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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February is a good month for me to . . .

(I have to say, is a great month for me to do, on this first one, as it really, really needs it)

. . . clean up and organize the pantry! The pantry is just a helter-skelter of staples, cans here and there, bags on the floor, odd bits in containers. It just all needs some organization, some pouring into containers, and some moving older items to the front. This is easily a full day's work. But February is one of the best months to do this, as the pantry is now beginning to look like we've finally been eating some of this up, without adding a whole lot to replenish and build stock.

While I'll certainly enjoy looking at a cleaned-up pantry, the real benefit is knowing what we have and making sure that I actually use it, every last bit of whatever that "it" may be. Cuz, ya know, using what you already have is one of the best ways to save money for the things you don't have, but need. Like new windows, or replacement carpeting (keeping fingers crossed that can happen in another year).

. . . host a Valentine's Day brunch. My son will most likely want to spend Valentine's evening, alone with his girlfriend, and not with the entire family in company. So, I thought we'd do a Valentine's Day brunch right after church. On the menu -- we have to do these heart-shaped pancakes with a syrup of red currant jelly, melted and thinned with a little water, plus mini crustless quiches, orange juice, fruit salad (orange segments, dried cranberries and toasted almond slivers), coffee, tea and cocoa.

This should be a fun way to celebrate this Hallmark-y holiday. we've done family Valentine's breakfasts, family Valentine's dinners, and now, we'll start a new tradition of a Valentine's day brunch. And once again, we'll be just using what we have on hand. There will be no special trips to the market for anything extra. But that doesn't mean the menu will be lacking in any way. Using only what we have, here, simply means that I need to think a bit on the menu, and find creative ways of making brunch special.

. . . get more seeds started indoors. I can start onions, kale and cabbage indoors right now, to plant out in March. The lettuce seedlings are doing really well, in the flat under a light. Fresh salads, I'm a waitin' for ya!

. . . start the clean-up in the garden. February is a great month for us to begin garden clean-up. There are fewer weeds, the weeds are smaller, mid-month is a good time to prune rose bushes, here, the fruit trees need a good pruning, and if we work fast enough, we can get a layer of mulch down around the base of plants to prevent future weed pop-ups. With all of the rain we will receive between now and late spring, this is also a good time of year to move plants. I have some strawberry plants, under the cherry tree, which I'll dig up, give some away, and replant elsewhere. The tree gives too much shade now, for the strawberries, but I think part of this area will be good for daffodils. Yes, I'll be massing out some daffodils from those I planted in pots, this month. This spot is in view from the kitchen and the deck, so it should be a pleasant outlook on a dreary March day.

As cold as it is outdoors still, the thought of beautiful flowers in bloom is pretty good motivation to get me outside. In those pots of bulbs, on the deck, I have pink hyacinth, blue grape hyacinth, yellow and white daffodils, multi-hued tulips and purple and white crocus, all coming up. I am really excited for spring this year. I've been making plans for putting together a bulb basket for the kitchen table, with several pink hyacinth, for Easter. And a vase or two of daffodils would be so fresh and spring-like, too!

. . . order a portable greenhouse for the deck, so I can move plants/seedlings outside earlier in the year. Is this a toy or a tool? I think a bit of both. Either way, it will be a help to our garden, and put fresh veggies on our table sooner than usual.

. . . organize the upstairs linen closet. That closet is in shambles and could use some straightening. It's a very small closet, so it really needs to be kept tidy. I'll sort through all of the sheets, and label shelves, so it's clear what is what on each shelf. This would also be a good time to see what I can put aside for kids setting up their own housekeeping. I don't need to keep those items in the linen closet, but could bag them up for the cedar chest.

An overwhelming situation in our house is closets, pantries and cupboards which need a good straightening. The cooler days of winter are a great time for me to tackle these, and I have little desire to be outdoors.

Yet, this is also a good time to get myself outdoors, as weeds are at a minimum. Plus, if I transplant plants now, they'll do well this spring. And plants like rose bushes and fruit trees need to be pruned this time of year. So, I will have to make myself get out there, despite the chill. I think there's a hot cup of cocoa waiting for me, when I come back inside as my reward. that's another thing February is good for -- sipping hot cocoa. I'll take mine with a marshmallow, please!

What's on your plan for this month?


  1. Sounds like we're partially on the same wavelength. I just cleaned out my pantry and spice cabinet. I don't know how they get messy so fast, but they do. I also started cleaning out my linen closet, but didn't finish. I decided to hem all of edges of the frayed towels instead of sorting the rest of the shelves. I'll get back to it some time.

    The weather here is not conducive to outside work right now. More snow today.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Good job on repairing the fraying towels. I think that's a good enough reason for postponing the cleaning out the rest of the linen shelves.

