Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 19, 2017

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Ja’Ana, Alissa and I went to see Danait’s school program.  After singing a few songs, including one about a tree, and one about ABC’s, she “read” a book she had colored for the girls.  This was a very quick visit, much shorter than usual, because both Alissa and I had to go to work.  We loved the program–the kids were so cute, and we had snacks the kids had worked on preparing.  When we were preparing to leave, after dropping them off at their home, our last glance at Danait showed her pouting big-time, yelling to the girls, “YOU STAY!!!  YOU STAY!!!”  How gratifying for the girls to know they are loved so much by one certain little 3-year-old girl:)

I did some grocery shopping.  When Rob and I picked up some Christmas gifts at Fred Meyers, the total came above the $50 mark, so we grabbed a 49c/lb turkey for later in the year.  Then, when I did my shopping at Safeway (including my 2-$1.99 butters), I got a 39c/lb turkey.  I chose a small one, since they are easy to handle in the summer.  I had loaded a $2/off a turkey coupon on my Safeway card, but figured they wouldn’t use it for such an inexpensive turkey, but they did, and I ended up paying under $3 for that turkey.  Good grief.  I couldn’t turn that one down.  While Rob and I were out and about the night before, I had also ran into Safeway and picked up my 2–4 lb sacks of sugar for 99c each.  Today, the deal is frozen pie, and I will skip that one, as I don’t need any of those.  I also got a free 2-litre bottle of Dr. Pepper when I bought the turkey.

Patsy made some sugar cookies with a new recipe.  They turned out very tasty, using gluten-free Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour.

I cleaned for several hours.  I did some organizing, and found all the tablecloths I need for Thursday.  In fact, the table in the garage is all ready for the big day, except decorations, and they are in a pile on top of it.  We will serve buffet-style, so I will set that up the night before or the morning of Thanksgiving.   I feel very prepared for Thanksgiving, and plan to do a little towards it each day, but mostly play with the kids and have a couple of conferences, etc. this coming week.

So, another week of normal has passed in my life.  Sometimes those are the best weeks to me.

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What Did We Eat? November 17, 2017

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This was a week where I tried to encourage everyone to eat up things in the fridge so I can have more room for Thanksgiving food.

Patsy is holding an African taco–she put some of Harnet’s special lentils into a taco shell and ate it for dinner 2 nights in a row.  The second night, she put it into a flour tortilla instead:)  Almost  every time I see Harnet, she generously gives me some of these beri-beri flavored lentils.  They are spicy, but with a little different flavor than Mexican seasoning.  Patsy put a little grated cheese on there, and sour cream, and ……she loved it!!

We ate turkey-vegetable soup again this week.  The entire pot was consumed over a few days.  One day I ate it for both breakfast and lunch.  Rob opened a carton of tomato soup as well, and ate that a couple of times.  Lovana made a batch of muffins, which are all gone now.  She also made apple crisp.  Yum!

I thawed meatballs, spaghetti sauce and several other things from the freezers. I cooked a lot of noodles for Rob to eat for dinner and left for work.  When he got home, he didn’t see them, so cooked another huge batch.  We’ve eaten noodles, sauce and meatballs multiple times since then:)  The kids love noodles and eat them with Parmesan cheese.  Green beans were cooked.

One day, we ate cheese and crackers in the car when we were out and about.

Another thing I thawed was ground roast beef.  I mixed it with Miracle Whip and made sandwich spread.  I also ate it plain, with a spoon.  One night, after work, I put pickles and this spread on gf bread, and had it for my supper.

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I followed a recipe from the internet to hard-boil eggs in my Instant Pot.  Easy!  1) Put eggs in a steamer and put in pot.  Put in 1 cup water.  Turn pot on “Manual” and set for 3 minutes.  After it is done, I waited 7 minutes and then released the pressure.  They were done perfectly.  They pointed out that you could be very flexible with when you released the pressure–they sometimes left it for 15 minutes.

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So, the truth is…our meals were pretty repetitive.  Besides these main dishes, we did have odds and ends from the cupboards or fridge, plus scrambled eggs.    When I apologized to Rob for the monotony, he had some good thoughts about it.  His thought is that we are one of the few nations that feel like we need 3 different meals per day, and many, many different ones each week.  He pointed out that when we have visited Mexico, the people we were with mostly ate beans and tortillas every day, with a few differences now and then.  (On this last mission trip, we all paid a fee and the church women cooked food for us with that money, and there was plenty left over for them to have, too.)  When he went to Africa a few years ago, the choice for many was rice.  And they were fortunate to get it more than one time a day in the part of Uganda where he was.  Sometimes there was an egg or other things, but mostly there was rice, if they had any.

