Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 12, 2021

We had another nice, long weekend camping. This trip was different in several ways. One difference is in the amount of outdoor activities we were able to engage in, since the weather was so nice. I’m glad we had so much fun, because this is the last trip for a while.

We had some out-of-town relatives who were staying down at the beach and my aunt got a condo down there so she could visit with them. That condo comes with a crab dock. Need I say more?

After 2 afternoons of crabbing, a few were captured. They aren’t showing up well in this bucket, as they were Red Rock Crabs. One Dungeness was also caught. All were eaten by us, aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews/ etc.

We had one nice, group dinner over at the condo and enjoyed visiting. We were camped at a near-by campground and everyone came and went at will.

One day, our family hiked the Drift Creek Falls Trail.

We hiked 2.9 miles down into a canyon, along a little creek, up the other side, across a suspension bridge and to the water fall. We enjoyed the hike very much, especially the part where we climbed right back out of that canyon without too much trouble. We surprised ourselves, in a good way! I will say Rob overdid a little though, because with his 2 trips down to the ocean that day rock collecting, plus this hike, he did over 7 miles. He was a little sore the next day, but the dog couldn’t move for 2 days, so…..Rob wins:)

We raked for cockle clams at low tide one day. Patsy got 1 measly clam. The rest of us got skunked. We put the baby back to live another day. We will try again some day when the tide is lower.

The weather was gorgeous. It only rained one night, and not very much. There was quite a bit of wind at times, which felt cold, but mostly it was pleasant and sunny. Yesterday, while Rob and our older nephew were crabbing, Patsy, Jake and I walked to the boardwalk viewing area. I know the picture does not show them well, but those tiny specks in the sky are people surfing with large 1/2 parachutes (parasurfing?). There was also a windsurfer with a bright sail out in the water. I hadn’t seen that before in this location.

Another different thing for us was today. We needed to come home, but had nothing pressing in the afternoon to return early for, so decided to stay down there until early afternoon. (We usually leave first thing in the morning when coming home). We decided to drive to a nearby beach and take a walk before hooking up and driving home. I was delighted to find that beautiful rock/sand formation pictured above while I was walking. The rest of them hunted for rocks and shells and a certain little boy got his shoes completely wet in a creek, and had to come home barefoot. Now, that’s a beach trip. I love it!

As usual, we got a large amount of fun for a very small fist full of dollars. Obviously, nothing is free, and we used gas to drive around. Thankfully, we had some gas rewards on our Fred Meyer card, so we used those. We always save them for when the van needs gas.

We used our park pass to camp. We used the dock at my aunt’s condo to crab with equipment we have owned for years. Rob bought some chicken to crab with, but a lady on the dock gave him hers when she got tired of crabbing, so we cooked ours, as it was on ice and perfectly good, and used hers for crabbing. We used our rakes to rake for clams. Rob had recently picked up another one at a garage sale and painted its tines blue, just for this purpose.

The Drift Creek Falls Trail had a very small parking fee, which was nice since our park pass doesn’t cover that place.

Several times we put food from the camper in a bag and took it along when we drove somewhere. We got some food from McDonald’s and used the app to save money. (McD’s is Jake’s favorite and we wanted everyone to get to do something they wanted.). We ate meals at the camper and, once, at the condo. We enjoyed visiting with all family members who were there.

I was able to use up several items in the camper fridge, such as spreadable butter, from a couple of weeks ago, and many things from our fridge. I love putting leftovers from the house right into the camper fridge so they get used, and vice versa when we return. I bought a few things from Grocery Outlet before we went and we didn’t have to shop, except for milk, while we were there. There’s plenty left so I don’t have to shop for a few days now, unless I’m SO tempted by the 97c ice cream at Safeway that I can’t stand not to get it….

We don’t have any more camping trips planned for quite some time, and I’m o.k. with that–there’s lots to do around here. We’ve already started doing the laundry from the trip and I’m looking forward to getting out into the yard and garden as the week progresses. It should be a fun week, in its own way.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 5, 2021

Yesterday, we had such a nice Easter. After missing going to church in person for almost a year, it was very meaningful to attend yesterday. We went bright and early, since I was having extended family over for lunch.

It was the first family gathering we have had in over a year. Now that so many of us are vaccinated, we feel safe to get together again. Of course, we were careful anyway. The weather cooperated and quite a few ended up outside on the sunny, but chilly, deck. I had areas set up in almost every main room, bedroom and the garage so people could spread out as much as they needed to. We had a reduced menu and sent a few people into the kitchen at a time to get food, then a couple more went in. It worked very well and we had a wonderful time together.

Everyone had fun passing the baby around.

He’s learned to kiss Grandpa now, and of course, stole the show in his cute Easter sweater.

This was a busy week. We had a birthday party for Lovana on Wednesday.

The girls brought over seafood and did a seafood boil. It was delicious. They also brought a cake. I cooked the rest of the meal. We had a wonderful time. It was just our little family and one sweet cousin, and Lovana loved it.

