Saving Money and Weekly Update–July 23, 2017

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I got a big bag of very ripe bananas for $2 at the store and had my most excellent helpers cut and bag them for the freezer.  We will make smoothies from them.  Each day that Jake stays with me I have him do one “helpful” chore and one “fun” chore.  This was definitely the fun one–he loved cutting with the knife!  Because it was a table knife, it was low-stress for me, as well.  After all, there is no wrong way to cut a banana chunk as long as it’s safe!!

I worked a lot this week.  Most of my family was gone until Thursday so I had the time to devote.  I also tried to do a few fun things with Patsy alone after Jake went home, so one evening I looked on the internet and found a blueberry patch that wasn’t far away and we went blueberry picking.  We got 4 lbs., and they were only $1/lb.  Sadly, the crop was almost gone, or we would have picked more.  I did freeze a few of them, and several baggies from our bush.  I harvested and froze a few more raspberries and some more Marion berries from our bushes.

I canned green beans.

I kept my niece and nephew all night last Sunday, and took them and Patsy to the zoo Monday, using my zoo pass.  I took food for us to eat at lunch, and clearly announced ahead of time what I was planning to buy for them (a shaved ice or a soda) and declared that if anyone wanted more, they should bring their own money.  It worked well.

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They knew they were getting a treat, and could choose which they wanted, and it took away the anxiety for them.

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As part of the summer reading program, we attended a Lego party at the library.  Jake was given a baggie of Legos to build with.  There were also tables where wheels, baseplates or specialty pieces could be procured.   After the kids finished building their creation, there was a librarian with a microphone and the child could describe what they built, and place their item in a place of honor on a table.

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He enjoyed himself.

 

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Another day, I took a stale loaf of cheap white bread, and let them feed the ducks at a park.  Imagine our surprise when some nutria showed up for their share!

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There was 1 mama and 5 or 6 babies.

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There was also a trip to a park one day.  You can’t beat the swings!  I noticed a splash pad there.  We might do that another day, when we are prepared with bathing suits.

I bought several items of clothing and shoes for the girls.  I don’t buy a ton of things at the beginning of the school year. Instead, I buy them things all year long when they need them.  It had been a long, long time since I had purchased shoes for them, so I was delighted to get the shoes they needed  off of the clearance rack, which worked out to at least 1/2 price.   Patsy got 3 tops for 1/2 off the lowest marked clearance price (gotta love Fred Meyers), and Ja’Ana got shorts and capris for around $12 each.  I was also able to get them each a p.j. set.  We are heading out for a mission trip before too long, and I wanted them to have something that was decent, matched, no holes,  fit well, etc. for the trip.  We will be sleeping in churches part of the time and at the mission compound, the restrooms are across  a courtyard, so they may be seen in these p.j.’s if they have to take a “walk” during the night.  The sale was excellent, so that helped.  I got them each a $2 pair of flip flops for showers, etc.  Rob got J a couple of skirts for the trip at Goodwill.  I still have a few things to get Patsy before school starts, but I think I’m about ready for the upcoming trip.

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The garden is full of produce.  Early this morning, I slipped outside to pick a few beans for our family Sunday dinner, which I hosted today.  Well, one “bean” let to another, and I ended up with 2-1/2 gallon ziplock bags of yellow and green beans.  I gave 1 to my sister, we ate the 1/2, and my aunt and I quickly snapped, blanched and froze the other bag for her freezer.  Rob and I got 14 pints and  2 quarts frozen Thursday, so I didn’t need them.  She ended up with several one-cup portions.  It was great to find a use for them!  I also cut lettuce and picked a few cucumbers and snow peas.

It was a very busy week, but we got a lot done, which is awesome!

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–July 16, 2017

 

IMG_4910Sometimes, part of saving money is earning money.  It was time for me to roll up my sleeves and get back to work after being on vacation for over a week.  Because Rob, Lovana and Ja’Ana went to high school church camp on Thursday, and Patsy was at camp until Friday, I had some extra time to devote to Jake.  So, I’ve worked over 8 hours for the past 5 days.  Patsy joined in when she got home. This is the two of them in front of the largest Black Cottonwood tree in the nation.  It’s at Mission Bottom State Park.

