We had a few days of beautiful weather, and a few days of much-needed rain lately. On one of the nice days, Rob played bubbles with our grandson. Bubbles are one of the most economical “toys” a person can buy, and boy are they a favorite. I’m sure I could save even more by making my own, but I’m quite willing to spring for the 50c or $1 I paid for these for the sake of time. I took him for a walk in the rain another day. He seemed to enjoy that, too. Almost every time he comes over, I push him down the street in the stroller we used for his mother. We are sure getting our money’s worth out of that!
It looked like quite serious business to me, at times!
We read a book about apple picking during school one day and went on a field trip to pick one bucket of apples from a near-by orchard. Jake was dying to ride in the wagon, so we took turns pulling him.
The kids really got into posing for the “apple-picking photo” and in fact posed for 3 or 4. I was surprised about how much fun they had at an activity they’ve done many times before, and how quickly that bucket filled! You could fill it for $15. We offered to pay an extra dollar or two because ours was ultra-full. But, they declined additional payment, which was kind, I thought. The kids would have filled several buckets they were having so much fun, but I didn’t need more, and I didn’t want to can a whole bunch as I’ve already done applesauce and pie filling. We do like dried apples and also canned apple slices and wedges with red hots, but I can always go back if I get enthusiastic.
I canned a few more diced tomatoes and did stewed tomatoes for the first time, ever. Rob fondly remembers his Mom making them and he loved them. Her method was to fill her sink with tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery and stir it around with her hands and can it up. I needed more direction, so got a recipe from the new Ball Canning Book I bought this summer. It was called stewed tomatoes with vegetables and I had to can it in a pressure canner. The 11 jars came out great. Rob made some jalapeño jelly, as well.
I picked tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lemon cucumbers and zucchini from the garden. I used chives from one of the raised beds.
I put coverings on one raised bed to encourage the tiny lettuce, spinach, snow peas and cilantro that came up. The kale and cabbage look awful. I think the slugs are the victors this time, but we will see. I spread old walnut shells around to discourage them, but…..
I started removing a few old tomatoes bushes if they looked done and started cleaning up a couple of spots in the flower beds. There’s going to be a lot to remove and I don’t think I can do it all at once! I put what I could in our compost bins and filled the yard debris bin with branches, ivy and weeds that had gone to seed. It’s so nice to fill that when I can as I don’t want any more ivy or weeds around here!
Rob and I did a little sorting in the freezers. We wanted to know how much beef was left from last year’s quarter beef we bought to make sure we really needed another quarter as our beef farmer was asking us. We inventoried the other protein as well while we were at it. I’ve got lots of chicken, trout, 1 turkey, 1 ham and a little pork, a lot of hamburger and a very few other pieces of beef. We will get the beef, as usual, but may share some of it, and some of the cost with another person who has an interest.
I’ve been working hard at fall cleaning. The garage was my first mission. It was a huge mess, and that’s an understatement. I tend to just dump things out there and run to the next thing on the list during heavy canning season. Now, all of the homeschool materials are sorted, binned up, and organized in a better fashion for both Patsy and Jake. The grocery sack of books I got for $2 at a yard sale are shelved. The pantry shelves are organized and inventoried. A huge pile of old clothes and a few other items have been hauled away and donated. Bulk foods have been re-packaged into my old ice cream buckets and glass jars and labeled. The seeds are semi-organized for next year in their section of the garage.
We use our garage for an extra room, mostly for storage as our house is very small. I plan to host Thanksgiving here this year and plan to have extra seating out there so everyone does not need to be so close together. (I’m aware some family members still may not want to come, due to Covid, but some do.). I love that the garage could be set up for a party right now, so there will be no pressure later as long as I keep it clean. I love that I know exactly what food supplies I have in my pantry. Very little gets wasted that way, since I go through that a couple of times a year. Occasionally I find something that we just don’t like and I can’t get anyone to eat, and this year was no exception, but I had very little I chose to throw away.
I identified gaps in my pantry and placed an Azure Standard order for some bulk buy to fill it in. I also made a small list for Costco and a few other stores.
I continue to cook mainly from the freezers, pantry and garden and to use the grocery money for bulk purchases. The garden is still producing a few veggies so I want to use them as much as possible while I still can. I also want to use the little tidbits I found while organizing the shop freezers. It’s so easy to “lose” things out there, especially in the chest freezer.
This week I plan to cook or have already cooked: corn flake-coated chicken drumsticks (using older corn flakes found while cleaning garage), teriyaki beef and chicken (from a package of beef that had strawberries spilled all over it somehow and chicken that had been around for way too long but was still fine), a new potato soup recipe from a library cookbook in my Instant Pot (using very sad, old potatoes found in garage under something, 1/2 brick cream cheese that needed using and some other ingredients), potato salad (from rest of old bag of potatoes), stir-fried vegetables (zucchini, carrots, onion from garden), white rice (from 50 pounds purchased for$10 at beginning of Covid), brown rice (from a package that was getting old), ground pork sandwiches (from frozen, already cooked pork in freezer), something from some pork roast and lots of home-canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus garden produce.
We were allowed into the library for the second time since Covid started. We had to make an appointment. I made one for the first hour, first day available and had a great time:). Holds are finally starting to come in less than 4 months, although I still have some things that have been on hold for that long or longer. Things are looking up:)
God has been blessing us right and left. When we need something, it’s there. It’s that simple. We have had several needs met lately by people who had no idea we even needed anything because we didn’t tell anyone. Anyone but God, that is. It’s a little early for Thanksgiving, but we feel very thankful and blessed right now, so I couldn’t help throwing that in today:)