Weekly Update and Saving Money for the Week of Thanksgiving, 2017

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Last week was a holiday week.  None of the kids went to school, and Rob only worked Monday morning.  So, we spent the first part of the week spending time with Jake and Patsy, cleaning like crazy, setting up tables for the dinner on Thursday, and pre-cooking food.  We had plans Wednesday, so that day was not available.

In the meanwhile, the computer crashed.  Completely.  We had to use 1/2 of Tuesday, which was the day I had saved to completely finish cleaning, to take it in to the only Apple store around–over an hour from our house.  After waiting to see what the problem was, we left it there with 2 choices of issues it might have, and told them to call us when they figured it out.  In the end, the hard drive was unfixable, and we had to have it replaced, which meant it was blank when we got it back.  So, we’ve spent hours trying to put things back on it where they belong.  We are not computer geniuses, so it’s taking us a while.  A long while!!!  After several hours of work, I finally got some pictures to load, although I’ve tried many, many things to get them all to load from my phone, and they are not all there yet.  I just need to spend more time at it, and I’m about out of that this week:)

On Wednesday, we went out all day.  We visited my oldest daughter, who was not going to be able to make it Thursday due to a badly sprained ankle.  Then, we did a few errands in her area, and headed up to see Harnet.  After spending some more time on errands,  Rob graciously agreed to drive myself and Harnet, plus Jake, Ja’Ana, Patsy and Danait up to an Ethiopian grocery store up in Portland. On MLK Blvd.  During rush hour.  In our 15 passenger van.  In the pouring rain.  To buy special green Ethiopean coffee that Harnet needed. What a man!  Have I mentioned I’m married to a saint?  (At least that day he acted like one!!).   We hit bad traffic going up, but found a really great parking spot right away, got what was needed, and sailed on to drop her off, then home.  So, it all worked out!

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I met Harnet through my oldest sister. They have been friends for a couple of years.  Now that we are friends, too, and my niece Alissa has become part of that loop as well, we all really wanted her and Danait to come to Thanksgiving.  And, we wanted her to make coffee for all of us.  So, it was really our fault she needed special coffee.  We were happy to help her get some.  Now that I know what she needs, exactly, I may just order a small bag from Amazon, just in case this coffee crisis comes up again:). Everyone enjoyed the coffee tremendously, but little Danait really kept everyone entertained.  We all enjoyed the day so much.  A little person really adds to the fun in our family, and she went from person to person, happily and cheerfully.  Such a charmer!

The day after Thanksgiving, we took off for a couple of days camping.  Jake went, of course, as he has been asking frequently when “we” were going to take “our” camper out and go camping.  It was rainy and cold, and we had a ball.

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He built Legos for hours.  We all ate junk food for hours.  He played with his junk food for hours.  We visited the Dollar Store and let them spend their chore money.  He bought a gumball machine and some beads to put through it.  That way he can get “gum” over and over and put it back. He doesn’t want to chew gum.  At least not bubble gum, he says.

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We had glow sticks each evening.  They were dollar store and clearance finds.  Patsy waved them.  Jake turned them into light sabers, and he and I had a war.  Darth Vader (Jake) won that one for sure!

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He built a camper in the camper:). He liked that little nook so well that he slept in there the 2nd night, instead of on the couch as he usually does.  The first night, the jacks shifted a bit, as they often do, and the camper had a slight downhill slant.  He loved it so much because his toy would roll better.  When Rob tightened them the next morning, he was really quite put out at him for a little bit.

It was very economical to camp.  We used our park pass that we get for adopting children out of the state system.  We have to pay the registration fee. $8, I think.  We ate all meals in the camper, except one.  Rob keeps change as he gets it, then cashes it in before trips so we can eat out at least one time, if possible.  We grabbed Thanksgiving leftovers and things from our fridge at home and used the pantry in the camper for the rest.  I keep it stocked and it is good to use those items up sometimes.

