Category Archives: Covid-19 Stay-at-home projects

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 17, 2020

Does it look like I have ripe strawberries? Well, I don’t! Those are rocks that Patsy painted red. We hope they fool the birds and stop them from pecking the strawberries once they get ripe. Let’s hope it works!

I spent hours in the garden and yard this week. Everything is growing, including the weeds, so I’ve pulled weeds and hoed.

I also cut and trimmed in the front yard. The people who lived here before us planted many bushes, such as rhododendron, azalea, peonies, Oregon grape, and sadly, ivy, that have all grown greatly over the years. Over the past 2 years I have tried to cut some of it back to more manageable proportions, one yard debris bin at a time. The latest project was to have Rob take a chain saw to some rogue blossoming cherry tree suckers that were now about 15 feet tall and chop them down. I removed ivy from below and harshly trimmed the bushes under the remaining main tree. Then, I hoed out grass and weeds and roughly edged the area. It looks a lot better now, but there will be on-going work to do. I was glad to finish as we have been working on it for 2 weeks and filled 2 yard debris bins from that one area alone.

Rob covered my lettuce with netting. The birds took part of one row down to the stubs! I notice they leave it alone after it gets to a certain size and I’ve planted a lot, so it will work out ok in the end. (And, yes, that’s a renegade potato plant on the end. I didn’t plant any this year, but a few volunteers came up anyway.)

I’ve been harvesting from the garden and making lots of stir-fries. Rob’s been eating vegetables for breakfast each day, as well, so the harvest has come in handy.

I made a batch of bread and buns. I am still using up odds and ends of gluten-free flours, some of which are literally a couple of years old. I am happy to report that I used 3 partial packages of flour all the way up! I don’t normally eat a lot of bread, so I froze most of these items. I have eaten more sandwiches then usual lately after working in the garden, because I sometimes don’t feel like cooking. It’s easy to pop off a couple of frozen slices, slide them into the dedicated gluten-free toaster, and always have fresh bread when I want it.

We cooked black bean/pinto bean chicken chili, Patsy’s peanut-chicken stir fry, smoothies, pancakes, boiled, fried and scrambled eggs, millet-crust pizza, lots of salads, brownies, pear-raspberry popsicles, and many stir-fries. Lovana came over and made coconut shrimp. It was so good! We also worked on a ham we bought right after Easter. We had ham sandwiches, ham with eggs, and just ate ham. Some packages were frozen for later use, as well.

We did our grocery shopping for the next 2 weeks and ordered and received an Azure Standard order. Eggs were 4/$5. We got many dozens. I purchased a lot of produce such as cucumbers, mushrooms, baby carrots, celery and peppers, along with whatever was on the list. There were a few good deals, otherwise, the prices seemed to be the same or a little higher than they have been in the past. Overall, the bill is higher than what it was a year ago. It is not possible to shop several stores for deals right now, so if it’s there, I buy it, or I just pass it by if it’s unreasonable. I was pleasantly surprised to received most of what I ordered from Azure.

We worked with Jake and Michaela for more hours this past week. We had a French fry party one day. It was fun for everyone to make our own curly fries outside.

We also fried up some battered cod fish and onion rings, just to add to the fun.

We used a fryer we purchased from a garage sale a couple of years ago for a few dollars and then spent literally hours scrubbing to insure it was gluten-free and no wheat crumbs were left on it. Thankfully, it looked almost new when we bought it. The curly fry cutter was also from a garage sale and normally lives in the camper. Every few years, we make fries on a picnic table at a campground. We make fries so rarely that it’s an event and made an ordinary day into a party. Better yet, we kept the mess outside!

Did you do anything unusual to break up the monotony of Covid 19 with your kids or for yourself?

thriving In My thrifty Week—March 22, 2020–Getting the Garden Going

We have had an absolutely gorgeous week. In fact, my garden became dry enough to till! This is much earlier in the year than I can usually get that job done. I have 2 raised beds near the house, because that enables me to plant early, even on a wet year. One is full of strawberries. Patsy added a bag of compost/manure to top dress that one. The other one was prepared with another layer of compost, and Jake planted some snow peas.

This year, we were not feeling up to the task of having someone dump a load of compost and bringing it to the back yard garden one wheelbarrow load at a time. So, Rob, Patsy and Lovana went and got these bags of steer manure/compost. The girls wheeled the bags back and spread them all over. There were more than this picture shows. I helped empty the bags all over the garden.

Jake’s daddy came over to help us till the garden, and the weeds and compost were tilled in. At one point, Rob and I each had a tiny tiller, and Ron had the big one going. It’s just too big for me to handle and Rob can’t do it right now, with his hip problem. So, that was super nice of Ron to come and do. It is now supposed to rain for several days, so I was delighted to catch this window of opportunity.

I got little broccoli and cabbage plants put in. I also got a few tiny onion plants transplanted.

The snow peas, beets, carrots, chard and boc choi are all growing in the tiny patch I planted a couple of weeks ago.

I feel that the garden will be more important than ever this year. We are going to be feeding 2 families, plus extras. With less frequent grocery store trips expected, we can use the home-preserved foods, and the fresh food once it gets ripe. We are going to have plenty to share with both families and other family and friends who can use produce. I plan to preserve quite a bit this year. We especially need a lot of green beans between the 3 families (myself and both sisters). My older sister has a huge garden, too, so will grow all of her own produce, plus extra green beans to supplement what I can grow here. We are sending cabbage plants to her very soon to grow up there. She and I always swap stuff–both plants, seeds and produce. This year may be a little more challenging, but we will manage. Rob has done an excellent job growing the transplants this year, and was even able to hand a few extra cabbages over the fence to our neighbor who was starting a garden today.

