Thriving In My Thrifty Week-June 20, 2022

We went berry picking at a local farm. Jake had a blast on the playground and in the pipe, where other kids rolled him around!

I picked enough strawberries to fill 8 quart-sized ziplocks and to make another double batch of jam. We also ate a bunch of them fresh. This year, berries are almost $2/lb if you pick them yourself in our immediate area. They are $2.40/lb if you go up toward Portland. If you buy them already picked, in our area, they are anywhere from $32/flat to $46/flat. That’s about 10-12 pounds. I’m so glad we could pick them ourselves!

I made a bouquet from Japanese iris from my yard and the last bit of baby’s breath from Patsy’s party. I cleaned the bathroom really, really well and spruced it up with the flowers. I cleaned and mopped several times. Rob and I were joking around that it was hard to believe I had done it, after all the garden dirt was tracked in over and over. A few minutes after I got the bathroom done, Malcolm had a bath and when he took his boot off, it was full of dirt…which was dumped on the floor…and there I went again!

As is normal this time of year, I spent quite a bit of time weeding, hoeing and caring for the garden and flowerbeds. I harvested snow peas several times, along with a few green onions and lots of lettuce–gallons and gallons. I shared some, we had so much. It’s so good, but a person can only eat so much and I’m happy to know people who also like to eat it. Once I’ve gone to all the trouble to grow it, it’s satisfying to see it used! Since I have multiple succession plantings going, I rarely run out from spring until fall.

I did have a lot of help some days. Thankfully, the help got new boots “Pa” found at a yard sale for $1, as he grew out of his red ones. He has tools he received from his first birthday, and is all set.

We had to move locations after several veggies were in grave danger from the wild shoveler!

“Double trouble” kept our lives interesting. These are the M and M bandits here…..trying to get candy out of those big containers. They look guilty, for sure, but actually Grandpa lets them play with them. There are a few candies in the bottoms of the containers, and they shake them around a lot. There are a few M and M’s eaten over time, but not as many as Mac wishes.

This was a week filled with little boys. We had our grandsons several times, our nephew 3 times, as usual, and one day, I also had 2 neighbor boys for several hours, along with one grandson and nephew. It was a wild week! My neighbor gave me a gift card, to thank me for filling in when her normal sitter had a crisis, which was totally unnecessary, but gratefully received.

I did a lot of grocery shopping with some extra money we had, including Costco. It’s nice to have some of those things like Ziplock bags restocked. I use so many in the summer to preserve fruits and vegetables. Even with re-washing, bags are used up rapidly. Of course, I got a $4.99 rotisserie chicken. Easy for those busy days!

We went to several stores, and gleaned the bargains from each one. I was delighted to get 9c/lb watermelon at Safeway. Grocery Outlet had a large bag of Pamela’s gluten-free pancake and baking mix for $12, quite a savings, and a few other items I could use. We ended up at Winco for the 98c/can olives and a few other items that are less expensive there. I bought diapers. I have tried the Safeway diapers a couple of times now and I’m very satisfied. They are a few dollars less than the Huggies. I had an Ibotta reward for baby food, and got that, too.

Meals were made from scratch, as always. I made salad after salad–garden salad, chef salad with meat and cheese, crab salad, and turkey meat taco salad on the day my Mom came to visit. We had sandwiches and hamburgers. I made chicken-rice soup, which is a big hit with the babies. Monday evening, I just took things from the fridge and used them up. We had cooked carrots, stir-fried celery and snow peas, and mashed potatoes from the bottom of a bag of potatoes. I added a little chicken and there we were!

Our neighbor gave us 2 Dungeness crabs he caught. We cracked them out Sunday. I love crab, but don’t buy it because it’s very expensive and we can catch them occasionally. We haven’t been crabbing for a long time haven’t had any to eat lately, so it was a real treat.

We took plenty of walks! Sometimes we found a few pop cans laying around and hauled them home. Rob did Bottle Drop and with all the cans everyone gave us, plus our own, he put $49 on the card. That will be worth even more groceries, as I use the 20% + feature when I redeem them at the store.

This pretty well sums up how we felt at the end of some days! Happy, but ready for our rest:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 13, 2022

Toward the end of last summer, I was only getting a few strawberries each time I picked. I washed them and put them in a large baggie in the freezer, and ended up with about 8 cups, mashed. Today, I used that large bagful, together with the last 3 baggies from 2020 that had been lost in the freezer, the freshly picked ones from my bushes and a few from some my sister gave us to eat.

