Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 18, 2021

Fall has really arrived. We are enjoying the colors we see in the trees and bushes as we go on our frequent walks. We’ve had a little rain now and then and there is quite a bit expected in the next week. Of course this means that we are frantically trying to get the fall chores done outside.

I spent quite a bit of time on my front yard this past week. Sadly, it was in pretty bad shape. It looks better, but there’s still a lot to be done. I dug up some calla lily bulbs that were taking over a section of the flowerbed. They were even growing through the bushes. I pulled spent flowers and planted a few pansies. I planted some Canna Lily bulbs a friend gave us and divided and moved some irises. I removed some tulip bulbs that were too close to the edge of the flowerbed and re-planted them. I’m hoping these changes will make things easier in the long run as I fill the beds with more perennials.

I’ve been picking little bits of this and that from the garden. There’s not a lot left, but we are eating what there is. Rob put a dryer of tomatoes on. I just haven’t gotten it done and we did use the ones we dried last summer. We had our first frost earlier this week, but it wasn’t severe. Many bushes are still alive, but growing very slowly with the cold nights. Veggies that do finally mature rot or mold quickly. The garden is clearly almost done. There are still a few flowers left, so I happily picked some today.

I didn’t need much from the store this week, so used my grocery money on things to fill holes in my pantry. I got Progresso clam chowder for 99c/can. It is gluten-free, and makes a handy lunch on busy days. This is the second time they’ve had that extremely good sale this fall, so I have purchased over 30 cans in all. That is more than I bought last year, as we ran out and didn’t find them on sale again. Instead, the same cans were between $2.50 and $2.79 when I did find them, and I left them at the store:). I got a few more items as well, along with a little fresh produce and dairy.

We did have to go to 2 Safeway stores, a Dollar Tree and a Fred Meyer store to get what we needed and we spent less than $50 all together. The empty section of shelves seem to be quite random, according to which store we were in. The Dollar Tree was the worst, Rob said. Thankfully we only needed a couple of things from there and we were fortunate enough to find them.

We had a missions conference at our church Saturday and Sunday. I haven’t attended anything like that for so long, I think I appreciated the opportunity even more than I would have before. On Saturday, a young couple we know came home with us for lunch on the spur of the moment. Rob slapped together some peanut butter sandwiches and some others made from some of our home-canned tuna. I warmed up the soup I had made a couple of days earlier and added the carton I had frozen for the future. I popped open a jar of home-canned peaches and we had lunch in a hurry, since we had to go back for the afternoon session. I was so glad I had so much “fast food” in my cupboard so we could enjoy our time with them. I really loved the fact that they brought their baby and toddler over with them. You know I love babies:). It was nice to be able to save both families the cost of eating out, as well.

Jake spent several days and a couple of nights at our house this week. We had a “party” one evening. It involved some treats to eat, a movie of his choice, and some fun. My sister came over that day and played games with him endlessly (thank you sis! It’s a true sign of love for our nephew to play Clue…and more than once!!!). We also enjoyed the babies that day. It was a pretty chaotic day, and lots and lots of fun. At one point, we popped Malcolm into his stroller and left Rob in charge of the chaos at home and took off and pushed him down the street for a couple of miles. Everyone was happy. (In this picture, Patsy has wrapped him up tightly, like a burrito, with a blanket and surrounded him with cats, books, pillows, etc……..they were having a great time just goofing around.)

After a week of being busy every single day, I was so happy to stay home today and really clean up my extremely messy house. I swept up an amazing pile of dirt and dog hair, mopped away what felt like an acre of dirt from the floors, dusted, cleaned that much-used bathroom (we only have one and there were a LOT of people through this house this week!) and even cleaned SO MUCH dirt off the the ceiling fan over the table.

This evening, I’m just sitting and basking in the cleanliness while it lasts. Which won’t be long. Just sayin’. But it’s nice tonight, and alway nice to know it’s “clean underneath” no matter who comes to call, throw toys or track mud tomorrow.

One Last Mad Rush of Food Preservation–Fall, 2021

The cauliflower has ripened in our area. I’ve been waiting for this moment. On Saturday, Rob and I decided to make our giardiniera. Last year was the first time I had ever made it. It was hard to know exactly what recipe to choose because there were so many variations out there. We just picked one that wasn’t too sweet, made a few jars, and Rob loved it so much he was rationing it by January or February. We wanted to make a large quantity this year.