It was a good thing I had spare time, because his mom and dad had a huge job in front of them, along with my sister going to work several days.  (Brother-in-law is a college professor, so is off for the summer–but he was gone an entire day, helping transport the youth to camp, and worked on the project all day, every day).  They were told only a few days ago that the contractors were showing up Monday morning for a huge remodel they have had planned for quite some time.  It was “we are not sure when we’ll start”—then “actually, we’ll be there Monday at 8.”  So, their entire kitchen had to be emptied.  And, the family room.  And the living room.  And the dining room.  But, wait.  The garage had to be totally cleaned so that there was somewhere to put it all.  And, a little kitchen and living area set up out there for them to use during the remodel.  What a job!!!  They have been working every spare minute since they found out.  When they left my house around 3 today, they were going home to tackle it and finish it–no matter how long it takes.  I kept both Michaela and Jake for the night tonight.  We are heading for the zoo first thing in the morning.

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I’m planning another post on how I’ve kept Jake busy while helping him learn.  We’ve been working on handling money, reading, chores, and more.  We’ve done too many things to put down here right now, but one highlight was a classic car show we happened upon.  It was in a church parking lot and was entirely free.  He LOVED it!  The purple one was his favorite.

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So did Patsy.  I was so glad we stopped.

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We had a family BBQ today, here at my house.  I bought a $1, 2-litre container of seltzer water, and Patsy made lemonade from bottled lemon juice, sugar and water.  We got some Bugles for $1, and a package of Paw-shaped Cheetos for under $2 at Winco.  I made lettuce salad, since I have so much growing in the garden.  I also made garlic green beans from the beans I picked.  Others brought fruit salad, potato salad and ice cream.  I barbecued.  Yes, me.  Rob is not here.  Amazingly, it turned out!  Because I don’t barbecue, as a rule, I checked it too many times, so it took longer than usual, because I was lifting the lid too frequently.  At least nothing burned.  I did a package of drumsticks, with just Lowrie’s seasoning salt on them.  I marinated 3 chicken breasts in home-make teriyaki sauce.  Last, I bought a bag of frozen, easy-peel shrimp and made kabobs with them.  I put home-canned peach-mango salsa on them for about an hour and barbequed them for only about 5-6 minutes.  Of course, there were a few hot dogs for Michaela.  I purposely made extra and sent it home with people.  Even with all that meat and shrimp, I was well under $20 for my part.  That gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.  It tasted great, we had a great time of visiting, and we could hardly have fed 2 people at a restaurant for what I spent.

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Although we were celebrating birthdays, we decided to keep it simple and not have cake.  We enjoyed ice cream, a true summer treat.  Since lots of the family members are away right now, it was a smaller-than-usual crowd, but we had a really nice time visiting.

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My mom liked her gift.  We all went together on it to get her what she wanted.  (It’s an overnight bag).

I harvested some green beans from the garden.  I had hoped to can on Saturday, but there weren’t enough ready.  We have it planned for Tuesday.  My mom and aunt, Michaela, Jake, Patsy and myself can all be here Tuesday morning.  It’s  a tradition in our family to have bean-snapping parties.  I can remember many times in my childhood with my grandmas, sisters, my children, and myself all snapping and canning like crazy all day long.  It is always more fun to do big jobs together.  I will not have enough ripe beans for an all-day party, neither do I have a family large enough to eat that many beans anymore.  So, I planted fewer beans than I used to.  We should still have lots of fun.

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I also harvested and used zucchini, cilantro, green onions, lettuce, broccoli (or should I say Lovana ate it–oh wait, I got about 6 tiny flowerets–she ate the rest–I’m talking all the broccoli from 5 bushes)  That’s getting to be a family joke.  I really don’t mind.  I mean, come on, the girl’s eating veggies!  I got a few snow peas, too, from the new planting that’s just starting.  A few of the new seeds I recently planted are popping up now.  I hoed and weeded in the garden.

We have been going to the summer reading programs at the library.  So far, we’ve checked out books, gone to the movie “Sing,” watched a juggler, and received several prizes including a ticket for ice cream, a Trail Blazer game, a fair ticket, a ticket for a free book at the party at the end of the program, a bookmark, and a child’s meal at Izzy’s with purchase of an adult meal.  Both Patsy and Jake have also received tickets for their efforts and may win another prize, but also may not–there are a few raffled prizes available.

