Friday, October 21, 2022

The rain, budgeting and growing in contentment...

Living in the dry tropics, we only really get rain during the wet season from December to April, so it was lovely yesterday and today that those precious water drops from heaven fell early. 

Yesterday morning I went out about 5:15am to take some photos, after light rain had fallen overnight. It's my favourite time of the day, so still and not yet hot enough to feel the humidity or the burn of the morning sun. 

Sophie cat is recovering from an attack by a young rogue tomcat who took a bite from her back as she ran away. The vet was wonderful, so very gentle with our 12yo girl. Sophie needed to wear a collar for a few days so as not to lick the wounds, and she absolutely hated it, even refusing to eat or drink...but late on day three we thought it best that it be removed as in our climate dehydration comes fast. 

The wounds are healing very well, and she's picked up a lot since eating and drinking again. Sophie loves the heat, which I imagine is because she was born here and its all she's known, but laying on wet grass in the early morning is also one of her delights. 

The Elder trees are laden with flowers, and there's many hands of small berries already. The birds keep taking them, but I can see quite a few large hands of them untouched so hopefully it won't be too long before I can make syrup.

Whenever it rains the birds seem to fill the yard, all sorts of them, so I keep the feeder filled with seeds, or bread ends which have gotten stale. 

I am blessed to always have fresh roses to pick and fill a vase or two, and the last of the petunias give the yard a lovely burst of colour in the garden.

This past week has been a rewarding one with family and also my design work. Last night we took homemade curry pastries and a pasta bake to Blossom's, where the whole family gathered for a dance party with the children. Cully May only recently began attending school after homeschooling for two years, and the school had a halloween themed disco for grades kinder - 6...but being believers in God's Word we do not embrace the custom of halloween, so we had our own disco party at home with faith based music and it was a wonderful night! Poor poppy is aching all over today after dancing with his granddaughters (whom he had to pick up and carry as they danced - it was so much fun to watch!) but he said the pain was worth it. 

I've given the menu a bit of an overhaul this week as well, especially after reading a post (and the comments) by Grandma Donna. You can read it HERE, and do so until the end because it's her response to a reader which made me nod my head and think more about my own food experiences with Nana and Pop. That in turn gave me cause to consider, genuinely consider, the need to simplify our meals and step back from recipes with lots of ingredients, expensive ingredients, and too many steps. 
I realise this has been something I've attempted to follow through on before, but with the economy such as it is now, my resolve is much stronger. 

On Wednesday for lunch I took out some random vegetables which needed using up - potatoes, onions, cauliflower, beet greens and tomatoes. After sauteing the onions with garlic and ginger, I added the vegetables with a tablespoon of korma paste, two teaspoons of tomato paste, sea salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Half a cup of water was poured over everything and with the lid on I let everything simmer very gently for about half an hour. Then I added half a can of coconut milk (also left over from the fridge) and simmered another five minutes. Poured into a bowl and sprinkled with chopped spring onions from the garden, I thoroughly enjoyed this meal made from vegetables almost past their use by date, leftover coconut milk, and pantry staples. The remainder of the meal I had for lunch the next day. 

And that's also what happened with the curry pastries I made to take to Blossom's last night. I had a little beef mince to use up, plus another two potatoes, some green peas, onion and garlic, more of the Korma paste, half a lemon, and four sheets of puff pastry from the freezer.
The pasta bake I made was simply cooked pasta, with the remaining sauce from Porcupine Meatballs which we had for dinner on Monday night poured over. I grated the last of our tasty cheddar cheese and sprinkled it generously across the top, and baked it until bubbling. My grandchildren love any kind of pasta bake, and it's especially yummy using the leftover homemade sauce from the meatballs. 

It's a good feeling to see your fridge contents being used throughout the week and not leaving anything to waste. That's what I mean about simplifying our meals and menu. Checking what's needing to be used up each morning gives me a clearer idea on what to cook for our dinner each night (or lunch for me at home). 

This morning I decided to make a simple and small Shepherd's Pie for tonight as I have some leftover lamb from Tuesday night's roast dinner. I bought another bag of potatoes this morning, and have plenty of carrots, green beans, onions and garlic on hand already. All the other ingredients I need are already in my pantry. As we only eat small meals, this Shepherd's Pie will become two dinners for us, so I'll freeze half for another night. Must admit I was so surprised to see a small cut of lamb leg for $10 at the supermarket on Tuesday, but knew it would stretch to three night's dinners for two people, which made it $1.66 per plate and that's great for our budget. 

Being mindful of how long food lasts in the freezer is just as important as stocking up our pantries. It's no good filling the freezer with foods that only last three to six months, which is the case with many meat products, because you've wasted your $ should they be forgotten and not used. Our neighbour's freezer broke down last year and she was devastated because she had it full of meat, some of it dated four years ago. To be honest, it looked ghastly, and she admitted to being shocked, having never thought to research how long it's safe to freeze foods. So we are very mindful of what's in our own freezer now, and making sure we eat from it regularly, replacing with fresh items later. 