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It was very windy, but we fed the seagulls some old bread.  They were quite entertaining, and even caught some of the pieces mid-air.   Other entertainment included looking at the beach from the warm van, looking at the outlet mall from the warm van, and getting out of the warm van to go back into the warm camper to build more Legos, read more books, and watch endless movies.  We watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Paw Patrol (thank you so much, Abbie!), and part of a couple of others.  I finished the chapter book we were reading aloud–“Snowbound With Betsy” by Carolyn Haywood.  It is very good for young readers.  It kept his interest, and it’s cute.  Even Rob liked the part he heard.  In fact, when I finished, Jake wanted me to start over, but I didn’t.  Instead, I got another book about Betsy from the same author from the library today, and will start it with him tomorrow.  I read “The Girl of the Limberlost” by Gene Stratton Porter.  I’ve read it many times, but it was in the camper, and I enjoyed reading it again.  Ja’Ana basically read and slept all weekend, and made Rob watch “Soul Surfer” with her.  She knew he would cry all the way through, and he did not disappoint:).

It was fun to get away.  Winter camping is much different from Summer camping, but we still like to do it.  We needed to get some rest, and did rest, but were a bit tired anyway when we got home.  That is because on the last night, the wind kicked up so much, that Rob woke up around midnight and put the awning in.  You don’t want it to get twisted in the wind.  I woke up, too.  Then, around 2, the power went out in the campground, so he got up again to turn things to propane so I could still shower in the morning.  I woke up, too.  Then, just as we were drifting off, the power came back on, and that woke us up again around 4.   He fell back to sleep, and they all slept until after 9.  I didn’t.  After we came home, I took about an hour nap.  Ahhh…..It was a new week before I knew it!!

IMG_6043 3We’ve been cooking.  Baked potatoes with cottage cheese and cheddar cheese were one night’s dinner.  Rob BBQ’d chicken for Monday and made shrimp fettuccine for Tuesday.  Tonight, I made homemade chicken strips.   I’m sure I’ll cook some more, as there are several days left in the week!  LOL!  But, this is it for now.  I hope your week went well, too.

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

FC514CB2-830E-4A36-BA2F-6CD18AFC1649We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with 20 people sharing the day at our house.  I had a few anxious thoughts about where they were all going to sit, but it all worked out beautifully once I figured things out.

We set up a table in front of our fireplace.  Luckily the day was so warm that I did not have to build a fire, so those guests did not get roasted:)  In the garage, I put an extra leaf in the table that stays out there and put some tv trays by the chairs.  I also put extra chairs and tv trays where ever there was a corner.  Lastly, I broke my “don’t eat on the couch” rule, and no one spilled.  Patsy’s room became the play room, and the kids played games in there.

We had SO much food!  We had all the traditional foods, with a few twists.  I cooked the turkey on Tuesday, and just warmed it up.  The potatoes, though, I mashed that morning, and made gravy.  Our family loves potatoes, and we ate the entire 10 lbs!

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Then we took off for a couple of days of camping at the beach.  No matter how rainy and wet, we still love it!  And, boy did it turn out to be rainy and wet!!  Last night, Rob had to get up around midnight and put the awning in, it was so windy.  Then, a little later in the night, the power went out.  He got up again to change the water heater to propane, the the fridge does it by itself. Then it came back on, and woke us up again.  We drove home today, very slowly and safely, wishing we had a couple more days because we needed a nap!!!

We took Jake with us, as he has been longing to go camping for months.  This morning, he was already asking when the next camping trip would be.  We stayed inside for the most part, watching movies, reading books.  The kids did lots of craft kits and  Legos.

The sad news is that my main computer crashed   It’s in the shop.  So, my phone will have to do for now, and I find blogging much harder.  (Note:  The phone did not work at all, nothing posted, there just was not any reception there in most places, so I’m now switched out to an old computer that we had at home and am making a better post.  Sadly, this computer will not do pictures, so I have to use the one poor one I was able to load on my phone, plus there are old pictures I can use.  But, no new ones from this trip until the good computer comes home.)  Hopefully, it will be fixed soon.  (Note:  It’s fixed.  We lost the entire hard drive and everything on it.  I’m bummed.  We can pick it up whenever we can drive up there–a day or two)

 

 

 

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.

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.