Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Nona, Don't Wear That!"

"... I don't like it. Wear your Nona clothes."

I have to admit that never have I had someone tell me so directly that I exhibit incorrect fashion. Leave it to a three-year-old grandson to set me to pondering.

What are "Nona clothes"?

He did not know me during these fun times.

In the fifties and sixties, I was to wear dresses in public - especially to school. In the seventies, pants were beginning to be proper work apparel. In the eighties, I loved my aerobic wear!

He did not know me during these maturing times.

Since I always enjoyed a relaxed, sporty look, I appreciated the fit and comfort of these fashions most of the time. They were also perfect for a mother of three. Now I am a grandmother. What has gone wrong with me as a fashionista?

First of all, I am not a fashionista! My mother was a masterful seamstress. She made the majority of my clothes for twenty years. She had a creative but conservative flair. She encouraged me to do the same.

I grew up knowing how to select really nice items for bargain prices. That was helpful when I first began teaching with a salary of $6500 annually.

According to my observations, I have always been: current, but not too trendy; thrifty, but not cheap; somewhat conservative, never flashy (except the 1980s, of course); sporty, but always with a feminine touch; comfortable, but not frumpy (except maybe at home after a long day); business casual, but very open to formality and also beach wear; comfortable in all-black or tropical brights; most happy with classic statement jewelry and my own fun creations.

I understand myself, yet I do not understand my three-year-old grandson's dislike for the above. What are "Nona clothes"? Let us observe:

Matching outfits while we play

Warm cuddly clothes before bedtime 

Comfortable clothes for the occasional scream-fest

Large sweater to cover little boys from Hollywild cows

Matching clothes for celebrating birthdays

I am going to do what every woman should do. 

Actually ask the man in your life what he means! Do not try to guess what he means! 

If he is brave (like all the ones whom I have known), he will tell you.

The One-Eyed Cook

... or more accurately "The Cook with One-Eye." As you may remember, I wrote in the last post that I have only one heating unit working on my old stovetop. Yes, I need to replace the entire stovetop, but I have several more house repairs to finance first.

My meal planning system so far is working very well; however, I seem to consume all my meals before my daughters. They have multiple jobs and/or long shifts, as well as graduate school. Their schedules are more chaotic than mine. I eat at regular times because I am retired and at home, so I need interim meal plans for myself.

I began to think about what I have instead of what I wanted, so I considered favorite meals just for me. I have "one eye," a microwave, an oven, and a GRILL. Do you know what I remembered as one of my favorites? The "Stew in a Bundle" over a fire that my friends and I cooked as Girl Scouts in 1963! So delicious!!

My Pinterest search revealed a new look at cooking foil packets on a campfire/grill. See this easy chart:

Drawing a dinner blank? 5 no-fuss, no-fail foil packets. Just add chicken, rice, sauce and Green Giant veggies.

Here are tips for creating a packet meal. My favorite tips are from Jen Klein of "SHEKNOWS." (When I went grocery shopping, I was able to purchase sale and BOGO items.)


  • Meats (fillet of fish or beef, with even thickness; chicken breast cutlet; chopped chicken thigh meat or pork; shrimp or scallops)
  • Vegetables
  • Seasonings
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons flavorful liquid (wine, stock, citrus juice, soy sauce, marinade, oil, butter)

What Worked for Me

  • I made the foil packets as in the diagram above using suggested ingredients (meat, fresh vegetables, seasoning, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of flavorful liquid).
  • I sliced the fresh vegetables thinly so that all would cook evenly with the meat.
  • I grilled the packets on direct medium heat (350 degrees) for twenty minutes.
  • I then moved the packets to indirect heat (upper shelf) for twenty minutes.

Tips for Grilling

  • I used high-temperature vegetable spray in the foil/foil pans.
  • I checked the packets while grilling to prevent burning. (Packet cooking is all about timing. Check one for "doneness." Practice will determine your best timing.)
  • Be careful of steam when you open the packets.
  • Re-use or recycle the foil pans if you used these.

I am set for the week! YUMM

Monday, September 15, 2014

Floral Designer or Restaurateur?

Despite the horrible humidity and high temperatures here, I am really enjoying the look of autumn in the craft stores. Especially the 50% reductions! Now is the time I get other tasks done quickly so that I can have fun with my purchases. Last year at the after-season clearance sales (wowowow 90%), I was able to collect many nice items to add to these new ones. Here are my creations from last week:

I usually work in the craft set-up area in my garage, but the heat forced me into the house. My kitchen is the easiest place inside to protect with drop clothes and for clean-up. What happens when I need to cook? Luckily with the cooking plan that I have been sharing with my daughters, I do not cook often. [See "Home Cooking" and "Order in the House" for my menu planning and cooking methods.]

