Tag Archives: Weekly update

Weekly Update–Saving Money–February 24, 2018


We’ve had snow 3 times this past week–twice over an inch and a half, and once, just a skiff.  Crazy!  It’s been such a mild, spring-like winter!! There was not enough on the roads to close school down, so neither Rob nor I missed any work.  We only get paid when we work, so we were able to enjoy the beautiful sight of snow without any of the inconvenience that usually comes with it.  In fact, on Thursday, when I took this picture, we were the only area that had much snow.  When you went even a few blocks, there was basically none.

Despite the thrills of excitement we all feel when it snows here, since it is so rare, our week went pretty smoothly.  Monday was a holiday, and I sewed.  I watched the Olympics several times.  We also did some cast iron cooking.  We are testing out some recipes for an upcoming 4H class we have been asked to teach.


Chicken pot pie.


Gluten-free biscuits.


Apple cider and onion pork.

They were all good, and we had a fun time testing them out, and got good food to eat for the rest of the week.


You can bake in a cast iron kettle quite nicely if you put coals on the bottom, place the spider cast iron pot on top, then put coals on the lid.  We were delighted with how the things came out.  It does take practice, though.  We actually got too many coals on the pork, and it was super brown (slightly burned) on top,  but was still good.  We used liners, because we are going to do this at a class and it makes it easier.  I prefer the flavor when they are cooked right down in the cast iron, but this makes clean-up a breeze. The class is for older youth, so needs to be more advanced than the stew in a pot, roasted hot dogs, etc. that we have done before for younger kids.  I hope to practice a little more.


We also cooked Rice Krispie treats, (Jake was here for the weekend), pizza, salad, several baked potatoes with cottage cheese on top, and I bought a $4.99 chicken from Costco when I was there.

I spent a lot of time Friday shopping my way from store to store, getting the best bargains.  I had the time to do that while J was in her house-cleaning job for 2 hours and I didn’t want to come home.  I shopped at Grocery Outlet and Fred Meyers while she cleaned.  At Grocery Outlet, I got 99c gluten-free cookie mix, a little produce, and a few other things.  I was able to pick up all my Friday Freebies at Fred Meyers and get a substitution for the one I had not been able to get twice before.  I got the Cliff bar easily. There was an extra freebie of yogurt on my app this week, and when read carefully, you could choose between a single yogurt or a 2-pack.  Of course, I took the 2-pack. I got more cottage cheese, as it’s really been on sale lately and people are eating tons of it.

Then, I got J and we went over to Safeway, where I had coupons from my aunt for 99c sugar(2) and $1.99 butter (2). A free cream cheese showed up on my app, so I got that.  We chose herb flavor.  We also got Oreos for $1.99, and a very few more things.  I don’t go there much, so haven’t won very many items on the Monopoly game they are playing there.  On this trip, J helped 2 elderly ladies get sugar from the bottom shelf, in the back, so they wouldn’t have to crawl down on the floor.  They were very thankful for her kindness.   At check out, one of them gave J her Monopoly tickets.  Another lady who was standing there did too.  I got my few, and we left.  I was surprised to see, when opened, that we won a bottle of aspirin, a bottle of salad dressing, and a few coupons.  When Patsy stuck the tags on the game board, we won $5!  Wow!  So, I need to redeem those tickets.

Last month, I found I had  $100 left over from last month in my grocery envelopes when I went to fill them up again.  So, I decided to spend it at Costco on Friday, and got a few things I could use from there.  J is taking snacks to youth group Sunday night, and so we got one of those huge bags of corn chips, which she will put with the bean dip and salsa I got very inexpensively at Grocery Outlet.  Her snack will be way under $10 and I’m sure there will be some left.  (She says it ranges from around 15 to 40 kids, depending on the day or night, meaning she has no idea how many there will be, so better safe than sorry).  I got one of those cooked rotisserie chickens at Costco.  I wanted lunch, but there aren’t very many things I can eat at Costco, so I just got that, ate some then, and saved some for later.  J had pizza.

Today, I had Rob pick up the Yoplait fridge packs of yogurt that were a Saturday special at Fred Meyers for $1.99/pack.  He got the 5 allowed.  That’s 25c/yogurt, as there are 8 in the pack.  He and Patsy will burn their way through those 40 yogurts plus the 2 free ones I got.  I buy them frequently for a lot more than that!  He got the 99c cereal, too. (5) and some milk. It’s a long story, but we had 2 Visa gift cards of $15 each.  He used them, and there is still a little money on one for next time.


So, the fridge in the house is stuffed, as is the camper one.   I’m in a great place for groceries and grocery money for the month ahead.  We take grocery money from our mid month paycheck each time.  That’s just working well right now.   I’m hoping to be able to skip a week of shopping this month some time, or at least only buy a few items one week.  We’ll see how it goes.  I don’t want to get over stocked and have things start to go bad.

Tomorrow, Family Sunday dinner is here.  At last count, there may be up to 13 or 14 young adults and kids here, with Rob, myself, and my aunt. We will see how many really show up.  Some of the friends may not actually be available.   I love cooking for a crowd, but since Michaela spent part of the weekend, and Jake the entire weekend, I want it to be easy.  So, I’m using some of the 50c/lb rotini I got last week with some canned pasta sauce.  I’m making meatballs from beef.  All of this will be in separate bowls.  I’m under orders from Alissa, my niece, to keep it separate. (I’m using regular wheat pasta for all of them, to save a bundle of money, and I have a little gluten-free for me.  The trick will be that I will wash the pan and colander myself to make sure it gets super clean, so the separate bowl idea works really well for me, too).  Then, I’ll do salad with some of the 6-pack of romaine from Costco, and my aunt will bring chips and Oreos.  Simple, easy, and us aunties will keep our “spoiler of children” status:). I love it that they come, and bring their friends.  It keeps us all young and on our toes.

I took Patsy and Jake swimming at the YMCA today, and took 2 exercise classes this week.  I was very sore after Thursday’s class, so stretched out really well and exercised a bit at home on Friday.  Jake joined me, pointed out how easy it was, tried to get me to put one leg on the ottoman, my head on the couch, wave my free arm around and kick my other leg up, like he did, but………


We have moved on to reading “On the Banks of Plum Creek.”  He’s enjoying “Good little Mary and bad little Laura” very much.  I know Laura portrays herself as a spunky, slightly naughty child in the books, but I was surprised when he started calling them that:).  In the very first book, Laura slaps Mary and gets in bad trouble.  He was appalled.   Kids are funny. He won’t forget or stop thinking about Laura’s naughtiness:).  Today, I dug out the original Little House on the Prairie movie, I think from the 70’s, and he watched it.  He loved it!  Rob and he watched “The Apple Dumpling Gang” on Friday night, and he liked that, too.  He’s really branching out.  He played with Legos we have, my treasure chest of Transformers and other toys, and the box of play food we’ve had for years.  He made meals for the Transformers, and us, and then the Transformers shot everything in sight:). We read a lot of little books, too, and he read to himself for a while.  I cooked him bacon and pancakes, and he ate most of a package of mini bagels.  My house is a train wreck, but at least everyone is clean, safe and happy, at least for the moment!


Michaela spend one night, and she was quiet, in her personal cocoon, at first, then watched tv with Patsy nicely, and slept in this morning.  Her older sister came and took her to Horses of Hope (she volunteers and grooms them, then gets to ride.). She liked that a lot.  I will get her back at 11 tomorrow, for her weekly after-church Coke, then lunch.  I would have liked to do something fun Friday night, such as take her swimming, but she would not leave the house, even though there were only snowflakes for about 1/2 hour, and they did not stick.  She is terrified of snow.  Still, she is doing quite well at coming over to spend the night more often and I’ll try again another time to take her to the pool.

All-in-all, it was a busy, productive week, with the beauty of snow for part of it.  Now, though, that can go away as far as I’m concerned, and spring can come:). My baby plants are up and growing, and I have some transplanting to do that did not get done this weekend.  Maybe tomorrow…..Maybe not…but soon!




Weekly Update-Saving Money-What We Ate-January 28, 2018


I decided to combine my menu post with my weekly update, because I simply have had no time to post in the past few days.  Instead, I’ve been spending time with people I love.

Jake and Michaela came to spend the weekend with us.  They came Thursday afternoon, as there was no school on Friday.  We went down to the YMCA and went swimming.  While waiting for the girls to change, Jake enjoyed the Mr. Potato Head toys–there were 3 of them.  He had a ball!  It was great for him to get to play with a different toy than what I had and then leave it there:). They also had free books, and he got one–happy boy!


I cooked a lot during the week.


Gluten-free blondies were so good, I made them twice.

I went grocery shopping and spent all the money from the past 2 weeks, and more!  With the kids coming, I needed to lay in a supply of foods they like.  They have very specific likes and dislikes.  I also was planning for 2 sets of company.  One set of friends was coming Saturday, and another on Sunday after church.  The weekend ended up much differently than I planned.

Rob has been struggling with the flu, and we assumed he would be fine by the weekend.  He was not.  Ja’Ana came down with a high fever on Wednesday, and we figured she would be fine and go to her retreat, as planned.  She wasn’t, and didn’t. The doctor’s office wanted to see J on Saturday, so I took her up there. If she’s not better by Tuesday, back we go. Jake became ill on Friday evening.

All of our friends declined to visit our house once they heard about our house full of sickies!  I wonder why?  LOL!  They made a great choice.  We stayed home, surrounded by all that food and Kleenex for the rest of the weekend.

I made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup.  Jake ate 7 helpings over the weekend.  Who knew?  I made smoothies several times.  I ended up making 2 batches of yogurt, and used part of it, frozen peaches, frozen bananas, canned peach juice, and more as I made smoothies.  I bought orange juice and citrus–big oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes for the sick ones.  I bought lemon-lime soda.  I replenished my tea.


I fetched this and that for people.  I shopped. I cooked.  I cleaned.  I did laundry.  I swept. I washed dishes for over 2 hours on Saturday.  I read endless stories.  I ran to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal Saturday night.  On Sunday afternoon, I finally gave up, turned on the Wii, and the tv, and fell asleep on the couch:). Rob did manage to take Michaela to Costco for her hot dog, and got my short list.  He grabbed a cooked chicken there.  Every little exertion wears him out, though, and he’s back in bed for another nap.  J hasn’t moved from the couch since Wednesday, except for short times.

People are starting to feel a little better.  I am feeling a bit more rested.  I still opened prepared spaghetti sauce and bagged salad for dinner, along with noodles.  Frankly, we have been in survival mode the past few days.  And, if I never need to watch “Odd Squad” again, it will be fine with me:), at least for a week or two.


With the extra time at home, I got Patsy going on a new embroidered dish towel with a cute cat pattern.  I gave her some embroidery floss we got at a yard sale, in the colors she wanted.  She started working on it.  She also cut Rob’s hair.  Brave man.  But, look what a nice job she did!


He told her what to do, and she did it!  Amazing!  (Since I am awful at cutting hair, I have admiration for anyone who can).


Earlier in the week, Harnet and I took Danait to the dentist.  She had been before, but that dentist wanted her to go to a pediatric dentist.  We got to go to Portland.  On the 11th floor.  In a place where parking was difficult.  But, after circling around a few blocks a few times—-we managed it!  She had a wonderful time there.  She seemed to love everything they did, and was so interested in it all!  Of course, they loved working with a kid like that, so it was an amazing dentist visit.


We went down to the river with a lunch bucket full of food, and had a car picnic.  The ducks, pigeons and even seagulls were out in full force.  Thankfully, her mama had some bread in her pocket and we all enjoyed feeding the birds between rain showers.  She had tucked in in her pocket because she thought Danait might get hungry, and that turned out to be a great source of entertainment for us all.


It’s been a crazy week, and a busy one, but not the most frugal one.  We were still able to save money here and there, and best of all, took care of everyone that needed care!  Michaela went home with her big sister last evening, and Jake will be leaving soon.  I’m not sure what the week holds, but I do know I have enough food for any occasion:)

Happy New Year 2018, Weekly Update and Saving Money


We had the most beautiful sunset for New Year’s Eve.  I had to run out and take a picture, it was such a gorgeous sight!  Even the power lines didn’t ruin it for me, and that’s saying something. We saved money by staying home tonight and enjoying this sunset, playing games, and watching movies.  Since I had a full house, which included my niece, Michaela, our movie choice was “CARS,” a favorite of hers.  And, the game of choice was Yahtzee, which was no surprise.  What was really fun was watching her help teach our friend how to play it and giving advice for those times when there were multiple choices.  We all had a good time.  Everyone went to bed a little later than usual, but we did not choose to stay up until midnight.  However, you could say the fireworks that went off in our neighborhood gave us little choice in the matter!

We had a week of healthier eating, which is always nice during the holidays.  I found all those tomatoes on the mark-down rack at Fred Meyers for only $2 total.  I got a bag of organic sweet potatoes and an orange squash in a mark-down bag for $2 total at Natural Grocers.  I made sweet potato fries, baked squash and froze 2 bags of cubes for another day, and we’ve used almost all of the tomatoes already.

I was able to use several coupons for free or greatly reduced items.  There was a coupon on my phone for a free package of fruit strips, but our Fred Meyers did not carry them, so they kindly substituted another organic gummy snack for them for a whopping $5.19 for free!  Wow!  I got marked-down milk for 89c/1/2 gallon, some marked down bread for 79c/loaf for the good kind, and big boxes of 20-24 cans soda for $3.99.  There were several other good deals, too, so I stocked up on those items.  I thought I was all set for groceries for a long while, but we did eat up a bunch of it already, so I’ll probable get a few things in the next couple of days.  I shouldn’t need much, though.


We had another big family gathering.  This time it was at our normal Family Sunday Dinner time, with additional friends and family added in.  We were jointly celebrating the birthdays of Alissa, Jake and Rob, as we usually do around the new year, as they all have January birthdays.  Alissa and Caitlyn had some unfrosted cupcakes and Danait helped them frost and decorate them.  I made a gluten-free chocolate layer cake–so yummy.  Even with the gluten-free ingredients, which are more expensive, I’m sure my cost was $10 or so for the cake.  To buy one around here is at least $25-$35, minimum.  My mom brought ice cream, and of course my Aunt Janet brought chips.  She and the children have a long-standing agreement:) Harnet cooked Eritrean food on Saturday (Coalwa, which is a beef dish, and lentils with beri-beri spice), while I watched and cooked rice, and Gail made some chicken.  There was salad, too.

After 10-12 unexpected guests dropped in on her on Friday for lunch, with only 1-1/2 hour’s notice, I was glad it was my turn to cook the bulk of the meal Sunday:) I’m also glad I got her one of those 20-pack Diet Cokes.  She’s going to need it if she keeps up the pace!  She said she made chicken, cut in tiny pieces, so it would cook fast and go farther. She mashed potatoes.  Lots of potatoes.   She had plenty of other food in the house, and cooked it up.  They have gone through over 100 lbs of potatoes and 100 lbs of various meat/proteins this month, with all the entertaining they ended up doing!  She hosted several parties for teens (at least 3), an out-of-town guest, guests who wanted to visit the guest, friends and family multiple times, and her business party (her employees and families).  I should have bought her 2 boxes of Diet Coke!



Gifts were purchased when I did my Christmas shopping, and one of Alissa’s gifts was a cookbook I got from the library used book store (the book looks brand new) for only $2, which left me plenty in my budget to spend on the rest of her gift!


There were light saber wars!


The toaster Hot Wheel car was a hit!  The toast even pops up and down.  It was another of the toys that Fred Meyers had a high value coupon for over the Christmas season, so I paid very little for it.

Now that all the fun commotion is drawing to an end, and it’s back to work and school tomorrow, I hope to spend a little time today getting organized for the week ahead.  It’s a miracle, but the house is actually quite clean and the laundry is under control (go Rob!)  I want to cook a little bit of food–muffins, for one, and make out a menu plan for the week.  I have a few house guests to take home sometime today, and I’ll check the ads to see if peanut butter is on sale anywhere.  It is absolutely unbelievable to me that I’m out of peanut butter!  I bought so much (like 10) not that long ago.  But, I am.  I have some correcting to do for homeschool that’s I’ve been chipping away at and I’d like to do a little more today.  It’s been a wonderful holiday season, but it’s time to get back down to daily living, and that’s nice, too.  In January, we always eat a little healthier, spend less money, and clean more–all good things.  This January will be no exception–at least that’s the plan:)

So, to you and yours from all of us….Happy New Year!







Merry Christmas–Weekly Update–Saving Money–December 24, 2017


Christmas is in full swing around here!  Our house guests arrived on Saturday to stay in our “guesthouse” (camper) and we had our traditional fondue dinner last night.  I used this snowman pot for cheese sauce.  There is a candle in the bottom that heats the sauce up.  The hat is a lid, and it is really cute when it is together.  It’s the kind of thing we only use once a year, but it makes things special.


I made hamburger balls–some with cheese and some without.  I cut up 2 chicken breasts, and peeled some frozen shrimp.  There were mushrooms to dip into tempura batter.  Another bowl of tempura coated the shrimp for those who wanted any.  There was bread to dip into the cheese sauce and fresh fruit to dip into the chocolate fondue.


Each person cooked what they wanted, and there was lots of nibbling, cooking, talking and visiting.  Fondue is time-consuming, so good for a fairly small group as there is time for each person to cook what they want, sit down and eat it, then get up and cook some more.  Some people put the fondue pots in the middle of the table for ease in visiting.  We put the hot oil on the stove top so no one got burned.  With so many little kids for so long, this has worked as the least stressful for our family for all these years.

This yellow fondue pot was my grandma’s, in the 70’s!  It finally stopped working well last night.  So, with regret, we threw it away!  But, I would say it was definitely worth what ever price my grandma paid for it so long ago.  Now, we will hunt for another electric one at a yard sale or Goodwill for next Christmas.  And, in case you were wondering, it was all gluten-free except the purchased French bread that was dipped into the cheese sauce (all in separate bowls to prevent cross-contamination).


All that preparation for fondue really made today’ cooking easy.  We went to church this morning, and then came home to an easy meal of BBQ’d hamburgers, made with the leftover hamburger balls from last night.  I just left the cheese mixed in and Rob grilled them.  I had some buns I got for 99c off the day-old bread rack. I served fruit, leftover cheese sauce and bread, and cut up some carrots and celery to add to the mushrooms.  Rob sauted the leftover shrimp as well to use it in a timely fashion.

Then, I threw a soup into my Instant Pot with the leftover chicken pieces, some carrots, celery, onion, broth and rice, cooked for 10 minutes, vented it out, and left it on “keep warm” until we returned from the Christmas Eve service tonight.

It has been the tradition since I was a girl to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, so we always do that.  After church, we had a wonderful time opening them.  Thankfully, we finished the shopping on Friday and the wrapping on Saturday morning.  I just had a joke present to finish tonight, for the extended family gathering on Christmas Day.    Rob always likes to give at least one or two silly presents.  The nieces and nephews always look forward to their turn getting one.  He’s nailed boxes shut, used rolls of duct tape on presents, taped dollar bills into a long strip for the kid to pull from a slot in a box,  and more.  I’m not telling what the plans are for tomorrow, but it’s different for sure:)IMG_6097

I have used every suggestion offered to me to warm things without a microwave.  Here, I’m using my boiling eggs as a double boiler to warm some artichoke dip.  I’ve used pans on the stove, my Instant Pot, my Instant Hot for tea, etc., fried things in a frying pan, the BBQ and oven.  I’m going to get another one soon, but want to shop and compare, and I just don’t have time right now for that:)

I did a big Costco run for bulk items, and hit sales and my freebies and several large value coupons at Fred Meyers.  I got reduced bread.  I have been saving quite a few of the Friday Freebies for stocking stuffers.   I used quite a bit of food from my freezers and cupboards to make meals with the other food I got. When I went to the mall, I found many good sales for the few items I needed to get.

I took 2 exercise classes at the YMCA last week.

I worked with my nephew several days last week.  One thing I did was light the Advent candles a few times, and talk about Baby Jesus coming, etc.  One day, he asked to sing Christmas songs during that time.  Upon sitting down at the piano and choosing a Christmas song, and singing it, I asked for his choice.  I had to laugh when he chose “It’s a Small, Small World” but we sang it.  Too funny!  We read several chapters of Little House in the Big Woods.  He played Legos for hours.  One day we made Krispie treats, his favorite.

My niece was having a party one evening.  Her mom was working that day, and so was she.  Her dad had a lot on his plate, so she asked me to bring over a tater tot/green bean casserole, so I did.  It was easily made from home-canned green beans, home-made white sauce with rice flour to thicken it, hamburger, and tater tots on top.  They had salad ingredients for make-your-own salads, and had the other kids bring chips, drinks and dessert.  Fun, and economical for everyone.

Merry Christmas to everyone!  Ours is going very well, and we are enjoying every minute of it!