Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 22, 2019

Easter was a blessed holiday for us. We were able to go to church at 6:30 a.m., and were even able to keep our eyes open during the service, which was inspiring:) Rob cooked a ham, a turkey, and some grilled cauliflower steaks on the bbq and we had salads, desserts and sides to go with them, with everyone bringing something to share.

The card on these flowers SAID they were from Anthony and Allison, but I have a suspicion that Anthony didn’t know as much as Allison did about them:)….. They are sure pretty and are brightening things up around here today.

I set the tables with tablecloths I already had. I picked bluebells from the yard, where they are taking over the flowerbeds and used canning jars for vases. Rob got some ribbon from the dollar store which I used, and he also spread some chocolate eggs along the table right before we ate, so they would last more than 10 minutes:). I picked some parsley and cilantro for more bouquets and let people take some home if they wanted to.

Rob dug up some parsley plants from the massive collection in my flowerbed and let people take home starts for their gardens. This is also how we decorated the outside table on our deck.

Alissa headed up the Easter egg hunt in the yard. We call our aunt, “The Easter Bunny Janet” because she has filled the eggs with candy for many years. She brought the candy-filled eggs, Alissa hid them, and the younger ones found them. Then all candy was put in bowls, divided amongst everyone who wanted any, and sent home in baggies. I overheard Patsy telling Alissa that she might need to help hide eggs next year—I guess she’s feeling like she’s getting a little older….So, that would leave Jake to find all the eggs???? I’m sure someone will help him, or we will need to find another kid or two to invite:)

I did a lot of cooking and cleaning this week. I had to go grocery shopping since I skipped last week, so I looked for bargains, and used Ibotta for rebates. It went well, and I stayed in the budget I wanted to.

I got quite a bit of gardening done in bits and pieces whenever I had time and it wasn’t raining. I planted a new blueberry by the 2 old plants. I’m hoping the berries will be larger and sweeter than the ones on the old bushes. I’ve been digging up plants, clipping bushes, and digging grass out to make the edging cleaner in many flowerbeds. I have a lot more to do!

I made Patsy a skirt. We did some shopping and got a black lace top to wear over a black tank top to go with it. She also got a few other things, and I got a few as well. We found great bargains, and the skirt was from fabric I’ve had for years, so it didn’t break our bank. We both had gift cards from Christmas and/or birthdays, so that helped, too. We should be set for a bit.

I spent hours preparing for a homeschool meeting regarding Alissa. We go though a diploma program and I needed to have a meeting with them to show the work we’ve completed so far, grades, hours spent, etc. I wanted this meeting as a final check-up to make sure we’ve done it all, since she’s supposed to graduate on June 6. I called it my “anxiety meeting.” We now have a list of the final few things that need to be finished, another appointment in 1 month, and we will be done! Since I put in so much work on the record-keeping as well as having her do extra schoolwork to finish up this and that, it won’t be so hard when I do the final compilation in a month. Whew!

Rob has been taking her senior pictures. They got a lot of good shots on Saturday, but they aren’t done yet. They have plans for a couple more sessions. Already there are too many good ones to choose from….What a great “problem” to have!

Gardening Project–Compost Bins–April, 2019

Rob has been working on this 2-compartment compost bin. First, he had to scrounge up as much free lumber as he could. He says this is 95% reclaimed/recycled lumber. At our last place, he made a 3-compartment one for me. Here, I actually want 2 of these guys instead, because I want them in 2 different parts of the back yard garden. This one will be moved into place once I get done shoveling away the old compost that I have in a heap right now. The cool thing about these bins is that Rob makes the front boards removable. They are just set into a slot. Then, when it is full and the compost is ready, I just remove the top board or two, shovel out that compost, remove some more, etc, until I’m down to the bottom.

There is a screen between the 2 compartments to allow for more air flow.

Yesterday, he finished the first one. He was able to find some boards towards the second one today already! He just goes around to the wood manufacturers in our town, and picks through their “free” piles.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week– April 14, 2019

We had a nice, normal week. Jake spent the weekend, as he does on occasion. I always look for fun, but inexpensive, things to do when he is here. This week, JoAnn Fabrics had a craft for kids day. They got to make a Lego elephant or flower. Jake and Patsy both made elephants, then Jake traded his out and made the flower. That is what he ended up taking home. The worker was above patient, and it was a successful outing.

