Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 18, 2022

This week was filled with ordinary, everyday activities. One fun thing Rob did was to put up this bird feeder. He made it from a recycled juice container and some wood. Our grandson loves birds. We are hoping they find this feeder pretty soon, as it is right outside a window he can look out of easily. So far, he’s only seen 2 when he’s been here. But he loved both of them:)

Rob also finished up a dresser he’s been fixing up for the babies to put their clothes in. He got it free, rebuilt the drawers, sanded it, painted it glossy black (per our daughter’s wishes), and added drawer pulls. There weren’t any. He used wooded ones he had on hand and painted them dark, dark blue. He’s been working on this project for a few weeks, so it felt great to him to be able to deliver it the other day.

Like I said…..the week wasn’t super exciting, but I need weeks like that! I mended several items. Since Rob wears this shirt outside to get firewood from the woodpile and other chores, I just sewed up the tear he made, using the sewing machine. He promptly tore it again a couple of days later, so I sewed it up again.

I also mended some items for other family members and even a stuffed toy for Jake, my nephew. His stuffed toys keep developing tears at the seams. He’s convinced it is “bad fabric” and Auntie’s is better. I’m convinced the thread is weak, or the wear and tear is great….maybe a little bit of both:).

I spent some time tidying up in the garage. It’s used as an extra living area and often becomes a dumping ground for extra items, so I try to get out there and clean now and then.

I cooked quite a few things, as usual. I made this berry-apple crisp from some wild blackberries Rob picked last summer. I added pieces of various apples his sister gave us. I’ve never had apples that are pink and purple inside. This fall, she took a seasonal job at a large apple grower’s fruit stand up near Hood River, Oregon, where she lives and got to take 5 lbs of apples home, per day she worked. I guess they have fancy kinds, and I heard she had way more apples than she knew what to do with, so she sent some down for us. Of course, I thickened, and topped the crisp, but wanted to show the gorgeous apples and berries!

I made a tuna/white bean salad. I was in a hurry, but had nothing thawed, at one meal time, so chopped up celery, onions and some canned sweet peppers and mixed them into our home-canned tuna and a can of white beans. I dressed it with sun-dried tomato salad dressing I wanted to use up. It was different from what I usually make, but tasted good.

I made Chex mix from some Chex and a few pretzels that had been around for a while. I added some roasted hazelnuts.

I used lots of broth I had previously frozen, home-canned carrots, frozen bits of chicken, celery, rice and onion to make chicken-rice soup. My sister gave me some manicotti she made–yum–and I also made turkey meatballs and used my home-canned pasta sauce to make a penne pasta/meatball casserole.

As we do this time of year, we emptied many, many canning jars, and freezer cartons and baggies. Since I re-use the baggies if they are still in good shape, my sink has looked quite funny with bags draped over every tall cup or spoon:)

Last summer, we filled these crates with extra jars of various canned goods I made. This week, Rob and I spent some time rotating some empty jars into the bottom crates and putting more full ones on the shelves. If you look closely at my canning, you see a film of wood dust all over it….that’s what you get when you share space with someone who is sanding an old dresser:). Thankfully, it wipes off easily, but we have been throwing around some ideas about how to keep my jars from getting so dusty.

Rob paid Patsy to help him clean out the greenhouse and he planted some peppers and onions. I found I had forgotten to order my Carmen pepper seeds when I ordered. Oops! I ordered some yesterday. At least the Lola (light green),Mixed colors, California Wonder (green), Jalepeno, Ancho, Serrano, and Anaheim and planted. I have been planting Carmen for years, since they turn red earlier than most. They are a longer, Italian pepper and taste the same as other red peppers to me. I like to cut up mixed bags of pepper chunks for use in the winter.

This time, I ordered from Pinetree, as I really like them, as well. Since I was ordering anyway, and had to pay postage anyway, I ordered some flowers for him for his birthday. He seems to really enjoy growing things these past few years.

He went to the Dollar Store and things were still $1, vs. the $1.25 they keep threatening to raise the prices to. The seeds had arrived. He got a handful of different packets, including Danvers 1/2 Long carrots, dill, and some flowers. Danvers carrots work just fine for me in my garden. I do put coffee grounds down the rows, as I read to do a few years ago and it really does seem to help with the wireworm problem.

We used all the Bottle Drop money for groceries and spent the money we would have used for a 25 lb. bag of gluten free flour, about $50. It is what it is, and we were delighted to be able to get that this month!

I’m looking forward to another nice, ordinary week ahead.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–January 10, 2021

My seeds have arrived! I ordered them all from Territorial this year for several reasons. It saved shipping fees. I got the varieties I wanted. (I look for certain traits in different vegetables, such as short-season growing and disease resistance in tomatoes, especially.). I love their seeds because they grow well for me.

