Category Archives: Garden

Vegetable Garden Update-June 11, 2022

We did quite a bit of work in the garden this past week. Despite the seemingly constant rain, we are finding some times when it is dry enough to work in there without ruining it by compressing it too badly. I weeded several times.

The blackberries and raspberries almost died during our record-breaking hot summer last year. There are not very many fruit-bearing vines this summer as a result. However, the bushes are sending out numerous new vines that will fruit next year. I have paid special attention to those berries this spring. I have weeded beneath them, added compost and fertilized them.

You may notice baby corn next to the fence. We found some old (like 2018) seeds in the bottom of our seed box. Rob planted them in the greenhouse, just to see what will happen. It was amazing how many sprouted. This is just part of them. I normally plant corn in blocks, so they can be pollinated well. I have no room to do that, so I planted 2 rows next to the garden fence, and will see what happens.

On the right you can see red, white and yellow onion plants, English peas, lettuce, more onions, cabbage and broccoli. On the left, the tomato plants that are starting to look better and better. They started out pretty sad, as we couldn’t get them in the ground due to rain.

I decided to try the potato box again. Rob made it a couple of years ago and potatoes didn’t grow well in it. I think it was a location problem, so I got sprouts from the compost heap that grew from potato peelings and am trying again. The idea is to add dirt and more surrounding boards as the bushes grow so they grow more potatoes.

Peppers are scattered throughout the garden. They are in groups, by variety. They would love some warmer weather, but are struggling along.

I didn’t grow very many bush green and yellow beans this year, as I have quite a few jars left. You can see that they came up well and I will can this section. It takes about 8 weeks to get a crop, and they produce in a concentrated harvest.

I do have some green Blue Lake pole beans, and some Purple Podded pole beans in other places for fresh eating and freezing. They take longer to grow, but will produce until frost.

There are 2 raised beds by my deck. This kale and cilantro overwintered and are about ready to pull out. The snow peas have just started to make peas, so will be done before long. I have tiny lettuce, cilantro, a few flowers, and some basil planted to take their places. I added a bucket of compost wherever I removed plants and put in new seeds or seedlings to keep the nutrition of the soil up. The other raised bed by the deck is full of English peas that are making pods, but not at all ready to pick and shell. It will be a few more weeks.

I have a long, double-length raised bed on the side of the house. It gets warm there. I planted some BlackTail watermelon. It’s an experiment. They are supposed to grow with nighttime temperatures in the 40’s…we shall see. As you can see, I have some strawberries in there. They aren’t doing super well, but were only put in there last fall. I have more runners to add this year from the plants that are in my flowerbed out front. Next year may be their year to shine. You can see more snow peas, as I succession plant those and have new batches going all over the place. In the back are sugar snap peas to grow up the fence. The part you can’t see has some left-over peppers–a mixture of kinds, and some overbearing strawberries that are going to be removed. They are so sour. I’m not loving them.

Some work has been done on the compost heaps in this area. They are both ready to empty when I get some time. The worm box on the left has been renewed with red worms, and fresh compost, and scraps for them to feed on. The worms that were in there before were released (sounds good, doesn’t it–actually a lot of them escaped–oops!). Our garden is becoming a fertile area where you can find those red worms when you dig around. When we first moved here, we found very few worms of any kind. We constantly take gardeners’ coffee grounds from the Starbucks at Safeway when we shop. The worms seem to like some of those, as well as the scraps.

We have eaten artichokes a time or two, and more are on the way.

Cucumbers, dill and basil are starting to grow. (And more snow peas, of course!)

The cabbage and broccoli are doing fine in this cool, wet weather, as is the lettuce. (And the new batch of snow peas). We are getting so much lettuce we are eating salads almost every day. I have seeds, small plants, red, green, multicolored, romaine and head lettuce here and there, in all stages of maturity. I planted the latest batch on Friday. I’ve now harvested all the spinach and boc choi I planted, and filled those spots with other things.

I’m happy with the way things are growing, despite the struggles we have had with the rain. The things that love cool weather are super happy, and I haven’t had to water very often, which has been nice.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 24, 2022

I spent hours and hours weeding and clipping in this flowerbed. I filled the entire yard debris bin. Then, Rob drove me to a business that leaves its excess sawdust in a pile for people to take, free of charge. Patsy helped me shovel it and we got 4 huge trash cans full–enough to spread over the entire bed. Now the weeds will have a harder time re-growing. It also helps that this bed is not irrigated. The bulbs are not harmed by drying up in the summer and it keeps the weeds down. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep raining so much that I have to weed it all again!