I spent most of the week getting ready to entertain, and entertaining, but still did a few frugal activities.

We took a couple of walks, but I’ll admit I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been with that. I ran out of time.

Rob went to the store right after we got back from camping, got milk, salad stuff, a ham and potatoes, stuff for that night’s dinner, and didn’t go again. Instead, we made out with whatever we had on hand for the rest of Easter dinner. I bought a few jelly beans for decorations, and that was it! Family members brought various foods and it turned out great. He did find a turkey for $5 and cooked that as well. We just couldn’t pass that up!

Today, he went again for about $23 worth of odds and ends, and that’s all I need for a few days, so I”m getting off easy this week where groceries are concerned. I plan pulling lots of food from the freezers for the next couple of weeks. It’s time to start clearing out room for the upcoming summer’s garden . I was already able to pick cilantro and lettuce from some volunteer plants in the garden to use in meals. I still have quite a few onions from last summer’s garden, and we are using those daily.

I went out and worked in the yard for several hours last Friday, just because I was in the mood to be out in the sun! The benefit is a flowerbed out front that looks great. I can’t wait to do more.

Quite a few seeds have sprouted in the raised beds and the small portion of the garden Rob tilled with the tiny tiller a couple of weeks ago. It won’t be long….

Thriving In My thrifty Week–March 29, 2021

We spent last week at Beverly Beach State Park, camping. We had an extreme mix between gorgeous, sunny weather and windy, rainy days! Thankfully, we had a great travel day to drive down to the coast, and a showery mix on the way back today. During the first part of the week, it was just Patsy, Rob and myself. The second part of the week, we were joined by our niece and nephew. We specifically planned some activities just for Patsy, to spoil her a little while the other kids were not with us, and plenty of fun things for them all, once they arrived. We did crafts, played “hot and cold” as is tradition on our camping trips (with small prizes for them to find), and had glow sticks. There was lots of candy, movies, games and chips, involved. We were thrilled to take the lot of them to church in the nearby town on Sunday morning. Besides the obvious spiritual reasons to attend church, it provided a great outing for our “camper-bound” crew on a rainy morning. The wind blew so fiercely that night that the camper was actually shaking and we could hear it howling. It was an adventure, for sure.

We took many walks and hikes, some on the beach and some on the trail that winds its way around the campground along a pleasant stream.

Trails like this tempt me every time and I can rarely resist following them. I hiked this one twice. It wasn’t long, but it was lovely.

Another day, we drove down the coast, and yet another time we hiked a trail from the Newport Jetty to the South Beach State Park day use area.

We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium twice. We got a membership on-line before we went. The first time, we just took Patsy. She got to look at everything she wanted to without having to share her trip with the other kids. Then, we went back once the other two joined us, and we all enjoyed it again, together.

We had to call and get a ticket reservation each time, which was waiting at the ticket booth for us, for a certain time. We had to wear masks, and there were markings on the floor, so we could distance ourselves from others. Everyone waited patiently for everyone else, and surprisingly, we didn’t feel rushed and everyone got to see everything for as long as they wanted to. It was a one-way walk through the aquarium, and you could not backtrack. But, I believe you could have gone around again, if you wished. We were tired by then, so went out. By going those two times, we’ve already paid for our membership, but still can go all we want for the next year. We are thinking Patsy wants to do Marine Biology next year, so I’m sure she will want to visit again, and Michaela, especially, loves all kinds of animals.

On one of our walks, when we were out quite early, we came upon several salamanders. This one was plodding along, but was quite clumsy, and tumbled off this wooden block placed over a marshy spot on the trail. It was clear that he already had a owie on his back from some previous excursion, but Rob put him upright, and tried to steady him a bit and put him on a better path, but he just started on again immediately, tearing off to run into another little rock or dirt clod. It brought to mind Matthew West’s song, “Truth Be Told.” It’s one of Jake’s favorites and he can sing it all the way through, but it goes something like this: “I’m fine, yes I’m fine, oh I’m fine, yes, I’m fine, but I’m not, “I’m broken.” (It’s easy to find on U-tube). We got a chuckle out of this salamander, who did not have the sense to even rest up a minute or take the help Rob was offering….and while we were laughing at that silly salamander, we knew there was a lesson in there somewhere…..

Rob and Patsy went down to the beach frequently and collected agates, beach glass and other rocks and shells. Rob and I took walks together down the beach, then I took them alone when the kids got there. We switched off so someone could stay with them, once they were there.

The campsite we got this time was such a treat. It was up at the front of the campground, and I had an ocean view out of my camper window. Rob got this one by getting up at midnight, the very first day they were taking reservations for this time period, and clicked the button just in time. We’ve only been able to get reservations in that part of the park once before in our whole life, so we enjoyed every minute. Next time, we will camp elsewhere, but that will be fun, too!

