Monday, January 21, 2019

Errands on a day off

By Elizabeth Prata

My day off began with piercing cold and a drive to the tire store early this morning. Yesterday I'd stopped in to the tire store to add air to my constantly deflating tire. The tire guy saw a nail in it. Ohhhh, that's why I always had to put air in it.

That's a praise to my Lord's providential care. I am really a numb nuts when it comes to practical living. He kept me safe until I finally sorted it out. They had one in my size in stock but no time to install it, so I said I'd be back in the morning.

Though it was cold, it wasn't frigid. One thing I like about Georgia, even in January, is that as I passed cows grazing, they were grazing on green grass. There were birds flitting in the trees. I spotted two of those little neon blue birds I like so much. The sun is strong, and it warms the air quickly, so you know the whole day isn't going to be a hunker down kind of day.

I got my tire in under an hour and swung by Kroger for a few items. No one was there, something I enjoyed When I normally go, on Sundays after church, it's crowded. Sunday, the clerks tell me, is one of their busiest days. I don't know why. I'd have thought Friday night or Saturday afternoon would be busier. Then I decided to get the splashed mud off my car. A fast driving 18-wheeler passed me on one of the rainy days in a muddy spot on the road and my car got covered. No one was at the car wash either, strangely enough. I'm just kidding, It was still below freezing and I felt a little bad for the boys who mop the car with soap as you enter the auto wash, but oh well.

I had spent numerous days in Maine during the really freezing winter washing the endless salt off my car. I remember one time a guy got stuck in the car wash (it was personal wash, not automatic) as the garage door you close stuck to the ground because the car wash water freezes quickly. Usually if you just bang the door a bunch it comes unstuck, but not that day. The guy yelled and the guy waiting behind him helped him get out lol. Life in Maine.

Anyway, I plan to cook up the things I bought at Kroger, (tomato soup, black bean patties, roasted green peppers, crabcakes) finish my book, and then head out again to a friend's house for dinner. Italian soup, I hear, is on the menu.

Waiting for my new tire to be put on

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Birds in my backyard

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm blessed with a lot of foliage in and around the yard, and as a result, I'm blessed with lots of birds that visit. The other day I was writing with the window open and I heard so many calls. I began to list in my mind the birds I have come to learn by sight, and the list was pretty long (for me, not to a real birder!). I am trying to learn them by call, too.

I thought this video was perfect. The videographer records backyard common bird calls, shows them live in a tree or at his feeder, then posts a photo with label and lingers on it for a few seconds so you can really see the details. It goes at just the right pace.

Here is my list of Birds I have seen in my yard

Turkey vultures
Blue jay
Carolina Wren
Cedar Waxwing
Eurasian dove
Pileated Woodpecker
Red Winged Blackbird

Blue heron (at my other apartment)
Emu (in the county)

Elsewhere in the US

Road runner
Roseate spoonbill
Mandarin duck

Sunday, January 13, 2019

There's frugal that saves money and there's frugal that costs money

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm in the middle of the time between paychecks. It takes skill, self-control, commitment to one's budget, duct tape and dental floss to hang it all together and make it through! LOL. I'm used to it by now and I plan for it. I'm in a lot of company, living paycheck to paycheck. :)

So this week for food-made-ahead, I've got:

Tilapia filet
Chicken chili
Green salads
Green beans

The fish dishes and green beans are dinners, and the chili and salads are lunches, and the fruit & yogurt are desserts/snacks.

I found something called Siggi's, an Icelandic recipe for Skyr.
Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product, and it’s been a provision of Icelanders for nearly 1,000 years. Icelandic Provisions was developed in partnership with Iceland’s oldest farmer-owned dairy. It’s the only Skyr made in the US using the original Icelandic recipe with heirloom Icelandic Skyr cultures. That’s what makes it thick, creamy and delicious.

Yogurt and Skyr are both cultured dairy products, but the cultures that make them are different. The original cultures we use to make our Skyr impart a rich, creamy flavor, whereas yogurt cultures may provide a sour, tart taste. source
Siggi's yogurt is skyr. Siggi is an Icelandic man transplanted to upstate NY, and he makes the yogurt skyr style. It's thick and creamy, possesses mad amounts of protein, and lots less sugar. There are no artificial ingredients. My flavor (plain) has two ingredients at all, grass-fed milk and yogurt cultures. It has 25 grams of protein. It is more expensive, but since it is SO thick, you eat less per serving, so it evens out.