Rob saved quite a few seeds this past summer and we will plant those. We will also look at the Dollar Store for seeds for things that I don’t care about variety on, such as green onions and dill. They are not there, yet. I’m not really worried, because if they never show up, those are the things that seem to self-seed quite easily and they may just pop up in the garden all on their own.

As I think I mentioned last week, I spent a morning with my niece, sorting out all the old seeds and saved seeds to make sure I ordered only what I needed. It was still over $100. Some years, I spend much more than that, and it was nice to not need so many this time. Regardless, it is always worth the money I spend to me as I get back so much from my investment. I do not want to do the amount of work I do for a small yield, or to have the plants not produce in time, or die of blight, which has happened to me before.

We need to organize the greenhouse and planting supplies very soon. Some things, such as peppers and onions need to be planted before long. Others can wait a little longer.

We only bought a few items at the regular grocery store this past week. For the most part, we cooked with preserved items or pantry items. I did an Azure Standard order for myself and my sister. For myself, I mainly got pantry items, such as gluten-free pasta and cleaning supplies. I also pulled several odds and ends from the freezer for meals, mainly things that had been frozen during the holidays when there was too much food around to eat before it went bad.

I used up odds and ends in the fridge, too. A small amount of pesto in a jar was thrown into a soup. Yum! We were given that jar a while back, and it was nice to finish it off. There were 6 corn tortillas that had been lingering, so I made a casserole with home-canned salsa verde, chicken and cheese to use those.

I made soup from home-canned carrots, beans, broth, tomatoes and 1/2 lb. hamburger. I made spaghetti, using our home-made pasta sauce from our garden tomatoes. Small bits of jams, relishes, and fruit were finished, too. I had to carry out 2 baskets of empty jars to the shop last week! That’s a success in my book. If I’m cooking with my own preserved foods, everyone is getting fed without me spending an excessive amount of money. At this point, I don’t plan to raise my grocery budget, even if food prices continue to rise. I seem to be able to still get some good deals, and have so much food on hand to use.

Rob returned all of our bottles and cans. He hadn’t done it for quite some time, as in months. It took him 2 days. We had cans the girls and others had given us, plus the ones we found while walking, and our empties. He put $70 on our Bottle Drop card, and I will use that for groceries one of these days! I will use the +20% feature at Safeway or Fred Meyers to stretch that money even further.

Patsy and Jake continue to do puzzles when they have spare time. I only have time to put in a few pieces now and then, but it’s fun when I do.

We spent a couple of days with the babies, as usual. Zai is starting to eat a little food, so that’s been fun. Mac continues to eat everything I put in front of him, except bananas, which I find odd, but…..We took walks, read endless books, played toys and, yes…watched the Wiggles.

We also had an entire day where we didn’t do anything. No babies, no kids, no big projects, just a nap. Frankly, I was ready for that! I did manage to clean the bathroom and cook something, but that was about it. Pretty easy day! I need that now and then.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–January 3, 2022

This past week was very laid-back around here. We played with babies. We slept in a lot. We cooked whatever we felt like eating…..or didn’t cook–just ate odds and ends. We had snow several days, which is uncommon around here, so we hibernated. We only had our niece and nephew with us for one day, and Patsy spent a couple of nights with her cousins. Ahhhh……

But, we did manage to do a few money-saving activities in-between all the laying around!

I canned up the rest of the pineapple we had purchased on sale for either 99c or $1.50 around Christmas. Two stores had them, and the sale went on for a couple of weeks, so in the end, I was able to get 8, buying the limit at various places. I have over 20 jars canned, mostly 1/2 pints, but there are a few pints in the mix as well.

Along with all the little jars, we ate fresh pineapple several times, and I made pineapple stir-fried rice for the second time. I’ve done it with both shrimp and chicken now, and it’s great!

We got some great bargains at the grocery store. We bought 97c/doz. eggs, 2-lbs shredded cheese for $4.97, used a $10/off $50 coupon, and got lots of produce. Our daughter went with Rob to buy a few sale groceries at one store and paid for it. She said, “well, we eat over there all the time,” which is true, but he was still pleasantly surprised.

A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed when I stumbled upon a situation where I could get both my Covid booster and my flu shot at Safeway, plus 10% off my groceries. I was buying quite a few groceries, and saved a lot! I already had many coupons electronically clipped to my account, was able to get the shrimp I purchased for 1/2 price, and bought lots of sale items anyway, so the additional amount off was a nice bonus. I had recently returned from vacation, so was out of many things. I had been putting in some work trying to find a place to get both of those shots, so was very fortunate in being able to do a walk-in on the very day I was shopping for a larger-than-normal amount of groceries:). Later, when Rob tried to get his shots (more than once) he was told there was no availability for that and wouldn’t be for quite some time. He both called and just showed up, to no avail. A few days later, he found a drive-thru clinic for the Covid shot, but still has to find a flu shot.

