Thriving in my Thrifty Week–February 17, 2019

We have Jake and Michaela all weekend, until Monday night. Their parents are helping at a high school church retreat, which our daughter is attending. I’m sure they are having a good time, and I know we are! Jake brought the Frustration game in from the camper. After roping various ones into playing with him, he then set up his Lego Star Wars guys and played with them for quite a while. He was so cute, counting off their moves and popping the dice popper for each of them.

I had a friend and her daughter stay in the “guesthouse” Saturday night. We save a lot of money by using our camper as a guesthouse. Our out-of-town friends don’t have to pay for hotels, and we get to have them close so we can visit for every possible moment! It was very fun to swap “I remember” stories with her daughter. We have a lot of great memories from when this now-adult young lady was little…lots of fun to reminisce. The kids roped them into playing Yahtzee, we had dinner, and all too soon, they had to head back home very early Sunday morning. This has been my lucky month–this is the 2nd friend I’ve gotten to spend time with that I seldom get to see!

We’ve been reading library books, and books we own. I returned the one that I could not renew only 1 day late, so I will only have to pay for 1 day of being late. I was able to renew the rest in time and did not have to pay.

We watched U-Tube videos of Steve Green’s “Hide Them In My Heart” movies. Jake was trying to remember a verse put to music, and we found several there for free. He sang in church twice yesterday, with the kids’ choir he recently joined, so we were there bright and early. Rob took him back to practice last night. We have been taking turns with his other family members so he can go and hopefully have a good experience. He was very uncertain about going, but seems to be enjoying it now that he is getting used to it.

I finished the baby quilt I started and completed 2 of the 6″ blocks I got for free from the quilt shop hop.

I cooked quite a bit, and devoted one free morning to putting a few things into the freezer for quick meals.

I made Valentine’s treats for the kids that were cute, but inexpensive.

This week was an ordinary week, full of ordinary days. Sometimes those are the best kind. How about yours?

Baby Quilt–February 2019

The baby quilt I was working on is done. I’m very happy. I have not made a project like this for many years, and I was rusty.

I started with some cute fabric I’ve had for years and made the baby picture fabric the center of the stars. I had to buy a few pieces of fabric that went with what I had, but a lot of the little squares were from cloth I had collected in the past. That made me happy, as one of my goals this year is to use some things I have, and also to finish some projects. I was also able to use my rulers, rotary cutter, mats, and some acrylic templates I’ve had for years and years.

I had some trouble matching all the corners, but with some major ripping out and re-sewing, I got it done to my satisfaction. Then, I wanted it bigger, so I made a row of squares on the bottom and one on the top, and added borders. The squares were from leftover pieces of fabric used elsewhere in the quilt.

I went to the quilt shop and got some backing and batting. It’s hard to see in this picture, but there are some greens and whites along with the pale blue to pull it together. We don’t know if this baby is a girl or a boy, or I probably would have chosen pink or some flowered fabric I saw. But, they were really girly, so…

I machine quilted to entire thing in rows. It was difficult, and there were a couple of places that I wasn’t happy with and fixed. For the most part, though, I’m very satisfied. I sewed the binding on the front with the machine, rolled it over, and hand sewed it down on the back.

I’m very excited that I got it done before the baby was born and am already moving ahead on my next project. I expect things won’t take quite as long, as I get back in practice, which is good. After all, creating is way more fun than ripping!

happy Valentine’s Day-2019

I hope you all have a very nice Valentine’s Day this year.

I made cupcakes for my daughter, nieces and nephew. Rob is delivering the ones to the kids this morning, when he goes to put Jake on the bus and get Michaela for their bi-weekly trip to the swimming pool. We added a small gift card for each of them.

The little sugar hearts were purchased last year after Valentine’s Day, so were on clearance. As long as you keep them dry, they last a very long time. There are plenty left for next year. The cupcakes were made into hearts by putting a marble in the edge between the paper and the tin before baking to make the paper push in, forming a rough heart shape. The tops were frosted using a Ziplock bag with a little hole cut into it so the frosting could squirt out. It was a fun, quick, inexpensive project. The cupcakes themselves were from a boxed mix, purchased for 39c on clearance after Christmas because it had little red and green sprinkles in it. I just added a bunch more sprinkles from my pantry, so they became multi-colored, like Funfetti. They are loaded with sugar and gluten, so I won’t be tempted to eat any. At all. I loved making them for the kids, though.

I made 6 of these cupcakes in regular round shape and froze them, unfrosted and clearly labeled “NOT gluten-free” for an upcoming birthday party. I’ll frost them when that day comes.

Yesterday, Rob and I had a wonderful, rare day. We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a drive. We decided to visit quilt shops, so we drove around and went to a few. We chose ones out in the country so we could just enjoy the scenery. Since it’s a shop hop, we were given a kit for a 6″ block at each place. We only had a few hours, and didn’t worry about how many places we got to, but instead just meandered along. There are 16 shops spread out along a long, wide path that are participating and there is no possible way to get to all of them without spending way more time than we had–so we didn’t try to do them all. After I finish this baby quilt I’m working on, I will make up the blocks I got and figure out something to do with them. They are very pretty.

It was so much fun to be able to just visit and spend time together. You would think that we would have lots of time with just us, but in truth, hardly a day goes by that we are not surrounded by children, so we really enjoyed a few hours of “just us” time. And, we made it to pick up Patsy at school with 5 or 10 minutes to spare. Whew! Then, I had several hours to make cupcakes, cook dinner, and we went to evening church, so I was still able to get some thing done at home. Hopefully, we can remember to carve out some time again, soon! It’s such a good memory already:)

What did we eat? february 14, 2019

I served lots of salads and veggies this past week. One time, I put it out on a platter and added lots of goodies to make it look different. Somehow, it worked. We felt like we had a whole new kind of salad!

I made carrots sautéed in apple juice. Carrots are one of the most reasonable fresh veggies at this time of year, so we’ve been having them more often.

Rob made himself some cooked cabbage and chicken sausage with a side of sautéed mushrooms. The cabbage is also a good price, as it is in season at this time of year and he found 2 large packages of mushrooms on the mark-down rack, so he got to enjoy a bunch of those. We’ve had omelets from the mushrooms, as well. Another day, I made coleslaw from more cabbage.

I found a bag of frozen pesto cubes in the freezer. During the summer, I make it and freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop the cubes out and freeze in a bag. My recipe is very simple–it includes basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. There are no pine nuts in it. I made brown rice pasta with the pesto last night. It was really good. I ate way too much.

I crumb-coated some rockfish that was in the freezer and served it with the pasta, and home-canned green beans. We ate several jars of green beans this week, several jars of fruit, and quite a few odds and ends from the freezers. I’m noticing that the chest freezer is starting to feel less tightly packed, which is good news since it’s hard to see what’s in there other than the top layer. It’s easier to dig around if it’s not too crammed. The 2 uprights are showing some spaces as well. The little freezer on top of the fridge in the kitchen is still crammed because I keep bringing veggies and things in from the shop for immediate use. Now that I’m getting more space, I plan to make up a few more things like muffins to have on hand for quick meals.

One night, Rob made hamburger patties, baked “French fries” and carrots with a little honey on them. Then, he took a picture of it (that’s his foot and knee there) and sent me a picture with the caption “I’ve got dinner for you.” I was super happy he did that, as I was heading home and was starving:).

Patsy made gluten-free crepes. They were really good. Way too good. We’d better not make those too often:).

We ate leftovers quite a few times as well.

I am happy to report that I have finally (hopefully) got things organized again so that I can stop going to the store every few days. I will do another produce run in a few days, and I’ll grab eggs if I see them on sale, but the staples are back in the pantry, at least for now. We are ready for a weekend with Jake and Michaela, and have the foods they will eat all stocked up. I have other things I’d rather do than go to the store, so I’m excited about that. Still, the reality is that if we cook from scratch a great deal, which we do, I am going to run out of foods we use, and it’s worth the time to me to go from store to store and get the best possible prices to stock back up, so I will always make time for that. I haven’t checked the ads yet this week, but last week I got butter for $1.99/box…..it’s aways worth looking:)

thriving in my thrifty week–february 10, 2019

We enjoyed watching the birds this week during the snowy days we were excited to experience. Rob’s been putting bird seed out for them each day, and lots of them are coming to the bird feeder and the deck outside our dining room window.

Because we rarely get snow, we love looking at it. The kids had no school on Tuesday, then it all melted. There were a few snow showers during the week on various days, and this morning, Sunday, all services at church was delayed until 11 to let what fell last night melt off. It had frozen into ice on the roads. It’s all supposed to be back to rain tomorrow.

Rob made sure everything was weather-proofed.

Jake and Rob took the time to watch Star Wars.

I have been working on a baby quilt for Rob’s nephew’s upcoming baby. I was able to use some fabric I’ve had for a long time, and bought the rest of what I needed to finish. I’m almost done.

While I was at the quilt shop getting the batting and backing, they were having a Shop Hop event. So I was given a kit for a 6″ block and given a list of other quilt shops I could visit and get other 6″block kits. I went to the 2 other ones that were near by, but am not sure if I will have the time to visit any of the others, as they are not in our town. Still, I’m excited to get back into quilting, as I’ve taken a long break from it. In fact, I’m rusty and had to rip out a lot, but the project is looking good now. I just finished machine quilting it, which saved me quite a bit of money from having it done by someone. However, I’m really rusty on that–Jake’s blanket was the last one I did–and that was 11 years ago. Now I need to figure out the binding. Maybe I’ll have pictures in a few days:).

How did your week go? Are you getting any projects done during this winter weather?

What did we eat? February 9, 2019

I decided to attack the winter squash that was left from last year’s garden. I got such a good crop of my acorn squash, was given 4 Butternuts, and my compost pile grew a couple more all by itself! We’ve been eating it all along, but when I went and looked at my still-large bucket full, some of them were starting to get bad spots on them. I cut each and every one of them open, threw away anything that was bad, and cut the rest into chunks, which I roasted in a 425 degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. I got 2 pans.

We ate a bunch.

I made ginger apple-butternut squash soup. I found a few apples in a box on the covered porch from last fall. They were a little wrinkly, but still good, so I wanted to target them as well. The soup was very different than what we usually make, but Rob and I both liked it.

I made quinoa bowls with quinoa, carrots and spinach on the bottom. Pieces of Rob’s BBQ’d chicken thigh meat with a chipotle-lime sauce and roasted squash came next and it was topped with a apple dressing. I started with a recipe from Gluten-Free and More Magazine, and changed it up quite a bit. We liked it!

We got 10 lbs of frozen chicken hindquarters for $5 last Friday. Rob barbecued the whole bag and we’ve been eating it all week. We’ve been pulling things from the freezers and eating them–lots of veggies, odds and end of things, etc. Patsy ate some frozen burritos one night from the ones I made and froze a few weeks ago. I’m going to have to make some more before long.

I made a mixture of hamburger and black beans with Mexican seasoning and we had tacos/taco salads one night. One night I sautéed some frozen shrimp that was in the freezer for myself after work.

We’ve also had some leftover pork chops from the ones my sister made last Sunday for Family Sunday Dinner at her house. I took leftover salad bar items from what was left when we had our friends over last Saturday.

I’ve had to adjust my February plans for food a bit from what I thought it was going to look like last week. I was out of a lot more things than I thought I was. So, I will not be saving grocery money this month. I will be spending every cent of my grocery budget, and perhaps a bit more. I’ve already gathered several kinds of gluten-free flour from the store, and my mom gave me some almond flour she was not using. (Thanks, again, Mom!). We’ve used a LOT of produce and I will be getting more weekly. I already got baking powder, baking soda, and 5 pounds of butter. I still need to get bulk spices, salt and pepper–you see how it is:). I went ahead and grabbed “Michaela and Jake” foods as the kids are spending next weekend with us and froze the things like bagels and ww bread.

I feel like my January use-it-up project was very successful and the goal of rotating my stocked food was met. I don’t mind buying more to keep the pantry full, and it’s nice to know that things are staying fresh out there. I plan to keep digging into the cupboards, freezers, and pantry and will continue to use up older things that are there. I will still attempt to do the weekly post about our menus and showcase the items I am using up.

Best of all, Rob continued to lose weight over the month and my blood sugars are a bit better than they were 3 months ago, even with the challenge and the holidays.

thriving in my thrifty week–february 3, 2019

Rob was able to scrounge up a barrel, and box and a bin full of nice wood scraps, perfect for starting fires in the morning. There are wood places in town that give away scraps, and he was fortunate one day in finding these great ones. We are happily burning the wood our friends brought us last fall, and not running the furnace at all.

Rob did our taxes himself this year. He paid a bit through Turbo Tax, but it was way less expensive than what we usually pay our tax place to do them. One of the reasons this was possible was because our taxes were much less complicated than they have been before. We love our tax place, so this wasn’t an easy decision, but he thought he’d try and see how it went. It went well.

I’m working on this area. The camper could use more room. It’s parked on a concrete slab. When you put the step down, it is often balanced on the concrete edgers of the flowerbed and you have to walk on irises or mud when you want to go in. I want the steps to go down properly. Once I get the flowerbed removed, I’m going to put gravel down. Then, the step can go down and we won’t get muddy or wet when we go in the door. We use the camper fridge as an extra fridge, and the camper itself as a guest house, so we use it in-between trips.

I also wanted the dirt for another project. Rob built these 2 raised bed frames. I dug up an old rose, and chopped down a dying rhododendron, and we put the frames in place. I covered the bottom of the beds with cardboard I recycled from boxes to discourage weeds and grass from growing up into the new box. I covered the cardboard with the dirt. I will get most of the frames filled in with the old flowerbed dirt and will finish up with purchased bags of topsoil, saving me a bundle. We had a couple of nice days, and I worked when in could, in-between things. Before I stopped, I got both raised beds about 1/2 full, and only have about 10 feet left of the flowerbed to remove. I have to take a break for a few days, I think, as we are expecting some inclement weather, but I’ll get back to it soon. I plan to plant some herbs and strawberries in there this spring. The herbs will be close to the kitchen here, so easier to use. I’ll show pictures when I finish, but it will be a few weeks before I can plant anything.

Friends helped Rob move his last 2 pieces of shop equipment down to this house. It was HIGH time we got them from my brother-in-law and sister’s farm:). It is so encouraging that he was able to clean the shop enough that they will now fit in there. We are so thankful for the help and had a great visit with our friends. It was so great to get caught up with them. He’s got projects he wants to build and now he can!

I did lots of cooking. I went shopping and stocked up on some good deals for my pantry, and bought produce, as usual. I’ve noticed produce has taken quite a jump in price over the past few weeks, so I’ll continue relying on my preserved food quite a bit to supplement the fresh, but Rob will still be getting all the produce he wants.

I got some marked-down things at Fred Meyers. The best deal was candy coating (2 white chocolate and 2 chocolate) for 49c each. I am saving them for when I want to do some chocolate-dipped strawberries someday. I put them out in the shop. They should be safe there:). From me. And anyone else who might eat them:). For now!

Rob finally bought a pair of pants that are 4 inches smaller than he’s been wearing, at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store. He paid $10. They are already too big, but he will wear them for a while anyway. We will be searching for the next size down. He figures he doesn’t need many in each size, and would like to not spend any money on this project, but it’s getting ridiculous, folks, so I’m trying to convince him to buy at least a few things along the way! Hopefully, we will find some more thrift store finds.

They are threatening snow here in the morning. Time will tell if it materializes or not. That will affect my week if it does snow, as even an inch paralyzes our area. (I know, I know….don’t laugh too hard some of you!). But, we are snug in our little house, with lots of firewood and food, and library books to read….it doesn’t sound all bad!

It turned out to be a great week. How did your week go?

Last day of january use-it-up project 2019

The last day of January is here and I am officially done with my January “use-it-up” project. It seems like we ate like kings and my stockpile is not used up. I think I will continue this project into February, and expand it a little to include other things around the house that I want to use up along with the food. I will have to restock a few staples–some spices, oat flour, etc., along with the considerable amount of produce Rob is eating. I will likely save money again, but that’s not my main emphasis–it’s to make sure my stockpile is rotating properly.

I won’t let the stockpile get too low. After all, I like to buy things when they are at a low price and eat the extras when the price goes up, so there’s no point in running completely out of something unless it’s not on a good sale, or is about to get too old! Rob already brought home a case of canned mushrooms he got at Bi-Mart. I had told him I was almost completely out, so he grabbed them when he saw them. And, I can and freeze enough garden produce for more than a year, on purpose, in case there is a crop failure next summer on any item. (It’s happened before.). Now is the time to really hit those home-preserved products, though, when nothing much grows around here.

I had started the week with about $20 that I wanted to use this week. I used $24, because when I sent Rob with a detailed list to the store, I realized at the last minute that he could get 2 boxes of butter for the extra $4. So, of course I had him get that, as well.

The way the numbers came out was that I had about $225 set aside to work with in January. I used about $125 for food and about $100 for non-food items, like vitamins, because I had it to spare. I’m going to give myself $300 in February, because it’s possible I need to do a stock-up run to either the Natural Grocers or Costco. I’ll see how it goes. I never have trouble getting rid of extra money, in case I’m being overly generous with the budget:)

This week, I made smoothies a few times. I used frozen strawberries and bananas and plain milk with a splash of maple syrup and vanilla in this one. It didn’t need much sweetener because bananas are so sweet.

I made some sweet and sour chicken in my Instant Pot, using some chicken that was looking old and therefore a little tough. It softened right up in there! The sauce was made using the very last few carrots from my garden, some home-canned pineapple, some frozen lime juice, some frozen peppers from 2015 (they were a little over the hill, but gave good flavor in this kind of dish), a little vinegar, salt, ginger and soy sauce, and a scrap of date sugar that was lingering in a bag in the garage. We ate it with some brown rice I had frozen previously. It was very tasty, which was a bit of a relief considering how many odd ingredients I threw in there!

I made these gluten-free buns. They are SO good. I haven’t made them for a long time. I used several odds and ends of gluten-free flour I had in my bin and cleaned out the oat flour. It was time to get fresh anyway, so now I’m on the lookout for it.

We ate quite a few leftovers this week, as well. There was pork left from last weekend. Last weekend, Rob had made teriyaki pork and salsa verde pork (we had a large package that we unthawed and he cooked half each way), and there was some chicken. We ate the pork in tacos one night, then I made a chili-like soup from the rest. There was still some of that left, as well. He ate chicken and pork on lots of salads. We also had hamburgers last night. I ate a bun with mine, he just ate the patties. Tonight, I just ate a bunch of cheese over at my sister’s and a little cold cereal. Then, at home, I just snacked to finish off my dinner. The others ate leftovers and salads.

I’m not sure all of what we ate from my home-canned and frozen food, but I know I had to take one basket of empty jars and cartons out to the shop where they live when empty, and have another basket 1/2 full to take out tomorrow, so I know I was successful in using a bunch of that this week.

Did you use all of your things that needed to “go” up, or do you need to continue your project for a while longer, as well?

Gluten-Free buns

I haven’t made gluten-free buns for a long time. It was time. I have a favorite recipe that I’ve made for years and years.

This recipe uses oat flour as a base and they are so yummy. They also don’t take very long to make, as they only have to rise for about 30 minutes and bake for 15. The thing that does take a lot of time for me is rounding up all the ingredients.

After I had dug through my bin of gluten-free flours and other products, I was able to come up with everything that was called for. Then, I decided to take the opportunity while it was all out to make up some mixes so I could make this again soon in a hurry.

When I was done, I had 4 bags to make up another day. Today, I made a double batch, and will freeze the left-over buns for the future as well.

I was delighted to enjoy these yummy treats again. I saved money by making them myself vs. buying buns for between $5 and $6 a package. Since I made a double batch, I got 12 buns. That would be equivalent of 2 packages at the store. Gluten-free flour is not cheap, but it wasn’t $12 for flour for these buns. Also, I had it all on hand! I used up bits of flour that had been around for a long time.

While I was at it, I emptied my gluten-free bin, washed it out, discarded a couple of things that were rancid or really, really old (come on, Becky….pancake mix from 2014? Really?), and put everything back in an organized fashion. Now, I know what I have and what I need to replace. My January “Use-it-up” project is coming to a close, but I can see there are quite a few items that still need to be used, so I can feel a February project coming on.

Thriving in my thrifty week–january 28, 2018

My most excellent bathroom cleaning team was at it again Saturday! Patsy, my daughter, had my nephew help her do her chore. I will mention that my nephew, Jake, and my niece, Michaela, were up earlier than Patsy and did their chores–he just wanted Patsy to play with him, so he helped her finish hers:). Doing chores at my house is part of their routine, I’m glad to say. We started that a couple of summers ago, and I’m so glad we did.

The kids spent from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning with us, as their parents were out of town. We kept the weekend low-key, frugal, and most of all–fun! There was a special pirate exhibit at the library. Rob took Jake on Thursday after school, but they didn’t get to see it. I took him back Friday morning, because he really, really wanted to see it. The volunteer running it called in sick. So….Rob took him back Saturday morning and he got to go in for 20 minutes before that volunteer said it was the end of her shift. (We had been told it would be open from 10-5 on Saturday, so thought we were safe!). Hmmmmm. At least he got in at for a while. Each time, books, movies and books on DVD were checked out and returned. We still have quite a pile here, and I am now reading “Surprise Island” (a Boxcar Children book) to him. Rob took Michaela to her horse riding at Horses of Hope, her weekly Saturday outing. She had her training program on Friday, so he ferried her back and forth and she also enjoyed the library one of the times her brother went.

Rob’s actual birthday was Saturday. Yes, I know…It feels like we’ve been doing birthdays over and over. ‘Cause we have! With so many family members with January birthdays, we have celebrated many times. Jake was all over it! He and Michaela helped me make cupcakes in the morning. He cracked eggs and she measured and poured. Then, he helped put candles on, light them and helped blow them out. After dinner, he declared that he was going to play a game with Uncle because it was his birthday. So, they sat down to a game of chess. What a blessing those kids are to us!

To decorate the cupcakes, I used some frosting that I mixed up last weekend and hid in the back of the fridge because I knew I would be busy this weekend. I put sprinkles and sugar snowflakes on top that I got on after-Christmas sales. I immediately froze almost all of the cupcakes I made so as to not ruin Rob’s diet. That is also why he chose cupcakes–so the temptation of a huge cake would not be there. We had ice cream that had been out in the shop for literally months, but it was still good.

We cooked up a bunch of meat for the weekend for Rob and I, and fed eggs, eggs, eggs to Jake. (I have no idea why he suddenly wanted so many eggs, but I was delighted!) I had purchased English muffins and Danimals for Michaela so she was happy. Rob made pancakes and bacon one morning. We all ate very well for very little money, as I am still on my “use-it-up” project. I did the math, and I figure I have about $20 left of what I was willing to spend this month for groceries, and only a few days left in which to spend it, so we are going to make it easily. I’ve used a lot of things up, bought a lot of non-food items with the extra money, and suffered for nothing. I even squeezed in a few healthy snacks to give Rob on his actual birthday. (We bought him a used tool off of Craig’s list for his shop for his main gift). Some of the expensive things I got with my remaining grocery budget included melatonin tablets and tumeric capsules. I also bought shampoo, foil, waxed paper, and more. I’m delighted that I got all those things stocked up. I had gone over budget in December. I also made all that money up, and like I said, still have $20 left. I’m pretty happy with me right now:)

Rob’s pretty happy with himself, too, as he had lost another 10 pounds when he got weighed in on Monday. That’s 77 since last May. Go, Rob! He’s working on a list of ways that he has used to keep on track. When he gets it done, I’ll post it!

Today, after church, my sister and brother-in-law took us out to lunch. That was a super nice treat for us, and the icing on the birthday cake, so to speak, for Rob!

How did you save money this week?

Making My Home A Haven

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