We made Jello. Jake got 3 baby spoons and was using all of them at once, sometimes with a little help from Patsy, sometimes by himself. “Take a picture,” he begged. “Call it Jake loves Jello,” he ordered. So, being an obliging Auntie, I did!

We read an entire Boxcar Children book aloud. I ordered it in on inter-library loan, and now need to order another one for the week ahead.

In addition to being entertained by Jake all weekend, we did get quite a few things done before he came over.

I finished one of the raised beds and also made progress on the area around them. I planted my strawberries, some snow peas on the end, a little lettuce, spinach and Boc Choi on the sides and sprinkled radish seeds all over in-between the berries. It’s been very wet, and I’ll see what happens. The little yellow flowers in the upper left corner of the picture are some primroses that had survived from a previous year, and I moved them out of the path and divided one of them. Behind them are some Oriental poppies that were just growing in the flowerbed last summer, so I moved them out of the path as well.

The Columbine plant re-bloomed. I’ve had it for years. I’ve been letting it grow in the greenhouse for a few weeks. The baby vegetable starts in there are not as big as we wish they were. We are hoping they grow rapidly. Rob transplanted a few tomatoes and some basil and he is going to give everything a shot of diluted fish fertilizer soon. The peppers look pathetic, if you want to know the truth. Time will tell if they do anything.

The river at my sister’s house was at flood stage for much of the week. This picture does not really do justice as to how high the water was. The log jam you can see is made from logs, brush and debris that have come hurtling down the river and were stopped by the group of trees. We watched for quite a while, several times, in pure fascination as logs and brush slammed into the pile. Such power! Although much of that log jam is on their neighbors’ properties, there are some logs on theirs. They will have to deal with all that brush when it dries out.

We made lots of good food at home. Taco salad, tuna-egg salad, chef salad, meat loaf from turkey burger, baked potatoes, chicken soup, potato soup, burritos and more were all consumed.

I did not do my regular Friday grocery shopping trip, but instead just picked up a couple of items here and there as needed. Rob and Michaela went to Costco and got me butter and tortillas. It’s got to go on record as the cheapest Costco grocery shopping run on record! He always likes to come up with one errand for her to help with on Tuesdays after swimming, and he wanted a couple of things there, so that was this week’s errand.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 7, 2019

I had one morning with nice weather. I was able to work outside. Rob had collected quite a few bags of used coffee grounds over the winter from coffee shops. I weeded out most of my existing strawberry bed and added many of them to top-dress the berry bushes. Any little plants that were growing in the grass were transplanted into the bed. I still have a little ways to go, but need to wait for another nice day.

I worked some more on the raised bed project. I put a lot of coffee grounds in the first one, and then covered with some topsoil. I will plant my new strawberry starts in there when I can. This project is taking shape now, but still needs more work.

Our 1/2 pork was ready. We paid cut and wrap. Our friends gifted us the meat. It’s so nice to have it. What a blessing!

I got these 2 things free at Safeway this week. One was from the Monopoly game, and the other from my phone app.

I had a nice visit with my friend, Harnet. Her daughter was invited to a birthday party, so one of the things we did was take her to it. We got to visit and she enjoyed her time with the kids. Win-win!!!

It was a great activity for a rainy day!

We also went to a family birthday party at my daughter’s house.

I went to the library and was able to order in some books I needed for Alissa’s homeschool.

How did your week go?

What Did We Eat? And, Feeding a Crowd From the Pantry And Sales–April 4, 2019

When I returned from camping last Friday, I hit the ground running. With my daughter home from Hawaii for a few days and a big birthday party to plan for her, the camping things to put away and the house to clean and lots of cooking to do for the large amount of people who were coming, I decided not to use any of the precious time to go to the store. Instead, I tried to figure out what I could make from my freezers and pantry.

I was delighted to find a few volunteer green onions and some cilantro growing in the garden.

