All posts by Becky

Sewing– Pajama pants for Jake

I spent some time today making up these Pokemon pajama pants for Jake. As soon as I found this remnant at JoAnn’s, I knew it would be perfect for him, if there was only enough! He and his much-older sister love to play the Pokemon game on her phone, and they watch tv shows about Pokemon as well. It’s kind of their special thing, and so he loves the characters. This fabric is normally quite expensive per yard, but the bolt was on sale, and then the remnant price was 1/2 the sale price. It ended up being a good price after all those reductions, so I took a chance and bought it.

This piece was either a yard, or within an inch or two of being a yard. I used it down to the last inch, but it was the length I needed to make him a pair of pants. They are actually pretty big on him, so should last a while. The fabric is very fuzzy and soft and he loves how cuddly it is. It was a bit of a pain to sew, as it wanted to squiggle out from under the needle, but thankfully, I was able to get it to behave for the most part. I think the fabric was probably intended for a blanket, but this worked, too.

These p.j. pants were part of his birthday present, but I waited until he was over here so I could measure the elastic around his waist, and make sure the length was good. That all happened today, and we were both pleased with the result. It took a bit for me to convince him it was pajamas and he couldn’t wear the pants all day. I’m not sure why I bothered. When we went to the store, there was a big boy wearing a full zip-up Pokemon sleeper…….hmmmmm. I think I’ll still let p.j.’s stay home for nighttime at my house:). I guess I’m a little old-fashioned!

There were just two skinny scraps left. So, 2 kitties got scarves. They watched, along with the kitty who didn’t get a scarf, as Patsy tried to teach Jake how to play chess. I’m not sure he’s got chess down, yet, but he seems to enjoy games quite a bit right now and is happy to have someone who will play with him. And, I was glad to get another project checked off my list!

Use It Up project–january 25, 2019

I am still working hard at using up things that need to be used. As simple as that sounds, it has taken some effort and creativity to stay on task. As the month nears an end, I am realizing that there are still a LOT of items that need to be used. So, I will continue this project into February, while buying a moderate amount of groceries as needed. Here’s what I did this week.

Did I mention the ugly produce I got for free 2 Wednesday nights ago? I’ve been working to use it up. We’ve been eating the mandarins, trimming up the apples, I cooked the spaghetti squash and am working on using the potatoes. None of this is keeping well, which makes sense as I picked it out of the bottom of a tote bin which contained a lot of bad produce, as well as this usable stuff. (It was outside the church, for people to take if they wanted it. I don’t think it could have possible lasted much longer in the condition it was in, so I’m glad I found some good things)

I made cheesy scalloped potatoes with ham yesterday. I cut down the amount of the cheese a lot, and made it lower-fat and we had small portions so Rob could still enjoy some on his diet. It was really good, and there’s lots left.

I baked the spaghetti squash towards the end of last week. We ate some with salt and pepper and a little butter a couple of times. I put the last of it into these muffins instead of zucchini. It worked fine. I just chopped the strands up into smaller pieces and stirred them into the batter at the end. I put cinnamon sugar on the top and they were great! We have not used spaghetti squash very much in the past. When we put pasta sauce on it as they say to do, neither of us liked it very much. So, we just decided to treat the free one as squash, which we both do like and not even pretend it was spaghetti:).

I did fry some up instead of hash browns one morning, along with some chicken sausage, and I enjoyed it as long as I didn’t try to pretend it was potatoes.

I got a few veggies from the old produce rack. There were 3 little zucchinis in one of the bags. I made zucchini noodle lasagna with them. I used cottage cheese that was in the back of the fridge, mixed with mozzarella cheese, frozen long ago, found in the depths of the freezer out in the shop. Although the cottage cheese was expired, it was never opened, so was perfectly fine. It really lasts a long time as long as it’s sealed. The sauce was turkey burger, onion, and the pasta sauce I canned last summer. Rob really likes this kind of lasagna, and it’s low-carb, low-fat, so he wanted some this week.

Much of the food we ate for the rest of the week was leftover from last weekend. I’ve had soup several times from the big pot I made last Saturday, and I started in on the ham I’d been saving out in the camper fridge. It is the last 77c/lb one I got right after Christmas and I didn’t freeze it because it is good until mid-February.