I sent him out to buy cauliflower from a farm stand, carrots from the restaurant supply place in a 25-lb bag, and lots of celery. While he was gone, I washed jars and picked all of the remaining peppers I could find. I also started peeling all of the tiny onions we had separated out into a box for this purpose. Some were only an inch or so, and some were larger. Those were cut into 1/4ths. When he got home, he kept peeling onions. That was time-consuming, but provided a way to use some onions that would have possibly gone to waste.

We may have gotten a little carried away. As I was cutting veggies, I just kept having to get more bowls because they were so full I couldn’t stir the veggies up. They were really, really big bowls. Rob quickly filled all the jars I had washed and needed more. I had to climb to the attic in the shop where we store “un-needed” jars and used every single one of my empty wide-mouth pints, except 2. I had to make batch after batch of brine. 18 quarts and 50 pints later…..well, needless to say, this project went on for about 10 hours. It’s a good thing I had Rob pick up another gallon of vinegar while he was out and about. I did get 15 pints of carrots canned in the middle somewhere….so that job is done now, as well.

The entire 25 pound bag of carrots was used, except about 2 pounds I saved for fresh eating. 4 heads of cauliflower didn’t sound like much when he called from the stand….Again, I saved enough for a meal to eat fresh but there was still a lot more than I thought.

It was a big project. I’m delighted it’s done. I’m really glad to know that no one will need to ration vegetables around here.

Yesterday, we stopped by a different farm stand where they had cauliflower for only $3 for huge heads.

Even the colored ones were only $3. I got 6. I cleaned, cut, blanched and froze 12 baggies of white and 16 baggies of mixed colors. This is about double what I froze last fall. We were completely out by a little after Christmas. Sometimes it’s quite amazing to think about how many vegetables we eat around here. It’s why I keep very detailed records. Otherwise I wouldn’t believe we could eat as many as we do.

You may wonder why I don’t grow my own cauliflower. I tried a few times. It turned out terrible. It was small, buggy, bitter, or didn’t grow at all. One time Lovana grew one nice one. Not me. So I support local farmers who have it down to a science.

Last, but not least, we needed to pick the basil and make our pesto before it frosted and possibly froze the bushes. That meant we had to do it yesterday. We did 2 double batches and got 2 ice cube trays full. It’s incredible how many basil leaves it takes. We don’t eat a lot of pesto, but we love having it on occasion. I already made some salad dressing with some of it. Yum!

I left some in case it didn’t die from frost just yet, but it’s on its last leg, regardless, and it won’t be long until I pull what’s left of it. I’ve been pulling other plants each week, but still have quite a bit of clean-up to do outside.

The weather has changed. We’ve had a fire in the wood stove several times now. It’s been raining occasionally, and did frost last night. I’m getting ready to snuggle down and do some inside tasks. Each season has it’s own set of things I enjoy, but I do have to admit I will miss being in the garden so much.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 12, 2021

My plants are getting a little sad and sorry looking, but I’m still enjoying every last blossom I see. We had a pretty heavy frost this morning, the first of the fall, but many plants are still alive.

Since frost was predicted, yesterday I picked what I could find in the garden.

It’s looking pretty bad out there:)

I may still get a little more, but the nights are getting so cool that the growth rate of the veggies is very, very slow and the plants are looking about finished in most cases.

I’m glad I put the cover on the raised bed. I’m not sure what I’ll get from these tiny plants this fall, but they should be able to put on some growth in the spring if the slugs don’t consume them and I’ll have early veggies. I’m hoping the walnut shells will be discouraging to the slugs. It seemed to help last winter/spring.

I soaked pinto beans and made both refried beans and chili. At the beginning of Covid, we had a choice between 50 pounds of beans for about $23 or no beans at all. I’ve shared a few and we’ve eaten a lot, but trust me, I’ve still got lots of pinto beans to work my way through. I added peppers and onions from my garden to the refried beans to give them flavor. Later in the week, I made some enchiladas with some of them, we ate some and froze the rest. Our meals were very simple this week, as I was extra busy with many things.

