All posts by Becky

Our Adventure: A Trip Up The Rogue River and Beach–August, 2019–Part 2

After riding on the boat all day last Sunday, we travelled to Bandon by the Sea, a town about an hour from the town where the boat was.

We served out a quick dinner of tacos. I had pre-cooked the beans and meat and the rest was quickly put together. It was all devoured! Everyone was starving.

The next morning, Rob and I made pancakes, eggs, fried ham, and fruit. Patsy got a pancake shaped like a fish. It was a complete accident, but she really liked it! We decided it was a perfect beach breakfast;)

Most of us went to the West Coast Wildlife Game Park. It was a place where the kids could pet animals. There were also lots of big cats in cages. Michaela loves those more than anything. This trip was especially for her, but all the kids enjoyed themselves.

That took until early afternoon. We returned to the beach house for lunch and the kids played down on the beach. Then, a dinner of spaghetti was enjoyed, and we dropped into bed. On Tuesday, it was time to make the long journey home after a quick breakfast of muffins and cereal.

My sister decided we’d had enough cooking, and treated us all to lunch at Mo’s. Yum! I hadn’t eaten there for quite some time and enjoyed it very much.

We returned home late in the day, tired, but very happy and full of wonderful memories to cherish for years to come.

Our Adventure: A Trip Up the Rogue River and A Beach Trip–August, 2019–Part 1

We just returned from a big adventure, complements of my sister. She should have been a travel guide…..She planned the trip out to the last minute, got all the accommodations and tickets, and arranged everything. It was amazing. Here’s what we did.

Months ago, she had purchased tickets for the play, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” up at the Keller Auditorium in Portland (Oregon). It was for my birthday present, and started at 2 p.m. on Saturday. We had a wonderful time. It was so well done. I loved it!

When planning the trip, she found the beach house she wanted to rent was only available on this past weekend, the same weekend as the play. She also wanted to go ride the jet boats that go from Gold Beach, Oregon, up the Rogue River 52 miles and back down again. So, we needed to leave on Saturday to make all of that happen. The play caused us to get a late start.

I was in charge of the meals for everyone. Everyone included: My sister, Gail, 3 of her children, myself, Rob and Patsy, and a friend, Debbie, and her 7 children. Jake and his big sister, Caitlyn, came on Sunday night, as he doesn’t do well on boats. So, I packed a picnic for 13 to eat in the cars on the road. We pulled into the hotel around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning. It’s a distance from here, and we didn’t leave until early evening.

The hotel included breakfast the next morning, which we enjoyed tremendously. The kids loved the waffles with the heart shapes in the center. Rob and I packed a large picnic for the 13 of us who where going on the boats, plus drinks, while the rest of the crew enjoyed the hotel swimming pool. Then, we were off for our 11:30 departure time.

Rob really, really wanted to do this trip. In fact, he declared to Gail (my sister) that he would crawl into the boat if he had to, when the subject was first brought up. He had to!

It was so worth it to him!

At the 2 rest stops, they sent a van down a steep hill to drive him (and us) up to the top, where we could use the restrooms and at lunch time, eat our picnic.

I had a blast, too! My little friend, Delaney, fell asleep between Rob and I on the way back. It was super funny because we were getting splashed with large amounts of water going down the rapids. We tried to shield her the best we could with a blanket that was for that purpose, but in the process, I was absolutely soaked. It was dripping off my hair and down my face. Some got on her, too. Through it all, she never woke up. The people behind us (and us) kept looking down and asking if she woke up, and each time the answer was “no.” Pretty soon, we were all in gales of laughter as each new wave of water doused us, and the child still slept. I guess she was tired:). When she was good and ready, she woke up and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

We saw so much beautiful scenery. There was a lot of wildlife. We saw ducks, egrets, osprey, a bald eagle, otters, deer, and a seal or sea lion–not sure which, and more.

