Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Homemaking · Pantry Challenge · Perseverance

Pantry Challenge – Thawed Out

Happy New Year Y’all.
On New Year’s Day, I posted about the yearly Pantry Challenge. I had meal prepped, and menu prepped…and I was excited to get back to it and use what I have over the next couple months. If you don’t know Jessica of Good Cheap Eats, get to know her – she is amazing. Regular mom logic. AND here is her info about the Pantry Challenge. But as life does on occasion – we came home to a change of plans. Our electricity was off and we lost all our frozen/fridge food.

We cleaned up the mess, cleaned out both fridge/freezers, and then washed our pups (who were with a sitter whilst we were gone, who has other animals and watches lots of dogs) and finally got to bed about 2am. I have not given up though.

January 5th was my hubby’s 63rd birthday, and by this past weekend, we were semi stocked up and ready to participate again. We only replaced parts of what we lost and didn’t buy new pantry items… and though we won’t technically save money, we have pledged to eat at home for the next few weeks, and were creative with our purchases.

Speaking of Creative… I wanted to share with you how I made my kitchen bigger by extending/creating a wall. Here, I extended the living room wall with bookshelves and a hutch (it needs painting and was free):

These pics show the pantry (aka the backside of bookshelves) and the refrigerator behind the red piece. The meal calendar was what I’d done before I left.

Our Second fridge/freezer is on our enclosed porch. I will be contacting our insurance company today about how to recoup anything we can. And later on this evening, I will post pics of our apartment we moved into in September (not duplicating today’s pics). Other than power outages, we are really enjoying it.

Don’t let anything sway you from your plan. Regroup and get back to it.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,
LadyEm

Emily (Me) · Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Pantry Challenge

New Year – New Pantry Challenge

It’s the most budgeting time of the year! Are you singing it with me? Uh… my husband says, “everything is NOT song.” I beg to differ.

This year for New Years, we visited The Netherlands. I will post a few pics, but you can click on the link, “The Netherlands” to see the album on FB. It’s public.

So for the past 10+ years… I have participated in the Pantry Challenge, hosted by Good Cheap Eats. You can read Jessica’s thoughts on it by clicking the link. But for me – and everyone, it can be adapted to your own goals. I use Pantry Challenges to work through the pre-cooked meats in our freezer, as well as foods that may expire in the pantry. But more than that, I also challenge myself to only buy peripheral goods during this month – six weeks. For me, that means dairy, produce, etc. Let me lay it out in bullets:

LadyEm’s Pantry Challenge Goals:

  • Use Pre-cooked meats.
    • And meats that are dates November or earlier in 2022.
    • The reason behind this is that in Italy, meat and foods don’t have preservatives, and you can’t keep them, even in the freezer, for more than say four months.
  • Use soon-to-expire goods.
  • Shop my pantry/freezer.
    • Cans of tuna/veggies
    • Pasta/rice
    • Flours, etc.
  • Bake my own breads and muffins, etc.
  • Only buy dairy and veggies…ok, maybe paper goods.
  • Participate at least six weeks.
    • Many only do 30 days, but we have things to get through.

I get home late tomorrow, but I knew the challenge was coming, so – I have two weeks meal plan done, and a list of items to buy. In this way, taking Jessica’s classes on organizing my kitchen and knowing what’s in my freezer/pantry is an amazing way to live and not waste in my kitchen and in many ways have helped my family and I be more creative.

Now that we are empty nesters, we are even more creative because no one is saying “I don’t want to eat that!” Ok yes, we miss them all. But you know what I mean.

I hope, if you are reading this, that you will do the challenge with me. Check out Jessica’s Blogs and her Good Cheap Eats FaceBook page.

I will post more of our plan on Tuesday.

Until then…. Enjoy the beginning of 2023. My word of the year is PEACE. I intend to seek it, through faith and surroundings.

