Thriving In My Thrifty Week-October 3, 2022

I grew a watermelon that tastes good! As Elmo would say, “Happy, Happy, Happy! Do the Happy Dance!”

We got one earlier, but it wasn’t that great. This is the Blacktail Mountain variety from Territorial, and is a personal-sized melon, bred to develop in a short season, with cooler nights. It worked! There are 3 super small ones still out there, and I hope they will be good, too. I saved seeds, since it’s open pollinated. Maybe I’ll grow it again next year since it WORKED!!! I’ve had very little success growing them in our climate in the past.

We are still eating tomatoes, zucchini and had a meal of green beans last week. We are still getting cucumbers and we pulled all the onions. They are drying so we can have them all winter.

Most of our week was consumed by my niece’s wedding. (See previous post for details).

Although formal weddings are never inexpensive, we did do things to help keep the cost of the reception down.

Rob smoked 4 kinds of meat on his Green Mountain Grill. He used various marinades on them and they turned out great! He got roast beef at the Chef’s Supply store a few weeks ago and froze it, as it was a good price then. The Ham was from Costco. Turkey breast was hard to find, but he finally got 2 at Walmart, of all places. He took it off the bone, tied it with twine and cooked it. When we were finding a hard time sourcing enough of other meats for a good price, my sister spotted some pork loin at Costco and the entire, huge piece was only $22. So, Rob went and got that and cooked it, as well, to make sure there would be enough. It turned out to be his personal favorite.

The meat slicer was borrowed so we would not to have the expense of purchasing one. We sliced for over 3 hours one afternoon, and the ham was already sliced. It was funny. At one point, the meat was shooting out wildly, with us cringing back, since we aren’t comfortable with the sharp, sharp-bladed tool–By the end, it was all over the kitchen, and in our hair, even. (The sliced meat, itself, was stacked and wrapped in plastic wrap and bags, and put back into the fridge immediately, so no worries there.). It took over an hour to disassemble it and clean it properly, and we were hoping it was done right. Thankfully, Rob met the owner at the wedding, and they talked. The man is going to double check our assembly work, to make sure it’s right. Whew!!!

We used some dill from our garden in the dips, along with many dahlias and zinnias in floral arrangements. Some peppers were picked to add to the decor, then chopped and frozen afterwards.

The biggest way we saved money on this reception was the amount of do-it-yourself projects we did and all the cooking we accomplished. It turned out lovely.

Since Rob was giving a prayer during the ceremony, the couple bought him this tie they wanted him to wear. We had to buy him a new shirt, as he didn’t have one. He usually wears t-shirts. I was able to use a sweater I bought on clearance a couple of years ago, but had never worn. I had purchased it off-season (hence the clearance price) and put it in a drawer to save until the weather was righ, …..but forgot about it for a while. I put it with a skirt that I’ve had a long time, but matched perfectly.

Since all fridges of all family members within reasonable distance were crammed with wedding food, I didn’t let anyone shop for groceries last week. In fact, on Saturday, I resorted to peanut butter sandwiches for both me and Mac for lunch. Neither of our favorites, and if you know me at all, you know I usually eat about 1-2 per year, but that was our option:). I wasn’t allowing cooking or leftovers there toward the end, either, hence the sandwich. Rob and Mac ate a jar of pears between them for another meal….You see how it was.

Today, I took a bunch of the leftover carrots and celery and used them in a vegetable-beef soup. Lovana and I had salad for dinner. Rob had a meat sandwich. So, we are starting to work through the leftovers we brought home already.

I picked the few remaining tomatoes, green and red, from one row today, then pulled the bushes up. Cleaning out the garden is one of the next big goals to accomplish around here. I will make a double batch of Salsa Verde to can in the next day or so with the green tomatoes. Rob chopped up all the red peppers (Carmen) and froze them on Saturday, so those bushes can be pulled, too. I don’t have enough time or stamina to do this entire job as once, so I’m breaking it up and plan to do a little each day,

The Big Wedding–Oct. 2022

The wedding was beautiful! My sister’s watermelon cake impressed everybody, especially me:). Because my sister and I (and our husbands) were in charge of the reception, this post will focus on much of those details.

The old ladders Rob sourced from friends’ basements transformed into an amazing decoration for their cookie bar. I think many people were worried that there were not going to be enough cookies, so they brought extra, including my oldest daughter, who made dozens and dozens. There were plenty for the event and many to spare. Perfect!

People were greeted with the lighted sign on the fence, a guest table, a banner and a table for gifts. We didn’t decorate most of those areas and sadly, we didn’t get pictures.