There were a couple balancing on various small rocks. The boat driver was very skilled and got us up pretty close to this one.

We were on the water for around 6-1/2 –7 hours. We went the 104 miles, and had 2 stops. We went from the cool, balmy coast to the dry, scorching hot interior, and back down to the cooler coast once again. The driver did a great job of cooling us off with water when it was hot, and keeping us dry when it wasn’t. Running the rapids was fun. We all had a blast.

We got back into the vehicles, handed each kid a granola bar, and headed an hour north to the town of Bandon.

It was pretty late by the time we arrived, but I had dinner all planned and it didn’t take long to get it on the table. I had taco meat and refried beans premade and they were warmed up. Tortillas, garden tomatoes, lettuce and pre-shredded cheese were put out, along with a Costco bag of corn chips and some salsa. Every scrap was devoured.

Our Monday was very full of fun, as well. I’ll continue writing about our trip tomorrow in Part 2, as this post is getting pretty long, and there’s lots more to tell.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 20, 2019

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down! I’m enjoying my flowers very much. Patsy took this picture of one of our dahlias. She planted three last summer, and they all survived over the winter and are beautifully blooming again.

We worked quite a few hours with the kids last week. There were some extra appointments/work/etc. that caused their parents to be a bit more busy than normal. One afternoon, the kids decorated cut-out cookies. I pre-baked them in the shape of a train, and they put frosting and sprinkles on them. I made the dough from scratch, used sprinkles I had, made the frosting and got some red icing from the clearance rack. They had a blast. We had them for extra time on Friday, and this helped fill in the time with a fun activity.

Jake enjoyed the party for the end of the summer reading program at the library. There were crafts, games, a fire truck, and best of all…snow cones! He chose his free book as well.

He loved this game. He got to stomp on a pedal and it blasted the foam rocket up into the air.

Each child was given a little card and they could do 10 activities at the party. He did 9 and was done, so we went home and had lunch. It was just right for him, and really solidified the fact that he had completed the program.

Patsy plugged away on school, in-between activities. My goal is that we have a few weeks done by September 1, so we can have more time at Christmas and be done early. She’s doing great so far:)

On Saturday, my sister whisked us, the kids, and some friends off an a big adventure. I’m going to save the pictures of our trip for another day, because there is so much to tell, but I promise to get busy posting it very soon. One thing about my sister is that when she plans and orchestrates a trip, the agenda is full, to say the least! We had a blast, but when you see what we did in only 4 days and 3 nights, you will see why it needs a post of its own.

Right now, I’m winding down for a good night’s sleep since I need to be at Jake’s house bright and early in the morning for our next day of adventure together! I’ll be honest, I think we are going to keep it very quiet tomorrow. I envision lots of reading aloud, game playing and a bowl of noodles and a bagel for the boy. We will both be ready for that, I’m sure.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 11, 2019–Lots of Kid-Related Fun and Planning For Fall

On Tuesday, our church had a huge event for National Neighborhood Night Out. Michaela, and our young friend, loved the fire truck. There was a classic car show and Michaela was especially interested in that, as well. So was Jake. Rob and I took the kids because they really wanted to attend! We took friends for the kids because it’s just more fun for everyone:)

There were bounce houses, a puppet show, hot dogs and chips, a dunk tank, many other games, unlimited snow cones (Go Jake!–he more than ate his share), and many, many other super fun things to do. We were blessed to be able to attend and the kids and their friends had a ball. It was fun to see so many of the neighborhood families turn out, as well.

Patsy was away at camp. I tried to come up with some fun for Jake so he wouldn’t miss her so much. On Wednesday, Rob took him to the $1 movies. They watched a cartoon about Penguins, then went to the library to turn in the final form for summer reading.

