Monday, January 23, 2012

Living Richly in Retirement-Barb's Test Kitchen!

As someone who endeavours to live richly in my retirement, I find experiment is good. Experimentation comes in many forms. From trying a new activity for a time or to seeing what your lowest comfort level is in terms of quality and expenses, experimentation is valuable-and often fun.

During the past weekend, I've experimented in a few areas from cooking, to quilting, to alternate exercise choices, to seeing what works in my home. Some experiments worked well, some less so, and In some cases I am still waiting on the results.  In any case, none of the experiments were difficult or time consuming, and none involved any major excess expense. In one case my goal was to prove a point, in another just to have fun.

My first experience, the one in cooking, was in response to an article that appeared on MSN Money.  The gentleman involved implied that with rising food costs, it was just as cheap to eat out (at a restaurant mind you, not fast food) than to cook at home.  In a word..........huh??  Now, as a single gal I fully admit that on occasion it may make sense for me to choose a restaurant meal, or at least deli take out.  No one understands the "un-funess" or boring-ness of cooking for ones self all the time more than I do. In one of the examples used in the article, he cites a dinner from Cheesecake Factory that includes lemon oregano chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots for $15.00.  I don't know about you but fifteen dollars a nite would be an unmentionable amount over my food budget. Since I had chicken to cook (in my case, ten thighs bought for six dollars) I decided to conduct an experiment.  I made a large pan load of my lemon oregano chicken. In the end we opted for homemade biscuits and I have to admit that I am unsure of the exact cost of making four. I do know that a bag of mini carrots is 99 cents where I am this week.  In the end I estimate that this meal cost around ten dollars for the three basic menu items. If one figures in the lettuce, salad dressing and spices on hand-a bit more, obviously.  Not only is that less than the amount shown for the restaurant meal, my dish will give at least four servings, two including all the sides. Obviously, every ones prices may vary, but still.....In this challenge/experiment I am the big winner.

In finishing the quilt above, I went to my closet and realized that the batting I had purchased was fusible 60x60 batting.  While this was not what I had planned to use, I'm always willing to try a new thing. This is especially true since as far as I concerned basting as the only part of quilting I dislike. Its impossible for me to get down on the ground, I do it on a table and I often do it poorly and have to restart. In the end, the fusible batting gave an imperfect result, but I will probably have more success the second time around. I have a bad tendency to iron instead of press (sewers and quilters will know whereof I speak). Also, I should have anchored with books or clips on the edges, at least until I got the center done and moved outward. This meant that I had a few creases in the back which I had to pull off and iron again and some uneven bumps on said quilt. Since I'm doing minimal line quilting for this one, it will not be a problem.(Note, the quilt has not been pressed, or quilted on the sides so those creases can be ironed out.)

In the past, there has been an edge along my front walk, filled with mulch where I put flowers.  The flowers require much watering to live, and I really would rather have the grass grow up to the path. To that end I am doing nothing at the moment, to see if the grass will move in on its own. It may not be pretty in the process, but if it works I will be happy (obviously, you see dormant Texas grass in the photo!).

Finally, I have been experimenting to see if walking in the neighborhood will work for me as an exercise. Granted, the local facility is only $100.00 per year (with additional costs for classes).  Still, if walking would work, that would be ideal. Unfortunately, it won't.  My knees simply cannot handle it, which means that I'm doing short walks. It also means I'm having discomfort after-and sometimes during.  I'm not one who believes you should "work through the hurt" when it comes to joints.  I'll be rejoining the natatorium and going back to water exercise. Oh, I'll walk around the neighborhood a couple times a week perhaps (very short walks) if only because its a chance to change my routine during the day at home. Other than that though, it's water walking for yours truly.

So there you are, my own little test kitchen and test studio results.  Oh, and in another example of experimentation, I tried to see how long writing this blog could get me out of my annual budget plan and dealing with folks over the phone regarding my social security issue. Oops!  That's not experimentation, that's avoidance! Time to accept it and move on.

And so it goes, as someone (was it Cronkite?) used to say every evening.


  1. I have to agree with your restaurant experiment. Not only is $15 a lot for one meal (actually it's a lot even if you turn it into two meals by only eating half at a time) but with the gas to get there and the pretty much-required tip, generally restaurant meals cost a lot more than eating at home (and they usually arent as healthy either). p.s. pretty quilt!

  2. yep I tend to iron instead of press - and almost always regret it :-( I made the BIG mistake of leaving a package of fusible batting in my truck over an entire summer in Houston..sigh..needless to say it all stuck together!


  3. Cash, thanks, it is a pretty quilt,and now it's done and lying on te back of my sofat for now. Yes, I agree the guy didn't include a tip, or a drink or the always tempting dessert

  4. Susannah I will remember that. This ws my first foray into fusible batting and I amy use it again, for small items

  5. You might buy a small amount of seed for the grass at the beginning of the season---and an edging tool if you don't have one. If you let it just go you may end up with some nasty stickers:>(

    I agree with you on the meal out. We did take out yesterday- first time in a long time. We ended up with a $22. meal for the two of us. Tonight we had steaks, potatoes, onions and broccoli. About $15. for the two of us. At home we keep cutting the proportions down but keep up the herbs and spices. Our spice rack grows - weekly!

    Enjoying the quilting stories. Haven't wrapped my mind around sewing yet. It is coming!

  6. There is only way the man could have believed a $15 restaurant meal costs the same as cooking at home. His "home cooking" would have to be already packaged and prepared courses bought at a high end market like Trader Joe's.

    Actually, finding a meal at Cheesecake Factory for that price is not easy. Add a beverage, tax and tip and the tab will easily be $22. If my wife and I can't prepare $22 worth of food that lasts 2 or 3 meals, there is something wrong.

  7. Oh my gosh, LOVE your quilt!! What fabric did you use? I too struggle with pressing instead of ironing, old habits are hard to break. Some experts are nuts, love how some of them encurage folks to use a CC so they can get free miles and such, how crazy is that. Who needs to take the chance on taking on debt in this economy. Eatting at home is always cheaper unless you have a heck of a good coupon

  8. Janette, thanks I will think about the grass......I have an edger that needs to be repaird........Last year i rlied on true green for all the fertilizing and weed killing and htis year I have not decided yet..

  9. Debby, its the home town line from Sweetwater. the quilt is smaller than I had hoped because there were lots of whites on whites and I did not like that look. First time with fusible batting, first time machine doing the binding on both sides.

  10. I had to laugh over the guy that thought eating out was less expensive that cooking at home. Easier I dishes, planning or preparing. But unless you think your time is worth a lot more than it is, it is not cheaper. And besides, where is the fun in eating out all the time? Yuck!

    Good luck with that quilt...the top is beautiful.



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