The other thing we’ve been burning through around here is eggs. Thankfully, my aunt got 2 dozen for me last weekend, and I got 2 dozen more. Rob eats eggs several mornings a week. I had eggs for dinner one night. Jake and Patsy started in on scrambled eggs last night and ate several. They were both back at it this morning, and I had some, too. Most of a dozen disappeared between last night and this morning. I’m delighted! Eggs are so healthy for us all.

How is is going for you?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 20, 2019

This was a crazy week, even for us! After the formal dinner last Saturday night, and cooking for the college-agers on Tuesday night, we had a family gathering at our house yesterday for Rob’s family, and then a birthday party today at Family Sunday Dinner. Rob, Alissa and Jake all have January birthdays, so we have a small family party each year. We had a lot of fun and stayed frugal through it all!

Yesterday, I decorated simply, using some greenery from the yard and a few glittery snowflakes and ribbon purchased on the after-Christmas sales. Patsy made paper snowflakes and we put them under the plastic cover so they stayed put and looked nice.

People brought food. I made some as well. I made sweet and sour meatballs with rice, chicken soup, and cupcakes.

We served water, coffee and tea.

I got this great shot of Patsy and Rob’s mom, Grandma Dee-Dee, as the children call her. It was really good to have those relatives over. Sometimes, it gets way too long between visits.

Rob went and got Anthony and Allison, and they had a good time getting to see these relatives. It’s quite a lot of driving for Rob, but we like them to be included when they can come, so it’s worth it to us. (They live in separate group homes, about 30 minutes from us and each other–so it takes about 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours each way to do the rounds to get them and take them home, unless some of their staff can give them a partial ride.).

Rob’s sister brought us a lot of avocados that she was given by a neighbor. They are “duds” from his work where he sorts avocados as part of his job. They are thrown away if no one wants them, so he brings them to her and all the neighbors. I had at least 3x that many, and shared a bunch of them.

A lot of our canning from last summer became nice little gifts for Rob’s family.

Todays birthday party was nice, too! As you can see, Rob celebrated, but very minimally! We made it very simple, with hamburgers, potato salad, chips, salads and brownies and ice cream.

We did a few other things other than go to parties this week, believe it or not:). We cooked and cooked and cooked, for starters. I finally ran out of a bunch of grocery items, but was able to pull a lot of what we cooked from the pantry, freezers and canning cupboards.

For a while now, we’ve had a problem with our stove burner–it was on high heat all the time. We were able to get it fixed while still under warranty, which is up in early February.

I was able to get a tiny bit of yard work done–a rhododendron removed, some Coral Bell flowers moved, some chrysanthemums put in the ground, and so forth. It was rainy, but I was able to fill the yard debris bin and I’m setting the stage for some landscaping I want to do. I have some Al’s gift cards (a local garden center) and I have plans to spend them in the spring. Inside, my basil is sprouted on my windowsill.

I read half of a library book and made sure the things that were coming close to being due got returned or renewed.

I worked on my blog for hours. I’m trying to do one thing to it each day. Much of the things I’ve done are behind the scenes, such as add the “like” button, the WordPress “Follow” button, and an anti-spam plug-in. I just keep reading articles, sometimes over and over and over, but the new site is coming along.

I exercised at the YMCA on Thursday.

I took some clothes the girls had not wanted to a used clothing store and got 2 new-to-her tops for Patsy and $16. They didn’t want much of it, but hey, anything helps.

I hope your week went as well as mine did. Feel free to share in the comments below, and also let me know if anything is not working correctly on the new blog. Thanks!

Use It Up Challenge–January 17, 2019–Pink Beans!

I went out to the garage, where most of my pantry storage lives, and brought in an ice cream bucket, 1/2 full of what I thought were pinto beans from the 50 pounds Rob bought last fall. Instead, they were pink beans. I seriously do not remember when I bought them, but I know it’s been a long, long, long time. I determined they would be the focus of the challenge this week as it was time for them to go.

I soaked them over night and part of the next day. I hoped they were not so old they would not soften. They softened. Whew!

I made a crock pot full of southwestern beans for the college age group to eat on Tuesday night. It was our turn to cook the meal. I wasn’t sure if young adults these days liked beans, but there were very few left in the bottom of a full crock pot. They were cooked with ham broth, salsa verde, and onion. I want to make it again soon, for our family, probably using pinto beans. They were that good!

I cooked the rest of the beans with water and salt. I froze 2 packages for later.

