Tag Archives: Frugal Accomplishments

Thriving In My Thrifty Week—June 12, 2023

This week, I went to a U-Pick strawberry patch, all by myself:). I know he would have enjoyed it, but I was so glad he wasn’t there when I saw the (seriously) 150+ people who were swarming the field. I got enough for a batch of jam and some to freeze for smoothies and some to eat fresh. It was hard to find ripe berries, actually. After seeing the people come and come and come, I could see why. I may try again soon, or just make out with what I got.

I think Malcolm is trying to wink at Papa. He loves “bahberries.” In fact, I stepped outside for a minute the day I brought them home and came back only to see the floor littered with little green tops–he’d eaten as many as he could grab. We got those picked up and I turned my back and …….yep! We had to clean the floor again. I’m so glad he didn’t get sick.

The garden still takes quite a bit of time each day. It’s growing so well, as are the weeds. We are eating lettuce daily and sharing with many. The peas are almost ripe. I mean they maybe would plump up if a certain little boy wasn’t out there stripping off any that look like they are growing….It warms my heart to see him enjoy them so much and like Rob says, “He’s eating vegetables, we can always buy a bag of peas at the store.” I’m pretty sure we will get a big batch one of these days–it will be beyond what he can eat.

We are harvesting a few snow peas every couple of days and my cilantro is bolting. I’ve been using the lower leaves anyway in salads and marinades. I will pull that out and let the next planting be used very soon. I put more seeds in the ground but have none yet. I may need to replant.

The compost heap on the right has been emptied completely. I’ve been working on it for a while and now we have started dumping new scraps in there. I have side-dressed the celery, some cabbage and cauliflower and some onions with part of it, as they were struggling where they were. These 3 buckets are all that’s left to disperse and I have plenty of places that could use it. There’s never enough compost! There is one more bin that needs emptying on the other side of the garden.

Malcolm has spent hours and hours working on this project and pouring his buckets all over the place. It’s so cute! I’m glad to have this bin finally empty and he still has another bin to get into in a different place. Otherwise, he just digs holes in the garden. That works, too.

We went to the library this week and watched a preschool show. We also signed up both Malcolm and my nephew, Jake for summer reading.

It was party week. We attended a graduation ceremony Friday, a grad party Saturday and a birthday party Sunday afternoon. I haven’t cooked a whole lot this past weekend.

I did make gluten-free hamburger buns early in the week. They came out great. I made pulled pork sandwiches for us and the college group I cook for weekly. I used extras for sandwiches a few times.

We loaded up on $1.99/lb boneless-skinless chicken breast and thighs today. 3 packs in all. I froze them in meal-sized portions. I popped some Mexican-inspired marinade on some of the chunks to use tomorrow for SW chicken salads for the college group and some to freeze. Milk was $1.29 for 1/2 gallon so we got 2 of those. There were sausage rolls for $1.99 and those kielbasas for $1.99 each. I grabbed a few of those.

We passed up the $5.99/package tator tots. Seriously? It wasn’t even a big package. We got 10 lbs. of potatoes for about $5.

I’m already having an easier time stretching my time between grocery store trips, due to the abundance of lettuce in the garden. I’m also still loaded up with home-canned food and things I froze last summer. This is a wonderful time of year to be cooking and there’s so much more growing out there. I love it!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 4, 2023

I made a mega-batch of spaghetti sauce this past week. I used some to make lasagna for the young adult group and us, and some for spaghetti. I was able to utilize my canned tomato products to make it.

I was making meals for someone and they got a container, as well. For those meals, the food was frozen, for access later on when it was needed by the person.

I made a triple berry crisp from our frozen berry stash. We also made pork chops, brown rice, a chicken-pineapple sauce for the rice, chicken legs, snickerdoodle cookies, and lots and lots of salads.

I needed to clean out the camper freezer and fridge as we were getting some brake work done on the camper. I use that fridge as my spare one. Those items were put in a cooler until the camper returned a few hours later–mostly extra eggs, cheese, etc. The freezer was emptied and I’ve been using the items, as some had been in there a long time. The rest are in the chest freezer to be used soon and I will start fresh loading it with items for our next camping trip. There was a large bag of frozen shrimp in there and I’ve been eating a little each day. It’s almost gone, but it was sure tasty! Little Malcolm loves it, too, and eats his share.

