Category Archives: food preservation

Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes!

Recently, Rob found a good deal on potatoes. They were a little over 20c/lb. He bought several 10-lb bags, as I asked him to do, because potatoes have been over 50c/lb around here. I’ve seen them for about $4.50/10 lb bag and higher the last 2 weeks. This has been a steady price for several weeks now, and this is fall–a time where potatoes are usually less expensive due to the new crop.

We ate mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, diced and fried potatoes. I canned several quarts and many pints of potato chunks. I made potato salad twice. They were huge bowls and I shared with the college group and served it for my sister’s birthday.

I set 20 lbs aside in the garage, in a cool, dark, dry place, and put one bag under the sink, which we’ve mostly eaten up by now. I checked them this morning. Much to my dismay, they weren’t looking great. It’s no bargain to pay less for something if you let half of it rot…a person might as well pay the full price for fewer good bags, but obviously, in this case, we didn’t know they were going to go bad quickly. Normally, they last a long time when stored in my garage.

I didn’t want to can any more potatoes, so I got creative.

I made a pot of potato soup. It’s very simple. I just diced potatoes and one onion and cooked them with salt and pepper in some water until the potatoes were soft. I mixed some cornstarch with milk and added that and cooked until slightly thickened. Then, I stirred in some cheese and it was done.

I baked 4 potatoes that looked good.

I peeled and parboiled over 1/2 of my big pot full of potatoes. I left them whole, and cooked for about 10 minutes. Then, I grated one tray full. I then froze that flat in my chest freezer and will transfer them to a baggie when hardened up. They are hash browns. The internet gave several choices of how to keep them from browning, and this is the method I chose.

I took the rest of the parboiled potatoes and grated them into my largest Pyrex mixing bowl. I had about 2/3 of the bowl full of shreds. I put in 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 3 Tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour, 1/2 tsp Xanthum gum, 1-1/2 teaspoon salt, a dash of Cayenne pepper, and a dash of regular black pepper, and mixed it all up. I formed into little “tots” and fried in hot oil until brown on both sides.

This was a mixture of several recipes I found on the internet. Many of them had cheese, but I didn’t want to add that at this time, as my purpose was to use up potatoes!

We ate a bunch, and I am freezing 3 containers for later. I will either bake in the oven until hot and crisp or use my air fryer to warm up. If this is something we end up using and liking, I may experiment with cheese, or more cayenne, not cooking before I freeze, and many other ideas I have rolling around in my head. But, for the first time, I followed what most recipes advised, and we’ll see how we like them! The ones we ate fresh were SO good!!!

There is still a partial bag of potatoes that will need using up very soon, so I have plenty more to experiment on….if I hurry:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 13, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canning and Other Food Preservation–September 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug. 30, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug. 16, 2022

The flowers are getting gorgeous around here. I love this bouquet Lovana, my daughter, made for me. She added dill and put it in the bathroom, which helped the room smell wonderful.

This week I was able to pick enough cucumbers to make a batch of sweet pickles. It takes 4 days. You need to do something morning and night each day. It was so great to get a batch out of the way.

I was invited to judge food preservation at the 4H fair and had a great time doing that on Monday. It is such a great program and we participated for so many years that it is a super fun 1-day job for me.

I picked and froze several baggies of beans. (You can see the pickles in progress in the background.)

It was a little hard to get any garden work done last week, but I managed a couple of weeding sessions and a couple of harvesting sessions. We were involved at Vacation Bible School at church, which took quite a bit of time.

Rob has been “enrolled” in wound care for his leg and ended up with antibiotics in an I-V in his arm for 5 days in a row. Today was the day they assessed him again, and thankfully decided that was not needed anymore, so he got the I-V port out this afternoon. His leg needs on-going treatment, though for at least a month. Although I hate that he has to go through this–it’s very painful–I’m glad they finally got him the treatment he needs.

As always, the babies bring lots of joy into our lives. Today, we baby sat both of them, which made a full day. We took them for a nice long walk first thing this morning, before it got too hot. They had fun looking for kitties and chickens. There are kitties in many places, and one place that we can see a chicken once in a while on one of our routes.

It’s been a busy week, and there’s lots more fun to come this week. I’m looking forward to a little more time in the garden soon, but it’s supposed to be super hot for a couple of days, so I may have to wait. I guess time will tell:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Gardening, Gardening, Gardening!–July 18, 2022

We started last week off with 90 degree temperatures, but it quickly cooled off. I seized the opportunity to do some extra yard and garden work.

I picked all the remaining peas over a 2-day period. My mom came over and helped shell out the first batch. The second batch felt like it took all day, but it really didn’t. We ate some and froze some.

After dealing with the last of the peas, I pulled all the vines up and put them in the compost heap. Compost was spread on the area from a finished bin and tilled in. The small cabbage and broccoli plants Rob grew were planted in that spot. More lettuce (Buttercrunch, a mixture, and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman) was planted in several places, along with spinach and snow peas. At this point, despite the few hot days we’ve had, we have had enough lettuce to eat and give away all anyone wants.

Although good help is hard to find, I found some. He will work for berries and peas.

And rides in the wheelbarrow!

Despite all my help (of course I mean “since I had so much help”), I was able to take out all of the broccoli that was finished, leaving 2 plants that looked like they had some shoots still coming. I cut and used several cabbages or gave them away, and lots of lettuce was harvested. I cleaned out patches of lettuce, as some was starting to bolt. It was still good, though, so I gave some away and ate some.

Both the yellow and green zucchini are ready to start harvesting and we’ve had a few small ones with many more to come.

Some onions are sizing up enough to use. I just used the last one from last summer’s garden so will pick a few of the new ones, use them, then pick some more, as they will only gain in size until it’s time to harvest them for winter.

I picked and froze the Marion blackberries. I got more than I thought I would. I picked and we ate the raspberries. It is a very small crop this year, so we are just eating them fresh. I have leftover frozen ones from last year, thank goodness.

I pulled weeds in the garden and the flowerbeds. There are enough left to keep me busy another day. And another. And another.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to bloom. Whenever I get stressed, I just go take a little walk down the rows and it calms me right down. They are so lovely. They seem to be every shape and size and color you can imagine. I’ll be taking more pictures, as you can imagine.

I also have a large cleaning/rearranging project going on. My sister and aunt came and helped me one day. I’ve gone through and sorted or filled so many bins, boxes, etc. Our garbage can is stuffed for the second week in a row. I’ve carried many, many bins upstairs into the shop attic. I have a growing pile up there that will be for a yard sale in the future. I have many items packed away that I don’t use often. My house is getting less cluttered all the time.

We have a house with 1,100 square feet. 3 small bedrooms and one bathroom, a modest living area, a dining room so small the table barely fits, an adequate kitchen and tiny laundry room. We use the garage for extra living space, but mostly put junk out there, and some of my food storage. We have many, many people and babies that go through this space, and a dog.

One adult daughter will be staying here for a short time in-between rentals. It was time to clear the clutter and move some things around. Although there is always work to be done and things to sort, this one part of the project is done. She has a place to stay, I have the things I want accessible to me, and the rest is stored. I’ll bet when I put it all back before long, I’ll get rid of more. In the process, several areas got deep cleaned and one room is almost entirely empty. It is so clean right now. I love it!! (Except for all the toys spread across the living room floor……always more to be done!)

Through all these projects and gardening, we did our best to stay frugal. We took our nephew and grandson to the park and on walks.

I made several batches of popsicles and also fed them ice cream purchased on sale because the weather turned hot again.

The little pool on the deck continues to be a blessing during these hot days.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 28, 2022

The garden is starting to produce. This week, I harvested peas, pea pods, green onions, lettuce and broccoli.

I froze the peas and broccoli. The rest, I’ve been eating and sharing.

I spent several hours weeding and I also stacked wood we were given. It feels good to be filling up the wood piles again.

We got together with some friends and family and took the boys to a park with a splash pad and picnic. I took sandwiches, snow peas and carrot sticks. Others brought fruit, chips and drinks. All the kids and adults had a great time. The park had a soccer field that some of the kids enjoyed, as well.

Rob dug out the kiddie pool and we used it several times this week. We used a frisbee, old cups from fast food, the watering can, and plastic bowls for toys. It was very hot for several days and even the adults put their feet in at times.

I will say that everything got watered well. The deck. The dog food dish. The trike. The flowers. The rocks. My legs. Rob’s feet. The buckets. And so on……We were so thankful for the rash guard and swim shorts Rob found for a dollar or two at a yard sale.

I cooked several food items: a whole chicken I got for the incredibly low price of 47c/lb, some white rice, a vegetable soup, tuna-noodle casserole, lots of salads, meatloaf, and more. Then we just heated food up in the microwave during the hot days. It has cooled off again, so I am ready to cook again, although there are a few things to finish up first. I did boil the bones from the chicken, so I want to do some soup with that in the next couple of days.

We have 3 parties this upcoming weekend. 2 are at our house, one we are attending and need to take a little food. I’ve been working this week on figuring out the decor and food for Rob’s Mom’s 90th birthday party, which is on Saturday. I’m also frantically finishing the binding of her birthday quilt, which came back from the machine quilter just a few days ago.

I’m not in charge of decor for the boys’ birthday party on Sunday afternoon, but do have a few things to get ready. By the time I get to the 4th, and go to my sister’s, I will be cruising along, just taking a salad and enjoying the fact that I can just visit with everyone. I’m sure I will have lots of pictures to post by this time next week.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 13, 2022

Toward the end of last summer, I was only getting a few strawberries each time I picked. I washed them and put them in a large baggie in the freezer, and ended up with about 8 cups, mashed. Today, I used that large bagful, together with the last 3 baggies from 2020 that had been lost in the freezer, the freshly picked ones from my bushes and a few from some my sister gave us to eat.

I made a double batch of jam and canned 17–1/2 pints. I will be u-picking or buying more berries to freeze for smoothies, and likely make more jam once it dries up a bit.

This flowerbed is looking great. The dahlias in the back come back every year. Rob grew the marigolds from a Dollar Tree packet (4/$1 at the time of purchase). The poppies came up volunteer from last year’s poppies and so did the nasturtiums. The geraniums were wintered-over by Rob, in the greenhouse. A neighbor told me last week she paid $9 for one geranium and $7 for one impatient. I told Rob he was worth a fortune…but not just for his geraniums:)

This flowerbed is shaping up, too. The dahlias are Rob’s project. The nasturtiums came up volunteer and I transplanted several volunteer zinnias into this area.

We helped chaperone a party for the 5th grade Sunday school class we teach. It was at an indoor trampoline park. Jake got to go with us, and had so much fun bouncing. We had fun watching all the kids we have been teaching have so much fun. Our church’s Children’s Director had to set it up as a birthday party to reserve one of the little eating areas, so the kids had pizza and pop and each got a pair of socks as part of the experience. Those kids moved up to mid-high last week, and yesterday we got a new batch of students. We are looking forward to getting to know these new-to-us kiddos and have lots planned for them.

Our local Safeway had a grand re-opening celebration. The store was recently renovated and, although it stayed open the entire time, it was kind of hard to navigate at times. Patsy and I went down early. I grabbed my groceries–about $20 worth, as that’s all I needed, and was given this bag of groceries, along with a bag of granola which is not pictured. Patsy was buying an item for herself and was given a bag, as well. I love having new bags, too, as some of mine are getting sad-looking.

The groceries were in limited supply, but there were fun activities that were going to start, so Rob took Jake by there a while later after he picked him up for the day. To our surprise, Rob also was given a bag of groceries, plus many free products and coupons from the produce area. Now I have coupons for free salad dressing, baby potatoes, sourkrout, and more, along with the free products he got. Jake got to sample things, play games, spin wheels, and ended up with chap stick, which he adores! Although it would have been fun to stay at Safeway all day, they came home and left the hot dogs and Mac and cheese behind for others.

Patsy cut Rob’s hair. He just couldn’t find time to go to the barber shop, so he had her do it. It is cool for summer now.

I took the kids to the library and got books and movies.

We have 3 birthdays in 8 days, for 3 daughters. I made cupcakes and a spaghetti dinner for Patsy on Tuesday, went to dinner with Abbie on Wednesday, and am still waiting for the 3rd one to happen this week. I sent Jake and Rob to the mall to buy gifts and they did a great job using coupons at Bath and Body Works, and got what I asked for at Macy’s. I made the cupcakes and Rob decorated them.

Those two also went to a few yard sales. Jake was given all kinds of Pokemon items, which he loves. We will be helping with the reception for our niece’s wedding this fall. A loose plan has been formulated for decor of the food area, and now Rob has some items to source. He will be looking at yard sales to see what he can find. For instance, they want a cookie bar. Boards will be placed between 2 old, but decorated rustic ladders and used for shelves for platters of cookies. Crates and baskets will add height to the food display. Food will be simple, but decorated with garnishes to look catered and fancy. Rob’s 100 dahlia plants (that’s kind of a joke–not sure how many he actually has) will hopefully give some blooms of good colors and we will use those and chrysanthemums–probably white mainly.

We will be using things around the house, as well. Our niece asked me and Jake’s mom to organize the reception and do the cooking. Our husbands just got lucky and get to help as well:). We are all very excited! Rob sent a text to quite a few of his friends saying: I need ___, ___, and ____ for a wedding reception I’m helping with. If you have any of those items that you never want to see again, let me know, because I won’t be returning them. If you want to keep your things, do not feel bad, I just want the things people are finished with. He got quite a bit of response already, even offers to go through basements, etc. He’s going to gather up what he can and start from there re-using the items. My sister and I can add bows, paint things, etc. , if needed. We are a long ways out from this event, but I will certainly post when that day comes, or items are finished. Not only is this a frugal way to do things, it uses items that are simply languishing in basements and putting them to good purpose. It’s win-win!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 6, 2022

This week, Rob was able to take Patsy’s senior pictures. Truthfully, the final selections have not been chosen or edited, but this is one I like.

And this one….

And this one…..

There are so many good ones, I can hardly choose. Rob hopes to get down to the coast and take a few down there, but if it never happens, I can easily find good ones in the ones he took.

We took a short hike at Silver Falls State Park while we were taking pictures. I also purchased a year-long day-use park pass for $30 while I was there. We’ve been blessed with a park pass for both day use and camping for the past several years, but it is expiring as we are no longer going to have an adoptive/foster child under 18. Plus, even though she’s not quite 18, the pass only works when the child is there, and she’s going off to work at a camp before long, so Rob and I will be hiking and picnicking without her. I’m not sure what the day rate is anymore, either $5 or $3, but either way, it won’t take us long to get our money’s worth from that pass. Before long, we will be paying for camping as well, but that’s o.k. We appreciate all the times we got to go and not pay, that’s for sure.

We got bone-in chicken breasts for 99c/lb. Rob de-boned them and we froze the now boneless/skinless breast pieces for meals. We boiled the bones to make broth, then pressure canned them. We got 7 quarts and 14 pints.

A close family member gave us some extra Bottle Drop money she wasn’t using. I took that, along with $93 of my grocery money and did a big shop for the next 2 weeks. I used a $10/off $50 coupon along with many other digital coupons. I used the extra money to focus on hygiene supplies, such as deodorant– dish soap, laundry soap for Patsy to take with her, and some other items she needs to take when she goes.

I haven’t done the Ibotta rebate app for a while, so they were trying to entice me back. I got free crackers and popcorn and $8 in bonus money, over $20 in all. I bought things I was buying anyway, except for the last 3 items needed to get the extra $8 in bonus money. I got 2 candy bars and some instant oatmeal, and spent about $4+ on those, still putting me ahead. I use the oatmeal while camping, and won’t have trouble find a home for candy bars.

I made a vegetable soup with home-canned carrots, tomatoes, broth and frozen beans and dried zucchini. I used my pesto I froze in ice cube trays in there, as well, along with some rice noodles. There was a little bit of the roast beef I cooked this week in there, too. I love that particular soup and will even eat it for breakfast. Malcolm has eaten it several times this week, as well. I love to see those veggies go down the hatch! Carrots seem to be a favorite, along with beans. He pokes at them with his fork, until he either spears them and eats them, or gives up in disgust if it takes too long, and just holds the fork in one hand and grabs the carrots and beans with the other. So cute! (To a grandma, anyway. Everyone else probably thinks it’s the huge mess that it really is!)

I checked the garden a few minutes ago. I am happy to report that there are a few peas poking up at last, in the raised beds. In the small section of the big garden that was planted, very little has managed to come up. I did notice a few Boc Choi babies, though! I’m super happy. We love that in stir fry and also in chicken soup, so I hope a few of them do grow!

Rob and I drove to a county Covid-19 test give-away. I was wrapped up in taking care of Jake and Michaela and some of the things we were doing, and forgot to go right at 3 when it started. I was sure that they would be out by the time we got there around 6:30, but contrary to my thoughts, they were coming to the end of their event with a lot of the free tests left over. They asked if we would take a few extras and keep some and hand some out, if we could think of anyone who could use them. I got tests for the girls, my Mom, Aunt, 2 sisters and ourselves. What a blessing. If we need them, we’ve got them.

I also heard you can request 4 more tests from the federal government, the same as we did not long ago, starting this upcoming week. Rob and I feel we have about enough after that. But, it’s the kind of thing that when you need one, it will be so much handier to have one here, then have to go buy one, so we are happy to keep some on hand. We do need to test negative to work, if we have Covid symptoms.

There are just a few apples in our box Rob’s sister gave us. Rob made apple crisp from some of them, and we keep eating the rest.

This week will be a bit busy. We have Jake extra hours. We said we would keep the babies one day, as J is getting her hair done. In the midst of that, Patsy is doing hours of schoolwork each and every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. She is going to make it, the work will be finished. I know if she doesn’t do it before she goes off to camp, it will never, ever be finished. So that’s what we are doing. I’m working with her a little more than usual, keeping her on track and doing some things verbally, to make sure she understands it without needing to write it down, in some cases. I won’t lie, we are both heartily sick of doing school for the hours we’ve been doing it, but the end is in sight, so that’s wonderful! This week, we should finish most of it. Any odds and ends will be done the following week, and she goes on the 22nd. She will come home most weekends, and we will have her graduation party on one of those weekends later in the spring.