I made a double batch of jam and canned 17–1/2 pints. I will be u-picking or buying more berries to freeze for smoothies, and likely make more jam once it dries up a bit.

This flowerbed is looking great. The dahlias in the back come back every year. Rob grew the marigolds from a Dollar Tree packet (4/$1 at the time of purchase). The poppies came up volunteer from last year’s poppies and so did the nasturtiums. The geraniums were wintered-over by Rob, in the greenhouse. A neighbor told me last week she paid $9 for one geranium and $7 for one impatient. I told Rob he was worth a fortune…but not just for his geraniums:)

This flowerbed is shaping up, too. The dahlias are Rob’s project. The nasturtiums came up volunteer and I transplanted several volunteer zinnias into this area.

We helped chaperone a party for the 5th grade Sunday school class we teach. It was at an indoor trampoline park. Jake got to go with us, and had so much fun bouncing. We had fun watching all the kids we have been teaching have so much fun. Our church’s Children’s Director had to set it up as a birthday party to reserve one of the little eating areas, so the kids had pizza and pop and each got a pair of socks as part of the experience. Those kids moved up to mid-high last week, and yesterday we got a new batch of students. We are looking forward to getting to know these new-to-us kiddos and have lots planned for them.

Our local Safeway had a grand re-opening celebration. The store was recently renovated and, although it stayed open the entire time, it was kind of hard to navigate at times. Patsy and I went down early. I grabbed my groceries–about $20 worth, as that’s all I needed, and was given this bag of groceries, along with a bag of granola which is not pictured. Patsy was buying an item for herself and was given a bag, as well. I love having new bags, too, as some of mine are getting sad-looking.

The groceries were in limited supply, but there were fun activities that were going to start, so Rob took Jake by there a while later after he picked him up for the day. To our surprise, Rob also was given a bag of groceries, plus many free products and coupons from the produce area. Now I have coupons for free salad dressing, baby potatoes, sourkrout, and more, along with the free products he got. Jake got to sample things, play games, spin wheels, and ended up with chap stick, which he adores! Although it would have been fun to stay at Safeway all day, they came home and left the hot dogs and Mac and cheese behind for others.

Patsy cut Rob’s hair. He just couldn’t find time to go to the barber shop, so he had her do it. It is cool for summer now.

I took the kids to the library and got books and movies.

We have 3 birthdays in 8 days, for 3 daughters. I made cupcakes and a spaghetti dinner for Patsy on Tuesday, went to dinner with Abbie on Wednesday, and am still waiting for the 3rd one to happen this week. I sent Jake and Rob to the mall to buy gifts and they did a great job using coupons at Bath and Body Works, and got what I asked for at Macy’s. I made the cupcakes and Rob decorated them.

Those two also went to a few yard sales. Jake was given all kinds of Pokemon items, which he loves. We will be helping with the reception for our niece’s wedding this fall. A loose plan has been formulated for decor of the food area, and now Rob has some items to source. He will be looking at yard sales to see what he can find. For instance, they want a cookie bar. Boards will be placed between 2 old, but decorated rustic ladders and used for shelves for platters of cookies. Crates and baskets will add height to the food display. Food will be simple, but decorated with garnishes to look catered and fancy. Rob’s 100 dahlia plants (that’s kind of a joke–not sure how many he actually has) will hopefully give some blooms of good colors and we will use those and chrysanthemums–probably white mainly.

We will be using things around the house, as well. Our niece asked me and Jake’s mom to organize the reception and do the cooking. Our husbands just got lucky and get to help as well:). We are all very excited! Rob sent a text to quite a few of his friends saying: I need ___, ___, and ____ for a wedding reception I’m helping with. If you have any of those items that you never want to see again, let me know, because I won’t be returning them. If you want to keep your things, do not feel bad, I just want the things people are finished with. He got quite a bit of response already, even offers to go through basements, etc. He’s going to gather up what he can and start from there re-using the items. My sister and I can add bows, paint things, etc. , if needed. We are a long ways out from this event, but I will certainly post when that day comes, or items are finished. Not only is this a frugal way to do things, it uses items that are simply languishing in basements and putting them to good purpose. It’s win-win!

