Category Archives: Garden

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.

 

 

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–October 7, 2018

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I was able to find more produce in the garden this week.  It’s looking really scraggly, many things are covered in powdery mildew or look crispy and dead–in short, it’s getting really ugly.  So, I’m delighted that there are still veggies out there.  I also bought a bunch of salad things to augment what I found out there.  Over about a week, I was able to gather enough tomatoes and got 7 quarts canned on Friday.  Now I feel like I have enough.  If I get a few more, it’s a bonus.

I had very few immediate grocery needs this week, and intended to not shop.  Until….sugar was $1.25 for 4 lbs.  That is a good price here, and I got 20 pounds.  I also got 20 lbs of brown sugar for 50c/lb. I got milk and bagels for the niece and nephew, since Michaela was spending Friday night, and Jake was spending both Friday and Saturday nights.  I went ahead and used money from my Bottle Drive account to get the extra 20%, and paid the rest from my grocery budget, leaving me in great shape for the rest of the month.  I had been setting that Bottle Drive money aside for stocking up, so I did.  Rob picked up cheap lunchmeat from Grocery Outlet (87c/package) and we got some other things we could use. (bottle drop doesn’t work there, so of course, paid cash for that.)

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I have picked most squash that are out there, but still need to gather the Delicata that are next to the shop.  The dahlias are still lovely.  My sister brought 4 beautiful Butternut squashes for the family to divide, and the others either had some already, or didn’t want them, so I ended up with them all.  2 of them, I cubed and froze, we ate one already, and the other will store for a while.  Last year was the first time I ever froze raw squash cubes, but it worked well for the 2 little packages I froze, so now I have a few more for this year.

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I also love how the zinnias are still giving me such a cheerful spot of color out there.  Many were planted from Dollar Store seeds that only cost 25c/package.  The rest were volunteers, and they are mostly purple/raspberry color.  I am letting seeds drop into the garden from several items.   Some of the items I harvested from volunteers this summer included zinnias, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and green onions.  There was also dill, cilantro and parsley that self-seeded.  It will be fun to see what comes up next spring.

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I dried some parsley and chives.

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It’s amazing how much they shrink when they dry!

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Patsy suddenly decided that she might want to do some food preservation.  There’s not too much left to preserve, so I put her to work canning some apples.  I think we can use them in a cobbler/crisp or she can just eat them out of a bowl.

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Of course, Jake wasn’t going to be left out of that super-cool really fun apple project!

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Since apple slices aren’t something I usually can, I followed the directions in the Ball Blue Book, and we packed them in hot syrup after they cooked for 5 minutes in that syrup.  I actually had her make a lighter syrup than called for, 4:1, and I still think it’s probably too much sugar.  I like to try to follow the recipe the first time, anyway:). Thanks to Auntie for the apples!  I was glad to have something for her to can when she got the urge at this late date!  She got 6 quarts and 1 pint.

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She would like to try to do more 4H projects this year, as last year we were not able to accomplish the tasks needed for her to fully participate.  There are requirements for helping at a county level for each member to enter things in the fair, and we did not do them.  We also did not get very much project work done, and the county event that we signed up to help with was cancelled.  It was somewhat of a bust all around.  So, I told her we would try again this year, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but it’s worth a try if she has an interest.  I know we can teach her practical skills without it, but the 4H program gives me more incentive to carve out the time to work with her.  She made a good start, I think.  In my mind, it’s about learning skills more than gaining ribbons, so I’m glad she canned something I hope she will like and use, which will bring her satisfaction from the process.  I feel if a kid wants to do a 4H project, they need to practice skills from that project over a period of time, not just the week before the fair–there are always lots of last minute projects to do then, regardless.

We had our first fires in the wood stove this week, as the weather turned rainy and cool, and it was in the 40’s and 50’s.  It felt good.

Rob and I got horrible colds (thank you cousins!) so laid low all weekend (to the best of our ability with so much commotion going on).  Besides the cousins, Patsy had this computerized baby from one of her classes at school which squeaked and howled like a real one at all hours of the night and day, and she had to “feed” it, “change” it, and so forth and keep a diary of what she did.  They can track her actions on the computer chip in the doll, and her grade will depend on how well she took care of it.  It goes back in the morning, thank goodness.  It had to be done, and I felt she did a good job of it, and now other kids will get their turn.

Jake never got to play so many electronics, hear so many stories, and watch so much tv.  He had a ball.  I  expect I will have some work ahead of me the next time he stays over, convincing him that it was a one-time occurrence!  He was so cute.  One morning, he said, “Now, why don’t I read all of you a story,” and proceeded to do just that.  I took him to the library and we stocked up on movies and books, and I think he enjoyed the ones we got.  I know I enjoyed mine!

 

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–September 30, 2018

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I picked a large bowl of Lunchbox peppers (Territorial Seed Company) and Carmen Peppers (Johnny’s Selected Seeds).  It was like they weren’t ripe, then all of a sudden, they were!  Maybe it’s because I was so busy lately (?)….  We put quite a few of them in the fridge for fresh eating, and the rest were chopped and frozen.

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I have been spending a few minutes outside every time I get a chance, working on cleaning up the garden, picking things, mowing, trimming, etc.  I only had time for a few short sessions of yard/garden work this week, but I did get a few things done.  We’ve already used a few of the Celebration acorn squash, but have plenty left.  Underneath the  spent vines, I found a small bucket of potatoes I had missed earlier.  I’ve still been picking zucchini from bushes that have clearly seen better days, but are still slowly producing.  There have been a few cucumbers, a few berries, tomatoes, and lots of cherry tomatoes.  I’ve got a lot more fall clean-up to do before I’m done!

Friends delivered another, even larger, load of wood late this afternoon.  We threw it onto the driveway and now I need to start stacking it tomorrow.  We feel so blessed by this.  Now we have enough to make it through the entire winter.

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Rob went up for the second time and helped his friend get ready for new baby pigs.  He figured out a better feeder and helped build it a few weeks ago.  They checked the existing pen and made sure there were no escape holes.  Yesterday, Rob rode along with his friend to pick up the ordered weaner pigs. Then, he and our son’s friend went and got straw (Rob drove and son carried it all–whew!) I’m not sure exactly how many baby pigs there are up there (probably around 6-8), but one is going to be for us.

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Rob picked several assorted, strange squash and pumpkins from the pig pen when they put the baby pigs in.  They are mixed squash that grew from last year’s dropped seeds.  The big ones are zucchini that crossed with pumpkins or something else.  The skins are tough and hard, but they are all great decorations.  He also brought home an inexpensive bale of hay (so cheap because they bought so many).  I have some corn stalks I cut from the garden that I want to add to the decoration, but so far, I’m really happy with the “presents” Rob brought home for me!  I forget if Rob said the hay was $1.50 or $2, but I feel happy that we got a really nice fall look for such a small amount of money.

The kids’ parents were working many, many hours this week, therefore we did, too.  We put Jake on the bus.  We took Jake off the bus.  We ferried Michaela from here to there, took her swimming, and packed lunches, cooked dinners there and here, and ate wherever we were.  We used food from our house and their house, the garden and the store….it’s all a blur, but we were all well-fed.

We ended the week by keeping Jake for a couple of nights–he loves coming over.  After the busy week, we were both very tired, so we had a relaxing Saturday while Rob was off with his friend.  Jake is on a “Betsy” book kick, books written by Carolyn Haywood,  and wants me to read those books for hours on end.  We finished the 2 we had ordered in from the library–“Betsy and Mr. Kilpatrick” and “Betsy and the Circus.”  No worries.  He went and dug up a copy of “Betsy’s Little Star” which we have recently finished reading for the SECOND time! I protested reading it for the 3rd time, so after one chapter I brought out a book I own by the same author, “Penny and Peter.”  He barely tolerated it, but finally got interested, but I noticed he powered through a few pages of the one he really wanted–reading himself!  He hasn’t really embraced chapter books, but I was very proud of him for at least trying.

I did some grocery shopping on Friday morning, the only morning I had off this week.  I grabbed the free item, got sales, etc.  I am stocked up for the next 2 weeks (I hope) because I really don’t want to take the time to shop next weekend, just because I’d like a little time to myself for other projects.  I made a tentative 2-week menu plan and hopefully, I won’t run out of anything much. It will be easy to send Rob to the store if I do.    The last time I did that, he brought home 50 pounds of pinto beans.  Yes.  50.  That is not a typo.  I was on board since they were so cheap–$18 for the 50 pounds.  It was cheaper than the 25 lbs I usually get every year or two.  The last time I checked, it was $20 for 25 lbs.  I have seen 25 lbs. for less than that before, but not for $9/bag–so this was a great deal.   We will share part of them, either when we cook for the college age, or at family meals, or dry for anyone who is running low.  I made a mega batch of refried beans at once, as we have been limping along with cans for a while–we love the home-made ones the best.  I froze a few cartons for later, and we ate a lot already, both plain and in a nacho for Family Sunday Dinner.

I entered my receipts on Ibotta and ended up with some bonus money, which is always a nice treat.  I’m always trying new items if they are almost free, as long as they look like something that we will eat.  Recently, there seems to have been a mayonnaise and ketchup war going on between brands, so I have a lot of that now that was free or very, very inexpensive using rebates and coupons combined.    Lovana came home with some snack food that happened to have an Ibotta rebate, and so I got another $2 of rebates, which is free money to me since I did not pay for the snacks.  I’m letting both my bottle and can money and my Ibotta account grow because I figure there will be a lot of holiday sales that I will love having extra money on hand for.

We’ve already been opening and eating jars of home-canned food.  I’m also using lots of freezer food as we anticipate our yearly 1/4 beef in a couple of months, and there’s also that baby pig…..a few months and it will need to fit in there, too.  It’s a constant rotation.

I started a dress for Patsy for homecoming.  I am working with a pattern I already owned and it isn’t the right size.  They are not on sale right now, and I don’t even know if they still make that one, I’ve had it a while.  So, I adjusted it, and cut it out from some old muslin I had on hand and basted that together.  I’m now ready to cut the real fabric, and I hope it fits as well as I think it will.  I want to work on that in-between homeschooling Alissa and working with the kids this week.  And the garden/yard work.  And stacking that wood before the rains come.  And the batch of tomatoes that need canning.  And Jake and Michaela next weekend as their parents want to attend an event with Alissa.  And…And…And…… It’s a good thing I have lots of paper to make lists on!

What did you do to thrive or stay thrifty this week?

 

What Did We Eat? August 10, 2018

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Last Friday, I did not find time to do my normal weekly shopping.  I was too busy with canning and taking care of kids.  I didn’t seem to be out of very many things, so just kept cooking with what I had, and had Patsy make a list on the whiteboard of things when I ran out of something.  I rolled the weekly grocery money over for another time, as I know not buying groceries is not sustainable, and I will need to re-stock sooner or later.

I ran out of some things I wasn’t expecting, such as baking powder and baking soda.  Thankfully, there was some in the camper, and I just continued cooking up a storm.

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I soaked and cooked a large amount of pinto beans.  Most of them, I froze for later.  I made a small batch of chili from the rest.

Patsy was in a cooking mood.  She made gluten-free calzones one day, and tamale pie casserole the next.  Both recipes were very good, and used items we had on hand.  She got the recipes from Pinterest, and enjoyed looking at all the choices before she chose those recipes.  She picked wild blackberries from my sister’s house and made a crisp with them.  She also froze a few more for later.

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I needed to cook a bunch of food for the college-age group at church.  They have a retreat this weekend.  The leader asked the ones of us who regularly cook for their Tuesday night dinner/Bible Study/worship time if we could each sign up for a meal, cook the food ahead, and then send it along so that all that had to be done on the retreat was warm food up or put the finishing touches on it.  It needed to be enough for 30 people.  I made 5   cake-sized breakfast casseroles with hash browns on the bottom, eggs plus 1/2 and 1/2 filling, with ham and cheese on top. To go with it, I made 3 loaves of zucchini bread and sent 5 cantaloupes for them to cut that morning.  Then, I made gluten-free zucchini muffins, gf brownies and 3 tiny gf spaghetti pies and sent small quantities for those who needed that option.  While I was at it, I made our family a spaghetti pie, some brownies, and some zucchini muffins.  It was a cooking marathon for sure! (I will be reimbursed for the food I bought for that project, except what I had on hand and donated.  I would have paid them to take the zucchini-ha, ha!  Seriously, I was glad to find a use for more of this bumper crop!)

My excellent helper, Jake, helped me shop for the college-age food.  He carefully checked the 2 dozen eggs I bought for the casseroles/baking.  He found a broken one, and then proceeded to march over and inform a near-by worker about this discovery, stressing how bad it was that they had a broken egg in their cooler, and so on.  The worker was very patient, and agreed that it was bad, and assured him it would be taken care of.  He had fun shopping with me, and later in the day, we discovered that he likes gf yellow zucchini muffins.  That was a pleasant surprise!  He ate them for 2 days straight.  I hope he likes them next week, too.  I’ll make more.  I’m not short on zucchini!!!   (I think I’ve picked at least 60 by now…)

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Garden produce played a large part in my menu plans this week.  These cherry tomatoes were picked at my sister’s house.  She has a LOT!  I am getting a few from my bushes, and plenty of regular tomatoes.  I picked and served corn a couple of times.  The earliest variety of corn I planted is almost finished. Boy, was it good, but I only had space for a small square area of each planting.  The green beans are still putting out a handful every few days, but are almost finished.  I ended up freezing a few quarts, and we ate beans a couple of times.  I picked the last of the lettuce that was ready and am waiting for the next succession planting to get big enough to eat.  I have 2 more small plantings growing, and a third that just came up to take me into the fall. IMG_7605

There were enough cucumbers to make a few quarts of dill pickles, to add to the 2 batches of sweet pickles I’ve made so far.  Today, there should be more that need to be picked and processed.  I keep picking the dill heads off as I make pickles, and so far, there have been enough.  The plants keep making more smaller flowers, and so sometimes I have to put 2 small heads in a jar, rather than one big one, and I also add in some leaves if I think the flowers weren’t enough.  It’s working so far, but I may need to plant more dill next year.  Most of these are volunteers anyway, but the plants are getting hit pretty hard.  I’ve made an awful lot of those zucchini dill chips…..:)

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The peach tree in our back yard has been providing us with plenty of peaches.  I made more jam and keep freezing more every few days.  We are eating sliced peaches frequently.

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We spent yesterday up at my sister’s farm.  The menu was taco bar, watermelon, and birthday cupcakes for our friend, Harnet’s, birthday.  Everyone brought something, and we had a lovely time eating, visiting, and taking turns helping at the u-pick peach stand, as they were open for business!

Yesterday morning I ran out to the store very early, as I was down to about 1 cup of milk.  I ended up spending $30 on whole wheat bread, milk, celery, baking powder, baking soda, grapes, garlic, and a few other things.  I was very pleased that I only needed that many groceries after 2 weeks!  That garden is really paying off:). We will do the same this week as we did last week–just make a list as we run out of things while focusing on eating garden produce. I would not be surprised if I went back to the store in a few days to re-stock a few items, but I’m not sure which day.  I’m just setting the extra money aside and will go to Costco one of these days for a few things I usually get there.  I like to get 5-dozen packages of eggs there, and am getting low.  My sugar supply has also taken quite a hit with all the jam I’ve made, and I’m going to get 25 lbs. either there or at Cash and Carry.

It’s a busy time of year, as I get all of this produce stored away for winter, but I wouldn’t trade it, as I enjoy it so much!  I will, however, not turn down a nap if I can ever carve out the time for one:). We’ll see what today brings.

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–August 6, 2018

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We enjoyed a wedding yesterday afternoon.  This is the car they drove away in:). We enjoyed seeing many friends we had not seen for a while, the beautiful bride in her gorgeous dress, the handsome groom in his suit–a young man we’ve known and loved since he was 5,  the cool breezes as we sat under the hazelnut trees for the wedding and reception–a lovely venue and a very pleasant afternoon.

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The rest of the week was not as restful, but it was fun as well!  At the beginning of the week, I worked in the garden quite a bit, processing or serving the harvest as I picked it.

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On Tuesday afternoon, we escaped the heat and drove down to the beach.  We did a little shopping at the outlet mall for Patsy, and then just went and sat on lawn chairs and watched the waves. IMG_7580 I often forget that beach is only a little over an hour from our house now…we could go more often if I just remembered that it was an option.

 

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Since Jake and Michaela spent from Wednesday-Sunday with us, as their parents were out of town, we did a few extra things with them.  Rob took Patsy and Michaela to a train museum one day, as trains are one of her absolute favorite things in the world.  It was free, not very big (so not overwhelming) and they had fun.  He also took her to her volunteering opportunity so her schedule could continue uninterrupted.

Alissa showed up one evening with popcorn, popcorn buckets and a movie, and we had a movie night.  We had a very fun evening, and Jake loved seeing his big sister.  I really liked the music in the movie she brought–The Greatest Showman.

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Jake and I are in the book, “The Long Winter”,  so one morning I made him “flapjacks” and bacon like Almanzo and his brother ate during the winter storms.  He was sure theirs were bigger, and I am too, but he didn’t even finish these, so…..

We went swimming with them a couple of times.  We went to the library to check out books and movies.  He got another “Betsy” book (by Carolyn Haywood) and we had to read part of that, as well.  He likes having the Little House books going on all the time, with Betsy books thrown in.  It’s a treat for him to find one at the library we have not read yet.

They both did very well, and we were pleased with how it went.

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I did get some gardening done, such as clipping off some vines, a little weeding, and Rob tilled up a small area in the garden that was finished and I planted some more seeds–lettuce, spinach, snow peas, cilantro, basil and beets.  The lettuce I planted a couple of weeks ago is up, but patchy, as it’s been so hot.  I’ve been out there all morning again today, but, now, I’m going to tear into the inside work as it’s pretty hot out there now.  Today’s my only day off for a while, so I have lots I want to do.

I have no grocery bargains to share this week, as I didn’t have time to go shopping.  I guess that’s the best bargain of all!  We are making out like kings and queens with all the garden produce, and things in the freezers and cupboards, so I think I’ll hold off until next weekend, unless we run out of milk.

 

Zucchini Dill Chips

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I made zucchini dill chips today with the 8 more zucchini I picked this morning.  I picked them very small, so that should take care of the problem for a few days:)

I checked out a book at the library Wednesday called “Pickled Pantry” by Andrea Chesman.  The recipe I used was on page 116.

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I put about 4-1/2 + cups of zucchini slices in my big measuring cup and salted them according to the directions.  I used 1 Tablespoon salt, since it was about a double batch.  I let it sit about 5 hours.  There was a lot of water in the bottom of the container, and I dried the zucchini off as instructed.

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Then, I packed the zucchini and other ingredients into the jars.  (dill seed, garlic, dill head) I used 1/2 pints.  I added red pepper flakes because we like things spicy–probably about 1/8 teaspoon per jar.  I left the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar out.  I’ve had sugar in my dills before and don’t care for it.  I also added mustard seed, as I like that in dills–about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per jar.  Then, the vinegar and water and the pickle crisp.

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I canned them according to the directions, which was 10 minutes.

It clearly states that you can make any dill recipe with zucchini.  Next time, I am going to make up my regular recipe of brine, minus the salt because you sprinkle that on the zucchini at first.  It seems like it would be easier to me.

We opened a jar already, even though it said to wait weeks.  I wanted to make more if they were good, and never make them again if not……They are amazing.  Even on the same day.  There is little crunch, a nice dill flavor, some heat from the red peppers….I’m making more for sure!   I got 5 small jars today.  The recipe is set up for small batches, which worked well for me.

There are lots of other good-looking recipes in the cookbook.  I’m not sure if I will make more or not, but this one was a winner.

Garden Update–July 5, 2018

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I’m so excited!  I picked the first zucchini, and stir-fried it up for dinner with a few snow peas, onion and celery.  There are 2 others that will be ripe soon.

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There is more broccoli to cut, beets that are close, the first planting of snow peas is almost done, and I’ve moved on to the 2nd planting of lettuce.  I have a lot of weeding and some re-planting to do for the next succession of lettuce, snow peas and may do a few more green beans for fresh eating into the fall months.  It takes about 2 months to get green beans to produce, so anything planted now will come ripe in the beginning of September.   So, I have time to grow a few more plantings of several items for fall eating, but I have to start planning for that now.  (Update:  I started working on this post on Tuesday, and yesterday I was able to re-seed a little lettuce here, a few snow peas there, and a few green bean plants.  The garden is pretty full!)

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There are a lot of nice herbs.  I’ve been using them frequently this year.

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I’ve been picking raspberries, black (Marion) berries, blueberries, and a few strawberries.

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Rob and I have been freezing them all, except for the few we eat fresh.  He used some for this dessert for 4th of July.  We had my aunt, and my niece over, and had a very relaxing evening.

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Jake’s method of planting is working!  After 2 unsuccessful plantings of slicing cucumbers, I handed him a packet of seeds from the Dollar Store (25c) that were from years past and told him to go for it!  He planted them in a big clump, down the sides, buried extremely deep, and so forth.  We covered them up, and wow!  They came up:) So there will be slicing cucumbers after all, at least in August:). I may have to start marketing the “Jake Method of Planting.”  I might make a fortune!