I made cake and mixed fruit crisp. There were blackberries, rhubarb and peaches in it, topped with an oatmeal crisp. The birthday cake was a tried and true gluten-free recipe, and I used up the last scraps of sour cream from camping in it.

Rob BBQ’d chicken with some of the bargain chicken he got a couple of weeks ago and he did salmon. One large piece was a gift a friend gave us a while back and the other smaller package was from Safeway, purchased on one of their Friday specials. I used the green onions in twice-baked potato casserole, so I could make it the day before and warm it on Sunday. In there, I used sour cream, cream cheese and cheddar, in small quantities because that’s what was in the fridge. I served home-canned green beans and home-frozen corn as well, and one of my sisters brought a large broccoli salad. It was delicious. There were hardly any leftovers at all.

To fill in, we had things that were left from camping such as lunchmeat, cheese, extra salad ingredients, etc. Rob used the cilantro in some turkey burger, which he fried as taco meat and topped salad with.

On Tuesday, it was our turn to feed the college group. Alissa, our niece, helped us. They got bargain chicken, which Rob applied a rub to and cooked on the BBQ. He then transported it in 2 crock pots, with a little water in them to keep it moist. It worked well.

We baked potatoes and kept them warm in the roaster. We bought rolls at the bread outlet. We made green salad, rice salad and put out toppings for the potatoes.

Alissa decorated some box-cake mixes I baked up.

They looked very springy and festive. We were able to stay way under their budget for that project, mostly due to the bargain price we got on chicken a couple of weeks ago. As usual, the group was very hungry and very appreciative. There were about 35 people there, but there was plenty of food and even some leftovers. For that group, when you are cleaning up, you package the leftovers in baggies, take-home containers, little cups….whatever works, and the kids take it home for their lunches the next day. It’s a good system for everyone.

The only shopping for myself this week was a gallon of milk, which I grabbed when I was shopping for the church group. I’ve been making things like muffins and vegetable soup, and odds and ends. Of course, we ate at church Tuesday night, with the college kids.

My grocery plans for April are pretty simple. I want to have a lower-shopping month again, as far as it is possible. January was very low-spend, low-shop. February and March were big shopping months, as I had run out of quite a few things and found some great sales, so I stocked up. I was also given a lot of food in March, including 1/2 pork (we paid cut and wrap, but our friend gifted us 1/2 a pig he raised), a 25-lb bag of gluten-free flour, and more. There are a few more volunteer items in the garden. Now, it’s ridiculous in the garage! The shelves are full. There is extra food on the table that won’t fit on the shelves. The freezers are absolutely crammed! What a delightful “problem” to have! It’s time to use up things again. This keeps my stock rotated, my grocery bill averaged out for other “high-need” months, and I can put any extra into the envelope to put towards the beef we buy each fall. Of course, I will continue to buy produce and dairy products, along with Jake and Michaela specific foods for when they are here and grab any super bargains I find.

thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 1, 2109

This week was all about family, friends and the beautiful Oregon coast. We spent quite a bit of time traveling back and forth, getting kids where they needed to be, and visiting, but in-between those drives, we had a lot of frugal fun. In truth, we even enjoyed the drives. The weather was mild and the spring flowers were blooming, the trees were budding, the grass was spring-green, and there were many days with blue skies and puffy clouds to look at as we travelled.

We camped for a few days last week with Patsy. We came home so she could go on her youth group service project trip. Rob and I went back to the beach for 2 nights alone. We came back on Tuesday to pick Patsy up and to get Lovana who had been picked up at the airport by friends and was spending time with them. We took both girls back down to the beach and loved having a few days to really get caught up with Lovana. Then, we came home and she went off with friends for a night, other friends for dinner the next day… get the idea! Sunday was her birthday, so we had a big party for her with both friends and family.

We enjoyed days of gorgeous sunshine, and days of steady, pouring rain. We stayed in the camper and at the campsite most of the time we were down at the beach. We didn’t go clamming, fishing or crabbing this trip. Instead, we rested and I sewed and read lots of books. We ate out one night when Rob and I were having our 2-night get-away. We went to a restaurant and ate seafood while enjoying some live music. We cooked the rest of the meals in the camper or packed them for the car rides. I enjoyed several nice walks on the beach. I even found a heart-shaped fossil in a rock!