Early in the morning before the wedding, I picked all of these dahlias and zinnias in the colors I was using, plunged them into water immediately, and then arranged them the night before. Any that were wilted or sad looking by evening were tossed and I used the good ones. The flowers easily lasted through the wedding that way. I made 2 large arrangements in baskets and then used up the extra blooms in vases and canning jars tied with tulle to math the decor. We just put those here and there when we decorated. I took a bucket full of extras to the venue to use for filling the vases on the fences and the ladder with the silverware. Mums were purchased to fill out the decor.

After the tablecloths and skirts were put on the tables, thin laminate was placed over them to give the look of wood to the buffet. The buffet was set up in duplicate, so people could go down both sides. Rob’s utensil caddy, on another rickety ladder, worked very well. We put dahlia bouquets here and there, and I used the small ones for this piece.

Several of us had chopped and cut and made garnishes the afternoon before the wedding. The dips were made as well, and the yogurt-spinach one needed cups and cups of finely chopped fresh herbs and 14 bunches of green onions, sliced thinly….as you can imagine, it took some time. The cheese one was delicious, as well, but not quite so time consuming. The hummus was the easiest, as it was purchased and just decorated on the top.

The fruit could not be cut until the morning of the wedding, and we had a couple of champions fruit cutters who chopped for hours. Literally. They sliced oranges to line the bowl, and had a huge container of salad for refills.

Rob’s meat was done ahead. He did it all in various marinades and smoked it slowly on his Green Mountain Grill. We sliced for 3 hours, even with a borrowed slicer, and there was plenty.

The galvanized tubs held salad mix on the bottom piled high with toppings in a mountain on top. It got mixed as they took it. Toppings were in the jars and dressings on the pitchers. The veggies were placed in baskets and tipped over onto fancy waxed paper.

Everything was labeled with it’s name, and if it was gluten free, dairy free, nut free, which were the 3 allergens my niece wanted labeled.

Fancy cheeses were sliced and decorated with cheese hearts. I’m not sure if you can tell that the “roses” were carved from strawberries! My sister has a touch with garnishes. There are even little hearts made from fruit on top of the fruit salad. So cute!

Assorted breads were near the end of the buffet line and there were condiments in case anyone wanted to make a sandwich.

There were 4 tables in a block with one additional table turned the other direction on the very end. That’s where the watermelon cake, other fruit, the tangerine tree and various fruit were.

We were asked by the bride and groom to incorporate tangerines in the buffet, so my sister figured out how to make this tree. I’m so glad she found a better way to showcase them than throwing them down the table:).

We did have some mozzarella/tomato/basil/basalmic appetizers and they were a big hit.

The kids’ table came out super cute. We used a board across the barrels and all kind of kid (and adult) friendly goodies were added. There were goldfish crackers, fruit by the foot, fruit, pretzels, many kinds of candy, heart-shaped marshmallows, and more. There were wedding-themed M and M’s, layered with blue ones to match the decor.

Kids loved it! (You may notice Malcolm’s mouth is stuffed with candy, but he’s going back for more). Adults loved it, too.

The wedding went off without a hitch. It was a lovely ceremony.

The sweetheart table! Rob couldn’t help teasing them a little and had them “practice” kissing, which is why they are laughing:). We all toasted them with peach sparkling cider, which was carried to each table.

….And they were off to their honeymoon, tired, but happy!

We cleaned up, went home and collapsed into heaps;).

We could not have done this big of a production without a lot of help. Thank you so much to each and every one of you who had a part in this huge endeavor. Together, we pulled it off!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 27, 2022

Our fall crop of veggies is producing. We’ve been eating the new crop of broccoli, cabbage, the new cucumbers, the mixed summer squash (all sorts in the same packet from Pinetree), along with the tail end of cucumbers, tomatoes, green and purple beans, peppers, etc. Our squash and cucumbers from spring planting is succumbing to powdery mildew, as normal, so I usually plant a small bit of those for fall eating.

I was able to freeze a few more packets of broccoli, which was one of my goals for this fall crop. Now I have enough for the winter.

I pulled all of the beets that were still in the garden. Both Mom and I kept what we wanted to eat and I pickled 9 more pints.

I have started to pull onions, and clear away other plants in the garden that are finished. I’m hoping to get that done so it can be tilled before the fall rains begin. It’s a big job, so I will try to work at it a little most days.