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He got to “plant” a flower for his efforts in the summer reading program.  I hope your week went as well as mine did!

 

 

Saving Money–Weekly Update–July 9, 2017

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This week, we enjoyed a brief visit from our niece, Rachel, who has been in Ireland for several months.  She headed back yesterday, and made it safely.  We will miss her (again) but are so happy she gets this opportunity.  She is on a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) base in Ireland, doing an Arts and Media track.  During her time there, she did many things including training, traveling to SE Asia with her group and, among other things, helped make a video for a donut shop, and did a peace walk along the border of Ireland.  The walk was over 200 miles long.  It was very interesting to hear of her adventures.  I don’t even begin to pretend to know all the things she did–our time was too short.  But, we did have a lovely family barbecue in her honor.  It was so much nicer to eat here at our house, vs. a restaurant.  There was so much more time to talk.  Rob barbecued both chicken and steak.  People brought things to share.  Yum!

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One of my orchids bloomed.  The bloom is small, but beautiful.  I have another one that looks like it may bloom in time, as well.

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Patsy made a bouquet to liven up our outdoor living area for the barbecue.  Our flowers are blooming well in the flowerbeds and the garden is growing madly.  We have tried to trim off the spent blooms to keep the blossoms coming.  We are also watering frequently because it’s been pretty warm.  Thankfully, we have a well for watering, so it doesn’t cost much.

I have cooked many things this week.  I made lasagna, chicken soup, tacos, barbecued chicken and steak, and lots and lots of salad.  I froze a lasagna for later, and also individual servings of both the lasagna and soup for both Rob and I next week.  We had lasagna one day, and tacos another day, then had the leftovers of both today after church.    I cut up a cauliflower and a lot of carrots to make it easy to cook them at mealtime.  I am thinking I will do that more in the fall when I’m working a lot into the evenings because it made it so easy.  I made the sauce for the lasagna from home-canned tomato products, frozen hamburger and a bunch of Swiss Chard I picked from the garden.  I had Patsy make apple crisp from some home-canned apple pie filling.  I am still working on using the remaining items that I have in my canning cupboard.

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Rob is taking the camper to help with high school camp, starting on Thursday.  I will be home because Patsy goes to camp tomorrow and returns Friday.  So, I want him to have a couple of small things frozen in the camper that he can just warm up if it’s not convenient for him to go over for the evening meal on any evening.  He has to park about 2-3 blocks away from the group, because that’s where the camper can be hooked up with electricity, water and sewer.  This is adventure camp, and the kids will be rafting, rock climbing, and more.  He will be transporting them to the top of the rafting course, and picking them up at the bottom and things like that.  He will also be helping in the kitchen as needed.  He will NOT be suffering in his air-conditioned camper or in his own camper bed, at night, as the teens will be camping in a school field in tents.  In fact, he is taking his fishing pole, and hopes to fish a bit while taking the kids their lunches, etc., or after he drops them off, or when he picks them up…….or all of the above;)

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The garden is producing a lot of lettuce and we are trying to eat it most days.  We have used both of the zucchini the bushes have produced.  There are lots of little ones forming, but I am having some pollination issues, so some are not growing.  We are getting a little broccoli every few days.  The snow peas are done now, and I pulled the bushes.  I have a small baggie of snow peas still in the fridge, and there is another short row that is blooming so I won’t be out for long.  The green beans are making little beans–it will only be a few days now until I eat some.  I will also can a lot soon. The 3 tiny tomatoes were eaten with tacos today.  I was able to plant more seeds in all of the blank spots that opened up when I pulled out the peas and bolting lettuce.  I figure that anything that can get ripe in 8 weeks will be ready in mid-September.

