Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 2, 2019

Patsy potted up a spider plant baby in a pot she painted and gave it to Lovana for her new house. She painted a few of these pots and so I expect she will be giving the other rooting starts new homes soon. I love how cute this turned out.

Jake and Uncle finished their woodshop project. They started it on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning, it was cut out, sanded and painted. It was a great, low-cost, but highly-treasured project. Because Jake did not have school at all last week, we were searching for some activities that would keep him occupied. We found several.

Jake’s oldest sister, Caitlyn, took him, Michaela and Patsy to the new movie, Frozen 2. I had one lonely pass to the movies in my box, so I gave it to Patsy. She earned a few dollars to take with her, but I think her cousin bought snacks for her. It was kind of her to include Patsy.

It was double kind of her to take all those kids somewhere else than here on that day, Tuesday! My aunt, mom and one sister came over and we prepared for Thanksgiving by doing some cleaning, cooking and other prep work.

I boiled the ham bone and the turkey bones. I made turkey-noodle soup and froze some broth. I also made ham and white bean soup from the other bones. When Lovana was making a pie last weekend, we used some white beans as pie weights while she par-baked her crust. I was not sure they would cook well after being baked, but I’m happy to report that they worked just fine in the ham and beans.

We had overnight guests for Thanksgiving and used the camper as a guest house.

The 4-H club has been working on a project for a few weeks now. Saturday, everyone met together and put together 11 baskets (wrapped boxes) full of goodies that had been gathered. The older kids and adults have been working independently on projects such as food items, a jar full of blessings (papers with inspiring verses and sayings on them for people to draw one out and read), cookies, Christmas decorations, etc. Then, lunch was eaten and a delivery marathon was completed. All 11 were delivered to the pastors and other significant leaders from our church, such as the wonderful woman who heads up the children’s ministries. The people were all delighted to receive such nice baskets from all the smiling children, and everyone involved felt it was super successful.

It has been very cold here and I’ve been enjoying burning my free wood in my wood stove.

I read a couple of Kindle books that I got for free. I also downloaded a new batch, choosing from books and a magazine that were included with Prime, which we use to watch t.v., for shipping, and occasionally a book or magazine. I was able to find a couple of Netflix movies for Jake to watch. Lovana gave Rob Netflix for Christmas last year, so I love it when I remember to use it!

I am gearing up for an extra-busy week with Christmas program practice 3 nights this week, and 3 performances on the weekend! Both Patsy and Jake are involved, and since Jake’s parents work late on at least one day……. Yikes! I’m going to do some planning for meals and things today.

Happy Day After Thanksgiving–2019

Today, after a wonderful day full of family, friends and food yesterday, I feel as if I’ve eaten all that food myself! I’ve had a relaxing day today, and have not accomplished much at all. Don’t you just love the turkey veggie tray my sister made? So cute!

Rob cooked the ham and the turkey on the barbecues the day before Thanksgiving. He cooked them to perfection, as always.

Everyone brought food, including Lovana, who made a delicious salad. After I took this picture, she added sliced apples, some candied walnuts and some balsamic salad dressing. It was all eaten, which was quite a compliment to Lovana, as the table was groaning with delightful options. We had an eclectic mix of the classic holiday food with some Eritrean lentils and injera bread, tons of dessert, and assorted side dishes.

I made some gluten-free pumpkin pie. I struggle with gluten-free pie crust. It rarely tastes good when I make it. This time, it turned out! Yea:). The pie crust recipe was one my daughter found on-line. And, actually, she mixed it up. So, technically, all I did was roll it out and make the filling……so now you know the secret of good gluten-free pie crust…you need a Lovana at your house:)



The cookies Jake helped make on Monday were in the cookie jar. My little friend, Danait, carefully put the Cracker Jacks in the bowl and then passed them around the room. She also passed the bowl of candy. One piece for you, one for my mouth–that was her motto. It was very cute.

