.

October 07, 2014

A Healthy Peanut Butter Energy Bar Alternative

I make these and keep them in the fridge for my husband and I to use in place of an energy bar. When I am hungry right before I plan to work out to an exercise dvd or go for a long walk, I eat one of these.  They are very, very good.

Peanut Butter Bites


1 cup oats, old fashioned or quick *
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup ground or milled flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into bite-sized balls and store in the refrigerator.

Optional Ingredients:  flaked coconut, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkins seeds, chocolate chips.

* I used Bob's Red Mill 5 grain Rolled Hot Cereal.  It contains whole grain wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale and flaxseed.  I was out of steel cut oats, otherwise I would have used them.  I also added 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.

October 06, 2014

Good Ole Fashioned Homemaking

So, it has been a little over 5 years since I became a stay at home wife.  In that period of time I have tried and failed on different ways to “keep house.”  What I longed for I never seem to be able to attain:  a clean, orderly home that has been refurbished and decorated with the beautiful things that I have collected over the past 10 years or so.  I never seem to be able to keep up on the laundry or make a menu plan and stick with it.  It shouldn’t be that difficult, but I haven’t been able to stick to it. 

In the past 5 years I have gone through 2 major bouts of depression along with anxiety/panic attacks which then ushered in menopause. Those were some interesting years and I am glad they are behind me. 

My dream has kept eluding me because of a flaw:  I am a procrastinator along with having some attention deficit problems.  I can get side tracked easily but if I can sit down and make a plan, I can stick with it until the plan needs to be tweaked.  Then I get frustrated and want to give up. 

Well, about a month ago I started to think about how my mom kept house and how my grandmother kept house.  I was trying to figure out how they did it.  My mom told me how she divided chores and spread them throughout the week.  She made sure the downstairs was kept looking nice, especially the entryway, but didn’t worry so much about the upstairs.  My grandmother, on the other hand, cleaned her house every day.  She lived in a very small farm house which was heated by a coal stove.  She mopped floors everyday along with dusting and cleaning everything.  I think the main reason she did this was due to the fact that when she was a child, she had no home.  She lived on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her siblings and they had nothing.  To get married, have a family and a small house was the world to her so she took very good care of her home and belongings as she wanted them to last. 

My mom brought up a point that is different for my generation and that is that we are sidetracked by technology that interrupts our day.  Wow, this is very, very true.  I am always checking my phone for messages and I always have the t.v. on while I am working which means I stop to listen to something that “invites me in” to stop and listen.  My mom used to clean while listening to the radio.  My grandmother cleaned to listening to herself sing. 

After 5 years of not attaining what I wanted to attain to be as a homemaker, I decided that it was time to really sit down and have a heart to heart with myself as to what I want to be and if it was attainable or not.  I decided that it was attainable and that I really, really wanted to have the kind of warm, clean home that my grandmother had.  I also want the peacefulness that comes from having order in my home, albeit not to the level of scrubbing floors every single day, but finding a happy medium that I can actually do.   I want what my grandmother had:  a routine that led to a peaceful and orderly home.  It brought her happiness and I was always happy in her home and surroundings.

In thinking this over, I realized that I can have what my grandmother had if I am willing to make some changes in my life.  I need to keep a schedule not just for homemaking but for time for friends.  I got into the habit of accepting an invitation to coffee on the spur of the moment when the laundry was piled up and then I would find myself getting side tracked for the rest of the day.  Now I am starting to schedule in those coffee times with friends and that is working so much better.  I am finding out that my friends would prefer to do this too. 

So, how do I attain my vision of being the kind of homemaker that my grandmother was?  Well, grandmother died in 1985 so I can’t ask her, but I can look at homemaking books from her era to get a glimpse into what it was like to be a homemaker in the 1940’s and beyond.  I have started to collect old Home Ec. Books and I have been reading them.  Remember when Home Ec. was considered a science?  I still consider it a science.  Look at a Home Ec. book from the early 1900’s up to the 1960’s and you get an idea of how a woman took care in the keeping of her home.  Being a homemaker is work if you really want to do it right.  It means that you properly clean and keep the home clean all the time.  You serve nutritious meals and you take proper care of clothing and such.  If you look at the time involved in the role of homemaker, it is definitely a full time job.  I am embracing it.  This is my calling.

Here is a picture of my Home Ec. book from 1971 when I was in 7th grade.  I found it on Amazon.  I also purchased Home Ec. books from 1915, 1940’s, 1950’s the 1980’s. 

I am really enjoying the book from 1915 entitled “The Science of Homemaking.”  Homemaking was taken very seriously.   It was important that the housewife not only keep a home clean for presentation, but for sanitation.  There is so much information in this book regarding cooking, nutrition, cleaning and sewing that is relevant today.  

So, here is what I am doing.  I am gleaning as much information as I can from these books and I will be implementing these homemaking guidelines in my own home.  I am homeschooling myself in the proper way to keep a home.  If I were to tell some people this, they would laugh and think I was crazy.  But, for me, it is like choosing being at teacher or an accountant for a career – this is my career – this is what I want to do.

I want to be a better homemaker.  I have goals and dreams and yes, they are centered around my home and family.  In order to be better, I need more education.  I truly believe that I am going to be able to settle down, read and glean as much as possible from these books.  Change does not happen overnight, but I am motivated and most of all, I want this.  More than anything I want to be successful as a homemaker and I want to make this house more of a home than a house.

I’ve had the career outside of the home and I was successful.  I was known for being a great employee and hard worker.  I would rather be known for being a great homemaker, wife, mother and grandmother.  I want to be known for my hospitality and for being happy and fulfilled.  I am on my way.  