Vegetable Garden Update-June 11, 2022

We did quite a bit of work in the garden this past week. Despite the seemingly constant rain, we are finding some times when it is dry enough to work in there without ruining it by compressing it too badly. I weeded several times.

The blackberries and raspberries almost died during our record-breaking hot summer last year. There are not very many fruit-bearing vines this summer as a result. However, the bushes are sending out numerous new vines that will fruit next year. I have paid special attention to those berries this spring. I have weeded beneath them, added compost and fertilized them.

You may notice baby corn next to the fence. We found some old (like 2018) seeds in the bottom of our seed box. Rob planted them in the greenhouse, just to see what will happen. It was amazing how many sprouted. This is just part of them. I normally plant corn in blocks, so they can be pollinated well. I have no room to do that, so I planted 2 rows next to the garden fence, and will see what happens.

On the right you can see red, white and yellow onion plants, English peas, lettuce, more onions, cabbage and broccoli. On the left, the tomato plants that are starting to look better and better. They started out pretty sad, as we couldn’t get them in the ground due to rain.

I decided to try the potato box again. Rob made it a couple of years ago and potatoes didn’t grow well in it. I think it was a location problem, so I got sprouts from the compost heap that grew from potato peelings and am trying again. The idea is to add dirt and more surrounding boards as the bushes grow so they grow more potatoes.

Peppers are scattered throughout the garden. They are in groups, by variety. They would love some warmer weather, but are struggling along.

I didn’t grow very many bush green and yellow beans this year, as I have quite a few jars left. You can see that they came up well and I will can this section. It takes about 8 weeks to get a crop, and they produce in a concentrated harvest.

I do have some green Blue Lake pole beans, and some Purple Podded pole beans in other places for fresh eating and freezing. They take longer to grow, but will produce until frost.

There are 2 raised beds by my deck. This kale and cilantro overwintered and are about ready to pull out. The snow peas have just started to make peas, so will be done before long. I have tiny lettuce, cilantro, a few flowers, and some basil planted to take their places. I added a bucket of compost wherever I removed plants and put in new seeds or seedlings to keep the nutrition of the soil up. The other raised bed by the deck is full of English peas that are making pods, but not at all ready to pick and shell. It will be a few more weeks.

I have a long, double-length raised bed on the side of the house. It gets warm there. I planted some BlackTail watermelon. It’s an experiment. They are supposed to grow with nighttime temperatures in the 40’s…we shall see. As you can see, I have some strawberries in there. They aren’t doing super well, but were only put in there last fall. I have more runners to add this year from the plants that are in my flowerbed out front. Next year may be their year to shine. You can see more snow peas, as I succession plant those and have new batches going all over the place. In the back are sugar snap peas to grow up the fence. The part you can’t see has some left-over peppers–a mixture of kinds, and some overbearing strawberries that are going to be removed. They are so sour. I’m not loving them.

Some work has been done on the compost heaps in this area. They are both ready to empty when I get some time. The worm box on the left has been renewed with red worms, and fresh compost, and scraps for them to feed on. The worms that were in there before were released (sounds good, doesn’t it–actually a lot of them escaped–oops!). Our garden is becoming a fertile area where you can find those red worms when you dig around. When we first moved here, we found very few worms of any kind. We constantly take gardeners’ coffee grounds from the Starbucks at Safeway when we shop. The worms seem to like some of those, as well as the scraps.

We have eaten artichokes a time or two, and more are on the way.

Cucumbers, dill and basil are starting to grow. (And more snow peas, of course!)

The cabbage and broccoli are doing fine in this cool, wet weather, as is the lettuce. (And the new batch of snow peas). We are getting so much lettuce we are eating salads almost every day. I have seeds, small plants, red, green, multicolored, romaine and head lettuce here and there, in all stages of maturity. I planted the latest batch on Friday. I’ve now harvested all the spinach and boc choi I planted, and filled those spots with other things.

I’m happy with the way things are growing, despite the struggles we have had with the rain. The things that love cool weather are super happy, and I haven’t had to water very often, which has been nice.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 5, 2022

Oregon State Parks had a celebration commemorating the first park that was donated, 100 years ago. Rob was asked to barbecue for the event. I was asked to hand food out.

It rained. That was not really a surprise. We do live in Oregon:). There was another couple, the park hosts, who helped at our station, as well.