Everyone visited for a long time, and my good-natured nephew, Steven, was buried with all kinds of goodies by a laughing little girl…

Everyone went home happy and well-fed. It was a great day. We have much to be thankful for on this weekend, and always. We had a few family and friends who could not join us, due to work, but we will catch up with them very soon, because Christmas is right around the corner….and it’s only 3-1/2 weeks away! Yikes!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 25, 2019

This week we enjoyed volunteering at an Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection day. It was at our church, and we took a shift on Friday morning. The collection went on for a week.

The day before we volunteered, hundreds of boxes had come in. On our shift, only a few came in. You just never know when people will show up with them. So, we spent quite a bit of time on our shift helping fill large cartons with the boxes so they could be sent onward on their journey.

We added our box to the pile, prayed over it with the rest, and sent it onward.

It was one of those weeks where we did a lot of small things, but they filled in the week and it flew by before we knew it.

I paid Patsy to help me tie up the blackberries. It’s a 2-person job, and I was delighted to get it done. I have a lot more canes this year than last year so I hope to get a good crop this coming year.

Patsy made a coffee cake. It’s gone:).

I made a large batch of gluten-free buns and a loaf of French bread. The buns turned out great–the French bread–a little sketchy, but I’ll eat it anyway, over time. Gluten-free flour is expensive, but just on the hamburger/sandwich buns I saved about $10 over buying an equal number.

My sister gave us a lot of kiwis from her bushes. A few have ripened already, but I have yet to get one since they are being eaten quickly:). I’m glad they are enjoying them.

I took Jake to a free event at JoAnn Fabrics and he and Patsy got to build a Lego Olaf box. They had fun.

There’s no school this week for Mr. Jake, so after his Mama took him to the dentist, he hung around with us for the rest of the day (and will be here all night, cause it’s fun here:). We made cookies and will serve any that are left on Thanksgiving Day.

Then the guys went to the shop to work on a project.

It was a good, busy week. Now I’m spending time getting ready for Thanksgiving. I got a lot of groceries today. I caught a couple of mistakes, and ended up getting a small refund…I’m glad I checked my receipt. I got more turkey at 49c/lb because I bought over $50 of groceries. My freezer is stuffed. My fridges are stuffed. In a couple of days, we will all be stuffed. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving Day–it’s one of my favorite days.

Thriving In My thrifty Week-November 17, 2019

We took the kids to the Oregon Coast Aquarium this week. We have a zoo pass. The reciprocal attraction for the month of November was the Aquarium. We eagerly set a date to use this amazing deal, because I had not been there for many years. Our niece, Caitlyn, went along, too. She has a zoo pass as well, so her admission was free also. We saved over $130 in admission costs. We all rode together in the van, and saved gas, as well. It was so fun!

We packed a lunch, and then stopped for little snacks like sea foam candy, French fries….you get the idea.

It took a lot of photos to get one of Michaela with a shark behind her, but that was her hope, so we persevered until we captured it!

The jellyfish are always a favorite of mine.

Patsy and Jake went in the hurricane simulator. They were the only 2 brave ones, but they had a blast.

There were so many interesting fish and other sea creatures.

The week was an extra busy one. It started on Monday with the field trip to the End of the Oregon Trail Museum. Then, on Tuesday, we needed to feed the college group at church, as we occasionally do. We made 3 kinds of soup, corn muffins and lemon poppyseed and raspberry bars, all from boxed mixes that I got on a great sale. It still took several hours to cook, but wasn’t hard to do.

In the meanwhile, Patsy was cramming schoolwork into every extra moment, since we were gone so much. We have a week’s worth of school to get through each week (right?), and I’m happy to say she did get through it by Friday. Some weeks she gets done sooner, and does hands-on activities on Fridays, but not this week. We were too busy with other things. That’s the beauty of the the flexibility of homeschool.

Jake had an event at his school Friday night. We had him for the entire weekend, so, it fell to me to take him. There was a raffle. He won a prize– a game. Amazing! I was extremely surprised, but oh, so happy, when they called his number so we could head on home. He had done what he could do at the event, and was just sitting on a chair, nervously chewing his ticket, in hopes that he would win. I’m not sure who was happier, him or me!

