All posts by Becky

Cleaning the Pantry and Garage–Part 3–January, 2023

I didn’t clean another area in the garage, per say, but did tidy up small places to keep the places I’ve cleaned so far from slipping back into chaos.

Instead, this past week was full of cooking up items that needed to be used from my pantry. I had several extra meals to cook, including food for 25 people that I was taking to the college group from church on Tuesday.

I started with a boxed mix for pumpkin bread I found when cleaning. It was a conventional, wheat-filled mix, so I had not used it. I used the rest of some squash I’d thawed and a mashed banana to finish up the cup I needed. I threw in some mini chocolate chips from the freezer and baked it up. I have no idea what it tasted like, as I could not taste it, but I’m sure it was delicious. What’s not to like about chocolate chips, right?

Rob marinated and grilled chicken legs and thighs for the group, us and my sister’s family. I did not use the new chicken I purchased on such a good sale last week. Instead, we pulled the frozen packages we already had, thawed and used them to keep things rotating properly in the freezers. They were purchased on sale, as well, not long ago.

I made 3 kinds of cookies or bars, to use items I wanted to target. This one is fudge toffee bars. It used a can of sweetened condensed milk that was close to date, the rest of the toffee chips from a recipe a few weeks ago, some coconut that had been lingering and some glittery “disco” chocolate chips I had gotten on a super bargain. They were normal Toll house chips, but with some kind of glitter on top….go figure:). I guess they weren’t super popular, as they were at the discount store. They were kind of pretty, to me, though.

I made raspberry jam oatmeal bars with oats and home-canned jam that was a couple of years old, but so, so yummy! I wanted to use some old-fashioned rolled oats I have and we liked the bars so much I’ll make them again.

The third kind was peanut butter chocolate chip. I sent a few of those on my cookie tray, but froze most of them in the shop freezer. I like to make a batch every couple of months and we eat them slowly. I used a jar of peanut butter I got for 97c.

Normally, I would not make so many kinds of cookies for the group. I just wanted to use these ingredients in a creative way. We had plenty of cookies to eat and share and have a large container in the freezer still to use.

We got a bag of romaine from the restaurant supply store and added a bag of spinach from Safeway, as I had a coupon to get it for $1.50, for a big salad. I added shredded cabbage from my garden, grated carrot and just a few cherry tomatoes on top for color.

To finish that meal, I soaked and cooked a large pot of pinto beans, as I still have quite a few from the 50 pound bag we got at the beginning of Covid. At that point, it was about $22 for the entire bag, and they were in short supply. It was either buy that or no beans at all, at the time, and we were out. They still cooked up beautifully. There were no issues getting them soft. I made Western beans with southwestern seasonings such as cumin, and froze the rest for later use.

I tried a recipe for egg flower soup from a cookbook I checked out from the library. I added tofu cubes at the last minute so they wouldn’t crumble. It tasted really good. The broth was given to us a while back and was almost at “Best used by” date and the tofu was a 97c bargain at the discount store. Rob loves tofu…I’m not as much of a fan, but it was good in this soup. It also used up some green onions that were starting to wilt.

One of our sons came over one day for lunch. I used hamburger buns that were lingering in the freezer and served burgers and extra salad from the big batch I made for the college group. I didn’t make much else, as he only wants hamburgers, hamburgers and more hamburgers:)

Last, but not least, I made some salmon patties and fries in my air-fryer. There were some cans of salmon on the shelf that needed to be used. I shared some, and we ate some. One thing Rob did was make a fish sandwich from them. He liked the patties that way. I tossed the potatoes in a tiny bit of oil and added parmesan, salt and pepper and they came out very tasty.

I can see some small spaces already forming on the pantry shelves, which I’m very pleased about as I just organized it to be full and straightened. Once another large space opens up, I want to reorganize all of my tea. The freezers are in good condition, but will need cleaning before too long.

Food management is a big job around here, and I have plans to continue my pantry project for a while longer before moving on to the freezers. Unfortunately, there are still a couple of areas to clean out there in the garage, and happily, there are still many, many delicious items to put on the top of the “use-it-up” list. Thankfully, most of the items that urgently needed to be dealt with have been used!

I really enjoy cooking, and like to be able to find what I want on my shelves, so it’s worth it to me. Also, organizing it allows me to buy several of each item when the price is low, and have plenty to use when the prices rise, without wasting! It really needed to be done and I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Rob Cleaned and Repaired the Greenhouse and Started Seeds-Jan. 2023

It’s hard to see in this picture, but one of our planting shelves/benches in the greenhouse was super warped and was not working any more to keep trays flat. Rob said that it was made from plywood and warped from water over the years.

