All posts by Becky

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 22, 2019

We slipped away to Ft. Stevens State Park for a few days this week. We used our park pass to pay the fees. We spent a small amount of money on things like French fries and ice cream, and very little else. We took lots of food from home, cooked in the camper, and roasted things on the fire.

As the long-time readers of my blog know, my nephew Jake asks repeatedly to take “our” camper out. So, of course we couldn’t leave him home when it was time to go. We went to one new attraction that we have never visited before, the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. Our zoo pass allows us to visit one reciprocal attraction for free each month. The month of June happened to be this museum and we were going to be near that area in June… we planned a visit. We saved almost $40 in admission costs, and enjoyed the museum a lot. I especially enjoyed touring a lighthouse boat they had as part of the museum. (The picture is not it–I forgot to take one). It was a boat that went out and was anchored 6 miles out and the crew kept a floating lighthouse burning all the time. It has been replaced with a buoy, but the boat was fascinating. We could see where the crew slept, ate, worked, etc.

We kept it simple. There were lots of stick wars. There were bubbles. I took a huge bag of library books and movies. I took my old Kindle loaded with games for Jake. Every day, Rob played either “hot and cold” or “pirate treasure” with Jake. Each day, there was a small prize for Jake after the games.

On “hot and cold” he simply has to find the prize. In “pirate treasure” he had to follow lots of instructions like “hop forward 6 steps” or “run around a tree 2 x” and so forth. Then, he had to dig it up.

He liked those games so much that he hid 3 pea pods one day and made Rob find them using the hot and cold method. Another time, he buried a pine cone for Patsy to find. I’m glad he had a good time.

One reason we chose this location was because Patsy’s (and Alissa’s) youth group had a planned trip to nearby Seaside on Thursday. We took her down there and dropped her off with the group and picked her up afterwards.

Then, we spoiled Jake all day.

He rode the Seaside carousel.

We drove over the bridge to Washington. We bought ice cream. We played the game, Trouble, watched movies and ate French fries.

The other thing I did a lot was walk. Most days I walked 2 miles or more, for exercise. We did not do much fishing, and caught none. I went clamming with Patsy once, but no luck there, either. We didn’t even go crabbing at all! All in all, it was a good week, and now I’m ready to tackle my garden, which seems to have doubled in a few short days, especially the weeds. It was fun, and I’m glad to be home again.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 16, 2019

Happy birthday, Danait! And Ja’Ana. And Patsy. And Abbie……It’s been a packed 8 days:). Yesterday was Danait’s birthday party. Her mama cooked tons of delicious African food, a cake was purchased, and there were plenty of family and friends to celebrate with her. I’m super pleased with the little outfit I sewed for her. It fits beautifully, and the top was made from a scrap of eyelet fabric, some white cotton, and some scraps of lace.

I used a pattern I’ve had for years and years and modified it to suit my scraps. So, I paid absolutely nothing out of pocket for this outfit, but made up for it in time:). We added a few inexpensive toys from the Dollar Store, such as a coloring book and some crayons I bought last summer, and so forth.

Our family and my sister were in charge of a few simple games. Patsy led them in such games as:

carry the gummy bear in a plastic spoon relay,


–carry the paper cup full of water up to Rob and no worries if you spill it on him when you are putting it into the container,

and throw the plastic frog at the ring.

Then my sister, Rosalie, dumped a bag of prizes on the ground and let them each pick one. There were a few younger siblings running around, too, and they all got things, too. These were all Dollar Store prizes, and they all got a bottle of bubbles, but it was amazing how long they all played with their inexpensive toys. It was good to see them having so much fun.

It was very simple but it was amazing how much fun they all had between the food, simple games, and playground equipment.

Pretty soon, the coffee was made and passed around for all the adults. Popcorn was brought out for all to enjoy.

With that nice shot of caffeine, we were able to finish and clean up a bit. When our family finally left at around 4, several others were still enjoying the party–no one wanted to leave–it was that nice of a party, but we had things we needed to do at home, so we reluctantly left.

I enjoyed meeting several new people, and loved the hospitality that is always shown by that crew. Coffee, cake and popcorn were offered to any and all who walked by at the park and a surprising number of people accepted. There was a man and his wife who actually sat down and joined the party for a while. I have met and enjoyed the wives of a few of the dads who brought their kids to the party on other occasions, but it was nice for both Rob and myself to visit with the dads.