We met some of our friends at a park for a fun picnic. My sister, Jake, and Michaela were there and my daughter and both grandsons. Our mutual friend brought several children of her own, plus some daycare kids. Rob made a fire in the BBQ box and the kids roasted hot dogs and made s’mores. I made potato salad and coleslaw and brought some graham crackers. Others brought chips, buns, drinks, etc. We all had fun.

Yum!

This guy was happy to cling to Grandpa for most of the picnic. Grandpa was not sad about that!

Of course, if Auntie Patsy will take me swinging, I might just let go of Grandpa for a while:). And, yes, those are chips all over my face. With so many kids to hand me one whenever I squawked…..what can I say, but yes, please!!!

Jars came in full and went out empty, as always. I’ve had to buy very few groceries the past couple of weeks. I did grab milk, a little produce and some cheese slices that were only 84c/package. Since we are having a big party next Saturday to celebrate Patsy’s graduation from homeschool high school, I am working on emptying the fridge to hold the party food. Over the past few weeks, I’ve bought most of what I need for the party, but will go out Friday and get perishable items, such as strawberries to dip in chocolate and other yummy items.

I used some of my home-canned tomatoes and salsa to make taco soup. I pulled frozen pork bits and frozen black beans in, as well. My cilantro is going to seed in the overwintered raised bed, so I put a lot of that in there, as well. I baked a pan of cornbread to go with the soup.

Other meals were cooked. Rob BBQ’d chicken legs, and made chicken-fried steak. I baked several potatoes and they were eaten for dinner or diced and fried for breakfasts along with our usual eggs. Some rice was cooked. We used various veggies and fruits from our food preservation, as well. We make large batches of food and eat the same foods for several days–mix and match style. It’s not fancy, but it tastes good and is especially handy when I’m out in the yard so much at this time of year.

I’m enjoying the flowers that are starting to bloom in the flowerbeds. Even more, I’m enjoying the fact that there are many, many more to come. Rob grew or overwintered so many flowers. I have planted almost everything from the greenhouse now, but I had him start some little head lettuce and kale for me and I will have him do a succession planting of broccoli and cabbage for a fall crop.

The extra plants have either been tucked away in corners here and there, or given away. Rob has a dahlia on every corner, so to speak, with a few more to plant or find a home for. I have to say that if even half of his flowers bloom, it will be a real showplace around here.

My aunt gave us tiny little Delphinium/Larkspur seedlings from her friend and we are trying to grow them to a bigger size in the greenhouse. I’m expecting them to be large enough to plant out later in the spring or early summer.

My sister attended a charity auction and bought us 2 beautiful flower baskets. They are full of shade-loving plants so I’ve put them in places they will hopefully like.

The wild daisies are beautiful down at our local park. We visit there frequently. Yesterday, Ja’Ana and Patsy and I wheeled the boys down there for a nice, long play time. Zai loves the swing and Malcolm loves the play equipment, the flowers and throwing sticks into a little stream that is there at the park.

The weather has finally warmed up a bit and most of the garden veggies that were already established have literally doubled in the past week. The poor, spindly tomatoes are starting to sprout new growth at every joint, which is hopeful. The newly planted peppers are looking good, too, but I still am waiting for seeds to come up. Patience, patience, patience:). My earliest planting of English peas (Maestro) have burst into bloom, so it won’t be long until we have those. In the meanwhile, we are eating garden lettuce, chives, cilantro, and I even snipped off a piece of an onion here and there when I was in a pinch for green onions one day.

Quite a bit of hoeing and weeding was accomplished. If you look carefully, you can see volunteer dill plants on the top right hand corner of the picture. I weeded around all those so I can start snipping bits to use in cooking without waiting for my row to sprout.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 17, 2022

We pulled the camper down to the Oregon Coast for a few days. The wild rhododendrons were in full bloom and we marveled at their beauty during one of our walks.

Jake really, really, really wanted to go camping, so we did. We had 2 gorgeous days and a couple that were very rainy and wet.

We were delighted to find that the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center has re-opened after a very long Covid closure. I made reservations and bought tickets on-line and we went on one of the very rainy days. Our other special activity was visiting a candy store. We took several walks, visited the campground play ground and did school in the camper.

