All posts by Becky

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 20, 2020

The wildfire smoke finally cleared enough for me to get outside. It took 2 sessions, but I got the weeds pulled around the raised beds, old plants pulled and trimmed and new compost spread in the back one, a few more fall veggies planted, and bark dust spread around the paths. I had 2 bags of the darker brown bark dust left from last spring, so used them. The rest of the paths I spread with some shavings Rob’s been saving in an old garbage can from his woodworking in the shop. I’m hoping the paths will remain walk-able for me this winter as I hopefully harvest lettuce, kale, green onions, spinach, snow peas and boc choi. It’s a little later than I wanted to plant, but if things don’t fruit before the winter, sometimes they will over-winter and give me some goodies very early in the spring. Last year, that’s what my over-wintered snow peas did.

The garden’s getting pretty messy, but there are some plants in there that I still have hope for.

My winter lettuce is very tiny. The Chinese cabbage is growing, and I can see that the cabbage is growing nicely. The spinach didn’t come up. Such is life:).

A little dose of reality? Yup. That’s really what my zucchini patch looks like. But, I still keep getting a zucchini or two every couple of days….

And, a few tomatoes. You can also see the gluten-free flour mix I stirred up. I want to make bread in the next day or two. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I do eat it now and then.

I made some chocolate cupcakes and used 1/2 the batter to make a loaf cake to slice, freeze and keep on hand. I also froze some turkey meatballs and 1/2 of the pork Rob marinated and barbecued. It’s so handy to have things to grab from the freezer and eat when I’m in a hurry.

My canning and preserving project is slowing way, way down, as the garden is also slowing down. However, I did get enough tomatoes to can 9-1/2 pints of diced tomatoes this week. I am thinking of things to do with all these, as it’s a little too much to eat, but not quite enough to can. Pico de Gallo comes to mind, as does sharing with my extremely good-natured neighbor. She has graciously accepted all extra veggies, including some of the less “popular” ones that others might turn down.

My sister gave me 5 tiny squash. I peeled, chopped, and roasted the bits and we gobbled them down.

Once the hot weather was over, the pole beans bloomed and started producing beans again. I’ve had several bowls in the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping that we will get quite a few more dinners from them before it frosts.

I can’t say things look great out there, but I’m still very satisfied with all of the food we just keep getting. Now that the light can shine on the garden since the smoke is gone, and we’ve had a little rain, I think I may be surprised at what may grow. Here’s hoping anyway……..

The rest of the week was filled with spending time with Jake and Michaela, doing school with Patsy, and a little cleaning. We started exercising again yesterday. We just couldn’t go outside to walk until then, the smoke was that bad.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 12, 2020

I want to say thank you to all of you who have offered prayers on our behalf here in Oregon, and all along the west coast. The fires are still raging in our area and thick, choking smoke fills the air and ashes cover our yard and garden. The town where we recently vacationed with my sister and family, Detroit, is almost gone, as our many other towns around the state. So many of our family and friends who live in different towns than us, are evacuated. Many others are on Level 2, which means “get ready to leave.” Hopefully, the weather system they are forecasting will bring rain in the next few days, and that will help the situation out.

But while we waited for rain, hunkered down, inside, trying not to take big breaths when we were outside, I finished a few projects. I had the assorted hot peppers my sister and aunt gave me. I dashed out to pick the ones from my bushes and Rob cut them all up and we pickled and canned them. Rob will eat some of these on salads and sandwiches and I will use some of them when I make refried beans. They are so pretty in the jars, even with the light coating of ashes that persists in spite of wiping and dusting them. No worries…after this picture I got it all off!

After my pathetic carrot crop was exhausted, in one afternoon I might add, I knew I wanted to can a few more. Rob found a 25 pound bag for under $9, so I canned 20 pints. There are lots left to cook with in other ways. You may ask me why I bother canning carrots when you can buy them cheaply and store them easily. It’s because there are occasions when I want to make my chicken-rice soup in a hurry. Like yesterday. And the day before. At those times, I just dump in one of my little jars and I’m good to go. We do occasionally eat a jar as our vegetable at dinner, but that’s pretty rare. I tend to use fresh ones for that. I don’t can carrots every year, but this year, I’m out so…… I kid you not. I ran out of so many things this year–things I usually only can every 2 or 3 years. It was the summer of canning, for sure. This batch of carrots will last quite a while.