      It's really hard for me to imagine snow right now. While it's not exactly balmy, here, it has been sunny and buds are forming. But, that could all go away, again. Enjoy the peace and beauty of the snowfall.

  2. Being more organized is one of my goals this year, as we undergo leaner times (frugal boot camp). It doesn't require spending money, just taking inventory of what is already there, which helps us use up and not buy more unnecessarily. You've said that so well...

    The problem for me is I'm not the organized type. I don't like structure, schedule, anything conforming for that matter. I'm happiest when I can digress and go down another path. So the result sometimes is more chaos.

    However, just spending more time at home these days really helps me notice what I need to do around the house...little things like counter space arrangement, the dings on our wall, the dirt in least I'm good at writing a long list of things to do.

    So nice when you have seasons to help with your timetable of tasks...but then again it would not help a person like me so much.


    1. Hi YHF,
      I'm not terribly organized myself, so I understand. One thing that has helped me, though, is to make sure I have all the tolls that I need for any job I'm working on. And that includes time as a tool. Setting aside ample time for any particular task. So, when I look at my to-do list, before I actually "do" any of it, I'll choose one task and make sure I have everything I need for it. And if it's something I'm not familiar with, I give myself time to research the best way to go about it, and then on top of that, give myself permission to just sit with it until I feel comfortable with the task. I had to glue some piano key tops back onto the actual keys, and I was just postponing and postponing. I realized that I was mostly uncomfortable with the possibility of messing this up. So, I read some more, and decided to just do one key and see how it goes. Well, it went so well, that I fixed all of the keys in one day.

      I do use a schedule for my days. It keeps me straight on what's important for that day. My bigger problem (other than just not being organized) is I tend to over-schedule myself. By keeping it all in print, I can see at a glance if I've got too much going on. I use the calendar function on my laptop as well as a paper calendar by the phone.

      For your long list of things to do, just pick the most time-sensitive of all of them to start with. What will get worse if you don't do it right away? What will cost money if you don't do it right away? And enlist a partner (hubby). Getting company while I work really helps me get stuff done. And it provides some accountability for the actual work (I don't wander off to do something else).

      You and I may never become organized people, but we can set up systems that keep us on track with what needs to be done.

      And now, I've got to get underway on today's schedule (meetings, my least favorite way to spend a day).

    2. I noticed a lot has to do with motivation, what is important to me. Now that I'm wanting to be as frugal as I can be, being more organized is suddenly one of my goals.

      I haven't been too successful using an online calendar. But I have a paper calendar and a wipe off one where I can jot and erase as I need to. I recently discovered the sticky note function on my laptop, and use it with so much happiness. Gone are having several paper lists on and rewriting the lists as I cross off. Any time I think of another thing to do, I write it down on a piece of paper, so I remember to add it to my computer sticky note list (easy to copy/erase and rearrange the order everyday from the most time sensitive to the least, and I have a different color sticky list for every type of activity: errands, internet tweaking, financial). I have paper and pencils everywhere, even by my bed stand, so I don't forget another thing I need to add to the list. Every morning, as I sip my coffee, I go over my list and try to do a few things on it. But lately, I've realized what is more important than anything on a list is to be sure to enjoy every day. If I don't want to do a single thing on my list, so be it.

      But schedule...nope I don't think I could ever get the hang of that one. I always take longer than prudent. If I start the day with a list of what I want done today, only one or two things for every five are started (not even done). I digress so much I start doing something else and that just adds more to my to do list. I think that's how my brain is wired. My husband is always willing to help me, so not a problem there.

      I just think I don't like the pressure of time. So setting aside time to do something is already fighting some big resistence lol

      Hope you have a nice day, despite having to be at a meeting :)


  3. You come up with a lot of fun holiday ideas. I'm not sure what we will do this year--I'm hoping the weather cooperates so we can visit my mom on the other side of the state. That will be on Valentine's day, and she wants to make a pie, so my usual gift of a pie for my hubby may not happen this year (although I'm sure he wouldn't be sad about eating 2 pies in the same week ...). For the kids, it's usually a gift of a card and a sampler box of Whitman's chocolates. Sometimes we cook a nice meal and pull out the china, but that may be hard to do this year.

    I have had a difficult time getting hours at work this winter, so I've decided to use the extra time at home to do those "should" tasks. Problem is, I don't really LIKE to do them, so I tend to find other ways to fill my time. I am pleased, though, that I have sorted through my closet and my husband's closet. Lots of donations to Good Will. I still need to go through both dressers and our file cabinets (stored in our bedroom) and then I'm hoping to do a little furniture re-arranging. Then it's on to our back entry closet. I'm also in the process of changing my son's room from boy to teen--nothing major--I did get him a new comforter, which was a need, as his old one wasn't holding up well and wasn't very warm. I need to take down wallpaper border, convince my hubby to paint, find some fun stuff for his walls, and call it good.