This is only a small portion of the lettuce that is ready now. We are eating it frequently and I am giving it away to anyone who wants any. I even sent some over to the neighbor in a bucket and started laughing when I saw my bucket clipped to the fence, emptied out afterwards!

We visited a preschool party at the library with Malcolm. He had a blast and we learned about possible preschools for next fall. He received 2 free books, made crafts (crown), got that ring pop sucker he’s eating, and played some games. He’s been asking me if we can go back to that party! We checked out some books while we were there.

He saw Clifford, the big red dog.

While the camper was away getting it’s brakes fixed, Rob and Malcolm pressure-washed the concrete where it sits. It was awful. Rob did most of it, with Mac yelling at him for a turn, then Malcolm finally got his turn at the end. It was a terrible mess of moss and dirt. I swept it while the boys were fetching the trailer. It was a lot of work, but we are so happy to have that done.

Rob took senior pictures for a close family friend’s daughter. They came out amazing! I went as well, along with Michaela, Jake, Malcolm and the girl’s younger sister. We went to a park nearby where they have a wonderful garden with roses and other lovely plants. We took a picnic and some frisbees and had a nice time with all the kids after pictures were taken.

Rob has talked twice at church about his trip to Bangladesh. On Thursday evening, it was a group of adults who came out to hear the team speak and see pictures. I needed to take cookies, so Jake, Mac and I made snickerdoodles. The second occasion was for the children’s church and he talked to them today. They had gathered money and school supplies and Rob told them all about the trip and how the supplies were given out and how much they were appreciated by the kids. 15 suitcases of supplies were taken–craft projects, school supplies, crayons, coloring books, aprons and pot holders for the women staff, prayer journel notebooks and pens for the men staff, etc. It was a blessing all 15 made it, along with the clothing ones, too!

Through this and more, we have tried to take time to stop and smell the roses, and other flowers, too. Almost every day, Malcolm grabs my hand and says, “Gama, come see the fowers.” He then takes me around and shows me every one he likes. It’s precious. I’m also treated to the newly sprouted squash he and I planted, a green tomato that has shown up, and whatever else he can find. Even the 3 flowers that are dying–“they look sad.” I hope he never loses his enthusiasm for gardening.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 20, 2023-Rob is Back From Bangladesh!

It has been a wild couple of weeks! Rob has safely returned from Bangladesh and I successfully made life work while he was gone, with lots and lots of help from my family. He saw so many interesting sights on his journey. One thing he noticed was how crowded everything was. It was also noisy, with lots of honking and even police sirens mounted on cars. The contrast of how quiet is is here was noticeable to him and he’s enjoying the peace of it. It is considered polite there to honk at everyone!

After traveling for 30 hours to get there, they were put into a van the next morning for a 9-hour ride out to the country where they worked with 100 boys in the 100 degree heat….it went amazing, despite the fact that the team was not used to the heat and their days and nights were swapped from what they were here. They returned to the big city a few days later to work with girls at a couple of girls’ homes.

They got to tour a garment factory one day. This man was showing them how clothes were made. The interesting thing was the clothes are going to a local store right here in our area!

They had so much wonderful food! Most of it was quite spicy. There were a few dishes that were mildly spicy, but more often than not, Rob found his mouth might be on fire after eating the meal. At the breakfast buffet, there were no signs to tell you how mild or spicy things were so he just had to take a small portion and test it until he found one he enjoyed. He had rice for every meal and a lot of curry.

He got to taste fruits he had never had before. These grew on a tree, but he doesn’t know what they are called. He had an excellent time, and felt good that they got to work with so many kids, as well as a group of men one day. Then they travelled home. He’s very tired and getting his days and nights sorted out, but every day, I’m hearing a little more about his trip. We are both so happy he got to go. So many prayers were answered.

It was very inspiring and eye-opening to see how others live in a part of the world we know so little about and to help so many orphans, even in what felt like a small way. They sang songs, did crafts, told stories, played with them and encouraged the staff at the facilities they worked at. The people were so warm and friendly to them everywhere they went.

