Tag Archives: Frugal Accomplishments

thriving In My thrifty Week–July 20, 2021

The weather has remained hot, but manageable. Rob has been making jar after jar of sun tea so he always has a cool drink.

The garden keeps pumping out the produce.

This morning, I got 2 small bowls of cucumbers, so I will make pickles later today. I noticed a few dill heads beginning to form, so they will be dill this time.

I picked all this broccoli this morning, as well, and it is soaking in salt water while I do some other things. That gets rid of any critters that might try to hide in the florets. Then, I will put it with what I got the other day and blanch and freeze it. Last time, we ate a bunch fresh, but I’m not sure we can eat all the veggies we are picking right now, so I’m happy to freeze some for later.

We froze several baggies of blueberries and ate raspberries and blueberries fresh. The June-bearing raspberries are winding down, but there are still a few every couple of days.

We are spending as much time as possible with the babies. So cute, and so much fun:). This one gained a pound in the last week. Go, baby!!

We took a drive on Saturday and hit a community garage sale. We found a man who was selling grocery bags of kids books for $2. We filled a bag. Since I’m going to be working with my nephew this fall, doing part of his schooling, I grabbed several educational books for the whopping price of 25c each. Even if I only use one idea from each, it’s worth it. We also scored a few fall flannel shirts and pants for $1 each for our older grandson. The baby has plenty for now and there’s a huge bag of the next couple of sizes up Rob got at a yard sale a while back, plus the outgrown clothes of his brother. So, right now, we look for the bigger sizes.

Yesterday, Rob cooked a small turkey we got last fall for a very low price. He put it on the BBQ, so it didn’t heat up the house, and we will use a lot and share some.

I’m off to Safeway to get a couple of things. 74c ice cream tops my list. I can have 2, so I will get them if there are any left. I don’t need much, actually, as we are eating mainly from the garden and freezers. It’s a good time of year for my grocery budget!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 13, 2021

A few years ago, Rob picked up quart-sized ziplock bags full of home-saved zinnia seeds at a yard sale for 25c/bag. He got several. I planted some in the garden then, and then they started dropping seeds. This is one of many volunteers in my garden that I am enjoying immensely. I found one bag left in my seed stash and I planted in in a front flowerbed. Many of them came up and a bunch of them survived the slugs. They are blooming now, which makes me happy.

My newest planting of lettuce came up. I like to keep it going all summer so we can have salad all the time. I was doubtful that this planting would sprout because it’s been so hot, so I was delighted to see them pop up. A few snow peas sprouted, too, and so far I have one new summer squash sprout. Succession planting is one way to keep the veggies coming until frost.

I was down at the hospital all day yesterday. A family member broke their leg and needs surgery. We are taking turns going over there until they get fixed and released. While I was gone, Rob took leftover fruit and made a mixed cobbler. He used canned cherries, a handful of blueberries from our bush, leftover pie filling from the 4th of July and whatever else he could find that was getting old. The fruit was not wasted and tasted great.

He also made a sweet and sour chicken and rice. I’m still getting snow peas from the garden and he used chicken I got on sale for 97c/lb for boneless/skinless breast. Carrots and celery are almost always in my fridge. We are still working on the 50 lbs of Jasmine rice Rob got at the beginning of Covid for only $10. It was marked down because the store had gotten in the wrong item, so were selling it quickly.

I cooked a lot this week, and made chicken-rice soup, salmon, sandwiches with potato salad, and lots more.

We have had our older grandson quite a bit this past week. Our daughter also brought new baby over for us to hold several times. With both Rob and I on baby-holding duty and Patsy and Jake to amuse Malcolm at times, she can keep getting stronger and we can have fun:). I also went to several doctor appointments with them, driving, carrying kids and/or carseats and carriers from here to there, and so forth. A few food items were cooked and sent over to their house, and I helped facilitate grocery shopping.

I made 2 receiving blankets. I used flannel purchased on sale some time ago. My daughter wanted ones that were slightly larger than the 30″ x 30″ size they come in around here, I just cut the flannel and narrow-hemmed it. It wasn’t hard.

The flowers Rob grew or wintered over continue to amaze me with their beauty. I look at them every day.

Thriving In My Thrifty 2 Weeks, and Why Rob’s Been Running Red Lights–July 5, 2021

We have had a crazy 2 weeks since I last posted. I know we seem very busy most of the time, but these 2 weeks were amazingly full of activity.

