Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 16, 2019

Happy birthday, Danait! And Ja’Ana. And Patsy. And Abbie……It’s been a packed 8 days:). Yesterday was Danait’s birthday party. Her mama cooked tons of delicious African food, a cake was purchased, and there were plenty of family and friends to celebrate with her. I’m super pleased with the little outfit I sewed for her. It fits beautifully, and the top was made from a scrap of eyelet fabric, some white cotton, and some scraps of lace.

I used a pattern I’ve had for years and years and modified it to suit my scraps. So, I paid absolutely nothing out of pocket for this outfit, but made up for it in time:). We added a few inexpensive toys from the Dollar Store, such as a coloring book and some crayons I bought last summer, and so forth.

Our family and my sister were in charge of a few simple games. Patsy led them in such games as:

carry the gummy bear in a plastic spoon relay,


–carry the paper cup full of water up to Rob and no worries if you spill it on him when you are putting it into the container,

and throw the plastic frog at the ring.

Then my sister, Rosalie, dumped a bag of prizes on the ground and let them each pick one. There were a few younger siblings running around, too, and they all got things, too. These were all Dollar Store prizes, and they all got a bottle of bubbles, but it was amazing how long they all played with their inexpensive toys. It was good to see them having so much fun.

It was very simple but it was amazing how much fun they all had between the food, simple games, and playground equipment.

Pretty soon, the coffee was made and passed around for all the adults. Popcorn was brought out for all to enjoy.

With that nice shot of caffeine, we were able to finish and clean up a bit. When our family finally left at around 4, several others were still enjoying the party–no one wanted to leave–it was that nice of a party, but we had things we needed to do at home, so we reluctantly left.

I enjoyed meeting several new people, and loved the hospitality that is always shown by that crew. Coffee, cake and popcorn were offered to any and all who walked by at the park and a surprising number of people accepted. There was a man and his wife who actually sat down and joined the party for a while. I have met and enjoyed the wives of a few of the dads who brought their kids to the party on other occasions, but it was nice for both Rob and myself to visit with the dads.

I did a few other things other than plan games and go to the party. I took my son Anthony and Allison to the zoo, using my zoo pass. Patsy went too, as it was her idea. They had a great time as neither had been there for a long time. I packed food and water and I told them to bring their own money if they wanted souvenirs, so it was very frugal for me.

I’ve been picking raspberries and strawberries, artichokes and a head of lettuce that grew volunteer by the compost heap. My aunt gave me some lettuce she grew. I harvested my first snow peas yesterday. I weeded and hoed several times, mostly in the evenings or early mornings as it was very hot for a couple of days.

The scale is starting to move in the right direction for Rob again, after a plateau. The doctor put him down to 1000 calories per day–yikes!–but it’s starting to work. He’s been working hard at this for over a year now, and is very close to being 100 pounds less than he was a year ago. He’s going to have to break down and get some new clothes.

I bought loss leaders at the grocery store this week. We grabbed the mayonnaise for $1.49/jar, the baked beans for $.99/big can and got several of each. We got a few other groceries, but are not shopping much this month. I have several frozen items I want to finish up before the new crop gets ready in the garden and fields, so we are targeting those foods. I’ve been making lots of zucchini bread, for example, from frozen zucchini. Since we are not eating a lot around here, that keeps the need for groceries low as well, other than produce.

It was a good week, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Still, I’m looking forward to a calmer week ahead. How about you?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 9, 2019

Here is our newly graduated Alissa, with her proud parents!

…..and the aunties!

…..and then there’s the “twins, separated at birth,” as they used to call themselves. It was quite an evening.

All I can say about this week is, “WOW!” All week, we seemed we were scrambling from one activity to another. But, in the end, we got everything done, and stayed somewhat frugal:).

Of course, Alissa’s graduation was a huge part of the week, but we did some other things as well.

Rob, Patsy and I went to the dentist. Because our dentist’s son is starting to slowly take over the practice, we had a new dentist. Let’s just say our teeth were thoroughly cleaned. He’s very good, but still somewhat new at it all. We ended up using a gift card I’ve had for over 2 years for lunch because it took much longer than we expected. I’m glad we have dental insurance, and have a place to use it at, and can still go to our same old dentist office, even though it’s a distance away.

I weeded and hoed quite a bit. I tucked in more green bean seeds where they got eaten by birds or slugs, and planted a short, new row of lettuce. I like to plant little bits often so we always have some.

I mowed the lawn and planted a couple of flowers here and there. Some of the seeds I’ve planted are starting to look like they will survive and I will have flowers eventually from them.

I found a ham for 69c/lb. It was the last one. It was close to expiration, but we’ve already been eating it and it won’t be a problem to use it up. I got Bugles for $1/bag (7.5 oz). I shared some today with the family, but most are for summer fun activities.

Patsy’s birthday was Friday. We took her to Red Robin, using a gift card from Christmas and let her have milkshakes and French fries for dinner. Yup. No healthy food for her. Just that!

Saturday was Abbie’s birthday. My oldest and my youngest. What a pair:). The 3 of us went to the zoo to celebrate. We used my zoo pass. It was my gift to Abbie–we just wanted to spend some time, and this was a super fun way to do that. Patsy borrowed my phone and took a lot of pictures.

We had a really nice time being together.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–June 2, 2019

The weather this week acted like summer, so the kids did, too! When we were over at my sister’s on Saturday, Jake asked to come home for the night, and that worked for me. The kids played water balloons, ate popsicles, and ran the sprinklers. Notice I say “ran the sprinklers” not “ran IN the sprinklers” cause that’s what actually happened:). I have no idea why!

My sister did a beautiful job of Alissa’s graduation party. The rest of us pitched in a bit here and there, especially my Mom. Alissa chose her cake, the verse on it, and the guitar picture, as those were all things that were special to her. She had a great time at the party. There was a great turn-out and the day was gorgeous.

Since I graduated from homeschool as well, I used some of my new-found time to clean the laundry room. Imagine this room piled high with odds and ends, and the floor covered with laundry and dirt. I worked on it for a couple of days, at times, and then finished Friday. On Saturday, when Jake came over, Patsy told him to go look at the laundry room. He dramatically fell into a fake faint when he saw how clean it was. Pretty soon, he ran into the room with a few items of his clothing and threw them on the newly cleaned floor. “There!,” he told me. “I fixed it for you, auntie!” Oh, boy! I just had to laugh my head off:)

My aunt gave me some beautiful roses from her flowerbeds.

I worked in the garden quite a bit this week. I planted some corn plants Rob grew and we covered them with row covering so the birds won’t peck them out. Things are really starting to grow. I’ve been trying to pull a few weeds or hoe a little each day so they won’t get ahead of me.

I hope your week went as well as mine did.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 27, 2019

My 2 sisters and I decided to take the kids to the Oregon Zoo today. Everyone had a blast. It was so awesome to use my zoo pass to the utmost–and we only had to pay for 2 of our large group. I have plans to use the pass again in the near future.

It was such a treat to have some of the big cousins with us, too. Jake decided Auntie Rosalie and cousin Rachel were the best ones to hang with for quite a while and even though the search for a snow cone was unsuccessful…. even though we hiked around for 2.5 miles looking for one…..even though we never, ever found one…..we saw a lot of animal along the way:)

Michaela loves trains and had a great time riding the zoo train.

We did quite a few other frugal things this week.

We took Patsy, Anthony and Allison bowling, using the Kids Bowl Free passes, along with the family pass I bought at the beginning of the season for less than $25. I bowled as well, making a total of 4 bowlers. You are supposed to pay for shoe rental, plus Allison wasn’t on the pass. In the end, the bowling alley chose to charge us only $6. I think I owed a little more than that, but when I pointed it out, the gentleman would not take any more. How nice of them.

I let the garden grow, which it did all on its own. We had rain almost daily, so I was only able to get out there and hoe a couple of times. I did do more pruning and filled the yard debris bin again.

We had a family house cleaning party over at my sister’s house. We were all pitching in because there was a birthday party there Sunday, and Alissa’s graduation party next Saturday. With all of us who showed up, we whipped that place into shape quickly, and then enjoyed a nice potluck lunch.

My oldest sister has a talent for cleaning, and Jake was waiting and waiting for Auntie to come help clean his room. He sat on the bed declaring that he was the “boss” and helping us clean off and on, having so much fun telling us aunties what to do:). Jake’s room is so clean now that I took him home for 2 nights, and so it could stay that way for a little while (but mostly because he wanted to come over). He’s home now, so……..

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 19, 2019

We could call this the weekend of paper airplanes and croquet! Jake had a couple of books from his school library and used a LOT of paper trying out various plane designs. It is such an inexpensive and wholesome activity. I love it that he is “in” to that right now.

We had fun with the kids at the Iris Parade! You can see they enjoyed the “Breakfast of Champions!” That was our fun, but frugal, activity for the weekend.

I think Jake enjoyed the policemen who were closing the road as much as he did the parade! This one was especially nice to the kids.

It was an old-fashioned parade with a couple of local school bands, lots of vehicles with irises stuck in the front grills, a few kids on bikes, and so forth. I always like old firetrucks, and we were all amazed by a huge truck that the driver jumped out of and drove with remote control! It was actually a little freaky!

After the parade, the Chinese restaurant gave away orders of teriyaki chicken the the first 100 people who got in line. We were right in front of the restaurant and Rob and Patsy got some. (It’s got wheat in it, so I didn’t and Jake doesn’t like it)

Both kids spent Friday night, and then, right after the parade, Michaela went with her older sister to spend Saturday night. Their parents were able to go to an event with Alissa all weekend–they had a great time as well.

The geranium I dug out of the compost heap and overwintered is going to bloom! So exciting for a “plant geek” like me! I come by it naturally. I remember my grandfather taking me to see each and every one of the new dahlia blooms in his garden and my other grandmother showing me each new bud and bloom in her flowerbeds! I get it from both sides of the family! What a gift:)

I was given this pot of flowers. I love it! The pots in the background lived all winter. I have plans for some of the extra sedums that have filled in that one.

We took a large group to the bowling alley and used the Kids Bowl Free program. We took a friend with her 7 children, my sister’s family, my family, and 2 kids Alissa was babysitting. My sister also grabbed a young man she knew to help with the mob, and we divided the older young adults amongst the little kids, so everyone had the help he or she needed. Patsy got to bowl with the “big girls” and she had a ball. Then we went to a nearby park and ate a picnic we packed. It was wild, but fun!

The rest of the week was filled with ordinary activities–things like work, cooking meals, gardening in odd moments, mowing the lawn, and finally—a lot of laundry! I’m hoping to keep up on the laundry a little better, as well as cut the lawn again very soon. Both were horrendous jobs by the time we got to them. I’ll see how this week shapes up–it’s worth a try anyway!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 13, 2019

This week was all about gardening. The artichokes have exceeded my expectations! We have been enjoying them and there are many more to come.

Rob spent a few sessions tilling. He has to break up big jobs to accommodate his bad hip. He finished Saturday morning. We bought some plants and also planted the small peppers we grew in the greenhouse. They’ve already grown since we planted them, so who knows! They didn’t get as big as we’d like, but we thought they were worth a shot. His tomatoes came out beautifully, and he saw ones smaller than his for around $3/plant. Since he grew way over 25 plants, he grew a worth of more than $75, minus the cost of seeds.

I worked many mornings, planting beefsteak, Glacier, Ultra Early, Sungold, Black Cherry, Striped German, Black Japanese, Roma and Willamette tomatoes, head and leaf lettuces, snow peas, beets, carrots, Anaheim, Jalapeño, green, yellow, banana and lunchbox peppers, spinach, SO many little onions, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, 3 small groupings of green beans, yellow beans, pickling and slicing cucumbers, butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, basil, cilantro, dill and watermelon. I may have planted more, but that’s what I can remember. The garden area has one more spot for corn, and a few places to fill in with transplants of head lettuce I’m growing in another spot, plus succession plantings of lettuce, basil and cilantro all summer.

I also worked on my flowerbeds quite a bit. Rob bought me this lobelia to add to a pot that I had overwintered a geranium in. It’s not blooming yet, but there’s a bud:). I planted a lot of flower seeds that had been around for a long time. Some have not come up. Some have.

I finished cleaning out the old strawberry patch, and added a lot of compost to top-dress the plants.

I have some more edging to do in front of the house but the back yard is pretty much finished. Because I’m doing some extra landscaping, it’s taking a while in each area.

We got the sprinklers set up so the garden will be watered when the system does it’s rounds, saving me hours. I was hand-watering until I got the garden all planted.

I did do a few other things this week, but sadly they didn’t include much laundry, cleaning in the house, or cooking beyond what absolutely needed to be done:). Oh, well. I was pretty happy to be outside and the dirt will still be there inside when I get to cleaning! Hope I don’t need a shovel:) 🙂

My sister took us all out to lunch for Mother’s Day. We had a really good time, and it was nice to not have to cook.

Alissa and I have been working for hours and hours to complete her schooling. We just finished the rest of the bookwork a little while ago. Now, she is happily watching “The Hobbit” while I type this. I have some correcting to do, and scores to add up, then I’ll take it all to the Homeschool Satellite School we use on Friday–she will get a high school diploma, graduate in a cap and gown, etc. once they get the final credits recorded. What a weight off my mind to know we have completed all the requirements! We are both pretty happy today:)

Rob took Patsy and they got 4 garbage cans full of free sawdust to use as mulch on the front of the house where she planted her bulbs. She trimmed the leaves of the spent bulbs and put down the sawdust. It looks great.

Thriving In My thrifty week–May 5, 2019

There were a lot of branches in our garden area from the apple tree we heavily pruned earlier in the spring. Rob worked on cutting them up several times during the week. Even though he’s having a very hard time getting around, he finds he can still get some things done if he divides the jobs up into several short work sessions rather than the marathons he’s used to doing. We have the yard debris bin full, and another pile of cut sticks to put in it when it gets emptied.

On Saturday, Patsy mowed down the many, many weeds. Although it was being very difficult, and kept dying at first, Rob got the tiller going and tilled most of the garden. He said it must have been having trouble running with the old gas leftover in the engine from last summer, because it died over and over, but finally started running better. There is still a little more to do another time, but it’s well on it’s way. Patsy and I spread 20 bags of steer manure/compost as he was tilling. Then, Patsy planted a couple of things and I did many more. I’ve been hand-watering the little starts and seeded rows. We don’t want to run sprinklers until we have all of it planted.

Before it was mowed, I scurried thought the garden picking the volunteer lettuce, green onions and cilantro that were growing in the weeds and under the brush pile. I washed it all up, and we will eat it this week.

I made up a lot of frozen bean, rice and cheese burritos for future meals. Tortillas were $1/package this week, due to Cinco de Mayo. Many evenings when I am still at work, it makes an easy meal for Rob to give Patsy. She loves them.

I worked on homeschool with Alissa for many, many hours this week as well. I have an appointment to turn her work and grades in, in 2 weeks, so we are both working hard to get it done. One of our projects was visiting 4 different stores with a list of food items. We priced them out at each store, and added up the cost of the list. In the process, I gleaned the loss leaders from each store. I got plenty of bargains, and won’t shop this coming week unless I see an amazing deal, or run out of something small.

I did a lot of cooking, a fair amount of gardening, a little cleaning, no sewing at all, and stayed frugal through it all! How did your week go?

Thriving In My Thrifty week–April 29, 2019

Rob’s been taking pictures again this week. Most of them were for Alissa’s senior pictures, but he took a few great ones of Patsy while he was at it.

Rob went to a retreat with a friend from Thursday to Sunday night. They went to Washington Family Ranch in eastern Oregon. It is a Young Life camp. He had a wonderful time.

While he was gone, Jake wanted to spend the night, so I let him. On Friday, I took my crew, plus my son Anthony, to meet Alissa and the little boy she was watching at the bowling alley. I used the Kids Bowl Free program, so only had to pay for shoe rental. Since I could buy a family pass for about $23 when I signed the kids up, I did that, so I bowled, too. I stink at bowling, but I had fun:)

Then, we moved over to a nearby park with our packed sandwiches and drinks, and the kids had fun playing there for a while.

I exercised in the yard for many hours this week. Things are looking better, but there is lots of potential for free exercise out there, still:)

How did your week go?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 22, 2019

Easter was a blessed holiday for us. We were able to go to church at 6:30 a.m., and were even able to keep our eyes open during the service, which was inspiring:) Rob cooked a ham, a turkey, and some grilled cauliflower steaks on the bbq and we had salads, desserts and sides to go with them, with everyone bringing something to share.

The card on these flowers SAID they were from Anthony and Allison, but I have a suspicion that Anthony didn’t know as much as Allison did about them:)….. They are sure pretty and are brightening things up around here today.

I set the tables with tablecloths I already had. I picked bluebells from the yard, where they are taking over the flowerbeds and used canning jars for vases. Rob got some ribbon from the dollar store which I used, and he also spread some chocolate eggs along the table right before we ate, so they would last more than 10 minutes:). I picked some parsley and cilantro for more bouquets and let people take some home if they wanted to.

Rob dug up some parsley plants from the massive collection in my flowerbed and let people take home starts for their gardens. This is also how we decorated the outside table on our deck.

Alissa headed up the Easter egg hunt in the yard. We call our aunt, “The Easter Bunny Janet” because she has filled the eggs with candy for many years. She brought the candy-filled eggs, Alissa hid them, and the younger ones found them. Then all candy was put in bowls, divided amongst everyone who wanted any, and sent home in baggies. I overheard Patsy telling Alissa that she might need to help hide eggs next year—I guess she’s feeling like she’s getting a little older….So, that would leave Jake to find all the eggs???? I’m sure someone will help him, or we will need to find another kid or two to invite:)

I did a lot of cooking and cleaning this week. I had to go grocery shopping since I skipped last week, so I looked for bargains, and used Ibotta for rebates. It went well, and I stayed in the budget I wanted to.

I got quite a bit of gardening done in bits and pieces whenever I had time and it wasn’t raining. I planted a new blueberry by the 2 old plants. I’m hoping the berries will be larger and sweeter than the ones on the old bushes. I’ve been digging up plants, clipping bushes, and digging grass out to make the edging cleaner in many flowerbeds. I have a lot more to do!

I made Patsy a skirt. We did some shopping and got a black lace top to wear over a black tank top to go with it. She also got a few other things, and I got a few as well. We found great bargains, and the skirt was from fabric I’ve had for years, so it didn’t break our bank. We both had gift cards from Christmas and/or birthdays, so that helped, too. We should be set for a bit.

I spent hours preparing for a homeschool meeting regarding Alissa. We go though a diploma program and I needed to have a meeting with them to show the work we’ve completed so far, grades, hours spent, etc. I wanted this meeting as a final check-up to make sure we’ve done it all, since she’s supposed to graduate on June 6. I called it my “anxiety meeting.” We now have a list of the final few things that need to be finished, another appointment in 1 month, and we will be done! Since I put in so much work on the record-keeping as well as having her do extra schoolwork to finish up this and that, it won’t be so hard when I do the final compilation in a month. Whew!

Rob has been taking her senior pictures. They got a lot of good shots on Saturday, but they aren’t done yet. They have plans for a couple more sessions. Already there are too many good ones to choose from….What a great “problem” to have!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week– April 14, 2019

We had a nice, normal week. Jake spent the weekend, as he does on occasion. I always look for fun, but inexpensive, things to do when he is here. This week, JoAnn Fabrics had a craft for kids day. They got to make a Lego elephant or flower. Jake and Patsy both made elephants, then Jake traded his out and made the flower. That is what he ended up taking home. The worker was above patient, and it was a successful outing.

We made Jello. Jake got 3 baby spoons and was using all of them at once, sometimes with a little help from Patsy, sometimes by himself. “Take a picture,” he begged. “Call it Jake loves Jello,” he ordered. So, being an obliging Auntie, I did!

We read an entire Boxcar Children book aloud. I ordered it in on inter-library loan, and now need to order another one for the week ahead.

In addition to being entertained by Jake all weekend, we did get quite a few things done before he came over.

I finished one of the raised beds and also made progress on the area around them. I planted my strawberries, some snow peas on the end, a little lettuce, spinach and Boc Choi on the sides and sprinkled radish seeds all over in-between the berries. It’s been very wet, and I’ll see what happens. The little yellow flowers in the upper left corner of the picture are some primroses that had survived from a previous year, and I moved them out of the path and divided one of them. Behind them are some Oriental poppies that were just growing in the flowerbed last summer, so I moved them out of the path as well.

The Columbine plant re-bloomed. I’ve had it for years. I’ve been letting it grow in the greenhouse for a few weeks. The baby vegetable starts in there are not as big as we wish they were. We are hoping they grow rapidly. Rob transplanted a few tomatoes and some basil and he is going to give everything a shot of diluted fish fertilizer soon. The peppers look pathetic, if you want to know the truth. Time will tell if they do anything.

The river at my sister’s house was at flood stage for much of the week. This picture does not really do justice as to how high the water was. The log jam you can see is made from logs, brush and debris that have come hurtling down the river and were stopped by the group of trees. We watched for quite a while, several times, in pure fascination as logs and brush slammed into the pile. Such power! Although much of that log jam is on their neighbors’ properties, there are some logs on theirs. They will have to deal with all that brush when it dries out.

We made lots of good food at home. Taco salad, tuna-egg salad, chef salad, meat loaf from turkey burger, baked potatoes, chicken soup, potato soup, burritos and more were all consumed.

I did not do my regular Friday grocery shopping trip, but instead just picked up a couple of items here and there as needed. Rob and Michaela went to Costco and got me butter and tortillas. It’s got to go on record as the cheapest Costco grocery shopping run on record! He always likes to come up with one errand for her to help with on Tuesdays after swimming, and he wanted a couple of things there, so that was this week’s errand.