In the meanwhile, I was home working frantically on the garden and yard, working and taking care of the house and life. On the days I worked a different family member would come over to play with Malcolm and on the weekends his auntie helped with him. We took him to get his hair cut, to the McDonald’s play place, to the carousel, to the park, and had little brother over to play twice. We had to keep him busy because he was so sad that Papa was gone. The first day after Rob returned, he followed him everywhere. If Rob got in bed, he got in bed with him, if Rob went outside, he went out, and so forth. I found them both asleep at one point, with Malcolm holding onto Rob’s beard–he wasn’t taking any chances!!!

I got almost everything planted in the garden. I weeded for hours, but have so much more to do. The crows ate our green bean sprouts so Mac and I replanted those. I was able to clean up the deck, re-work some pots of flowers saved over from last year and put geraniums back into the ground. Rob digs them each fall, and I put them back out each spring. I had a few little flower starts we planted in the greenhouse that I tucked into the pots that held overwintered geraniums and got the Columbine plants Rob green into pots or the ground. There were about 16 of them, so there should be lovely flowers for years to come here and there.

On Friday, we went on a small hike, just the two of us. It was fun to hear all about the trip, and just spent time with Rob after his absence.

There are so many wildflowers in bloom right now. It was amazing! We just went about a mile in and a mile out, and had a wonderful time just being together.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-May 8, 2023

While Rob’s away, the troops will play…..

Rob went off on his big adventure last Friday. Lovana and I are holding down the fort here. We decided to let the babies play on Saturday for hours. When they were getting too interested in the garden, i.e. stomping on my plants, I bribed them out with ice cream. Works every time:) I used cones we’ve had on hand for at least a year, and some sale vanilla ice cream and they felt like they had a really big treat, for just a few cents.

The little white dot in the corner of the raised bed is a butterfly. Zai was so happy and excited to see it flying around and spent quite a bit of time chasing it, but never caught it.

Most of the last couple of weeks have been used to frantically get Rob ready and get things in ship shape order here, as much as possible.

I made 2 kinds of soup and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make life easy. Tonight, I made hamburgers for dinner, and chili for tomorrow night, and split a pound of hamburger for that. I stopped by the store for a few items, but did not do any large grocery shopping trips at all before he left. I will cook a little more in a few days, but also plan to use may home-canned soups, frozen items, etc. to make life easier. We aren’t going to need to buy much this week, either. I’ll do a bigger shop again when he gets back.

He made sure the tiny tiller worked in case I want to use it while he’s gone. He made sure there was gas in the lawn mower. I’m spoiled. He always gets those kind of things going for me, and then I do my thing–like mow. I hope to do that in the next couple of days. He downloaded the Sunday school power point for me for both Sundays…things like that. I just appreciate him all the more while he’s gone as I do all the dishes myself…..

He did not get all the laundry caught up, and I assured him that even though he does most of it all the time, I did still know how…..I’m actually fully caught up with it as of this minute..

I’m filling my time up with all those chores and hours and hours of garden work, along with working several days this week. I like to be busy, because I miss him and the time passes quickly when I keep myself occupied.

I have heard from him several times. He made it there safely, after a 30-hour journey. He travelled through several airports, time zones, and a few countries. All the luggage made it, too. Whew! This is some kind of fried banana, he said. I wondered when I saw this picture if he was eating fried socks or something–ha, ha! We’ve had very brief communications–enough to know he’s safe, sound and happy. I’m excited to hear all about it when he gets back. In the meanwhile, I will keep praying for him and the team he’s with and keep holding down the fort here, with help from my family, who are taking turns coming here to help me several mornings:). This is a busy place!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-April 18, 2023

We had 2 nice days last week. By late afternoon on Friday, I was able to get into the small part of the garden that I planted a few weeks ago. Those have been the only two dry periods this spring and it’s been raining ever since. I knew I needed to work out there as much as I could. I did what I could Friday evening and then started in at 7:15 Saturday. I finally stopped around 5:30, with a couple of breaks in-between. I will admit I was tired and sore, but felt wonderful to finally be able to get outside.

Rob had a lot of other things to do that day, so gave me moral support and a little help in the morning and throughout the day as he breezed in and out, everyone else had other plans as well, so it was just me and Malcolm digging in the dirt all day. It was a dream day for both of us.