We had a big family birthday party on Saturday. We celebrated 3 January birthdays and one February birthday. We had a Mexican feast. Everyone brought different things. Rob made carne asada for the first time. It came out great!

I made pork verde. I used my home-canned salsa verde and cooked it in the crock pot until it was very tender.

I’ve been trying out the new air-fryer I got for Christmas. I used my Instant Pot and my Crock Pot several times this past week. When I have extra time, I love to use my appliances so I have quick and easy recipes in my mind that I can make when I’m busy.

We saved the most money of all by the choice of pony my sister chose to give the boys. Right now, baby brother is too young for horses, so Mac took it over. The feed and hay bills are non-existent, and stable fees are very low. Riding lessons were free, compliments of Grandma, and he can already ride better than she can, which was pretty easy to accomplish. We didn’t even have to buy a horse trailer, as he fits into the back of the car, since horsey had to go back to auntie’s house for the birthday party and then over here for several hours yesterday!

We also had hours of free entertainment watching “The Wiggles.” One daughter pays for Netflix for Rob every year as his Christmas gift, so it is truly free for us. We watched it over and over and over and over and over……When I tried to put on a different show, he just turned his head away, went and got the remote and fussed at me until I got the message:) (The Wiggles are an Australian group that sings and dances for preschoolers–good exercise and a little learning is involved, but mostly nursery-rhyme type songs. It’s really not so bad–it’s just that we have seen all the episodes multiple times…..)

There are several things I typically do in January. First, I often clean things. I’ve already been doing small bits of deep cleaning, so I have a good start on that. Second, I tend to eat more healthy and exercise more. I’ve already been using up the holiday desserts and not replacing them, and so forth. The rain has been extremely heavy and we’ve had snow, so it’s only been the past few days that we’ve gotten walks of any length. Third, I try to save money. I tend to use up pantry and home-preserved items even more than usual. I’m on board to do all that this year, as well.

The other thing Rob and I have been doing is taking a small plastic bag with us on our frequent walks. We have been picking up cans and bottles. It’s been amazing how many we’ve found since we started picking them up. Bottle Drop will even take cans that have been ran over and are totally flat, as long as they are not 1/2 gone. Who knew? Today, when Rob returned all of our personal cans and bottles, he received $1.10 just in smashed cans, and easily over $5 worth that we had just picked up alongside the road. Better yet, one day, I found a dollar bill laying on the ground, and occasionally we have found coins.

The year’s off to a great money-saving start already!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 26, 2021

We have had a wonderful 2 weeks getting ready for, and celebrating Christmas. I found that it wasn’t feeling a lot like Christmas for me, after returning from our trip. So, Rob and I decided to spend time on some activities that made it more meaningful to us.

We made many batches of caramel corn and used some as gifts and ate some at holiday gatherings. My neighbor then borrowed my popper, as hers broke, and she made a lot, too. She gave us some, as well, which we gobbled up on Christmas Eve.

Most of the activities didn’t cost much, if anything. One day Rob and Patsy were at Grocery Outlet getting some lunchmeat I wanted to use for Christmas Eve. Just as they were leaving, as a total coincidence, the girls showed up with the boys. Rob and Patsy immediately took the babies into the car with them while the girls did their shopping and I guess there are lots of things to do with face masks:)

We made a gingerbread house.

He knew what to do with the candy….

Patsy, Michaela and Jake were invited to a cookie decorating party. I had fun taking them.

Rob, Michaela and Patsy delivered gifts to some friends and family we weren’t going to see on Christmas. Our gifts are simple–some home-canned items, cookies, caramel corn, etc., but it’s nice to say Merry Christmas to people.

We attended special services at church. That one thing, especially the one on Christmas Eve, makes it feel like Christmas to me. Afterwards, as we have done for many, many years, we open our gifts in our immediate family. This year, the girls came and brought the babies over, so it was twice as fun.

As babies often do, Zai liked the paper better than the presents:)

My sister made a very special spread for Christmas Day.

Everyone contributed things, but she orchestrated the entire thing. (And, yes, I know the proper term for it, but please, please don’t ask me to spell it!)

My niece, Alissa, wanted mashed potatoes, and even teased that she wasn’t coming if there couldn’t be potatoes. So, I was given the job of bringing potatoes. I made her mashed potatoes, potato soup, twice-baked cheesy potatoes and potato skins. Just to be silly.