I made salad a couple of times from this leaf lettuce mixed with a head of iceberg from the store.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 4, 2021

We had a few days of beautiful weather, and a few days of much-needed rain lately. On one of the nice days, Rob played bubbles with our grandson. Bubbles are one of the most economical “toys” a person can buy, and boy are they a favorite. I’m sure I could save even more by making my own, but I’m quite willing to spring for the 50c or $1 I paid for these for the sake of time. I took him for a walk in the rain another day. He seemed to enjoy that, too. Almost every time he comes over, I push him down the street in the stroller we used for his mother. We are sure getting our money’s worth out of that!

It looked like quite serious business to me, at times!

We read a book about apple picking during school one day and went on a field trip to pick one bucket of apples from a near-by orchard. Jake was dying to ride in the wagon, so we took turns pulling him.

The kids really got into posing for the “apple-picking photo” and in fact posed for 3 or 4. I was surprised about how much fun they had at an activity they’ve done many times before, and how quickly that bucket filled! You could fill it for $15. We offered to pay an extra dollar or two because ours was ultra-full. But, they declined additional payment, which was kind, I thought. The kids would have filled several buckets they were having so much fun, but I didn’t need more, and I didn’t want to can a whole bunch as I’ve already done applesauce and pie filling. We do like dried apples and also canned apple slices and wedges with red hots, but I can always go back if I get enthusiastic.

I canned a few more diced tomatoes and did stewed tomatoes for the first time, ever. Rob fondly remembers his Mom making them and he loved them. Her method was to fill her sink with tomatoes, peppers, onions and celery and stir it around with her hands and can it up. I needed more direction, so got a recipe from the new Ball Canning Book I bought this summer. It was called stewed tomatoes with vegetables and I had to can it in a pressure canner. The 11 jars came out great. Rob made some jalapeño jelly, as well.

I picked tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lemon cucumbers and zucchini from the garden. I used chives from one of the raised beds.

I put coverings on one raised bed to encourage the tiny lettuce, spinach, snow peas and cilantro that came up. The kale and cabbage look awful. I think the slugs are the victors this time, but we will see. I spread old walnut shells around to discourage them, but…..

I started removing a few old tomatoes bushes if they looked done and started cleaning up a couple of spots in the flower beds. There’s going to be a lot to remove and I don’t think I can do it all at once! I put what I could in our compost bins and filled the yard debris bin with branches, ivy and weeds that had gone to seed. It’s so nice to fill that when I can as I don’t want any more ivy or weeds around here!

Rob and I did a little sorting in the freezers. We wanted to know how much beef was left from last year’s quarter beef we bought to make sure we really needed another quarter as our beef farmer was asking us. We inventoried the other protein as well while we were at it. I’ve got lots of chicken, trout, 1 turkey, 1 ham and a little pork, a lot of hamburger and a very few other pieces of beef. We will get the beef, as usual, but may share some of it, and some of the cost with another person who has an interest.

I’ve been working hard at fall cleaning. The garage was my first mission. It was a huge mess, and that’s an understatement. I tend to just dump things out there and run to the next thing on the list during heavy canning season. Now, all of the homeschool materials are sorted, binned up, and organized in a better fashion for both Patsy and Jake. The grocery sack of books I got for $2 at a yard sale are shelved. The pantry shelves are organized and inventoried. A huge pile of old clothes and a few other items have been hauled away and donated. Bulk foods have been re-packaged into my old ice cream buckets and glass jars and labeled. The seeds are semi-organized for next year in their section of the garage.

We use our garage for an extra room, mostly for storage as our house is very small. I plan to host Thanksgiving here this year and plan to have extra seating out there so everyone does not need to be so close together. (I’m aware some family members still may not want to come, due to Covid, but some do.). I love that the garage could be set up for a party right now, so there will be no pressure later as long as I keep it clean. I love that I know exactly what food supplies I have in my pantry. Very little gets wasted that way, since I go through that a couple of times a year. Occasionally I find something that we just don’t like and I can’t get anyone to eat, and this year was no exception, but I had very little I chose to throw away.

I identified gaps in my pantry and placed an Azure Standard order for some bulk buy to fill it in. I also made a small list for Costco and a few other stores.

I continue to cook mainly from the freezers, pantry and garden and to use the grocery money for bulk purchases. The garden is still producing a few veggies so I want to use them as much as possible while I still can. I also want to use the little tidbits I found while organizing the shop freezers. It’s so easy to “lose” things out there, especially in the chest freezer.