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I’m not sure if you can see all the zinnias that came up volunteer at the edge of the Sweetmeat Squash bushes.  I just left them.  A spot of color in the middle of the squash?  Works for me:)

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I’ve got some dahlias and calla lilies starting to bloom.  Frankly, I’d like a lot more flowers to bloom, so am waiting impatiently for my zinnia to get big enough.  I planted them from inexpensive seeds, and there are plenty.  It’s just a matter of time.  Patsy also planted 3 more dahlias in the corner of the garden, and I’m eager to see what colors they turn out to be.  It’s fun to be surprised sometimes:)

 

 

 

Weekly Update–Saving Money–May 20, 2018–Everybody Loves a Parade!

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Yesterday, we enjoyed the Iris Festival Parade with the family.

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We had never been to this particular parade before, although my sister and brother-in-law have been every year, for years and years.  So, they knew things we did not.  I read a sign that said the road closed at 9, so figured we needed to be much earlier than that.  So, we were extremely early, and wondered why there were a few empty chairs along the sidewalk, but no people.  So, we waited, and waited, and waited, and wondered where they all were.  We did have a great time talking, something that is rare these days to find enough time for:) A few people trickled in, but around 9:30-10, all of a sudden, they all showed up from the side streets, carrying lawn chairs, snacks, drinks, and so on!  All of a sudden, the road was full of eager, chattering people, and soon after that the parade came along.

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It was my favorite kind of parade.  There were a couple of marching bands, choirs of elementary school kids, fire trucks, classic cars, and trucks with hay bales on the back, bearing princesses of various sorts, and in one case, Santa Clause!  There were iris flowers stuck all over the vehicles, which were pretty.

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A couple of ladies that Rob works with came to join us, and one brought her son.  He struck up an acquaintance with Patsy right away and we all enjoyed watching how much he enjoyed the parade.  Someone from one of the floats gave him an iris, and he promptly brought it to Patsy.  How sweet!  I really enjoyed putting some faces to names of people he works with.

There were many freebies for the kids–a bounce house, free snow cones and bubbles, candy galore…..they had a blast!   Even the Chinese food restaurant gave out free teriyaki chicken after the parade!  It was a very inexpensive outing for the family–Rob got a coffee early on, and our group bought and shared a few candy bars from the school kids who very ingeniously went along the parade route selling them before the parade started for their fundraiser and I got a cup of egg flower soup because I couldn’t eat the chicken.  We skipped the rides at the carnival, and buying anything at the booths that were set up.  It was a super fun morning!

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Before the parade, Rob made this cheesy, ham and olive-filled biscuit that was probably awful for us, but tasted oh, so good!

I cleaned for several hours on Friday.  I am trying to do some deep cleaning, and worked on the kitchen.  I even got the window washed, inside and out!  The more I clean, the more dirt and clutter I see!  At least I got started:). I had to put cleaning on the calendar and was ruthless to decline other things that tried to steal my cleaning time!  Sad, but it worked, at least this time!

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I worked in the yard and garden for many hours, in little blocks of time.  If I had 15 minutes, I used it! If I had an hour, I used that.  I am really getting somewhere, but have lots left to go:) We got the sprinkler system set up in the garden, and the grass chopped out around the permanent sprinkler heads in almost all of the yard.  I keep finding one here and there that I missed, but we are getting them freed from grass!

I used herbs from my herb bed.  I used rosemary on some roasted potatoes.  Yum!  I used thyme in split pea soup.  Double yum!  It’s nice to have them out there, freed from weeds and more established than they were last year.  I hoed up quite a few of the 1000 or so baby parsley plants, but there are still lots left, surrounding the turtle!  I noticed I am low on chives and parsley in the spice cabinet, so I hope to eventually dry some of each.

I was able to get both Friday Freebies from Fred Meyer this week, because I went early on Friday.  They’ve been running out of the more desirable items.  I got a free car charger and a Lara bar.  While there, I got the odds and ends of groceries I needed.

I stopped at a garage sale on my way home and purchased some picture frames to put some of Ja’Ana’s graduation pictures in for the upcoming party and the table display I have to make for the actual graduation.  I paid $2.50 for 3, in various sizes.  IMG_7040

 

I used a string, clothespins, and some push pins to put up the graduation cards we’ve received.  There are a couple more kids who may send one, so I can put up another string underneath this one if they do.

Rob and Lovana stopped and picked up some free wood and Rob plans to chop it into firewood-sized chunks.  It’s time to start preparing for next winter, and while not a lot, it’s something and was free!  He will keep his eyes out for more, and may buy a cord if he finds a good deal.