I did a few other things other than plan games and go to the party. I took my son Anthony and Allison to the zoo, using my zoo pass. Patsy went too, as it was her idea. They had a great time as neither had been there for a long time. I packed food and water and I told them to bring their own money if they wanted souvenirs, so it was very frugal for me.

I’ve been picking raspberries and strawberries, artichokes and a head of lettuce that grew volunteer by the compost heap. My aunt gave me some lettuce she grew. I harvested my first snow peas yesterday. I weeded and hoed several times, mostly in the evenings or early mornings as it was very hot for a couple of days.

The scale is starting to move in the right direction for Rob again, after a plateau. The doctor put him down to 1000 calories per day–yikes!–but it’s starting to work. He’s been working hard at this for over a year now, and is very close to being 100 pounds less than he was a year ago. He’s going to have to break down and get some new clothes.

I bought loss leaders at the grocery store this week. We grabbed the mayonnaise for $1.49/jar, the baked beans for $.99/big can and got several of each. We got a few other groceries, but are not shopping much this month. I have several frozen items I want to finish up before the new crop gets ready in the garden and fields, so we are targeting those foods. I’ve been making lots of zucchini bread, for example, from frozen zucchini. Since we are not eating a lot around here, that keeps the need for groceries low as well, other than produce.

It was a good week, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Still, I’m looking forward to a calmer week ahead. How about you?

Food Preservation–Week Of June 12, 2109

I had a chance to get 3 free, but very ugly and somewhat wilted, stalks of celery last evening. When we were feeding the college-age group, I noticed a tote sitting there in the place where they occasionally leave these kinds of things for people to take. I did not have high hopes, as that bin had clearly been there for a while and it’s been hot. But, I put that celery in water when I got home and it perked up a little bit. I trimmed it mercilessly and ended up with several little baggies full. I froze those for soups.

I picked 16 pounds of strawberries on Monday, at a farm. I made strawberry jam, strawberry-rhubarb jam, and froze a few. We ate up the rest. I watched the Waltons on my Kindle while I made all 22 assorted-sized jars of jam, figuring it was a fitting show for jam-making:)

I picked all my rhubarb. I used some for jam, froze some, and have some cooked down with sugar in the fridge. I used a little of the sauce in some zucchini bread I made.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 9, 2019

Here is our newly graduated Alissa, with her proud parents!

…..and the aunties!

…..and then there’s the “twins, separated at birth,” as they used to call themselves. It was quite an evening.

All I can say about this week is, “WOW!” All week, we seemed we were scrambling from one activity to another. But, in the end, we got everything done, and stayed somewhat frugal:).

Of course, Alissa’s graduation was a huge part of the week, but we did some other things as well.

Rob, Patsy and I went to the dentist. Because our dentist’s son is starting to slowly take over the practice, we had a new dentist. Let’s just say our teeth were thoroughly cleaned. He’s very good, but still somewhat new at it all. We ended up using a gift card I’ve had for over 2 years for lunch because it took much longer than we expected. I’m glad we have dental insurance, and have a place to use it at, and can still go to our same old dentist office, even though it’s a distance away.

I weeded and hoed quite a bit. I tucked in more green bean seeds where they got eaten by birds or slugs, and planted a short, new row of lettuce. I like to plant little bits often so we always have some.

I mowed the lawn and planted a couple of flowers here and there. Some of the seeds I’ve planted are starting to look like they will survive and I will have flowers eventually from them.

I found a ham for 69c/lb. It was the last one. It was close to expiration, but we’ve already been eating it and it won’t be a problem to use it up. I got Bugles for $1/bag (7.5 oz). I shared some today with the family, but most are for summer fun activities.

Patsy’s birthday was Friday. We took her to Red Robin, using a gift card from Christmas and let her have milkshakes and French fries for dinner. Yup. No healthy food for her. Just that!

Saturday was Abbie’s birthday. My oldest and my youngest. What a pair:). The 3 of us went to the zoo to celebrate. We used my zoo pass. It was my gift to Abbie–we just wanted to spend some time, and this was a super fun way to do that. Patsy borrowed my phone and took a lot of pictures.

We had a really nice time being together.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 2, 2019

The weather this week acted like summer, so the kids did, too! When we were over at my sister’s on Saturday, Jake asked to come home for the night, and that worked for me. The kids played water balloons, ate popsicles, and ran the sprinklers. Notice I say “ran the sprinklers” not “ran IN the sprinklers” cause that’s what actually happened:). I have no idea why!