We cooked several things this week. I made chicken-rice soup twice, using frozen broth, and frozen bits of turkey. I shared a couple of large bowls, and we ate the rest. Jake was with us quite a bit this past week, in fact, he still is as of Saturday night, and he likes that kind of soup. He was quite put out to hear I have given away the last of the first batch, even if it was to evacuated friends in a hotel near us…. who had no food because they had to leave home in a hurry…..who really needed dinner…….No matter. He was fine with helping out, and wanted uncle to check on them the next day, as long as there would be more soup coming. (They are fine, by the way, and will stay in the hotel for a few nights and then hopefully return to their home, which was still standing yesterday, anyway). So I made more soup. It’s one of the few things he will eat that is full of veggies and other good vitamins.

We made a lot of white rice. Jake eats that, too. Rob made some pork chops, I baked a chicken with a spice rub from a cookbook. It came out great. We also had a Costco chicken. You can’t beat the $5 price. Since Rob cleaned out the freezers last week, we found a few things that needed to be used. One was ham bits, so we’ve had scrambled eggs with ham, baked potatoes with ham, ham sandwich filling… was a fairly big bag, but it’s gone now.

We bought 10 butters at $1.99/box and 10 peanut butters for .99/small jar. He got eggs for 89c/dozen. Rob did a Costco run for heartworm medicine for the dog (good price there), lemon juice (I’ve used so much in the canning…), and got a few other things we needed while he was there. So most of the groceries this week were for stocking up at low prices to use in meals later, keeping the grocery budget down.

Our neighbor gave me 2 Kiwi Co. crate kits. They were for her boys and they enjoyed them, but there were extra parts in the box, so she sent them over for Jake. They were science projects. He’s done one of them, and has the other one left to do. He really liked doing them.

We did school. I read and read to both Jake and Patsy. Jake’s mom just finished a book called “The Skippack School.” She read it to him for school and she sent it so we could talk about ideas about the character. (A modified character study.). He loves the book so much he made me start all the way over. We are almost finished reading it, again. It’s just a simple book about a little boy who lived long ago, who had a few struggles paying attention in school, and got into some mischief, but did learn to do better and learned to read. It is nice he enjoys it, and so nice that being homeschooled this term allows him to get to hear it again. (Everyone is homeschooled this term around here, due to Corona virus).

It’s been a strange week. We just feel like we are waiting for something, and we have a vague feeling of anxiety, especially when the sky is dark, or glowing orange, or so smoky it feels like it’s foggy. Or when it’s both smoky and foggy, like today. I’m sure when the smoke lifts, and the fires are under control, things will feel more normal. Until then, we will continue to pray and see if there are practical things we can do as well. It’s what you do at times like these.

Fires In Our State–September 9, 2020

Yesterday was disconcerting, to say the least. Smoke from wildfires in our state covered our area. We woke to darkness, as if it was a winter morning. The darkness continued until after 9 a.m. When it finally got light, the light was very dim.

Our cars were covered with ash, and the ash is worse today. Pieces of ash constantly drift down and swirl around, as if it was lightly snowing.

The plants in the garden are not amused. They are really covered with ashes today. I put the sprinklers on last night to hopefully wash them off, but they seem pretty dirty today. The lighting was so bad yesterday that I went out in mid-late afternoon to pick some green beans. I picked what I found. Today, when the light was better, I went out again and got another whole colander full that I simply did not see yesterday because it was so dim.

Long before 5, the sky darkened, and it was once again pitch black.

Today was a little better, but still very smoky and ashy and the light was dimmer than normal. The extreme conditions have moved up the valley a bit. Although it is freaky, we are very safe where we are, in the middle of the city.

I’m not complaining. There are entire towns pretty much wiped out. There are people who have lost everything they own, and some have even lost their lives. We have friends who have had to evacuate. Fire is raging in the canyon where we recently vacationed. We don’t even know if the cabin we stayed in is still there. That entire town has been severely damaged, we know from news reports.