Love and Hugs,
LadyEm

Davis Family · Italy · Melvin & Maisie

Updates Abound…

Dear Readers…
I feel like I should say – “Hi – My name is Emily, and it’s been five + months since I’ve posted.” And y’all should all say – “Emily Who?” HAHAHA

When I last posted, we were newly Empty Nesters. We still are. LOL But we are adjusting really well. When we got back from Texas, we packed and moved to a much smaller place. The last year has been an absolutely beautiful and crazy experience… full of so many emotions, and enlightening me on my journey for peace. I will talk about that journey next time.

It’s been a whirlwind y’all. I am happy to put 2022 behind us. The range of emotions was crazy y’all. I’m still adjusting to not having our youngest with us. He did not come home from the holidays. But rest assured – we kept busy, and are headed to the Netherlands to visit friends, for five days. Interesting fact about the Netherlands – New Years is the only time fireworks are allowed. So we got that going for us. HA

I thought I’d share a recent pic of me AND that Marque was Santa this year at the local NATO Celebration. HA. SANTA!!! I KNOW HIM!

Have you met Melvin? Almost a year ago, January 2022 – a friend found Melvin on the street in a local town, and we cleaned him up, brought him to the Vet, and he stole our hearts. We named him Melvin because my dad was a bossy (organized, funny, dude) and so are puppies. You’d have to know my dad to know I’m not putting him down and to know how funny it is. Melvin was about 4+ lbs when we got him and about 5 weeks old, and he’s full grown (they say) at about 15 lbs. He’s adorable. Anywaaaaay… Here he is:

We had a dog named Gianna, but in two years, she never bonded. She was too abused or lost when we got her even though she was only 8+ weeks old. She just never recovered from the trauma… not with training, not with meds, etc. And she became aggressive to us and others… so she went to live with a family in the UK. It was sad, but it’s also so nice to have a dog who greets you, loves you, shows emotion, etc. So just know, she is in a better place.

Also – Meet Maisie. Born around September 11th, Maisie came to us early November 2022. She was found with her siblings in a garbage bag, inside a garbage can. Suffering malnutrition, she weighed about 1 kilo or 2.5 pounds. But now, we know she will be bigger than Melvin. Maisie is a pet name for Margaret, and is Scotch/Irish in origin. It means Pearl and I can’t think of a better name for a beautiful Puppy who was plucked from the garbage and is transforming before our eyes. She is 3.5 months old and shares a birthday with my sister Jennifer. She weighs almost as much as Melvin (she is about 12 lbs). Her name is Maisie Rose.

We were going to foster her at first, because Melvin has a big personality. But the vet advised not to let her go before shots, but that we couldn’t do shots for a couple weeks to make sure she wasn’t exposed to Parvo or anything that may hurt her when getting vaccinated. Sigh. But the family decided they didn’t want her, so we kept her. But when we took her out one night (in the carrier) we met a little girl who asked to hold her. And I said, “sure honey, her name is Maisie.” The dad got all excited and said, “what did you say?” I said, “I told her the dogs name was Maisie.” And that was also the little girl’s name. Sigh it was meant to be. She’s such a love this one.

I wanted to wish you all a blessed Christmas Season. AND a very happy new year. 2023 is going to be blessed y’all.

Let me do a quick catch up. If you’re still with me – thanks…

  • I’m excited to turn 60 in October of 2023.
    • My 59th was a flu-ridden debacle. haha
  • Finally fitting into mediums (depending on maker) and even a few size 10 pants. My goal is a size 8 – maybe 6. We shall see.
  • My mental health is better. Not just saying it – but actually concentrating on ME!
    • Resigned from Board of women’s group.
    • Crafting again.
    • Reading.
    • Getting back to faith.
  • Marque and I both need to move more.
  • I’m not going to say his health is great, but I am prayerful he will work on it in 2023.
  • Chris is doing well (yes, he goes by Chris now – AACK!).
    • He has learned a lot in the past six months.
    • Unsure where he will go to college next year. Tarleton is not working out. He really wants Aeronautical/Aerospace instead of Mechanical Engineering. And I think the whole process of living without us and adjusting to the states again was rough. But he’s powering through. Maintained a 3.2GPA (he thinks one grade should be higher and is working with the professor).
    • He was with family/friends in Texas for the holidays.
    • He is in VA with his girlfriend now through New Years.
    • Working PT/Saving for a car.
    • I hesitate to say more on a public forum because it’s his story to tell as a budding adult.
    • We are super proud of him.

