Tag Archives: kids

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Nov. 27, 2022

Most of the past 2 weeks have been busy with Thanksgiving preparations–shopping, decorating, cooking, and then enjoying the day itself.

I gathered groceries from several sources over the past few weeks, gleaning sales and good prices where I could. Our menu was a little different this year, but only a little. We are traditionalists at heart, I guess! Besides the traditional turkey, we had shrimp skewers, beef teriyaki skewers, quinoa pilaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, grilled jalapeños, yams with marshmallows, gf stuffing, apple crisp, gf chocolate and pumpkin pies, Krispie treat turkeys (Malcolm’s contribution), salads, and other treats. We skipped the ham this time. Some relatives brought sides and desserts. Some generously gave me $ to buy extra goodies with. Everyone ate and ate, and there was plenty for people to take home, with the hopes that no one would need to cook for a day or two, at least.

I got the recipe for the shrimp skewers from a cookbook I downloaded onto my iPad from the library. They were threaded onto stalks of rosemary. Although much of my garden is gone, the rosemary is in good shape, so I had all I wanted to experiment with. There was a marinade I poured on and Rob grilled them.

He also grilled stuffed jalapeños. He used cheese and cream cheese and 3 different flavorings: crab, bacon, and cranberry/cheese. They were good, but mine was pretty spicy, so I stopped after one:) A few of the peppers were left from our garden, and the rest were purchased.

The teriyaki beef kabobs were a hit, as well. Rob also did the turkey on the BBQ, a day or two ahead, and we re-warmed it on Thursday. It helps me so much that he likes to cook outside and does so much on the grill. On Wednesday, I cooked everything I could do ahead and on Thursday morning, I just needed to finish things up (like warm, glaze and add marshmallows to the pre-cooked yams, warm and add topping to the green bean casserole, etc.) and mash the potatoes.

We have been extremely busy around here, besides the Thanksgiving preparations. Through it all, we have tried to stay as frugal as possible, while having as much fun as possible!

We have been utilizing the YMCA frequently. Jake, Michaela, and Malcolm all like to go into the pool as often as possible.

Our oldest daughter and her husband invited us to come to the beach last Saturday. They spent Friday night, but we joined them for the day Saturday.

The most surprising thing we saw was a bearded dragon lizard that a family had down on the beach, enjoying the weather. They graciously let Malcolm pet it all he wanted, then went on their way.

It was a perfect day at the beach! Our son-in-law showed us a place to drive right down onto the beach that we had not ever been to before and we all enjoyed some time on the sand. Then we went to Mo’s for lunch.

Last Sunday afternoon, we had both babies and did some serious leaf throwing while we were on a walk.

We all had fun!

After the whirlwind that was my past 2 weeks, I did absolutely nothing Friday. Nothing. I laid in bed, ate leftovers, played Candy Crush, took a nap, and read books. Saturday, we hit a few Black Friday sales, mostly on-line, and I did enjoy a trip to JoAnn’s to finish up my remaining gift card. I’m glad I did rest up, because tomorrow is Monday! It all starts up again, first thing in the morning.

I am in the Christmas choir at church and our drama/singing is next weekend, so I need to go to practice every day except one, then do the performance 3 times over the weekend. I have not done anything like this for a very long time, and I’m excited to participate.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Gardening, Gardening, Gardening!–July 18, 2022

We started last week off with 90 degree temperatures, but it quickly cooled off. I seized the opportunity to do some extra yard and garden work.

I picked all the remaining peas over a 2-day period. My mom came over and helped shell out the first batch. The second batch felt like it took all day, but it really didn’t. We ate some and froze some.

After dealing with the last of the peas, I pulled all the vines up and put them in the compost heap. Compost was spread on the area from a finished bin and tilled in. The small cabbage and broccoli plants Rob grew were planted in that spot. More lettuce (Buttercrunch, a mixture, and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman) was planted in several places, along with spinach and snow peas. At this point, despite the few hot days we’ve had, we have had enough lettuce to eat and give away all anyone wants.

Although good help is hard to find, I found some. He will work for berries and peas.

And rides in the wheelbarrow!

Despite all my help (of course I mean “since I had so much help”), I was able to take out all of the broccoli that was finished, leaving 2 plants that looked like they had some shoots still coming. I cut and used several cabbages or gave them away, and lots of lettuce was harvested. I cleaned out patches of lettuce, as some was starting to bolt. It was still good, though, so I gave some away and ate some.