One hard thing is that there are so many fires. They just announced that there are 27 in Oregon. They are all over the state. Down at the beach, one of our popular seaside towns has been partially evacuated due to a fire that is getting closer. In southern Oregon, my mother’s cousin had to evacuate a campground, and I read today that it burned up. (The cousins are safe) There are several fires in the county where we used to live, and one is extremely near to where our house was. Rob’s uncle and many, many others had to transport all their animals to the fairgrounds near them when they had to evacuate.

Almost every Wednesday for about 20 years, Rob and his friend have met for prayer, Bible Study and to visit. His son, a policeman, came by as his family was there for safety reasons, and Rob got to talk to him about the fires in the area. It was nice to have so much info. Rob drove up there today as usual, and they met in the pitch dark. The heavy, heavy smoke had moved up there today. He planned to visit a couple of friends and drop off a little garden produce while he was up in the area, but was unable to as one had evacuated to another location, and the other had been up all night, thinking they might have to go at any moment. So, those 2 dodged the zucchini bullet, just for today. They are safe, and their homes are safe as of tonight, and for that, I am very, very grateful. I heard from my friend that lives in Central Oregon, and she’s ok, too, even though there are fires there, as well.

I’m praying for the people who have lost so much. I’m praying for safety and strength for the fire fighters. I’m praying for everyone to make good decisions and stay safe. And, last, but not least…I’m praying for rain. Lots of rain.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–September 7, 2020–More Food Preservation

This week, we concentrated on food preservation again. It’s that time of year:). The shelves are starting to fill up nicely.

Rob emptied and cleaned all 3 freezers that we keep in the shop for the first time since we moved here. Then, I came and helped sort the items that were inside. Much to my chagrin, I found some very oldies, but no longer goodies and dumped them. Things like cauliflower from 2015 and zucchini almost as old is not worth taking up real estate in those freezers. Things just got out of order when we moved, and it was time to sort it. I have so much new, good, fresh produce I’d rather eat, and now I can find it.

I spent time cleaning and organizing the canning shelves. I decided the berry syrup from 2002 (yes, believe it–sad, but true) had to go. It was one teeny, tiny jar, but that stuff is so much work it was hard to throw it away.

But, now, I can look forward to eating fresh food. I know what’s there, everywhere, and love that knowledge. I have one turkey and one ham to use before the fall sales. There’s lots of chicken and fish and even some shrimp. I have room for the 1/4 beef we will get when the farmer gets it ready, probably October.

I finally met a goal I’ve been working on for several months. All of the beef bones are used up! Every time we get 1/4 beef, we get packages of bones. They are time consuming to work up, so I tend to procrastinate until I need broth. I wanted them all used before this new beef arrives. This week, I boiled that last of them and canned another 7 quarts of broth. Then, I made 14 jars of vegetable beef soup with what I saved out. I used broth, the bits of meat from the bones, lots of veggies, and especially every odd and end of a veggie I could find–a few beans, a little corn, carrots, onions, celery, even a huge bunch of parsley from the raised bed. Rob patiently sat and babysat the 2 canners for the 90 minutes they needed to cook, and I just checked and they all sealed! Yea!

Tomatoes are taking over!!! I picked tomatoes at my sister’s house, and my garden. I made salsa, tomato sauce, and jars of canned tomato chunks. I’ve finally met my salsa-making goal and that time-consuming job is done for the year. I’m through canning most of these tomatoes as of this evening, and will finish the rest in the morning.

This morning, we picked corn at my sister’s. We just don’t have the room or the good soil to grow good corn, so she generously grows enough for all of us. How much corn often depends on the weather and the hungry crows, who eat the seeds in the spring! Part of this is from her garden. The rest is from the field they lease out to a lady who has a fruit stand and told my sister she could take all she wanted. We took about 20 ears, because I wanted to do a little more than was ripe in the garden today. That was so kind of both of them. I got 25 pint cartons to add to the 8 that we got the other day of frozen corn. I also canned 19 pints of corn last week. We were simply out of almost out of everything this year.

Rob bleached the kiddie pool so we could cool corn in it. He and Patsy did most of this project, after I boiled the cobs, and then I worked on tomatoes and soup.

I did get to visit with baby again. Awww….so sweet.