On Thursday, these kids, plus Jake and 2 more, all joined up at the Gilbert House Childrens’ Museum. My friend and I ran herd on all 8 of them, fed them a picnic lunch, and had a great day. We were able to use her pass, and my OMSI one ( reciprocal ), so admission was free for all 10 of us. Patsy and her friends returned home from camp that afternoon. Friday, we grocery shopped and then just chilled. She was SO tired.

Her camp involved camping in a field for several nights, and spending the days river rafting down the Deschutes River, plus the usual Bible studies, meals, group sings, etc. that are the norm at church camp. It was another wonderful opportunity for her.

I cooked up a lot of pink beans. They took a while, since they have been around a long time, but they turned out nicely. I’m going to make more frozen burritos and freeze some for quick meals for Patsy especially, as she loves, loves, loves them. My garden has been producing like crazy, so I’ve been picking and preserving that.

I used the rest of the container of beans to make refried beans. I need some for an upcoming event, and then will freeze the rest. This huge pot will be gone in an amazingly short period of time, and then I’ll make more from the traditional pinto beans. They all work!

These white carnations were in a bouquet I received last week. The rest of the flowers went bad, so I just got some zinnias from the garden and revived the bouquet. I love it! On my birthday, I was spoiled rotten by my sisters, nice, nephew and Mom taking me out for breakfast, then Rob took me for a drive to the coast. We just drove along, stopping where we wished and eating odds and ends when we wanted to. It was relaxing. After that, a friend dropped by with goodies….what more can I say? It was a great birthday.

I pulled up any beets that had any size to them and made several jars of pickled beets. I canned green beans, and most of my bushes are done. I’m ok with that. I’ve got quite a few jars now, and need to move on to other projects. I will likely freeze any odds and ends that still grow on the one remaining very short row as there won’t be enough to fill a canner.

Zucchini anyone? I’m running out of people willing to take it…….It’s like Bubba in Forest Gump, but with zucchini…..zucchini pickles, zucchini bread, zucchini relish, baked zucchini………….. All joking aside, it’s a huge blessing that the garden is doing so well.

We’ve been discussing a big change for Patsy for a long time now, and have finally come to a decision. She has asked to be homeschooled and we have decided to give it a year and see how it goes. So, I’ve been going through curriculum I already own, ordering used books to fill in the rest, and a few new ones when I couldn’t get them used. Everything is here now, and I’ve spent literally hours organizing it, laying out the plan, and we’ve actually done a little school already, since she is excited. After all, anything done while in a good mood is still done when cold season strikes and all she feels like is laying around….I like to plan my own schedule anyway and get done earlier than the schools around here do. I’m planning quite a few field trips for her, as that is something she has missed out on. They just don’t do many in the public schools around here anymore. Of course, there is a huge pile of books waiting for her as well!

I went through all my remaining school supplies and didn’t need anything except some tape and a couple of mechanical pencils. So, I passed up all the super good sales this time.

I got a lot of groceries this week, and shopped the loss leaders. There was butter for $1.99/lb, lunchmeat for $1.99/package, milk for 99c/1/2 gallon, tortillas for 99c/package, and many more. It took a lot of thinking, but I got a lot of groceries for my money.

How did your week go? Were you able to stay thrifty, even though you were busy?

Thriving In my thrifty Week–August 3, 2019

We spent a day enjoying OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). The submarine tour was especially interesting to our crew, as we had never been on that before. Between a friend who had a reciprocal pass and my sister’s membership, Patsy and I were able to tag along.

My sister bought us all tickets to see the Science of Pixar exhibit at OMSI. The kids loved it because it showed how so many of their favorite characters were engineered and had hands-on activities for them to do.

It was a beautiful day. I enjoyed the river and the bridges. I don’t go to Portland very often, and I am seldom in a place where I can just gaze at this sight.

I worked like crazy before and after OMSI, because the peaches were going, going…..and soon would be rotten…….I did get 17 jars of jam made, froze some, and Rob froze the rest while Patsy and I were gone. I was so glad that I got to them before they went bad. Peach jam is one of our absolute favorite kinds. I will use the frozen ones for smoothies. I will can another kind later in the summer.