Last night, the sweet boy threw his pants into the laundry, as he should have. He did not remove his precious Pokeman trading cards from the pockets, which he also should have done. So, they got washed. :(. Oops! After agonizing over a solution for a while, Uncle sneaked the soggy cards down to a gaming card shop this afternoon so he could match them, and replaced the ruined ones that he could get for a reasonable price. He got all but 2. He also got an extra packets of cards. He then explained the situation to Jake, immediately handed him the new cards, and thereby avoided a huge vale of tears and a valley of sorrow. I never would have thought of such a solution, but I’m glad Rob did. Thank goodness there were only a few in those pockets:). If you’ve never had much to do with special needs kids, this action will not make sense to you. If you have……no explanation is needed:)

We had a family birthday party today, and I made a couple of salads from ingredients I had on hand. They were potato salad and quinoa salad. Yum!

I worked on some projects for Christmas and a sewing project for Patsy.

Rob did, too. (And, no, it’s not quite finished. The yellow lines will be gone!). The people who get these gifts do not read the blog. I’m not putting up pictures of the gifts for people who do. Just in case any of you are wondering:).

I cleaned a little here and there. I cooked a lot. I got a little creative, because we seem to be emptying out the fridge faster than normal, and I need to go shopping yet again. Tomorrow is soon enough, and we made out fine, using some ingredients that had lingered for a while. Win-win! Some weeks/months are like that!

I redeemed a few more Ibotta rebates. We cashed out most of the Ibotta money I’ve been saving and plan to use that plus the Bottle Drop money for groceries in the next couple of weeks. I usually buy extra in November anyway, since there are so many great deals.

My sister gave me a free turkey she had obtained. My Mom bought me one of the 68c/lb ones from Winco. (If we want to be technical, she gave me the $ and I did the actual shopping while I was out, but now I’ve got turkeys for both Thanksgiving and Christmas tucked away in the freezers).

The coming week promises to be a little less scheduled with outside activities. I’m glad we did our fun events while the weather was so nice. I’m equally glad that this week will give me more time at home. There is much I want to accomplish.

Thriving In My thrifty week–End Of the Oregon Trail Museum–Nov. 11, 2019

Today, we visited the End of the Oregon Trail Museum/Interpretive Center in Oregon City, Oregon. As the name suggests, it is where the Oregon Trail ended approximately 175 years ago. My sister set up a field trip there for both a group of homeschooled kids and kids who attend public school. There were 13 of them, including Michaela. It was planned for Veteran’s Day, since it is a school holiday for the public schools.

The kids we took had a blast!

They started having fun in the parking lot, and it continued. It was a gorgeous day.

We had a nice presentation by our guide, Bethany. We had pre-chosen the “Choose Your Own Adventure” presentation, so she let the kids decide what they would do under certain circumstances they might encounter if they were actually traveling the trail way back in the 1800’s. They loved her little voting devices that allowed them to push the button of their choice and then electronically transferred the information to the screen. After the informative presentation, they were allowed to explore that area for a while.

They moved on to a “Pack your wagon” activity.

The 3 big girls, with help from Alissa, really tried hard to figure out the best use of their 2000 pound wagon-loading limit. The littler boys just decided they didn’t need such things as clothes, just lots and lots of guns:).

The guide moved us on to butter making, where all the kids got to shake the cream until it turned into the desired butter, then they got to taste it.

Candle dipping was a real hit, as well.

Thankfully, there were plenty of grown-up hands to help the little ones. (Hard to believe Alissa counts as a grown-up now, but she DOES!).

The last activity was one in which they laid out ropes to “survey” their land on the big lawn outside. After each team “claimed” their property, often with lots of yells for others to “get off my land!” we were done with the official field trip. Rob had helped me pack a huge lunch for all 18 of us, and we relaxed in the picnic area while we all ate it. He didn’t go this time, which was a good choice since there was a lot of walking.