Christmas night, it snowed. What can I say? The perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas week!

We did a few mundane activities, as well. There were lots of incredible grocery deals, such as pineapple for 99c at one store and $1.50 at another. We gathered several, getting the limits at both places, and I canned 16 small jars of pineapple, as well as enjoyed them fresh.

We got 97c/carton ice cream, 77c/loaf bread and eggs, and many other inexpensive groceries. Our freezers are so full that we almost didn’t get the ice cream–no room–but Rob remembered the camper freezer was empty so we loaded it up with bread and ice cream. We also got the items we needed for our holiday gatherings. I’m doubting I need much this week, other than perhaps a little produce or dairy. I have quite a few leftovers to use, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 3, 2021

We’ve had more spare time this week than we’ve had for quite some time. The main reason for that is because we babysat the grandsons less this week. That is one reason I’m writing this post early. We spent a little of that time decorating for Christmas, did some shopping, cooking, and extra cleaning.

My sister and brother-in-law put a wreath on our door while we were out. I added a few decorations to it from my stash.

I was able to use some art my niece made as a backdrop to the little trees Rob made last year. I love putting things I already have together in new ways to get a whole new effect from them.

Now I feel ready for the next few weeks. We kept it simple. I will not host the “big family” for Christmas, instead, I will go to my sister’s house. I will have a few of my children over at least once, my niece and nephew staying for a few days later in the month, and our own nuclear family to enjoy the Christmas cheer.

Most of our gifts are already purchased, and those remained simple this year, as well. As tempting as it was, we did not go overboard with buying things for the babies. Instead, we got a few useful items, and we plan to spend time with them.

This was clean-the-fridge week. I only bought a couple of items, including whole milk for the baby. For the rest of the meals, I used all the leftovers I could find in the fridge from Thanksgiving and we pulled several proteins from the freezers and thawed them in readiness for quick meals. This picture is spaghetti made with home-canned pizza/pasta sauce and some buckwheat noodles we got at a scatch-and-dent store for 99c/box. They look kind of funny, but taste great. Contrary to their name, “buckwheat”, they are a gluten-free option and I’m all for it when I get anything gf for 99c!

My Mom left some cranberry relish here after Thanksgiving dinner. I ate a bunch of it because it tasted amazing, but could not eat it all. I decided to make some cranberry bread with the rest of it. I just put it in instead of the cranberries called for. The bread came out great, even though I was afraid it would be too moist. I have no idea how much I put in or anything, so I can’t exactly make it again, but I’m glad I found a way to use that delicious relish up! We will eat one or two of the mini loaves and freeze the others for later.

As always, we filled our days with simple activities and children. I took my niece and nephew to the park. We got some library books and movies for the now-open (finally) library–ahhhh:). We watched some movies on Disney+ since one daughter put it on our t.v. and we could.

I did watch Malcolm one afternoon/evening while his mother and auntie cleaned like maniacs for a walk-through by their landlord. They had plenty of notice, but the babies are messy so they wanted to finish without the 16-month-old. It went well for them, and I’m glad. While he was here, I pushed him up and down some surrounding streets in his stroller as it was getting near dusk. We both really enjoyed the lights and decorations we saw. He’s at the stage where he waved at every car, called out “dog” to every reindeer he saw and craned his neck almost backwards to see things he really liked. Fun! I’m glad to let the girls clean and keep all the fun in these cases:). Then we danced to the Wiggles, played with the cloth Nativity set, looked at books with Grandpa, and the girls ended the evening by bringing take-and-bake pizza for us all.

Enjoy the season. That’s our plan for the next few weeks. We’ve made a good start.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 29, 2021

The kids and I made a turkey platter just for them:). One kind of turkey was rice cereal treat balls on gluten-free Oreos with candy corn feathers and beaks.

The other one was from a library book and was a Rolo on a gf pretzel, candy corn feathers and an M and M beak. You put the candy on the pretzel and put it in the oven for a little bit. But, although I did 2-3 minutes, it was too much and the Rolos melted way too much, so I will do 1 minute next time. Most of the kids in the family don’t actually like turkey, but they liked this turkey platter.

I only had 2 days of school with Jake last week, so we read more about Pilgrims, made these special treats, I read aloud a book called “Molly’s Pilgrim” plus finished up a Hardy Boys book we were reading. He read aloud to us, choosing any story he wanted from his easy reader Bible and some others. Some of the books were from recent yard sales, or left over from years past, so he got a week of what we called “fun school” for pennies. The kids also worked on a fall-themed puzzle while I read and at other times for hours. Funny thing about that puzzle. We ended up with 2 of the same fall-themed puzzles, due to the fact that we purchase them at yard sales and thrift stores. The first time they did it, it was missing a piece. This is the second one. They are hoping it’s all there. If not, I guess they will be very busy trying to find the missing piece in the first box! Anything to keep kids busy with good projects, right?