I’ve been doing laundry since the moment I walked in the door, but there’s more. We used a lot of old towels, due to the mud and sand. I’m glad I have a washing machine, and we were able to take enough clothes and towels that we did not have to visit a laundromat, as we’ve done when the big kids were small. It’s always nice to not have to spend a lot of quarters:). Tomorrow, we will have a day to get back into the groove of things, and back to work on Wednesday. I have a bit of cleaning to do in preparation for Easter, a little cooking to do, and the garden is starting to need some attention. Last week was fun, and this one will be, too, in a different way!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 22, 2021

The most exciting thing we did this past week was taking a hike at Silver Creek State Park. We stuffed daypacks with food and water and took off on the first day we weren’t working. We used our park pass so we didn’t have to pay a parking fee, and took off down the trail. It was amazing! It has been years and years since Rob could hike on a “real” trail and he did great. He took his trekker poles to keep himself steady as there are very steep places on that trail. We didn’t rush, especially where the trail was rough. We went down into the canyon, saw several waterfalls, and hiked the rim trail back to the car, about 3-1/2 miles. We are already planning to take the longer loop later in the spring or summer, it was so fun!

It was wet and rough, and we still made it!

There were switchbacks, and we still made it. All of our daily walking is really starting to pay off for us! It’s our latest miracle. Seriously. One year ago, Rob could barely make it from the bedroom to the front room, and now look at him:). We feel so blessed!

We did some money-saving activities this week. I cooked and ground the last Sweetmeat squash. Rob’s cousin gave us this one and it’s held up well, but I wanted to get it cooked before it went bad. We ate some and I froze the rest.

The girls joined us for church again and then came over here for lunch afterwards and the baby happily ate squash. Rob and I took him out for a walk in the same stroller we used for Ja’Ana when she was little. It has been a good stroller for us. I’m glad we kept it.

We got to babysit one day, as his Mama got some extra hours at work.

We didn’t work with the kids very much this week, they had other things to so, so, instead, spent the week catching up on many appointments. We’ve worked so much with them lately that our hours will not be affected, so that’s good. We had eye appointments, several doctor appointments and even spent time with our other niece, Alissa. We are all getting new glasses. We were glad to get our tax refund, and used some of it to pay our co-pays for the glasses.

The garden dried out just enough that Rob could till a small section. First, he had to replace the carburetor in our very old small tiller. It cost him $20 to get a new one off of Amazon, instead of the couple hundred it would cost to get the tiller tuned up and the carburator replaced.

I then planted carrots, beets, lettuce, little cabbage plants Rob grew, spinach and snow peas. The next morning it started raining and hasn’t stopped since, so the garden is very soggy. We got our window of opportunity, and took it, and I’m glad!

The peas are finally coming up in the raised beds, so I will have English peas, snow peas, and climbing Sugar Snap peas. I also have lettuce and spinach up in the other covered bed, along with a few little cabbage plants. I was getting worried they weren’t going to come up, so I’m relieved they did. Some of the seeds were old, and some weren’t. I think it was just cold, so they came up slowly. There are no sweet pea flowers up yet, so those seeds were probably too old. But, who knows? Time will tell:)

The greenhouse is doing well, and there are hundreds of starts in there for us, and others. Rob got his automatic watering system going in there, and is satisfied with the settings, at last.

I went to Safeway and redeemed the coupons for the free items Patsy won in the Monopoly game a couple of weeks ago. We got French bread, ibuprophin, crackers, and 2 bottles of water for free. Then, for whatever reason, my Just for U offered olives and one other thing, so I got them, too, for free. We used the grocery rewards I’ve been saving and got 70 cents a gallon off, and filled the van. I got groceries for the rest of March, using sales and downloaded coupons. I just went a couple of times this month for main shopping and picked up a couple of other items on sale at other stores in between, and that worked well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 15, 2021

Several years ago, we got extra daffodil bulbs when my sister divider hers. Patsy planted them in front near the street and they get prettier every year. The first year there was one bloom on some of the plants. Now they are starting to multiply and will continue to do so until I will have to divide them in the future.Sometimes, we add in a few bulbs from Winco or other places, but mostly these are absolutely free flowers that just keep growing and growing. I weeded a tiny bit in that flower bed, but there’s lot more to do.

We spent the week cleaning up the tree Rob cut down last Monday. There’s still a bit left to pick up, but the majority of branches are gone. Rob borrowed a trailer to haul them away to my sister’s farm. The cardboard box was over some daffodils to keep them safe, and another one was covering the faucet. The chunks of wood will join the rest in the side yard, drying for next year. Then, I’m going to enrich the soil and plant a few things. I have not decided exactly what I’m planting, yet.

Rob’s been transplanting like crazy. He built some shelves up high in the greenhouse and is putting in an automatic sprinkler system to water things when we go camping. He’s doing some experimentation. It seems like the next thing he is going to try is 1 minute per day and see how it goes, after drenching them so badly he feared he had drowned them during the last trial run! (Do you notice a theme here lately….we are planning to make it to our camping trips this summer, unlike last summer when they got cancelled almost every time–nothing will stand in our way if we can help it, says the girl who already had to postpone one trip due to an ice storm! But, we will prevail, or if we have to cancel, it won’t be from lack of trying to go!)