Coming out of the oven is burned granola. Sigh. Granola is hard to make in that it turns on a dime and burns quickly. It also browns as it cools, so you have to take it out of the oven before it is the golden color you want, trusting that as it cools, you've timed it to cook to the crispiness you desire before it stops cooling. I usually do OK with my granola, if I use my standard recipe.

This time, I changed recipes. Bad move.

The main binding agent in the recipe I usually use is honey. The recipe calls for 1/2 a cup. It costs $5.50 for a small jar that isn't even 8 ounces, but 7.5 (we notice you've dialed back on the quantity, honey people! We notice!!) In an attempt to save $$, I searched for and found a recipe that uses brown sugar.

I don't bake much, if at all, so I am not used to the different properties of baking ingredients. Apparently, brown sugar burns EASILY. Given the delicacy of the granola to begin with, I wasn't paying strict attention to that split second when it turns from undone to crispy black, and I burned it. I am still going to eat it. Only the parts that had open spaces on the pan burned. I collected the rest, pretty dark as it was, and decided that the extra cost for honey is worth it to produce a large batch of granola that doubles as cereal or straight snacks all week.  It's also very sweet, and I don't like sweet.

The Icelandic yogurt is $5.50 for 24 ounces instead of the usual Kroger brand I get, $1.99 for 32 ounces.

But frugality isn't just about saving a dollar. It's shepherding the money you have to obtain the most bang for the buck. The most bang could be more protein (the yogurt) a better tasting dish, a recipe that's easier to cook (less time in the kitchen) less waste (batch of granola). Just because something is less expensive in the short-term doesn't always mean it's less expensive in thelong-term. Or better for you or less time consuming or easier to clean up or...whatever valance between time/money/ease of use you're trying to achieve.

I'm looking forward to this week. I enjoy the kids,, I enjoy my home time, and the upcoming weekend is a three-day weekend. (Martin Luther King day is Monday.) It's all good I'll start a new book as I progress on my Tim Challies challenge of reading throughout the year, Book about music or Musician: Nobody Knows: The Forgotten Story of One of the Most Influential Figures in American Music, by Craig von Buseck

Have a good week everyone!

Cold outside, hard ground, chilly rain

Warm & comfy inside!

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Load of books being delivered today!

By Elizabeth Prata

I've mentioned that I joined the Tim Challies 2019 Christian Book Reading Challenge. Challies lists genres and types of books ("A missionary biography"; "A Commentary"; "A Book Written by a Puritan" and so on) and the reader chooses their preferred books based on the types listed. Challies lists 4 different levels, each more numerically challenging than the last. I chose the second level, Avid Reader, which is 26 books this year or 1 every two weeks. I added several of my own books to the list, ones I've wanted to read for a while but haven't gotten around to. I dislike the 'haven't gotten around to', not just for books but for everything. So I added some classics on my own.

I love the Valley of Vision a book of Puritan prayers. They are incredible. They are so incredibly written and convicting and beautiful, I keep giving my copy away to anyone who says they never heard of it. I press them into their hands and urge immediate reading! LOL. That leaves me without a copy for long periods until I can buy another one for myself.

I decided to remedy the Valley of Vision problem. I bought the copy that is leather bound. I love leather bound books and journals and with this one being special and more expensive I'll keep it on my own shelves for my own edification. Sometime soon I'll buy another paperback copy to give away to the next person. I firmly believe that with the Bible being the number 1 book ever, the next to bestselling and amazing contributions to the faith were Pilgrim's Progress and Valley of Vision.

I also won a book! Yay! Allen Nelson IV wrote "From Death to Life" and I entered a draw and won it.

I'm a fan of dystopian books and there are many classics out there to read along those lines. I've read "Alas, Babylon", Carol Balizet’s "The Last Seven Years", and a newer book that became an instant classic due to its fearful accuracy about the effect of an EMP on America, William Forschten's book William Forschten called "One Second After".

So here are the extra books I bought for the challenge and just to have on my shelves:

Sinclair Lewis wrote one of my favorite books, Elmer Gantry. That was a tremendous and horrifying book about religious hypocrisy. It was so incendiary when it was published that it was banned in Boston and other places. It caused a controversy from coast to coast.

It Can't Happen Here is a Lewis book about the rise of a president who turns dictator.

"Heart of Darkness", according to Amazon synopsis is "a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism." I'm not so much a fan of the cover art, and I do believe one can partially judge a book by its cover, (I mean do I want that scary evil looking cover on my shelves to look at forever?) but oh well.

EM Forster is more well known for his books "A Room with a View," and "A Passage to India" but less well known is "The Machine Stops". A pescient dystopian book, it "posits a technology-dependent humanity now living underground, its every need serviced by machines. But what happens if--or when--the machines stop? "The Machine Stops" was named one of the greatest science fiction novellas published before 1965 by the Science Fiction Writers of America."