He discovered this after he spent several hours over a couple of days cleaning out all the things he stores in there during the fall and early winter. There were lots of empty pots, boxes of kindling and more he needed to deal with to make room to plant.

He used scavenged wood he had on hand to rebuild the planting bench.

It came out beautifully.

He put one of the heating mats on it. The greenhouse is very cool most of the time and heating mats are how we get seeds to germinate. The other bench is still fine, but the mat is being fussy….. It’s very old, and this one is newer. Things wear out. We are waiting a little bit tp see if mat #2 is worn out or if it will revive.

He trimmed and cleaned up the overwintered geraniums.

He decided to use the cuttings and try to root some new plants. It will be amazing if it works!

He planted peppers. They take a long time to grow in our cool greenhouse. There are Anaheim 64, Ancho, Jalafuego JalapeƱo, another kind of Jalepeno, Green Bell pepper, Mixed Bell pepper, Lola (a light green long sweet pepper that really produces a lot), Hungarian Wax Pepper (zippy), and Carmen. We have been growing Carmen peppers for years. They are long, sweet peppers and ripen in our climate every year. You get a lot of peppers from each plant and they are large. We are trying a couple of new ones–Jimmy Nardello is one. I hope to pickle that one, as it is slim, long and sweet, they say. Our daughter, Lovana, brought some seeds here that she hadn’t planted last year, and there are a couple of peppers in there, as well, including a striped one I’m excited to try. I need 2-4 Serrano peppers each summer for my salsa. (Peppers, not plants–it’s a very small amount). We use Dollar Store seeds for that, and I told Rob I only want 2 plants, total, just in case one fails.

Many of my peppers are used in salsa. We can use 75-100 jars of assorted sized jars in a year, most years. It’s not unusual for me to be unable to grow enough peppers for salsa, relish and other items and have to buy some anyway, despite my best efforts. We try to grow as many as we can, though. I freeze the sweet ones in baggies and we eat them all year in breakfast scrambles, chili, sweet and sour pork or chicken, pizza, and more.

On another day, I planted some parsley. Last year, we did not get enough to dehydrate. When I was cleaning my food pantry, I noticed I’ve used all I dried a couple of years ago except one small jar. I do have some I bought from the store, but I want to dry my own again this summer. It’s easy and another thing I can grow in my yard.

He even planted the ends of the romaine lettuce we recently bought. Some people have great success getting a crop from them. We will see if we are one of those people. It never hurts to try! I know garden lettuce will regrow if we cut it, so if it’s not too cold, it should work.

The onions are planted, too. We’ve planted Red Bull, Red Wing, Patterson, a white one and Guardsman green onions. I used to have overwintered green onions in my garden, but the seeds I planted in the late summer look terrible this year, and I want to get some new ones going as soon as possible, as I do not have much hope that those at the edge of the garden will do much of anything. The storage onions will be planted out as small plants and we hope to eat the green onions straight from the tray and plant more in the garden. We shall see if it works.

We planted a lettuce called “All Winter Long” in the greenhouse. It’s a hardy mix from Pinetree. We also planted Romaine. If we get little plants and it’s not too wet, we will plant them in the raised bed for a super early crop. Otherwise, we’d be happy to cut the little plants off and eat the baby lettuce plants straight out of the greenhouse.

Hopefully, in a few days, we will start to see little green shoots peeking up from those trays of dirt. It’s so encouraging during this time of year to know that spring is on its way, despite the promise of cold, cold nights coming up this next week. I’ve dug out a small space heater, and we may need to put it on in there for a couple of nights, just to keep it from freezing–it’s supposed to get COLD!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Jan. 24, 2022

I finished tying up the raspberries this week. I have high hopes for them for this year, even though they are still in their dormant state and don’t look like much. I worked on cutting out the old canes and tying up this year’s fruit-bearing wood a week or two ago and was delighted to find a window of opportunity to finish. It’s a deceptive job. It looks like it would take about 10 minutes, but instead took at least 2-3 hours to do. I’m glad to be done. Now for the Marion (black) berries……

I pulled grass up from around their roots, but I can see I’m going to have a problem with that awful quack grass (or whatever its real name is) again this year. šŸ™

I will put coffee grounds around the base of their stems, as Rob read that they like them. We pick up grounds for gardeners from Starbucks in Safeway and anywhere else we find some. I will also fertilize a little later on so they can grow vigorously through the spring and hopefully give me lots of raspberries. I don’t want them to grow yet, it’s too cold and they would get nipped. Last year, we only got enough to eat as the summer before was so terribly hot the bushes did not do well. We still have a few packages in the freezer from 2 years ago, and I hope to finish those and fill more this upcoming summer.

Rob worked on the greenhouse for hours this week. I will make another post about what he did. He is getting ready to start seeds very soon.

