Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Jan. 24, 2022

I finished tying up the raspberries this week. I have high hopes for them for this year, even though they are still in their dormant state and don’t look like much. I worked on cutting out the old canes and tying up this year’s fruit-bearing wood a week or two ago and was delighted to find a window of opportunity to finish. It’s a deceptive job. It looks like it would take about 10 minutes, but instead took at least 2-3 hours to do. I’m glad to be done. Now for the Marion (black) berries……

I pulled grass up from around their roots, but I can see I’m going to have a problem with that awful quack grass (or whatever its real name is) again this year. šŸ™

I will put coffee grounds around the base of their stems, as Rob read that they like them. We pick up grounds for gardeners from Starbucks in Safeway and anywhere else we find some. I will also fertilize a little later on so they can grow vigorously through the spring and hopefully give me lots of raspberries. I don’t want them to grow yet, it’s too cold and they would get nipped. Last year, we only got enough to eat as the summer before was so terribly hot the bushes did not do well. We still have a few packages in the freezer from 2 years ago, and I hope to finish those and fill more this upcoming summer.

Rob worked on the greenhouse for hours this week. I will make another post about what he did. He is getting ready to start seeds very soon.

I filled the remaining space in the yard debris bin with rose clippings I cut and the remaining dead branches from the in-ground fuchsia I had not trimmed yet. I’m finding I never have enough time or dry weather to do big jobs outside lately, and am finding success by breaking the jobs up into more than one session and just feeling content with doing whatever part I can get done at that moment. Then, I get back to it whenever I can on another day. The key for me is to not start too many of these kind of projects, but instead try to keep one or two at the top of my list so they actually get finished. It’s a good theory anyway and works part of the time:)


I continue to work on using up every bit of food I can. These hard-boiled eggs got knocked out of the fridge and rolled around a bit before I could catch them. Rather than toss them, I peeled them, washed them, then smashed them up with some tuna and made tuna-egg salad sandwich filling for dinner last night. They didn’t take much effort to smash. Eggs are not as expensive here as elsewhere, but they are more than double the price they were last spring.

My pantry/garage-cleaning project continues. I have been putting food items that need to be targeted for immediate use in the kitchen on the counter. I have worked through so many odd items, along with some normal ones that add to meals. Tonight, there are only 2 items left there. Yea! Time to clean another area and find some more. Because I’m doing the job over several weeks, I’ve had time to use a lot of items as I find them without being overwhelmed.

Tomorrow night, we are cooking for the entire young adult/college group at church (25ish), rather than the 5-6 gluten-free that we usually do. I’m rejoicing in using so many targeted items making things for them. So far, I made pumpkin bread (with wheat since most can eat it) from a mix I found, some cookie bars with coconut, the last of the toffee bits from a couple of weeks ago, and more, and cookie bars with rolled oats and raspberry jam from 2020 I found. I will make some Western Beans from pintos I cooked today and of course, Rob will bbq chicken drumsticks. How awesome we got so many for such a reasonable price!

I shopped with my daughter, who was also shopping for her sister and items for both babies this week. We went to 4 stores to get what she wanted, her sister wanted and I wanted. It was quite an expedition. I was delighted to use a $20/off $100 coupon, plus a $10 reward coupon at Safeway. Even with items for all of us, I stilI had to run back for 2 more packages of chicken legs at the end, to get the $20 off. (At that point, it would have been like throwing away $20 of free food to me.). I ended up with 6 family packs of chicken legs. I had coupon for 99c/lb legs and can always use more at that price. I got things like powdered sugar, brown sugar, some paper products, produce, dairy products and more. Of course I downloaded digital coupons, as well. In the end, my part of that bill was only about $30 with all the coupons and the things that weren’t for me to pay for.

I found her a $10/off $40 at Fred Meyers (a Kroger) store, and let her use my store card and downloaded coupons right there in the store, as needed. Grocery Outlet was visited, but there are no downloads there. Still, we found some items on the list for good prices. Lastly, we hit Trader Joe’s for things she wanted. I got Rob a couple of treats, a birthday gift of flowers and a card for a friend, and some gluten-free bagels for myself.

At the end of the day, I was very happy with what I’d spent and with all the goodies the girls added to my fridge, freezer and pantry. Most holes are filled in the pantry already. Rob had picked up a few things like mushrooms and sliced olives the other day for a good price. I got a few more replacements Saturday. I’m still in budget and the pantry is already full again, even after all we’ve used up. I’m just not replacing a lot of those things, but instead making sure I have plenty of the things we actually use on a regular basis.

