Category Archives: outdoor cooking

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 30, 2019

Rob made some great dinners this week. One of the things he did was barbecue up a large package of chicken drumsticks. At the same time, he made foil packets with chicken breast, beans and carrots. He always loves to cook a lot at once to save energy–both his energy and fuel for the BBQ:)

I spent most of my week over at my sister’s house, caring for the children, and at the hospital with a sick family member. In between those place, I kept track of Patsy and her schoolwork, giving directions to both her and Rob so she could stay on track. They also got to do the laundry, dishes, and cooking.

I read some library books. I played games on my iPad.

The first day at the hospital, since the whole occasion was unplanned (right?) I was without a lunch. After being graciously offered a couple of bland, tasteless bites of the patient’s lunch, I took a little walk and was able to buy a small trip through the salad bar for only $2.50. The patient immediately swiped a tiny bit of my cheese and a few olives for her tasteless meal, and we were both much happier:). The second day, I packed a gluten-free sandwich and some carrots.

By Saturday, I was very tired and did absolutely nothing except attend a short birthday party, which was held at a restaurant. I had nothing to do but show up. Otherwise, I rested. My brother-in-law ordered Chinese food for family Sunday dinner, so there were no dishes and no one had to cook. On Sunday afternoon, I was more than happy to join Jake on the couch and watch “Arthur” reruns on tv. He also asked me to work on a puzzle with him, which I did. Every Sunday afternoon, Jake comes home with us after lunch to spend the afternoon. Every Sunday night, Rob accompanies him to his Sunday night program at church, then takes him home, gets Patsy to her youth group, and so on. I putzed around a little while they were gone, doing a few little things around the house, but mostly rested. I still have not caught the cold that is running from family member to family member, and I’m hoping all that rest will keep it away from me. Only time will tell. I do feel rested up this morning, and plan to get right in and tackle this house and some of the other undone things!

I harvested a few tomatoes, the last of the beets, and a few cucumbers from the fast-waning garden.

I sewed a little bit on the quilt I started last winter. I had to set it aside all summer so I could work in the garden, but am glad to get it out again. I’m far from done, but can see real progress has been made in the past couple of weeks.

BBQ and Sugar Donut Birthday Party


Birthday party #2 for the week was a huge success, thanks to the help of the aunties, uncles, parents, and cousins!  Whew!  This party was for Ja’Ana’s 17th birthday, and she really wanted fresh donuts–the raised kind with sugar on them that only Auntie Rosalie can make the way J wanted them.



The decorations were very simple.  Ja’Ana chose gold stars, a garland, gold paper plates and 1 black and 1 white plastic tablecloth from a party store so she could have the theme she wanted.    The rest of the decor and paperware were gathered from less expensive sources.  The plastic silverware was from Winco, the cups and napkins were free from some we had been given a while back.  The invitations, plastic ice cream bowls, and gold ribbon to curl onto the table were from the Dollar Store.

We have an outdoor covered porch next to our deck and the weather cooperated so we could have the entire party outside.


This isn’t the best picture, but it gives the idea–drinks on a tiny picnic table on the right, and food on the big table which was on the grass next to the concrete–just in case the grass was too wet.  There was some ice in the cooler, which they used as the afternoon wore on and the drinks were getting warm.  I might get a bowl and some tongs next time.  It was a little awkward getting the ice out of the bag out of the cooler……you get the idea.


Rob barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken drumsticks.


Rob, and 2 nephews, Jake and Steven, lit a fire in the portable fire pit.  Ja’Ana thought some might want to roast marshmallows, but no one roasted even one.  We had an abundance of food, and they filled up on other things.  No worries, we’ll take the marshmallows camping.  Jake looks worried, but he was actually proud of himself for being part of that project!  We all enjoyed the time with Steven.  As these kids get older and older, it’s harder to find the time to be with them, so we were thankful for his presence today.

We kept the food simple, inexpensive and tasty.  We have hamburger from the 1/2 beef we purchased last fall.  I got hot dogs for 68c/package and buns for 88c/package.  We also had chicken drumsticks, and I bought about $5-6 worth–a big package.  I made home-made potato salad, which is always a money saver.  I picked lettuce for the burger toppings, added an onion and sliced tomatoes from the store.  One of my sisters put together a veggie tray using snow peas from the garden, and some veggies from the store, such as carrot sticks and celery.  I’ve been buying and stashing $1/2-litre bottles of soda and $1.88/package chips for a few weeks.  I got some of those things during the Memorial Day sales and hid them in the camper.  My other sister graciously brought all the donut-making items, including dough, oil and fryer.  I also made a big nacho dip using refried beans I made and froze last week, and put out corn chips that I had packaged into Ziplocks after buying the huge Costco bag for under $5 a few weeks ago.  Putting them in the gallon bags keeps them fresh.  We used the last 2 bags (probably about $2 worth).  I got bulk candy from Winco to scatter around to make the tables more festive.


And then, the extremely popular donut crew!   Auntie Rosalie and Auntie Jan were the donut makers.  One girl confessed as she was leaving that those were the best donuts she had ever tasted, and she had eaten 3.


Auntie Gail passed them around.  Michaela (her daughter) and Ron (her husband) stopped by for a bit on their way to the horse ranch where Michaela volunteers.  We enjoyed seeing them, too.  Alissa and Jake both stayed for the entire party.



There was another girl who does not show in this picture.  In my mind, the perfect number showed up–enough to have a great time, eat a bunch of food, and to easily fit in our yard and deck.  One of Ja’Ana’s friends from before we moved drove clear down here to join the party, and made Ja’Ana feel very special and loved.  The new friends were very kind and gracious and made her feel welcome–they are a lovely bunch of girls.


And, the relatives.  What a blessing they are to us.  So supportive, generous and kind.  I’m very thankful for their part in making J’s birthday so special.  And, I’ll have to say, we had a very nice time visiting with each other during the several hours we had together.  It feels good to put my feet up tonight.  This has been a busy week.  Now I can bask in the memories and the feeling of a successful week of birthdays:)





Camping at Honeyman State Park + House Hunting


This past week, we camped at a place we had never gone before–Honeyman State Park.  We had fun, but ended up driving all the way back to Salem one day.  I think it was worth it, as we were having an inspection done on a house that I THINK we may actually get!!!

Of course, this is the campground the farthest from “home” we have been at all summer.  So, we drove and drove.  We had just remarked before we left that this would be the first time all summer that we got to go camping and stay there, since Ft. Stevens at the beginning of the summer.

We are heading off to volunteer for the next week at a camp where there is no cell reception, unless you climb to the top corner of the property, we have been told, and certainly no internet.  So, expect that I am saving money by staying in one place for more than a day and I’ll post again once I return home.  So, I think once we get there today, we will be set to stay put until Friday.  We will be cooking, so will be busy, but it won’t involve driving!!!  Famous last words:)

Once we get back, we will have an electrician and plumber both look at a couple areas of concern on the house we hope to buy, and anticipate that the issues revealed by the inspection will be easily resolved.  If so, we can proceed with the process and buy the house!!!  So, hopefully, good news to come soon!

November 4H Day

IMG_1692Today was a much quieter day at 4H than usual.  Due to sickness and some other issues, only about 1/2 of our 23 clubbers were able to attend.  That meant that only about 1/2 of our parents, who act as teachers and helpers were there as well.  It made for an interesting day!  I still had over 20 people running around my house all day, and that felt quiet, so imagine how it is when there are about 35 people there–kids and parents and teachers

A few of the missing members knew ahead of time that they couldn’t come.  Many called first thing this morning to let me know they were sick.  4H day usually runs like a well-oiled machine.  Today, we made it through like a dryer with a rock inside, but we did make it!

I am in charge of 3 cooking classes.  Rob is in charge of 1 outdoor cooking class and a class called, simply, Outdoors.  Heavy rain was in the forecast, so, after taking Lovana to work at 6:30, (1 hour round trip), he put up an awning and set up his Dutch oven table and a table for a work area near his Traeger barbecue.  It hardly ended up raining a drop, but it was a nice set-up just in case.  He made Dutch oven peach cobbler, Kielbasa foil packets on the grill, and barbecued steak with the kids in his cooking class.  For his Outdoors class, he had pre-made kits and the kids hammered them together to make suet holders for feeding birds.  They each got to make 2, one for a gift and one for themselves.  Of course, he had made enough kits for all the kids, so there are many left over.  He may connect with the families that were sick or gone and see if they still want to build them another day.


There are also other classes going on all morning.  There are craft classes for the youngest children, horticulture for many, sewing for those who want to, and Junior Leader class for the older ones.  They get to make decisions during that class about activities they want to promote to the club, parties we are having, and they do activities to build leadership skills.   We use upstairs, the garage, the front room, the kitchen and the shop.  Many times there are kids in almost every room in the house.  I love it.  I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Supplies for cooking were all in the house, purchased over the last few days.  I set the kids up in center, working with partners.  There is a mom or dad helping each group, especially on the classes with younger members.  The Cloverbuds (K-3’s) made a potato-Kielbasa skillet.  The Juniors (4th-6th) made an egg bake, and stuffed sweet potatoes.  They also made a pumpkin custard when one of the girls accidentally poured much too much brown sugar into the wrong bowl.  There were some eggs in there and so I thawed some squash quickly in the microwave and added it to the eggs and sugar and we baked it.  Another girl creatively added a few spices. It turned out yummy, although I realize there was no milk or cream in there.

The oldest group (7th grade and up) made a gluten free deep dish apple pie and gluten-free vegetarian stuffed shell pasta.

At noon, we eat the food the kids have made.  We have a meeting to discuss upcoming community service projects and activities for the club.  We give the kids a chance to give a presentation on any subject and bribe them with prizes to do so.  Today, a young lady brought her new puppy and told us all about the breed, the dog, etc.

After lunch, a few go upstairs to sew, but most go out to the shop with Rob and some of the moms.  A few moms stay inside to help clean up the huge mess.   They sweep, do dishes, and put things away in close to the right spots.  One time, it took me 6 months or more to find a salt shaker they had put away! We are so blessed to have such a network of people helping.  We have 2 teachers that don’t even have kids in the program anymore. Rob’s mom comes just to wash dishes.  What a gift! One dad is coming regularly to run a class, so Rob doesn’t have to feel like the only man around anymore!

After they had gone, the house settled back down into quietness.  The floor is swept, the rugs shaken. The fridge is stuffed with leftovers because the food had already been purchased and the kids cooked it all, but many of the hungry eaters were absent.  I think tomorrow I may take some of it to the family that is sick.  Right now, I’m just enjoying listening to the rain that finally showed up and is falling right outside my window and basking in the pleasantly tired feeling that comes after a day well spent.