Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 29 of 365

One of my favorite things about spring and summer is that I get to hang my laundry on the clothesline.

I love clothes hanging on the line in a nice neat row. I love the smell of clean clothes when they come off the line. And of course I love saving electricity.

I love hanging clothes on the line so much that when we were a young married couple and our dryer went out, we went 5+ years without a new one. Not an easy feat in Idaho. We hung clothes outside in the spring, summer, and fall, and inside during the winter. Sometimes inside during the winter it took a couple days for things to dry, but we were okay with that. Even now that we have a dryer again, we sometimes put things inside on drying racks during the winter months.

Last summer I missed my clothesline. I had torn my rotator cuff and there was no lifting my arm. My daughter and husband attempted to hang things a couple times, but their version of clothes hanging neatly on the line wasn't the same as mine. And as we learned, if they aren't hanging neatly they come out wrinkled. Which means ironing. Which means using a shoulder that's not working. So our days of hanging clothes on the line were rare.

But I'm hoping this year will be different. I've now had surgery on both shoulders. (Still can't lift them above my head yet, but they're coming.) The weather is getting warmer. (Not quite warm enough but almost.) And I have a new clothespin bag. (One I made myself.)

With our wind here, I'm not sure how it's going to hold up. But I will soon find out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 28 of 365

I don't go out much anymore. I'm usually in the house all day, every day, with no one to talk to. But I'm okay with that. Actually, I like it a lot.

After several years being sick and still working, it became exhausting having to be "on" all the time. I had to work hard at keeping up a good front. Some people knew I wasn't well and would ask about how I was doing. While I didn't want to admit how bad things had gotten, sometimes the lack of spark in my eyes gave it away. So working was double exhausting - having to work while sick and in pain, and having to keep faking happy as long as possible. It wore me out.

Now being home all day by myself is a good thing. At one time I probably would have been bored or felt alone or even antsy without being part of the outside world. Not anymore. Now when I'm not feeling well, I don't have to hide it. I don't have people asking how I'm feeling and I don't have to push myself beyond what I know my body is capable of (even though I do sometimes, by choice). When my fingers are swollen, I don't have to wear shoes with laces. When my back or knees are bothering me, I can sit down. When I'm just trying to survive the day and nothing is on my mind but getting through the pain and I don't want to talk to anyone about anything, I don't have to.

But once in a while I have to leave the house to go to the doctors or get groceries. I try and make all the stops I need in one day so I don't have to go back out. Today was a grocery day. I also hit Target for some cereal.

I planned on picking up some Special K there since it was on sale for $2.50 a box. I usually never pay over a dollar a box for cereal, but we ran out a while back and I was missing my morning cereal. Like in most cases, I came out with more than what I had originally went in for.  I usually take my coupon binder in with me when I go to Target because they have such great clearance or price cut deals that match up well with the coupons I have. Like today.

My take:
Purex Crystals $2.99 minus a $2 coupon
3 boxes of Special K $7.50 minus a $2 coupon
4 trays of Meow Mix cat food $1.56 minus $1 coupon
Zantac 24 count $7.59 minus $5 coupon and $2 Target coupon

Before the coupons, the price was $19.64
After coupons, the price was $7.64 + $1.06 tax

Total cost of all items was $8.70. I used a $5 Target gift card that I got free from a cat food offer a few weeks back. Leaving me $3.70 to pay.

$20 worth of items for $3.70. It pays to leave the house sometimes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 27 of 365

As a teacher, you wouldn't expect to have to attend students' funerals.

As an elementary teacher, I didn't have much experience with that. But as a high school teacher, the number of students my husband has lost is in the double digits. Most of the deaths occurred while the students were in high school or just graduated from high school. And usually from car accidents.

One death was different. Ross Aaron Clevenger. And this death hit my husband hard.

Ross was a different type of student. He was funny, yet was serious about his schoolwork. He loved to skateboard. He loved it so much that he, along with some other students, approached the city council to get help in building a skateboard park. They agreed to match funds and a city skateboard park was built. 

Ross went off to college and then joined the service. He was called to active duty in early 2006 and was deployed to Iraq in September. He came home on leave in January 2007 before returning to Iraq.

A month later he was dead. He was 21.

