Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 2, 2020

Way before Rob’s surgery, my sister booked a cabin at Detroit Lake and invited us to come with their family for a few days. She wanted him to have something to look forward to post-surgery. As we discussed the upcoming trip, we talked about how he would probably need help up the few stairs, a ground level room so he could lie down when needed, and maybe could or maybe could not walk the 50 feet to the lake or go out on a boat one day. What a different, and wonderful, scenario it was!

Instead of sitting in the cabin, he went down to the lake several times. While down there, he fished, helped the kids fish and swam more than once. He had no trouble on the stairs or anywhere else, but made sure to use his trekker poles and follow his hip surgery precautions at all times. One morning, he and I walked all over the tiny lake town for exercise. It was nice to have a different change of scenery.

He took some of the kids rock collecting and creek walking.

On the day my sister rented a pontoon boat, we all fished for the morning, and swam during the afternoon. We took a picnic with us to enjoy at lunch time. Michaela got a fishing license before she went on the trip, with Rob’s help. Then, of course, she wanted to fish. He helped her hook this one, and she landed it. She was SO excited.

I caught a fish, too! It was the biggest trout I’ve caught in years, well over 12 inches, and we ate it for dinner that night, along with the one Rob helped Michaela catch.

Jake’s parents have chosen to continue homeschooling next fall, and are continuing his education during the summer. So, 2 of the days we were there, he did schoolwork. His mom organized it all, and his dad and mom both worked with him at times. Uncle helped him with science projects twice. I read two entire short chapter books to him. One was school, one was for fun. He would lay in wait for me to come out to where ever he was and get me to read to him,–it was so cute and fun. He commandeered everyone he could to play air hockey and foosball in the basement game room the cabin had, and although he beat me at air hockey, I did win the foosball game:). He talked every single one of us into Yahtzee at one time or another, and even used my phone to text Grandma for her Yahtzee-winning secrets one time, and then won the game!

We took all of our food, and cooked every meal at the cabin. We had a blast, and got some rest. Which was good because……

When we got home…..yikes! I had picked the garden produce before we went and processed everything or packed it for the trip. I needed to work for 12-16 hours a couple of days to get it taken care of before we left, but nothing was neglected or forgotten, except 3 pickling cucumbers that grew too big to use while we were gone, and about 10 beans that went over the hill. I can so totally live with that!

Since I’ve been home, I’ve canned beet pickles, dill pickles, blueberry pie filling and green beans. I’ve frozen the last of the peaches, some strawberries and blueberries.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a bean-snapping/canning party at my sister’s house. My other sister is growing tons of beans and is sharing. So after virtual church, Rob and I went over to Gail’s and joined their family and my aunt, who were all snapping like crazy. We got 28 quarts done! We took our canner, used their canner, and one that Rob’s friend gave us just last week. They never use it anymore, so we gratefully accepted. Rob stood by the canners, keeping time and keeping them all at correct pressure–that was his exclusive job, and the rest of us snapped and filled jars. When I left, they were all sealed, except one, and I’m sure it did. It sure speeds things up with multiple canners and lots of help!

I’ve been working on my garden in the evenings and mornings. I’m removing old bushes, harvesting produce, and weeding. I’m getting an area ready because I plan to plant a fall garden.

We ordered some more seeds from Territorial Seed Company for fall planting. They were out of a lot of things in their on-line winter gardening catalog, but we were able to get enough. We just wanted a few things like spinach, cabbage, etc. If they didn’t have the variety I wanted, I just chose another one, figuring they all must have some merit or they wouldn’t have made it into the seed catalog in the first place! Maybe I’ll find a new favorite. We have eaten and shared so many of our vegetables this summer–much more than we usually do, so I’m excited to get more going.

Rob took this picture of the clouds. I really like it, so thought I’d end the blog post with it, just because:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 27, 2020

This week revolved around food preservation, at least at my house! What a nice change from everything revolving around the pandemic:) I didn’t want to go anywhere, or do anything else but preserve food anyway:). This is truly one of my favorite times of year. So what did I do?