We planned and carried out a 4th of July party, combined with 3 birthdays. Rob’s mom and my mom both share the same birthday. One grandma is 89 and the other 80. Our grandson has his birthday the very next day and he is 1. These birthdays are all close enough to each other and the 4th to celebrate them all on the same day. So we had the “2 Grandmas and a Baby, 4th of July Birthday Bash.” We set up the back yard for lots of people. There were lawn chairs under the awning, along with a table full of desserts, drink coolers full of lemonade and water along the bench, along with sodas. All of the food was inside of the house and there were several places to sit for those who didn’t want to be outside in the near-90-degree heat.

We were delighted that some of Rob’s relatives were able to come from a great distance to help celebrate, along with all the people who live nearer. It was a huge success. People were ready to see one another after being apart for so long.

The baby scarfed his cupcake in a most satisfying manner. The grandmas ate their dessert more politely, although we all decided that they could eat it any way they wanted, due to their advanced age:). I made them each a cheesecake in my Instant Pot to put their candle on and we decorated them with berries from my garden. There were also some great brownies that showed up, along with some cinnamon rolls and the tasty cupcakes, so there was plenty for all.

I made 4th of July Krispie treats, but all my houseguests, niece and nephew and Rob, Patsy and I ate them all up before the party even started. Oops.

Rob BBQ’d teriyaki chicken breast, a huge trout he caught recently, shrimp skewers, hamburgers and hot dogs. Many, many pot luck side dishes, drinks and desserts were brought. I made coleslaw from a huge cabbage I grew, lettuce salad, mixed veggies with rosemary, olive oil and other spices cooked on the grill by Rob. I had a huge tub of ice cream as well to fill in the cracks.

Although it wasn’t my most inexpensive grocery shopping week, by far, I was able to use a $10 off $50 coupon as well as many good digitally downloaded coupons at Safeway. I was also able to use things like ice cream previously purchased for only $3 for a huge tub, my garden produce, meat purchased on sale, shrimp bought for only $3/lb a couple of months ago, and the trout Rob caught to keep the cost down.

Rob’s been wanting to sand and paint the deck for several years, but he wasn’t up to it until this summer. It was peeling badly and got very slick when wet. We rented a sander ahead of time for last Monday. Then it got hot. We broke the all-time record for heat in our city and reached 117 degrees here in Salem, Oregon. One day was 114. Several other days it “only” reached 104 or so. At this point it was too late to cancel without losing our money, so…..we carried on.

Rob worked early and late, trying to prep the deck before sanding. Then we all helped as he sanded on that blistering Monday morning. We were pretty quick with Rob running the sander and Patsy and I sweeping and holding the cord out of the way. He then painted it with 2 coats of textured deck paint over the next couple of days. There’s a little bit of hand painting to do still, and the bench needs painting, but what he did looks great!

In the meanwhile, the girls and baby moved in with us for the duration of the heat wave, since they don’t have air conditioning. Rob and I cooked like maniacs the day before they came, to have food that could be eaten cold or warmed in the microwave. The plan worked great until we lost power one evening. That night, we ate ice cream for dinner. It worked for me:).

After the heat wave broke, they went home. We spent one morning at their house chopping, trimming, clipping, weeding and so forth in their front yard. It was extremely overgrown and they asked for help trimming it up. I was sore after that! You’d think I do enough yard work that I wouldn’t have been, but I guess all that chopping used different muscles than hoeing.

I weeded and hoed for a bit each evening in my garden and yard, except a couple times that were just too hot. Today, my sister came and helped me weed for a couple of hours. Little by little, the job is getting done. The “problem” is that the warm nights and watering I’m doing are causing the weeds to grow super fast. I can hardly keep up. The good news is that the vegetables are, too. The heat ruined my peas, some lettuce, some spinach, and some snow peas. It annihilated most of my blackberries and burned many raspberries and blueberries. It encouraged some other veggies, though, and I have a few ripe tomatoes, zucchini and other things coming right along.

And, about those red lights…..

The 4th of July, the day of the party, we felt confident that we would be able to go to church, come home in plenty of time to do the last minute things for the party, and have a pretty relaxing day with all the relatives who were coming. About 6 am, we received a frantic call that our daughter was in labor. Rob rushed over there, collected our grandson, and took our 2 daughters to the hospital, one to deliver a baby and one to support her sister. She felt she needed to get there fast, and she kept saying, “Dad, just run that red light. Hurry. Just run that red light!” Thankfully, there wasn’t much traffic at that time on a Sunday/holiday, so he did. He dropped the girls off at the birthing center and brought Malcolm home to me and we figured we had a little time to calm ourselves down. Nope.

