Category Archives: Garden

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?

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, Jalapeño, 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:) 🙂

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.