I have been playing “catch-up” at home this week. One of Jake’s big sisters took him to Disneyland, so we hung around with Michaela and I cleaned the house at every opportunity between things. I folded SO much laundry yesterday, but….what do you know? There’s more today:).
One day, we went on an excursion to a museum, as a special treat for Michaela. We had randomly come across this museum a while back when we had Jake out for a drive, and thought of how much Michaela would enjoy it, because she loves trains so much. We mistakenly assumed it was all about trains, since it was in an old depot, and had numerous boxcars.
In fact, it had a small section about trains and a lot of history about the surrounding area. We loved it! There was an actual covered wagon that had survived crossing the Oregon Trail, and the true story of the people who had traveled on it. There was a lot about the African-American influence and early settlers in the area, which of course interested me because 2 of my daughters are black. One section told of the Native American from the surrounding area, and Michaela seemed to really enjoy that section–we read and discussed every picture and signboard. She was especially interested in the picture and story of a modern-day man, who was keeping the traditions alive for his people—she just loved knowing he was still alive today–she was fascinated.
If you even get a chance to visit the museum in teeny-tiny Brownsville, Oregon, it’s worth your time. The cost is minimal–donation only–and there is a little gift shop where Michaela bought herself a t-shirt (with permission from her Mama) and Patsy got an adult coloring book. Rob dropped a few dollars in the container provided, and we enjoyed our drive home.
We had a 4H meeting, even though Jake was gone. It was a gorgeous day, and we concentrated on Outdoor Cooking.
Rob built a fire, lit the BBQ and unearthed his Dutch Ovens. The kids chopped and chopped and we made….
a chili-cheese dip and then…
the kids roasted every single hot dog we could find in the freezers and fridge! They had so much fun last time we did that, they wanted to do it again. Rob said, ” Why not?” and started the great hot dog search. It WAS fun:). Next time we will have to buy some S’More ingredients, and a big package of hot dogs. This time, I put out a big bowl of oranges and bananas. Everyone ate like the ravenous children they were, and Rob hauled the older ones off to Wednesday night church, while I tidied up in the almost loud silence that remained!
All of this fun was very inexpensive–the sausage was on super sale for $1.99/package, the potatoes, carrots and onions were on hand, and the peppers were inexpensive, too. Next time, it will be even more inexpensive, because I find that this crew isn’t fond of peppers, so we will not buy them again for this purpose:)
More flowers bloom each week. I love looking at them. I was able to do a couple of hours of yard work this week.
I made some lemon-poppyseed muffins. I froze a bunch and shared a bunch. Rob made waffles and froze what the girls didn’t eat for lunch today. He made spaghetti sauce and spaghetti pie. I made some soup and we bought a Costco chicken. Those are sure worth the $5 in my opinion. There have been lots of salads in our meal plan lately, since Rob is trying to maintain his weight and even lower it a bit in light of his upcoming surgery.
He’s been going to the pool quite a bit and using the water weights to pull himself around the lazy river to try to get a little exercise. He cannot use his legs to swim, due to his hip issue, but this seems to work. Patsy and I go along when we can.
Patsy and I have been really cracking the books, getting large amounts of schoolwork done. There have been a few things that have been neglected a bit over the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy, but it’s only a matter of a few hours to get things back on track. It gives me great satisfaction to know we are where I want to be on school.
We were very busy last week. The week included several trips to Portland, to visit a family member who had a major operation. I am very happy to say that she is doing very well after her surgery. We stayed as frugal as we could throughout the process.
As I mentioned last week, Rob had cooked several kinds of meat, I had made soups, and he made a breakfast casserole. We ate those all week. I was able to take a small cooler packed with food to the hospital 2 of the times I was up there, and several meals were eaten from it. It is amazing how much you can cram into one of those little lunch-sized coolers! So, those who were waiting or visiting dipped in there as well, and my family member’s husband, who stayed up there the entire time, just kept the rest of the food and ate it for his dinner both times. Several other people brought him food as well, and he filled in the rest at the cafeteria.