By 8:05 we had a new, precious grandson, delivered by emergency c-section. I rushed over to the hospital, my sister rushed to our house to help Rob with both the party and our grandson, and the day became a little more exciting by the minute. His name is Zaire. He was 7 lbs., 4 ounces and 21-1/2 inches long.

We’ve been enjoying having a little one around the house the past couple of days. He’s keeps us hopping. I am happy to help in that way.. Only one person is allowed at the hospital once they move the new mom to a room, and her sister is that person, so I’m just thankful I got there before they moved her out of the labor and delivery area. They will likely discharge her tomorrow, and I plan to hold new baby again then. I need to be here with big brother right now anyway.

I doubt our lives will become boring any time soon. With 2 babies exactly 1 year apart, I have a feeling I will be able to spend time with kids any time I feel lonely in the least, and likely some times when I’m not lonely at all:). I feel very blessed to be surrounded by all of these healthy, happy kids. They say it keeps you young to spend lots of time with young people. Maybe someone should start sewing me a baby blanket……

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 21, 2021

We took a vacation this past week. We pulled the camper over to Central Oregon to visit friends. We camped at LaPine State Park and spent the week doing outdoor activities and visiting. Our friends live only a very short drive away from the park so it was easy to go back and forth. We had planned this trip last summer, but most of our trips got cancelled due to a combination of Covid, Rob’s surgery and wildfires. So you can imagine how excited we were to see our friends. It had been way too long.

This is North Twin Lake.

Rob went up to that lake several times to fish. He saw lots of wildlife and birds and was delighted when he caught several huge fish. His friend caught some, too, but poor Patsy didn’t this time. She still had fun. I went over to my friend’s house and visited once and another time we took a walk along the trails in the park where we were camped.

During the trips, he saw this dragon fly, bald eagles, red-wing blackbirds, goldfinches, deer, and more.

Both he and our friend had great luck. We brought home several large trout for our freezer. Thankfully, he caught the most on the last day before we left and there was room in our camper freezer for several. He brought the rest home in a cooler, on ice.

Rob grilled a couple over the fire one evening for us and our friends, along with some marinated chicken legs. I made a large stir-fry that included my home-grown snow peas, broccoli, and onions along with carrots, celery and mushrooms I took along. We also had green salad and home-canned corn. As always, I took food with us and we packed picnics whenever we weren’t at the campsite. We got early starts on our travel days, as it was a distance. On the way over, we stopped at a park in Sisters for lunch and a good walk. On the way back, it was tremendously hot, so we forged forward to get over the mountains before the temperature rose too high. It’s easier on the van that way and easier to unpack at home before the day reaches it’s hottest. We ate over at our friends’ house one night, and the last day, after they guys went fishing all morning, our friends took us to a cider company in town with a food truck, live music, a small farmer’s market, and relaxing chairs for us to sit on while we ate our Mexican food and visited.

One day we went rock hunting.

Rob and Patsy dug for thunder eggs. They found a few small ones.

They found rainbow obsidian in one place and mahogany obsidian in another.

We had a great picnic along the Crooked River.

We took several hikes during the week. This one was to Benham Falls. We had not been there before. We hiked down the trail, dodging huge mud puddles from recent thunderstorms, and quite a few bicyclists who were also dodging those same puddles. At least most of them dodged the puddles. It kept us on our toes to leap out of the way of those who went right through those above mentioned puddles….until we reached our destination–we think. We weren’t sure we had found the falls, as it was not like we were used to. We were looking for water going over a tall cliff, like at Silver Falls. These falls were more like large, turbulent rapids. We figured it was the falls, though, because of the railings, well-worn path, and large stream of people going to view it:). And, it does fall a bit, especially on the left hand side of the picture.

Whether or not it was a typical waterfall like we are used to seeing in our area, it was very breath-taking and beautiful, and we were glad we went to see it. We definitely wouldn’t want to go over it in a kayak, even though it’s listed in my friend’s book as part of the “Paddle Trail of the Deschutes.” Yikes!

Another day, we drove up to the top of Lava Butte. Patsy had been there once when we first got her, and thought it would be fun to go there again.