This week I plan to cook or have already cooked: corn flake-coated chicken drumsticks (using older corn flakes found while cleaning garage), teriyaki beef and chicken (from a package of beef that had strawberries spilled all over it somehow and chicken that had been around for way too long but was still fine), a new potato soup recipe from a library cookbook in my Instant Pot (using very sad, old potatoes found in garage under something, 1/2 brick cream cheese that needed using and some other ingredients), potato salad (from rest of old bag of potatoes), stir-fried vegetables (zucchini, carrots, onion from garden), white rice (from 50 pounds purchased for$10 at beginning of Covid), brown rice (from a package that was getting old), ground pork sandwiches (from frozen, already cooked pork in freezer), something from some pork roast and lots of home-canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, plus garden produce.

We were allowed into the library for the second time since Covid started. We had to make an appointment. I made one for the first hour, first day available and had a great time:). Holds are finally starting to come in less than 4 months, although I still have some things that have been on hold for that long or longer. Things are looking up:)

God has been blessing us right and left. When we need something, it’s there. It’s that simple. We have had several needs met lately by people who had no idea we even needed anything because we didn’t tell anyone. Anyone but God, that is. It’s a little early for Thanksgiving, but we feel very thankful and blessed right now, so I couldn’t help throwing that in today:)

Thriving In My thrifty Week–September 28, 2021

This week, we celebrated the arrival of fall by doing some extra activities with the kids. On the first day of fall, we decorated the extra fall-shaped sugar cookies I had frozen before we went to the beach. Then, we made fall cards.

Rob organized the project. It involved collecting fall leaves on our walk, then spattering them with watercolors so that when the leaf was removed, the shape of the leaf was left on the card.

Another day, we made some cinnamon puffs. They are like little fritters. The kids enjoyed the project and they were soon eaten, especially when the big girls and babies dropped by later in that afternoon and helped eat them.

We had 2 birthday parties. One was for sweet Allison and one was for my aunt. I made hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans along with the big chocolate cake and we had some ice cream for Allison’s party. We played games and had fun with our son, Anthony and his girl, Allison. For my aunt’s party, my sister did the hosting. I took a pan of enchiladas–easy! Both gatherings were kept extremely small, but it was nice to get together.

A friend gave us some dahlia starts in pots earlier in the summer. A few of them recently bloomed. I’m trying to get an idea of what they look like and how tall they are before I plant them in the flowerbeds. This one is especially pretty.

I canned the rest of the whole tomatoes I needed and 3 more pints of diced tomatoes. I also made 7 pints of enchilada sauce, using all the tiny tomatoes, yellow ones and cherry tomatoes I could gather. There are just too many for us to eat fresh. They are winding down, though, so I’m glad I pretty much have what I need. When Rob’s cousin graciously offered us more tomatoes, I was able to say “no,” gratefully and thankfully for the offer, of course, but still “no.” Truthfully, many of my jars are filled now. The shelves have only a few small spaces left. I have plans for those spots and will fill them, but there comes a time where I need to move on to other things that need to be done and not can just to can, not fill jars just because I have a few empty ones left…. Other than things that are ready yet, like cauliflower, I’ve preserved what I need and a little more for a carry-over.

One of those things that desperately needs done is cleaning. My house is a disaster. It makes sense. I’ve spent up to 14 hours some days growing or picking produce and dealing with it. So I started with the garage, which became a handy place to drop boxes, buckets, food items, toys, crafts and garage sale items over the past few months. I’ve put in about 2-1/2 hours so far, over 2 days, and you can hardly tell at all. I plan to clean a little, in short increments, several times a week until it is done. Once things are sorted through and organized, I will be able to tell if I have enough for a garage sale, or just want to donate the excess. I go through my food storage pantry shelves a couple of times a year out there, so I should make faster progress when I get to that section as it shouldn’t be too messy.

I cleaned out the freezer over the fridge in the kitchen. I found lots of food I had frozen for future meals so we are eating a lot of that this week. I put empty ice cream buckets I’d saved in there, one for baggies of frozen fruits and one for frozen vegetables. I’m hoping I have stopped the avalanche each time the freezer is opened. So far, so good!

I made vegetable soup, clam chowder, enchiladas, zucchini noodle lasagna, and thawed several pre-cooked items I’d cooked in the past.