On the same day Rob picked up my Azure Standard order and did a very small Costco run, the girls decided to buy a LOT of groceries. I believe it was around 10 bags full or more. Then, a few days later, Lovana shopped for her party food, which was many more bags full. I picked up the specials at Safeway last Friday, as there were a few things I needed. Then you add in the wedding food as Rob is doing all the meat for 175 people. It’s not a small amount. Our fridges are bursting. We’ve used coolers with lots and lots of ice for overflow. We have the kitchen one, one small one in the camper and one ancient, rickety college dorm-sized one on the porch. That’s it. I have declared this to be NO MORE SHOPPING FOR FOOD week. But, then I ran out of something. And we need 20 bunches of green onions and 12 cucumbers for the wedding that we can get at our local Safeway for a great price. What can I say? I’m sending Rob and Michaela out on Thursday. Everybody better eat fast between now and Thursday.

We were invited to Allison’s birthday at the group home she and Anthony live in. It’s the first time we’ve visited their new home and it is super nice! I’m happy for them.

We took Malcolm. Boy did he have fun. We had not realized we WERE the party, other then the residents, so we were super glad we took him along. Everyone enjoyed him so much and he was the center of attention as he pushed and rolled his cars along the floor and enjoyed his cake!

Lovana cooked and baked for a costume party for her friend’s birthday. It was a Marie Antionette-themed party and she made 2 cakes, decorated beautifully, brownies, cookies (more than one kind), and cupcakes. There may have been more items, but I can’t quite keep track of that girl when she bakes. She really has a knack for it.

She also arranged many, many flower bouquets for the decor. She said the party turned out really nice, but she couldn’t get any pictures in time:(. Now I’m enjoying this gorgeous bouquet every day.

This upcoming weekend is the big wedding for my niece. We are going to be working very hard to prepare all the food. Much has been done ahead of time, but there are many things that have to be done the day before or even the day of the wedding, such as cutting fruit for salad. There are several people coming to help. My sister and I will spend quite a bit of time Friday evening putting together “kits” with instructions so people can be handed a box with apples, for example, with instructions to cut them into bite-sized pieces and add to the fruit salad. Hopefully, that will get all the jobs done and leave no one standing around wanting to know what to do.

I picked up this picnic basket at a yard sale. Rob oiled it with a little wood oil after this picture was taken, so it looks even prettier now. The bride has asked for some of the wedding food to take with them on their honeymoon, as she feels she won’t get to eat much. We will pack the food in here with ice packs. She also wants an assortment of cookies from her cookie bar, so we will add those, too.

I’m bringing containers, plastic wrap, dishcloths, soap, knives, cutting boards, scissors, etc., etc., etc., as the venue provides nothing but appliances. I’ve got a huge pile already and it’s only Tuesday!!! You should see my sister’s living room. She has decor for the food tables and will have all the food. Yikes! Rob has the van completely full of his projects shown in the last post. Let’s hope that set up crew is on time and very, very strong.

Wedding Decor Projects

My niece will be married in a couple of weeks. My sister and I (and husbands) are in charge of the reception. We’ve been planning for months.

Rob has been working hard on building decorative items. I’ve been working hard helping him set his projects up, wrestle them around our yard, and adding ideas and finishing touches to them. (Meaning he is the master builder and I am his assistant!). This fence will be behind the sweetheart table where the bride and groom will sit during the reception. He built it in 2 sections, because we have to man-handle it up an elevator in the venue to the second floor. It won’t fit in its entirety, and is also too heavy in one piece. There is a crew coming to do this lifting, as we are really not able to do it ourselves. We have a LOT of heavy stuff!

The flowers on top are made from the bases of pinecones and will match the wooden flowers she is choosing to use in some of her decor/bouquets. The dahlias will be chosen from our garden in white, yellow, bronze, apricot, and other fall colors and picked the day ahead.

Our extremely talented friend cut this metal sign for Rob. Then, Rob finished the metal, and built a frame box for it with the lights inside. It will be hung on a fence that is much smaller than the previous one with chrysanthemums along the bottom and will be placed in an area where people will see it when they first come in. Then the newlyweds will get this sign for their new home. Her new hubby is a young man we have known and loved for years, so this wedding is doubly exciting for us and Uncle wanted to make something super special for them.

These rickety old ladders were scrounged from basements and garages from friends. He did have to do a little fixing, but they were left rustic on purpose, as the bride wanted. Rob cut old boards he also scrounged to put across them for a cookie bar. They will be decorated up the day of the wedding with various items. I’m hoping to get pictures of the final results. It will be a busy day.

