After a crazy, busy week, I went outside and was surprised to see that my garlic had really started to grow. This was some organic garlic I had purchased from Azure Standard. I forgot to take it out of the plastic bag it came in and it started to grow. I decided to plant it and now it’s growing!
You can see some leeks and parsley still growing in that raised bed, as well.
Our Christmas program went very well. I’m guessing there were between 90-100 people involved in it, maybe more. The true message of Christmas was given and many people attended.
I was excited to be a part for the second year. We had rehearsals every night, except one, and one final dress rehearsal, then 3 performances. The final rehearsal offered a chance for special needs guests to come and enjoy a quieter atmosphere so there was a small audience that night, which was good practice.
I have cooked a lot with my home preserved food this past week. I’ve made vegetable soup, several apple crisps, spaghetti, applesauce muffins, and more. We’ve eaten canned fruit and jam along with frozen bread, veggies and various proteins. Some meals went out to others and many were gobbled up by us.
I was super tired Monday, but am bouncing back quickly. That’s a good thing because I’ve needed to work a little extra already this week and it’s only Tuesday! Some weeks are like that.
I’ve been enjoying my Thanksgiving flowers all week. We hosted this year and I made several bouquets to put here and there. I used some flowers my daughter had used the previous week for a party she had. I was amazed that part of them were still good. Rob grabbed a few more from Trader Joe’s and I combined them. Then I plan to pull out the old ones as they get yucky, and keep enjoying the newer ones as long as they last.
Unfortunately, I was quite sick the entire week before Thanksgiving week so I wasn’t able to get as many things done ahead as I would have liked. It all worked out in the end. I had family members pitch in and, together, we got the job done. We had a lovely day and many family members were able to come and celebrate.
The day after Thanksgiving dawned clear and crisp. We loaded our nephew and grandson up and took off to find a tree. We haven’t had a live tree for over 5 years, so we have no “favorite” farm. We just drove out, followed a sign, and easily found a nice place. Rob helped the boys cut down the tree and we brought it home on top of the car.
We got the decorations out of the shop and got them up. This upcoming week is insanely crazy so I wanted that job done this weekend so we can enjoy the decor before it’s time to put it all away!
I am in the Christmas program at church again this year, which means rehearsals every night this upcoming week, except one, dress rehearsal and then 3 performances next weekend. We also have extra work training one day, and a full work schedule. To help myself out, I have some pre-cooked meals in the freezer. I have all my home-canned “fast food” and many ingredients in my freezers and pantry. We should make out fine, despite the busy week.
I sat down this evening and ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds. They had a 15% off Black Friday sale, which was awesome. There are a few things, like Carmen peppers and cabbage mix, that I always get there. I will do a Territorial order later on. I am excited to feel like the new gardening year is right around the corner!
We are still getting a few scraggly vegetables from the garden; a few cucumbers, snow peas, tomatoes, boc choi, a handful of green beans, and carrots. It’s nice to have more manageable quantities, but to not be entirely finished with produce.
I’m delighted with my new mixer. One day, on the way to church, Rob noticed a “free” box on the sidewalk. This mixer caught his eye and he hopped out and snagged it. Of course, we had no idea if it worked, but after church he found the switch wasn’t working properly. He tore it apart, and fixed it, which I find quite amazing, especially with a toddler 2 inches away, “helping.” Now it works great. It looks like it was used very little. So fun to have!
I have lots of kitchen help. He’s especially fascinated with washing dishes right now. That is good because I have been cooking and cooking lately. We have so much good food and it makes me happy to use it, so we eat at home. Since I’m in an extra-busy season of life, I have been writing out my menu plans. This helps me use food I already have from my abundant harvest this summer, but more importantly gives me a list to follow when I’m in a hurry. I don’t have to think it up AND make it, and I can get some things prepped ahead. There are a couple of evenings where people here need to eat before I get home from work on my new schedule and I like to leave easy home-made healthy options.