We were able to get 24 cans of Progresso clam chowder on the 99c/can sale this week. All of my regularly budgeted grocery money this week has gone on stocking the pantry–things like this soup, 25 pounds of 1 to 1 flour, etc. and a little dairy and produce. Since we ate the camper freezer food, and now the house freezer food, I really don’t need much so this is a perfect time to load up on pantry items.

Salsa

I was asked for the salsa recipe I use. Here it is:

Tomato Salsa (using paste tomatoes)

from: Salsa Recipes for Canning (A PNW Extension publication)

7 quarts peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes (I pour boiling water over a big bowl of tomatoes, drain it off, cover with cold water, peel and pulse in a food processor, then measure it out)

4 cups seeded, chopped long green chilies (Anaheim mostly, some Ancho in this batch–again, clean them, then pulse in food processor, then measure–it’s whatever grew for me. None of these have heat in my garden, but they do have a good flavor. The heat comes from the other peppers.)

Jalepeno or Hungarian Wax (hot) peppers–I used 8, but you have to taste as you go–add 4, then taste, then add more if needed. The temperature varies so much in my home-grown peppers. I’ve added a Serrano in the past if I needed more heat.

5 cups chopped onions

6 cloves garlic, pulsed with a batch of the tomatoes, onions or peppers

2 cups bottled lemon juice

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 Tablespoons cumin

3 Tablespoons dried oregano leaves

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients except spices and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. I actually use 2 pots if I make the full batch, 1 if I do 1/2 batch. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add spices and simmer 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into hot pint jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes at 0-1,000 feet altitude, 20 minutes at 1,001-6,000 feet, 25 minutes above 6,000 feet.

Yield: 13 pints

This works best with Roma tomatoes. If you have to use a lot of the more juicy ones, there is another recipe that suggests using a little tomato paste to thicken or to cook it down for quite a bit longer to thicken it up. I use this in cooking sometimes, but mostly it is eaten right out of the jar on chips, tacos, taco salad as dressing, etc. Jar after jar after jar after jar:). They love it!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 21, 2021

My garden looks like a complete mess! Still, on Sunday after church when I went out to pick a few things, I got all this and another huge bowl of beans. They were the surprise, since I found the bulk of them on the 3 short rows of bushes I just haven’t gotten time to pull out. They obviously bloomed again and reset more beans. So, among the dried-up, too-old beans was another batch of beautiful, just-right beans.

I cooked a pan full for eating. I gave a bag to my sister and one to my aunt. Then, I froze 4 bags. We don’t eat that many frozen beans, but always use a few each winter. I had only frozen about 4-6 previously this way, so these will be used with no problem. The pole beans should continue to give us enough for fresh eating for a few more weeks.

With my freezers groaning with all of this summer’s bounty, I need room! I pulled a turkey I purchased last fall when they were very inexpensive and Rob cooked it on the bbq. Then, I de-boned it, made broth and canned most of it. The rest was eaten fresh and some is for turkey enchiladas.

I used the boxes and bowls of tomatoes and finished up the salsa. I believe I have enough for these salsa-crazy people around here. With the few that were left over and what I made, I now have 72 jars of assorted sizes–everything from 1/2 pint to quart. Salsa is one of the more time-consuming things I can, so I’m glad to have that project finished.

I also got one canner load of tomato juice and one of crushed tomatoes. I need to do a few more whole tomatoes, but those are easy.

There are still tomatoes on the bushes, but they are winding down. There will be plenty for us and the extended family to eat for several more weeks, until frost.

I froze jalapeño peppers and Hungarian Wax peppers together, as they have about the same level of heat. It was very easy to pick and food-process them while I was making salsa. We don’t use very many of those in a winter, but it’s nice to have some. I package them very thin and flat in a quart-sized ziplock bag so I can break off little chunks when I want to throw just a few into a recipe.

Even though I’m still canning, and school is going full-force, meals need to be cooked. I made this breakfast “egg pie” with a frozen hash brown crust and eggs, a little ham, some leftover garlic cream cheese, spinach, ham and cheddar cheese. It came out great.

I’ve used all the chicken, meat and baked goods from the camper freezer, and am concentrating on using things from the house fridge freezer. It seems to cause an avalanche every time we open it, so it’s time:). Past time. Since we crack out our ice from ice cube trays and fill a Ziplock in the door, AND use a lot of ice daily, this can happen multiple of times each day. It’s getting annoying, to say the least. I can see why housewives of years gone by did fall cleaning. After all the food preservation and gardening, there are just too many areas that have been left to themselves around here.