Both the yellow and green zucchini are ready to start harvesting and we’ve had a few small ones with many more to come.

Some onions are sizing up enough to use. I just used the last one from last summer’s garden so will pick a few of the new ones, use them, then pick some more, as they will only gain in size until it’s time to harvest them for winter.

I picked and froze the Marion blackberries. I got more than I thought I would. I picked and we ate the raspberries. It is a very small crop this year, so we are just eating them fresh. I have leftover frozen ones from last year, thank goodness.

I pulled weeds in the garden and the flowerbeds. There are enough left to keep me busy another day. And another. And another.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to bloom. Whenever I get stressed, I just go take a little walk down the rows and it calms me right down. They are so lovely. They seem to be every shape and size and color you can imagine. I’ll be taking more pictures, as you can imagine.

I also have a large cleaning/rearranging project going on. My sister and aunt came and helped me one day. I’ve gone through and sorted or filled so many bins, boxes, etc. Our garbage can is stuffed for the second week in a row. I’ve carried many, many bins upstairs into the shop attic. I have a growing pile up there that will be for a yard sale in the future. I have many items packed away that I don’t use often. My house is getting less cluttered all the time.

We have a house with 1,100 square feet. 3 small bedrooms and one bathroom, a modest living area, a dining room so small the table barely fits, an adequate kitchen and tiny laundry room. We use the garage for extra living space, but mostly put junk out there, and some of my food storage. We have many, many people and babies that go through this space, and a dog.

One adult daughter will be staying here for a short time in-between rentals. It was time to clear the clutter and move some things around. Although there is always work to be done and things to sort, this one part of the project is done. She has a place to stay, I have the things I want accessible to me, and the rest is stored. I’ll bet when I put it all back before long, I’ll get rid of more. In the process, several areas got deep cleaned and one room is almost entirely empty. It is so clean right now. I love it!! (Except for all the toys spread across the living room floor……always more to be done!)

Through all these projects and gardening, we did our best to stay frugal. We took our nephew and grandson to the park and on walks.

I made several batches of popsicles and also fed them ice cream purchased on sale because the weather turned hot again.

The little pool on the deck continues to be a blessing during these hot days.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 28, 2022

The garden is starting to produce. This week, I harvested peas, pea pods, green onions, lettuce and broccoli.

I froze the peas and broccoli. The rest, I’ve been eating and sharing.

I spent several hours weeding and I also stacked wood we were given. It feels good to be filling up the wood piles again.

We got together with some friends and family and took the boys to a park with a splash pad and picnic. I took sandwiches, snow peas and carrot sticks. Others brought fruit, chips and drinks. All the kids and adults had a great time. The park had a soccer field that some of the kids enjoyed, as well.

Rob dug out the kiddie pool and we used it several times this week. We used a frisbee, old cups from fast food, the watering can, and plastic bowls for toys. It was very hot for several days and even the adults put their feet in at times.

I will say that everything got watered well. The deck. The dog food dish. The trike. The flowers. The rocks. My legs. Rob’s feet. The buckets. And so on……We were so thankful for the rash guard and swim shorts Rob found for a dollar or two at a yard sale.

I cooked several food items: a whole chicken I got for the incredibly low price of 47c/lb, some white rice, a vegetable soup, tuna-noodle casserole, lots of salads, meatloaf, and more. Then we just heated food up in the microwave during the hot days. It has cooled off again, so I am ready to cook again, although there are a few things to finish up first. I did boil the bones from the chicken, so I want to do some soup with that in the next couple of days.

We have 3 parties this upcoming weekend. 2 are at our house, one we are attending and need to take a little food. I’ve been working this week on figuring out the decor and food for Rob’s Mom’s 90th birthday party, which is on Saturday. I’m also frantically finishing the binding of her birthday quilt, which came back from the machine quilter just a few days ago.

I’m not in charge of decor for the boys’ birthday party on Sunday afternoon, but do have a few things to get ready. By the time I get to the 4th, and go to my sister’s, I will be cruising along, just taking a salad and enjoying the fact that I can just visit with everyone. I’m sure I will have lots of pictures to post by this time next week.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Mar.13, 2022

It’s been a week of soup, again! Besides keeping my grocery budget down, it’s just plain good food for this time of year. After some very cold, sunny days, we are in a period of rain, rain, rain!

