Saving Money–Weekly Update and Our 35th Anniversary–September 4, 2017

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Where have 35 years gone?  It amazes me how quickly they have gone–full of good times, wonderful times, really horrible times, and day-upon-day of everyday, ordinary times.  It doesn’t surprise me, really, that we ended up back at the Oregon Coast for this anniversary.  We went to the beach for our honeymoon, at least the first half.  Then, we went camping for the second half.  Some things don’t change much after all.

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We still love the ocean.

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We still love outdoor activities.  We spent quite a bit of time this weekend crabbing off the dock at our hotel.  That is one of the reasons we chose that particular place to stay.  You need a keycard to access the dock and you can leave your traps in all night.  The crabbing was really great.  We caught many, many keepers and they were unusually large for crabs caught from a dock.  The limit is 12 per day.  That would be 24 for the 2 of us.  We arrived on Friday and left on Monday.  That was potential for 96 crabs.  We landed a little over 30 and were overwhelmed with the amount of crab we had.  It was just the right amount.  We filled a cooler as it was.

There is a crab cooker at the hotel.  We spent quite a bit of time waiting in line to cook our crabs, cooking them, cleaning them, cooling them, etc.  It was fun visiting with all the other people.  They were from so many different places and we heard story after story from so many, each beginning with the same words–“How did you do?  Any keepers in your trap this time?”–and ending with anything from a childhood antidote of a rattlesnake bite to the grandiose fishing stories from a man who had drank one too many beers.  We shared the dock with people from Russia, Korea, Mexico, and Slavakia (I’m sure that’s not spelled right-sorry) and more, but all Americans now, all united in the quest for crab.

After watching a boy try to fish, and fail to catch anything due to his inexperience in tying on his tackle,  Rob showed the young man how to rig up his pole correctly, gave him some bait,  and the teenage boy caught his first fish–ever!  He then wanted to fish for hours, far into the night.  It was a feel-good moment, for sure.  The next night, he was back, after a trip to Walmart, fully loaded with all the right bait for both himself and his brother, and taught his mother to catch her first fish–ever!

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We were delighted to be able to share crab with family and friends today, and I’ve spent this evening cracking out the ones we kept.  I didn’t think I kept very many.  I was wrong.

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It’s in the fridge.  It’s midnight.  I will deal with it in the morning.  What a treasure!

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We also took a couple of drives.  We saw whales on Friday, and again today.  We never tire of seeing the white spouts, or an occasional tail or back showing darkly against the blue water.  Even when there are no whales, the view is breathtakingly beautiful.

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This bridge caught my eye, too.

We enjoyed the whale watching, driving, crabbing, some fishing, and a special anniversary dinner out.  We walked along the waterfront a little, and bought some candy to bring home to the girls.  Today, we had lunch out again, on our way home.  I loved the entire weekend.  The best part–after all these years, I still love the man I married so long ago, and he still loves me.  That is the biggest miracle of all.

The first part of the week was busy, getting things canned and preserved so I could leave.    We did do some frugal things before we left. The anniversary trip was wonderful, but I didn’t worry much about frugality, other than the habits I kept finding myself returning to….such as cooking in the room most of the time, not doing a lot of shopping, etc.  We did catch hundreds of dollars worth of crab, though–nice bonus.

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I served lots of garden-based meals.  This meal is a hamburger with garden tomatoes and lettuce, garden cucumbers and onion salad, baked french fries from garden potatoes and a sauce I made using herbs from the garden.

I bought school supplies on sale.

I was given some corn, peaches and prunes by my sister when I dropped by to give her some crab.  Some of the corn was already in the cartons for the freezer.  Amazing what grows on her bushes:)  Actually, the family did some for me today while I was gone.  They had a corn-freezing party today.  Pretty nice of them, I think.  I made a peach crisp for Rob to take to work tomorrow–he has his first day.  There is a potluck there.  The kids start Wednesday, but he needs to go tomorrow, too.

I made us one, too.  Yum!

We attended an Eritrean party on Thursday.  The food was authentic, and the party was really fun.  It was to celebrate Danait and the fact that she is getting to be such a big girl, and for Harnet, the mama, to be able to thank some people who have helped her along over the past few years since Danait was born.

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The day was hot, but the fan broke when someone’s balloons got caught up in it.  Hmmm.   Somehow strings mess up a fan.  Rob fixed it.  He had lots of help.

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The cake says something like Congratulations in Tangrian.  The lady that brought it went to a lot of trouble to get this cake, and got the word off the internet and had it put on the cake.   This smart little cookie is getting fluent in speaking both languages, and is now ready to head off to preschool in a few days.   This amazes me when I cannot even remember how to say, much less spell the language they speak, much less speak anything but English.  We feasted on the African foods, along with the rice, veggies, fruits and salads others brought, and then ended up with the coffee made from beans roasted right there, ground, and made into a very strong, potent coffee heavily sugared and laced with milk, served in teeny, tiny cups.  There was a good turn-out for the party, and I know her mama was pleased with how it turned out.

