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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…..it’s bacon, bacon, bacon!  He loves it!! I’m glad to have a bunch in the freezer now.

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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.

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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!

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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?

 

 

 

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What Did We Eat–February 1, 2018

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

 

 

Weekly Update-Saving Money-What We Ate-January 28, 2018

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I decided to combine my menu post with my weekly update, because I simply have had no time to post in the past few days.  Instead, I’ve been spending time with people I love.

Jake and Michaela came to spend the weekend with us.  They came Thursday afternoon, as there was no school on Friday.  We went down to the YMCA and went swimming.  While waiting for the girls to change, Jake enjoyed the Mr. Potato Head toys–there were 3 of them.  He had a ball!  It was great for him to get to play with a different toy than what I had and then leave it there:). They also had free books, and he got one–happy boy!

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I cooked a lot during the week.

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Gluten-free blondies were so good, I made them twice.

I went grocery shopping and spent all the money from the past 2 weeks, and more!  With the kids coming, I needed to lay in a supply of foods they like.  They have very specific likes and dislikes.  I also was planning for 2 sets of company.  One set of friends was coming Saturday, and another on Sunday after church.  The weekend ended up much differently than I planned.

Rob has been struggling with the flu, and we assumed he would be fine by the weekend.  He was not.  Ja’Ana came down with a high fever on Wednesday, and we figured she would be fine and go to her retreat, as planned.  She wasn’t, and didn’t. The doctor’s office wanted to see J on Saturday, so I took her up there. If she’s not better by Tuesday, back we go. Jake became ill on Friday evening.

All of our friends declined to visit our house once they heard about our house full of sickies!  I wonder why?  LOL!  They made a great choice.  We stayed home, surrounded by all that food and Kleenex for the rest of the weekend.

I made a huge pot of chicken-rice soup.  Jake ate 7 helpings over the weekend.  Who knew?  I made smoothies several times.  I ended up making 2 batches of yogurt, and used part of it, frozen peaches, frozen bananas, canned peach juice, and more as I made smoothies.  I bought orange juice and citrus–big oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes for the sick ones.  I bought lemon-lime soda.  I replenished my tea.

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I fetched this and that for people.  I shopped. I cooked.  I cleaned.  I did laundry.  I swept. I washed dishes for over 2 hours on Saturday.  I read endless stories.  I ran to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal Saturday night.  On Sunday afternoon, I finally gave up, turned on the Wii, and the tv, and fell asleep on the couch:). Rob did manage to take Michaela to Costco for her hot dog, and got my short list.  He grabbed a cooked chicken there.  Every little exertion wears him out, though, and he’s back in bed for another nap.  J hasn’t moved from the couch since Wednesday, except for short times.

People are starting to feel a little better.  I am feeling a bit more rested.  I still opened prepared spaghetti sauce and bagged salad for dinner, along with noodles.  Frankly, we have been in survival mode the past few days.  And, if I never need to watch “Odd Squad” again, it will be fine with me:), at least for a week or two.

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With the extra time at home, I got Patsy going on a new embroidered dish towel with a cute cat pattern.  I gave her some embroidery floss we got at a yard sale, in the colors she wanted.  She started working on it.  She also cut Rob’s hair.  Brave man.  But, look what a nice job she did!

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He told her what to do, and she did it!  Amazing!  (Since I am awful at cutting hair, I have admiration for anyone who can).

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Earlier in the week, Harnet and I took Danait to the dentist.  She had been before, but that dentist wanted her to go to a pediatric dentist.  We got to go to Portland.  On the 11th floor.  In a place where parking was difficult.  But, after circling around a few blocks a few times—-we managed it!  She had a wonderful time there.  She seemed to love everything they did, and was so interested in it all!  Of course, they loved working with a kid like that, so it was an amazing dentist visit.

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We went down to the river with a lunch bucket full of food, and had a car picnic.  The ducks, pigeons and even seagulls were out in full force.  Thankfully, her mama had some bread in her pocket and we all enjoyed feeding the birds between rain showers.  She had tucked in in her pocket because she thought Danait might get hungry, and that turned out to be a great source of entertainment for us all.

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It’s been a crazy week, and a busy one, but not the most frugal one.  We were still able to save money here and there, and best of all, took care of everyone that needed care!  Michaela went home with her big sister last evening, and Jake will be leaving soon.  I’m not sure what the week holds, but I do know I have enough food for any occasion:)

What Did We Eat–Winter Garden Goodies! January 20, 2018.

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This week, after looking around outside in the covered porch, I found a few items lurking around out there.  I also took a walk out into the muddy, muddy garden and found a few things.  I decided to use those up instead of buying more.  Novel thought:). LOL!

I baked a butternut squash we grew.  It had a few bad spots, but I cut them off, cubed it, and roasted it with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I used home-canned pickles.  I cooked burger from last year’s cow (there’s a bit left, still.)

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We ate up the rest of the chicken I baked earlier in the week.  Rob made some pizza using some pre-baked bread crusts he found at Grocery Outlet for around $1 for 2 a while back.  He used toppings we had on hand.  I baked one of the gluten-free Costco pizzas I buy frozen.  I added toppings to the cheese they come with.  We cruised along on that for a few days as we made lots.  (Thank goodness I didn’t eat an entire pizza in one day!)

Last weekend, I went out and got a few things, mostly produce.  One thing I bought was a 15 pound bag of potatoes for $2.50.  So, we baked up a bunch of those. We’ve had those a couple of times this week.

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Out in the garden, I found a nice cabbage, some kale and a bunch of boc choi.  The boc choi was a surprise, as it was hiding behind some other things and I didn’t see it until I got out there!  I finished up a head of cabbage I had previously picked, and was delighted to see that this one was in excellent condition.  On the covered porch, I found a small handful of potatoes, a couple of small squash and a few onions.  I should tidy the porch more often:).

