Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My thrifty Week–Garden Update–May 24, 2020

Most of this week was rainy and wet. On the day we homeschooled Jake, one thing we did was venture out with umbrellas for a nice walk–he’s required to exercise daily for P.E.

Rob took Michaela train spotting.

They saw one this time!

Jake spent the night, as he’s been doing every Wednesday. His Mom works Wednesdays and Thursdays, from home, and needs complete peace and quiet to do so. This is a great schedule for us, as well, and he loves it, school and all.

One day we had a pretty bad hail storm. It was brief, but violent, and beat down some lettuce, put holes into cabbage leaves, crushed some spinach, and laid low some other delicate garden plants. Thankfully, most things survived, or will outgrow the damage with no problem, but a few had a setback, to say the least.

I went ahead and picked the outside leaves and the damaged ones off the spinach and Rob ate them in salads this week. I froze 2 very small portions for later, using the torn up leaves that way. The inner leaves have already grown since then, in the few days since I did it.

We picked most of the artichokes on the bushes. I froze 2 packages of artichoke hearts from the small ones, shared some and have some to eat.

We put strings up on the pole bean trellis so they can climb up as they grow.

The box on the right is a potato box Rob built after seeing it on U-Tube. The bottom box has some old potatoes in it, covered with dirt. (As in, we did not buy them, they are left over ones that are trying to grow anyway and some his mom couldn’t eat in time, I guess–). The idea is that as the potato bushes grow, they are covered with dirt and another board layer is added, making it taller and taller. Supposedly, the potatoes will continue to make bushes and then more and more potatoes as you stack it higher and higher throughout the season. He thought it would be fun to try. He used reclaimed wood and junk potatoes…..so it’s a fun experiment for no out-of-pocket for him.

Every time I think the garden is full, I find another place to tuck a few more plants…. Like celery under the sprinkler tripod. They say it likes it really wet. Rob planted some really old seeds that have been around for several years, and got them to grow. There are more, but no more space right now.

Tiny head lettuce plants around the rock that holds the sprinkler head and hose down….

More head lettuce by the dahlias….

…And leaf lettuce under the Tronboncini trellis. Rob can eat a head a day, if it’s small, or close to a gallon ziplock full of leaf lettuce, when he’s in a salad mood, which is almost always. He’s been eating lettuce at least twice a day, stir-fried snow peas, zucchini and mushrooms with onions and peppers for breakfast with his eggs….you get the idea of how much produce we are going through right now! I’m going to keep planting lettuce everywhere I can, all summer long, and fill in every area with other succession plantings as space fills up. He’s got another batch of lettuce growing in the greenhouse, so I can plant it out when space frees up. It’s all worth it to me!

I picked all the rhubarb. I froze some and shared some.

We did get into the garden to weed and hoe, but not until the end of the week. There is plenty left to do in the upcoming week, and the weather promises to be very nice. I’m glad, because some things really need some sunshine to explode with growth. They are just sitting there, waiting for the opportunity.

I made banana bread again, using up the rest of the bananas Rob found in the chest freezer.

He stumbled upon 10 pound bags of chicken for $2.90–29c/lb. He bought 6. He was at the store getting prescriptions and a little produce. Go, Rob!

This was the week we usually would not shop, since we’ve been going every-other-week, so it was a real blessing that he had to go in there for another reason, and found the chicken.

Our county is opening up a little. For us, since we have so many underlying health conditions in those we have around us, it won’t make much of a change for a while. Speaking only about ourselves, my diabetes and asthma keep me at home. Rob absolutely cannot risk getting sick before his surgery. As it is, he’s got a couple of owies on his legs that are being well cared for so they will hopefully be healed in time. But, it’s still encouraging to see that things are moving forward. Let’s hope this pandemic continues in the right direction! In the meanwhile, I can be found at home, pulling weeds:).

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 17, 2020

Does it look like I have ripe strawberries? Well, I don’t! Those are rocks that Patsy painted red. We hope they fool the birds and stop them from pecking the strawberries once they get ripe. Let’s hope it works!

I spent hours in the garden and yard this week. Everything is growing, including the weeds, so I’ve pulled weeds and hoed.

