Garden Update–June 29, 2016

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We got to cut our first 2 zucchini!  This year, my sister and I planted many packages and partial packets of old seeds so we could use them up.  These were from a summer squash mixture that was several years old.  I have grown the round kind before, and they are prolific!  So, I was glad to see that one of these turned out to be the round kind.

We have been picking and eating so much lettuce, we should be turning green any day!  Snow peas, beets, basil, cilantro, green onions, spinach, and carrots are all ripe, too.

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Patsy’s sweet peas started to bloom.  She had planted them at the old place and we moved these pots here with us.

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Of course, with all of the veggies growing, Rob needed to get out the tiller and get rid of the weeds.  We’ve also been weeding between the plants, and hoeing where things have grown together too much for Rob to safely till between them.

I spent some time thinning some lettuce.  I’ve been succession planting it, and so have some that is about 1 inch tall, some newly planted that is not up yet, and the rows we are using currently.  I’ve already taken out the first row we had.  There is also new baby cilantro and basil coming up.  I also spent a little time spacing out some baby head lettuce plants so that they can make heads.

I’m finding that working in the garden a little bit each day that I’m here, and having the help of several of us working on the garden is making a big difference in getting this garden to stay weed free.  There are several other vegetables coming close to getting ripe.  I’m looking forward to red tomatoes sometime soon, but for that, I’ll have to wait a while.  There are green ones, though, so there’s hope:)

I’m so happy I have the garden to work in. It gives me something to do that I love.  I always used to with I had more time to spend in the garden, so now I do, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

Saving Money–June 26, 2016

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One of the things we did this past week was visit a fish hatchery.  They didn’t have very many fish right now, since this particular one has more going on when the fish are running in the fall, but we were able to see baby Chinook salmon, and show Patsy how the whole operation works.

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We harvested lettuce, basil, cilantro, beets, carrots, spinach, snow peas and green onions from the garden.  I used the produce in salad, marinade, Pico de Gallo, stir fry and to eat.

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Rob was fishing for rock fish and caught a crab on accident, instead of any fish.  It was a male, and a keeper, and he has his license to crab, so—Yum!  What a happy surprise!  We ate it:)

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We enjoyed some beautiful days down at the coast and watched many boats going in and out of the harbor.

We had to drive a lot, as Ja’Ana had a couple of days of training for her junior counsellor opportunity next week.  Since we were driving anyway, we went house hunting again, used our Kids Bowl Free coupons with Patsy, and enjoyed some sights on the way.   We took food with us in the van a lot, and cooked in the camper most of the time.  We also ate out a little bit on the road, and chose as wisely as we could.  We used a lot of gas, but are so glad to do so for such a good reason.

We put in an offer on a house.  They already have several offers because the market is so strong right now, so we are looking at it again today to see if we want to “up” our offer.  I’m ok either way.  I know we can’t go “up” very much, so it’s in the Lord’s hands.  I know if this isn’t the one, we will find another one with time.  We should find out tomorrow.  They have so much interest, they have been collecting offers since Thursday, and will decide tomorrow.  Even the crummiest houses are getting multiple offers right now.  (Except the one with the broken windows, tremendous patches of mold, doors ajar and unlocked, and the dead rat on the floor–hmmmm–we’ve seen some beauties)

Basil-Parmesan Veggie Stir Fry

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This stir-fry turned out to be extremely tasty.  I thought I’d share the recipe.

1 zucchini, sliced

4 oz. mushrooms, sliced (1/2 carton)

1/4 onion, chopped

garlic salt in a grinder bottle

several basil leaves, sliced thinly ( I used about 10)

butter and/or oil, as needed for stir-frying (2-4 Tablespoons)

3 Tablespoons-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Put butter or oil in a pan and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the prepared veggies and stir-fry the zucchini, mushrooms and onion.  Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and grind several turns of the garlic-salt grinder.  I used a non-stick pan, so was able to get away with less than if I had used a stainless steel pan.  I probably used 1 Tablespoon.

When the vegetables are crisp-tender (about 4-5 minutes for mine), add an additional 1 Tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese and basil.

Makes 4 servings

This tasted a lot like pizza or garlic bread from a pizza parlor.  We seriously gobbled it down, it was so good.  Of course, you could easily adjust it to have more/less butter, parmesan, etc., but I think the butter as well as the garlic/salt grinder gave it that pizza parlor flavor.  I’m looking forward to making it more as the garden ripens and the zucchini produces.

Menu Plans–June 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saving Money–June 19, 2016

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On our recent trip to Ft. Stevens, Patsy and I enjoyed climbing a watchtower in Astoria, and enjoying the view of the big bridge that spans the Columbia River.  Beautiful, and free:)  The girls rode bikes, clammed, fished, read, and I continued to work on school with Ja’Ana.  We are not quite finished, having lost some time with the move.  We had to go over to the valley for a family event, and brought one of the cousins back with us.

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We enjoyed roasting marshmallows and hot dogs one night with her.

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I sewed Patsy a dress.  I used 50% off patriotic fabric from JoAnn’s, but chose one that was summery enough to go past the 4th of July.