The third rickety ladder was transformed into a holder for the paperware for the buffet. The very top holds 3 bottles for flowers, which will be in wedding and fall colors, not purple. The napkins are next, then the square paper plates she has purchased and silverware at the bottom. We may set more flowers at the base, or just leave alone as this needs to be functional and not trip people up.

These barrels (shown here at a party in July) will have the board across them and have a kids’ buffet area with goldfish crackers, licorice, gummy bears, and other items they will like. The bread will also go on there so the buffet stays gluten free. Our niece asked that allergies be respected and food labeled and that there were options for many of her friends and family who have the need for that.

The actual buffet tables have a base of normal tables the venue provides. Rob has cut a thin laminate to lay across them and scads of crates and baskets have been gathered for the base of the food. Dishes, plates, wood rounds and more have been sourced, along with all the drink items, which will be in a different area.

The table will have bouquets of dahlias and the white zinnias we planted in the spring.

Rob will prepare the meat in his barbeque. We hope to have turkey, roast beef and ham. It will be served sliced thin and cold. We have borrowed a meat slicer for that. There will be bread and condiments for those who want to make sandwiches and lots of veggies cascading out of baskets. We will have dips and salad dressing and salad toppings in little jars so hopefully people will pour some out, and not dip in and contaminate things. There will be a cheese board, salad bar, fruit salad, and a watermelon wedding cake. That cake is all my sister–I can’t wait to see how she makes that!

The venue provides nothing in the kitchen except appliances, counters, and a sink. I’m putting together a kit of things like towels, soap, scissors, tools, Saran Wrap, etc. I am started, but will work hard on that in the next few days.

Then, of course, there’s the actual cooking…….We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible and have pulled in some friends and family to help on the day of.

There has been a lot of planning and work done already, and much more to do next weekend. I’m excited to see how it looks when we get it all done and even more excited to see two special people we love so much start their new life together!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Still Canning–September 20, 2022

The shelves are starting to fill up nicely. I have most items canned that I want to do, and a few blank spots to tuck away the remaining items. The boxes on the left are now almost filled and labeled with jars that won’t fit or that I have canned an excess of.

For example, there are 2 boxes of pears. I canned extra of those this year and don’t anticipate using them all this winter. So they can remain stored in a box and the shelf can be used for items for immediate use, but are always handy in case people around here start gobbling pears up!

Dealing with this many canned items is a big organizational task. There is always a lot of arranging and re-arranging during the winter. There is a constant parade of full jars marching into the house and empties marching out. I organize them in sections according to their size and whether they are small mouthed, or wide mouthed. I keep all jelly/jam and tuna jars in shoeboxes in a different location to keep them organized as they empty. I use baskets and keep empties on the dryer until the basket is full, then deal with the jars. I keep a few jars of food in the house to grab quickly, but the rest is stored in the shop. It’s only a few steps to run out there and grab more at any time.

I keep good records. I use a simple journal with blank lines I bought years ago at the Dollar Store, and it’s not complicated. I count what’s left from last year, and add what I did this year. I often refer back to last year’s record sheets to see how many we actually used. This gives me an idea of how many jars of a certain item I need to can this year. Sometimes I look back 2 or 3 years to get an average, as people are fickle around here. One year they may gobble a certain item, like cherries, and the next year they might stop eating them!

This week, I was able to get pickled sweet pepper rings done. I also got several more tomatoes products canned, including crushed, more salsa, whole tomatoes and juice. I did 2 canner loads of vegetable beef soup and also canned beef broth. The broth used all the beef soup bones in the freezer, as I like to clear them out in anticipation for the new 1/4 beef we get each fall. The soup used up some of the broth, many vegetables that were lingering in the fridge and all the small bits of this and that I could pick in the garden and quite a few tomatoes. There’s just a small amount of meat in it, from the soup bones, and lots and lots of good veggies and herbs for flavor.

I went out and found quite a few pickling cucumbers I was not expecting, so I started another small batch of sweet pickles. There are never too many of those and I really don’t need more dills. It’s so cute when my autistic son comes over, as he did this past week. Every time, he shyly asks for a jar of those sweet pickles. I’m happy to share.

Because I have such a bumper crop of tomatoes, I am purposely canning more than I need. We eat a LOT of tomato products, so that’s been a big job. I learned to do this the hard way years ago when I lost my entire crop, except 7 quarts, to a blight of some kind. I was again reminded that crops are not always readily available when you want them, when the peach crop was very, very small this year. I only canned a few jars, but thankfully have many left over because last year’s crop was so huge.