I filled the remaining space in the yard debris bin with rose clippings I cut and the remaining dead branches from the in-ground fuchsia I had not trimmed yet. I’m finding I never have enough time or dry weather to do big jobs outside lately, and am finding success by breaking the jobs up into more than one session and just feeling content with doing whatever part I can get done at that moment. Then, I get back to it whenever I can on another day. The key for me is to not start too many of these kind of projects, but instead try to keep one or two at the top of my list so they actually get finished. It’s a good theory anyway and works part of the time:)


I continue to work on using up every bit of food I can. These hard-boiled eggs got knocked out of the fridge and rolled around a bit before I could catch them. Rather than toss them, I peeled them, washed them, then smashed them up with some tuna and made tuna-egg salad sandwich filling for dinner last night. They didn’t take much effort to smash. Eggs are not as expensive here as elsewhere, but they are more than double the price they were last spring.

My pantry/garage-cleaning project continues. I have been putting food items that need to be targeted for immediate use in the kitchen on the counter. I have worked through so many odd items, along with some normal ones that add to meals. Tonight, there are only 2 items left there. Yea! Time to clean another area and find some more. Because I’m doing the job over several weeks, I’ve had time to use a lot of items as I find them without being overwhelmed.

Tomorrow night, we are cooking for the entire young adult/college group at church (25ish), rather than the 5-6 gluten-free that we usually do. I’m rejoicing in using so many targeted items making things for them. So far, I made pumpkin bread (with wheat since most can eat it) from a mix I found, some cookie bars with coconut, the last of the toffee bits from a couple of weeks ago, and more, and cookie bars with rolled oats and raspberry jam from 2020 I found. I will make some Western Beans from pintos I cooked today and of course, Rob will bbq chicken drumsticks. How awesome we got so many for such a reasonable price!

I shopped with my daughter, who was also shopping for her sister and items for both babies this week. We went to 4 stores to get what she wanted, her sister wanted and I wanted. It was quite an expedition. I was delighted to use a $20/off $100 coupon, plus a $10 reward coupon at Safeway. Even with items for all of us, I stilI had to run back for 2 more packages of chicken legs at the end, to get the $20 off. (At that point, it would have been like throwing away $20 of free food to me.). I ended up with 6 family packs of chicken legs. I had coupon for 99c/lb legs and can always use more at that price. I got things like powdered sugar, brown sugar, some paper products, produce, dairy products and more. Of course I downloaded digital coupons, as well. In the end, my part of that bill was only about $30 with all the coupons and the things that weren’t for me to pay for.

I found her a $10/off $40 at Fred Meyers (a Kroger) store, and let her use my store card and downloaded coupons right there in the store, as needed. Grocery Outlet was visited, but there are no downloads there. Still, we found some items on the list for good prices. Lastly, we hit Trader Joe’s for things she wanted. I got Rob a couple of treats, a birthday gift of flowers and a card for a friend, and some gluten-free bagels for myself.

At the end of the day, I was very happy with what I’d spent and with all the goodies the girls added to my fridge, freezer and pantry. Most holes are filled in the pantry already. Rob had picked up a few things like mushrooms and sliced olives the other day for a good price. I got a few more replacements Saturday. I’m still in budget and the pantry is already full again, even after all we’ve used up. I’m just not replacing a lot of those things, but instead making sure I have plenty of the things we actually use on a regular basis.

Rob and I went on a mini-date Sunday afternoon. We are easily amused, I know, but we wandered through Wheeler Dealer, a scratch and dent store, for entertainment. We found some amazing deals, although many of the prices are much higher there, as they are everywhere. We got cottage cheese for 50c/carton, fresh mozzarella balls for 50c/carton, jalapeƱos for 10c each, a head of boc choi for 33c, a can of sweetened condensed milk for 79c, applesauce pouches for the babies for 25c, and more. I was so glad to know exactly what I had in my pantry, and walked away from a lot of things that were cheap, but I absolutely didn’t need. I’ve already used a bunch of what we got in lasagnas, which used some targeted noodles and the rest of the sauce from last week.

Does anyone know if you can freeze those fresh mozzarella balls? The ones packed in water? I still have 2 cartons left, but they have a very short date on them…hence the 50c price tag. Please leave a comment if you have tried freezing them or something similar. Thanks!

Cleaning the Pantry and Garage–Part 2-Jan. 2023

Really, Becky?

When I say I’m cleaning the pantry, I really mean the entire garage needs desperate help. The kids used to play Wii on this t.v. No one has done that lately, for many reasons, so it’s become a dumping ground for empty containers. Then full ones. Then other stuff. And so on.

