Sewing Day–President’s Day, 2018


I decided to use my days off for sewing.  It’s quite a process around here, as everything has to be taken out of the garage, and all parts and pieces have to be found.  So, I took over the table, told people to eat elsewhere, and got busy.  I got started on Saturday afternoon.IMG_6398

I finished up this skirt for Patsy I had started quite some time ago.  Thank goodness it still fits.


I moved on to a pair of pajama pants for Ja’Ana.  This was a piece of fabric I’ve had for years, and I went out to the shop and dug it out since I knew it would be perfect.  I spent quite a bit of time Sunday afternoon cutting it out so the plaid would match.  I haven’t matched plaids for a long time, so it took me a long time.  Success comes from careful cutting with plaids.  I sewed the pants on Monday, and was delighted with how well the plaids matched.   It actually took around the same amount of time to cut them out as it did to sew them!


A nightie for Patsy was the next project.  It went together quickly.

I got another skirt cut out as well, and even got started, but I’ll show that one when I get it done.  It will be a while before I get another chance to sew.

You may notice that I chose projects that were very simple and quick.  I feel great about getting them done, and using some fabric I’ve had for a while.  The girls will really benefit from some new nightwear.  I’m also very happy to have finished the skirt, at long last.

I cleaned up the entire mess, but hopefully put the machines and all parts and pieces in handy places so I can pick them up easily if I do get a chance to sew again before long.  We did a few other fun things on our days off, as well, so I feel pretty good about this weekend.  Good thing….it all starts up as usual tomorrow, bright and early!



Weekly Update-Saving Money-February 17, 2018


The beginning of the week was sunny, but cool.  One afternoon, when she got home from school,  Michaela and I went down to the river to watch the Wheatland Ferry.  She needed to buy some Valentines, so we did her errands first, then decided to take a little ride, since it was so sunny.  So, with French fries in hand, we drove down to the sparkling river, and spent some time throwing rocks into the river, counting the cars that crossed on the ferry, and just enjoying the afternoon.  It really perked up her afternoon, and I enjoyed myself very much, as well.  I’m always delighted to find a low-cost outing to do with her.  It does her good to get out into the fresh air.


In fact, she had so much fun, that she came up with a plan for Tuesday afternoon.   On Tuesdays, Jake stays after school for choir, so we decided to take him to a near-by park to swing, even though evening was approaching.  Unfortunately, we were only able to stay for a short time, when he began to feel poorly.  We went right home.  He stayed with me Wednesday morning and all day Thursday.  He laid down or sat down all day, both days, at my house.  My mom took him to his house Wednesday afternoon, where he proceeded to sleep for 2 hours.  I’m sure he is fine now, but his daddy was able to care for him after that, if he needed it.


In the midst of it all, life went on, as it does.  I made fajitas with some pork chops that were getting old in the freezer, an old pepper I found in the fridge, and an onion.  Rob ate that for a couple of day for dinner and in his lunch.


I made rhubarb/strawberry crisp with some frozen fruit that had been there for quite a while.  I made some ground pork-vegetable soup with frozen veggies, pork, potatoes, etc. Alissa made biscuits.  We snacked on popcorn.  I made pizza from pre-made crusts I had on hand.  At the end of the week, my schedule got crazy, and so we had food from Wendy’s, and then Rob got me a real treat, Chinese food, on Saturday, because I was correcting and grading school work.  He was treating me because he knows how much I love teaching and don’t love correcting.

I corrected home-school work for about 7 hours on Friday night and Saturday, most of that being on Saturday since I was gone all day Friday.  We have a meeting coming up where I need to turn in grades, etc., for the diploma program the girls are enrolled in.  It’s still significantly less money than a private school, so it’s worth it to me to do all the correcting, etc.

The price wars continue in the grocery stores near where my aunt and sister live.  It’s only about 20-25 minutes away, and we go there frequently, so I’m not complaining. (It’s not far in miles, it’s traffic that takes the time). I got potatoes for 10 lbs/99c (2 bags), Ritz for 99c/box (1), apple juice for 99c (I ended up with 7 because 2 stores were doing this one), pork loin for 99c/lb (2-4 lb chunks), 25c cans of tomatoes (2), Honey Nut Cheerios (99c/box), and chili-48c/can (2).  At the Fred Meyers near me, I got the other apple juices and peanut butter for 99c (5), tuna for 50c/can(5), pasta for 50c/lb(5),  and my free candy bar. Going to multiple stores, shopping the sales, downloading and clipping coupons, and keeping track of prices takes a lot of work, but since it turns my modest grocery budget into a nicely stocked pantry, I don’t mind.