During the summer, Michaela usually only hangs around with Rob for one day a week, Thursday. He takes her to Horses of Hope first, then to volunteer at 50 +, and then brings her here for a bit, then home. We have declared Thursday to be “wash the dog day” because she so longs to wash dogs:). So, once again, she and Patsy gave the dog a good bath, making Michaela happy, and saving us money at the same time.

We returned lots of bottles and cans, most of which were given to us, to put in our vacation fund. To make it stretch even further, we put the money on the Bottle Drop account, removed that amount of money from my grocery envelope and put the cash into the vacation fund, and then use the Bottle Drop 20% extra feature at the grocery store to get a few more groceries each time. If you don’t have Bottle Drop where you live, this may not make sense, but basically if you leave the money on your card and use it at a participating store, you get 20% extra store credit.

In the garden, things continue to ripen, and a few new seeds have sprouted. These are green onions. I hope to have a row next to the edge that will overwinter as they did a couple of years ago. These seeds were saved from those green onions, so I’m not out anything if it doesn’t work. I have baby lettuce, a few green beans, and a few more pickling cucumbers coming up for fall eating.

I have been picking cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, beets, broccoli side shoots, and herbs.

Patsy needed shorts. Rob found some jeans at a thrift store for $1 in her size. I took 2 pairs of them and cut them off. One I hemmed, and the other I just sewed around so she could fray them up to the sewed line.

It’s a busy time of year!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 29, 2019

The last couple of days have been busy. A lot of produce has ripened up and we have been processing it like crazy. When Rob went up to my sister’s farm on Saturday to spend the day, she sent home peaches. These are New Havens and they will be frozen and made into jam.

This morning I picked an enormous bowl of zucchini. There were both yellow and green ones, and I also got some cucumbers. I made one pint of dill pickles and ground the rest of them for relish, because they were a little large. I ground the zucchini too, plus a bunch that were in the fridge. I got about 30 cups, so made a triple batch of relish. I had Rob buy some red peppers and I had onions from my sister’s garden. I used a very old hand-cranked meat grinder. I’ve had it for my entire marriage, and I’m sure it was old when I got it. It’s a handy tool and gives the vegetables a good consistency for relish.

We got 19 jars of relish. The beans needed picking, too, and Rob canned 7 quarts. It was nice to have his help today. I picked everything while he took Patsy to an appointment, then he canned the beans while I worked on the relish.

Patsy got to go to some lava tube caves called Ape Caves. It is in Washington state, and I was happy her youth group was going. It was an entirely new experience for her. It only cost $5 for gas, and the kids packed lunches, so it was also very economical.

Rob checked the Whoo-Hoo rack at Fred Meyers and found 2 boxes of Cheerios for 99c/each. He grabbed them. I didn’t shop for groceries except a very small handful of items we were out of. We ate a lot of garden produce, and I used some dried beans to make chili. Rob cooked a very small turkey we got for free or very inexpensively last Thanksgiving, and we used the meat on salads, a casserole and some soup, for ourselves and others.

We worked a lot this past week. We were able to finish making up the hours we needed from when the kids were gone with their parents on vacation.

I did a lot of deep cleaning and organizing. I filled my garbage can to the brim this week with things I don’t need anymore. I love filling it–after all, it’s the same price full or empty!

I also filled the yard debris bin this week. I’d love to fill it each week, but some weeks, I just can’t find the energy. And, I’m pleased because the front flowerbed (where I got the weeds from) was sorely needing to be cleaned out.

How was your week? Did you do anything frugal or fun?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–July 21, 2019

I am posting this picture of raspberries for Marybeth of Making Cents of it All blog. She has some raspberries at her house that look very, very different. Around here, in the Pacific Northwest, we have 2 main kinds of these berries. We have the June-bearing, which these are, and the ever-bearing. They look similar. Hers have a fuzzy wrapper. I was astounded! I’m still picking berries from my bushes, although they are starting to wind down.

