Category Archives: Saving Money

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–And a Quick Sewing Project for Patsy–November 15, 2020

I was able to complete a quick sewing project this week. I took the scraps from Patsy’s cape and made her a hat. Sadly, I lost my old hat pattern somewhere in the sewing room. Rob found me another one for free on the internet, and this is how it came out.

We had a very old peach tree at the back of our garden. We’ve been talking for quite some time about taking it down. After all, my sister owns a peach farm and we get all we want from her. Besides, we were very nervous about smashing the neighbor’s fence since so much of it was actually leaning over the fence….you know how these kinds of projects are. They get bigger the more you think about them. So we put if off. This summer, it began to lean alarmingly towards the beautiful fence our neighbor recently erected, so we became more committed to removing it before it fell. In reality, this picture doesn’t even really show how far it was leaning. The angle is wrong. Today was the day to get it down at last!

We were jump-started into action when we were visited by our neighbor on the west side of our house. We followed him into his yard to gape in horror at another neighbor’s yard utterly filled with a part of a huge cedar tree that broke in the last day or two and smashed a shed and filled that person’s entire back yard. He felt he should show us because the rest of the tree was starting to lean alarmingly toward our shop! After some consultation with a couple of neighbors, we found that a tree service was going to be called tomorrow. But, we knew we couldn’t delay any longer in removing our problem tree. That new fence the neighbor put up is too nice to smash.

Thankfully, we had live-streamed church this morning, and God provided a window of opportunity with no rain this afternoon. The minute we were done, the skies opened up and it poured. So, it just became a nice Sunday afternoon project that didn’t ruin our Sunday plans, and took much less time than we had feared.

I climbed a very short ladder and snipped off lower branches with hand loppers and then moved to the clean-up crew. Rob used his chain saw with the long handle to cut off branches, bit by bit, from the top down. We were very careful and pulled the branches toward our side of the fence and threw the branches into the empty garden. Some raspberries and artichokes were actually smashed a bit in the process, but we uncovered them ASAP. There were a few branches that fell over the fence. Thankfully, our neighbor had removed the fancy lights, per Rob’s request a few days ago, and we were able to pull the branches up and over using a garden rake without damaging anything. He came out as we were finishing and assured us that his side of the fence was just fine, we had not smashed, ruined, or destroyed anything in our efforts.

We used pruners to cut the branches into small pieces and filled the yard debris bin. Rob cut the larger pieces into firewood with his chain saw. We left the rest of the branches in the garden and will fill the bin again several times as the weeks pass by. The apple tree will come down this winter, too, hopefully. We get no good apples from it. It’s not ready to fall on anything, so it can wait.

Now my garden will get even more sun and grow even more veggies! The raspberries should be sweeter and grow better. The roots of the tree have been taking too much water from the back of the garden, and I’m hoping this helps. Doing this job ourselves saved us several hundred dollars, maybe more if it had fallen and smashed that lovely fence.

I had planned on shopping last Tuesday, and got the things on my list. I used my $10 off $50 coupon at Safeway and actually spent about $45. I stopped off at Winco and got a 68c/lb turkey and a couple of things they sell for less there. In the meanwhile, Rob and Patsy stopped off at a different Winco and grabbed 2 more turkeys. I’m delighted to have three turkeys now. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that Rob, Michaela and Patsy were on their way home from picking up our 1/4 beef when they stopped for those turkeys! It was a larger quarter than last year. So, we played “arrange the freezer” for quite a while, and it all fit, thank goodness.

While out with her, he found ham for $1.29 at Grocery Outlet, and bought 2 small ones. One hour later, when other family members went to get some, they were all gone. They simply haven’t been on sale anywhere this fall. Since he was going out again, I had him pick up a few more groceries, including a couple more gallons of milk with long pull dates, and we should be set for the next couple of weeks. I have reserved some of my monthly budget for an Azure Standard order later in the month, if I decide to do so.

Rob chopped wood 2 more times this past week.