I went and picked New Haven peaches at my sister’s house on Friday. Rob went back this morning. What they had left after a super busy u-pick day Saturday, was what my sister calls “uglies.” I purposely asked Rob to pick a bunch of those. I froze a lot of them for smoothies. The blender isn’t going to care how beat up they were in the orchard:). I blanched them with boiling water, peeled them, sliced/chunked them and froze on a cookie sheet, then transferred into bags so they are separated for smoothies.

I canned 35 quarts.

I made a double batch of peach jam with some of the “uglies.” I also made a batch of spiced peach-blueberry jam, using 4 cups of blueberries from my bushes.

Of course, the garden still produces, peaches or no peaches. In almost every “peach” picture, you see beans in the background. So far, I have canned 31 quarts, 1 pint, and frozen 3 baggies. I did help her snap those, by the way:), and a big bag was saved for eating over the next couple of days.

And, dear, sweet Patsy got to shred 32 cups of assorted zucchini this morning. We froze it in 2-cup packages for winter baking. It was a mixture of tromboncini, yellow and green zucchini. After the 32 jars of relish the other day, I thought maybe it would slow down?????? Not yet, I guess:). Believe it or not, there’s plenty saved out to eat over the next few days.

My Glacier tomatoes yielded 2 bowls. They are early, but small, so I cut them in 1/2, crushed and boiled, then used my food mill on them to make tomato juice. I then added lots of herbs and spices and garlic powder, salt and pepper and cooked. There wasn’t much there, so I poured in some vegetable/tomato juice that was originally purchased at a discount grocery store and forgotten. I then stirred in some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit, then canned my pizza/pasta sauce. I got 9 or 10 jars, of assorted sizes.

I’ve done dill pickles whenever I get any cucumbers from my patch. So far, I’ve done them 3 times and now have a total of 2 quarts and 9 pints. I will do more in the morning. They don’t seem to give me very many at once, but they add up over time. My dill isn’t growing well. I don’t know why. The ones in rows are stunted. The few that self-seeded from last year are growing merrily in the onions, middle of the rows, or amongst the carrots and beets. I guess they call it “dill weed” for a reason:). So, I’ve just been picking those, and hoping I will have enough.

We used up a lot of my canned and frozen goods this past winter, so I have a lot of canning to do this summer and fall. It is because we were home more, I think. I love that! It keeps the canned and frozen food current and fresh.

We did do a few other things this week. We had Jake and Michaela both Friday and Monday, because of extra work their mama had to do, along with an extra day last Tuesday, and Jake’s normal Wednesday-Thursday “spend the night” time. Michaela is getting a little bored at home, so she was excited to come over. We had a pool party, complete with 2 kiddie pools with water in them, lot of cottage cheese cartons, squirt guns, and ice cream cones. It was very hot today for around here, upper 90’s, so the kids stayed out in the water for several hours. They pretty much stayed in the shaded area they found, sitting in the water most of the time. We used the water left over in the pools to water the strawberries next to the shop. they never get enough this time of year.

While at the restaurant supply store gathering things like celery seed, green and red peppers and vinegar for canning projects, Rob stumbled upon this 25-lb bag of gluten-free rolled oats for $5. It had a torn corner. He grabbed it. He also grabbed 50 pounds of Jasmine rice for $10–they said it had been ordered by mistake and they didn’t want it.

This last week has been rigorous. I’m looking forward to a few restful days after the peaches are done. I need to freeze one more batch of slices in the morning. Still, I love the process of food preservation. My mom calls it my useful hobby. I love seeing those shelves and freezers fill up, and I really love knowing what’s in those jars and packages– good, healthy food that gives us a tremendous variety of delicious food all winter long.

How about you? Are you preserving any food this summer?

Garden Update–July 23, 2020

The garden is growing by leaps and bounds. We are harvesting daily, and replanting each area as it becomes available. This lettuce and kale was planted a while back and is looking great. The little lettuce in the background needs help! A couple of days after we planted the little starts, the weather became very hot, so it’s unhappy. With the cooler weather yesterday and today, and all the water we’ve been giving it, it should revive.

The old Alderman Tall Telephone Pole pea seeds have produces enough for a couple of dinners. I really didn’t know if they were too old to sprout, but obviously, they sprouted!

We are getting so many Tromboncini zucchini, and yellow and green zucchinis that we needed to take drastic measures. After giving them away to anyone who would take them and eating them like crazy, we did this….

