Category Archives: Holidays

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 2, 2023

I love the new year, every single time! It’s just so fun to “start over” even if it’s just psychological! I spent some time cleaning up Christmas (to the music of sobs and crying as my poor grandson was not on board with my decision to put those fun things away!), and put out a few cold weather-themed candles, just because it’s so dark this time of year.

He does like the cleaning part, though! He swept and vacuumed and scrubbed for quite a long time.

I am very predictable in January. I always want to clean out foods that have been sitting around for a long time on my pantry shelves, continue hitting the home-preserved foods hard, clean the house, and save money. It’s just what I do this time of year.

Rob and I removed an area rug in the living room, cleaned it, hung it to dry on a ladder in front of the fire, and swept, vacuumed and mopped under the couches. It was a huge job, and the rug is still drying, but it’s good to get such a big project underway.

I got out a big bowl of beans to soak and am also making split pea soup with ham broth that had been previously frozen and split peas from the shelf. I brightened it up with a pint of my canned carrots, and they do look pretty in there. The beans will become chili, refried beans, and plain beans to freeze for later.

I checked out a library book called “The Simple Comforts Step-by-Step Instant Pot Book” by Jeffrey Eisner. This recipe was in it and it was SO good! It’s called Teriyaki Chicken. I’ve made a couple of other recipes from there, also, so I had Rob look it up on Amazon and was able to buy it for only $11!

I spent some time sorting my herbs and spices and re-filling my jars in the kitchen. I buy them in bulk and use the same little jars over and over. I save a tremendous amount of money this way. Some spices or mixes, like Mexican seasoning and chili powder are used so much I buy huge packages of them. Others, such as cream of tartar and ground mustard are used much less often, so I buy only a small bit of them at a time. Now they are all full again, which saves me time on busy days and lets me know what I need to buy before long.

I canned some pineapple. We don’t use much of it, so this will likely be all I need for the next year.

I was given hazelnuts and walnuts, and look forward to using them this year as well. I froze them to preserve freshness. The ones you see in this picture are last year’s, pulled from the freezer to rotate them. I roasted a large pan before Christmas and took a few to Christmas dinner, as did almost every other sister in some form or other:). That’s what your get when you are all raised on a hazelnut farm–hazelnuts say holiday to us!

Happy New Year!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Dec. 26, 2022

We had a small ice storm this past week! There was some freezing rain, some light snow, and more freezing rain, resulting in less than an inch of frozen mess! My nephew and grandson had a great time out on the deck.

Jake showed Malcolm how to get turners and “clean” off the snow.

They didn’t have a ton of success, but Jake ate what he could chip off. They had so much fun. Thankfully, we had been having a sleepover anyway, so no one had to drive out and pick anybody up:). The roads were bad, so we didn’t go anywhere until it melted, although Rob would have been the one who braved it if necessary. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

We had planned many simple activities this week, along with having the fun (for the kids) of the unexpected storm. We had Jake all week, and I wanted it to be fun and busy without spending a fortune. I have also carried out my goal of lots of activities, and less emphasis on stuff during this Christmas season, so we kept our gift giving simple. Therefore, we had more time to do things with whatever kids were around. We went to the library and got books and participated in story time, took a walk a couple of times. This time it was rainy, but one day was cold and clear and the boys played at the park. Today, we went swimming at the YMCA–a perfect day-after-Christmas activity, using our membership. My niece went, too. She enjoys swimming very much. It was a very successful week and we felt very relaxed.

They decorated a gingerbread house.

….playdough and books galore….

Jake made a Roman chariot and did Perler beads while Malcolm napped. He also requested popcorn many times, and we popped that and watched movies or he played on his devices.

I had a lot of help making cheesecake for the party that got cancelled on Saturday (we will try again with that daughter next Saturday)…Maybe a good idea to save that cheesecake for us anyway:). I made another one all by my self for Christmas Day. I used my Instant Pot for both. I like how they come out in there and they are somewhat small–just the right size. They only use 2 packages of cream cheese each time. I find at holidays there are so many desserts people tend to want only a small piece of many desserts, so this has become a favorite way to make cheesecake.

On Christmas afternoon, we went to my sister’s for a wonderful Christmas meal. Afterwards, we opened the “big family” gifts. I had a lot of fun playing with Zai and reading his new books. Everyone got so many lovely things. It was just the right amount for the boys and they enjoyed them all!

