Category Archives: Watching my pennies

How I Built My Stockpile


I was asked how I built my stockpile to this level.  I realized it was an answer for a post, not a comment, because it was a little too involved.

I love having a stockpile, and have always kept one on hand for many reasons.  The main reasons is that it saves me money and time.  I have usually lived in the country and trips to town are a project, so I like to keep a lot of things on hand.  It also comes in handy during times when money is scarce–it’s like another form of savings in my “bank.”  I also love the freedom of being able to cook almost any recipe I feel like cooking, at any time (notice I said “almost?”)

Here’s how I grew mine:

1) I buy in bulk.  Rob really buys in bulk.  For instance, a while back, he saw a 50 pound bag of white rice for around $21.  Yes, 50 pounds!  It does not go bad quickly, so is still fine, and we are eating from it often.  I buy 25 pound bags of pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, split peas, sugar, brown sugar, and popcorn.  I repackage these items into glass gallon jars, plastic ice cream buckets, ziplocks, etc.  Things that go rancid sooner, such as brown rice, I usually buy in 5 or 10 pound sizes, although I have bought that in the 25’s once or twice.

I buy cases of things I cannot can or freeze myself, such as mandarin oranges and mushrooms, when they are on a good sale.

I even buy produce in bulk, during the winter.  For instance, a 6-pack bag of romaine at Costco or Cash and Carry is a lot less expensive than buying the heads singly at the store most of the time.

2) We grow as much as possible ourselves and store it.  Rob has raised turkeys, chickens and pigs to butcher.  We raise chickens for eggs and usually do not have to buy any for years at a time.  We don’t get a lot of them during the winter, but I think I’ve only bought 2 cartons during the last 5 years or so, except for recently.

We grow a very large garden, which includes berries, and can and freeze a lot of it, and also eat as much as we can fresh.  I can hundreds of jars of fruits and vegetables each year, and we currently have 4 freezers full of meat and produce.  I process produce early in the morning and late at night during the peak of the season.  By the time I plant, weed, water, pick and process, I have many, many hours into my end product, but it’s worth it to me.  I know what’s in it, and where it came from .  The home-canned tuna is some we bought from a fisherman at Newport, Oregon.  I also got some salmon this past year from the Indians at Cascade Locks, but we froze that.


We are moving this year, so I anticipate using up the excess and going back to bulk canning and freezing next year.  I do not know if we will have property to raise meat or not, until we see what we get for our next home.  We sold the chickens for the same reason.

3) What I cannot grow, I usually scrounge from friends and family.  For example, my sister has a peach farm, and gives me all I can use.  I am willing to drop my daily plans and scurry over to someone’s house to pick the produce myself. I am willing to go whenever is convenient for them, even if it means changing my plans.  That’s a big one.  I cannot tell you how many people would love to have some of my excess garden produce, IF I deliver it to them, which usually means picking it on an already busy day and driving a distance to deliver it.  (I’m not talking about when I’ve offered to drop something by someone’s house–If I offer, I have time)  Very few are willing to come get it, but that’s why I’m an easy person for others to offer the extra produce to.

On the rare occasion that I cannot grow or scrounge something, I u-pick it or buy it at a farm stand for a low price.  The area of Oregon that we live in is very fertile, and things grow well so are quite reasonable in price when in season.  Pears and Gravestein apples are 2 things I usually buy, and I buy them by the bushel for around $20-$25 a bushel.

4)I watch the sales carefully and buy a lot of things we use frequently when they come on sale for a low price.  Cheese and butter are good examples of this.  I have purchased 8 bricks of cheese before during a week, if the price is low enough.  They store well.  I may have to go back a lot, or send Rob, but–hey, Lovana works at a store–we are there a lot picking her up.

If I can’t afford a lot of something, and it’s a great price, I buy 2.  One for the current meal, and one to store.

5) If I have extra money, I often buy a bunch of things from Grocery Outlet, Wheeler Dealer (scratch and dent store), or other places that may have high-quality products for cheap that are close to date, or they are changing the label on, etc.  I especially get items to pack lunches and organic or gluten-free items that way.

