Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 4, 2017

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Rob got the garden tilled around all the winter veggies in between rain storms!  I am so delighted.  I did not think he was going to be able to do it, but Monday night, when I came home from work……there it was!  It’s been pouring ever since!  Now, we are going to spread the compost pile over it, and keep throwing scraps and weeds on it, and he will till all that in in the spring, when it has rotted a bit.  He also is going to build a compost bin system for me like I had at the old house.  Then, I will be able to hide it while it decomposes.  He used old, free pallets last time.  We shall see what he does this time.

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Today was Patsy’s day.  I had been feeling that she needed some time from me, and today was the day.  We went to the mall.  Twice.  We smelled every single scent, and some twice, (it felt like) at Bath and Body Works.   Two times.  We used a coupon I had, and bought something I wanted from some money I had saved from my birthday.  We both tried on clearance clothing at Macy’s.  She got 2 tops and a dress she needed.  I got a top I wanted.  We got great prices.  We went to JoAnn’s and she used a gift card she had been saving from her birthday.  (That was in June.  We don’t go shopping much, except for groceries).  The 2nd mall had a photo opportunity set up and I took her picture for free.  On the back side of this display, there was one for Halloween pictures.  It was nice they offered both.   We got some socks we had been searching for that are for a little friend of ours.  We shared a nacho and a dish of ice cream at the food court.  The items we bought were few.  It all fit in one bag.  I’m hoping the memory is large, and long-lasting.  It was a fun day.

Then, we went to Fred Meyers and got groceries.  They had a LOT of things on sale for $1/each.  We got 1/2 gallons of milk. We got packages of cookies.  We got a cake mix.  All for $1/each. We even got a few things for 50c, like broth.  I only bought 4 of those, since I have quite a bit and make my own most of the time.  Occasionally, I do need a small can for a food drive, taking with me on a trip, etc.  I got the rice mix for the Friday Freebie, along with last week’s caffeine-filled soda drink.  I can’t eat the rice mix (wheat) so will take it to church for the monthly food drive.  It will be good food for someone.

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On Friday, my sister, Rosalie, Ja’Ana and myself went to see Harnet and Danait.  It was CRAZY busy there!  Harnet had the day (and us) really organized!  Harnet had a citizenship tutor coming to work with her, and we were the “keep Danait busy” crew so Mama could study.  So, her Harnet had it set up for her to go to toddler storytime at a nearby library and we took her.  Then, we took her to McDonald’s and used my buy one, get one free Happy Meal coupon from the app.  Rosalie and I didn’t eat there, except for snitching a few fries, but the girls did.  After that, we went back to Harnet’s and ate lunch.  She had cooked one dish that contained greens (maybe collards?), rice, and lentils.  There was injera bread for those who could have it.  The tutor stayed for lunch, too, and we all had a nice chat.  Of course, we had coffee before we went, during lunch, and after the all the others left.  After while, another lady showed up.  She is someone who helps Harnet with things like phone calls, appointments, etc.  I’m not exactly which group/agency she comes from, but Harnet  was glad to have the appointment with her, and I can see why.  She is very knowledgable about how different agencies work, and how to access them.  We chatted and talked with her, too. Harnet fed her lunch, too, and we all had coffee again.

Ja’Ana and the tutor tried to set up an internet box that had been sent to Harnet so she can have wifi.  JaAna and Miss Callie, the tutor, tried for about an hour, at which point Miss Val picked up her phone and set up a installer for next week. It didn’t work, but the effort was appreciated. In the meanwhile, Danait was having a lot of fun playing hide and seek with Rosalie a lot, and me a little.  Her favorite place to hide was in an empty box.  She had so much fun.  After both ladies left, Rosalie and Ja’Ana took Danait back to the library because they had not chosen any books earlier.  This is because Harnet wanted me to study with her and work on homework.  We worked on it for almost 2 hours, so they returned before we were done.  At least we finished, so she can relax this weekend.  We put more appointments, times to get together, etc. on the calandar.  I was excited to show her the post about coffee-making and she liked it.  There is one thing I will fix in the post.

Again, this week, I was able to enjoy many things for absolutely free.

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I enjoyed the fall colors.

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I enjoyed making soup and muffins during the cooler weather.

I was glad to have a nice, warm fire in the wood stove this week.

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The trees are changing into deeper red, yellows, then turn bare.  It won’t  be long until these branches are bare.  It was a busy week, but a good one.

 

 

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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–April 16, 2017

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I was able to buy 8 avocados for $2 at Grocery Outlet.  One of the kids “arranged” them, and I though it was kind of pretty!  I bought very few groceries this week.  Frankly, I didn’t have room for both groceries and Easter food in my fridge.  I used a ham that I got on a good sale after Christmas, potatoes I got a while back for 50c/5 lbs., home-canned green beans, mango lemonade I got for 99c/jar a while back…..things like that.  Plus, Patsy made Jello for the holiday.

