Category Archives: Garden

Garden Update and Plans–July 18, 2019

The garden is getting very full of plants and blooms. I’ve been busy picking veggies and flowers, preserving, and making plans to renew it for my fall crops.

I canned my first green beans of the season. It took me two days even though there weren’t that many because Jake was at our house…..need I say more? Rob and I just swapped off duties and we got the job done. Now there are 20 pints and 6 quarts to add to my canning cupboard.

Almost every day now, I pick another 2 or 3 Glacier Ultra Early tomatoes. They are small sized and more of an orange-red than some other varieties, but they sure have good flavor. I am also getting a handful of Sungold Cherry tomatoes every couple of days. They disappear off the counter almost as soon as I put them down there!

I’m still getting raspberries from the June-bearing variety. I’ve been delighted with the yield from my fairly-short row. I’ve frozen lots of them. I’ve also been freezing blueberries. My mom has sent some my direction from her bushes, and we had a few from ours. Most of ours are disappearing right down the hatches of the family!

I got some beets from my mixed beet packet I planted. Alissa chose it from the Pinetree seed catalog, but later informed me she didn’t care for beets, they were all for us:). I roasted these with olive oil and salt. They shrunk when I roasted them, but they tasted good and are hands-down the prettiest beets I’ve ever grown.

I’ve been picking broccoli every couple of days. I froze 6 more quart-sized baggies, we ate a head fresh and there are several more still growing. This is the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial Seed Company. It gives a staggered harvest. I’ve grown it for years and love all the kinds that grow. I will have lots of side shoots after I pick the main heads.

Two and a half weeks ago, I bought 3 zucchini. Then mine started to get ripe! Since then, we have eaten it several times, and I have given it away to my sisters and a friend. My fridge has several in it, and there are more ready to pick. All in ONE and ONE HALF weeks! It’s going to be a good zucchini year, for sure:)

We have plans to get some fall crops going. The green beans will be pulled shortly, after one more good picking. There is lettuce that will be pulled. So, some areas will be opening up soon.

Rob picked up some bags of steer manure at the farm store. I will dump a bag on an open area once I pull the spent plants, till with the tiny little tiller we have, and replant for fall. I will plant more lettuce, possible a new zucchini for when these succumb to mildew, maybe some additional pickling cucumbers since I’m not sure I have enough, maybe spinach, boc choi, snow peas, Swiss chard, more green beans for fall eating, and what ever else I can squeeze in. It’s getting to the point where some things may not mature before frost, but if I get going on it right now, I will be able to get veggies far into the month of October. Some crops will take a light frost, like cabbage, broccoli, chard, and snow peas. It’s a fun project!

Garden Update–June 30, 2019

I’ve been very busy in the garden lately. I’m especially pleased with this crop of raspberries. These are the June-bearing variety, but I don’t know its specific name since they are starts from the farm where I grew up. I took them to our last house, took starts from those bushes when we knew we were moving, and put them in a pot, which my aunt kindly babied all that summer while I lived in my camper, and then I planted the ones that survived at this house. Last year I got just a few berries, but this year…WOW!

The first batch of green beans are blooming. I will be canning before I know it. Behind them, you can see that the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and the rogue cilantro patch are growing like crazy. Last summer, a cilantro bush went to seed and dropped a LOT of seeds. I just let them grow and we’ve been eating as much cilantro as we can in salads, tacos, burritos, etc.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. Of the 6 cabbage starts we planted, only 2 have survived to form heads. Behind them are the rest of the cauliflower. Of the 2 heads we picked, one was completely useless (buggy and tiny) and the other was about 3 inches across. Hmmm. I cut it into fine pieces and put it into a stir-fry. Those were plants Rob bought and they were left too long on the porch while we waited for the rain to stop in the spring so we could till.

The broccoli we started from seed is faring much better, probably because it was never stressed.

I planted out several Joker crisphead lettuce plants and they are starting to grow nicely. The rest of the plants from that package are growing tightly in a row, but I’ve cut twice from the 2 lettuce rows and they still need to be thinned badly! So, we are in lettuce season for sure.

I saw this amazing dragonfly on the sage bush today. It was cooperative and I got a picture. As you can see, the rhubarb is growing back already!

I am very glad to see how everything is growing, and most days I get outside for at least a few minutes to pull a few weeds, hoe or harvest. Today, I got a whole 5-gallon bucket-full. I know it won’t be long until I am drowning in produce, after all the zucchini is blooming. But until then, I will treasure every little snow pea, green onion, lettuce leaf and berry that I get.

Garden Update–May, 2019

The garden is really starting to grow. We had unseasonably hot weather for about a week, then it has rained off and on for the past week. Things are getting a great start! Rob’s little tomatoes exceeded all expectations. I think I’ll let him grow them every year!

Do you notice all those squash-like sprouts amongst the green beans? I think every single squash seed we composted came up in the garden. Some squash and pumpkins rotted, and we threw them out there, too. I have areas where it seems like the sprouts are raising a mound, like a molehill, of baby plants. I’ve never seen that many before! The sad thing is that we have no idea what is what–they are too close, there are too many, they could be crossed with other things, a seed from a hybrid, etc., so I’m pulling and hoeing them up:(. Still, it’s amazing to watch. And, I have lots of baby green bean plants up, too, and I’m glad. I need to can and can green beans!

The new raised beds are growing great, although I kind of think the lettuce doesn’t like the coffee grounds as much as the strawberries do.

It’s still pretty small. I think the garden lettuce will soon catch up, even though it was planted so much later.

One blueberry bush is loaded. The other one isn’t. The 2 baby bushes have a few on them. There will be plenty.

I think there will be lots of raspberries before long!

The established strawberries are happy with all the attention I’ve given them this spring.

All in all, I’m very pleased with how it’s all coming along. I really have quite a bit of canning and freezing to do this summer, since vegetable man has been eating so many this past year! It’s so worth it to me. So healthy and fun:). I really enjoy gardening, and love the exercise I get while doing it.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 13, 2019

This week was all about gardening. The artichokes have exceeded my expectations! We have been enjoying them and there are many more to come.

Rob spent a few sessions tilling. He has to break up big jobs to accommodate his bad hip. He finished Saturday morning. We bought some plants and also planted the small peppers we grew in the greenhouse. They’ve already grown since we planted them, so who knows! They didn’t get as big as we’d like, but we thought they were worth a shot. His tomatoes came out beautifully, and he saw ones smaller than his for around $3/plant. Since he grew way over 25 plants, he grew a worth of more than $75, minus the cost of seeds.

I worked many mornings, planting beefsteak, Glacier, Ultra Early, Sungold, Black Cherry, Striped German, Black Japanese, Roma and Willamette tomatoes, head and leaf lettuces, snow peas, beets, carrots, Anaheim, Jalape√Īo, green, yellow, banana and lunchbox peppers, spinach, SO many little onions, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, 3 small groupings of green beans, yellow beans, pickling and slicing cucumbers, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, basil, cilantro, dill and watermelon. I may have planted more, but that’s what I can remember. The garden area has one more spot for corn, and a few places to fill in with transplants of head lettuce I’m growing in another spot, plus succession plantings of lettuce, basil and cilantro all summer.

I also worked on my flowerbeds quite a bit. Rob bought me this lobelia to add to a pot that I had overwintered a geranium in. It’s not blooming yet, but there’s a bud:). I planted a lot of flower seeds that had been around for a long time. Some have not come up. Some have.

I finished cleaning out the old strawberry patch, and added a lot of compost to top-dress the plants.

I have some more edging to do in front of the house but the back yard is pretty much finished. Because I’m doing some extra landscaping, it’s taking a while in each area.

We got the sprinklers set up so the garden will be watered when the system does it’s rounds, saving me hours. I was hand-watering until I got the garden all planted.

I did do a few other things this week, but sadly they didn’t include much laundry, cleaning in the house, or cooking beyond what absolutely needed to be done:). Oh, well. I was pretty happy to be outside and the dirt will still be there inside when I get to cleaning! Hope I don’t need a shovel:) ūüôā

My sister took us all out to lunch for Mother’s Day. We had a really good time, and it was nice to not have to cook.

Alissa and I have been working for hours and hours to complete her schooling. We just finished the rest of the bookwork a little while ago. Now, she is happily watching “The Hobbit” while I type this. I have some correcting to do, and scores to add up, then I’ll take it all to the Homeschool Satellite School we use on Friday–she will get a high school diploma, graduate in a cap and gown, etc. once they get the final credits recorded. What a weight off my mind to know we have completed all the requirements! We are both pretty happy today:)

Rob took Patsy and they got 4 garbage cans full of free sawdust to use as mulch on the front of the house where she planted her bulbs. She trimmed the leaves of the spent bulbs and put down the sawdust. It looks great.

Thriving In My thrifty week–May 5, 2019

There were a lot of branches in our garden area from the apple tree we heavily pruned earlier in the spring. Rob worked on cutting them up several times during the week. Even though he’s having a very hard time getting around, he finds he can still get some things done if he divides the jobs up into several short work sessions rather than the marathons he’s used to doing. We have the yard debris bin full, and another pile of cut sticks to put in it when it gets emptied.

On Saturday, Patsy mowed down the many, many weeds. Although it was being very difficult, and kept dying at first, Rob got the tiller going and tilled most of the garden. He said it must have been having trouble running with the old gas leftover in the engine from last summer, because it died over and over, but finally started running better. There is still a little more to do another time, but it’s well on it’s way. Patsy and I spread 20 bags of steer manure/compost as he was tilling. Then, Patsy planted a couple of things and I did many more. I’ve been hand-watering the little starts and seeded rows. We don’t want to run sprinklers until we have all of it planted.

Before it was mowed, I scurried thought the garden picking the volunteer lettuce, green onions and cilantro that were growing in the weeds and under the brush pile. I washed it all up, and we will eat it this week.

I made up a lot of frozen bean, rice and cheese burritos for future meals. Tortillas were $1/package this week, due to Cinco de Mayo. Many evenings when I am still at work, it makes an easy meal for Rob to give Patsy. She loves them.

I worked on homeschool with Alissa for many, many hours this week as well. I have an appointment to turn her work and grades in, in 2 weeks, so we are both working hard to get it done. One of our projects was visiting 4 different stores with a list of food items. We priced them out at each store, and added up the cost of the list. In the process, I gleaned the loss leaders from each store. I got plenty of bargains, and won’t shop this coming week unless I see an amazing deal, or run out of something small.

I did a lot of cooking, a fair amount of gardening, a little cleaning, no sewing at all, and stayed frugal through it all! How did your week go?

A Gardening Project–April, 2019

This is my finished project, by my front steps. It was a pretty big project, so it took me a few days to get it done.

I was having trouble mowing the lawn. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into the corner. I decided to enlarge the flowerbed. I also had a LOT of weeding to do. This photo was taken AFTER I did a bunch. Seriously.

So far, I’ve dug up the lawn, moved the edging pieces forward to frame the new portion, weeded down part way along the house, added some dirt to the new portion, and transplanted a few orange flowers that came up in the garden where my nephew, Jake, had his row of flowers last summer. I also put some compost on the dahlias that come up every year in the back by the house. I plan to weed further along the house, plant some flowers in the new portion, and dig out the edging all the way down to the end.

I have to confess, I’m a little stiff and sore, but now that the weather has turned nice, I think I will soon toughen up as I get out there more. I do love the process, the exercise, and the way it looks when I’m done, so that’s my motivation! Rob’s out of town, on a retreat with one of his friends, so I have more inside work to do for a few days. I guess I need to appreciate him even more than I do–there’s nothing like his absence to show me all the little things he does….

Gardening Project–Compost Bins–April, 2019

Rob has been working on this 2-compartment compost bin. First, he had to scrounge up as much free lumber as he could. He says this is 95% reclaimed/recycled lumber. At our last place, he made a 3-compartment one for me. Here, I actually want 2 of these guys instead, because I want them in 2 different parts of the back yard garden. This one will be moved into place once I get done shoveling away the old compost that I have in a heap right now. The cool thing about these bins is that Rob makes the front boards removable. They are just set into a slot. Then, when it is full and the compost is ready, I just remove the top board or two, shovel out that compost, remove some more, etc, until I’m down to the bottom.

There is a screen between the 2 compartments to allow for more air flow.

Yesterday, he finished the first one. He was able to find some boards towards the second one today already! He just goes around to the wood manufacturers in our town, and picks through their “free” piles.

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?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 19, 2018

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I have worked on my berries 3 or 4 times, in small bits of time. ¬†So far I’ve finished tying up the June-bearing raspberries, the Marion blackberries and cut down 1/2 of the every-bearing raspberries. ¬†This year, I am going to cut down the entire patch of ever-bearing ones, as that is a choice. ¬†Rob wants to re-string the wire that was there when we moved in. ¬†It is in bad condition. ¬†According to the internet, if you cut all canes down, you will get one large crop mid-late summer next year. ¬†I’m fine with that. ¬†The June-bearing ones are finally old enough to give me some berries in the first part of summer, and I’ll rely on the other patch at the end of the season. ¬†It’s worth a try.

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It was a very dry summer. ¬†I don’t think there are as many canes on the Marion blackberries as there would normally be. ¬†Still, I’ll fertilize and care for what are there. ¬†I can go to my sister’s house and pick wild blackberries if I need more next summer. ¬†She always has lots of those.

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I have shopped until I’ve dropped! ¬†I have been to the store so many times, I’ve lost count. ¬†It’s become comical. I’ve purchased every sale and bargain item I regularly use from at least 5 stores that are near my house. I’ve bought hams, turkeys, baking ingredients, dairy products, goodies, produce galore, normal items such as sugar, treats such as peppermint mini marshmallows, and everything in-between. ¬†Or so I thought. ¬†I no sooner got home and began to make cucumbers (with marked-down cakes) and onions in a vinegar-sugar-salt and pepper mixture, which is a salad Rob likes to eat frequently, than I realized I was out of sweet rice wine vinegar. ¬†I substituted, but went back for some the next day. ¬†I got that, and no sooner got home than I went to make something….and I was out of cornstarch. ¬†And, so it went. “I’m out of yogurt, honey,” was the next cry! I just had to laugh. ¬†I was able to use all the grocery money and then some, my Ibotta money, my Bottle Drop money, and then some. ¬†I actually had fun gathering all these things, but now, I’m tired of thinking, so will cruise along on what I got for the next few weeks, and only need to get produce and milk. ¬†Or so I think:).

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I re-purposed a little container from last Thanksgiving, by putting a geranium start in it and placing it on the windowsill.  There were 5 tiny geraniums that volunteered in the compost heap, and this is one of them.  The other 4 went into a large pot, and I put that in the greenhouse to see if they will winter over.

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Jake planted some seeds my friend, Jeannie, sent him. ¬†There is a little Columbine plant in the corner of the pot, just in case he forgets about the seeds and they die–he will have something, I hope. ¬†That went in the greenhouse, too.

Last night, we had a slumber party with Jake and his older sister, Caitlyn. ¬†(She’s in her 20’s and works full-time, so it was a treat to have her). Patsy played games with them after church, we watched the British Baking Show on Netflix, and ate sandwiches. ¬†This morning, we went swimming at the YMCA, and I took Caitlyn to a natural store where she could get some gluten-free rolls she really enjoyed eating here. ¬†(I bought gf cornstarch, for one thing!). We also hit up Winco for yogurt (much better price), and she got some groceries she needed. ¬† We can’t beat the price of the $1.17/lb. ham they have right now. ¬† It was fun to spend some time with her. ¬†We used to spend quite a bit of time with her when she was little, but time has a way of passing, and those days are understandably rare any more, so it was special to me to have her spend a night on my couch once again.

I did some cleaning and organizing for Thanksgiving.  I started cooking the things that could be made ahead, such as cornbread I made and froze, to add to the dressing later in the week and some candied walnuts to add to the sweet potatoes.  We should have a great day on Thursday, and every day before that promises to have a little holiday fun in it as well!  I hope you week is shaping up well, also.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 21, 2018

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It was our turn to feed the college-aged kids at church this week.  We made a giant sub sandwich, using a board Rob covered with foil.  We used 5 loaves of French bread, which were purchased for 88c/loaf at Winco.  We also found ham lunchmeat for $3.50 for 2 pounds!  We got 8 pounds and piled it on, along with a thin layer of cheese slices, put fancy toothpicks in it, cut it and lined up the pieces to look like one long sandwich.IMG_9545

We served chips, brownies, veggies and toppings for the kids to put on their sandwiches such as tomatoes, lettuce, olives, onions, etc. ¬†There was a gluten-free option on the other end, using Udi’s French bread and Krispie Treats. ¬†This meal was very well received. ¬†Alissa and Patsy helped me the night of the event, as Rob ended up staying home. ¬†We came in way below the budget and the kids were so appreciative as usual. They are fun to cook for!

This would be a very affordable idea for anyone who needs to have a party or other occasion to feed a large group. ¬†It’s fun, too. ¬†Even though it was a simple presentation, it made it feel special to the kids. ¬†I could tell by their comments.

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I worked 3 different times, putting the garden to bed for the winter. ¬†I’m still not done, but am gaining on it. ¬†Now I need to make more pasta sauce and Salsa Verde with the tomatoes. ¬†The green ones are for the Salsa Verde.

Rob was able to till up a portion. ¬†I’m glad he did, since I cannot handle the large tiller. ¬†However, his bad hip does not allow him to do that kind of thing for very long. ¬†So, he did what he could, and will work on it again another time. ¬†He bought 20 bags of something to amend the soil a while back. ¬†I think it’s steer manure or garden compost. ¬†We need to get that on.

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I didn’t need many groceries from the regular store this week, so we spent our money elsewhere. ¬†I got cauliflower from farm stands–2 at each place, since I took the last 2 at the first place. ¬†I also got 25 pounds of both onions and potatoes, and some hot peppers. ¬†It’s hard to believe we have eaten almost every single one of all those onions we grew and every single potato as well. ¬†I feel we grew so much in that garden, and feel great that we have used it so much. ¬†It did save a lot of money over the summer, and the preserved food will continue to bless us during the winter.

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They were huge heads.  We ate a bunch, and I still got 16 quart-sized Ziplock bags full.

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The family likes it cooked with a little cheese on top, or in cauliflower-cheese soup.  I have also made some things using it chopped up in the food processor (riced) to make things more low-carb.  I did make cauliflower pizza crust last winter.

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Rob, I, Patsy and Alissa volunteered at the 4H bake sale on Saturday.  The girls especially enjoyed taking bins to the barns where there was a tack sale going on and selling the goods out there.  The 3 teams did very well.

Rob and I stayed back at the 4H building and helped package all the goods the clubs sent in. ¬†Alissa and I made caramel corn to bring and every bit of it sold, which is a good feeling. ¬†Patsy and Alissa made one batch of Muddy Buddies with Rice Chex right there at the sale, so the aroma would entice people to buy baked goods. ¬†When our shift was up at noon, almost all the baked goods were gone–a wonderful position to be in. ¬†The lady in charge was delighted. The sale continued for an hour or two after we left, but she figured they would run out, and she had someone coming in to buy anything that was left at the end. ¬†Several hundred dollars were made, but I don’t know the exact figure. ¬†100% of it will be used on 4H programs.

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I think our extra-warm, dry spell is about over, but the Patsy and Jake decided to have one more water balloon fight this afternoon after church.  They got out popsicles, and Patsy filled up 20 water balloons.  Then they started the games, and throwing them back and forth.

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We also went to the library on our way over here from church and Family Sunday dinner, and Jake and Patsy chose books and movies. ¬†Michaela was with us, but she didn’t want to go in, so Rob stayed in the car with her. She also didn’t want to do water balloons. ¬†That’s ok. ¬†She had fun in her own way. ¬† It was good to get the routine going again. ¬†We have had one family member or another gone on vacation for quite a while now, and have had various ones get sick, so have been unable to get the crew together very often lately. ¬†Hopefully, everyone will stay well now.

How did your week go? ¬†Did you save money in some way, or do something that fed your soul and made you feel like you were thriving? ¬†I’m expecting to have another busy, but good week.