I also tried a new gf pie crust recipe and filled it with “pumpkin” pie made from butternut squash that was given to me and I cooked and pureed. It was crisp, to put it mildly. It had a good flavor, so I may do some more experimenting. That is one thing I have not figured out how to make well, gluten free, so usually make crustless pumpkin pie and lots of crisps.

I decorated the entire house with tablecloths I already owned and with selections from a huge box of artificial flower arrangements Rob got in a free box on the side of the road last summer. I thought he bought them at a garage sale, which I mentioned last week, but it was even better than that! I’m keeping that man! After 39 years of marriage, he still surprises me with some of the amazing things he finds and does. I’m blessed with so much more than dried flowers with that man.

I threw some little candy bars around and was done. Since I didn’t get to really buckle down and do the final cleaning and decorating until Wednesday night before the big day, I was thankful that, first, it was so easy and, second, my sister had helped me clean on Monday. I had a lot of little ones in and out, so had some major clutter to pick up, but it was clean underneath so didn’t take long–whew!!!

Rob and I took several walks. On Thanksgiving, one sister and I grabbed a couple of kids and took them on a short walk.

The parade of jars continues. We get the full ones from the shop, where they are stored, empty them, and carry the jars back out…repeat….repeat…repeat! On most days, we wash anywhere between 1 and 5 or even more jars. I’m so glad we have so many full ones still left out there and will happily trot out there with the basket I use every day if I need to.

I cooked the Thanksgiving meal in a very traditional manner, since we had to skip the family gathering last year. Rob did a turkey and a ham on the Green Mountain Grill. I made mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, cooked home-canned corn, deviled eggs, gluten-free stuffing with apples, celery and onion, and sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, orange juice and topped with marshmallows. I made crab-stuffed mushrooms with some huge mushrooms my sister brought me and some crab we caught and canned a couple of years ago and they were impressive, I just have to say! I wanted one thing that was not traditional, and they turned out as good as I hoped. We used our home-canned green beans to make traditional green bean casserole with gluten-free cream of mushroom soup and some Rob-made fried onions. He toiled over them the day before after we checked 3 or 4 stores and could not buy any. In years past, we did. Not this year. His turned out great! We put out home-canned pickles galore, and people brought rolls, desserts, home-made fudge, candy, salads, and more. Several family members pitched in significantly for the meat and other groceries so it was a burden on none.

I think everyone loved it, as there were not all that many leftovers left over! Everyone got some to eat the next day and no one had to eat it daily until we were tired of it. Perfect! I finished up my turkey portion yesterday in turkey-rice soup. All the bones were boiled right after Rob cooked the turkey and I used the broth for the gravy and stuffing, plus froze some.

At the end of the day, a couple of grown kids were still left over here for a while:), so I made a turkey enchilada casserole real quick while they watched movies. One daughter puts Netflix on our tv each year for her Dad’s Christmas gift. We get Prime because we like the 2-day shipping on Amazon. Another daughter just put Disney Plus on the tv so the baby could watch Mickey Mouse. With all that, we still ended up watching a disk of Princess Bride from the library:). So funny!

On Friday, I was very tired, so I told my daughter to bring the baby over so I could play all afternoon. (The 16 month old, not the 4 month old, as he is still wanting Mama most of the time.) I guess he was screaming his way through Walmart, and was very happy to come see Grandma. I had absolutely no desire to do any work on Friday. We read, laid on the bed, he slept a while, we played, ate, and watched the Wiggles. We both had a great afternoon. She cleaned and organized at her house for a while without his help. Win-win! In this picture, he’s kissing his baby brother. They already love each other. It’s so cute to see.

We had a nice visit with our oldest daughter and son-in-law on Saturday, as they couldn’t come on Thanksgiving Day. That’s one of the perks of having so many kids…we can enjoy them for days! I made ground turkey tacos/taco salad bar–since I could do it fast while they were driving down. I still have a few tomatoes we have ripened from green ones from the garden, so I used those with the taco bar. I thawed ground turkey purchased on a great sale a while back, head lettuce, pre-shredded cheese, canned olives, canned refried beans, etc. and it was easy and fast! I had a bag of corn chips from a huge bag from Costco. I buy the huge bag and re-package in gallon Ziplocks so they don’t get stale fast and you can’t beat the price! I have lots of home-canned salsa, so dug out a jar of that. I didn’t choose to make dessert, and everyone still had a wonderful time. Just sayin’.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you are looking forward to the next month as much as I am.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 22, 2021

First, I want to apologize for not checking the comments until today from last week’s post. I got caught up in a few things, and didn’t check my blog for a few days. If you get time, several great ideas came in about good foods to cook when you get unexpected company or are cooking for a crowd, so you might want to check the comments from last week’s post if you’d like to read them, and you can always add yours. Since my comments are all moderated, I have to read them before they post, which means I have to read them……you get the idea! I’ll try to keep more on top of things this week.