I did not clean my house. I did not weed my garden. My laundry is a mess–the baskets have been dug through as needed. I don’t have a clean dish towel in the drawer. But, my shelves and freezers are almost full. We’ve managed to cook some very simple meals, such as tuna melts, tuna sandwiches and tuna salad. Good thing we canned so much tuna! And, I’m having a great week:). I love this time of year.

I did finally go to the store after a couple of weeks and got out of there for $77. For me, for 2 weeks, that’s awesome, so I’m thrilled. I had to go late afternoon, because I had things in the canners, and so many things were missing from the shelves. Maybe that’s why the cost was so reasonable:) :). But we got plenty! I’m going to have Jake and Michaela quite a bit this coming week and there are certain things they eat. Period. So, I got those, the other things they had on my list, and the rest we can live without.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 31, 2020

We just returned from a wonderful week camping at Ft. Stevens State Park. Due to Rob’s surgery and Covid, this was the first time we were able to take the camper out for a whole year! We were so glad we got to keep these reservations we made 9 months ago, and that nothing happened to cancel them.

We made up for lost time and did everything we could!

We also took along many activities for both Jake and Patsy and did an outdoor school/camp experience for them, with a focus on Lewis and Clark, as Ft. Stevens is very near to where they ended up at the Pacific.

We crabbed off the bridge in Seaside and were very surprised to get 5 keepers. We made a conscious decision to go at a time that was not perfect, so the kids would have a good experience, and …..WOW!

We went fishing at nearby Coffenbury Lake a couple of times. The fish Rob has was not a keeper, but he did get one that was. Jake loves fishing now and had fun pulling in a few little ones, which we put back.

Jake played Legos for hours. We have some that we keep in the camper and never bring into the house, so they seem like new toys to him. The kids did glow sticks every night, as usual. They played “hot and cold” with Uncle, as usual. (He hides little prizes around and they find them–). They dug for buried treasure, as usual. (Rob buried gold chocolate coins this time and made them find them outside the camper.). I read outloud for hours, as usual–this time it was about the journey of Lewis and Clark. Can you tell this is a boy that likes his routine? 🙂

Something new this time was the bike riding. One day Jake’s big sister, Caitlyn, came over and helped him “ride” on a very long bike ride. I guess she had to push about half the time, but it was fun.

Mostly, he and Patsy rode around and around the loop where we were camped, and both had a blast! My aunt had a bike she had not been riding, and gave it to Patsy. Patsy loves it so much. Rob taught her how to put on new tires and inner tubes, and once they fixed up, it worked very, very well for her. She rode it for miles, I think, because she was on it almost every day.

They dug in the sand one day. Rob did some fishing while they dug, and I stayed back and cleaned up the horrendously messy camper, a couple of cupboards and baked the cookies. Although I was offered help to bake the cookies, by that point, I had had enough help for a little bit, so Rob took them away for a little while, while I got the camper cleaned up. We never intended to leave the camper sit for an entire year, so of course, I found a few crackers that had seen better days. The kids happily fed them to the seagulls one day. Another day, we drove across the bridge to Washington State, and read road markers about Lewis and Clark’s journey. We also spent quite a bit of time playing Lewis and Clark–pretending to explore with a compass that was used more for fun than for correct direction, but…..

We went for several hikes down the trails, in fact, did a hike most days.

I took so many fun activities that we did not get them all done. They did camp fire cooking, decorated fall cookies, craft projects, plus all the outdoor fun. I still have some ideas left for next time, which is how I like it!

My sister came and picked the garden several times while I was gone, so it is in good shape.

We stayed frugal by using the foster/adoptive park pass we have, so we camped for the week for the $8 registration fee, only. We ate all meals as picnics or at the campsite, except one drive-thru at McDonald’s for a lunch the day we drove around. We always save change in a can for that purpose, and still have plenty left for another time, as Rob and I didn’t want a lot from there….just sayin’:). We’d prefer a little seafood or chowder, but since it’s Covid, we chose not to go to a restaurant so McD’s it was. The kids were happy, and we found a nice spot to sit and look out at the water while we ate, so we were happy, too. We visited a grocery store one time for a few items, but most food was brought from home, using our regular grocery budget and garden produce. It was a great week, and I’m so glad we got to go!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–August 23, 2020

I had a little visitor today. I’d like to introduce you all to my grandson, Malcom. His mama is in town, visiting, with him, and Rob and I got to see him for the first time. He’s so precious and special, as all babies are. But I have to say right now, he’s by far the cutest baby I know:).