Dried fruits and veggies are in containers on the right. The box is full of empty cottage cheese, etc. cartons plus a few purchased ones. There are tin foil pans. I use these items for sending food to people so they don’t have to worry about returning anything. I also freeze items in the cartons if they are sturdy. The ice cream buckets are always full of things like extra flour, sugar, beans, etc. and I always keep extras there for when I need them.

Behind the t.v. are extra take-home cartons, plus empty gallon and other glass jars for re-filling with bulk items when necessary. You can see my fancy cake plates and swiffer sheets.

Every shelf has now been organized. The large bins/buckets below have been pulled out and the floor swept. There is a large bin of gluten-free flours and other items under the shelves you cannot see and that’s been gone through, sorted, and organized, as well.

There were a few things I was out of, believe it or not. There are a few things I’ve been using that I will not replace. I have already sent Rob searching for a good price and replaced some items, such as canned mushrooms. I will only keep a minimal amount of tomato sauce on the shelf anymore, as I have been able to make enough from the garden. The same goes for salsa. There are a few other things like that, as well, and some things we were given or bought in a moment of craziness…we just don’t like them. We have given away things we were given we can’t eat, such as Xylotol sweetener, and some other items.

There has been a LOT of yummy food coming out of my kitchen.

Here are some of the things I’ve used up this past few days:

Several cups of gluten-free old-fashioned oats. There was a 25 lb bag we got that was damaged, so it was only $5 or $10 at the time. It was a LOT of oats for us, so it has been around for long enough it needs specifically targeted. These bars used those oats and some raspberry-peach jam from 2020 I found in my canning. I also started cooking that kind for breakfasts. It just takes a little longer than the other kind.

I made 2 loaves of bread from some gf bread flour I found and added some flax meal that had been lurking in the back of the fridge for ages. It came out good and I froze most of it, as I don’t eat much bread.

I used 3 lonely gf lasagna noodles and a box of gf manicotti noodles along with 50c/carton cottage cheese we found at Wheeler Dealer, fresh mozzarella balls from the same place, same price, the rest of the pasta sauce I made last week, and some assorted odds ends of cheese that needed used. I froze one, gave one away and we are working on the other one.

Rob ate some sardines and smoked oysters from the shelf. He’s using the mango coffee syrup we found out there to put with seltzer for drinks, and in a marinade.

I used some honey powder–it came in a mix long ago and was basically dried honey in several things that needed sweetening until it was gone. I used tiny packets of spices and other things we had picked up here and there over time.

We had the cutest tiny little jars of ketchup and mustard. I used the ketchup in meatballs and the mustards in a marinade with rosemary on pork chops.

As always, we used our stored garden onions, jars of beans, carrots, assorted fruits, jams, pickles and relishes. I’ve also been taking things out of the freezers daily. In fact, we downed a huge container of peanut-butter chocolate chip cookies, with some help. I will make more soon, so I can clean out that item again:)

There is still more to do in the garage. There’s a table that still has things on it and I want it mostly empty. It’s 1/2 done. A messy corner is now clean, but there are books to go through. I have a cookbook shelf that is still awful. The sewing table needs a little spiffing up. I’m very encouraged, though. Real progress has been made.

As I mentioned before, I like to do this twice a year. Hopefully, I will get back to that schedule. I don’t like to waste food, so want to keep it rotated. Also, I actually want to bring my food storage down to a smaller amount. What was reasonable when we had so many children at home isn’t necessary even though we have people in and out all the time, along with the ones who live here. I’m well on my way to my goal.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 17, 2022

The weather has been very mild around here lately. We have been able to get out and take several walks. Yesterday, it felt like spring was coming when I saw this toadstool peeking up from that emerald green grass. It was such a nice feeling, to know that spring was on it’s way once again!

All of the seeds we ordered have arrived. Rob also snagged some packets from the Dollar Store. I sorted them all into categories, such as peppers, tomatoes, etc. and put them in their bin, ready to plant. Rob spent the evening last night writing out some tags in preparation for starting the peppers. Peppers and onions take a long time, so will need to be started soon. Cleaning and organizing the greenhouse is on his “to-do” list.

I use lots of mildly hot peppers such as Anaheim 64, Ancho, and Jalafuego JalapeƱo, in my salsa. We need quite a few plants of those started. I use about 6 Serrano peppers per year in that salsa, so one or two bushes will do. We are growing Jimmy Nardello Italian pepper this year as a new experiment. It’s supposed to be long and sweet. I’m hoping to get the right size for pickling and fresh eating. Carmen peppers have been a favorite for years and we need a long row of those. They are a fat, long pepper and turn red much sooner than other peppers and have a huge yield. Rob’s starting some green and mixed color bell peppers, as well. I freeze lots of chopped up peppers and we are working through the ones from last year at a pretty rapid rate, so we need lots more.