Mac loves to dig in the dirt so much that he spent quite a bit of time moving dirt from one flowerpot to the raised bed. He used a little shovel and bucket and dug out so much dirt and surviving flowers from last fall. They aren’t looking so good anymore. They survived winter, but not Mac. He took so much dirt from the pot that I finally got him a bag of steer manure compost and let him spread it on a raised bed, one little shovelful at a time. So then, the pot didn’t have much dirt left and he started in on other pots. Rob got a bag of cheap soil at the store and we poured it into the pot when he wasn’t looking and he started on that again, hopefully saving our overwintered geraniums:). My little pot of lettuce wasn’t so lucky. I’m so glad he likes it outside and I want to cultivate that in him, so all this is worth it to me.

The blackberries (Marion berries) needed attention. I dug out copious amounts of quack grass from underneath. It was a terrible mess, to be truthful. We untangled the new canes and cut out the old ones. We tied up the new canes. Some organic fertilizer was applied later and Rob picked up a van load of steer manure compost, soil and mulch at Home Depot. Some of that will go on those berries, but I figured I could do that when it was raining, so I focused on the things I needed to do while it was not pouring rain.

During the previous dry few days a month or so ago, I worked on the raspberries and got those all tied up. Friday evening, I did start to weed out underneath them again–of course the weeds are having no trouble growing. I will put down the amendments and mulch once I finish.

Between the two days, I was able to hoe, hand weed and thin all of the area I had planted. I’m so happy that the crows did not decimate my peas–there’s a great stand there in the middle–5 rows. The seeds Rob saved for carrots and beets came up so thickly that I went ahead and started some rough thinning. I may need to thin more later, but baby plants can still get eaten by slugs, bugs, or birds, so I left a good amount until I see what happens.

I planted cabbage–both Copenhagen and Pinetree Mix, Romensco broccoli and Hybrid Broccoli Blend from our greenhouse. In this picture, I had only started planting onions, but I did finish that row. It’s half White Sweet Spanish and half Red Bull onions. I have many more to plant, especially my Patterson storage, but I ran out of tilled earth.

I planted some lettuce starts–Romaine, Drunken Frizzy Headed Woman lettuce and a few seeds of a mixture. In one of my raised beds (not shown), I planted another small area of snow peas, lettuce, marigolds, a few more radishes, and a few extra leftover plants of broccoli and cabbage. I did put in a few kale plants, as well.

We did get a few more things done this week. Rob found these jars at a thrift store. He ordered new seals from Amazon for the ones that needed them and replaced the old ones on all but one. I have some bulk foods in them now and they seal up very well when I close them.

The boys made snickerdoodles on the day after Easter. I guess more sugar was needed:)

They had fun.

Later in the week, I made pumpkin cookies with cinnamon frosting. Most of these cookies were frozen and I sent some along to the young adult group I cook for on Tuesdays.

I sent Mustard Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks, Cranberry-Walnut Coleslaw, green salad and cookies to the group today. Guess what our meal was today. Hmmm–chicken, coleslaw, salad and cookies? Yes! You got it on the first try. That and chicken soup.

I also made lasagna, pork roast, chicken-rice soup, Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles, a large pot of brown rice which was eaten with a sweet and sour chicken Rob made and by Malcolm, who loves it with milk and cinnamon sugar. We finished up the soups from last week, and the chili.

I had so much food left over from Easter that I skipped a week of shopping. I did go last evening and got a few items at Safeway and a few more at Grocery Outlet and we are all set again.

Although I’m longing for nice weather so I can get outside again, I see lots and lots of rain predicted when I look at my weather app. Still, there’s plenty to do inside and I may need to drum up a couple more “inside” projects if the rain keeps on.

Rob continues to prepare for his upcoming trip to Bangladesh. One thing they are doing at church to help out is to collect school supplies to take there in his extra suitcase. The children at church have a campaign going to “fill Mr. Rob’s suitcase” and they have his extra one down there, filling it up. There have been lots of supplies gathered and he’s excited to take them. In fact, he’s getting so excited about the whole trip. It’s good to see him so excited.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 5, 2023

We have had an exceedingly cold, wet spring. Things in the greenhouse are growing, but very, very slowly, in some cases. Peppers are having the most trouble, because they love more heat than we have right now. The tomatoes are looking great, as are all the cool-weather crops such as onions, cabbage, broccoli, etc.

