This was a very busy work week. On several occasions, we just ate over at my sister’s house, since we were all there so much. 2 of those nights, we ate leftovers from a meeting they attended Sunday, so that was easy! My aunt dropped in to check on Jake one night and stayed and ate with us, so that was a nice addition:). She brought him some of his favorite cookies and he ate exactly 1 before falling asleep…
On Wednesday morning, I had a few hours. I made 3 kinds of soup–split pea, chicken-rice, and vegetable-chicken. I used the broth and bits from the Costco chicken to make the 2 chicken kinds, so they have very little meat in them, but still taste really good. The split pea is vegetarian. I hauled some of the chicken-rice soup over to Jake, who ate it for dinner the next 2 nights. His mouth is healing, but slowly. The second set of antibiotics helped him heal more, but he had a very rough time of it for a few days.
On Wednesday morning, I cooked up an Instant Pot of brown rice. Part of it was combined with frozen turkey bits, broccoli from last year’s garden, cheese, and a sauce made from milk, sweet rice flour to slightly thicken it, dried onion, a can of mushrooms, salt and pepper. It was really, really good. I took some of it over to my sister’s for Thursday night’s dinner. My aunt brought over some salad fixings she wasn’t going to be able to use up before they went bad, and we made salad to go with the casserole.
The rest of the brown rice was combined with previously cooked and frozen pinto beans (thawed out of course), cheese (including some Cojita cheese I got for my Friday Freebie a couple of weeks ago), salsa and a little enchilada sauce, both home-canned last summer. I wrapped this filling in tortillas, then foil, then labeled and froze for quick dinners for Patsy when Rob is home with her and I’m at work. She loves them and ate most of the ones I made a few weeks ago.
Our daughter, Lovana, plans to come visit later in the month, and she is a vegetarian. I froze some of the burritos and some of the split pea soup to have on hand while she’s here. Since she lives in Hawaii now, she’s sure she going to freeze to death here, but I assured her she can wrap up in how ever many of her Dad’s old coats she wants to:)
I made a turkey enchilada from the turkey bits in the freezer. With the 2 casseroles I made this week, I was able to finish that fairly large bag of turkey bits up before they lingered too long in the freezer.
The past 2 weeks haven’t been the easiest, but with everyone pulling together, we’ve all been able to eat tasty, healthy, economical meals. This week will have a much lighter schedule. Whew!!!
Some weeks, I feel like these crocus–trying to keep my self blooming in the snow! This week was a bit like that. We were so very busy, I hardly had time to breathe. It was also a bit difficult.
This morning, I got up reluctantly. I was tired from a week that was busier than usual, and it was compounded by the time change. I sleepy stumbled into the kitchen, and started my morning routine–food, meds, shower—you get the idea. I put on a warm sweater and some pants, as it was very cold and frosty outside and it takes a long time for the van to warm up. As I was gathering myself up, Rob mentioned that my hair was sticking up. I smoothed it down with my hand, and encouraged the girls to get into the van. Michaela spent a couple of nights here, so she was needing to gather her things as well.
As we drove down the road towards church, on time, but not early, voices from the backseat informed me that my hair was STILL sticking up, and they thought I should do something about it. Hmmm. I thought I already did, but a glance in the mirror showed how ineffective my previous efforts were. What to do? My eyes lit on Rob’s water container from the previous day. It was almost empty, but I only needed a tiny bit on my hand to smooth that hair down with, right?
Let me say right now that pouring water from a Hydroflask onto your hand in a moving van is not the best idea. At all! Much to my shock, icy cold water rushed out of the bottle, quickly overflowed my hand and poured onto my pants, giving my quite a shock! I now had a soaking wet, icy-cold leg. The van heater was still ineffectually heating up the interior after the frosty, cold night, so it did not dry my leg. The little blanket we call “Car Blankie” since it has lived in the van for many years, did a little better, as I sopped up the ice water the best I could. Of course, Rob offered to take me home to change, but I figured my long outer sweater would cover the wet place until it dried, and we were none too early:). I will say, I did smooth down my hair and it stayed put during church. I also will say that I was no longer sleepy and I likely got more out of church than I might have otherwise! Still, I would not recommend the experience to anyone:). I’d say some hot tea, Diet Coke, or coffee would be a much more pleasant way to get the morning going. I did have one of the more memorable rides to church I’ve had in a while, but I’ll happily forgo that and have a nice, boring ride next week!
So, what did we do to keep thrifty and thrive this week?
Rob cleaned out the greenhouse and set up the heat mat. I hope to plant seeds soon. It’s been so cold that I feel like I would have had to spend a fortune on electricity to run space heaters to warm it enough to grow plants, but now I need to start things or there won’t be time for them to grow. I ordered from both Pinetree Garden Seeds and Territorial Seed Company a little while back and both orders arrived. I had a lot left over from last year, because I purposely only used 1/2 packets of things like peppers and tomatoes, and will start the other 1/2 packets this year.
Rob and I cooked over at my sister’s house 2 evenings. One night, he made a panko/parmesan crusted chicken. Some ate it with noodles, some with pasta sauce, some plain. We had salad, and beans as well. Another night, we made tacos. We used food from there and here to make up the meals we shared. We were over there much more than normal, as they were working/had appointments more than usual, and we needed to build up extra hours for when they are gone at the end of the month. We are so grateful that we could do that, as it would have been very difficult to go without that income! They were grateful, too, as it helped their week out as well.
One night at home, I made a quinoa pilaf and a stir-fry. I used up a can of baby corn that has been lurking in the pantry for literally years. It was time, and was fun to eat something different.
I made a recipe from a magazine, but changed things up so much that it was a whole new recipe. It tasted a lot like Pad Thai when I got done. It was really, really good, and loaded with all kinds of veggies.
I took Michaela swimming once, and Rob took her twice, using our YMCA membership. In the beginning, they allowed us to put her on our membership because the kids are with us so much, which was really nice of them. She wanted to watch a movie, so Rob took her. She has money for things she does, and Rob got in for free as her Personal Support Worker. That theater does that for special needs kids, which is very nice of them, I think. Patsy had a gift card from Christmas and used that for her ticket, and used both girls used their own money for their snacks. So, all Rob had to pay for was a little popcorn, which he shared with them, but he almost had a heart attack at how much that cost! (Good thing his heart is so healthy!). Another thing he did to keep her occupied this weekend was to take her out to lunch. At Costco. It didn’t cost much, and she loves to eat there. She had a hot dog.
On Friday, Jake had oral surgery to remove 7 teeth. There simply wasn’t room in there for them all. Some were baby teeth, but some were too-crowded permanent ones. He didn’t want any pictures taken the day of the surgery, or afterwards, so I honored that request. He is miserable. I helped his Dad take care of him all day Friday, and we brought Michaela home for the last 2 nights, and kept her busy. She can’t handle him being upset or crying. The plan was originally for me to bring him home this afternoon, but quickly determined when we stopped by for him after church that he is not up for it. I will go over there after while and see if he will let his Mama have a little break. I can fetch things for him, or read, or whatever. They’ve all been up over there for most of the last 2 nights. He’s been crying a lot. We are all in distress over it. He is not able to reason his way through the fact that it does hurt, but it will feel better each day. He just knows it hurts. In the meanwhile, he is not eating much at all–just a few bites of Jello and some egg flower soup from their favorite Chinese restaurant. I know this, too, shall pass. It’s just hard to watch for all of us who love him so much.
I got 1/2 of my house chore list done yesterday. It’s better than none.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much done on my quilt. I did, however, pass a few levels on my Farm Heroes Saga game on my I-Pad while waiting for Jake to come out of surgery. Not much of an accomplishment, but some weeks, you take what you get!
I have been working on quilt squares. Some were blocks from the shop hop, and some are ones I made from extra fabric we bought. I owned one fat quarter of batik fabric before this shop hop, and am incorporating it into the blocks. I decided I wanted 20 squares. I’ve completed 12 or 14 so far and have a couple in progress.
We spent time with both Jake and Michaela. I took them to the library and got a book about science experiments. Uncle helped Jake figure out how to make an “airplane” from straws and loops of paper.
It flew well!
I took Michaela shopping for personal hygiene supplies. Her mom sent a list, and we got all of the things. We absolutely took our time, and I was very pleased with how she did. She thought about each item and looked at many, many choices and decided which kind or smell she wanted of things like deodorant or toothpaste. Then, I took her for a milkshake. We had a good time. It was a good outing, even though it doesn’t sound glamerous.
This week, all the kids missed 2 days of school, due to snow, and Rob was down for a couple of days after a medical test. (He’s great, by the way!). Everyone was getting a little stir-crazy. On Saturday, Rob and I took Patsy and Jake for a long drive. Michaela had other things to do that day with her Dad. We found a town where the snow was still on the ground and Jake enjoyed getting out of the car and throwing some, throwing sticks into this little creek, and generally running around for a bit.
The sunny, but chilly, day was so nice after the snow.
We happened upon a railroad museum on our drive. I let Jake climb on the railroad cars. He really enjoyed it. We didn’t actually go inside the museum. We might do that another day.
Rob picked up some more boards from the free piles at the wood places. We spent some time chopping them up and now our containers are full again. They work so great to start fires.
In the next 2 weeks to come, we will be working many, many hours with the kids. Their parents are working extra this week and next, and have some appointments. Therefore, we will work extra this week and next. This is good timing, as we can clock in extra hours now to make up for when they are gone over spring break later in the month. I can’t say I’ll have much time for quilting this week, but I will say life is never boring around here!
This week, I made gluten-free pizza twice. The first time, it was deep dish combination pizza. I killed part of the yeast by using too hot of water, so it did not rise well. Still, it rose enough that we could eat it, and so we did!
I checked the yeast, determined I was the problem and not the yeast, and made another batch, but this time, I made 2 flat crusts. I par-baked them for 5 minutes at 500 degrees F. and froze them. Tonight, I pulled one of them out of the freezer, topped it, and baked for 15 minutes at 500 degrees F.
I also made up a few baggies of the dry ingredients for the pizza and put them on the shelf for another time when I want to make it quickly. Now that I have the recipe working properly, I will post it soon.
Rob barbecued some steak. I sautéed some frozen shrimp. I also made turkey-burger meatloaf, which we ate a few times until it was gone. We ate the chicken we got last Friday at Costco, boiled the carcass and made broth, which turned into chicken and dumplings.
We ate several kinds of canned and frozen fruit, including frozen blueberries, which Patsy ate straight from a bowl while they were still frozen. She also had smoothies a couple of times and used more frozen fruit in those. I’m not exactly sure what else came out of all those empty jars that are waiting to be put away in the shop, but I know we enjoyed eating whatever was in them!
We had home-canned green beans, lots of carrots, and quite a few salads. We had baked potatoes a couple of times and Rob made home-shredded hash browns, too.
It was a very busy week, full of medical appointments, working extra time with the kids, and other things we did. I feel happy that I got as much cooking done as I did and that all of the dishes got done, too! (Rob can’t wash his fair share until after he recovers from one of his medical tests, so I’m merrily washing away. Every day. Every dish. Patsy dries and puts away. By the way, Rob is very, very fine–it was a great result, praise the Lord–and he’s trying not to laugh too loud about having to take a break from dishes and hauling firewood!).
Jake and Michaela ate dinner here tonight, and they had cinnamon sugar toast on whole wheat bread. (Under duress, she ate 1 baby carrot and Jake ate 2 cucumber slices) Jake wants to spend the night, but I took Michaela home because she wants to be there. While I was gone, Rob cooked eggs and eggs for Jake, and he topped off his evening with mini-marshmallows, washed down with grape juice. How’s that for a before-bed snack? Hmmm. I hope your meals were less eclectic!
After one of the mildest winters we’ve had for a while, February is breaking records for being cold and wet! We woke up to snow falling this morning. My brave crocuses are still blooming, through it all. The schools are closed today, but I can tell it’s melting already.
It’s so beautiful, I get a lot of free entertainment just looking out the window.
The birds are happily eating the food Rob put out for them. It’s fun to watch them, too. As silly as it sounds, we got a few minutes of pure entertainment the other morning watching a squirrel who had somehow dropped down onto the top of one of those birdhouses pictured in the snow picture above. We watched him for a good 10 minutes while he figured how to get down off of there, taking flying leaps back and forth between the birdhouses, and them finally leaping down to the little awning roof and at last jumping down to the garden, where he grabbed a quick snack of compost and ran off.
We went to a couple of yard sales this week. Rob got a tool he needed for very little money, and I got a bunch of quilt shop fat quarters for 50c each, as well as a several-yard piece of muslin for $1.00. At the one he went to, he found a container of embroidery floss for $5. There must be 75-100 skeins in there. Patsy’s already been working on her towels with some of it.
I sewed all the blocks I got for free at the shop hop, except for one that I simply don’t know how to do. I also am using the extra fabric we bought to make some additional blocks, since I didn’t go to all the shops. I have a good plan for how I want to finish the quilt, and got fabric to make the strips between the blocks.
We had a simple family birthday party for our son, consisting of cupcakes, ice cream and home-make hamburgers. We did it over at my sister’s house as part of our normal family Sunday dinner, and kept it very small and simple. He was pleased.
We got a chicken at Costco, ate it, and made broth from the bones. We used some of our tax return to really stock up on things like Ziplock bags, vitamins, and some food items. We also bought a new blanket for our bed. We had been commenting that one of ours was literally in tatters after 36 years of using it. When we found a blanket for $17 at Costco, we grabbed it and simply asked each other why it had taken us so long to replace the other one!