We finished the beef-vegetable soup, and I made both chicken with rice noodles and potato soup. I may have actually made a little too much soup:). We had tacos a few times, made with home-made, frozen re-fried beans and hamburger. We made a very small pork roast with salsa verde on it. Rob’s mom gave us 4 or 5 avocados when he stopped in to visit her, so we had those several times as they ripened. I also made a ground turkey stroganoff with noodles, which was enjoyed several times. I don’t eat a lot of noodles, but they sure go down well when the baby comes over and I enjoy a few with him when I make them. I shopped a week and a half ago, and it’s working out fine–we are into the second week and have plenty of choices left. Of course, I used, and will use, lots of frozen and canned food from my pantry.

I skipped the Azure Standard order this month, as I had plenty, but instead sent Rob down to Costco for a few bulk items. The girls also went to Costco and gave me some bits and pieces of veggies that came in such large quantities they didn’t feel they would eat them all. Nice! I had Rob grab a chicken, as I often do, and we ate and froze chicken, boiled the bones and made broth, and froze most of it for another soup-making session later on. $5 for an already cooked chicken is such a bargain.

I was delighted to get outside a couple of times. We pulled a few weeds, planted a couple clumps of red tulips someone left for free beside the road, and got the tiny tiller out and roughed up the big flowerbed out front. After the amount of rain we just received, I know that’s the last flowerbed work I will be able to do for a while, until it dries out again. The lawn was mowed as well, so things look better around here.

Rob used some money he was given for his birthday to pick up some jumbo bags of dahlias at Costco. We also have quite a few bulbs he dug up last fall, both from some we had planted in the corner of the garden and some a friend gave us last summer. We have a couple of areas we plan to fill with dahlias. It’s too early to plant them yet. The hope is that once they are established, and mulched, they will be less work than the gazillions of zinnias I planted last summer! I wasn’t able to hand-weed them enough, so they got pretty weedy by the end of the summer. Gorgeous, but a bit of a mess.

It was a week of visitors. I had Jake (my nephew) all week. For you new readers, we work with him and his sister for our job, and spend some auntie and uncle time, as well. His mom was working 12 hour days, multiple days. His dad was working a lot, as well. So he just spent the days and nights all week. His sister came one day, only, as she is enrolled in a program most days. We had the grand-babies a few days. By Friday, I was delighted to hear that my mom was coming over. She played games, held Mac, and helped eat up some of that never-ending soup while we visited. It was good to break up the fun with a new person. This is her trying to play Clue with Patsy and Jake while keeping Malcolm busy with lots of odds and ends in a basket–no wonder I can multi-task well:). I come by it naturally!

Rob took Jake to the library one day, Michaela to Bottle Drop to recycle her family’s cans and bottles, Jake out for errands and donuts and Michaela to Costco for a hot dog and her Horses of Hope lesson. I stayed home with Patsy and did school, school, school, babysat and did school with Jake. I also read aloud to him for hours, as he loves that. Right now, we are reading Trixie Belden, book 1, yet again. He loves that book. It’s a good thing that I enjoy it, too, as this has to be our 3rd or 4th time through.

You can imagine that I loved having the company I got, and I was ready for a little visiting! All those errands and activities kept the kids busy, and that helps me keep sane.

I am happy to report that Patsy is almost finished with school. Tomorrow should do it, except for a couple of very small things. Now she will be able to have a few days to do a few things she needs and wants to do to finish preparing for going off to camp to work a week from Tuesday. It’s been 7 days a week, often many hours per day, of contact school for a few weeks, ever since we found out they wanted her early to help with outdoor schools, so it will be SO good to be done with that huge project!

My niece, Alissa, came over one day just to hang out. If you are a new reader, this is the niece that I homeschooled for several years, so I miss her a lot now that she’s grown up and working. Another evening, another couple of nieces dropped by and of course, I loved seeing them, as well. I’ve just had a great “auntie” week.

We took the babies and Jake to the park. We take as many walks as we can, whenever the weather allows us to. Even when it’s raining, we take umbrellas and go. It’s only when it’s very cold or the rain is driving sideways that we stay in with the kids the whole time.

It was a great, but super busy week. My life goes that way–I’m busier in spurts, and I’ll admit I got somewhat tired this week. It turned out to be a lot, but filled with such precious people and memories. This next week will be lighter. That’s good because I have one daughter I’d like to spoil a bit before she takes off to camp…..

A Simple, Home-made Halloween–2017

IMG_5884

Yesterday, we celebrated Halloween.  Now, I must confess, Halloween is both Rob and my least favorite holiday.  For many, many years, we hosted an alternative harvest party of some sort, took the kids to one at church, or just did our own thing that night.  One time, in 20 years, we took the kids, including the nieces and nephew, trick-or-treating and we were completely worn out by the end, so we did not do it again.  To be fair, we tried to take them to every relative that lived within an hour’s drive of each other–lots of places, really far apart, nursing homes included, etc.   We were driving for hours, unloading them, visiting, and off again.  They were little, and it was just plain a lot of work.  All the relatives did enjoy the costumes, especially the elderly relatives who were in homes.  So, we went back to our regular ways.

However, when we got Patsy 4 years ago, Halloween was one of her most favorite things–a rare, good memory of times with her birth mother, a special evening she much looked forward to, a MAJOR BIG DEAL to her.  So, we decided that we would try to let her have some fun on that day/night, in a way we could all enjoy.  We saw no reason to remove one of the few happy memories/traditions she had from her past, but we did want to change the focus a bit from scary, gory, and dark to light, happy and fun.  In other words, keep the fun part, get rid of the rest.  To be truthful, we still don’t like Halloween much, but we do like our daughter and her feelings more than we don’t like Halloween, if you get what I mean.

For the past few years, we have spent the evening with the cousins.

IMG_5889

This year, Patsy was a princess, using an old dress I made years ago for Ja’Ana.  Alissa dressed up in her pajamas.  She recently got a job at a daycare for 2-1/2 hours each afternoon, and they were having the toddlers and staff wear pajamas Tuesday.  Jake, is Darth Vader, in a pair of pajamas, a cape, a mask and a light saber.  Just don’t call him that!  His name is Jake, and he is still under there, in case I was wondering:)

IMG_5888

Last year, Uncle Rob started a tradition with Michaela.  She really, really wants to be involved with the whole trick-or-treat project, but after all, she is 20 now.  Kind of old.  So, she and Uncle got a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and drove around, following Jake and his helpers (anyone who would get out of the van and take him up to doors, from his sister Caitlyn, to Alissa, and of course, Patsy).  This year, he also had Heath bars, Snickers, assorted candy, and Starburst in the van for all of the, well, helpers?  This year, again, she scarfed down candy, this time with Lovana (who isn’t actually eating much candy right now, to be fair to her), Caitlyn, Alissa, Ja’Ana, J’s friend Angel, Patsy……. Yes, a party in the van, all for the sake of Jake and Michaela.  Of course, Jake and Michaela.  Anything for Jake and Michaela.  Lots of eager volunteers for this task:)

Earlier in the day, Michaela and I had cut out the pumpkin cookies, and baked them.  Jake was offered the opportunity of decorating them, but he was too excited for the party to start.  So, Caitlyn and I decorated them.  My sister made a taco bar, and we had everyone eat dinner before Uncle took off with them.  I stayed back at the house with my sister and brother-in-law,  handing out candy.  It was fun to see the kids in their costumes, and admire the pumpkins my niece had carved.

IMG_5885

The kids coming up to the door enjoyed them, too, and she received a lot of compliments on her carving, which I passed on to her when she got back.

IMG_5892

Patsy lit up her pumpkin as soon as we got home.  It’s about done for, already, but that’s ok.  Another Halloween is past, and now we are moving forward towards Thanksgiving, one of my absolute favorite holidays in the whole world.  I can’t wait.

A Fun, Rewarding Day

IMG_0798

My sister, Rosalie, and I, Patsy and Ja’Ana started yesterday off with a very pleasant breakfast with my mom.  It was her birthday.  It was also Rob’s mom’s birthday:)  It’s always been funny to us that they both have the same birthdays.  He was able to go visit her later in the day and they had a nice visit, which he enjoyed very much.

After breakfast, my mom was off to have lunch with my aunt, niece and nephew.  We all teased her that she would be rolling home for dinner last night!  Then, the girls, Rosalie and I headed up to see our friends Harnet and Danait.

IMG_4886

Little Danait looked so cute in the dress I sewed, and you can see the one I made for Patsy on her.  I haven’t been able to sew very much lately, and I enjoy it a lot.  It was fun for me to see how much both girls enjoyed their dresses.  Donate kept looking around for Alissa, since she knows and loves her, but had a great time with Patsy and Ja’Ana.   Ja’Ana texted Alissa and A sent a photo, which seemed to satisfy Danait.  They took her outside for a while, played with her, and kept her busy.

In the meanwhile, Harnet had cooked her wonderful food for us, and after we had lunch, we ladies had a great time visiting, and working on some paperwork that needed to be completed.  There were 3 separate (LONG) forms that needed to be completed, and several documents to be gathered.  We also had to stay at the apartment, waiting for an inspector to come inspect, and then we would be free to go gather the rest of the documents we needed.

IMG_4890

So, we sorted papers and mail, quizzed Harnet endlessly for the answers that needed to be filled in on the forms, wrote them in, figured out what we needed, and visited and looked at pictures in-between.  The girls kept Danait busy, which we were very grateful for.

Finally, the inspector came, tested the smoke alarms, window locks, etc., and went on his way.  It was almost 4.  We were worried that we would not have enough time to gather all that was needed, so we divided and conquered.  I took Harnet and we roared from place to place, gathering documents.  Rosalie took the girls to a splash pad at a nearby library to have fun.

IMG_4891

IMG_4893

We had success!  The places we went were not busy.  Everyone treated us like queens, offering us water and cheerful smiling help.  The whole time we were laughing and giggling like girls.  I think Harnet was so relieved to be getting this important paperwork done so smoothly and was so happy that Danait was able to be having such a good time while she did the work.  She was also getting a kick out of the fact that she had made her special coffee for us, and hyped me up pretty good on it!  I was pretty tired until I drank so much:)  She thought it was pretty funny.

While we were at the library, I explained about the summer reading program and we got Danait signed up.  We were also able to make a dental appointment on a day that Rosalie and I can be there to watch the little one while mama gets her teeth cleaned.

It was one of those feel-good days for me.  I got to spend time with both family and friends.  I got to feel like I helped someone get some very important things accomplished and I had a lot of fun while doing it.  I am getting to know Harnet as a person, and I feel like we are getting to be friends.

 

 

Summer Fun–Zoo Trip

IMG_4713

What a difference 4 days makes!  Today, when we went to the zoo, it was sunny and warm.  On Thursday, I was bundled up with 2 sweatshirts on, and we were carrying umbrellas.  Today, I did not even take a jacket with me.  Instead, we froze water bottles and took the ice-filled bottles with us and drank them as they unthawed.  Then, we re-filled them with water from bottle-filling stations I did not even notice on Thursday.  On Thursday, a picnic was out of the question, but today, it was the perfect option.

IMG_4704

Each person had an agenda today.  Michaela wanted to see big cats, and dressed in theme.   She even carried her 2 little stuffed cats around the entire day.   She was especially interested in the lioness she saw who was playing with a toy wrapped around a log in her enclosure.  What a treat to see the lioness being active.  Most animals were lying down today, because it was the first hot day in quite a while.

Jake wanted to ride the zoo train and eat.  He did both.  The zoo– once, the eating–all day long.  I was amazed as he isn’t usually so hungry.  Must be growing.

Patsy was a good sport and enjoyed all the animals we ended up visiting.  She had never been on the zoo train before, so enjoyed that especially.    I’ll probably slip up there one of these days so she can have a little more say-so in what she sees and where we go.   There were a lot of opinions floating around today.   The more we use the zoo pass, the better it is anyway, in my mind.

Rob and I wanted to keep everybody happy, hydrated, cool enough and fed.  We succeeded.  We took food with us that the kids like, several water bottles, took them to the misting areas 3 times, and negotiated between them all day long.   We also got Michaela to drink 3 full bottles of water.  Score!  (You have no idea what an accomplishment that is, but she is really trying to do better with that–we were so proud of her.)

