Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2020

Although I was at home for most of the week, I certainly stayed busy! I was also able to stay frugal this week. We spent very little money.

Patsy, I and the dog went for a few walks around the neighborhood. We are enjoying the many blooming bulbs that are coming out day by day in our neighborhood. Patsy loves to take pictures of the flowers she sees on our walks.

Rob and I decided this past week to limit our trips out even more, if that was possible. So, we decided not to grocery shop this past weekend. We have plenty of food. We didn’t need to go out. There are a few things we would have liked, but decided we did not need at this time. We are making a list, and one of these days Rob will go out and get the entire list at once, but we are waiting a little longer than we normally would. He has chosen to do most of the shopping through this crises, since I do have a couple of strikes against me–I am a diabetic and they say diabetics are susceptible. So we are being careful.

I asked Patsy to look on-line and choose any recipe she found that could be made with ingredients we had on hand, and cook it. I’d love for her to come out of this situation with some positives, and one of those would be better skills in cooking and food management. Rob and I are doing the same–making meals out of the pantry/freezers/home preservation cupboards.

I did have to crack up a bit at a cooking show I watched. The participants were filming from their own homes, and making “pantry” meals to get through their stay-at-home time. Imagine my surprise when the ingredients included fancy olives, capers, and some other items that perhaps others have in their pantries, but I certainly don’t! I’d love to see a show where they actually made food that an ordinary, normal person could make–that might be more useful to many–especially struggling people who are just trying to survive.

Patsy chose chicken-peanut stir fry. Since she hasn’t had the cooking practice that some of the older girls had, she had a couple of questions about substitutions, but I helped her with that, and it came out amazing. If you try it, we used a package of frozen broccoli from our last summer’s garden instead of fresh, and added 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to the peanut-butter sauce. She also sprinkled peanuts over the top of hers. It was amazing!

We used the shop on-line, curbside pickup at JoAnn’s to get some paint. We chose clearance paint, and took the colors they had. These were added to the little bits of paint we had on hand, mostly purchased for pennies at garage sales. They’ve been used all week for Patsy and Jake to make various projects.

Rob and I were able to work our normal amount of hours these past few weeks, even though the timing has shifted. I’m loving it! We get to work mornings and early afternoons some days and I’m home for dinner each day. We got to keep Jake overnight during the middle of the week, and did school with him both days.

I’ve messed up my wrist somehow. I really, truly have no idea what I did to it, but I’ve “been to the doctor” a couple of times over the phone, and then finally had to go in and see her, get x-rays, and bloodwork. (Still waiting for some of the results) It’s a little bit better today, but this is day 9….Lovana came home both weekends and cleaned and cleaned for me, and Patsy and Rob have been holding down the fort, doing lots of chores while I do not….

But, I can do school, so we’ve done a huge amount of that this week. I can do a few more things each day, and hopefully, they will get me all figured out very soon! (They are baffled) I can do a few small chores. I can read aloud, and be with Jake and Michaela when they need care. I know I have little to complain about, so many more have much bigger problems. But, I’m not shy to say that I will be glad when I’m able to be back to my usual productive self:)

thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 30, 2020

We had a very simple birthday party for Lovana at home. I cooked some shrimp I had frozen and she made a very decadent cake.

She likes to cook and bake, and had a pleasant afternoon baking. I was able to get her a bouquet of flowers at Safeway and her dad made her raised beds, as she wished. She has been able to work part time, and spends time both at her house and here. We are taking the greatest precautions–lots of disinfecting, a ton of cleaning and mopping, lots of extra laundry– all working hard to keep her in our small circle and not spread the virus. She would be very, very alone otherwise.

I did some recreational baking, as well. These sweet roll twists used some sweet potatoes I had canned years ago. Both Rob and I have been pulling items from the freezers and cupboards and using them. Some have been there for years! It’s been nice to use them up. I found a couple of frozen things I needed to toss, and am glad they have been culled. I’ve found myself making things that take longer, since I’m home more.

We are doing homeschool with Jake 3 days per week. His parents do the other 2 days. He modeled the butterfly and Patsy made the flowers with some clay I found while cleaning. I’m using books and supplies I have on hand with lots of internet videos on subjects he has interest in. His dad, the math professor, gets to do all the math:) This week, Patsy and I will really hit the books and get back to work on her curriculum after these past 2 crazy weeks. She was supposed to be gone, but couldn’t go, so we didn’t have very much school planned.

Rob has been working on another compost bin for the other side of the garden. He used scrap wood a friend gave him. He’s been making some other things as well. He’s growing some wonderful starts in the greenhouse and the ones I planted out in the garden are doing well. He plans to give the extras away. His mom told him the garden centers in her town are being wiped out of plants by eager gardeners who want to plant a garden, so he wants to share any extras, rather than just toss them, as we might do other wise.

He’s really getting into mason bee houses. They look amazing!

Another way we saved money the past few weeks was the Safeway Monopoly game. Patsy has been enjoying scanning the tickets on-line. She got enough tokens for a $25 Safeway gift card, and a Fandango one for $15. Much to my surprise, a choice for the Fandango one was a Visa gift card instead. So, I got that! She is getting most of these tickets from others in the store who don’t want to play, and are sharing with her. I’ve also spent a little more than normal there, getting what we need. We also got a few little grocery items from instant winner tickets.

thriving In My thrifty Week—March 22, 2020–Getting the Garden Going

We have had an absolutely gorgeous week. In fact, my garden became dry enough to till! This is much earlier in the year than I can usually get that job done. I have 2 raised beds near the house, because that enables me to plant early, even on a wet year. One is full of strawberries. Patsy added a bag of compost/manure to top dress that one. The other one was prepared with another layer of compost, and Jake planted some snow peas.

This year, we were not feeling up to the task of having someone dump a load of compost and bringing it to the back yard garden one wheelbarrow load at a time. So, Rob, Patsy and Lovana went and got these bags of steer manure/compost. The girls wheeled the bags back and spread them all over. There were more than this picture shows. I helped empty the bags all over the garden.

Jake’s daddy came over to help us till the garden, and the weeds and compost were tilled in. At one point, Rob and I each had a tiny tiller, and Ron had the big one going. It’s just too big for me to handle and Rob can’t do it right now, with his hip problem. So, that was super nice of Ron to come and do. It is now supposed to rain for several days, so I was delighted to catch this window of opportunity.

I got little broccoli and cabbage plants put in. I also got a few tiny onion plants transplanted.

The snow peas, beets, carrots, chard and boc choi are all growing in the tiny patch I planted a couple of weeks ago.

I feel that the garden will be more important than ever this year. We are going to be feeding 2 families, plus extras. With less frequent grocery store trips expected, we can use the home-preserved foods, and the fresh food once it gets ripe. We are going to have plenty to share with both families and other family and friends who can use produce. I plan to preserve quite a bit this year. We especially need a lot of green beans between the 3 families (myself and both sisters). My older sister has a huge garden, too, so will grow all of her own produce, plus extra green beans to supplement what I can grow here. We are sending cabbage plants to her very soon to grow up there. She and I always swap stuff–both plants, seeds and produce. This year may be a little more challenging, but we will manage. Rob has done an excellent job growing the transplants this year, and was even able to hand a few extra cabbages over the fence to our neighbor who was starting a garden today.

So what else have we been doing during this week that just keeps getting stranger and stranger with all the Covid-19 chaos?

The campgrounds are closed now, so Rob built a fire in our yard and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. It was a beautiful evening.

Patsy made another one of her sidewalk chalk drawings.

We started homeschooling Jake, a joint effort between the 2 families.

I cleaned up a bookcase in my bedroom that was not only cluttered, but actually filthy with dust. I discarded many, many old magazines I did not need anymore.

I cut out a skirt for Patsy.

Rob got the television in our room working–it hasn’t for months, but I wanted to watch the news where the kids couldn’t hear a couple of times. They don’t need the stress.

We are very happy that we can still work with Jake and Michaela. So many are unable to work right now. We did school, but also made it fun!

Patsy was not able to go on her planned missions trip. She is so sad, and cried a lot. I understand that. She worked so hard preparing for this, but we all assured her that she will get another opportunity. This crazy time will pass and life will get back to normal, given time. They are waiting to see how things pan out before trying to make new plans of any kind for the kids. The youth pastor did figure out a way for them to all get on a certain app this morning during Sunday school time, so they could all visit with each other and they have plans to do Sunday school on there next week, I think. We all watched the live stream of our church service before that. It’s so nice they did that, but very odd to not attend.

So, since Patsy has all this extra time on her hands, I ordered her a Biology curriculum. She needs to do it next year, but we will get started with it now. She will be finished with the schoolwork we have in a few short weeks ….I will try hard to not make her feel punished for doing so well, but we can’t do the field trips I had planned, and she is missing countless youth group activities and times with her friends–she will soon be bored if we don’t find things for her to do. I plan to do quite a few home-making activities with her as well. We can’t have 4H meetings right now, but we can do projects here at home.

It’s amazing the changes a week has made.

We are more fortunate than many. We are exceedingly well stocked with food, since we had been working on that project before this crisis began, so were able to get what we needed before it was in short supply, and the garden is already starting to grow more food. We still are able to work, since the kids still need care, and Jake needs schooling. We will go to their house to do that most of the time, as their parents need to be out early at least 3 days per week, but they can also come here at times to give us all a change of pace. We have our small circle of family –and 2 houses we will alternate between–ours and theirs. There are many nice walks to take near both houses, and I’ve been on some of them already. We have a dog that needs walking and the garden to exercise in.

Our daughter, Lovana, works at a coffee/crepe shop. This week, they went to take-out only, as restaurants were ordered to do. Business has been dismal. Today, they let all the baristas go except her and one other. They drastically shortened the hours they will stay open. She will do M-Th and the other one will do F-Sunday. There is still a cook to make the crepes each day, and they will try to keep the business going with a smaller menu. Hopefully, they will be able to. She hopes to be able to stay in her little house she and a room-mate are renting, with just an occasional overnight visit home. We want to keep her with us enough to stay in our “little circle” so she won’t be alone all the time if we are put under a “stay-at-home” order, which I actually expect to happen tomorrow. Some of the things I’ve been reading lately say this may last quite a while, and she doesn’t want to be isolated from the family and all alone for a long period of time. That thought makes her anxious. Thankfully, the college class she was taking was on-line anyway, so that worked out.

Rob’s mom is quite elderly. He is choosing not to visit her at this time. So, he’s calling her daily, and we both were able to talk to her tonight, while relaxing by our campfire pit. His sisters are close to her house, and will see she has what she needs physically, but he can take things and drop them on her doorstep if she needs more.

He’s been able to get groceries for several family members when needed, requiring less of us to be in the stores.

We are being super careful, using lots of Chlorox wipes on everything from our phones to the chairs. I mixed bleach water and disinfected the bathroom after I cleaned it, letting the mixture dry on everything for at least 10 minutes, as instructed. We’ve washed our hands so much, I’m surprised we still have skin:). I’m sure I drove Jake crazy, following him around with a wipe all weekend, cleaning anything he touched! We stayed home. We’ve done what we can do. Now, it’s in God’s hands. Thankfully, they are very big, powerful hands. I know He has this in control, and I take comfort in that.

How are you filling your extra time?

thriving In My thrifty Week–March 15, 2020–Keeping Busy During the Covid-19 Event

Surprise!

One morning, we woke up to a very late snowfall. It didn’t last long. Rob said, “Ah, Michaela, it probably won’t snow, but if it does, I’ll buy you a Costco hot dog.” She was away with her family this weekend, but she did text him, reminding him about his promise! It will be a fun, inexpensive outing for the two of them, as long as they can get into the store before the hot dogs are gone!

It was hard to get milk around here, even at 6:30 in the morning. But, Rob and Patsy were resourceful, and found plenty at a small corner market near our house.

We had been waiting for our tax return to come back to fill an extensive list of food storage items. I’d let quite a few things run low, since we like to make sure my stockpile is rotated. We have certain places where we like to buy certain things, such as Costco, Bob’s Red Mill, Cash and Carry, Safeway, Fred Meyers, Grocery Outlet, etc.–wherever the best deal is on each item we wanted. So, Rob’s been filling the list for the past 3 weeks, with a little help from me, and we were almost done when this panic-buying madness started. Thankfully, the remaining things we needed were not as popular–like gluten-free flour (a 25-lb bag), gluten-free oats, things like that, and we easily purchased them. Rob did say that Bob’s Red Mill was busier than he had ever seen it, though, on the day he went up there, and people were getting huge bags of all kinds of things.

We had no trouble purchasing fresh produce, and thankfully, we have enough toilet paper:)

I spent my extra time this weekend organizing and cleaning the storage shelves, filling up glass jars and empty ice cream buckets. Now, I know exactly what I have and where it is. I have 2 things left to buy: mandarin oranges and water chestnuts, neither of which are urgent needs in my mind. I threw away a very few items. I made a decision that the canned soup we were given, that expired in 2011 and 2012, was obviously not something we liked or were going to eat. Those cans are gone now–straight in the trash, and that space is now filled with things we do eat. Overall, I felt really good about the fact that things had not gotten pushed to the back and ignored and our hard-earned food is not getting wasted. I also liked knowing what NOT to buy, such as dry beans–I had many pounds still left. This bulk buying at low prices, buying sales, and cooking these basic foods at home saves me a great deal of money.

I made a mega-batch of refried beans. I’ve been out of my home-made ones for a while, and wanted to re-fill the freezer while I had extra time at home. I cooked pinto beans, brown rice, boiled chicken bones and made soup right away, a huge pot of chili, and marinara sauce. Lovana came over and made kale and mushroom pizza (it was awesome, even though we were skeptical at first), and lemon bars. Now some of those time-consuming items are safely in the freezer for quick meals later on. I will finish the rest of my cooking plans in the next couple of days.

Rob’s been keeping busy, too. He’s been building little mason bee homes. He’s also been watering and transplanting in the greenhouse.

Rob and Patsy made raised bed frames for Lovana. She has a couple of trays of little starts in our greenhouse, and wants a little garden in her backyard. Now they need to get them over there and she can fill them with soil.

Patsy did a lot of school and one day, she worked on a quilt square. Last spring, she got some square kits at a shop hop, and is slowly working on this new skill.

Things are very different, and somewhat unsettling, since we are creatures of habit and routine. It was strange to watch our church service live-streamed on Facebook instead of going this morning. Jake’s school is cancelled, so we will see him a lot this week. At this point, Patsy’s spring break missions trip is still on, but that could change at any moment. There is another week to wait and see what is decided.

Like many of you, I’m choosing to live in faith, not fear. I love Psalms 43. The beginning of it says:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth shall change.

There is a lot more of this Psalm, and so many more I love and take comfort in. I’m hoping I’ll have a little more time to read some during the week to come.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 10, 2020

I have been playing “catch-up” at home this week. One of Jake’s big sisters took him to Disneyland, so we hung around with Michaela and I cleaned the house at every opportunity between things. I folded SO much laundry yesterday, but….what do you know? There’s more today:).

One day, we went on an excursion to a museum, as a special treat for Michaela. We had randomly come across this museum a while back when we had Jake out for a drive, and thought of how much Michaela would enjoy it, because she loves trains so much. We mistakenly assumed it was all about trains, since it was in an old depot, and had numerous boxcars.

In fact, it had a small section about trains and a lot of history about the surrounding area. We loved it! There was an actual covered wagon that had survived crossing the Oregon Trail, and the true story of the people who had traveled on it. There was a lot about the African-American influence and early settlers in the area, which of course interested me because 2 of my daughters are black. One section told of the Native American from the surrounding area, and Michaela seemed to really enjoy that section–we read and discussed every picture and signboard. She was especially interested in the picture and story of a modern-day man, who was keeping the traditions alive for his people—she just loved knowing he was still alive today–she was fascinated.

If you even get a chance to visit the museum in teeny-tiny Brownsville, Oregon, it’s worth your time. The cost is minimal–donation only–and there is a little gift shop where Michaela bought herself a t-shirt (with permission from her Mama) and Patsy got an adult coloring book. Rob dropped a few dollars in the container provided, and we enjoyed our drive home.

We had a 4H meeting, even though Jake was gone. It was a gorgeous day, and we concentrated on Outdoor Cooking.

Rob built a fire, lit the BBQ and unearthed his Dutch Ovens. The kids chopped and chopped and we made….

foil dinners,

a chili-cheese dip and then…

the kids roasted every single hot dog we could find in the freezers and fridge! They had so much fun last time we did that, they wanted to do it again. Rob said, ” Why not?” and started the great hot dog search. It WAS fun:). Next time we will have to buy some S’More ingredients, and a big package of hot dogs. This time, I put out a big bowl of oranges and bananas. Everyone ate like the ravenous children they were, and Rob hauled the older ones off to Wednesday night church, while I tidied up in the almost loud silence that remained!

All of this fun was very inexpensive–the sausage was on super sale for $1.99/package, the potatoes, carrots and onions were on hand, and the peppers were inexpensive, too. Next time, it will be even more inexpensive, because I find that this crew isn’t fond of peppers, so we will not buy them again for this purpose:)

More flowers bloom each week. I love looking at them. I was able to do a couple of hours of yard work this week.

I made some lemon-poppyseed muffins. I froze a bunch and shared a bunch. Rob made waffles and froze what the girls didn’t eat for lunch today. He made spaghetti sauce and spaghetti pie. I made some soup and we bought a Costco chicken. Those are sure worth the $5 in my opinion. There have been lots of salads in our meal plan lately, since Rob is trying to maintain his weight and even lower it a bit in light of his upcoming surgery.

He’s been going to the pool quite a bit and using the water weights to pull himself around the lazy river to try to get a little exercise. He cannot use his legs to swim, due to his hip issue, but this seems to work. Patsy and I go along when we can.

Patsy and I have been really cracking the books, getting large amounts of schoolwork done. There have been a few things that have been neglected a bit over the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy, but it’s only a matter of a few hours to get things back on track. It gives me great satisfaction to know we are where I want to be on school.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–March 2, 2020

On Friday, we had a rare day off. When we realized that we were absolutely free for the entire day, we made a plan to drive down to the Oregon Coast.

It was cloudy and even rained a bit on us. We were not surprised! Rob and Patsy looked for agates for a while. I walked the dog around, read a book and rested. We stopped in at a couple of quilt shops, because that is a fun treat for me, got a little ice cream and candy to share, and drove on home. It was a fun, frugal, relaxing day in the midst of our busy, busy lives.

Patsy has been working on her sewing again. This week, she made a pair of pajama pants. She was able to use a pattern I’ve had for years and some fabric that was lurking in the back room in a bin. While we were digging around, she chose a second piece and I expect that she will make another pair before long.

She is going on a missions trip with her youth group over spring vacation and needed some new things. They don’t need to be especially nice, as they will be doing work projects at a camp. Rob got a handful of things at Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store, and she hemmed up a pair of capris into shorts this week as well.

I took her to Macy’s and she spent her gift cards from Christmas on some things she needed badly.

Our lives should settle down considerably now that our loved family member has been released from her second hospitalization. She had severe complications from her first surgery. February was a blur for all of us. She spent at least 13 nights in the hospital, plus numerous additional visits to the doctor. The whole family will still need to pitch in, but I have confidence that she will improve as time passes. We have a family schedule, so we all know when it’s our turn to help out–so helpful to have a plan.

Our daughter, Lovana, made about 150 desserts for her dear friend’s wedding dessert table. She did it over at her own house, but borrowed quite a few things from my kitchen so she would have enough for such a huge project. I was very proud of her.

The bride and groom were so cute, and the wedding was lovely. One of my favorite parts of the wedding, aside from how much I enjoy seeing these kids grow up and the beautiful wedding itself, was seeing friends we have not seen for quite a while, and watching their reactions when they saw the changes in Rob, due to his extreme weight loss. It was really quite gratifying after all the work he has put in.

One day, I noticed the garden was drying out a bit, but rain was expected the next day. That’s how it is in the early spring in this part of Oregon. We seized the short window of opportunity. I planted a few carrots, beets, lettuce, boc choi, snow peas and a few tiny cabbage plants that were extras, and will likely get eaten by slugs, but were going to get tossed anyway. Maybe they will grow…who knows? If I get anything from this extra early “gambler’s” planting, it will extend my gardening season significantly. Right now, I’m spending quite a bit on fresh produce as I refuse to cut down on healthy food.

This took much longer than it should have because the tiny tiller I can handle was being sulky and it took Rob quite a bit of time to get it to work. I’m hopeless with mechanical things, so I was grateful he could do that part. I cannot even count up the amount of money he has saved over the years by fixing and tinkering with things himself. I, on the other hand, do things like push buttons that do no good, flood the motor constantly, break things worse than they were before I started, and even got the small tiller started one year and drove over my foot with it! Yikes! No wonder he stands by whenever I’m touching anything mechanical with a worried expression on his face. At one point in our marriage, he gently asked me to please stop “fixing” things, cause it was taking him twice as long to fix them after I “fixed” them, if you know what I mean:). I will be ecstatic to let him take back over everything remotely mechanical once he is more mobile, and he will be quite relieved as well.

Rob finally has a surgery date–but not until April 20. We wish it was sooner, but it is what it is. At least he has a date, at last.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–February 24, 2020–Greenhouse Refresh

Patsy and Jake and a few friends started a set of swimming lessons this Saturday. Patsy’s lessons were a gift from her auntie, and will hopefully solidify her swimming skills. She can swim, but it’s never a bad idea to get better, and she loves to be in the water. Jake has never had a formal lesson before that I know of, but can swim a little, thanks to the fact that they have had him in the water since he was a baby and have worked with him a bit. Both my sister and his big sister were lifeguards and swim instructors once upon a time, and have both worked with him over the years.

Patsy transplanted baby basil starts into a larger pot so they could get on the table faster! Every year, I take this old poinsettia pot with the little rim of support and put basil in it and let it grow in the greenhouse for early table use. You can see the wild jungle of snapdragon babies to the left that need to be transplanted soon. Not bad for Dollar Store seeds. Some things from there work very well. With other items, I prefer to get certain varieties with disease resistance, short length of time until they produce, ability to grow in cooler weather, etc., so I order exactly what I want from the seed companies I trust.

Rob has done most of the cooking this past week. One thing he made was a casserole from leftover mashed potatoes. He basically added eggs, cheese, onion, and I’m not sure what else and baked it. It puffed up nicely and tasted wonderful. He also made teriyaki chicken, meat loaf, hamburgers, and some other items.

I did take 2 “Hello Fresh” meal bags that were given to me when the person who ordered them had a crisis and could not use them. The recipe cards were lost in the shuffle, so I played “Iron Chef” and made food. I used every single item except the wheat bread crumbs and one lemon. I added some things from my fridge and pantry and ended up with a nice salad with apple (them) and dried cranberries(us) on it over a mixture of fancy greens (them) and iceberg lettuce (us). I crusted the chicken with pecans and bread crumbs and cooked it in a pan–will use oven next time–it burned slightly, and took the small package of pork and made it into sweet and sour pork. I used the itty-bitty bottle of balsamic vinegar in that, and it was delicious. There were some new potatoes and rosemary, so I fried them up together. I tossed the green beans, since they were over the hill by the time I got the bags–not the company’s fault. I’m glad I know how to cook. The ingredients were not wasted, but I will say the whole concept would have been easier WITH the recipes:). The timing was perfect, since some of my grown kids walked in right as I was finishing and helped eat some of the food.

A lot of my time this past week was spent driving back and forth to Portland, and visiting someone I love very much who ended up in the hospital from some complications of a surgery she had a couple of weeks ago. I will say I’m not the only one who has been visiting. Everyone wants to be there, but we are organizing the family to go up there in turns so as to not overwhelm her. We have a pretty big family:). The nurses finally dragged a couple of extra chairs in there yesterday, so that helped. We take the children for short periods of time, in shifts, choosing our times judiciously so as to not disturb the patient, or the kids. Although this has been, and looks like it will continue to be, a long road, we are hopeful that the latest problem is on the mend.

We were given a gift which we used for a Costco run and extra gas. So thoughtful! We are very grateful and it’s nice to be loaded up with some of those things that are not very exciting, but oh, so necessary:)

Rob is working on the greenhouse again. He has been cleaning it out with either Patsy or I to help him manhandle the big stuff and is building a bench for the other side. We will have so much more room for starts as soon as he finishes.

He’s using reclaimed wood.

You can look on the floor and see how he cut that pallet Patsy was holding to make a little place for things to sit on down below without having to be on the ground. When he made this greenhouse, he made it so it could be taken apart and moved if needed. We have been talking about a better place to put it, but that’s a project for another year, when he is healthy.

The library has moved to it’s new temporary location and opened back up this past Tuesday. I took Michaela and Patsy down there and we all got some books and movies. I have been treated to Michaela reading out loud to me about cheetahs and snakes. She also read to her Mama. It’s very rewarding and sweet. It wasn’t very long ago that she absolutely would not step foot into the public library and now she’s been begging to go. It has been a lot of slow steps, helping her see that it is a fun place with things she likes. Patsy would, on the other hand, live in the library if that was an option and I wouldn’t be far behind:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 17, 2020

We have been enjoying some spring-like weather. It’s really cold in the mornings, often a little frozen, but it has been a little warmer during the day. One day, Patsy and I chopped bushes in the yard and filled the yard debris bin to the brim. There is so much more to do, but they will haul it away in the morning, and I can fill it again this week. We also mowed the lawn for the first time this season. We each did half.

I made a big chocolate birthday cake for my son, who is turning 30. Yikes! How did that happen? I had Rob grab whatever candy was on the clearance rack from Valentine’s Day so I could pile it on top. It ended up being these little candy bars and the kids ate the rest of the bag after we scattered it on the table. He wanted chocolate cake and hamburgers. Easy enough:)

Jake decided to be silly and put 45 candles on the cake. It was quite a bright sight when it was lit!

He had a good time. We invited his siblings, and different ones dropped in during the afternoon, as they had time, so that was really nice for everyone. I think he enjoyed seeing them.

We attended a school matinee at the Northwest Children’s Theater in Portland. The tickets are greatly reduced for the school performances, and it made a great Valentine’s Day outing. We had a total of 14 people. There were some gift cards for McDonald’s gifted to our group for lunch afterwards. We had some coupons, plus we had apps on our phones. We were able to stay within a very low (for eating out) budget and the kids had a great time on the play equipment. We had planned to pack a lunch to take, and that would have been fine, too, but this did make my life much easier that day!

The play was “The Jungle Book” and it was done with an emphasis on India, using Indian costumes, Indian dances, Indian music, etc. to tell the story. It was beautifully done, as always, and very different from the movie versions, so hopefully exposed all the children to a different culture. For several of the children we took, it was their first experience with live theater. I love exposing them to it! We took Michaela and Jake as well, and Michaela absolutely loved the whole thing.

We made small gift bags for all the kids, using Dollar Store red bags, and a little candy and a Kinder egg I got on the Whoo-Hoo rack for each of them. We added one of the Valentines you buy in a box–nothing fancy, but they all loved their little treat.

Patsy finished her zippered pouch. It was the project for last Saturday’s zipper workshop she attended.

My Mom helped her hem these pants. Rob got them at the Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store, for $1. They were very long, so she and Grandma fixed them, saving at least $20, and maybe more.

I was able to use up several odds and ends from the pantry–some random gluten-free flour items, a box of gf pizza mix, and some other items. I am always happy to rotate the stock in the pantry. We used lots of jars of home-canned items, and quite a few freezer items, as well.

Our little pepper and onion and pansy plants are up well in the greenhouse, and Rob planted the tomatoes. We transplanted the little cabbages. It’s too wet to plant things out in the garden, but I will plant some snow peas in a raised bed before long. I do have just a few snow pea plants in a corner of the garden that have over-wintered, and they should start growing again soon.

Rob planted several pots of primroses, using flowers he got on sale and some re-purposed pots from another year. They are very cheerful. He gave some away, and I have one here on the porch.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 10, 2020

We were very busy last week. The week included several trips to Portland, to visit a family member who had a major operation. I am very happy to say that she is doing very well after her surgery. We stayed as frugal as we could throughout the process.

As I mentioned last week, Rob had cooked several kinds of meat, I had made soups, and he made a breakfast casserole. We ate those all week. I was able to take a small cooler packed with food to the hospital 2 of the times I was up there, and several meals were eaten from it. It is amazing how much you can cram into one of those little lunch-sized coolers! So, those who were waiting or visiting dipped in there as well, and my family member’s husband, who stayed up there the entire time, just kept the rest of the food and ate it for his dinner both times. Several other people brought him food as well, and he filled in the rest at the cafeteria.

The patient is resting at home now, I’m happy to say. The food is pouring in over there already, so that’s nice:)

We were invited to a baby shower for Rob’s niece. We didn’t have much notice, but really wanted to go, since we don’t get to spend as much time with his side of the family as we wish we did. Some years ago, Rob had stumbled upon a wonderful clearance sale of baby items for very low prices. As you can see, all these socks were only $1. I think the highest priced things were $3. I was at the hospital, so he and Patsy chose several items from my “baby stash” that would be good for a baby boy and went down to the store and bought some diapers, wipes, a rattle…stuff like that and got it all into a gift bag. It was not expensive, but turned out very nice, with the combo of what I had plus a few extra things.

Then, we all 3 went to the shower Saturday afternoon, and had a great time.

I took Patsy to a zipper application workshop for 4H. It was held a distance away from our house, but other than the cost of gas, it was free. We were able to bring the required supplies from our stash, and they supplied the rest from fabric and zippers that had been donated for that purpose. I’m so glad she’s showing an interest in sewing this year, and want to encourage her in learning this useful skill.

By Sunday afternoon, I was feeling very behind at home, and was in dire need of exercise and fresh air. So, I went out late afternoon and trimmed out the old raspberry canes and tied up the good ones. Doing that job was just the perk I needed to finish my week feeling like I got something done at home. These are the raspberry canes I have dragged with me from house to house–the same ones as we always had at my childhood home–yummy! (starts from those bushes, to be specific!) I really loved having a plentiful supply last summer, the first year they really produced much of anything. They are so much better than the ones that were here when I moved in, so I’m going to baby them along.

You can see that I’ve also been collecting cardboard boxes and have laid them down in front of the berries. There is an especially stubborn patch of grass that I simply could not get rid of last summer. So, I’ve decided to smother it out with the cardboard. We will see how it works, but it can’t hurt!

Last, but not least, one of my favorite things yesterday was holding baby Allie. She’s growing so much, so when I ran into her parents and her at Patsy’s mission trip meeting, I grabbed my opportunity to hold her and get an updated picture. There’s nothing like holding a baby at the end of a busy week…..just saying…

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 2, 2020

Rob made bird house kits for the 4H club to hammer together at their meeting this week. All the boards were donated to him for this purpose by one of his friends who owns a small sawmill, so our project was very inexpensive.

The kids had so much fun. Jake was very happy because his daddy agreed to come and help the kids with the hammering. Even I got roped in, although I’m not very good at using a hammer.

Patsy, on the other hand, is very good with a hammer and so she made her birdhouse the day before and helped the younger kids on the day of the meeting. Ones who knew how partially hammered some nails in and let the younger builders hammer away, driving the nails the rest of the way in.

Some didn’t need much help, others lots of help.

Then, we all went back into the house and made little baggies of home-made hot chocolate mix and ate dinner. Then Rob hauled whoever wanted to go down to the church for the youth/childrens’ activities and I cleaned up the mess. It comes in handy to have a 15-passenger van–no one has to feel left out. There’s room for them all!

I finally got the blouse sewed for Patsy, just in time for her to wear to a wedding.

The wedding was beautiful, and so tastefully decorated. I wish I had taken pictures of the decor. They used a woodland theme, and sticks were cut from friends’ property and little lights were put all over them. There were large branches for a backdrop and small ones for centerpieces for the tables. The way I’m describing it does not do it justice, but it was absolutely gorgeous. There were candles in the shapes of birch logs, and circular wood chips sprinkled around the main table. It was lovely and elegant. The family catered the reception themselves and the food looked amazing and was displayed in dishes surrounded by wooden boxes they had built to add to the woodland theme.

One of Jake’s best friends, Willow, is one of the bride’s sisters, and he loved sitting by her at the reception after she finished her bridesmaid’s duties. As you can see, they had donuts as one of the main desserts. They were on plates and on dowels on a rack that hung on the wall behind the table. You could take one with a tong. Jake and Michaela ate 2 each!

The bride and her family are close friends of my sister and brother-in-law, so they helped out most of the day, while we kept Jake busy at our house.

We really enjoyed the ceremony and reception. We didn’t stay late, but instead came home and got some rest.

We cooked many items over the weekend in preparation for a busy week ahead. They are in the fridge to grab in a hurry– soups, BBQ’d pork, thinly sliced turkey breast and chicken and other goodies. We don’t have a meat slicer, but have been having a lot of success with Rob-sharpened knives. We have been making our own less-salty and less-processed lunchmeat this way lately.

Rob made me a crate and I filled it with a few goodies for a bridal shower I actually could not attend, since I was at wedding No. 1. It’s crazy that we’ve not had a wedding for a long time, and this month, there are 2.

I put in jam, salsa, measuring cups and spoons, a set of pillowcases I made, and a cute towel plus a bundle of dish cloths. This gift was for the shower I could not attend, so I had Rob drop the gift off at the young lady’s house ahead of time. For the wedding itself, Rob made a wooden cutting board and will pair it with 2 super good knives. He did the same for the bride and groom for the wedding we just attended.

Recently, Rob picked up 3 bags of “Unicorn” white chocolate chips–they had rainbow colors on them. They were on the clearance rack for 99c/bag. When we tasted them, they were very bitter. I wasn’t worried about it because they were so cheap, but I did e-mail Nestle to let them know the red food coloring taste was coming through loud and clear, and not in a good way. I threw them away. I was very happy and surprised when the man I was live-chatting with wanted to send me free coupons for more chocolate chips. I explained they were on clearance, but he insisted, so I said “thank you.” I dug the bags out of the trash, sent him the barcode numbers as requested, and I got these coupons in the mail this week. There are 3 free bags of Nestle chips of any flavor and one $1/off coupon.

We have a very busy week ahead, and it feels good to be as prepared as we can be so we can get through it all, and still stay frugal! At least that’s the plan:). I’ll let you know how it turns out.