We love zucchini relish, and now have a large supply for eating and gift giving.

I think this should hold us over:). Even though I picked the big ones, small ones, and everything in-between, there are small ones out there again this morning! We ground the zucchini in an antique meat grinder by turning the crank as we fed the squash into the top. We did a x13 batch–and used 26 cups of ground zucchini–then added the peppers and onions called for! I had to send Rob to the restaurant supply store for peppers and took all the onions my sister had at her house. I have never made so much at once before. We got 32 jars, many of which were pints and the rest 1/2 pints. They all sealed except one. I can’t ask for a more satisfying outcome.

Beans are growing well, although I will say the bush beans don’t like their area very well this year. These are the pole beans and they are very happy. I think the bush beans are getting too much shade from the shop and apple tree. We’ve still canned 21 quarts so far, so it will all work out.

It’s really looking like a jungle in many places. I’ve been able to keep the worst of the weeds out, but it’s a challenge to have time to both weed and harvest.

I’m still getting a small, but steady, supply of strawberries. I have one blueberry bush that is almost finished, and another one that still has many, many berries on it. It takes me quite some time to pick them all. so I’ve just been picking one container in the evening, and freezing it, then waiting until the next day or two. That’s why I got a few unripe ones in the dish—it was getting dark. Mostly, they have much better flavor than last year, though, now that I’ve learned to wait a little longer to pick them. The raspberries and blackberries are almost done, but I’ve been getting a few of those each time I pick as well.

The Glacier tomatoes are continuing to ripen. I got a large bowl full of them yesterday. The Romas and Willamettes are starting to ripen, one here, and one there. The various cherry and pear tomatoes are, too.

I am very happy with my garden this year. We are supplied with so many wonderful veggies and berries, both for fresh eating and also preserving. I have plans for more succession planting as areas free up, and hope to have food growing far into the fall. Rob has baby broccoli and cabbage, plus more lettuce starts growing in the greenhouse, waiting for their turn. So far, I’ve planted more snow peas, beets, leaf lettuce, cucumber and zucchini seeds. I’ve also planted head lettuce, Buttercrunch and Frizzy-Headed Drunken Woman lettuce starts. It has been a good, constructive activity for me during this time where I’ve been home much more than usual. I enjoy it, and really love having all the produce!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 20, 2020

Every day, Rob has been walking and doing his physical therapy exercises. He is getting a little bored of walking around and around the block near our house, so we’ve been venturing out to other areas. One day, we drove over to the coast and walked on a concrete trail at South Beach State Park. We started at the South Jetty, walked over to the campground and scenic boardwalk viewpoint, and back to the jetty. We are still looking for places that are relatively flat, and smooth, as he is still in the middle of the 6-week “be careful” phase after his surgery. He is easily walking around 2 miles at a time now.

Lovana had the day off, so we picked her up and took her along. It was nice to spend some time with her. Her job is just as busy as it was pre-Covid, in the little coffee/crepe shop. They had a time period, at first, where business was very slow, but now, it’s picked back up, due to the added orders coming in from Uber Eats and Grubhub, coupled with the fact that people can come in and eat at tables that are distanced from each other.

I got my first canner-load of beans this morning, and every one sealed! That makes it a very good morning for me:). I also got my first dill pickles canned–just 4 pints, but it’s a great start. Rob eats a lot of pickles, so I’m hoping to get lots more.

I keep doing yard and garden work at every opportunity. The weeks keep growing, produce needs harvesting, and we did some tilling and transplanting where crops were finished.

I’ve been picking berries and freezing them and now have many, many baggies in the freezers. I was able to freeze 3 baggies of green beans this morning, as well, from what wouldn’t fit into the canner load. We’ve been eating lettuce daily, as well, and the zucchini is trying to take over my fridge! I’ve been sharing, both with the relatives, and also with my neighbor over the fence…I wonder if she would notice if there were zucchini scattered over her yard one morning–maybe the boys would think they grew there……..or not. Actually, I think I’ll shred some up and freeze the baggies.

It’s been pretty hot, for our area–upper 80’s and low 90’s. I dug out some squirt guns and water balloons, and the kids, small and large, had a nice afternoon getting wet.