The patient is resting at home now, I’m happy to say. The food is pouring in over there already, so that’s nice:)
We were invited to a baby shower for Rob’s niece. We didn’t have much notice, but really wanted to go, since we don’t get to spend as much time with his side of the family as we wish we did. Some years ago, Rob had stumbled upon a wonderful clearance sale of baby items for very low prices. As you can see, all these socks were only $1. I think the highest priced things were $3. I was at the hospital, so he and Patsy chose several items from my “baby stash” that would be good for a baby boy and went down to the store and bought some diapers, wipes, a rattle…stuff like that and got it all into a gift bag. It was not expensive, but turned out very nice, with the combo of what I had plus a few extra things.
Then, we all 3 went to the shower Saturday afternoon, and had a great time.
I took Patsy to a zipper application workshop for 4H. It was held a distance away from our house, but other than the cost of gas, it was free. We were able to bring the required supplies from our stash, and they supplied the rest from fabric and zippers that had been donated for that purpose. I’m so glad she’s showing an interest in sewing this year, and want to encourage her in learning this useful skill.
By Sunday afternoon, I was feeling very behind at home, and was in dire need of exercise and fresh air. So, I went out late afternoon and trimmed out the old raspberry canes and tied up the good ones. Doing that job was just the perk I needed to finish my week feeling like I got something done at home. These are the raspberry canes I have dragged with me from house to house–the same ones as we always had at my childhood home–yummy! (starts from those bushes, to be specific!) I really loved having a plentiful supply last summer, the first year they really produced much of anything. They are so much better than the ones that were here when I moved in, so I’m going to baby them along.
You can see that I’ve also been collecting cardboard boxes and have laid them down in front of the berries. There is an especially stubborn patch of grass that I simply could not get rid of last summer. So, I’ve decided to smother it out with the cardboard. We will see how it works, but it can’t hurt!
Last, but not least, one of my favorite things yesterday was holding baby Allie. She’s growing so much, so when I ran into her parents and her at Patsy’s mission trip meeting, I grabbed my opportunity to hold her and get an updated picture. There’s nothing like holding a baby at the end of a busy week…..just saying…
Rob made bird house kits for the 4H club to hammer together at their meeting this week. All the boards were donated to him for this purpose by one of his friends who owns a small sawmill, so our project was very inexpensive.
The kids had so much fun. Jake was very happy because his daddy agreed to come and help the kids with the hammering. Even I got roped in, although I’m not very good at using a hammer.
Patsy, on the other hand, is very good with a hammer and so she made her birdhouse the day before and helped the younger kids on the day of the meeting. Ones who knew how partially hammered some nails in and let the younger builders hammer away, driving the nails the rest of the way in.
Some didn’t need much help, others lots of help.
Then, we all went back into the house and made little baggies of home-made hot chocolate mix and ate dinner. Then Rob hauled whoever wanted to go down to the church for the youth/childrens’ activities and I cleaned up the mess. It comes in handy to have a 15-passenger van–no one has to feel left out. There’s room for them all!
I finally got the blouse sewed for Patsy, just in time for her to wear to a wedding.
The wedding was beautiful, and so tastefully decorated. I wish I had taken pictures of the decor. They used a woodland theme, and sticks were cut from friends’ property and little lights were put all over them. There were large branches for a backdrop and small ones for centerpieces for the tables. The way I’m describing it does not do it justice, but it was absolutely gorgeous. There were candles in the shapes of birch logs, and circular wood chips sprinkled around the main table. It was lovely and elegant. The family catered the reception themselves and the food looked amazing and was displayed in dishes surrounded by wooden boxes they had built to add to the woodland theme.