So, we are loaded up with groceries and wood, so plan to spend this next week cozy and busy!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 9, 2020

When we take care of Jake and/or Michaela, we always try to get some exercise with them.

One day, we walked across the Willamette River on a foot bridge, looked for rocks, and walked back across.

Everyone had fun and we got a good walk in. Since we did get a little rain it’s been a challenge to fit exercise in at times when it wasn’t raining, but Rob and I got several walks in here and there.

Rob took Michaela and Patsy up to the wood-cutting place one day. He got a little bit of wood, but mostly they had a picnic lunch and looked at some horses in a field, and enjoyed nature. He didn’t cut very much wood last week at all, because it rained some, and he had other things to do, but he did get a couple of loads. He’s back up there today.

Rob covered the wooden tomato cages with plastic and we put them over some of the fall/winter vegetables.

He also made a cover for the raised bed in hopes of babying along the veggies in there.

He’s got a batch of lettuce growing in the greenhouse. We are hoping the get it big enough to get a cutting or two. The greenhouse is not heated, so hopefully we will have some sunny days and it will be warm enough for it to grow in there.

When I discovered one of his geraniums he started from a cutting was blooming, I brought it into the house to cheer things up.

The cherry tomatoes I picked right before frost continue to ripen. It wasn’t hi-tech. I pulled off the clusters, left the stems on, and put them in a 9×13 pan on the dog’s kennel in the garage. Rob’s larger tomatoes he wrapped in tissue are ripening as well, but some are a little less than stellar. Still, we are getting enough that I haven’t had to buy any tomatoes yet. We finished up the garden lettuce I picked and had cabbage and broccoli from the garden to work with.

We thawed one of the 10 pound bags of hindquarters we got a while back for $2.90. I baked 1/2 with rosemary, de-boned it, froze the bits and made broth with the rest. It will be for casseroles. Rob BBQ’d the other 1/2 and we ate some and I made enchiladas for dinner tonight with 2 thighs.

We had potato soup, chicken-rice soup, and chili. I split one pound of hamburger between the chili and some chili-mac. I’m finding it best to try not to make huge batches of things these days. As it was, we had leftovers several times as I find it impossible to make tiny batches of either soup or chili. It comes in handy to have some leftovers, as there are times when we are in a huge hurry to eat, just not too much of the same food so we don’t have to eat it over and over for a week:). I made some chicken thighs with a honey -soy sauce glaze, pineapple, onion and peppers (I used frozen bits from our garden). It was really good. I baked blueberry muffins, cornbread, cherry crisp and a pizza.

I did a menu plan for the first time in a long time, and we stuck to it for the most part. I just used the same system I used for years, off and on, in the past. I write things down in pencil in a composition notebook, and also add in appointments or places we are going to plan meals according to our schedule. Then things are easily changed if they need to be. I often switch and swap meals within the week, or completely change things up at times. They are just suggestions. I don’t choose recipes and then go to the store for ingredients. Instead, I see what I want to use from my freezers and cupboards, then choose recipes or meals. Only then do I add an ingredient to my list, if necessary. This helps me remember to rotate the vegetables in the freezer, target pieces of meat that need to be used, or finish up things in the fridge or cans or packages of food on the shelves that should be targeted because they are getting older. It also saves me a ton of money when I’m well stocked, like I am now after canning and freezing all summer.

This week, I didn’t need anything more, so we skipped the regular grocery store. At the end of the week, I did send Rob to the bulk restaurant supply store with $30 for “to-go” coffee cups and lids, a large salad dressing and boneless-skinless chicken thighs. He got 2 bags of the chicken, and a couple of other things, along with the list, and came home with $3 in change. Go, Rob!

We emptied many, many jars of home-canned items and used a lot of frozen vegetables and meat. I also pulled quite a few items from the pantry shelves to use. Our bulk beef is ready to pick up and I need room in the freezers, which was good motivation for me last week. I went ahead and made a menu for this week, again, since it worked so well.