Rob and I went on a mini-date Sunday afternoon. We are easily amused, I know, but we wandered through Wheeler Dealer, a scratch and dent store, for entertainment. We found some amazing deals, although many of the prices are much higher there, as they are everywhere. We got cottage cheese for 50c/carton, fresh mozzarella balls for 50c/carton, jalapeƱos for 10c each, a head of boc choi for 33c, a can of sweetened condensed milk for 79c, applesauce pouches for the babies for 25c, and more. I was so glad to know exactly what I had in my pantry, and walked away from a lot of things that were cheap, but I absolutely didn’t need. I’ve already used a bunch of what we got in lasagnas, which used some targeted noodles and the rest of the sauce from last week.

Does anyone know if you can freeze those fresh mozzarella balls? The ones packed in water? I still have 2 cartons left, but they have a very short date on them…hence the 50c price tag. Please leave a comment if you have tried freezing them or something similar. Thanks!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 17, 2022

The weather has been very mild around here lately. We have been able to get out and take several walks. Yesterday, it felt like spring was coming when I saw this toadstool peeking up from that emerald green grass. It was such a nice feeling, to know that spring was on it’s way once again!

All of the seeds we ordered have arrived. Rob also snagged some packets from the Dollar Store. I sorted them all into categories, such as peppers, tomatoes, etc. and put them in their bin, ready to plant. Rob spent the evening last night writing out some tags in preparation for starting the peppers. Peppers and onions take a long time, so will need to be started soon. Cleaning and organizing the greenhouse is on his “to-do” list.

I use lots of mildly hot peppers such as Anaheim 64, Ancho, and Jalafuego JalapeƱo, in my salsa. We need quite a few plants of those started. I use about 6 Serrano peppers per year in that salsa, so one or two bushes will do. We are growing Jimmy Nardello Italian pepper this year as a new experiment. It’s supposed to be long and sweet. I’m hoping to get the right size for pickling and fresh eating. Carmen peppers have been a favorite for years and we need a long row of those. They are a fat, long pepper and turn red much sooner than other peppers and have a huge yield. Rob’s starting some green and mixed color bell peppers, as well. I freeze lots of chopped up peppers and we are working through the ones from last year at a pretty rapid rate, so we need lots more.

We will start Patterson onions as they are our main crop of yellow onion. They store really well. I believe I used the last of the stored ones in the early summer–June or July last year. Whenever it actually was, I already had new ones large enough to eat in the garden so I didn’t have to buy onions last year. We also start Red Bull and White onions. The Red Bulls store well, but the white ones always need to be used up right away. We have so many onions from this past summer’s garden and I hope that I don’t have to buy any again.

I used to have an area in my garden that self-seeded green onions and I always had a large patch which lasted all winter. The last couple of years they haven’t really done that and I’ve been buying green onions after the rows I plant are used. I hope to get a good solid area of those going again for next winter, but in the meanwhile, I’m going to start some of those in the greenhouse just so I can get some to use sooner, rather than later.

I saw a very ugly, slimy, but huge cabbage still standing in the garden, and wondered if there was any good left on it. There was! I peeled off the black part and aggressively cut off the bottom half, which contained slugs and potato bugs who wanted to feast and was left with 5 large, very good chunks from the top half. I’ve already used one of them.

I have been stretching times between grocery shopping again. Instead of going every week, I stretched it to about 12 days this past time. I will do that again. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been cleaning out the pantry area in the garage. The kitchen counter has an area with things that need to be targeted for use, so I’m shopping from there these days. Rob and my nephew went to the store for me yesterday and got dairy and produce and a few items to use with these targeted items so I can use them up.

We’ve been able to get back to the YMCA a few times with our grandson and nephew. They love the pool and our nephew likes to shoot hoops, as well. Malcolm is so proud of his “pack-pack” that my aunt sent over at Christmas, full of his new towel from my sister and the rest of his swimming things. He insists on carrying that bag himself, no matter how awkward or heavy. My sister gave him swim diapers for Christmas, as well, which was not so exciting to him as it was to me.

Last week, there were more events and meetings at church than we’ve had for years. Although we enjoyed every one, and felt the meetings were useful, it made for a very busy week. There were some days where I really scrambled to get dinners on the table. Rob was given dinner at one of his events for a nominal fee, and at another there was lunch provided. Because I’m gluten free, I took my own sandwich, but enjoyed the huge fresh salad very much. At yet another gathering, there was an entire table of desserts and snacks to enjoy. I was happy that I managed to feed everyone and stay out of the fast food line! This week, I noticed there is a women’s event featuring chocolate where everyone gets to eat chocolate…I think I could get used to that. Maybe that one should become a weekly event…..

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 9, 2022

During this past week, I continued to make food from what was in the freezers and cupboards. I also was able to use up several little odds and ends that had been frozen sometime in the past and forgotten about….you know we’ve all got those, and I loved using them.