I also canned quite a few items for others, especially my niece, who is getting married in a couple of weeks. Between her mother and myself, she will start off with a good supply in her canning cupboard. I enjoy canning, so when she asked for that for her wedding gift, I was delighted to agree. Rob already took her the canned goods, and they are put away at her new apartment, ready and waiting for the newlyweds to enjoy.

Rob is working almost every day on items for my niece’s wedding. I’m going to do another post on those, this one is getting too long.

We did a few more activities this past week, although the main focus was food preservation. We stacked firewood that was given to us. The pile is getting huge, and we fell blessed.

I picked many veggies and used them in meals. We’ve also been utilizing the jars that didn’t seal, which you always get a few of when you can as many jars as I do. We ate soup that did not seal, another batch of soup I made from extra veggies, tuna noodle casserole, hamburgers, spaghetti, salads, chicken gravy over mashed potatoes, and a Costco chicken. It’s always a bit of a struggle to cook when I’ve been canning for hours, so the chicken really helped out and you can’t beat the $5 price tag. I’m pretty sure I only have a pint of tomatoes in the fridge that needs to be dealt with from the items that did not seal. I’ve had tremendous success in getting them to seal this year, and have only had a very few that didn’t in the hundreds of jars I’ve canned.

I was able to fill the yard debris bin this week for the first time in a while. There is much more yard work to do, but the canning has been a priority, so that felt good to at least get started.

Last, but not least for this week, we were able to collect a few seeds to save for next year. We’ve collected parsley, snap peas, beet seeds, and a few more. I will still buy many seeds, especially of a few hybrid varieties I like to plant, but it’s been fun to learn this skill over the past few years and to see that it really works! We have enjoyed many veggies from our own seeds this year, such as all pole beans–purple and green, most of the cucumbers and some green onions, and a few more, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 13, 2022

Rob and I got away to the Oregon Coast for a few days over the weekend to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We stayed in a hotel with an ocean view, and spent hours staring out our window, reading, and relaxing.

We took several short hikes. The above pictures were taken down near the town of Yachats, Oregon. There is a trail there that runs along the beach. It’s easy to hike and you get to look down at the ocean and these rocks the entire time. I’ve always wanted to hike along it, and finally got to. We also hiked a little bit at South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon.

Although we did stop in at the Lincoln City outlet mall, we did not find a single thing we could not live without. It was fun to look around, though.

We did not go down onto the beach this trip, as Rob is still recovering from his wound on his leg. Since the wound care clinic was kind enough to give him a lighter wrap and let me change the bandages for this trip, we did not want to get sand on his leg…..and it paid off. They were very happy with how it looked Monday morning when he went in! He goes 3 times each week.

We went out for a couple of meals, and ate food I took for the rest of the time. Although it was such a momentous occasion, we could have eaten out the entire time, I feel better when I cook my own food, for the most part.

We had one short-lived scare, as a grassfire broke out just a few short miles from our home. People in our area were put on alert. After we figured out that the evacuation center was the school very near our house, we relaxed a bit, and figured that if people were told to go to our neighborhood, it was probably a safe place to be. Lovana, who was home taking care of things at the house, ran the sprinkles anyway, just to keep things damp, just in case.

On our way home, we stopped at the docks in Newport and got tuna to can. We last canned tuna 2 years ago, so it was time to do some more.

I was canning right up until I left for the trip, and started in right away when I got back. It’s that time of year. I gave away several boxes of tomatoes right before I left, as I couldn’t quite finish.

I am typing this on Tuesday. Over the past 2 days, I’ve picked 8-10 buckets full of tomatoes. It might have been more. I lost count. Yikes!!! Talk about a bumper crop. We are still laughing, as last spring, those were the worst looking tomato plants Rob has ever grown!

I canned 7 quarts of diced tomatoes from the Romas that were left home over the weekend. I knew they would keep. I did a few jars of dilly beans from the pole beans. I took the very small tomatoes I picked and made tomato juice (10 pints) and taco/enchilada sauce (12 assorted pints and 1/2 pints). I chopped and froze some peppers that ripened.

There are still quite a few boxes of tomatoes. I have several tomato products to can, but I’m gaining on the project.

I sent produce to my sister and my next-door-neighbor. I cooked with it, as well.

One day last week, we took Jake and both babies to the library. There was a baby story time, which I attended with the babies and their mom. Rob took Jake to the library to choose books. Then, Rob and I took Jake and Malcolm for a walk in the area and enjoyed ducks and a pond. It was fun to go somewhere new.

