Category Archives: Garden

Garden Update–June 20, 2020

The garden is growing like crazy! I’m excited, because all of our hard work is starting to yield a lot of vegetables and fruit, and there’s a lot more vegetables that are coming along nicely, although not ready yet.

The pole beans are happily climbing up their trellis. These will yield until fall, and give me fresh beans for a longer period of time. I will can as many as I am able to get from the bush beans, as I need quite a few this year, but having fresh ones longer enables me to save the canned ones for winter when nothing grows. There are Blue Lake Pole beans and Violet-Podded Pole beans on this trellis.

The main broccoli heads have been picked and frozen or eaten. Now, side shoots are forming. I put some fertilizer on them and will get lots more before these plants are finished. They look awful right now, but trust me, there will be more broccoli! Rob planted some new babies in the greenhouse, and I will put them out in mid-late summer for a fall crop.

This is the third planting of Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas. The other 2 have been pulled up, and more have been planted wherever I can find a small space to do so. We have eaten them several times a week. Rob stir-fries them up for his morning scramble, and I’ve made several stir-fries for dinners. I don’t try to freeze any. They get too mushy for our taste.

We’ve eaten several cabbages. I have a cabbage blend, and some Golden Acre cabbage. Coleslaw has been a part of our meal plan often. We like it with raisins in it. It has also been added to soups and stir-fries. There are still several cabbages growing, and Rob has some baby ones in the greenhouse for a fall crop. They are called Quick Start cabbage, because that is the kind the store still had. We will see what they are like. I really can’t see how any cabbage would be a bad choice around here. It grows well here.

We have 2 raised beds near our deck. One is full of strawberries and the other is mixed vegetables and herbs. I just keep filling every crack and corner in with new little lettuce plants as I pick things. In that blank space on the right, I filled in a few snow pea seeds just yesterday.

We are having tremendous success with Rob’s plan of growing little seedlings in the greenhouse while waiting for space to free up in the big garden or raised bed. He has planted some unique varieties of seeds a friend sent us, and is excited for me to plant them out. He also keeps a steady supply of lettuces growing so I can fill in partial rows, or little spaces that free up.

The new spinach row is growing nicely, next to the sad and sorry okra that is not. It’s just not hot enough for it to be happy here, I think.

The Blue Lake and yellow Carson bush green beans are growing nicely, though. To the left of the broccoli, the empty space has been planted with more pickling cucumbers. There is another patch already growing elsewhere, but I want to do a lot of pickles. I have dill tucked here and there, and even planted some more in one of the front flowerbeds yesterday to get ready when this later patch of cucumbers does. We love pickles and they have been a great boost to Rob’s dieting, since they are very low-calorie. He’s almost wiped out my supply, so it’s time to do many more jars.

Once this yellow zucchini starts pollinating we are going to have a ton! There are some green zucchini bushes as well. You have to have a male blossom open to pollinate these females…a couple finally opened this week, so I know I now have hope for the zucchini to grow and produce as long as the insects did their job. Rob eats zucchini almost daily in his morning scramble, so I’m excited that I won’t have to buy them any more. It’s not that a zucchini is expensive, it’s that it’s going to be so handy to be able to pick them and get most of what we need from the back yard when Rob is laid up after surgery. I will have lots of choices to feed him without leaving home.

The tomatoes are growing well, and I’ve picked a small handful of the Glacier Ultra Early ones.

I have peppers in a couple of places. They are not setting fruit yet, and look a little sad. They want more heat. Next week, they should get some! The Alderman Telephone Peas in the back love this cool weather we’ve been having, but there are no blooms yet. Let’s hope the heat doesn’t fry them:)

There is a bumper crop of raspberries this year. These are the ever-bearing ones. They are smaller, and not so sweet as the June-bearing kind I have, but I get berries sooner in the season, and later into the fall from them. I’ve frozen several trays of them and we eat them fresh, or in a bowl with a little milk or 1/2 and 1/2 on them sprinkled with a little sugar. The June-bearing kind are just starting to ripen, one here, and one there, and I have a huge amount of green ones on the bushes.

I’m getting about a quart -1/2 gallon of strawberries every couple of days. We’ve had them on ice cream, in smoothies, and sliced in bowls. Jake loves them sliced with a little sugar on them. I’m delighted, since it’s difficult to get him to eat very many healthy foods. I’m freezing the rest.

The weeds are growing as well as the rest of the garden, probably even better. Instead of despairing, I just try to hoe or weed out a few each day. Yes, I will never finish, but, I’m also getting an awful lot of good food despite the weeds that keep cropping up every time I turn my back:)

Rob’s snapdragons and pansies look so pretty by the herbs. You can see that the rhubarb is already growing back from when I pulled each and every stalk a few weeks ago.

It’s really almost ridiculous, the amount of snapdragons that grew from those little Dollar Tree seed packets! We have them in lots of places, along with other flowers–some Rob grew, some we bought, and some were wintered over from last year. It’s looking pretty good around here, and I feel good about the garden’s progress.

I will not be suffering from lack of work once Rob is laid up next week after surgery, but I do feel like I have as good of a handle on it all as I possibly can. We have family members already lined up to come help me out, so I know I can go out and pick things, weed a little, etc. And, the best part is that he will be getting better each day instead of worsening as he is doing now. In a few months, who knows what he will be able to do? But, even when he is recovering, after the first couple of weeks, he should be able to transplant his little baby plants, and so forth. For now, I’m under strict instructions to water them each and every morning, without fail. I can handle that!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–Garden Update–May 24, 2020

Most of this week was rainy and wet. On the day we homeschooled Jake, one thing we did was venture out with umbrellas for a nice walk–he’s required to exercise daily for P.E.

Rob took Michaela train spotting.

They saw one this time!

Jake spent the night, as he’s been doing every Wednesday. His Mom works Wednesdays and Thursdays, from home, and needs complete peace and quiet to do so. This is a great schedule for us, as well, and he loves it, school and all.

One day we had a pretty bad hail storm. It was brief, but violent, and beat down some lettuce, put holes into cabbage leaves, crushed some spinach, and laid low some other delicate garden plants. Thankfully, most things survived, or will outgrow the damage with no problem, but a few had a setback, to say the least.

I went ahead and picked the outside leaves and the damaged ones off the spinach and Rob ate them in salads this week. I froze 2 very small portions for later, using the torn up leaves that way. The inner leaves have already grown since then, in the few days since I did it.

We picked most of the artichokes on the bushes. I froze 2 packages of artichoke hearts from the small ones, shared some and have some to eat.

We put strings up on the pole bean trellis so they can climb up as they grow.

The box on the right is a potato box Rob built after seeing it on U-Tube. The bottom box has some old potatoes in it, covered with dirt. (As in, we did not buy them, they are left over ones that are trying to grow anyway and some his mom couldn’t eat in time, I guess–). The idea is that as the potato bushes grow, they are covered with dirt and another board layer is added, making it taller and taller. Supposedly, the potatoes will continue to make bushes and then more and more potatoes as you stack it higher and higher throughout the season. He thought it would be fun to try. He used reclaimed wood and junk potatoes…..so it’s a fun experiment for no out-of-pocket for him.

Every time I think the garden is full, I find another place to tuck a few more plants…. Like celery under the sprinkler tripod. They say it likes it really wet. Rob planted some really old seeds that have been around for several years, and got them to grow. There are more, but no more space right now.

Tiny head lettuce plants around the rock that holds the sprinkler head and hose down….

More head lettuce by the dahlias….

…And leaf lettuce under the Tronboncini trellis. Rob can eat a head a day, if it’s small, or close to a gallon ziplock full of leaf lettuce, when he’s in a salad mood, which is almost always. He’s been eating lettuce at least twice a day, stir-fried snow peas, zucchini and mushrooms with onions and peppers for breakfast with his eggs….you get the idea of how much produce we are going through right now! I’m going to keep planting lettuce everywhere I can, all summer long, and fill in every area with other succession plantings as space fills up. He’s got another batch of lettuce growing in the greenhouse, so I can plant it out when space frees up. It’s all worth it to me!

I picked all the rhubarb. I froze some and shared some.

We did get into the garden to weed and hoe, but not until the end of the week. There is plenty left to do in the upcoming week, and the weather promises to be very nice. I’m glad, because some things really need some sunshine to explode with growth. They are just sitting there, waiting for the opportunity.

I made banana bread again, using up the rest of the bananas Rob found in the chest freezer.

He stumbled upon 10 pound bags of chicken for $2.90–29c/lb. He bought 6. He was at the store getting prescriptions and a little produce. Go, Rob!

This was the week we usually would not shop, since we’ve been going every-other-week, so it was a real blessing that he had to go in there for another reason, and found the chicken.

Our county is opening up a little. For us, since we have so many underlying health conditions in those we have around us, it won’t make much of a change for a while. Speaking only about ourselves, my diabetes and asthma keep me at home. Rob absolutely cannot risk getting sick before his surgery. As it is, he’s got a couple of owies on his legs that are being well cared for so they will hopefully be healed in time. But, it’s still encouraging to see that things are moving forward. Let’s hope this pandemic continues in the right direction! In the meanwhile, I can be found at home, pulling weeds:).

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–May 3, 2020

This past week was a nice one. We took several nice walks this past week. Some of the days were very sunny and we enjoyed getting out. We also received some much-needed rain.

Patsy loves taking pictures of as many flowers as she can. These are Camas flowers. They were growing in a wild area in the little park we walked to with Jake the day we had him.

This woodpecker keeps coming around the neighborhood. He loves to rat-a-tat-tat on this sign, and on a metal plate up on a telephone pole near our yard. We were lucky enough to sneak up on him while we were on one of our walks. Jake loves birds, so it was a real treat for him.



Rob’s cousin shared some food with us. She belongs to a gleaner’s group and gets food regularly and had more than she needed. She kindly set aside some items that were gluten-free because she knew I eat that way. She also saved a large box of Keurig K-cups for Rob because she doesn’t care for coffee and he loves it.

The other thing she gave Rob was a fully-cooked frozen turkey. I’ve never had one like that before. I thawed it out, removed all the meat from the bones and boiled them. Rob and I worked together and canned 7 quarts of turkey broth. We ate a lot of the turkey all week long, shared quite a bit, and I will make a turkey-noodle casserole to share with the rest of it tomorrow. I didn’t want to re-freeze the meat, since it had been frozen once already.

I did homeschool with Jake two mornings this past week. One thing we did was made rice casserole with some of the turkey. He ate a little bit, but I was informed that I don’t make it right. His mama makes it right. I was informed that she cooks it for 2 hours. Yes, Aunt Becky, 2 HOURS! And, I put too many carrots in it. But, he ate some anyway, so It was a triumph. (I can’t tell you how many times he’s told his mama she doesn’t make soup the way Aunt Becky does–it was her turn to be the best at something, so I teased her about it!). Any time we can get that boy to eat anything even resembling healthy food, it’s a win.

Patsy and I got a good amount of schoolwork done, as well. She’s only got 1 week of curriculum left other than the new Biology we just started and some math. I went ahead and sorted through old bins of school books and curriculum and was able to figure out what she needed for next year’s work. I owned many of the books already, but there were a few I needed to get. We were able to order most of them used, and went ahead and ordered the rest. It was very economical since we had so much from previous years. Our plan was to be done with school now for the year so we could have time for field trips and extra garden work. It’s why we started in August, but we are going to do a few weeks worth of next year’s school since we are still on lock down here in Oregon. Might as well!

The kids are getting a little stir-crazy! This is Jake, wearing one of the zippered pouches Patsy keeps making on his head, being a “French fry man.” He was playing he was working at In and Out Burger.

Patsy made another owl. This one will be put in a gift bag for a little friend and dropped on her doorstep. It’s her birthday tomorrow.

And, of course….the garden….the place I spent hours and hours this week. It’s my happy place right now. I’m at home so much right now that I’m finding more time to work out there than ever before.

Garden Update–May 2, 2020

I’ve spent many hours this week working in the garden. We have had an unusually early spring. I’ve never had this many things planted at the beginning of May, as long as I can remember.

Rob grew such large, healthy tomatoes. We dug every cage we could find out from behind the shed, and planted them. I’m trying something different–I made quite a wide space between the rows, but planted the tomatoes close together. I’m hoping I can still get in there to pick them, but wanted to plant as many as I could. I put a little organic fertilizer under each plant as I planted to give them a boost.

Rob finished his bean trellis. I planted the pole bean starts on the end, Blue Lake seeds in the middle and a small handful of Violet-Podded Pole Beans down on the very end. The damp patch in front of the trellis is planted in Blue Lake Bush Beans and Carson (yellow) Bush Beans. In the background, you can see artichokes, snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. The raspberries in the back are about to bloom, so I know those will be giving me a crop in the next few weeks.