October 04, 2014

I'm Back

The Summer Lunch Program that I directed has been over for 6 weeks.  I spent the first month in meetings to discuss the program and what we would like to change for next year, filing reports with the State and getting feedback from volunteers.

I have spent the rest of my time trying to get my house in order.  I didn't do a lot of housework this summer and my house was a disaster.

I have missed blogging and sharing my life with all of you.  This week I will share more with you about the Summer Lunch program.  However, tomorrow I want to share with you about my latest collection:  old Home Ec text books from the early 1900's through the early 1980's and how I am taking the advice of these books in the managing of my home.

It's good to be back blogging.  I have missed it a lot.

July 05, 2014

Why I've Been Gone

I haven't blogged for months and I owe everyone an explanation.

I have been focusing on feeding hungry children in my community.  I am the Director of our local Summer Lunch program which feeds children throughout the summer.  We are focusing on those children who receive free and reduced lunches throughout the school year and go hungry during the summer.

This has consumed all of my time since February.  I supervise over 140 volunteers, make up the menus, buy the food, keep an ongoing inventory and take care of all of the bookkeeping.  So, this is why I haven't been blogging.

I have found my passion in serving the children of our community.  The program that we are going through to provide the food is the USDA Summer Lunch Program.  We must comply with their guidelines for a healthy meal for the children in order to receive reimbursement from them.  We have focused on feeding them lunch and our lunches consist of milk, whole grain breads, lean "whole muscle" meats such as turkey breast, non-processed cheeses such as provolone and cojack and fresh fruits and veggies.

An example of a lunch menu would be a turkey/cojack cheese sandwich using Sara Lee whole grain white bread, milk, fruit salad of watermelon, strawberries and sliced grapes; and for a veggie - a tray of fresh green beans, sweet pepper strips, carrots, cucumber strips and grape tomatoes.

Many children have never seen the fruits and veggies we are serving and someone questioned the cheese - why it wasn't wrapped in plastic.

The program ends August 15th which is the Friday before school begins in our area.  Then I will be back to focusing on my home and blogging.  I have been going to bed at midnight and getting up at 6:00 a.m. for the past several months in the planning process, fundraising for start up costs and handling all of the paperwork and documents necessary to run a food service program.

So, that is what I have been doing and I will be happy when I can go back to focusing on my home.  My husband and I are empty nesters and he has gladly put up with quick dinners, an untidy home and doing his own laundry and clean up.  It has been well worth the messiness of my home in order to feed children who would go hungry during the summer.

February 04, 2014

Update on Diaper Rash

Ryan's diaper rash is gone.  It's nice to see pretty white, pinkish normal skin on his bottom.  My DIL took Ryan to the doctor and he prescribed a prescription cream for his bottom.  It did appear that he had a yeast infection.  Ryan had the "perfect storm" that led to his rash:  ear infection; prescription for an antibiotic to treat the ear infection; and he was cutting teeth.

After applying the prescription cream twice a day, we saw a difference within a day.  However we still had to deal with the rash hurting him when we were cleaning him up after he soiled his diapers.  The other problem was that he had horrible runny diapers.  His bottom was still raw and yet we had to get it clean so it would clear up.  I continued to use soft flannel homemade wipes on his bottom and then I applied Vaseline all over his bottom and genital area.  He screamed and cried and then when I was done, I stood him up and he hugged me and put his head on my shoulder.  I had a lot of tears last week.

Since he was already getting a prescription cream in the morning and the afternoon we decided that it was best to go conservative throughout the day and just use Vaseline.

Well the rash cleared up by the second day and when he was at my house yesterday I had one happy little boy.  He had been sick and then he had the pain of the rash and cutting of the teeth so he hadn't been himself for a long time.  Ryan spent the whole day happy.  He smiled, he played, he giggled and he was feeling so good.  I had a few errands to run and he waived and smiled at people.

We had a great day and it was one of those days that you treasure.

Thanks for all the advice on the rash.  Many of these ideas I will be using on him in the future.

February 02, 2014

SNAP menu - Working on it.

When I took up the challenge of coming up with food choices or menus for living on a food stamp budget, I struggled with where to begin.  The reason:  I probably know more about making things from scratch and stretching a food dollar than a lot of people.  Why?  Because I took the real Home Economics class in the early 1970's where the first thing we learned to make was muffins from scratch.

What else did I learn from the good ole Home Ec class?  Sewing, cooking from scratch, cleaning and generally an economical way to run a home.  This kind of training went out the door as women went to work in order to help support their families and they needed faster tools for doing things:  i.e. processed foods.

Getting back to my own food stamp challenge, I have decided to do two options.  One for me and with my knowledge of stretching a food budget and one with someone who has not had the same background and training and uses convenience and processed foods.

With a $50 budget ($25 per person in my family) I will use that money to purchase what a person with my knowledge could make into menus.  Since going on a SNAP budget means that we will probably have had hard times and I will have used up most of the items in my cupboard, I will be making up my grocery list with hardly any food at home in my pantry.

Plan B will be using convenience foods to fill the menus for a person who doesn't cook much and doesn't have the same cooking schools that I have.

For both plans I may add an option of getting a small amount of items (i.e. a few cans) from a food bank.

When the food ads come out, I will be using the ad for this week to make up the menus. In fact I may do these budgets for a couple of weeks using the successive food ads.

This was my stumbling block in getting this challenge done.  I was struggling with the "Rules" of the challenge.  Doing this challenge with a Plan A and a Plan B is just the ticket for my getting this research done.