The Harry-dog is 10 weeks old today, and has settled into our family very well. He's completely potty trained and has had no indoor accidents in more than two weeks; he sleeps eight hours each night, tucking himself into his little bed around 8-8.30pm (and though I do admit these 4:30am morning wakeups were hard on me at first, now I absolutely love them), and he absolutely delights in the garden and all the twigs and branches he can pull through the back door to play with - yesterday my living room looked like a forest floor! 
Thank you Lord for my maidservant, the humble vacuum cleaner. Ha ha!

How have you fared this year? My focus this year was to embrace contentment, and though I may not have written as much about it as first intended, there has indeed been a decidedly more contented change in my heart, thoughts and life choices.

Choosing to let go of some things which though not bad, simply weren't right for me, and discovering afterwards that a weight had lifted from my mind and precious contentment had more room to fill that space - this was the biggest change. Some other wonderful changes (or perhaps I should call them growth?) have been a much deeper sense of personal wellbeing; a greater sense of gratitude for all I have and the people in my life; and the intentional slowing which is now my 'normal' pace in life. 

What about you?? How have you grown in contentment this year? Did you let anything go, or take on something new? I'd love to hear about your own journey. 


In my next post I'll share a few things with you that will begin next month, and flow through into 2023. Upon much reflection and prayer, I feel rather excited to be pursuing avenues and themes which feed my joy...and I hope they are a blessing to you as well. 

So until next week, may the Father's hand be clearly felt upon your shoulder, His voice a gentle loving whisper in your ear, His desire for your life become an overflowing truth in your heart, and His perfect love felt as strong encouraging hugs through your day. 


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Kay said...

This post is so timely for me. Every week I do the meal planning and trying to come up with ideas drives me nuts, trying to keep everyone happy, stay in the budget, find things that are interesting etc. I am someone who likes to try new recipes but lately I have been thinking about it and realising that they all have lots of ingredients and steps to the recipes, it’s often too expensive and time consuming. I need to go back to simple things more. We have always been good using up leftovers so that’s not a problem but the cost of money and time preparing some meals needs to change. X

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
It's still dark at 7:30 in the morning here :)
Harry-dog and Sophie-cat :)
Yesterday I made a big oven sheet bake of carrots, brussel spruits, onions and potatoes. Finished the oven time with sundried tomatoes in oil from a jar and thyme. The " over production" will be chopped up and used in a tomato sauce with pasta :)
I enjoy the challenge to cook from what's in house for the two of us.
When I was growing up we never used garlic. I think the first time I used it in a dish for my parents at home was when I was about 20. "Oh, not so many cloves ! " was their reponse when they saw the prep. I'm sure they have eaten it before in meals such as Greek food :) They love that !
I enjoyed reading g.Donna. Thanks for the link :)
It's October and we can find fresh blueberries here from Peru in the store! That's not good for the carbon footprint ! Back in the day I think Grandma and my parents were happy with an orange imported to Canada from Califonia.
Looking forward to seeing what you have been creating for next year !
hugs, take care,
and thanks for starting off this Friday morning with a great blog post as I drink my coffee :)

Jill at emeraldcottage said...

poor little Sophie-cat, hope she is ok. Meal planning etc is hard work I find, trying to keep everyone happy is impossible!
Have a good weekend,

Lorrie said...

Good morning, Jennifer,
I so agree with you about the need for being mindful about using up food and not wasting any of it. I find that if I plan two or three hearty meals each week, there will be enough leftovers to make other dishes from. I also make a pot of homemade soup once a week, and do a little baking.
We have had unusual drought conditions here this summer, and even now through the early autumn on the west coast of Canada. Today a fine rain mists the air and we are looking forward to more rain in the coming days. Before the rain I went out to the garden and clipped roses, brought in tomatoes to ripen, and cut enough basil to make a four small jars of pesto for the freezer.
Have a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post! Reading your words brought me back to my days in Queensland nearly 50 years ago - we were outside Brisbane (the Gold Coast), and I remember waking up on Christmas morning and going outside to see bananas on trees, and getting the worst sunburn! My husband and I were in Queensland about 24 years ago (Cairns, did some snorkeling off the coast, hiked in the rainforest - how lovely!). We are retired here in Northern California, and working WAY too hard on our property we purchased 14 months ago. Had the backyard re-graded so it drains AWAY from the house, and all the dirt was dumped half way back so we now have a wall of about 28-30 inches we are building a retaining wall for, and a sloped walk way up to the top. We had the bobcat operator take out an old, cracking patio, which he broke up into manageable pieces for us. Those pieces will be used to stack up against the wall and we'll put a 'pretty' wood wall up against it (attached to posts). On top we'll have large pots planted with to grow down the wall. We've amassed 678 blocks (all free from a local website) which is 5400+ pounds, so our backs are recovering from moving those. We are doing things a bit at a time, and unfortunately what we are doing now is the hard part -- heavy, heavy and needing to be done before the rains hit. We are entering year 4 of a drought, so are HOPING for heavy rains. We're putting a french drain in front of the wood wall which will cover the mis-shaped pieces of conrete, so we will have no danger of flooding even if it does rain heavily. Much to do in the next few months, but we are wearing back braces to help our poor backs as we do the work, a little at a time! Deb E

Mary-Lou said...