I’ve been able to take the opportunity this week to get a few things done that were hanging over my head.  I am now done grading and scoring all of the home-shool work from the past year.  I turn the grades in on Tuesday, and the girls will take a test.  Then, I will be able to get busy planning next year’s work.  I’ve done a lot of yard work and weeding in the garden.  We mowed the lawn. (It was a group effort.  Patsy and I took turns pushing the lawn mower on the easy parts and dumping clippings, Rob moved things out of the way, and did the tricky parts). I used the clippings to mulch the blackberries and one area in the flowerbed.  I’ve done a bit of organizing and sorting in the house, although there is much more I had hoped to do.  I may get a little more done this week, but since Jake is coming back from his family vacation tomorrow so I’ll be back to work, and the green beans are going to need to be canned before long, I will do what I can do.  I plan to take a small area each day and see if I can get it organized.  The garage is next on my list.  It’s become a dumping ground again and the food shelves have been stirred into disarray by hungry bears (I’m sure that’s who did it!)

We did quite a few more things this week, like visit Harnet, celebrate the 4th, and enjoy the garden.  How did your week go?

 

Saving Money–July 2, 2017

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What do you do after a couple of weeks like I’ve had lately?  You head for the beach–that’s what!!  You don’t even go shopping.  You just throw a bunch of food that you have on hand into the camper, along with some clothes, and you drive away–right out of the heat wave and into the cool, marine air.

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You go fishing in a lake that is in the campground.  You catch 0 fish.  Patsy and Rob do quite well.

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You go crabbing off a bridge for hours and hours.

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Thanks to a kind man who drove by, and offered  old clams and clam guts from his freezer that he was cleaning, and a little luck, you catch 2 keepers (males over a certain length) when most others on the bridge are not getting any.

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You watch elk wander through the town when you are driving around.  You sit and stare at boats coming into the mouth of the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean, and, you sleep and sleep and sleep–9 hours one night, a 2 hour nap, and……

Then—1/2 way through the week—THE BOY arrives!  Nap time is over:)

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Uncle Rob takes him fishing. “How long do we have to sit here until we get the fish to get on our pole?”

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“Not long, if Uncle has anything to do with it!”  The little bass was not big enough to keep, but it was super fun for Jake to catch.  Then he was done.  He went to draw with Patsy.

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Sidewalk chalk is fun and frugal, and safe parts of parking lots are a wonderful place to create.

We were at Ft. Steven’s State Park, which is at the upper, left-hand tip of Oregon.  There are a lot of things to do there.  Camping is an economical way for us to get away.  We use our park pass, which we have because we have adopted children from the State of Oregon.  We only have to pay the reservation fee ($6) and gas.  This campground was farther away than sometimes, but we had hoped to clam.  We didn’t get to, but we still had a blast.  The clams were suffering from a kind of toxicity, so no one could dig for them at this time.

There is always food in the camper–I organized the food last spring, and I had stuffed a bit more into the cupboards a couple of weeks ago because I knew we were going to be so busy right before we went this time.  I added some garden produce and frozen items, bought a few items down at the coast, and fed the kids McDonald’s food at times.  We never go through a drive-through in the camper, however, so often pack food for the journey, or drive between meal times.  Sometimes, we can park near a restaurant, but usually we pack food on travel days.

Our fishing and crabbing equipment has been gathered over the years.  We were able to buy another crab trap at the rummage sale, so that was nice.  Rob picks up extra fishing poles and reels at yard sales, or on sale at Bi-Mart or wherever (rarely), and usually gets fishing tackle and bait for birthdays and Father’s Day.  The only thing we had to buy for fishing this week was 1 carton of worms.  We bought some chicken (cheap–88c/lb drumsticks) for crab bait and used the clams from the nice freezer-cleaning man who drove by.

Ja’Ana was busy.  She stayed with her cousin, Alissa, and both girls were junior counsellors at a day camp all week.  Lovana is still working at her job, so she was unavailable.  Patsy was the only child for the first half of the week, and then Jake’s daddy brought him down for the second half of the week.  His family doesn’t usually camp or engage in the same outdoor activities we do, and so our goal was to give him some experiences he does not usually get.  We succeeded.

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We went to Battery Russell and  Ft. Stevens itself, which included a military museum. A lot of the historic area had information about WWII, as that was a time when they were really geared up and ready to go in this area.  After the Pearl Harbor attack, there was a real danger that the Japanese would attach the coast, and in fact, there was one time when they did shell a part of the coastline.

We did not do any of the Lewis and Clark activities this trip, although the area is loaded with historic sites.  The famous explorers spent their winter near that area when they were on their epic trip, so there are many things to see.  I’ve been to them before, but they never get boring to me.

