Tag Archives: planning for success

January 12-Use-It-UP! 2024

I am still on my mission to use many things from the pantry, freezers and canning shelves. Here are a few of the sides we had in the past few days.

I cooked home-canned green beans. We grow a Blue Lake variety for the green ones. This year, it will be a favorite–“Venture. ” The yellow ones are “Carson.” I usually grow both and mix them in the jars.

The potatoes are some red ones from a bag that showed up here ??? (someone bought them in the past–not me), and they were starting to sprout when I found them. I put some olive oil on them and some herbs and roasted them in the oven.

The macaroni and cheese is a box of Kraft from the pantry. My niece loves that kind, and that kind only, so I grabbed a few boxes when it is on sale. She and my grandson ate most of it yesterday.

I used up some lemons that were in the fridge drawer in lemon bars for the church young adult group. I still cook for them on Tuesdays, but things have changed slightly and sometimes all I need to bring is dessert, sometimes more things, depending on the need that day. This time, Rob barbecued 3 huge packs of drumsticks (we kept and ate part of the 3rd pack) and sent them with the gluten-free lemon bars. It was nice to get those drumsticks out of the freezer. I got 2 packs on super super markdown ($2.35/huge pack) and have been saving them for this purpose. The 3rd pack had been on sale as well, just not that great of a sales as that! Our food was put with other food from other people, to be enough to feed the group, which often runs 25-30 right now.

The jar in the background is full of chicken broth. We had a Costco chicken and I made broth from the bones. I either need to freeze it today or make some thing from it.

I made turkey meatloaf. I buy the ground turkey on sale and still have several in the freezer. Malcolm seems to love turkey meatloaf!

I also made some spaghetti sauce, using my home-canned marinara, plus some tomato sauce I had, hamburger, extra herbs, frozen onions, and cooked noodles from the pantry. In the end, there still wasn’t enough sauce and it wasn’t how I wanted it, so I added a jar of purchased sauce and that finished it off. I’m trying to slip some of that purchased sauce in when I can because we like the home-canned better and the few jars I have from the store are just sitting there getting older and older and older……

Rob made pancakes for breakfast. These are made from Pamela’s gluten-free pancake mix. The flecks you see in there are because there’s almond flour in that particular mix. We all love them. Since I am so sensitive to even the smallest bit of wheat/gluten, much of the time we all eat gluten-free around here. I do buy bread for them, and we are really careful about the crumbs. Occasionally, Grocery Outlet has the big bags of this mix for $13-$15. I just checked at the Natural Grocers store, and the same bag was $23. Because Grocery Outlet is hit and miss, when we see it, we buy 2 or 3 bags. Right now, they don’t have it, but I still have 2 bags left, so there’s time for them to get it in before I would have to pay full price for it. If they never get it again, it is what it is. Gluten free food is not inexpensive, but worth every penny to me.

As you can see, things are going well in the food department right now, here at my house. I did buy milk, 5 dozen eggs, produce, and a few pantry items a couple of days ago. My older daughter wanted to shop, so I took her and got what I needed at the same time. It’s hard to believe that I was out of anything–I keep such a large pantry–but a few things did run out. I did not stock up, but only got what I needed this time, as my goal is to force myself to use up a few items that have been there for a long time, while still giving myself the ability to cook at a moment’s notice without running to the store for basic ingredients. My niece and nephew are very specific as to what foods they will and will not eat, and are here frequently, so I do always keep “their” foods stocked. We are all in good shape for food now.

Menu Plan–Week of September 19, 2016


We’ve had a few rainy days this past weekend, and it’s put me in the mood for chili and other comfort food.  With my life settling down into a routine, I’m also in the mood to plan menus.  When I don’t, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants every day, and we also tend to spend more money on groceries.   The good news is that we are cooking at home now, as compared to grabbing a bite here and there, as we did during the end of the summer as we fixed up the new house and moved in.  My crock pots are unpacked and have already been put into use and I plan to use them a lot this week.

Monday:  Leftovers (choice of roast beef, lasagna, and some meatballs from my sister) I also made football brownies–a long-time family tradition for Monday night football, which Rob enjoyed for the first time in over 10 years tonight!  We get t.v. now:)

Tuesday:  Beef stew–made from home-canned beef broth and the small amount of leftover roast, veggies.  I will put it into the crock pot early in the day. I work early in the morning for 2 hours, then 4 hours after school, so I need a crock pot meal.

Wednesday:  chicken wings, rice, green beans:  Ja’Ana has some frozen wings she had us pick up, since she likes to make sticky wings on occasion.

Thursday: Home-baked fish sticks (I have some tilapia in the freezer), tater tots, salad

Friday:  Chili

Saturday: Leftovers.  If there are not enough, I’ll pull out a mini tuna casserole I froze when I made it last week.

Sunday:  I’ll organized that with my sister closer to the day as I have a chance to see what we come up with together.



House Update–Sept. 5, 2016


Now that we have a huge pile of our belongings stacked in the shop, we are attempting to put it away.  We are finding that we have way too much stuff for this tiny house.  So, we are getting creative.  There was an extra space in the garage.  Rob to the rescue!



Most of my appliances will be stored in the garage–there’s not enough room in the kitchen–so, cookbooks and appliances will go on this new shelf.


Clearly, we have much left to do, but we’ve made a great start getting a lot put away.


It’s been amazing to be able to do my laundry at my own home, again!  I have welcomed a lot of old friends back into my life–my pots and pans have shown up, and the plates finally surfaced on Saturday.  This morning, the missing cord to the electric fry pan was found in a very strange box marked misc.–I was helping Rob move boxes around in the shop and thankfully took a peek–Whew!


There is a partially enclosed patio.  Rob put the picnic table on the deck outside, and got an umbrella for only $15 at Winco.  We’ve already had several meals out there.


It’s starting to shape up!

I may be a bit spotty with my posts and comment replies, though, as we are not connected to internet, yet.  Soon.  In the meanwhile, I will continue to catch wi-fi where I can.

And, Rob had 4 interviews in the last couple of weeks.  So, we are waiting on pins and needles to hear back from a couple of them that seemed promising–hopefully tomorrow.  If he doesn’t get one of these, he has about 15-20 more applications out right now.  So far, he’s applied for a lot of jobs–like around 40 or more.  One job had 40 applicants.  So, even though competition is fierce, I have a feeling that he will be back to work before long, and I am feeling a strong sense of urgency to get as settled as possible before that happens.  Because, let’s face it.  I’m lousy at building shelves:) He wins hands-down on that one, along with quite a few other things.

New House Projects–Aug. 17, 2016


We are spending most of our time these days working on the new house.  After both Rob and I worked for quite some time, we finally got the linoleum removed that was glued to the hardwood by the door.  The flooring man said he could sand the rest off–hurray!!!


Aunt Janet has been on the paint crew the past 2 days with us.  Yesterday, with my brother-in-law, Ron’s, help as well, we got the layer of Kilz on the walls all over the house.    Today, we got most of Patsy’s room done, as well as a good start on Lovana and Ja’Ana’s. (They will share).  Tomorrow, we will see what we can get done!



Michaela was delighted with a train calendar the former owner left in the shop.  Rob gave it to her, because trains are one of her absolute favorites!  She was a good helper yesterday, too.


Ja’Ana pulled purslane out the the garden area for a long time.  Those huge piles in the back of the garden are pulled and she will move them to a compost pile soon.  It  got too hot and she came in.  She and Lovana both painted today for quite a while, too.  Yesterday, Lovana unpacked a few boxes of food items and kitchen things.  J did some more today.  We can’t unpack other rooms, but the kitchen and garage can be filled as boxes come up in the small loads we are moving in our van each day.  The rest can be stored in the shop until the floors are done.  We are pretty committed to emptying the one storage unit before the end of August to save on rent.  They will charge us for the entire month of September, even if we take the things out on the 1st.  Hmmmm……Not a hard decision!!



This is a rare shot of Rob and I with 5 of the children.  We took some time to mourn the passing of a close family relative this morning.  It was a beautiful service and it was nice to have so many of the kids with us.  The young lady Rob has his arm around is our oldest daughter, Abbie.  The young man by me is our son, Anthony.  The rest, you already know.  Clearly, there were several relatives with phones, all calling out for everyone to smile at them, so everyone is looking around, but….life is like that sometimes–kind of messy!



The New House–At Last


And, here it is!  The new house.  Rob and Patsy are going in for the first time after it became ours!


It is on .3 acres.  It has a large garden area with Marion berries on one side and raspberries on the other.  Clearly, there are a lot of weeds to remove, but it has grown the former owner a good garden for years, and the soil has been amended.


It has a shop!


And a cute little partially enclosed patio.  Behind the patio is a paved area where the camper can be parked behind a locked chain link fence.


Here is the kitchen and the laundry room behind.


The living room has a fireplace.  The carpets smelled badly of cigarette smoke.  Our first project was removing them.


After 2 days spent pulling up carpet tacking strips, pulling carpet staples as well as the carpet and pads, the lovely hardwood was revealed.  We have an appointment scheduled to get them refinished.


It’s already a huge improvement!  We have several other things planned.  We will have to wait a bit to move in, but it will be worth it in the end to have them done before we do:)

We are super excited and can’t wait to start living here!  I will admit that I have muscles I never knew existed after crawling around on the floor for 2 days.  I am very happy that I’ve leaned a new skill, though.  I’ll bet there are several new experiences ahead!

House Hunting–Round 2


We’ve been hunting for many, many hours, but the girls are still finding some time to horse around:)

I spent about 6 hours on the internet, and chose a pretty good list of houses we might like to view.  We got to look at 3 or 4.  We found a real fixer-upper for a price we could afford, and put in an offer.  They countered, and we had to decide what to do.  We just found out that 2 of the rooms were added over time, without permits.  After calling  the city and county, they informed us of what we had already been told.  We would either need to bring the rooms up to code, or tear them down.  With all of the other work that we would have to do, we had to let that one go.  It also had some major problems in the basement, along with quite a few other problems.  We did the math, and could not finish the project if we started.  I’m really sad.  I had hoped we could get it to work.   It would have been a nice size for our family.  So, it’s back to the drawing board, again.

In the meanwhile, we have another day at Champoeg State Park, so plan to enjoy tomorrow there.  Today we had so many errands to run, plus viewing this house again, that we will welcome a day of rest tomorrow.

Menu Plans–June 23, 2016


I feel like I’m finally getting adjusted to living in the camper and am ready to make some menu plans.  So far, I have been flying by the seat of my pants–eating and using whatever needs to be used next.  To some extent, I will continue to do that because space is at such a premium.  If there are any leftovers, they have to be used before I cook more food or there is no where to put it.  So, here’s a tentative plan for the next week.

Friday:  We will eat the lovely crab Rob caught.  I will probably make Crab Louis with it, as I have lots of lettuce, eggs and Thousand Island dressing on hand. For dinner, I am making a small pork roast in the crock pot.

Saturday:  Pack a lunch for the road, as we are traveling back to the valley again, this time to stay at my sister’s for 10 days.  For dinner, we will eat leftover pork roast and whatever garden produce is ripe when we get back, most likely lettuce salads.

Sunday:  I need to make a plan with my other sister for our family Sunday dinner.  For the evening meal, we will have something light, such as salads or leftovers.  If there are not enough, we can make burritos or tacos from frozen refried beans I have.  I need to put beans on to soak for Monday.

Monday:  I want to make a pot of refried beans in the crock pot.  I have all of the ingredients.  I use soaked pinto beans and water, jalepenos (or whatever peppers I have), and onion, and cook all day, then mash.  The onions and peppers add flavor, but not much heat.  I salt and pepper to taste.  My kids love them and will eat beans and cheese constantly.   Lunch:  soup  Dinner:  Beans, cheese and salad–maybe leftover meat if there is any left

Tuesday:  Chicken:  I made a new marinade this week and we grilled it at the beach.  It was so good, I want to make more:)


Wednesday:  Lunch:  leftover chicken, sandwiches or salads   Dinner:  trout, potatoes, salad  (we still have 1 meal of trout left from our fishing trip–frozen, of course)

Thursday:  Lunch:  leftovers or soup   Dinner:  grilled steak salads.  I saw a recipe in the Pioneer Woman cookbook I’d like to try.

This week will be busy, but not too busy–just perfect.  Ja’Ana is going to be a junior counsellor at a day camp, ran by the church we are attending.  She will need to be driven down to church (about 1/2 hour trip each way) every morning and picked up each evening.  That will mess with dinner, but if I have things marinading, Rob can barbecue while I’m driving, or I can cook while he is.  We are excited for her to have this opportunity, so it’s worth the driving to us.  We also have a few appointments, but thankfully, not many.  I hope to work on the garden some more, and might pick some blueberries at an u-pick patch.  I will also be watering flowers for someone on a few days when I drop J off.  We will probably go house hunting some more as well.  This menu plan will help on those busy days.



Garden –June 1, 2016


The garden is beginning to grow very well, and is giving us some delicious vegetables now. Before I left last Thursday for Ft. Stevens, I cut a lot of spinach, being careful to not take the entire plant.  I left the small center leaves intact and only took the outer leaves.  You can see from this picture that the part I cut has already grown a bunch more small leaves.  There are still plenty of the large ones on the farthest plants, and I cut some more today.  The weather has been very warm, so I expect the bushes will bolt soon, but we are enjoying it while it lasts.

I also have been enjoying lots of lettuce.  I cut and washed some more this morning.  It just seems to grow and grow.  I have several more batches planted for successive crops as soon as this first one gets bitter or bolts.


Last night and this morning, I planted more lettuce (leaf and head both), another small patch of spinach, a pepper to replace a dead one, some basil, cilantro and dill seeds to replace some that did not come up, some more zucchini seeds to replace the bushes when they get the powdery mildew, a hill of lemon cucumbers and one of slicing cucumbers, and some red potatoes.  I also did a couple of cartons of red onion plants.  Both the onions and potatoes were on sale at Wilco, because they had passed their prime.  I’m sure they will grow, though.


I watered everything in very well, as it has been quite hot for our part of Oregon.

Rob tilled it all this morning, and I’ve done some weeding, as has my sister.  So, we are good for a few days, other than watering.

I like to plant small patches of things frequently and keep the fresh vegetables going as long as possible.  I know that some things will not get used by me, but I like to have as many vegetables as possible all summer long.  Usually, I can and freeze large quantities of my excess produce.  This year, I won’t do much of that, so I want as much fresh produce as possible.  I’m really quite excited at how great the garden looks for June 1.  I can’t wait for that first ripe tomato, but it’s a ways off:)

Menu Plans-May 27, 2016


For the last week, since we’ve moved, we have tried to eat all of the extra food that was in the fridge and the freezer connected to the fridge at the old house.  At the last minute, at my direction, all extra food was crammed into 2 coolers and brought over to the camper.  I purposely left extra food in the freezer to defrost for this past week, but I misjudged and left too much out.  Things went very smoothly, so if that’s the worst that happened, I’m satisfied.  Some of the meals included meatloaf, beef brisket on the barbecue, chicken marinated in zippy sauce, and lots of salad from the garden.  Also, strawberry spinach salad was yummy, made from garden spinich and strawberries I u-picked.

Thursday:  Macaroni and Cheese (this was some my sister gave me–yummy!) Sandwiches in the car with some chicken thighs I had cooked before we moved.

Friday:  Tacos with the turkey burger that was thawed.  Other leftovers in fridge.

Saturday:  Hamburgers (there was a pack that finished thawing a couple of days ago)  Also, clam chowder with the clams we caught.  We had not clammed for over 25 years until this morning.  We had great success, had to watch U-Tube to figure out how to clean them, and can’t wait to cook them.


I have to say, mine is the bucket with only 4 clams in it.  J limited out, with 15, Patsy 10, Rob 10, and me—4.  What a great outing:)

Sunday:  Turkey soup.  I boiled the bones of the turkey legs my sister gave me and have the broth to use.  If Rob wants to cook over the fire, he can, or I will do it over the stove.  It also could become turkey and dumplings. There is also some leftover beef that could be turned into stew or soup.  We may have a potluck for the 4H families that are camping with us.

Monday:  We will travel this day, back to my sister’s.  So, sandwiches for lunch in the lunch pail while on the road.  We never go through drive-throughs while pulling the camper–doesn’t work:)  Dinner:   Leftovers from the weekend.

Tuesday:  Pack dinner.  We need to pick Patsy up from school and will kill the time between school letting out and her band concert by me getting my hair done, and everyone else having a little picnic at the library park.

Wednesday:  Chicken strips.

Thursday:  We will pack food for the road.  We are off to see our very dear friends who live about 8 hours away.  I will take some food, but she will feed us all weekend.

I am still adjusting to the small space of the camper kitchen.  I still can’t find much of anything, but seem to have way too much stuff sitting around.  I’ll figure it out.  We are all eating, and it tastes great, so that’s what matters!

Moving Update–May 11


The fence, the fence, the fence……  The latest hang-up in our moving plans was the fence.  We were told last week after the appraisal that the entire house/property would not qualify for the buyer’s loan because there was paint peeling off of the fence.  And, all of the paint chips had to be removed and not on the ground. We were dismayed, to say the least.

We considered several options:  1)paint it ourselves 2) hire someone 3) knock it down.  Rob was seriously ready to knock it down, he’s so stressed out, plus it was cheaper and faster.  After the realtor said the buyers wanted it and we couldn’t knock it down, Rob started calling around.  He called a friend, who has a painting company, and some young men, and thank goodness, our friend was able to come yesterday and paint it with the young men’s help. They worked the entire day.  It looks beautiful, and we are really hoping the appraiser will think so, too.  He has to come re-check it.  We are very grateful to them for working us into their schedule so quickly, and for the fact that our friend gave us a very good deal to help us out.


Rob took a big load to the auction–even more than what you see.  We are waiting to see what we get for it.


Somehow, in the middle of everything, my columbine from a couple of Mother’s Days ago has decided to bloom.  I’m taking it with me, for sure.

I have several ladies and some of their sons lined up for Friday.  We are going to pack like maniacs–the whole kitchen and more:)  In the meanwhile, I packed for many, many hours yesterday, and will do the same today.  Little by little, it’s getting done, but I’m looking forward to the moment when we are done!