Patsy had really been wanting to fly a kite. Rob dug out the kites we’ve had for over 30 years and took her to a beach with easy access for him so she could fly one. They broke a dowel (go figure–it was very old) and then they went to the hardware store and got a new one and Rob fixed the kite for a little over a dollar.

I did several things to make Lovana’s birthday special and not too stressful for me. First, when we came back home to collect children on Tuesday, I sent Rob to pick her up at our friends’ house, and I stayed back at our house and cleaned. Then, it stayed clean because no one was home:) On Friday, we put all the camping paraphernalia away, so on Saturday, I could concentrate on cooking.

She wanted an apron for her birthday. I made a couple of them in the camper, after she got there, so they would be the way she wanted them. I got the coffee fabric for the pockets from apron #1 at a yard sale. It was a scrap and I paid either 25 or 50 c for it. I was happy to get it, since she wants the aprons to wear in her work at the 2 coffee shops she works at on Maui. I used some fabric I’ve had for years for the base of both aprons. For the rest of her gift, Rob is taking her to Trader Joe’s for some food items she can’t get for a reasonable price over there in Hawaii. Food in general is very expensive over there, but some things are SUPER expensive. She brought an extra suitcase to fill with things from here.

We had several of our kids at the party, plus aunties and uncles, a family of friends and cousins. We ended up with a lot of people, and I was delighted that it was a nice day, so quite a few people could overflow outside. Our oldest daughter and her husband made it, as did Ja’Ana, who moved out a few weeks ago. All of the relatives who were on vacation made it as well, even my sister and Jake, who got bumped from their airplane ride back from vacation Saturday night and stayed an extra night in LA. Rob picked up the crew that returned at the airport Saturday night, but Ron and Michaela had to go pick Gail and Jake up Sunday morning, and they got here for the end of lunch. It was good that Rob put a little chicken and salmon in the cupboard for them–this crew was hungry! (I was like, “Why are you putting that plate of food in the cupboard, Rob?” —but he was so right! It was needed for them!) I made rice salad, green beans (home-canned), home-frozen corn, twice baked-potato casserole, one of my sisters brought broccoli salad, Rob did chicken and salmon on the BBQ, and I made mixed fruit crisp and chocolate birthday cake. Rob went out and bought some rolls from the bread outlet store yesterday and I chose not to shop at all. I simply ran out of time. I mowed the lawn instead, and we made out fine! I put out some seltzers that were in the garage, Rob found 2 bottles of soda pop out there behind some stuff and put those out, and I made lemonade from lemon juice from a bottle. None of it was fancy, but they ate and ate! There was plenty, but not a lot left over. At all!

I picked flowers from the yard to put on the table. The house was pretty full, so they kept getting moved around, out of the way of people’s elbows. I think I will enjoy them more this week when they are not in danger of getting knocked over!

One of our friends who came to the party asked me if I used 1-1 flour, and did I want some. Of course I did!!!! He actually had it in the car, and shortly walked in the house with 25 lbs!!! I thanked him profusely, and let him know I would be sharing some of it, which he was happy for me to do. It was given to him, and he doesn’t use it enough to finish off a bag that size, so I was the lucky recipient!

Lovana flies back to Hawaii Monday afternoon, and then our lives will return to routine. It’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve enjoyed the week tremendously.

What Did We Eat? March 30, 2019

This week, we ate quite simply, but it was delicious! We were camping at the beach all week, but we came back and forth several times, using home as our landing spot, so to speak. We did this because Patsy had an event she wanted to attend with the church youth group that lasted 2 nights, and Lovana was flying in from Hawaii. It was up to us to ferry everyone back and forth. So, several meals were eaten in the car, from items packed in a small cooler. Others were eaten at home from odds and ends we dug up, and the rest were eaten in the camper at the beach.