Of course, he stole Grandpa’s heart, too.

Last year, Ja’Ana got married in a private ceremony. She and her husband live in Hawaii, and now they have Malcom. At that time, she asked for privacy, and I have respected that on this blog. But now…..she’s letting Grandpa post it all over Facebook….and fair is fair….so–Whoo-Hoo–! The cute little guy that we have Facetimed with several times a week since he was born in early July has finally come to visit. Lovana actually flew to Hawaii to help J on the plane with baby–she never left the airport at all, just met J there and flew right back.

Alissa picked them up at the airport, brought them here for a visit and brunch, and then they went to Lovana’s house to hopefully get some rest. I also loved seeing Alissa–she’s been working at a camp most of the summer, so we don’t get to see her very often.

Jake wanted to make Snickerdoodles for our upcoming camping trip. Or should I say Jake wanted to eat Snickerdoodles before our upcoming trip. A few were frozen for the trip. A lot were eaten. It will be the first time we’ve been camping for an entire year, so we’ve spent quite a bit of time getting the camper ready. It’s a project. We are putting together an outdoor school/camp experience for both Patsy and Jake with lots of activities, learning and fun. What Jake remembers is decorating sugar cookies and having lots of glow sticks. So we will, plus a bunch of other fun things.

In the meanwhile, we are still preserving everything we can get our hands on. I’ve canned tomatoes, pears, 2 batches of salsa, bringing my total up to over 30 jars (I want 50, but we’ll see), 3 small batches dill pickles, one small batch of sweet pickles (the ones that take 4 days, dumping and pouring each morning and night according to the directions), dried peaches, pears and apples from the reduced produce rack at Freddies, done fruit leather, and finished the fruit cocktail. Rob went to a fruit stand that we know of and got my apples, which are ripening for applesauce. I have a lot more tomatoes to do, plus more pickles, more salsa… get the idea. Some days, I’ve worked for over 12 hours, but most days it’s way less than that. A little each day, and it’s stacking up. I’m gaining on it, but not quite there yet.

Rob tilled another section of the garden after I pulled up spent plants. I’ve planted cabbage, Chinese cabbage, boc choi, lettuce, spinach, cilantro, broccoli rapini, and snow peas for a fall/winter garden.

The right hand side of the compost bin in the back of the picture is ready and Rob started digging it out. Once it’s empty, that’s where our scraps and weeds will go and we will let the other side finish making its compost. It took about a year of us just dumping scraps and weeds in there for it to break down–we do nothing special to it–just pour it in there as we get it. That picture is from last spring. What a change in the garden!

It’s been an amazing gardening year, and we feel very blessed. That trellis of beans is now hiding the compost bins. I got a few beans from it at first, but then..nothing. Now, I notice lots of little blooms all over, so I have high hopes for eating beans in a week or so. We’ll see. They were not happy with the 90+ degree days last week.

I grocery shopped for the first time in about 3 weeks. I used lots of Bottle Drop money I’d been saving for quite a while, a $5 coupon I got in the mail, my last Fred Meyer rewards and got out the the store for under $40 cash. I also had several Ibotta rebates from the trip, which I’m leaving in that account for now. I got lots of groceries, and they will last for quite some time. I’ve saved some grocery money this month and will make an Azure Standard order next month with it (bulk products). It’s the easiest time of the year to save money with all the produce that’s available, plus my aunt gave us some extra lunchmeat, which has come in handy to snatch and eat when I’m so busy canning. There is some extra expense for canning supplies, but I still come out ahead since so much of what I can, freeze or dry is free or very inexpensive.

thriving In My Thrifty Week–August 18, 2020

A trip to the docks in Newport, Oregon, led to this….

A trip to the farm and garden led to this…..

So, pretty much all I’ve been doing this past week is this….

Rob’s cousin gave us 2 huge boxes of food she did not need from a gleaner’s group she belongs to. In it were 2 huge bags of broccoli, which I froze, some chicken, which I canned and lots of other yummy food, which we ate.