My sister did a beautiful job of Alissa’s graduation party. The rest of us pitched in a bit here and there, especially my Mom. Alissa chose her cake, the verse on it, and the guitar picture, as those were all things that were special to her. She had a great time at the party. There was a great turn-out and the day was gorgeous.

Since I graduated from homeschool as well, I used some of my new-found time to clean the laundry room. Imagine this room piled high with odds and ends, and the floor covered with laundry and dirt. I worked on it for a couple of days, at times, and then finished Friday. On Saturday, when Jake came over, Patsy told him to go look at the laundry room. He dramatically fell into a fake faint when he saw how clean it was. Pretty soon, he ran into the room with a few items of his clothing and threw them on the newly cleaned floor. “There!,” he told me. “I fixed it for you, auntie!” Oh, boy! I just had to laugh my head off:)

My aunt gave me some beautiful roses from her flowerbeds.

I worked in the garden quite a bit this week. I planted some corn plants Rob grew and we covered them with row covering so the birds won’t peck them out. Things are really starting to grow. I’ve been trying to pull a few weeds or hoe a little each day so they won’t get ahead of me.

I hope your week went as well as mine did.

Strawberry Season

Yesterday, my sister and I and some friends went to the strawberry patch. In the end, there were 4 adults, 7 kids and Michaela. We picked and picked and I came home with enough to make a double batch of jam, and plenty for eating fresh. Since my berries are limping along, to put it nicely, I was glad to get a big bunch of them to get to work on.

I had never been to this strawberry patch before. It was a beautifully kept farm with many kinds of fruit, berries and veggies that are just starting to ripen, each in it’s own season. We had to walk a long ways just to get to the berries, but there were wagons to pull to make it easy to get the fruit back to the stand.

I just had to chuckle at the tiniest picker. She filled this bucket all by herself and insisted on carrying it all by herself. Finally, after she realized they were coming out of the bucket with each bouncy step she took, she allowed me to carry it back to the stand where we paid for the fruit. It was super cute! Not bad for a little one who just turned 4 a couple of weeks ago:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 27, 2019

My 2 sisters and I decided to take the kids to the Oregon Zoo today. Everyone had a blast. It was so awesome to use my zoo pass to the utmost–and we only had to pay for 2 of our large group. I have plans to use the pass again in the near future.

It was such a treat to have some of the big cousins with us, too. Jake decided Auntie Rosalie and cousin Rachel were the best ones to hang with for quite a while and even though the search for a snow cone was unsuccessful…. even though we hiked around for 2.5 miles looking for one…..even though we never, ever found one…..we saw a lot of animal along the way:)

Michaela loves trains and had a great time riding the zoo train.

We did quite a few other frugal things this week.

We took Patsy, Anthony and Allison bowling, using the Kids Bowl Free passes, along with the family pass I bought at the beginning of the season for less than $25. I bowled as well, making a total of 4 bowlers. You are supposed to pay for shoe rental, plus Allison wasn’t on the pass. In the end, the bowling alley chose to charge us only $6. I think I owed a little more than that, but when I pointed it out, the gentleman would not take any more. How nice of them.

I let the garden grow, which it did all on its own. We had rain almost daily, so I was only able to get out there and hoe a couple of times. I did do more pruning and filled the yard debris bin again.

We had a family house cleaning party over at my sister’s house. We were all pitching in because there was a birthday party there Sunday, and Alissa’s graduation party next Saturday. With all of us who showed up, we whipped that place into shape quickly, and then enjoyed a nice potluck lunch.

My oldest sister has a talent for cleaning, and Jake was waiting and waiting for Auntie to come help clean his room. He sat on the bed declaring that he was the “boss” and helping us clean off and on, having so much fun telling us aunties what to do:). Jake’s room is so clean now that I took him home for 2 nights, and so it could stay that way for a little while (but mostly because he wanted to come over). He’s home now, so……..

2 Unexpected Blessings

We received 2 unexpected blessings this week. I just thought I’d share them, since I’m bursting with thankfulness and excitement this morning!

First, our daughter, who lives in Hawaii, sent us ticket vouchers to come see her. It was our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts. We are blown away with surprise and appreciation. We are planning the trip now, and will go in a few months. Our aunt is going, too, and Patsy. It’s going to be so fun, and amazing!

