Category Archives: Holidays

What Happened to March? 2024

My life has been such a whirlwind that I blinked…..and March was gone! I cannot believe it is April, but the calendar says it truly is:). What have I been doing? So many things. Here are a few of them.

Easter was amazing. First we went to church and had a wonderful service. I was in the choir, and we had been practicing for weeks on a couple of very powerful songs, and I enjoyed singing them. After church, we had a house full of family and friends…probably around 26 or 27….and I mean a house full, because, as you know, we live in a house with about 1,100 square feet. The weather cooperated and it was nice, which took a lot of pressure off the house itself since people could go out into the yard.

I cooked and cooked and cooked for that. So did Rob. He bbq’d shrimp, the huge fish he caught last summer, ham, chicken and pork. I mashed 10 lbs of potatoes. I used green beans from the garden (5 quarts) and made a huge green bean casserole and boiled some home-canned corn. I made black-bottomed cupcakes, ice cream angel food cake and a white chocolate-raspberry cheesecake. People brought things like salad, some drinks, pie. etc. Still others slipped me some cash to help buy the ham, etc. We put tables and chairs in every crack and corner of our house…. even some in Malcolm’s bedroom and outside.

After we ate, and ate and ate (there was very little left over–just enough for people to take a few leftovers), a friend set up an Easter egg hunt for the kids out on the lawn. They had a great time.

We did so many other fun things in March, as well. Spring break was an especially busy week. We took our grandsons and nephew up to OMSI one day. We took one grandson and our nephew to the Oregon Coast Aquarium one day. There was an afternoon at the church where kids could come play in the gym, and Rob and I were in charge of the snacks, Of course, we took boys to that, as well. There were other times during that week that we helped out with some organizing and cleaning down at the church, to get ready for the return of the kids that are in the after-school program. Thankfully, there were many volunteers and we did a minimum amount of that job, but we still wanted to help.

During the month, our weekly commitments of teaching Sunday School, and cooking for the young adult group continued. We cooked things like tacos, pulled pork and chicken, soups, muffins, desserts, and more…all with gluten-free and dairy-free options. You never know if there are going to be 25 or 40 people, so we all make lots! There are 3 families on the main cooking team, so it’s nice that I don’t need to make it all alone. One night, a lady that is not on the team bought lots of pizzas at Costco for the group because she wanted to be supportive. She sure was! We have breakfast-for-dinner, ham (bought before Easter at 77c/lb), and chicken legs (bought on clearance for 50c/lb and frozen) planned for this upcoming month.

We have also been working an exceeding amount of hours lately, for various reasons.

Rob and I are trying to slip out and take a walk whenever we can. On this day, we were being silly and trying to take a selfie in front of the gorgeous tulips. I was having to stand on my tiptoes to get tall enough for the phone to catch both me and the flowers….

If all this wasn’t enough, we received some exciting news. Rob was asked to go to Kenya in MAY (yes–this May!) to help with VBS for around 300 kids, Sunday School for 150-twice, and some work with children in children’s homes. The team will also be working with some of the people who are in the agriculture program…looking at their efforts and I’m not exactly sure what else Rob could do other than admiring what they’ve done. (We do grow a huge garden and Rob has some agricultural experience in raising our own pigs, chickens, turkeys, etc. in the past, plus some other farming experience, but I think they have experts who help them with the actual farming practices in their area, but I don’t really know. Some others on the team may be doing more with that part–time will tell). This is the same mission organization that Rob went to Bangladesh with last year, and, when they needed more help for this trip, they thought of Rob because he has a lot of experience in working with children. After praying about it for a couple of days, he said “yes” and we are in a whirlwind of planning now. I’m so excited for him.

I will be holding down the fort here, as I did last year–working as much as I can while I help take care of Malcolm and try to be in two different places at the same time quite often….. I can’t tell you how many times Rob is picking someone up while I’m picking someone else up at the same time, but we will figure out a way. This is too good of an opportunity to pass up! The same God who laid it on people’s hearts to ask him to go, the same God who laid it on his heart to accept that invitation is the same God who will provide both the funds for the trip and the strength and ability for both Rob who is going, and me, who is trying to organize all the things at home. I’m excited because I love to see God do amazing things!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week—Dec. 27, 2023

We have spent the past few weeks working a tremendous number of hours, getting ready for Christmas and enjoying ourselves tremendously in the process!

Because we work with our niece and nephew, and because there was a school holiday, we searched for fun things to do together on the days they were with us. We had the added joy of having our daughter, Patsy, home for a couple of weeks. Of course, there were our grandsons and many other family members and friends to spend time with, as well, so we were never bored.

We snacked on popcorn many times. We did puzzles. We played games. I read aloud an entire advent story that is basically a chapter a day in a serial story leading up to Christmas. Rob and I had a really fun Christmas party with our Sunday School class.

We visited an attraction called Storybook Lane, where scenes from books and movies were set up with stuffed toys, lots of lights and other items, a model train, etc.

Malcolm liked Santa, but mostly the candy cane he got. My nephew and Patsy liked the churros and donuts they got at the concession stand. Other than food for a food drive and snacks we bought, this was free.

Other things we did was watch the movie “Elf” for free in a theater near us. Again, it was a food drive, so we just popped into Wilco and bought a bunch of cans of food. We got some snacks just because it made the exceedingly rare occasion even more fun. We did have a blast.