My sister was given some fabric. She passed it on to me. In one of the bags was some blue knit. I used it to make Rob a pair of sleeping shorts. There are several other pieces I think I will be able to use, and then I will pass the rest along for someone else to be creative with.

We cruised along on leftovers and some soup today, and I plan to keep meals simple for the rest of the week, as well. I did buy a bunch of groceries, using coupons and sales. I had a reward for $10 off my order, so I used that.

I hope you all had a very nice week and continue to enjoy a little more “holiday” this week, as we plan to do. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Dec. 13, 2022

This week, I made a bathrobe for Malcolm. I used Simplicity S9214. There was enough extra for sleeves, the belt and facings for his little brother’s size, so I went back and purchased enough of the same fabric to make the body of the robe again, and am working on one for baby brother. Then, I will have no wasted fabric, or leftovers I don’t know what to do with.

I used a very plush, soft fabric, for the first time, in a garment. I had some struggles with it, but overcame them. Thankfully, bathrobes do not have a lot of intricate sewing–mostly straight lines.

We needed to run an errand one evening, so we drove around a little extra to see Christmas lights. This business was so decorated, and had Christmas music blaring over a loud-speaker, so we got out to look. There were all kinds of characters–everything from life-sized reindeer pulling a life-sized sleigh on the roof, to the Nativity scene with visitors ranging from Mickey Mouse to the shepherds and a 2-story marching toy soldier on the grass nearby. It was quite a bright display, and where I would likely never go quite that far in my decorating, Malcolm was so impressed that I could hardly get him back into the car.

We also saw many houses decorated nicely and we enjoyed our drive very much.

I cooked some brownies with some help. I wanted them festive, as part of them were for the gluten-free college-age kids. Instead of buying an entire package of Christmas M and M’s, I just picked the red and green ones out of a large container I was given. (I did pick the orange and yellow ones off while my helper wasn’t looking.). After baking, they were set to cool. My helper extraordinaire jumped up on his chair and grabbed the pepper shaker, and before I could stop him, he liberally peppered them! I sent the un-peppered part and kept the rest at home. I hope. I haven’t gotten any comments about my spicy brownie recipe, so they are either very polite, or I found it all and cut around it:)

Through the week, we ate quite simply, and mostly from food storage. I thawed 2 kinds of soup that had been made previously and we ate them as well as opening a jar of home-canned soup. I thawed some squash and that’s gone, as well. My aunt gave me some chili, and we enjoyed that, too. I experimented with some Asian lettuce wraps, using the last of the garden cabbage, and they were good. Rob made some fajita-like filling, using beef, home-grown onions and frozen garden peppers. He ate his in tortillas that needed to be used and I ate mine on some rice.

We used quite a few home-canned items. I can always tell how much we are drawing on that resource by how fast the “empty-jar” basket fills and how often I have to empty it and bring in more filled jars from the outside shop. I love being able to use my “fast food” at this time of year. I hope to get some more sewing done, as I haven’t been finding time for that lately.

I filled one yard-debris bin with clippings from the yard. I hope to get some dry days and fill it again this week.

My sister took me to lunch and to see a Christmas concert at a nearby university. I was surprised to find that the concert was free. It was lovely.

We are keeping Christmas gifts very simple this year, so we have more time for experiences. We hope to finish the last of the gift buying this week and check that off our list. Next week will be filled with kid-time, as we will work with our nephew and niece quite a few extra hours. I’m laying my plans for fun activities and games, and think everyone will have fun.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Dec. 5, 2022

This week, I was in a large Christmas play at our church. I sang in the choir. This is the adult choir and the children’s choir. There was also a drama team, an orchestra, set people, people who took care of the children, an ensemble, and so many more who participated. Although everyone has been practicing for weeks, separately, this week we all came together. We practiced several hours every night, except one, all week long. Then, we did a final dress rehearsal on Friday night, with about 20-30 in the audience, and then 3 performances over the rest of the weekend. The play was almost 2 hours long, and came out great every time, despite the fact that several succumbed to sickness over the week. By the last evening, the 3 shepherds abiding in the fields had shrunk to 2, and at one point 1, ….the 50 member choir was down to a little over 40….and the littlest wise man almost didn’t make it….but those kids were so cute, no one noticed!