6) I go to Bob’s Red Mill and buy my gluten-free flours and whole grains, or order them on-line.  Anything from Bob’s is high quality, and lasts a long time.  Things like millet, etc. last for a long time.  They swell up when you cook them.  You get a lot of bang for your buck with whole grains.  I look for clearance items, such as some gluten free pancake mix I recently picked up at Fred Meyers.  I only got 2, since I’m not supposed to be stockpiling right now:)

Last, but not least, I use my stockpile.  I store things I use, and I use what I’ve stored.  I look at what I have before I plan menus and plan the meals around what’s in the freezer, cupboard, and garden, and go from there.  I rotate things and clean and sort and organize it every year, usually late spring so the freezers are ready for the new crop of garden veggies.

Use-It-Up-April 30, 2016


I pulled 2 bags marked “wings” out of the freezer and thawed them.  They were marked 2014 so I was hoping they were still good.  They were quite frosty and I was hoping that they were not freezer burned.  They weren’t, but imagine my surprise when I poured them into the crockpot and some were chicken wings and some were turkey wings!


I made a sauce with the 2 little cans of orange juice I found on the shelf, soy sauce, green onions, and the last of the honey from the bear.  I then let it cook all day in the crock pot.  It turned out great.  We ate it for dinner that night, some on salads a couple of times, and today I made chicken and dumplings from the rest of the meat.


I got some cream cheese that has been lingering in the refrigerator drawer and had expired last November.  It was perfectly fine.  I made a cheesecake with 3 packages of it for tomorrow’s family Sunday dinner.  I also thickened up some peaches with cornstarch and a little sugar for a sauce.


For the last 2 years, the OSU Extension booth at the county fair has been giving away free lettuce seeds.  I got some both years, and also got a huge handful of the packets after the fair was over as they were not saving them for the next year.  I have been using them up as they are old seed, but am planting them thickly in case some don’t sprout.  As you can see, I am still getting a lot of them to come up.  This year, I have bought only a very few seeds.  My sister and I are both using up our old ones.  We will plant more things this coming weekend.

Honestly, it seems like the more I use from the shelves and freezers, the more shows up!  Kind of like my belongings–they keep multiplying, too:)  I will keep plugging away at it for the next few weeks before we move and hopefully won’t have as much to pack as I do right now, but there will still be a bunch left over.  That will come in handy when we get to our new place.  I am deliberately using the oldest items, and the odd ones, so what I pack will be good and desirable when it comes out of the storage unit.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Saving Money–April 23, 2016


We had quite a bit of wood stacked up that we didn’t use this winter to heat our home.  We’ve been working all week to move that wood over to my sister’s house.  If our new house has a wood stove, we will use it.  If not, she and my brother-in-law will.  All of the wood we have was cut by us, split and stacked in places where we got a free permit, so it cost us labor and fuel to get.  It saved us a lot of money to heat with wood, so we are hoping we can do the same in our new home.  Time will tell, but at least we have some wood to use if we can.


We just threw it on the trailer and unloaded it into a pile over there.  We have a lot of wood to cut on our property from the logging we did last fall, but won’t be able to get it cut before we move.  So, we have been letting friends cut, chop and split it, saving them money.


We worked in the garden at my sister’s.  We got 4 large tomatoes for $2.50 each at a local garden store.  We took Walls of Water that we’ve had for years, and Rob and Ja’Ana cocooned them so they hopefully will survive.  I hoed, weeded and sprinkled slug bait around the plants that are growing and the baby lettuce, spinach, etc. that are coming up.


Every time we went over there, we did at least 2 things.  We moved a load of wood or other items, worked in the garden, Rob had an electrician look at where we are going to park the camper and made arrangements for the correct wiring so we will have enough power, and a few more things.


I’ve been slowly emptying the right hand compost bin into buckets and taking those buckets over to my sister’s.  We put scoops under the tomatoes we planted, under all the cabbage and broccoli and around the onion starts.  Any extra was put around raspberry plants or just dumped into the general garden to be tilled in.  I don’t know how much I’ll be able to carry over that way, but I love using the compost I’ve worked so hard to make.

Rob had filled several feed sacks with barn cleanings from the chickens.  We took them over and sprinkled them where we will plant winter squash to improve the soil.  I had 3 bags of old coffee grounds for gardeners from Starbucks that I sprinkled on the carrot row.  Coffee grounds are  said to help prevent wireworms and I did see improvements when we used the grounds here.  There were a few carrots coming up, so I crumbled the grounds carefully on the row because I know more will come up and I don’t want to make it hard for the tiny plants to pop through.IMG_2459

I had a friend from out of town visit.  We went to Costco together–fun!  I got my new glasses.  I’m delighted so far.  I can see great for 1/2 the price I paid last time.  I shopped for my sister, too, saving her gas.