Today, one of my sisters came and we cleaned and started to set up for Thanksgiving. We had a great time chatting and the housework seemed to do itself. What fun!

I had fun putting out some fall decorations. Last summer, Rob stumbled upon a huge box of artificial fall flowers at a yard sale and it was free. So, of course he grabbed it and put it in the shop for me to see if I could use any of it. This week, I was delighted to find brand new stems of flowers, a basket, some burlap, and some already finished table decorations. I’m not done digging in the box and am already super excited. I put some things from other years with the new items and it’s starting to look festive around here.

There were quite a few people though the house this week. I have been cooking up a storm. Besides the puffy green bean bake (basically cheese, eggs, gf bread crumbs, dried onions, a little 1/2 and 1/2 and of course leftover green beans) and apple crisp, I made ham and beans, a huge vegetable-beef soup, and experimented with a new Instant Pot recipe for jambalaya. It’s the second time I’ve tried this recipe and switched it up to make it less ricey and less spicy. It came out great, but I have a little more tweaking to do.

I had 2 sizable, separate gifts of food this week. I’m very thankful. It seems that the more I serve out, the more God brings to my door. I never run out of food, no matter how many people eat here.

I took Patsy and my niece, Michaela, down to the church to help with the Operation Christmas Child collection. Michaela really wanted to help this year, and since she was spending the weekend with us, we got to tag along. This is actually something that is near and dear to my heart, so it was nice to get a chance to do it again. Our church is a collection site. That means individuals and groups from all over the area bring the boxes to the church, and volunteers pack them into large cartons to then be loaded onto semis and transported to the warehouse to be sent around the world. We received over 900 boxes just on Saturday! Wow! It was so nice to see the community coming together in such a powerful way to show God’s love around the world.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. We have much to be thankful for, and it will be so nice to gather together as a family again. I have some fun activities planned with the kids to keep bringing the holiday spirit to the day, so will share what we made later.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 14, 2021

Rob’s mom gave us quite a few Butternut squash she got from her brother. One has already been cooked and eaten. They store very well, so we will eat them over the next few months.

The super ugly dill was the remains of my dill patch in one of my raised beds. I saved some seeds for growing, but these seeds are probably immature, so I put them in a baggie for cooking. Rob also used some of this dill in cooking. We are trying to put every last bit of the garden to use, and I’ve been surprised that a few things are still lingering so late in the season. We finished up the lettuce I had picked and Rob told me there are a few more snow peas out there. I’ll have to go pick them soon.

Last year, my niece gave me an African violet. It’s blooming! I did not kill it!!! Also, I noticed there were two little plants in the container, so I re-potted them both this week and they now have more room to grow.

I took my grandson to the park a couple of times this week. He loves to hold bouquets of fall leaves we pick up on our way there. I also love that he’s wearing the bomber jacket Rob found at a yard sale or thrift store (can’t remember) for way under $5. I keep it at our house so he always has a coat there. Today, the kids/babies came to church and then over for lunch after. I pushed Malcolm down to the park and we tried the swing again. He enjoyed it, smiled and even laughed today, for the first time. Before today, such as when this photo was taken, he’s not been so sure he likes that swing. We also took Jake down to the same park another time, and went for quite a few walks this week, with kids and without.

Rob and I were just talking this week about how thankful we were that his hip surgery was so successful. He has walked more in the past year and a half then he had walked for years and years. He had a routine re-check on his hip and it’s doing great.

I cooked a lot, as we had a lot of people through the house this week. (The busiest day had 4 of my children, 1 niece, 1 nephew and 2 grandsons, along with Rob and I…) I sent Rob down to the store for groceries. I didn’t need much–produce and dairy mostly, so I just sent him to the Winco near our house. He got out of there for under $40, which I was thrilled with. I didn’t need the specials from some of the other stores this time–carrots and celery are very cheap anywhere you buy them around here, and those were two of my main needs this time.