My purchases this week were from Costco. I bought Mexican cheese, a rotisserie chicken and 2 huge cans of peanuts. They were $6.50 (ish) and it was BOGO for free. In all, it was about $25. Otherwise, I’m still using things from the fridge, cupboard, home-canning, freezer, etc.

Some corn tortillas were way in the back of the fridge. I pulled them out. I made 2 pans of enchiladas. One was using frozen poblano peppers from 2015 (yikes!) and some cilantro, 1/2 and 1/2, onion and garlic made into a sauce. I got the recipe from the current Rachel Ray magazine and changed it a little to fit what I had on hand. I added some of the chicken from Costco and used the Mexican cheese. I also used beans in there. In the second pan of enchiladas I used the same filling, but used the enchilada sauce I canned last summer. I froze that one for another day. Its pretty small, and will be just right for Rob and Patsy to quickly warm up one evening while I’m still at work.

Another thing I made from those beans was a chili that also used some of that rotisserie chicken, plus a sweet potato that has been lurking under the sink since Thanksgiving. When it was grated into the chili, it looked like cheese in there, but neither my mother or I could really taste much flavor from it. Regardless, it was healthy, and the recipe tasted good.

I used some frozen spinach that was put into my freezer last year to make turkey-spinach meatballs. We are having a family gathering tomorrow, and I want to serve meatballs. I was also able to use some gluten-free bread crumbs that had been frozen sometime in the past and stuffed into the little freezer.

Rob made some tuna cakes. He used more of those breadcrumbs, some onion, a little of the cheese, 1 Tablespoon of lite mayo, salt and pepper. Then he baked them for about 20 minutes. They were really tasty little cakes. We are eating lots and lots of salads these days, and these went well with his salad today at lunch.

I am very pleased with how this challenge is going. I’m finally finding a little space in my kitchen freezer and things are no longer falling out onto my feet when I open it. There’s even a little space opening up in some of the outside freezers! Even though it was gross, I finally used enough things from the refrigerator to be able to really see the terrible mess it was. I had a feeling it was bad, but this surpassed all expectations. It’s clean now, and that’s a good feeling!

I have been using any extra grocery budget money for non-food items I need, like vitamins, shampoo and things like that, and am easily staying within the amount I want to spend. How’s it going for you?

A Formal and casual Dinner for a crowd–January 2019

This was a week of contrasts. We fed 2 different groups of kids 2 very different meals.

Last Saturday, we were very involved with a formal dinner for the high school youth group from church. The event was held at my sister’s house and our 2 families did all the cooking.

We ended up having about 24 youth, and 12 college-aged and adult helpers. My brother-in-law rearranged their house so that there were 3 large tables in the living area and all the youth were able to sit down.

We had gluten free and dairy free students coming, one that was allergic to fish and one that was allergic to shellfish, so needed to make it allergy friendly. We had at least one vegetarian as well. It was quite a challenge.

We served the meal in courses. We had the “waiters” take orders, noting special dietary needs and kept all questionable food completely separated from the other food, even on the grill. Rob used foil and separate pans/dishes to do this.

Our waiters kept really good track of what each student needed using sticky notes.

The first course was appetizers. Rob barbecued shrimp skewers with peppers and onions threaded on in between the shrimp. We made 2 kinds of potato skins–one with olive oil, green onions and rosemary and one with cheese, bacon bits and green onion. We had purchased mozzarella sticks, served with marinara and ranch. The last appetizer was cheesy bread sticks. The bread sticks were purchased and cheese was sprinkled on top and they were baked to melt the cheese.

There were fancy drinks. They had sugar around the rims of the glasses and the kids could choose their favorites. Unlike a restaurant, they could have free refills and some had several!

Salads were next. They got their choice of dressings and customized salads without cheese or bacon if requested or needed.

The main course consisted of risotto, teriyaki chicken or salmon topped with mango-peach chutney sauce, garlic green beans and was decorated with spiralized zucchini and cilantro. Rob was able to cook the beans, chicken and salmon on the big grill outside, which helped the kitchen prep tremendously.

We dipped strawberries in chocolate and made gluten-free mini-cheesecakes with cherry topping and chocolate decorations for dessert. It was so pretty and tasted so good. We dipped a few berries in dairy-free chocolate, but did not make dairy-free cheesecakes. The student was still happy because he could have a yummy strawberry and some extra chocolate candy we got for him.