I got some boneless skinless chicken.  We have been eating out too much, because things are so topsy-turvy here.  I hope it will help make fast lunches so we can eat at home more.  We ate all meals here today, which felt like a triumph.  Rob barbecued chicken and we have food prepared for tomorrow’s Sunday family dinner.  I still have a few gift cards to use when things get down to the wire with moving, but want to save them until near the end now.  Rob did bring a picnic one night when we were working in the garden, so that helped.  I made a roast in the crock pot one day and we will have the rest of that in the next couple of days.

Both younger girls had orthodontist appointments.  We were able to change things so they were both on the same day to save gas.  (It’s an hour away, one way)  They had an extra dance practice because a recital is coming up.  We were able to share a ride with a friend and save gas.They both had eye appointments this week, too.  They will both be getting new glasses.  Their glasses are covered by their medical cards.  Our children who we have adopted from the foster care system have always been given medical cards until they are 18 as part of the adoption assistance program.  We have supplemented that with personal insurance so they have been double covered in the past (except Patsy since she isn’t adopted yet, so only has medical card).  So, we don’t have to worry when our insurance ends, they will still be covered.  Lovana has insurance through her work, so no worries there, which is a relief.  Now, just us……but we’ll work it out.

I got a medical test done while I’m still covered.  I’ve almost got everything done that will catch me up and give me a breather until we figure the insurance thing out.

My visiting friend wanted to try some Chinese 5-spice, so instead of her buying a bottle, I gave her a bit from mine.  I’ve only used it one time in the recipe I bought it for, so I’m more than glad to share.  I also shared some fish sauce I had. Once again, she has a recipe to try.


Saving Money–Week Ending April 3, 2016


Patsy took this picture of a Fawn Lily in a park where we took her and 2 cousins.  After we got home, we spent a bit of time identifying it, using books and the internet.  She photographed other flowers, too, and we’ve identified 3 so far.  She seems to be showing in interest in both flowers and photography.  Those would both be good, frugal, useful hobbies for her to pursue, I think, so I want to encourage her.

FullSizeRenderI was able to capture this photo of her in a field of Camas flowers.  There were many, many of these flowers growing wild.


Jake spent a bit of time throwing rocks into a small stream at the extremely large park we went to. Patsy waded, but it was too cold for Jake.   This park  had several play-sets, a baseball diamond, a track for some kind of derby-car or other kind of racing, and trails criss-crossing  and surrounding it.  We were using up some time in a fun way while waiting for Ja’Ana and cousin Alissa to attend a church youth event.


I air-dried some gluten-free bread that we found when my sister and I organized the freezers on Tuesday.  After it was dry, I was in a big hurry to get crumbs because I was cleaning frantically to get ready for a house showing.  I just put the bread into a Ziplock and pounded it with my meat mallet.  The first bag got holes punched into it–not from the spiky part of the mallet, but from the dry bread itself.  So, I just transferred it into another bag, and was done in a jiffy.

I cooked every chance I got this week and was able to eat at home most of the time, using the pre-cooked food when I was in a hurry. I packed my lunch for work. We took one picnic with us one time during a showing.  Good thing, too.  Those people stayed at our house for about 2-1/2 hours, so we would have either been forced into eating out or would have been very hungry.  We don’t want to discourage anyone from looking!  While we were waiting for them to leave, I was able to work on my crocheted dish cloth I am making from some cotton yarn I found when cleaning and sorting.


I dug up about 10 raspberry plants and put them in a pot with compost.  My aunt has offered to keep them at her house under her automatic sprinkler while we are in transition.  This will be enough for a nice raspberry patch where ever we end up, and they will multiply over time.   There is also a little chive plant in a tiny pot that will hopefully make it, too.

I used many frozen items from our freezers and many items from my storage to make meals.  We bought Tillamook cheese for  $5.49/2 lbs. several times.  We bought butter for $1.99/lb last week, several times, as well.  Milk was 99c/1/2 gallon last week, so we got a few of those, too.  I bought lettuce in large packages from Cash and Carry today, a large bottle of ranch dressing and some lunchmeat. I used a $10/off $50 at Safeway and got produce, laundry soap, and a few other things.

We used the library more than usual the last couple of weeks.  It is  a handy, free place to go when the house is being shown.