Those kiddie pools have come in handy since last summer when we bought them! They ended up using buckets, milk jugs, bowls that had berries in them for a snack, and a plastic water pitcher when they felt the squirt guns weren’t enough! Lots of fun for everyone:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 14, 2020

I’ve been picking so many berries that we decided to spend a morning making jam on Monday. For this batch, I used frozen peaches and a few frozen raspberries, along with the pan full I picked, to have enough for the batch.

I had to get out the pizza pans to hold all the Marion (black) berries one day. I froze these and picked that many more another day. Those I made jam from. There are still some every couple of days, but I don’t think I’ll get as many at one time again this season.

It’s been sunny and warm, and sun tea has been made several times.

Last week, various family members came Monday, Wednesday and Friday to help me out. We weeded, did laundry and baked at various times. This week, I haven’t needed anyone to come help because Rob is back to driving, as of Monday. He’s also doing dishes, folding laundry, cooking a bit, and doing his therapy. Every day, he does the exercises multiple times, and we are taking 1-2 walks of various lengths, but mostly .7-1/5 miles. I’m still amazed! We see the doctor tomorrow, and I’m excited to see if he thinks Rob’s recovery is as amazing as I do:)

I hadn’t shopped for over 2 weeks. and didn’t need a thing. Until I did! All of a sudden, I ran out of lots of items, mostly staples such as onion powder, red pepper flakes, raisins, odd things like that. I went to a couple of stores, and also decided to place an Azure Standard order, since Rob was doing so much better than I though he would be. I took him to see his mother for a visit, as she was wanting to see him after the surgery, then picked up my order, as my drop is in the same town as she lives in. It was great to get him out. He was going crazy!

Which is why I loaded Rob, Patsy and the dog up and drove to nearby Silver Creek Falls State Park. We found a concrete trail that we could feel comfortable with Rob walking down, quickly slapped a mask on if anyone came near, and walked about a mile. Of course, we were not able to walk the trails to see the falls, yet, but had a wonderful time anyway.

Of course we had to cross the bridge, and Rob was careful to keep his trekker pole tips out of the cracks, since we saw where some other poor person had lost theirs!

There were quite a few people there, so after our walk, we drove down to a place where few people were and chose a picnic table. I cannot express to you how wonderful and different it was to choose a table that was a little ways away from the car, next to the creek, not the one right next to the car. Rob easily navigated his way over there, was able to sit up and down at will–something that has not happened for years, and was able to take a short walk when he needed to! And, better yet, looked baffled for a minute, because the idea suddenly struck him that life was different now, and then said, “I’ll come back in a minute. Because I can.” Every single time he stood up and sat down before surgery was so painful, that he would just go the smallest possible distance, sit down, stay there until time to leave, then go straight to the car. Every decision was based on how far he would have to walk and how many times he would have to stand up and sit down. This is so different and amazing! We don’t take it for granted, and are praising the Lord every single day for the blessing this surgery has been for Rob.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 6, 2020

The garden is really starting to pump out the produce. I’m having to spend more and more time picking and dealing with it all! What a wonderful “problem” to have:)

Most of these greens were chopped up and put in baggies in the fridge for Rob to stir-fry for his breakfast scrambles. The bowl of blueberries was full last night. I guess everyone was super hungry for blueberries!

In the past, I’ve had trouble with these blueberries being too sour. My mom suggested that maybe I was picking them too soon–so I waited 2 weeks longer than I have in the past, and picked very carefully. They are nice and sweet! There are a lot more out there and I will start freezing some soon, but we might as well eat what we want while they are fresh because we won’t get that chance again until next summer once they are gone.

After Rob wore the tips off his walker by taking so may walks, he changed over to trekker poles as he was starting to make gouges in the floor. He is going out 2-4 times per day for a walk, with company, and with all the trips added up, went about 2 miles yesterday. Today marks 1 week since his surgery. I’m completely amazed, but so happy. He hasn’t been able to walk this much for years.

I have family members coming in Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to help me out this week. It’s so nice of them to come, and we plan to garden, do laundry, and things like that.

