Garden Update–May 2017



IMG_4504  Each time the weather has cleared up, I’ve planted a few things.  This week was gorgeous, and I was able to finish up almost everything that needs to be planted now.  I like to plant in succession, and have veggies all summer long and as far into the fall as possible.

I was delighted to see these green beans pop up.  I had been afraid that the birds had eaten them because there were quite a few sprouted seeds laying on the top of the ground.  Thankfully, I planted thickly, and there are plenty that made it.


These snow peas are about to bloom.  They were one of the first things I planted.  These are the ones that are supposed to produce in 30 days.  Well, they came up right before Easter.  That was about 5 weeks ago, so they are not going to produce in 30 days.  But, if you look closely, there is a bloom at the bottom of the picture, so it won’t be long.  It was really rainy and cold this spring.   I don’t know if that slowed them down, or what, but they are blooming before my standard favorite, Oregon Sugar Pod II, which I planted as well, on the same day, so I could compare the two.  I left the blooming green onions that I planted last fall so they could lean on them.  If the onions go to seed, that’s fine, too.


This lettuce is starting to come along.  I picked enough to add to a salad Sunday.  I’m not sure if you can see the carpet of weed seeds on the right hand side of the lettuce.  In some places, the ground is red because the weeds are so thick.  I’ve been hoeing them out while they are tiny, and have been making good progress.  Rob will also do some tilling before long.


I picked a little boc choi, and a few radishes.  I’ve also been using green onions, and was able to get a few good spinach leaves from the bolting spinich.  They were still good in the salad.  You can see that I have another bunch of tiny lettuce seedlings coming up in the background.  I love having lettuce all summer long, so I plant every 2-3 weeks.  I also plant thickly, and then cut small plants out of row, giving more room for the others to grow.


The Marion berries are blooming.  So are the strawberries and raspberries.


The cabbage and broccoli are doing well.  They are beautiful in the morning sun.


The chives are blooming beautifully behind the rhubarb.  I planted thyme, parsley, rosemary, orange mint and dill in front of the rhubarb.  I will probably move some chives forward eventually. I’m not sure why they planted them behind the huge rhubarb.    Maybe it wasn’t huge then:)

There is a small area left in the garden that has not been planted.  I plan to put in a second planting of green beans later.  I want them to come ripe in the middle of August, so should plant them around the middle of June.  I also have some squash seeds to plant, and I plan to plant them in a flowerbed by a dead tree stump.  I will let the vines cover it over, hide its ugliness, and get squash to boot.  I need to get those seeds planted ASAP!  Maybe tomorrow.  We will see.  This is the week of appointments.   I’ve got 2 dental appointments for 2 kids tomorrow, and that will take all afternoon.  We will do school all morning.  In addition, on various days, we have 3 doctors appointments for various ones, plus Ja’Ana has extra tap dance practice and her weekly house cleaning.  Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to plant a handful of seeds.  Thankfully.  Because timing matters when it comes to gardening.


Saving Money–May 21, 2017–A Week of Simple Pleasures


This was indeed a week of simple pleasures.  It was frugal, too.  We started the week by having Rob grill up chicken and pork.  We put it in the fridge to use for the week, and served it plain, with side dishes and also in tacos shells all week long.

On Tuesday,  Ja’Ana made some excellent pork in the crock pot as well.  Alissa made mashed potatoes.  Paired, they made a pretty happy meal:)  The pork was put in the crock pot with apple juice and a little honey, sprinkled with salt and pepper and 1 onion.  That’s it, and it turned out so tender, flavorful, and delicious.


On Wednesday, my mom and aunt came for lunch.  My aunt brought the beautiful and pleasantly scented roses pictured above.  We had pork and chicken, herbed roasted potatoes and Marion berry cobbler.  We used the pre-cooked meat from Sunday, and Alissa made the potatoes and cobbler.

By Thursday, the weather turned sunny and gorgeous.  I took the home-schooled girls on a field trip.  They have a project going for Biology that involves some outdoor work.  We’ve been putting off all the experiments/labs that need to be done outside because it’s been so rainy.  I can see we’ll get them done now!  We went down to a park by the Willamette River.  While we were there, we enjoyed the view of the paddle boat that is docked, and gives tours, at the waterfront park.   There is more than one Sternwheeler boat in Oregon This one is the Willamette Queen.