All except one. Rob and I took the occasion to go out to dinner on Sunday night last week. It is so rare for us to have an evening of our own that we wanted to do something special, so we went to a restaurant at the beach and had seafood dinners! Yum:)

Rob cooked on his little camping barbecue several times. He made chicken, steak and mini pizzas. We started with pre-made gluten-free crusts, decorated them, and he cooked them. If you try it, use plenty of foil and don’t turn the BBQ up too high or they burn. After a little practice, they turned out amazing:)

I had made and frozen split pea soup, packed potato salad and chicken for the first day, and had plenty of veggies and salad fixings. We bought salad shrimp twice and I had hard boiled eggs as well. We used home-canned soup and beans and made a lot of eggs and pancakes. We like it simple when we are camping.

I took the opportunity to sort through the camper cupboards and pulled out mixes, rice, and other items that had been there longer than I like. I brought in the things I didn’t use on the trip, and I’m systematically sorting them–they are getting used very soon, or discarded if they are no good. I’m going to replace several items before we go camping again, either from the store, or from my cupboards at home.

We had a good time, rested a lot, visited with Lovana, and took a lot of naps. I was able to get down and walk on the beach several times. Although the weather was not sunny all the time and we had a few super rainy days, there were plenty of good-weather days, as well. We got home yesterday, and hit the ground running. Lovana is off visiting some of her many friends, and I’m cooking up a storm so we can have a big birthday party after church tomorrow for her. It should be fun!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week—March 24, 2019

This week, one of Patsy’s new daffodils bloomed! This past fall, she planted a few special ones amongst the yellow ones she planted the first fall we moved in here. We didn’t buy many, and they were from Winco, so I was hoping we would get a nice one or two. We were not disappointed. I notice there is another one like it about to bloom, too! Hopefully, they will multiply in time as well as the yellow ones do.

We finally got some seeds planted, and just today a few broccoli plants have popped up.

We camped for 3 nights at the beach, using the park pass. We enjoyed some exceptionally nice weather, for the Oregon coast. Patsy and I took 2 nice walks and she collected rocks. Our second walk was abruptly terminated when a sneaker wave filled my rubber boots. Then, we got a lot of cheap entertainment trying to dry out the boots:). And me! Rob made a contraption from duct tape and boards and we propped them up on that until the duct tape gave out and they collapsed. Then, he rigged up a paper plate between the 2 boots, put that over the heater in the camper, and conducted the air into each boot that way. We didn’t want to set rubber boots right on top of a heater vent. We wanted the heat to go inside. By last night, they were about dry.

We enjoyed our camp spot. We got near enough to the ocean that we could see it from the door of our camper when it was not blocked by another camper–so part of the time. It was a short walk to the beach from our site and was easy to see–I walked a few steps and soaked in the beauty a few times. Rob made a big fire, and he and Patsy sat by it a lot. They played cards. Rob roasted things over the fire. I had pre-cooked some things, cooked a lot of veggies and made salads in the camper.

I have a quilt that I started 15-20 years ago. Yes. Really. That long. It has lived in the camper for a few years now because sometimes that was the only time in an entire year I could find the time to quilt. This trip, I really made some progress on it while Patsy watched some DVD’s. We’ve been taking Mr. Jake camping the past few times, and there’s no quilting to be done when that boy is there! After all, how could I quilt with the table covered with Legos? :). This time, he’s on vacation with his family. He will get a turn later in the summer.

I finally have hope that this quilt may someday get finished. It took me quite a while to even figure out what needed to be done and find the parts and pieces, but once I did, the project started moving along. Everything still seems to be there so far!

I worked on my current quilt at home quite a bit this week as well, before we went camping. I have only 1 more 6″ square to complete of the 20 needed for the main body. Then, there is quite a bit more to do to make it larger–there are going to be 2 special rows down below, plus borders all around, but I’m really gaining on it.

We drove back this morning so Patsy could go on her Spring Break Service Project with the youth group. It’s just a couple of days long, but we didn’t want her to have to miss it.

Patsy has an interest in rocks, shells, and fossils. We found this interesting fossil-filled rock on one of our walks. She also collected 2 small rocks with fossils in them. We will hopefully see many more when we go back down to the beach. Last year, Rob and one of his best friends took her on a rock-hunting expedition. Maybe this will turn into a nice hobby for her–time will tell.

How did your week go?

What Did We Eat? March 23, 2019

The main, stand-out new recipe I made this week was lentil tacos. I made them in the Instant Pot, using a recipe from the internet. (There are several recipes, which are all about the same on there). It’s just lentils, salsa, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, and water. Rob really liked them, also.

