Saving Money and Weekly Update–The Greenhouse Project Continues–January 21, 2108

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Work on the greenhouse continues!  Rob and Patsy worked for several hours yesterday, and whenever they needed an extra hand, Ja’Ana or I ran out and helped.  He is still not done.  This has turned out to be quite a project!  I’m SO excited to see it coming along so well.

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Late in the day yesterday, Rob got it to the point where he wanted to put a plastic roof on.  He was not satisfied with the plastic he had because he felt it was too thin.  Also, the wind really kicked up and a rainstorm was coming in, so he cleaned up and stopped for the day.  Today, he is getting thicker plastic and will tackle that roof again this evening.

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He is taking this opportunity to show Patsy how to build with tools.  She has been really enjoying her woodworking class at school this term, and is sorry it’s almost over.  So, he hopes to continue teaching her more skills in that area, since she is showing an interest.  He was talking about maybe moving on to some planter boxes or flower pots next with her.  Building things is a very rewarding hobby for him, and has saved us many, many dollars over the years.

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In the meanwhile, the seeds have started to arrive.  2 out of the 3 orders I placed have arrived!  You may notice the “Mater Magic” fertilizer in the middle.  Who could resist something that promised that it would grow great tomatoes, take care of blossom end rot, and was organic to boot, all in a tomato-shaped container? Certainly not me:). So, I will try it this year and see how it does.  I’m also trying those biodegradable, stretchable twist ties for the first time.  I’m going to see how they do.

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Rob and I both went scrap wood gathering this week.  There are a few places in town that put out tote bins full of scraps.  They are free, but it’s very rare to find them full of good-sized chunks, since people usually empty them as fast as they are filled.  So, we generally just check the boxes if we are passing by anyway to see if they are full.  Earlier in the week, he hit the jackpot at one of the places and got firewood scraps, and even a bit of scrap lumber he can use to make part of the plant table inside the greenhouse.  I put a bin in the back of my car “just in case” since he had such good luck.  When I went by, taking J to her house-cleaning job, I got a few scraps from the place he had such luck at.  But, when I went over to the other place about 2 block away–WOW!  So, I filled the bin the rest of the way up, filled up a shopping bag and a basket I had in there and piled extra wood around.  I took it home, unloaded it, got Patsy since she had come home from school, and went back and we did it again!

In the tote, Patsy found a broken dowel, like you would put in a closet to hang clothes on, and grabbed it for plant stakes.  It was split down the middle, so it will hold up 2 plants.  I found some pieces that will be perfect for garden row-marker stakes.  I don’t care if they are different lengths. Neither will the green beans:)

And, in the end, I got over 6 boxes of wood chunks.  Rob got an old garbage can full, several buckets full, and I think a couple of boxes besides.  He also got some larger pieces he will cut up a little more and then we can burn it.  These are great to use when starting fires and we’ve been burning through what we got before:), so it was nice to find some more.

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I decided to get out my yogurt cooker, some starter that had been in the fridge for a long time, and some powdered milk and try yogurt-making.   No one wants plain yogurt to just eat, but Patsy is loving smoothies right now, so that’s what I’ll do with it when it’s finished.

Is your week going well?

 

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What Did We Eat–Winter Garden Goodies! January 20, 2018.

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This week, after looking around outside in the covered porch, I found a few items lurking around out there.  I also took a walk out into the muddy, muddy garden and found a few things.  I decided to use those up instead of buying more.  Novel thought:). LOL!

I baked a butternut squash we grew.  It had a few bad spots, but I cut them off, cubed it, and roasted it with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I used home-canned pickles.  I cooked burger from last year’s cow (there’s a bit left, still.)

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We ate up the rest of the chicken I baked earlier in the week.  Rob made some pizza using some pre-baked bread crusts he found at Grocery Outlet for around $1 for 2 a while back.  He used toppings we had on hand.  I baked one of the gluten-free Costco pizzas I buy frozen.  I added toppings to the cheese they come with.  We cruised along on that for a few days as we made lots.  (Thank goodness I didn’t eat an entire pizza in one day!)