The price of gas is high, so we decided not to do any extra drives on this trip. We also saved gas by choosing a campground that was closer to us, vs. one we like that takes 3-1/2 hours to get to, or another one we like that takes even longer to travel to. We went to South Beach State Park, in Newport, and it took about 2 hours to get there, including a stop.

I didn’t have much time to pack, due to helping Lovana with that marvelous party I mentioned last week. So, I just grabbed a lot of food from my freezer and crammed it into the camper freezer. I had put some celery and carrots in the fridge, some potatoes and onions in the cupboard The camper has lots of pantry items that stay in there all the time. I was pleased to find that I had stuffed so much in that we didn’t need to eat out at all, and only had to get $9 worth of groceries during the week. We did not suffer at all. Rob even made steak over the fire.

Once we got home, we had a couple more rainy days, and then got to work on the garden. Over the past 2 days, I have been out there for many hours. I transplanted jalapeño, ancho, mixed bell, Hungarian Wax, Anaheim, and Serrano peppers from the greenhouse. I planted seeds for pole beans, bush beans, more lettuce, slicing cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, dill, basil, more snow peas, and what seemed like endless little onion plants. I planted hills of Tromboncini zucchini, yellow zucchini, green zucchini and scallopini zucchini. I even dug up some potato plants that had come up volunteer in my compost bins and transplanted them into the garden. We have a potato tower Rob made a year or so ago, and is didn’t work because there was not enough sun where it was. I thought I’d try again in a sunnier spot, with absolutely free potato starts, so I’m not out anything if it fails again.

I also worked on the flowerbeds a little and filled the yard debris bin 1/2 way up with mostly clipped ivy. I got the lawn mowed, but it was so tall, I’ll need to do it again pretty soon as I had to set the mower up pretty high.

I picked and froze all the rest of the overwintered spinach. I’ve been picking off leaves and using them, but it was time to pull the plants.

I picked Boc Choi for the first time this season. So far, I’ve made chicken stir-fry with it and added some to the chicken and dumplings I made yesterday. There was also some lettuce to pick.

The irises are starting to bloom. I divided quite a few of these last fall and I’m enjoying the extra blooms now.

I plan to crawl into bed early tonight. I’m quite stiff and sore after so much yard work. The reason there was so much pressure to get a lot done is because our spring has been very, very wet. I prefer to spread my yard work and garden work out over many evenings, not do marathons. But, this year, it has been too wet and muddy to work out there very often. Rain is predicted again tomorrow. I took my window of opportunity and am very happy that I got one! There are many weeds to pull and a few more things to plant, but I made huge progress and I’m pleased.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 2, 2022

I spent a lot of time in the garden one dry morning. The tomatoes plants were getting away from Rob, so I dug deep holes, we put in fertilizer, a little dirt and IO planted them deep. They will grow roots along the stem that is buried and should grow into nice big bushes, full of juicy tomatoes.

It has been a challenging year in the garden because it has been so wet. Even when I do get out into the garden or yard, I’m often digging in dirt that is close to mud, or, at best, slightly too wet to be ideal. Still, I have been able to get it done, slowly, bit by bit. Every year I put the tomatoes and other veggies closer and closer together to see how many veggies I can cram into the garden. Last year, I found that I had planted too closely and I didn’t get as good of a yield per bush and couldn’t walk between them, so this year, I spaced things out a little more. I’m always experimenting, and we will see if I have reached the ideal spacing, yet, or not:).

I was able to get the front flowerbed weeded and planted. I planted some geraniums Rob wintered over in the greenhouse, and marigolds he started from seed. I also added a few poppies to go with the 2 that came up volunteer.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to come up in the greenhouse. We have tubers that were given to us last year, tubers dug up from the corner of our garden, tubers from his birthday, tubers from the store and THEN his friend gave him a grocery bag half full of tubers.

That’s a lot of dahlia tubers. Some were very small and may not do much this year, but many will be gorgeous and the rest will grow. (He did not grow these in the picture, they are from a flower show, but he hopes his get this big!)

Rob got to go to a flower sale/show with his mom and got inspiration. He had a wonderful time looking at all the blooms.

This is one of the many pansies he grew this year. He is really enjoying working in the greenhouse more than ever and I’m happy with all the plants I’m getting.