I was able to do a lot of yard and garden work this week.  I planted flowers, weeded, hoed, planted more veggie starts and seeds, and more.  My mom and aunt liked looking at my yard, and I ended up over at my aunt’s later in the week to see how hers was coming along.  I went shopping a few times, looking for a hanging basket for my Mom that had begonias in it.  I didn’t find one I wanted, but usually found something else that would fit nicely in MY yard:) 🙂    So, I got an empty hanging basket from my aunt that she didn’t need and bought small plants and filled it.  I really like how it came out.  It’s sitting in my yard now, and I’ll get it to her soon.  (She reads this, but is totally in on the plan, so I’m not ruining her surprise!)

One of the most interesting things I have blooming right now is my rhubarb plant.  I never knew they could bloom so largely.  I have always cut off the blooms as recommended before.


I got a bag of Ritz chips/crackers for free from my Friday download from Fred Meyers.  I also bought  a 1/2 price hydrengia.    It is quite small, but it will grow:)  I’ll try to plant it out soon.

We found the orthodontist is ready to put the bottom braces on Patsy’s teeth.  When checked, the insurance is going to cover 80% of them.  Thank you, Auntie Jan, for looking through all those insurance choices for us last fall!  (She helped us sort through SO many choices)  I knew she’d be the first one to be delighted after putting in the effort for us.  I knew we wanted to choose a choice with orthodontics, because I knew this day was coming.  We are going to have them put on in early June.  He had needed to work on the top teeth for a long time (3 years approx), because she had a tooth that had never come in.  There were braces, then there was oral surgery, a chain attached, the tooth pulled down, teeth straightened around the offender, and more.  I’m excited that we can move on with this project while we have dental insurance.

I took Jake to a park one afternoon for fresh air and exercise.  It was a LOT longer walk then he led me to believe, and I ended up carrying his scooter a long ways.  Thankfully, Rob was in the neighborhood (sort of) and came and got us when we were done, scooter and all, and hauled us home.

The girls are getting dance pictures done this week.  They looked great in their costumes for the upcoming recital!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



It’s all about flowers for me at this time of year!  We bought those flowers for his mom.  This way, she can plant them wherever,   I hope your week went as well as mine did. What did you do?

Saving Money–Wild Week Edition-May 14, 2017


Jake wore his firefighter suit to school Friday.  He said it was super-hero day, and chose the fireman.  He knew it wasn’t Superman, and asked if a fireman was a super-hero.  I said they were to me.  (He really, really wanted to wear that costume)  He changed during the day, but I thought it was adorable.

We had a crazy, wild week.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you know that we are quite busy and active all the time.  This week made those weeks look calm and boring!  But, I’m here to say, we we able to keep it quite frugal throughout it all, while having lots of fun in the meanwhile.  I mean, how could I NOT have fun with such a cute fireman?

Monday, I did homeschool then went to work, as usual.  I made Sloppy Joes in the Crockpot, and left them cooking on the counter for the family.  I got home around 6:45, as usual, and gobbled some up, too.  One fun, frugal activity from Monday was taking Jake down to the river to throw rocks into the water.  I could not have paid any amount of money for the amount of fun he had doing that!  I’ve never met a little boy who doesn’t like throwing rocks into rivers:)


Where Jake is concerned, the bigger rocks were better!

On Tuesday, we went to visit Harnet and Danite with my sister Rosalie.  This time, we met at a park on the Willamette River.  There were ducks and geese to feed, playground equipment, a picnic area, and more.  We kept it frugal by bringing food.  Each one of us 3 ladies brought enough for all of us–we had to chuckle at the amount of food there was!



The girls are really loving getting to know Dinuite.  She, in turn, is loving them and often insists that they are coming, even on days they aren’t.  Her mother, Harnet, is taking classes at community college, working on English and citizenship.  She is getting better and better at English each month and we can really tell a difference when we see her.