Yesterday, one of my daughters offered to go buy some groceries if I wanted anything as she was going to a certain store anyway, and they eat here a lot, so wanted to help out. I happily made out a list of basic items I could always use and she brought me those, plus things that were on sale there, such as 2-lbs of shredded Kroger cheese for $3.97, potatoes for $1.99, whole milk that her baby drinks, the spinach I forgot to write down for Rob…stuff like that. Rob had asked for some sausages that were on sale and she didn’t know which kind he liked, so got him 4 packages, all different kinds. He’s already eaten the hot Italian package. Yum, I guess–I left it to him:). Then she threw in a couple of bags of chips for good measure and donated it all to our cause. That really helped out this week, and kept me under budget.

Here are some ways I keep in budget when so many keep coming over for lunch/dinner/every time in between:

  1. I almost always have white rice cooked and ready to go in the fridge. They eat it with butter, salt and pepper, or with milk and cinnamon sugar or one adds it to her stir-fry. It seems to be a favorite of all.
  2. I make soup for those who eat it. Since I’m dealing with special needs and lots of preferences, Rob and I are the ones who eat the most of that.
  3. I buy meat and seafood on sale and in bulk–for example, last summer I got shrimp for under $3/lb. and bought several 2-lb. bags, which we are using now. That was the best price I’d ever seen. We are expecting our 1/4 beef to be ready one of these days. When chicken was 67c/lb, we got 4. 2 girls eat only seafood and dairy–no other meat, one son wants hamburgers all the time, some visitors only want cinnamon sugar toast or cold cereal or ramen noodles….you see how it is around here, so I get everything on sale or in bulk if possible, especially protein. My grandson, however, will eat every single thing I give him, other than bananas. How refreshing and fun to cook for, I must say:)
  4. I do a lot of taco/taco salads as people can add or subtract at will–and it’s one daughter’s favorite meal of all time, and enjoyed by all.
  5. I often make baked potato bar–same story–they can add or subtract at will.
  6. I use dry beans to make refried beans, chili, chili mac, and other recipes. These are very economical.
  7. I make lots of crisps and other fruit-based desserts or just serve canned fruit in a bowl, as it is very accessible to me in the summer to can or freeze and I always have lots on hand.

What do you do when lots of people come over to eat at your house?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Nov. 1, 2021

A cowboy….

…and his cow:)

Last night, we helped at a harvest party at the church. It was especially nice that the grandsons could come. I think the girls did a great job dressing them up. We signed up to help with whatever Miss Carol needed at the event, so along with set up and clean up. Rob and I were assigned the “treat walk.” We used piles and piles of cookies and treats many church ladies made and donated. We played the music, stopped it, drew numbers….and what do you know? Every single person won! :). :). There were so many treats, so why not? We had a ball. I was surprised at how many children did not know what a cakewalk was or how to play. So I ended up leading them around and around the circle. Since we had several hundred children come to the event, and the ones who chose to play this game could do it as many times as they wanted, I ended up with over 12,000 steps by the end of the evening when they were added to the walk and the lawn mowing I had done earlier in the day. It was a double bonus to me! Rob figured some of them were young enough that with things being cancelled for Covid, they likely had never played the kinds of games that were there (cakewalk, ring toss, etc.). There was also a super cool blown-up slide no one had to tell them how to play, and a parking lot full of trunk-or-treat cars, each with a game inside.

Although much of the week was filled with babysitting, I slipped out to the garden one day and was delighted to find some good lettuce and snow peas. I also kept pulling up old tomato plants and other spent bushes. There’s a lot of outside work left to do, but I’m cleaning out the old plants whenever I get a chance, between rain showers. While cleaning out one raised bed, I found some small onions. I thought I had planted some green onions there, but…small, round onions there were. So I pulled them and we are eating them fresh.

Although we do have a bin full of baby toys that were given to us, Malcolm has decided a partially emptied water jug is a really good toy. He carries it up and down the hall, in and out of the rooms……for quite a while.

He also has his own style when it comes to hats….although I’m sure the rain won’t stay out of that hat! (It’s a colander)

I continue cooking from the freezers and pantries. This crisp was made from lots of odds and ends of frozen fruit. It’s mostly blackberries, with a few raspberries, blueberries and peaches thrown in. Ice cream was 77c/carton this week, so we got some. We also got cheese for $5/brick, 67c/lb whole chickens, 97c frozen pizzas, cream cheese for $1/pkg and some other basic cooking things.

Of course, we used our pantry, home-canned and frozen food, and made lots of tasty meals. We cooked the last older chicken left in the freezers, boiled the bones and made chicken-noodle soup, chicken salads, and just plain roasted chicken. I got 2 new packages of ground turkey, so used an older one to make meatballs. I saved the last bit of spinach in a bag by using them in the meatballs, even though they had been placed in a bad spot in the fridge and were starting to freeze a bit. All this rotation, and constantly using things that are coming to the end of their days is a bit of work, but it’s what keeps us eating food that is not freezer burned or old, purchased at the lowest possible prices.

