Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I harvested the first snow peas.

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

Like homemade donuts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are you keeping busy during these strange times?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My sister sent over a beautiful hanging pot of flowers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My thrifty Week–April 13, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 30, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patsy made another one of her sidewalk chalk drawings.

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

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

I cut out a skirt for Patsy.

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

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

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

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

It’s amazing the changes a week has made.

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

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

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

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

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

How are you filling your extra time?

thriving In My thrifty Week–March 15, 2020–Keeping Busy During the Covid-19 Event

Surprise!

One morning, we woke up to a very late snowfall. It didn’t last long. Rob said, “Ah, Michaela, it probably won’t snow, but if it does, I’ll buy you a Costco hot dog.” She was away with her family this weekend, but she did text him, reminding him about his promise! It will be a fun, inexpensive outing for the two of them, as long as they can get into the store before the hot dogs are gone!

It was hard to get milk around here, even at 6:30 in the morning. But, Rob and Patsy were resourceful, and found plenty at a small corner market near our house.

We had been waiting for our tax return to come back to fill an extensive list of food storage items. I’d let quite a few things run low, since we like to make sure my stockpile is rotated. We have certain places where we like to buy certain things, such as Costco, Bob’s Red Mill, Cash and Carry, Safeway, Fred Meyers, Grocery Outlet, etc.–wherever the best deal is on each item we wanted. So, Rob’s been filling the list for the past 3 weeks, with a little help from me, and we were almost done when this panic-buying madness started. Thankfully, the remaining things we needed were not as popular–like gluten-free flour (a 25-lb bag), gluten-free oats, things like that, and we easily purchased them. Rob did say that Bob’s Red Mill was busier than he had ever seen it, though, on the day he went up there, and people were getting huge bags of all kinds of things.

We had no trouble purchasing fresh produce, and thankfully, we have enough toilet paper:)

I spent my extra time this weekend organizing and cleaning the storage shelves, filling up glass jars and empty ice cream buckets. Now, I know exactly what I have and where it is. I have 2 things left to buy: mandarin oranges and water chestnuts, neither of which are urgent needs in my mind. I threw away a very few items. I made a decision that the canned soup we were given, that expired in 2011 and 2012, was obviously not something we liked or were going to eat. Those cans are gone now–straight in the trash, and that space is now filled with things we do eat. Overall, I felt really good about the fact that things had not gotten pushed to the back and ignored and our hard-earned food is not getting wasted. I also liked knowing what NOT to buy, such as dry beans–I had many pounds still left. This bulk buying at low prices, buying sales, and cooking these basic foods at home saves me a great deal of money.

I made a mega-batch of refried beans. I’ve been out of my home-made ones for a while, and wanted to re-fill the freezer while I had extra time at home. I cooked pinto beans, brown rice, boiled chicken bones and made soup right away, a huge pot of chili, and marinara sauce. Lovana came over and made kale and mushroom pizza (it was awesome, even though we were skeptical at first), and lemon bars. Now some of those time-consuming items are safely in the freezer for quick meals later on. I will finish the rest of my cooking plans in the next couple of days.

Rob’s been keeping busy, too. He’s been building little mason bee homes. He’s also been watering and transplanting in the greenhouse.

Rob and Patsy made raised bed frames for Lovana. She has a couple of trays of little starts in our greenhouse, and wants a little garden in her backyard. Now they need to get them over there and she can fill them with soil.

Patsy did a lot of school and one day, she worked on a quilt square. Last spring, she got some square kits at a shop hop, and is slowly working on this new skill.

Things are very different, and somewhat unsettling, since we are creatures of habit and routine. It was strange to watch our church service live-streamed on Facebook instead of going this morning. Jake’s school is cancelled, so we will see him a lot this week. At this point, Patsy’s spring break missions trip is still on, but that could change at any moment. There is another week to wait and see what is decided.

Like many of you, I’m choosing to live in faith, not fear. I love Psalms 43. The beginning of it says:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth shall change.

There is a lot more of this Psalm, and so many more I love and take comfort in. I’m hoping I’ll have a little more time to read some during the week to come.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 10, 2020

I have been playing “catch-up” at home this week. One of Jake’s big sisters took him to Disneyland, so we hung around with Michaela and I cleaned the house at every opportunity between things. I folded SO much laundry yesterday, but….what do you know? There’s more today:).

One day, we went on an excursion to a museum, as a special treat for Michaela. We had randomly come across this museum a while back when we had Jake out for a drive, and thought of how much Michaela would enjoy it, because she loves trains so much. We mistakenly assumed it was all about trains, since it was in an old depot, and had numerous boxcars.

In fact, it had a small section about trains and a lot of history about the surrounding area. We loved it! There was an actual covered wagon that had survived crossing the Oregon Trail, and the true story of the people who had traveled on it. There was a lot about the African-American influence and early settlers in the area, which of course interested me because 2 of my daughters are black. One section told of the Native American from the surrounding area, and Michaela seemed to really enjoy that section–we read and discussed every picture and signboard. She was especially interested in the picture and story of a modern-day man, who was keeping the traditions alive for his people—she just loved knowing he was still alive today–she was fascinated.