Rob was able to get some clothes for the babies at a yard sale–about 10 garments for $2, some red rubber boots for $1 and some Mega Block toys for $3. Malcolm found the boots sitting on the floor and put them on right away– over his sleeper while he ate, wore them all day to play, wore them after his bath with nothing but a diaper and a scarf (quite the fashion statement) and wore them to church with his nice church shirt. We think he likes them. Rob’s already looking for a new, larger pair, as these won’t fit for long.

I cooked chili, chicken-rice soup, berry cobbler, tacos, tilapia, and many other meals. I have plenty to get me through several days, which is good because I’m super busy this week. One of my daughters is doing food for her friend’s college graduation party and wants some help from me. This is one of our former 4H kids, so I am super excited to be a part of this momentous occasion. Last week I printed off recipes as she sent them to me and made her a notebook. Today, we went shopping for the bulk of the food. She will do some cooking ahead in the evenings, we will shop again on Thursday for produce, then I will help her cook last minute things on Friday. The party is Saturday.

I was able to use many jars of home-canned and frozen food this week and buy minimal groceries. It’s a good thing I have so much food on hand. It really helps. Our stores have a few nice loss leaders, and we are grateful for them. I have noticed that the limits are lower–i.e. you can get 2 of the item instead of the 4 you used to be able to get, and that prices are going up, little-by-little every week or two. Still, in our area, I can still get plenty of food and stay in my budget, which makes me very happy.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-April 25, 2022

The weather finally perked up and we got outside a couple of times. Grandpa has a new helper who happily watered the pots.

Again….

And again…..

And again…..

You may notice he got a little wet and the pots got a LOT wet.

Even though the most fun is playing with the boys, we did do a few other things this week.

I cooked chicken-curry-rice casserole.

I baked peanut-butter chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins. There were just a few pieces of very brown, frozen bananas in a baggie that fell out of the freezer one day, and I found a better place for them to be–in muffins! We had BBQ’d chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes and green beans several times. The girls brought take-and-bake pizza one day and that also lasted several days. Easter leftovers were eaten up and the fridge is about empty enough for me to cook a couple of things again.

I worked on some quilting projects and finished the chicken quilt. It was turned into the shop to be machine quilted. We took a few walks, and Rob took our niece down to the Kroc center to swim.

Rob continues to plant his little starts in pots and has put them here and there. They are going to be so pretty as they grow.

He saved many, many dahlia bulbs from some a friend gave us last summer plus the ones he dug up from the corner of the garden. He also received some for his birthday. They are starting to come up in the greenhouse and he has a few places he plans to plant them once they get larger.

Garden Update–April, 2022

It has been a rainy, cold, challenging spring in my garden. In spite of that, the early, early planting I did is getting close to harvest time. The Boc Choi in the front of the picture really likes short days and cool weather. It has been very happy:).

Even a couple of weeks ago, the plants were just sitting there. Finally, we got a couple of warmer days and it stopped snowing, freezing, hailing and raining 24/7 and, WOW, what a difference!

I was able to take a couple of sessions to shovel out the rich, finished compost from one of my bins and spread it on part of the garden and one flowerbed.

I’ve also been putting all grass clippings on the garden to be tilled in. In the forefront, you can see the second planting I managed to get in somewhere along the line between weather events. That broccoli got hailed on so many times, I had to re-plant 2 of them because they got killed, but most of them prevailed.

You can see them on the upper left of this picture, still standing, and starting to grow. On the upper left of the picture, there are more seeds that are just beginning to emerge–sow peas, carrots, beets and lettuce.

Yesterday, our only really nice day, I pushed the envelope and planted some more. You can see from how the dirt is packed down so hard that it was a little wet, still. But, I did it anyway. I planted cabbages (Quick Start, Red Acre, and Pinetree Mix), some of the onion plants (Patterson), a tiny row of cilantro, a few more snow peas (Oregon Sugar Pod II) , lettuce (Buttercrunch, a mixture, and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman Lettuce) and 3 rows of English peas (Maestro) for shelling.

I don’t plant a long row of anything we eat fresh, such as lettuce or snow peas, at any one time. Instead, I continuously plant new seeds, about every 2 weeks, if I can. Normally, I have lettuce from spring until fall with very few, if any gaps in the production. And, if it gets hot and they bolt, there’s always a new planting coming on.

Yesterday was also a very busy Sunday with church, teaching Sunday school, an extra evening service we usually don’t attend, Patsy needing a ride back to her job at camp, and some time with the babies. It was a real challenge, but I had to become the fastest planter on the planet, and Rob and Patsy helped with the babies while I did it. We returned the babies, I had Rob run me through Taco Bell between camp and evening church, and all was well.

As predicted, it rained again during the night and we are in for a week of rainy weather, they say, so it was all worth it. Now if I can just keep those 2 pesky crows that showed up out of the seeds……..

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 18, 2022

We had a wonderful Easter Day, yesterday. We went to church, for the early service, and then came home to feast with our extended family.

I was especially happy with how the African violet my niece gave me for Christmas 2 years ago rose to the occasion and bloomed so festively. For decorations, I used several tablecloths I’ve had for years. They were either from yard sales or my grandmothers, and I love them.

One bunch of mini roses and one bunch of baby’s breath became additional bouquets for the tables. From those 2 bunches, I got 5 mini-bouquets and one large one.

I chose to use lots of real dishes this year. Although this decision was not made to save money, but to enjoy some pretty things I have, I was able to save the paper plates I bought for another occasion.

On Thursday, the egg-dippers did a wonderful job of coloring eggs. One dipped many.

One dipped only a very few, but they were very carefully decorated.

One was very new at the entire process, so just dropped lots of eggs into the yellow cup once he got the idea.

The supervisor supervised.

The 3 favorite eggs were given a “place of honor” on the mantle and enjoyed by all.

Many of the colored eggs were transformed and eaten on Easter. I still have several boiled ones in the fridge. With egg shortages and price hikes, I was super glad to have gotten 5 dozen for $5 a couple of weeks ago. This week, we found none on sale anywhere, and in fact, at 2 stores Rob visited for other items, he noticed there were no eggs at all in either store, except for a few super expensive organic ones.

As I mentioned last week, my menu was simple, and made ahead. Several people pitched in items, and I will say we ended up with so much dessert we all had several kinds:). There was purposefully way too much food, so everyone took home what they wanted and didn’t have to cook for a few days unless they wanted to.

My aunt brought lots of eggs stuffed with candy, as she does every year. It took Malcolm about 2 seconds to figure out that there was candy in those eggs. He quickly went over in a corner and started stuffing his mouth with chocolate. He did hunt for a few eggs, but quickly got distracted with the fact that there was CANDY in there Every. Single. Time.

Until there wasn’t:). Bummer!

Although much of my week was consumed with getting my house and food ready for Easter Day, we also a few other activities. We shopped for last minute items, but did not need much other than we got last week. We did pick up any great bargains that were offered, since we were at the store anyway.

Rob and I helped in the kitchen at a children’s event at church. We handed out donuts and fruit drink. Rob made coffee. They shot candy out of a cannon and the kids picked it up–like a glorified piñata. There was so much candy and sugar–the kids thought it was perfect! It was a little overwhelming for the Malcolm, so he happily got into my friend, Debbie’s wagon with her nephew, and they munched candy for a short time!

We experienced a crazy weather week. Although Portland, north of us, got a lot of snow, and made national news, we did get a light amount one morning. It hailed a LOT, several times. It was sunny and warm at times. It frosted hard several mornings.

Somehow my baby veggies survived it all, although some of my little broccoli plants look battered. If any of this early crop survives, it will be a bonus. I was able to pick overwintered spinach to mix with purchased head lettuce for our Easter salad. I also used lots of chives for our baked potato bar. I also put them in some chip/veggie dip I made and picked some parsley for that, as well.

It looks like a lot of rain coming our way this week, but soon I will be able to get out there in the garden and yard and really get busy growing things for this summer. I’m looking forward to it.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 27, 2022–The First Week of Spring!

Many flowers are blooming right now. We took many walks this week and enjoyed looking at the various yards. I worked in our yard a little bit. There is so much to do this time of year! I planted a row of little pansies in a flowerbed. These were grown, by Rob, from seeds he saved from last year. They are not blooming yet, but they will. I also planted some Sweet William plants he grew. They are biannual, so won’t bloom this year, but will fill the area nicely and bloom next summer.

I’m very happy with how these primroses came back from previous years and are blooming so well. Sometimes, in the past, I haven’t had such good luck with them re-blooming, but these are gorgeous.

It’s always nice to see all the cheery daffodils. Years ago, we got most of these bulbs from my sister’s yard. They needed to be divided at that time. They have been so pretty every spring since. The tulips were here when we moved in. I dug up some from another flowerbed and transplanted them here last fall. I missed quite a few, though, so want to get the rest moved over here this year. This flower bed does not get watered in the summer, so the bulbs can grow with the spring rains, then dry up in the summer.