Stephen King was writing so many books for a while that his editors told him to write under a pseudonym so that he wouldn't weary his readers and it would help diminish the glut. So under the name Richard Bachman comes The Running Man, "A desperate man attempts to win a reality TV game where the only objective is to stay alive in this #1 national bestseller." It is considered one of his best works.

Martin Luther's "A Simple Way to Pray" is a short book, more of a pamphlet. The synopsis states,

When asked by his barber and good friend Peter Beskendorf for some practical guidance on how to pray, Martin Luther responded by writing this brief treatise, first published in 1535. This edition is a modern translation that brings us Luther's practical instruction, using his ITCP method:

1. Instruction
2. Thanksgiving
3. Confession
4. Prayer

I'm on the way to finishing Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes, and I borrowed Mrs. Pollifax #5 from the library. That one is CHallies' "Read a Book in a Weekend". I guess I better get going on my day so I have time to read all these lovely books! And a hearty THANK YOU to those who gifted me the Amazon Gift Certificates!

The order also includes 5lb of peanuts. I eat nuts for protein and fiber, and also make granola a lot, which calls for peanuts. I've been relying on Dollar General peanuts even though they aren't the best tasting. Usually the taste can be hidden as I add spices and honey and bake the peanuts into the granola. But the last batch was so off-putting I now abandon the Dollar store peanuts forever. I mean it! Sometimes price isn't everything, you have to actually enjoy what you're eating. Quality counts too.

I've gotten this order once before and the peanuts were fresh and large and GMO free, roasted no salt peanuts. Sometimes ya gotta bite the bullet and go for it.

For meals this week my main dish is going to be split pea soup. It seems a hearty dish for the cooler weather that's come in and the bright and crisp winter skies. And of course, granola. Beyond that I'm sort of in a rut. I've gotten a grocery store roasted whole chicken each week for the last three weeks so I'm kind of over chicken for a while. I like the shrimp, salmon fillet, and tilapia fillet I've been getting but I am ready for a change. I need to look up some recipes and expand my repertoire.

We have received so much rain over the last thee weeks it's ridiculous. Finally it stopped last night, it chilled down and got windy. We are supposed to get clear weather for the next week so I hope the ground eventually dries! Mud everywhere, rivers rising, ugh, gloomy weather begone!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Christmas Break 2018 Day 13: Well, this has never happened before...

Lest I be accused of click baiting you, here is the situation to which I refer in the title:

My two cats are Bert, the darker one who's a tiger, and Murray, the white one. Bert is 12 years old, Murray is 4. When I introduced Murray to the household (at the time I had two cats, Murray was the 3rd), it went well. No one fought. Murray, being the stray from outside, never really merged fully with the other two, who were rescued together as litter mates (not brothers) since 8 weeks old. But they got along.

Luke passed away three years ago. Sadly Murray had coronavirus, which is extremely infectious with other cats, and eventually turns to Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which is fatal. Now, with just Bert and Murray in the house, Murray has still been kind but a bit standoffish.

During the day I have a cat bed on the table near me which Murray likes to leap into and watch me as I type. Bert does not leap. He likes the floor. So his bed is at my feet in the summer, and in front of the fire in the winter.

I got up last night to turn out the lights and lock the door for bed, and I turn and see this sight. Murray and Bert together in Bert's bed. Well, then.

It finally stopped raining and I have the front door open to let in light and a little fresh air. I was watching Instant Hotel on Netflix (a type of Australian AirBnB show that rates rental properties) and at one property they kept saying how much like an old person's house ti smelled. I dont' know what that smells like no having the sense of smell, but I sure don't want my house to smell like that. By the looks on their faces no one liked the odor.

I don't use any products like Ben Gay, just deodorant and toothpaste and occasional shampoo. I cook, but that would be a cooking smell and not an old person smell. I assure you, I do use Fabuloso on my counters (which reportedly smells great) and Lemon Pledge on my wood furniture when I dust. So I dunno. I wish smells weren't a mystery to me, but then again, folks tell e I'm blessed. Maybe I am, at that.

Anyway, the fresh air has gotta help.

This is January in Maine:

This is January in Georgia:

Clover, green grass, no snow boots, no coat. I took a walk down the lane hoping to catch some bird pics. I heard so much birdsong, it made me happy. I'll go to the Cornell ornithology website later to listen to various calls and try and figure out which birds I was hearing. For now, I caught a blue jay, two mourning doves,a woodpecker, and a mockingbird.

So far, a nice day!