Ja’Ana cleaned house for the lady she works for weekly.  She also had a youth group outing where they planted cherry trees to earn money for their upcoming mission trip to help at a camp in Montana during spring break.  We aren’t going this time, just her, and I’m sure it will be a great experience for her.  I’m really glad they give them opportunities to earn money for these trips. It helps us a lot, and teaches the kids to value their trip more.  Both girls had extra youth group outings this week, along with the normal meetings.  So, we were very busy this week.  You could say we were fueled with all the chocolate from Valentine’s Day.  Too bad the car can’t run on chocolate:)

I was able to go to JoAnn’s and use the last gift card I had in my stash.  Patterns were 99c, so I got a handful.  I got some floss, as I have been embroidering towels, and can’t find my extra floss stash.  Thankfully, it’s not expensive and I only needed a very few colors for what I’m working on.  I will continue to look through the bins in the shop for my floss!  So frustrating when I had my hands on it so recently, but……it happens.


A couple of years ago, I was given a huge ziplock full of floss.  I recently put that floss in a very safe place.  In a bin.  In the shop.  It’s still there.  Very safe.   Very, very safe.

I was able to use a 20% off my entire purchase coupon.  I got a little fabric, too.  I want to sew a few items for Patsy, and will also use some of the fabric I still have in my stash in the shop.  I hoped to start on that today, but the correcting and house chores took my time (plus the fact that I fell asleep on the couch late this afternoon!!!). Thankfully, tomorrow is another day and floss is inexpensive:)

Have you lost anything lately?


Weekly Update–Saving Money–What Did We Eat?–February 11, 2018



It’s that time again–my sister’s birthday and Valentine’s Day.  So, I made a cake that will celebrate both.  It’s chocolate, festive, and most importantly, gluten-free!  I couldn’t wait to eat it today at Family Sunday Dinner.  Lovana insisted on counting out the candles to the exact number for this birthday and putting them all on the cake!  Pretty scary when you consider she is my LITTLE sister!!!!!  We also had a wonderful time with my niece, Rachel, who has now returned from her year in Ireland.  It was so good to see her again.


I used the flowers I was given, plus a few more to brighten up the flowerbed by the front porch.  I also have little tiny early daffodils blooming.  It’s been very spring-like around here!  The daffodils Patsy planted when we first moved here are sending up buds.  We will get more blooms this year than we did last year, and each year they should continue to multiply.  Since they were all extras from my sister’s flowerbeds, we are going to get a lot of beauty for free for many years.


I froze bananas.  They were 39c/lb.  We drop them into smoothies, still frozen, to make the smoothies icy and thick.

I did some shopping and got my free items from Fred Meyers.  I picked up my sports water and candy hearts.  They were out of the foil cookie pans.  I got some great bargains they had as well, including $1.99/lb butter (5 boxes), 99c peanut butter (5 containers), and some other things.  I didn’t buy many groceries to use for meals this week, as I am still well-stocked, but mostly concentrated on pantry-building items.  Pantry-building is important to me, as I like to buy everything at the lowest possible price, and then, hopefully, not run out until the price drops again.  I also grabbed candy for the cake and Valentine’s Day.

We ate lots of chili leftover from last weekend, sandwiches, leftover chicken and steak from last weekend, baked potatoes several times, and used some frozen salmon twice.  We also had Eritrean food that my friend, Harnet, made and brought to my house.  There was also a jumbo package of turkey dogs in the fridge and many were consumed.  Now, the fridge is finally empty from the Super Bowl leftovers and I can think about making some new items for the week ahead.


Rob noticed his breakfast looked happy (?) one morning.  I think it looked scary:). Either way, home-canned peaches, cottage cheese and bacon made a great breakfast for him before a long day at school.  Bacon has been very reasonable at Safeway the last couple of weeks.  That was another item I “pantry-stocked.”  The bacon was around $3/lb, in a 3-lb package.  So, I divided it up into meal-sized portions and froze most of them.  It’s often more than $3 for 12 oz packages, so that was a stock-up price for me.  When Jake spends the night…’s bacon, bacon, bacon!  He loves it!! I’m glad to have a bunch in the freezer now.