It’s becoming a tradition for whatever babies are here to pile onto the bed and look at books with Grandpa.

Of course, there’s lots of tickling involved, as well as jumping, flashlight waving, and more. But, they can call it reading if they want:)

Canning and Other Food Preservation–September 2022.

I have been spending up to 12 hours a day preserving food lately. Even when I don’t have hours to spend at it, I do try to do a little early in the morning, or in the evening. It’s my kind of fun, but also a lot of work. In the end, I’m super happy with all the food we’ve preserved so far.

In late summer and fall, many things usually ripen in our area. This year has been very strange. We had a late spring and several crops were completely lost or severely damaged, so we were not sure what we would have available this year.

Every year, my sister’s neighbor gives her several boxes of pears. This year, he said there were going to be none. We were fortunate enough to find some at a fruit stand we love to go to and ordered 2 boxes. This was about 80-90 pounds, I think. Then, the neighbor gave her some after all. Surprise! I’m not sure how many pounds came our way, but I’m guessing 50 or more. Those from her neighbor were ready to work up immediately, and some were starting to spoil the day I received them. My mom delivered them, so we started in on them right away.

I dried a dryer full each day for several days, so have many baggies of dried pears now. I made a batch of pear butter and canned it. I made a huge bowl of fruit cocktail and canned it in pints.

Over a several day period, I canned 43 quarts and several pints of the purchased pears, as they ripened. I just finished them Tuesday.

My sister’s farm had a terrible peach crop this year. Earlier, we were able to get enough early peaches to freeze and dry some. She kindly scrounged the orchard for the later kind, Elbertas, and sent several small boxes full to me. I canned 9 quarts and 4 pints. Thankfully, with what I have left over, that should be more than enough. I intentionally did extra pears since we were almost out of those and the peach crop was not abundant.

Since the babies eat here so often, I anticipate that we will go through most of what I canned this winter, as they love canned fruit. They also love soup, carrots, beans, etc.

We also ate some fresh and my daughter made a big peach crisp. It was just finished last evening. Yum!

Of course, during all this abundance, I went out to pick tomatoes from the garden, and there were 4 buckets. Yes, 4! A few days later, there were 4 more. This is really, really funny to us. When Rob grew these tomato plants this spring, it was just too wet to plant them for a long, long time. They got leggy. They turned yellow. They were ugly and looked half dead. He was so embarrassed by his tomato bushes, he refused to give them to most people and apologized profusely to anyone who did wheedle him out of some. For the longest time, I had bushes, and no tomatoes. But all of a sudden……Oh, boy! I have huge bushes with the biggest tomatoes I ever remember growing in my life on some bushes and the tiniest ones on others, but all are loaded. They are quickly ripening now.

I have canned crushed tomatoes, quartered and whole tomatoes, pizza-pasta sauce and one batch of salsa. I gave my mom tomatoes to freeze and Jake’s mom tomatoes to can. We have been eating them daily. I still want to can more and there are so many more still ripening, I know I will get more than I want. That’s fine with me. Ever since the year (long ago) when my tomato crop died from a blight after I only got 7 measly jars canned, I like to do extra each year, just in case.

At the same time as the pears were picked up, Rob got a box of Gravestein apples for applesauce, and my mom brought me another 1/2 box. I made applesauce and canned about 30 pints of it.

A few pints of dill pickles were made. I have many dills left from last year, so only need to do a few.

Zucchini was dried. I don’t use much of this each year, but noticed my stash was almost gone from last year.

I made a double batch of basil pesto and froze 2 ice cube trays full. I popped the cubes out into Ziplock bags and plan to do more later on when the basil grows back a bit. We used last year’s supply too quickly and have been hoarding the last few cubes for a long time. It’s easy enough to just make more this summer. The basil is growing great!

I got a few ears of corn for 9c per ear at Safeway. I used them to make one batch of corn relish.

While I was at it, I boiled 2 frozen chicken carcasses I had saved when it was so very hot, and canned a canner-load of broth.