I also cut and trimmed in the front yard. The people who lived here before us planted many bushes, such as rhododendron, azalea, peonies, Oregon grape, and sadly, ivy, that have all grown greatly over the years. Over the past 2 years I have tried to cut some of it back to more manageable proportions, one yard debris bin at a time. The latest project was to have Rob take a chain saw to some rogue blossoming cherry tree suckers that were now about 15 feet tall and chop them down. I removed ivy from below and harshly trimmed the bushes under the remaining main tree. Then, I hoed out grass and weeds and roughly edged the area. It looks a lot better now, but there will be on-going work to do. I was glad to finish as we have been working on it for 2 weeks and filled 2 yard debris bins from that one area alone.

Rob covered my lettuce with netting. The birds took part of one row down to the stubs! I notice they leave it alone after it gets to a certain size and I’ve planted a lot, so it will work out ok in the end. (And, yes, that’s a renegade potato plant on the end. I didn’t plant any this year, but a few volunteers came up anyway.)

I’ve been harvesting from the garden and making lots of stir-fries. Rob’s been eating vegetables for breakfast each day, as well, so the harvest has come in handy.

I made a batch of bread and buns. I am still using up odds and ends of gluten-free flours, some of which are literally a couple of years old. I am happy to report that I used 3 partial packages of flour all the way up! I don’t normally eat a lot of bread, so I froze most of these items. I have eaten more sandwiches then usual lately after working in the garden, because I sometimes don’t feel like cooking. It’s easy to pop off a couple of frozen slices, slide them into the dedicated gluten-free toaster, and always have fresh bread when I want it.

We cooked black bean/pinto bean chicken chili, Patsy’s peanut-chicken stir fry, smoothies, pancakes, boiled, fried and scrambled eggs, millet-crust pizza, lots of salads, brownies, pear-raspberry popsicles, and many stir-fries. Lovana came over and made coconut shrimp. It was so good! We also worked on a ham we bought right after Easter. We had ham sandwiches, ham with eggs, and just ate ham. Some packages were frozen for later use, as well.

We did our grocery shopping for the next 2 weeks and ordered and received an Azure Standard order. Eggs were 4/$5. We got many dozens. I purchased a lot of produce such as cucumbers, mushrooms, baby carrots, celery and peppers, along with whatever was on the list. There were a few good deals, otherwise, the prices seemed to be the same or a little higher than they have been in the past. Overall, the bill is higher than what it was a year ago. It is not possible to shop several stores for deals right now, so if it’s there, I buy it, or I just pass it by if it’s unreasonable. I was pleasantly surprised to received most of what I ordered from Azure.

We worked with Jake and Michaela for more hours this past week. We had a French fry party one day. It was fun for everyone to make our own curly fries outside.

We also fried up some battered cod fish and onion rings, just to add to the fun.

We used a fryer we purchased from a garage sale a couple of years ago for a few dollars and then spent literally hours scrubbing to insure it was gluten-free and no wheat crumbs were left on it. Thankfully, it looked almost new when we bought it. The curly fry cutter was also from a garage sale and normally lives in the camper. Every few years, we make fries on a picnic table at a campground. We make fries so rarely that it’s an event and made an ordinary day into a party. Better yet, we kept the mess outside!

Did you do anything unusual to break up the monotony of Covid 19 with your kids or for yourself?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day! I had a nice, relaxing day. I hope you all had the same. We watched church on the live-stream, Rob drove me through McDonald’s for a Diet Coke (doesn’t seem glamorous, but I’ve literally not been leaving the house so it was an outing for me), and I talked and/or texted with many loved ones.

My sidewalk chalk artist daughter spent some time decorating the sidewalks in front of our house. I’m glad she enjoys doing that. I found another box of sidewalk chalk tucked away in the back room for her to add to her bucket of bits of chalk.

We found quite a few packages of beef bones in the freezer. They are from our 1/4 beef the last couple of years. I have made dealing with those bones one of my quarantine projects. I don’t use them in the form they are in, so I am turning them into something I will eagerly grab–ready-to-use broth. One day I boiled 3 packages of bones and canned 7 quarts. I also got a large bowl of broth and quite a bit of meat from those bones. I made soup with that.

I filled up my spice bottles in the kitchen from my bulk spice packages I keep in the garage. I wiped them off and wiped out one of the baskets I keep some of them in. I also filled up salt and pepper, and cornstarch. I save a lot of money by purchasing things in bulk, especially spices.

I used some millet flour to make a pizza crust. I also used some rice flour and cornstarch in some brownies. I went through my gluten-free flour supply and will continue to target the odds and ends that have been in the bin for a long time. To that end, I’ve been using my favorite 1-1 flour, but also looking for recipes that use some of the other flours in them.