Despite the fact that we had SNOW again, my little lettuces are still alive. Once it warms up (if that ever happens), they will take off. The seeds I planted in the garden a few weeks ago are sprouting, as well. I have French Breakfast radishes and Buttercrunch lettuce up. The beets are just coming up, as of yesterday.

I’m worried about the Maestro peas, though, since the crows have been out there feasting. Some are up, and it remains to be seen how many seeds those crows left.

I’m still working on this cabbage that Rob found in the garden a few weeks ago. I used another part of it in a huge salad I made last night for the young adults group we cook for on Tuesdays. It’s holding up really well.

Last evening, we cooked for the entire group, not just for the gluten-free ones. That’s about 25, plus the usual gf 5. Rob had cooked a ham on Monday and we boiled the bone for broth. I made a large crock pot of ham and bean soup and sent that over.

We also pulled a turkey from the bottom of the chest freezer and cooked it, took the meat off the bone, and made broth. From the meat, I made huge turkey-noodle casseroles–2 large pans from some regular wheat noodles I’d gotten for 50c/package a long time ago with regular Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and 1 small one using gf pasta and gf cream of mushroom soup. Walmart carries a nice canned gf cream of mushroom soup that works well in casseroles for under $2/can. I added a bag of frozen mixed veggies, peas, dried onion, odds and ends of several kinds of cheese that were in the fridge, and baked it all together.

Some bananas that were looking sad became a banana-walnut bundt cake and I used berries from the garden with canned apple slices to make a crisp. Both were gf, so everyone could eat the same desserts. I had never made that cake before, but found the recipe in an old cookbook. It was SO good. It’s a keeper and I’ll make it again.

Rob got several bags of grapes for 97c/lb on sale at Safeway and I cut a large plate of grape clusters. I used one head of lettuce, one leaf lettuce head, 2 carrots, some red cabbage and cherry tomatoes to make a large tossed salad.

I made another batch of the beefy-basil pesto soup. We love that soup so much I’m already running low on my pesto. I make it from garden basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan and freeze in ice cube trays.

I went shopping and got a few things–spent about $45. I’ll go again later in the week and finish up any last minute shopping for Easter.

My counter and dish drainer are both filled with drying baggies. I know I’ve used lots of freezer items this past week, since I pulled both a turkey and a ham out, as well as all the fruits and veggies from those bags. SO WHY IS MY CHEST FREEZER STILL SO FULL? Maybe it’s just fluffed up? That is the question of the century, and a mystery that only Sherlock Holmes could solve, I’m afraid. I’m still working on that project this month–it’s now “clean-the-freezer April.”

I even canned a load of turkey broth so I didn’t have to freeze it! Of course, I did freeze the rest that didn’t fit into the canner, plus the ham broth that wasn’t used in the ham and beans ….a little bit of the mystery explained.

I used broccoli, peas, frozen beans and corn, broth, meat bits and pieces, baked goods, bread, and proteins such as fish, burger, etc. I’ve also emptied many, many jars this past week.

We celebrated our daughter’s birthday Friday, and I made a huge chocolate layer cake. Yum! I also made her lasagna, which she requested. It was simple and tasted great.

Because I have used so much freezer and pantry food, I was able to cut my normal weekly grocery budget drastically in March. Since our grocery budget is purposefully quite small, we always use every cent, but I was able to send some in other directions than our local grocery store this time. (We’ve tried to set the amount at what we actually need to spend and seem to be in the ballpark) I saved some in my envelope for the 1/4 beef we get each fall, and am using the rest for an Azure Standard order (bulk food and some cleaning supplies and soap). I’m especially happy about already setting aside money toward the beef–I’ve really made progress towards that in the last 2 months.

I will not be one of those people who let the pantry go all the way down to zero–that makes it impossible to eat from the pantry any more without a huge, huge, expensive stock-up. I like to just fill gaps as I make them with fresh supplies and keep rotating what is there.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 20, 2023



The most exciting thing I did all week was plant part of my garden. We had a few really nice, warm days and I thought it would be worth a try to see if I could get in there. I could, in only one section, but it was enough! In fact, even the area closest to the camera was still too wet on that day.