The Christmas story was told in many different ways, along with the drama story line. It is the first time I have ever been in something with that many other people, and the first Christmas play I have personally participated in since I was a child. Over the years, I’ve directed, transported kids, sewed costumes, and more for children, but never sang or had a part myself.

This is something I’ve wanted to be in for several years, and I’m so excited I got my chance. I learned so much through the experience, and am in total awe of the 2 directors who oversaw it all.

The play was free for all to attend, and we had many, many people who took advantage of that offer.

I’m very tired today. Looking back, I really didn’t do much else than that last week, except prepare for my Sunday school class, cook meals ahead so they could be warmed up in the evenings, and work part of the week. My household has been fighting sickness this past week, but I’m so happy to say I made it through without getting super sick like some:)

We were able to make it through with frozen and canned foods and pantry staples and didn’t go shopping for much. There was no time, and we have plenty of food. I made a soup, white rice and brown rice, used some of the tater tots I made a couple of weeks ago. We used peaches, fruit cocktail, pears, home-canned soup, and Rob made a cherry crisp from our canned pie filling. I made pork verde for the college group and us, made into enchiladas. Rob cooked hamburger, and we finished up a Costco chicken he quickly stopped in for on Monday while picking up some things for our very sick neighbors. Covid is still a thing, in our neighborhood, at least:( Now that Costco has moved very close to my house, it’s easier to just grab a couple of things.

Malcolm spent some time outside, although the weather turned nasty for the latter part of the week. I only found time to take him on one walk, and we didn’t make it to the YMCA this week.

I did get a few Christmas decorations up around the house, and took down the Thanksgiving ones. Rob put up some yard lights and a blow-up snowman. I had to chuckle–it’s all facing our house. That way, Malcolm can see it all from the big picture window:). People on the street….not so much!

We are keeping Christmas quite simple this year, and we have a plan for the gifts we want to get, which we are now have time to follow. That, and some desperately needed cleaning, is high on my list for this next week!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Nov. 27, 2022

Most of the past 2 weeks have been busy with Thanksgiving preparations–shopping, decorating, cooking, and then enjoying the day itself.

I gathered groceries from several sources over the past few weeks, gleaning sales and good prices where I could. Our menu was a little different this year, but only a little. We are traditionalists at heart, I guess! Besides the traditional turkey, we had shrimp skewers, beef teriyaki skewers, quinoa pilaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, grilled jalapeños, yams with marshmallows, gf stuffing, apple crisp, gf chocolate and pumpkin pies, Krispie treat turkeys (Malcolm’s contribution), salads, and other treats. We skipped the ham this time. Some relatives brought sides and desserts. Some generously gave me $ to buy extra goodies with. Everyone ate and ate, and there was plenty for people to take home, with the hopes that no one would need to cook for a day or two, at least.

I got the recipe for the shrimp skewers from a cookbook I downloaded onto my iPad from the library. They were threaded onto stalks of rosemary. Although much of my garden is gone, the rosemary is in good shape, so I had all I wanted to experiment with. There was a marinade I poured on and Rob grilled them.

He also grilled stuffed jalapeños. He used cheese and cream cheese and 3 different flavorings: crab, bacon, and cranberry/cheese. They were good, but mine was pretty spicy, so I stopped after one:) A few of the peppers were left from our garden, and the rest were purchased.

The teriyaki beef kabobs were a hit, as well. Rob also did the turkey on the BBQ, a day or two ahead, and we re-warmed it on Thursday. It helps me so much that he likes to cook outside and does so much on the grill. On Wednesday, I cooked everything I could do ahead and on Thursday morning, I just needed to finish things up (like warm, glaze and add marshmallows to the pre-cooked yams, warm and add topping to the green bean casserole, etc.) and mash the potatoes.

We have been extremely busy around here, besides the Thanksgiving preparations. Through it all, we have tried to stay as frugal as possible, while having as much fun as possible!

We have been utilizing the YMCA frequently. Jake, Michaela, and Malcolm all like to go into the pool as often as possible.

Our oldest daughter and her husband invited us to come to the beach last Saturday. They spent Friday night, but we joined them for the day Saturday.

The most surprising thing we saw was a bearded dragon lizard that a family had down on the beach, enjoying the weather. They graciously let Malcolm pet it all he wanted, then went on their way.

It was a perfect day at the beach! Our son-in-law showed us a place to drive right down onto the beach that we had not ever been to before and we all enjoyed some time on the sand. Then we went to Mo’s for lunch.

Last Sunday afternoon, we had both babies and did some serious leaf throwing while we were on a walk.

We all had fun!

After the whirlwind that was my past 2 weeks, I did absolutely nothing Friday. Nothing. I laid in bed, ate leftovers, played Candy Crush, took a nap, and read books. Saturday, we hit a few Black Friday sales, mostly on-line, and I did enjoy a trip to JoAnn’s to finish up my remaining gift card. I’m glad I did rest up, because tomorrow is Monday! It all starts up again, first thing in the morning.

I am in the Christmas choir at church and our drama/singing is next weekend, so I need to go to practice every day except one, then do the performance 3 times over the weekend. I have not done anything like this for a very long time, and I’m excited to participate.

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-April 12, 2022

We had just a few minutes Sunday evening before we had to be somewhere, and stopped at a park by the Willamette River to take a short walk. Before it started to rain heavily on our heads and we scurried back to the car, we saw this boat full of what we believe were tourists.

After some instruction from the person standing up in the back, the whole crew started to row as per her instructions and before we knew it, they navigated away from the dock and into the river. They are tougher than I felt yesterday. The rain was icy and the temperature in the 40’s with a wind whistling over the water. Rob and I marveled at their persistence, and happily got into our car, turned on the heater and went on our way. It’s been very cold here. Portland, Oregon, got SNOW! Rare at any time, but in mid April? Crazy! We didn’t. We are a bit to the south of there, but it’s not warm here, either.

We took several walks last week. On one of our walks, we found a lady setting out a twin-sized bed frame in excellent condition, so we happily grabbed it and carried it home. I’m sure people were marveling at OUR persistence. We now have a frame for the spare bed in my back room. We made that lady very happy, too, as she wanted it to go where someone would use it. Today, we set it up. Rob cut boards he had scavenged and put the slats in the frame and we added the mattresses that had previously been on the floor of the spare room. Now it will be higher and much, much better for laying my quilt squares out on so I can see how they look before I sew them together. Visiting kids will enjoy sleeping on it, as well, I hope, although they never seem to have minded the mattresses on the floor.

I continued my project of cleaning out small areas or working on unfinished projects. Rob has been cleaning, too, which helps. Yesterday, he tackled a larger area in hopes of getting bags of trash since we had room in the garbage can. I joined him after Jake and I were done with school. We were not disappointed. We filled 2 whole bags and used every bit of space in that can. We may have a garage sale eventually, but some things just aren’t worth saving to that end or donating.

Many years ago, one of my children decided to make a “chicken” quilt. We cut out simple squares together, and they sewed a few together with my help, and then lost interest. I ripped quite a few blocks apart and started re-sewing them and made a few more. I threw away the squared with holes?? in them???? No idea what happened there… Now I’m working on putting a sashing between the blocks. Rob’s mom turns 90 this year. She loves chickens. I’m hoping to finish this one up before her birthday in July.

Jake and I got a morning of free entertainment and a free field trip all in one when two men parked this truck right in front of my house and proceeded to clean out a water line in the street. They were more than patient and answered every single one of the many questions he asked and explained it all to him in minute detail. His only disappointment was that no water shot up high and no one got squirted:). When that was shared with one of them men, he laughed and said he almost did get squirted, but they are supposed to do it in such a way that water is not wasted, so they don’t use any more than they absolutely need and reclaim it, but once in a while some does get away. Just not that day!

And, Jeannie in Tennessee, this picture is for you. Jake wants you to see this water line cleaner truck–since you’ve sent him interesting pictures of storms before. (Jeannie has been Jake’s pen pal for a few years now, although he tends to be a bit fickle–nothing for months, then out of the blue–demands I post something for her–it’s fun!)

Grocery shopping happened at 2 stores because they each had things on sale that we wanted. Rob did one store and I did the other. We got almost everything we wanted for Easter dinner along with things we were out of. I’m hoping I either don’t have to shop at all, or just buy a few things this Friday.