The broccoli is growing nicely, as well.

The Trombonconi Zucchini is planted at the base if its trellis. There are lemon cucumbers near there, as well. The onions are very faint and hard to see, but are starting to grow. To the left are rows of beets, carrots, a few more snow peas, dill, basil, cilantro, a few more snow peas, and peppers and slicing cucumbers to the far left.

These are Sungold, Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes. The peppers are Anaheim, Italian Pepperoncini, Carmen, and a Hot Pepper Blend from Territorial. I have Serranos, Bell Peppers, Hungarian Wax Peppers and Lola Peppers elsewhere.

These are a mixture of the above-mentioned peppers in the flowerbed under my bedroom window. The trellises are there because I planted some very old Alderman Pole Pea seeds at the base of them. If they grow, they will give us a few peas, if not, they won’t take up space in my seed bucket anymore.

In front of the blueberries, but hopefully not too close that I can’t get in there to pick the berries, is 1 tomato plant and some little Bisquino (Little Beak) Peppers. They make tiny peppers and should be decorative. I’ve had them pickled before, and thought I’d try to grow them this year. The plants themselves are quite small, and the peppers are tiny. It’s always fun to experiment.

I will continue to plant more seeds in every extra space in the garden throughout the next few weeks–and then later in the summer and fall, my time will be focused on harvesting and canning. I like to succession plant Oregon Pod II Snow Peas, head lettuce, Buttercrunch Lettuce, mixed lettuce blend, green onions, and whatever else I can fit in so we can eat a continuous supply of fresh vegetables. I only planted part of the beans I need. I have space for a few more rows. We need to can quite a few. I have Sugar Pie Pumpkins and Butternut Squash plants to put out, and Rob grew some Okra. I worked as long and hard as I could, but didn’t finish before the much-needed rain came. I really pushed myself to get as much done as I could, because the rain will water everything in and the cooler weather will give the plants a chance to settle in a little. I’m happy to stay inside today and do other things. It’s supposed to be gorgeous next week, and I can get out there again. The plants should grow nicely, but then, so will the weeds, so I won’t lack in garden work to do!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020

I’m not sure if you can see the little hummingbird in the middle of the blueberry bush. He was flying around, sipping nectar, and was kind enough to sit down long enough for me to take a picture. Look at all those blueberry blooms. I didn’t have much of a crop last year. I have high hopes for this year’s crop!

This week was very quiet. We worked with Jake Wednesday-Thursday, and after picking him up Wednesday, I’ve been home every since. I used the time to read, relax, do house chores, lots of homeschool with Patsy, cut out a dress for Patsy, and worked in the garden and yard for hours.

I finished hoeing out the weeds from the blackberry (Marion berry) row. I put steer manure/compost on it. I’m almost done with the raspberries. I finished the strawberries as well.

I planted many, many itty-bitty onion plants. Rob grew more than I usually do, so we shared some, and I planted the rest. I grow varieties that are long-keepers and still have a handful in a bucket from last summer’s garden. We will eat the short-keepers first, and save the others and use them all winter. We also use them for canning–salsa, relish, and a few other recipes. Two years ago, we purchased 2-25 pound bags and used them in addition to what we grew, so I’m delighted to have the promise of so many from the garden.

Rob’s been busy building with reclaimed wood. The trellis that looks like a ladder is in its place and will hold Tromboncini Zucchini. Right next to it is a hearty cluster of volunteer lemon cucumber plants that have popped up in the last couple of days. I’m leaving them where they are. They must want to grow there!

The large framework against the shop will be moved into the garden, and placed for pole Blue Lake green beans. Most of us in my family have used up lots and lots of jars of beans during this past winter. So, I will grow bush Blue Lake, as always, but also the pole ones so that I can grow them upwards, and thus take less garden space, and have beans until frost. The bush ones come on all at once in the space of 2-3 weeks. The pole ones will give lesser quantities at a time, but will keep growing all summer. If I have any purple pole beans left from previous years, I will grow a few of those as well, since we love them sauted with butter and garlic. They are great fresh, nice and tender, but don’t can up well.

