Tag Archives: Frugal Accomplishments

Saving Money–Week of February 7, 2016


This past week, I was able to spend a great deal of time on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday sorting, cleaning out, and even packing a few boxes that will go into storage.

I took some time out from sorting to cook.  The last thing I want to have to do is start spending extra money on take-out food because I am too tired to cook, or didn’t plan well.  I had Lovana make up some pizza crust mixes for the camper.  I also made up a bag into pizza that I had made a while ago.


I plan to make home-made gluten-free biscuit mix in the near future.  Making mixes saves me both time and money.  I also use them to stock the camper to make camping more relaxing.

We did not spend the $50 that we budgeted for groceries this week.  We used our stockpile, canning, and freezers instead.  The only thing we bought from the grocery store was matches. We’ve been building a lot of bonfires while cleaning out, as well as our daily wood stove fire, and don’t want to run out of those!  I’m noticing that Ziplocks and Parmesan cheese are getting low, so I probably will take that money to Costco and get those items with it.  I’m thinking that lettuce/produce will take some of this week’s allotment.  We eat a lot of salad.

I’m noticing that, because I’m willing to dip into the stockpile and use up “special” grocery items, we are eating like kings and queens around here.

Both Rob and I sold several things on e-bay.  He’s finding a few things in the shop that he’s listing to see what happens, and so far, a couple sold.

We are putting all scrap metal that we find while cleaning onto a trailer and Rob will take it to the scrap metal yard soon.

As I pack and sort, I am making a big pile of items to put into the camper as soon as we get it back from the shop, where it is getting some warranty work done.  It is likely that we will need to stay in the camper for a couple of weeks after this place sells, and before we close on the new place, so I’m organizing myself for that.  If, for any reason, that doesn’t happen, we still plan to camp as usual, so it needs to be done.  I try to rotate the food supply in the camper each spring so things stay fresh.  This time, I’ve also picked out a couple of extra bins of food from the garage to pack under the benches of the dinette table.  I chose items like mac and cheese, canned soups, mixes (both home-made and purchased), etc.  I don’t use those items much on a daily basis, but do use them when camping.  If we do end up staying a couple of weeks in there, I want this extra food on hand to make things go more smoothly and to save money.  After all, I already own it!  I also am able to pick and choose out the convenience items before someone eats them.  I did a post on how I stock the camper pantry on a budget on Rob’s outdoor blog.

I have sorted out boxes and boxes of books and hope to make it to the home-school used book store this week.  They won’t take them all, but will buy a bunch of it.  Then, I’ll deal with the rest.  We took a huge load of miscellaneous items to a charity thrift store.  I know they will put the money to a good cause.



Saving Money–Week Ending January 31


This week, I took a loaf of gluten-free bread from the freezer that was starting to get ice on it and turned it into gluten-free bread crumbs.  I thawed the loaf.  It was a little too wet from the thawed ice, at which point I decided to make it into crumbs instead of eating it.  I laid it out on the top of a cookie cooling rack and left the slices there for 2 days to dry.  Then, I broke the pieces into chunks and whirled them around in the food processor until they were crumbs.  I left mine quite large, like Panko crumbs.  They were still a little more moist than I wanted, so I cooked them at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.


The entire loaf of crumbs easily fit into a quart-sized zip-topped bag.  I then froze the crumbs so they would last for a really long time.  I know they could be left out, but I prefer to keep mine frozen so they don’t get rancid, or have a chance of molding if they weren’t quite dry enough.

I continued my project of using up food. Since we are definitely putting the house on the market soon, I am now VERY committed to clearing some of it out.

We bought some plastic bins to start putting some of our things in.  We will fill them with non-essential items, packed well and put them in storage.  My brother-in-law has an empty semi-truck trailer he has offered to let us use for free.  There are 2 reasons for this.  1) To empty the house a bit so it looks nicer and is easier to keep clean while it is for sale. 2) Rob does not have a job, so we are not going to qualify for a loan.  So, we will have to sell this house, get the money, and THEN buy a new house.  This will leave us in the camper for a couple of weeks at least.  It will save us a lot of money if we can pack things into that trailer for free, even with buying a lot of bins so mice can’t get into our more fragile things.  Rob got a lot of boxes from the grocery store and I am packing empty canning jars in them.  Moisture and critters won’t bother glass jars.

We have made a hard decision to sell this place, but in the end, we should be able to buy a house free and clear, which will save us a lot of money.  That is the bright spot in this situation for me.  It will be much smaller, and probably won’t come with property, but we won’t know exactly what we will have to work with until we sell this one, so I’m trying not to think the worst.


Rob got these flowers for free from Fred Meyers.  I trimmed off the “problems” that caused them to be free in the first place, and arranged them in my vase I got years ago from a glass blower.

I spent $51 at the grocery store this past week.  I was able to get 5 bricks of cheese (2 lbs), soda to take to the family dinner, salad ingredients, some milk, and some other things.  I was pleased with the amount of food I cooked from my storage.   I’m also pleased with the fact that my food is nowhere near gone.   We had guests on Friday, and ended up with 24 people at the family dinner Sunday.  (I did not bring all of the food, but did bring a bunch of it).  I love being able to entertain without worrying about a big grocery bill.

Rob went to an accountant this year, although he’s been doing the taxes himself the last few years.  This is because we sold some timber and want to make sure the taxes are handled correctly. We don’t want a costly mistake coming back to haunt us later.   The accountant told him we would probably need to hire a study done to determine the value of the timber when we bought the place.  It would be between $800-$1,000 for the study.  Then they would take the amount we sold it for, minus the amount it was worth when we bought it and the replanting fees, etc. and we would only have to pay taxes on the gain.  At the last minute, she mentioned that if he could come up with the original listing where the timber was valued for the sale, she could legally use that.  Amazingly enough, he had it in his files, and we were saved all that money!

We checked out library movies and books.  We’ve been watching t.v. shows on Amazon Prime.  I cleaned out the cereal cupboard.  It was full of crackers and cereal, some of which were just bits in bags.  People have already been eating those items up, since I put them right in front of their little fingers and eyeballs:)  We took a small walk along the Willamette river on Thursday while we were waiting for the girls.


Saving Money–Week Ending January 24, 2016


This week, Rob brought me this beautiful bouquet.  He is the kind of guy who often brings me little surprises, but we have been on a tighter budget lately than sometimes, and I was kind of surprised when I saw such a lovely arrangement.  Later, he shared with me that there were quite a few flowers on the end of the check stand and the check-out clerk asked him if he wanted some flowers.  He answered that he wasn’t planning to buy some right then, but they were very pretty, and thanked her.  She said that they were giving them away because they thought they were getting too old to sell.  He gratefully accepted a bouquet and brought it home to me.  What a blessing!  As far as we can tell, there is one slightly droopy flower–hardly noticeable.

jj 987

Ja’Ana attended a formal dinner in this beautiful dress she and Rob found for her at Goodwill for $12.95.  It still had tags on it and fitted her perfectly.  She used a sweater shrug she had already and other accessories she borrowed or already owned.  The dress is floor length, and looks very nice on her.  She had a great time.

I kept on with my project of using up things that needed to be used.  We had scalloped potatoes, peach cobbler, and I canned beef broth from some bones that have been piling up in the freezer.

We had a work party here on Saturday.  5 men and young adults came over to help clean out the barn.  There were a lot of heavy things that needed to be moved, so they came to help Rob do it.  I worked on burning piles, but didn’t get very far.  The younger guys had a blast burning up lots of debris and worked on the slash piles for a while as well.  Then I went in to finish up the lunch I had mostly pre-made on Friday.  I made split pea potato soup, green salad, quinoa salad, chips with home-canned salsa, home-canned pears, and blueberry crisp.  We were very thankful for their help.  Feeding them lunch was the least I could do, and I was able to use items I had on hand.   If we had needed to hire people to do what they did, I shudder to think how much it would have cost.

I sorted out some home-school curriculum that I am finished with.  I put some for sale on E-bay with Rob’s help and put some in a box to take to a used homeschool book store.

We finally found Tillamook cheddar cheese for sale for $5.49 for 2 pounds.  It’s a little higher than it has been before, but still the best price I’ve seen for quite a while.  In fact, we just used our last brick from last time it was on sale.  I got 3 today and will get a few later in the week.  Milk is also on sale for 99 cents for 1/2 gallon.  We will get a few groceries this week, but don’t need very many.  I will stock up on cheese with any extra money I decide to spend.  It keeps a long, long time in the fridge.  I’m delighted to get my cheese supply back up.  I think I have mice for children sometimes–they eat a lot of cheese!

Saving Money–Week Ending January 17


This week I got some help from the girls in my quest for frugality.  Lovana cooked dinner on Thursday for the family.  This kept us from having to get fast food.  She made white bean-sausage soup.  This is pretty close to what she did.

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups chicken broth

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cans white beans

1 package turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced

1 teaspoon thyme

1 bay leaf (remove before eating soup)

salt and pepper to taste

Salute the onion, carrots and garlic in a little bit of oil.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Cook until carrots and potatoes are soft, and the flavors are blended, 30 minutes minimum.  This soup can be simmered for much longer than that and the flavor gets better.

We ate this soup for dinner that night, and different family members had a bowl for  leftovers several times.


She also made a chocolate-banana cake with some of the bananas we received. She also made home-made Caesar salad, including the dressing.

Last week, we were given a 40-lb box of bananas, plus a plastic grocery bag full.  The box was in really good condition, and the bag needed to be used immediately.  Although this was given to us last Friday, we spent a great deal of time dealing with it this week as something needed to be done to preserve all of the bananas that were in the box.