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We cooked over the fire once or twice and used the stove we got at the rummage sale a couple of times.  The camper is very adequate for cooking, and it got us away from the mosquitoes.  The meals were very simple.  We were not in the mood for elaborate cooking projects this trip.

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We were able to use the same old sand toys we’ve had for years.  I added a few digging tools, bought at the Dollar Tree for a total of…..you guessed it…$1.  The historic places were free with the tag that said we were camping at the state park.    Rob took the vacuum sealer and froze the 5 (total) fish.  We ate the crab.

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We tried out the propane stove we got at the rummage sale.  It works great!  We used it for frying potatoes and for cooking the crab. I think we paid around $5 or $10–not sure–we got quite a few items, and the prices have blurred together in my mind.   It has been used, but is still in great condition.  Rob is going to set it up in the outdoor room/enclosed porch at our house and I’m going to can on it, since there is only a flat-topped stove at this house and that is not recommended for canning on.

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During the evenings, we watched C.D.’s., the kids built Legos, and read books.  We listened to Audio Books on the drives.  A lot of the materials were from the library. Both kids are working toward summer reading prizes.

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The kids scattered old pancakes for the seagulls.  We drove out to a place where we could see the boats going in and out of the mouth of the Columbia River.  It was very interesting.  We drove across the bridge between Astoria and Washington state.  It is about 4 miles long and very fun to go across.

I cleaned the outdoor kitchen and did my usual cleaning in the camper at the end of the trip.  I prefer to clean it while it is hooked up to water and sewer, not when I get home.

On Friday morning, we packed it up very early and came home.  Jake was going on vacation with his family, so needed to be back and I had quite a bit to do Friday afternoon.  Rob needed to go up to the camp and get Ja’Ana that evening.

On Saturday, we did a little shopping at Grocery Outlet, I cleaned in the house, worked on laundry and worked in the garden.  I weeded and picked things.  I harvested my first zucchini and my first 2 cherry tomatoes.  They are the Sungold variety and I love them!  I also got lots of lettuce and already ate a salad from it.  I got quite a few raspberries and about a cup of blueberries and a little broccoli.  I harvested quite a few snow peas–a big bag.  I also cut some cilantro. Rob picked a few cherries at my sister’s farm when he went up there on an errand.  My brother-in-law,  Jake’s dad, texted us that he had accidentally forgotten his fruit for their trip on the counter, and asked us to go get it and eat it.  So, now we have some little oranges, a few apples, and some bananas that Rob immediately froze for smoothies.  We are definitely going to get our fruits and veggies this week!  I love this time of year with the garden starting to produce, and fruits growing ripe one by one.  Yum!

It was a week full of simple pleasures, lots of rest, and many fun experiences.  It’s always fun to share something you love with someone you love.  Jake got lots of new experiences and had a ball, as did the rest of us.  And, like always, it did not cost us an arm and a leg.

 

 

 

 

Saving Money–June 25, 2017

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I made 3 batches of jam this week.  One was peach, from some frozen peaches I wanted to use up.  We were out of peach jam, and that is Rob’s favorite, so I just made it when I made the other kinds.

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The second kind was strawberry.  Rob bought me a flat of strawberries and I was also able to throw a small handful in the jam from our bushes.

The third kind was berry-rhubarb.  I used the remaining strawberries, rhubarb and about 1 cup of raspberries from our bushes.  It is great.  We got that recipe from the internet ( I just added raspberries to use them and get enough mashed berries), but it’s pretty typical–4 cups berries, 4 cups rhubarb, sugar, and 1 box Sure-Jell pectin.  It turned out really tasty, and I was glad to use those raspberries, rhubarb and every berry from the flat of berries.  I am hoping that as the new strawberry bushes grow throughout the summer, I will get some to freeze by the end of the summer.  It’s easy to put even a small handful in a carton and add to it as berries ripen.

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We enjoyed the company of the nieces and nephew for 4 days and nights while their parents went to an out-of-town wedding.  We went to a park, drove the big girls around to activities they were signed up for or wanted to attend, and spent hours helping with a huge rummage sale at the church.  We had many more frugal, fun activities planned, but ran out of time.