We will start Patterson onions as they are our main crop of yellow onion. They store really well. I believe I used the last of the stored ones in the early summer–June or July last year. Whenever it actually was, I already had new ones large enough to eat in the garden so I didn’t have to buy onions last year. We also start Red Bull and White onions. The Red Bulls store well, but the white ones always need to be used up right away. We have so many onions from this past summer’s garden and I hope that I don’t have to buy any again.

I used to have an area in my garden that self-seeded green onions and I always had a large patch which lasted all winter. The last couple of years they haven’t really done that and I’ve been buying green onions after the rows I plant are used. I hope to get a good solid area of those going again for next winter, but in the meanwhile, I’m going to start some of those in the greenhouse just so I can get some to use sooner, rather than later.

I saw a very ugly, slimy, but huge cabbage still standing in the garden, and wondered if there was any good left on it. There was! I peeled off the black part and aggressively cut off the bottom half, which contained slugs and potato bugs who wanted to feast and was left with 5 large, very good chunks from the top half. I’ve already used one of them.

I have been stretching times between grocery shopping again. Instead of going every week, I stretched it to about 12 days this past time. I will do that again. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been cleaning out the pantry area in the garage. The kitchen counter has an area with things that need to be targeted for use, so I’m shopping from there these days. Rob and my nephew went to the store for me yesterday and got dairy and produce and a few items to use with these targeted items so I can use them up.

We’ve been able to get back to the YMCA a few times with our grandson and nephew. They love the pool and our nephew likes to shoot hoops, as well. Malcolm is so proud of his “pack-pack” that my aunt sent over at Christmas, full of his new towel from my sister and the rest of his swimming things. He insists on carrying that bag himself, no matter how awkward or heavy. My sister gave him swim diapers for Christmas, as well, which was not so exciting to him as it was to me.

Last week, there were more events and meetings at church than we’ve had for years. Although we enjoyed every one, and felt the meetings were useful, it made for a very busy week. There were some days where I really scrambled to get dinners on the table. Rob was given dinner at one of his events for a nominal fee, and at another there was lunch provided. Because I’m gluten free, I took my own sandwich, but enjoyed the huge fresh salad very much. At yet another gathering, there was an entire table of desserts and snacks to enjoy. I was happy that I managed to feed everyone and stay out of the fast food line! This week, I noticed there is a women’s event featuring chocolate where everyone gets to eat chocolate…I think I could get used to that. Maybe that one should become a weekly event…..

Cleaning the Pantry–Part 1-January 2023

I spent quite a bit of time organizing in the garage. It has become a dumping ground for many things and it’s very unorganized. I keep many pantry items on shelves in there and that was all messed up, too. Normally, I go through all my canned and packaged food items in the spring, and then again in the fall. This fall, it just didn’t happen. I wanted to do it over the holiday break, but, nope….didn’t happen then either. I will blame it on Covid. Even though my case was the mildest one I’ve ever heard of. Covid. Right:).

Doing this is very important to me because when I sort it all, I check dates and make sure to move older things forward, or into the kitchen for immediate use, or throw them away if I’ve waited too long. Obviously, the goal is to use it, not toss it, so I normally keep on top of the project.

I have about 1/3 of the job done out there. I will continue to work out there whenever I have a bit of time this week. I’ve already found so many surprises. For instance, I’m almost out of brown sugar and canned mushrooms. I’ve apparently been buying refried beans for a day when I’m busy and don’t have time to make any for a long time. I have about 20 cans. They were up high, down low, and everywhere in-between, behind things, to the side…..Let’s blame that on Covid, too, shall we? Because there is absolutely no logical explanation for that one. At. All.

I cooked from the items I weeded out of the pantry, plus from the freezers and canning shelves. I did not shop at all this past week at the store, but instead ordered bulk items from Azure Standard. I needed some cleaning supplies as well as some items such as salt, pepper, Mexican seasoning, garlic powder, etc.

This picture is vegetarian spaghetti sauce made from aging tomato sauce and tomatoes from the shelves. I added celery, frozen peppers from our garden, onion bits and spices. The truth is, I make and use so many tomato products from our garden tomatoes that those cans were just languishing out there. I will use some of this right away, and freeze some in recycled cottage cheese cartons.

I used up 3 old cans of soup, a box of lemon pudding mix, those above mentioned tomato products, some pancake mix, partial boxes of cereal, a Chex Party Mix seasoning packet, and more. I refilled all my little spice jars in the kitchen from my bulk bags which emptied a couple of those in the garage, used a packet of pre-cooked rice, the bottom of several bottles of this and that from the fridge, and threw away a few items that were either old, or I figured we were never going to eat.

I am often given food. I find a use for almost all of it. But, occasionally, I never do finish it up. Sometimes, it is almost expired before it comes to me and we just can’t use it fast enough (a big bag of corn grits), and sometimes we just can’t stand it so never bring ourselves to use it up. I gave a few items away (all the baby food and snacks Malcolm doesn’t eat anymore).