We ended up making chocolate-covered bananas, frozen bananas (over 5 gallons), dried bananas–both plain and with spices and brown sugar sprinkled on them, and ate a ton of bananas.  We joke that we are going to turn yellow!


I did Ja’Ana’s hair.  I saved quite a bit of money doing it myself.  I’m not sure exactly how much I saved, but I know some people who pay between $65 and $100 to get their African-American children’s hair braided. I made sure to use extra conditioner, and to get her scalp  well-oiled.   This time of year, her scalp can get itchy and uncomfortable and the hair lotions help a lot.

Ja’Ana helped with the banana project.


This sounds really strange, but Rob was able to return one of the baby pigs and get another one in exchange.  One of them turned out to  not be properly fixed and the lady that we bought it from traded it for a new one.  A non-fixed male pig does not grow up to be good pork, and we have no plans to breed pigs, so it would have been useless to us.  The new pig is much smaller, so we did lose some money on that, but we are still really happy that she exchanged this one.  Rob had a friend come over to help catch the one that was going back, and they had no trouble catching it with a lot of scraps I had saved for that purpose.

Ja’Ana was able to go on a retreat.  She had earned about 1/2 of the money needed, selling pies as a fund-raiser.


The chickens started to lay again, after taking a mid-winter break!

I helped my niece figure out how to shorten a skirt she wanted to make more stylish.  She has a plan now, after consultation with 2 aunties and a cousin at our family lunch today, and she will bring it back next Sunday if she has any problems.

My husband and I were able to have a date last evening.  We were able to use Foster Parent’s Night Out for babysitting.  We used a gift card, and although it did not cover the entire cost of the meal, it helped tremendously.





Saving Money–week ending January 10


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

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


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


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


I enjoyed this sunrise very much.

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


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

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

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





Saving Money–Week Ending January 3, 2015


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Saving Money–Week Ending December 27


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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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



Saving Money- Week ending on December 20


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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



Saving Money-Week ending in December 13


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

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

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

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

Then they worked on community service projects.


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



Saving Money–Week Ending December 6, 2015


I am still enjoying my zinnias from last summer–just in pictures now.  This peppermint-stiped one makes me think of candy canes, with it’s beautiful stripes.

I was pretty sick for the first half of the week, and am still coughing a bit.  I had to skip work for the most part, and only ended up giving one lesson the entire week.  That made it even more important to be careful with my money for the rest of the week.  Being self-employed means that if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

I soaked white navy beans last Sunday.  On Monday, I found I had soaked way too many!  I ended up making ham and beans, and white bean chicken chili.  We ate those for several days and I froze enough for 2 meals, at least.

I was able to get several of my hoped-for grocery items. At Fred Meyers,  I got mini chocolate chips for $2/bag, milk for 99c for 1/2 gallon, oj for the same price,  and some M & M’s for $2/bag, some spices from the bulk section, and a few other things I needed.  I did pay $1.25 for a few cream cheeses, and then, of course, it came on for 99c today!

At Safeway, I had a $10/off $50 that I used.  I got 2 large laundry soaps,  4 apple juices for $1.25 each, 2 puddings and 2 jellos and a free bag of sugar with those items.  The last jello lasted us about 4 years.  We don’t use it much, so it will be nice to have it if a recipe calls for it.  The best thing was 10 lb bags of frozen thighs and drumsticks for $5.  That is 50 cents a pound–by far the best price I’ve seen here for years!  I got 3 of those and a few other things. I thawed and cooked one right away. With the coupon, it came in around $50, so I got around $60 worth of groceries at that store.


I watched a lot of Andy Griffith shows on library DVD’s.  I embroidered dish towels while I did that.  I used a LOT of  tissues someone gave us for free a while back.  I also drank a lot of fizzy seltzer water the same person gave us.  I just put a little bit of juice or lemonade in the glass with ice, and filled it with seltzer.  It is like fake pop to me, and kept me drinking all day long.

I made a roast, the bean soups, used the rest of the turkey from Thanksgiving in turkey salad for sandwiches or salads, served some hot dogs that have been around a while. I did not make pizza as our menu plan called for, as we had enough food without it.  I did made  lasagna from some ricotta I had hanging around and took it to my sister’s today.  I buy ricotta from Cash and Carry.  It is much less expensive, but you get a LOT.  There was a little left from the last container I bought  about 6 weeks ago.  It lasts a long time as long as I am careful to not get anything in it that would contaminate it.

I did quite a bit of sewing.  I got Michaela’s pajamas done.  I sewed a pillowcase for a service project.  We tied a blanket for the service project, and Patsy made one for herself. I made a doll dress and a doll sleeping bag. I cut out pajamas for Lovana.  I have a lot left, but I will be working this week, so I’ll do my best.

Rob and the girls visited a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and got ours for only $10.

Ja’Ana was able to sell a few pies for a fundraiser she participated in to start earning money for a retreat at church she wants to attend.  I’m still waiting to see how much she gets towards her trip.

I hope you were able to find some ways to save money this week, as well.  What did you do?