Most of the big canning jobs are done now. Although I love, love, love food preservation, I will admit that I’m glad to have that monumental pile of pears, peaches and apples in jars! It’s good to see my table again and be able to walk around here more easily without tripping on boxes of produce:)

There are still quite a few veggies in the garden. I slip out there and pick whenever I find the time. There will be a few more items that I will preserve this year, but we will eat quite a bit of the garden harvest fresh from now on. My sister has sent fresh corn several times, and we have been enjoying that. I didn’t grow winter squash, or cauliflower, so I will buy that from a produce stand, plus more corn if her supply runs out and I need more. The fall veggies I planted are coming along nicely and there will be broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, kale and lettuce. The spinach has been eaten up by slugs twice. Some lettuce did not germinate and some was bulldozed over by little bulldozer man, who loves to “work” in the dirt at the edge of the garden. I try to direct his bulldozing, but sometimes he gets carried away:). It’s so cute, it’s worth a little lettuce.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug. 30, 2022

I quickly mowed the lawn one day before it got too hot. It’s been a challenge getting it done on these hot days. I had a good helper. Rob was right there to make sure my helper stayed behind me and away from the mower. His little mower sends out bubbles when it’s full of soap, but he mows and mows with or without the bubbles.

It’s been hard to weed, as well, because it’s been hot, but I keep doing a bit whenever I can. On a. couple of days it was cool enough that I got quite a bit done in the garden. I weeded and planted a little more lettuce, some snow peas and spinach for fall. They have yet to come up, but we are watering frequently in hopes that they seeds will germinate.

I pulled the rest of the carrots and a lot of the beets. I canned beet pickles and carrots.

It’s a good way to put the super ugly carrots into a form where I can use them easily. In the winter, I can make soup quickly, and that’s my main purpose for them. I used some fresh and have a few more of the nice ones in the fridge for fresh eating.

I also canned a few dill pickles, dill beans, and some tomatoes. We picked and ate quite a few veggies from the garden.

On Sunday after church, we slipped away after church for a picnic at a park. This deer came up quite close to us.

Garden Update-August 22, 2022

The garden continues to grow like crazy, although some things are running later than usual, due to the wet, late spring. These are both picking cucumbers and slicing cucumbers and they are over-running the onions, basic, trying to climb the dahlias and are climbing the bean poles! I’ve made sweet pickles, and sliced some for meals, but that’s all so far.

Just in the last week or so, the cherry tomatoes are ripening in abundance, instead of one here and one there. The Sungold were first, and the Chocolate Cherry have just started.

The large red, tomatoes are just starting to ripen, with one here and a couple there. I have Beefsteak, Roma Cordova, Fantastic, Carmello and Oregon Star.

The Glacier tomatoes (extra early) are not as early as normal and are just getting going good. They are always on the small side, but this year are even smaller than ever before, some only reaching the size of a large cherry tomato. They sure taste good, though.

I’ve pulled all the spent green and yellow beans. I canned what I needed and now we will use the purple and green pole beans for eating fresh and freezing if there are extras. This dirt area will not be replanted this summer.

You can see the lemon cucumber bushes at the base of the trellis and the huge Tromboncini Zucchini plants on the far side of the trellis. There must be 10 huge squash on there already! I can’t keep up with it:)

There are peppers ripening everywhere. These are Hungarian Wax peppers and are spicy. Just ask Jake. And Malcolm. They each though they’d take a bite. Jake even got me to take one. They have an after burn! Just WOW! I plan to chop them small and freeze for using judiciously.

We’ve used a couple of green peppers that fell off by accident. More are coming along. The Carmen peppers, which are long and red when ripe, are long and green now, so it won’t be long. I’ve picked a few Jalepenos, left the Serranos alone until I make salsa, and used an Ancho or two. I also have Lola, a long, light-green/yellowish sweet pepper, and I have used a few of those already.

I’m becoming hopeful that we will get ripe cantaloupe. I haven’t tried growing it for many years, so didn’t know what to expect.

There are even a few tiny watermelon. These are supposed to be a personal-sized melon that grows under cooler conditions. To even reach “personal” size, this one has a long ways to go, but I’m hopeful!

Most of my snow peas are dead now. I do have one tiny section that gives me 3-4 peas every few days. They don’t like the hot weather we’ve been having. But, there are a few snap peas hanging on and giving me a handful every few days. The next crop of snow peas should bloom any day (you can see them below), and the next planting after that has just broken through the ground, so we will be back in business soon.

Lettuce is somewhat of the same story. This planting is almost big enough to pick some from, and there’s one more place that has semi-good lettuce. Otherwise, I just pulled the rest up today. It’s so bitter. There is a small bit in the fridge, but instead of daily salads, we’ve only had one this week. That’s fine. When we take a little break from a certain vegetable, I find we enjoy it more when we get it again.

There is basil everywhere. Some was planted, some just came up volunteer. That’s good because I want to make pesto to freeze. We love it in vegetable soup. It gives it a special flavor.