Everyone wanted to go to “Africa” to see the big cats.   It was the primary goal, according to the kids. So, being the good auntie/uncle/parents we are, we started for “Africa” first thing.   “Africa” is harder to reach than you might think.  To get there, you enter the zoo, head down a big hill, stop and see the seals, continue on, have Michaela notice that there are tigers to the right, stop there and see a tiger and a leopard, have Jake notice that the train is running, stop and ride the train, have everyone want lunch, so stop and eat our picnic, have someone notice the insect and discovery area, go in there for a l-o-o-o-n-g time, and then notice that it’s already getting scorching hot and it’s afternoon.  Already.  So, you head off for “Africa” again, but there are the bats….and Jake has the zoo key….and there is one of the recorded messages about bats…..and you finally head off for “Africa” again.

IMG_4715

We finally succeeded in reaching “Africa.”  Jake picked the smallest lion statues to sit on, mainly because they were in the shade.  By this time, the sun was scorching and the metal lion family was smoking hot.  So, we pried them away from the artwork and headed off to see live animals.  We went through the lions, gazelles, African exhibits, giraffes, and hippos.

When we exited that area, we found ourselves just in time for a bird show on the lawn.  It was very exciting to watch, as the birds swooped extremely low over the heads of the spectators sitting on the lawn.  We all enjoyed it.  Then, they could view the birds from a closer distance at the base of the stage.

IMG_4721

The sun continued to beat down on our heads as there was no shade on that lawn, and Michaela, especially, began to suffer from the heat.  She is more sensitive than many to the heat.  We continued to press water on her, and she obligingly drank it.  Still….we were next to the elephants, so headed on over there.  By the time we had viewed them, we were all fried in the heat, and decided to start meandering towards the car.  Rob and I figured we would stop and see more animals on the way, but the kids were done, especially Michaela, who was not feeling very well in the heat by then.  So, we headed back up the hill, stopping frequently to coax the children along–offering drinks and lots of rest stops.  There was no food left by then, so we promised more once we got in the car.   There was another misting station at the top, so they got wet again.  Patsy and Michaela had birthday money burning holes in their pockets, so they revived at the gift shop and bought souvenirs.

IMG_4708

When we left the zoo, the air-conditioned car and the book-on-cd were both welcomed.  The cool drinks and snacks we bought were, too.  We stopped off on an errand and then headed home.  Everybody was happy, healthy, and they all want to go back.  No one got sunburned, as far as I know.  The sunscreen we used was powerful enough.  Whew!  I was a little worried as the day wore on.

IMG_4705

That’s how we like to leave a trip like this–with everyone hungry for more, including the adults.  In fact, Jake asked if we were coming to take him somewhere tomorrow, but we informed him that Mom and Dad didn’t have to work tomorrow like they did today, so it was their turn to spend time with him.  He was diplomatic enough to groan dramatically.   How gratifying!  We are, however, looking forward to the second half  of the week when we are spending all day, every day together while Mom and Dad head off to an out-of-town wedding.  So, I assured him that “many fun things” were in store for him, and they are—-for all of us.  It was a great start to summer.

 

 

 

Birthday Tea Party

IMG_4639

Today was the first birthday party we are hosting this week.  Here’s how we made it simple, affordable, yet very nice.

IMG_4630

I started by giving Patsy a handful of invitations I had saved when we moved.  She wanted a small, special party so I have plenty from another occasion in my card bin.   We chose a day after school when I knew I would have plenty of time to get ready during that day.  She handed them out about a week and a half ago.  Although we asked for RSVP’s, we only got one firm one, and a couple of “iffy” ones.  So, we were not quite sure how many to expect.  Then, I dug around in the cupboards and pulled out fancy dishes.  These little luncheon tea plates are from garage sales and a junk store and I have had them for about 20-30 years.  There are a couple that match, but mostly they are different floral patterns.  I have 8 or 9, and got 4 chosen and washed and the others set aside in case we had any surprise guests that forgot to tell Patsy they were coming.

We are still quite new here, and had to also face the possibility that we would have only 1 girl, or even none if something prevented her from coming.  There was a lot of anxiety going around here this morning.  I was very proud of Patsy.  It’s hard to keep trying and trying in life when there are lots of changes, and so much history of disappointment in the past.  But, she was brave, and my prayers were answered.  In the end, 3 girls ended up being able to come.  They were delightful young ladies, and I enjoyed them very much.  Patsy was so happy.

IMG_4632

Alissa and Ja’Ana helped get ready this morning.  They also worked a bit on school.  They are almost done, and have very little to complete.  Alissa brought decorating supplies and worked on the cupcakes.

IMG_4635

She had frosted cupcakes I had baked and frozen last week.  She added the candies on top, and we picked and added violas to make it special.  We put Baby’s Breath on the fancy dish and…..gorgeous and special for pennies.

IMG_4629

I bought 1–$5 bunch of Baby’s Breath.  I used teapots I own, and roses and violas from the yard.  I put one bouquet on top of the piano and one on the table.

 

I used a tea cup and put one in the bathroom to take the elegance even further.  No extra money involved.IMG_4637

IMG_4628

We bought some fancy mints and candy from the bulk bins at Winco.  We used sugar cubes in the sugar bowl.  The girls were excited about the cubes.  They emptied half the bowl.

IMG_4636

Ja’Ana and Alissa worked on the chocolate and white chocolate-dipped strawberries.  I bought one carton of berries and a few melting chocolate disks from the bulk bins at Winco.  Alissa brought some red sugar to use as well to make them even prettier.

I worked on pickle rolls.  They are very simple.  You spread cream cheese onto lunchmeat and put a pickle on it, then roll up and cut into circles.  It is a family favorite at holiday times and Patsy wanted the treat for her birthday party.

IMG_4631

I worked on little sandwiches, too.  I cut white bread I got on sale for 69c for the loaf into circles with a biscuit cutter.  I threw away the edges.  If I was not gluten-free, I would have made crumbs from them, but we have no use for regular bread crumbs around here.  I just make and use gluten-free ones.

I used some of the circles for cream cheese/olive open faced sandwiches.  Then, I added 1/4 piece of turkey pepperoni on top.  I spread cream cheese, then placed 1 cucumber slice and a piece of dill on the rest.  I also made some egg salad sandwiches from whole pieces of bread.  I cut the crusts off  and cut into quarters.  I used fancy toothpicks for those.  I also made a veggie tray in a fancy dish.  Snow peas, the remaining slices of cucumbers, celery, carrots, and cherry tomatoes filled it nicely.

The last thing I served was zucchini chocolate chip bread, baked and frozen last week.  I also made 2 pots of tea.  I let them choose and they chose Chai and Peppermint.  That was easy enough, using my insta-hot on my sink.  We used 4 tea bags, total.

The girls visited for a bit.  They then proceeded to polish off almost ALL of the food on the table.  How gratifying!  I was very pleased that they were so verbally appreciative,  polite, and apparently very hungry!  Afterwards, they went outside and played croquet on the lawn until it was time to go home.

The items I made this food from were all inexpensive, common ingredients.  It was the fancy dishes, the flowers, and making all the food tiny, decorated and fancy that made the tea party seem special. I did as much of it ahead of time as I could, even freezing a couple of items last week. I shopped yesterday for the things I needed.   I washed dishes as I went, and then put all the fancy dishes away directly after the guests went home.  I cleaned the house first thing this morning and some more after lunch.  That is something that would just have to be re-done if I did it too far ahead:)

I made a list of food I wanted to serve on the whiteboard as I thought of it, and then used the list to shop and cook.  I bought dill and used it more than once to get the best use of my purchase.  I did the same with the Baby’s Breath.  I figure if I’m going to buy it, I want to use it a lot.

So, I’m very tired, but satisfied and happy.  Patsy had a great party, I did not break the bank, we DID have some girls come to the party and they had a great time, my house is clean, and I have bouquets of flowers to look at.  I should sleep well tonight.

 

 

 

Camlann Medieval Village–Homeschool Field Trip

IMG_4441

This weekend, we took the kids to Camlann Medieval Village.  It is a living history village about an hour from Seattle, Washington.  Both our family and Alissa’s family went together, and we took all of the kids, not just the homeschooled ones.  We had a blast!

IMG_4360

The blacksmith entertained Michaela by putting arrowheads he had forged on her fingers and then they roared like wild animals.  He was so patient with her, and explained the whole blacksmithing process to all of us who were watching, but took extra time with an enamored Michaela.

IMG_4381

One of the cottages had a fiber display.  It was very interactive, and the guide spent a great deal of time with the girls I was with, and let them weave on this loom.

IMG_4369

IMG_4373

Jake and Patsy had a great time feeding the sheep.

IMG_4417

My sister, Gail, the field trip queen, chose this weekend to go because there was a May Day festival going on.  There are other festivals at other times of the year, and some weekends are “village” weekends.  It was explained to us that on festival weekends they hire entertainment such as the magician who did a show, musicians, and a few others.  Those people are not there and one lady told me there were even more displays explaining village life and how they made things on the non-festival weekends.  At 3:30, because it was a May Day festival, there was a Maypole dance for those who wanted to participate.  Michaela, Patsy and Alissa wanted to dance it and we all enjoyed watching them.

IMG_4426

It was a lovely day, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

IMG_4422

This little guy had a stick and was WAY too cute, joining in with the musicians as they played for the Maypole.  Earlier, his mother had been a guide for the cottage where we learned about daily medieval life.  She was SO in character, and SO convincing, that Michaela exclaimed afterwards, “I had NO idea that the people really lived here, in these houses!”  She was very sincere, but was fine with it when her mama explained that these people were actors and actresses who were playing a part and were told to say those things, like in a movie.

IMG_4403

This little cutie was the daughter of the lady who made the flower wreaths that Alissa and Patsy wore.  She happily played with my sister, Gail, for a while as her mother was busy braiding flowers.  She had a designated babysitter, but was very friendly to Gail, too.

IMG_4383

There was an archery demonstration, and later on, those who wanted too could take a turn shooting.

IMG_4389

Jake sure wanted to!

IMG_4363

Alissa and her dad, Ron, both decided to goof around and sit on Rob’s lap when their legs got tired:)

There was a restaurant, where Ron and Gail got a little bite to eat, as they had not had their lunch, yet.  There were things like “fungus” (mushrooms), and stew of some sort with a medieval name.  They said it was delicious.  Later in the evening, there was going to be a medieval feast, but we chose not to participate.  It is reservation only, something you need to know if you ever go and do want to participate.  I’m sure it would have been a great experience since it included both food and entertainment, but many of our kids are not good eaters, and the expensive feast would have been wasted.  Instead, we went to a pizza parlor in the nearby town of Carnation, and everyone pigged out on their preferred foods.  They even made Michaela a peanut butter pizza, which was basically bread with peanut butter on it, placed in triangles on a pizza board.  She was so happy, as her food choices are very limited.  Then Ron and Rob took the big kids to the movies, and Gail and I stayed back with Jake and Michaela, and just rested.  Ahhhhh….

This morning, Rob and I drove Lovana, Alissa, and Ja’Ana back in time for Driver’s Ed class, which started at 2.  Ron and Gail took Jake, Michaela and Patsy to the Space Needle, then brought them home a little later.  We had a fun, action packed weekend, and hopefully, everyone learned a little bit more about medieval times.  The village was small, there were no huge crowds, and the guides were very patient, kind and knowledgable.

 

Valentine’s Day and a Birthday

Yesterday, we did Home Economics. 2 cakes were made.  First, as a group, we mixed up a double batch of Gluten-free sour cream chocolate cake batter.  The girls cut out waxed paper to fit into the bottom of the pans and then sprayed them with non-stick spray.  The cake layers were baked.  They came out of the pans easily with the waxed paper liner.

After they were cooled, they frosted them with chocolate buttercream frosting and decorated them however they wanted with the supplies they could find in the garage.  They did great!

Ja’Ana’s cake was for her dad, for Valentine’s Day.

img_4042

Alissa’s cake was for her mom (the G is for Gail) for her birthday, which is the day after Valentine’s Day.

img_4047

I was amazed at how nice they looked!  Of course, we are all helping Rob eat his, and it tastes great!  We even got about 6 or 8 cupcakes as well from the leftover batter.  It made a lot.

We went down to the farm store and bought some flowers and some potting soil.  We used a pot I had, and the girls planted flowers in it as a birthday gift from all of us.  They chose the colors carefully and it turned out great.  They also got a flower for my aunt (their great aunt), and some chocolates for Grandma.  Last evening, Alissa babysat her siblings so her parents could go out for dinner for Valentine’s and got up super early to give her mom breakfast in bed for her birthday.

It was a gorgeous day, and I love how we spent it.