The peaches are from my sister’s farm. Rob helped up there several days this past couple of weeks and hauled home peaches and wild black berries more than once. My sister was given pears, and she shared with me. I have spent countless hours canning, freezing and drying produce. I’m delighted, but a bit tired, I will admit. There’s lots more to do, but I am trying to do it in small batches when ever possible. My freezers are getting stuffed, so I’ve actually turned down a couple of items lately, like blueberries and more green beans, and I canned the chicken we were given for that reason. My shelves are filling nicely out in the shop.

I’ve done a couple of batches of salsa, several small batches of pickles, lots of jam, wild blackberry and strawberry syrup, and I’m working on fruit cocktail today.

A few of the fall/winter gardening seeds have come up and some of the cabbage starts that looked so awful when I planted them look much better now. In between preserving, I’ve been trying to clean up the yard and garden a bit….it’s getting pretty weedy. But, the weeds will still be there when I’m done canning, I’m pretty sure. So, I’m not getting too worried about them:)

So, why do I do all of this? Several reasons: For one, I actually enjoy it. But, even if I didn’t, I still would preserve food. There is so much food in our area. Farmers have a bounty of crops that are available for little money. My garden is bountiful. But, during the winter, little grows, and it is so nice to be able to go out to the shop and grab what I want or need. It saves me both time and money during the winter, and I can cook so many delicious meals with the food I preserve.

During this past spring, it become apparent that things had changed in our area. The stores were having shortages, as they did everywhere else. We have chosen to not shop as often, due to Covid, and sometimes, things on my list were not there when we were. This summer, I’m preserving extra, because we ate extra last spring and I ran out of some items. I know I will enjoy the convenience of having the food right at my fingertips. Right now, in our area, farmers are selling their wares at fruit stands and farms for the same prices they did in the past, or with a slight, normal increase. With other food prices going up in the stores, that’s attractive to me.

Are you preserving anything extra this summer?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 10, 2020

The canning is stacking up around here! This week, one of the things I did was pull the carrots. Some we ate and some were canned. Frankly, my carrot crop was small, and not impressive, but I dealt with what there was. I grew multi-colored colored carrots, for part of what I grew, and I like how they look in the jars. During a normal winter, I use between 5 and 10 pints of canned carrots, that is all. I use them for one purpose–making chicken-rice soup when I’m in a big hurry. Therefore, I don’t can them every year, but this year, I’m down to one jar left, so it’s time.

Pickles are made every few days and the tomatoes are just barely starting.

We have a peach tree in the back yard. It’s somewhat pathetic and the peaches that grow are usually eaten off by squirrels before they even ripen. The peaches are often covered with scabs. But, this year, some survived–probably 20-25 pounds and they are quite nice. I was expecting very little-none as usual, so this gave me extra peaches. I have been freezing them in slices for smoothies, gave some of the frozen ones to my sister, froze a few for a friend, and made another double batch of peach jam.

We are eating so well from the garden now.

My lettuce is really good right now, but some of it wants to bolt soon. I will be hauling some out to family members on Wednesday so it gets eaten.

Rob has been saving seeds from some of our open-pollinated flowers and vegetables to use next year. It’s his first try, but he’s become very infested in the process–so I’m on board. I’ve got a small patch of the lettuce in the center of the picture saved and will let it go to seed for him. I’ve got a huge cucumber yellowing on the vine for the same purpose, and one freaky carrot that bloomed so is being left alone to see what happens.

I’ve been working hard in the garden to pull up old bean bushes, pull the onions so they can dry, and otherwise clean up out there. One day, Rob tilled this section and I planted cabbage, some sad broccoli plants and a few seeds. The plants are not amused at the 90+ degree day we had today. I’ve ran the sprinkler daily and hauled a few watering cans full of water out to them, so they will likely survive if I keep doing it. I have plans to plant a few more fall/winter crops when I get the section where the onions were prepared.

I went to the dentist today and got a filling replaced. It had a small crack in it. They felt I could wait until after Rob recovered from surgery, but not 6 months…..I really don’t like dental work, but was glad to get it fixed before it caused problems down the road. I was able to use my insurance, so that helped ease the pain.

Rob has been helping my sister/brother-in-law on their peach farm a little over the past couple of weeks. They are in a busy time, and he’s available. While he was there today, he picked wild blackberries and we made jam this afternoon.