I read quite a few blogs or listened to U-Tube vlogs about various pantries. I got some great ideas I’d love to implement at a future date.

I also listened to or read about various pantry challenges. It was amazing. Several people are doing these challenges this time of year. In the few I watched or read, people ranged from buying nothing for several weeks or even months while eating only their stored food, to cutting back to “only” $100 per week. The first one has even more preserved than I do! The second one’s grocery budget is obviously much higher than mine to start with. I did see that they only had 4 people in their family, as I wondered if they had 10 kids or something. I decided from all my reading/listening that I didn’t want to do a formal pantry challenge with any rules, but instead just do what I always do: clean the pantry out and use up anything I can find that needs using while putting it into good shape so I can easily find everything I need. And quit buying refried beans:)

I gained tremendous respect for some of the people who are so self disciplined and creative that they can go so long without visiting a store. I found a few new recipes or ways to use my home-preserved food, and that’s always welcome! I’m always happy to get new ideas.

I’m hoping to get a long ways on this project this week. We had a lot of meetings at church last week, including a 6-hour one all day Saturday, so was gone a lot. This week is much quieter, and I hope to have more time to focus on this, and other projects.

Sewing-1st Week of January, 2022

I was able to sew a warm, cute outfit for my grandson last week.

I used Simplicity 9652.

It fits him well, except for being a little long. That’s fine. He does nothing but eat and grow these days. I just turn up the cuffs for now.

The dark green is a sweatshirt knit with a slight bit of fuzziness on the inside. It was in a bag of fabric that was given to me. Part of the fabric was not good, as it was faded, but there was enough good for this part of the outfit. I had the camo fleece in my stash from an after-Thanksgiving sale several years ago. I was happy to find the time to sort through a couple of my bins of fabric and to find it there.

The hardest part of this pattern was the placket at the neckline. I haven’t done one of those for so long I didn’t remember when, and certainly not how. I read and re-read the directions and followed them step-by-step and finally got a result I could live with. I’ll confess a seam ripper was used a couple of times. :(. I used some slightly thicker than normal interfacing under the buttonholes as I was worried that the knit would stretch when I tried to make them. It held fine and did the job.

The rest of the outfit was pretty easy. I will say that it really helped to be working with knit fabric, especially for the cuffs of contrasting fabric. There were times where I had to stretch a bit here and there to get them to fit on and it would have been very hard with a firmer woven fabric. Also, I was able to use the serger quite a bit and it finishes the seams so nicely.

It was fun to have some time to sew. It was a nice “January” activity to dig through fabric bins and make an outfit.

Cost: Olive green fabric-free, Fleece fabric–likely around $4 several years ago, pattern–$1-$2 some time in the past, buttons–in my stash for years so….?, thread–in my thread container for years, and elastic for the waist–$1 at the most. No matter how generously I count past purchases, the outfit cost less than $10, and all of it was spent some time ago.

I did send Rob to JoAnn’s to purchase more elastic and another roll of thread for future projects as I had some really good coupons, and hope to sew some more. I found lots of great fabric in those bins. I’d love to use some more of it this winter before the gardening season starts up again!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 9, 2022

During this past week, I continued to make food from what was in the freezers and cupboards. I also was able to use up several little odds and ends that had been frozen sometime in the past and forgotten about….you know we’ve all got those, and I loved using them.

I dealt with the huge bowl of beans I started soaking at the beginning of last week. I made chili, cooked beans to freeze for later and made refried beans. These were some red beans, smaller than kidney beans, and not what I normally use for refried beans, but they taste great. I froze some of the chili and everything else as I finished it. I’ve already pulled the first carton of refried beans out and we had tacos yesterday. I purposefully froze several smaller containers (I used cartons from cream cheese I had saved) because there are times where we don’t use equivalent of a whole can now that Patsy isn’t here. She really loves beans and ate them like crazy when she was here. I also froze a couple of larger containers for those times when I need more.

We finished up the split pea soup, and the chicken-rice soup. I had soup several times. I don’t mind it for breakfast on busy days.

I used my new Instant Pot cookbook to make Jerk Chicken. I’ve never made it before and was surprised at all the spices I used. Now that’s a good “use-it-up” feeling–using lots of bits of spices I rarely use! I did not use a Scotch Bonnet or Habenero pepper, as we don’t like things that spicy. instead, I used a small amount of home frozen Hungarian Wax peppers and the Cajun seasoning called for in the recipe for a milder spicy flavor. The book said it was not “jerk” chicken without the spicy, spicy peppers, instead “nice” chicken. And, it was. We really, really liked it.