On that trip, he was fed well by the people, and his group quickly found out that the food wasn’t just for them…the servers would be eating after them from what was left.  After the first meal, where they weren’t understanding how it worked and ate a lot, they ate sparingly so the cooks/servers could eat.

So, he doesn’t mind the same meal several times in the week.  He feels it is actually more globally realistic, and he doesn’t think it hurts anyone at all.  Good thing:)

I made it up to him on Friday night.  We went out for Mexican food, and did a little Christmas shopping, and got these……..

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Yum!

While we were out and about, I grabbed the 2-4 lb bags of sugar I was allowed for 99c each at Safeway.  They were out of Safeway sugar, so gave me C and H, instead.  I got some lemon-lime soda for Ja’Ana, as she has caught the same crud every family member has been passing around.

At Fred Meyers, we got a few Christmas gifts, which brought me easily up to the $50 required to get a 49c/lb turkey.  I already have one that I will cook…this one will be for later in the year.  I just can’t pass up that price!!!  All that turkey for just under $10!!!

Better yet, I have Michaela’s Christmas gift.  Who knew that they would make a ladies-sized Lion King sleeper with Hakuna Matata on the front, a hood like Simba and even a tail!  That movie is one of her all-time favorites–she can quote long passages of it!  Ja’Ana spotted it the other day, and I was so glad it was still there tonight when we went back.  Maybe the other ladies of Salem are not quite as obsessed with Lion King as Michaela is????

I’m not telling what else I got, and I have lots left to get, but at least we got started.

I’d better end this and go to bed–I’m tired after all the cleaning I did today, but feel very satisfied with what I got done.  I’ll leave you with a cute picture….

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A few of us went and enjoyed her Thanksgiving program at her preschool.  They sang about trees and leaves, and quiet voices and loud voices, and their ABC’s.  They fed us refreshments of apple pastries and M & M’s.  So cute….

 

Homeschool Field Trip–State Capitol

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This year, the girls are studying government.  Yesterday, we took a trip to the Oregon State Capitol.  My husband got involved, talked to Rep. Bill Post, followed his instructions,  and contacted his office and made an appointment.  So, at 11 o’clock, the girls and I met with him! This was the best time for him, as he had a little time to spare.  He explained that there is a law requiring them all to be there for 3 days in November, but much official business is not actually being done during these 3 days, so he could carve out the time.  It sure seemed busy around there, to me!  I can only imagine the hubbub during a busy time!  He did tell the girls he had just been in a 3-hour meeting listening to a report on how some group spent their money—very long, he explained, and somewhat tedious, but a regular part of his job.

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He give the girls a tour of his office, and then showed them the House of Representatives chamber.  We were on a balcony looking down, and he had a friend down below point out his desk.  He explained how he votes for things, and some of the process involved with making a bill a law.  We had been studying this, so it was perfect timing.  He also showed the girls historic pictures of major towns in his district, and a list of all the bills he had introduced, and which ones had passed and failed.  He also told them a little about campaigning, his term of office, and so on.

The girls had prepared a few questions, and they asked them, along with any others that came up.  We found out something very interesting I did not know before!  My niece lives in his district–he is her representative.  BUT, we don’t.  We are on the other side of a line, and we have another representative.  We’ve only lived here a year, and had figured that both of us had the same representative!   You learn something new every day!

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He was very kind and patient with the girls.  We really appreciated that he would spend the time with us, and I know the girls now have a firm, positive memory associated with the state capitol.  At the end of the time he had available, he left us at the governor’s ceremonial office and went on about his business.  We continued to look around.

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The secretary was very nice to the girls.  She let them in behind the rope to the governor’s office.  They took turns sitting behind the desk.

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They had a good time!  It was very nice of her, and we felt very special.

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We peeked into the Senate chamber.  We went up stairs and down, looked in the gift shop, admired the old fashioned phone booths, and all the marble and wood fixtures that abounded in the building.

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Of course, we viewed the Great Seal of Oregon, imbedded in the floor, and admired the murals painted on the walls.  All in all, it was a perfect field trip!  We have more planned in the future, but I’m sure this one will stick out in their minds for quite a while.

Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 11, 2017

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There’s nothing like a good library visit!  I don’t know if your family has discovered the Elephant and Piggie books, but Jake sure loves them.  They are pretty funny, and very easy for him to read himself.

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None of the kids, or Rob, had school on Friday, due to Veteran’s Day.  We did some errands, got some groceries, and stopped by to feed the nutria and ducks at a pond.  As we were picking Jake up, his mom handed us a big bag of old hot dog buns, since I had to confess I had forgotten my old bread at home.  The kids loved throwing them to the animals.  4 other kids showed up, armed with their own bags of stale bread bits and they all had a blast.  They even shared with Jake when he used ours up.  I though that was really nice of them.

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We saw mallards, 2 different kinds of wood ducks, a pair of domesticated ducks and 1 lonely sea gull that travelled far from the ocean, along with the nutria.

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It is time to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  They need to be filled and back to the church by November 19.  I went out to the shop, dug around in my fabric and patterns, and made 2 little skirts, using the same piece of fabric, and the same pattern–just 2 different sizes.  I hoped to use the piece up, but there’s probably enough for 1 more skirt left….but I only need 2.  The girls have been selecting items at various stores for the boxes and we will pack them this week.  Although I certainly plan to spend money when I fill the boxes each year, I love being able to put in skirts that will be nice for the recipient that cost me nothing out of pocket.

I have a busy week ahead, full of fun things like a field trip to the state capitol building, and some other things.  I’ve been doing some extra cleaning and getting ready for Thanksgiving, as that’s suddenly right around the corner.  Rob cleaned in the shop for a few hours today, as well as grabbed some of the buy 10, get $5 off items at Fred Meyers.  I bought 10 items earlier in the week, but milk was on the deal, and it made them 99c for each 1/2 gallon, so I wanted 4 more since we used up a lot of what was purchased earlier.  Butter was $2.50 with the deal, so he got 2.  There was gluten-free clam chowder for 99c/can, and I grabbed a couple of cans of broth.  I take the little cans camping with me because it’s more convenient than large frozen cartons. I also occasionally drink a can when my tummy is upset–and I don’t want to thaw anything then.  They ended up 49c/can.

We did 2 exercise classes at the YMCA.  We’ve been in that class for over 2 months now.  We are taking Pilates twice a week for the girls’ PE.  I seriously stink at Pilates.  I have very little coordination or flexibility.    The girls are better at it.  BUT, it’s exercise, I can already tell I’m less stiff than I was, and I can do more of the things each time.  The teacher is patient and kind, and I haven’t fallen off my exercise ball lately, which is always a bonus!  Things are looking up:)  Lovana works out a few times a week there, and it’s all included on our membership.

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I cooked several items today for tomorrow’s Family Sunday Dinner.  I didn’t need to cook anything for today’s meals except eggs for breakfast, there were plenty of leftovers from the week.  I continue thawing and using items from the freezer.  Our 1/4 beef is at the butcher, so that will be ready in a couple of weeks–so I need to keep emptying to make space.  So, I pulled out meatballs and sauce for tomorrow evening, meat, broth, bread, berries, etc. this week to keep using it up.  Rob dug around a bit in the chest freezer and unearthed a few things that I should make a plan for soon.  He found both the turkey and the ham that I knew were in there, so Thanksgiving is set.  I targeted some apples today, as the box we got has a few that are starting to get soft.

How about you?  Do you have any foods you need to specifically, purposefully use up before they get too old, or go bad?  Are you filling a shoebox and putting something interesting in?

 

What Did We Eat? November 10, 2017

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This week, it was all about potatoes! I decided to use up the purple potatoes we grew in our garden.  I don’t know if they are good “keepers” or not.  I do know the red ones sprout easily.  As of Wednesday, they were all cooked into something.  I also had a few red ones from my sister, and the bottom of a bag of russets from the store that I was targeting. They are now gone, too.   Last Saturday, I got 3-10 pound bags from the store.  They are in the garage, all covered up with a blanket, ready for the next couple of weeks and Thanksgiving dinner.   I made fried potatoes, with a mix of white and purple one morning.  I made cheesy potato soup for lunch one day, and the rest went down the hatch for dinner that night.  I made lots of faintly purple mashed potatoes  from a mix of purple, red and white.  I used around 7 lbs for last Sunday’s Family Sunday Dinner to make mashed potatoes.  I guess the extended family loves potatoes, as there was about 1/2 cup – 1 cup left.  Wow!  Just Wow!  Best 75c I’ve spent in a while:)

The soup theme continued as well, with the cheesy potato soup, and a pot of turkey-rice. I always make enough for more than one meal, when I make soup.  I can’t seem to help myself.  Ja’Ana made cornbread again this week, and my sister made some on Sunday.