The transmission has gone out on one of our cars.  Our mechanic friend is looking for a used one, which will help with the cost.  In the meanwhile, boy am I glad Patsy and I cleaned the Camry up so well last week!  I’m double glad my nephew fixed it up so it runs.  It is much more pleasant to drive than it was.  She really got into the project on one of these very warm days we have been having and washed it.  I’m sure it doesn’t know what hit it after being neglected for so long:)



Use-It-Up Project–March 31, 2016


On Tuesday, one of my sisters came over and we organized and consolidated freezers and emptied 2 more.  Both were allowed to thaw and will be wiped out.  Then, this one will be re-loaded with items from one of the freezers that I have decided not to keep.  I felt very successful, because now I have 2 empty freezers that I am going to give away on Saturday.  I have explained that the freezers are not new, or energy efficient, but have worked well for me, and both families wanted one.  So, I’m hoping they are a blessing to them, but they are not out any money if these freezers don’t work out for them.

For those of you who are new readers, I have been working for a few months to reduce the number of freezers I have (5 uprights and 1 chest, plus the 2 in the refrigerators).  I have so many because we have been raising our own meat (pork, turkey, and chicken), plus preserving fruits and vegetables from our gardens and u-pick, and buying 1/2 beef each fall.  Now we have our house up for sale, and don’t want to move so many freezers.


I found some frozen banana punch and a bottle of seltzer.  We drank that for dinner one night.  It was some I have made for parties, years ago, and needed to be used.


I found something labeled “Chinese Chicken Morsels” that were so freezer-burned I had to throw them away.  Instead, I used some ground chicken that was very old, with some frozen home-made re-fried beans and some cheese, and some chips that were getting a bit stale to make a nacho.  I added some tomato sauce and LOTS of Mexican seasoning, and it turned out ok.


I found some snow peas I had frozen last fall, about 7 water chestnuts left over from last week’s shish kabobs, and some pineapple from the kabobs, too.  I added celery, onion, and about 4 baby carrots that were in the fridge drawer.  I stir-fried it up with soy sauce, planning to add the chicken morsels.  Instead, it became our vegetable.


I also cooked some home-frozen corn.  This was a very strange Chinese, Mexican and American International dinner, but everyone ate it up!  Who knew?

We also ate some frozen turkey from a while back in our enchiladas last night.  I had intended to have leftover pork, but that pork was really yummy, so…….turkey it was.  Some frozen chili got used at lunch Wednesday.

Today, our home was shown 2 times, once at noon and once at 3.  I packed some food in a cooler, after cleaning a tidying for a couple of hours and we went off to a near-by town to do errands.  Imagine our surprise when we returned an hour and a half later, and they were still here.  So, we drove on by and sat for quite a while looking at a lovely stream at the end of our dead-end road.  When we returned, they were still there:)  So, we drove on by the other way, and went for a drive.  At around 2 (2-1/2 hours after we had left our home),  we crept up our back driveway, put the warming groceries in the camper fridge, and hid out behind our shop.  They were still here.  Our realtor needed to speak with us about an offer we received (super low, we are countering–in fact, so low I’m not sure anything will come of it at all, but who knows?), so she showed up at 2:15 and told them good-bye and we had our meeting for a few minutes, at which point we needed to leave so the next prospective buyers could come in.  Whew!  What a day.  I think it’s great they came, though.  Hopefully, they loved it!  And, I was able to use up the rest of the lunchmeat, 2 sandwich buns that we found in the freezer, 2 crusts and 2 slices of bread, the last of the lettuce, and some other items.

I was able to get a load of home-canned items up from the basement and have been serving applesauce, peaches and green beans from that supply.

I’d like to take the freezers and cupboards down even more before we move.  On the other hand, I want to maintain a stockpile as well.  We worked hard to raise that meat and produce, and don’t think we are going to be able to raise any more for some time, especially since we are going to be living in the camper in-between this house and the one we buy.  So, it’s a balancing act.  We have places to put the full freezers and I will “shop” from my storage each week.  The camper freezer will hold quite a few items.

Saving Money–Week Ending March 27


This past week, I had that horrible cold/thing everyone has been getting around here.  On Friday, Patsy didn’t feel well, either.  We went to the library and got some movies for her to watch.  We also made great use of the free tissues we were given last fall.  You may notice the box is very crushed, but they still work fine.  She’s pretty well done with it.  I, however, am still coughing a lot after 12 days of this.  Hmmmm…..Maybe I should watch more movies????   The Road to Avonlea dvd’s  are a tv show that was made years ago, using the setting of the Anne of Green Gables stories.  She enjoyed them, and Gilligan is always a favorite around here.