I took Danait, Harnet, and Patsy swimming at the YMCA.  She had a blast.  So did her mama.  Patsy always does.  She loves the pool.  I continued doing my Pilates class. It is each Tuesday and Thursday.  I still stink at it, but the teacher says I’m getting stronger, so that’s good.


Danait has decided that Rob is her uncle. After all, if he’s Jake’s uncle……. How sweet.  So, Uncle Rob took her and Patsy down to the Dollar Store, and she chose Valentines for her class at preschool and Patsy chose some for her friends.  He also got some candy, and she had a busy time taping the candy to the little cards.  Her mama and I helped write her name on the cards, and taped some chocolate to the ones for the teachers.  We got a lot of bang out of our buck there….she worked on them for at least an hour:). During this time, we had the Olympics on, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching what I could between the commotion.  I’ve always loved the Olympics, especially the ice skating, and I was lucky enough that there was some on.  I was even happier to figure out how to record the rest of it when the hour grew quite late, and it was still going on.  I’ll find out tonight if I did it right!!! Here’s hoping:)

I downloaded and read a book for free on my Kindle, using the Prime Kindle Lending Library.  I had forgotten I can have one free book each month using that benefit of Prime.

I continued reading Little House on the Prairie to my nephew and played many, many games of Yahtzee with my niece.  When Harnet was visiting, we all 3 played.  We also played with a friend of Michaela’s on Monday, when he and his mom came to visit.  He hadn’t played before, and Harnet is new to Yahtzee as well.  It is good for Michaela to be the teacher occasionally.  She loved it both times!



We also enjoyed some time at a park, with Danait and Patsy.  While they were playing, we finished up the last of Harnet’s homework for the weekend, so she could rest for the remaining part of the weekend, if you call doing laundry, taking care of Danait and cooking resting:).  The weather has just been so nice!

How did your week go?




Garden Update–Varieties I am Starting in the Greenhouse–Feb. 8, 2018


Of course, the biggest garden news around here is that Rob has finished the greenhouse! I have been busily planting little seeds, and now am waiting for them to come up.


I have planted: Carmen peppers–a long, Italian sweet pepper that turns red quickly.  I get these from Johnny’s.  I freeze these for winter and use anytime I would use a green or red pepper.  They ripen quickly, which is a must in my climate.

Anaheim College 64 peppers: a mild, Mexican pepper to use where green chilies are called for.  I use in my home-made salsa, and I freeze them.

Jedi peppers:  a slightly spicier jalapeño, salsa, chili, stuffed, poppers, etc. (new to me this year–from Johnny’s). I dice and freeze jalapeños for use throughout the year. This variety is new to me.

Sereno: A quite hot Serrano pepper for salsa.  That’s all I use this one for.

Italian Pepperoncini:  I grew these several years ago.  They are seeds from Territorial, and were not what I was expecting–the kind you get pickled in jars.  Instead, they are skinny, squiggly peppers with a nice flavor, and just the tiniest kick to them.  I froze so many, and used them in chili, sloppy Joes, spaghetti sauce, and more.  We really liked them, so am delighted to have them again this year.  My frozen mix was lovely, as I just chopped up the green, yellow and red peppers and mixed them in the bag.  They were different colors because they were different degrees of ripeness.

Willamette tomatoes: This is an old favorite that my parents grew in my childhood, and I continue growing.  It’s great for eating or canning.

San Marzano Giagantico:  This one is new to me, but looks like a large-sized paste/sauce tomato.  I like to make things like tomato sauce, and like the less watery ones for that.

Chocolate Cherry: Little brown-red cherry tomatoes.  They have a really nice flavor.

Yellow Pear:  I’ve been growing these yellow, pear-shaped cherry tomatoes for years.  We like them to snack on, and in lunches during the fall.

Pinetree Cabbage Mix:  I love this one from Pinetree and have grown it many times.  There are many, many kinds of cabbage mixed in one packet, so you get red ones, green ones, pointy ones, round ones, and so forth, all in one packet, which is fun and saves money over buying several separate packs.  I start them in the greenhouse and then plant out a balanced mix in the garden when they are bigger.

Hybrid Broccoli blend:  This one is also a favorite, from Territorial.  The broccoli matures at different rates, so gives me a crop for a longer period of time.  Then, the side shoots keep us going for a long time after I pick the main heads off.

