Saving Money–Dec. 5, 2016

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The weather turned colder, and so Rob picked the iris.  It opened right up overnight.  It’s so pretty and unusual to have an iris blooming in December!

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I also picked a tremendous amount of lettuce from the garden.  I think it’s the last hurrah, but who knows?  I was able to serve taco salad to our family and the friends who visited and still have lots left.

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We put the tree up in the garage/family room.  It is sitting on top of a table I keep out there.  Rob got a bargain tree for $20 that he cut down on Saturday and chopped it off to fit the small area we have.  We used the branches from the part he chopped off to decorate the railing in front of our house.  He put up a small string of lights as well, outside.

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I dug through the bins of fabric in the shop and found a Christmas piece.  I used it for a tablecloth to make the kitchen more festive.  I bought a kit for a gingerbread house, plus a little more candy from the bulk section of Winco, and Patsy enjoyed decorating it for quite a while on Saturday.

While shopping, I found chicken drumsticks for 68c/lb.  I bought 3 packages, cooked 1 and froze 2.  We have had spaghetti several times this week, from the batch of sauce I made last Tuesday.  We will finish it today.  It was a large batch and was made from home-canned tomato products, 1 pound of ground beef and various odds and ends of parmesan cheese that were in the fridge, over gluten-free noodles I had on hand.  We also had make-your-own tacos/taco salad with our friends.  There are still quite a few leftovers in the fridge to keep the family eating for the first part of the week.

 

 

Quick-Cooking Tapioca

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I’m always looking for appetizing ways to use the food that I have stockpiled.  There’s no point in having lots of food, just so it can get old on the shelves, and  end up cooking with stale, outdated ingredients.  Sometimes, when food is bought in bulk packages, it is much cheaper, but the purchaser ends up with more than they can use.  Last spring, this happened to my mother.  She bought a large package of quick-cooking tapioca and gave me a baggie of the excess.  I did not end up using it all up over the summer, so when I found it again recently, I decided to target it in my meals.

The first thing I did with it was use a couple of Tablespoons to thicken a beef stew.  This was a stew that was made from beef, broth, canned tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, beans and some herbs and spices, plus salt and pepper.  When I finished, it was pretty runny.  I just put in a little tapioca and it thickened up nicely.  I am gluten-intolerant, so this made a nice substitute for wheat flour.

The second thing I made was tapioca pudding.  I got a recipe from the Kraft website.

2-3/4 cups milk (I used 2%)

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. Minute Tapioca (I have no idea of the brand my mother gave me, but it worked)

1 egg beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

I added:  1/4 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon butter

Mix milk, sugar, tapioca, salt and the beaten egg in a saucepan.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Cook on medium (I did med-high and watched it very carefully), stirring the entire time, until mixture comes to a full boil.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and butter.  Cool 20 minutes; stir.  Serve warm or cold.  Makes 6 servings.  Store leftovers in fridge.

When I got done cooking the mixture, it was so runny I though I had made a mistake and had tapioca soup.  The recipe says it thickens as it cools, but I thought there was no way this would become pudding.  But, it really did.  In fact, it turned out to be very thick once it was cold.  So, I might actually use 3 cups milk next time.

 

 

 

A Simple Knitted Scarf

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I’m not much of a knitter.  I don’t know how to follow directions very well, so only go back and forth with no fancy alterations.  That being said, I was very pleased with a scarf I just finished.  I was in the Dollar Store, and they had this Lion Brand Fun Fur yarn for, well, obviously, $1.

I grabbed a couple skeins of the 2 colors they had, and finally found my knitting needles with a little help from Rob.  They were still in a bin in the shop.  I used the really big ones–size 13.  After a few views on U-Tube, I remembered how to cast on, so I put 15 stitches onto my needles, and started knitting.  I just kept knitting back and forth (garter stitch) until I ran out of yarn, then bound off and knotted the yarn.  I wove the ends in with a crochet hook and I was done.

I did not need a super long scarf.  If I had wanted it longer, I would have continued with the second ball of yarn, or made the width skinnier, by casting on only 10 stitches.  What I wanted it for was to add some color to my winter coat, not for warmth or wrapping around a bunch of times.

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I got this coat after Christmas last year for only $10, on clearance.  Adding my $1 scarf made it much brighter, but still very inexpensive.  I think a scarf like this would be a good gift.  It was quick to make because the needles were so big.  Even for someone who doesn’t knit much, it only took a very few hours.  I don’t know how much yarn would cost if it wasn’t purchased at the Dollar Store, but I’m guessing not very much.  The only thing that was hard was sometimes all the extra fuzzy strands got in my way–smooth yarn would probably be easier, but it sure wouldn’t be a fluffy and soft.  I’m glad I used this yarn.

 

Saving Money–November 27, 2016

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We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Then, we had a lot of family fun for the rest of the weekend.

We are still cruising on leftovers from the holiday.  We still have several things left that we will use for lunches tomorrow and dinner tomorrow night.  I also have more than enough groceries left from all the shopping I did before the holiday that I don’t need to buy any for a few days–even milk and eggs.  One of the great things I was able to buy was a big carton of 5 dozen eggs for $4.05.  I made deviled eggs for Thanksgiving

I froze quite a bit of turkey in smaller baggies for use in casseroles, soups, and sandwiches.  I boiled the bones of the turkey and got over 12 pints.  I froze those for later.  I also used some of the home-made broth in stuffing, and made a soup already.  I used the crock pot so we would have a meal last night when we returned from our family outing.

Although we went to several family events over the week, we chose to eat out only once.  Otherwise, we packed food with us or ate before and after the events.

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My sister treated us all to a train ride.  We had a great week with a visit to a museum, Thanksgiving, the train ride, skating, dinner, and the Singing Christmas Tree.  We are happy, but a bit tired, and I am looking forward to a nice week of my regular schedule.  I do need to put my mind and get working on  Christmas.  We were able to make a good, simple plan and now know what we want to get for people.  It should not be difficult.  Now, if we could find as easy of a solution for the problem of where we should put the Christmas tree!

 

Black Friday, 2016

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This year we did not go shopping on Black Friday.  Not even to buy a single pair of socks at the annual Fred Meyer 1/2 price sock sale.  Not even for flannel at JoAnn’s.  Nothing was shopped for.  Instead, we went with family members to a very special outing.

We went to ride a historic holiday train.  My niece, Michaela, adores trains.  Her mother, my sister, decided to treat us all to a train ride.  So, today, we went.

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My niece, Rachel, and Lovana took they selfie.  I thought it turned out super good.  I love it!

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Everyone enjoyed the fun experience, but Michaela was in train heaven!  She LOVED the train ride.

The train departed from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon, and traveled along the Willamette River almost to the Ross Island bridge, and then returned.  During the ride, we could see the river and some wetlands containing birds.  We also saw great views of Portland itself.

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After riding the train, we ate lunches out of our car trunks, and then headed for the roller skating rink at Oaks Park.  The rides are closed for the season, but the rink remains open year-round.  Bless Auntie Gail’s heart!  She helped Patsy skate.  I watched.  Although I admire her gumption, I wouldn’t want to be her tomorrow.  I’m sure she’ll be sore!!

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Alissa enjoyed her first time roller skating!

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Ja’Ana loved whizzing around with Kim, one of Alissa’s good friends.

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Even Michaela tried it out with help from her Mama.  It was a LONG trip around the rink, but she was proud and happy that she did it!  The non-skaters had a great time encouraging the skaters, sipping soda, and visiting.

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Afterwards, we ended the day with dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  The kids enjoyed the balloon toys a roving balloon-toymaker crafted for them.  It was a great follow-up to Thanksgiving Day, and gave many of us the chance to keep visiting.  On the way home, we enjoyed seeing many Christmas lights that busy people had hung up while we enjoyed our day.  It was a great start to our Christmas season!

Happy Thanksgiving, 2016

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Today we celebrated Thanksgiving.  It was the first major holiday in our new home, and we were privileged  to host it for the family.  As always, some could make it and some could not, but we had a wonderful time with the ones who could be here and missed the ones who were elsewhere.

We had a few challenges getting ready for the big day.  The first one was that when you do something in a new house, there is a lot to figure out.  The way we’ve done things in the past wouldn’t work in this much smaller house.  So, we tried out more than one way of arranging tables, and finally settled on an arrangement that looked like it would work.  We moved the dining table into the middle of the living room and made it into its larger size.  The table in the garage/family room was made as big as it could be made and, after a couple of tries, settled into a place where there would be enough room for people to get seated comfortable.  A few easy chairs were placed around with tv trays handy, and we were set.  With the table gone from the dining area, we had a nice space for 2 food tables, and some room to maneuver around.

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As you can see, I finally gave in and brought the old lamp in from the shop.  It is still dark in the living room, but the little lamp will do until I get a better one.

Another challenge I faced was the fact that we all needed to work a lot more than usual this week.  My sister needed to work extra, my brother-in-law did too, and my husband got to work 24 hours in 2 days.  All of that meant that I had a lot of quality time with my children, and my nieces and nephew who did not have school all of this week, but had virtually no time to prepare for the holiday.

Here’s how we made it work.  Everyone who came pitched in.  They all brought food and came early and helped finish up.  Rob got Wednesday off, and though exhausted from 2-12 hour days, did a massive amount of cooking and setting things up.  He did the turkey, a cheese ball, pickle-ham rolls, and set things up.  He went shopping, bought whatever he thought we needed (although we did most of it last weekend), and bought me a few bunches of flowers from Trader Joes and put them on the counter.  They were my favorite thing he did–I felt so special when I saw that big clump of plastic-wrapped flowers sitting in a vase.  I got up early and made stuffed mushrooms, stuffing, ham (in the crock pot), gravy, and arranged the flowers.  We used mashed potatoes left over from a youth event my sister cooked for a few days ago, and had several salads, veggie and fruit trays,  and desserts others brought.  I bought paper “platters” and used real silverware.  I borrowed tablecloths from one of my sisters, as I don’t have any that fit this new table.  We all took turns washing dishes and put things away as soon as we could, as the counters are small.

When everyone was done, several people stayed and helped me put it all away and put the tables, chairs, etc. back where they belonged.  Much of it went back out to the shop.  Thanks to everyone, I get to sit here relaxing on my bed tonight, basking in the beautiful day we all had, and glory in the fact that the house is clean, I get to rest a lot tonight, and we all have a wonderful day planned for tomorrow!  It truly has been a happy Thanksgiving!

 

Thanksgiving Week Fun–Mission Mill Museum

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The schools around here have the week off.  We decided to take the homeschooled girls on a field trip, and they are doing a small amount of work that was left over after they both got colds last week, but that’s it for them for the week, as well.  My sister planned it, and my aunt and I took the kids.  I had never visited this historical sight before, and enjoyed it tremendously.  It is located in Salem, Oregon.

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We toured the old woolen mill, and the houses surrounding it.  Some houses img_3593had been moved to this sight, but the mill was always there.  We were amazed to see that the machinery still worked (at least some of it) and they ran some of it while we were in there.  In other places, buttons could be pushed to start machinery, which was a hit with Jake especially.

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These homes were residences of early missionaries to the Oregon Territory.  They took a ship to Oregon before the time of the Oregon Trail, started out in one place which turned out to be flooded too often, so moved.  It was fun to see the houses.

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In the parsonage, there were quite a few interactive exhibits set up with kids in mind.  Jake loved “cooking” with the play food, building with blocks, and other fun activities.

Does anyone know the purpose of the crinkly cast iron base and iron pictured above?  The base has grooves in it, and the iron part (on top with a handle) has a matching grooved surface.  So, you can hold the handle and roll it back and forth.  But why?  It wouldn’t be good for ironing, since it is crinkly.  Our best guess was an old-fashioned panini press–ha-ha!

After we had gone through all of the buildings, we browsed our way out through the gift shops, bypassed the cafe although it looked good, and enjoyed a wonderful lunch my sister packed for us–in the parking lot.  It was a great day!