I spent some time today going through cupboards and pulling out some nice dishes I want to use for Easter dinner. I also pulled out any spring decorations I found and some tablecloths. I’m actually going to start pre-cooking several things over the next 2 days. We have some extra activities to do at church this weekend, including a kids’ activity we signed up to help with on Saturday. I want to have most of Easter dinner prepared ahead of time so I can enjoy the day.

I’m off to a good start. I’m keeping the meal itself simple. I’m planning ham (already in the fridge–87c/lb–great deal!–Rob will cook on the BBQ), twice-baked potatoes (ingredients already in the fridge and pantry–can be made ahead and baked easily that day after early service at church), canned corn (all the work done last summer), cupcakes (thank you, Jake–we got that done already and they are frozen waiting for frosting), cheesecake with gluten-free snickerdoodle cookie crust (again, Jake and I made the cookies last week, and I practiced in my Instant Pot already so that will go quick and you HAVE to make it ahead of time–blueberries frozen for topping from last summer, ingredients in fridge), green salad (spinach ready to pick in raised bed, head lettuce easy to get if we run out, salad dressing purchased on sale last week), dill pickle rolls (pickles made last summer, lunchmeat and cream cheese in fridge, bought on sale a couple of weeks ago), drinks purchased (seltzer and soda, tea, coffee, water), and so forth. This gives me time to indulge myself if I get a bee in my bonnet and decide to make something else at the last minute…I usually get an urge for deviled eggs…..You get the idea. Preplanning is the key for me. Then I don’t feel stressed out at all. I will even put out all the dishes and things the day before so I can focus on the family on the day itself.

I’m looking forward to the day.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 26, 2021

We have had a wonderful 2 weeks getting ready for, and celebrating Christmas. I found that it wasn’t feeling a lot like Christmas for me, after returning from our trip. So, Rob and I decided to spend time on some activities that made it more meaningful to us.

We made many batches of caramel corn and used some as gifts and ate some at holiday gatherings. My neighbor then borrowed my popper, as hers broke, and she made a lot, too. She gave us some, as well, which we gobbled up on Christmas Eve.

Most of the activities didn’t cost much, if anything. One day Rob and Patsy were at Grocery Outlet getting some lunchmeat I wanted to use for Christmas Eve. Just as they were leaving, as a total coincidence, the girls showed up with the boys. Rob and Patsy immediately took the babies into the car with them while the girls did their shopping and I guess there are lots of things to do with face masks:)

We made a gingerbread house.

He knew what to do with the candy….

Patsy, Michaela and Jake were invited to a cookie decorating party. I had fun taking them.

Rob, Michaela and Patsy delivered gifts to some friends and family we weren’t going to see on Christmas. Our gifts are simple–some home-canned items, cookies, caramel corn, etc., but it’s nice to say Merry Christmas to people.

We attended special services at church. That one thing, especially the one on Christmas Eve, makes it feel like Christmas to me. Afterwards, as we have done for many, many years, we open our gifts in our immediate family. This year, the girls came and brought the babies over, so it was twice as fun.

As babies often do, Zai liked the paper better than the presents:)

My sister made a very special spread for Christmas Day.

Everyone contributed things, but she orchestrated the entire thing. (And, yes, I know the proper term for it, but please, please don’t ask me to spell it!)

My niece, Alissa, wanted mashed potatoes, and even teased that she wasn’t coming if there couldn’t be potatoes. So, I was given the job of bringing potatoes. I made her mashed potatoes, potato soup, twice-baked cheesy potatoes and potato skins. Just to be silly.

Christmas night, it snowed. What can I say? The perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas week!

We did a few mundane activities, as well. There were lots of incredible grocery deals, such as pineapple for 99c at one store and $1.50 at another. We gathered several, getting the limits at both places, and I canned 16 small jars of pineapple, as well as enjoyed them fresh.

We got 97c/carton ice cream, 77c/loaf bread and eggs, and many other inexpensive groceries. Our freezers are so full that we almost didn’t get the ice cream–no room–but Rob remembered the camper freezer was empty so we loaded it up with bread and ice cream. We also got the items we needed for our holiday gatherings. I’m doubting I need much this week, other than perhaps a little produce or dairy. I have quite a few leftovers to use, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 3, 2021

We’ve had more spare time this week than we’ve had for quite some time. The main reason for that is because we babysat the grandsons less this week. That is one reason I’m writing this post early. We spent a little of that time decorating for Christmas, did some shopping, cooking, and extra cleaning.