The second thing is a little odd, but also amazing. Our local Fred Meyers store has a person who anonymously gives out money by dropping it into people’s carts when they are not looking. I had heard of this person from ladies at my exercise class. Well, last night, it happened to me! There was an unexpected $100 bill, signed “Bernie” or “Bennie” (I really can’t tell which one) in my cart–just floating around near my purse. I was so surprised and shocked! I NEVER saw anyone lurking near me, or anything. I have no idea how or who did that! When I mentioned the whole thing to the checker, she was not surprised, but was pleased for me. When I asked if she knew how to thank this person, she said they did not even know if it was a man or woman who did this, but her suggestion was to send up a prayer for them, and thank them that way. And, that is just what I did!

Picnic Packs

We have a lot of picnics planned in the near future. The weather has been getting nicer and nicer and there are a lot of fun activities planned.

I decided to make my life easier by planning ahead for these picnics.

First, I went to Winco and purchased a bag full of munchy, yummy and non-perishable snacks. My criteria was simple: They had to be inexpensive or on a good sale, and be something I thought some of the kids would eat. I got little boxes of raisins using Ibotta rebates to bring the cost down. I got Lay’s chips in a tube so they wouldn’t crush and Winco chips for another time, since they were only around $1.50/bag. I put this bag in a safe place so the goodies would be there for the picnics.

Then, I had a baking day. I made many containers of cookies and several loaves of zucchini bread from frozen zucchini from the garden. I froze these items in containers that would be easy to grab when packing the picnic. I actually have a couple other items that I want to make and freeze when I get the time.

Finally, I went to Fred Meyers and got 4 boxes of soda on the 4/$10 sale.

I will make sandwiches, pack baby carrots, and whatever else I feel like on the day of the picnic and then grab items from these stashed items to make up the rest. Since these picnics are with various kids, they each like what they like, so I’ll pack accordingly.

We have a picnic tomorrow–we are taking Patsy, our adult son, Anthony, Allison (the love of his life), and our niece, Michaela, bowling. Then, we will go to a park and eat. It should be a lot of fun as long as I remember lots of peanut butter sandwiches:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 19, 2019

We could call this the weekend of paper airplanes and croquet! Jake had a couple of books from his school library and used a LOT of paper trying out various plane designs. It is such an inexpensive and wholesome activity. I love it that he is “in” to that right now.

We had fun with the kids at the Iris Parade! You can see they enjoyed the “Breakfast of Champions!” That was our fun, but frugal, activity for the weekend.

I think Jake enjoyed the policemen who were closing the road as much as he did the parade! This one was especially nice to the kids.

It was an old-fashioned parade with a couple of local school bands, lots of vehicles with irises stuck in the front grills, a few kids on bikes, and so forth. I always like old firetrucks, and we were all amazed by a huge truck that the driver jumped out of and drove with remote control! It was actually a little freaky!

After the parade, the Chinese restaurant gave away orders of teriyaki chicken the the first 100 people who got in line. We were right in front of the restaurant and Rob and Patsy got some. (It’s got wheat in it, so I didn’t and Jake doesn’t like it)

Both kids spent Friday night, and then, right after the parade, Michaela went with her older sister to spend Saturday night. Their parents were able to go to an event with Alissa all weekend–they had a great time as well.

The geranium I dug out of the compost heap and overwintered is going to bloom! So exciting for a “plant geek” like me! I come by it naturally. I remember my grandfather taking me to see each and every one of the new dahlia blooms in his garden and my other grandmother showing me each new bud and bloom in her flowerbeds! I get it from both sides of the family! What a gift:)

I was given this pot of flowers. I love it! The pots in the background lived all winter. I have plans for some of the extra sedums that have filled in that one.

We took a large group to the bowling alley and used the Kids Bowl Free program. We took a friend with her 7 children, my sister’s family, my family, and 2 kids Alissa was babysitting. My sister also grabbed a young man she knew to help with the mob, and we divided the older young adults amongst the little kids, so everyone had the help he or she needed. Patsy got to bowl with the “big girls” and she had a ball. Then we went to a nearby park and ate a picnic we packed. It was wild, but fun!

The rest of the week was filled with ordinary activities–things like work, cooking meals, gardening in odd moments, mowing the lawn, and finally—a lot of laundry! I’m hoping to keep up on the laundry a little better, as well as cut the lawn again very soon. Both were horrendous jobs by the time we got to them. I’ll see how this week shapes up–it’s worth a try anyway!