The tomatoes are really starting to look good. They are not all for me, in case you were wondering if I was going on a “tomato only diet” in the summer:).

I made 3 kinds of soup this week. One was vegetable, one was chili and the other was a cream of broccoli, carrot and cauliflower with cheese, made from the little baggies of veggies in the school lunches and milk from the same place.

Rob had to stop off at Costco and grabbed a cooked chicken while he was there, so we’ve been eating that. He pulled steak from the freezer one day and then found that our niece, Alissa, accepted my invitation to eat lunch here on Sunday after church, so he saved it, cut it into smaller pieces and cooked it when she came over. She loves, loves, loves steak! Her brother and sister were already here, and they were so glad to see her. She works at a camp these days and isn’t home as much as they would like. We all were delighted to see her! As the day progressed, the party grew unexpectedly. 2 daughters and grandson came over, too, so I baked a lot of potatoes and cooked carrots, green beans and corn to stretch out the one package of meat he had thawed. It’s the garden that just keeps giving! I also used some of my home-canned apple pie filling to make an apple crisp. There was more than enough, and there were lots of leftovers for people to take home if they wished. Funny thing. There are still carrots and beans in the fridge…hmmmm….no one took those….hmmm.

I did some cleaning and yard work. It makes me feel calm when I get things tidied up. Of course, the clean house didn’t last long, since Jake and Michaela spent the weekend here, and we had the kids over on Sunday, but at least we started out clean:). It still felt good to know I had done it! I noticed that the kids all spread out nicely without being asked, so I felt happy that they were social distancing on their own.

I finally went to JoAnn’s and used some gift cards I received for Christmas. I got some cotton fabric, elastic, thread, and a few patterns. I plan to make some summer dresses for Patsy and maybe a top or two. I may even make myself a cool, flowing, oversized summer dress while I’m at it. Last summer, I wished I had one to throw on after working in the garden, since I often get quite hot out there.

I’ve been working on a dress for Patsy that was started some time ago, so need to finish that before I start anything else. I also made several masks. Some of ours are wearing out, and we lost a couple. Now that we’ve been going back to church, I am wearing masks more often.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 8, 2021

We have had some very mild weather this week. I took the opportunity to weed out the raised bed I planted last fall. It’s been covered with plastic over wood frames. We removed them, I weeded and planted, then put the coverings back on.

Kale, lettuce, boc choi, parsley, chives and a few scraggly snow peas wintered over. I planted tiny Quick Start Cabbages, Noble Spinach, lettuce, snow peas and some cilantro. I covered 2 of the cabbages with milk jugs to see if that speeds them up even more, as I’m down to my last couple of cabbages from the winter garden. The walnut shells are an experiment. Hopefully, they are sharp and the slugs won’t want to crawl on them.

I planted climbing sweet pea flowers behind the baby strawberry plants in my new raised beds in the side yard. There are a few bush snow peas, some green onions and a space for a very small patch of something else, still not decided on. In the far raised bed, there are Sugar Snap peas in the back that will grow up the fence and Maestro bush shelling peas in the front, filling the entire bed. It takes a lot of shelling peas to get any! The sweet pea seeds and the bush pea seeds are a bit old, but I wanted to give them a try now that I have a fence they can climb, if they grow.

Today, Rob took the fig tree down. It was in the front yard, and now there’s a huge mess! He did it gradually, though, starting with his pole saw, so I could pull branches away as he downed them. No cars were hurt, no power lines damaged and nothing hurts except our muscles. Boy, do they ache after using some that had clearly not been used for a while! We started that project right after we got back from a 2 mile walk. Not sure we thought that one through:). We will work a day or two more this week to get it all picked up and dealt with. Firewood was moved to another location to be loaded into the shed when the old wood is used up. (There’s some old wood in the back of the shed that needs to be used this year, so we can’t put new wood in front of it.)

Right at the end of the project, Rob’s bigger chain saw died, so he could not quite finish. He has already been watching U-Tube videos to see how to fix it, and also called a guy he knows for advice. We borrowed a trailer, and Rob and our next door neighbor will do a group dump run because neither of them have enough junk for a full load. They will split the dump fee that way. Then, we will fill the trailer with all these branches and he will haul it to my sister’s farm where it can be burned and return the trailer. The tree was very messy and dropped many, many leaves and unappetizing figs. (I think there are other varieties that taste better than this one.). A large piece of the tree broke off this winter, and part of the rest of it was rotten. It was time for it to go, and I won’t miss it. I will miss the interesting birds that came to eat the figs. I think my Sweet William, hydrangea and other flowers will do much better with more light. Even if we could have found an arborist who had time to come (they are super busy cleaning up after the ice storm), we wanted to do it ourselves to save $. And, although they would only charge $15 to dump a load of branches at the dump, free sounds like even a better price:) and Rob needs to drive that direction anyway to return the trailer.