The organizer made it easy, and had him do hot dogs. We served them with chips and packages of condiments in a little paper boat. There were also Oregon State Park birthday cupcakes in our area, and a huge cake and more cupcakes in another area. She got all the supplies and had the park rangers put up tarps and tables and all we had to do was show up and deal with the food.

I got to walk around a little and enjoyed the classic car show. They had various booths set up all around the park. One was recreation through the ages and had a mini frisbee golf course, croquet, and nerf sports set up. I wasn’t there when children were actually playing on the games, but I’m sure they had a blast between rain showers.

There were speeches, a birthday song for Oregon, a huge cake, and they even found several descendants of the lady who donated this first state park in 1922 and had them take part in the ceremonies. I did not listen to those speeches, as I was at the hot dog station, but Patsy did and said they were nice.

Rob and I had a lot of fun. We have benefitted so much from the Oregon State Parks through the years and it felt good to be able to give back a little. I talked to some people I have never met before, went to a state park I had never visited, and found out about another place I’d like to visit that isn’t too far from home. They gave us a pin and a picnic blanket as a thank-you gift.

I cooked basic foods this week, and focused on using up any leftover party food.

I just finished making a huge batch of refried beans. They are in old cottage cheese cartons, cooling on the counter so I can freeze them. I’ve had to buy a few cans lately. Although they are not expensive, making them is even less expensive, and we love all the peppers and onions I add in. I’m also still working on the 50 pound bag of pinto beans Rob got at the beginning of Covid. At that point, there were shortages, and it was 50 pounds, or nothing, and he took the big bag. It was only about $22, if I remember correctly, and that’s a lot of chili and refried beans! I’m doing chili next.

Rob worked in the greenhouse. It’s really getting funny. Now that the word is out that he enjoys growing dahlias, he continues to be given dahlias, dahlias and more dahlias. He planted another bag full someone gave him. We have many, many plants in the back of the garden, the side of the shop, the front of the house, and anywhere else we could fit some in. It is going to be gorgeous around here in a few months.

He started me some head lettuce, which was promptly chewed off by bugs or slugs, so he started some more. There is a succession planting of cabbage and broccoli growing in there, as well. I worked several hours weeding and hoeing in the garden until it started raining again and became too muddy. I re-planted a couple of things that didn’t come up.

I have been very pleased with the germination of Rob’s home-saved seeds. This is something he has only been doing for the past 2-3 years, and he knows he is still learning. All of our pole beans, both Blue Lake and Purple/Violet Podded have come up very well from saved seeds. We still buy seeds–lots and lots of seeds, but it’s so nice to be able to cut that down whenever we can. It’s also a skill he enjoys learning.

We were given a pickup load of chopped, split wood. We are very excited to have it and will be stacking it up in the back for next winter’s fires. There will be more to come, and that’s exciting, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 30, 2022

On Saturday, we celebrated with Patsy. She is finished with homeschool high school. She wanted the theme of her party to be “tea party.”

Here’s how we made it both frugal and fun! We used flowers from our yards–both my yard and various relatives’ yards. We did buy some baby’s breath, but the rest were grown by the family. My niece brought this bouquet for the mantle.

My aunt sent over gorgeous roses from her bush. For such a momentous occasion, even the bathroom got a beautiful bouquet.

There were flowers everywhere!

We had all kinds of bite-sized foods. My sisters, mother, and aunt all brought fancy foods. This kind of food tends to be expensive. I feel as though I kept the cream cheese and whipping cream companies in business this week. I think I used 8 boxes of cream cheese, just with what I cooked!!! But, I bought a little here and there over the past month, as I found sales, used several stores to get the best deals, and happily accepted platters of goodies from any who offered. We cut back on our grocery shopping for regular meals this month and, instead, used more food from the pantry, freezer and canning shelves, and stayed within budget overall for the month. Mostly:). I went over a few dollars and will simply take it out of the budget for June. It’s such a small amount it won’t make any difference, especially since the garden is starting to produce a few things.

The biggest way we stayed within budget was by cooking from scratch. Because of the dietary needs in our family (lots of celiac–so no gluten), every single thing was gluten-free except the licorice sticks and one bowl of crackers. We would have had to pay a fortune to buy it all pre-made or to have it catered.