We took the boys for a walk and to the park to play and enjoy the nice weather and flowers along the way. They also enjoy kitties, birds and any dogs we see. Mac looks so sleepy in this picture. It must have been relaxing. We took bubbles to blow, he threw sticks into a little creek, and played on the equipment.

This week, we did a lot of extra laundry and cleaning. Patsy decided to wash most of her blankets, along with lots of clothes in preparation for camp. I had her work on deep cleaning her room, although there’s quite a bit still to clean in there. She officially departed on Tuesday, late in the day. Although she does not work on weekends, there was a first aid class she needed to take and some other things she needed to do on Saturday, so she only came home briefly to grab some things she forgot.

Rob and I have been on vacation ever since. A few weeks ago, we were supposed to have a little vacation, and ended up with a severe flu. We decided to do all the fun things we had planned, and didn’t get to do, this week to make up for it. We ordered Chinese food “to go” and watched a movie we checked out from the library. We went out to Mexican food another night, using a gift card we had. We took several long walks, including one that was several miles in a park that runs along the Willamette River corridor.

We spent a day with the boys and my Mom came over for lunch one day. Mom and I folded laundry while we chatted. There was so much this week with all of Patsy’s extra! We even went to the movies–the matinee, of course! It’s still quite expensive, but less. We have not been to a theatre for several years. We didn’t buy popcorn or anything this time, more because we didn’t want any than for any economical reasons.

One morning , Rob went to visit his Mom and I sewed on the quilt I’m currently constructing.

Even though we were on “party” mode for a few days, we still were able to do a few things around here in-between our more exciting activities.

I decided to deep clean the laundry room. There was so much dirt and grime on the floor and clutter covering the dryer. I cleaned and scrubbed and organized to my heart’s content and it looks much better now. I have several more areas in the house that need attention, and I want to tackle them one by one.

I cleaned the bathroom, which is now my chore every week, instead of every-other-week. Patsy and I used to switch off. There are a few other chores she usually did before she left, so Rob and I are working together to make sure they still get done. We used to pay her to mow the lawn, I did it yesterday. I put the clippings on the corner of the garden where the soil could use amending.

We both worked on cleaning our outside covered porch area. I recycled many boxes and empty milk jugs that were previously used to water the greenhouse. Rob got the automatic waterer going in the greenhouse, so we don’t need so many jugs filled with water. That porch area is where I do my canning in the summer and it’s a step closer to being ready for that. The plants are growing like crazy, and it will be time to plant some of them soon.

Rob spent some time cutting up onions. The red ones from last year’s garden are wanting to grow, so he froze 10 cups of chopped onion pieces. There are still lots of onions to use fresh. The yellow ones we grow keep longer than the red ones, so he targeted any soft red ones this time and will do this again another day to get them all saved and used. It’s also very handy during canning season to grab out the frozen 1 or 2-cup baggies to throw into relishes and salsas. I also use them when I’m making soup in a hurry sometimes, although right now, I’m grabbing and using any onions that seem to be getting soft or wanting to grow.

I made vegetable soup, chicken soup and potato soup this week. The potato soup is for Sunday, when my niece, Alissa is coming to lunch after church. It’s her favorite. I fed the other soups to the boys, and ate them for breakfasts and lunches. We had salads a few times. We cooked a pork roast I got for $1.99/lb. I made enchiladas, we sliced and ate it, had it on salad, and froze the rest for another day. Safeway was selling pizza for 8c. Rob stopped in and got that along with a few other things we needed. It’s not gluten-free, so it will be for him, and any kids who come over. Cheese was $5 for a 2-lb loaf, so we got a couple. We shopped a couple of times this week, gathering things we needed in smaller-than-usual quantities. I’m adjusting to feeding one less person and would rather shop more than waste food, as I make this adjustment in our family. We still have so many people though the house that I don’t think it’s going to be that drastic of a change, but I’ll find out. I don’t know if I will be sticking to the every-other-week shopping as I go through this transition, but I’d like to eventually make that work again, as I like doing that.

We went to the eye doctor. Both of us didn’t need new prescriptions as our vision had not changed much, but I always have to go each year for my diabetic eye exam. I had recently had my lenses replaced under warranty, after I got hit with a flying coaster launched by a baby, and Rob’s were just replaced under warranty as well. We had benefits available to use, though. I ended up getting new frames with lenses that are just for distance, with no reflective coatings or sunglass feature for absolutely free, covered by my insurance. They are for walks and driving on days when I don’t want my world darkened with sunglasses. Later, I can replace the lenses with a new prescription if I need to, and will need to pay for all the bells and whistles, but have this nice new pair of frames or my current frames to use when I do so. Rob did the same thing.