Rob has been busily transplanting his seedlings. He has SO many this year! At last count, there were over 100 tomato seedlings of many various varieties. There are many old tried-and-true kinds and some new ones we wanted to try. He is growing starts for my sister’s garden this year and has several other people he wants to share with.

Jake and Michaela spent a lot of time over here this week. One day, Rob took Jake and Patsy to a park. They had a blast, and I love how Patsy looks in the dress my friend gifted her! She gave Patsy several clothing items she didn’t need anymore, and several of them fit, making Patsy very happy.

Uncle took Michaela to get her hair cut. It was her first time back in a salon for over a year. Grandma’s been keeping her trimmed and tidy through Covid, but she was excited to get back to her regular routine. She loves nothing more than having Rob drive her here and there and to have appointments and activities to do. He also took her to Horses of Hope, where she gets to either ride or interact with various therapy horses.

She also went with him to pick up pork from the meat shop. (She calls those kind of errands country drives and looks for trains, McDonald’s and Dairy Queens whenever he can drum up an errand that’s a little distance away). A man we know who raises pigs had 1/2 of a small one he could not sell and offered it to us for the price of cut and wrap. We gratefully accepted and it is residing in our freezer now. It was about 80 pounds of meat, and it ended up a little over $1/lb for the cut and wrap fees.

And, what would my blog be without babies? We were blessed to be able to spend some time with Rob’s family–the first time in over a year. We had not seen a couple of the family members for over 2 years, and had never seen the youngest baby.

It’s crazy to think of, but both of these little boys are Rob’s great nephews. His nephew’s son is 2, and niece’s son is 1. They were born almost exactly 1 year apart from each other. There was a birthday party on Sunday afternoon. I had never met either little boy, so spent some time crawling on the floor, getting acquainted. The older little cutie has seen Rob before, and spent the party pointing his little finger at Rob across the room saying, “That’s Uncle Rob!” So cute:). Although Rob has occasionally been able to see his mother this past year, it’s been very limited, and even more so for me as we have so strictly limited our exposure to her, as she is in her upper 80’s. I was able to have a nice chat with her, and I enjoyed catching up. She heard Rob was raising plants and told me she had told some people at the party that they no longer needed to buy any, just go see Rob:). Good thing he has a lot!! He really does have some to share, so that’s good.

Now that so many in that group are vaccinated, we felt comfortable accepting the invitation. I did notice people keeping their distance more than they used to. This pandemic has changed us all in small ways, as well as the large, more obvious ones.

We were able to go to church again this Sunday. The girls wanted to go, too, so we picked them and our grandson up and hauled them along. The baby was great. Once again, he fell asleep on Rob for the sermon. The cutest thing was he woke up at the end and when Rob held him up during the last song, he started singing little baby praises with everyone else. So sweet!

I’m looking forward to getting outside more this coming week. There are so many daffodils blooming now. I’m loving them. I’ll try to get a picture of the front of the house where Patsy planted so many bulbs from my sister’s yard a few years ago. They are just about to burst into bloom. They should be lovely in a few days. Every year, we try to buy her a small handful of “fancy” daffodils to put in there with the others, and I’m interested to see what came up from this last batch. Hopefully, that ice storm was winter’s last hurrah, and spring is here to stay!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week– March 1, 2021

We finally got to go camping! We had hoped to go a week ago, but the ice storm ruined our fun. Last summer, trip after trip was cancelled from Rob’s surgery, wildfires, Covid closing campsites, and so on. We hardly got to go. It was starting to feel like de ja vu, but we found an available spot when we had to postpone.

Most of last week was spent busily cooking, cleaning, watching the baby and driving the girls around, as they did not get power until Tuesday night. They were out for 11 nights–they finally went home that very night once power was restored. That day was beyond busy, as there were so many errands, trips to take people here and there, that Rob and I think we drove out 13 times between the two of us to take someone somewhere, or get prescriptions, etc.! Yikes. Hands down, it’s the most we’ve done in one day since Covid started!!!

We even managed to squeeze in our son, Anthony’s, birthday party. We had to change times on him once, which is not good for autistic/Aspberger’s sons, as he loves his routine, so we had to just carry on by putting them on one end of the table, us on the other and all the girls and baby in the other room with their plates. It felt great to be able to get together at last and he had a good time.

I made him a cake–chocolate, as requested. Of course, this all happened on the same day as all the errands, and the power returning to the girls’ house. So, while Rob was taking him home, I took the girls home, helped turn on the breakers, helped clean the rotten food from the fridge, and took Lovana shopping. We went to Grocery Outlet, and she re-filled her fridge. At least most things were bargains at that store. The next day, I picked up a few other items for them that were forgotten, and took a few things from my storage. It was so nice to have extra to share.

The baby was gifted a port-a-crib by one of my friends, and he was popped right in it in front of their gas fireplace and was settling down all cozy and warm when I finally went home.

I finished getting ready Wednesday, then we finally got away on Thursday. We were pretty tired, so the first day, we didn’t do much, and in fact swapped off taking naps.