Patsy and I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up our old Toyota Camry. My nephew, Steven, just put it back into working order.  He put a new door on it.  The old one had been crunched a while back and you could only get in by leaning across the passenger seat and reaching over and opening it from the inside.  That got to be quite inconvenient.  Then, the axle needed replacing, and finally, it’s battery went dead one too many times.  We didn’t run it for several months.  When Steven offered to fix it, we were very grateful.  It has been a great car for us, and still runs!  We would love for one of the older girls to learn to drive and use it.  J isn’t quite old enough, but Lovana is, and J soon will be.

It has almost 300,000 miles on it, and where I say it looks better, I’m not sure it will ever look super good ever again.   It’s as clean as we can get it without shampooing it.  We vacuumed it out at a do-it-yourself station at a car wash.  We used $3 in quarters.  I took some disinfectant wipes with us and we wiped and wiped.  There was even some mold growing in places, so we got that, too.  I was very grateful to have it, since our van was being fixed and I wanted to go somewhere!

A good friend fixed the van.  He did it for free, as he does for us, and we are thankful.  The shifting lever in the column was not shifting properly and would not go into “park” correctly, sometimes causing the van to start rolling backwards when we thought it was parked.  It only took a couple of times for us to put that on the top of the list!!!


We went to the whale-watching center at Depoe Bay.  We didn’t see any whales, but had a good trip to the beach.  The center is free and they have lots of information and viewing stations to look out for whales.


We went camping for a few more days, went to the zoo, the mall, the library, and the beach during spring break, mostly while getting out of the house so they could show it.  It was nice to do something different than sort, pre-pack, clean and scrub, etc.  So far, there have been 31 families/couples/people through the house.  It’s been on the market for a little over a week.  We don’t have an offer, yet, but feel encouraged with all of the interest.  I know this will all pay off in the end.  We tried to use coupons, get deals, share food, used gift cards, and whatever else we could do to save money during all of this running around, but it was still somewhat expensive.  Camping was actually the most economical, since we took our food with us, and got to stay there are cook it, for the most part, during the 2nd little part of the camping trip when we went back up there.


We looked at and photographed wildflowers wherever we went.

While cleaning, I was able to find a couple of home-school books that I will use for Ja’Ana now. She had finished up a couple of things a few weeks ago. She hasn’t been doing very much school lately, with all of the other things we have been doing, but I wrote out a pretty hefty 2-week schedule for her, so she can get back on track and caught up. I also had time to work with her on math during the first part of camping, before she went on her mission trip.  So, she’s set, and no money out for new things right now.

I weeded my herb raised bed.  It is right by the house, and is handy to use when cooking.  I might as well enjoy it while I still have it, and everything I make a little nicer can only help with selling the house.

Saving Money–March 15, 2016


Although I keep saying it, the main way I saved money this week was through the generosity of family and friends who came over to my house and worked for free this past weekend.  I figure there were 45-50 people that passed through our house over the long weekend, and helped do many, many chores.  One of the biggest jobs they did was the landscaping.  It was very weed-filled, completely rainy and muddy when they worked on it, and it still came out looking great.  I will have to say the realtor was very impressed today when she and a photographer came to finalize the paperwork for the listing and take the pictures that will be put on to a brochure and on the internet.  I cannot imagine the dollar amount that the landscaping, pressure washing, and cleaning would have cost me to hire it out.  I know Rob and I could have never finished without all of the help.


I was given several gifts this weekend, too, to make the house look better.  My aunt brought these 2 orchids to put on the mantle.  They will last, and won’t have to be replaced often as fresh flowers would.


My aunt also brought the basil for the windowsill.  My oldest daughter brought the lemons and limes, suggested by a reader.  The photographer did not put them away, but we did find quite a few little things moved out of sight:) You can also see the wonderful job a couple of friends did on my cabinets–they cleaned them and rubbed them down with lemon oil.  My daughter also brought me a new dish towel to put out for the showings.

We cooked a turkey to feed many of the people.  Ja’Ana and I made 2 batches of the rice-lentil salad.  The second time, she made it with quinoa, rice, and beans, because that is what we had left to use.  It was amazing to me how quickly that went down the hatches.  I had also cooked some pinto beans with peppers in the crock pot.  They had been out in the camper and I replaced them with fresh ones.  Those were devoured on Saturday.

