Thriving In My thrifty Week–February 24, 2020–Greenhouse Refresh

Patsy and Jake and a few friends started a set of swimming lessons this Saturday. Patsy’s lessons were a gift from her auntie, and will hopefully solidify her swimming skills. She can swim, but it’s never a bad idea to get better, and she loves to be in the water. Jake has never had a formal lesson before that I know of, but can swim a little, thanks to the fact that they have had him in the water since he was a baby and have worked with him a bit. Both my sister and his big sister were lifeguards and swim instructors once upon a time, and have both worked with him over the years.

Patsy transplanted baby basil starts into a larger pot so they could get on the table faster! Every year, I take this old poinsettia pot with the little rim of support and put basil in it and let it grow in the greenhouse for early table use. You can see the wild jungle of snapdragon babies to the left that need to be transplanted soon. Not bad for Dollar Store seeds. Some things from there work very well. With other items, I prefer to get certain varieties with disease resistance, short length of time until they produce, ability to grow in cooler weather, etc., so I order exactly what I want from the seed companies I trust.

Rob has done most of the cooking this past week. One thing he made was a casserole from leftover mashed potatoes. He basically added eggs, cheese, onion, and I’m not sure what else and baked it. It puffed up nicely and tasted wonderful. He also made teriyaki chicken, meat loaf, hamburgers, and some other items.

I did take 2 “Hello Fresh” meal bags that were given to me when the person who ordered them had a crisis and could not use them. The recipe cards were lost in the shuffle, so I played “Iron Chef” and made food. I used every single item except the wheat bread crumbs and one lemon. I added some things from my fridge and pantry and ended up with a nice salad with apple (them) and dried cranberries(us) on it over a mixture of fancy greens (them) and iceberg lettuce (us). I crusted the chicken with pecans and bread crumbs and cooked it in a pan–will use oven next time–it burned slightly, and took the small package of pork and made it into sweet and sour pork. I used the itty-bitty bottle of balsamic vinegar in that, and it was delicious. There were some new potatoes and rosemary, so I fried them up together. I tossed the green beans, since they were over the hill by the time I got the bags–not the company’s fault. I’m glad I know how to cook. The ingredients were not wasted, but I will say the whole concept would have been easier WITH the recipes:). The timing was perfect, since some of my grown kids walked in right as I was finishing and helped eat some of the food.

A lot of my time this past week was spent driving back and forth to Portland, and visiting someone I love very much who ended up in the hospital from some complications of a surgery she had a couple of weeks ago. I will say I’m not the only one who has been visiting. Everyone wants to be there, but we are organizing the family to go up there in turns so as to not overwhelm her. We have a pretty big family:). The nurses finally dragged a couple of extra chairs in there yesterday, so that helped. We take the children for short periods of time, in shifts, choosing our times judiciously so as to not disturb the patient, or the kids. Although this has been, and looks like it will continue to be, a long road, we are hopeful that the latest problem is on the mend.

We were given a gift which we used for a Costco run and extra gas. So thoughtful! We are very grateful and it’s nice to be loaded up with some of those things that are not very exciting, but oh, so necessary:)

Rob is working on the greenhouse again. He has been cleaning it out with either Patsy or I to help him manhandle the big stuff and is building a bench for the other side. We will have so much more room for starts as soon as he finishes.

He’s using reclaimed wood.

You can look on the floor and see how he cut that pallet Patsy was holding to make a little place for things to sit on down below without having to be on the ground. When he made this greenhouse, he made it so it could be taken apart and moved if needed. We have been talking about a better place to put it, but that’s a project for another year, when he is healthy.

The library has moved to it’s new temporary location and opened back up this past Tuesday. I took Michaela and Patsy down there and we all got some books and movies. I have been treated to Michaela reading out loud to me about cheetahs and snakes. She also read to her Mama. It’s very rewarding and sweet. It wasn’t very long ago that she absolutely would not step foot into the public library and now she’s been begging to go. It has been a lot of slow steps, helping her see that it is a fun place with things she likes. Patsy would, on the other hand, live in the library if that was an option and I wouldn’t be far behind:)

Sew A Simple Zippered Pouch

Patsy learned how to make this zippered pouch at a recent 4H workshop. Here’s how you can make one, too.