I have to close because I have a list of things to do.
May God bless you, and may you trust Him More.

Friends, 2023 is our year. Let’s make it a good one. Christmas Cards will come out first week of January – and arrive whenever the horrid base post office gets them to ya.

Love and Hugs,
LadyEm

#catholicmom.com · Catholic Faith

Gospel Reflection – Christmas Eve

My Gospel Reflection today… written last year…

Reflection by Emily Davis

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Dear Ones, blessed Christmas Eve! I pray your Advent was quiet and focused on Jesus instead of stressing about gifts. Our youngest is 18 and our holidays are quieter. I appreciate it because I’m more focused.

Zechariah is a priest who doubted what the angel Gabriel was telling him. He didn’t believe the message from God because it seemed too good to be true. Have you ever been there? Me – so many times.

Earlier, in Luke 1:20, the angel Gabriel says,

“But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Zechariah is not able to speak again until John is born. Through Zechariah’s doubt, we relate to this great man so much. How many times have we begged God’s forgiveness and given thanks as we stand in awe of the promises He has kept in spite of our doubting His Truth? It’s so humbling.

As we wait for the angels’ chorus and the Christmas star to light the night, we look back on the Canticle of Zechariah, where he proclaims the fulfillment of God’s ultimate promise to all.

Speaking of John, Zechariah proclaimed:

“You, my child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” Luke 1:76-77

I read this Canticle every day during morning prayer. It’s a constant reminder of how connected we are to the infant Catholic Church, and how similar we are in our doubts of God, even though we know His mercy endures forever! We must do better!

Ponder:

How many examples do you have of times you haven’t trusted God but should have known you should not have doubted Him? I challenge you to write them down and remind yourself of His promises kept!

Pray:

Dear Lord, thank You for being faithful when I doubt. Thank You for teaching me consequences but loving me enough to show me the blessings of Your will. Come Holy Spirit, give me strength, help me focus, and control my doubts.

Counting Blessings · Davis Family · Emily (Me) · EmptyNest · Italy · Marriage · Parenting

Becoming Empty Nesters

Please note, I’ve updated the name but not the URL for my blog. In a world full of Catholic Bloggers, I just want to be me. I’m unapologetically Christian/Conservative, but I’m a lot of other things. I’m not the great writer others are…. and I am just going to journal and play here. I hope you like the new lightness of the blog (ok, not always light). LOL

August 3rd, we will have been in Italy for four years. I can’t believe how fast and how slow it’s gone. You know what I mean?

On July 6th, our youngest left for Texas to go to Engineering School. He got into so many schools, it was hard for him to decide where to go. We landed at a small school in Texas. I say WE because we had tons of family conversations about it. And although pop culture tells parents they have no say, I beg to differ.

You see that young man… he’s going places. And his daddy, friends, a few teachers, coaches, family and I all worked as a village to make sure of it. He did the majority of the work, but I won’t be dismissed.By the grace of God, he is continuing to stay focused and spread his wings. We could NOT be prouder.

My cousin Laurie and her hubby and our family friends Andi & Jay are standing in for us in Texas. We also have my bestie Kelly and approximately a zillion family/friends (ok – I’m exaggerating). We couldn’t be more thankful and blessed with their influences in his life and their love for all of us – I mean – it’s not an easy task I’m sure. We’d all do it for others too… but it’s amazing and scary in some ways. Sigh.