We went up to the fire lookout and had just started to listen to the guide give his spiel, when he said, “Folks, it looks like lightening is on the way. (as a large strike lit up the sky in the distance) You are at the highest point up here. So, it you want to walk around the crater, get going, or I may have to kick you all off this mountain in a few minutes.” The next thing you know, Rob had his trekker poles and off we went, along with every other person there. Just so you know….the storm did not reach us after all.

Rob has not been able to walk around the crater for years, so he was eager to go. It wasn’t a long hike, but parts were uneven and steep. Like he said several times–“I’m not turning anything down this trip, because I can do it now!”

You really do feel as if you are on top of the world up there.

The visitors’ center is closed down below, due to Covid. There were some trails through the lava flow that were open, but we did not hike them this time.

Another day, we drove out to the Lava Cast Forest and hiked the trail through there. We bought a forest pass to use here, at the crater and at the Benham Fall area. We are going to see if there are any places around home that we can go to and use it more.

It’s amazing to see flowers growing in such harsh conditions.

Although is seems as if we got no rest at all, we actually did. It’s a good thing, because I’ve been working outside since I got back home, especially in the garden and yard. I hope to do a garden update post later in the week, if I can find the time. It really grew a lot while we were gone, and so did the weeds. These are Rob’s poppies that he grew, next to the alyssum and pansies that he also grew. I loved being greeted by them we we drove in.

It was a great vacation. I’m glad we went, and so glad to have seen our friends, and had ample time to spend with them.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 14, 2021

This past week was dubbed “party week.” We went to a birthday party for our oldest daughter, then 2 graduation parties. We had fun.

It was a challenge to get everything done in-between all the fun we had. I was surprised to find my peas were ready. In two sessions, I froze 10 baggies, and a large bag of sugar snap peas, and 2 large bags of snow peas. I don’t usually freeze the last 2 kinds but there were so many and I’d already taken baggies to all the relatives that would take them, so….hopefully they won’t be too limp when we eat them.

We picked lots of lettuce and had many salads.

We took our niece and nephew to the Cascade Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon on Wednesday. It was a fun outing. In this picture, we were in the right place at the right time and the turkey vulture trainer told Jake to stay right there and he would bring the vulture out for a walk. It was so interesting to see the training methods.

I made 2 of the ugliest pies ever. I had 2 gluten-free frozen crusts that had been jostled around so much they broke into pieces. I pieced them back together and made a chocolate pie and an apple strusel pie. The crusts looked awful, but the pies tasted great. I used the extra chocolate pie filling to make popsicles.

My berries continue to ripen and I froze 2 gallon bags of them. Mine are quite sour, sadly, with all the rain we’ve had, so I dumped a little sugar in with them. That will help:)

This week looks to be much more quiet than the past few weeks. I have to say that I’m glad. It’s been difficult to get to everything that needs to be done, but we’ve powered through. The end of the month looks very busy with lots of time with the children, gardening, and a 4th of July barbeque in the works, so I plan to rest up this coming week. Here’s hoping my plan works out…..

Thriving In My Thrifty 2 WeekS–June 8, 2021

I picked berries from my yard. I also went U-Picking and got 20 more pounds. Some were for my sister, but lots were for us. As you can see, there are some that got bitten by critters, such as slugs and potato bugs, from our yard. I cut all of those places out when I got them ready for dinner.

Today, Rob set up my canning area on the outside porch. I used it immediately.

I made quite a bit of strawberry-rhubarb jam and a smaller amount of strawberry. My niece helped me. She measured out the sugar and watched breathlessly to see if the pot was at a full rolling boil or not, while staying way back so she wouldn’t get burned. We had fun. I have only 1 jar of the strawberry-rhubarb left but more of the plain strawberry. We’ve also been cutting them up and eating them for meals.

It was nice to have a frozen gluten-free pizza in the freezer to have for dinner tonight. Rob got a few for $4 each at Grocery Outlet a few weeks ago. That’s a great price, and they are easy when I’m tired.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve had the recipe and ingredients for these blueberry muffins out on the counter for days. It became a household joke, but I FINALLY made blueberry muffins this evening!

It’s birthday season at my house. 3 of my 8 children have birthdays within an 8-day time period. There was a party on Saturday for my oldest, and we went and had a great time. Sunday, after church, we took Patsy and Ja’Ana to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then out to dinner in a restaurant, a big deal for us since we have been only out to eat a very, very few times in the last couple of years. We used the membership we purchased a few months ago for admission to the aquarium, so that helped make the day feel more affordable. Of course, baby came, too. Our daughter, Lovana, joined us as well, so we were able to get the maximum amount of people our pass covers in, utilizing it to the max!