The rummage sale occupied much of our time during the last few days.  Items were collected over the past few weeks by the youth pastor and his various crews, including Ja’Ana and Alissa.  Those 2 spent all day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday helping out.  We were more limited in our time, as we had the younger ones to care for, but did spend significant time each day helping out.  The weather cooperated.  It was sunny, which was far better than rainy.  In fact, it almost went overboard:) Every day was warmer and warmer, and by Saturday, the weather was actually super hot (around 100), which made the last day and clean-up a bit difficult.  There were so many donated items that the gym was full of tables, and an area about as large was full in the parking lot.  So, as you can imagine, there were thousands of items to sort, price, set out, and much to clean up in the end.  Then there were the workers (mostly teens) to feed, direct and keep hydrated. Thankfully, it was well organized and there were many adult leaders who were helping out in various ways.   There were cases of water which we constantly pressed on the kids.  One day, Rob went down to Taco Bell during the afternoon hours and grabbed a whole box of the $1 (super Happy Hour sale) slushies and handed them out.  We sure didn’t want any teens or adults getting sick from the heat.  By Saturday night, I’ll admit, I was pretty tired!  But, those teens!  There was a group that stayed until the bitter end yesterday afternoon, and they decided to go swimming.  So, they rounded up a place to go, and cooled off for a couple of hours.  Got to love that energy:)

The kids have been earning money in various ways so they can go to Mexico on a mission trip in August.  This was a big project, and I haven’t heard the final word on how much money they earned at this sale, but at last count, it was over $6,000.  I’m excited to hear the final count!

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In the meanwhile, the garden continues to grow nicely.  Rob did get in there and till one morning, and we put up a little trellis for the pole beans to climb.  Half of these are Purple-podded pole beans and the other half are Blue Lake.  Pole beans will produce until frost, which will mean we will have fresh beans for a long time and I won’t have to can as many.

We’ve been eating lettuce frequently and I picked a gallon of snow peas.  I harvested a little broccoli and made broccoli soup.  There have been a few raspberries each day.

Throughout the busy, busy week, we were able to pack picnics and cook at home.  I used my Instant Pot to make spaghetti sauce from scratch one busy night and we ate that and the soup several times.  We also had sandwiches frequently.  By Saturday night, Rob grabbed a little Chinese food for me, and Taco Bell for the others.  I was too tired to cook. I was even too tired to cut the crust off of Michaela’s peanut butter sandwich.  I cut it into quarters and I told her she had to bite out the middle and get rid of the crust herself.  (You have to understand autism to understand that that is a big deal to her–but I was proud of her–she went with the flow)  We got back to our house around 10, and I then slept like a rock and am now cheerful and ready for a new day!  It was a good week.

 

Saving Money–June 18, 2017

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I harvested more lettuce, green onions, a little broccoli and quite a few snow peas this week.  I was able to use some of the produce at the 2 parties we had, as well as in meals and was able to share lettuce.

Jake and Patsy both got signed up for summer reading at the library.  We checked out lots of books and they’ve already started reading towards prizes, tickets for a drawing and an end-of-the summer party.

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I took Ja’Ana shopping for clothes for her birthday.  We though she would enjoy picking things out for herself.  We hit an amazing sale.  Things were 60% off, with an additional 20% off coupon, and a $10 off 50.  So, she got a pair of shorts, a pair of capris, 2 tops and a dress for a little over $40 (after coupons, etc.)

We used our zoo pass one time last week, and plan to use it again tomorrow.  We had 2 birthday parties, and kept them simple and reasonable.  You can read about the tea party here and the BBQ and sugar donut birthday party here.

We all finished school this week, except the homeschoolers who still have to do math during the summer and take a test in July.  Now, I will be working more hours with Jake and Michaela since it’s summer.  This is Rob’s summer job, so he will be taking his turn often, and at times, we will both work at the same time–one of us will work with Jake and one with Michaela.  We will be doing some overnights as well, when their parents are out of town.  So, we are planning lots of summer fun for all the kids.  We will be doing lots of frugal activities such as Kids Bowl Free, going to the park, the library summer reading, hikes, swimming at the YMCA, the zoo with our pass, picnics, etc.  When we add in church activities, camps, volunteering and more that the big girls are signed up for…..whew!  Patsy is getting a little older, so she has a few of those kinds of activities as well.  Rob may be glad when his “vacation” is over–we’ll see:)  It’s shaping up to be a fun summer.