That event turned out very, very well. It was so fun to see the kids and some adults dressed up and they ate SO much food! We had a ball doing the event. The kids were delighted to have this experience and were happily talking about it the next day at church, I’ve heard. They went off ice skating afterwards, but we collapsed! It was worth it, though.

The second event this week was feeding the college aged kids their Tuesday night dinner. It was just coincidence that our turn for that was this week as well. It was kept quite simple.

We got ham for 77c/lb at Winco and Rob barbequed 2 of them. He sliced them and put them in our big roaster. I made southwestern beans with soaked pink beans, onion, green salsa verde and ham broth. We used 6 heads of romaine and one head of head lettuce to make a huge bowl of salad. Then, we put toppings such as olives, cheese, tomatoes, and tortilla salad toppers out so they could create their own southwestern salads. Some canned corn, oranges and brownies and made from a boxed mix finished out the dinner. There were around 35 people there–more than expected, but the food held out! Hallelujah! Those kids are a cheerful, appreciative bunch every time we feed them. It makes it fun to do.

Rob’s Weight-Loss Journey–Part 1


A reader asked if we would mind journaling Rob’s weight-loss journey to provide encouragement for her and anyone else who needed it.  I asked Rob how he felt about sharing something so personal in such a public way, and he said he was willing to share in hopes that it would help someone.

In December, 2018, he got weighed at the doctor’s office, as he does monthly.  This is our new (since August) primary care physician and is the overall manager of his weight loss journey.  He was down another 12 pounds from the last appointment, around Thanksgiving.  Since last May, he has lost 67 pounds.  If we go back to last January, the number of pounds lost is even higher.  Every doctor weighs him, and they all have different scales.  No matter which scale you look at, though, it is apparent that he has lost a great deal of weight!

Rob has always struggled with his eating habits and his weight.  He has always put more effort into taking care of those around him than he has in taking care of himself.  He also struggles with emotional eating.  Last spring, he was informed that the chronic pain in his lower back was actually originating in his left hip.  X-rays were taken, shots were given, and nothing worked.  He was informed he would need a full hip replacement, but they would not approve him for surgery until he lost 120 pounds.  

They recommended that he get bariatric surgery for a gastric bypass, lose weight, and then they would do the surgery. He has gone to the classes for the bariatric surgery and they highly recommend that each person think long and hard about that option, as it is permanent. He is keeping that door open and following the guidelines they are laying out in regards to check-ups and other things on the list they require before that surgery would be allowed. However, he decided he really wanted to see what he could do with weight-loss before he would take that super-serious step. And, then, not long ago, the bariatric doctor stated that she would want him to lose each and every pound he needs to lose BEFORE she would clear him for the hip surgery. That would be far more than 120 pounds! Wait, What? He’s in constant, agonizing pain each and every day. So, clearly, that pushed that option down to the bottom of the list. He is doing what they ask, though, in case he cannot lose the 120 pounds in the end by himself. Then, he would have to use that option, because he has to have relief from this pain. We hoped it would ease off with the weight loss, but in fact, he’s getting worse each month.

As life often does, ours took a turn when his contract was not renewed at the school district and his job ended last spring.  He had worked that job for 2 years, and it was on a 1-year contract each time, always with the understanding that it could end each June.  When it all came down to it, he didn’t really want to do another identical job in another school, so we looked at other options.  We spent the summer figuring out what we were doing with insurance, a job, etc., and he just watched what he ate–not worrying too much about it, but losing a few pounds here and there.   Once our life was in rhythm again, and we got our new doctor (because the old one was not covered on our new insurance), he started working away in earnest on this project.  So, most of the 67 pounds have been lost since August/September, 2018.

He has been asked for his “magic secrets.”  I wish it was otherwise, and I hate to tell you this, but there are none! It has been lots and lots of work, but he prevailed and he’s losing weight slowly and steadily, just as the doctor wants him to. This is what is working for him:

  1.  When he met with the new doctor last fall, she asked him to start tracking every bite that went into his mouth on a phone app.  He uses “Lose It.”  He has been faithful with it.  For months, he has faithfully and consistently entered all of his daily food into his app.  The app says he can eat over 2,000 calories a day and lose the weight he wants to.  He can’t.  He is a very tall man, but is unable to move freely and exercise easily because his left hip is completely ruined and he needs full hip replacement.  Most days, he eats from 1,300 to 1,500 calories.
  2. In the daily calorie count, he allows himself a few treats such as a small square of brownie, a 1/2 can of full-sugar Coke, or 1-2 bites of a less-than-healthy food that he likes such as home-made macaroni and cheese.
  3. He eats lots and lots of salads and veggies.  It was easier when the garden was going strong, but he cooks home-canned green beans frequently and I buy salad stuff every week.  One thing I do is check the marked-down rack at Fred Meyers and often get mushrooms, tomatoes, and other veggies for $1/bag, which we need to eat quickly.  He loves to stir-fry mushrooms with garlic salt from a grinder and eat a big pile of them.  He eats veggies at almost every meal.  I make veggie-loaded soups as well. He often makes salad his dinner–and tops it with everything from pickles beets to tuna to cucumbers to feta cheese and so on.
  4. He is eating lower-carb than before.  He eats lettuce wrapped hamburgers, tuna salad on lettuce instead of bread, taco fillings without the tortilla, etc.  He is not eating paleo or keto–just less carbs.  He still eats an occasional potato, some corn, or a piece of bread once in a while–he just counts in the calories.
  5. He has cut out almost all dessert from his diet.  He does not enjoy artificial sweeteners, so has a small amount of real sugar occasionally, instead of lots of artificially sweetened foods or drinks. He does have artificially sweetened things on occasion–just not often.  We tried ice cream with sugar alcohol in it, but didn’t really enjoy it much and returned to very infrequent, small scoops of the “lite” ice creams. To give a clear picture, he’s still on the 2nd of 2 cartons I bought last September and he had help with the first one.
  6. He drinks coffee with a small amount of 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar–1 per day, and makes his own so he can regulate what he puts in it. We buy coffee to-go cups and lids from Cash and Carry so he can take it with him.  2 of his good friends just gave him metal cups for hot drinks.  He’s been using those lately.  He makes his own smoothies with fruit, milk or almond milk, and frozen banana chunks and whatever else he wants, like vanilla or cinnamon.   He might add a tiny bit of sugar, or not, according to how sour the berries are.  He made Starbucks so disappointed in him that they took away his Gold Star Status.  For reals.  I guess he will use that money he has saved for new pants one of these days:)
  7. He eats lots of protein.  He has protein at each meal. Most breakfasts are eggs.  He usually fries some ham, sausage, or bacon with them, and often saut├ęs mushrooms, peppers or onions with them as well.  He does omelets with cheese and some of those veggies.  You may ask how he can eat bacon and cheese and lose all that weight.  He controls his portions.  A little cheese works for him–it gives him the flavor he wants without too many calories.  Bacon is always cut in half so 1 strip becomes 2 strips at our house.  He eats a smaller portion that way.  Extra bacon is cut into small pieces and used on salads or in a scramble another day.
  8. He tells himself that no foods are off limits–he just has to count them and write them down.  He uses real butter and 2% milk, regular yogurt, and regular cheese .  He simply eats less of them than he did before.
  9. He does what exercise he can.  It’s not much right now.  He goes to the pool and moves his arms and legs as the physical therapist instructed him to do.  They admit it will not help the hip–nothing but surgery will–but it will strengthen his core and help his body be stronger since it has to compensate for the bad hip.  He did the 6 weeks of physical therapy the insurance covered.  He was glad to learn exercises he could do.  He still walks around as he can.  Every little bit helps.
January, 2019
Spring, 2018

It’s really working, as you can see! He is far from done, but I’m so proud of his progress so far.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-January 13, 2018

This week was an interesting one. I did a couple of things that were out of the ordinary.

I went with my sister to visit our friend, Harnet. She has moved a little farther away from us, so we carpooled a lot of the way, saving me some gas. Even better, my sister and I got to visit for way longer than if we had driven separately. We had coffee, lunch, did errands, and visited. It was a fun day. It was on my normal shopping day, so I did not go to the grocery store. Danait wanted to wear all her gear and ride her bike, so my sister took her outside for a while to do that. Brrr…..they didn’t last long, but it was fun for them both while it did!

Rob made Jake “Almanzo” pancakes for breakfast this morning. Every since we read “The Long Winter” and Almanzo ate stacks of pancakes, Jake has been fascinated with the idea. Rob makes them small, only about 3 inches across, so he we can make a stack. Last night, we were helping with a youth event, and after Rob finished barbecuing, Jake had had enough of it all, and went home with “Unckie.”