My aunt and sisters picked and snapped more green beans for me while I was at the dentist. Rob and I canned them this afternoon. I got 7 more quarts and 18 pints, plus 4 baggies to freeze. Thanks, guys!

Rob gathered free wood from the side of the road and made me screens to dry my onions on.

One day, while we were watching Michaela, we packed a picnic and took her up to Silver Creek Falls State Park to dip her toes in the creek, and enjoy her picnic. We are all trying to find things for the kids to do while still staying safe–so although the park was somewhat crowded, we just stayed away from people as much as we could, so we were able to find a way to social distance. We did take a walk, but it was around the parking lot and a field–we never got anywhere near the falls this time around. It was still extremely fun!

What did you do this week to save money or have an awesome week?


Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 2, 2020

Way before Rob’s surgery, my sister booked a cabin at Detroit Lake and invited us to come with their family for a few days. She wanted him to have something to look forward to post-surgery. As we discussed the upcoming trip, we talked about how he would probably need help up the few stairs, a ground level room so he could lie down when needed, and maybe could or maybe could not walk the 50 feet to the lake or go out on a boat one day. What a different, and wonderful, scenario it was!

Instead of sitting in the cabin, he went down to the lake several times. While down there, he fished, helped the kids fish and swam more than once. He had no trouble on the stairs or anywhere else, but made sure to use his trekker poles and follow his hip surgery precautions at all times. One morning, he and I walked all over the tiny lake town for exercise. It was nice to have a different change of scenery.

He took some of the kids rock collecting and creek walking.

On the day my sister rented a pontoon boat, we all fished for the morning, and swam during the afternoon. We took a picnic with us to enjoy at lunch time. Michaela got a fishing license before she went on the trip, with Rob’s help. Then, of course, she wanted to fish. He helped her hook this one, and she landed it. She was SO excited.

I caught a fish, too! It was the biggest trout I’ve caught in years, well over 12 inches, and we ate it for dinner that night, along with the one Rob helped Michaela catch.

Jake’s parents have chosen to continue homeschooling next fall, and are continuing his education during the summer. So, 2 of the days we were there, he did schoolwork. His mom organized it all, and his dad and mom both worked with him at times. Uncle helped him with science projects twice. I read two entire short chapter books to him. One was school, one was for fun. He would lay in wait for me to come out to where ever he was and get me to read to him,–it was so cute and fun. He commandeered everyone he could to play air hockey and foosball in the basement game room the cabin had, and although he beat me at air hockey, I did win the foosball game:). He talked every single one of us into Yahtzee at one time or another, and even used my phone to text Grandma for her Yahtzee-winning secrets one time, and then won the game!

We took all of our food, and cooked every meal at the cabin. We had a blast, and got some rest. Which was good because……

When we got home…..yikes! I had picked the garden produce before we went and processed everything or packed it for the trip. I needed to work for 12-16 hours a couple of days to get it taken care of before we left, but nothing was neglected or forgotten, except 3 pickling cucumbers that grew too big to use while we were gone, and about 10 beans that went over the hill. I can so totally live with that!

Since I’ve been home, I’ve canned beet pickles, dill pickles, blueberry pie filling and green beans. I’ve frozen the last of the peaches, some strawberries and blueberries.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a bean-snapping/canning party at my sister’s house. My other sister is growing tons of beans and is sharing. So after virtual church, Rob and I went over to Gail’s and joined their family and my aunt, who were all snapping like crazy. We got 28 quarts done! We took our canner, used their canner, and one that Rob’s friend gave us just last week. They never use it anymore, so we gratefully accepted. Rob stood by the canners, keeping time and keeping them all at correct pressure–that was his exclusive job, and the rest of us snapped and filled jars. When I left, they were all sealed, except one, and I’m sure it did. It sure speeds things up with multiple canners and lots of help!

I’ve been working on my garden in the evenings and mornings. I’m removing old bushes, harvesting produce, and weeding. I’m getting an area ready because I plan to plant a fall garden.

We ordered some more seeds from Territorial Seed Company for fall planting. They were out of a lot of things in their on-line winter gardening catalog, but we were able to get enough. We just wanted a few things like spinach, cabbage, etc. If they didn’t have the variety I wanted, I just chose another one, figuring they all must have some merit or they wouldn’t have made it into the seed catalog in the first place! Maybe I’ll find a new favorite. We have eaten and shared so many of our vegetables this summer–much more than we usually do, so I’m excited to get more going.