I made gluten-free pizza. It did not rise as it should. We ate it anyway, but it wasn’t stellar. Rather than throwing out my yeast and buying fresh, I put some in a measuring cup with warm water and a little honey and proofed it. It was fine. As I suspected, I clearly killed my yeast the first time by using water that was too hot.
I made 2 crusts, par-baked them for 5 minutes, and froze them for quick dinners in the future.
At the beginning of the week, we ate leftovers from things we had cooked last weekend. The fridge was starting to look pretty bare of anything that could be grabbed in a hurry, so I cooked a big roast with carrots and potatoes. I put the last of a jar of horseradish sauce, mixed with some powdered onion soup mix on top. It came out wonderful. I went ahead and froze one small container of sliced beef for later, since it was a large roast.
I made some chili-mac with beans I had cooked last weekend, and froze the rest.
We made taco bar for the college age kids at church. I made a big crock pot of refried beans, and some really, really good Pumpkin Spice Bars.
I still have several cans of that pumpkin Rob got for 10c/can over a year ago. I wanted to find a use for one of them, and I know I’ll make the recipe again.
We had lots of salads, a sandwich or two, bagels and cinnamon sugar toast for the kids.
I made soup on the day my mom came over with a jar of the beef stew mixture we canned last fall, a pint of green beans and a pint of tomato juice. I added some water and spiced and it turned out great. She brought some muffins.
I made lemon-poppyseed muffins to put in the freezer for people to pop out for quick breakfasts.
We have Jake and Michaela all weekend, until Monday night. Their parents are helping at a high school church retreat, which our daughter is attending. I’m sure they are having a good time, and I know we are! Jake brought the Frustration game in from the camper. After roping various ones into playing with him, he then set up his Lego Star Wars guys and played with them for quite a while. He was so cute, counting off their moves and popping the dice popper for each of them.
I had a friend and her daughter stay in the “guesthouse” Saturday night. We save a lot of money by using our camper as a guesthouse. Our out-of-town friends don’t have to pay for hotels, and we get to have them close so we can visit for every possible moment! It was very fun to swap “I remember” stories with her daughter. We have a lot of great memories from when this now-adult young lady was little…lots of fun to reminisce. The kids roped them into playing Yahtzee, we had dinner, and all too soon, they had to head back home very early Sunday morning. This has been my lucky month–this is the 2nd friend I’ve gotten to spend time with that I seldom get to see!
We’ve been reading library books, and books we own. I returned the one that I could not renew only 1 day late, so I will only have to pay for 1 day of being late. I was able to renew the rest in time and did not have to pay.
We watched U-Tube videos of Steve Green’s “Hide Them In My Heart” movies. Jake was trying to remember a verse put to music, and we found several there for free. He sang in church twice yesterday, with the kids’ choir he recently joined, so we were there bright and early. Rob took him back to practice last night. We have been taking turns with his other family members so he can go and hopefully have a good experience. He was very uncertain about going, but seems to be enjoying it now that he is getting used to it.
I finished the baby quilt I started and completed 2 of the 6″ blocks I got for free from the quilt shop hop.
I cooked quite a bit, and devoted one free morning to putting a few things into the freezer for quick meals.
The baby quilt I was working on is done. I’m very happy. I have not made a project like this for many years, and I was rusty.
I started with some cute fabric I’ve had for years and made the baby picture fabric the center of the stars. I had to buy a few pieces of fabric that went with what I had, but a lot of the little squares were from cloth I had collected in the past. That made me happy, as one of my goals this year is to use some things I have, and also to finish some projects. I was also able to use my rulers, rotary cutter, mats, and some acrylic templates I’ve had for years and years.
I had some trouble matching all the corners, but with some major ripping out and re-sewing, I got it done to my satisfaction. Then, I wanted it bigger, so I made a row of squares on the bottom and one on the top, and added borders. The squares were from leftover pieces of fabric used elsewhere in the quilt.
I went to the quilt shop and got some backing and batting. It’s hard to see in this picture, but there are some greens and whites along with the pale blue to pull it together. We don’t know if this baby is a girl or a boy, or I probably would have chosen pink or some flowered fabric I saw. But, they were really girly, so…
I machine quilted to entire thing in rows. It was difficult, and there were a couple of places that I wasn’t happy with and fixed. For the most part, though, I’m very satisfied. I sewed the binding on the front with the machine, rolled it over, and hand sewed it down on the back.
I’m very excited that I got it done before the baby was born and am already moving ahead on my next project. I expect things won’t take quite as long, as I get back in practice, which is good. After all, creating is way more fun than ripping!
I hope you all have a very nice Valentine’s Day this year.