On Sunday, an entire small church came as their service project to help us.  We have never been anyone’s service project before, and we were grateful for their help.  We were very touched that they thought of us.  They brought soup and rolls.  My daughter Abbie brought cupcakes, muffins and chicken chili.  We put out more turkey, salad and drinks.  I was able to get 2-litre bottles of pop for $1.25 at one store, and then found them for $1 at another, so bought more.  I also got chocolate milk for $1 for 1/2 gallon and orange juice for the same price.  We also offered hot drinks, such as coffee and tea.  The organizer for the church group brought some of those beverages and I provided some.


As usual, I walked on the treadmill while watching a movie we checked out from the library instead of buying a gym membership or paying for cable.

We went to the library tonight and got quite a few movies and books.  We will be staying in the camper for a few days and want them to watch and read.   We will go back and forth from the campground to our house, church, and other activities, but want to be out of here for the open house and multiple showings (hopefully).  The inventory in our area is very low, and the realtor expects to hit it hard this first weekend.  After that, it will be shown by appointment only.  Apparently, a house not far from here sold during the first week recently, but of course, we can’t count on that happening.  Average is 30-45 days.  So, only time will tell what will happen here.  I just don’t want to have to police every room, nag people, etc.  Hopefully, it won’t take too long to sell, as my kids are MESSY!

I needed to go to work yesterday.  While I was gone, Ja’Ana took it into her head to cook me dinner.  She used things we had on hand, and it came out great.  As usual, I packed a lunch to take with me.

Patsy was supposed to dress up for school as a tacky tourist.  She used things we had on hand–a flowered dress, a map Rob found, and a hat she owned.  She topped it off with last summer’s river sandals.  Pretty cute!  Tomorrow is tie-dye day, and she has a top she can wear.

Today, I spent several hours putting everything to rights for the photographer.  After he and the realtor left, I hit the wall with exhaustion and took a nap. Rob fell asleep, too.  The girls sat on chairs in front of the fire.   I usually can’t sleep during the day, but I guess I was finally tired enough. Patsy was at school, but I woke up right before she got home.  After that, having not cooked dinner, or instructed anyone else to cook it, we got into the car and went to town to do errands and ate out.  We got our fishing licenses, the fresh food for the camper, such as lettuce, and went to the library as well as having dinner.  I think we all enjoyed a break from working so hard.  I cannot express how much we appreciated all of the help we have received.  One thing, though, is that they all come and go as their schedules permit.  We are here through it all, and ended up working for 10-12 hours many days during the past 2 months, and especially the last 2-3 weeks.  It’s no wonder we are tired!  Hopefully, this will be a little calm in the storm for a few days while we get rested up for the “real” move after the house sells.




Saving Money–Week Ending March 5, 2016


On Friday, Rob and I spent the evening with 6 adorable children, ranging in age from 5-13. Our 2 youngest went with us, as well.  We took dinner with us and ate.  We also took these board games.  Every one of these games was played by one group of children or another throughout the evening.  The Wheel of Fortune is electronic, and was in high demand, so kids took turns with that one.  At one point, both Rob and I were involved teaching a couple of the youngest ones how to play Rack-o.  I was one team.  Rob was the partner for the 2 little boys.  For that game, you get the cards from smallest to largest and that was a bit of a challenge for some, but everyone had fun!  I played the stacking tower game quite a few times with the 5-year-old.  I also took a Pearler bead craft kit and several kids made a craft.  Then, we ironed them right away so they wouldn’t get bumped. After that, we cut up some apples and added them to some other snacks I brought, and pretty soon it was time to go home.  It was a fun, frugal way to spend an evening.


Patsy played with Legos for quite a while on Saturday.  We don’t buy new toys often. These were the boys’ Legos, years ago.  Although Patsy doesn’t play with these often, she enjoyed them for an entire afternoon. She was pretty tired from a morning of trotting around fetching and carrying things for us and welcomed the chance to sit down.  I have a few well made, durable toys I will keep when we move, including these Legos and a large Thomas the Tank Engine train set.  I also have a Lincoln Log set.

I cooked at home and am making excellent progress on using things from the cupboards and freezers.  I went and got some groceries at Grocery Outlet and got some good deals on tilapia, lunchmeat and a bunch of other things. I easily fed extra people several times this week.  I love being able to offer a good meal to those who come and help us with this huge project of sorting and pre-packing.


All of the piggies went to hog heaven this week, except this one. It was too small.  Rob has a friend who will finish it up.  He just needs to take this one over there within the next couple of days.  So, I will have pork soon.  We chose not to have them make sausage or ham this time and that will save money.  I still have some ham we got for a cheap price and love using the ground meat and roasts plain.

Use-It-Up Project March 5, 2016


I got busy today and finished using up the turkey bones in my freezer.  Early this morning, I put on 2 huge kettles filled with bones from when we butchered our turkeys last fall.  We had cut a lot of meat off of some of them, and ground it into turkey burger.  I froze many bags of bones, with meat on them.  I let them simmer all day while I sorted, packed and worked on the camper.  Then, after all of our excellent helpers went home, I processed the broth.  I fished out the bones and put them into bowls.  Then, I ladled or poured the broth through a strainer into a large Pyrex measuring pitcher.   I put the broth into jars and canned them  The smaller pressure cooker in the back has 7 quarts in it.  The larger one in the front has 2 layers of pints in it.  There are 10 in there.  More could fit, but that’s the amount of broth I ended up with.  While they were cooking, I picked the meat off of the bones.  I froze 3 bags of good meat, fed the cats lots of “goodies” and had enough broth and meat to make dinner.  I gave my oldest daughter the remaining 2 bags of bones so she could make broth, too, and so that I would be done with that project.

I made turkey a-la-king over rice.  The rice was in the camper and had been for a long time, so I used it up and put fresh out there.


I used some broccoli that was left over from dinner last night.  Rob and I had a delightful evening with some children last evening.  Both of their parents had other places to be, so we spent the evening.  I used every last red potato I had, because I cannot find any baking potatoes around here, although I’m certain I have some. (We are gaining on the project, but the garage is still a train wreck!) I was going to make baked potato bar, but instead, roasted the red potatoes in chunks and served cheese, broccoli, ham (frozen after the last ham we cooked), and sour cream as toppings to put on the chunks.  It worked great, but I overestimated the amount of broccoli.  By far.  I guess the kids have other favorite vegetables.  They were exceedingly polite about it, and probably would have choked some down for my sake, but I told them not to bother.  I was there to spoil them rotten, not insist on them eating broccoli.

Our camper came back on Thursday from being in the shop for 2 months.  There was some warranty work that needed to be done, and a certain part was difficult to obtain, I guess.  We had taken it in right after our camping trip after Christmas when we realized it was leaking (bad seal) into the outdoor kitchen.  I found a large gallon bag of Chex Mix I had made at Christmas time and taken camping.  It was still great and the children polished it off for me as a snack last evening.  There are 6 of them, plus Patsy and Ja’Ana, so it took no time at all to use that up:) They also enjoyed some apples and little cutie oranges and some hazelnuts.  They polished off close to 4 quarts of canned fruit we took, as well.  I love feeding a crowd–very gratifying and fun for me.

Today at noon, I was able to use an enchilada casserole that had been frozen for quite some time, throw away 3 items I found freezer-burned in the freezer, some frozen fruit (peaches, blueberries, wild blackberries, and strawberries) I put frozen into a bowl and let thaw into fruit salad right before lunch so it was still slushy, some ranch dressing mix I made into a dip and served with carrots and celery, and some drinks that had been around a long time when I fed 5 extra men and young adults after they helped all morning.

I used quite a few home-canned items this week, including carrots and green beans I put into a soup when my aunt and sister came to help me Friday.  I also used frozen broth and turkey bits in that soup. I also used some potatoes that had gotten left in the camper since Christmas break and were sprouting. I am using onions almost daily from my garden.  The red ones are starting to want to sprout a bit, but the Copras are still firm as ever, for the most part.  I still have quite a few left out in the shop.

On a non-food note, I threw away a sweater that was worn out.  I also ruined a frying pan by forgetting it on a burner too long and then touched a plastic container with it, melting the plastic onto the bottom of the pan and warping it, so I threw away the pan and the ruined container.  Thankfully, it wasn’t my best one.


Saving Money–Week Ending Feb. 28


I found some zucchini in the freezer, marked ‘9.  I don’t know if it was really that old, or if I was lazy when I froze it, but it was perfectly fine.  I made a batch of brownies from an old mix I had in the pantry and stirred the drained zucchini in.  They turned out good.