Cut 2 rectangles for the outside, and 2 for the lining. These can be any size you want. We chose to interface our outside fabric with iron-on interfacing, to give it more body. For the class, we laid our zipper out and just cut the rectangle the length of the zipper. This time, we had a longer zipper, so we just cut the fabric the size Patsy wanted and cut off the extra at the end of the project.

Put your outside fabric face up on the table. Lay the zipper face down on the edge of it. Put the lining fabric face down on top of the zipper and pin. If your zipper is longer than your pouch, leave the extra alone for now, just let it hang off out the end. Sew along the long edge, using a zipper foot. Press both pieces away from the zipper.

Lay your second outside fabric down on the table. Lay your zipper, which is now connected to your first set of fabric, face down onto it and sandwich with the second lining fabric. Sew, using a zipper foot.

Press the cloth outward from the zipper and topstitch along the outside, near the zipper.

Now, take the 2 outside pieces and put them right sides together. Do the same with the 2 lining pieces. The 2 pins on the long edge of the lining are marking the space that you will leave open to turn it around after sewing.

Fold the zipper, and put it towards the lining side. Pin well.

Sew around the pouch, remembering to leave the opening on the lining side. When you sew over the zipper, go slow so you don’t break a needle. Go over that part again, if you feel the stitches got too long when you were sewing over that part. Clip the corners. Cut off the extra length of zipper. Turn around. Press. When it looks the way you want it to, sew the turning hole shut, either by hand or by machine. (At the class, we were encouraged to just use the machine, since it is on the inside and no one will see it, but that’s up to you.)

You are done! Patsy gave away the pouch she made the other day as a birthday gift. This one is quite a bit smaller, and would be perfect for colored pencils.

I’m going to send my husband on a garage sale hunt for zippers this summer, as I plan to make a bunch of these for gifts in the future. I think they would be a great idea for the Operation Shoebox project in the fall, filled with colored pencils and a sharpener purchased at the back-to-school sales. Regular pencils or pens would go in nicely, as well. A larger one would be good for markers, and different sizes could be used to put in purses with personal items a young lady may need and not want everyone to see. You could fill one with hair bands, a brush and a bow for a gift for a girl, or little cars for a boy.
Checkers or other game pieces would fit in one well. They also would work for a supply of medical items such as bandaids, diabetic supplies….anything you would want contained, to look nice, and to keep in one easy place.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 17, 2020

We have been enjoying some spring-like weather. It’s really cold in the mornings, often a little frozen, but it has been a little warmer during the day. One day, Patsy and I chopped bushes in the yard and filled the yard debris bin to the brim. There is so much more to do, but they will haul it away in the morning, and I can fill it again this week. We also mowed the lawn for the first time this season. We each did half.

I made a big chocolate birthday cake for my son, who is turning 30. Yikes! How did that happen? I had Rob grab whatever candy was on the clearance rack from Valentine’s Day so I could pile it on top. It ended up being these little candy bars and the kids ate the rest of the bag after we scattered it on the table. He wanted chocolate cake and hamburgers. Easy enough:)

Jake decided to be silly and put 45 candles on the cake. It was quite a bright sight when it was lit!

He had a good time. We invited his siblings, and different ones dropped in during the afternoon, as they had time, so that was really nice for everyone. I think he enjoyed seeing them.

We attended a school matinee at the Northwest Children’s Theater in Portland. The tickets are greatly reduced for the school performances, and it made a great Valentine’s Day outing. We had a total of 14 people. There were some gift cards for McDonald’s gifted to our group for lunch afterwards. We had some coupons, plus we had apps on our phones. We were able to stay within a very low (for eating out) budget and the kids had a great time on the play equipment. We had planned to pack a lunch to take, and that would have been fine, too, but this did make my life much easier that day!

The play was “The Jungle Book” and it was done with an emphasis on India, using Indian costumes, Indian dances, Indian music, etc. to tell the story. It was beautifully done, as always, and very different from the movie versions, so hopefully exposed all the children to a different culture. For several of the children we took, it was their first experience with live theater. I love exposing them to it! We took Michaela and Jake as well, and Michaela absolutely loved the whole thing.

We made small gift bags for all the kids, using Dollar Store red bags, and a little candy and a Kinder egg I got on the Whoo-Hoo rack for each of them. We added one of the Valentines you buy in a box–nothing fancy, but they all loved their little treat.

Patsy finished her zippered pouch. It was the project for last Saturday’s zipper workshop she attended.

My Mom helped her hem these pants. Rob got them at the Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store, for $1. They were very long, so she and Grandma fixed them, saving at least $20, and maybe more.

I was able to use up several odds and ends from the pantry–some random gluten-free flour items, a box of gf pizza mix, and some other items. I am always happy to rotate the stock in the pantry. We used lots of jars of home-canned items, and quite a few freezer items, as well.

Our little pepper and onion and pansy plants are up well in the greenhouse, and Rob planted the tomatoes. We transplanted the little cabbages. It’s too wet to plant things out in the garden, but I will plant some snow peas in a raised bed before long. I do have just a few snow pea plants in a corner of the garden that have over-wintered, and they should start growing again soon.

Rob planted several pots of primroses, using flowers he got on sale and some re-purposed pots from another year. They are very cheerful. He gave some away, and I have one here on the porch.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 10, 2020

We were very busy last week. The week included several trips to Portland, to visit a family member who had a major operation. I am very happy to say that she is doing very well after her surgery. We stayed as frugal as we could throughout the process.

As I mentioned last week, Rob had cooked several kinds of meat, I had made soups, and he made a breakfast casserole. We ate those all week. I was able to take a small cooler packed with food to the hospital 2 of the times I was up there, and several meals were eaten from it. It is amazing how much you can cram into one of those little lunch-sized coolers! So, those who were waiting or visiting dipped in there as well, and my family member’s husband, who stayed up there the entire time, just kept the rest of the food and ate it for his dinner both times. Several other people brought him food as well, and he filled in the rest at the cafeteria.

The patient is resting at home now, I’m happy to say. The food is pouring in over there already, so that’s nice:)

We were invited to a baby shower for Rob’s niece. We didn’t have much notice, but really wanted to go, since we don’t get to spend as much time with his side of the family as we wish we did. Some years ago, Rob had stumbled upon a wonderful clearance sale of baby items for very low prices. As you can see, all these socks were only $1. I think the highest priced things were $3. I was at the hospital, so he and Patsy chose several items from my “baby stash” that would be good for a baby boy and went down to the store and bought some diapers, wipes, a rattle…stuff like that and got it all into a gift bag. It was not expensive, but turned out very nice, with the combo of what I had plus a few extra things.

Then, we all 3 went to the shower Saturday afternoon, and had a great time.

I took Patsy to a zipper application workshop for 4H. It was held a distance away from our house, but other than the cost of gas, it was free. We were able to bring the required supplies from our stash, and they supplied the rest from fabric and zippers that had been donated for that purpose. I’m so glad she’s showing an interest in sewing this year, and want to encourage her in learning this useful skill.

By Sunday afternoon, I was feeling very behind at home, and was in dire need of exercise and fresh air. So, I went out late afternoon and trimmed out the old raspberry canes and tied up the good ones. Doing that job was just the perk I needed to finish my week feeling like I got something done at home. These are the raspberry canes I have dragged with me from house to house–the same ones as we always had at my childhood home–yummy! (starts from those bushes, to be specific!) I really loved having a plentiful supply last summer, the first year they really produced much of anything. They are so much better than the ones that were here when I moved in, so I’m going to baby them along.

You can see that I’ve also been collecting cardboard boxes and have laid them down in front of the berries. There is an especially stubborn patch of grass that I simply could not get rid of last summer. So, I’ve decided to smother it out with the cardboard. We will see how it works, but it can’t hurt!

Last, but not least, one of my favorite things yesterday was holding baby Allie. She’s growing so much, so when I ran into her parents and her at Patsy’s mission trip meeting, I grabbed my opportunity to hold her and get an updated picture. There’s nothing like holding a baby at the end of a busy week…..just saying…

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 2, 2020

Rob made bird house kits for the 4H club to hammer together at their meeting this week. All the boards were donated to him for this purpose by one of his friends who owns a small sawmill, so our project was very inexpensive.

The kids had so much fun. Jake was very happy because his daddy agreed to come and help the kids with the hammering. Even I got roped in, although I’m not very good at using a hammer.

Patsy, on the other hand, is very good with a hammer and so she made her birdhouse the day before and helped the younger kids on the day of the meeting. Ones who knew how partially hammered some nails in and let the younger builders hammer away, driving the nails the rest of the way in.

Some didn’t need much help, others lots of help.

Then, we all went back into the house and made little baggies of home-made hot chocolate mix and ate dinner. Then Rob hauled whoever wanted to go down to the church for the youth/childrens’ activities and I cleaned up the mess. It comes in handy to have a 15-passenger van–no one has to feel left out. There’s room for them all!

I finally got the blouse sewed for Patsy, just in time for her to wear to a wedding.

The wedding was beautiful, and so tastefully decorated. I wish I had taken pictures of the decor. They used a woodland theme, and sticks were cut from friends’ property and little lights were put all over them. There were large branches for a backdrop and small ones for centerpieces for the tables. The way I’m describing it does not do it justice, but it was absolutely gorgeous. There were candles in the shapes of birch logs, and circular wood chips sprinkled around the main table. It was lovely and elegant. The family catered the reception themselves and the food looked amazing and was displayed in dishes surrounded by wooden boxes they had built to add to the woodland theme.

One of Jake’s best friends, Willow, is one of the bride’s sisters, and he loved sitting by her at the reception after she finished her bridesmaid’s duties. As you can see, they had donuts as one of the main desserts. They were on plates and on dowels on a rack that hung on the wall behind the table. You could take one with a tong. Jake and Michaela ate 2 each!

The bride and her family are close friends of my sister and brother-in-law, so they helped out most of the day, while we kept Jake busy at our house.

We really enjoyed the ceremony and reception. We didn’t stay late, but instead came home and got some rest.

We cooked many items over the weekend in preparation for a busy week ahead. They are in the fridge to grab in a hurry– soups, BBQ’d pork, thinly sliced turkey breast and chicken and other goodies. We don’t have a meat slicer, but have been having a lot of success with Rob-sharpened knives. We have been making our own less-salty and less-processed lunchmeat this way lately.

Rob made me a crate and I filled it with a few goodies for a bridal shower I actually could not attend, since I was at wedding No. 1. It’s crazy that we’ve not had a wedding for a long time, and this month, there are 2.

I put in jam, salsa, measuring cups and spoons, a set of pillowcases I made, and a cute towel plus a bundle of dish cloths. This gift was for the shower I could not attend, so I had Rob drop the gift off at the young lady’s house ahead of time. For the wedding itself, Rob made a wooden cutting board and will pair it with 2 super good knives. He did the same for the bride and groom for the wedding we just attended.

Recently, Rob picked up 3 bags of “Unicorn” white chocolate chips–they had rainbow colors on them. They were on the clearance rack for 99c/bag. When we tasted them, they were very bitter. I wasn’t worried about it because they were so cheap, but I did e-mail Nestle to let them know the red food coloring taste was coming through loud and clear, and not in a good way. I threw them away. I was very happy and surprised when the man I was live-chatting with wanted to send me free coupons for more chocolate chips. I explained they were on clearance, but he insisted, so I said “thank you.” I dug the bags out of the trash, sent him the barcode numbers as requested, and I got these coupons in the mail this week. There are 3 free bags of Nestle chips of any flavor and one $1/off coupon.

We have a very busy week ahead, and it feels good to be as prepared as we can be so we can get through it all, and still stay frugal! At least that’s the plan:). I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–Or What’s Left Of It:)–January 28, 2020

This past week has gotten away from me, to say the least. I’d better get busy and post before this week is over!

It was Rob’s birthday on Sunday. The big family already celebrated it, but Lovana wanted to made him a special cake. It was so good! We had to take a small slice each, then freeze the rest for later, or we would have eaten the entire thing, I’m sure. It was that yummy!

Patsy spent quite a bit of time making Rob a “retirement” fund gift. She taped a ton of old Monopoly money together, and then put it in a box so that when he pulled, a long line of money came out. It was silly and fun.

Rob and Patsy cleaned out the greenhouse. Then, he planted some seeds. As you can see, some of the seeds are from the Dollar Tree. They were 4/$1. There are some varieties there that work just fine for me. I’m more picky about some other varieties, and ordered from both Territorial and Pinetree. I’m happy to pay the higher prices for a variety I specifically want. Some crops, like green beans, I never gamble with. I want so many to can. And, tomatoes need to be disease resistant around here, and also need to yield early. We were able to hit a 20% off sale at Territorial, which I have never seen before. He planted peppers, cabbage, broccoli, basil and a few flowers. We will plant other things closer to our planting time, but peppers, especially, take a lot of time to grow in our very cool greenhouse.

I stumbled upon ham for 69c/lb. at Fred Meyers. I bought 2. We used one for Family Sunday dinner and we are all loaded up with leftover ham this week to munch on for easy dinners. The other one I froze. I restrained myself from buying more, as my freezer is supposed to be getting emptied, not filled, as summer draws nearer!

I boiled the bones from the ham and made lentil soup from the resulting broth.

Rob baked a whole chicken.

I boiled the chicken carcass as well and made Rob some more “special” soup–which basically means every low-calorie/low-carb vegetable I can lay my hands on, cooked in broth. He’s making sure his weight stays down in anticipation for next week’s doctor visit.

My grocery shopping was focused on the list of things I’ve run out of and produce. It’s been one of those weeks, where I’ve run out of the “odd-ball” items like soda and red Jello (Jake’s favorite).

I made a very small bowl of scalloped potatoes and ham. We love it, but can’t eat much of it right now.

My sister instigated 2 outings. One was to a bounce house park and the other was to Get Air, a trampoline park. We took some young friends of ours to the first one, with Patsy going along as an extremely good sport and excellent climber of bounce house stairs after the young ones. The second time, it was geared for the older ones, and Jake and Michaela were super excited to get to go. Patsy had a great time jumping with her cousins, some friends, AND her AUNTIE, who had a ball bouncing and bouncing. It did look fun, but I was content to sit with the purses, basking in the knowledge that I had already ridden almost 7 miles on the exercise bike at the Kroc Center that morning. Whew! Glad I did!

After bouncing, my sister took the lot of them off to eat dinner out, but I went home and cleaned the bathroom. Not fun, but sorely needed. Patsy had no trouble choosing between the 2 options:). Can’t blame her for that! She enjoyed her dinner very much, and it was very nice of my sister to include her in all the fun.

Next week is extremely busy, so I’ve been trying to do extra housework and get the laundry caught up so that things are easier then.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–January 20, 2020

We had a 4H meeting this week. Rob worked with the kids on knife skills. He had them practice one at a time as they chopped ingredients for the chili.

I was so glad he could be here to help. Lots of little kids + knives = scary!

Our original plan was to have some outdoor cooking, but it was COLD. So, we made chili in a pot on the stove, baked beans which actually did not bake in time, and a simple yellow cake. So, everyone feasted on chili and cake, and I opened some jars of home-canned fruit to fill in the gaps.

Jake got to crack eggs, which made him happy.

We also worked on nutrition, and focused on making “My Plates” from construction paper and old magazine pictures of healthy food. I really saved some money on this project, by default. My printer ran out of ink, and it could not be ordered in time for the meeting, so Patsy just drew circle shapes on the paper, and I didn’t run out and buy ink at a higher price.

When the meeting was over, Rob needed to take Jake home and drop Patsy off at youth group. Several of the other kids clamored to go, too, so Rob loaded up the van as full as it could be, and hauled the lot of them off to church. The Mom that remained and I were laughing about the fact that it was so quiet with “only” 3 little kids left! (And, just for those who “love to know”…..Jake has a special class on Sundays he attends, and Rob accompanies him to his choir/class on Sunday nights, but there’s not a “special” class for him on Wednesdays. So, he stays at his home on Wednesday nights)

Rob and Jake found a couple of games at a garage sale. They played this one called, The Allowance Game, and Rob said it was a great way for Jake to work on money skills. It must have been fun because Jake and Patsy played it several more times. They also played Monopoly Jr. and regular Monopoly. Jake spent a couple of nights this week, and is begging to spend 10 nights soon. I said, well….no:). Not that many! But, another night soon, Jake, soon!

We cooked a lot of food, mostly from our freezers, canning cupboards, and pantry. Rob picked up a few items from the store, but kept it under $20.

When I empty a home-canning jar, I put it in a basket on the dryer. I always feel like I’m being successful in using my resources wisely when I need to take the basket of “empties” out to the main shelves in the shop. I emptied the basket this weekend, and already have it almost full today. Success! This is the time of year when I like to use many, many jars and frozen items, since during the summer I enjoy eating as much fresh garden produce as possible.

I cut out a top for Patsy from some fabric I purchased for $2 last fall. Now to find time to sew it……

I went to a local high school to watch the musical “Hello, Dolly.” I really enjoyed watching it. It was so well done, and there were a few kids from church in it that I knew. My sister took Patsy and I. She wanted us to see it, badly. She watched it 4 times, herself. It was that good, and they are close family friends with the young lady that played the character Dolly.

Rob finally got an appointment to see the surgeon. It’s in a couple of weeks. They should set a surgery date at that time. I sure hope they do.

I exercised quite a few times, in various ways, including taking the dog on a long walk and taking aquatic classes at the Kroc center.

We ordered our seeds, and they have already arrived. I received an e-mail from Territorial one day about a 20% off sale, ending that day. I quickly finished sorting my seeds, finished my partially-finished list, and ordered. I sent Rob to the Dollar Store for things I use from there, such as pickling cucumbers, then ordered our more-expensive, but desired, seeds from Territorial and then finished up with my Pinetree order, since we were at it. I need disease-resistant tomatoes, lots of bean seeds with high-yield, and crops that ripen in short time periods to have a successful garden, so I’m picky about some varieties.

The next step is to get the greenhouse up and running–junk out, lights set up, and a few seeds started. It’s not too early to plant peppers, onions, and a few other things. Some things need to wait a bit longer.

January has been pretty calm. I think things are going to heat up in February, so I’m going to enjoy one more week of calm. Ahhh….

Thriving In My thrifty Week–January 13, 2020–Chewbacca Came To Visit Jake and I cooked!

It was Jake’s birthday this week. Chewbaca came to Family Sunday Dinner to see him. The Millennium Falcon apparently dropped him off so he could visit Jake during his birthday lunch. Jake was surprised and pleased, but later confided to me that “there was a guy in there, auntie!” Good to know, I said:)

A few family photos were taken.

Everyone had fun! There were quite a few other family members present, and we thoroughly celebrated Rob, Alissa and Jake’s birthdays.

I managed to save quite a bit of money during the week in the food department. I had several meals I wanted to cook for friends and family who had various needs, such as recovery from surgery, sickness, etc. I also had a lunch to pack to share when I went visiting another family and food to make for our meals, too, of course. It was a busy week, I’m telling you!

First, I did a large (for me) grocery shop at Safeway, using a $10/off $50. I purchased more than $50 worth, but it was still nice to have that discount. I used several coupons that I downloaded, one I picked up in the store, and 4 Ibotta rebates, which gained me a $5 Ibotta bonus.

We cooked both a large turkey and a ham this week. They were bought on great sales over the holidays and pulled from the freezers for this super busy week. I boiled the bones from both of them. All of the turkey broth, 2 big kettles of it and a 3rd small one, was used up in 3 large batches of turkey soup.

Several pans of turkey enchiladas were made. When I found a large baggie of frozen corn tortillas leftover from Christmas, I thawed them out and used them up on this project.

I sliced turkey breast very thinly for sandwiches, and turkey pieces were given to some of the families. I made sandwiches with turkey and some 99c/day-old-bread-rack buns when I took the picnic, along with some carrots and cupcakes.

Patsy made a double batch of lemon poppy seed muffins. I made a double batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, and most of those went out with various meals.

A while back, I was given a bag of white rice. While we love it, we don’t eat it often, as Rob is dieting and I’m diabetic. So, I took the opportunity to made up a huge batch of fried rice with some of it. I added grated carrot, peas, scrambled eggs, onion, some water chestnuts and 1 can of bamboo shoots that I’ve had for quite some time. I seasoned with soy sauce, and made enough for 2 families to have some, and kept a small bowl for us, since we love it so much!

I sliced up ham for one family to go with their fried rice. We ate ham in several ways this week.

Salads were made and shared and also eaten here. Rob eats a lot of salad! A huge chocolate cake was baked for the birthday party on Sunday. I also did some white cupcakes from a boxed mix, which I divided between the birthday party and one family.

The amazing thing is that cooking all this food was not a huge drain on my budget because I chose foods we had in the pantry and freezer to base the meals on, with some additions from the store. Sharing food is one of my favorite things to do and I am always happy when I can make it work as nicely as it did this time. It was a fun, rewarding week, though I must confess that all that cooking made it a busy one!

Now that people are feeling better from their various surgeries and other things, my cooking frenzy is over. It was kind of funny how it all came at once, but that’s how life goes sometimes. This week, I’ll put my energies in other directions, and that’s ok, too. I like variety in my life:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 6, 2019

This past week was so restful, compared to the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Months ago, my sister had planned a get-away for our families down at the beach. We all packed up and headed down there on New Year’s Day. She graciously got us wonderful accommodations, using her time-share points.

My sister took us all out to lunch to celebrate Alissa’s birthday. Most other food was eaten in our hotel.

Because we were in a time-share, there were full kitchens in our units. We planned the meals ahead of time and took turns cooking the dinners. One of my dinners was spaghetti and turkey meatballs with salad and home-canned green beans. I pre-made the meatballs at home and used jarred sauce that was purchased a while back for 99c/jar.

Our other meal was steak, baked potatoes and cauliflower. Because we buy 1/4 beef each fall, it’s the same price for steak as it is for hamburger. Of course, we need to pace the steak dinners throughout the year, or they would be gone quickly, but Alissa’s birthday dinner was a worthy occasion! That girl loves steak:).

The process of cooking the steaks was quite comical. As Rob was attempting to barbecue this steak on the little balcony outside of our room, the wind was blowing so hard that it was whistling through the windows of our room, blowing rain sideways and blowing out the flame on the barbecue, but he managed! Afterwards, he said they were on fire at one point, not cooking at all at another point, and he was absolutely amazed that they turned out so well. But, they were wonderful, so all’s well that ends well:)

Rob ate the zucchini-noodle lasagna for several lunches. We also took salad stuff, sandwich ingredients, and gluten-free pizza crust to made quick meals. Breakfasts were things like eggs, sausage, and cereal. We ate breakfasts and lunches in our own rooms, and ate all the dinners together.

I exercised several times at the small gym in the hotel. We didn’t take many walks. On the few occasions we ventured out, we were hit with ferocious winds, driving rain, and even hail pellets in my hair one morning when a walk was attempted by my sister and I. We turned around immediately and headed for the stationary bikes!

I read a couple of library books and watched a little t.v.

The kids played a game borrowed from the hotel’s stash, Jake build Legos, Patsy did a little school, her friend Celeste did a lot of school, I read an entire chapter book to Jake, my sister took them all to play arcade games in the town of Seaside, Rob took Patsy rock collecting, we took them all to the small aquarium, they watched movies, Rob took Michaela down to Costco for a hot dog while he got a case of water, my sister braved the outdoor swimming pool several times with the kids IN THE RAIN!!, and we all played Bingo when the hotel offered it as an activity.

Everyone took turns with the kids, so I feel relaxed and rested. The only thing that would have made the trip better was our other sister who intended to come down for a little bit, but her plans changed and she was not able to make it:(

The girls got a real kick out of the seal-feeding at the small aquarium. Those seals sure got excited. Water was splashing like crazy! The girls were squealing as loud as the seals, I think. Everyone had a great time.

We all arrived home late afternoon yesterday, and today, the week starts with a flurry of activity. I’ve got lots of good ideas for this week. January is a favorite month of mine and I’m eager to get started on all the projects and plans that fill my mind at this time of year.

Happy New Year to you all!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–December 29, 2019

This is one of my favorite Christmas presents. Rob built me this rack for my cast iron frying pans. He used reclaimed lumber and a piece of tin he also salvaged. This picture really doesn’t do it justice–it’s amazing! Another gift he made that I really like is a bundle of garden stakes. He painted the ends white so I can write on them with a marker and mark my rows. He also used re-claimed wood for those.

I had a lot of help with the table decorations this year. Rob made me the wooden tree, the small wooden trees and found the right ribbon for me. Little Danait (a 5-year-old friend) carefully arranged the chocolate Santa candies the best way she knew how. I had given her a bag of candy and told her to spread it along the table–thinking she would sprinkle them here and there. She liked a line better. I left them, and people ate them! I even remembered to light the candles I dug out of the cupboard.

I used things I had for decor. Patsy made snowflakes to put on the table. I found a stash of candles in a bin in the shop that had never been unpacked when we moved. I used a ton of them!

Lovana made a chocolate-peppermint cake. Yum! We served tacos for our meal–buffet style. Everyone brought parts and pieces. We had taco bar, shrimp, other desserts, Eritrean food including injera and spicy lentils and African beef (I think it is called Coal-wa or something similar), and mashed potatoes. At one point, I made Michaela some cinnamon-sugar toast–that’s what she wanted. As far as I could tell, all 27 people were happy with the food, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Since I spread them out all over the house, they had enough room–some in the living room, some in the garage, some in the kitchen, and even a few at a table in Patsy’s bedroom–mostly kids. We had guests that we had never met before, along with family and friends that usually come. They were all good sports. So fun! Since so many pitched in to provide parts of the meal, it was not a burden for anyone.

There were not a ton of leftovers after Christmas, so we ate what there were and I’ve been cooking. I was given 2 Butternut squash for Christmas. I cut them both up and we’ve already eaten one of them. I will roast the other one very soon.

Rob used our new cutting boards to make fried potatoes and onions.

I made Puffy Green Bean Bake from the More With Less Cookbook. Twice.

I shopped for a few groceries. Eggs were 99c/dozen. I bought the 3 dozen I could. I boiled a bunch for snacks, lunches and breakfasts. I also got the random items I needed, such as seasoning salt, and milk. I stayed around $50, which I thought was great for my weekly shopping, since we had 5 extra people for 3 days, and the Christmas meal.

After all my guests left, including the ones that were staying here, and the ones who came over the day after Christmas, I was pretty tired. I rested a lot , but am now feeling like myself again. It was nice today to go to church and have our regular family Sunday dinner. It was great that baby Allie and her parents could join us today. She’s grown so much. I will admit that I saw the baby very briefly at church on Christmas Eve, but she was more sociable today and I got to hold her, which is always a treat! (This little girl is like a grand-daughter to my sister and brother-in-law, as her daddy is like a son to them. So, by default, I get to be an auntie. My pleasure for sure!)

My sister did all the cooking today and we had soup and sandwiches, so I got a big break from cooking, and so we brought Jake home for the night. I haven’t seen him much this week. We miss our extra boy, so it’s our lucky day:).

Making My Home A Haven

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