Now 25 days have passed, and all our meals are eaten - so out goes the floral shop and in comes the restaurant prep. I enjoy my process (shopping one day and cooking the next); however, the shopping and putting-away, along with prep and clean-up are time-consuming and tedious for my personality. Want to know my short-cut methods so that I can enjoy the creative process of cooking? FIRST, here are meals:

RECIPE LINKS: Summer Vegetable Bake, Salisbury Steak with Caramelized Onion Gravy,  Best Ever Roast Chicken, Lasagna Rolls, Butter Bean Soup with Cabbage and Ham (With extras such as asparagus, small golden potatoes, carrots, celery, peppers, eggs. cheese, salad fixings = $28 total from each of us independent ladies)


1. Plan meals in a way that suits you. I am very visual (My magnetic refrigerator "Pinterest" display).

2. Shop to save money and time. I shop on "senior day" if I can, purchase "buy-one-get-one-free" items, select sales and reliable store brands, and occasionally use coupons. Since I will be cooking that afternoon or the next day, I help separate items at check-out so that once home I do not put things in the pantry - just the appropriate bags in the refrigerator. I will be using all the items anyway during the next hours.

3. Plan the most efficient cooking order for prep, in-between clean-up, crockpot cooking, stovetop cooking, oven cooking, and final clean-up. My entire cooking process has never been more than four hours (every 20 or so days). I think that is "pretty good" since I have only one heating unit working on my old stovetop. I need to replace the entire stovetop, but it has not made the top five of the major repair list yet!

4. Enjoy your free time! Bye for now...I am off to pursue another creative project.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Warm but Fuzzy Memories

For years I have tried to understand VHS to digital transfer of videos representing 30+ years of family life, events, and vacations. With no success, I was still waiting for a good deal to pay someone else to do the project for me. $$$$

I found a solution this week. Because I use my Amazon Reward Points for FUN purchases, I checked on Diamond VC500 One Touch Video Capture. I read the reviews because the device was exactly what I need as an amateur...and it would be free with points. All was easy despite the sparse directions; however by trial and error, I got results. [Do not ask how I did it. As I said - trial and error...]

The images show the fuzzy damage of years of playing these tapes, but so does memory. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Outside Little Townships

As I do occasionally, I visited the area where I was born, along with five generations before me. The progenitor of my father's family in America was Samuel Jeffcoat, born in England in 1752. Here he settled in what is today my beloved South Carolina. On this particular trip, I attended the history day for our National Jeffcoat Reunion to learn why Samuel and others settled in this place called Big Pond Branch.

From the Map Collection, Mouzon Map of NC and SC, 1775 

Read more here:

Michael Jeffcoat , The State
Leading the history tour was my cousin Michael Jeffcoat, a forensic historian.[We share the same great-great-great-great grandfather.]

Interested in what Michael has learned so far? The State carried a wonderful article "Rediscovering 'The Indian Head,' A Special Place Lost to History" by Joey Holleman. Read about Michael's research here in Holleman's article.

Next year's history tour should be even bigger and better. Michael did a great job as a presenter and guide. I look forward to attending again!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Order in the House!

Steps so far to bringing order to "my house"

1. Working on my home organization steadily, I continue to find balance for a new life. Somewhat following this blog, I plod on daily. The difference, I believe, is that I have occupied this structure probably as long as this competent blogger has lived. She has great ideas, so I have adapted her ideas to my home. The big difference? I have taken fourteen months compared to the fourteen week challenge. I enjoy a process!

2. My friend Sammy introduced me to Fitbit Flex, a wireless activity and sleep band. The Flex tracks my activity and sleep, as well as syncs my stats wirelessly (number of steps toward a daily goal of 10,000, calorie intake from my food log, calories burned, and sleep patterns). I like that the Flex provides real-time progress with graphs and charts, while allowing feedback from fitness partners. My biggest challenge has been to put it back on when I have my hands in water (Flex is waterproof, but I do not want to test it). Thanks, Sammy! I needed to be accountable to someone concerning a creative way to get back to healthy lifestyle habits.

"I will reward myself with new colors when I reach certain goals."

3. Want to revisit my family cooking project? After about two weeks, I needed to cook again. I shopped on senior day at Publix (Wednesday), got the crock pots going for overnight (being thrifty by considering Peak Hour Energy times), and then spent about four hours on Thursday morning preparing and cooking our meals to divide.