Although the flowers are waning, I’ve been picking bouquets. There are still many lovely blooms.
We’ve saved seeds from some zinnias and marigolds, dill, and some other plants. I was also unable to keep up with it all and I noticed the dill has reseeded and is about 3 inches tall. It won’t survive the winter but I hope there are plenty of volunteers next spring. I’ve been using what did come up—just snipped off entire tiny plants and cooked with them.
We’ve been utilizing free and inexpensive activities with the kids, since my niece and nephew have been spending the week with us. Our grandson loves to run so we try to get him out as much as possible. Our nephew likes Pokémon Go annd for me to read aloud to him. Our niece likes car rides. They all like popcorn and a movie. We ate SO much popcorn this week. Thankfully, we had plenty as my mom gave us a big bag not long ago. And butter…….we kept the dairy industry going this week😀 It was a fun week and I think we all had fun most of the time. I will admit I’m looking forward to a few more restful days that are coming up before long, though.
I spent a lot of time preserving last week. I also enjoyed my flowers as I went to and from the garden.
My table looked like this for most of the week. Early in the week, my sister shared beans, corn and peaches from her place. The tomatoes keep ripening on our vines and other veggies do, too.
This is how my outside table looked late that same night.
Rob dug out my drying racks and I pulled the onions. We had many more, but we have been eating, sharing and preserving with them. We have plenty left for winter use.
I used quite a few mild and spicy peppers to make a pepper sauce, canned whole and diced tomatoes and made bruschetta in a jar.
I used lots of odds and ends of food up. I made the rest of the tomatoes that wouldn’t fit in a canner into pizza sauce. I will make pizza soon or freeze it.
Bananas became banana bread. You can also see the melons I picked—Ha Ogen. We have had several from our bushes and there are more ripening. They are like a honeydew in many ways, but maybe a little firmer. Peppers were put into a big pot of refried beans. The last bit of a Costco chicken was boiled to make broth, then made into chicken and noodles. Because we’ve been preserving so much, some meals have been less than stellar, so it’s been nice to get time to make a few that are more tasty.
The yard and garden look terrible because they are so weedy. Once I get through this busy preserving time, I think they will be getting some serious attention. I’m glad the weather has cooled down—it’s so much easier to work out there😀
I turned all my ripe tomatoes into pizza/pasta sauce this week. That is one of the most time consuming things I preserve, but also one of our favorite things to eat.
I shredded and dried zucchini. I also did get some thyme and basil dried and sorted out the thyme stems from it and put it away. I have been organizing my food storage a little when I have a few minutes.
We are going into a heat wave this week and it’s supposed to top 100 degrees for several days. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the garden, but likely nothing good….
I was able to get most of the newly planted veggies to sprout, so if I keep them well watered I will hopefully keep them alive through the heat so I will have fall Lakeside spinach, Marvel de Seasons lettuce, Joy Choi Boc Choi and more. You may notice I put old lettuce leaves over the carrot row in hopes they would hold moisture in. They still haven’t sprouted. Neither have the green onions or snow peas.
The Quick Start cabbage, Pinetree cabbage mix and Hybrid broccoli blend are coming along nicely. I watered them this morning before church and just did it again this evening. They were already dried out. There’s also lettuce in there.
This basil has been cut several times. It’s lookimg a little heat stressed but I’m hoping to make pesto again. I’ve frozen several ice cube trays full already this summer. We love, love, love it!
I’ve also been weeding. I gave this raised bed a complete re-set. I pulled old snap peas, lettuce, an amazing pile of weeds and put strawberry runners back up into the bed. They had grown down below by the concrete! I left some cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. I will add lettuce when it cools.
I’m pretty far behind with my weeding but I won’t get much done this week. We will be helping at church every morning because it’s Vacation Bible School week. Rob and I are in charge of the snacks again this year. We have a team and pre-packed 160 paper bags of prizes and snacks today after church. We are now set for 80 kids Monday and Tuesday, with the ability to quickly pack more if needed. We will finish packing bags later in the week once the numbers stabilize.
I need to run up to another county one day to do some judging for 4-H food preservation and it’s going to be quite hot. This is a good week to do those other activities because I would absolutely not be weeding in the heat anyway😀. What I have done has been in the very early mornings and has taken me quite a few days to accomplish, as I just do a little each time I can.
We went to a small local parade with my sister and family. Both grandsons were able to go and they enjoyed the big trucks and rescue vehicles. My nephew was super excited about getting things at McDonald’s. We were on the sidewalk by it. So he kept going in there and buying food for the babies….we didn’t need to do lunch! He had it covered.
We have been gone quite a lot the last couple of weeks and working like crazy when we were home. First, we took our grandson camping for his very first camping trip. The first morning, he woke up at 4 a.m., he was so excited. So we went fishing at this mountain lake in the Oregon Coast range. Although there were no fish to be caught by us, we had a blast.
It took 5 minutes for him to begin to pelt the water with rocks. It took 10 minutes for him to wade in, roll his fishing line up and start wading in, despite the fact that it was 6:45 a.m., and 45 minutes to fall in:). It was a perfect place to take him on his first fishing trip and we had so much fun!
They did catch a salamander!
He did all the usual camping activities: He washed dishes outside, even though our camper has a sink inside. He played trucks in the sand for hours.
We went down to the beach several times and built sand castles and collected rocks. His one disappointment was the kite we tried to fly would not fly from lack of wind. One time, we struck up a conversation with a perch fisherman and by the time we were done, we had a fish for dinner and some bait to try it ourselves the next day.
We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, cooked in a Dutch Oven over the coals, and enjoyed food cooked in foil.
We took walks, visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium, a candy store, an ice cream store and ate out at Mo’s, which is a restaurant.
On the last night, the girls brought little brother down and they played together on the campground playground equipment. When you added endless walks around the campground, we had a busy week. A man in a neighboring campground asked us how we were still standing:). I’m not sure, but boy did we have fun!
Once we got home, we immediately started weeding, picking and preserving garden produce……and working at our job, of course.
My carrots are acting funny and some are trying to bolt. I pulled a lot of them and canned 10 pints. Some were not thinned well and are very small, some are nicer. Most of the family took some to eat. I will pull the rest soon and I’ve planted another row for fall. I also picked lettuce, snow peas, green onions, a few zucchini, broccoli and cabbage.
The 4th of July went well with a barbecue with the family and a double birthday party for both babies. Now they are 2 and 3.
By Thursday afternoon, Rob and I were off to Central Oregon to the wedding of our dear friends’ daughter. Rob had a prayer to say in the wedding and I was there to help with the food and the reception. Friday and Saturday were very full and we came home Sunday. The wedding was lovely and we had so much fun.
Rob did slip away Friday morning to a mountain lake to do some fishing while I helped prepare food.
I will say that the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. We were able to keep it frugal in several ways. First, we packed food everywhere we went, or ate at my friend’s house. We ate out 1 time, each trip and did not choose extravagant meals. Second, we took the trailer camping, but not for the second trip, as it was going to be very expensive to pull it that far for only 3 days. Instead, we rented a cabin. It wasn’t fancy–only 1 bedroom and very small, but perfect for our needs with a price we could afford. Rob was able to make one of his hand-crafted cutting boards for a wedding gift. We bought no souvenirs at the beach, but instead took and used things we already had. For instance, we have old sand toys and a cottage cheese carton we used on the beach one time, old kites we took, and one time we just dug piles of sand with our hands and put rocks and shells on top. Rob used fishing bait and equipment he already had, even though there was a “better” weight he could have bought. ..and son on. We had such fun both time, and it was even sweeter to know we stayed in the budget we had planned for each trip.
At the wedding, we helped my friend save a lot of money by helping her self-cater the reception. It was so fun!!! I was so glad to be there.
This week, I went to a U-Pick strawberry patch, all by myself:). I know he would have enjoyed it, but I was so glad he wasn’t there when I saw the (seriously) 150+ people who were swarming the field. I got enough for a batch of jam and some to freeze for smoothies and some to eat fresh. It was hard to find ripe berries, actually. After seeing the people come and come and come, I could see why. I may try again soon, or just make out with what I got.
I think Malcolm is trying to wink at Papa. He loves “bahberries.” In fact, I stepped outside for a minute the day I brought them home and came back only to see the floor littered with little green tops–he’d eaten as many as he could grab. We got those picked up and I turned my back and …….yep! We had to clean the floor again. I’m so glad he didn’t get sick.
The garden still takes quite a bit of time each day. It’s growing so well, as are the weeds. We are eating lettuce daily and sharing with many. The peas are almost ripe. I mean they maybe would plump up if a certain little boy wasn’t out there stripping off any that look like they are growing….It warms my heart to see him enjoy them so much and like Rob says, “He’s eating vegetables, we can always buy a bag of peas at the store.” I’m pretty sure we will get a big batch one of these days–it will be beyond what he can eat.
We are harvesting a few snow peas every couple of days and my cilantro is bolting. I’ve been using the lower leaves anyway in salads and marinades. I will pull that out and let the next planting be used very soon. I put more seeds in the ground but have none yet. I may need to replant.
The compost heap on the right has been emptied completely. I’ve been working on it for a while and now we have started dumping new scraps in there. I have side-dressed the celery, some cabbage and cauliflower and some onions with part of it, as they were struggling where they were. These 3 buckets are all that’s left to disperse and I have plenty of places that could use it. There’s never enough compost! There is one more bin that needs emptying on the other side of the garden.
Malcolm has spent hours and hours working on this project and pouring his buckets all over the place. It’s so cute! I’m glad to have this bin finally empty and he still has another bin to get into in a different place. Otherwise, he just digs holes in the garden. That works, too.
We went to the library this week and watched a preschool show. We also signed up both Malcolm and my nephew, Jake for summer reading.
It was party week. We attended a graduation ceremony Friday, a grad party Saturday and a birthday party Sunday afternoon. I haven’t cooked a whole lot this past weekend.
I did make gluten-free hamburger buns early in the week. They came out great. I made pulled pork sandwiches for us and the college group I cook for weekly. I used extras for sandwiches a few times.
We loaded up on $1.99/lb boneless-skinless chicken breast and thighs today. 3 packs in all. I froze them in meal-sized portions. I popped some Mexican-inspired marinade on some of the chunks to use tomorrow for SW chicken salads for the college group and some to freeze. Milk was $1.29 for 1/2 gallon so we got 2 of those. There were sausage rolls for $1.99 and those kielbasas for $1.99 each. I grabbed a few of those.
We passed up the $5.99/package tator tots. Seriously? It wasn’t even a big package. We got 10 lbs. of potatoes for about $5.
I’m already having an easier time stretching my time between grocery store trips, due to the abundance of lettuce in the garden. I’m also still loaded up with home-canned food and things I froze last summer. This is a wonderful time of year to be cooking and there’s so much more growing out there. I love it!
I made a mega-batch of spaghetti sauce this past week. I used some to make lasagna for the young adult group and us, and some for spaghetti. I was able to utilize my canned tomato products to make it.
I was making meals for someone and they got a container, as well. For those meals, the food was frozen, for access later on when it was needed by the person.
I made a triple berry crisp from our frozen berry stash. We also made pork chops, brown rice, a chicken-pineapple sauce for the rice, chicken legs, snickerdoodle cookies, and lots and lots of salads.
I needed to clean out the camper freezer and fridge as we were getting some brake work done on the camper. I use that fridge as my spare one. Those items were put in a cooler until the camper returned a few hours later–mostly extra eggs, cheese, etc. The freezer was emptied and I’ve been using the items, as some had been in there a long time. The rest are in the chest freezer to be used soon and I will start fresh loading it with items for our next camping trip. There was a large bag of frozen shrimp in there and I’ve been eating a little each day. It’s almost gone, but it was sure tasty! Little Malcolm loves it, too, and eats his share.
This is only a small portion of the lettuce that is ready now. We are eating it frequently and I am giving it away to anyone who wants any. I even sent some over to the neighbor in a bucket and started laughing when I saw my bucket clipped to the fence, emptied out afterwards!
We visited a preschool party at the library with Malcolm. He had a blast and we learned about possible preschools for next fall. He received 2 free books, made crafts (crown), got that ring pop sucker he’s eating, and played some games. He’s been asking me if we can go back to that party! We checked out some books while we were there.
He saw Clifford, the big red dog.
While the camper was away getting it’s brakes fixed, Rob and Malcolm pressure-washed the concrete where it sits. It was awful. Rob did most of it, with Mac yelling at him for a turn, then Malcolm finally got his turn at the end. It was a terrible mess of moss and dirt. I swept it while the boys were fetching the trailer. It was a lot of work, but we are so happy to have that done.
Rob took senior pictures for a close family friend’s daughter. They came out amazing! I went as well, along with Michaela, Jake, Malcolm and the girl’s younger sister. We went to a park nearby where they have a wonderful garden with roses and other lovely plants. We took a picnic and some frisbees and had a nice time with all the kids after pictures were taken.
Rob has talked twice at church about his trip to Bangladesh. On Thursday evening, it was a group of adults who came out to hear the team speak and see pictures. I needed to take cookies, so Jake, Mac and I made snickerdoodles. The second occasion was for the children’s church and he talked to them today. They had gathered money and school supplies and Rob told them all about the trip and how the supplies were given out and how much they were appreciated by the kids. 15 suitcases of supplies were taken–craft projects, school supplies, crayons, coloring books, aprons and pot holders for the women staff, prayer journel notebooks and pens for the men staff, etc. It was a blessing all 15 made it, along with the clothing ones, too!
Through this and more, we have tried to take time to stop and smell the roses, and other flowers, too. Almost every day, Malcolm grabs my hand and says, “Gama, come see the fowers.” He then takes me around and shows me every one he likes. It’s precious. I’m also treated to the newly sprouted squash he and I planted, a green tomato that has shown up, and whatever else he can find. Even the 3 flowers that are dying–“they look sad.” I hope he never loses his enthusiasm for gardening.
It has been a wild couple of weeks! Rob has safely returned from Bangladesh and I successfully made life work while he was gone, with lots and lots of help from my family. He saw so many interesting sights on his journey. One thing he noticed was how crowded everything was. It was also noisy, with lots of honking and even police sirens mounted on cars. The contrast of how quiet is is here was noticeable to him and he’s enjoying the peace of it. It is considered polite there to honk at everyone!
After traveling for 30 hours to get there, they were put into a van the next morning for a 9-hour ride out to the country where they worked with 100 boys in the 100 degree heat….it went amazing, despite the fact that the team was not used to the heat and their days and nights were swapped from what they were here. They returned to the big city a few days later to work with girls at a couple of girls’ homes.
They got to tour a garment factory one day. This man was showing them how clothes were made. The interesting thing was the clothes are going to a local store right here in our area!
They had so much wonderful food! Most of it was quite spicy. There were a few dishes that were mildly spicy, but more often than not, Rob found his mouth might be on fire after eating the meal. At the breakfast buffet, there were no signs to tell you how mild or spicy things were so he just had to take a small portion and test it until he found one he enjoyed. He had rice for every meal and a lot of curry.
He got to taste fruits he had never had before. These grew on a tree, but he doesn’t know what they are called. He had an excellent time, and felt good that they got to work with so many kids, as well as a group of men one day. Then they travelled home. He’s very tired and getting his days and nights sorted out, but every day, I’m hearing a little more about his trip. We are both so happy he got to go. So many prayers were answered.
It was very inspiring and eye-opening to see how others live in a part of the world we know so little about and to help so many orphans, even in what felt like a small way. They sang songs, did crafts, told stories, played with them and encouraged the staff at the facilities they worked at. The people were so warm and friendly to them everywhere they went.
In the meanwhile, I was home working frantically on the garden and yard, working and taking care of the house and life. On the days I worked a different family member would come over to play with Malcolm and on the weekends his auntie helped with him. We took him to get his hair cut, to the McDonald’s play place, to the carousel, to the park, and had little brother over to play twice. We had to keep him busy because he was so sad that Papa was gone. The first day after Rob returned, he followed him everywhere. If Rob got in bed, he got in bed with him, if Rob went outside, he went out, and so forth. I found them both asleep at one point, with Malcolm holding onto Rob’s beard–he wasn’t taking any chances!!!
I got almost everything planted in the garden. I weeded for hours, but have so much more to do. The crows ate our green bean sprouts so Mac and I replanted those. I was able to clean up the deck, re-work some pots of flowers saved over from last year and put geraniums back into the ground. Rob digs them each fall, and I put them back out each spring. I had a few little flower starts we planted in the greenhouse that I tucked into the pots that held overwintered geraniums and got the Columbine plants Rob green into pots or the ground. There were about 16 of them, so there should be lovely flowers for years to come here and there.
On Friday, we went on a small hike, just the two of us. It was fun to hear all about the trip, and just spent time with Rob after his absence.
There are so many wildflowers in bloom right now. It was amazing! We just went about a mile in and a mile out, and had a wonderful time just being together.
Rob went off on his big adventure last Friday. Lovana and I are holding down the fort here. We decided to let the babies play on Saturday for hours. When they were getting too interested in the garden, i.e. stomping on my plants, I bribed them out with ice cream. Works every time:) I used cones we’ve had on hand for at least a year, and some sale vanilla ice cream and they felt like they had a really big treat, for just a few cents.
The little white dot in the corner of the raised bed is a butterfly. Zai was so happy and excited to see it flying around and spent quite a bit of time chasing it, but never caught it.
Most of the last couple of weeks have been used to frantically get Rob ready and get things in ship shape order here, as much as possible.
I made 2 kinds of soup and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make life easy. Tonight, I made hamburgers for dinner, and chili for tomorrow night, and split a pound of hamburger for that. I stopped by the store for a few items, but did not do any large grocery shopping trips at all before he left. I will cook a little more in a few days, but also plan to use may home-canned soups, frozen items, etc. to make life easier. We aren’t going to need to buy much this week, either. I’ll do a bigger shop again when he gets back.
He made sure the tiny tiller worked in case I want to use it while he’s gone. He made sure there was gas in the lawn mower. I’m spoiled. He always gets those kind of things going for me, and then I do my thing–like mow. I hope to do that in the next couple of days. He downloaded the Sunday school power point for me for both Sundays…things like that. I just appreciate him all the more while he’s gone as I do all the dishes myself…..
He did not get all the laundry caught up, and I assured him that even though he does most of it all the time, I did still know how…..I’m actually fully caught up with it as of this minute..
I’m filling my time up with all those chores and hours and hours of garden work, along with working several days this week. I like to be busy, because I miss him and the time passes quickly when I keep myself occupied.
I have heard from him several times. He made it there safely, after a 30-hour journey. He travelled through several airports, time zones, and a few countries. All the luggage made it, too. Whew! This is some kind of fried banana, he said. I wondered when I saw this picture if he was eating fried socks or something–ha, ha! We’ve had very brief communications–enough to know he’s safe, sound and happy. I’m excited to hear all about it when he gets back. In the meanwhile, I will keep praying for him and the team he’s with and keep holding down the fort here, with help from my family, who are taking turns coming here to help me several mornings:). This is a busy place!