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We got the garden in shape before taking off for the beach again.  We were able to harvest veggies to take with us.  We used lettuce in many meals the past few days.  I was able to take a huge salad with us to my sister’s house for our family Sunday meal.

I had not grocery shopped since we moved, except for a few dollars here and there.  This past week, I spent $58 on groceries.  I am finding it do-able with the new $50/week budget I am sticking with.  I “shopped” from my food storage in our storage bins and freezer and used as much garden produce as I could.  I also made another meal from the fish we caught and froze.

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We are at Newport, Oregon this week.  We took our bikes.  We took our first family bike ride in years.  Rob wisely bought me a helmet, as bike riding is not my strong suite.  I am happy to report that neither I, nor anyone else, fell off.  We had a great time.

Since we have a foster/adopt park pass, we save around $30/night, every time we camp.  Of course, there are rules about how often you can use it, etc., but they are very generous.  We are really loving having this option during this summer of change.

We are also saving money by not having internet, but I must admit it is frustrating to have to drive somewhere to catch wi-fi.  We also have been able to use Rob’s Mom’s garbage can each week, as she does not fill it, so we have no bill for that.  Of course, at campgrounds, you can throw your trash and recycling away there in the proper area.  We don’t have our phone land line anymore.  We have no house payment.  We are still spending money for gas, food, cell phones, the camper, and a few other things.  Overall, though, we have reduced the bills tremendously, and that is helping us get through the summer without feeling any pain at all!  What a blessing!

 

House Hunting–It Starts

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Where I live now is next to a beautiful garden.  It’s kind of small–but is clean and comfortable.  However, we are looking for our new house.  We started our quest last Monday, in earnest.  We have been spending  a lot of time on the internet looking at houses, but know it’s time to physically look at houses, in person.

We drove by one on our way home from Eastern Oregon last weekend.  After calling the realtor, we stated that we didn’t see much wrong with it from the outside, and it had an acre with it.  It was, however, far from any town, which is not our plan this time around if we can find anything closer in.  For the record, Rob and I love living out in the country, but we do still have kids to raise who like being active and it’s hard to drive so far for all of their activities.  After a conversation, the realtor admitted that the reason there were only 2 interior pictures of it on the internet was because that’s all he dared to put up.  There was very little sheetrock, places with leaks, etc., etc., etc.  So, unless they lower the price a lot, that one’s out.

Monday, we needed to come back from the beach where we were camping for a family event.  Our nephew, Jake, was adopted.  Yea!  He was hung up in the legal system for a long time, but things finally came to a conclusion on Monday.

We set up some showings.  I was very discouraged after that.  Those houses were even farther out than the first one, and in very poor condition, or very small.  VERY small, with no usable yard, no place for a garden, and the house had structural issues.  The other one had a nice big lot, but reeked of animal urine, probably had asbestos issues, and needed major structural repairs, such as a roof.  It was very far away as well.  I am beginning to appreciate my camper more and more.

Did I forget to mention the other option–the one where the well had failed and a car had driven through the side of the house, leaving a gaping hole.  We didn’t even ask to go in to that one:)

Yesterday, we had 3 houses set up to view.  We got to see 1.  By the time we got to our appointment, one had 7 offers on it, and the other one had an accepted offer.  The one we saw had a 1/3 acre lot, so nice and big, but the house was needing a lot.  The floor has soft spots, the roof is shot, there is asbestos that would need to be addressed, and there is an added-on area that we wonder if they got permits for, as the square footage is not adding up.  So, more info needed on that one, and they would have to come way down on price for us to be able to afford the  house and the repairs.  It was in a good location, though, and I liked the house.

We go again tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be better:)  We understand that this is going to be difficult and that we are going to have to compromise greatly from what we really want.  That being said, we trust that God has a place for us out there.  We are beginning to appreciate what a challenge it may be to find it, though.  Here’s hoping…..

 

Saving Money–June 14, 2016

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My sister noticed that we were losing some water where the hoses were connected.  She fixed it so that the watering can now catches the drip.  Patsy has been using that water to pour into her watering can and water the garden.  We have a lot of water in Oregon, but there’s not use wasting it.

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We spent a morning fishing in a lake near the campground.  We caught 15 trout, and the man fishing beside us on the dock gave us his 3.  Wow!  So far, we had them for 1 meal, gave a few to the neighbors camping next to us in the campground, and froze some for future meals.  My teeny, tiny camper fridge is extremely full, so we kept 4 out for a meal very soon.  That was fun!

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We went clamming again.  We all 4 limited out, catching 60 clams total.  Rob and helpers got them cleaned, and I minced them up in my mini-chop.  Last time, they were quite tough, so I thought mincing them would help, and it did.  I made clam chowder and froze the rest.

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We had a really good time.  This time, we tried another place because we did not want to climb over the jetty.  So, we went through the woods, up a sand dune, and straight down the steep side to the beach.   Right as we were finishing, we got to enjoy these parasailers, who were using the wind to power their sails.  It was amazing.  It reminded me of huge kites, catching the wind, and giving them rides.

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If you look closely, you can see Rob and Ja’Ana on the top of the “cliff.”  That was no picnic to climb, but it was an adventure:)