I planted 5 rows of Maestro shelling peas for freezing and a small section of Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas. I plant succession plantings of those every few weeks and we usually have them from spring until fall each year to eat fresh.

I planted a row of Early Wonder Tall Top beets and a row of beet seeds Rob saved last summer. They are likely the same kind, but I’m not exactly sure since I did have another kind in the garden last summer, as well. I do know they are viable, because we tested them by wetting a paper towel and sprouting a few on the windowsill.

There is an entire row of Danvers carrots, with a tiny section of a random variety and another whole row of Rob’s saved carrot seeds. Last summer, I was able to can quite a few carrots from our garden, and I planted extra this year in hopes of doing the same.

A mixed row contains Wild Garden Mix lettuce and Butter crunch lettuce along with a few French Breakfast radishes and cilantro.

One more row holds Lakeside and Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach. I hope to freeze some of that.

Of course, I had lots of help. All-in-all, between the adults who took him out, he was out for at least 6 hours on that day. He loves it out there.

The part of the garden you see Malcolm in, as well as another strip on the other side of the planted strip are too wet to plant yet. Since it started raining and hasn’t stopped yet, it will likely be quite some time before those slices are ready, but it’s still way too early for the main crops anyway. It’s just so wonderful to have some early crops in so the constant drizzle can water them and they can grow this spring.

My little lettuce and green onion starts did survive the snow. I’ve added in some Baby Boc Choi, Lyon chard, Rainbow chard and more lettuce to that raised bed.

I also got some work done in flowerbeds. I worked especially on the one that contains my herbs and around the blueberry bushes. There is SO much left to do, but I’m so glad I was able to make a good start.

Work continues in the greenhouse and soon there will be tons of fresh veggies growing to make soups like this one. This is a vegetable soup I made from preserved veggies and we’ve been enjoying it all week.

I hit the jackpot at Safeway this week while shopping. Pork chops were 77c/lb. I got 2 huge packs.The meat man put out some pork roasts he wanted to unload right as we walked past, also for 77c/lb. I got one of those. Shrimp was about $4/lb. I got 2 lbs. Containers of peanuts were 67c each. Rob found a coupon for $1 off 2 containers. We got 4 containers for 17c/each. I got some breakfast sausage, lemons, oranges, bananas, 1/2 and 1/2 and 16 ounce shredded Tillamook cheese (2), a box of ramen for my nephew, plus a few other items. I used Bottle Drop money, downloaded coupons and only had to pay $18 out of pocket.

Later, I went to Fred Meyers (Kroger), and got cheese for $1.29/6-8 oz., Easter candy for 33% off, cottage cheese for $1.50/16-oz, sour cream $1.50/16 oz., sherbet, and a few other things.

Most of the food items were frozen or put on the pantry shelves to be used later, but we did use one of the packs of pork chops and ate some peanuts.

I’ve got most of what I need for Easter, now, so I will just add a few more items and be set when that comes along.

I’ve cooked soup, Asian meatballs, rice, pork chops (Rob BBqd), home-baked fish sticks, tomato soup from a box and toasted cheese sandwiches and salads. We’ve eaten lots of leftovers, as well. When I made manacotti for the college group last Tuesday, I made lots for us, as well, so we just finished that up. I make oatmeal constantly for my grandson–he will eat it any time of the day. So easy!

Since it’s been raining constantly since I did that garden/yard work, I haven’t been able to get out there in the past couple of days. I’m super glad I got out there when I did. I may not get another chance in the garden for a while, but am hoping for windows of opportunity where I can at least do some clipping and trimming on bushes that need it or edging with my shovel in a few places.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week———–March 15, 2023

I was able to check out the library pass to Gilbert House Children’s Museum this past week. We were able to take both grandsons there on Saturday. They both had a lot of fun. Zai’s dad came, too, and we had a great time with him. We were able to get all 5 of us in for free with that pass! It’s not available very often, but this is the 2nd time I’ve been able to borrow it. What a nice thing for them to have!

I continued to cook at home, from scratch. In January and February I focused on the pantry–using up many, many items that had been there for quite some time.