If I look like I was drenched with a bucket of water, you are close. We were caught in a heavy rain shower while going to our car. Perfect timing, I thought, as the aquarium in part inside, and part outside.

He wasn’t sure what to think. He tried in vain to “get” those fish, but mostly just looked around with wide eyes the entire time.

The raised beds are looking good. I was able to get in there and weed and do some succession planting. The garden is all planted and things are coming up. We even got a bunch of trimming done and filled the yard debris bin each week. Quite a few weeds were removed from flowerbeds, as well. It all takes time, but things are looking much better around here. Except the cucumbers. Just as fast as the pickling cukes come up, some bird pecks them out and leaves them laying there to die. I. AM. NOT. HAPPY. with those birds. I replanted again, and Rob rigged netting over them. I have a few new ones, but now the birds are trying to take away the netting…….Hmmmmm. We will see who wins.

We are eating lettuce frequently, along with artichokes and the strawberries. The pea pods are very prolific, as well. In fact, there are so many ready that I’m going to have to freeze some. We like them fresh the best, but I can use a few frozen, as well.

Our flower pots are looking great. Rob grew these all from seeds or cuttings. We have several hanging ones, pots on steps and porches, and flower beds galore, all from his efforts.

I picked, blanched and froze the hearts from all those artichokes and the ones in another place that you can’t see. I got 3 tiny bags full. We simply couldn’t eat them all, and we can use these in salads or casseroles. It’s a lot of work for a small amount of gain, but since they grew so well, I didn’t want to just waste them.

Rob peeled and chopped up a large quantity of onions left from last year’s garden.

He froze them in bags, in one or two cup amounts. I will use them when I make salsa or relish at the end of the summer. We grew so many onions last summer, and they kept until June, but were starting to show some signs of starting to rot, so it was time to preserve them in a different way.

We exercised several ways. We went for walks, down to the Kroc center for swim classes or to walk in the lazy river, and took a big hike to Silver Creek Falls. Last time, we hiked the shorter, lower loop. This time, we hiked the longer, upper loop and went about 5-1/2 miles. It was so beautiful.

I didn’t grocery shop, except for one watermelon and one bunch of celery. The last time I did a major shop was before Memorial Day. We’ve got a lot of food, and I have been working on making room in the freezers. It really helps that the garden is starting to produce, and that I have a good stockpile. The need for milk will be the thing that forces me into the store, I think, and it will be soon.

There are so many things that are keeping us occupied these days. We are needing to take one day at a time, and hopefully get most of our list completed before we collapse on the couch, and are trying to stay frugal while we do so. Mostly, we are succeeding!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 24, 2021

Rob, with help from our nephew Jake, cleaned out the heat pump. He noticed there was so much ash and smoke from last summer’s wildfires he was scared to use it without giving it a good cleaning. He called at least one person to possible come do it for us, but they were unavailable, so he watched U-Tube videos and did it himself. Now when it gets hot, we will be ready. Doing basic cleaning and maintenance on our things saves us a ton of money, as they last longer. Doing it himself saves us even more, but it isn’t always possible, even for Rob. I’m glad it worked this time.

Rob took Michaela, our niece, to see horses twice this week. She loves going places and doing things and this is a totally free activity, other than a little gas, as both places were at friends.’ He’s always looking for fun things for them to do and is always excited when he finds good activities.

This past week, we mostly finished planting the garden. I worked a couple of long, hard days doing that. I didn’t take pictures because there’s nothing to show–the seeds aren’t up yet. So you get pictures of my other obsession–the baby:). There are a few small things to finish, but the bulk of it is done, and I’m not sorry it’s raining today. We need it badly.

I got into the flowerbeds a little bit, but there’s a lot left to do on those. The weeds will wait.

I cooked quite a bit as we had meals to deliver to a couple of places, plus our normal cooking. Patsy has been in a mood to cook, so baked brownies, lemon bars and lemon-poppyseed muffins, twice. Rob has been BBQ-ing everything in sight, so it was a group effort.

I spent quite a bit of time taking my rotation with a family member who is recovering from surgery, and we scheduled out the next bit of time as well on a Zoom call with the family. It’s one good thing that has come out of the pandemic–we just set the time up and all got on there and said which days worked for each one of us, then sent out the schedule via text. Now we know who goes over there and when, who cooks, who takes to appointments, etc. all without leaving home. This should eliminate people being scheduled on days that they are already busy and having to trade, but we can trade if we need to. It’s so nice to have several of us able and willing to take turns and to be able to choose convenient times to do so. And, it’s been great to have so much time to visit with that person more than I usually get to.