Peanut butter was $1 a jar, so I bought 10 and used 1 to make peanut-butter/chocolate chip cookies. Most were frozen. I only have to make these every 2-3 months, as we don’t eat many cookies, but I like to have some frozen for times when we want them for one reason or another.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching babies, mostly Malcolm, for the past 9 days, for at least a little while each day and one overnight, as his mama and auntie are packing. I mostly did that during the evenings, as Jake and Michaela were here for their usual times, plus Jake stayed over one night. Rob, Patsy, and a couple of friends’ kids are over there today, helping them actually move it over to the new place. They’ve been dropping in for meals at unexpected moments, so I’ve been cooking extra. I’m glad they are finally actually moving now, although I think it will take a few days for them to get settled and the old place cleaned all the way. With the housing market the way it is around here, we are more than thrilled that they finally found a place to move into. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap. But, they have another roommate so they can split the cost, and that helps, so they were able to get a 3-bedroom house. I’m happy for them. I’m itching to get my fingers into their boxes and help them unpack, but they were convinced that it would be more help for me to watch the baby today, so….I’m having a pretty relaxing day after all.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 25, 2021

We had a great week filled with family and fall fun. One thing we did was get a pumpkin for Malcolm for only 9c/lb at Safeway. Auntie Patsy helped him carve it. Actually, as fast as she scooped the insides out, he tried to load them back in…it was really cute to watch. We got way more than $1.80 worth of entertainment, just watching the show!

In fact, it was so fun, they did it again the next day with Patsy’s pumpkin. All the pumpkins, plus the 3 little pie pumpkins are decorating our front porch and look great.

I cooked several “slow” foods this week. First, I made another batch of refried beans. I froze several cartons of those as we have been burning through the ones I made the other day. I also cooked several packages of pinto beans and froze them for future quick meals. I made some split pea soup and also some vegetarian black bean taco soup. I call these slow foods because first I soaked the beans all night, then cooked them in various ways over the next couple of days. They also take a few hours to cook down. After that process, they become “fast food” for me as I have the finished products ready for quick thawing and eating on busy days. I have quite a few dry beans, lentils and split peas out in my pantry as I buy them in bulk when I get low. They are very inexpensive when purchased this way and keep a long, long time.

Mom came over one day and the grandbabies came over to play with her. We all had fun.

I got to spend quite a bit of time with the boys this week, as they and their Mama and Auntie are moving. The landlord where they rent wants the house back, and they just finally found a new place to live. So, I anticipate spending quite a few hours with one boy or the other this week as packing and moving goes on. Rob and Patsy already took one van-load of items to Union Gospel Mission for them, but they have a ways to go.

I’ve been using the grocery ads to keep the pantry stocked up. Butter has been under $2/lb around here lately, and I got 5 dozen eggs for $5. Milk has been 88c for 1/2 gallon and there was Safeway cheese for $5/2-lb brick or bag of shreds.

I fed people the soups I made, a vegetable-beef soup, burritos, salads, bbq’d chicken Rob made, some cube steak he fried, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and a big batch of deviled eggs. We used canned and frozen fruits and veggies as well and many other items I have preserved like pickles and relish, red cabbage and apples, peach crisp from home-canned pie filling, dilly green beans and more. The girls and babies are eating over here quite a bit lately, so I just keep cooking. Good thing I love to cook! I’m very thankful for all that I was able to preserve. Once they get moved, they won’t eat here as much, but for now, this just works for all of us.

I’ve also grabbed napkins and paper plates for Thanksgiving, as the shelves continue to empty as fast as they are stocked for some items. We had Patsy run into the Dollar Tree for some plain colored napkins–I wanted red, orange and yellow, since I was having trouble finding fall-decorated ones. She said the shelves looked empty in many places and there were few choices of any kind of fall decor. She got red and yellow. I’m going to use those to supplement the few “pretty” ones I found at JoAnn’s on Saturday. I can use my plain-colored tablecloths and Rob found some artificial fall blooms at a yard sale in a free box a while back, and I’m going to make centerpieces from them, so I feel pretty well set now.

The weather has turned rainy and windy. I’m still dashing outside whenever there’s a break and pulling old flowers, and weeds so was able to fill the yard debris bin this week, always a triumph for me. I transplanted strawberry runners into a raised bed and pulled out some spent vegetable vines/plants. I was able to pick a few more flowers and bring them in to enjoy.

Rob and I continue to exercise by taking frequent walks. I also push the baby down the street in the stroller whenever I get an opportunity. It’s win-win for both of us.