I made cupcakes for my daughter, nieces and nephew. Rob is delivering the ones to the kids this morning, when he goes to put Jake on the bus and get Michaela for their bi-weekly trip to the swimming pool. We added a small gift card for each of them.
The little sugar hearts were purchased last year after Valentine’s Day, so were on clearance. As long as you keep them dry, they last a very long time. There are plenty left for next year. The cupcakes were made into hearts by putting a marble in the edge between the paper and the tin before baking to make the paper push in, forming a rough heart shape. The tops were frosted using a Ziplock bag with a little hole cut into it so the frosting could squirt out. It was a fun, quick, inexpensive project. The cupcakes themselves were from a boxed mix, purchased for 39c on clearance after Christmas because it had little red and green sprinkles in it. I just added a bunch more sprinkles from my pantry, so they became multi-colored, like Funfetti. They are loaded with sugar and gluten, so I won’t be tempted to eat any. At all. I loved making them for the kids, though.
I made 6 of these cupcakes in regular round shape and froze them, unfrosted and clearly labeled “NOT gluten-free” for an upcoming birthday party. I’ll frost them when that day comes.
Yesterday, Rob and I had a wonderful, rare day. We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a drive. We decided to visit quilt shops, so we drove around and went to a few. We chose ones out in the country so we could just enjoy the scenery. Since it’s a shop hop, we were given a kit for a 6″ block at each place. We only had a few hours, and didn’t worry about how many places we got to, but instead just meandered along. There are 16 shops spread out along a long, wide path that are participating and there is no possible way to get to all of them without spending way more time than we had–so we didn’t try to do them all. After I finish this baby quilt I’m working on, I will make up the blocks I got and figure out something to do with them. They are very pretty.
It was so much fun to be able to just visit and spend time together. You would think that we would have lots of time with just us, but in truth, hardly a day goes by that we are not surrounded by children, so we really enjoyed a few hours of “just us” time. And, we made it to pick up Patsy at school with 5 or 10 minutes to spare. Whew! Then, I had several hours to make cupcakes, cook dinner, and we went to evening church, so I was still able to get some thing done at home. Hopefully, we can remember to carve out some time again, soon! It’s such a good memory already:)
I served lots of salads and veggies this past week. One time, I put it out on a platter and added lots of goodies to make it look different. Somehow, it worked. We felt like we had a whole new kind of salad!
I made carrots sautéed in apple juice. Carrots are one of the most reasonable fresh veggies at this time of year, so we’ve been having them more often.
Rob made himself some cooked cabbage and chicken sausage with a side of sautéed mushrooms. The cabbage is also a good price, as it is in season at this time of year and he found 2 large packages of mushrooms on the mark-down rack, so he got to enjoy a bunch of those. We’ve had omelets from the mushrooms, as well. Another day, I made coleslaw from more cabbage.
I found a bag of frozen pesto cubes in the freezer. During the summer, I make it and freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes out and freeze in a bag. My recipe is very simple–it includes basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. There are no pine nuts in it. I made brown rice pasta with the pesto last night. It was really good. I ate way too much.
I crumb-coated some rockfish that was in the freezer and served it with the pasta, and home-canned green beans. We ate several jars of green beans this week, several jars of fruit, and quite a few odds and ends from the freezers. I’m noticing that the chest freezer is starting to feel less tightly packed, which is good news since it’s hard to see what’s in there other than the top layer. It’s easier to dig around if it’s not too crammed. The 2 uprights are showing some spaces as well. The little freezer on top of the fridge in the kitchen is still crammed because I keep bringing veggies and things in from the shop for immediate use. Now that I’m getting more space, I plan to make up a few more things like muffins to have on hand for quick meals.
One night, Rob made hamburger patties, baked “French fries” and carrots with a little honey on them. Then, he took a picture of it (that’s his foot and knee there) and sent me a picture with the caption “I’ve got dinner for you.” I was super happy he did that, as I was heading home and was starving:).
Patsy made gluten-free crepes. They were really good. Way too good. We’d better not make those too often:).
We ate leftovers quite a few times as well.
I am happy to report that I have finally (hopefully) got things organized again so that I can stop going to the store every few days. I will do another produce run in a few days, and I’ll grab eggs if I see them on sale, but the staples are back in the pantry, at least for now. We are ready for a weekend with Jake and Michaela, and have the foods they will eat all stocked up. I have other things I’d rather do than go to the store, so I’m excited about that. Still, the reality is that if we cook from scratch a great deal, which we do, I am going to run out of foods we use, and it’s worth the time to me to go from store to store and get the best possible prices to stock back up, so I will always make time for that. I haven’t checked the ads yet this week, but last week I got butter for $1.99/box…..it’s aways worth looking:)