It’s nice to have so many good things to choose from, a cozy fire and lots of projects to work on.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–November 1, 2020

I tried out a new pizza crust recipe this week, and topped it with some cherry tomatoes. I did tweak it to make it gluten free. I want to try again and make a few more changes, but this was pretty good. When frost was threatened, I picked the green cherry tomatoes and put them in a 9×13 pan in the garage. They are slowly ripening up and we are eating them as soon as they do.

Rob has been finding some ripe larger tomatoes in his stash in the shed. They are wrapped with tissue paper, and ripening slowly.

We still have some things growing in the garden that are not frost sensitive. We’ve had boc choi in stir-fry. The “Quick Start” cabbage has made heads. They are small heads, but just right for us. I’ve picked several and there are still more out there. We had broccoli a few times this week, too, in various stir-fries. I made a beef-broccoli one for dinner one evening that was delicious. The celery isn’t doing well–it’s too dry, I think. The winter lettuce is growing and there’s kale, which is very hardy. The spinach is so tiny that I doubt I’ll get any before spring.

We’ve done well this week at eating up all the leftovers. We ate a lot of salad and used most of the lettuce I picked before it frosted.

I’ve had to water the veggies with watering cans, it’s been so dry! That’s very unusual for our part of Oregon this time of year.

Rob went ahead and tilled the empty part of the garden one more time, since it was dry enough, after I pulled up the last few dead tomato and zucchini bushes. It will help the weeds be more manageable in the spring. He also tilled in some grass clippings while he was at it.

We went for several walks. One day, when we were keeping Michaela and Jake, we went down to Waterfront Park in downtown Salem and all took a nice walk. The weather has been amazing!

The wood project continues. Rob went up to the forest several times again this week, and the piles continue to grow.

While he cuts wood, I’ve been sewing and doing school with Patsy. There should be more projects to show in a few days. When her school is done, she goes with him. She enjoys getting out of the house! I’m not sure how much more he’s going to cut, but I’m loving the fact that he’s got so much piled up already.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 25, 2020

Rob spent 3 days this past week sawing wood in the forest.

Some of the logs were quite big, so he needed to split them with a splitting maul after he cut them into stove-length pieces.

He loaded the back of the van as full as he could each time and I helped him haul it to the woodshed at the back of our place and we stacked it. Overall, he figures he got more than 1/3 cord each time, bringing our new woodpile to over a cord so far. We stacked this along a fence in the back and he covered it with tarps. What is inside the woodshed, and already dry, will be for now, and this will be for later. He likes to be at least a year ahead on his wood supply, and this is the first year for a long time that he can work on meeting his goal.

Patsy went a couple of times and even learned how hard it is to split wood with a splitting maul. She got a few pieces split, but happily left most of that to her dad:)

Frost was predicted. I picked the entire row of lettuce, washed it, and served many salads this week. I still have some “Arctic Blend” winter lettuce planted. I’ve never grown it before, and I’m very interested to see how it holds up as the weather turns colder. I picked the first of the fall cabbage and we ate half of it already. There are several more out there. I also got a few more cherry tomatoes and a few more zucchini and tromboncini zucchini. Then, I picked the green cherry tomatoes and laid them in a 9 x 13 pan in the garage to see if they would ripen.

I bought groceries this week and sent Rob to Costco for vitamins while they were still on sale. This week, I focused on a few items for recipes I found in magazines that sounded good. These recipes use things I have on hand, minus one or two small items, which I bought. I also got sale items that worked into my menu. My favorite item was a bag of mandarin oranges for only $1.49 for 3 pounds. They are a real treat around here and that’s an amazing price. We could only have 1 bag, but enjoyed them. They were especially handy as Rob and Patsy packed several lunches. My aunt also found potatoes for a good price and picked 10 pounds up for me.

We also used quite a few home-preserved items. After weeks of filling jars, it’s nice to sit back and just empty some:).

I cooked a salmon filet one night. A while back, we found them, frozen, for $2.50 for 12 ounces, at Grocery Outlet, and got several because it was such a great price. Even with Lovana eating dinner with us that night, there was plenty for us all when lots of veggies were added. It was a delicious change.

I’ve been sorting, cleaning, and organizing small areas when I get a few minutes. I haven’t got very far, but a few areas look better and I found a few old projects that need to be worked on. I’ve been sewing for Patsy whenever I get a half hour or more. Some days I didn’t get any time, but most days I can squeeze out that much at least, and am able to make progress on my latest project….making her several clothing items to get her wardrobe in good shape for fall and winter.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 19, 2020

This week, Rob cooked the last turkey from the deep freezers. We want to make sure we have room for the new turkeys that we usually buy in November, and hope will be on sale this year, as usual. Even if the sales aren’t as wonderful as they are sometimes, frozen turkey does not improve with age, so it’s nice to make sure we are using things up before they get freezer-burned.

We’ve been making our own lunchmeat for quite some time now. I simply slice turkey or chicken or other meat if we have it, up into very thin slices and freeze little cartons of the slices. That lunchmeat is much lower in salt, in most cases, and much less expensive than buying packages. We will still buy some on occasion, such as when we go camping and don’t have any cooked up, but most of the time, we make our own. We don’t like it thickly sliced, and the answer to that problem is to have Rob sharpen the knives extremely sharp and I can slice the meat thinly that way.

I froze several packages of turkey bits for use in soups and casseroles and to sprinkle on salads. I boiled bones twice and made lots of broth. I froze some, and used some for soup.

Our fall/winter broccoli made some heads!

I was also super surprised to pick another bundle of zucchini. The bushes are usually dead by this time of year. One night, we had stir-fry with garden zucchini and kale, and other veggies from the fridge. We are eating the last picking of tomatoes I got before pulling the bushes, and the green ones Rob wrapped in tissue paper are starting to ripen, so we are eating those. We ate lettuce all week from the garden, and I can see that there are some more plants that will produce. I even was surprised with an handful of strawberries!

We filled the yard debris bin again. There is so much clipping, trimming and weeding to do, and we like to fill it with the bulkier things like sticks or noxious weeds each week if we can.

This was a week to re-stock the freezers with baked items, so I made applesauce muffins and Patsy made cupcakes. I have several items to make this week, if I get to it. Having frozen baked items helps me tremendously on busy days, and I want to fill up my supply again.

My grocery list was small this week, so I just had Rob grab some sale and bulk items for me, along with the few things I needed. I had him grab another 25 pound bag of sugar, as I used so much up in canning. It’s nice to have those weeks where I can stock the bulk supply in the pantry, using my regular weekly grocery budget money. One of those items I also stocked was Progresso soup for 99c/can. The clam chowder is gluten-free and we like it a lot, so he got 12 cans for the pantry shelves for that amazing price. I’m pretty sure 11 made it to the pantry shelves…….:)

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 6, 2020

This is my miracle. Rob picked up some wood from my brother-in-law, came home, split and stacked it.

He is still limping, and has a few other muscles that aren’t working quite right, so he was improved for another round of physical therapy. He started that today.

When Patsy was helping Rob pick up wood, she found a praying mantis. We also found caterpillars in the garden and brought them in with the hope of her being to observe them turning into butterflies. So far, no luck, but it’s good to try.

Our onions are dried nicely now. Rob built some wooden boxes to store them in. We have many, many more than this:). He’s sorting them, a little each day since the white ones will go bad first, then the red and yellow because of the varieties and storage capabilities they have.

He worked with Patsy in the shop while he was building them, and taught her how to safely use a tool she had not used before.

Every time Rob goes up to my sister’s farm, she send home garden goodies. We have been enjoying corn. We have dried the last of her tomatoes, as she has what she wants, and worked with apples, apples and more apples. We also dried zucchini, made Giadiniera, and apple pie filling and bread and butter pickles. I thought I was done with pickles, but found more cucumbers. Those were the absolute last, though, and I pulled the bushes up. My canning shelves are over-full, so Rob build me some wooden boxes to store empty jars in as we empty them to free up a little space on the shelves so I can safely move things around without danger of breakage and more easily see what I have as things in front are used up.

She sent kiwi and kiwi berries for us to snack on.

I spent 4-5 hours tying up my blackberries this week. The new vines grew extra long and were very tangled up with each other, grown into the garden and covered with weeds and otherwise entangled. It was not fun, but it’s done.

This was the week for people to give us food, multiple people for several reasons. What a blessing they all were! I was given a bag of popcorn, many fruits and vegetables, and a box of assorted cans of foods that Rob’s mom was given, but could not use. In that box were canned beans, a can of baby corn, some clams and oysters, and some sauces, plus more. I sorted them. The ones that were slightly over-date were set out for immediate use, the rest put on the shelves for later. I made a baked bean medley from some of them, plan to give away the oysters as we don’t eat them, have a stir-fry planned for the baby corn and will make clam chowder soon. I ate the can of very strange soup, but….hey, we don’t all have the same tastes and it’s gone now:).

I picked some lettuce, the first I’ve had for a while. Summer heat and smoke were not kind to the garden and there wasn’t any for a while. I also picked peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and beets from the garden.

I went grocery shopping last week. I used the $10/off $50 coupon at Safeway and also clipped several store coupons to my phone account. I will need very little at the store this week, between what I bought, the end of the garden, and what I was given. I like to stretch out my shopping trips if I can, to save time and to stay home, and as always, save money!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–September 27, 2020

Another eventful week! Can you see the sea lions in the background? One day, Michaela needed to get out of the house, so we kidnapped her and drove down to Newport to see the sea lions. We were looking for what she calls a “country drive” and some sight she could look at that were outside. This fit the bill. These sea lions are a fixture along the waterfront of downtown Newport and they kept the girls, and everybody else, entertained as they barked like sea lions do, pushed each other off the docks, and swam playfully in the water. Of course the girls wore masks, they just took them off for the picture……the seal lions did not seem to have any:).

The weather was cloudy, but not cold, and we enjoyed looking at the bridge in the distance.

After a stop at a candy store, we stopped at Depoe Bay and were fortunate enough to be there at the right time–high tide–to see the spouting horn spouting water up into the air. Then, to make it better, in the distance, we could see whales spouting! What an amazing day!

Rob and I spent a day canning chicken products. I have been waiting for months to see split breasts come on sale for 99c/lb. I was starting to think I was not going to see that price again, until Rob finally spotted it in an ad. I de-boned the breasts, and made broth and soup from the bones and the bits of meat left on them. I filled 1/2 pint jars with the chicken and a little broth and made a huge batch of soup while Rob babysat the canner(s) (all 3) until the processing was done. Thankfully, we can do 2 at one time, and thankfully, we were able to triple stack the tiny jars (separated by racks) in the biggest pressure canner we own. That all helped speed up the process.

A different day, I canned 7 more quarts of diced tomatoes. I had 1/2 bowl from my garden and asked my sister if she had any to fill a canner of pints. Boy, did she, and more…and I did quarts instead. Most of our tomatoes are done, though, so I think this will be the last batch of those. I have to say that’s kind of a good thing, although I do love food preservation. My freezers are full, and my canning shelves are so full that I sincerely cannot fit many more jars in there. A friend gave me some jar lids that she was not using, which I thought was very nice. I’ve used them.

When my sister brought the tomatoes down, she brought a box of apples as well. Rob’s been drying them. This is the first year we’ve used our dryer for a while, and we’ve done several kinds of fruit, some chives and some parsley, so far.

I used mixed cherry tomatoes to make tacos one night. It just felt so gourmet….

We’ve also had potato soup and potato salad…can you tell I had a bag going bad? When I went to Winco for a few items, though, I found 2 bags for 99c/each so now I’m stocked back up on potatoes.

I used up a few items on my pantry shelves that had been there for a long, long time. I re-filled several spice jars in the kitchen from my bulk supply that I keep in the garage pantry. I also filled cocoa powder, 1-1 flour, sugar, and more containers from my bulk supply. I made some buns and bread from the mix I made, and some applesauce muffins. After so much time spent in the garden, and on food preservation, my kitchen needs some cleaning and organizing and my supply of frozen ready-to-eat food needs replacing. There’s lots left to do, but I got a little done this week.

We were able to see Anthony and Allison at a park near where they live. It was Allison’s birthday this week. I made some cupcakes and frosting, decorated them with some sprinkles we had on hand, and packed a picnic for us all to enjoy during our visit. It was simple and we all had to keep our social distance, but she enjoyed her gift, and her picnic, I could tell. It’s going to get way more difficult to do these outside visits as the weather changes, so we were grateful that it worked out this time. For those of you who are new to my blog, Anthony is one of our sons. Allison is the love of his life. They both live in a group home for special needs adults in a town about 30 minutes from where we live. So, it takes a little bit of organizing to get to see them, but it’s worth it! They are both so sweet.

We are very grateful and praising God that we got another soaking rain. The wildfires are still burning, but they are being contained. The rain soaked the forest and it will not burn as easily. There are still many, many people who are affected, and we will continue to pray for them.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 20, 2020

The wildfire smoke finally cleared enough for me to get outside. It took 2 sessions, but I got the weeds pulled around the raised beds, old plants pulled and trimmed and new compost spread in the back one, a few more fall veggies planted, and bark dust spread around the paths. I had 2 bags of the darker brown bark dust left from last spring, so used them. The rest of the paths I spread with some shavings Rob’s been saving in an old garbage can from his woodworking in the shop. I’m hoping the paths will remain walk-able for me this winter as I hopefully harvest lettuce, kale, green onions, spinach, snow peas and boc choi. It’s a little later than I wanted to plant, but if things don’t fruit before the winter, sometimes they will over-winter and give me some goodies very early in the spring. Last year, that’s what my over-wintered snow peas did.

The garden’s getting pretty messy, but there are some plants in there that I still have hope for.

My winter lettuce is very tiny. The Chinese cabbage is growing, and I can see that the cabbage is growing nicely. The spinach didn’t come up. Such is life:).

A little dose of reality? Yup. That’s really what my zucchini patch looks like. But, I still keep getting a zucchini or two every couple of days….

And, a few tomatoes. You can also see the gluten-free flour mix I stirred up. I want to make bread in the next day or two. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I do eat it now and then.

I made some chocolate cupcakes and used 1/2 the batter to make a loaf cake to slice, freeze and keep on hand. I also froze some turkey meatballs and 1/2 of the pork Rob marinated and barbecued. It’s so handy to have things to grab from the freezer and eat when I’m in a hurry.

My canning and preserving project is slowing way, way down, as the garden is also slowing down. However, I did get enough tomatoes to can 9-1/2 pints of diced tomatoes this week. I am thinking of things to do with all these, as it’s a little too much to eat, but not quite enough to can. Pico de Gallo comes to mind, as does sharing with my extremely good-natured neighbor. She has graciously accepted all extra veggies, including some of the less “popular” ones that others might turn down.

My sister gave me 5 tiny squash. I peeled, chopped, and roasted the bits and we gobbled them down.

Once the hot weather was over, the pole beans bloomed and started producing beans again. I’ve had several bowls in the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping that we will get quite a few more dinners from them before it frosts.

I can’t say things look great out there, but I’m still very satisfied with all of the food we just keep getting. Now that the light can shine on the garden since the smoke is gone, and we’ve had a little rain, I think I may be surprised at what may grow. Here’s hoping anyway……..

The rest of the week was filled with spending time with Jake and Michaela, doing school with Patsy, and a little cleaning. We started exercising again yesterday. We just couldn’t go outside to walk until then, the smoke was that bad.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 12, 2020

I want to say thank you to all of you who have offered prayers on our behalf here in Oregon, and all along the west coast. The fires are still raging in our area and thick, choking smoke fills the air and ashes cover our yard and garden. The town where we recently vacationed with my sister and family, Detroit, is almost gone, as our many other towns around the state. So many of our family and friends who live in different towns than us, are evacuated. Many others are on Level 2, which means “get ready to leave.” Hopefully, the weather system they are forecasting will bring rain in the next few days, and that will help the situation out.

But while we waited for rain, hunkered down, inside, trying not to take big breaths when we were outside, I finished a few projects. I had the assorted hot peppers my sister and aunt gave me. I dashed out to pick the ones from my bushes and Rob cut them all up and we pickled and canned them. Rob will eat some of these on salads and sandwiches and I will use some of them when I make refried beans. They are so pretty in the jars, even with the light coating of ashes that persists in spite of wiping and dusting them. No worries…after this picture I got it all off!

After my pathetic carrot crop was exhausted, in one afternoon I might add, I knew I wanted to can a few more. Rob found a 25 pound bag for under $9, so I canned 20 pints. There are lots left to cook with in other ways. You may ask me why I bother canning carrots when you can buy them cheaply and store them easily. It’s because there are occasions when I want to make my chicken-rice soup in a hurry. Like yesterday. And the day before. At those times, I just dump in one of my little jars and I’m good to go. We do occasionally eat a jar as our vegetable at dinner, but that’s pretty rare. I tend to use fresh ones for that. I don’t can carrots every year, but this year, I’m out so…… I kid you not. I ran out of so many things this year–things I usually only can every 2 or 3 years. It was the summer of canning, for sure. This batch of carrots will last quite a while.

We cooked several things this week. I made chicken-rice soup twice, using frozen broth, and frozen bits of turkey. I shared a couple of large bowls, and we ate the rest. Jake was with us quite a bit this past week, in fact, he still is as of Saturday night, and he likes that kind of soup. He was quite put out to hear I have given away the last of the first batch, even if it was to evacuated friends in a hotel near us…. who had no food because they had to leave home in a hurry…..who really needed dinner…….No matter. He was fine with helping out, and wanted uncle to check on them the next day, as long as there would be more soup coming. (They are fine, by the way, and will stay in the hotel for a few nights and then hopefully return to their home, which was still standing yesterday, anyway). So I made more soup. It’s one of the few things he will eat that is full of veggies and other good vitamins.

We made a lot of white rice. Jake eats that, too. Rob made some pork chops, I baked a chicken with a spice rub from a cookbook. It came out great. We also had a Costco chicken. You can’t beat the $5 price. Since Rob cleaned out the freezers last week, we found a few things that needed to be used. One was ham bits, so we’ve had scrambled eggs with ham, baked potatoes with ham, ham sandwich filling… was a fairly big bag, but it’s gone now.

We bought 10 butters at $1.99/box and 10 peanut butters for .99/small jar. He got eggs for 89c/dozen. Rob did a Costco run for heartworm medicine for the dog (good price there), lemon juice (I’ve used so much in the canning…), and got a few other things we needed while he was there. So most of the groceries this week were for stocking up at low prices to use in meals later, keeping the grocery budget down.

Our neighbor gave me 2 Kiwi Co. crate kits. They were for her boys and they enjoyed them, but there were extra parts in the box, so she sent them over for Jake. They were science projects. He’s done one of them, and has the other one left to do. He really liked doing them.

We did school. I read and read to both Jake and Patsy. Jake’s mom just finished a book called “The Skippack School.” She read it to him for school and she sent it so we could talk about ideas about the character. (A modified character study.). He loves the book so much he made me start all the way over. We are almost finished reading it, again. It’s just a simple book about a little boy who lived long ago, who had a few struggles paying attention in school, and got into some mischief, but did learn to do better and learned to read. It is nice he enjoys it, and so nice that being homeschooled this term allows him to get to hear it again. (Everyone is homeschooled this term around here, due to Corona virus).

It’s been a strange week. We just feel like we are waiting for something, and we have a vague feeling of anxiety, especially when the sky is dark, or glowing orange, or so smoky it feels like it’s foggy. Or when it’s both smoky and foggy, like today. I’m sure when the smoke lifts, and the fires are under control, things will feel more normal. Until then, we will continue to pray and see if there are practical things we can do as well. It’s what you do at times like these.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–September 7, 2020–More Food Preservation

This week, we concentrated on food preservation again. It’s that time of year:). The shelves are starting to fill up nicely.

Rob emptied and cleaned all 3 freezers that we keep in the shop for the first time since we moved here. Then, I came and helped sort the items that were inside. Much to my chagrin, I found some very oldies, but no longer goodies and dumped them. Things like cauliflower from 2015 and zucchini almost as old is not worth taking up real estate in those freezers. Things just got out of order when we moved, and it was time to sort it. I have so much new, good, fresh produce I’d rather eat, and now I can find it.

I spent time cleaning and organizing the canning shelves. I decided the berry syrup from 2002 (yes, believe it–sad, but true) had to go. It was one teeny, tiny jar, but that stuff is so much work it was hard to throw it away.

But, now, I can look forward to eating fresh food. I know what’s there, everywhere, and love that knowledge. I have one turkey and one ham to use before the fall sales. There’s lots of chicken and fish and even some shrimp. I have room for the 1/4 beef we will get when the farmer gets it ready, probably October.

I finally met a goal I’ve been working on for several months. All of the beef bones are used up! Every time we get 1/4 beef, we get packages of bones. They are time consuming to work up, so I tend to procrastinate until I need broth. I wanted them all used before this new beef arrives. This week, I boiled that last of them and canned another 7 quarts of broth. Then, I made 14 jars of vegetable beef soup with what I saved out. I used broth, the bits of meat from the bones, lots of veggies, and especially every odd and end of a veggie I could find–a few beans, a little corn, carrots, onions, celery, even a huge bunch of parsley from the raised bed. Rob patiently sat and babysat the 2 canners for the 90 minutes they needed to cook, and I just checked and they all sealed! Yea!

Tomatoes are taking over!!! I picked tomatoes at my sister’s house, and my garden. I made salsa, tomato sauce, and jars of canned tomato chunks. I’ve finally met my salsa-making goal and that time-consuming job is done for the year. I’m through canning most of these tomatoes as of this evening, and will finish the rest in the morning.

This morning, we picked corn at my sister’s. We just don’t have the room or the good soil to grow good corn, so she generously grows enough for all of us. How much corn often depends on the weather and the hungry crows, who eat the seeds in the spring! Part of this is from her garden. The rest is from the field they lease out to a lady who has a fruit stand and told my sister she could take all she wanted. We took about 20 ears, because I wanted to do a little more than was ripe in the garden today. That was so kind of both of them. I got 25 pint cartons to add to the 8 that we got the other day of frozen corn. I also canned 19 pints of corn last week. We were simply out of almost out of everything this year.

Rob bleached the kiddie pool so we could cool corn in it. He and Patsy did most of this project, after I boiled the cobs, and then I worked on tomatoes and soup.

I did get to visit with baby again. Awww….so sweet.

I did not clean my house. I did not weed my garden. My laundry is a mess–the baskets have been dug through as needed. I don’t have a clean dish towel in the drawer. But, my shelves and freezers are almost full. We’ve managed to cook some very simple meals, such as tuna melts, tuna sandwiches and tuna salad. Good thing we canned so much tuna! And, I’m having a great week:). I love this time of year.

I did finally go to the store after a couple of weeks and got out of there for $77. For me, for 2 weeks, that’s awesome, so I’m thrilled. I had to go late afternoon, because I had things in the canners, and so many things were missing from the shelves. Maybe that’s why the cost was so reasonable:) :). But we got plenty! I’m going to have Jake and Michaela quite a bit this coming week and there are certain things they eat. Period. So, I got those, the other things they had on my list, and the rest we can live without.