The raised bed in the front of the picture has tiny lettuce seedlings that came up nicely. There are only a few spinach, but the snow peas came up well and the Boc Choi is up, also. The kale is growing just fine, despite the heat. I pulled up old plants in the far bed today and will replant with green onions, and possible cilantro or more snow peas.

The new planting of broccoli and cabbage is growing fine. So are the weeds! As you can see, I liberated a few of them today, but there are quite a few more to weed out. Most of the old cabbage has either been used or has burst and needs to be pulled, although there are a couple good ones left. I got a good red one today. It will be good to have another crop.

One of the spring-planted broccoli plants escaped being pulled up with the other ones because it was so much later and looked good for whatever reason. It’s decided to give me more broccoli. I’m glad I left it! I plant the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial and they do come on at different times, as it is a mix of varieties.

The everbearing strawberries are ripening a few each week, just enough for one person to have a small dish. The blueberries are all but done, so I have just been getting a couple of handfuls every few days. The Marion (black) berries are completely finished, as are the raspberries.

We have so many dahlias. This is the section with smaller blooms. You can also see a volunteer sunflower on the right, and another planting of later pole beans on the left. Rob grew most of this section from seeds he bought off the internet. He started the tubers in pots in the greenhouse for the rest with birthday gifts or paper bags full of tubers that people gave him when they heard he wanted to grow dahlias this year. It kind of became a joke, we were given so many. I cannot tell you how much I’m enjoying them. We’ve picked so many bouquets already.

He has been experimenting with seed-saving the past few years, and all the pole beans, both purple and green, are from his saved seeds this year. Many cucumbers are, too, but not all. He’s got lettuce, dill, carrots and even a couple of beets that are setting seeds for him to save this year, and will save seeds again from whatever he can that is not a hybrid variety.

Dahlias are along the shop, across the back of the garden, in the front of the house in the flowerbed, and in pots.

We feel very blessed to have such a prolific garden. I enjoy working in it, and am reaping the benefits of all this produce and exercise. I have to accept that I simply cannot pull ALL the weeds, so I try to get some each day. On the days I am harvesting and processing food, though, it’s a challenge to find time to weed as well.

I am happy to report that my neighbor is still my friend, despite all the zucchini I’ve handed over the fence:). That reminds me….maybe she could use more tomorrow…….It’s worth a try:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug.22, 2022

My sister has a peach orchard. Their crop was terrible this year. They did not have enough to open the orchard for u-pick at all. Walking through the orchard, except for the one section, the other trees are completely bare. I feel so bad for them. There were enough of one kind to offer to family and friends, and we picked some on Saturday.

I froze some. I ended up with 3 trays, which is about 9-10 quart baggies full.

I dried some. I did not can any. Thankfully, there are still 50 quarts left over, since last year was such a good peach year and I did extra. That will be enough. This is one reason I always try to preserve extra of everything when I can get it.

I had a jam-making day. I did one batch of peach jam from the fresh peaches. I pulled frozen peaches and frozen raspberries and made a double batch of peach/raspberry. We did not freeze any raspberries this year, our crop was so poor we easily ate them all, and I was glad I had extra peaches and berries from last year. While I was at it, I pulled the California strawberries I had purchased one carton at a time on super, super sales and froze and made a batch and a half of strawberry jam while I was at it.

There is a fruit stand where our family buys pears and apples if we need them. Rob will call again tomorrow and see how those things are ripening up, but the owner indicated to him a few weeks ago that those things would be readily available–no shortage was expected.

50 quarts gives one jar per week, most weeks. I expect there may be some weeks where people eat more pears and applesauce then they have in the past, so I will do a little more of those 2 items, especially since there are only 13 jars of pears left on the shelf! After years of no one eating many pears, they have suddenly become the favorite. Who knew? That’s how it goes around here. It keeps me on my toes.

Although some crops aren’t doing well this year, the zucchini is taking over! This is a tromboncini zucchini. There are so, so many, along with the yellow and green traditional ones. And, oh yes, the scallopini ones. Hmmmm. What was I thinking when I planted so many?

We are really starting to work on the logistics for the reception for my niece’s wedding. My sister and I have a good plan, we have Rob building a few things, and we were able to tour the venue last Friday. The mother of the bride took us all out to lunch so we could all keep making plans, and we had a really nice time. The dahlias and white zinnias are growing nicely in the garden, and I keep dead-heading the spent blossoms. Hopefully, we can keep them blooming until the wedding, because we plan to use a lot of them at the reception.

Making My Home A Haven

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