In March, I’m putting my energy onto the freezers. I would like to make a frozen angel food cake with sherbet filling for Easter. Right now, there’s no room for that in any freezer, so that’s my new goal–make room for that cake because it needs to be made ahead of time.

I pulled frozen chicken and broth out and made chicken tortilla soup. This recipe also used a can of corn I’d had for ages. I found 6 chicken drumsticks from who knows when and Rob coated them with crumbs and baked them. I used more broth in potato soup. I got out a whole chicken I had purchased on sale last summer and baked it. Then I boiled the bones and…..put more broth into the freezer…..ummmm:).

We ate frozen garden broccoli and beans, and thawed some cooked squash. I made apple-blueberry crisp for the college group I cook for each Tuesday from home-canned apples and frozen blueberries. They also got manicotti this week using home-canned pasta sauce and some buttered carrots. Most weeks, I only take 5-6 gluten-free portions so it’s not hard.

I’ve been writing out menu plans so that I can remember to use up a mix of frozen items. I rarely do written plans these days, but it’s helped me use some forgotten items lately. Of course, I’m still using lots of items from our canning shelves and pantry shelves as well. We’ve especially been burning through home-canned green beans lately. They are so good!

I spent quite a bit of time working with Rob in the greenhouse. We up-potted the tomatoes and peppers into 3-inch pots. I put celery into 6-packs. Things are slower this year, due to the cold weather we’ve been having, but we do see some growth already on the little plants we’ve moved into those larger pots.

I put more lettuce, some boc choi and some chard into the raised bed. Even with snow and cold temperatures, my seedlings are alive and I know they will grow rapidly once the weather cheers up.

The most exciting news we have, though, is that Rob is preparing to go on a mission trip to Bangladesh. He will be going with Mercy, Inc., and working with children in 2 children’s homes, that we know of. We are in a state of anticipation as he prepares and has numerous meetings with the team he will travel with. They say that his agenda will likely change and there will be more encounters besides the children’s homes, but they will know more later. He’s got a while until the trip, but we are already so excited around here!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Feb. 28, 2022

We’ve had snow 2 times in the past week. Last Thursday, we had 4 inches at our house when we woke up, so we went out and made a snowman. We also took a big walk and had Malcolm walk at least a 1/2 mile. It was safe because there were so few cars out on the road. He’s still quite unpredictable and we usually leave him in the stroller until we reach the park, or wherever, so he was thrilled.

Today’s snow was much wetter and sloppier. We used the stroller to get him down to a nearby church, and enjoyed their parking lot as a safe place for him to run around. He happily made tracks all over.

Hopefully, the mason bees will have enough sense to stay tucked in for a little while longer! Rob has enjoyed building houses for these super-pollinators the past few years and our colony is growing each year. Every one of the plugged straws will be a mason bee. They will come out, pollinate like crazy and fill straws with next year’s family. With our big garden, we are happy to have these guys working with us to get so many veggies and flowers.

Work in the greenhouse continues. We’ve had to put a space heater on during these extra-cold days, but hopefully, that will be a short time only, as we would rather keep the cost down by not heating the greenhouse at all, but let the sun and warm air do the job. There are heat mats under the newly starting seeds and those usually are enough. Our starts grow more slowly than ones in a heated greenhouse, but they do get large enough and don’t need as much hardening off, as they are pretty tough by the time they get planted. I plan to do a post on our starts in a few days, if we do get transplanting done and photographed.

I continue to clean out little areas and bits and cans of food that need it in the pantry. I also continue to work on my freezers and canning cupboards.

This week I used:

Some gluten-free French bread I made long ago. It was in the freezer. I used the last little bit of pepperoni that had been lingering, a few bits of ham, some home-canned pizza/pasta sauce and the last bit of the fresh mozzarella I got very inexpensively a few weeks ago and made French bread pizza.

I used up the last of a bag of boneless-skinless chicken breast and some gf fettuccine and a scrap of parmesan cheese to make Chicken Alfredo. I just thickened it with cornstarch instead of flour to make it gf, and it was great. Needs change as people come and go, to and from our little house. Patsy, our daughter, used to eat fettuccine often. When she moved out, I was left with several boxes on the shelf I need to target, as no one else gravitates toward it as much as she did.