If you even get a chance to visit the museum in teeny-tiny Brownsville, Oregon, it’s worth your time. The cost is minimal–donation only–and there is a little gift shop where Michaela bought herself a t-shirt (with permission from her Mama) and Patsy got an adult coloring book. Rob dropped a few dollars in the container provided, and we enjoyed our drive home.

We had a 4H meeting, even though Jake was gone. It was a gorgeous day, and we concentrated on Outdoor Cooking.

Rob built a fire, lit the BBQ and unearthed his Dutch Ovens. The kids chopped and chopped and we made….

foil dinners,

a chili-cheese dip and then…

the kids roasted every single hot dog we could find in the freezers and fridge! They had so much fun last time we did that, they wanted to do it again. Rob said, ” Why not?” and started the great hot dog search. It WAS fun:). Next time we will have to buy some S’More ingredients, and a big package of hot dogs. This time, I put out a big bowl of oranges and bananas. Everyone ate like the ravenous children they were, and Rob hauled the older ones off to Wednesday night church, while I tidied up in the almost loud silence that remained!

All of this fun was very inexpensive–the sausage was on super sale for $1.99/package, the potatoes, carrots and onions were on hand, and the peppers were inexpensive, too. Next time, it will be even more inexpensive, because I find that this crew isn’t fond of peppers, so we will not buy them again for this purpose:)

More flowers bloom each week. I love looking at them. I was able to do a couple of hours of yard work this week.

I made some lemon-poppyseed muffins. I froze a bunch and shared a bunch. Rob made waffles and froze what the girls didn’t eat for lunch today. He made spaghetti sauce and spaghetti pie. I made some soup and we bought a Costco chicken. Those are sure worth the $5 in my opinion. There have been lots of salads in our meal plan lately, since Rob is trying to maintain his weight and even lower it a bit in light of his upcoming surgery.

He’s been going to the pool quite a bit and using the water weights to pull himself around the lazy river to try to get a little exercise. He cannot use his legs to swim, due to his hip issue, but this seems to work. Patsy and I go along when we can.

Patsy and I have been really cracking the books, getting large amounts of schoolwork done. There have been a few things that have been neglected a bit over the past few weeks because I’ve been so busy, but it’s only a matter of a few hours to get things back on track. It gives me great satisfaction to know we are where I want to be on school.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–March 2, 2020

On Friday, we had a rare day off. When we realized that we were absolutely free for the entire day, we made a plan to drive down to the Oregon Coast.

It was cloudy and even rained a bit on us. We were not surprised! Rob and Patsy looked for agates for a while. I walked the dog around, read a book and rested. We stopped in at a couple of quilt shops, because that is a fun treat for me, got a little ice cream and candy to share, and drove on home. It was a fun, frugal, relaxing day in the midst of our busy, busy lives.

Patsy has been working on her sewing again. This week, she made a pair of pajama pants. She was able to use a pattern I’ve had for years and some fabric that was lurking in the back room in a bin. While we were digging around, she chose a second piece and I expect that she will make another pair before long.

She is going on a missions trip with her youth group over spring vacation and needed some new things. They don’t need to be especially nice, as they will be doing work projects at a camp. Rob got a handful of things at Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store, and she hemmed up a pair of capris into shorts this week as well.

I took her to Macy’s and she spent her gift cards from Christmas on some things she needed badly.

Our lives should settle down considerably now that our loved family member has been released from her second hospitalization. She had severe complications from her first surgery. February was a blur for all of us. She spent at least 13 nights in the hospital, plus numerous additional visits to the doctor. The whole family will still need to pitch in, but I have confidence that she will improve as time passes. We have a family schedule, so we all know when it’s our turn to help out–so helpful to have a plan.

Our daughter, Lovana, made about 150 desserts for her dear friend’s wedding dessert table. She did it over at her own house, but borrowed quite a few things from my kitchen so she would have enough for such a huge project. I was very proud of her.

The bride and groom were so cute, and the wedding was lovely. One of my favorite parts of the wedding, aside from how much I enjoy seeing these kids grow up and the beautiful wedding itself, was seeing friends we have not seen for quite a while, and watching their reactions when they saw the changes in Rob, due to his extreme weight loss. It was really quite gratifying after all the work he has put in.

One day, I noticed the garden was drying out a bit, but rain was expected the next day. That’s how it is in the early spring in this part of Oregon. We seized the short window of opportunity. I planted a few carrots, beets, lettuce, boc choi, snow peas and a few tiny cabbage plants that were extras, and will likely get eaten by slugs, but were going to get tossed anyway. Maybe they will grow…who knows? If I get anything from this extra early “gambler’s” planting, it will extend my gardening season significantly. Right now, I’m spending quite a bit on fresh produce as I refuse to cut down on healthy food.

This took much longer than it should have because the tiny tiller I can handle was being sulky and it took Rob quite a bit of time to get it to work. I’m hopeless with mechanical things, so I was grateful he could do that part. I cannot even count up the amount of money he has saved over the years by fixing and tinkering with things himself. I, on the other hand, do things like push buttons that do no good, flood the motor constantly, break things worse than they were before I started, and even got the small tiller started one year and drove over my foot with it! Yikes! No wonder he stands by whenever I’m touching anything mechanical with a worried expression on his face. At one point in our marriage, he gently asked me to please stop “fixing” things, cause it was taking him twice as long to fix them after I “fixed” them, if you know what I mean:). I will be ecstatic to let him take back over everything remotely mechanical once he is more mobile, and he will be quite relieved as well.

Rob finally has a surgery date–but not until April 20. We wish it was sooner, but it is what it is. At least he has a date, at last.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–February 24, 2020–Greenhouse Refresh

Patsy and Jake and a few friends started a set of swimming lessons this Saturday. Patsy’s lessons were a gift from her auntie, and will hopefully solidify her swimming skills. She can swim, but it’s never a bad idea to get better, and she loves to be in the water. Jake has never had a formal lesson before that I know of, but can swim a little, thanks to the fact that they have had him in the water since he was a baby and have worked with him a bit. Both my sister and his big sister were lifeguards and swim instructors once upon a time, and have both worked with him over the years.

Patsy transplanted baby basil starts into a larger pot so they could get on the table faster! Every year, I take this old poinsettia pot with the little rim of support and put basil in it and let it grow in the greenhouse for early table use. You can see the wild jungle of snapdragon babies to the left that need to be transplanted soon. Not bad for Dollar Store seeds. Some things from there work very well. With other items, I prefer to get certain varieties with disease resistance, short length of time until they produce, ability to grow in cooler weather, etc., so I order exactly what I want from the seed companies I trust.

Rob has done most of the cooking this past week. One thing he made was a casserole from leftover mashed potatoes. He basically added eggs, cheese, onion, and I’m not sure what else and baked it. It puffed up nicely and tasted wonderful. He also made teriyaki chicken, meat loaf, hamburgers, and some other items.

I did take 2 “Hello Fresh” meal bags that were given to me when the person who ordered them had a crisis and could not use them. The recipe cards were lost in the shuffle, so I played “Iron Chef” and made food. I used every single item except the wheat bread crumbs and one lemon. I added some things from my fridge and pantry and ended up with a nice salad with apple (them) and dried cranberries(us) on it over a mixture of fancy greens (them) and iceberg lettuce (us). I crusted the chicken with pecans and bread crumbs and cooked it in a pan–will use oven next time–it burned slightly, and took the small package of pork and made it into sweet and sour pork. I used the itty-bitty bottle of balsamic vinegar in that, and it was delicious. There were some new potatoes and rosemary, so I fried them up together. I tossed the green beans, since they were over the hill by the time I got the bags–not the company’s fault. I’m glad I know how to cook. The ingredients were not wasted, but I will say the whole concept would have been easier WITH the recipes:). The timing was perfect, since some of my grown kids walked in right as I was finishing and helped eat some of the food.

A lot of my time this past week was spent driving back and forth to Portland, and visiting someone I love very much who ended up in the hospital from some complications of a surgery she had a couple of weeks ago. I will say I’m not the only one who has been visiting. Everyone wants to be there, but we are organizing the family to go up there in turns so as to not overwhelm her. We have a pretty big family:). The nurses finally dragged a couple of extra chairs in there yesterday, so that helped. We take the children for short periods of time, in shifts, choosing our times judiciously so as to not disturb the patient, or the kids. Although this has been, and looks like it will continue to be, a long road, we are hopeful that the latest problem is on the mend.

We were given a gift which we used for a Costco run and extra gas. So thoughtful! We are very grateful and it’s nice to be loaded up with some of those things that are not very exciting, but oh, so necessary:)

Rob is working on the greenhouse again. He has been cleaning it out with either Patsy or I to help him manhandle the big stuff and is building a bench for the other side. We will have so much more room for starts as soon as he finishes.

He’s using reclaimed wood.

You can look on the floor and see how he cut that pallet Patsy was holding to make a little place for things to sit on down below without having to be on the ground. When he made this greenhouse, he made it so it could be taken apart and moved if needed. We have been talking about a better place to put it, but that’s a project for another year, when he is healthy.

The library has moved to it’s new temporary location and opened back up this past Tuesday. I took Michaela and Patsy down there and we all got some books and movies. I have been treated to Michaela reading out loud to me about cheetahs and snakes. She also read to her Mama. It’s very rewarding and sweet. It wasn’t very long ago that she absolutely would not step foot into the public library and now she’s been begging to go. It has been a lot of slow steps, helping her see that it is a fun place with things she likes. Patsy would, on the other hand, live in the library if that was an option and I wouldn’t be far behind:)