2 Costco gingerbread houses were decorated by different sets of kids. We attended a free ornament-making event and a simple gift making event, and a friend’s cookie decorating party with various kids.

The grandsons had a preschool Christmas program, where all the adorable kids got up and sang (or didn’t sing) for all of us. Zai crawled around the stage during his song. Malcolm sang a bit and then would randomly leap into the air. So cute.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with various family members. Then we sat around like zombies all day yesterday, except for a trip to the dentist. We have one more small gathering on Saturday, after a few days of work this week. I’ve got to say the exciting activities seem to have dried up in our area, so we plan to do mundane, but fun, things like library, YMCA swimming pool, more popcorn, more puzzles and games, and perhaps a little cooking. We will see what we actually get done. It should be a good week, whatever we choose.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Dec. 5, 2023

After a crazy, busy week, I went outside and was surprised to see that my garlic had really started to grow. This was some organic garlic I had purchased from Azure Standard. I forgot to take it out of the plastic bag it came in and it started to grow. I decided to plant it and now it’s growing!

You can see some leeks and parsley still growing in that raised bed, as well.

Our Christmas program went very well. I’m guessing there were between 90-100 people involved in it, maybe more. The true message of Christmas was given and many people attended.

I was excited to be a part for the second year. We had rehearsals every night, except one, and one final dress rehearsal, then 3 performances. The final rehearsal offered a chance for special needs guests to come and enjoy a quieter atmosphere so there was a small audience that night, which was good practice.

I have cooked a lot with my home preserved food this past week. I’ve made vegetable soup, several apple crisps, spaghetti, applesauce muffins, and more. We’ve eaten canned fruit and jam along with frozen bread, veggies and various proteins. Some meals went out to others and many were gobbled up by us.

I was super tired Monday, but am bouncing back quickly. That’s a good thing because I’ve needed to work a little extra already this week and it’s only Tuesday! Some weeks are like that.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Nov. 26, 2023

I’ve been enjoying my Thanksgiving flowers all week. We hosted this year and I made several bouquets to put here and there. I used some flowers my daughter had used the previous week for a party she had. I was amazed that part of them were still good. Rob grabbed a few more from Trader Joe’s and I combined them. Then I plan to pull out the old ones as they get yucky, and keep enjoying the newer ones as long as they last.

Unfortunately, I was quite sick the entire week before Thanksgiving week so I wasn’t able to get as many things done ahead as I would have liked. It all worked out in the end. I had family members pitch in and, together, we got the job done. We had a lovely day and many family members were able to come and celebrate.

The day after Thanksgiving dawned clear and crisp. We loaded our nephew and grandson up and took off to find a tree. We haven’t had a live tree for over 5 years, so we have no “favorite” farm. We just drove out, followed a sign, and easily found a nice place. Rob helped the boys cut down the tree and we brought it home on top of the car.

We got the decorations out of the shop and got them up. This upcoming week is insanely crazy so I wanted that job done this weekend so we can enjoy the decor before it’s time to put it all away!

I am in the Christmas program at church again this year, which means rehearsals every night this upcoming week, except one, dress rehearsal and then 3 performances next weekend. We also have extra work training one day, and a full work schedule. To help myself out, I have some pre-cooked meals in the freezer. I have all my home-canned “fast food” and many ingredients in my freezers and pantry. We should make out fine, despite the busy week.

I sat down this evening and ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds. They had a 15% off Black Friday sale, which was awesome. There are a few things, like Carmen peppers and cabbage mix, that I always get there. I will do a Territorial order later on. I am excited to feel like the new gardening year is right around the corner!


Happy Easter! We had a wonderful weekend around here and I hope you all did, too.

We started the weekend on Saturday with 6 adults and 2 babies all working together. Seriously, that’s what it took to dye eggs with 2 toddlers:). We had so much fun. Then, my sister and aunt helped clean and tidy up for Easter.

Sunday was a super busy day at church. I was in choir and then Rob and I helped in a classroom 2nd hour after attending 1st–he held down the fort while I sang for 2nd, then I hoofed it upstairs ASAP. So, I wanted Easter dinner to be done ahead as much as possible. I wanted to be in the moment during services on Easter. It is a highly significant day for me, and I didn’t want my mind distracted by the meal. It wasn’t!

I got to make the angel-food, rainbow sherbet cake because I finally made room in my freezer for it! I hadn’t made this cake for several years, so it was nice to have it again. I did it all ahead, except for the fresh raspberries, which I added when I pulled it out to serve it.

I made a banana-walnut bundt cake early Saturday morning.

I made a gluten-free bread bunny last week and froze it. I hadn’t done this for years, and was happy with how it turned out. I cut all the veggies and dip the day before Easter, and only had to fill his “tummy” and put the veggies around right before we ate.

It served as the centerpiece and candy served as the main decor along with the eggs the babies colored.

We did not have an egg hunt for the big kids, who are mainly in their 20’s. Instead, I put a few coins in about 12 eggs and candy in another 10 and the babies and my nephew hunted for those. I told all the adults to just eat the candy off the tables. Everyone was happy.

The babies got a small Easter basket with toys. Play Dough was the biggest hit and Mac played with it for a long time. Zai played with the container….:)

We had a joyous Easter!

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.