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That cabbage grew a lot since this picture was taken at the end of last summer!

I also cleaned out the small freezer above the fridge because I had the things all slide out and land on my feet one too many times.  I found a couple of mystery baggies of various meats and some other items.

So, I made a soup from pork(?), the potatoes, an onion, a bunch of cabbage, carrots, frozen beans, and some tomatoes.  I also dumped in some pinto beans that were also lurking in that freezer.

I cut up a bunch of cabbage and put it in a Ziplock in the fridge for coleslaw over the next couple of days.

I made smoothies from fruit I froze last summer.

Rob BBQ-D some steak from our new beef we recently received to see how it was.  It was amazing!  We had baked potatoes and canned green beans with it.

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I also used up every avocado I had, which Rob got at Grocery Outlet for a very low price last week.  I made guacamole.  We had enough for 2 days of that, too.

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The peaches and applesauce have really come in handy this week, since Lovana had 2 wisdom teeth taken out on Monday.  She had a really hard time with one of them.  So, she’s been eating lots and lots of ice cream, peaches, applesauce and mashed potatoes.  When I took her back to the dentist on Thursday, I got her a milkshake at Burgerville.  She is finally feeling quite a bit better today, and went to work for the first time since last weekend.  Good thing.  The ice cream is about gone:).  The triple chocolate, the chocolate chip mint, and the vanilla.  Trust me, she had a lot of willing helpers to eat ice cream.  So, you could say ice cream was one of our food groups this week.

I decided to skip my usual weekend shopping this week.  Instead, I want to use what’s in the fridge, home-canned and frozen items, cabbage, boc choi, kale and pantry items.  If it’s going to fall out of the freezer onto my feet, that’s it.  It’s going on the plate!  Later in the week, if I need milk or something, I’ll worry about it then.  I’m right on track for a moderate-spend month, and I’ll just leave this week’s money in it’s envelope in case I run out of things later this week.

 

What Did We Eat– January 12, 2018

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This past week, our 1/4 beef arrived.  While I was arranging the freezers to make room for the beef, I found a package of turkey wings from the turkeys Rob grew before we moved.  Clearly, it was time to use those wings!  So, I put lemon and rosemary on them, a little water in the bottom, added salt and pepper, and cooked them in the crock pot for a few hours.  We ate part of the meat.

I made turkey enchiladas from the rest.

I cooked a large crock pot of chili.  We had it several times over the past few days.

I also made another crock pot of refried beans.   I froze most of those, except the ones the kids ate on tortillas several times, and the ones I put in the enchiladas.

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Then, I cooked the turkey wing bones in the crock pot all night with water and salt, and made broth.

On Wednesday, when my mom came to lunch, the girls and I fed her turkey soup made from that broth, biscuits and cupcakes.  The soup had a slight lemony flavor, which is not my normal flavor, but it was good.  I just made a simple one with veggies and a little mixed grain.

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I used some tomatoes, a pepper and 1/2 onion to make Pico de Gallo.  We ate it with some lime tortilla chips I got a while back.

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Patsy wanted to hard-boil some eggs, but did not know how.  I taught her, she made a bunch, and enjoyed them for dinner tonight.

We are still cruising along on the groceries I bought over a week ago.  We picked up a few 1/2 gallons of milk for 99c each during the week, but not much else.  I still have plenty of food left, but will need to go buy produce sometime in the next week.  There were no great deals that I needed in the ads this week, except the milk,  so I didn’t even go to the stores.  I did download my Friday Freebie, though, and can get it in the next few days.  I plan to shop minimally until I get some more things out of my freezers.  They are stuffed because we added the beef and I want a little more wiggle room in them.  So, this week, I’ll target bread and other bulky frozen foods.  We are in that time of year where I’m so glad I preserved all those fruits and vegetables last summer.  We are really utilizing them now:)

 

 

What Did We Eat? January 4, 2018

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Of course, the first week of January just has to be about using things up, eating healthier and of course, saving money on food.

We were still on party mode on New Year’s Eve, and had a family feast/birthday party.  on Monday, we just ate leftovers.

On January 2, Alissa had her birthday.  We made potato-cheese soup, her all-time favorite, and she enjoyed it that day, took some home, and we ate the rest here for a couple of days.

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I made some tapioca pudding.

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I drank lots of water with lemon.  You know, to make the leftover Christmas chocolate more healthy:)

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Last night, I made a simple stir-fry with celery, carrots, onion, chicken and soy sauce.  I had leftover rice from Sunday, and made fried rice from onion, rice, soy sauce and a little pineapple.  Seriously, that was all except salt and pepper.  Very simple, used up things, and very tasty.  I bought a 10-lb bag of carrots from Costco before Christmas, because they were under $5!  So, I’m targeting carrots.  Rob has been taking leftovers in his lunch now that he’s back to work, so the fridge is finally starting to clear out, but there is still plenty for tonight.

We’ve eaten eggs, toast, tater tots, leftover dips and chips, and other things that needed to be cleared out or from the freezer or cupboard.  I’ve spent under $20 on groceries this week so far, as we had so much to use up.

For the next few days, I plan to use some beef broth I made a few days ago.  I will make some kind of soup or stew from that, or use it in chili.  I need bagels since Jake will be spending a few day, and that’s his food of choice.  There is a great deal on cheese at Fred Meyers on Friday or Saturday (need to check) where 8 oz bags are only 99c.  I will get those.  I hope to jot down a few menu ideas in the next couple of days to give me ideas for the next few days, using other items that need to be used.

How’s your January meal planning going?

 

 

 

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.