I shopped at Safeway and Natural Grocers and stocked up on basics and produce. I used digital coupons at Safeway and also got my flu shot, which snagged me a 10% off coupon there. I had not been shopping for quite a while, so I needed quite a few things. Some prices were astounding, but I’m grateful that I got everything I needed and stayed within my budget. I got several things I just wanted, (like a couple of avocados), as well, which is always nice! I didn’t buy junk food, though. After all, it is January–time to save money and be healthier, right? Instead, Rob got a fresh cucumber. Lucky Rob:)

I also got eggs wherever I could find them. One day I got 4 doz. for 1.99 each at Nat. Grocers, a few days later they were 2.99 for the same eggs and you could only have 2. I had a $1/carton Ibotta rebate for those eggs, which I redeemed. Rob finally went to Walmart and got 5 doz. for under $10. Although it’s sobering to see so many empty spaces where eggs should be, I do know chickens don’t like to lay eggs in the winter, and expect the situation will resolve in the spring. I sure hope so. From extensive blog reading over the holidays, I realize people are paying much, much more for eggs across the country than I am here. $5.50, $7.99, even upwards of $10 in some places for a dozen seemed quite common in my reading.

We use SO many eggs around here. They are good protein and versatile for so many things. We’ve had hard-boiled eggs, potato salad, egg-tuna salad, eggs salad, scrambled eggs and more this week alone. I’m grateful to get plenty at a reasonable price.

I was amazed to find good produce prices at Natural Grocers, since it’s all organic there, so I got several items, including 5 lbs of carrots for $5.07. At Safeway, they had bagged salads/spinch/coleslaw mix for $1.50 with a digital coupon. I grabbed several of those, as well. I miss the garden this time of year, but just buy produce in the winter, and use what I preserved as much as I can. I love to can, but canned lettuce salad does not appeal to me:).

I am now billing little cups of cooked carrots as “snacks” and Malcolm is buying it:). All silliness aside, he really loves cooked carrots. I used 3 lbs one week. I use my canned ones for soups when I am in a hurry and fresh ones for cooked carrots, with roast beef, in soup and stew when I’m not in a hurry, and more.

Rob made a veggie/egg scramble with frozen garden peppers, some kale, sausage and, of course, eggs.

He made Swiss Steak one night. I peeled and cooked potatoes. One thing I did to save both time and energy (which saves money), is to cook extra potatoes. I mashed enough for dinner with a few leftovers for the next day and saved enough for potato salad a couple of days later. I often cook extra of many things for future meals, or parts of meals.

Oatmeal has also been on the menu a lot. This time, I put some chunks of frozen peaches from my sister’s farm in along with raisins, which I buy in 5-lb bags. I also buy the oatmeal in bulk. The price has risen astronomically, but it’s still a good deal to me. Whole grains are so healthy and they swell up when you cook them! Although I love it, I do not eat a great deal of it, due to what it does to my blood sugars, but others in the family do. I even served it for dinner one night to those who love it so much.

Oatmeal is another thing that I often cook a large pot of and save leftovers for a super quick breakfast for my grandson. He loves it so much. A while back, I got a super, super deal on some of those instant packets, and he loves them, too. I prefer to use real oatmeal most of the time. I can control the sugar content and add real fruit to it. It’s also thicker and easer for him to manage with his little silverware.

My nephew and I made sugar cookies one afternoon. We are always looking for fun activities to do together, and it was fun to focus on some of those cookie cutters I have laying around that are not holiday-related. The dough was saved from some Christmas cookies I had made, and so it was an easy project.

A couple of weeks ago, I sailed through the easiest case of Covid I’ve heard of lately, thank goodness. I never, ever would have even tested had I not found out I had been exposed and had what seemed like a very mild allergy. For me, they symptoms were much, much milder than the last cold I had. Still, I had to quarantine for a while, and take some nasty medicine. It really helped, I think. I did get tired. I took extra naps and rested a lot. I had one day where I actually felt sick. If that was my Covid, I’m more grateful than I can say.

I could not work at my job while in quarantine, or go anywhere, so I used some of the extra time to read blogs, read books, watch t.v., comb cookbooks, try new recipes, clean, and sew. After all, they SAID I was sick, right? So I took some naps, too. That was all very nice for a few days, but I am so glad to have been back out and about, and doing more things for a few days now. I got so stir-crazy that the minute I had fulfilled my doctor’s quarantine orders, I went over to my sister’s house and told my niece that I was so happy to be out and about and delighted to get to go somewhere. She asked me where I was going, and I said, “here! to your house.” She just looked at me like I was crazy! But, I WAS delighted to be there.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 2, 2023

I love the new year, every single time! It’s just so fun to “start over” even if it’s just psychological! I spent some time cleaning up Christmas (to the music of sobs and crying as my poor grandson was not on board with my decision to put those fun things away!), and put out a few cold weather-themed candles, just because it’s so dark this time of year.