 

Saving Money–June 10, 2017

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Patsy’s Sunday School class/mid-high youth group had a luau.  They got to dress up for the fun party.  We wanted her to get to dress up without spending a fortune for a 1-night event. She had started sewing this skirt a while back and so I finished it up today.  While not quite Hawaiian, exactly, there were large flowers, right?  So, we started with that.  When paired with a top that she got for Christmas a while ago and last summer’s flip flops, she was well on her way.  She used a large flower in her hair from a couple of summer’s ago, and we made a trip to the Dollar Tree for the lei and the fancy tropical cup.  Total out-of-pocket for costume=$2.

She had a really good time, and was also thinking of her cousin, Rachel.  They both have the same top, and wearing it made her think of Rachel tonight.  Since Rachel is in Ireland right now, and has been for almost 6 months, Patsy was glad to think of her today!  She misses her, as we all do, but we are all glad she is getting this experience.

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Lots of frugal fun!

Jake:   “Help, help, doctor, I’ve got these things sticking out of my head!  I need car surgery.”

Auntie:  “Do you mean surgery on cars, or with cars?”

Jake:  “Both.”

Dr. Patsy:  “I’ll rescue you!”

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Looks pretty sick, huh?

She proceeded to drive cars up and down his leg, and he was cured!  Amazing!

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The patient was in high spirits and recovering rapidly when we left on Friday:)  And the bill?  Definitely frugal!  Dr. Patsy didn’t charge a dime for her “car surgery.”

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I happily destroyed my lettuce row today!  I cut 4-5 large Tupperware bowl-fulls of lettuce from this row.  Although it looks pretty bad, there is still a lot of lettuce left, especially on the far end.  Tomorrow, I am making a lettuce platter for a barbecue the youth group is having, and then torn lettuce for a parents’ meeting/taco feed. So, I have 2 gallon Ziplocks of lettuce leaves for burgers and 4 gallon bags of torn pieces in the fridge for tomorrow.  Any leftover meant-for-burger leaves will be torn and added to the taco lettuce, if needed.   I also sent a huge bag to my sister, and have lots for myself in the fridge.  I have 2 more plantings of lettuce in various stages growing nicely in other parts of the garden, and I made sure to plant another row to the right of this one today, so the goodness will just keep coming all summer long.  The other thing that often happens is that this lettuce will sprout new leaves where I gave it a haircut.  So, I was delighted to find a good use for so much of it, since it is growing so rapidly!

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I made a lot of refried beans.  Some of them are for the taco feed tomorrow.  The rest are for later in the week.  I plan to make a nacho for J’s party.  I also cooked white rice, spaghetti, double chocolate loaf cake, zucchini bread, salads, baked chicken and more.  We often eat the same thing for dinner more than one time in a week–I always make big batches of everything with that in mind.  We also ate chicken-rice soup, and sausage and beans that I cooked last weekend.

We are having 2 parties during this coming week.  On Wednesday, Patsy has invited a few girls in after school to celebrate her birthday, which was last Wednesday.  That one will be a tea party.  I have already begun preparing things so I won’t have too much work to do on that day.  I’ve even dug out some of my nice dishes to make sure they could be found on the big day.

The second one will be next Saturday.  Ja’Ana’s birthday is next Thursday, and she has invited some friends over to celebrate with her.  That one will be a barbecue, with home-made donuts, courtesy of a couple of her aunties.  There, again, I’ve begun preparations.

If that wasn’t enough birthday fun, we do have a third daughter that had a birthday last Thursday.  I was glad to see her at the dance recital and was able to give her a card and gift then.  Yes, that’s 3 birthdays in 8 days.  Really.  We don’t do birthday parties every year with friends.  In fact, Patsy hasn’t had a “friend” party yet with us.  This is a good year for it, so we are going for it.  I will post how we did it all frugally, kept our sanity (I hope) and made it all work after the parties are over.

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The children found a dead dragonfly on the deck.  They enjoyed looking at it for quite a while.  I find that looking at birds, wild flowers/weeds, the river, etc. is a marvelous source of free entertainment that never grows old.

How did your week go?