I dealt with the huge bowl of beans I started soaking at the beginning of last week. I made chili, cooked beans to freeze for later and made refried beans. These were some red beans, smaller than kidney beans, and not what I normally use for refried beans, but they taste great. I froze some of the chili and everything else as I finished it. I’ve already pulled the first carton of refried beans out and we had tacos yesterday. I purposefully froze several smaller containers (I used cartons from cream cheese I had saved) because there are times where we don’t use equivalent of a whole can now that Patsy isn’t here. She really loves beans and ate them like crazy when she was here. I also froze a couple of larger containers for those times when I need more.

We finished up the split pea soup, and the chicken-rice soup. I had soup several times. I don’t mind it for breakfast on busy days.

I used my new Instant Pot cookbook to make Jerk Chicken. I’ve never made it before and was surprised at all the spices I used. Now that’s a good “use-it-up” feeling–using lots of bits of spices I rarely use! I did not use a Scotch Bonnet or Habenero pepper, as we don’t like things that spicy. instead, I used a small amount of home frozen Hungarian Wax peppers and the Cajun seasoning called for in the recipe for a milder spicy flavor. The book said it was not “jerk” chicken without the spicy, spicy peppers, instead “nice” chicken. And, it was. We really, really liked it.

I shopped at Safeway and Natural Grocers and stocked up on basics and produce. I used digital coupons at Safeway and also got my flu shot, which snagged me a 10% off coupon there. I had not been shopping for quite a while, so I needed quite a few things. Some prices were astounding, but I’m grateful that I got everything I needed and stayed within my budget. I got several things I just wanted, (like a couple of avocados), as well, which is always nice! I didn’t buy junk food, though. After all, it is January–time to save money and be healthier, right? Instead, Rob got a fresh cucumber. Lucky Rob:)

I also got eggs wherever I could find them. One day I got 4 doz. for 1.99 each at Nat. Grocers, a few days later they were 2.99 for the same eggs and you could only have 2. I had a $1/carton Ibotta rebate for those eggs, which I redeemed. Rob finally went to Walmart and got 5 doz. for under $10. Although it’s sobering to see so many empty spaces where eggs should be, I do know chickens don’t like to lay eggs in the winter, and expect the situation will resolve in the spring. I sure hope so. From extensive blog reading over the holidays, I realize people are paying much, much more for eggs across the country than I am here. $5.50, $7.99, even upwards of $10 in some places for a dozen seemed quite common in my reading.

We use SO many eggs around here. They are good protein and versatile for so many things. We’ve had hard-boiled eggs, potato salad, egg-tuna salad, eggs salad, scrambled eggs and more this week alone. I’m grateful to get plenty at a reasonable price.

I was amazed to find good produce prices at Natural Grocers, since it’s all organic there, so I got several items, including 5 lbs of carrots for $5.07. At Safeway, they had bagged salads/spinch/coleslaw mix for $1.50 with a digital coupon. I grabbed several of those, as well. I miss the garden this time of year, but just buy produce in the winter, and use what I preserved as much as I can. I love to can, but canned lettuce salad does not appeal to me:).

I am now billing little cups of cooked carrots as “snacks” and Malcolm is buying it:). All silliness aside, he really loves cooked carrots. I used 3 lbs one week. I use my canned ones for soups when I am in a hurry and fresh ones for cooked carrots, with roast beef, in soup and stew when I’m not in a hurry, and more.

Rob made a veggie/egg scramble with frozen garden peppers, some kale, sausage and, of course, eggs.

He made Swiss Steak one night. I peeled and cooked potatoes. One thing I did to save both time and energy (which saves money), is to cook extra potatoes. I mashed enough for dinner with a few leftovers for the next day and saved enough for potato salad a couple of days later. I often cook extra of many things for future meals, or parts of meals.

Oatmeal has also been on the menu a lot. This time, I put some chunks of frozen peaches from my sister’s farm in along with raisins, which I buy in 5-lb bags. I also buy the oatmeal in bulk. The price has risen astronomically, but it’s still a good deal to me. Whole grains are so healthy and they swell up when you cook them! Although I love it, I do not eat a great deal of it, due to what it does to my blood sugars, but others in the family do. I even served it for dinner one night to those who love it so much.

Oatmeal is another thing that I often cook a large pot of and save leftovers for a super quick breakfast for my grandson. He loves it so much. A while back, I got a super, super deal on some of those instant packets, and he loves them, too. I prefer to use real oatmeal most of the time. I can control the sugar content and add real fruit to it. It’s also thicker and easer for him to manage with his little silverware.

My nephew and I made sugar cookies one afternoon. We are always looking for fun activities to do together, and it was fun to focus on some of those cookie cutters I have laying around that are not holiday-related. The dough was saved from some Christmas cookies I had made, and so it was an easy project.

A couple of weeks ago, I sailed through the easiest case of Covid I’ve heard of lately, thank goodness. I never, ever would have even tested had I not found out I had been exposed and had what seemed like a very mild allergy. For me, they symptoms were much, much milder than the last cold I had. Still, I had to quarantine for a while, and take some nasty medicine. It really helped, I think. I did get tired. I took extra naps and rested a lot. I had one day where I actually felt sick. If that was my Covid, I’m more grateful than I can say.