He does like the cleaning part, though! He swept and vacuumed and scrubbed for quite a long time.

I am very predictable in January. I always want to clean out foods that have been sitting around for a long time on my pantry shelves, continue hitting the home-preserved foods hard, clean the house, and save money. It’s just what I do this time of year.

Rob and I removed an area rug in the living room, cleaned it, hung it to dry on a ladder in front of the fire, and swept, vacuumed and mopped under the couches. It was a huge job, and the rug is still drying, but it’s good to get such a big project underway.

I got out a big bowl of beans to soak and am also making split pea soup with ham broth that had been previously frozen and split peas from the shelf. I brightened it up with a pint of my canned carrots, and they do look pretty in there. The beans will become chili, refried beans, and plain beans to freeze for later.

I checked out a library book called “The Simple Comforts Step-by-Step Instant Pot Book” by Jeffrey Eisner. This recipe was in it and it was SO good! It’s called Teriyaki Chicken. I’ve made a couple of other recipes from there, also, so I had Rob look it up on Amazon and was able to buy it for only $11!

I spent some time sorting my herbs and spices and re-filling my jars in the kitchen. I buy them in bulk and use the same little jars over and over. I save a tremendous amount of money this way. Some spices or mixes, like Mexican seasoning and chili powder are used so much I buy huge packages of them. Others, such as cream of tartar and ground mustard are used much less often, so I buy only a small bit of them at a time. Now they are all full again, which saves me time on busy days and lets me know what I need to buy before long.

I canned some pineapple. We don’t use much of it, so this will likely be all I need for the next year.

I was given hazelnuts and walnuts, and look forward to using them this year as well. I froze them to preserve freshness. The ones you see in this picture are last year’s, pulled from the freezer to rotate them. I roasted a large pan before Christmas and took a few to Christmas dinner, as did almost every other sister in some form or other:). That’s what your get when you are all raised on a hazelnut farm–hazelnuts say holiday to us!

Happy New Year!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Dec. 26, 2022

We had a small ice storm this past week! There was some freezing rain, some light snow, and more freezing rain, resulting in less than an inch of frozen mess! My nephew and grandson had a great time out on the deck.

Jake showed Malcolm how to get turners and “clean” off the snow.

They didn’t have a ton of success, but Jake ate what he could chip off. They had so much fun. Thankfully, we had been having a sleepover anyway, so no one had to drive out and pick anybody up:). The roads were bad, so we didn’t go anywhere until it melted, although Rob would have been the one who braved it if necessary. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

We had planned many simple activities this week, along with having the fun (for the kids) of the unexpected storm. We had Jake all week, and I wanted it to be fun and busy without spending a fortune. I have also carried out my goal of lots of activities, and less emphasis on stuff during this Christmas season, so we kept our gift giving simple. Therefore, we had more time to do things with whatever kids were around. We went to the library and got books and participated in story time, took a walk a couple of times. This time it was rainy, but one day was cold and clear and the boys played at the park. Today, we went swimming at the YMCA–a perfect day-after-Christmas activity, using our membership. My niece went, too. She enjoys swimming very much. It was a very successful week and we felt very relaxed.

They decorated a gingerbread house.

….playdough and books galore….

Jake made a Roman chariot and did Perler beads while Malcolm napped. He also requested popcorn many times, and we popped that and watched movies or he played on his devices.

I had a lot of help making cheesecake for the party that got cancelled on Saturday (we will try again with that daughter next Saturday)…Maybe a good idea to save that cheesecake for us anyway:). I made another one all by my self for Christmas Day. I used my Instant Pot for both. I like how they come out in there and they are somewhat small–just the right size. They only use 2 packages of cream cheese each time. I find at holidays there are so many desserts people tend to want only a small piece of many desserts, so this has become a favorite way to make cheesecake.

On Christmas afternoon, we went to my sister’s for a wonderful Christmas meal. Afterwards, we opened the “big family” gifts. I had a lot of fun playing with Zai and reading his new books. Everyone got so many lovely things. It was just the right amount for the boys and they enjoyed them all!

My sister was given some fabric. She passed it on to me. In one of the bags was some blue knit. I used it to make Rob a pair of sleeping shorts. There are several other pieces I think I will be able to use, and then I will pass the rest along for someone else to be creative with.

We cruised along on leftovers and some soup today, and I plan to keep meals simple for the rest of the week, as well. I did buy a bunch of groceries, using coupons and sales. I had a reward for $10 off my order, so I used that.

I hope you all had a very nice week and continue to enjoy a little more “holiday” this week, as we plan to do. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!