I was able to work in the garden some more. I pulled spent snow peas, added steer manure, and replanted lettuce. I have several more little projects out there to do and areas to replant when they open up.

I took Jake to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream as his prize from the chart he does over at my house. When he fills it doing chores and activities, he gets a prize. Later in the week, I sent Rob to Fred Meyers when they ran a super deal on ice cream for $1/carton and had him pick up the 5 allowed and a box of cones. Patsy and Jake feasted on ice cream cones several times for a fraction of the price it would have cost me to take them to the ice cream shop.

Michaela and Patsy gave the dog a bath, saving at least $40 for a grooming fee.

I froze raspberries from our bushes, blueberries from my mom, 11 or 12 baggies of broccoli from the garden, and canned a total of 12 quarts and 20 pints of green beans from the garden. One morning, when I was up super early to preserve food, I was surprised to see a hot air balloon sailing through the sky nearby!

I did two things this week that cost absolutely nothing, but gave me great joy. First, I went to a wedding reception for a young lady that used to play with my girls years ago. I got to see some old friends that I have not seen for quite a while.

Second, I got to hold this sweet 6-day-old bundle on Friday. I also got to attend her baby dedication today at church. Babies are so precious and I never get over the miracle that they are!

We attended the Farmer’s Market again this week with friends. Again, Patsy received the $2 coupon kids get for tasting an item–blueberries were the item this week—no hardship for her. Our friend’s 7 kids got their tickets as well. My sister brought Jake, as well, and he ate a blueberry and got his $2 coupon as well. We were amazed he ate one! I didn’t see that coming:). It was really fun, and we even saw a lady dressed as “Ima Blueberry” who handed out recipes and things. The kids were tickled with her. They picked the perfect woman for the job–she really hammed it up. They loved it. After all, it’s not every day you see a lady in a round, blue costume talking like she was a blueberry:)

I’ve got so many zinnias blooming now. These are all from 25c baggies of seeds Rob bought at a garage sale and volunteers. Jake’s case worker was coming to see him. He told me he wanted to take the man some flowers. When I asked where he thought he would get some, he said, “From your garden, auntie” like it was the most obvious thing. It was all his idea, and the caseworker said it was the first bouquet he had every received from a little kid on his caseload. I love how you can cut and cut these and they just make more blooms when you do!

Garden Update and Plans–July 18, 2019

The garden is getting very full of plants and blooms. I’ve been busy picking veggies and flowers, preserving, and making plans to renew it for my fall crops.

I canned my first green beans of the season. It took me two days even though there weren’t that many because Jake was at our house…..need I say more? Rob and I just swapped off duties and we got the job done. Now there are 20 pints and 6 quarts to add to my canning cupboard.

Almost every day now, I pick another 2 or 3 Glacier Ultra Early tomatoes. They are small sized and more of an orange-red than some other varieties, but they sure have good flavor. I am also getting a handful of Sungold Cherry tomatoes every couple of days. They disappear off the counter almost as soon as I put them down there!

I’m still getting raspberries from the June-bearing variety. I’ve been delighted with the yield from my fairly-short row. I’ve frozen lots of them. I’ve also been freezing blueberries. My mom has sent some my direction from her bushes, and we had a few from ours. Most of ours are disappearing right down the hatches of the family!

I got some beets from my mixed beet packet I planted. Alissa chose it from the Pinetree seed catalog, but later informed me she didn’t care for beets, they were all for us:). I roasted these with olive oil and salt. They shrunk when I roasted them, but they tasted good and are hands-down the prettiest beets I’ve ever grown.

I’ve been picking broccoli every couple of days. I froze 6 more quart-sized baggies, we ate a head fresh and there are several more still growing. This is the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial Seed Company. It gives a staggered harvest. I’ve grown it for years and love all the kinds that grow. I will have lots of side shoots after I pick the main heads.

