Tag Archives: Garden

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 20, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden Update–March 8, 2023

I found some time to clean out one of the raised beds this past week. I added a couple of bags of steer manure compost to raise the fertility and planted some tiny green onions and lettuces Rob grew in the greenhouse. They had been hardening off in our covered porch for a few days, so I had high hopes.

This morning, we woke up to this! It’s so late in the season for snow around here. I still have high hopes for these lettuces, but time will tell if they are realized. These are from a winter mix. I can’t remember which one exactly, but they were all supposed to be hardier than other kinds.

In the meanwhile, work continues in the greenhouse. This tray of geraniums rooted nicely. Rob cut them from plants he overwintered in the greenhouse. We still have lots of large ones, but he thought he’d try to get some new ones, and it worked!

Many tomatoes and peppers are up. More trays were planted a few days ago and some of them are coming up as well. They include many flowers and veggies. The tray you can see in the picture is full of little tomatoes and the varieties are on the tags, if that interests you.

We filled a couple of trays of 3 inch pots and transplanted peppers.

Our weather has been much cooler this spring than last year and peppers are growing much more slowly. We don’t choose to heat the greenhouse up to a point that they would be growing quickly. Instead, we rely on natural sunlight, with heat mats under new seeds and a small space heater for freezing nights. They should start growing rapidly if the weather warms up. It gets very warm in the greenhouse with even a small bit of sun, and this has worked for us for many years.

We have many more baby seedlings to transplant, but they weren’t large enough on that day. I’m especially excited to see that several Anaheim peppers are growing. I need quite a few of those each summer for my salsa and didn’t get that many last year.

These are baby parsley plants. Last summer, I didn’t have enough parsley planted and I’ve used most of my home-dried parsley. This ought to take care of the problem:).I do have a couple of partial store-bought small jars, so I’m using them up. We also have a few other herbs planted: cilantro, basil, sage and thyme are up so far.

Every day, Rob or I check the greenhouse to see how things are doing and water, if needed. We have more seeds to plant as warm weather gets closer, and much transplanting to do. Our daughter, Lovana, planted quite a few seeds as well, and concentrated on flowers, so things should be lovely around here if they all grow.

Rob found this really ugly red cabbage in the garden.

With a little help from Rob wielding his pocket knife, a surprising amount of it was still good under that yucky exterior!

There were also a few boc choi plants that overwintered, so we harvested them, as well.

Although spring seems to be taking its time coming this year, we do have a good start on the garden. There’s much more to do, as always, but I enjoy this time of year. I love to get outside, and I will have many opportunities for that before long. In the meanwhile, I found some gorgeous heads of red leafy lettuce at the Natural Grocers store for only $1.39/huge bunch and we are enjoying that for now.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Feb. 28, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

This week I used:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Jan. 24, 2022

I finished tying up the raspberries this week. I have high hopes for them for this year, even though they are still in their dormant state and don’t look like much. I worked on cutting out the old canes and tying up this year’s fruit-bearing wood a week or two ago and was delighted to find a window of opportunity to finish. It’s a deceptive job. It looks like it would take about 10 minutes, but instead took at least 2-3 hours to do. I’m glad to be done. Now for the Marion (black) berries……

I pulled grass up from around their roots, but I can see I’m going to have a problem with that awful quack grass (or whatever its real name is) again this year. šŸ™

I will put coffee grounds around the base of their stems, as Rob read that they like them. We pick up grounds for gardeners from Starbucks in Safeway and anywhere else we find some. I will also fertilize a little later on so they can grow vigorously through the spring and hopefully give me lots of raspberries. I don’t want them to grow yet, it’s too cold and they would get nipped. Last year, we only got enough to eat as the summer before was so terribly hot the bushes did not do well. We still have a few packages in the freezer from 2 years ago, and I hope to finish those and fill more this upcoming summer.

Rob worked on the greenhouse for hours this week. I will make another post about what he did. He is getting ready to start seeds very soon.

I filled the remaining space in the yard debris bin with rose clippings I cut and the remaining dead branches from the in-ground fuchsia I had not trimmed yet. I’m finding I never have enough time or dry weather to do big jobs outside lately, and am finding success by breaking the jobs up into more than one session and just feeling content with doing whatever part I can get done at that moment. Then, I get back to it whenever I can on another day. The key for me is to not start too many of these kind of projects, but instead try to keep one or two at the top of my list so they actually get finished. It’s a good theory anyway and works part of the time:)

I continue to work on using up every bit of food I can. These hard-boiled eggs got knocked out of the fridge and rolled around a bit before I could catch them. Rather than toss them, I peeled them, washed them, then smashed them up with some tuna and made tuna-egg salad sandwich filling for dinner last night. They didn’t take much effort to smash. Eggs are not as expensive here as elsewhere, but they are more than double the price they were last spring.

My pantry/garage-cleaning project continues. I have been putting food items that need to be targeted for immediate use in the kitchen on the counter. I have worked through so many odd items, along with some normal ones that add to meals. Tonight, there are only 2 items left there. Yea! Time to clean another area and find some more. Because I’m doing the job over several weeks, I’ve had time to use a lot of items as I find them without being overwhelmed.

Tomorrow night, we are cooking for the entire young adult/college group at church (25ish), rather than the 5-6 gluten-free that we usually do. I’m rejoicing in using so many targeted items making things for them. So far, I made pumpkin bread (with wheat since most can eat it) from a mix I found, some cookie bars with coconut, the last of the toffee bits from a couple of weeks ago, and more, and cookie bars with rolled oats and raspberry jam from 2020 I found. I will make some Western Beans from pintos I cooked today and of course, Rob will bbq chicken drumsticks. How awesome we got so many for such a reasonable price!

I shopped with my daughter, who was also shopping for her sister and items for both babies this week. We went to 4 stores to get what she wanted, her sister wanted and I wanted. It was quite an expedition. I was delighted to use a $20/off $100 coupon, plus a $10 reward coupon at Safeway. Even with items for all of us, I stilI had to run back for 2 more packages of chicken legs at the end, to get the $20 off. (At that point, it would have been like throwing away $20 of free food to me.). I ended up with 6 family packs of chicken legs. I had coupon for 99c/lb legs and can always use more at that price. I got things like powdered sugar, brown sugar, some paper products, produce, dairy products and more. Of course I downloaded digital coupons, as well. In the end, my part of that bill was only about $30 with all the coupons and the things that weren’t for me to pay for.

I found her a $10/off $40 at Fred Meyers (a Kroger) store, and let her use my store card and downloaded coupons right there in the store, as needed. Grocery Outlet was visited, but there are no downloads there. Still, we found some items on the list for good prices. Lastly, we hit Trader Joe’s for things she wanted. I got Rob a couple of treats, a birthday gift of flowers and a card for a friend, and some gluten-free bagels for myself.

At the end of the day, I was very happy with what I’d spent and with all the goodies the girls added to my fridge, freezer and pantry. Most holes are filled in the pantry already. Rob had picked up a few things like mushrooms and sliced olives the other day for a good price. I got a few more replacements Saturday. I’m still in budget and the pantry is already full again, even after all we’ve used up. I’m just not replacing a lot of those things, but instead making sure I have plenty of the things we actually use on a regular basis.

Rob and I went on a mini-date Sunday afternoon. We are easily amused, I know, but we wandered through Wheeler Dealer, a scratch and dent store, for entertainment. We found some amazing deals, although many of the prices are much higher there, as they are everywhere. We got cottage cheese for 50c/carton, fresh mozzarella balls for 50c/carton, jalapeƱos for 10c each, a head of boc choi for 33c, a can of sweetened condensed milk for 79c, applesauce pouches for the babies for 25c, and more. I was so glad to know exactly what I had in my pantry, and walked away from a lot of things that were cheap, but I absolutely didn’t need. I’ve already used a bunch of what we got in lasagnas, which used some targeted noodles and the rest of the sauce from last week.

Does anyone know if you can freeze those fresh mozzarella balls? The ones packed in water? I still have 2 cartons left, but they have a very short date on them…hence the 50c price tag. Please leave a comment if you have tried freezing them or something similar. Thanks!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Jan. 17, 2022

The weather has been very mild around here lately. We have been able to get out and take several walks. Yesterday, it felt like spring was coming when I saw this toadstool peeking up from that emerald green grass. It was such a nice feeling, to know that spring was on it’s way once again!

All of the seeds we ordered have arrived. Rob also snagged some packets from the Dollar Store. I sorted them all into categories, such as peppers, tomatoes, etc. and put them in their bin, ready to plant. Rob spent the evening last night writing out some tags in preparation for starting the peppers. Peppers and onions take a long time, so will need to be started soon. Cleaning and organizing the greenhouse is on his “to-do” list.

I use lots of mildly hot peppers such as Anaheim 64, Ancho, and Jalafuego JalapeƱo, in my salsa. We need quite a few plants of those started. I use about 6 Serrano peppers per year in that salsa, so one or two bushes will do. We are growing Jimmy Nardello Italian pepper this year as a new experiment. It’s supposed to be long and sweet. I’m hoping to get the right size for pickling and fresh eating. Carmen peppers have been a favorite for years and we need a long row of those. They are a fat, long pepper and turn red much sooner than other peppers and have a huge yield. Rob’s starting some green and mixed color bell peppers, as well. I freeze lots of chopped up peppers and we are working through the ones from last year at a pretty rapid rate, so we need lots more.

We will start Patterson onions as they are our main crop of yellow onion. They store really well. I believe I used the last of the stored ones in the early summer–June or July last year. Whenever it actually was, I already had new ones large enough to eat in the garden so I didn’t have to buy onions last year. We also start Red Bull and White onions. The Red Bulls store well, but the white ones always need to be used up right away. We have so many onions from this past summer’s garden and I hope that I don’t have to buy any again.

I used to have an area in my garden that self-seeded green onions and I always had a large patch which lasted all winter. The last couple of years they haven’t really done that and I’ve been buying green onions after the rows I plant are used. I hope to get a good solid area of those going again for next winter, but in the meanwhile, I’m going to start some of those in the greenhouse just so I can get some to use sooner, rather than later.

I saw a very ugly, slimy, but huge cabbage still standing in the garden, and wondered if there was any good left on it. There was! I peeled off the black part and aggressively cut off the bottom half, which contained slugs and potato bugs who wanted to feast and was left with 5 large, very good chunks from the top half. I’ve already used one of them.

I have been stretching times between grocery shopping again. Instead of going every week, I stretched it to about 12 days this past time. I will do that again. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been cleaning out the pantry area in the garage. The kitchen counter has an area with things that need to be targeted for use, so I’m shopping from there these days. Rob and my nephew went to the store for me yesterday and got dairy and produce and a few items to use with these targeted items so I can use them up.

We’ve been able to get back to the YMCA a few times with our grandson and nephew. They love the pool and our nephew likes to shoot hoops, as well. Malcolm is so proud of his “pack-pack” that my aunt sent over at Christmas, full of his new towel from my sister and the rest of his swimming things. He insists on carrying that bag himself, no matter how awkward or heavy. My sister gave him swim diapers for Christmas, as well, which was not so exciting to him as it was to me.

Last week, there were more events and meetings at church than we’ve had for years. Although we enjoyed every one, and felt the meetings were useful, it made for a very busy week. There were some days where I really scrambled to get dinners on the table. Rob was given dinner at one of his events for a nominal fee, and at another there was lunch provided. Because I’m gluten free, I took my own sandwich, but enjoyed the huge fresh salad very much. At yet another gathering, there was an entire table of desserts and snacks to enjoy. I was happy that I managed to feed everyone and stay out of the fast food line! This week, I noticed there is a women’s event featuring chocolate where everyone gets to eat chocolate…I think I could get used to that. Maybe that one should become a weekly event…..

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Oct. 17, 2022

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.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Oct. 9, 2022

This week, we finished drying the onions. We got over 100 pounds of them from the garden. Not only have we been eating them since they were big enough to get even a small bulb from, we’ve shared many with family and friends and still have several mesh bags dried for winter.

My sister shared apples from her trees. They are super good and crunchy.

I canned some cinnamon red hot apple wedges, apple slices and also a few jars of apples studded with raisins and dried cranberries, a new recipe from my canning book. I only made 5 pints, but I think I will do a few more because it tastes so good.

Almost every tomato is now picked, even the green ones. I’ve pulled many of the bushes and only left a few that still have a few sad and sorry looking tomatoes on them. There are a few on the porch in a box to eat fresh and I’m hoping the few green ones will ripen over time so we can enjoy them at least for a couple more weeks.

I got my salsa verde canned with green tomatoes.

I tripled the batch because we didn’t have enough last year and got 20 jars, a mixture of sizes ranging from a pint and smaller.

I made one last batch of pasta sauce with the entire box of tiny little red tomatoes I picked on Friday. Surprise! I thought I was done with tomato products, but……now I am. I got 3 quarts and 5 pints.

I’ve picked both broccoli and cabbage from my fall planting. There are a few cucumbers and zucchini left, but not many. Those bushes are looking pretty sad from powdery mildew, a problem we get around here.

I canned some diced potatoes from bags Rob got for a good price. I also have lots of potatoes left to eat fresh, so I made a potato salad one night when we were having company.

I cooked a turkey that I got last year around Thanksgiving. I made broth and canned 7 quarts. I have enough bits and broth to make a batch of soup, as well. I froze some packages of turkey for future use and we ate some.

I had lots of help with my cooking. Here, we are making biscuits. They came out good.

This was a week where I was very busy with the garden, canning, and seeing friends and family. We had company one night. A good friend dropped by for lunch one day. She lives out of town and was passing through, and we enjoyed every minute we had before she needed to be on her way.

The wedding last week was fun, but it feels good to put that project to rest and focus on my home life once again.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 27, 2022

Our fall crop of veggies is producing. We’ve been eating the new crop of broccoli, cabbage, the new cucumbers, the mixed summer squash (all sorts in the same packet from Pinetree), along with the tail end of cucumbers, tomatoes, green and purple beans, peppers, etc. Our squash and cucumbers from spring planting is succumbing to powdery mildew, as normal, so I usually plant a small bit of those for fall eating.

I was able to freeze a few more packets of broccoli, which was one of my goals for this fall crop. Now I have enough for the winter.

I pulled all of the beets that were still in the garden. Both Mom and I kept what we wanted to eat and I pickled 9 more pints.

I have started to pull onions, and clear away other plants in the garden that are finished. I’m hoping to get that done so it can be tilled before the fall rains begin. It’s a big job, so I will try to work at it a little most days.

On the same day Rob picked up my Azure Standard order and did a very small Costco run, the girls decided to buy a LOT of groceries. I believe it was around 10 bags full or more. Then, a few days later, Lovana shopped for her party food, which was many more bags full. I picked up the specials at Safeway last Friday, as there were a few things I needed. Then you add in the wedding food as Rob is doing all the meat for 175 people. It’s not a small amount. Our fridges are bursting. We’ve used coolers with lots and lots of ice for overflow. We have the kitchen one, one small one in the camper and one ancient, rickety college dorm-sized one on the porch. That’s it. I have declared this to be NO MORE SHOPPING FOR FOOD week. But, then I ran out of something. And we need 20 bunches of green onions and 12 cucumbers for the wedding that we can get at our local Safeway for a great price. What can I say? I’m sending Rob and Michaela out on Thursday. Everybody better eat fast between now and Thursday.

We were invited to Allison’s birthday at the group home she and Anthony live in. It’s the first time we’ve visited their new home and it is super nice! I’m happy for them.

We took Malcolm. Boy did he have fun. We had not realized we WERE the party, other then the residents, so we were super glad we took him along. Everyone enjoyed him so much and he was the center of attention as he pushed and rolled his cars along the floor and enjoyed his cake!

Lovana cooked and baked for a costume party for her friend’s birthday. It was a Marie Antionette-themed party and she made 2 cakes, decorated beautifully, brownies, cookies (more than one kind), and cupcakes. There may have been more items, but I can’t quite keep track of that girl when she bakes. She really has a knack for it.

She also arranged many, many flower bouquets for the decor. She said the party turned out really nice, but she couldn’t get any pictures in time:(. Now I’m enjoying this gorgeous bouquet every day.

This upcoming weekend is the big wedding for my niece. We are going to be working very hard to prepare all the food. Much has been done ahead of time, but there are many things that have to be done the day before or even the day of the wedding, such as cutting fruit for salad. There are several people coming to help. My sister and I will spend quite a bit of time Friday evening putting together “kits” with instructions so people can be handed a box with apples, for example, with instructions to cut them into bite-sized pieces and add to the fruit salad. Hopefully, that will get all the jobs done and leave no one standing around wanting to know what to do.

I picked up this picnic basket at a yard sale. Rob oiled it with a little wood oil after this picture was taken, so it looks even prettier now. The bride has asked for some of the wedding food to take with them on their honeymoon, as she feels she won’t get to eat much. We will pack the food in here with ice packs. She also wants an assortment of cookies from her cookie bar, so we will add those, too.

I’m bringing containers, plastic wrap, dishcloths, soap, knives, cutting boards, scissors, etc., etc., etc., as the venue provides nothing but appliances. I’ve got a huge pile already and it’s only Tuesday!!! You should see my sister’s living room. She has decor for the food tables and will have all the food. Yikes! Rob has the van completely full of his projects shown in the last post. Let’s hope that set up crew is on time and very, very strong.

Garden Update-August 22, 2022

The garden continues to grow like crazy, although some things are running later than usual, due to the wet, late spring. These are both picking cucumbers and slicing cucumbers and they are over-running the onions, basic, trying to climb the dahlias and are climbing the bean poles! I’ve made sweet pickles, and sliced some for meals, but that’s all so far.

Just in the last week or so, the cherry tomatoes are ripening in abundance, instead of one here and one there. The Sungold were first, and the Chocolate Cherry have just started.

The large red, tomatoes are just starting to ripen, with one here and a couple there. I have Beefsteak, Roma Cordova, Fantastic, Carmello and Oregon Star.

The Glacier tomatoes (extra early) are not as early as normal and are just getting going good. They are always on the small side, but this year are even smaller than ever before, some only reaching the size of a large cherry tomato. They sure taste good, though.

I’ve pulled all the spent green and yellow beans. I canned what I needed and now we will use the purple and green pole beans for eating fresh and freezing if there are extras. This dirt area will not be replanted this summer.

You can see the lemon cucumber bushes at the base of the trellis and the huge Tromboncini Zucchini plants on the far side of the trellis. There must be 10 huge squash on there already! I can’t keep up with it:)

There are peppers ripening everywhere. These are Hungarian Wax peppers and are spicy. Just ask Jake. And Malcolm. They each though they’d take a bite. Jake even got me to take one. They have an after burn! Just WOW! I plan to chop them small and freeze for using judiciously.

We’ve used a couple of green peppers that fell off by accident. More are coming along. The Carmen peppers, which are long and red when ripe, are long and green now, so it won’t be long. I’ve picked a few Jalepenos, left the Serranos alone until I make salsa, and used an Ancho or two. I also have Lola, a long, light-green/yellowish sweet pepper, and I have used a few of those already.

I’m becoming hopeful that we will get ripe cantaloupe. I haven’t tried growing it for many years, so didn’t know what to expect.

There are even a few tiny watermelon. These are supposed to be a personal-sized melon that grows under cooler conditions. To even reach “personal” size, this one has a long ways to go, but I’m hopeful!

Most of my snow peas are dead now. I do have one tiny section that gives me 3-4 peas every few days. They don’t like the hot weather we’ve been having. But, there are a few snap peas hanging on and giving me a handful every few days. The next crop of snow peas should bloom any day (you can see them below), and the next planting after that has just broken through the ground, so we will be back in business soon.

Lettuce is somewhat of the same story. This planting is almost big enough to pick some from, and there’s one more place that has semi-good lettuce. Otherwise, I just pulled the rest up today. It’s so bitter. There is a small bit in the fridge, but instead of daily salads, we’ve only had one this week. That’s fine. When we take a little break from a certain vegetable, I find we enjoy it more when we get it again.

There is basil everywhere. Some was planted, some just came up volunteer. That’s good because I want to make pesto to freeze. We love it in vegetable soup. It gives it a special flavor.

The raised bed in the front of the picture has tiny lettuce seedlings that came up nicely. There are only a few spinach, but the snow peas came up well and the Boc Choi is up, also. The kale is growing just fine, despite the heat. I pulled up old plants in the far bed today and will replant with green onions, and possible cilantro or more snow peas.

The new planting of broccoli and cabbage is growing fine. So are the weeds! As you can see, I liberated a few of them today, but there are quite a few more to weed out. Most of the old cabbage has either been used or has burst and needs to be pulled, although there are a couple good ones left. I got a good red one today. It will be good to have another crop.

One of the spring-planted broccoli plants escaped being pulled up with the other ones because it was so much later and looked good for whatever reason. It’s decided to give me more broccoli. I’m glad I left it! I plant the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial and they do come on at different times, as it is a mix of varieties.

The everbearing strawberries are ripening a few each week, just enough for one person to have a small dish. The blueberries are all but done, so I have just been getting a couple of handfuls every few days. The Marion (black) berries are completely finished, as are the raspberries.

We have so many dahlias. This is the section with smaller blooms. You can also see a volunteer sunflower on the right, and another planting of later pole beans on the left. Rob grew most of this section from seeds he bought off the internet. He started the tubers in pots in the greenhouse for the rest with birthday gifts or paper bags full of tubers that people gave him when they heard he wanted to grow dahlias this year. It kind of became a joke, we were given so many. I cannot tell you how much I’m enjoying them. We’ve picked so many bouquets already.

He has been experimenting with seed-saving the past few years, and all the pole beans, both purple and green, are from his saved seeds this year. Many cucumbers are, too, but not all. He’s got lettuce, dill, carrots and even a couple of beets that are setting seeds for him to save this year, and will save seeds again from whatever he can that is not a hybrid variety.

Dahlias are along the shop, across the back of the garden, in the front of the house in the flowerbed, and in pots.

We feel very blessed to have such a prolific garden. I enjoy working in it, and am reaping the benefits of all this produce and exercise. I have to accept that I simply cannot pull ALL the weeds, so I try to get some each day. On the days I am harvesting and processing food, though, it’s a challenge to find time to weed as well.

I am happy to report that my neighbor is still my friend, despite all the zucchini I’ve handed over the fence:). That reminds me….maybe she could use more tomorrow…….It’s worth a try:)