The youth event was a formal dinner. A few weeks ago, the youth pastor asked my sister if she could make a dinner for the kids, with “real plates and courses.” Of course, my sister said she could, and roped us in. In the end, over 20 kids sat down and ate dinner at my sister’s house, in their fancy clothes (or not in a couple of cases–there were a couple in jeans, but still always welcome). Then, they went ice skating. I’m planning to do a post later in the week showing what we cooked, but here I’m going to highlight the money-saving things we did.

Rob cooked 4 things outside on a very large BBQ. He did 1 of the appetizers, the vegetables and the chicken and fish. That saved us a lot of commotion in the kitchen. He shopped around quite a bit for the best price on salmon. It varied greatly in price, according to where it was purchased. He finally found 2-lb bags for $7.99, an amazing deal.

We used between 120-150 glass plates. We were able to use hers, mine and borrow more until we had enough. (In addition to the over 20 youth, there were 12 adults and college age helpers that came for the actual event and we fed them, too, making it a crowd of around 35. Yikes!). I had some nice paper napkins someone had given me long ago that we used, and we took 24 sets of silverware over there. I bought that set years and years ago at Walmart and they are very lightly made, but they all match and I use them for large gatherings.

We tried to get the best prices on the food that we could. For instance, I got most of the cream cheese on sale over the Christmas holidays and picked up a few more boxes at Winco when I realized I had not purchased enough for the cheesecakes. Their brand was quite inexpensive–I’m not sure if they had leftover from the holidays, but I was happy to see that price! I used dipping chocolates we had on hand for the decorations and home-canned cherry pie filling for the topping.

As I mentioned before, I was so busy this week with the dinner, and was gone on my normal shopping day that I didn’t have a chance to go shopping, except early one morning to pick up just a very few items. This is helping me with my project of cleaning out the fridge and using some stockpile items. I’ll see how many days I can make it, but I’m pretty sure I may run out of some things this week. We’ll see! At this point, I really, really want to clean out that fridge–it needs a good wash very badly.

Use It Up Challenge–January 2019

I was able to spend quite a bit of time cooking this week, and used up several food items that had been lurking around for some time. I made this quinoa salad. I have quite a bit of quinoa in my pantry, because it’s a good gluten-free choice, but truthfully, Lovana was the one who used it the most. Now that she’s in Hawaii, there it sat. I looked up several recipes, and mixed and matched ingredients to make a salad that sounded good to both Rob and I. I plan to put the recipe in my recipe section before long, but basically, it was quinoa, black beans, home-canned corn, green onion, lime, olive oil and cumin dressing, and some home-canned salsa from the cupboard.

I made home-made tomato soup from a jar of tomatoes I canned, 3 scraggly carrots left from last summer’s garden, some garlic, a little home-canned broth, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2. Rob likes it, and it’s certainly low calorie, but I, myself, would rather have a little more dairy in there, so plan to put some milk in mine when I warm up a bowlful.

I used some masa flour from the pantry (I got 2 bags when Grocery Outlet had it for super, super cheap, what was I thinking? That is a lot of masa when you don’t make tamales!). I have a recipe for a Mexican pizza with a masa flour crust, which is why I got the masa in the first place. The crust has green onion, cumin and garlic powder in it, along with the masa, eggs, salt and water. You cook that for 10 minutes, then add refried black beans and cheese, and cook for 5 more. It’s really quick and easy. I chopped up a hamburger patty leftover from the birthday party we did not have on Sunday (rescheduled due to a sick child), and added that to use that up as well. The recipe calls for tomato, lettuce and avocado on top. We were in a huge hurry to get Patsy to an event, so we just ate it plain this time.

We ate several jars of home-canned fruit this week. We are finishing up a ham, and cut off pieces frequently for lunches, scrambling with eggs, topping our salads and so forth.

I went to Winco and purchased a few more salad ingredients, and a few items that I needed to make these recipes and to round out meals. I’m delighted, because I’m doing great staying within my lowered budget, and we are eating better than ever, and better yet, several items are getting used! I have been looking through old magazines for inspiration, and will do that again this coming week.

We will all be cooking a great deal this upcoming weekend, as my sister is heading up a formal dinner for the high school group at church. I am making a couple of items ahead, and got the final ingredients I needed for those. Rob will be pulling the big barbecue over there and doing appetizers, green beans, chicken and salmon on it. She has the bulk of the food at her house and we will cook most of it on Saturday, over there, where the event is being held. They already set up tables all over her living area, and the couches are all pushed back for that purpose. It’s going to be fun!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 7, 2018

Rob was able to get these clamps very inexpensively using a coupon from Ace Hardware combined with a sale. He was mailed the coupon because he has a birthday in the month of January. I think in the end, the price tag was about $5 for both.