The kids ran and played on the big lawn after lunch. It was a great day for everyone. They had a blast while learning so much. One of the little boys confided in me how much he loved days where he didn’t have to have school–like this one!

We did do some money-saving activities during the week.

I cooked our meals, using the sale items from the grocery ads, coupled with items from my freezers/cupboards, etc. I did nothing earth-shattering, just made good, plain food. I sent Rob to some stores, and I went to others, and bought the best deals from each place. I hadn’t shopped much for a few weeks, and it caught up with me this week. I’m stocked up now for a while.

I wanted to make a small project and found everything I needed in my stash of fabric. We were also able to find everything my daughter needed for her project, except the stuffing, which my husband bought at the thrift store.

We used our membership at the Croc Center. Since the YMCA closed down for a re-build, we were transferred over there. We haven’t used it much, as it is a bit out of our way, but we are trying to use it more. Rob takes Michaela there at least once a week to swim and we join her when we can. I’ve taken a couple of exercise classes there, as they are all included in our membership. We are still on scholarship from the Y, which I thought was very nice of them all. We do pay each month, but it’s a reduced amount.

Patsy’s 4H Sewing Project–A Cute Doll

Patsy decided to sew a doll for her 4H sewing project. She found the pattern in a library book I checked out. She used the scraps from the skirt I made her for Hawaii and some scraps of white cotton fabric.

The hair was made from felt and the face was embroidered. She worked on it for a few sessions, and finished it up yesterday.

Rob bought her some stuffing at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store, once I realized we had none. Skills that were new to her included: stuffing the arms, legs and body, top-stitching so many curves and pivots on the hair, working with felt, and sewing the body of a doll while working around the fact that legs and arms were inside getting in the way!

Patsy’s plan for this doll is to put her into a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child and send her to a little girl across the world somewhere. It looks to me like dolly is ready for an adventure!

I was happy that she could work on her sewing skills on a project that interested her and very pleased that she could use scraps and other inexpensive materials to make something that helped her improve her skills while bringing joy to a little girl this Christmas. Win-win for everyone!

4H Meeting–Fall Fun-Nov. 2019

We had a 4H meeting yesterday with our new club. 4H has been a part of our lives for over 30 years, but we have been without any members, except Patsy, since we moved. Patsy has limped along on her own, but told us that one thing she really wanted was a club with kids. It was just more fun. We agreed. Jake didn’t know what 4H was, but he thought he’d try it. They had friends who thought it would be fun, too, and here we all are!

We are going to concentrate on the project areas of Foods/ Nutrition and Outdoors/Natural Science. I’m going to keep Patsy going with her sewing and any other areas she wants to do. If any of the other children want to do other areas, we will support them, but will focus on those 2 areas at our meetings.

Yesterday, we chose the subject of “fall leaves” for our Outdoors activity. I read a book about how leaves change colors in fall and simple leaf identification. I had a few worksheets that people could do if they wanted. We have such a wide variety of ages, from 4 years old to 15, so those worksheets were geared for the younger ones for the most part.

We talked about what 4H is, since Jake was not the only one who did not know, started learning the 4H pledge and talked briefly about record keeping. We then moved on to cooking and I started some of the basic instruction about measuring. Rob helped them make an apple crisp in the Dutch oven, using coals.

The apple peelers got busy.

They peeled and peeled.

And peeled some more. They peeled every apple in the house. They would have peeled more if I had more.

Even though we had a talk about knife skills with all of them, I had the big girls to do the cutting. Less gray hairs for me! It soon became apparent that we had enough apples for more than just one Dutch oven full of crisp. We got out a big glass baking dish and they kept slicing. In the meanwhile, the other kids were taking turns measuring out the ingredients for the topping. We made it twice. That way everyone got more turns.

The littlest member gravely spooned the topping over the 2nd crisp and we popped it in the oven.

While we were waiting for the crisps to bake, we got out a mega package of hot dogs and they roasted them over the fire pit Rob kindled in the back yard. They ate them all. All 24, and all 16 buns I bought. I though some kids would not want buns. I was wrong. Next time, I’ll buy more. Then, Jake got his wish and it was time to let the kids all play with his badminton and his other ball throwing game. They all ran around throwing balls, hitting birdies and hollering. They had so much fun. After that, the first crisp was done and devoured. The second crisp soon followed, but there was enough of that one left for Jake to take some home to his Mom and Dad. When Rob dropped him off at home, he was already asking when the next meeting was. It was a success!

Thriving In My thrifty Week-November 3, 2019

The weather became very nice this week and I was able to spend several hours in the yard and garden. The huge pile of debris in the back of this picture is my secondary compost pile. I plan to let it rot down over the winter, rake the non-composted weeds off the top, and spread the nicely composted soil that is underneath since some of it’s been under there for over a year. I love having home-made compost to help fortify my soil. There is never enough!

Patsy clipped off her 3 dahlia plants. They had frosted, so were dead. She put tomato cages over them and piled leaves on them. We have fairly mild winters, so they should make it over the winter that way.

There was another picking of lettuce scattered throughout the garden. Surprise!

We got it really cleaned up. There are still more jobs to do, but I’m happy with what we got done.

I spent quite a bit of time this week helping my daughter, Lovana. She’s back from Hawaii, has a little place rented, and started back at her old job. She is staying with us until we get more things moved in over at the new place, as we only got part of what she has moved over. We went to a thrift store where she got a few things, and I grabbed 3 skirts for Patsy and a bowl, for a grand total of around $8. Some of the thrift stores in our area are expensive, but this one is not. It’s where Rob has been getting clothes in smaller sizes as he continues to lose weight.

We were able to take the kids to a very nice harvest party at church on Wednesday night. They had a lot of fun. Patsy helped run a game and Jake and Michaela enjoyed themselves. On Thursday, Michaela continued her tradition of riding up and down the street in the van with Rob while eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. She’s followed the same pattern for the past several years. She never gets out—just enjoys the ride and the candy and dressing up in her tiger pajamas. Patsy took Jake up to the doors to trick-or-treat. They lasted about 30-45 minutes, and then he was done.

I read a couple of library books.

I cooked some items that have been in the pantry for quite some time. I finally shopped for the first time in 2-1/2 weeks and got a few things, but not too many. Some items have lingered around the freezers and pantry for too long. I never seem to use them unless I put a little pressure on myself. A couple of the things I enjoyed were pizza from a home-made mix and some pepperoni that has been lost in the freezer and brown rice/dried cranberry/green onion salad from some frozen rice. Rob used some frozen chili up and Patsy worked on some frozen homemade refried beans. (I will go on record as saying that refried beans never get old at this house. That girl would eat them every day, but it’s nice to keep them fresh.)

What did you do this week to enjoy life while staying frugal?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 27, 2019

I love the big pumpkin we grew! I stacked it up with a bunch of smaller squash and pumpkins to decorate for fall.

This week, I was able to get some cleaning done. It felt really good to have a day where I scrubbed a window, and cleaned up some clutter that had gathered. A LOT of clutter, I’m ashamed to report! I also wiped up a lot of dust. I got out some fall decorations and put them out. It felt good to have time to do a little more serious cleaning for the first time in a few weeks.

I noticed our spider plant is getting ready to make little spider plants. Patsy started this plant several years ago in a 4H class, and is excited that it is multiplying.

I can hardly believe that I found more cherry tomatoes. I am having to grab them quickly from branches that are dying on the few bushes remaining, but we had them in our salad for lunch today. The bigger tomatoes were picked green before our trip and are ripening slowly.

There are a few little cherry tomatoes left on the bushes. Time will tell if they ripen or freeze.

My aunt and I went on a quilt shop hop. She has been wanting to go on one ever since she heard about how much fun it was. We had a blast! The fall leaves were in full color and we got to go meandering through the countryside and thoroughly enjoy them. We packed a lunch and got to sit in a pleasant spot to eat it. In 3 of the towns we visited, we saw lots of little kids dressed up in their Halloween costumes, as those towns were having some kind of Trick-or-Treat event in their downtown areas. I am not a super big fan of Halloween, per say, but I always enjoy seeing how much fun kids have when they dress up. My favorite was a marshmallow. The kid was dressed in a white sweatshirt and sweat pants and had a little hat/cover over his head that looked just like a marshmallow. There were cut-outs for his eyes so he could see. It was adorable.

I worked on 2 projects this week. Neither is finished, but both are further along than they were. One was the quilt in progress, the other an old project. I have a goal of finishing up some things that have been around for a long, long time.

I still have a few flowers blooming, although almost every day they promise a killing frost.

Rob had doctors’ visits this week. He is within 2 pounds of his goal weight for surgery. The cardiologist has cleared him, and will send the proper paperwork, as will the primary care dr. But…the orthopedic doctor is changing hospitals, so the first available appointment for pre-surgery is in January. Then they will schedule the actual day for surgery. But, at least it’s coming closer.

My sister took Patsy to Disney on Ice, along with Jake and Michaela and some friends. They had so much fun!

I bought groceries for 2 weeks when I returned from Hawaii. I only picked up some milk and 2 packages of tortillas for 99c/each today. One day this week, there will be loaves of bread for 50c/loaf (limit 2), so I will get those. That will do it, hopefully, until next week. I am having to be careful to not stock up too much these days. With Rob dieting all the time, and less people in the house, we just aren’t going through the food like we used to do. So, it’s a savings as long as I don’t buy too much and end up throwing it away!

I will use a little more in the next couple of weeks, as Lovana will be flying home in the morning, and staying with us for a little while until we get her things moved into the place she and a girlfriend have rented. Busy times ahead for me!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 20, 2019

When I returned from Hawaii mid-week, I was struck by the amount of fall changes that occurred while I was gone. Trees had turned scarlet, yellow and orange, leaves dropped all over and the weather turned windy and rainy. I felt like I was truly home again.

These pumpkins and squash are from my garden. We got a freeze warning while in Hawaii, so I expected everything to be dead. Instead, I see that there are a few stragglers still alive in my garden area. I will go check them out this week to see if there’s anything usable still out there.

I picked the remaining few green tomatoes before I left on my trip. Upon returning, several of those had ripened and we’ve had tomatoes on our salads all week.

I did a fairly large shopping trip, since I had emptied the fridge quite well before I left. I focused on the sales, things I was out of, and was able to do some Ibotta rebates. I ended up qualifying for several bonuses, as well.

On Saturday, there was a county-wide 4H event. We have not had much of a club since we moved, but are excited to now have another family that wants to join. We rounded them up, along with Jake, our nephew, and Patsy, our daughter and took them all to the event. We are sticking to our old county, since we know them there, and know what to do, about events, etc., so we had to drive little bit, but it’s worth it to us. It was a bake sale. We took caramel corn to donate. Patsy and I made it, as we often do. While there, our clubbers made brownies and Chex Muddy Buddie Mix to send good smells through out the building, in hopes of building sales, and those were sold, too. There were lot of other clubs that donated and helped, and it was a success.

After we did our part there, we took our new club to Champoeg State Park and Rob had them do a scavenger hunt. He talked to them about identifying the native plants and objects, such as acorns, and rewarded them with little candies when they found them. We had a picnic and then all went up to the visitors’ center where the volunteers had another scavenger hunt for them to do about the history of the area, a movie to watch about helping the bluebird population and plied them with stickers for their efforts. They were super nice and helpful to us.

It was the first 4H experience for most of the kids, and it was very successful. I’m sure we will have many more fun times in the future. This year, we are going to concentrate on Cooking and Outdoors as our main projects. Once we get started, we can always add more projects if there’s an interest. Patsy’s super excited, since she’s been longing for other friends to do 4H with.

Making My Home A Haven

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