I cut all the little not-so-nice ends off the last of a bag of grapes, cut them in half, and our troops finished all of the grapes before they rotted. The ones in the bottom of the bag seem to go bad once they fall off the stems.

I continue to cook oatmeal with raisins and rice continuously, as they are current favorites around here. Isn’t that nice? The 10-lbs of raisins I bought filled 2 gallon jars and one of them is already not full anymore:). I actually spring for the organic gluten-free oats and organic raisins, as our grandson eats so much of them, but still, it’s reasonably priced food, even with those choices.

We finished all the fresh-cooked soup I had made lately and opened a jar of home-canned vegetable soup one day when I was in a hurry.

We made stir-fry a couple of times with bits of chicken and all the veggies like carrots, celery, onion and frozen snow peas we could find in the fridge or freezer. I use a lot of carrots and celery this time of year. We still have at least 25 lbs of onions from our garden and I’m trying hard to use those snow peas, as I had forgotten about them. We don’t like them as well as fresh, but they aren’t awful if you add the frozen ones to the stir fry at the last minute and just barely let them thaw before you serve the stir fry.

We used the last of several bottles and cans up. Many of these I will not be replacing, as they were for special recipes, open duplicates or given to us and I had no idea how to use them at first. I found good ways, but think I can use ingredients I already have to make something I like as well or a substitute for that sauce. I’m especially thinking of the bottle of sweetened lime juice that I’ve been using in marinades. I have lime juice and sugar….I want to simplify my fridge. On the other hand, I love it when people think of me and give me food items–it opens my mind to new possibilities.

Another example is that somehow, we ended up with multiple open mustards last summer. I think it’s because we had parties, etc. I’m finally on the last super big mustard! Hurray! My fridges are already thanking me. I used the last of the previous large squeeze bottle in a marinade for pork chops, and for honey-mustard sauce for home-baked chicken nuggets.

We were given 3 dozen eggs again, this time from 2 different sources. We have plenty of eggs now, since Rob found a good deal a couple of weeks ago and bought plenty and we’ve been given a total of 5 dozen since. I’ve made deviled eggs and potato salad, and we eat eggs for breakfast often. I had been choosing other options as the prices rose, but now have enough to make those things again, and the price of eggs seem to be holding steady or dropping, it seems. I still don’t mind eating leftovers or soup for breakfast at times, in fact, I prefer it now and then, so it’s all working out.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Feb. 22, 2022

We finally finished up all of the apples we had, except a very few we refrigerated again for fresh eating. This includes the boxes on the porch, and all the random apples stashed in refrigerators all over the place. Whew!!! I feel like it was an accomplishment and a blessing to get those apples processed so they will last longer.

I have lost track of how many we have dried, but there are glass gallon jars full, and other assorted containers full as well. We did one final batch yesterday.

I made and canned more applesauce. In the end, I got 18 more jars of assorted sizes. They were mostly pints, but there were a couple of quarts as well. With what I did the other day, this should give me enough 2023 applesauce without buying boxes in the summer, but I still have that option just in case people suddenly decide to scarf this all up. Of course, we have not worked through all that is in the shop, yet. I’m excited about this because it should make my summer a little bit easier, since there is always plenty of other things to can during that busy season.

I did something fun with some of the apples–gluten-free apple fritters! They were SO good I don’t dare to make them again very soon:)

I made enchilada casserole, using some corn tortillas that had been around quite a while. I used the rest to make some home-made cinnamon-sugar chips, and fried them in the same oil I used for the fritters.

I worked hard this week to use up more odds and ends from the fridge, freezers and cupboards.

Chili-mac was on the menu and used garden onions, some peppers from a party, a can of beans that had been lingering in the pantry and home-canned tomato sauce from ’21.

I used some bread crumbs I made a little while back, home-canned beans, and some cheese that needed using to make what we call “puffy.” It’s from the “More-With-Less” cookbook and is called Puffy Green Bean Bake, I think, but I’ve been making it for years. It is actually not very puffy when I make it, but tastes good.

Although much of what I’m doing this time of year revolves around cooking and cleaning, we also had some greenhouse work accomplished. Rob is still planting seeds every few weeks, according to his plan of when they need to be ready and how long they take to grow. Many things are up and he spoke of doing some first transplanting soon.