There’s never a dull moment around here, and this coming week is no exception. I plan to enjoy the spring weather that is expected and hope to be outside frequently. I love this time of year.

Happy spring to all of you readers!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 1, 2022

My daughter asked me if I would help her do my grandson’s hair. So, yesterday, we did it! Since he was wiggling and squirming while we pressed snacks, toys and other treats on him, at the same time as singing to The Wiggles and trying to distract him in any way possible, I thought it turned out great! I washed his hair, Ja’Ana made parts and combed it, and we both started braiding like crazy from both sides. Now it’s clean, his head is moisturized, and he looks great! It’s a big job, but by doing it ourselves, we saved at least $75-$100. It brought back a lot of memories to me of years and years of doing hair….

My daughter has been at a new job for a few weeks now. She works mostly at night. This has been difficult, but we are all pitching in as we can to help with babysitting so she can keep her money in her pocket. I’ve been babysitting a lot as they have been calling her in due to people not coming to work due to Covid symptoms. These were afternoon shifts, so I was able to help her out. Patsy’s been babysitting a lot, as well, as has anyone else who will take a shift. Today, my sister and I had a great visit while she helped me with Jake, the boys, school, and life while my daughter got some sleep after working all night last night. My Mom helped while we visited last Friday. As you can see, we are using any one with arms that will come over:). They are happy to work for soup, so……..Seriously, I am very grateful for the help and J is, too.

We put Malcolm to work to help out (ha, ha). He’s happy to work for crackers, so the price is right. Rob ordered this little cleaning set and we’ve had so much fun watching him sweep and mop. Little brother was not amused today, when he got “swept” in the process.

Rob’s seeds are popping up like crazy in the greenhouse. Our second batch of ordered seeds arrived yesterday and he planted some of them today. I had forgotten to order the Carmen pepper seeds the first time. I got Rob some flower seeds while I was at it and he’s excited about them.

I successfully cooked the beans I was soaking. Now I have both red and black beans frozen for quick use. The previous post details a lot of what I cooked this past week. After I posted it, I ended up making a huge vegetable-pesto soup, cornbread, brownies and potato salad. Our neighbor with Covid is feeling a little better and has food from some other places, so I’m haven’t sent more over after today unless he runs out or feels worse. (Rob just talks to him on the phone and leaves it on the doorstep. He’s a truck driver and basically crept home feeling awful a few days ago and called asking if we had broth or chicken soup. He doesn’t keep much food in the house as he’s away so much. We were glad to help out.). The soup got away from me and become too large, so I shared with a couple of other people and there’s still plenty for us. I used onions, celery, hamburger, canned carrots, broth and tomato products, frozen beans and corn, frozen pesto, frozen white beans, Italian seasoning, water, salt and pepper and a little corn pasta in it.

We didn’t need many groceries from Safeway this past week. We are still using things from the freezers and pantry. I used the last of January’s grocery money for another Azure order of mostly bulk food products such as rice mix, white beans, popcorn, etc.

I read library books on line, and a couple actual books. We watched U-Tube, Netflix, etc. for entertainment…(We Don’t Talk About Bruno in 21 languages, anyone? Jake loves that song in English, Patsy in other languages….you see how it is). Thankfully, U-Tube is free so they can both have their way. I worked on a baby quilt a bit, using fabric I’ve had for years with just a couple of small pieces I bought to go with it. There is no baby in mind for this. At the rate I’m going, that’s just as well as they would be a teen before I get done. But, I cleaned up an entire basket of miscellaneous sewing items/scraps, along with going through a couple of other drawers of sewing things and found this fabric, some scraps from other projects that matched, so…why not?)

Rob’s been taking Lovana, our daughter, driving. She really wants to pursue getting her license. She’s a little older, but feels ready at this time. They delivered a meal to a family who needed it. That was good double use of time and gas.