I was able to use herbs from my garden. I used parsley, chives, thyme, and dill in various things. I used some early lettuce for part of one salad. I candied some nuts we bought from a farmer and cracked out ourselves a couple of years ago–they were in the freezer. The dipping chocolate for the berries was purchased after Christmas on the clearance rack as they didn’t want to keep it another year, so it was only 49c/package, and so on….A deep pantry was my friend, as I didn’t have to buy every single ingredient at one time.

I will say that I did put in many, many hours cooking, cleaning and setting up–digging out the dishes, washing them, etc. Some times in my life, I am too busy and just have to buy more things and be o.k. with that. Normaly, I would use paper plates and other things that cause less dish washing. On this occasion, I had the time, so I did it more elaborately, but it was definitely more labor intensive.

Lovana came over and made salmon flatbread with some gf flatbreads I made and froze earlier in the week. I made blueberry-lemon flatbread, salads, cheese plate, veggies, cookies, and bought every kind of pastel candy I could find. I even used some Cadbury eggs purchased after Easter, as they were the right color.

I dipped strawberries in chocolate and made chocolate mousse in little dessert glasses. That was stressful. I’m more into everyday, ordinary cooking, but by the time I whipped egg whites in one bowl, whipped cream, melted chocolate and tempered egg yolks, and then had to fold it all together…..I was in agony that it would turn out. Thankfully, it did! Every bit of it was eaten.

There was a teapot right in the middle of this display on the counter and although most people made coffee in the Keurig, or drank punch from the punchbowl, one little girl in particular drank her tea in a fancy cup, poured from the teapot, and had it filled more than once:). Those little square candies on the top are graduation hats, made from Ghiridelli squares and Reese’s peanut butter cups with an M and M on top.

As you can see, we used my fancy dishes and linens. There were a lot of dishes to wash, as we had between 40-50 people flow through the party, but my relatives cheerfully washed the plates and silverware and put them back out for re-use. It was so nice to use my nice things that are so rarely used. So many of them have come from garage sales over the years. Some have sentimental value to me as they were from relatives in my past. But, none are doing anyone any good in a cupboard or drawer, so I was delighted to use them, even if there was a risk of them getting broken. None broke, in case you were wondering. The pink plates are the ones we use every single day to eat off of, but they fit the occasion beautifully.

We went a few weeks ago and got her dress and shoes. Although I love to get bargains, this time I wasn’t looking at the clearance rack. It’s no picnic shopping for dresses these days and I wasn’t sure we would find one we both liked at any price! As always, I prayed before I went, and we did get a dress that she liked and fit her, and I was so, so happy to get it. We found the necklace and earrings the same day.

Patsy had a great party. It was so nice that so many could come and celebrate with her. Many who could not come sent cards to her, so she felt well-celebrated and loved.

During the week of prep, I did a huge amount of yard work. I worked in the garden a little, too.

Rob dried almost every onion left from last summer’s garden because they are wanting to grow now. They lasted well–this is May, after all. I dried a couple of trays of chives at the same time.

It was a great week, totally consumed by Patsy’s party, and I’m ready to have a more normal week full of gardening, work, and other more mundane activities, and I can just remember the party and all the fun we had!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 24, 2022

I spent hours and hours weeding and clipping in this flowerbed. I filled the entire yard debris bin. Then, Rob drove me to a business that leaves its excess sawdust in a pile for people to take, free of charge. Patsy helped me shovel it and we got 4 huge trash cans full–enough to spread over the entire bed. Now the weeds will have a harder time re-growing. It also helps that this bed is not irrigated. The bulbs are not harmed by drying up in the summer and it keeps the weeds down. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep raining so much that I have to weed it all again!

We met some of our friends at a park for a fun picnic. My sister, Jake, and Michaela were there and my daughter and both grandsons. Our mutual friend brought several children of her own, plus some daycare kids. Rob made a fire in the BBQ box and the kids roasted hot dogs and made s’mores. I made potato salad and coleslaw and brought some graham crackers. Others brought chips, buns, drinks, etc. We all had fun.

Yum!

This guy was happy to cling to Grandpa for most of the picnic. Grandpa was not sad about that!

Of course, if Auntie Patsy will take me swinging, I might just let go of Grandpa for a while:). And, yes, those are chips all over my face. With so many kids to hand me one whenever I squawked…..what can I say, but yes, please!!!