Two and a half weeks ago, I bought 3 zucchini. Then mine started to get ripe! Since then, we have eaten it several times, and I have given it away to my sisters and a friend. My fridge has several in it, and there are more ready to pick. All in ONE and ONE HALF weeks! It’s going to be a good zucchini year, for sure:)

We have plans to get some fall crops going. The green beans will be pulled shortly, after one more good picking. There is lettuce that will be pulled. So, some areas will be opening up soon.

Rob picked up some bags of steer manure at the farm store. I will dump a bag on an open area once I pull the spent plants, till with the tiny little tiller we have, and replant for fall. I will plant more lettuce, possible a new zucchini for when these succumb to mildew, maybe some additional pickling cucumbers since I’m not sure I have enough, maybe spinach, boc choi, snow peas, Swiss chard, more green beans for fall eating, and what ever else I can squeeze in. It’s getting to the point where some things may not mature before frost, but if I get going on it right now, I will be able to get veggies far into the month of October. Some crops will take a light frost, like cabbage, broccoli, chard, and snow peas. It’s a fun project!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–July 15, 2019

I’m enjoying my flowers, that are blooming like crazy right now. This is a poppy I grew from seed and put into a flowerbed. I also have dahlias that rebloomed from last year’s bulbs, zinnias, nasturtiums, and more.

I planted quite a few seeds here and there, and some made it, but some were eaten by slugs…..Still, I’m happy with the ones that made it.

My mom came and took Patsy and I out to lunch on Tuesday. She brought all these blueberries, which I froze. We had a great time. During the school year, she visits more frequently, since she is down in my area more often. We have to plan for it more during the summer, so it was nice to get it on the calendar.

Lovana went back to Hawaii at the end of the week. Ja’Ana went with her for a little while. But, all week, there was extra cooking, laundry, etc. and lots of extra commotion as people came and went. It was fun!

I worked in the garden several times, and we ate lettuce, snow peas, and berries frequently. I was able to pull lots of food from the freezers and pantry to cook along with the garden produce.

This week will be busy, as Jake and Michaela are back from their vacation and I’ll be working with them a lot. I need to rack up some extra hours, since they’ve been gone. I’ve got a lot of kid-friendly activities planned and I’m loaded up with Ramen noodles, mini-bagels, and lemonade for later in the week, but today, I’m going to help Jake unpack from his vacation and clean his room–not super fun for him, but a good skill to work on. Once we clean for a while, we will do some fun stuff, like read. I’m ready to get back to routine, and I’ll bet he is, too:)

Freezing Broccoli–July, 2019

One of the ways I keep my freezer stocked is to freeze any garden produce we don’t eat fresh. I try to slip some preserving into most days at this time of year, whenever I have excess. We did eat the first head that ripened, but I knew we would enjoy some next winter. This year, the broccoli is growing much better than it did last year, so I am delighted. I grow Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial Seeds. The heads of broccoli get ripe at different times, because it is a mixture of varieties.

Last evening, I cut the ones that were ready, washed them very well and put them in the fridge to wait until this morning. It would have been better to process them immediately for the ultimate freshness, but it was getting late, I was tired……..

This morning, I cut them into pieces, looking carefully for any critters that had escaped the bath of the night before (I didn’t find much, thank goodness), and blanched them for 3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. I scooped the blanched pieces out of the boiling pot with a hand-held strainer and put them into cold water.

By the time I had eaten my breakfast, they were cool and I put them into the collandar to drain, then into cartons and a baggie.

I got 2 pints, a quart and the last bit in a baggie. I will use these for broccoli soup, broccoli on a plate with parmesan cheese, and an occasional stir-fry. I will be getting more from the bushes that have not headed yet, and then from the side-shoots that will grow after I cut the main head. It’s going to be nice to have some variety in my vegetable department next winter!