Rob’s Surgery Update #2–Happy INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Happy Independence Day to all of you, and especially to Rob! With each day that passes, he’s gaining more and more ground in his recovery from his recent total hip replacement.

His surgery was Monday. This is Saturday. He’s doing amazing! They had him up and walking the first day in the hospital and had physical therapy sessions and exercises assigned before he went home on Tuesday evening.

By Thursday morning, he was cooking little pancakes for our nephew, Jake, and his usual morning scramble for himself. Because there are precautions, he can’t bend down and pick things up or do some other actions. But, we fetched him some ingredients and supplies, and he cooked away. No one thought Jake could spend the night Wednesday, as he has almost every week since Covid started, but when he asked, we were able to say “yes” because Rob was doing so well.

He had his first physical therapy yesterday, Friday. By this morning, he had worn the plastic tips off of his walker from so many trips down the road, including the one this morning which was over 1/2 mile.

Jake’s Dad, Ron, came over every day at first to help, mostly for my peace of mind, and to keep Rob company, and take him for walks, etc., and to bring us food. I ended up doing homeschool with Patsy and Jake a couple of times. Everyone welcomed the routine. Another day, my sister came and helped me weed the garden and brought food.

Patsy has been spoiled rotten by Grandma and Aunties and cousins this week. She’s played endless games, and been treated and treated and treated and treated! The day Grandma came, Patsy cooked for her. It’s something all the other kids have done over the years, and Patsy wanted her turn. Grandma is a good sport. She’s eaten many, many interesting meals over the years from many of the cousins, some wonderful, some…….well, interesting. This time, Patsy made her peanut chicken stir-fry, which is amazing, so Grandma was full and happy when she went home. Tonight, she’s off with Michaela and her parents to watch some fireworks from the back of their truck. Jake stayed with me, since neither of us were up for that experience.

Rob is using an ice pack for several hours per day. He’s taking Celebrex, which is like Ibuprofen but stronger, and Tylenol. He’s doing every exercise faithfully, and walking as they said to do, several times per day. He feels very little pain. Some of what he feels is muscle pain as there are muscles in his legs and hip that have not been used for a very long time. That’s it! Can you believe it? I can’t:)

He felt well enough today to have a small 4th of July party with the very small group of family members that we spend so much time with. He and Ron bbq-ed chicken and hot dogs, salads were brought, I made some from garden veggies and lettuce, and my sisters brought ice cream and cake to celebrate Grandma’s birthday.

I know he has a long road ahead of him to build those muscles back up. We’ve been told there will be days that are hard. But, today, we are grateful, we are thankful, we are feeling very blessed by God for the miracle Rob has been granted.

Rob’s Surgery update #1–June 29, 2020

Rob had his surgery today and I’m happy to report that the it went very well.

Because of Covid-19, things were done differently. We parked and were let in a side door of the hospital. We were ushered into a small room with a bed and sliding door and they got Rob ready for surgery while I sat on a chair tucked into the corner. Then, when it was time, they rolled him away, and I was left in the small room for a couple of hours. It went by surprisingly quickly, and the doctor came and talked to me, and told me it went very well. I waited there another hour or so, then was ushered to join Rob in his room. Of course, everyone wore masks.

To my surprise, Rob was talking and smiling when I entered the room and made perfect sense:). After some time, the physical therapist came in and got him up for a walk. When he stood for the first time, I was brought to tears. Instead of my hunched over, pain-ridden husband, I was standing next to my tall, pain-free husband with such a happy expression on his face. He hasn’t been able to stand up straight for quite some time. When I left, the operation pain meds were still kicked in, he had very little pain, and he only needed a Tylenol. At one point, he said with wonder, “I guess I can feel a little tiny pinch, but that’s all!” The expectation is that he will get some pain during the night, and that will give him more meds as needed. But, with all the pain he’s been in, even one afternoon with none was phenomenal to him!

To be realistic, he has a long ways to go to heal and build up his weakened muscles, but he’s off to a great start. He’ll have to use a walker for a while, and have extensive physical therapy. There are rules to follow and exercises to do for the best recovery possible. I can’t wait! I hope to bring him home tomorrow, but that’s up to the doctor.

thriving In My thrifty Week–June 28, 2020

We got the chance to pick cherries this week. My sister has several trees and shared them with the family. I canned some and made a cherry crisp. Yum!