The single way we saved the most money this past week was the amount of help we got from friends and family with the sorting and moving.  If we had to hire the amount of help we got, it would have cost us hundreds of dollars.  We were able to move 2 huge loads over to my brother-in-law’s.  When my husband offered the one man, who is a relative stranger to us, gas money, he declined, but agreed to take an old wood splitter Rob did not need anymore.  It needs work, but the man seems delighted.  No one else wanted anything.

I found 8 small glass bowls in the attic.  Why were they there?  What was I ever thinking?  Who knows, but I was planning to buy some for the camper.  Even at the dollar store, they would have been $8.  I also found some glass casserole dishes in the basement that I have not used for a long time.  My mom and I cleaned them all up, and I will choose what will fit into the camper, and donate the rest.  I will need more glass/casserole dishes than I use when camping, since we plan to stay in the camper for a few weeks between houses.  I have many offers from friends and family to come to their houses and cook casseroles, etc., if I want to and then just warm things up in the camper.  I may do some of that.  I also may have Rob barbecue everything outside, or give the kids sticks over the fire, when we are at a campground.  I do have a teeny, tiny oven in there and some burners, so I plan to cook a bit in there, as well.  There is a small microwave, and I prefer glass to warm things in.  I had some very old plastic bowls in there, but now I won’t.

We contacted a realtor, who was highly recommended by a friend.  We will have her out Tuesday to discuss things.  I hope that the immense amount of cleaning and sorting will meet with her satisfaction, but she will probably give us lots of tips to finish up the job.  I hope to get a higher price, obviously:)  We are wanting to get this on the market as soon as we can.  As Brandy, The Prudent Homemaker, pointed out–the sooner it sells, the sooner we can stop paying payments on it.  As the payments are very hefty, that’s what we were thinking, too.


Piles of trash were burned, saving garbage fees.  The red car in the background has been inoperable for quite some time.  Rob and my nephew, Steven, got it going, and Steven took it home on Saturday.  He has the parts, which Rob paid for, and will fix it for free.  The door has been smashed in on the side, and he thinks he will be able to get new doors as well.  One of the girls will probably end up with it for a first car when Steven gets it fixed up.

We sold a few more things on e-bay.  They were not costly, but one interesting one was a cut thunder-egg rock Rob found in the shop.  It sold for around $3, and the buyer paid shipping.  I think sometimes we take things for granted, because we have had them for a while.   I remember my mom had one on a little shelf and I always loved looking at it when I was a child.   Rob and his dad loved rock hunting, and so we do have more of them to enjoy.  I’m glad someone else can enjoy this rock.  He wasn’t sure when he put it up on e-bay if anyone would want it, so it was a nice surprise.

My aunt helped Patsy cover a pillow form I found, while sorting, with flannel for her camper bunk.  I already covered another one for Ja’Ana.  I hope to find another form and make one for Lovana, as well.  I think if they can prop up on their bunks, or have pillows for lounging on the floor while watching tv., they will feel more cozy.  I got some new sheets at Macy’s on a very good sale for the camper.  Ours have holes in them out there, and I am replacing them.

Rob went to get the camper back, but it needs one more thing done, so he came home empty-handed.  Hopefully, it will be done soon.  I’d really like this huge pile of things out of my bedroom.  They belong out there.  Almost all of the work is warranty work, but one thing we will be paying for, because we want it done.  It is less expensive to just leave it there until it’s done completely.  There was a seal that was leaking, and that would be tragic if we didn’t get it promptly fixed.  Water is not our friend in a camper, except in the faucet and bathtub:)  By catching it early, and them fixing it under warranty, we saved thousands of potential dollars worth of damage and repairs.  I’m so glad we are year-round campers and took it out over the Christmas break and found this problem before any significant damage was done.

We were able to clean the basement out and make a place to stack storage bins.  We saved at least $200 by not having to rent a storage unit for those things for another month, at least.  We are finding that storage units are costly.  We have never had to rent one before.  One place, that is less expensive ($189/month for the biggest unit), is full.  Another one is around $229 for a little less space.  Yikes!  That will add up quickly.  All the more reason to be thankful for the things we can store over at my brother-in-law’s.

We had a simple birthday dinner for my sister today.  We spent very little on the food and presents, but enjoyed the time together immensely.


My niece, Alissa, found some candles in the drawer, and lit them up for her mom.


Jake was watching eagerly because he wanted his mom to wish for little toy cars for him when she blew out her candles.  Silly boy!