By Saturday, I was ready for time with the baby. So, I borrowed him for about 6 or 7 hours and Patsy and I just played with him. Rob was gone to a mens’ conference, but he got a turn once he got home. When his mama came and got him, she surprised me with pizza, which we gobbled right up:).

Rob really enjoyed his conference. It was the first thing like that he has been able to attend in a long, long time. It’s very encouraging to see things like that starting back up in our area. Our family is ready to get out there a little more, now that we’ve all had our vaccinations. Patsy got her second dose this week, so she needs to be patient a little longer, but things are definitely looking up.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 18, 2021

The garden is tilled!!! Rob found a man on Facebook Marketplace who came and tilled it for $80, far less than we had feared. That’s actually less than it would have been to rent a tiller. Now there is no pressure for our tiller to arrive. When it does, we will still be happy to have it, as we will have to till it all up again in the fall.

We’ve started planting in every spare moment we have. I have a large chunk of time today, Tuesday, and will hopefully get the center planted. Rob had time to plant tomatoes and cabbage and he put up the trellis yesterday. I will do pole beans on it.

I’ve planted zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, a few bush beans, a few peppers and a few onions. There is lots more to do. The onions are especially time-consuming to plant so I like to do a few at a time.

I finished up a baby quilt on Friday and paired it with a stuffed turtle for a baby shower on Saturday. I finished up the binding while sitting in the hospital, visiting, so that all worked out.

The week was very busy, as a family member needed a surgery. The family has divided up care taking between several of us. My first job was to do hospital duty. So, we arrived as planned, and…..were promptly sent away due to not enough beds available because of emergencies. What a let-down! We went back the next day and surgery did happen. Whew! That hospital has a policy for Covid that only 1 person can come be with the patient. The same person. We could not swap off. So, I spent quite a bit of time down there, as I was the one. Now that our loved one is home, I’m just on the schedule with the rest and the patient is improving by leaps and bounds. It’s very encouraging!

One of my sisters made a very detailed schedule with who is where, and when, who takes them to the follow-up dr. appointments, who cooks which day, and so forth. As long as we all follow the schedule and switch and swap when we need to, we are golden! It’s good to have so many willing hands during a busy time like this.

Rob picked up the slack at home with our daughter and has cared for my niece and nephew when needed. He made several meals for us and for me to share, planted what he could and kept everything watered.

One day when I had spare time, Rob and I took all 3 kids fishing. Although nothing was caught, the girls waded in the water and Jake fished and fished and fished. He sure wanted to catch something, but it was not to be that day. Maybe next time. With fishing, there’s always a next time:).

After fishing/wading/eating, we drove over to Detroit Dam and drove across. Michaela wanted to walk across, so she and I did. The kids had a great time.

Looking at the wildfire damage from last summer was sobering, and yet interesting and informative for the kids. I think it’s important for them to understand what happened. Even the lake is full of charred evergreen needles, as you can see. There are SO many in the water. For miles and miles, there are charred trees, bare foundations with rubble surrounding them, new construction springing up, and here and there a fully-intact house right next to a decimated one. We drove all through the town of Detroit and the place we all stayed last summer is entirely gone, as are most of the houses surrounding it.

But, not all is gone, and the town seems to be making a valiant effort to re-build. We wish them the best with this challenge. There is a lot to do, but they have made a good start. We look forward to seeing the area in the years to come as it is rebuilt and the forest is renewed. Brush is being cleared daily, charred trees are being hauled away to be used as they can and there are already areas of re-planted trees springing up. Life is being renewed in the area, and that is a good thing.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 10, 2021

Here is my lovely Mother’s Day basket Rob grew for me in the greenhouse. Each of our mothers got one as well. Grandpa helped our grandson a little with his present selection, by doing some shopping for a very small gift and a card. So did I. I put the one choice on the table and let him crawl toward what he wanted to give his Mama. Not surprisingly, he chose the present I put out, although for moment I thought an empty milk jug in the vicinity might actually win out:).