Jars came in full and went out empty, as always. I’ve had to buy very few groceries the past couple of weeks. I did grab milk, a little produce and some cheese slices that were only 84c/package. Since we are having a big party next Saturday to celebrate Patsy’s graduation from homeschool high school, I am working on emptying the fridge to hold the party food. Over the past few weeks, I’ve bought most of what I need for the party, but will go out Friday and get perishable items, such as strawberries to dip in chocolate and other yummy items.

I used some of my home-canned tomatoes and salsa to make taco soup. I pulled frozen pork bits and frozen black beans in, as well. My cilantro is going to seed in the overwintered raised bed, so I put a lot of that in there, as well. I baked a pan of cornbread to go with the soup.

Other meals were cooked. Rob BBQ’d chicken legs, and made chicken-fried steak. I baked several potatoes and they were eaten for dinner or diced and fried for breakfasts along with our usual eggs. Some rice was cooked. We used various veggies and fruits from our food preservation, as well. We make large batches of food and eat the same foods for several days–mix and match style. It’s not fancy, but it tastes good and is especially handy when I’m out in the yard so much at this time of year.

I’m enjoying the flowers that are starting to bloom in the flowerbeds. Even more, I’m enjoying the fact that there are many, many more to come. Rob grew or overwintered so many flowers. I have planted almost everything from the greenhouse now, but I had him start some little head lettuce and kale for me and I will have him do a succession planting of broccoli and cabbage for a fall crop.

The extra plants have either been tucked away in corners here and there, or given away. Rob has a dahlia on every corner, so to speak, with a few more to plant or find a home for. I have to say that if even half of his flowers bloom, it will be a real showplace around here.

My aunt gave us tiny little Delphinium/Larkspur seedlings from her friend and we are trying to grow them to a bigger size in the greenhouse. I’m expecting them to be large enough to plant out later in the spring or early summer.

My sister attended a charity auction and bought us 2 beautiful flower baskets. They are full of shade-loving plants so I’ve put them in places they will hopefully like.

The wild daisies are beautiful down at our local park. We visit there frequently. Yesterday, Ja’Ana and Patsy and I wheeled the boys down there for a nice, long play time. Zai loves the swing and Malcolm loves the play equipment, the flowers and throwing sticks into a little stream that is there at the park.

The weather has finally warmed up a bit and most of the garden veggies that were already established have literally doubled in the past week. The poor, spindly tomatoes are starting to sprout new growth at every joint, which is hopeful. The newly planted peppers are looking good, too, but I still am waiting for seeds to come up. Patience, patience, patience:). My earliest planting of English peas (Maestro) have burst into bloom, so it won’t be long until we have those. In the meanwhile, we are eating garden lettuce, chives, cilantro, and I even snipped off a piece of an onion here and there when I was in a pinch for green onions one day.

Quite a bit of hoeing and weeding was accomplished. If you look carefully, you can see volunteer dill plants on the top right hand corner of the picture. I weeded around all those so I can start snipping bits to use in cooking without waiting for my row to sprout.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 17, 2022

We pulled the camper down to the Oregon Coast for a few days. The wild rhododendrons were in full bloom and we marveled at their beauty during one of our walks.

Jake really, really, really wanted to go camping, so we did. We had 2 gorgeous days and a couple that were very rainy and wet.

We were delighted to find that the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center has re-opened after a very long Covid closure. I made reservations and bought tickets on-line and we went on one of the very rainy days. Our other special activity was visiting a candy store. We took several walks, visited the campground play ground and did school in the camper.

The price of gas is high, so we decided not to do any extra drives on this trip. We also saved gas by choosing a campground that was closer to us, vs. one we like that takes 3-1/2 hours to get to, or another one we like that takes even longer to travel to. We went to South Beach State Park, in Newport, and it took about 2 hours to get there, including a stop.

I didn’t have much time to pack, due to helping Lovana with that marvelous party I mentioned last week. So, I just grabbed a lot of food from my freezer and crammed it into the camper freezer. I had put some celery and carrots in the fridge, some potatoes and onions in the cupboard The camper has lots of pantry items that stay in there all the time. I was pleased to find that I had stuffed so much in that we didn’t need to eat out at all, and only had to get $9 worth of groceries during the week. We did not suffer at all. Rob even made steak over the fire.