One of Jake’s best friends, Willow, is one of the bride’s sisters, and he loved sitting by her at the reception after she finished her bridesmaid’s duties. As you can see, they had donuts as one of the main desserts. They were on plates and on dowels on a rack that hung on the wall behind the table. You could take one with a tong. Jake and Michaela ate 2 each!
The bride and her family are close friends of my sister and brother-in-law, so they helped out most of the day, while we kept Jake busy at our house.
We really enjoyed the ceremony and reception. We didn’t stay late, but instead came home and got some rest.
We cooked many items over the weekend in preparation for a busy week ahead. They are in the fridge to grab in a hurry– soups, BBQ’d pork, thinly sliced turkey breast and chicken and other goodies. We don’t have a meat slicer, but have been having a lot of success with Rob-sharpened knives. We have been making our own less-salty and less-processed lunchmeat this way lately.
Rob made me a crate and I filled it with a few goodies for a bridal shower I actually could not attend, since I was at wedding No. 1. It’s crazy that we’ve not had a wedding for a long time, and this month, there are 2.
I put in jam, salsa, measuring cups and spoons, a set of pillowcases I made, and a cute towel plus a bundle of dish cloths. This gift was for the shower I could not attend, so I had Rob drop the gift off at the young lady’s house ahead of time. For the wedding itself, Rob made a wooden cutting board and will pair it with 2 super good knives. He did the same for the bride and groom for the wedding we just attended.
Recently, Rob picked up 3 bags of “Unicorn” white chocolate chips–they had rainbow colors on them. They were on the clearance rack for 99c/bag. When we tasted them, they were very bitter. I wasn’t worried about it because they were so cheap, but I did e-mail Nestle to let them know the red food coloring taste was coming through loud and clear, and not in a good way. I threw them away. I was very happy and surprised when the man I was live-chatting with wanted to send me free coupons for more chocolate chips. I explained they were on clearance, but he insisted, so I said “thank you.” I dug the bags out of the trash, sent him the barcode numbers as requested, and I got these coupons in the mail this week. There are 3 free bags of Nestle chips of any flavor and one $1/off coupon.
We have a very busy week ahead, and it feels good to be as prepared as we can be so we can get through it all, and still stay frugal! At least that’s the plan:). I’ll let you know how it turns out.
We had a 4H meeting this week. Rob worked with the kids on knife skills. He had them practice one at a time as they chopped ingredients for the chili.
I was so glad he could be here to help. Lots of little kids + knives = scary!
Our original plan was to have some outdoor cooking, but it was COLD. So, we made chili in a pot on the stove, baked beans which actually did not bake in time, and a simple yellow cake. So, everyone feasted on chili and cake, and I opened some jars of home-canned fruit to fill in the gaps.
Jake got to crack eggs, which made him happy.
We also worked on nutrition, and focused on making “My Plates” from construction paper and old magazine pictures of healthy food. I really saved some money on this project, by default. My printer ran out of ink, and it could not be ordered in time for the meeting, so Patsy just drew circle shapes on the paper, and I didn’t run out and buy ink at a higher price.
When the meeting was over, Rob needed to take Jake home and drop Patsy off at youth group. Several of the other kids clamored to go, too, so Rob loaded up the van as full as it could be, and hauled the lot of them off to church. The Mom that remained and I were laughing about the fact that it was so quiet with “only” 3 little kids left! (And, just for those who “love to know”…..Jake has a special class on Sundays he attends, and Rob accompanies him to his choir/class on Sunday nights, but there’s not a “special” class for him on Wednesdays. So, he stays at his home on Wednesday nights)
Rob and Jake found a couple of games at a garage sale. They played this one called, The Allowance Game, and Rob said it was a great way for Jake to work on money skills. It must have been fun because Jake and Patsy played it several more times. They also played Monopoly Jr. and regular Monopoly. Jake spent a couple of nights this week, and is begging to spend 10 nights soon. I said, well….no:). Not that many! But, another night soon, Jake, soon!
