Mary Beth Writes

This was written 9/19/16

ONE – I baked.  I realized our sweet potatoes were losing their youth. I looked on the internet to see if there is such a thing as Sweet Potato Bread and of course there is. It was delicious, and there is one piece left in, I can hear it humming.

A few afternoons later I wanted a cookie badly but we had none. I made a HALF batch.  A cookie fresh from the oven is a lovely pleasure.  I don’t see why we have to give up warm cookies altogether just because some of us no longer live with kids all over the place.

Here’s what I love about baking even though I am no longer feeding the troops. Someone always seems to show up with whom we can share.  A friend and I were going to go out for coffee on a morning that broke into rain. I suggested, at the moment she stopped by to get me, that we just drink coffee in my house. We did. Did the Sweet Potato Bread make that happen? 

Is this one of the physical laws on the universe?  If you bake it, they will come?

TWO – My daughter was unhappy with the dirty, off-white canvas covers on her Ikea sofa and asked me if she could dye it. I said I didn’t know. She looked on the internet (do I detect a theme here?) and yup, found a blog where a person explained dying canvas slip covers. So this weekend my daughter drove here from Chicago, used our washer, and we dyed the slip covers green. It worked well; the covers didn’t get streaky or mottled.  Not sure if I need to dye anything, but it is helpful to realize one can do this to solve problems and extend the length of time we keep things around.

Although my right hand got so blueish-greenish doing this that I looked as if I was “going Avatar.”  The next morning my hand was back to normal. Did my skin absorb all that? 

THREE – Last weekend when he was out on his bike, Len saw some tables along a country road that were loaded with homegrown watermelons for sale. Two days later we drove back there (he rides far; this was 15 miles west of here!). Oh the heartbreak in Len’s voice when there were no watermelons!

So we drove around the countryside for an hour, at dusk, on a balmy evening, talking about a lot of important and inane things.

The next day my daughter - whose job is to assist people in child custody negotiations - mentioned to me that a big truth about divorce. When couples don’t talk very much as part of their ongoing lives, and then a crisis comes along, these are the folks most vulnerable to splitting. There are so many pieces to this, there is never any one thing that keeps a couple together or breaks them apart, but isn’t this interesting?

Driving around hunting for watermelons that aren’t there might be a relationship-preserving skill!

FOUR – As always, I washed used plastic bags - the ones one buys in the first place for leftovers and homemade cookies and breads.  I don’t even think about this, except sometimes I notice other people throwing theirs away and it alarms me, as if they were flushing healthy goldfish.  (We do toss bags after they stored meat, or food that went moldy, or they developed holes.)  Can a person even guess how many bags we have saved doing this?  I am going to guess that washing and reusing saves us 5 bags per week; and we’ve been doing this for 30 years.  Holy cow, that’s 7500 bags! That’s a lot of money and that’s a lot of bags not in dumps or floating in the ocean. Of course, it’s even more prudent to use bowls and jars, which we do also. Doing the math might surprise you, too!

FIVE – Interesting info to help one decide which yogurt to eat.

There’s the obvious, Greek yogurt tends to cost twice what plain yogurt does.

We’re comparing 6-oz servings here. Greek has more protein - 15-20 grams of protein vs about 9-10 grams of protein for regular yogurt.  

Greek has less sugar.

Greek has less calcium than plain. Greek yogurt supplies about 20% of your daily requirement of calcium, regular yogurt supplies 30%.

Here is something I did not know. If you add one serving of yogurt (either type) to your diet every day for 4 years, you will lose 1 pound every 4 years due to however yogurt interacts with your gut flora and fauna. So if I want to lose 10 pounds, which I do, all I need to do is eat yogurt for 40 years.  

It is not at all hard to make your own yogurt and Greek yogurt. Ask the internet. (Didja see that coming?) Look for the instructions that require a heating pad or a crock pot. You don’t need to buy anything special other than milk and a single serving of good yogurt.

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Mindful Chickens - The Snickerdoodle Edition

1. When we were sick in January (with flu and cold) Len used the CVS card that I had signed up for last year and then barely used.  He bought several OTC medicines plus a cool-mist vaporizer using that card, which saved us 20%. That was helpful.

2. While I was under the weather I signed up for Starz in order to binge-watch an Outlander season.  After I watched TV for two days I canceled the subscription, thus paying nothing.  This is the third year I have done this.  Why do they let me do this??

Frugal Stuff/ Flu edition 1/22/2018

1. I donated blood Friday morning. This is a free mini-checkup every two months; they take your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and check your hemoglobin levels (iron). They send your blood to be checked for various diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile, and Zika.

DO NOT donate blood in order to determine if you have a disease or not. If you think you might be ill, go to a doctor or clinic and deal with it. 

But, if you (like me) need an extra reason to be generous, the screening to give blood is not a bad perk.

Two Piquant Recipes, No Waiting

This is not a recipe blog. You may sometimes wonder what kind of blog this is, but I bet you have figured out we’re not here to cook. Still, sometimes I come across amazing recipes and today I want to share two of them,by referring you to the sites where I found them.

How do I find these sites, you ask? 

Simple. Google the name of two or three ingredients you would like to use up. This takes you to recipes that use those foods; you decide if you want to try them.

Health Insurance when you are laid off

Pals, I was reading letters at a website I look at often. A woman wrote that her 62-year old husband had been unexpectedly laid-off from his job. She said she didn't know where to begin to think about health insurance (and a lot more).  I talked to Len.  Man, we have been here.
This is what Len wrote. This answer is too long to post on someone else's website so we are sharing it here. 
...
Says Len:
You are in a difficult situation.

Mindful Chickens - Frugal Stuff 1/11/2018

1. We bought a car!! We bought our (former) 2006 Mercury Milan and 2004 Ford Ranger around 2006-2007.  Len is a very good vehicle dad – they lasted this long. The truck is still reliably chugging along; we sold it to a neighbor. However it became apparent a few weeks ago that the Milan could no longer take care of itself. Sigh. 

We talked about what kind of car we wanted in the past few weeks. Len did on-line research, finding cars we might like to try.  We decided we would spend part of two days test-driving these several makes of cars.

"Must-Haves" 1/10/2018

A friend (Thanks, Carol) tweeted this.  

“The term “must-haves” is profoundly unsettling to me.”

For those of us trying to live both frugally and thoughtfully – Yup!

I looked into the website she was responding to; it was coupons for:

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