Patsy took this picture on New Year’s Day. Its a view of the Willamette River, from my sister’s deck. She especially loved that she got the cat in there. I love how it shows how very frosty and cold that morning was! We get a lot of enjoyment from the river.

Today, at church, my aunt noticed a bin of potatoes and celery that were for people to take. She got me one of each, since she didn’t need them and I looked after second service and there were some left, so I grabbed another one of each. The potatoes need to be used quickly. How handy! I just finished turning the ones I had at home that were sprouting just like these into potato salad!

We had a family birthday party scheduled for today. Unfortunately, we had to cancel as the birthday boy (Jake) was sick. (The birthday young lady (Alissa) and the birthday man (Rob) were not, but they will have to patiently wait for the reschedule date!). Thankfully, we were able to parcel out the enormous bowl of potato salad amongst the relatives anyway!

Rob and Alissa have not missed one year of celebrating together in all of her 18 years. Of course, Jake joined in when he was a baby, sitting on a table at Chuck-E-Cheese in his carrier. What a birthday surprise that was for Rob and all of us! So many memories of birthday parties in many places with many themes……. One of the best was when my sister put on a “Beauty and the Beast” birthday party with all girly things and a princess at one end of the cake for Alissa and the Beast on the other end, for Rob. I can’t believe she’s 18! But, she is. It’s been amazing to see that little, cute, curly-headed blond baby become a strong, confident young lady in what felt like a blink of an eye.

One of my Christmas gifts was a little planter with some seeds to grow basil on the windowsill. There were extra seeds so I used the container that my Christmas poinsettia was in, filled with new potting soil. Since the flower died because I think it got too hot near the wood stove where it was, I was glad to repurpose the pot and use all the seeds up, and hopefully, I will have basil in 2 pots.

I’ve been sorting through my seeds and hope to get my order finished up soon. I have quite a few 1/2 packets left from last year.

Grocery Plans for January 2019–Rotating the Stockpile Challenge

Every January, it’s the same story around here.  We have just enjoyed a wonderful holiday with lots of time with friends and family and quite a few treats and goodies and we are in the mood to pare down a little in the areas of eating and shopping.  I think it’s naturally that way for most people. This year was a little different.  We did have a few treats, but so much less than in previous years.  Rob is still slowly and steadily losing weight, and we don’t have that over-stuffed feeling we’ve had in years’ past.  Still, I want to work on my usual practice of using items from my stockpile, so they can be rotated in future months.  This is very important because if items slip to the back of the shelves they may go bad.


The garden is not producing right now, because it’s rainy, cold and of course, muddy out there.  So, it’s a perfect time to use the food I worked so hard to preserve.

My stockpile has 3 main areas:  The freezers, the home-canning cupboards and the pantry shelves.  This month, I’d like to challenge myself to use as many items from each of those areas as I can in my daily meals.  I plan to shop whenever I run out of things like dairy, eggs and produce.   Although this is primarily an “use-it-up” challenge, I plan to easily stay within my grocery budget, and will use any extra money to fill any gaps I create during this challenge.

I plan to post once a week, showing some of the meals I created with what I had on hand. It’s only January 4th, but I’ve already made several items.

I used some cottage cheese on top of a peach half and sprinkled it with sprinkles to make it seem more festive for Patsy’s lunch yesterday. I also found this summer sausage lurking in the back of the little freezer over the fridge, and pulled it out for sandwiches.

I also made this casserole with some of that same sausage. It has some black bean noodles on the bottom that were gifted to us for Christmas, the rest of some pizza sauce that was in the fridge, the last scrap of mozzarella from a bag found in the freezer, the sausage, mushrooms and olives. It was delicious!

I also made some soup from some frozen cauliflower, zucchini shreds and broccoli and a carton of home made turkey broth. I added an onion, cooked until soft, blended it with my stick blender, and added a tiny bit of 1/2 and 1/2 with a little sweet rice flour in it. It was simple and good.

I hope you come up with some good ideas to use your items up. If you do, please share with all of us. Who knows, maybe you have the perfect way to use up something someone else has an abundance of as well!