Sgt. Ross Aaron Clevenger of the 321st Engineering Battalion was killed Feb. 8, 2007, when a roadside bomb heavily damaged his armored vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar province west of Baghdad.

His funeral was held at the Marsing High School gym and he was buried with full military honors.

So it is in Ross' name that I continue to do work for the Quilts of Valor Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to cover all those service members and veterans touched by war with Wartime Quilts called Quilts of Valor. I've been again working on presentation cases (in this instance pillowcases), which is the "gift wrap" for the quilt.

More information about Quilts of Valor can be found at

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 26 of 365

My mom called this morning and talked a LONG time about lots of things. When she called, I'd been thinking about what I was going to take a picture of today. (She suggested I take a picture of the phone since I spent most of my time there this morning.)

Every morning one of my first thoughts, and sometimes the only reason I get out of bed, is to figure out what I'm going to post for the day. So when she called, I didn't have it figured out yet. I thought about the hail that was still on the ground from last night's hailstorm. But by the time I got off the phone, it had melted.

A little later I was making a pot of chili for dinner and when I opened the can of tomatoes, the cat came running and started bawling at me. When we feed her wet food now it's always a pop-top can, but she obviously has that "the can opener means food" signal ingrained in her brain from 5 years or so back when we had to use the can opener. Bawling cat picture? Nah.

Kevin from Idaho Power had read my Day 23 post where I had written about tracking my power consumption. He posted a comment on the blog about Idaho Power having an online option where customers can see usage by the day and even by the hour. I created an account on their website today and now see where our high spots are during the day and week. I considered taking a picture of the charts that are displayed, but do I really want others to know when during the day we use the most power? Probably not.

When checking on my chili (it smells delicious), I realized I still had some chocolate left over from making the caramel apples. And I had fresh strawberries in the fridge.

When you have chocolate in the house and fresh strawberries in the fridge, there's only one thing to do. And I did it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 25 of 365

I never liked caramel apples. They are sticky, and messy, and hard to eat.

But a couple years ago I discovered Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's caramel apples. Caramel-chocolate-Butterfinger caramel apples, actually. The flavors were great, but the best part was they cut the apple for me. No more sticky, messy, hard to eat caramel apple.

I like replicating foods I've eaten elsewhere. In fact, I own the Top Secret Recipes books of cloned recipes from places such as Outback, Chilis, Cheesecake Factory, IHOP, Taco Bell, etc. Several of the recipes I use again and again. And the IHOP pancake recipe is my only go-to pancake recipe anymore. My thought is, why go out when you can make it cheaper at home?

So my latest attempt at a recipe was recreating the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's caramel-chocolate-Butterfinger apple. I wasn't able to find it in my Top Secret books or on the internet, so I tackled it myself.

I used Golden Delicious apples and had some leftover Wilton chocolate and white chocolate candy melts left over from Valentine's Day. I picked up a bag of caramels and a king size Butterfinger.

I scrubbed the apples well to get the wax off of them. I dried them, put popsicle sticks into them, and put the apples in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I combined the caramels and 2 tablespoons of water in a pot over medium heat. I cooked until completely melted, stirring almost constantly.

When the caramels were melted, I dipped the apples into the caramel, almost completely covering them to the top. I put the caramel covered apples onto a heavily buttered plate to cool, and back in the fridge they went for another 15 minutes. I melted the chocolate candy melts (you could use a bag of white chocolate chips) in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so. I then dipped the cooled apples into melted white chocolate, then rolled them in crushed Butterfinger. Back in the fridge again.

I did a different batch, too. I did a chocolate/white chocolate one. That one I dipped in melted caramel, cooled the apple in the fridge, dipped in white chocolate, cooled it in the fridge, and dipped it in milk chocolate candy pieces ( you could use a bag of chocolate chips here too), and cooled it in the fridge.

They looked almost too good to eat.

I let them sit at room temperature for a bit, then  used a knife to cut straight alongside the stick on both sides. I then cut the halves into smaller, more manageable slices. Yummy!

While I didn't have an "official" recipe, I'm happy with the way they turned out and they were just as good as the expensive ones at the chocolate shop.

If you like replicating recipes, I can highly recommend the Top Secret Recipes line of books (even though my apples weren't found in the books).