I used the last 2 brown bananas in banana bread. I also put in some walnuts that I had in the freezer. I was going to share them with a friend, but I confess…..we ate them all! I shared some other food with our friends.

We’ve been eating a little fresh fruit Lovana left here last weekend when she was over, but mostly opening jars of peaches, applesauce and pears for fruit. We used many small packages of frozen bits and dabs from the freezer over the fridge in the kitchen.

I baked blueberry-cream cheese coffee cake with cream cheese I got free from the Safeway Monopoly game and some blueberries my mom sent our way. I found the recipe on the internet.

Pear-raspberry popsicles were made 2 times, and devoured. It’s an easy, practically free way to keep Patsy happy during warm days.

The garden continues to grow. I spent time weeding and hoeing. I also planted more Blue Lake Green Beans, Rob’s okra (I’ve never even tasted okra, but you can’t blame someone for experimenting!), dill, cucumbers, all the pepper plants, the remaining tomato and basil plants, and any and all odd plants that were left laying around. I even planted the “mystery-label fell off” tomatoes in a flowerbed and threw lettuce seeds under the Tromboncini trellis! Lots of seeds have sprouted, including those old Alderman Pole Peas that I wasn’t sure were good.

I’ve picked 2 large bowls of lettuce. I thinned out the lettuce and we’ve been eating the small leaves. Rob’s back to eating copious amounts of salad daily. He’s several pounds down again, and wants to stay ready for his surgery, which is still scheduled for June 29.

This was not our grocery week, so we didn’t do a big shop. Rob just picked up a very few items (mostly tomatoes) when he got the prescriptions. A list is being generated on the whiteboard, and next week we will gather those items. I’d like to wait until the end of the week, stretching it to 2-1/2 weeks, but we will see.

Rob’s had Patsy and Jake out building in the shop.

I also spent a couple of mornings cleaning and bleaching the doorknobs, bathroom and so forth.

What we are filling our stay-at-home time with right now isn’t glamorous. It isn’t very exciting, and there are times when it isn’t fun at all (I’m not super fond of wiping down the bathroom, if you know what I mean). Still, we have a deep sense of satisfaction with every single project we cross off our list, and I think we are getting a lot of home-made entertainment out of the deal. We have lots of projects left on our list, lots of food left in our cupboard and freezer, and more on the way from a garden that’s growing like crazy. The house is cleaner than normal, and we haven’t caught any sicknesses. We’re making out fine, and feel thankful for all the blessings the Lord has poured on us during this difficult, crazy time, and we thank the Him for each and every one of them.

What have you been doing with your time at home?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 3, 2020

This past week was a nice one. We took several nice walks this past week. Some of the days were very sunny and we enjoyed getting out. We also received some much-needed rain.

Patsy loves taking pictures of as many flowers as she can. These are Camas flowers. They were growing in a wild area in the little park we walked to with Jake the day we had him.

This woodpecker keeps coming around the neighborhood. He loves to rat-a-tat-tat on this sign, and on a metal plate up on a telephone pole near our yard. We were lucky enough to sneak up on him while we were on one of our walks. Jake loves birds, so it was a real treat for him.



Rob’s cousin shared some food with us. She belongs to a gleaner’s group and gets food regularly and had more than she needed. She kindly set aside some items that were gluten-free because she knew I eat that way. She also saved a large box of Keurig K-cups for Rob because she doesn’t care for coffee and he loves it.

The other thing she gave Rob was a fully-cooked frozen turkey. I’ve never had one like that before. I thawed it out, removed all the meat from the bones and boiled them. Rob and I worked together and canned 7 quarts of turkey broth. We ate a lot of the turkey all week long, shared quite a bit, and I will make a turkey-noodle casserole to share with the rest of it tomorrow. I didn’t want to re-freeze the meat, since it had been frozen once already.

I did homeschool with Jake two mornings this past week. One thing we did was made rice casserole with some of the turkey. He ate a little bit, but I was informed that I don’t make it right. His mama makes it right. I was informed that she cooks it for 2 hours. Yes, Aunt Becky, 2 HOURS! And, I put too many carrots in it. But, he ate some anyway, so It was a triumph. (I can’t tell you how many times he’s told his mama she doesn’t make soup the way Aunt Becky does–it was her turn to be the best at something, so I teased her about it!). Any time we can get that boy to eat anything even resembling healthy food, it’s a win.

Patsy and I got a good amount of schoolwork done, as well. She’s only got 1 week of curriculum left other than the new Biology we just started and some math. I went ahead and sorted through old bins of school books and curriculum and was able to figure out what she needed for next year’s work. I owned many of the books already, but there were a few I needed to get. We were able to order most of them used, and went ahead and ordered the rest. It was very economical since we had so much from previous years. Our plan was to be done with school now for the year so we could have time for field trips and extra garden work. It’s why we started in August, but we are going to do a few weeks worth of next year’s school since we are still on lock down here in Oregon. Might as well!

The kids are getting a little stir-crazy! This is Jake, wearing one of the zippered pouches Patsy keeps making on his head, being a “French fry man.” He was playing he was working at In and Out Burger.

Patsy made another owl. This one will be put in a gift bag for a little friend and dropped on her doorstep. It’s her birthday tomorrow.

And, of course….the garden….the place I spent hours and hours this week. It’s my happy place right now. I’m at home so much right now that I’m finding more time to work out there than ever before.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020

I’m not sure if you can see the little hummingbird in the middle of the blueberry bush. He was flying around, sipping nectar, and was kind enough to sit down long enough for me to take a picture. Look at all those blueberry blooms. I didn’t have much of a crop last year. I have high hopes for this year’s crop!

This week was very quiet. We worked with Jake Wednesday-Thursday, and after picking him up Wednesday, I’ve been home every since. I used the time to read, relax, do house chores, lots of homeschool with Patsy, cut out a dress for Patsy, and worked in the garden and yard for hours.

I finished hoeing out the weeds from the blackberry (Marion berry) row. I put steer manure/compost on it. I’m almost done with the raspberries. I finished the strawberries as well.

I planted many, many itty-bitty onion plants. Rob grew more than I usually do, so we shared some, and I planted the rest. I grow varieties that are long-keepers and still have a handful in a bucket from last summer’s garden. We will eat the short-keepers first, and save the others and use them all winter. We also use them for canning–salsa, relish, and a few other recipes. Two years ago, we purchased 2-25 pound bags and used them in addition to what we grew, so I’m delighted to have the promise of so many from the garden.

Rob’s been busy building with reclaimed wood. The trellis that looks like a ladder is in its place and will hold Tromboncini Zucchini. Right next to it is a hearty cluster of volunteer lemon cucumber plants that have popped up in the last couple of days. I’m leaving them where they are. They must want to grow there!

The large framework against the shop will be moved into the garden, and placed for pole Blue Lake green beans. Most of us in my family have used up lots and lots of jars of beans during this past winter. So, I will grow bush Blue Lake, as always, but also the pole ones so that I can grow them upwards, and thus take less garden space, and have beans until frost. The bush ones come on all at once in the space of 2-3 weeks. The pole ones will give lesser quantities at a time, but will keep growing all summer. If I have any purple pole beans left from previous years, I will grow a few of those as well, since we love them sauted with butter and garlic. They are great fresh, nice and tender, but don’t can up well.

Rob’s plants are out on a table now, hardening off. There are still a few things in the greenhouse that he planted later. I will not be planting all of this. He’s already started delivering a plant here, and a plant there. I will plant a lot of them, and one of my sisters will plant many of them in her large garden. He plans to deliver hers this week. Heads up, sis!

I harvested the first snow peas.

Lovana wanted raised beds for her birthday, so Rob built them for her. Today, they took the pieces over to her little rental house and put them together, and she filled them with dirt and peat moss. Rob will get her another load of soil/compost for the second box this week. She has seeds she ordered and planted some of them in our greenhouse and Rob’s been watching over them for her. She’s been over here at least a couple of days each weekend during this pandemic, as we are determined to keep her in our “little circle.” She also helped me out quite a bit when my wrist was so bad a few weeks back, and usually cooks something totally NOT on our diets each weekend.

Like homemade donuts!

Way too yummy. I think we need to get these veggies growing, so she can cook them! That purple plant is purple cabbage. She ordered all colorful seeds–purple plants, rainbow “sunset” cherry tomatoes, etc. It should be interesting to see what she ends up with.

Lovana also had a box of “Imperfect Produce” delivered here with some items she wanted, and the rest for us to cook with. We’ve been eating those veggies and have been able to stay out of the stores. On Tuesday, we will reach the 2-week mark, and I may send Rob for a few things like milk and tomatoes.

Patsy made a recipe from a magazine. It was refried bean dip. It was good, but had way too much cumin in it, and raw garlic, grated. We both decided next time we should cut the cumin, add some spice, and use garlic powder. It was extremely strong. We should stay healthy and Patsy said there would be no vampires around here:)

We have decided to eat a few more meatless meals during this pandemic. We have plenty of frozen meat and chicken, but are trying to use some of the dry pantry staples such as beans and lentils, and conserve the meat, just in case there is a meat shortage. If there isn’t, we will likely save money and be more healthy. Win-win! We had the bean dip, potato soup, and I just made a batch of lentil taco filling, which Rob loves so much he ate it for both lunch and dinner, as a salad topper.

Patsy made a stuffed owl. It came out so cute! It’s a baby gift for one of her youth leaders.

Patsy picked flowers from the yard and Rob took her to drop them on the doorstep of the youth leader, along with the owl, and on one of her girlfriend’s doorsteps. Both were very pleased, and it brightened Patsy’s day to get to do that and read the texts from each of them.

We were supposed to collect pond water for Biology, culture it with egg, rice, hay, and dirt and let it grow under the sink for a few days. We couldn’t travel to a pond, so Patsy collected water from my sister’s old hot tub that they actually have filled with goldfish, and a friendly frog. It’s been that way for years, so we thought we could collect and culture some water. We were right! The first experiment worked just fine. The second one will be done tomorrow, and we can throw away that stinky water! We’ve worked through almost 2 chapters now, and are going very slow. I’m encouraging her to spend hours looking through that microscope if she wants to–she likely will never have a chance again to spend all the time she wants on one subject with no one to say, “hurry up” or “time to go.”

How are you keeping busy during these strange times?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 19, 2020

Rob’s tomatoes and peppers are looking insanely good! He’s starting to harden them off. It will be a while before it’s time to plant them out, but when it’s time, they will be ready. We are having such an early spring. It won’t be long.

This turned out to be a good week for me to work in the yard and garden. I weeded for hours. Several bags of compost/steer manure were spread in different places. My soil is quite poor in the flowerbeds and the garden always needs ammending.

The new compost bins Rob built are in place against the fence and quite a few buckets of weeds have been put in them already. The old compost bins he made last year have been organized. I moved any un-decomposed weeds from the top of the pile on the right to the left. Now, everyone has been instructed to leave the right hand side completely alone and not add any new scraps or weeds. I am going to remove the nice compost from that side very soon, and spread it over the corner of the garden. The slats come out of the front of the bins, making it easy to shovel the rotted compost out. Then, I will instruct everyone to put new debris in the emptied side, and let the left hand side finish.

Last fall, I dug up a small corner of the garden with an old-fashioned shovel, added a bag on compost/steer manure and planted a few snow peas and beets, along with a few green onion seeds. The beets flopped for the most part, but the snow peas are about to fruit and there are a few green onions. It was a successful experiment. I can’t wait to eat some.

I’m getting a few artichokes. They are quite small, so I fertilized them, the raspberries, the blueberries and the strawberries.

We received one day of much-needed rain. I was so happy to have one day where I didn’t have to lug water out to the garden to hand-water my tediously planted baby onion plants, tiny carrots and beets, and lettuce. It’s been so dry this spring. Later, when the garden is fully, we will run the sprinklers over it all, but the system isn’t set up yet. We have to get the hoses out, set up the sprinklers, etc.

Patsy made another mason bee house. Being Patsy, she painted it purple. The mason bees are working busily in the houses Rob built and put up. They are already filling the straws with mud and new offspring. They are also very busy pollinating all over our yard.

My sister sent over a beautiful hanging pot of flowers.

Rob dropped some baby veggie starts on her doorstep. It’s been difficult to not be able to really see and visit with this particular sister, so we’ve had to be creative with texts, visiting from a wide distance, and phone calls.

Michaela was getting very restless, so Rob took her for a drive. They drove around and dropped things on people’s doorsteps (like my sister) and looked for trains. Sadly, they were working on the tracks, so they didn’t see even one, but there’s always another day.

We had the kids over for a “party.” My sister needed to work 2 days this week, from home, and we wanted to take the kids somewhere to give her the peace and quiet she needed. Our house is the only other place they can go right now, since we are back and forth so much, we consider ourselves as one small circle, and our work with them is considered necessary. So, we got out the 2 kiddie pools we own and put water in them. They used any and all water balloons we could find from either house. We ran the yard sprinklers so they could run through them. Rob build a fire in the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and Peeps our niece, Alissa, brought over. We made ice cream cones and decorated them with M and M’s and gummy bears. They were so tired, they came inside and I put on an educational tv show about wild cats, which they watched as if in a coma, then went home where their dad said they had a great, exhausted evening, and fell into bed. I confess, I fell into bed at 8:30 as well, since we’d had Jake for 2 days and one night. The girls just joined us for the second afternoon. Of course, Alissa just joined us for the fun of it, and to help out. Since I homeschooled her for 3 years, it felt very right to have her over here for the afternoon. I miss her now that she’s getting so grown-up and busy with her adult life.

We needed to get produce, and some other groceries. One day, I went down to Safeway. I took the little handful of Monopoly tickets I had received weeks ago, not really knowing if they were even doing that game any more with how busy the stores were. They were. I was able to get several free items, such as gummy bears, French bread, and extra tickets. Some other people did not want their tickets, and so I brought them home to Patsy. She and Jake worked for quite some time un-wrapping them (bless you people who shared!). They got quite a few free items. I wasn’t sure if we were going to redeem them, but to my chagrin, I found I had forgotten something very important, and Rob had to go back and get it that evening. So, we were able to get them after all. We got a brick of cream cheese, several donuts, a box of pasta, and another handful of tickets.

Rob has done a little shopping here and there, getting things to fix things around the house, things for the yard, a few groceries, etc. I took Lovana shopping, as she doesn’t drive. I’m hoping we are all set up for a couple of weeks again, now. I’d love to go a month, but I will probably not be able to make it that long, due to the fact that I always need produce since Rob is still working hard on maintaining his weight loss.

They called and rescheduled his surgery for June 29. If the virus erupts here, of course they will postpone it again, but we are hopeful, so it’s even more important that he be the correct weight.

I was able to take the scraps from Patsy’s skirt and make a little summer sundress for my little friend, Danait. The pattern was one I’d had for years and the trim was from a garage sale years ago. There was an extremely long piece of it, bought for a very low price, and I’ve used bits of it several times over the years. I was delighted to use some more of it and to finish up the blue print fabric. The entire dress cost less than $4, and I had a lot of fun sewing it. Rob, Michaela and Patsy dropped it on their doorstep, along with a few Easter items, and visited briefly from a safe distance. I was working, but was glad they could take my love.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 13, 2020

During the past week, I took the opportunity to use up some more pantry items that have been there for a while. One thing I did was make gluten-free bread and buns from a recipe I got from the internet. It used some gf flour for bread. I have enough to make one more batch, and I will certainly not wait too long, because it came out great!

I don’t eat a lot of bread, so I froze most of this.

Rob hit the jackpot at Cash and Carry and got a bulk box of eggs. They were mediums and very inexpensive. We shared a bunch, and still have a lot to work with. Eggs are one of the things that have limits (2 cartons) and are often out at the store. So, we were delighted. It’s not bothering us in the least that they are a little smaller.

He went out and got some groceries for us. It had been a couple of weeks. Things are more expensive than they have been, and many things are simply not there. Still, he was able to get plenty for us. I understand why this is happening, but it just makes me more determined to use the things I already have to the utmost, and to get that garden growing!

My small row of overwintered snow peas are blooming. I got the few garden rows weeded. It’s still too early here to plant most things, but the hardy ones are up and growing well. I’ve picked a couple of small artichokes and more are coming along. There are a couple of volunteer lettuce plants that are growing rapidly in the sunshine we’ve experienced this past week, and baby lettuce is pushing up. I cleaned out underneath my blueberry bushes. Rob is saving sawdust and shavings from when he cuts wood with his saw, and soon we will spread that under those bushes.

Patsy and I are spending quite a bit of extra time on the Biology course I ordered when this Covid-19 event started. She’s loving the microscope work. This old microscope was a discard from Rob’s college, and cost us $20 years and years ago, but works just great for us! I’m so glad we have it. It opens up a whole new world, that’s for sure!

We’ve been taking lots of walks. We found a park that’s not too far from our home that we had not visited before. It’s small, but has a few paths to walk on. We just stayed far, far away from everyone else, and enjoyed our walk.

I’ve made a few masks, and my daughter made us some, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 30, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patsy made another one of her sidewalk chalk drawings.

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

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

I cut out a skirt for Patsy.

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

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

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

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

It’s amazing the changes a week has made.

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

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

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

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

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

How are you filling your extra time?