We cooked a lot of food, mostly from our freezers, canning cupboards, and pantry. Rob picked up a few items from the store, but kept it under $20.
When I empty a home-canning jar, I put it in a basket on the dryer. I always feel like I’m being successful in using my resources wisely when I need to take the basket of “empties” out to the main shelves in the shop. I emptied the basket this weekend, and already have it almost full today. Success! This is the time of year when I like to use many, many jars and frozen items, since during the summer I enjoy eating as much fresh garden produce as possible.
I cut out a top for Patsy from some fabric I purchased for $2 last fall. Now to find time to sew it……
I went to a local high school to watch the musical “Hello, Dolly.” I really enjoyed watching it. It was so well done, and there were a few kids from church in it that I knew. My sister took Patsy and I. She wanted us to see it, badly. She watched it 4 times, herself. It was that good, and they are close family friends with the young lady that played the character Dolly.
Rob finally got an appointment to see the surgeon. It’s in a couple of weeks. They should set a surgery date at that time. I sure hope they do.
I exercised quite a few times, in various ways, including taking the dog on a long walk and taking aquatic classes at the Kroc center.
We ordered our seeds, and they have already arrived. I received an e-mail from Territorial one day about a 20% off sale, ending that day. I quickly finished sorting my seeds, finished my partially-finished list, and ordered. I sent Rob to the Dollar Store for things I use from there, such as pickling cucumbers, then ordered our more-expensive, but desired, seeds from Territorial and then finished up with my Pinetree order, since we were at it. I need disease-resistant tomatoes, lots of bean seeds with high-yield, and crops that ripen in short time periods to have a successful garden, so I’m picky about some varieties.
The next step is to get the greenhouse up and running–junk out, lights set up, and a few seeds started. It’s not too early to plant peppers, onions, and a few other things. Some things need to wait a bit longer.
January has been pretty calm. I think things are going to heat up in February, so I’m going to enjoy one more week of calm. Ahhh….
Patsy potted up a spider plant baby in a pot she painted and gave it to Lovana for her new house. She painted a few of these pots and so I expect she will be giving the other rooting starts new homes soon. I love how cute this turned out.
Jake and Uncle finished their woodshop project. They started it on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning, it was cut out, sanded and painted. It was a great, low-cost, but highly-treasured project. Because Jake did not have school at all last week, we were searching for some activities that would keep him occupied. We found several.
Jake’s oldest sister, Caitlyn, took him, Michaela and Patsy to the new movie, Frozen 2. I had one lonely pass to the movies in my box, so I gave it to Patsy. She earned a few dollars to take with her, but I think her cousin bought snacks for her. It was kind of her to include Patsy.
It was double kind of her to take all those kids somewhere else than here on that day, Tuesday! My aunt, mom and one sister came over and we prepared for Thanksgiving by doing some cleaning, cooking and other prep work.
I boiled the ham bone and the turkey bones. I made turkey-noodle soup and froze some broth. I also made ham and white bean soup from the other bones. When Lovana was making a pie last weekend, we used some white beans as pie weights while she par-baked her crust. I was not sure they would cook well after being baked, but I’m happy to report that they worked just fine in the ham and beans.
We had overnight guests for Thanksgiving and used the camper as a guest house.
The 4-H club has been working on a project for a few weeks now. Saturday, everyone met together and put together 11 baskets (wrapped boxes) full of goodies that had been gathered. The older kids and adults have been working independently on projects such as food items, a jar full of blessings (papers with inspiring verses and sayings on them for people to draw one out and read), cookies, Christmas decorations, etc. Then, lunch was eaten and a delivery marathon was completed. All 11 were delivered to the pastors and other significant leaders from our church, such as the wonderful woman who heads up the children’s ministries. The people were all delighted to receive such nice baskets from all the smiling children, and everyone involved felt it was super successful.
It has been very cold here and I’ve been enjoying burning my free wood in my wood stove.