Rob had a birthday. He had a great day. I made the cake he loves so much. It’s a sour cream chocolate cake and it’s great. You really cannot tell it’s gluten-free, or so they say:). Making it that way means I get some, too. Yum!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 18, 2022

This week was filled with ordinary, everyday activities. One fun thing Rob did was to put up this bird feeder. He made it from a recycled juice container and some wood. Our grandson loves birds. We are hoping they find this feeder pretty soon, as it is right outside a window he can look out of easily. So far, he’s only seen 2 when he’s been here. But he loved both of them:)

Rob also finished up a dresser he’s been fixing up for the babies to put their clothes in. He got it free, rebuilt the drawers, sanded it, painted it glossy black (per our daughter’s wishes), and added drawer pulls. There weren’t any. He used wooded ones he had on hand and painted them dark, dark blue. He’s been working on this project for a few weeks, so it felt great to him to be able to deliver it the other day.

Like I said…..the week wasn’t super exciting, but I need weeks like that! I mended several items. Since Rob wears this shirt outside to get firewood from the woodpile and other chores, I just sewed up the tear he made, using the sewing machine. He promptly tore it again a couple of days later, so I sewed it up again.

I also mended some items for other family members and even a stuffed toy for Jake, my nephew. His stuffed toys keep developing tears at the seams. He’s convinced it is “bad fabric” and Auntie’s is better. I’m convinced the thread is weak, or the wear and tear is great….maybe a little bit of both:).

I spent some time tidying up in the garage. It’s used as an extra living area and often becomes a dumping ground for extra items, so I try to get out there and clean now and then.

I cooked quite a few things, as usual. I made this berry-apple crisp from some wild blackberries Rob picked last summer. I added pieces of various apples his sister gave us. I’ve never had apples that are pink and purple inside. This fall, she took a seasonal job at a large apple grower’s fruit stand up near Hood River, Oregon, where she lives and got to take 5 lbs of apples home, per day she worked. I guess they have fancy kinds, and I heard she had way more apples than she knew what to do with, so she sent some down for us. Of course, I thickened, and topped the crisp, but wanted to show the gorgeous apples and berries!

I made a tuna/white bean salad. I was in a hurry, but had nothing thawed, at one meal time, so chopped up celery, onions and some canned sweet peppers and mixed them into our home-canned tuna and a can of white beans. I dressed it with sun-dried tomato salad dressing I wanted to use up. It was different from what I usually make, but tasted good.

I made Chex mix from some Chex and a few pretzels that had been around for a while. I added some roasted hazelnuts.

I used lots of broth I had previously frozen, home-canned carrots, frozen bits of chicken, celery, rice and onion to make chicken-rice soup. My sister gave me some manicotti she made–yum–and I also made turkey meatballs and used my home-canned pasta sauce to make a penne pasta/meatball casserole.

As we do this time of year, we emptied many, many canning jars, and freezer cartons and baggies. Since I re-use the baggies if they are still in good shape, my sink has looked quite funny with bags draped over every tall cup or spoon:)

Last summer, we filled these crates with extra jars of various canned goods I made. This week, Rob and I spent some time rotating some empty jars into the bottom crates and putting more full ones on the shelves. If you look closely at my canning, you see a film of wood dust all over it….that’s what you get when you share space with someone who is sanding an old dresser:). Thankfully, it wipes off easily, but we have been throwing around some ideas about how to keep my jars from getting so dusty.

Rob paid Patsy to help him clean out the greenhouse and he planted some peppers and onions. I found I had forgotten to order my Carmen pepper seeds when I ordered. Oops! I ordered some yesterday. At least the Lola (light green),Mixed colors, California Wonder (green), Jalepeno, Ancho, Serrano, and Anaheim and planted. I have been planting Carmen for years, since they turn red earlier than most. They are a longer, Italian pepper and taste the same as other red peppers to me. I like to cut up mixed bags of pepper chunks for use in the winter.

This time, I ordered from Pinetree, as I really like them, as well. Since I was ordering anyway, and had to pay postage anyway, I ordered some flowers for him for his birthday. He seems to really enjoy growing things these past few years.

He went to the Dollar Store and things were still $1, vs. the $1.25 they keep threatening to raise the prices to. The seeds had arrived. He got a handful of different packets, including Danvers 1/2 Long carrots, dill, and some flowers. Danvers carrots work just fine for me in my garden. I do put coffee grounds down the rows, as I read to do a few years ago and it really does seem to help with the wireworm problem.

We used all the Bottle Drop money for groceries and spent the money we would have used for a 25 lb. bag of gluten free flour, about $50. It is what it is, and we were delighted to be able to get that this month!

I’m looking forward to another nice, ordinary week ahead.