We took a few walks. We saw this tree on a hike we took.

Rob and Patsy went rock hunting, but the surf was so wild, and high that they didn’t stay long. Rob felt it was actually dangerous where they were, so left after they scrambled higher onto the path and watched waves cover the path where they just were a minute before. We took a drive one day, and saw even more wild waves. That was the day we got candy at a candy store, and Rob waited in line outside of a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant next door to the candy shop and ordered 2 large fries, thinking we could all share. What he got was 2 huge take-out cartons of plank fries, piping hot and delicious, and we couldn’t even finish them between the 4 of us. What a nice treat!

I had been preparing the camper for this camping season for several weeks–cleaning, organizing, and so forth. I had already filled the fridge with fresh veggies and dairy products when we realized we were not actually going last week. I was able to bring all of that into the house, of course, and not waste it. I found great deals when I went to replace it when we found we could get away last Thursday. One item was milk for 44c/1/2 gallon. I prefer 1/2 gallons in the camper anyway, so it was a super sweet deal for me.

We take our own food, purchased at sale prices or in bulk and transferred into containers. Even the most hard-core McDonald’s lover realized that we cannot pull through a drive through on our way to camping, so he does not beg us to do that. Whew!!! I cooked several things ahead of time such as chili, pork Chile verde, taco meat, hard-boiled eggs and cooked white rice (for Jake mostly). I bought bagels and cream cheese for an easy breakfast in the car this morning on our way home. (Rob never wants to cook a big breakfast, or even sit down while he is packing up, so eats in the car on the day we go home.). Our camper has a very nice propane stove, fridge and freezer, they are just small. Rob often cooks outside, but we knew the weather was going to be rainy part of the time, so I made other arrangements this trip. We did manage one hot dog roast, though.

Of course, Jake went camping with us, as he does every time he can manage it. I did several hours of school with him Friday morning, but otherwise, he was free to play.

Rob and the kids found a garage sale and Jake bought a Mousetrap game for $1. He and I spent an afternoon building the trap and simply trapping the plastic mice. It was pretty fun. He and Patsy played with it another hour or so, and I put it away for next time we go. We also played Quixx and he built his camper Legos. I read aloud for hours, as he became interested in a book about the Dutch resistance in WWII, “The Winged Watchman.”

We even got to go to church on Sunday. We chose one Rob had heard good things about in the town near the campground, and had a nice, socially distanced service. They were following mask wearing to the max, so we felt very safe, and had a wonderful time. Since last Sunday was our first time back in any church building for a year, we didn’t want to miss the second chance we had to go! Everyone was as friendly as can be from 6 feet distance, the sermon was enlightening, and the kids got cookies in little packages afterwards, making them very happy!

It was fun to get away, and equally fun to come home. We got everything put away, and the laundry was started. The weather was so nice this afternoon, Rob and I took a good walk, then I worked outside in the yard, clipping and pruning and weeding, until the yard debris bin was full, just in time for it to be emptied tomorrow. I always like it when it starts to feel like spring and I can get outside!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–February 22, 2021

This has been a crazy week, dealing with the aftermath of the ice storm. But, the weather has gone back to being our normal rainy, mild weather, and we were able to get a few routine things done around here.

Rob tied up the raspberry plants. The back row is an everbearing variety that was here when we moved in. The wires were falling down, and the berries were never very sweet. We decided to give them another chance to produce, because they usually give us berries (kind of small, sour ones, but berries nonetheless) early in the spring and again in the fall. So, Rob replaced the wires, dug the stray “babies” out of the middle of the row, and tied them up. With the peach tree gone, we are hoping the extra sunshine and water will sweeten them up.

He also tied up the June-bearing ones that are so big, sweet and tasty that I have carried little plants with me from house to house as I have moved. Growing our own berries saves us a lot of money each year. More than saving money, we enjoy knowing that we have raised the berries ourselves and preserve them for our winter use. We would simply go without most of the time if we needed to pay the going price for raspberries in the winter.

I was surprised to pick an artichoke from those bushes you see by the blue bucket. I really wasn’t expecting to find one in the winter, right after an epic ice storm, but……there it was!

Rob picked all the Yukon Blend lettuce and Buttercrunch that was in the greenhouse. Then, he put the boxes outside, just in time for the ice storm to hit. I went ahead and cleaned out the weeds when I saw that they had survived!!! We might as well see if we get another cutting. This was the second cutting for some of the plants and some did not make it, but some seem to want to re-grow already. Time will tell what they do. They seem to be the lettuce plants that just keep giving:). The cilantro on the side is growing just fine, too.

Rob’s tomatoes and peppers are starting to come up. Peppers, especially, take a long time to grow and he likes to transplant his tomatoes a time or two to get them really large.

Power has been slow in coming back. The girls and baby are still with us, as theirs is still out. Last night was the 10th night without. They had somewhere to go–here–but it’s sobering to think about those who are still sitting in dark, cold houses.