My sister and brother-in-law put a wreath on our door while we were out. I added a few decorations to it from my stash.

I was able to use some art my niece made as a backdrop to the little trees Rob made last year. I love putting things I already have together in new ways to get a whole new effect from them.

Now I feel ready for the next few weeks. We kept it simple. I will not host the “big family” for Christmas, instead, I will go to my sister’s house. I will have a few of my children over at least once, my niece and nephew staying for a few days later in the month, and our own nuclear family to enjoy the Christmas cheer.

Most of our gifts are already purchased, and those remained simple this year, as well. As tempting as it was, we did not go overboard with buying things for the babies. Instead, we got a few useful items, and we plan to spend time with them.

This was clean-the-fridge week. I only bought a couple of items, including whole milk for the baby. For the rest of the meals, I used all the leftovers I could find in the fridge from Thanksgiving and we pulled several proteins from the freezers and thawed them in readiness for quick meals. This picture is spaghetti made with home-canned pizza/pasta sauce and some buckwheat noodles we got at a scatch-and-dent store for 99c/box. They look kind of funny, but taste great. Contrary to their name, “buckwheat”, they are a gluten-free option and I’m all for it when I get anything gf for 99c!

My Mom left some cranberry relish here after Thanksgiving dinner. I ate a bunch of it because it tasted amazing, but could not eat it all. I decided to make some cranberry bread with the rest of it. I just put it in instead of the cranberries called for. The bread came out great, even though I was afraid it would be too moist. I have no idea how much I put in or anything, so I can’t exactly make it again, but I’m glad I found a way to use that delicious relish up! We will eat one or two of the mini loaves and freeze the others for later.

As always, we filled our days with simple activities and children. I took my niece and nephew to the park. We got some library books and movies for the now-open (finally) library–ahhhh:). We watched some movies on Disney+ since one daughter put it on our t.v. and we could.

I did watch Malcolm one afternoon/evening while his mother and auntie cleaned like maniacs for a walk-through by their landlord. They had plenty of notice, but the babies are messy so they wanted to finish without the 16-month-old. It went well for them, and I’m glad. While he was here, I pushed him up and down some surrounding streets in his stroller as it was getting near dusk. We both really enjoyed the lights and decorations we saw. He’s at the stage where he waved at every car, called out “dog” to every reindeer he saw and craned his neck almost backwards to see things he really liked. Fun! I’m glad to let the girls clean and keep all the fun in these cases:). Then we danced to the Wiggles, played with the cloth Nativity set, looked at books with Grandpa, and the girls ended the evening by bringing take-and-bake pizza for us all.

Enjoy the season. That’s our plan for the next few weeks. We’ve made a good start.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 29, 2021

The kids and I made a turkey platter just for them:). One kind of turkey was rice cereal treat balls on gluten-free Oreos with candy corn feathers and beaks.

The other one was from a library book and was a Rolo on a gf pretzel, candy corn feathers and an M and M beak. You put the candy on the pretzel and put it in the oven for a little bit. But, although I did 2-3 minutes, it was too much and the Rolos melted way too much, so I will do 1 minute next time. Most of the kids in the family don’t actually like turkey, but they liked this turkey platter.

I only had 2 days of school with Jake last week, so we read more about Pilgrims, made these special treats, I read aloud a book called “Molly’s Pilgrim” plus finished up a Hardy Boys book we were reading. He read aloud to us, choosing any story he wanted from his easy reader Bible and some others. Some of the books were from recent yard sales, or left over from years past, so he got a week of what we called “fun school” for pennies. The kids also worked on a fall-themed puzzle while I read and at other times for hours. Funny thing about that puzzle. We ended up with 2 of the same fall-themed puzzles, due to the fact that we purchase them at yard sales and thrift stores. The first time they did it, it was missing a piece. This is the second one. They are hoping it’s all there. If not, I guess they will be very busy trying to find the missing piece in the first box! Anything to keep kids busy with good projects, right?

I also tried a new gf pie crust recipe and filled it with “pumpkin” pie made from butternut squash that was given to me and I cooked and pureed. It was crisp, to put it mildly. It had a good flavor, so I may do some more experimenting. That is one thing I have not figured out how to make well, gluten free, so usually make crustless pumpkin pie and lots of crisps.