Emerald Artichoke:  This one is new to me, but I planted 6 seeds, and we will see how they do.  We love artichokes and rarely buy them.

Patterson Onion:  This one is a yellow storage onion.  It’s supposed to be similar to Copra, which is the one I usually grow.  I plant the little seedlings out in the garden when they are larger, and in the past have grown enough to last the entire winter.

Red Bull Onion:  This one is a red storage onion.

I planted a little basil, and a small amount of lettuce mix.  I also planted 1 cell each of a greenhouse tomato and a greenhouse cucumber.  If they grow, I will plant them in pots in the greenhouse and see what happens.

We have a heat mat under them, and I water them every day.  They were planted in the super fine started mix, and will all need to be transplanted into growing mix later on.  Rob will get grow lights up this weekend, to keep them from getting spindly.  We don’t have any heat in there, but have a small space heater we can put in there, if the temperatures drop. The cabbage, broccoli and lettuce will be planted out in early spring, as they can take the cold better than other plants.


I’ve been tying up the raspberries.  On the few June-bearing plants I have been babying, from our old place, I used the biodegradable, stretchable twist ties I bought.  On the Everbearing ones that were here when we moved in, I used baling twine.  That first fall when we moved in, these berries tasted terrible, so I planned to remove them once my other ones got going.  Last summer, they were delicious, so they got another chance!  We will see how they do this year.



I read quite a few articles on the internet about the Everbearing ones, and there were 2 choices. 1) cut them completely off and I would get a crop late summer or fall. OR 2) Trim out the old canes from last summer, and cut off the tips of the canes that had fruited last fall, and I would get an early summer crop and a fall crop.  I decided to try #2.  I am almost done.  I have cut out old canes, and trimmed the tops.  Now, I am tying the canes loosely in bunches at their bases so they will be more controlled this year.   They got pretty wild last year!  I tightened one existing wire from the old owner for more support, but need to work on that some more, as there are a couple more wires I can tighten.  Over time, the wire has gotten pretty loose.  Then, my plan is to tie up the bushes with more twine as they grow.  I still want to give them a little fertilizer, as well, before I mark that job off as finished.

My mom told me to check my chives, as hers were growing.


I found them!  I removed the leaves and….


We will be eating chives!






Simple Super Bowl Stadium Meal


For the Super Bowl, I made a simplified version of a food stadium.  There were many ideas on the internet, and many of them bragged that it would cost only $25 or less to build the stadium (not counting the food).  I decided to look in the cupboard and pulled out lots of bread pans and other bowls and plates and made my own for absolutely free (not counting the food).

I also made the food quite simple, with a few treats thrown in. The little sandwiches were peanut butter and jelly, and plain peanut butter.  I made a pot of home-made chili and some turkey hot dogs.  Some people had chili dogs and some just ate hot dogs.  There were lots of veggies, and the bowl with the orange lid held simple dip.  On the left were pickle rolls–lunchmeat with cream cheese and a pickle, a family favorite that makes my crew feel like it is a special day.  My niece lined the soda cans up on the sides and said they were the people watching the game.  She had fun helping “build” the stadium. The guacamole in the middle was supposed to be the field.  I also made baked potato skins with bacon, green onions and cheese, but they were over on the stove for people to grab, along with the hot dogs.  I made some brownies from a mix I had, and put them in the one bread pan that is empty in the picture above.


I was able to pull a lot of the food from the pantry, and people brought lots of chips.  Soda was only $2.50/box, and of course, hot dogs and chili are very inexpensive to serve.  Peanut butter sandwiches, using bread I got on the clearance rack were well received.  It’s a perfect example of how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an occasion special, and everyone had a great time.

The party was just a small one, and the food was what we ate for Family Sunday Dinner.  Some of the family was out of town, but my niece brought a few friends, so there were extra kids, which always adds life to a party.  Later in the afternoon, when the game itself was on, most of the family were already gone, and my husband watched it to his heart’s content.

It was a fun, simple party and everyone had fun!  I’m glad I did it.