I could not work at my job while in quarantine, or go anywhere, so I used some of the extra time to read blogs, read books, watch t.v., comb cookbooks, try new recipes, clean, and sew. After all, they SAID I was sick, right? So I took some naps, too. That was all very nice for a few days, but I am so glad to have been back out and about, and doing more things for a few days now. I got so stir-crazy that the minute I had fulfilled my doctor’s quarantine orders, I went over to my sister’s house and told my niece that I was so happy to be out and about and delighted to get to go somewhere. She asked me where I was going, and I said, “here! to your house.” She just looked at me like I was crazy! But, I WAS delighted to be there.

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. 18, 2022

This year, we decided to simplify gift-giving and focus more on experiences of the season. I started with being in the Christmas production at church. Then, the choir sang a couple of the songs from the program for both services last Sunday. Now that the program is over, we’ve moved on to some other activities.

Rob has been building fires in the yard in the fire pit. Sometimes he and Malcolm roast hot dogs, and sometimes they just watch it burn. It’s been very cold (for our area-no one laugh from South Dakota), but Malcolm needs to burn off energy, and we try to get him outside a little each day.

We had a party for our Sunday school class of 5th graders. Rob gathered branches of fir, pine and holly from my sister’s farm and we made greenery swags. We used coat hangers for a base, and some little additions and bows I purchased at JoAnn’s. They were on super sale over Black Friday and so I got them then. I’d show you the finished work, but I don’t want to post pictures of the class without parental permission. Some were more sophisticated, and some were pretty rough, but all of the crafters seemed to have a lot of fun.

The fire pit was burning the entire time, as it was about 25 degrees that morning. Around 11, we finished the swags and roasted hot dogs. Truthfully, the kids were having so much fun tearing around in the little car we have in our yard that they almost forgot to eat, but 2 bags of chips were downed pretty fast once they remembered. My mom had come over the day before the party and we made cookies–sugar cookie trees decorated with green sugar and a star, and some bar cookies. We finished the party inside with games and a short devotional. Rob had wrapped a present over and over, with pennies and candy in some of the layers. Inside was $1. That old game was just as fun for these kids as it was for me when I was little and they unwrapped and unwrapped layer after layer when the music stopped, and passed it around when the music was playing. It was fun for all of us, Rob and I included.

We visited the carousel with Malcolm. The waterfront park was decorated with lights and we walked around for a while before we rode the carousel. Mac was not convinced that it was going to be fun, so he and I snuggled up in a wagon and had a pretty good time. We want to grab baby brother another time and take them both. I think it will be easier the second time. It was a very fun outing for under $2, as they let me ride for free. I haven’t ridden on a carousel for ages. It was fun!

We were invited to a friend’s house to frost Christmas cookies this afternoon. This lady was Jake and Michaela’s nanny for years, and our whole family loves her so much, so Rob and I were delighted to get to see her. Much to my surprise, both Malcolm and the nephew of the hostess were much more interested in her coasters than the cookie operation! We had fun visiting, though, and brought a plate of cookies home to enjoy.

I did a little more sewing this week. These pajama pants were made from a remnant of fabric and cost me less than $2 to make. I was able to use the same pattern as I used for the bathrobe I made last week. I also worked on a pair of sleeping shorts for Rob from some fabric someone gave my sister, and she passed on to me. I’m not quite done, but will work on them this week, along with the bathrobe for the littlest grandson. For Christmas week, that is a noble goal, and I’ll see if I get any of that done:)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all had fun!

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week——November 15, 2022

We were delighted to take the boys to the Gilbert House Children’s Museum this week.

The giant bubble was an especial hit. They could stand inside. There were so many other “bubbly” activities in that area! Rob said it was his favorite place to play in:)

I was able to get a pass from our local library so we got in for free. About 6 months ago, I noticed there were some passes available, but they were always being used by others until last week, at which point I happily snatched it from the shelf and checked it out. You can keep it for 1 week only and there is a huge, huge fine if you don’t return it. We returned it. On time.

I will check it out again if I get the opportunity.

One day I asked Rob to pick a cabbage. Even though it’s been very cold and frosty, they are holding up just fine. He surprised me with some really good broccoli and a cucumber, which made a good picture, but the cucumber wasn’t very good. He ate what he could of it. The cabbage was huge so I cut it up and shared chunks with family members and had plenty left for me.

We have been down to the YMCA several times this week. We have taken kids with us most times. They all seem to love the pool the most. I prefer the exercise bike. It’s so nice to use that membership to its fullest potential and that there’s something for each one of us that we enjoy doing for exercise.

It was a fairly quiet week, and I need weeks like that now and then.