Once we got home, we had a couple more rainy days, and then got to work on the garden. Over the past 2 days, I have been out there for many hours. I transplanted jalapeƱo, ancho, mixed bell, Hungarian Wax, Anaheim, and Serrano peppers from the greenhouse. I planted seeds for pole beans, bush beans, more lettuce, slicing cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, dill, basil, more snow peas, and what seemed like endless little onion plants. I planted hills of Tromboncini zucchini, yellow zucchini, green zucchini and scallopini zucchini. I even dug up some potato plants that had come up volunteer in my compost bins and transplanted them into the garden. We have a potato tower Rob made a year or so ago, and is didn’t work because there was not enough sun where it was. I thought I’d try again in a sunnier spot, with absolutely free potato starts, so I’m not out anything if it fails again.

I also worked on the flowerbeds a little and filled the yard debris bin 1/2 way up with mostly clipped ivy. I got the lawn mowed, but it was so tall, I’ll need to do it again pretty soon as I had to set the mower up pretty high.

I picked and froze all the rest of the overwintered spinach. I’ve been picking off leaves and using them, but it was time to pull the plants.

I picked Boc Choi for the first time this season. So far, I’ve made chicken stir-fry with it and added some to the chicken and dumplings I made yesterday. There was also some lettuce to pick.

The irises are starting to bloom. I divided quite a few of these last fall and I’m enjoying the extra blooms now.

I plan to crawl into bed early tonight. I’m quite stiff and sore after so much yard work. The reason there was so much pressure to get a lot done is because our spring has been very, very wet. I prefer to spread my yard work and garden work out over many evenings, not do marathons. But, this year, it has been too wet and muddy to work out there very often. Rain is predicted again tomorrow. I took my window of opportunity and am very happy that I got one! There are many weeds to pull and a few more things to plant, but I made huge progress and I’m pleased.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 7, 2022

Lovana had a big project this week. She was asked to do food for one of her best friend’s college graduation party. Her friend’s mom, also my friend, gave her money to use, but could not personally do this party as she wanted to attend the actual graduation, which was at 9 a.m. the same day. Once Lovana got a plan in her mind, she asked me for some help in carrying it out. She sent me recipes to print off on my computer, I compiled a notebook, and then was able to cook a few items while she was at work. Even my mom was called into service one morning to thread skewers.

We made a small gluten-free section on the board, and I baked flatbread and French bread for that. The rest used purchased wheat breads and purchased crackers of all kind. There were fancy cheeses, meats, crackers, dips and spreads, skewers, desserts, nuts, and more. It was quite a production and took many shopping trips and cooking sessions. The bulk of the cooking was done all day Friday and Saturday morning, and the set-up and finishing touches were done at the event, which started at 2 p.m. We didn’t get home until around 7 p.m.

We had a really good time doing this event. When asked by a few guests if we did catering, and how many of “these events” we were doing this spring, I quickly answered..”ONE.” This was it for us.

One of the other girls in Lovana’s close circle of friends did a gorgeous display of flowers. She had bouquets and bouquets, all displayed on carts and other places, following her theme of “flower stand.” I got to bring home one of the bouquets as a “thank you” gift for my help. It’s beautiful.

The house where it was held was up in the hills, with a lovely view. The kitchen was huge, with multiple sinks, 2 dishwashers, a huge gas range, and spacious counters. It was a dream to work in and the owners were so gracious to leave word that we could use anything we needed. Thankfully, we remembered almost everything, and only needed to use a few spoons, bowls, and a couple of other things.

We were able to use chives, parsley and rosemary from my garden. Almost every pansy bloom in the yard was picked and used. They will bloom again, even better.

At the beginning of the week, I made chili, chicken-rice soup, potato soup and we ate them all week, in-between cooking. Rob made some home-baked fish sticks and baked potatoes. We also got a Costco chicken. It’s amazing they are still $5. I boiled the bones for broth, and froze that for another time.

I also made some rice in my Instant Pot, and this ham-pineapple dinner. It was basically sweet and sour sauce with ham in it. It was great. I used some of my home-canned pineapple, frozen peppers from the garden and ham leftover from easter. It was quick and easy and kept everyone fed on a week where I was extra busy. I wanted to keep my grocery bill low this week, and not get caught in the trap of driving through fast food on such a super busy week, and I met that goal.