The grocery money that was spent this week was for basics such as turmeric, salt, milk, eggs……you get the idea. As with most spices we buy, Rob was able to get the turmeric in bulk so it was not expensive. I don’t use much, but it was depleted in some of my pickles recently. It was nice to not need much else so I could fill those things up (and more) with my regular grocery budget. I did get a Coke Zero and some riced cauliflower for free from my Safeway card. The Coke Zero is long gone. The riced cauliflower—-hmmmmm. I’m going to try it soon so it doesn’t linger longer and make that freezer problem worse.

Sand Candles

I was asked how to make sand candles. I’m sure there are many ways, but this is what Rob helped the kids do.

Rob and the kids collected clean sand from the beach and poured it into boxes and other containers. They made depressions in the sand the size they wanted their candles. In the bottom of the hole, they poked their fingers down into the sand so the candles would have legs to stand on.

Rob bought shells at the Dollar Store, but kids could sure collect some if there were any. The ones we found on the beach were pretty broken this time, so we were glad to have the whole ones. They put them around the edge of the mold.

Rob got wicks off of Amazon. They were wrapped around sticks and balanced across the top of the candle hole. We did this before the wax was poured in, but I have to say they needed a lot of adjusting after the wax went in–it moved them a lot! Some chose to put in more than one wick.

The wax was from old candles Rob gathered from friends and family. He melted it all in a 50c pot from a garage sale and used a dipper, also very cheap from a garage sale. That way he didn’t have to mess with my stuff!

We let them cool all night and removed them from their sand “nests” the next day.

As you can see, you can barely see the shells.

Once we got home, we experimented with rubbing the sand off of the shells so we could see them better. It took a lot of rubbing to get the shells to show, and we lost a lot of sand. If we kept rubbing, the candles might not remain covered with sand, so it would be a balancing act, and would all depend on how much sand you wanted, and how much time you had. It will be interesting to see if the shells show up better as then candles burn.

I think it might be fun to burn them outside on the picnic table the next time we go camping. Of course, I will get a foil pie pan or old plate to burn them on, as I don’t know how quickly they would burn through.

It was a fun project and the kids and Rob and I all enjoyed doing it. As you can tell, it’s a very inexpensive activity, especially if you use old candles for wax, but makes a nice finished product. It really worked out as an activity that seemed special to the kids for our outdoor school week. I wouldn’t even consider doing it inside the house. It’s pretty messy and while it’s not hard, it does take a chunk of time. I’m glad Rob thought of it for the week.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 15, 2021

This past week, we went camping down at the coast. Although we have been doing homeschool for the past couple of weeks, this was our outdoor school. We did regular schoolwork with the kids in the mornings and then did fun, outdoor activities in the afternoons.

One day, I read a book about a silly, fantastic sand castle contest and then we went down to a beach and the kids built their own.

We read fall-themed books and decorated fall-shaped sugar cookies.

We read about sea creatures, then went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Rob organized this project. He melted old candles he collected from friends and family and some shells from the Dollar Store to make sand candles. He took the kids to the beach to collect the sand, and got the wicks from Amazon.

I thought they looked great.

There were lots of trips to the playground at the campground, and many, many times where the kids rode their bikes and I trotted along behind as fast as my short legs would trot:). We took a couple of drives down the coastline, and stopped at a candy store and for French fries. I read aloud for hours. The kids are enjoying Trixie Belden books right now. Of course Patsy has encountered them before, but they are all new to Jake and he’s loving them.

It was a very busy week, but a fun one. The weather was perfect and I’m so glad we got one last camping trip in before the fall rains come.

Once we got home, the garden needed attention. I picked tomatoes, we picked and chopped peppers to freeze. Just tonight, I canned 9 pints of crushed tomatoes. Rob’s been doing load after load of laundry and we’ve all been folding like crazy. There was more than usual because since this is our last camping trip for a while, there was extra bedding and such that needed washing.

We’ve been eating the leftover camping food for the past couple of days. I also unloaded the camper freezer, and we’ve been using the items that were in there. I always keep some chicken, hamburger, bread products, etc. in there for the entire summer, replacing as we use them on camping trips. So, I didn’t need to shop except for some milk, 1/2 and 1/2 and bananas.

Last evening, I dug up my old strawberry raised bed, put in some bags of steer manure, compost, coffee grounds and worm castings, and planted a few fall veggies. It may be too late to get much of anything, but it was worth a try and I simply couldn’t get it done before we went, as I was spending every minute canning. Those berries were done. They only last 3 years. I have some different berries in other places for next summer. So it feels good to have that mentally-daunting job done, whether I get any fall veggies or not.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 5, 2021

Once again, we concentrated on food preservation during this last week. The last of the pears went into the dryer.

I made German red cabbage and apples today, and one other time. Now, I have a lot! The last of the Gravenstein apples we bought went into that and they are officially gone as well. There is one more red cabbage in the garden, but the others were splitting and cracking and really needed to be used without delay–2 weeks ago! But, I did the best I could and got to them when I could. Rob specially grew the red cabbage for this purpose. I made this last year for the first time with the one red cabbage we grew and he loved it.

I pulled up all remaining beets and turned them into pickled beets. It was a great beet crop and we got around 20 pints. Some are for my Mom, and some for us. We had quite a few left over from last year, but the crop was outstanding, so I canned them up. We also ate quite a few fresh beets.

I’ve started on the salsa. I will do more in a couple of weeks as I didn’t get nearly enough, but it’s a start. (It is not in the picture) Peach pie filling used up the rest of the Elberta peaches we had picked at my sister’s. I’ve been making dilly beans with the extras from the pole beans. I’ve just mixed the purple and green ones. The red tomato product pictured here is pizza/pasta sauce.

Rob even froze some peppers. He uses them throughout the year, mostly for breakfast.

More dill pickles were made, as was another batch of Bread and Butter Pickles. Most of those will end up as gifts, likely around Christmas time. What I choose to give away at the holidays usually depends on what has grown prolifically during the summer, and, boy, are the cucumbers out-doing themselves this year.

Preserving food wasn’t all we did last week, though. I used some carrots that were starting to look bedraggled. Rob picked up a Costco chicken and I used the last of it to make this casserole.

I boiled the bones and made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup. I froze several meals worth in addition to what we have out for fresh eating. The rest of the chicken was eaten right away for meals, or put on salads. I also made a vegetable soup another day. It’s finally cooled down enough here for us to feel like both cooking and eating soup.

We watched our grandsons several times. One time, I wanted Baby Z to go to sleep, and he woke up the minute Patsy and I laid him in the crib, so I told Rob to lay down on the bed and I tucked baby up in his arm. Baby slept. Rob didn’t, but boy did he have fun watching Z sleep. Malcolm, on the other hand, would not go to sleep no matter what we did. He was having too much fun. So we just played with him.

Our daughter got a temporary job at the fair, working in a booth. Her older sister did the bulk of the babysitting, but we pitched in when we could with one boy or the other. Thursday evening, it was both, for quite a while. It took all 3 of us to keep up with him, but the boys were bathed, fed and happy by the time their Mama came for them. We, were exhausted, but happy, too. The fair is over tomorrow. I’m just glad she was able to work some extra hours and we were able to fit in time with the grandsons.. They are a joy to be with.

We had a slow start to school a few weeks ago. That just means I didn’t do all the subjects each day at first.. I homeschool Jake 3 days per week, and Patsy, of course, all the days. Each week, I’ve added a little more. That way works best with Jake, especially. We are doing “outdoor school” this coming week, so I have lots of fun activities planned. I spent quite a bit of time preparing this past weekend, but I’m ready now. Because our library is closed down again, due to the Delta variant, I was disappointed in not being able to get some materials I wanted. Thankfully, I have some books from the one time we were able to go in the short time it was open. I hit the motherlode at a garage sale this summer and got some books and teaching materials that I can use, so I organized all that along with the crafts and extra activities. At one place, I got a whole grocery sack full of books for $2. At other places, books were a quarter. I ended up with quite a few.

Rob got a few baby clothes at the Union Gospel Thrift Store. He found a Foley Food Mill in a “free” pile on the side of the road. A spare will come in handy.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good week+. My 4-page, double-sided list did not get all the way done. But, the wood is stacked and the canning that had to be done right away is done! I think the list served its purpose, but its time to generate a new one.

Making My Home A Haven

%d bloggers like this: