Category Archives: Saving Money

Eggs Again

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I am delighted that the chickens have decided to lay again!  They took a little break during the darkest time of the year, which is normal, but recently have been cranking out a few eggs a day.

Every day when Rob brings in the eggs,they are placed on the counter in a bowl.  When I get ready to wash the eggs, I place the bowl in the sink and run tepid water on them so they can soak.  Many sources say to not wash your eggs because they keep better unwashed.  Mine have chicken droppings on them, so I choose to wash them off.  Some sources say that if you are going to wash them, use lukewarm water so that the pores are not opened with hot water, impurities don’t enter, and the cold water doesn’t close the pores, trapping in the impurities.  I have no idea if that’s true, but it sounds sensible, so I use lukewarm water.

I have an old toothbrush that I use for egg washing, only.  I just gently scrub each soaked egg while holding it under a small stream of tepid water. Sometimes stains remain.  I’m fine with that.  I air-dry them on a towel and then put into cartons in the garage fridge, or into the egg keeper in the refrigerator in the kitchen.

We had to buy one 5-dozen package of eggs from Costco this winter when the chickens were not laying.  I didn’t even get them finished before they started up again, so I probably  could have survived without buying any, but we had no way of telling when they would start again.  They are very light sensitive, the days are getting longer again, and this batch of hens is less than 1 year old, so we knew they would lay some more, we just didn’t know when exactly.

Since we have been paying for feed all along, I am delighted to be entering that time of year when I have all the eggs I want.  I also give them away when I have an overabundance, so my sister is happy, too.

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Bananas Everywhere!

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I was delighted when we were given 40 pounds of bananas.  It was a whole box, and there were a lot of bananas in it.  They were in excellent condition.  They were even organic!  What a blessing.  There were also a few bunches in a bag that were not quite as nice, but could still be used.  So, I think I had about 50 or more pounds to work with.  Here’s what I did with them.

  1.  We have been eating bananas at every opportunity.
  2. I took some bunches to share with my family.
  3. I had the 4H dry some and they will use them at the next meeting.IMG_2022
  4. I tried another recipe that was suggested on The Prudent Homemaker blog.  I cut strips and sprinkled them with brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger and they are drying now.FullSizeRender.jpg
  5. Ja’Ana dipped some in chocolate and froze them for yummy snacks.FullSizeRender
  6. I froze quite a few gallon-sized bags.  I cut the bananas, put them in the bags, then squirted a squirt of lemon juice in the bag and worked it around with my hands to prevent browning.  We use those frozen chunks for smoothies, and they can also be used for baking, if desired.  They just need to be defrosted and smashed.FullSizeRender
  7. Last, but not least, I made banana pudding.  This was also a suggestion from The Prudent Homemaker Blog. I made a simple cornstarch vanilla pudding and added bananas.  We ate some, but I put too many bananas in it and it broke down and became runny.  So, I froze the rest for smoothies or milkshakes.FullSizeRender
  8. We still have 4-5 bunches left over for eating and further creativity. It took most of the day yesterday, but I’m delighted to say I’m fully stocked up on bananas right now.  What a blessing!

Saving Money–week ending January 10

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We were given 40 pounds of bananas.  I started drying, freezing and eating them immediately.  We had the 4H club dry some for a project next month in their outdoors class.  Rob is going to have them make flavored oatmeal packets to take camping.

Our Toyota Rav4 had some recalls to be taken care of.  We took it in for those a few weeks ago.  At that time, they sealed the motor and we had to drive it for a specific amount of miles–I think 1,200-1,400(it escapes me right now)–and then return the car to see if it was burning too much oil.  It was, as Rob knew by the amount of oil he has been putting in there, and so they are going to re-build the motor to correct the problem.  There are over 100,000 miles on this car, so we are excited that it will get a fresh start on the next 100,000.

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I roasted some hazelnuts for snacking on.  My mom gets them for me for free, so we enjoy them frequently.

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One of our 4H members gave a speech on fruit and cookie bouquets and gave us the bouquet she made during the demonstration.  We enjoyed it very much.

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I enjoyed this sunrise very much.

Much of my energy this past week was used in preparation for our monthly 4H meeting.  We have many other parents who teach classes during our all-day session.  I teach 3 cooking classes, using a total of 8 different recipes, and Rob teaches one outdoor cooking class (2 recipes per class) and one class titled, Outdoors, where he teaches activities dealing with nature, wildlife, outdoor cooking, camping, survival techniques, etc.  Because he was doing some extra cooking during his class, his class required the food drying project in the kitchen, and pots of oil to fry Navajo Fry Bread in outside on the deck.  He has almost 20 kids in that class.  Need I say more?  It was a whirlwind of a day.  We were very happy with how it all turned out.  Everyone was safe, happy, and excited for the fun they had.

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One of the recipes he made with the kids in his class was baked potatoes in a Dutch oven.  The other pot has a recipe of Western Beans in it.

I try very hard to use my pantry items that I have purchased for the lowest possible prices, and then buy the rest of the needed items for all of those recipes, so it’s a fair amount of work.  This keeps the cost way down, though.  I also try to choose a mix between very inexpensive foods, such as the potatoes, and more expensive foods, such as the fish nuggets we made with one of the teams.

We had our family birthday party at my sister’s house instead of eating out as we sometimes do.  We were offered free accommodations in Mexico and thanked them, because it was awfully nice of them, but declined because we need to save our pennies and airfare, food, etc. would still add up to quite a bit.

 

 

 

 

My January Use-It-Up Project–Update on Jan. 10

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I’m still on a mission to use up things that need to be used up, instead of buying more.  These dried bananas have been in the cupboard since 2014.  They were still great.  I put them out for the kids to try at 4H and then showed them how to make more.

I used some quinoa that expired last summer–finished up the package.  I made a salad with it, using the leftover dressing Patsy tried out for me the other day.  I also used some feta that had been languishing in the fridge for a couple of months in that salad.

I used some crusts of gluten-free bread to make croutons.  I will probably grind them into crumbs for cooking.

I used some millet flour, sorghum flour, and cornmeal and had the 4H to make some gluten-free waffles.  This was in addition to the batch I made earlier in the week when I was testing the recipe.  I also finished up a very old package of flax meal from the fridge.  I was able to remove another package from the freezer and start using it.  It had been in there for at least 3 years.

My carrot-coconut bread turned out terrible.  It was dry, crumbly, and fell to pieces before we could eat it.  We ate a bit of it by squishing up a bunch of crumbs between our fingers and stuffing that ball of crumbs into our mouths.  We finally decided that sometimes you win–sometimes you lose–and we gave up and fed it to the pigs.  At least those ingredients went to some good use.

I pulled some lemon bread out of the freezer and served it.

I also got out a bunch of fish, tried out a recipe for some fish nuggets and had the 4H make it.  It was swai fish, which was very inexpensive, and ended up working well for the recipe.  I’m not familiar with this fish, but got the entire 2 lb bag for only $5 a while back, which is a pretty good price for fish.  It also used some corn flake crumbs I crushed up several months ago and have stored in a jar in the pantry.  It included home-made tartar sauce, which used some of the pickles from 2014.  They were a dill pickle, but had a little sugar in them, which we ended up not liking as well as our tried and true recipe, but they worked well in this sauce.

I took some bread and butter pickles from 2012 to a birthday party today, and they were devoured.  Home-canned foods last for much longer than 1 year, but I always use the oldest first, as they are nicer when they are fresher.

 

My January Use-It-Up Project

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The first week of January is a good time to reflect on what goals and projects I want to accomplish in the new year.  I didn’t want to decide what I wanted to do for a whole year.  Life around here is always changing, so any plans I make now for months into the future would probably be changed anyway.  A bout of winter weather kept me home for a couple of extra days after the holidays and I was able to decide what I wanted to do as my January project.

I decided that I wanted to use up as many odds and ends as I could, especially from my food storage.  It really bothers me to store foods and then have them go bad because I didn’t use them.  It really, really bothers me to think that foods I’ve preserved might go bad, since it is a lot of work to can, dry and freeze food.

So, I set myself a challenge to use at least 31 food items up that are odd, getting older, unusual, etc., an average of 1 per day. I am especially  looking for things that might go bad if not used promptly.  I don’t anticipate working on this project on days that I work, instead, I’ll double up on my days off.  I expect to actually use far more items than that.

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I started by going out to the garage, where the bulk of my food storage is.  I grabbed a gluten-free flour mixture Ja’Ana had mixed up for a recipe last summer.  I also grabbed quite a few other gluten-free flours that needed to be used. I grabbed some dried cherries that had been there for a long time.  Patsy and I made sweet cherry biscuits yesterday.  Today,  Ja’Ana decided to make a cake with the remains of her flour mix.  I mixed up some waffles and froze them for easy breakfasts.  I also am trying a carrot bread recipe I found.

So, for January so far, I’ve used:

some dried cherries,  sorghum flour I was given quite a while ago, millet flour, oatmeal, carrots from our garden that have been in the fridge since September, the rest of the flour mix Ja’Ana made months ago, some jam I canned several years ago, emptied 2 mustard containers from the fridge, and a bottle of Diet Coke that has been in the garage for WAY over a year.  That’s already 10 items and it’s only the 5th!  (I only listed things that had been there a long time)

How about you?  Are you putting any of the grocery money you’ve previously spent to good use in January?  I plan to put any extra money I save by doing this project away for future purchases to restock.

 

 

Saving Money–Week Ending January 3, 2015

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Ja’Ana’s dresses were the most frugal things we bought this week.  While camping at the beach, we visited the outlet stores in Lincoln City, Oregon. Old Navy was clearing out many items and these dresses were each 37cents.  She also got some jeans for 67cents.  In fact, she got a whole bag of things for about $5.  It helps that she is so thin–she got the very last pair of jeans that existed of that style, the sales clerk explained.  We got a few other items for low prices, such as coats for $10, dresses for $5, etc. at Old Navy, and other stores, for myself and the girls.  Now, of course, that was AFTER we visited Goodwill and bought each girl a pair of  jeans for $8 and $10.  To make myself feel better, I reminded myself that I didn’t find the smashing bargain for jeans for Patsy, and she needed them badly.  I also got her a pair of stretch jeggings (like jeans/stretch pants combined) for $3.50.  at Goodwill.  I was surprised at the high prices there for the jeans, but figured it was less than the $25-$30 I expected to pay at the stores.

We ended up staying home all day today.  We had a skiff of snow, but the real problem was that they were predicting freezing rain.  My family is an hour from here, and we decided not to risk it.  We were glad we did stay home, because it did end up coating things with that dreaded thin layer of ice.  It looks like school will be delayed in the morning and I won’t work until later in the day.  So, we saved quite a bit of gas today.  We were also able to keep the fire going and the house is very warm, with wood instead of the heater.  On super cold nights, Rob gets up every 2 hours to stoke the stove so no one is cold.  He did that last night.  Our heater is really expensive to run, so we don’t run it while we are home unless we cannot heat the house with our stove.

We’ve eaten at home since we returned from camping.  For the last couple of days,  I planned menus for the week.   I embroidered a dish towel.  I made soup.  Rob made barbecued pork.  I watched a lot of shows on my Kindle on Amazon Prime.

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We spent a few days camping at the beach.  We have a camper, and we have a free pass for camping at any Oregon State Park because we have foster and adopted children.  (You have to take the child with you to use it). We had a mix of torrential rain, extreme wind, and then sunny, clear, windy and cold weather.  We did lots of hunkering down in the camper, drives along the coast, shopping at the outlet mall, playing games, reading books we downloaded onto the Kindles, etc.  We slept a lot.

We used a Christmas gift to go watch Star Wars.  The friend who gave it to us wanted us to go watch it and even included enough for popcorn.  We saved it for the beach because we had unexpected overnight company right before we left and wanted to enjoy their company and not leave for the movie.  They actually stayed at our house an extra night after we left, which was also nice because they build a fire in the stove, which saved on the heat we had to leave on while we were gone.   They are very close friends.   We were delighted to see them. (When we came back it was the “toasty” 58 we had set it for). We had another friend watch and feed our animals.  He did it for free, which was very nice.

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I baked gluten-free sandwich buns for a family gathering that got cancelled due to the bad weather.  I will freeze them for next week, or whenever we  reschedule.  I made a lot so I could use them for sandwiches for myself.  GF sandwich buns are usually from $1-$1.25 each.  It is much less to make them, especially since I have all the flours on hand.  I received several Bob’s Red Mill gift cards for Christmas, so can re-stock when needed.  I appreciate that people were thinking so kindly and practically of me this Christmas.

Rob did a big food run, getting the best prices at Cash and Carry, Costco, and Fred Meyers for  things we needed. He got large bags of lettuce, large containers of salad dressing, 5 doz. eggs (our chickens have stopped laying), milk for 99c -1/2 gal., and some other things. He bought about 11 lbs.of pork for $1.27/lb and we cut it up for 4 meals.  I am still looking for butter at $2/lb, but had to settle for getting a few at $2.50/lb since they haven’t gone down to that for several months around here.  With these things he got, plus my pantry/freezers, etc., I won’t need much for the rest of the month.

Saving Money–Week Ending December 27

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Our Christmas turned out to be very meaningful and delightful.  We were able to keep the hustle and bustle low, while still getting to enjoy several holiday activities, and we felt very satisfied with the season.

We were also able to come through the season feeling satisfied that we were able to give gifts to people we loved while not overspending.  We did, however, cut things back quite a bit from years past, because of Rob’s job loss.  One thing we cut back on was giving small gifts to friends.  We just did not give them this year, and I’m sure everyone understood.  Instead, we used that money on the girls.  Even though we never gave costly gifts to friends and co-workers, teachers, etc., it adds up and we simply wanted to use the $ elsewhere this year.  Next year, I will make some extra jam, or relish, or whatever I can figure out—I’ll just plan for it differently.   Sometimes life just takes unexpected twists and turns and plans have to be re-adjusted.

Family members got turkeys, a plan that had been in the works for months.  When they were butchered right after Thanksgiving, they were delivered. That sure took a lot of pressure away from the week of Christmas. A few people received zucchini relish I made last summer from our over-abundant crop.  It tastes just like regular sweet relish.  I also made some potholders.

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I gave away a few dish towels and pillowcases I had embroidered.  One set of pillowcases is not in the picture, but it had flowers on it as well.  The towels were purchased at Walmart in a big bundle and stamped with Aunt Martha’s iron-on embroidery stamps.  The stamps can be used over and over, so most of the stamps were some I’ve had for years.

We do things differently than most.  We open our gifts at home on Christmas Eve, after church, and then go to my sister’s on Christmas Day  to celebrate with extended family.  And, we don’t hang the stockings.  We put the things in them and put them in a row on the couch.  Why?  I’m not sure.  It probably got started years ago when we didn’t have anywhere to hang them.  We put fewer things in the girls’ stockings than usual, but we made sure each item was of higher quality.  So, a chocolate Santa from See’s candy, a small gift card for Starbucks, the obligatory orange that MUST be there, etc.  They were very pleased.

They got gifts they had asked for and really wanted, just slightly fewer than some years.  Again, they were very pleased.  Rob and I gave each other a few things we needed.  I got some tea, a can opener, a couple of sweaters for work, etc.  He  received a coffee maker from the girls with some help from me.

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On Christmas Eve, we all dressed up and went to church.  It was a very beautiful, meaningful, candlelight service.

We had several times during the week when we ate somewhere else other than home, or had people over here.  This comes with having such a large, complicated family.  I was able to shop sales for extra food items I needed, and use many items I already had at home as ingredients as well.  We took one son out to breakfast one morning.  In the end, we were able to get together with 7 out of 8 of the children, no small accomplishment!

We received the good news that some close friends were able to slip over here (they live 8 hours away) for the night, so enjoyed making dinner and visiting with them as well.

We used wood heat.  We used decorations we already had and the centerpiece we were given–the only thing I bought was a poinsettia a few weeks ago.  We wore clothes we already had to church and holiday events, with the exception of Patsy and Ja’Ana– they each got a new Christmas dress as usual, bought on sale, of course.  I believe Patsy’s was either 60 or 70 % on Thanksgiving Day (Rob had to take Lovana to work at Fred Meyers for a few hours that day, so picked it out while he was buying the $20 boots for each of them).  He is an amazing shopper!

We chose free activities such as church choir concerts, etc.

We watched shows on our Kindles, using Prime.  We also used Prime for free shipping for the items we ordered from Amazon for Christmas.  For us, since we do on-line shopping, Prime pays for itself in shipping savings, and we get the shows as a bonus.  We do not have cable, or even free tv that works at our house, so it’s Prime shows and library movies for us.  We were given the $ to go to the new Star Wars movie, now we just need to find the time!  We were also given a slew of various gift cards by different people, and are very thankful and excited to use them after the new year.  We were also blessed with a couple of sizable cash gifts.  We do not know who one gift is from, so, thank you very much, whoever you are!  We are very grateful.

 

 

Saving Money- Week ending on December 20

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As I was stitching some last minute embroidery projects, I realized I was getting low on green floss.  I remembered Rob’s mom telling me that she had been given some x-stitching supplies, by someone who was moving, to share between his sisters and myself.  I asked him to stop by and see if there was any green in the mixture.  He brought home a couple of boxes of supplies and I got to choose whatever I could use.  It ended up being about a gallon of floss of all colors, including green! I chose the loose floss and a few tubes of x-stitch fabric.  I sent back the rest and I think we will let the children use it for bracelets and crafts after people take what the can use.  I am very excited to get so much floss.  I like to do embroidery and work on projects all year long.

We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner and enjoyed ourselves very much.  I was able to make a mixed-berry crisp and use up several little baggies of frozen berries that needed to be used while they were still tasty.  It turned out very good and had raspberries, blueberries and a few blackberries in it.

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We attended Ja’Ana’s choir concert Friday night and a church choir presentation with singing and drama last night.  They were both beautiful and put me in a Christmas mood.  After J’s concert, we wanted to celebrate with her, so we took her to the store and let her choose any kind of ice cream she wanted.  While we were doing that, I saw a pizza sign indicating that pizza was $5 for the take and bake “special” of the day.  Lovana ran over and got one, and to my surprise, it was for a fairly good sized one.  I already had sandwich ingredients prepared at home, so we had a combination of sandwiches and pizza and ice cream for our celebration!  (The pizza was not gluten-free, so it went farther since I can’t have any).

Rob accidentally broke the glass in the wood stove when he was loading it up so he could leave to drive Ja’Ana to choir practice.  I was giving a piano lesson, and my student and I heard this big sound of breaking glass.  The house filled with smoke, the alarms went off, and it was quite exciting for a while as Rob carried flaming logs out and threw them off the porch into the soggy flower beds.  All the while, I’m trying to carry on like there is nothing unusual about him pouring water all over the hearth (and my kitchen floor),putting out the flames on one log, carrying out others, and trying to get the glass to not fall out of the frame where it was hanging in the balance.  Ja’Ana got the smoke alarms to quit wailing, all was safe, and she and Rob took off for the last choir practice.  I got back to my lesson, and  finished with that student.

Meanwhile, my phone was bringing in texts, asking if there was some confusion about Rob picking up J’s friend.  I answered, “no-he’s on his way” and I went on with lessons. The house phone kept ringing and I continued ignoring it, as I do when working.   Half-way through the 2nd lesson, Patsy was supposed to get off  the bus with another boy who was coming for a lesson.  He came.  She didn’t.  I start frantically texting Rob, asking him to call the school.  In the meanwhile, student #2 is playing away and I’m pretending to listen.  She’s one of my older ones, and was not fooled for a moment, but was gracious while I had my mini-crisis.  I finally get a quick call–everything’s fine–she missed the bus home–he would drop the girls at choir and then go get her.  Whew– because I surely can’t leave someone else’s child home alone at my house while I go get her–and there were 2 of them there by then!  On with lessons.  Never a dull moment at my house–that’s for sure.

The stove door was fixable.  It cost us $125.  We had to run the furnace for 2 days, which will be costly on our next power bill.  In the big picture, though, this stove has been a real money saver.  We use it constantly for heat, using firewood we get for “free,” with our labor and fuel costs being the price we pay.  It was a discard from someone else years ago, and we have used it all winter for heat for the last 8 years.  A new one would be over $2,000 and our power bill would be astronomical.  Afternoons like Wednesday are frustrating (but funny afterwards), but it’s the price we pay for using things that are second-hand, old, wearing out, etc. It’s worth it to us when we look at the big picture.

Rob got bread for the pigs–the back of the van full for $25.  We paid the girls a little something to unwrap it all and it is ready to feed the pigs.  We also have been giving them melons we got last week.  They were spoiling when we got them–they are awful now, but the pigs still seem to love them.  They are almost all gone now.  They are mostly raised on a natural feed from a local feed store, but the do love their treats!  They are growing nicely and so far, all 7 have survived.  (We got 2 more than the original 5 when people indicated they wanted to buy them.)

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Patsy had a birth-mom visit last week.  We made these mountain bar cookies together and took some along.  They were easy, quick and fun for Patsy to decorate with the mini M and M’s I got on sale for $2/bag a while back.  We also took a few other modest presents and ate fast food together while we visited.  I thought it went well.

 

 

Saving Money-Week ending in December 13

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This week was full of a nice mixture of work and play.  I was able to save money in several ways.

At dinner, this evening, we had popcorn and cheese slices for dinner.  We had a lot to eat earlier at my sister’s house and then attended a birthday party for a dear little friend of ours, and ate some more!  We weren’t very hungry, so this was a great choice.  Some people didn’t even eat any cheese, I just have to have some protein with each meal, so I did.

I was able to get a doll dress, doll p.j.’s and the doll sleeping bag and pillow done for her gift.  She really likes playing with her dolls, so I know she’s going to enjoy them.  They were all made from materials I had on hand, so that was a very frugal, but very satisfying present.

This was the week for Christmas parties.  On Friday, we had our annual 4H Christmas party.  We played the usual games–unwrapping the package wrapped in multiple layers of wrapping when the music stopped and White Elephant gift exchange. It is amazing to me how much fun they can have with these games.  Other games may be added in, but these remain.  Each younger set of children has learned these games from their older counterparts, and never tire of playing them.  Rob and I have been leaders for over 25 years, and the kids still choose the same games year after year.  The older junior leaders choose the games, and they always choose these.  It’s awesome to see how much fun inexpensive or free games can be.

Then they worked on community service projects.

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They packaged up beans and rice for a local organization to hand out.  They made candy canes with the story of the candy cane attached, also for handing out.  The third project was making Chex mix and Rice Krispie Treats and cards for servicemen and women.  We have 2 former members serving in the armed forces at this time, and a close relative of a member, so we chose those 3 to focus on.  We rotated the kids through the stations, with each child getting a chance to do every activity.  In the picture, Ja’Ana is figuring out the recipe, since the junior leaders were the “brains” of the stations, keeping people on task, even when the people switched stations! No small task!  The rice, beans, ingredients for the treats, and card-making supplies were all donated by the families in the club.  The postage will come out of the club funds, or be donated.

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The kids also gathered around the tree and one mom read a story containing the true meaning of Christmas to them.  We had a potluck as well, and then it was time for them to go home.  A great day for everyone!

Patsy had a party with her Sunday School class.  It was over an hour from our house to the party.  Rob and I went on a date while she enjoyed the party.  We got to enjoy going out to dinner, as we clearly weren’t going to run home in-between.  We also picked up a few groceries from specialty stores (one thing was gluten-free Worchestershire sauce–hard to find, spendy, but I don’t use it very fast).  It was great to be able to get away alone.  That hasn’t happened much lately.

On Saturday, she had a party with the Royal Family Kids’ Camp organization that helps foster children enjoy camp each summer, and a party at Christmas.  She received some shoes, yarn for her Knifty Knitter, and some sewing supplies, as she is learning to sew in 4H.  They are so kind to take the time to find out what each child really wants, and give them such nice presents.  She made this cute food craft with an ice-cream cone, a cupcake and frosting.  She promptly had Rob eat it, since they were sure it wouldn’t make it home.

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Rob was able to combine driving the children and several errands to save $ on gas.

We cooked most meals at home, except the dinner when we went out, or when we were eating at my sister’s house.  I made meatballs and pasta,  soup, leftovers a couple of times, and spent the first 1/2 of the week using up the chicken I got for 50c/lb last week in things like chicken salad sandwiches, chicken enchiladas, and plain chicken on a plate.  That 10 pound bag made a LOT of chicken!  We used home-canned and home-frozen fruit, vegetables, enchilada sauce, and blueberries.  I used up a little container of pesto I froze last summer.

 

FullSizeRender I burned a lot of trash, eliminiating the need to pay for an extra bag. I made a lot of potholders from scraps and Insul-Bright filling.  They will be Christmas gifts.  I was able to buy some more Insul-Bright today, using my 40% off coupon at JoAnn’s.

We were able to get a pickup load of honeydew melons that were no good for people to eat, for our pigs.  We were given 4 melons that were good to eat, so have been enjoying them.

We did all of the usual things:  burned firewood in our stove for heat, turned off lights when not in rooms, etc.

Rob also got new tires for the car, using savings for money (not store credit or credit card) , since ours were long-overdue.  He bought neither the cheapest, or the most expensive, instead choosing ones that were middle of the road in price.

 

 

Garden Tomatoes in December

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I was very excited to have a garden tomato on my sandwich today for lunch!  This year, we tried (as we have before) to get some tomatoes to ripen in the garage for us to eat during the fall.  We are very excited, because, this year–it worked!

Here, where I live in Oregon, our garden has already succumbed to killing frost.  There is a little Swiss Chard still alive down there, but very little else.  A few herbs have survived in my herb planter box.

In late October, before the killing frost, I picked as many green tomatoes as I could.  I only saved the ones that did not have a bad spot, a bit of blight starting, or any other thing that might make them go bad quickly.

Rob and I tried 2 different methods.  The first method was to wrap each nice green tomato in a white napkin and place them single layer in a box.  We got several good tomatoes from that box over the last few weeks.

The second method was easier.  We simply placed a bunch of green and ripening tomatoes in a cardboard box.  They were mostly Romas and we grabbed the ones that were turning red out of the box as they turned or rotted.  Some were also placed on cookie sheets because we had so many.

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By now, on December 10, they are looking pretty sad.  All of the ones that are wrapped, and on cookie sheets are either eaten or rotten.  The quality of the tomatoes is going down.  I have to cut out little spots of the “good” ones, and the texture is a little mushier than when truly fresh.  Clearly, I need to clean out this box as well.  I will get the ones that still look good out of there and either compost the rest of feed them to the pigs.  If you look closely, there are still a few good ones in there as well.  I don’t think that the green ones in there are going to ripen, but I’ll give them a few more days.

In our opinion, our experiment was a huge success.  We have had tomatoes for tacos, sandwiches and salads galore, for about 6-8 weeks after  our garden was finished.  I noticed that the Romas are better keepers and that it didn’t seem to make a difference if we wrapped them or not.  This was a good garden year, and there wasn’t much disease on the tomatoes, which helped, I’m sure.  I know this experiment is pretty well finished, but I sure enjoyed my sandwich today, knowing that the tomato I was eating was from my own garden, and that I haven’t had to buy tomatoes for quite a few weeks into the fall.  It was definitely worth the effort.  Success, any way I look at it!