I read a couple of Kindle books that I got for free. I also downloaded a new batch, choosing from books and a magazine that were included with Prime, which we use to watch t.v., for shipping, and occasionally a book or magazine. I was able to find a couple of Netflix movies for Jake to watch. Lovana gave Rob Netflix for Christmas last year, so I love it when I remember to use it!
I am gearing up for an extra-busy week with Christmas program practice 3 nights this week, and 3 performances on the weekend! Both Patsy and Jake are involved, and since Jake’s parents work late on at least one day……. Yikes! I’m going to do some planning for meals and things today.
Patsy decided to sew a doll for her 4H sewing project. She found the pattern in a library book I checked out. She used the scraps from the skirt I made her for Hawaii and some scraps of white cotton fabric.
The hair was made from felt and the face was embroidered. She worked on it for a few sessions, and finished it up yesterday.
Rob bought her some stuffing at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store, once I realized we had none. Skills that were new to her included: stuffing the arms, legs and body, top-stitching so many curves and pivots on the hair, working with felt, and sewing the body of a doll while working around the fact that legs and arms were inside getting in the way!
Patsy’s plan for this doll is to put her into a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child and send her to a little girl across the world somewhere. It looks to me like dolly is ready for an adventure!
I was happy that she could work on her sewing skills on a project that interested her and very pleased that she could use scraps and other inexpensive materials to make something that helped her improve her skills while bringing joy to a little girl this Christmas. Win-win for everyone!
We had a 4H meeting yesterday with our new club. 4H has been a part of our lives for over 30 years, but we have been without any members, except Patsy, since we moved. Patsy has limped along on her own, but told us that one thing she really wanted was a club with kids. It was just more fun. We agreed. Jake didn’t know what 4H was, but he thought he’d try it. They had friends who thought it would be fun, too, and here we all are!
We are going to concentrate on the project areas of Foods/ Nutrition and Outdoors/Natural Science. I’m going to keep Patsy going with her sewing and any other areas she wants to do. If any of the other children want to do other areas, we will support them, but will focus on those 2 areas at our meetings.
Yesterday, we chose the subject of “fall leaves” for our Outdoors activity. I read a book about how leaves change colors in fall and simple leaf identification. I had a few worksheets that people could do if they wanted. We have such a wide variety of ages, from 4 years old to 15, so those worksheets were geared for the younger ones for the most part.
We talked about what 4H is, since Jake was not the only one who did not know, started learning the 4H pledge and talked briefly about record keeping. We then moved on to cooking and I started some of the basic instruction about measuring. Rob helped them make an apple crisp in the Dutch oven, using coals.
The apple peelers got busy.
They peeled and peeled.
And peeled some more. They peeled every apple in the house. They would have peeled more if I had more.
Even though we had a talk about knife skills with all of them, I had the big girls to do the cutting. Less gray hairs for me! It soon became apparent that we had enough apples for more than just one Dutch oven full of crisp. We got out a big glass baking dish and they kept slicing. In the meanwhile, the other kids were taking turns measuring out the ingredients for the topping. We made it twice. That way everyone got more turns.
The littlest member gravely spooned the topping over the 2nd crisp and we popped it in the oven.
While we were waiting for the crisps to bake, we got out a mega package of hot dogs and they roasted them over the fire pit Rob kindled in the back yard. They ate them all. All 24, and all 16 buns I bought. I though some kids would not want buns. I was wrong. Next time, I’ll buy more. Then, Jake got his wish and it was time to let the kids all play with his badminton and his other ball throwing game. They all ran around throwing balls, hitting birdies and hollering. They had so much fun. After that, the first crisp was done and devoured. The second crisp soon followed, but there was enough of that one left for Jake to take some home to his Mom and Dad. When Rob dropped him off at home, he was already asking when the next meeting was. It was a success!