We kept it frugal and fun by taking a picnic, old bread for the geese and ducks, and simple, inexpensive toys to keep little Danuite busy.


I started planting a few seeds on Tuesday night, but couldn’t start until 7 because I was at work, so I had much more to do.  By Wednesday, I was getting nervous.  Rob had spent hours tilling it up and getting the dirt into good shape over the weekend and Monday evening,  and it was going to rain on Thursday.  The girls and I did some crucial bookwork and then ran to Wilco for some starts of both veggies and flowers.  I purchased only what I thought I could get planted before the rain.  The girls helped me and we got the garden planted, and even 1 flowerbed.  I finished late afternoon/evening once they had moved on to other activities.  I was so glad I did.  Once it started raining, it poured, and hasn’t stopped since.


On Thursday, Gail and Ron took off for a few days to see their oldest daughter, our niece, Caitlyn, graduate from USC.  We took care of the kids.  I’m happy to say that we had a good weekend.


We are so proud of her.  Her degree from USC is bio-chemical engeneering–whew!  She graduates again at Biola University in a few days–she was in a special program between the 2 schools.  She will have 2 degrees now, one from each school.  Although I’m not exactly sure of the names of all her degrees, I am supremely sure that it was extremely difficult, and I’m so glad she’s made it through.

I will say the weekend was a blur of cooking and cleaning.  Rob and I divided and conquered, and I slept over there 2 nights, and brought Michaela over here 1 night. She doesn’t like to be away from home, so that was a stretch for her.  Jake slept at my house with uncle and cousins 2 nights.

Overall, I was pleased with the amount of cooking I did for everyone, and the lack of  eating out.  It did take a fair bit of planning to make sure we had everything we wanted at the whichever house we were at, but we stayed within our budget with the few items that were eaten out and used a lot of food from the grocery store to keep everyone fed and happy.  I feel like we had a good balance.  We did not pay for entertainment this time–no movies, etc.  We were just too busy with scheduled activities, chores and cooking.   It went well, and the children were terrific!  Now it’s off to bed with me…I’m wiped out!  Fun, but tiring–that’s for sure.



Saving Money–May 7, 2017


Alissa has a strawberry bed at her house.  We cleaned it out, put in some new dirt, and transplanted a runner that had grown into a pot nearby into the big box.  She plans to put some herbs and possibly flowers into the other half.

Menu planning was very simple this week.  Last weekend, I grabbed some food at Winco, and thawed some from the freezers, and wrote down some meals I could cook from those foods.  Then, I cooked a bunch of them up, and made the rest as needed throughout the week.  I just erased the meal once I had made it.


We had quite a few sick kids during the week, and I ended up being busier than normal.  I didn’t even need to cook everything on the list, but it gave me ideas of what to cook, or warm up, with what I had when I was in a super big hurry, which was Every. Single. Day.


Thankfully, they got better and we were able to take off for our planned 2-family weekend.  We spent the weekend up near Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed our field trip to Camlann Medieval Village, and the rest of the things we did.  Traveling is rarely frugal, and we happily spent some money.  However, we were able to pinch a few pennies along the way.  The main way we saved money was to not eat out for every single meal.  I bought some foods and packed a picnic for the first night’s meal, which we ate at a rest stop.  I also purchased, and packed,  a few of those pre-packaged lunch/snack packs (various brands–like Lunchables), and some of us ate some of those Saturday for lunch.  I rarely buy those, because they don’t have much in them and my crew wants more, but they worked this time.  Since they were from Grocery Outlet, they were really inexpensive.  Breakfasts were a mix between food we took with us, food the hotel provided,  and food we bought, which also kept the price down.  We took tons of snacks and drinks, which kept everyone out of convenience stores at gas stations, etc.  Lunch today was DQ $5 lunch.  We splurged at a nice pizza parlor Saturday night.  I wanted a salad badly, and was pleased to get one there, along with gf pizza for Gail and I, and regular for the others.  It turned out to be a nice balance.  We had a really good time.



Camlann Medieval Village–Homeschool Field Trip


This weekend, we took the kids to Camlann Medieval Village.  It is a living history village about an hour from Seattle, Washington.  Both our family and Alissa’s family went together, and we took all of the kids, not just the homeschooled ones.  We had a blast!