I decorated the entire house with tablecloths I already owned and with selections from a huge box of artificial flower arrangements Rob got in a free box on the side of the road last summer. I thought he bought them at a garage sale, which I mentioned last week, but it was even better than that! I’m keeping that man! After 39 years of marriage, he still surprises me with some of the amazing things he finds and does. I’m blessed with so much more than dried flowers with that man.

I threw some little candy bars around and was done. Since I didn’t get to really buckle down and do the final cleaning and decorating until Wednesday night before the big day, I was thankful that, first, it was so easy and, second, my sister had helped me clean on Monday. I had a lot of little ones in and out, so had some major clutter to pick up, but it was clean underneath so didn’t take long–whew!!!

Rob and I took several walks. On Thanksgiving, one sister and I grabbed a couple of kids and took them on a short walk.

The parade of jars continues. We get the full ones from the shop, where they are stored, empty them, and carry the jars back out…repeat….repeat…repeat! On most days, we wash anywhere between 1 and 5 or even more jars. I’m so glad we have so many full ones still left out there and will happily trot out there with the basket I use every day if I need to.

I cooked the Thanksgiving meal in a very traditional manner, since we had to skip the family gathering last year. Rob did a turkey and a ham on the Green Mountain Grill. I made mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, cooked home-canned corn, deviled eggs, gluten-free stuffing with apples, celery and onion, and sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, orange juice and topped with marshmallows. I made crab-stuffed mushrooms with some huge mushrooms my sister brought me and some crab we caught and canned a couple of years ago and they were impressive, I just have to say! I wanted one thing that was not traditional, and they turned out as good as I hoped. We used our home-canned green beans to make traditional green bean casserole with gluten-free cream of mushroom soup and some Rob-made fried onions. He toiled over them the day before after we checked 3 or 4 stores and could not buy any. In years past, we did. Not this year. His turned out great! We put out home-canned pickles galore, and people brought rolls, desserts, home-made fudge, candy, salads, and more. Several family members pitched in significantly for the meat and other groceries so it was a burden on none.

I think everyone loved it, as there were not all that many leftovers left over! Everyone got some to eat the next day and no one had to eat it daily until we were tired of it. Perfect! I finished up my turkey portion yesterday in turkey-rice soup. All the bones were boiled right after Rob cooked the turkey and I used the broth for the gravy and stuffing, plus froze some.

At the end of the day, a couple of grown kids were still left over here for a while:), so I made a turkey enchilada casserole real quick while they watched movies. One daughter puts Netflix on our tv each year for her Dad’s Christmas gift. We get Prime because we like the 2-day shipping on Amazon. Another daughter just put Disney Plus on the tv so the baby could watch Mickey Mouse. With all that, we still ended up watching a disk of Princess Bride from the library:). So funny!

On Friday, I was very tired, so I told my daughter to bring the baby over so I could play all afternoon. (The 16 month old, not the 4 month old, as he is still wanting Mama most of the time.) I guess he was screaming his way through Walmart, and was very happy to come see Grandma. I had absolutely no desire to do any work on Friday. We read, laid on the bed, he slept a while, we played, ate, and watched the Wiggles. We both had a great afternoon. She cleaned and organized at her house for a while without his help. Win-win! In this picture, he’s kissing his baby brother. They already love each other. It’s so cute to see.

We had a nice visit with our oldest daughter and son-in-law on Saturday, as they couldn’t come on Thanksgiving Day. That’s one of the perks of having so many kids…we can enjoy them for days! I made ground turkey tacos/taco salad bar–since I could do it fast while they were driving down. I still have a few tomatoes we have ripened from green ones from the garden, so I used those with the taco bar. I thawed ground turkey purchased on a great sale a while back, head lettuce, pre-shredded cheese, canned olives, canned refried beans, etc. and it was easy and fast! I had a bag of corn chips from a huge bag from Costco. I buy the huge bag and re-package in gallon Ziplocks so they don’t get stale fast and you can’t beat the price! I have lots of home-canned salsa, so dug out a jar of that. I didn’t choose to make dessert, and everyone still had a wonderful time. Just sayin’.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you are looking forward to the next month as much as I am.