On Sunday, along with all those potatoes, I did baked, breaded chicken, which was a hit as well.   I think we were all in the mood for heartier fare–fall is certainly here along with it’s rain, and wind, interspersed with a little sunshine now and then.

One day, I put round steak into the crock pot and made Swiss Steak.  I made some gravy to go with it, and those purple mashed potatoes.  There is still some of that left, so we will probably eat it again tomorrow.

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Jake convinced me to make Rice Krispie treats (from gluten-free Malt-0-Meal Rice Krispies), and he took a big plate full home for his Mama.  He hung with us today, as there was no school. We did a slew of errands–everything from getting medicine, to getting the oil changed in the car.  We slipped in some duck-feeding, and had lots of library books in the car to make it fun.  We got him a Happy Meal–I had a coupon for buy one, get one free, so he and Patsy both had one.  She’s old enough to actually be able to eat more than that, but it satisfied her to get to have it and he was literally starving today–nice!

There were lots of salads this week–for lunches with chicken or for dinner along with the other food, cooked home-canned green beans, home-canned peaches and applesauce, hot dogs, sandwiches, corn chips with salsa, and pork and beans.  Patsy eats cold cereal almost every day, and Rob and I eat eggs almost every day for breakfast.  Lovana gets a crepe or sandwich for free from work on the days she works, and pretty much makes her own food the rest of the time. Sometimes, I eat at my sister’s house in the evening, as I don’t get done until 6,  and everyone at home just makes their own, or eats leftovers.  Sometimes, I go home and make a salad, or warm up leftovers on the days I work.  It has turned out that I only really need to cook 4-5 main recipes a week, and there is enough for the week to just warm up leftovers.

This coming week, it’s going to be all about cleaning out the fridge so we can fit the Thanksgiving food in there the following week.  I’m not sure what I’m making, yet, but I’ll work on some planning tomorrow, and hopefully, I won’t get carried away, as I have an entire day at home….at least that’s what my planner says.  So, if I decided to go somewhere, it will be purely for fun.  Should be a great day, either way.

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 4, 2017

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Rob got the garden tilled around all the winter veggies in between rain storms!  I am so delighted.  I did not think he was going to be able to do it, but Monday night, when I came home from work……there it was!  It’s been pouring ever since!  Now, we are going to spread the compost pile over it, and keep throwing scraps and weeds on it, and he will till all that in in the spring, when it has rotted a bit.  He also is going to build a compost bin system for me like I had at the old house.  Then, I will be able to hide it while it decomposes.  He used old, free pallets last time.  We shall see what he does this time.

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Today was Patsy’s day.  I had been feeling that she needed some time from me, and today was the day.  We went to the mall.  Twice.  We smelled every single scent, and some twice, (it felt like) at Bath and Body Works.   Two times.  We used a coupon I had, and bought something I wanted from some money I had saved from my birthday.  We both tried on clearance clothing at Macy’s.  She got 2 tops and a dress she needed.  I got a top I wanted.  We got great prices.  We went to JoAnn’s and she used a gift card she had been saving from her birthday.  (That was in June.  We don’t go shopping much, except for groceries).  The 2nd mall had a photo opportunity set up and I took her picture for free.  On the back side of this display, there was one for Halloween pictures.  It was nice they offered both.   We got some socks we had been searching for that are for a little friend of ours.  We shared a nacho and a dish of ice cream at the food court.  The items we bought were few.  It all fit in one bag.  I’m hoping the memory is large, and long-lasting.  It was a fun day.

Then, we went to Fred Meyers and got groceries.  They had a LOT of things on sale for $1/each.  We got 1/2 gallons of milk. We got packages of cookies.  We got a cake mix.  All for $1/each. We even got a few things for 50c, like broth.  I only bought 4 of those, since I have quite a bit and make my own most of the time.  Occasionally, I do need a small can for a food drive, taking with me on a trip, etc.  I got the rice mix for the Friday Freebie, along with last week’s caffeine-filled soda drink.  I can’t eat the rice mix (wheat) so will take it to church for the monthly food drive.  It will be good food for someone.

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On Friday, my sister, Rosalie, Ja’Ana and myself went to see Harnet and Danait.  It was CRAZY busy there!  Harnet had the day (and us) really organized!  Harnet had a citizenship tutor coming to work with her, and we were the “keep Danait busy” crew so Mama could study.  So, her Harnet had it set up for her to go to toddler storytime at a nearby library and we took her.  Then, we took her to McDonald’s and used my buy one, get one free Happy Meal coupon from the app.  Rosalie and I didn’t eat there, except for snitching a few fries, but the girls did.  After that, we went back to Harnet’s and ate lunch.  She had cooked one dish that contained greens (maybe collards?), rice, and lentils.  There was injera bread for those who could have it.  The tutor stayed for lunch, too, and we all had a nice chat.  Of course, we had coffee before we went, during lunch, and after the all the others left.  After while, another lady showed up.  She is someone who helps Harnet with things like phone calls, appointments, etc.  I’m not exactly which group/agency she comes from, but Harnet  was glad to have the appointment with her, and I can see why.  She is very knowledgable about how different agencies work, and how to access them.  We chatted and talked with her, too. Harnet fed her lunch, too, and we all had coffee again.

Ja’Ana and the tutor tried to set up an internet box that had been sent to Harnet so she can have wifi.  JaAna and Miss Callie, the tutor, tried for about an hour, at which point Miss Val picked up her phone and set up a installer for next week. It didn’t work, but the effort was appreciated. In the meanwhile, Danait was having a lot of fun playing hide and seek with Rosalie a lot, and me a little.  Her favorite place to hide was in an empty box.  She had so much fun.  After both ladies left, Rosalie and Ja’Ana took Danait back to the library because they had not chosen any books earlier.  This is because Harnet wanted me to study with her and work on homework.  We worked on it for almost 2 hours, so they returned before we were done.  At least we finished, so she can relax this weekend.  We put more appointments, times to get together, etc. on the calandar.  I was excited to show her the post about coffee-making and she liked it.  There is one thing I will fix in the post.

Again, this week, I was able to enjoy many things for absolutely free.

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I enjoyed the fall colors.

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I enjoyed making soup and muffins during the cooler weather.

I was glad to have a nice, warm fire in the wood stove this week.

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The trees are changing into deeper red, yellows, then turn bare.  It won’t  be long until these branches are bare.  It was a busy week, but a good one.

 

 

What Did We Eat? November 4, 2017

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This week was a wild and crazy, unusual week.  Between Halloween celebrations, a visit to Harnet, lots of school, exercise classes and more, there wasn’t much time to concentrate on food.  So, frankly, we ate a LOT of soup:)

The week was a blur, but I remember a big pot of turkey-vegetable soup, along with a batch of yellow split pea soup.

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The split pea soup was very simple.  It was yellow split peas (green work, too), onion, potato, a carrot, celery, water and boullion cubes.  I always add a little thyme, salt and pepper to the mix.  After it cooked down, it was smooth with a few chunks.

The turkey vegetable was simple, too.  It was made from frozen chunks of turkey, broth, onion, carrots, celery, green beans, and a pint of crushed tomatoes.  There was water, salt and pepper, of course, and Italian seasoning.  That one turned out great as well.

We ate both of those soups many times for dinner and lunches.  Rob took some in his lunch, along with other items.

On Halloween, my sister made a taco bar, and I made some cookies with the kids.

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There were a couple of times when the Portland Trail Blazers scored over 100 points in a game, and the McDonald’s app offered a Sausage McGriddle for free.  So, we got a couple of those.  I can’t eat them, but others can.

When Rosalie, my sister, Ja’Ana and I took little Danait to McDonald’s to play while her mom studied citizenship with her tutor, we used the buy one, get one free Happy Meal coupon off the app.  Rosalie and I got to enjoy Harnet’s yummy food back at the house, but Ja’Ana and Danait ate the Happy Meals.  Mostly, we were looking for a dry, fun place to let some of the wiggles out after the library storytime we went to, and I think she had fun.  I know we did!  It was really quite comical to see 3 of us chase 1 little dynamo!!

I did make the same marinated chicken I made last week.  It was good, simple, and quick!  And, I had all the ingredients on hand.  It used up the rest of the package of buns I had, and everyone enjoyed chicken sandwiches this week.

I made mini blueberry muffins, and we ate some and took the rest up to add to the lunch at Harnet’s.  We ate them with coffee.  I can’t forget the coffee…..that deserves a sentence of its own:)  I showed her the coffee-making post, and we found a small error in my description, so I will be fixing that soon.  She enjoyed seeing it, and I’m glad.  It’s a big deal to me to post someone else’s story and I wanted to make sure it was correct.

Ja’Ana made another batch of cornbread, and I cubed and toasted about 1/2 of the pan and froze it for Thanksgiving stuffing.

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I want to have as much ready ahead of time for the big day, as I am super busy during the days before the holiday.

Whenever anyone said they were hungry, I just said, “go get some more canned fruit” and I think we all got fed just fine:)