Last weekend, I went out and got a few things, mostly produce.  One thing I bought was a 15 pound bag of potatoes for $2.50.  So, we baked up a bunch of those. We’ve had those a couple of times this week.

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Out in the garden, I found a nice cabbage, some kale and a bunch of boc choi.  The boc choi was a surprise, as it was hiding behind some other things and I didn’t see it until I got out there!  I finished up a head of cabbage I had previously picked, and was delighted to see that this one was in excellent condition.  On the covered porch, I found a small handful of potatoes, a couple of small squash and a few onions.  I should tidy the porch more often:).

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That cabbage grew a lot since this picture was taken at the end of last summer!

I also cleaned out the small freezer above the fridge because I had the things all slide out and land on my feet one too many times.  I found a couple of mystery baggies of various meats and some other items.

So, I made a soup from pork(?), the potatoes, an onion, a bunch of cabbage, carrots, frozen beans, and some tomatoes.  I also dumped in some pinto beans that were also lurking in that freezer.

I cut up a bunch of cabbage and put it in a Ziplock in the fridge for coleslaw over the next couple of days.

I made smoothies from fruit I froze last summer.

Rob BBQ-D some steak from our new beef we recently received to see how it was.  It was amazing!  We had baked potatoes and canned green beans with it.

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I also used up every avocado I had, which Rob got at Grocery Outlet for a very low price last week.  I made guacamole.  We had enough for 2 days of that, too.

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The peaches and applesauce have really come in handy this week, since Lovana had 2 wisdom teeth taken out on Monday.  She had a really hard time with one of them.  So, she’s been eating lots and lots of ice cream, peaches, applesauce and mashed potatoes.  When I took her back to the dentist on Thursday, I got her a milkshake at Burgerville.  She is finally feeling quite a bit better today, and went to work for the first time since last weekend.  Good thing.  The ice cream is about gone:).  The triple chocolate, the chocolate chip mint, and the vanilla.  Trust me, she had a lot of willing helpers to eat ice cream.  So, you could say ice cream was one of our food groups this week.

I decided to skip my usual weekend shopping this week.  Instead, I want to use what’s in the fridge, home-canned and frozen items, cabbage, boc choi, kale and pantry items.  If it’s going to fall out of the freezer onto my feet, that’s it.  It’s going on the plate!  Later in the week, if I need milk or something, I’ll worry about it then.  I’m right on track for a moderate-spend month, and I’ll just leave this week’s money in it’s envelope in case I run out of things later this week.

 

Winter is for Planning my 2018 Garden!

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I spent several hours this week pouring over these 2 catalogs and going over the website at Pinetree Garden Seeds.  I ordered from all 3 places.  I have favorite items from each place, and this year, I got them all.  My standard plan is to order a small package of an item I want to start, say Yellow Pear Tomatoes, and grow some one year and save the other 1/2 for next year.  It has worked well for me in the past when I don’t need very many of a certain kind of plant, but still want to start my own seedlings.  This year was different, as I was starting from scratch.  So, I had a great deal of fun getting to order everything I wanted!

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The greenhouse is starting to shape up.  It’s quite a bit bigger than I imagined it would be.  Rob has been working on it after work, in the late afternoons, but it is still not finished.  I think the greenhouse will be done at about the same time as the seeds arrive. We had contemplated going down to Cottage Grove and getting our Territorial Seeds on Saturday, but decided not to go.  Instead, he felt he needed to stay here and try to finish up the greenhouse.  So, I placed that order this morning.

I’m sure some of you want to know what I am planting.  I will do posts on that as I plant them, rather than one huge list.  I will grow a little bit of everything, though.  Peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbage, and more!

I have a lot of garden work to do in the next few months.  It’s way too early to do much, and as I write, rain is pelting down on the deck outside the sliding glass window beside me, so it’s very soggy here.  There is some pruning I can do, however, and we are getting ready to do that soon.  Some branches are very high up and need to come off, so Rob is getting that organized.  Some are down low, and I can manage that when I get a sunny day and some time.  I got a nice, new pair of small clippers for Christmas, and am looking forward to snipping off some old debris with them.  That is a job I can get Patsy to do any day, as well.  She loves to snip.  So, we have an old pair that will be just hers, and we will hopefully get to snipping soon!  I have big pruners as well, for the thick branches.

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I have raspberries to trim (everbearing). I’ve been reading about different methods of doing that on the internet, and feel ready to snip soon.  There are a few plants of June-bearing raspberries from my old house that my aunt nursed through the time when we didn’t have a house that are looking great now, and I will tie them up. I’m much more familiar with that kind, as that is the kind I’ve always grown before.  The everbearing ones were here when we moved in, so I kept them, at least until the June-bearing ones come into their full cropping potential.  The blackberries are done and the strawberries need some more fertilizer and some compost.  The blueberry bushes look fine, but I will add fertilizer.

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As I was enjoying a smoothie made from strawberries picked off our bushes last summer, it made me all the more eager to get the process going again for this year!  There is just something so cheerful and hopeful about starting seeds.

Are you making garden plans yet?

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–January 15, 2018

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I took my friend, Harnet, to visit the state capitol.  We walked around the outside, and enjoyed looking around the grounds, as it was Saturday, and was not open.  The circle of flags has one for each state and 9 for the American Indian tribes in Oregon.  They were very beautiful against the blue sky.

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She has been studying government in her citizenship class and really enjoyed looking around.  One day, we hope to go when it is open so she can go inside.

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Who knew there were toys for kids to play on?  I didn’t until Saturday.  We could tell they were meant for children because of the soft, cushy pad around them.  Danait loved climbing on them.

We also took Patsy and Danait swimming at the YMCA and they had a ball.

Last week, Harnet cooked a ton of food for Eritrean Christmas (celebrated later than we do), and froze it.  Then, she packed it all up and brought it down for us to enjoy at family Sunday dinner after church.  After we had all enjoyed our meal, some friends of my sister dropped in.  The young man had seen Ethiopian food cooked on t.v. and had been dying to try it. (Eritrean food is basically the same, as the countries are very close together). So, he happily dug into the remaining food and loved it so much, he ate most of the rest of it!  I’m not sure who was happier, him or Harnet.  It’s is so fun to cook for someone who appreciates it, and he appreciated it!  She made us coffee, and he loved that, too! What remained of the food, went home with him:)

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Rob’s working on a small greenhouse for me to start seedlings in.  I will order some seeds this week so they can begin growing.  Peppers and onions take a long time to grow from seed, so I hope to get them started in the next couple of weeks.  However, this is a big project, so I’m not sure it will be done this week.  He has made great use of the long weekend and thankfully, we had good weather for him to work outside in!  I’m super excited.  I used to grow all my own starts for the garden at our old house and love being able to choose the varieties I want.

I cooked a lot.  We have weeks where no one seems hungry.  This was not one of them:)

I still have plenty of most foods on hand.  I did pick up a bit of produce, and Rob was able to grab a few items that were a great price at Grocery Outlet.  I also got my Friday freebies from Fred Meyers–2 weeks worth–a Lara bar and a bag of popcorn (popped).  I don’t anticipate needing a whole lot more for a few days, but will be going out to get ice cream for poor Lovana.  She had 2 wisdom teeth pulled today, and they had a hard time with one of them.   So, I will be getting whatever flavor(s) she wants.

We were able to use insurance for the dental work.  After not having any for most of our marriage, I’m still very grateful that we have it now.

Did your week go well?

 

 

 

What Did We Eat– January 12, 2018

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This past week, our 1/4 beef arrived.  While I was arranging the freezers to make room for the beef, I found a package of turkey wings from the turkeys Rob grew before we moved.  Clearly, it was time to use those wings!  So, I put lemon and rosemary on them, a little water in the bottom, added salt and pepper, and cooked them in the crock pot for a few hours.  We ate part of the meat.

I made turkey enchiladas from the rest.

I cooked a large crock pot of chili.  We had it several times over the past few days.

I also made another crock pot of refried beans.   I froze most of those, except the ones the kids ate on tortillas several times, and the ones I put in the enchiladas.

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Then, I cooked the turkey wing bones in the crock pot all night with water and salt, and made broth.

On Wednesday, when my mom came to lunch, the girls and I fed her turkey soup made from that broth, biscuits and cupcakes.  The soup had a slight lemony flavor, which is not my normal flavor, but it was good.  I just made a simple one with veggies and a little mixed grain.

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I used some tomatoes, a pepper and 1/2 onion to make Pico de Gallo.  We ate it with some lime tortilla chips I got a while back.

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Patsy wanted to hard-boil some eggs, but did not know how.  I taught her, she made a bunch, and enjoyed them for dinner tonight.

We are still cruising along on the groceries I bought over a week ago.  We picked up a few 1/2 gallons of milk for 99c each during the week, but not much else.  I still have plenty of food left, but will need to go buy produce sometime in the next week.  There were no great deals that I needed in the ads this week, except the milk,  so I didn’t even go to the stores.  I did download my Friday Freebie, though, and can get it in the next few days.  I plan to shop minimally until I get some more things out of my freezers.  They are stuffed because we added the beef and I want a little more wiggle room in them.  So, this week, I’ll target bread and other bulky frozen foods.  We are in that time of year where I’m so glad I preserved all those fruits and vegetables last summer.  We are really utilizing them now:)

 

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–January 7, 2018

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Keeping my pantry well-stocked is important to me, even on a month where I’m not planning to spend a great deal of money.  So, believe it or not, I was almost out of olives!  Now, to some, like my mom and aunt, that would be good news!  To me and my sisters, a tragedy:). Rob spotted these medium-sized olives at Grocery Outlet for 79c/can and so he snagged me a case. We’ve used 2 cans already.

I grabbed the 5 packages allowed of grated cheese from Fred Meyers on Saturday.  I got Rob a birthday present from the clearance rack while I was there.  His birthday is at the end of the month, and I struggle with what to give him every year, coming so close to Christmas.  But, this is a small thing that I know he will enjoy.  Better yet, I thought of another idea I will work on this week.  We will be watching both our niece and nephew that weekend, so any celebrations will be group efforts.  I think another chocolate cake is in order, for sure.

Our 1/4 beef arrived.  It was taken to the butcher shop in December, but Rob went and picked it up yesterday.  I had to do some major freezer arranging to fit it in, so now I’m even more committed to emptying out a few more items.  I like the freezers full, but not crammed to the point where I worry they will pop open.  I had been emptying them and they were in great condition, but now they are really full!  Buying the beef in bulk saves a lot, compared to purchasing little by little. We have done it for many years this way, but have cut our order down from 1/2 to 1/4 as our family is smaller.

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One of my goals in January is to use things that have been around for too long.  This soup is some I canned in 2011.  I ate it for lunch, and it was still delicious.  I felt so virtuous when I ate it:). I also used some peppers I pickled a few years ago.  I put some in refried beans and some in chili.  They worked fine.  When a friend made them, they were crisp.  Mine turned out mushy, and so people didn’t want them that way, so they just sat there.  Now, I’m using them up in creative ways.  I’ve also used several frozen bread items.  I buy it when it is on the day-old rack at Fred Meyers and freeze it.  But, I needed space more than extra bread this week, so I targeted it.   I will try to post later in the week about the other goodies I cooked.

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One day, Alissa came to my house for school, as usual.  She had her hair in curlers.  After she took them out, some hair was curled and some was not.  So, we curled the rest with a curling iron, and it turned out great!  (We also did school, if you were wondering). Ja’Ana had taken a job for the holidays where Lovana (older sis) works.  They just needed a dish washer for the break, and Lovana said, “My sister will do it.” And, so she did.  But, there was a mix-up, and they thought the break continued one more week than it did.  So, they scheduled J for a few days last week.  Therefore, Alissa and I had a fun week of school, and we made J a list of work she had to do in the evenings!  I tried not to make it too hard, and it worked out.  This week, we will hit it harder, as both girls will be here, as usual.  So, it was win-win for everyone, and J ended up getting a few hundred dollars out of the deal.  Alissa still has her after-school job, so she enjoyed buying Christmas gifts for everyone this year, even more than she usually does.

We got a microwave!  Rob went to a hardware store out in Mt. Angel, Oregon, where we have bought appliances for years.  It’s just a little store in a little town that has excellent customer service and good prices.  They showed him the choices. He did not pick the most expensive or the cheapest, not the simplest or the fanciest, the largest or the smallest, but one that met our needs for a good price, and within an hour, he had it home.  I’m sure glad to have one again.  I use it a lot.  With my work schedule, I cook a lot on the weekends and warm it up during the week.  We’ve managed, but…..this will be better.

We went swimming as a family at the YMCA and I took 2 exercise classes this week.  We’ve been enjoying watching Netflix, Rob’s Christmas gift from Lovana.  When we moved in here, the price of cable, plus internet, was less than our bill at our other place for phones plus internet, because we dropped our phone land line.  So, we got cable.  I’ve especially enjoyed the ice skating that was on this week, as I have not gotten to watch it for years and years.

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Jake spent the weekend.  He wanted popcorn, so we enjoyed the frugal, tasty snack.  We had him help Rob run errands.  He went swimming with us, and decided to run around the track 2 times as well, while we were at the Y.  We read out loud several times.  Right now, we have moved on to “Little House on the Prairie” and he is loving it!  We just finished “Little House in the Big Woods.”  It’s been so rewarding to see him making this transition to enjoying it when I read chapter books.  This is our 4th, and I’m such a proud auntie!  It’s so fun to see how indignant he got when the Ingalls’ dog, Jack, got swept away when they were crossing the creek because they forgot to put him up in the wagon, and how happy he was when Jack showed up, all right, by the campfire that night.  (I know I have a few new readers–for you, Jake is my special-needs nephew, who is going to turn 10 this coming week, whom I work with as both an auntie, and as his personal support worker for DD services, so spending time with Jake is both rewarding for me as a person, and generates some funds for the family.  When I work with him, I try to help him go forward in his development, in some way.  You can read about some things we have done here and here.)

 

What Did We Eat? January 4, 2018

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Of course, the first week of January just has to be about using things up, eating healthier and of course, saving money on food.

We were still on party mode on New Year’s Eve, and had a family feast/birthday party.  on Monday, we just ate leftovers.

On January 2, Alissa had her birthday.  We made potato-cheese soup, her all-time favorite, and she enjoyed it that day, took some home, and we ate the rest here for a couple of days.

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I made some tapioca pudding.

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I drank lots of water with lemon.  You know, to make the leftover Christmas chocolate more healthy:)

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Last night, I made a simple stir-fry with celery, carrots, onion, chicken and soy sauce.  I had leftover rice from Sunday, and made fried rice from onion, rice, soy sauce and a little pineapple.  Seriously, that was all except salt and pepper.  Very simple, used up things, and very tasty.  I bought a 10-lb bag of carrots from Costco before Christmas, because they were under $5!  So, I’m targeting carrots.  Rob has been taking leftovers in his lunch now that he’s back to work, so the fridge is finally starting to clear out, but there is still plenty for tonight.

We’ve eaten eggs, toast, tater tots, leftover dips and chips, and other things that needed to be cleared out or from the freezer or cupboard.  I’ve spent under $20 on groceries this week so far, as we had so much to use up.

For the next few days, I plan to use some beef broth I made a few days ago.  I will make some kind of soup or stew from that, or use it in chili.  I need bagels since Jake will be spending a few day, and that’s his food of choice.  There is a great deal on cheese at Fred Meyers on Friday or Saturday (need to check) where 8 oz bags are only 99c.  I will get those.  I hope to jot down a few menu ideas in the next couple of days to give me ideas for the next few days, using other items that need to be used.

How’s your January meal planning going?