    We are going to get hit with more snow during the rest of this week. No gardening for us, but it's nice to think about bulb flowers. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Good for you! Getting together a bundle for Goodwill is a chore. And it sounds like the new teenager in the family will have a nice room when you're all done with that project.

      The upside to not getting as many hours at work this winter is you haven't had to make the long drive on bad roads as much. Fewer of those nervous afternoons, watching the sky, wondering if you should leave early, just to be safe. And just maybe, God is giving you a break so you can recharge.

      have a happy Valentine's Day!

    2. Thanks for saying that. I've had the same thought ... that I need to recharge and rest.

  4. I've been working in my pantry. I bought a Hefty container at the store this week that holds tea bags. I was able to dispose of all those tea boxes and have the tea bags in a container, which has saved so much space. I need to do that with my spice jars too.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      It sure sounds like pantry cleanups are popular in winter! Great idea on corralling all of the tea bags. Sometimes, I'll just have 5 or 6 tea bags left in a box, but the box itself takes up so much room in the cupboard. I need to do the same with foods like the beans, rice, popcorn, etc, that I keep in large jars. Getting those jars all filled will usually free up space in the pantry, and make everything look tidier.

      Have a happy valentine's Day, Belinda!

  5. Well, somehow my post from this morning didn't show up!

    We're still in the middle of winter with some new snow and some very cold days ahead to we'll just hunker down. We can't do any yard work yet as it is still much too cold for that. Maybe mid-March but by that time we'll be prepping for hubby's hip replacement so we'll just work slowly at the yard.

    We're like YHF in that we are in some lean times and are being very frugal and thrifty but it isn't bad at all. We have been so creative and I've enjoyed digging through all my recipes locating some I haven't made for a while and we're really liking our "basics" cooking.

    Sunday I grilled some steaks from the freezer for burritos on Monday dinner and Tuesday's lunch. Tuesday night the rest of the steak became beef stroganoff with homemade noodles. I found some store bought bread in the freezer and we thought baked french toast for breakfast would be good on Wed. so I baked that tonight along with some bacon. I'll put that away for tomorrow except my daughter decided she needed to have a small piece for dessert!

    We're in for some big snow to fall tonight and all day tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to that at all.


    1. Hi Alice,
      You're right about the fun side of being frugal. For me, it always gets me doing and trying some of the recipes and projects that I did when my kids were small, and we had such a fun time.

      I am so happy that the hip replacement is going to happen for your husband. Praying that this gives him freedom from pain and renewed mobility.

      Have a happy Valentine's Day, Alice!

  6. Wow lots of snow. I have not been real super productive this week
    it has been in the 90's in February. I was not ready for the heat. I got some more tests today and they say I should know something soon. I did get some books sorted and donated.
    I am sorting because our condo is smaller than our last place and it does not have a garage. I am working on going
    thru the boxes that were in the garage. I am finding many
    things that are long lost treasure and somethings I am wondering why do I have this. I think I will be able to make all my Christmas presents.I think I have enough supplies.
    Lili you have such great holiday ideas. I might just copy you. That sounds fun yummy and frugal.
    I got some good deals today at Smart and Final and also 99
    cents only they had organic lettuce for 99 cents,aluminum
    foil,pears apples and black berries all 99 cents. I can not touch them at the regular grocery for that.

    1. Hi Patti,
      I was thinking of you, yesterday, and praying that your tests would come out favorable. The waiting is difficult, isn't it?

      Isn't it funny how we hang on to some things thinking that surely we'll want them in the future. Then later, we come across them and wonder why on earth we saved them. Good job on finding all the materials you'll need for next Christmas gifts!

      90 degrees sounds rather warm for February. Maybe it will cool off some and give you a pleasant spring, after all! One can always hope.

      have a happy Valentine's day, Patti!

  7. Happy Valentine's day. Thank you for the thoughts and prayer. The waiting is difficult. Today I have peace it must be all the prayer. God is good and just keep hearing "I know the plans I have for you for good and not evil".
    I hung thick drapes and have figured out what windows to open in the morning to let cool air in. Then I close the blinds and curtains on the south side of the house. It was much cooler yesterday in the condo. The temp outside
    was 91
    and inside I think the high was 78. So much better:). I need to work on this and figure out a a less pricey way to keep the condo cooler. Last summer we had a bill for over $400.00 dollars so we stopped running the A.C.
    So far so good on using the blinds and curtains to keep the heat out. I might even take the curtains down and line the back of Them. I am looking for fabric that is affordable, because it takes so much. The two windows that
    let a lot of heat in are sliding glass doors on the south side. I really am thankful for the sun. I know everyone in the PNW
    would love some right about now. Sorry for rambling on.


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