I made potato salad, Rob grilled chicken a couple of times, and we had as many leftovers as we could eat to clean the fridge. Of course salads were frequent, as always.

We’ve been eating a lot of soup, and had turkey-vegetable and chicken-rice several times.

It wasn’t a super exciting food week, but there was plenty to eat! Some weeks are just ordinary and this was one of them.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 17, 2019

The weather changed for the better this week. Rob was able to take his saw on a long pole and attack the apple tree.

It was so tall from years of not being pruned that most of the apples were unreachable last year. He stood in one place and severely pruned it while I hauled the branches away into the garden where they will be further broken down and removed over time.

You can see that most of the tree ended up in the garden. Now, it has a chance to re-grow. We did notice that the trunk itself is quite rotten, so we are not sure it it will live for long anyway, but it now has a chance to be useful for a few more years.

I will admit that I was a bit stiff this morning, but it feels so good to get stage 1 of a big project done.

Rob found more free boards and we cut them up for fire-starting. It’s nice to not have to skimp on the boards because they get the fire going so easily each morning. Today was the first day since last fall that we did not build a fire as it was quite warm here. I know we have many more “fire-building” days this spring though, so it’s great to have more kindling.

I received the southwestern beans and the oat milk for free when I did my shopping. All of the gluten-free products were a gift from friends. Wow! It was so nice of them to think of us. We really appreciate it.

I did quite a bit of grocery shopping this week. I am getting the camper ready for camping, as we will go later in the month. I always keep a good pantry out there, but there are always things I’ve completely cleaned out at the end of camping season that need to be replenished every spring. There are also things I’ve “robbed” throughout the year when I run out of an item in the house. One thing I did was empty the little freezer out there, and used a bunch of the items that had been in there since October. We save a lot of money by stocking the camper well. Little stores in small towns are usually what are found near campgrounds, and are generally much more expensive than what I can buy food for on sale at my regular stores around here, so we just buy a few items if we really need them while we are camping.

I got 2-lb bags of shredded cheese for $3.99 using a digital coupon. I bought 5.

The biggest bargain was some Tyson frozen chicken breasts Rob scored. I had been to Fred Meyers looking for the 5-lb bags that were in the ad for $9.99. I had a $2.50 Ibotta rebate on them, which would have made them $1.50/lb, a really good price around here. They didn’t have any. Rob called around, found some at a different location, and went to get them for me. When he got there, the meat manager said she had WAY too many and was going to mark them down for him. To his amazement, she marked them down to $4.99/bag, and said he could take all he wanted, she needed to reduce her inventory! He took 12. I could do the rebate on 5. When all was said and done, it worked out to about 79c/lb. Amazing! We are going to can some, as we’ve used a lot of what we canned last summer. We are also on the schedule to feed the college group at church in early April. They will get chicken! Their group has a budget for these meals, and we will certainly be able to stay under it this month for them:).

I used our YMCA membership 2 times this week. I got lots of free exercise working in the yard.

We wanted to do something special with Patsy on Friday after school, since we’ve been spending so much time with my niece and nephew. We didn’t want to break the bank, but still wanted it to feel special for her. So, first we took her for a haircut at Supercuts (one of those walk-in inexpensive salons). I have many talents, haircutting is not one of them. Ask any of the 8 children. Then, we took her to Safeway, where I got round 1 of my groceries and we bought chips. We also let her have all of the Monopoly tickets, as she likes opening them and putting them on the board. While at Safeway, we bought some nail polish remover and a new bottle of polish and rented 2 Redbox movies. At home, we watched the movies, painted our nails (except Rob, who declined the offer), and ate chips (except Rob, who declined that offer, too). Then, I let her enter all the Monopoly 2nd chance codes into my phone, something I’ve never wanted to do before, but she did, so it was a simple fun activity for her. She earned some reward points, which didn’t amount to much, but I’m glad she had fun. The next morning we took her swimming for a little bit, and when Rob went for the chicken, she went too, and he got her some ice cream. I think she enjoyed her weekend.

Making My Home A Haven

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