Since there were several nieces, my oldest daughter, both sisters, it was like a family reunion, and we all worked hard on scattering the required 6 foot distance from each other while trying to get the best cherries. It was a little comical at times, and some finally went and got masks to help the situation out a little.

Rob got the tiny tiller going and I tilled up 2 small sections where other crops had been pulled. In this place, I planted several small lettuces he had grown in the greenhouse, and some Russian Frills kale. My friend, Jeannie, sent Rob the seeds for both the kale and the Red Merlot lettuce. He planted only part of the seeds she sent, and plans on growing more in the fall. He also grew Buttercrunch lettuce and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman lettuce. I watered them in and netted them. We have so many birds, they are hard on lettuce.

I picked berries several times this week. Besides the raspberries and strawberries, I picked a small handful of Marion (black) berries. The blueberries are turning blue, but are still sour, so I’m leaving them for a while. I froze most of them, and we ate the rest.

I picked cabbage, snow peas, green onions, basil, cilantro, 2-4 try tomatoes and 2 tiny zucchinis.

We went to the dentist for cleanings and check-ups. It took a long time, due to the extra Covid cleaning, but I am so grateful they could do Rob’s teeth before his surgery. I am the only one who has to go back, they need to replace an old filling.

We spent hours cleaning and organizing for the upcoming surgery. I finished today with a thorough cleaning/bleaching of the bathroom, mopping all over, bleaching doorknobs, doing dishes, cooking a little, and a little garden work. We now have a shower/bathtub bench (after all our scurrying around looking for a free/cheap one, we found that our insurance covered a brand-new one, in full. Hmmmm. Wish we had known that first. We are the proud owners of compression socks and trekker poles. The rest of the little gadgets will be given to us at the hospital.

Rob had his Covid test this morning, and tested negative. Praise God! Now, we just go down there in the morning, and get the operation done. The nurses at the orthopedic clinic said the cafeteria either isn’t open at all, or is open for very short hours only. I’m taking no chances. Instead, I’m taking a lunch:). I’m so grateful I can go at all, at first only the patients were allowed in the hospital. I will need to come home at 7 p.m., as that’s as late as I can stay. If all goes as it should, I will bring him home on Tuesday. We have people for Patsy to be with, and people lined up to help when Rob first comes home. I’m as ready as I can be, and Rob is more than ready. Since they made him stop his ibuprophin a few days ago, his pain level is very high.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 23, 2020

This week, I was able to preserve some cherries. A friend had some left-over cherries that his friend had not sold at a farmers’ market and gifted us a box. I had a little sorting to do, as some were over the hill, but most were wonderful!

I was able to freeze several baggies and can 11 pints. My fingers are still purple:)

The everbearing raspberries and strawberries are really pumping out the fruit right now. Every other day I have been picking them and flash freezing the ones we don’t eat right up or give away. Then, I package them up for winter use. Since most strawberries are used in smoothies, we like them frozen separate, not in a big clump, to make it easier to drop into the blender.

Patsy has been working at odd jobs. She’s been doing yard work for the aunties and got to mow the neighbor’s yard for money when their lawn mower broke. She had wanted to get a job when she turned 16, but Covid-19 has put a hitch in her plans. It’s been wonderful that other jobs have turned up that she can do.

Rob found an entire van load of good firewood in the free pile. We spent a day helping him get that put away for winter. He can stand by his chop saw and saw it into pieces and Patsy and I can haul it. The wood shed is getting very, very full, which is nice because he will be unable to work with wood at all for a while after his surgery. I think I have convinced him to let it lie, no matter how wonderful the wood looks that he might see, until after the surgery!

We are trying to get all the odds and ends done around here, as we are planning for me to do only the bare minimum right after he gets his surgery and cannot help. We have the relatives lined up to help, which is a great relief, but don’t plan to make them do things like collect and saw free firewood, fill yard debris bins full of trimmings, or other jobs like that. (I’ll bet you relatives are relieved, huh?).

I finished a baby quilt I’ve been working on for a few months. I really like how it came out.

I sold and shipped some more of Patsy’s old school books.

Making My Home A Haven

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