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She colored a dozen eggs with a kit from the Dollar Store.

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One of the challenges for me this year was making Easter special.  Since so many of us get together every single Sunday, I wanted this to feel special.  First, a few more family members were able to join us, which was very meaningful to me.  I added a few decorations, and special foods, especially dessert.  We don’t always have any on normal Sundays.  It turned out very well.  Everyone had a good time, and we were able to visit more than normal.  The younger kids, especially Jake, enjoyed hiding and finding eggs.  Everyone enjoyed candy, chocolate cupcakes,  and cake.  People pitched in on the dishes, and I’m all ready to get back to normal tomorrow, which is nice, with no big mess left behind.

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We were able to teach 2 classes at a 4H workshop on Saturday, to a total of 21 kids.We had them make beef stew in a Dutch Oven, make fire starting kits, and roasted marshmallows.  We talked about fire starting and safety, how to care for cast iron, and a couple of ways to cook over the fire–open fire and charcoal.  We were able to use very inexpensive ingredients, and had some stew left over for our dinner that night.  It was a class where the kids that were 7th grade and up were encouraged to help teach classes to younger members at a county-wide event.  So, Rob and I had Patsy, Ja’Ana and Alissa help us with the classes, and they were wonderful help.

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We roasted Peeps in honor of Easter.

Then, we packed it all up, took it home, and put it all away.  Rob and I both enjoy doing this kind of thing, so we were both happy at the end of the day.

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The week ended up both frugal and fun, which is a great kind of week to have!  How about yours?

 

 

Make Ahead Easter Dinner

When Easter comes on Sunday, I plan to spend as much time with my family as I can.  First, we will attend church, then come home to dinner.  5 of my children will be here, along with some of their families, along with other extended family.  We are planning on 18 this year.  Because I want to spend time at church, then come home and visit, I am doing some things ahead of time so I will not be stuck in the kitchen for too long.

I am serving ham.  I will defrost one I got for a really good price after Christmas, and pop it into the Crockpot Sunday morning.  I may put some glaze on it, I haven’t decided yet.

Potatoes will be on the menu as well.  I will likely serve them mashed with ham gravy I make from the juice from the ham.  Or, I will make scalloped potatoes (what Alissa wants), twice-baked potatoes (which we all love), or ???  Both of those last 2 could be made tomorrow and just warmed up, so I’ve done both of them in the past as make-ahead alternatives.

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Vegetables will be plain green beans.  One of my daughters is allergic to many, many things and that’s what she would like and can eat.  They are already home-canned.  It doesn’t get easier than that.  I prepped them 2 summers ago:)  Sometimes we will have a veggie tray, or pickles on a tray.  I may do that if I’m in the mood or end up with extra time, but we are having salad, and no matter how big our eyes are, our stomachs can’t eat too much, and that kind of thing is often leftover.

Salad:  My mom is bringing it.  Now, that’s pre-preparation for me.  Just ask her to do it!

Fruit:  My sister is bringing it–either chunks, or salad, or whatever she wants.

Rolls:  I made gluten-free rolls this morning and froze them.  I used a recipe from the magazine, “Gluten Free & More.”  I got it from their website.  I will probably buy a package of wheat rolls.

Candy in Eggs:  My Easter bunny Aunt Janet will bring that as she has done for many, many years.  She fills the plastic eggs with candy.  The kids know that after we play “hide the eggs” a few times, they have to empty all the candy into a bowl and share it.  I also heard one solemnly explaining to someone recently that then they have to give back the eggs so she can fill them next year.  And she does.  Such a fun tradition.  They find and hide them multiple times, usually.

Other allergy friendly food:  My daughter will bring some things she can eat, and we are all welcome to dig in, too.

Other things:  People can bring, or the kids can cook, whatever takes their fancy, so I’m never sure what is going to come, but it’s all good.  Patsy is making green Jello in fancy little dishes.  That can also be made ahead.  She will do it today, Friday, and they will wait in the camper fridge until Sunday.

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I hope I get around to Deviled Eggs.  We love them.  I boiled some eggs yesterday.  We will probably have Patsy color 1 dozen and I will make these from the other dozen.  They also will wait for Sunday in the camper.