Hi Jennifer, thanks as always and Donna too! It's amazing how you can cook with a little. Shin of beef £3,makes a lovely stew with plenty of veg and mashed potatoes or as a soup. I use the pressure cooker, debone it and cut the meat up in small bits! Lovely flavour. Can serve 3,chuck I beans for extra protein!. I am readi g atm, Full Hearts and Empty Bellies byWinifred Foley. Set in1920 True story! Blessings Mary-Lou

terricheney said...

Two things: I have been thinking more and more about a 'capsule' pantry. Of late I've refused to buy anything, but the basics of cooking and I automatically bypass any recipe that doesn't use what I normally keep in my household. No more spices for one use, or ingredients for one recipe. If I don't use an item in at least four of our usual meals, then do I really need it? I think that's pretty much what you're also saying and what G-Donna does, too.

The other is that I too am thinking of 2023 already. I do this about this time each year. I always wondered why I felt compelled to think of the New Year ahead so early. It's because the Jewish calendar New Year occurs around this time! I am in sync with my Christian roots is all. You must be as well.

Susan said...

Great thought-provoking post. As you know, I was forced into slowing down, sometimes to a complete stop. I'm moving much more slowly now, but I AM moving. There are so many favorite foods I can't eat any more, and I try not to think about that, but remember that I am still blessed with potatoes and carrots, Iceberg lettuce, and lean meats. A lot can be done with that, once I have the stamina to cook again. For now, I depend on some of those processed quick meals, because I'm not a fan of being hungry. =) Your meals looked delicious, though I'd have to leave out half the ingredients you can have. Presentation counts for a lot. I'm grateful for the humble sweet potato, too.

When Paul died, my life changed forever, and now cancer has forced another change, but the majority of the changes have been favorable, if I want to see it ... and I do. Attitude is everything in finding happiness and joy and being cheerful in any circumstances. Thanks for remind me of that so often. I'm a slow learner. =)

Jennie said...

Hello Jennifer! Poor Sophie cat! Some toms have no manners! We’ve spent so much money at the vets having wounds like that treated. Our vet always says that our cats are lovers, not fighters as those are wounds made as the cat has been trying to escape. Your new pupper is adorable and doing so well. My elderly boy has forgotten that toileting is outside, good thing I have wooden floors! I too don’t feel comfortable celebrating Halloween so it was lovely you could offer a different type of celebration. I miss the days of being at home and being creative in the kitchen. Himself has retired and does most of the cooking, but my former delight of cooking has vanished. Just too tired. Thanks for sharing everything and your beautiful garden. Jennie💚💚

Lin said...

Lovely pictures from your garden Jennifer. Hope your poor cat is making a good recovery now. Your vegetable curry looks and sounds delicious, just my sort of food. xx

Tarnyia said...

Your garden is always a delight to stroll through with you. I am intrigued as to what you are going to do with your Elderberry blossoms... I have one also that is flowering quite well at the moment and have been thinking that I must do something with them xxx

Allie said...

Such a lovely stroll through your garden with you!! I do love to see green and growing things. Poor Sophie! That wound looks so painful, bless her, praying she's continuing to heal well!
I like your ideas about meals. And that post you linked to. I think it's time to learn bread baking again, I failed the first time, but folks have been successful for thousands of years so why shouldn't I be at some point? Right? I also think there will be a lot of soups to get us through the winter....
One thing I've done is buy the family pack of chicken breasts, then cook them with my favorite seasonings. I put them individually into freezer baggies and take one out when I want chicken in a meal. I have to shred it for the meal, especially for mum, but it's great in soups or in a salad - and it's READY. Produce in my area has gotten really bad, the season is over, so I'm trying to do without or with canned. Good post girl! Love ya!

Ondrea said...

Your garden is beautiful at that time of morning. Lol, I have probably just been asleep an hour or 2 at that time. Poor Sophie. I am pleased she is recovering well. I didn't realise Cully May had gone to school after all. I hope she is enjoying it. I detest how Halloween is celebrated here. Firstly, it is the wrong time of year here in the Southern hemisphere and how it is done has nothing to do with the actual meaning of Halloween. It is wonderful how you all decided to have your own party. Such fun! Cute puppy.

Anonymous said...

Good morning! This was a wonderfully thoughtful post! And very timely for me as I am fixing to purchase meat for my freezer. Your garden and your photos of it are beautiful!! And the birds! So lovely! Little Harry is precious. Poor Sophie- I hope she continues to heal!

Tammy said...

Love your photos my goodness Charlie dog is so cute.. And poor miss Sophie. she has got to be miserable with that painful looking bite she received. We are trying to waste less foods here at home as well. Which is hard with my daughter and son. She is very wasteful. SO now Every time she throws away wasted food I remind her hos much it costs. She says so just buy more. I say no you are gonna have to contribute and start buying groceries. As we buy them to eat not to throw in the trash cans. Its beginning to make her mad as I say it constantly. So hopefully she will stop being food wasteful so I can stop saying it. That are make her buy her own groceries. But her Father says no too that. .