Rob’s plants are out on a table now, hardening off. There are still a few things in the greenhouse that he planted later. I will not be planting all of this. He’s already started delivering a plant here, and a plant there. I will plant a lot of them, and one of my sisters will plant many of them in her large garden. He plans to deliver hers this week. Heads up, sis!

I harvested the first snow peas.

Lovana wanted raised beds for her birthday, so Rob built them for her. Today, they took the pieces over to her little rental house and put them together, and she filled them with dirt and peat moss. Rob will get her another load of soil/compost for the second box this week. She has seeds she ordered and planted some of them in our greenhouse and Rob’s been watching over them for her. She’s been over here at least a couple of days each weekend during this pandemic, as we are determined to keep her in our “little circle.” She also helped me out quite a bit when my wrist was so bad a few weeks back, and usually cooks something totally NOT on our diets each weekend.

Like homemade donuts!

Way too yummy. I think we need to get these veggies growing, so she can cook them! That purple plant is purple cabbage. She ordered all colorful seeds–purple plants, rainbow “sunset” cherry tomatoes, etc. It should be interesting to see what she ends up with.

Lovana also had a box of “Imperfect Produce” delivered here with some items she wanted, and the rest for us to cook with. We’ve been eating those veggies and have been able to stay out of the stores. On Tuesday, we will reach the 2-week mark, and I may send Rob for a few things like milk and tomatoes.

Patsy made a recipe from a magazine. It was refried bean dip. It was good, but had way too much cumin in it, and raw garlic, grated. We both decided next time we should cut the cumin, add some spice, and use garlic powder. It was extremely strong. We should stay healthy and Patsy said there would be no vampires around here:)

We have decided to eat a few more meatless meals during this pandemic. We have plenty of frozen meat and chicken, but are trying to use some of the dry pantry staples such as beans and lentils, and conserve the meat, just in case there is a meat shortage. If there isn’t, we will likely save money and be more healthy. Win-win! We had the bean dip, potato soup, and I just made a batch of lentil taco filling, which Rob loves so much he ate it for both lunch and dinner, as a salad topper.

Patsy made a stuffed owl. It came out so cute! It’s a baby gift for one of her youth leaders.

Patsy picked flowers from the yard and Rob took her to drop them on the doorstep of the youth leader, along with the owl, and on one of her girlfriend’s doorsteps. Both were very pleased, and it brightened Patsy’s day to get to do that and read the texts from each of them.

We were supposed to collect pond water for Biology, culture it with egg, rice, hay, and dirt and let it grow under the sink for a few days. We couldn’t travel to a pond, so Patsy collected water from my sister’s old hot tub that they actually have filled with goldfish, and a friendly frog. It’s been that way for years, so we thought we could collect and culture some water. We were right! The first experiment worked just fine. The second one will be done tomorrow, and we can throw away that stinky water! We’ve worked through almost 2 chapters now, and are going very slow. I’m encouraging her to spend hours looking through that microscope if she wants to–she likely will never have a chance again to spend all the time she wants on one subject with no one to say, “hurry up” or “time to go.”

How are you keeping busy during these strange times?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 19, 2020

Rob’s tomatoes and peppers are looking insanely good! He’s starting to harden them off. It will be a while before it’s time to plant them out, but when it’s time, they will be ready. We are having such an early spring. It won’t be long.

This turned out to be a good week for me to work in the yard and garden. I weeded for hours. Several bags of compost/steer manure were spread in different places. My soil is quite poor in the flowerbeds and the garden always needs ammending.

The new compost bins Rob built are in place against the fence and quite a few buckets of weeds have been put in them already. The old compost bins he made last year have been organized. I moved any un-decomposed weeds from the top of the pile on the right to the left. Now, everyone has been instructed to leave the right hand side completely alone and not add any new scraps or weeds. I am going to remove the nice compost from that side very soon, and spread it over the corner of the garden. The slats come out of the front of the bins, making it easy to shovel the rotted compost out. Then, I will instruct everyone to put new debris in the emptied side, and let the left hand side finish.

Last fall, I dug up a small corner of the garden with an old-fashioned shovel, added a bag on compost/steer manure and planted a few snow peas and beets, along with a few green onion seeds. The beets flopped for the most part, but the snow peas are about to fruit and there are a few green onions. It was a successful experiment. I can’t wait to eat some.

I’m getting a few artichokes. They are quite small, so I fertilized them, the raspberries, the blueberries and the strawberries.

We received one day of much-needed rain. I was so happy to have one day where I didn’t have to lug water out to the garden to hand-water my tediously planted baby onion plants, tiny carrots and beets, and lettuce. It’s been so dry this spring. Later, when the garden is fully, we will run the sprinklers over it all, but the system isn’t set up yet. We have to get the hoses out, set up the sprinklers, etc.

Patsy made another mason bee house. Being Patsy, she painted it purple. The mason bees are working busily in the houses Rob built and put up. They are already filling the straws with mud and new offspring. They are also very busy pollinating all over our yard.

My sister sent over a beautiful hanging pot of flowers.

Rob dropped some baby veggie starts on her doorstep. It’s been difficult to not be able to really see and visit with this particular sister, so we’ve had to be creative with texts, visiting from a wide distance, and phone calls.

Michaela was getting very restless, so Rob took her for a drive. They drove around and dropped things on people’s doorsteps (like my sister) and looked for trains. Sadly, they were working on the tracks, so they didn’t see even one, but there’s always another day.

We had the kids over for a “party.” My sister needed to work 2 days this week, from home, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere to give her the peace and quiet she needed. Our house is the only other place they can go right now, since we are back and forth so much, we consider ourselves as one small circle, and our work with them is considered necessary. So, we got out the 2 kiddie pools we own and put water in them. They used any and all water balloons we could find from either house. We ran the yard sprinklers so they could run through them. Rob build a fire in the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and Peeps our niece, Alissa, brought over. We made ice cream cones and decorated them with M and M’s and gummy bears. They were so tired, they came inside and I put on an educational tv show about wild cats, which they watched as if in a coma, then went home where their dad said they had a great, exhausted evening, and fell into bed. I confess, I fell into bed at 8:30 as well, since we’d had Jake for 2 days and one night. The girls just joined us for the second afternoon. Of course, Alissa just joined us for the fun of it, and to help out. Since I homeschooled her for 3 years, it felt very right to have her over here for the afternoon. I miss her now that she’s getting so grown-up and busy with her adult life.

We needed to get produce, and some other groceries. One day, I went down to Safeway. I took the little handful of Monopoly tickets I had received weeks ago, not really knowing if they were even doing that game any more with how busy the stores were. They were. I was able to get several free items, such as gummy bears, French bread, and extra tickets. Some other people did not want their tickets, and so I brought them home to Patsy. She and Jake worked for quite some time un-wrapping them (bless you people who shared!). They got quite a few free items. I wasn’t sure if we were going to redeem them, but to my chagrin, I found I had forgotten something very important, and Rob had to go back and get it that evening. So, we were able to get them after all. We got a brick of cream cheese, several donuts, a box of pasta, and another handful of tickets.

Rob has done a little shopping here and there, getting things to fix things around the house, things for the yard, a few groceries, etc. I took Lovana shopping, as she doesn’t drive. I’m hoping we are all set up for a couple of weeks again, now. I’d love to go a month, but I will probably not be able to make it that long, due to the fact that I always need produce since Rob is still working hard on maintaining his weight loss.

They called and rescheduled his surgery for June 29. If the virus erupts here, of course they will postpone it again, but we are hopeful, so it’s even more important that he be the correct weight.

I was able to take the scraps from Patsy’s skirt and make a little summer sundress for my little friend, Danait. The pattern was one I’d had for years and the trim was from a garage sale years ago. There was an extremely long piece of it, bought for a very low price, and I’ve used bits of it several times over the years. I was delighted to use some more of it and to finish up the blue print fabric. The entire dress cost less than $4, and I had a lot of fun sewing it. Rob, Michaela and Patsy dropped it on their doorstep, along with a few Easter items, and visited briefly from a safe distance. I was working, but was glad they could take my love.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 10, 2020

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…

Thriving In My thrifty Week–September 15, 2019

Rob was super blessed to hold not only 1 tiny baby, but 2 tiny babies today! I never stop marveling at tiny babies. So precious, and such a gift from God. This precious babe has been hanging around my sister’s house a lot while Mommy and Daddy crash on the couch for a little bit while everybody in the house takes turns holding her. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Her daddy is like a son to my sister and brother-in-law, but I just can’t wrap my brain around my sister as a….. grandma? But, I guess if I can be one, she can, too. I’m so glad she shares:). We feel blessed.

We canned chicken and broth. At 89c/lb, the price could not be beat. We canned more tuna than we needed last summer. We found that Rob likes canned chicken on his salads in addition to the tuna. We decided to just do a batch of chicken and use up the rest of the tuna, then can more tuna next summer. Tuna varies in price, but often is around $3.50/lb., so this a way to get him variety while saving money.

I bought approximately $13.50 of split chicken breasts and made broth and canned chicken. We got 17 or 18 little jars of assorted sized (most 1/2 pint) of chicken chunks, 7 quarts and 12 pints and a couple of tiny jars of broth.

Patsy decided to cook up a storm for the first time in a long time. I joined her. We made tamale pie.

She made Cashew Chicken with rice noodles. Twice. We made some blondies, and some chicken soup.

Then she went back to her regular favorites of tacos, quesadillas, and p.b.j. sandwiches with apples.

What brought this “cooking fit” on? Grandma and Auntie Jan were coming for lunch. She’s been waiting for years to be a part of the “make lunch for Grandma” team. I guess she thought Grandma and Auntie were starving:). The food came in handy. We did have a great lunch. They got to take little bits home for future meals. We had these things for our meals for a couple of days. I hauled little dishes over to my sister’s house for them to eat. Let’s hope she gets in a mood again:). She felt wonderful. All of our tummies felt wonderful! Win-Win!

Patsy is still plugging along on school, and finished week 6. We ran into some roadblocks due to information she had somehow missed over the years , but worked through a plan to correct the problem.

She joined the Christmas Choir at church and had her first practice. There is going to be a big program. This year, she felt confident enough to join in. Last year, she did not, but later confessed she had wanted to and helped with stage crew at the last minute. Grandma helped her work on her quilt block from the shop hop we took her on last winter/spring. None of these things cost money, but they all enrich all our lives and I have a great Christmas program to look forward to watching in December!

I was weeding during our sunny afternoon. Can you see what was under the weeds? I cleaned out all the old parsley and weeds, and propped the volunteer cherry tomato plant up on a wire cage–we may end up with a few more late cherry tomatoes. Not that we are out. I just hate to kill a plant with so much tenacity!

Can you see Alissa on the left? She is having the trip of a lifetime with her Daddy. They are in Israel, walking where Jesus walked, visiting Biblical places, and seeing for themselves what they have studied for years. In the meanwhile…..

Rob and I, my sister and older niece and Grandma and Auntie Jan and anyone else we can round up are all working together to keep the home fires burning for Jake and Michaela. It’s going well, but we will all welcome their return in a few days!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 8, 2019

It was Homeschool Days at the Oregon Gardens. Although the event was advertised for students slightly younger than Patsy, I decided to take her anyway. I’m glad I did. There was plenty for her to learn and see.

We did go to every learning center, but took plenty of time in-between to admire everything we wanted to see. It was lovely.

It was our anniversary. My “hopeless romantic” of a husband knows the way to my heart! Olives and tea. Cupid’s arrow knows how to strike, even after 37 years of marriage. I have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful husband and a best friend for so many years.

I finished canning the applesauce and all the tomatoes. I just kept picking, and picking, and picking. Believe it or not, we eat multiple tomatoes each day, I shared a lot with my sister, and there were still all these! The bushes are winding down, though. I will miss them when they do finally finish, but there are still plenty for fresh eating left on those bushes!

We pulled all the onions and I braided them in 5 braids. They are getting their final cleaning in the gentle rain that is falling today and we will either hang the ropes on hooks or put in a box to finish drying.

There were some logs left from last year that were too long for our stove. Rob got them cut off with a little help, and we stacked the newly-shortened logs in the woodshed. With all the free wood Rob has gathered, what our friends brought us last fall will last through this winter as well. Then, we will have to gather more, but it’s nice to know there’s so much left.

We had a nice birthday party for my aunt at my sister’s home. Different ones brought food, and we enjoyed our time with friends and family.

Rob got 8 boxes of cereal for $3 by using the Safeway app, and some coupons he cut out! I was amazed and proud of him. We have plenty of cereal for a while now.

How did your week go?