Tables:  I got the table in the garage enlarged, tablecloth on, and put pansies along the middle.  I will sprinkle wrapped candy down, and that’s it.  The table is set up already.  The candy is not, or there won’t be any on Sunday!  Ja’Ana purposely picked pastel shades of pansies and Patsy put foil around the cartons to keep water from leaking through, and to make them look better.  We may add ribbon if we can find any.  We will bring a table for food in and put it in the dining area against the wall so people can move freely, while the food is served buffet style.  We will put the regular table in the living room, and many will eat there.  It may be nice, so I dug out an outside tablecloth for the table on the deck and several will eat out there, hopefully.  So, that’s almost all done, already.

My mom and I sent Rob shopping for paper plates and napkins, etc.  None of us wanted to wash all the dishes for 18 people by hand.  Neither did we want to drop our dinners.  He got really nice, sturdy plates and pretty Easter designs on the paper goods.  We will use regular silverware, and have plenty of other dishes to wash, but people will pitch in.

Dessert:  I made a gluten-free angel food cake from the Taste of Home website.  Then, using another idea from that website, I cut it into 3 layers and put rainbow sherbet in between the layers.  It’s in the freezer, waiting for me to “ice” it with whipped cream, and pop it back in there.  It will be waiting for Sunday, as well.  My oldest daughter is bringing some dessert, and we will all get candy.  We will not go hungry for sugar, or anything else.  I’ve never tried the sherbet/angel food cake before, but I wanted something make-ahead that looked special for the holiday.

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Drinks:  I will make lemon-water and serve some Mango Lemonade I got a while back.  I may serve soda, coffee, and tea, as people desire.

It’s shaping up to be a great day, with much of the work done ahead of time.  Do you have things you make ahead?  After all, we’ve still got most of 2 days left–there’s still time for ideas!

 

 

 

April, 2017, Low-Carb Food Challenge–Stuffed Dover Sole

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Recently, Dover Sole was on sale.  I remembered a simple recipe a woman at a fish counter had told me years ago, and I thought I’d try it again.  It’s very simple, but elegant.

I bought 1 lb Dover Sole, and laid it out flat.  I took my garlic-salt grinder and ground garlic/salt all over the fish.  Then, I sprinkled it with thawed salad shrimp, probably about 1/4 lb in all.  It was not a thick layer of shrimp.  I then took some habenaro cheese I’d gotten at Grocery Outlet a while back and sprinkled shreds sparingly over that.  The original recipe called for pepper jack cheese, and I think that would have been better.  Even the sparing layer I added made it pretty spicy!  I then rolled it up, placed it on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkled it all with Lowrie’s Seasoning Salt.  The smaller rolls-ups took about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  The larger ones took about 17 minutes.  This made 7 roll-ups.  The yield would depend on the size of your fish fillets.

For our family, that was more fish than we needed for one meal.  Since only Ja’Ana likes fish , we were really only feeding 3 people with this, and I think I could have gotten by with 1/2 of a pound of fish.  Because it was so spicy, a little went a long way:)  Also, Dover Sole is a soft fish, and I was very careful to not over cook it, as the butcher warned me that it would be very easy to over-do.  It was a nice change from our usual fare.

 

April 2017 Low-Carb Challenge-Eggs In A Bag

 

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Eggs are a wonderful, nutrition-packed, inexpensive low-carb food.  I use a lot of them in my meals.  One way I love to eat them is hard boiled and dipped in salt and pepper, or made into egg salad sandwiches.  Another thing I like to do is make Deviled Eggs.

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In testing some recipes for an upcoming class Rob and I are teaching for 4-H (outdoor cooking),  I tried making eggs boiled in a bag.

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There were lots of recipes on the internet for these, and Rob had made them before.  So, I combined the recipes, and chose one to print for the hand-outs we are going to give the kids.  We will actually be making beef stew, a fire-starting kit, and roasting marshmallows with the remaining time.  I will give out recipes for additional things they can do when camping, and this will be one of them.

I put 2 eggs in a gallon-sized freezer Ziplock bag and squished them up.  Then I added 2 Tablespoons cheese, 1 Tablespoon chopped onion, 2 Tablespoons ham bits and about 2 teaspoons salsa.  I mixed by squishing the bag and dropped into the pan of boiling water.  I left them in there for 13 minutes, as instructed, but part of the eggs needed a little more time.  I ate the cooked ones and just left the uncooked eggs in the bags in the hot water with the burner turned off and they were cooked just fine when Rob got up and ate them.  Basically, you can add any mix-ins you want, such as peppers, green onions, mushrooms, etc.  They were good, and did not need any salt added, I think because my ham was pretty salty.

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I’m going to remember this for one of our camping trips.  It could be made outside on the outdoor stove our camper has, or over the fire, or on a camp stove on the picnic table.  I even saw that some people on the internet had pre-cracked the eggs and put them in a plastic bottle, then just poured some in the bag.  Then, you just throw everything away–no pans to wash.