We have been enjoying all the time spent with the little guy. He’s grown and changed in just the 10 days he’s been here. What a blessing he is. We went to Safeway to stock up on a few things. His mama needed a few things, so he got to go with us. He loved the store, and the people in the store loved him. We had to be careful to keep a proper distance between him and the other customers, some of which wanted to get really close…

I was delighted to get shrimp for only $2.97/lb. That’s the best deal I can remember. We got a few other things, too, as we are going through more food with the extra crowd. For the most part, however, we have been easily managing meals with what I have on hand, which has been nice. We’ve had white rice on a plate with butter, under stir-fry, and with cinnamon-sugar and milk for breakfasts, shrimp, fish, vegetarian vegetable soup, lots of refried beans/tacos/burritos, salads, several jars of canned fruit, Patsy’s chicken-peanut stir fry, turkey-rice soup, odds and ends from the freezer, bits from the school lunches, smoothies, and on it goes. It’s nice to have such a variety to choose from.

We had planned to make last Sunday our first Sunday back at church, but it was too chaotic with the ice storm. So, yesterday, we loaded everyone up and went. It was so good to be back, even with all the precautions. Rob held Malcolm the whole service and he slept the whole time. So, we even got to listen:). We were wearing masks, far from other people, and they started scrubbing things the minute we left to make it clean for the next service. It was different, but we are so glad we went.

Then, we saw some friends for lunch, and ate a wonderful lunch at their house, all spaced out along their extremely long table. It made my day. I haven’t seen these particular friends for such a long time, due to Covid, so it was amazing to get to visit.

I hope all of you that are suffering with bad weather are doing ok. It’s been a hard winter for many. I saw a news story on a person that got a power bill in Texas that was several thousand dollars. I don’t understand how that could be possible, because I missed that part of the story (dealing with the baby or something). I’m very thankful that they don’t figure the cost of power here in Oregon that way–raising the cost when power is scarce. I hope that is not happening to any of you!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Even with An Ice Storm! February 14, 2020

What a week it has been! We are having a “historic” ice storm, as they are calling it on the news. North of us, in Portland, they have inches and inches of snow, plus ice, so my sister who works there had to go to work and stay there. It’s really not safe to drive there. Salem got hit with ice. It hasn’t been super safe here, either.

We had branches with up to an inch of ice on them. Countless trees fell in our neighborhood and power lines were in the road, in yards–broken from the weight of all the ice.

We had quite an adventure when our neighbor knocked on our door late one evening, saying he heard the tree behind both our houses creaking and cracking. Of course, we could not move the shop out of harm’s way, but we tore out there, hooked up the camper and moved it.

Of course, it was raining the whole time–freezing rain to be exact, and our van window was completely iced over with a thick sheet of ice. Since there was no time to de-ice it, what with trying to escape a tree that might be falling, Rob had me get in, and he gave me instructions to drive it back so he could hook up, then he wanted me to pull out of the gate, completely blind, following verbal directions that were being yelled out! After getting dangerously close to the house eves with the camper, I bailed out and let Rob finish the job, with help from both me and the neighbor. Which goes to prove 2 things: 1) My claim that Rob can drive the camper so good he could do it blindfolded is true, and 2) I never, ever will apply for a job as a blind van driver.

The tree never fell, thank goodness, but many branches fell from it. It took until Sunday morning for us to get the area safely cleared and for things to thaw out enough to put the camper back behind the gate where it belongs. We are so glad we cleared out the arborvitae a few weeks ago. More of the top branches fell and Rob had to cut them off before he could put the camper back. There will be a whole street full of full yard debris bins this week, I think! Ours is certainly full. We are very thankful that the camper that was just fixed does not need repairs again!

Family members piled into each others’ houses, wherever there was power. Ours stayed on the entire time, except for very brief outages. Others were not so fortunate. The worst night, there were constant flashes in the sky, thousands and thousands of outages, and numerous problems resulting from these problems. The street right behind us and almost every street near us lost power. All night long, the calm of the night was punctuated with crashes and cracks and falling branches.

Today, we took a walk. We saw at least 15 people cleaning up yards and sawing branches. This was one street that seemed especially hard hit. One man showed us his power line in his yard and said it was colder in the house than outside. Many streets have been closed. Near the end of our walk, we saw a man standing in the middle of the intersection. He was jubilant because his power had came on and stayed for 2 minutes this time–and pointed out power truck and workers a few blocks up a hill. Now and then, we could hear a generator running, or see smoke coming out of a chimney and knew those houses were a little warmer than the others. Everyone had a story, and they all wanted to share it. It was the most interaction we have ever had on a walk.

I find it quite ironic that we have a small generator, camp stoves, an entire camper that runs on propane, cupboards of food, Dutch ovens and a small fire pit in the back yard and yet our power stayed on and we needed none of those things, while others lost their power and had no way to build fires, cook, or be comfortable. We actually felt very sad and a little guilty as we walked along and wished we could help everyone. But, we can’t, so we did what we could.