Much of the week centered around work and a small gathering we decided to have on Mother’s Day. Many significant people, including both of our mothers, had other important places to be, so the numbers were few. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I severely pulled a muscle in my leg while working on the flowerbeds. Rob and Patsy did all the work to get the house ready and Rob did most of the cooking. I sat on the couch and read or watched t.v. while they did those chores. Hmmm…some people will do anything to get out of work….. I say in my defense that I did clean 1/2 the bathroom. Gladly, I’m much, much better now and Rob and I took 2 super short walks today to get that leg back in shape. Tomorrow’s going to be much better yet, I can already tell.

I saved a lot of money sitting on my couch. How, you ask? Well, we made up a menu entirely of food we had on hand, except for some sugar soda Rob picked up. All we use here is diet soda, but some like the regular kind. It was on a very good sale, so that didn’t cost much. Thankfully, I had shopped last weekend for 2 weeks, and my plan payed off. We still have lots of groceries. People also brought things, and that’s always a nice gift to the host! This time, we really appreciated it more than ever.

I did not buy paperwork at the Dollar Store or anywhere else. I used regular silverware, not plastic and my usual glass plates for dessert. I did use a few paper plates I had in the cupboard, but bought no special napkins or anything for the occasion. I put fabric placemats here and there on t.v. trays and on the table for people to use, so did not buy a paper or plastic tablecloth. I put basil plants Rob grew in the center of the table for a centerpiece with the intention of giving them away after the party, so did not buy flowers or any other decorations.

I did not go to JoAnn’s as planned to buy new patterns on the pattern sale. Because I was not there, I bought nothing else, either. Because I’ve not chosen to go often during the pandemic, I do buy things when I’m there and can find something I like. There will be other chances to go to JoAnn’s, and other pattern sales, even though my phone is constantly telling me “It’s you LAST chance to get a good deal at JoAnn’s!” I have so many projects to work on, I’m not worried.

We also spent extra money when I sat on the couch. For one meal, Rob ordered me some gluten-free pizza from Dominos. Yum, yum, yum. If it didn’t hurt so much, I would definitely think it was worth doing it again…..but….it did hurt, and I got very bored sitting down, so I’m not planning on it.

I sent artichokes home with my oldest daughter. I said anyone who wanted some could pick some, so she did. She picked some for us to eat as well.

I picked lettuce a couple of times already and have more getting ready. I was able to re-use the nets from last year to keep the birds off.

The Little White Snowpeas are blooming and the Maestro peas on the left are about to bloom. In the back the Sugar Snap Peas are climbing the fence, as they should. Since we can’t till properly, as the new tiller is still delayed, I’m so thankful for the new raised beds Rob built last fall.

My aunt kindly texted me that there were eggs for 98c/dozen at her local Waremart (like Winco). Rob needed to run over there anyway for another reason, and, since I didn’t have as many eggs as I thought I did, he stopped to get me some and SCORED!!!!! Around here, jar lids are still very scarce. But, now we have enough to add to what he’s purchased here and there to finish up what we need for this upcoming canning season and so do the rest of my sisters and my mom, as some of these are for them. He just couldn’t believe it when buying a whole case was an option. He couldn’t believe there were any at all, much less that many! He has checked over and over in basically every store he has entered for any reason, and also on line. (Yes, there are some there, but we refuse to pay outrageous prices like $9/box, or other equally ridiculous prices.)

Now, if that elusive jar lid super sales comes along, I may buy extra to have a backlog, but for now, I’m super happy with what we have. The people he’s talked to where we often buy lids told him they got some, quickly sold them, and have no idea when, or IF, they are ever getting more. And, there are limits on how many a person can buy posted on the shelves when they are found in this area. We are not jar lid hoarders, but it is a fact that I canned over 1,000 jars last summer and that’s a lot of boxes of lids. I’m also a jar lid snob and only want Ball or Kerr. I’ve had some bad experiences with other brands and it’s just too much work for me to risk repeating those experiences. This year, I probably don’t need to do quite so many as I tried to can a few extra of each item last year, but we hit some items pretty hard this past winter. Good thing I love canning and gardening.

The other thing Rob and I did last summer was dry more items. We plan to do even more of that this year, as we found uses for most of what we dried. There’s just no point in growing such a large garden to preserve if I can’t find supplies to do just that and a way to use what I preserve. If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. Plain and simple, sad, but true, and any other cliche you have heard. They are all true around here:)

Are any of you having success finding lids where you live?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 4, 2021

I have a large pansy plant that overwintered in the corner of one of my raised beds. I’m really enjoying it a lot this spring.

The spinach in the raised bed is ready to pick. I picked some that had overwintered in the garden, and these spring-planted ones are next. There are a few snow peas, too, and some artichokes.

