Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-October 3, 2022

I grew a watermelon that tastes good! As Elmo would say, “Happy, Happy, Happy! Do the Happy Dance!”

We got one earlier, but it wasn’t that great. This is the Blacktail Mountain variety from Territorial, and is a personal-sized melon, bred to develop in a short season, with cooler nights. It worked! There are 3 super small ones still out there, and I hope they will be good, too. I saved seeds, since it’s open pollinated. Maybe I’ll grow it again next year since it WORKED!!! I’ve had very little success growing them in our climate in the past.

We are still eating tomatoes, zucchini and had a meal of green beans last week. We are still getting cucumbers and we pulled all the onions. They are drying so we can have them all winter.

Most of our week was consumed by my niece’s wedding. (See previous post for details).

Although formal weddings are never inexpensive, we did do things to help keep the cost of the reception down.

Rob smoked 4 kinds of meat on his Green Mountain Grill. He used various marinades on them and they turned out great! He got roast beef at the Chef’s Supply store a few weeks ago and froze it, as it was a good price then. The Ham was from Costco. Turkey breast was hard to find, but he finally got 2 at Walmart, of all places. He took it off the bone, tied it with twine and cooked it. When we were finding a hard time sourcing enough of other meats for a good price, my sister spotted some pork loin at Costco and the entire, huge piece was only $22. So, Rob went and got that and cooked it, as well, to make sure there would be enough. It turned out to be his personal favorite.

The meat slicer was borrowed so we would not to have the expense of purchasing one. We sliced for over 3 hours one afternoon, and the ham was already sliced. It was funny. At one point, the meat was shooting out wildly, with us cringing back, since we aren’t comfortable with the sharp, sharp-bladed tool–By the end, it was all over the kitchen, and in our hair, even. (The sliced meat, itself, was stacked and wrapped in plastic wrap and bags, and put back into the fridge immediately, so no worries there.). It took over an hour to disassemble it and clean it properly, and we were hoping it was done right. Thankfully, Rob met the owner at the wedding, and they talked. The man is going to double check our assembly work, to make sure it’s right. Whew!!!

We used some dill from our garden in the dips, along with many dahlias and zinnias in floral arrangements. Some peppers were picked to add to the decor, then chopped and frozen afterwards.

The biggest way we saved money on this reception was the amount of do-it-yourself projects we did and all the cooking we accomplished. It turned out lovely.

Since Rob was giving a prayer during the ceremony, the couple bought him this tie they wanted him to wear. We had to buy him a new shirt, as he didn’t have one. He usually wears t-shirts. I was able to use a sweater I bought on clearance a couple of years ago, but had never worn. I had purchased it off-season (hence the clearance price) and put it in a drawer to save until the weather was righ, …..but forgot about it for a while. I put it with a skirt that I’ve had a long time, but matched perfectly.

Since all fridges of all family members within reasonable distance were crammed with wedding food, I didn’t let anyone shop for groceries last week. In fact, on Saturday, I resorted to peanut butter sandwiches for both me and Mac for lunch. Neither of our favorites, and if you know me at all, you know I usually eat about 1-2 per year, but that was our option:). I wasn’t allowing cooking or leftovers there toward the end, either, hence the sandwich. Rob and Mac ate a jar of pears between them for another meal….You see how it was.

Today, I took a bunch of the leftover carrots and celery and used them in a vegetable-beef soup. Lovana and I had salad for dinner. Rob had a meat sandwich. So, we are starting to work through the leftovers we brought home already.

I picked the few remaining tomatoes, green and red, from one row today, then pulled the bushes up. Cleaning out the garden is one of the next big goals to accomplish around here. I will make a double batch of Salsa Verde to can in the next day or so with the green tomatoes. Rob chopped up all the red peppers (Carmen) and froze them on Saturday, so those bushes can be pulled, too. I don’t have enough time or stamina to do this entire job as once, so I’m breaking it up and plan to do a little each day,

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 27, 2022

Our fall crop of veggies is producing. We’ve been eating the new crop of broccoli, cabbage, the new cucumbers, the mixed summer squash (all sorts in the same packet from Pinetree), along with the tail end of cucumbers, tomatoes, green and purple beans, peppers, etc. Our squash and cucumbers from spring planting is succumbing to powdery mildew, as normal, so I usually plant a small bit of those for fall eating.

I was able to freeze a few more packets of broccoli, which was one of my goals for this fall crop. Now I have enough for the winter.

I pulled all of the beets that were still in the garden. Both Mom and I kept what we wanted to eat and I pickled 9 more pints.

I have started to pull onions, and clear away other plants in the garden that are finished. I’m hoping to get that done so it can be tilled before the fall rains begin. It’s a big job, so I will try to work at it a little most days.

On the same day Rob picked up my Azure Standard order and did a very small Costco run, the girls decided to buy a LOT of groceries. I believe it was around 10 bags full or more. Then, a few days later, Lovana shopped for her party food, which was many more bags full. I picked up the specials at Safeway last Friday, as there were a few things I needed. Then you add in the wedding food as Rob is doing all the meat for 175 people. It’s not a small amount. Our fridges are bursting. We’ve used coolers with lots and lots of ice for overflow. We have the kitchen one, one small one in the camper and one ancient, rickety college dorm-sized one on the porch. That’s it. I have declared this to be NO MORE SHOPPING FOR FOOD week. But, then I ran out of something. And we need 20 bunches of green onions and 12 cucumbers for the wedding that we can get at our local Safeway for a great price. What can I say? I’m sending Rob and Michaela out on Thursday. Everybody better eat fast between now and Thursday.

We were invited to Allison’s birthday at the group home she and Anthony live in. It’s the first time we’ve visited their new home and it is super nice! I’m happy for them.

We took Malcolm. Boy did he have fun. We had not realized we WERE the party, other then the residents, so we were super glad we took him along. Everyone enjoyed him so much and he was the center of attention as he pushed and rolled his cars along the floor and enjoyed his cake!

Lovana cooked and baked for a costume party for her friend’s birthday. It was a Marie Antionette-themed party and she made 2 cakes, decorated beautifully, brownies, cookies (more than one kind), and cupcakes. There may have been more items, but I can’t quite keep track of that girl when she bakes. She really has a knack for it.

She also arranged many, many flower bouquets for the decor. She said the party turned out really nice, but she couldn’t get any pictures in time:(. Now I’m enjoying this gorgeous bouquet every day.

This upcoming weekend is the big wedding for my niece. We are going to be working very hard to prepare all the food. Much has been done ahead of time, but there are many things that have to be done the day before or even the day of the wedding, such as cutting fruit for salad. There are several people coming to help. My sister and I will spend quite a bit of time Friday evening putting together “kits” with instructions so people can be handed a box with apples, for example, with instructions to cut them into bite-sized pieces and add to the fruit salad. Hopefully, that will get all the jobs done and leave no one standing around wanting to know what to do.

I picked up this picnic basket at a yard sale. Rob oiled it with a little wood oil after this picture was taken, so it looks even prettier now. The bride has asked for some of the wedding food to take with them on their honeymoon, as she feels she won’t get to eat much. We will pack the food in here with ice packs. She also wants an assortment of cookies from her cookie bar, so we will add those, too.

I’m bringing containers, plastic wrap, dishcloths, soap, knives, cutting boards, scissors, etc., etc., etc., as the venue provides nothing but appliances. I’ve got a huge pile already and it’s only Tuesday!!! You should see my sister’s living room. She has decor for the food tables and will have all the food. Yikes! Rob has the van completely full of his projects shown in the last post. Let’s hope that set up crew is on time and very, very strong.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Still Canning–September 20, 2022

The shelves are starting to fill up nicely. I have most items canned that I want to do, and a few blank spots to tuck away the remaining items. The boxes on the left are now almost filled and labeled with jars that won’t fit or that I have canned an excess of.

For example, there are 2 boxes of pears. I canned extra of those this year and don’t anticipate using them all this winter. So they can remain stored in a box and the shelf can be used for items for immediate use, but are always handy in case people around here start gobbling pears up!

Dealing with this many canned items is a big organizational task. There is always a lot of arranging and re-arranging during the winter. There is a constant parade of full jars marching into the house and empties marching out. I organize them in sections according to their size and whether they are small mouthed, or wide mouthed. I keep all jelly/jam and tuna jars in shoeboxes in a different location to keep them organized as they empty. I use baskets and keep empties on the dryer until the basket is full, then deal with the jars. I keep a few jars of food in the house to grab quickly, but the rest is stored in the shop. It’s only a few steps to run out there and grab more at any time.

I keep good records. I use a simple journal with blank lines I bought years ago at the Dollar Store, and it’s not complicated. I count what’s left from last year, and add what I did this year. I often refer back to last year’s record sheets to see how many we actually used. This gives me an idea of how many jars of a certain item I need to can this year. Sometimes I look back 2 or 3 years to get an average, as people are fickle around here. One year they may gobble a certain item, like cherries, and the next year they might stop eating them!

This week, I was able to get pickled sweet pepper rings done. I also got several more tomatoes products canned, including crushed, more salsa, whole tomatoes and juice. I did 2 canner loads of vegetable beef soup and also canned beef broth. The broth used all the beef soup bones in the freezer, as I like to clear them out in anticipation for the new 1/4 beef we get each fall. The soup used up some of the broth, many vegetables that were lingering in the fridge and all the small bits of this and that I could pick in the garden and quite a few tomatoes. There’s just a small amount of meat in it, from the soup bones, and lots and lots of good veggies and herbs for flavor.

I went out and found quite a few pickling cucumbers I was not expecting, so I started another small batch of sweet pickles. There are never too many of those and I really don’t need more dills. It’s so cute when my autistic son comes over, as he did this past week. Every time, he shyly asks for a jar of those sweet pickles. I’m happy to share.

Because I have such a bumper crop of tomatoes, I am purposely canning more than I need. We eat a LOT of tomato products, so that’s been a big job. I learned to do this the hard way years ago when I lost my entire crop, except 7 quarts, to a blight of some kind. I was again reminded that crops are not always readily available when you want them, when the peach crop was very, very small this year. I only canned a few jars, but thankfully have many left over because last year’s crop was so huge.

I also canned quite a few items for others, especially my niece, who is getting married in a couple of weeks. Between her mother and myself, she will start off with a good supply in her canning cupboard. I enjoy canning, so when she asked for that for her wedding gift, I was delighted to agree. Rob already took her the canned goods, and they are put away at her new apartment, ready and waiting for the newlyweds to enjoy.

Rob is working almost every day on items for my niece’s wedding. I’m going to do another post on those, this one is getting too long.

We did a few more activities this past week, although the main focus was food preservation. We stacked firewood that was given to us. The pile is getting huge, and we fell blessed.

I picked many veggies and used them in meals. We’ve also been utilizing the jars that didn’t seal, which you always get a few of when you can as many jars as I do. We ate soup that did not seal, another batch of soup I made from extra veggies, tuna noodle casserole, hamburgers, spaghetti, salads, chicken gravy over mashed potatoes, and a Costco chicken. It’s always a bit of a struggle to cook when I’ve been canning for hours, so the chicken really helped out and you can’t beat the $5 price tag. I’m pretty sure I only have a pint of tomatoes in the fridge that needs to be dealt with from the items that did not seal. I’ve had tremendous success in getting them to seal this year, and have only had a very few that didn’t in the hundreds of jars I’ve canned.

I was able to fill the yard debris bin this week for the first time in a while. There is much more yard work to do, but the canning has been a priority, so that felt good to at least get started.

Last, but not least for this week, we were able to collect a few seeds to save for next year. We’ve collected parsley, snap peas, beet seeds, and a few more. I will still buy many seeds, especially of a few hybrid varieties I like to plant, but it’s been fun to learn this skill over the past few years and to see that it really works! We have enjoyed many veggies from our own seeds this year, such as all pole beans–purple and green, most of the cucumbers and some green onions, and a few more, as well.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug. 30, 2022

I quickly mowed the lawn one day before it got too hot. It’s been a challenge getting it done on these hot days. I had a good helper. Rob was right there to make sure my helper stayed behind me and away from the mower. His little mower sends out bubbles when it’s full of soap, but he mows and mows with or without the bubbles.

It’s been hard to weed, as well, because it’s been hot, but I keep doing a bit whenever I can. On a. couple of days it was cool enough that I got quite a bit done in the garden. I weeded and planted a little more lettuce, some snow peas and spinach for fall. They have yet to come up, but we are watering frequently in hopes that they seeds will germinate.

I pulled the rest of the carrots and a lot of the beets. I canned beet pickles and carrots.

It’s a good way to put the super ugly carrots into a form where I can use them easily. In the winter, I can make soup quickly, and that’s my main purpose for them. I used some fresh and have a few more of the nice ones in the fridge for fresh eating.

I also canned a few dill pickles, dill beans, and some tomatoes. We picked and ate quite a few veggies from the garden.

On Sunday after church, we slipped away after church for a picnic at a park. This deer came up quite close to us.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug.22, 2022

My sister has a peach orchard. Their crop was terrible this year. They did not have enough to open the orchard for u-pick at all. Walking through the orchard, except for the one section, the other trees are completely bare. I feel so bad for them. There were enough of one kind to offer to family and friends, and we picked some on Saturday.

I froze some. I ended up with 3 trays, which is about 9-10 quart baggies full.

I dried some. I did not can any. Thankfully, there are still 50 quarts left over, since last year was such a good peach year and I did extra. That will be enough. This is one reason I always try to preserve extra of everything when I can get it.

I had a jam-making day. I did one batch of peach jam from the fresh peaches. I pulled frozen peaches and frozen raspberries and made a double batch of peach/raspberry. We did not freeze any raspberries this year, our crop was so poor we easily ate them all, and I was glad I had extra peaches and berries from last year. While I was at it, I pulled the California strawberries I had purchased one carton at a time on super, super sales and froze and made a batch and a half of strawberry jam while I was at it.

There is a fruit stand where our family buys pears and apples if we need them. Rob will call again tomorrow and see how those things are ripening up, but the owner indicated to him a few weeks ago that those things would be readily available–no shortage was expected.

50 quarts gives one jar per week, most weeks. I expect there may be some weeks where people eat more pears and applesauce then they have in the past, so I will do a little more of those 2 items, especially since there are only 13 jars of pears left on the shelf! After years of no one eating many pears, they have suddenly become the favorite. Who knew? That’s how it goes around here. It keeps me on my toes.

Although some crops aren’t doing well this year, the zucchini is taking over! This is a tromboncini zucchini. There are so, so many, along with the yellow and green traditional ones. And, oh yes, the scallopini ones. Hmmmm. What was I thinking when I planted so many?

We are really starting to work on the logistics for the reception for my niece’s wedding. My sister and I have a good plan, we have Rob building a few things, and we were able to tour the venue last Friday. The mother of the bride took us all out to lunch so we could all keep making plans, and we had a really nice time. The dahlias and white zinnias are growing nicely in the garden, and I keep dead-heading the spent blossoms. Hopefully, we can keep them blooming until the wedding, because we plan to use a lot of them at the reception.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug. 16, 2022

The flowers are getting gorgeous around here. I love this bouquet Lovana, my daughter, made for me. She added dill and put it in the bathroom, which helped the room smell wonderful.

This week I was able to pick enough cucumbers to make a batch of sweet pickles. It takes 4 days. You need to do something morning and night each day. It was so great to get a batch out of the way.

I was invited to judge food preservation at the 4H fair and had a great time doing that on Monday. It is such a great program and we participated for so many years that it is a super fun 1-day job for me.

I picked and froze several baggies of beans. (You can see the pickles in progress in the background.)

It was a little hard to get any garden work done last week, but I managed a couple of weeding sessions and a couple of harvesting sessions. We were involved at Vacation Bible School at church, which took quite a bit of time.

Rob has been “enrolled” in wound care for his leg and ended up with antibiotics in an I-V in his arm for 5 days in a row. Today was the day they assessed him again, and thankfully decided that was not needed anymore, so he got the I-V port out this afternoon. His leg needs on-going treatment, though for at least a month. Although I hate that he has to go through this–it’s very painful–I’m glad they finally got him the treatment he needs.

As always, the babies bring lots of joy into our lives. Today, we baby sat both of them, which made a full day. We took them for a nice long walk first thing this morning, before it got too hot. They had fun looking for kitties and chickens. There are kitties in many places, and one place that we can see a chicken once in a while on one of our routes.

It’s been a busy week, and there’s lots more fun to come this week. I’m looking forward to a little more time in the garden soon, but it’s supposed to be super hot for a couple of days, so I may have to wait. I guess time will tell:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-August 9, 2022

Last week, I canned green beans several times. I also dug up the ugliest, cracked, huge carrots I’ve seen lately, and diced and canned them. Although I got cucumbers, I did not make pickles. Instead, I sliced them up and made a fresh salad for Rob to eat and served them on a veggie tray. So far, I’ve canned about 19 quarts beans, and 20 pints. Since there are quite a few jars left over from last year, I really don’t need more. I do want to freeze some. I got 11 pints carrots.

This week is VBS at the church. We are in charge of packing bags and bags of snacks and treats for the kids. Rob and Michaela went to Costco and the restaurant supply store and bought the snacks. We’ve been rounding up little prizes with the help of the childrens’ pastor and staff. Last week, we got a head start on the job and prepacked a couple hundred bags on Thursday. Malcolm helped:)(He filled a bag with candy and I poured it out when he wasn’t looking…then helped put the candy in the bags….and so forth.)

This week, we have been very busy adjusting the amount of packed bags, according to the number of kids that actually show up each day. We have packed 240 more bags, and still have some to go. Tomorrow, we will pack more. My aunt has been helping. Whew!!!

While we are not packing bags, we are the bathroom monitors. The whole theme is “Water Week” and the kids are rotating between stations with various water activities, including a huge blow-up water slide. Of course, being Vacation Bible School, they also are getting songs, object lessons and another teaching time. Our job is just to make sure kids can be safe while finding the closest restroom, and do what they need to do without running all over, slipping and falling, dripping water everywhere, or even worse, getting lost! We are having a blast.

This event is for kids that are older than Malcolm. There are 3 young kids that needed childcare because their adults are helping, one of them being him. I was so happy and excited to see that they are doing a mini VBS just for those 3. For him, a Covid baby who has spent his entire life at home for the most part, this is a BIG DEAL to get a craft and story, etc. You may notice the tail of a whale poking out of the cup. If he pulled on the string, a mini “Jonah” came out the bottom. Jonah went in and out until he finally broke……such is a craft’s life for a 2-year-old:). But boy, does he love his craft!

I was able to get out and weed in a flowerbed one evening and work in the garden a few times. When I cleaned the bathroom, Rob picked me a bouquet for me to put in there, as I often do. The dahlias continue to bloom more and more and I love having so many flowers available.

Even though we’ve been super busy running around for these snack bags, we managed to avoid fast food, except for yesterday when we didn’t finish our job until 1;30 and one little boy had had enough. He got a Happy Meal. Otherwise, I’ve cooked salmon, sandwiches, salads galore, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and we devoured a Costco chicken. My lettuce is holding despite the hot weather, but will bolt soon. Another batch should be getting bigger soon.

My mom, aunt and sister came and celebrated my birthday last week. We had such a fun time visiting.

I did some grocery shopping today, after a couple of weeks. I am finding prices rising rapidly, and really noticed a difference in the time I’ve skipped shopping. Even so, I was able to use coupons and get everything I needed, and stay in budget. I’m glad it’s garden time! Too bad I can’t grow diapers:). (And, yes, I could save money while Mac and Zai are over here by using cloth, and have chosen to do disposable anyway. Just sayin’. It’s the beauty of being frugal the rest of the time!)

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–July 31, 2022

This has been 2 weeks of ups and downs! I guess that’s how life tends to be.

Rob went out with Malcolm to turn on the barbecue and shut the shop door. Instead of the relaxing evening we had planned, or the meat and grill basket of veggies we were going to eat, he accidentally tripped and got jabbed badly on his leg in 2 places by a stick of wood, and we ended up at the urgent care. The huge blessing, especially since we were towing both Jake and Malcolm at the time, is that the second place we drove to was willing and able to see him right away. Within an hour, we were picking up his antibiotics. Amazing! He is healing now, thank goodness, but has a ways to go. Poor Rob!

A real highlight of the week was an event at the church called Family Fun Night. We took Malcolm and there were all kinds of water activities set up. It was blazing hot and all the kids enjoyed themselves so much.

This past week, we have had to contend with temperatures near or above 100 degrees F. every day. It has been a challenge to keep the garden from dying. I’ve been watering almost every day and running an extra setting on the garden during the hottest part of the day, most days. The beans are blooming and will drop their blossoms and not set fruit if they get too hot, so I try to cool them down a bit. I was able to can 7 quarts and 10 pints on the hottest day of all. I have a knack for growing things that ripen during the hottest days of the year, I’ve been told:).

Despite the heat, my latest crop of lettuce is not bitter yet, so I have been picking lots of it early in the mornings. I’ve been sharing it with anyone who wants any because it will bolt and become bitter quickly in this weather. I was able to weed a few times early in the morning and my newly planted lettuce, snow peas, cucumbers, cilantro, spinach, summer squash and cabbage and broccoli transplants are growing well. Zucchini is ripening daily and I’ve grated some for winter, stir-fried it, and given it away. The current batch of snow peas was finished up and there will be a gap until the next planting gets ready. I pulled some exceedingly large and ugly carrots, which I will can when the weather cools a bit. I’m getting just a very few tomatoes, both cherry and large, but there are many green ones coming on. I even got a few small cucumbers.

The heat caused the blueberries to ripen quickly. I used some left over from last year to make a few pints of blueberry pie filling. I picked several times and froze fresh ones for the upcoming year. We’ve eaten a few strawberries, blueberries, a few remaining raspberries and some Marion (black) berries.

The dahlias are in full bloom now. There are so many kinds and colors. Behind the beans, where you can’t see them, are about 30-50 plants of the kind with small blooms. There are more plants with large blooms out in front of our house, including a pale yellow one with a bloom the size of a dinner plate! I have picked bouquet after bouquet already!

Yesterday, we had both babies for 10 hours.

We’ve been keeping busy around here. Through it all, we’ve been able to stay quite frugal, although the heat kills my joy for cooking and I didn’t alway feel like doing that job!

I cooked several times exceedingly early in the morning. One day, at about 4 am, I made gf bread from a mix I had been given and also some flatbread. I made 2 different noodle casseroles to microwave in the evenings. Rob picked up some lunchmeat and we’ve had sandwiches and salads several times. He asked that I NOT make soup this week:).

A very good friend’s family has contacted Covid. Rob left food for them. I sent noodle casserole, scones and cornbread from mixes, and salad. Rob stopped at Costco and got us and them each a cooked chicken. $5 can’t be beat! I made the food I cooked early in the morning. This was an excellent way to use a cornbread mix I had been given, but could not eat, as it contained wheat flour. The ones who can eat wheat around here had some and we shared the rest.

Our heat pump, which runs the air conditioner, broke yesterday (Saturday). (Did I mention we had both babies for 10 hours?). What a day for it to break! Rob called a friend who is in that business, but lives over an hour away from us, to ask if he knew of anyone reputable in our area, and he came and fixed it! He “happened” to have another call in our area. That, my friends, was God looking out for us, for sure. We had feared we would have to just live with it until Monday. We might have had to move into church all day Sunday:). But our house is cool and comfortable today. What a blessing!

I have been stacking wood. We have been given many loads of wood and it is so nice to see our woodshed and wood stack slowly grow week by week.

The schools near us are handing out free lunches for children again. We were able to find time to get them 3 times, and they contained apples. Jake has been in an apple-eating mood and has been enjoying them very much. I don’t have an apple left in the house, including the ones we bought. He has cleaned me out! I’m going to send Rob over there to get them those lunches again tomorrow if he has time. Let’s hope for more apples! I just didn’t have time or energy in the heat to shop this past Friday and we are happily making out with what we have on hand and garden produce. Except Jake, who wants more apples:). I will just make a list of what I run out of and buy extra next week, if needed.

It is supposed to cool slightly this week. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to canning more beans tomorrow and having more opportunity to get outside with the cooler temperatures.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Gardening, Gardening, Gardening!–July 18, 2022

We started last week off with 90 degree temperatures, but it quickly cooled off. I seized the opportunity to do some extra yard and garden work.

I picked all the remaining peas over a 2-day period. My mom came over and helped shell out the first batch. The second batch felt like it took all day, but it really didn’t. We ate some and froze some.

After dealing with the last of the peas, I pulled all the vines up and put them in the compost heap. Compost was spread on the area from a finished bin and tilled in. The small cabbage and broccoli plants Rob grew were planted in that spot. More lettuce (Buttercrunch, a mixture, and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman) was planted in several places, along with spinach and snow peas. At this point, despite the few hot days we’ve had, we have had enough lettuce to eat and give away all anyone wants.

Although good help is hard to find, I found some. He will work for berries and peas.

And rides in the wheelbarrow!

Despite all my help (of course I mean “since I had so much help”), I was able to take out all of the broccoli that was finished, leaving 2 plants that looked like they had some shoots still coming. I cut and used several cabbages or gave them away, and lots of lettuce was harvested. I cleaned out patches of lettuce, as some was starting to bolt. It was still good, though, so I gave some away and ate some.

Both the yellow and green zucchini are ready to start harvesting and we’ve had a few small ones with many more to come.

Some onions are sizing up enough to use. I just used the last one from last summer’s garden so will pick a few of the new ones, use them, then pick some more, as they will only gain in size until it’s time to harvest them for winter.

I picked and froze the Marion blackberries. I got more than I thought I would. I picked and we ate the raspberries. It is a very small crop this year, so we are just eating them fresh. I have leftover frozen ones from last year, thank goodness.

I pulled weeds in the garden and the flowerbeds. There are enough left to keep me busy another day. And another. And another.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to bloom. Whenever I get stressed, I just go take a little walk down the rows and it calms me right down. They are so lovely. They seem to be every shape and size and color you can imagine. I’ll be taking more pictures, as you can imagine.

I also have a large cleaning/rearranging project going on. My sister and aunt came and helped me one day. I’ve gone through and sorted or filled so many bins, boxes, etc. Our garbage can is stuffed for the second week in a row. I’ve carried many, many bins upstairs into the shop attic. I have a growing pile up there that will be for a yard sale in the future. I have many items packed away that I don’t use often. My house is getting less cluttered all the time.

We have a house with 1,100 square feet. 3 small bedrooms and one bathroom, a modest living area, a dining room so small the table barely fits, an adequate kitchen and tiny laundry room. We use the garage for extra living space, but mostly put junk out there, and some of my food storage. We have many, many people and babies that go through this space, and a dog.

One adult daughter will be staying here for a short time in-between rentals. It was time to clear the clutter and move some things around. Although there is always work to be done and things to sort, this one part of the project is done. She has a place to stay, I have the things I want accessible to me, and the rest is stored. I’ll bet when I put it all back before long, I’ll get rid of more. In the process, several areas got deep cleaned and one room is almost entirely empty. It is so clean right now. I love it!! (Except for all the toys spread across the living room floor……always more to be done!)

Through all these projects and gardening, we did our best to stay frugal. We took our nephew and grandson to the park and on walks.

I made several batches of popsicles and also fed them ice cream purchased on sale because the weather turned hot again.

The little pool on the deck continues to be a blessing during these hot days.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 12, 2022

We took the babies to the beach this week. Zai went straight for a little creek that meandered across the sand. It was pretty cold. Good thing he had his coat on:). After he soaked himself and we changed him, we spent the rest of the time chasing him, and pulling him back from another plunge. It was so cute. We all had a blast.

It was one of those rare, perfect beach days. There was little wind, lots of sun, but not too much, not too many people and a little river for the kids to more safely play in and by. Malcolm was content to sit next to the creek and dig, unlike his brother.

We kept it frugal by dividing the fuel costs and packing a big picnic lunch instead of eating out. Even if the food at all the restaurants had been free that day, I think a picnic was the best idea for those sandy, sandy boys anyway. We took sand toys we’ve had for years. After letting the boys play in the sand, we drove down the coast a little bit and stopped at a small rest area. The tables in the shade were full, so we just used our own lawn chairs and had our picnic overlooking the ocean next to our van.

The week had quite a few very warm days, so the pool on our deck got a lot of action. I got some swim diapers at last. I paid full price for them. The next day, Rob found a package on clearance at another store for $3. He grabbed them.

I picked most of the broccoli. It may make more side shoots, but all the big central heads are gone now. I froze several baggies and made a batch of broccoli soup from some tougher stems and some florets that were a little more loose than I like to freeze. I also picked snow peas, lots of lettuce, cabbage, a few small tomatoes and one mis-formed zucchini that I believe did not pollinate correctly.

I weeded when I could and mowed the lawn. Although my little landscaper with his bubble-blowing lawn mower will work for food, there’s still plenty for me to do around here, so we just keep chipping away at it every day.

We used food left over from the parties and spent about $10-$15 for odds and ends we wanted/needed at the grocery store.

I used as many little bits of food that were hanging around from the parties last weekend as I could, along with garden produce, in my meals. We ate a lot of salads. Today, I used the small ends of cream cheese packages left from some frosting in macaroni and cheese, along with some cheddar and mozzarella. I used up the last little bit of heavy cream in the broccoli soup I made, along with milk. I used buns up, along with extra burger patties and hot dogs, and the pulled pork from Saturday. I made a stir-fry with snow peas, onion (including green onions I’d pulled a while back, but were still good), noodles and chicken thigh meat. I also added a little broccoli.

Rob bbq’d hamburgers again Monday with some more of the buns I had popped into the freezer for our adult son, Anthony, when he and Allison came for lunch. Their group home has moved and is now 10 minutes away from us rather than 30-35. I anticipate we will be able to have so many more of these mini visits, rather than needing to rely on long holiday visits only. They have only lived there for a little over a week, and he already called me yesterday to let me know they would love to come today. I’m glad he is excited. I’m excited, too! I had agreed to help take the babies to their well-child checks in the afternoon, so it was great to be able to visit for a while, then move on to the next thing without having to say “no, there isn’t time.” Although they have transportation sometimes, many times we drive them at least one way, and now it won’t take an hour of driving to get them or take them home anymore.

Ice cream was left here, both home-made and purchased. I’ve been bringing one partial carton after another into the house freezer, and they just disappear like clockwork.

The brakes went out on the car. Rob’s friend offered to help him fix them on the 4th, so that’s what they did early that morning. We still had plenty of time to celebrate, and I’m so excited it got done. His friend has a mechanic shop, and graciously used both it and his holiday to fix our car. I’m feeling very blessed.

I got a great deal on diapers at Safeway. They were $14.99 for 64. If you got 2 boxes, it was an additional $10 off. It ended up $20 for 128 diapers. I had tried the Safeway diapers out on Malcolm before I did this and they work just fine for him. (Zai was just gifted a huge box of diapers, so he didn’t need more this time.) It is a long time since I bought many diapers, but that just seemed like an amazing deal to me.