We absolutely got the best deal and lots of entertainment at our house. Power is still not on in many neighborhoods, including the baby’s, so we still have a full house. Grandpa Rob spent the day today cutting down broken branches, tending to his greenhouse, cuddling with baby, cooking, and doing dishes. He also walked over 3 miles and kept the dog from licking poor Malcolm in the face since she’s decided he is either a puppy or a new toy. Rob looks exhausted. We all feel a bit tired, I will admit!

The baby is now crawling all over. He eats any and all trash he can find, so we have been constantly sweeping. It was especially funny when we caught him chewing on an advertisement for “Clean Eating” magazine! I guess he wants to be healthy:) He’s a lot of fun right now.

I’m thankful tonight that people I love are all right, safe and warm and for the time spent with those who came here. I’m thankful for power, and a huge food storage and all that wood Rob chopped this fall. We had no trouble feeding a few extras, and I just had Rob stop for an extra gallon of milk today while he was out and about helping chop up some branches at my sister’s. He said the store was slammed, with people pushing full carts of water, food that could be easily eaten like lunchmeat and bread, and other items they needed. He said the store looked like it had been wrecked, with food in the aisles, empty shelves in some places, and items displaced all over.

I’m thankful that our house, shop, camper and cars made it through unscathed, but most of all for the safety of our friends and family. I’m looking forward to a calmer week!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–February 7, 2020

Rob started many seeds in the greenhouse this week. He focused on flowers, tomatoes and peppers to start with, and will be adding more kinds of vegetables before long. I just realized I forgot to tell him the onion seeds need to go in soon….they take a long time, as well. Last year, he had great success with some of these plants that take a little longer to reach transplant size by re-potting them into little cartons one or even two times as they outgrew their small cells. Patsy wrote out a lot of tags for him so he can hopefully avoid mixing things up this year. He was a little frustrated by a few rogue plants last year!

He’s got some pansies and cilantro up. He’s also got some fine-leaved plant in the midst of the cilantro that isn’t cilantro. Since they are his own saved seeds, he figures they might be poppy seeds that fell to the bottom of the bag. We’ll know before long. The encouraging news is that some of his saved seeds are sprouting!

He decided to try to root some Daphne. I hope it does root. I’ve always had a bush wherever I’ve lived and there isn’t one here, yet.

He picked another large container full of his winter lettuce. It has, however, been moved out of the greenhouse to allow for the new seedlings, so we will see if this cold spell they say is coming does it in, or if it is truly hardy.

I accomplished a huge project this past week. I used every spare moment for several days unloading, sorting, and re-loading the camper’s food supply. I always keep a full pantry out there, as we cook constantly while we camp. There were cans, home-filled jars and boxes of things under the bench seats that haven’t been needed for quite some time. In fact, some of those cans had been there since we lived in the camper a few summers ago. They were there as extras in case I ran out of something. I was ruthless and rotated every single item out with things canned this past summer, or with dates of later in 2021 or higher. I brought the older food in and we followed the “clean the camper menu plan” all week. Almost all the food was still good, expect for some things like crackers that had been overlooked. I had been through the cupboards that we use more frequently last fall, but still rotated the items out for longer-dated items. There is still plenty of food out there, but I pared it down quite a bit. We don’t need as much as we used to, as we are feeding less people when we do go camping.

For many reasons, we did not camp much last summer, and we hope to make up for it this summer. Our camper had a huge issue a few weeks back and began to leak badly, but now it’s fixed, and home, and filled with good food to eat, so things are looking hopeful. The night they extended the ability to make camping reservations 6 months ahead, Rob got up at midnight and made a bunch of them.

Now Rob can make plans to do some more wonderful Dutch oven cooking for us.

Of course, a certain little boy is begging to go with us. He’d love to do some fishing like he did last year. Patsy is excited, as well. This picture is at Coffenbury Lake, at Ft. Stevens State Park. We’d love to go there again, but late summer, so we need for the reservations to open up for that time slot. We’ll see what happens. In the meanwhile, we have some places closer to home to camp at over the next few months. It takes less gas, especially for shorter camping trips, to choose spots closer to home, and we have more time to enjoy our camping since it takes less time to drive there. We plan to drag Michaela along at least once. She’s been hesitant, as new situations are difficult for her, but I believe she will enjoy it once she tries it.

Rob and I had our second Covid shot. Contrary to what others have experienced, we did not suffer any adverse side effects, other than I had a slightly sore arm for one day. Rob didn’t even feel it. Of course, he does have a whole row of healing stitches in his elbow…..just went through 2 surgeries….used to suffer terribly with hip pain….just sayin’. The man knows what real pain is! But, he did not get chills, a fever, flu-like symptoms or any of that, either, and neither did I. We were told it took 1 week to become fully effective. We are giving it a little more time since there is so much conflicting information out there…wearing masks, social distancing, etc., regardless, but do look forward to attending church and visiting some friends for the first time in a year, before too much more time passes. I’m excited!!