[Recipe links are at the end of this post.]

I had spent the weeks since last cooking by putting together a method for my visually learning brain to plan menus. I created a personalized magnetic "Pinterest" board of my recipes. My daughters had a chance to choose what they liked, and I created a "balanced" plan for the month. (I guess that I missed creating my back-to-school teaching tools. Yes, I do have my own crafting laminating machine. Is that too strange?)

"So as not to be really tacky, I will remove these once the month to six weeks is planned."

This was the plan for this week.

[Salad, Soup, Veggie Meal, Chicken Meal, Beef Meal]

"We will divide the $81.68 three ways - DELICIOUS and THRIFTY!"

"I saved $36.68 for my red wine purchases this month."

Simplify, Simplify. Simplify. Well, now I feel like a modern Thoreau, but he would probably frown on my dependence on technology.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Home Cooking

Home cooking has individual meaning. Here in the South, "home" can be an adjective ("what kind of?") or an adverb ("where?"). For me, home style refers to both grammatical constructions, as well as the legacy of my grandmothers and my mother.

Cooking evolved for me from being complete novelty to almost forty years of experimentation and creativity based upon the health needs and taste preferences of family members. For my grandmothers, cooking was survival. For my mother, cooking was genuine love. Always for me, cooking was utilitarian...but still tasty.

Today I associate home style cooking with the words "yummy" and "comfort," words that described my grandmothers' and my mother's cooking. However, those results were not always dictated by a written recipe. For the most part, I too became an intuitive and creative cook to make the task fun. [That explains why I am a terrible baker; baking requires precision.]

Life has changed drastically now. I must cook for one, so I rarely had been cooking. I have a Pinterest board where I collect favorite cooking inspirations, but to be honest, I titled it "Cook? As Needed." One day when I was calculating my overspending, I discovered my great cost of eating out - mostly takeout food (I am not going to mention the extra pounds that were adding up). I had seen on Pinterest how pinners were cooking for their families in one day and freezing meals for a month of menus.

Thinking about the one-day-cooking-for-a-month strategy, I devised a plan that I proposed to my daughters who live independently and work long hours or extra jobs. To keep us healthy and on-budget, I would purchase groceries, cook healthy recipes, and divide the selections into "the all-important" portion sizes for weight control. We would divide the cost of groceries to stay on our individual household budgets. The results? After six weeks, we have saved money and calories. We are happy with the results!

Here are the meals for this week:

For my favorite recipes for weight loss and management, see my Pinterest board.

I buy fresh and frozen produce and meat selections based upon food preferences, low-fat and low-sugar recipes, and what is sale-priced and available. I prepare mostly from memory and in an assembly line of crockpots, one saucepan, and one cutting board. Cleanups are easy.

This week, I cooked the following portions in one day for $90. We divided the following dinner options three ways: $30 each for this week...WOW..and delicious!

We are individually responsible for our healthy breakfast and lunch choices. My lunches are salad, soup, or one of the week's menu selections. This is my favorite breakfast meal for four days. Here is one recipe on-line.

Overnight, No-cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

Another great lowfat breakfast recipe is here.

I still eat out but choose special times with friends and family. Cooking for my daughters is fun and creative...And I get to eat well and save money and calories!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Traveling Shoes

Since April I have worn a variety of traveling shoes to many wonderful places. The last trip was a pilgrimage, a last request of my late husband. Traveling back to locations we loved to visit as a family, I can best describe the sites, as did John Muir, "where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."

The 2070 mile road trip from Phoenix, Arizona, to Grand Rapids, South Dakota was exactly what I needed to fulfill his wishes. As a Marriott Vacation Club owner, I was able to trade for this trip through Collette. The adventure began in in June with my youngest daughter: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona; Bryce National Park, Zion National Park, and Salt Lake City in Utah; Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons National Park, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; and Cody, Sheridan, and Keystone in South Dakota.

We met wonderful people on the trip, as well as along the way. The tour was thorough, informational, fun, and safe. My daughter and I spent twelve days of laughing, crying, photographing, and sharing. 

All created wonderful memories for us both, as well as for the close loved ones who knew and understood our journey. Thanks to you all! Enjoy my video made from my photographs.

[Song Credit: "He Walks with the Wild and the Lonely," by the Bar-J Wranglers, P.O. Box 220, Wilson, WY 83014; (307) 733-3370]

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Add Two Weeks of Nurturing

What a difference two weeks of attentive nurturing produces in the month of April!

Photos tell the story best.



Happy Spring!