When I returned from Hawaii mid-week, I was struck by the amount of fall changes that occurred while I was gone. Trees had turned scarlet, yellow and orange, leaves dropped all over and the weather turned windy and rainy. I felt like I was truly home again.
These pumpkins and squash are from my garden. We got a freeze warning while in Hawaii, so I expected everything to be dead. Instead, I see that there are a few stragglers still alive in my garden area. I will go check them out this week to see if there’s anything usable still out there.
I picked the remaining few green tomatoes before I left on my trip. Upon returning, several of those had ripened and we’ve had tomatoes on our salads all week.
I did a fairly large shopping trip, since I had emptied the fridge quite well before I left. I focused on the sales, things I was out of, and was able to do some Ibotta rebates. I ended up qualifying for several bonuses, as well.
On Saturday, there was a county-wide 4H event. We have not had much of a club since we moved, but are excited to now have another family that wants to join. We rounded them up, along with Jake, our nephew, and Patsy, our daughter and took them all to the event. We are sticking to our old county, since we know them there, and know what to do, about events, etc., so we had to drive little bit, but it’s worth it to us. It was a bake sale. We took caramel corn to donate. Patsy and I made it, as we often do. While there, our clubbers made brownies and Chex Muddy Buddie Mix to send good smells through out the building, in hopes of building sales, and those were sold, too. There were lot of other clubs that donated and helped, and it was a success.
After we did our part there, we took our new club to Champoeg State Park and Rob had them do a scavenger hunt. He talked to them about identifying the native plants and objects, such as acorns, and rewarded them with little candies when they found them. We had a picnic and then all went up to the visitors’ center where the volunteers had another scavenger hunt for them to do about the history of the area, a movie to watch about helping the bluebird population and plied them with stickers for their efforts. They were super nice and helpful to us.
It was the first 4H experience for most of the kids, and it was very successful. I’m sure we will have many more fun times in the future. This year, we are going to concentrate on Cooking and Outdoors as our main projects. Once we get started, we can always add more projects if there’s an interest. Patsy’s super excited, since she’s been longing for other friends to do 4H with.
We had a wonderful get-away camping at the beach. Other than one sandwich Patsy and I grabbed at Subway, we cooked all our meals in the camper. We tried to keep things easy, except for a few special meals.
One morning, Patsy and I went down to the bay and we were able to get these Cockle clams. I turned them into the clam chowder pictured above. We have enough frozen for one more batch in the near future. It was our first time hunting for these kind of clams, and I got some extremely helpful advice from a man down on the beach, who showed us how to get them. You are supposed to rake them, but we did not have a rake, so we scraped our shovel along the sand, and Patsy was even raking through the wet sand with her fingers, and we found over 20 between the two of us. They seem to be found more frequently in places where the seaweed has been deposited by the tide.
We went crabbing off the docks in Newport twice. Thankfully, we found great parking spots that were very near the dock, and didn’t have to carry our gear very far. The first day, we got these two and the second time we got one Dungeness and kept a couple of Red Rock Crabs just to give us a little more meat. I had crab salad and just plain crab, and froze 2 small packages for the near future. Rob fished off the docks while we waited for him to pull up the traps, but caught nothing.
We did foil dinners in the fire one night. The meat, carrots and potatoes turned out great. The zucchini turned into mush. I threw it away. There were no takers for that one. I had picked every single tiny one before we left, hoping that they would not take over while we were gone.
The acorn squash turned out great!
The rest of the meals were salads, lunchmeat and cheese, corn from our garden, lots and lots of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, and hamburgers one night for dinner. Breakfasts were eggs, sausage one day, cereal, and fruit. Most days, we threw some food into our little cooler and just ate out of that wherever we were when lunchtime came–dock, jetty, etc.
We had a great time, and ended up the week by purchasing tuna off the docks to can, It was an unusual menu compared to what we more commonly have at this time of year, but I love seafood and will remember for other times when we can’t catch anything. .