We have a bit of a situation going on in regards to our garden. Our big tiller is broken beyond repair and another one is on order. And remains on order. And the store was sent the wrong one. And…..And….And… They say it’s very difficult this year, with Covid, to get things.

We are hoping it gets here by the end of the week. Rob really needs to deeply till the garden. We’ve spread our compost. Leaves and grass clippings have been added weeks ago. We’ve used the tiny tiller to work up a small corner to get a few cabbages, carrots and beets in. We know things won’t grow very well there since we’ve tried doing it like that before. That one is a cultivator, and is for getting a few weeds from the center of the rows, the edges, and maybe roughing up a little area for a second crop of lettuce, and things like that. I’m trying to be patient. I need to try harder. I don’t feel patient one bit:). There are so many lovely plants ready to go out into the garden.

Rob scored big-time this week. He got a pack-and-play, a wagon, and baby gates from a Facebook post. Basically, they said whoever got there first could have the things–don’t call, don’t knock, etc.–just take it from the side of the road. He happened to see the posting 6 minutes after they put it up and it wasn’t far from our home. I made a sheet for it from some flannel I had and now there is a place for the baby to sleep if he needs one here at my house. I still had J’s baby blankets, so put those in there and I’m set.

He also got piles of baby clothes, in various sizes from a garage sale, for a very, very inexpensive price. We sorted them and put them in sizes and will give them to baby when needed. If some never get used, it was still worth the price and we will donate any extra.

We had my niece and nephew all weekend, and Jake and Malcolm shared this sweet moment after church on Sunday. We didn’t do any great, fancy activities with the kids–just stayed close to home, watched movies and t.v., read aloud, took a walk, did school with Jake, and played Safeway Monopoly.

Patsy was given a huge envelope of tickets and she graciously shared with the other kids. When we went to the store to redeem some prizes, the cashiers were extremely generous, so there were lots of tickets to tear open and download into our phones. Over the course of the game, we’ve won lots and lots of water bottles, a large package of toilet paper, some tissues, bread crumbs, vinegar, batteries (although they were out and we didn’t get them yet), waffles, several loaves of French bread, ice cream, a $25 credit on our account, and sour cream. There were a few other things, too. Once we had our $25 credit, they played for the girls, and got them one, too, which was used to buy diapers and baby food. We are thrilled with the prizes, but I will say this year the game takes a lot of time. If I didn’t have such willing helpers, I’m not sure I could find that kind of time in my schedule. But, this year, I’m delighted since I did have so much help and it gave them an activity and me free groceries.

People were hungry this weekend, and I felt like I cooked, washed dishes and went to the store all weekend. Twin pop (popsicles) were the elusive item that was hard to find, but I finally did Sunday afternoon on the third try. Jake was eating so many, and he actually needs both the calories and the liquid, so I try to keep them on hand. The crew ate so many pancakes and syrup they downed an entire container of syrup, so I had to get more of that, too. I love cooking for a crowd, so I was in heaven:)

One of our large upright freezers had a problem. We still don’t know if it is broken, or just got left open. I spent several hours last night sorting and making decisions and re-arranging things amongst the freezers. I pulled out everything that couldn’t ruin in one night like bread, butter, cookies, brownies, nuts, etc. and put them in boxes. Then, I filled all cracks, gaps and spaces with meat, fruits and veggies–things that were most important to me. I spent all day today cooking up things that wouldn’t fit or needed to be used and the few things that did start to thaw. I made pork chili verde, enchilada casseroles from both chicken and pork, mixed fruit crisps, and boiled the 3 remaining packages of beef bones into broth. I’m glad we caught it early. I was able to share some food, and have plenty for us, as well. Best of all, nothing was wasted except a few packages of things that were buried and needed to go away anyway. I’m sure by tomorrow, we will have a better idea of if it’s broken or just got left open on accident. I put all the bread and things in there and a water bottle to see if it freezes.

Of course, we had just gone to Costco and loaded up on a few things like jumbo bags of cheese and a chicken right before it broke. Obviously, Rob had just barbequed an entire roast beef so the little fridge was full. And, the kids and I, appropriately had just won 5 or 6 loaves of French bread from Safeway and they were in there along with all those popsicles… Hmmmm……I wonder sometimes about my timing:) I even had to stuff the camper freezer with some of the important items I really wanted to save, and every fridge I have is full, no matter how small. We will eat well this week!