So anyway, today is the 20th day we are living alone. It’s weird currently. There is so much to do. Let me catch you up…

  • MAJOR TASKS/LIFE CHANGES:
    • Bud graduated
    • Sorting Through 19 years of stuff.
      • The big toss
      • Shipped the rest
    • Bud left for Texas.
      • Orientation – Andi took him
      • ROTC Camp – we will drop him off
      • Buying lists of things – Andi & I
      • Driver’s License – Andi & Fam are helping him
      • Gym – they take him daily
    • Tarleton Conversations and emails…
      • I will say this. I literally sent the Prez/VP of the college an email after how great the entire Admissions/Advisor/ROTC team treated us. They answered a billion questions and called us, emailed us – and yes, even heard back from the VP. Can not say enough.
    • Planning our Trip to Texas
      • Getting Bud to FW
      • Graduation Party – Thanks Laurie & Mario
      • Visiting Friends & Family
      • Visiting Lake House – and fishing trip – Thanks Mario & Laurie
      • Finding dog sitter – Check! Thanks Rachel.
    • Finding a New Place To Live
      • We did it. We found a new Realtor. We told them exactly what we wanted, and how much we wanted to pay. We looked at half a dozen places and found one that we are super excited about.
      • We are moving to a town called Teverola. Many Americans live there, but it’s also very Italian. And we are happy. It’s a one-story, bottom floor apartment. 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, fireplace, pizza oven, nice porches, living area and kitchen are open. And plenty of storage. It’s nearer to the Support Site and we are going to start going to the gym there. Very excited about that.
      • But mostly – it’s a small Italian town with little shops and people say they walk everywhere, etc.
    • Marque’s Job
      • We are now hoping our contract is renewed.
      • The word is, no matter who wins, Marque will stay.
      • Pray for us, my nerves are continually shot here. LOL
      • Marque is not worried at all.
    • Pet Update
      • Gianna is going to live in England at the end of July. There is a group there who works with dogs who have behavioral needs. It’s best for her… also, it’s best for us. She has never allowed us to bathe, brush, or even pet her. She was abandoned, and she just never came around. And she’s gotten progressively aggressive – but she can’t help it. The vet said she is the most anxious dog he’s ever seen. Who knows what she has been through. We have nearly had her for two years and have tried everything. Trust me.
      • Melvin has been with us since January. He was about 5 weeks old when he was found on the streets of Gricignano and we have had him since that day. He’s 7 months old now. Strangely – they look like siblings, except Melvin won’t ever weigh over 7.5 Kilos (16 lbs). It’s been so nice to have a dog who greets us and wants to play, love, etc. You know? Sigh.
      • Goose & Mavericks are outdoor cats and we rarely see them. They are neutered but it’s so common for cats to be outside here. Unsure if they will come with us to new place. Doubtful. Being outside has thinned them up. Funny because they love the puppy and Gianna continually tries to eat them. LOL
    • Health Updates
      • Marque has Type2 Diabetes. After his colon cancer he got thin, and was being careful. But with the pandemic stress, senior year stress, etc… he gained it all back. He’s currently working with our doc to get it straightened out. All diet and exercise related. And trust me, we are working on it.
      • I am working on truly getting over past trauma. It has affected my blood pressure, and anxiety in ways that I have to prayerfully and purposefully learn to control. Sigh. I’ll tell you about the book/workbook another time. Once we settle in our house I will have plenty of time to work on me. Blah.
    • Em’s Volunteering
      • No CCD this year. Parents here don’t take it seriously and it’s frustrating. In fact we have taken a step back from the base Parish. Gotta find a good Mass and Parish experience. It’s super sad. But I am continuing to work on my relationship with God. Need to talk to the new Priest. I miss a Parish to get involved in and make good friends. It’s not how it works here. Sigh.
      • IC Club – all is well there. I’m the Events Coordinator for this next year. So exciting. Happy to say that we have a positive and helpful team. So thankful.
      • NMCRS – I am hopeful to get back involved there.

If you made it through that – you’re awesome. I will tell you this… as much as we miss our son (and for that matter all our people), we are loving hanging out, and working together to sort through things to downsize. It’s so easy to cook for two people. Y’all, I’m serious. If you want to know the truth – it’s only been 20 days that we’ve been alone. But we are a great team. And we know once we get through actually dropping him at college, the process of downsizing our stuff (which thanks to black mold won’t be hard – you’re welcome)…, moving again, getting through contract renewal… it will be smooth sailing.

We will likely be overseas until bud graduates college. But we hope to travel and spend some time in the states, and have some visitors over here.

Enjoy these pics of Melvin and Gianna – wait till you see how alike they are –

More soon…

Love & Hugs,
Lady Em