We are still getting a few scraggly vegetables from the garden; a few cucumbers, snow peas, tomatoes, boc choi, a handful of green beans, and carrots. It’s nice to have more manageable quantities, but to not be entirely finished with produce.
I’m delighted with my new mixer. One day, on the way to church, Rob noticed a “free” box on the sidewalk. This mixer caught his eye and he hopped out and snagged it. Of course, we had no idea if it worked, but after church he found the switch wasn’t working properly. He tore it apart, and fixed it, which I find quite amazing, especially with a toddler 2 inches away, “helping.” Now it works great. It looks like it was used very little. So fun to have!
I have lots of kitchen help. He’s especially fascinated with washing dishes right now. That is good because I have been cooking and cooking lately. We have so much good food and it makes me happy to use it, so we eat at home. Since I’m in an extra-busy season of life, I have been writing out my menu plans. This helps me use food I already have from my abundant harvest this summer, but more importantly gives me a list to follow when I’m in a hurry. I don’t have to think it up AND make it, and I can get some things prepped ahead. There are a couple of evenings where people here need to eat before I get home from work on my new schedule and I like to leave easy home-made healthy options.
Although the flowers are waning, I’ve been picking bouquets. There are still many lovely blooms.
We’ve saved seeds from some zinnias and marigolds, dill, and some other plants. I was also unable to keep up with it all and I noticed the dill has reseeded and is about 3 inches tall. It won’t survive the winter but I hope there are plenty of volunteers next spring. I’ve been using what did come up—just snipped off entire tiny plants and cooked with them.
We’ve been utilizing free and inexpensive activities with the kids, since my niece and nephew have been spending the week with us. Our grandson loves to run so we try to get him out as much as possible. Our nephew likes Pokémon Go annd for me to read aloud to him. Our niece likes car rides. They all like popcorn and a movie. We ate SO much popcorn this week. Thankfully, we had plenty as my mom gave us a big bag not long ago. And butter…….we kept the dairy industry going this week😀 It was a fun week and I think we all had fun most of the time. I will admit I’m looking forward to a few more restful days that are coming up before long, though.
We were delighted to take the boys to the Gilbert House Children’s Museum this week.
The giant bubble was an especial hit. They could stand inside. There were so many other “bubbly” activities in that area! Rob said it was his favorite place to play in:)
I was able to get a pass from our local library so we got in for free. About 6 months ago, I noticed there were some passes available, but they were always being used by others until last week, at which point I happily snatched it from the shelf and checked it out. You can keep it for 1 week only and there is a huge, huge fine if you don’t return it. We returned it. On time.
I will check it out again if I get the opportunity.
One day I asked Rob to pick a cabbage. Even though it’s been very cold and frosty, they are holding up just fine. He surprised me with some really good broccoli and a cucumber, which made a good picture, but the cucumber wasn’t very good. He ate what he could of it. The cabbage was huge so I cut it up and shared chunks with family members and had plenty left for me.
We have been down to the YMCA several times this week. We have taken kids with us most times. They all seem to love the pool the most. I prefer the exercise bike. It’s so nice to use that membership to its fullest potential and that there’s something for each one of us that we enjoy doing for exercise.
It was a fairly quiet week, and I need weeks like that now and then.
After more than 2 years of being closed and rebuilding, our local YMCA has re-opened. We have had a membership for several years and were using an alternate facility while they were closed. We are delighted to be back at a closer location. We will go more often, I know. They were more than generous to keep us on the same scholarship we were on before, so it’s very affordable.
Rob took Malcolm into the pool for his very first experience. They both had so much fun that we went again yesterday, with our nephew, Jake. Our new plan is that I help get the baby ready, put him in with Rob, run upstairs and ride an exercise bike, and then dash downstairs again to get Mac out, dressed, etc. About 30 minutes is the amount he can handle in there, so it works out great! Thank goodness Jake can do all that for himself. He had so much fun, too, and made 100 baskets in the swimming pool basketball net. Wow! I’m delighted to have another activity Jake likes to do. It’s been harder to find things to do now that the weather has become more stormy and the park doesn’t work as well.
We made a trip to the library. There was a toddler story time, which I attended with Malcolm, and Rob took Jake upstairs to the kid section. Again, a fun, free activity. We even got a very short walk in around the block between rain showers.
We made a small Costco run and Rob and Malcolm enjoyed the hot dogs. We bought one of the $5 chickens, which we have been eating on all week. I finally boiled the bones and made soup yesterday.
We’ve cooked a lot this week. People seem to be extremely hungry. We’ve made soup, home baked fish sticks, tater tots (from a frozen bag), noodles, beef-vegetable soup, muffins, gf French bread and rolls (from one batch), brown rice, white rice, French fries from potatoes, apple crisp, and more. We’ve eaten chicken multiple times, finished the roast beef with potatoes and carrots from last week, and I’ve gone through about 3 pounds of carrots! Needless to say, I needed to go to the store.
I have been concentrating on gathering things for Thanksgiving. I’ve got most of what I need, at rock bottom prices. I’ve clipped many digital coupons, including the $10/ off $50 from Safeway. I picked up a few things from both Walmart and Winco that were good prices there. I was very surprised at the amount of people in the Winco store. I also visited Natural Grocers for some specialty items they have, such as gf stuffing.
I was able to redeem quite a few Ibotta rebates. One of my favorites was ketchup, with a $2.50 rebate. Another was instant oatmeal, where I bought the boxes for $1.99 and got $1.25 back on each box. I got 5. I haven’t been doing Ibotta very much lately, as there haven’t been rebates offered on things I use much, but this time there were quite a few items available, so I took the time to get them.
Rob was able to use a $10/off $50 from Winco to buy a case of jar lids. That coupon doesn’t come around very often, but one came in the mail, and thankfully, they had jar lids and he remembered to use the coupon! Go Rob!!
Rob smoked one of the huge trout he caught last spring. We were doing the lesson of Jesus feeding the 5,000 during our Sunday school class and he wanted to show them one way of preserving fish, although this was not the exact kind of preservation method used in the Bible, and it certainly wasn’t trout there in Israel. He offered tastes, thinking they would decline. Instead, those kids ate the entire fish! We were surprised, for sure! I’m just hoping there is another one of those left in the freezer, because it was SO good! He’s been using them on holidays and special occasions, so I”m not sure how many are still in there.
I brought 5 small buns and told Rob to get busy while I told the story–I needed him to break them up into between 5,000 and 20,000 pieces. Not being God, he wasn’t able to comply, but the kids got a good laugh out of it and ate all the buns, too. They also ate the goldfish crackers we played a game with, apple slices from the skit, and the oyster crackers from another review game. Like I said, everyone seems extra hungry this week!!!
On Saturday, we took Malcolm up the Columbia River Gorge. First we stopped at Lewis and Clark park and let him run around and crunch leaves for quite some time.
We went further to the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery. This is the sturgeon viewing center. A gentleman told him to flap his arms and say “sturgie, sturgie, sturgie,” and the fish would come over. He did, and they did. He scrambled down from that little ledge as fast as he could. That fish was MUCH bigger than he expected. After that, though, he watched for a long, long time. It was fun.
There were small fish in there, too, and he liked the itty, bitty, baby fish, as well.
He fed the large trout in that pool. We only had 3 quarters on us, so could only get 3 small handfuls of food, but he seemed to enjoy it while it lasted.
He even saw Bigfoot!
The picnic was fun. We took bubbles and spent quite a bit of time running around trees and blowing bubbles.
There’s a lot of wind in that area, so they flew quite a ways. When we realized they were blowing right onto another family’s picnic, we stopped. Oops!
We toured Bonneville Dam as well. As you can see, he was getting pretty tired by this time, but he liked the firetruck outside as much as anything there.
And, why, may you ask, did we take a toddler on such a long car trip? It was because his auntie had a hair appointment in NE Portland and we agreed to be her transportation. That is quite a distance from where we live, so we decided to just stay up in the area, and have a good time with Mac. We dropped her off at 9:30 a.m. She was finally finished at 6 p.m. Her hair is now beautifully braided with extensions, as she likes to wear it. And to think she will get to do it all over again in 6-8 weeks. What a patient young lady!
Although we do not usually take her for these hair adventures, it turned out to be a really fun day and Malcolm did great! He’s still talking about those fish! For such a little child, he tolerated the long car ride very well.
Even with all those activities, we had a lot of time to kill, and spent a bunch of it in a traffic jam around Multnomah Falls. We had decided to take the scenic highway and clearly there were more people who wanted to visit the falls than there were parking spaces, so we all sat there for a long, long time. We didn’t actually decide to stop there, as it was so busy, but enjoyed a quick peek out the window. We’ve seen it many times and will have more chances some other time. We drove up to Crown Point, and looked down on the Columbia River. It was extremely windy up there.
I did a little more canning. These jars have layers of carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and hamburger. Then I pressure canned them using the longest processing time, which was for the hamburger. They will be quick dinners and used up some of those potatoes Rob got inexpensively.
I spent several short sessions picking all the tomatoes, green and red. I’ve pulled up almost all the vines and removed the cages from the garden. I also pulled most of the pepper plants. Several other veggies are gone now, too. Because my garden is so large, I cannot seem to find the time to do it all in one day, so I’ve been chipping away at it when I can. I also worked on a couple of raised beds and one flowerbed a time or two. They say the fall rains will begin this weekend, and our beautiful weather is going to be over, so I’ve been trying to get as much done as I can.
The week was full of lots of visitors, which translated into lots of cooking. On Monday, our son Anthony came over with Allison. Patsy, who has decided to move out and is living with friends, decided to come over for the afternoon. She did this twice this week. My mom and I spent a relaxing day on Friday.
I also cooked for the college-age group at church on Tuesday.
I cooked chili mac, a huge pot of chili for the kids, cornbread, brownies, turkey soup, turkey gravy over mashed potatoes, potato soup, enchilada casserole for myself and a friend with a death in the family, and more. I decided not to go shopping, but instead to use my pantry and freezers, and had plenty. I really utilized the turkey bits I had frozen a couple of weeks ago when I roasted one from last Thanksgiving time. The main substitution I had to make was to use powdered milk a couple of times instead of regular, as I ran low on that, but it all worked out. I had Rob pick up a gallon today, so that’s good now.
I wanted to clean out the fridge a little, and it’s finally looking a little more empty. It was just too crammed. I worry I will end up wasting food if I can’t find something, so periodically I refuse to shop until it clears out a bit.
I made a large batch of cupcakes and sent some over to a young family friend who had a birthday today. The rest I froze for future busy weeks.
We also enjoyed a bonfire hot dog roast with our Sunday School class on Friday night. Although we’ve only been working with these kids for a few months, this is a tradition they have done for quite a few years before Covid happened, so the children’s pastor wants to get it going again. A family puts it on at their farm. Other than Rob giving a short devotion and helping out a little here and there, we got to just enjoy ourselves and the kids. It was a beautiful evening and the kids all loved it.
We had a pretty fun week. It started last Monday, when I went to the zoo with some of my favorite people. Weeks ago, I promised my friend, Harnet, that I would be delighted to spend time with little Danait while she worked that day. Her regular day care took the week off, and different friends pitched in to cover. I chose Monday, and Patsy and I planned a zoo trip, using my zoo membership. Then, much to my surprise, Jake and Michaela’s older sister decided to take them to the zoo that same day, too. So, we met up, of course.
Danait immediately started fixing Caitlyn’s hair. Over and over and over. Caitlyn loves kids. Good thing:).
….because Danait rode on Caitlyn’s shoulders for most of the zoo. Notice the zoo cup way up on top. Danait is trying to be as tall as a giraffe. Those cups are great. You can just keep bringing them back over and over and fill them with soda for $1.25 with your membership. This time, they told Caitlyn that refills were free in that certain cafe, so even better. Patsy has 2 cups from years past and we brought both–one for her and one for Danait to use and filled them up to go with the picnic food I brought.
The week continued full of fun and frugal activities. We had Jake and Michaela on Tuesday and mostly drove Michaela to appointments and did errands like shopping at Costco, etc. We took them to lunch at Costco. It is such a great bargain to eat there. Then, Wednesday, we only had Jake. One activity that day was making cupcakes for the 4th and Grandma’s birthday. We used ingredients we had on hand, and made them from scratch.
She loved them! We celebrated her birthday on the 4th, as often happens, as her birthday is the next day.
She never seems to mind the red, white and blue wrappings on her birthday presents. We do set fireworks off for her, though, and have a “blast” doing that:)
With Alissa and her dad in charge, every kid got a turn to choose a firework to be set off, poppers were thrown down, and lots of smoke bombs and sparklers were lit.
The kids had a ball! (The number of guests was somewhere in the upper 20’s, a mixture of friends and family) Jake was really into playing with his friends that were there. At one point, I was handed a light saber and a toy gun and told to sit in my lawn chair and I would be “safe” from the storm troopers that were coming! (We could see a group of lights across the river, which were dubbed storm troopers….). I also got invited to play Legos, which I did for a while. Otherwise, I just had fun being with everyone. Except Rob. He didn’t feel well, and decided to stay home with the new dog. It was a good call. Safari wasn’t fond of fireworks, but did ok with Rob there.
The best part of the 4th, though, was that Lovana flew in from Hawaii for a visit. We will be enjoying her company for a week. She was so glad to spend time with her cousins, aunties and uncle this week, and has more plans in the few days she has left with family and friends.
So, I’ve been cooking up a storm, since Ja’Ana was here to eat as well one day and I have been feeding extras. I also spent quite a bit of time restocking at Costco, Grocery Outlet, Azure Standard, and Natural Grocers. I’m almost finished. For 3 months, I have been using quite a bit from my pantry, freezers and canning cupboards. The truth is, if you cook from scratch a lot, sooner or later, things run out. (Thank you Mrs. Obvious). The only surprise to me is that so many things ran out at once. I’ve actually been substituting on some things for a while now. So, now I’m good to go again for a while, except for a couple of items I still need to get, like tin foil. I bought things where they were the best deal, to the best of my ability. I got a very few Ibotta rebates, but most things were not qualifiers for that program.
To give you an idea of what I bought, here are just a few of the items: 25lbs rice, baking powder and soda, salt, pepper, bulk spices (lots), cleaning supplies, laundry aids, ziplocks of all sizes, parmesan cheese, lots of gluten-free pasta, produce, cheese, and so on.
I made Rob hold the bag of rice to illustrate that he’s lost more weight than 4 of them so far!
To end the week on a high note, we visited the Salem Farmer’s Market with friends. The kids participated in the “Pops” program where this week, they tasted honey, and received little toys and each got a $2 voucher to spend at the market. Patsy bought a little carton of blackberries with hers and ate them while she wandered around.
They all had a great time at the market, and then Patsy’s friend came over to hang out for a while afterwards. The girls played a long game of Monopoly and painted their toenails. I fed them sandwiches and fruit for lunch. I love to see that there are still kids around who can enjoy themselves with simple things, and am especially glad that Patsy is one of them.