Weekly Update and Saving Money–Broken Stove Edition–February 3, 2018


Today, as I was dropping Ja’Ana off at her job, and heading to the store, Rob called.  He did not have good news.  While Patsy was putting away dishes, they heard this loud noise and discovered that the stove had suddenly blown out the breaker, and there was a strong electrical smell.  There had been signs that the old stove was starting to fail, such as 1 burner burning out, and lights that ceased lighting, but….this was death, not just a minor inconvenience.  So, Rob made phone calls, and then went and bought a new stove. It’s beautiful:). And that, my friends, is one of the main reasons I try to save money each week….in my life, stuff happens!  Frequently!  It’s a bit discouraging to have to spend the money I’ve been saving, but it would be even worse to have to go without a stove/oven.  I was ok to not have a microwave for a while, but didn’t feel I could wait for this.

In the meanwhile…..I had my oldest daughter and husband coming for dinner, and I could no longer bake potatoes or cook veggies on the stove.  The meat was slated for the BBQ, so that was no problem.


Abbie and I made the potatoes in the Instant Pot, on High for 12 minutes.  We then removed them, and made carrots in there, cooking them on high for 4 minutes.  By then, the BBQ was going, and the stove was installed by Rob and Keith, so I cooked the beans on the new stove.  We had a great time catching up with each other.


My aunt made me 2 potholders this week.  How did she know such a nice stove would need new potholders?:). I like them so much, I find myself burying them in the drawer so no one will mess them up!


It was my week for gifts.  I was given oranges, flowers, muffins and bread.


I finished a dish towel.  I haven’t been embroidering much, but picked it up again this week.


That’s not all that got finished!  I’m excited to announce that…..


The greenhouse is DONE!  Rob finished this morning. The roof is on, the door is done, and it’s already getting warm in there.   He build a table for the trays of seedlings, put our heat mat on it, and I got a little planted today.  Hopefully, more tomorrow after church!


My mom gave Danait some stickers and a little coloring book.  She loved them and spent a bunch of time working in there during our visit Friday.  There is a little cd of songs that goes with the coloring book.  Fun!  During the visit, I not only caught up with Harnet, but also with my sister, who shared her recent trip to Europe with us via photos.  Double fun!!

How did your week go?


What Did We Eat–February 1, 2018


Patsy and I chose 2 recipes for her to make.  She has been wanting to cook more.  When she was younger, we would have weekly “cooking lessons.”  So, we’ve decided to start up a more organized system so she can get in more time cooking.  She wants to do the 4-H fair this year, so needs to work on her skills.  The first recipe was applesauce muffins, with a cinnamon-sugar topping.  They were delicious.  To me, they tasted like donuts!  Yum:). We are going to try them again with a different gluten-free biscuit mix.  The one we had was pretty strong, because of the kinds of flour in it, and the muffins were quite dense.  I want to try a lighter one.  Sometimes, when you convert recipes, you have to experiment a bit. They weren’t bad, though. They quickly vanished.


The second recipe was chicken fingers.  It was coated with buttermilk and egg, then fried in oil.  Boy was it good.  We won’t be making this one very often, though, as we don’t care to eat much fried food, and it was quite expensive after we used gluten-free bread crumbs as part of the coating, and it used a lot of oil.  The taste….yum, yum, yum!


We continued eating fruits and vegetables that I bought last weekend.  We’ve had a house full of sick ones, and they are recovering nicely now, but I loaded up on citrus and other fruits and veggies for them, and for the rest of us so we would stay well.  We also ate home-canned and frozen items, as well.  I made smoothies from peaches–I used both frozen, and the juice from a jar of canned peaches.  Some of the apples look a little wrinkled.  I think I will make something from them this weekend!  We are having a smaller family Sunday dinner this week, at our house, and I want to serve snacky Super Bowl-type foods.  Maybe some apple bar cookies…mini muffins….not sure yet.


I’m still working on the 10 pound bag of carrots I got from Costco a while back.  This week, I made orange-glazed carrots.  Part of my shopping last week for the sickies was orange juice, so I just used some of that in the pan when I cooked them.  I basically stir-fried them and they were still pretty crunchy when we ate them.   They were good.

My niece, Alissa, made another big pot of cheesy potato soup.  It’s her favorite soup of all time, and she makes it often.  We still have a bunch in the fridge.  I had made a large pot of simple chicken-rice last weekend, and it was finished up early in the week.

I had fried up a bunch of taco meat last weekend before we realized that none of our company was coming.  So, people have been sprinkling that on taco salads, or making soft-shelled tacos, or nachos, or whatever they wanted all week long, since we had large quantities of all the ingredients on hand.

How did your meals turn out this week?