One morning, we spread out 4 huge garbage cans of sawdust around the blueberry plants. The sawdust is piled along the road where it is a by-product of a business, and is free for the taking. I did get a little weeding done in the flowerbeds at the beginning of the week. I’m still having to take an hour/day here and there when it’s not so wet. It has been exceptionally wet this April.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 2, 2022

I spent a lot of time in the garden one dry morning. The tomatoes plants were getting away from Rob, so I dug deep holes, we put in fertilizer, a little dirt and IO planted them deep. They will grow roots along the stem that is buried and should grow into nice big bushes, full of juicy tomatoes.

It has been a challenging year in the garden because it has been so wet. Even when I do get out into the garden or yard, I’m often digging in dirt that is close to mud, or, at best, slightly too wet to be ideal. Still, I have been able to get it done, slowly, bit by bit. Every year I put the tomatoes and other veggies closer and closer together to see how many veggies I can cram into the garden. Last year, I found that I had planted too closely and I didn’t get as good of a yield per bush and couldn’t walk between them, so this year, I spaced things out a little more. I’m always experimenting, and we will see if I have reached the ideal spacing, yet, or not:).

I was able to get the front flowerbed weeded and planted. I planted some geraniums Rob wintered over in the greenhouse, and marigolds he started from seed. I also added a few poppies to go with the 2 that came up volunteer.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to come up in the greenhouse. We have tubers that were given to us last year, tubers dug up from the corner of our garden, tubers from his birthday, tubers from the store and THEN his friend gave him a grocery bag half full of tubers.

That’s a lot of dahlia tubers. Some were very small and may not do much this year, but many will be gorgeous and the rest will grow. (He did not grow these in the picture, they are from a flower show, but he hopes his get this big!)

Rob got to go to a flower sale/show with his mom and got inspiration. He had a wonderful time looking at all the blooms.

This is one of the many pansies he grew this year. He is really enjoying working in the greenhouse more than ever and I’m happy with all the plants I’m getting.

Rob was able to get some clothes for the babies at a yard sale–about 10 garments for $2, some red rubber boots for $1 and some Mega Block toys for $3. Malcolm found the boots sitting on the floor and put them on right away– over his sleeper while he ate, wore them all day to play, wore them after his bath with nothing but a diaper and a scarf (quite the fashion statement) and wore them to church with his nice church shirt. We think he likes them. Rob’s already looking for a new, larger pair, as these won’t fit for long.

I cooked chili, chicken-rice soup, berry cobbler, tacos, tilapia, and many other meals. I have plenty to get me through several days, which is good because I’m super busy this week. One of my daughters is doing food for her friend’s college graduation party and wants some help from me. This is one of our former 4H kids, so I am super excited to be a part of this momentous occasion. Last week I printed off recipes as she sent them to me and made her a notebook. Today, we went shopping for the bulk of the food. She will do some cooking ahead in the evenings, we will shop again on Thursday for produce, then I will help her cook last minute things on Friday. The party is Saturday.

I was able to use many jars of home-canned and frozen food this week and buy minimal groceries. It’s a good thing I have so much food on hand. It really helps. Our stores have a few nice loss leaders, and we are grateful for them. I have noticed that the limits are lower–i.e. you can get 2 of the item instead of the 4 you used to be able to get, and that prices are going up, little-by-little every week or two. Still, in our area, I can still get plenty of food and stay in my budget, which makes me very happy.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-April 25, 2022

The weather finally perked up and we got outside a couple of times. Grandpa has a new helper who happily watered the pots.

Again….

And again…..

And again…..

You may notice he got a little wet and the pots got a LOT wet.

Even though the most fun is playing with the boys, we did do a few other things this week.

I cooked chicken-curry-rice casserole.

I baked peanut-butter chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins. There were just a few pieces of very brown, frozen bananas in a baggie that fell out of the freezer one day, and I found a better place for them to be–in muffins! We had BBQ’d chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes and green beans several times. The girls brought take-and-bake pizza one day and that also lasted several days. Easter leftovers were eaten up and the fridge is about empty enough for me to cook a couple of things again.

I worked on some quilting projects and finished the chicken quilt. It was turned into the shop to be machine quilted. We took a few walks, and Rob took our niece down to the Kroc center to swim.

Rob continues to plant his little starts in pots and has put them here and there. They are going to be so pretty as they grow.

He saved many, many dahlia bulbs from some a friend gave us last summer plus the ones he dug up from the corner of the garden. He also received some for his birthday. They are starting to come up in the greenhouse and he has a few places he plans to plant them once they get larger.

Making My Home A Haven

%d bloggers like this: