Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My thrifty Week–January 13, 2020–Chewbacca Came To Visit Jake and I cooked!

It was Jake’s birthday this week. Chewbaca came to Family Sunday Dinner to see him. The Millennium Falcon apparently dropped him off so he could visit Jake during his birthday lunch. Jake was surprised and pleased, but later confided to me that “there was a guy in there, auntie!” Good to know, I said:)

A few family photos were taken.

Everyone had fun! There were quite a few other family members present, and we thoroughly celebrated Rob, Alissa and Jake’s birthdays.

I managed to save quite a bit of money during the week in the food department. I had several meals I wanted to cook for friends and family who had various needs, such as recovery from surgery, sickness, etc. I also had a lunch to pack to share when I went visiting another family and food to make for our meals, too, of course. It was a busy week, I’m telling you!

First, I did a large (for me) grocery shop at Safeway, using a $10/off $50. I purchased more than $50 worth, but it was still nice to have that discount. I used several coupons that I downloaded, one I picked up in the store, and 4 Ibotta rebates, which gained me a $5 Ibotta bonus.

We cooked both a large turkey and a ham this week. They were bought on great sales over the holidays and pulled from the freezers for this super busy week. I boiled the bones from both of them. All of the turkey broth, 2 big kettles of it and a 3rd small one, was used up in 3 large batches of turkey soup.

Several pans of turkey enchiladas were made. When I found a large baggie of frozen corn tortillas leftover from Christmas, I thawed them out and used them up on this project.

I sliced turkey breast very thinly for sandwiches, and turkey pieces were given to some of the families. I made sandwiches with turkey and some 99c/day-old-bread-rack buns when I took the picnic, along with some carrots and cupcakes.

Patsy made a double batch of lemon poppy seed muffins. I made a double batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, and most of those went out with various meals.

A while back, I was given a bag of white rice. While we love it, we don’t eat it often, as Rob is dieting and I’m diabetic. So, I took the opportunity to made up a huge batch of fried rice with some of it. I added grated carrot, peas, scrambled eggs, onion, some water chestnuts and 1 can of bamboo shoots that I’ve had for quite some time. I seasoned with soy sauce, and made enough for 2 families to have some, and kept a small bowl for us, since we love it so much!

I sliced up ham for one family to go with their fried rice. We ate ham in several ways this week.

Salads were made and shared and also eaten here. Rob eats a lot of salad! A huge chocolate cake was baked for the birthday party on Sunday. I also did some white cupcakes from a boxed mix, which I divided between the birthday party and one family.

The amazing thing is that cooking all this food was not a huge drain on my budget because I chose foods we had in the pantry and freezer to base the meals on, with some additions from the store. Sharing food is one of my favorite things to do and I am always happy when I can make it work as nicely as it did this time. It was a fun, rewarding week, though I must confess that all that cooking made it a busy one!

Now that people are feeling better from their various surgeries and other things, my cooking frenzy is over. It was kind of funny how it all came at once, but that’s how life goes sometimes. This week, I’ll put my energies in other directions, and that’s ok, too. I like variety in my life:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 6, 2019

This past week was so restful, compared to the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Months ago, my sister had planned a get-away for our families down at the beach. We all packed up and headed down there on New Year’s Day. She graciously got us wonderful accommodations, using her time-share points.

My sister took us all out to lunch to celebrate Alissa’s birthday. Most other food was eaten in our hotel.

Because we were in a time-share, there were full kitchens in our units. We planned the meals ahead of time and took turns cooking the dinners. One of my dinners was spaghetti and turkey meatballs with salad and home-canned green beans. I pre-made the meatballs at home and used jarred sauce that was purchased a while back for 99c/jar.

Our other meal was steak, baked potatoes and cauliflower. Because we buy 1/4 beef each fall, it’s the same price for steak as it is for hamburger. Of course, we need to pace the steak dinners throughout the year, or they would be gone quickly, but Alissa’s birthday dinner was a worthy occasion! That girl loves steak:).

The process of cooking the steaks was quite comical. As Rob was attempting to barbecue this steak on the little balcony outside of our room, the wind was blowing so hard that it was whistling through the windows of our room, blowing rain sideways and blowing out the flame on the barbecue, but he managed! Afterwards, he said they were on fire at one point, not cooking at all at another point, and he was absolutely amazed that they turned out so well. But, they were wonderful, so all’s well that ends well:)

Rob ate the zucchini-noodle lasagna for several lunches. We also took salad stuff, sandwich ingredients, and gluten-free pizza crust to made quick meals. Breakfasts were things like eggs, sausage, and cereal. We ate breakfasts and lunches in our own rooms, and ate all the dinners together.

I exercised several times at the small gym in the hotel. We didn’t take many walks. On the few occasions we ventured out, we were hit with ferocious winds, driving rain, and even hail pellets in my hair one morning when a walk was attempted by my sister and I. We turned around immediately and headed for the stationary bikes!

I read a couple of library books and watched a little t.v.

The kids played a game borrowed from the hotel’s stash, Jake build Legos, Patsy did a little school, her friend Celeste did a lot of school, I read an entire chapter book to Jake, my sister took them all to play arcade games in the town of Seaside, Rob took Patsy rock collecting, we took them all to the small aquarium, they watched movies, Rob took Michaela down to Costco for a hot dog while he got a case of water, my sister braved the outdoor swimming pool several times with the kids IN THE RAIN!!, and we all played Bingo when the hotel offered it as an activity.

Everyone took turns with the kids, so I feel relaxed and rested. The only thing that would have made the trip better was our other sister who intended to come down for a little bit, but her plans changed and she was not able to make it:(

The girls got a real kick out of the seal-feeding at the small aquarium. Those seals sure got excited. Water was splashing like crazy! The girls were squealing as loud as the seals, I think. Everyone had a great time.

We all arrived home late afternoon yesterday, and today, the week starts with a flurry of activity. I’ve got lots of good ideas for this week. January is a favorite month of mine and I’m eager to get started on all the projects and plans that fill my mind at this time of year.

Happy New Year to you all!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–December 29, 2019

This is one of my favorite Christmas presents. Rob built me this rack for my cast iron frying pans. He used reclaimed lumber and a piece of tin he also salvaged. This picture really doesn’t do it justice–it’s amazing! Another gift he made that I really like is a bundle of garden stakes. He painted the ends white so I can write on them with a marker and mark my rows. He also used re-claimed wood for those.

I had a lot of help with the table decorations this year. Rob made me the wooden tree, the small wooden trees and found the right ribbon for me. Little Danait (a 5-year-old friend) carefully arranged the chocolate Santa candies the best way she knew how. I had given her a bag of candy and told her to spread it along the table–thinking she would sprinkle them here and there. She liked a line better. I left them, and people ate them! I even remembered to light the candles I dug out of the cupboard.

I used things I had for decor. Patsy made snowflakes to put on the table. I found a stash of candles in a bin in the shop that had never been unpacked when we moved. I used a ton of them!

Lovana made a chocolate-peppermint cake. Yum! We served tacos for our meal–buffet style. Everyone brought parts and pieces. We had taco bar, shrimp, other desserts, Eritrean food including injera and spicy lentils and African beef (I think it is called Coal-wa or something similar), and mashed potatoes. At one point, I made Michaela some cinnamon-sugar toast–that’s what she wanted. As far as I could tell, all 27 people were happy with the food, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Since I spread them out all over the house, they had enough room–some in the living room, some in the garage, some in the kitchen, and even a few at a table in Patsy’s bedroom–mostly kids. We had guests that we had never met before, along with family and friends that usually come. They were all good sports. So fun! Since so many pitched in to provide parts of the meal, it was not a burden for anyone.

There were not a ton of leftovers after Christmas, so we ate what there were and I’ve been cooking. I was given 2 Butternut squash for Christmas. I cut them both up and we’ve already eaten one of them. I will roast the other one very soon.

Rob used our new cutting boards to make fried potatoes and onions.

I made Puffy Green Bean Bake from the More With Less Cookbook. Twice.

I shopped for a few groceries. Eggs were 99c/dozen. I bought the 3 dozen I could. I boiled a bunch for snacks, lunches and breakfasts. I also got the random items I needed, such as seasoning salt, and milk. I stayed around $50, which I thought was great for my weekly shopping, since we had 5 extra people for 3 days, and the Christmas meal.

After all my guests left, including the ones that were staying here, and the ones who came over the day after Christmas, I was pretty tired. I rested a lot , but am now feeling like myself again. It was nice today to go to church and have our regular family Sunday dinner. It was great that baby Allie and her parents could join us today. She’s grown so much. I will admit that I saw the baby very briefly at church on Christmas Eve, but she was more sociable today and I got to hold her, which is always a treat! (This little girl is like a grand-daughter to my sister and brother-in-law, as her daddy is like a son to them. So, by default, I get to be an auntie. My pleasure for sure!)

My sister did all the cooking today and we had soup and sandwiches, so I got a big break from cooking, and so we brought Jake home for the night. I haven’t seen him much this week. We miss our extra boy, so it’s our lucky day:).

Thriving In My thrifty Week–December 23, 2019

Christmas is coming. Whether I’m completely ready or not, it’s almost here! Thankfully, I got a little help with the last minute details. Jake and I made vegan rice cereal treats this morning since we have guests coming with all kinds of eating preferences. I love a challenge. Good thing since in our guest list we have a vegan, a vegetarian that will eat cheese and seafood, several gluten-free guests, more than one diabetic, including me, someone whose tooth has been recently pulled, more than one on a strict diet, including Rob, and one who just wants mashed potatoes another who wants only peanut butter and granola bars and rolls, and….well, you get the idea. We are breaking tradition and are having a taco bar on Christmas. People can take what they want and leave the rest! It’s a perfect solution. Actually…a taco bar with mashed potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches. Why not? It’s Christmas!

The sprinkles taste pretty good, I’ve been told. He spent the afternoon and evening with uncle yesterday and I had the fun of his company this morning while Rob ran some errands. Why not have some sprinkles for breakfast? It’s Christmas, after all:) Can you tell I love Christmas?

He has recently become obsessed with….El….El….Who is that guy that sings, auntie? I told him Elvis, since his dad had clued me in that he’s discovering new interests at school. So, he told Alexa to “play Elvis music” and has since declared that “it’s not nice to call someone a hound dog” and a few other choice comments. After a few songs, he was done, and we moved on to Christmas music. We had a nice morning, and then his Mama came and got him and they were off, and I got down to scrubbing and cooking in earnest.

Yesterday evening, my sisters and I all attended a Christmas concert in Portland. It was my Christmas gift from one of my sisters. We saw a Portland-based pianist named Michael Allen Harrison in a venue named The Old Church. It was a very nice concert and we went out for dinner at a Brazilian restaurant first, as part of the wonderful experience. My patient, kind brother-in-law drove all 3 of us, parked the car for us after dropping us off, went and re-fed the meter when we ate and visited for a l-o-n-g time, and picked us back up at the door. The food was amazing, the concert was a treat and time with my sisters was the very best part. It’s rare that the 3 of us have the ability to go somewhere together.

Rob took care of Jake, so we could go. They wanted to have a good time and do something special, too. He took Patsy and Jake to the bargain movies. We have a theater near us that is $4/movie, all the time. The movies are not the latest ones, but no one cared. They watched a cartoon. Then they went to 5 Guys and split some French fries. He said the portion was so huge they couldn’t eat them all, even sharing one order. It was a very economical outing and they had a blast.

In between the fun, presents were wrapped, home-made gifts were finished and food was planned and prepped for both Christmas Day and for the houseguests we are expecting.

I roasted some nuts I found lurking in my freezer. I love them this way, and I will put them out on Christmas Eve.

It’s been a whirlwind week, but one morning I couldn’t help talking a break and admiring the frost on the Oregon grape bush.

We were given several gifts. We love each and every one and feel blessed. This wreath was one of them. My hair dresser gave it to me. A client of hers had made her 2, and this one was dying in her shop because it was too warm in there. She asked me if I wanted it and I did! It was some branches and 2 decorations. I picked off the dying pieces, added some decorations I had on hand, moved the original ones around, added a bow, repositioned a few branches, and….I love it!

I’m really looking forward to having all the preparations done, the food all cooked, the house cleaned, and the Christmas fun started. That will be tomorrow at 4 when we go to the Christmas Eve service, as we have for so many years. I love to sit in that quiet, candlelit service and have a peaceful interlude from the busy hustle and bustle, and have some focused time to reflect and pray. It really lets me know that Christmas has truly arrived.

Merry Christmas!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 16, 2019

This week, I had time to do a lot of things in my home. Many of them saved money. One thing is did is made home-made basil-ranch salad dressing. I had been to the store twice already and suddenly realized that we were running extremely low on ranch dressing, so rather than head out yet again, I made some. All it involved was some buttermilk, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and 3 cubes of pesto Rob made last summer and froze in ice cube trays. Everyone loved it at my sister’s house at Family Sunday Dinner.

I made homemade sea foam candy, and dipped it into my bargain milk chocolate chips mixed with my 49c box of dipping chocolate that was scored after some holiday last spring. I got the recipe from Taste of Home’s website and it was called Angel Food Candy. I want it for a gift for my niece, who loves that particular kind of candy and buys it every time we visit the beach. I’ll have to say I have a much higher regard for candy makers that supply those shops now. If I wanted to become proficient, I would need a lot more practice!

Rob stumbled upon a deal on bananas–these bundles for 50c/each. He bought 10.

I lost about 3 or 4 bananas that were so bruised they were unusable. The rest were like this inside:). I made banana bread, froze some for smoothies, we ate a bunch and I made frozen banana punch base for Christmas.

We are doing one more week of homeschool before Christmas break. I’m loving some of the books we are reading aloud in right now. Patsy just finished the book “Around the World in 80 Days.” I told her that when she finished, she could watch the movie. I ordered it from the library and we waited a couple of days. An old version has come in, and she is watching it, then we will watch the newer version when it comes in, if she wishes.

There were some good grocery deals this week. We got eggs for 88c/dozen. There were loaves of bread for $1. We scored several items from the Whoo-Hoo rack at Fred Meyers. Several of them were added to the Christmas gift pile since they were not even close to being outdated, and were tasty snacks. We are having quite a few extra guests at Christmas this year, so I’ve been picking up small gifts when ever I find them. It’s going to be fun!

Thriving In My thrifty Week-December 8, 2019

Patsy and I did some Christmas decorating using items we had on hand.

We kept it simple and minimal, but got to put out some favorite items. I didn’t have to purchase a single thing.

We put up the small tree my friend, Harnet, gave me a couple of years ago. It looks festive, without overpowering my small area. I did a little Christmas baking and froze the results. Rob did some shopping, using the list we carefully made. We are not entirely ready, but a lot closer to the goal than we were a week ago.

The Christmas program monopolized our week. We took both Jake and Patsy to rehearsals multiple times. There were 3 regular performances, plus a special performance for those with special needs, and a dress rehearsal. I watched several times and it got better each time. It was wonderful with children singing, angels, shepherds and their sheep, an adorable donkey, and a focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I was glad Patsy and Jake could both participate this year.

I made a vegetable soup with last summer’s vegetables. We used up the last of the leftovers from Thanksgiving and cooked a few other things.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 2, 2019

Patsy potted up a spider plant baby in a pot she painted and gave it to Lovana for her new house. She painted a few of these pots and so I expect she will be giving the other rooting starts new homes soon. I love how cute this turned out.

Jake and Uncle finished their woodshop project. They started it on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning, it was cut out, sanded and painted. It was a great, low-cost, but highly-treasured project. Because Jake did not have school at all last week, we were searching for some activities that would keep him occupied. We found several.

Jake’s oldest sister, Caitlyn, took him, Michaela and Patsy to the new movie, Frozen 2. I had one lonely pass to the movies in my box, so I gave it to Patsy. She earned a few dollars to take with her, but I think her cousin bought snacks for her. It was kind of her to include Patsy.

It was double kind of her to take all those kids somewhere else than here on that day, Tuesday! My aunt, mom and one sister came over and we prepared for Thanksgiving by doing some cleaning, cooking and other prep work.

I boiled the ham bone and the turkey bones. I made turkey-noodle soup and froze some broth. I also made ham and white bean soup from the other bones. When Lovana was making a pie last weekend, we used some white beans as pie weights while she par-baked her crust. I was not sure they would cook well after being baked, but I’m happy to report that they worked just fine in the ham and beans.

We had overnight guests for Thanksgiving and used the camper as a guest house.

The 4-H club has been working on a project for a few weeks now. Saturday, everyone met together and put together 11 baskets (wrapped boxes) full of goodies that had been gathered. The older kids and adults have been working independently on projects such as food items, a jar full of blessings (papers with inspiring verses and sayings on them for people to draw one out and read), cookies, Christmas decorations, etc. Then, lunch was eaten and a delivery marathon was completed. All 11 were delivered to the pastors and other significant leaders from our church, such as the wonderful woman who heads up the children’s ministries. The people were all delighted to receive such nice baskets from all the smiling children, and everyone involved felt it was super successful.

It has been very cold here and I’ve been enjoying burning my free wood in my wood stove.

I read a couple of Kindle books that I got for free. I also downloaded a new batch, choosing from books and a magazine that were included with Prime, which we use to watch t.v., for shipping, and occasionally a book or magazine. I was able to find a couple of Netflix movies for Jake to watch. Lovana gave Rob Netflix for Christmas last year, so I love it when I remember to use it!

I am gearing up for an extra-busy week with Christmas program practice 3 nights this week, and 3 performances on the weekend! Both Patsy and Jake are involved, and since Jake’s parents work late on at least one day……. Yikes! I’m going to do some planning for meals and things today.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 25, 2019

This week we enjoyed volunteering at an Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection day. It was at our church, and we took a shift on Friday morning. The collection went on for a week.

The day before we volunteered, hundreds of boxes had come in. On our shift, only a few came in. You just never know when people will show up with them. So, we spent quite a bit of time on our shift helping fill large cartons with the boxes so they could be sent onward on their journey.

We added our box to the pile, prayed over it with the rest, and sent it onward.

It was one of those weeks where we did a lot of small things, but they filled in the week and it flew by before we knew it.

I paid Patsy to help me tie up the blackberries. It’s a 2-person job, and I was delighted to get it done. I have a lot more canes this year than last year so I hope to get a good crop this coming year.

Patsy made a coffee cake. It’s gone:).

I made a large batch of gluten-free buns and a loaf of French bread. The buns turned out great–the French bread–a little sketchy, but I’ll eat it anyway, over time. Gluten-free flour is expensive, but just on the hamburger/sandwich buns I saved about $10 over buying an equal number.

My sister gave us a lot of kiwis from her bushes. A few have ripened already, but I have yet to get one since they are being eaten quickly:). I’m glad they are enjoying them.

I took Jake to a free event at JoAnn Fabrics and he and Patsy got to build a Lego Olaf box. They had fun.

There’s no school this week for Mr. Jake, so after his Mama took him to the dentist, he hung around with us for the rest of the day (and will be here all night, cause it’s fun here:). We made cookies and will serve any that are left on Thanksgiving Day.

Then the guys went to the shop to work on a project.

It was a good, busy week. Now I’m spending time getting ready for Thanksgiving. I got a lot of groceries today. I caught a couple of mistakes, and ended up getting a small refund…I’m glad I checked my receipt. I got more turkey at 49c/lb because I bought over $50 of groceries. My freezer is stuffed. My fridges are stuffed. In a couple of days, we will all be stuffed. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving Day–it’s one of my favorite days.

Thriving In My thrifty Week-November 17, 2019

We took the kids to the Oregon Coast Aquarium this week. We have a zoo pass. The reciprocal attraction for the month of November was the Aquarium. We eagerly set a date to use this amazing deal, because I had not been there for many years. Our niece, Caitlyn, went along, too. She has a zoo pass as well, so her admission was free also. We saved over $130 in admission costs. We all rode together in the van, and saved gas, as well. It was so fun!

We packed a lunch, and then stopped for little snacks like sea foam candy, French fries….you get the idea.

It took a lot of photos to get one of Michaela with a shark behind her, but that was her hope, so we persevered until we captured it!

The jellyfish are always a favorite of mine.

Patsy and Jake went in the hurricane simulator. They were the only 2 brave ones, but they had a blast.

There were so many interesting fish and other sea creatures.

The week was an extra busy one. It started on Monday with the field trip to the End of the Oregon Trail Museum. Then, on Tuesday, we needed to feed the college group at church, as we occasionally do. We made 3 kinds of soup, corn muffins and lemon poppyseed and raspberry bars, all from boxed mixes that I got on a great sale. It still took several hours to cook, but wasn’t hard to do.

In the meanwhile, Patsy was cramming schoolwork into every extra moment, since we were gone so much. We have a week’s worth of school to get through each week (right?), and I’m happy to say she did get through it by Friday. Some weeks she gets done sooner, and does hands-on activities on Fridays, but not this week. We were too busy with other things. That’s the beauty of the the flexibility of homeschool.

Jake had an event at his school Friday night. We had him for the entire weekend, so, it fell to me to take him. There was a raffle. He won a prize– a game. Amazing! I was extremely surprised, but oh, so happy, when they called his number so we could head on home. He had done what he could do at the event, and was just sitting on a chair, nervously chewing his ticket, in hopes that he would win. I’m not sure who was happier, him or me!

Last night, the sweet boy threw his pants into the laundry, as he should have. He did not remove his precious Pokeman trading cards from the pockets, which he also should have done. So, they got washed. :(. Oops! After agonizing over a solution for a while, Uncle sneaked the soggy cards down to a gaming card shop this afternoon so he could match them, and replaced the ruined ones that he could get for a reasonable price. He got all but 2. He also got an extra packets of cards. He then explained the situation to Jake, immediately handed him the new cards, and thereby avoided a huge vale of tears and a valley of sorrow. I never would have thought of such a solution, but I’m glad Rob did. Thank goodness there were only a few in those pockets:). If you’ve never had much to do with special needs kids, this action will not make sense to you. If you have……no explanation is needed:)

We had a family birthday party today, and I made a couple of salads from ingredients I had on hand. They were potato salad and quinoa salad. Yum!

I worked on some projects for Christmas and a sewing project for Patsy.

Rob did, too. (And, no, it’s not quite finished. The yellow lines will be gone!). The people who get these gifts do not read the blog. I’m not putting up pictures of the gifts for people who do. Just in case any of you are wondering:).

I cleaned a little here and there. I cooked a lot. I got a little creative, because we seem to be emptying out the fridge faster than normal, and I need to go shopping yet again. Tomorrow is soon enough, and we made out fine, using some ingredients that had lingered for a while. Win-win! Some weeks/months are like that!

I redeemed a few more Ibotta rebates. We cashed out most of the Ibotta money I’ve been saving and plan to use that plus the Bottle Drop money for groceries in the next couple of weeks. I usually buy extra in November anyway, since there are so many great deals.

My sister gave me a free turkey she had obtained. My Mom bought me one of the 68c/lb ones from Winco. (If we want to be technical, she gave me the $ and I did the actual shopping while I was out, but now I’ve got turkeys for both Thanksgiving and Christmas tucked away in the freezers).

The coming week promises to be a little less scheduled with outside activities. I’m glad we did our fun events while the weather was so nice. I’m equally glad that this week will give me more time at home. There is much I want to accomplish.

Thriving In My thrifty week–End Of the Oregon Trail Museum–Nov. 11, 2019

Today, we visited the End of the Oregon Trail Museum/Interpretive Center in Oregon City, Oregon. As the name suggests, it is where the Oregon Trail ended approximately 175 years ago. My sister set up a field trip there for both a group of homeschooled kids and kids who attend public school. There were 13 of them, including Michaela. It was planned for Veteran’s Day, since it is a school holiday for the public schools.

The kids we took had a blast!

They started having fun in the parking lot, and it continued. It was a gorgeous day.

We had a nice presentation by our guide, Bethany. We had pre-chosen the “Choose Your Own Adventure” presentation, so she let the kids decide what they would do under certain circumstances they might encounter if they were actually traveling the trail way back in the 1800’s. They loved her little voting devices that allowed them to push the button of their choice and then electronically transferred the information to the screen. After the informative presentation, they were allowed to explore that area for a while.

They moved on to a “Pack your wagon” activity.

The 3 big girls, with help from Alissa, really tried hard to figure out the best use of their 2000 pound wagon-loading limit. The littler boys just decided they didn’t need such things as clothes, just lots and lots of guns:).

The guide moved us on to butter making, where all the kids got to shake the cream until it turned into the desired butter, then they got to taste it.

Candle dipping was a real hit, as well.

Thankfully, there were plenty of grown-up hands to help the little ones. (Hard to believe Alissa counts as a grown-up now, but she DOES!).

The last activity was one in which they laid out ropes to “survey” their land on the big lawn outside. After each team “claimed” their property, often with lots of yells for others to “get off my land!” we were done with the official field trip. Rob had helped me pack a huge lunch for all 18 of us, and we relaxed in the picnic area while we all ate it. He didn’t go this time, which was a good choice since there was a lot of walking.

The kids ran and played on the big lawn after lunch. It was a great day for everyone. They had a blast while learning so much. One of the little boys confided in me how much he loved days where he didn’t have to have school–like this one!

We did do some money-saving activities during the week.

I cooked our meals, using the sale items from the grocery ads, coupled with items from my freezers/cupboards, etc. I did nothing earth-shattering, just made good, plain food. I sent Rob to some stores, and I went to others, and bought the best deals from each place. I hadn’t shopped much for a few weeks, and it caught up with me this week. I’m stocked up now for a while.

I wanted to make a small project and found everything I needed in my stash of fabric. We were also able to find everything my daughter needed for her project, except the stuffing, which my husband bought at the thrift store.

We used our membership at the Croc Center. Since the YMCA closed down for a re-build, we were transferred over there. We haven’t used it much, as it is a bit out of our way, but we are trying to use it more. Rob takes Michaela there at least once a week to swim and we join her when we can. I’ve taken a couple of exercise classes there, as they are all included in our membership. We are still on scholarship from the Y, which I thought was very nice of them all. We do pay each month, but it’s a reduced amount.