The blacksmith entertained Michaela by putting arrowheads he had forged on her fingers and then they roared like wild animals.  He was so patient with her, and explained the whole blacksmithing process to all of us who were watching, but took extra time with an enamored Michaela.


One of the cottages had a fiber display.  It was very interactive, and the guide spent a great deal of time with the girls I was with, and let them weave on this loom.



Jake and Patsy had a great time feeding the sheep.


My sister, Gail, the field trip queen, chose this weekend to go because there was a May Day festival going on.  There are other festivals at other times of the year, and some weekends are “village” weekends.  It was explained to us that on festival weekends they hire entertainment such as the magician who did a show, musicians, and a few others.  Those people are not there and one lady told me there were even more displays explaining village life and how they made things on the non-festival weekends.  At 3:30, because it was a May Day festival, there was a Maypole dance for those who wanted to participate.  Michaela, Patsy and Alissa wanted to dance it and we all enjoyed watching them.


It was a lovely day, and we all enjoyed ourselves.


This little guy had a stick and was WAY too cute, joining in with the musicians as they played for the Maypole.  Earlier, his mother had been a guide for the cottage where we learned about daily medieval life.  She was SO in character, and SO convincing, that Michaela exclaimed afterwards, “I had NO idea that the people really lived here, in these houses!”  She was very sincere, but was fine with it when her mama explained that these people were actors and actresses who were playing a part and were told to say those things, like in a movie.


This little cutie was the daughter of the lady who made the flower wreaths that Alissa and Patsy wore.  She happily played with my sister, Gail, for a while as her mother was busy braiding flowers.  She had a designated babysitter, but was very friendly to Gail, too.


There was an archery demonstration, and later on, those who wanted too could take a turn shooting.


Jake sure wanted to!


Alissa and her dad, Ron, both decided to goof around and sit on Rob’s lap when their legs got tired:)

There was a restaurant, where Ron and Gail got a little bite to eat, as they had not had their lunch, yet.  There were things like “fungus” (mushrooms), and stew of some sort with a medieval name.  They said it was delicious.  Later in the evening, there was going to be a medieval feast, but we chose not to participate.  It is reservation only, something you need to know if you ever go and do want to participate.  I’m sure it would have been a great experience since it included both food and entertainment, but many of our kids are not good eaters, and the expensive feast would have been wasted.  Instead, we went to a pizza parlor in the nearby town of Carnation, and everyone pigged out on their preferred foods.  They even made Michaela a peanut butter pizza, which was basically bread with peanut butter on it, placed in triangles on a pizza board.  She was so happy, as her food choices are very limited.  Then Ron and Rob took the big kids to the movies, and Gail and I stayed back with Jake and Michaela, and just rested.  Ahhhhh….

This morning, Rob and I drove Lovana, Alissa, and Ja’Ana back in time for Driver’s Ed class, which started at 2.  Ron and Gail took Jake, Michaela and Patsy to the Space Needle, then brought them home a little later.  We had a fun, action packed weekend, and hopefully, everyone learned a little bit more about medieval times.  The village was small, there were no huge crowds, and the guides were very patient, kind and knowledgable.


Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti


I made a great low-carb recipe the other day for lunch.  It was quick, easy, and tasty!

Here’s what I did:

I took my hand-held, inexpensive, veggie noodle maker and twisted a zucchini through the wider side.  I wanted some “noodles” that were thicker, so they would not mush up on me.

I put a little butter in a frying pan, melted it, then added the “noodles” and sprinkled it liberally with garlic-salt.  The kind I use is a grinder, so I twisted the top several times to get a good amount of garlic and salt on the “noodles.”  Then I cooked the zucchini noodles for about 3 minutes, stirring only when necessary because I didn’t want to break them up.


In the meanwhile, I took 3 of the meatballs I had made the other day and warmed them in the microwave with a little marinara sauce.

I put the meatballs and sauce on the zucchini noodles, sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese (more than I intended since a lump came rushing out), and enjoyed my lunch very much.