So what else have we been doing during this week that just keeps getting stranger and stranger with all the Covid-19 chaos?

The campgrounds are closed now, so Rob built a fire in our yard and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. It was a beautiful evening.

Patsy made another one of her sidewalk chalk drawings.

We started homeschooling Jake, a joint effort between the 2 families.

I cleaned up a bookcase in my bedroom that was not only cluttered, but actually filthy with dust. I discarded many, many old magazines I did not need anymore.

I cut out a skirt for Patsy.

Rob got the television in our room working–it hasn’t for months, but I wanted to watch the news where the kids couldn’t hear a couple of times. They don’t need the stress.

We are very happy that we can still work with Jake and Michaela. So many are unable to work right now. We did school, but also made it fun!

Patsy was not able to go on her planned missions trip. She is so sad, and cried a lot. I understand that. She worked so hard preparing for this, but we all assured her that she will get another opportunity. This crazy time will pass and life will get back to normal, given time. They are waiting to see how things pan out before trying to make new plans of any kind for the kids. The youth pastor did figure out a way for them to all get on a certain app this morning during Sunday school time, so they could all visit with each other and they have plans to do Sunday school on there next week, I think. We all watched the live stream of our church service before that. It’s so nice they did that, but very odd to not attend.

So, since Patsy has all this extra time on her hands, I ordered her a Biology curriculum. She needs to do it next year, but we will get started with it now. She will be finished with the schoolwork we have in a few short weeks ….I will try hard to not make her feel punished for doing so well, but we can’t do the field trips I had planned, and she is missing countless youth group activities and times with her friends–she will soon be bored if we don’t find things for her to do. I plan to do quite a few home-making activities with her as well. We can’t have 4H meetings right now, but we can do projects here at home.

It’s amazing the changes a week has made.

We are more fortunate than many. We are exceedingly well stocked with food, since we had been working on that project before this crisis began, so were able to get what we needed before it was in short supply, and the garden is already starting to grow more food. We still are able to work, since the kids still need care, and Jake needs schooling. We will go to their house to do that most of the time, as their parents need to be out early at least 3 days per week, but they can also come here at times to give us all a change of pace. We have our small circle of family –and 2 houses we will alternate between–ours and theirs. There are many nice walks to take near both houses, and I’ve been on some of them already. We have a dog that needs walking and the garden to exercise in.

Our daughter, Lovana, works at a coffee/crepe shop. This week, they went to take-out only, as restaurants were ordered to do. Business has been dismal. Today, they let all the baristas go except her and one other. They drastically shortened the hours they will stay open. She will do M-Th and the other one will do F-Sunday. There is still a cook to make the crepes each day, and they will try to keep the business going with a smaller menu. Hopefully, they will be able to. She hopes to be able to stay in her little house she and a room-mate are renting, with just an occasional overnight visit home. We want to keep her with us enough to stay in our “little circle” so she won’t be alone all the time if we are put under a “stay-at-home” order, which I actually expect to happen tomorrow. Some of the things I’ve been reading lately say this may last quite a while, and she doesn’t want to be isolated from the family and all alone for a long period of time. That thought makes her anxious. Thankfully, the college class she was taking was on-line anyway, so that worked out.

Rob’s mom is quite elderly. He is choosing not to visit her at this time. So, he’s calling her daily, and we both were able to talk to her tonight, while relaxing by our campfire pit. His sisters are close to her house, and will see she has what she needs physically, but he can take things and drop them on her doorstep if she needs more.

He’s been able to get groceries for several family members when needed, requiring less of us to be in the stores.

We are being super careful, using lots of Chlorox wipes on everything from our phones to the chairs. I mixed bleach water and disinfected the bathroom after I cleaned it, letting the mixture dry on everything for at least 10 minutes, as instructed. We’ve washed our hands so much, I’m surprised we still have skin:). I’m sure I drove Jake crazy, following him around with a wipe all weekend, cleaning anything he touched! We stayed home. We’ve done what we can do. Now, it’s in God’s hands. Thankfully, they are very big, powerful hands. I know He has this in control, and I take comfort in that.

How are you filling your extra time?

Sewing Project: Summer Nightie

This is a summer nightie for Patsy from Simplicity 2819. I modified it in several ways.

First of all, the pants on the pattern fit just fine, once we made sure we had the correct measurements. She made some p.j. pants a couple of weeks ago, using this pattern, and they fit well.

I decided to re-use the pattern and make a summer nightie with some thin cotton I had on hand.

I ran into trouble immediately. I cut the nightie out using the same size as we had used for the pants. The neck opening was barely big enough for her to get over her head when I tested it. It looked small, so I was nervous, and thankfully had her try to pull it over before I went any further. I made sure that worked, and moved on.

I immediately realized that the back and front were going to be so narrow, and there was no opening, so she was never going to be able to get it on and off with comfort, much less feeling that loose, comfortable feeling we all like to enjoy while sleeping. Instead, it was going to be constricting and tight, and therefore was going to get ripped right away. This is a problem I’ve had before with both nighties and jumpers/dresses when I’ve sewed for some of my other children when they were younger.

I was in trouble, as I was out of pink fabric, so I dug into the drawer and found some white cotton. I split the front piece up the middle, added a panel of white, gathered it all up to fit the yoke piece, and then proceeded. It added several inches of fabric to the front of the nightgown. It made all the difference, and saved the project. Now its looks and comfortable, fits her really well, and looks great. Whew!!!

I have several projects planned for my Covid-19 stay-at-home time. Sewing several items is high on my list. It felt good to get the first one done!