Rob took this picture of the clouds. I really like it, so thought I’d end the blog post with it, just because:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 27, 2020

This week revolved around food preservation, at least at my house! What a nice change from everything revolving around the pandemic:) I didn’t want to go anywhere, or do anything else but preserve food anyway:). This is truly one of my favorite times of year. So what did I do?

I went and picked New Haven peaches at my sister’s house on Friday. Rob went back this morning. What they had left after a super busy u-pick day Saturday, was what my sister calls “uglies.” I purposely asked Rob to pick a bunch of those. I froze a lot of them for smoothies. The blender isn’t going to care how beat up they were in the orchard:). I blanched them with boiling water, peeled them, sliced/chunked them and froze on a cookie sheet, then transferred into bags so they are separated for smoothies.

I canned 35 quarts.

I made a double batch of peach jam with some of the “uglies.” I also made a batch of spiced peach-blueberry jam, using 4 cups of blueberries from my bushes.

Of course, the garden still produces, peaches or no peaches. In almost every “peach” picture, you see beans in the background. So far, I have canned 31 quarts, 1 pint, and frozen 3 baggies. I did help her snap those, by the way:), and a big bag was saved for eating over the next couple of days.

And, dear, sweet Patsy got to shred 32 cups of assorted zucchini this morning. We froze it in 2-cup packages for winter baking. It was a mixture of tromboncini, yellow and green zucchini. After the 32 jars of relish the other day, I thought maybe it would slow down?????? Not yet, I guess:). Believe it or not, there’s plenty saved out to eat over the next few days.

My Glacier tomatoes yielded 2 bowls. They are early, but small, so I cut them in 1/2, crushed and boiled, then used my food mill on them to make tomato juice. I then added lots of herbs and spices and garlic powder, salt and pepper and cooked. There wasn’t much there, so I poured in some vegetable/tomato juice that was originally purchased at a discount grocery store and forgotten. I then stirred in some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit, then canned my pizza/pasta sauce. I got 9 or 10 jars, of assorted sizes.

I’ve done dill pickles whenever I get any cucumbers from my patch. So far, I’ve done them 3 times and now have a total of 2 quarts and 9 pints. I will do more in the morning. They don’t seem to give me very many at once, but they add up over time. My dill isn’t growing well. I don’t know why. The ones in rows are stunted. The few that self-seeded from last year are growing merrily in the onions, middle of the rows, or amongst the carrots and beets. I guess they call it “dill weed” for a reason:). So, I’ve just been picking those, and hoping I will have enough.

We used up a lot of my canned and frozen goods this past winter, so I have a lot of canning to do this summer and fall. It is because we were home more, I think. I love that! It keeps the canned and frozen food current and fresh.

We did do a few other things this week. We had Jake and Michaela both Friday and Monday, because of extra work their mama had to do, along with an extra day last Tuesday, and Jake’s normal Wednesday-Thursday “spend the night” time. Michaela is getting a little bored at home, so she was excited to come over. We had a pool party, complete with 2 kiddie pools with water in them, lot of cottage cheese cartons, squirt guns, and ice cream cones. It was very hot today for around here, upper 90’s, so the kids stayed out in the water for several hours. They pretty much stayed in the shaded area they found, sitting in the water most of the time. We used the water left over in the pools to water the strawberries next to the shop. they never get enough this time of year.

While at the restaurant supply store gathering things like celery seed, green and red peppers and vinegar for canning projects, Rob stumbled upon this 25-lb bag of gluten-free rolled oats for $5. It had a torn corner. He grabbed it. He also grabbed 50 pounds of Jasmine rice for $10–they said it had been ordered by mistake and they didn’t want it.

This last week has been rigorous. I’m looking forward to a few restful days after the peaches are done. I need to freeze one more batch of slices in the morning. Still, I love the process of food preservation. My mom calls it my useful hobby. I love seeing those shelves and freezers fill up, and I really love knowing what’s in those jars and packages– good, healthy food that gives us a tremendous variety of delicious food all winter long.

How about you? Are you preserving any food this summer?