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In the midst of it all, Patsy and Danait had plenty of time for the Itsy-Bitsy Spider to go up and down the water spout, several times.  I would bet that little lady slept well that night–I know I sure did!

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Our gift was a backpack for school.  I think she has very little idea of what preschool is, but is excited because her mama is excited.  She loved the backpack, and I know she will love school once she starts.

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Our Big Field Trip to San Francisco

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We got back last evening from our biggest field trip of the year–San Francisco!  The trip was a huge success.  Here are some highlights.

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Yikes!  The BART train not only jerks you around, it makes extremely loud noises!

We arrived without any trouble or fuss at the San Francisco airport and then rode the BART train to Union Square, where our hotel was.  My sister was attending a conference at Union Square, so chose a hotel across the square from where her conference was held.  We did not rent a car, but instead, rode public transportation the entire time.  That, in itself, was a big adventure for us. Where we live, most people I know drive everywhere, all the time.  We loaded an app on each phone, and then purchased tickets for unlimited rides on the MUNI system.  It included the cable cars, but not the BART.  Whenever we rode, we just showed our phone.  No paper tickets involved at all and we could hop on and off all we wanted.

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They left their hearts….in San Francisco.  This heart is in Union Square.

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We walked into Chinatown for dinner.  Our concierge gave us a bum steer to a Chinese restaurant that was supposedly gluten-free.  It wasn’t.  We were HUNGRY, so just took off down the street until we found another restaurant that my sister had found on a gluten-free app.  It ended up being a Spanish tapas restaurant, and we ate delicious tapas.  We walked and walked and finally ended up riding a MUNI bus back to the hotel.  We had a great walk through Chinatown, with no rain, and got full!

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Friday morning, my sister went off to her conference, and the girls and I went sightseeing. After eating breakfast, armed with many destinations on my phone, we tried to catch a cable car toward the wharf.  Unfortunately, by this time of the day (late morning), the cable cars were full and kept whizzing past us with the conductors waving their hands at us and saying “catch the next one, this one’s full.”  So, we would walk another block or two, hoping for better luck at the next stop.  We walked for miles, straight up steep hills and down again.  Literally.  Each time, hoping that we would find a better place to get on.  Finally, I realized that the Cable Car Museum was only a few blocks away, so we walked the rest of the way there and went in.

It was wonderful and very informative.  It told history of the area, cable cars, and how they work.  It was also free.

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Michaela loved this museum.   She did not love walking as much as we did that day.  So, after enjoying the museum, a friendly cable car operator sent us to the right place, and we were able to hop onto a car.  We rode the rest of the way to the wharf, to our specific goal, Ghiridelli Square.

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They proceeded to have ice cream for lunch and to buy chocolate!  It began to rain quite heavily, but we had no trouble at all catching a cable car back to our hotel.  We had dinner near our hotel with my sister, who was done with her conference for the day.  The restaurant was in a several-story Macy’s store, which the girls went wild over!

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On Saturday, we had a plan that worked much better.  We got on the cable cars much closer to the beginning of the line, and had no trouble getting a seat.  It did take 2 tries, but we got one.  We rode down to Fisherman’s Wharf again, and continued where we left off on Friday.  Alissa and Michaela enjoyed eating bread at the Boudin sourdough factory.  Ja’Ana wanted an In-and-Out burger, because we don’t have them in our part of Oregon.  We went through the museum there.  Here’s a tip:  If you eat downstairs, you have to pay for the museum.  If we would have eaten upstairs, the museum would have been free.  As far as I can tell, the bread was the same bread either place, but there were more entrees upstairs.  Thankfully, the cost of admission was not expensive.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon on Fisherman’s Wharf.  In the late afternoon, my sister joined us and we walked around some more, and then ate dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  What I love about that place is that they will cook food that I need.  My sister and I are both gluten-free.  So, I asked for plain rice, plain chicken, and plain vegetables.  That’s exactly what I got.  Phew!   My tummy was the happiest it had been all trip.  By the time we exited the restaurant, it was pouring rain and quite dark.

We decided to ride the train to the ferry, then transfer to the MUNI subway train.  Things were not running quite normally, due to a protest march, we were told, but that was a good, easy way to get back.  In reality, it was a little harder than that.  We got to the ferry easily.  Upon leaving the train, we were told to walk 1 block up to the station, go down the stairs, and ride the subway train to Union Square.  So, in the pouring rain, with our umbrellas turning inside out at times, we shoved and pushed our way through the edge of a huge crowd of protesters, waving signs and chanting–some quite angry, but most peaceful, surrounded by a multitude of policemen.  We put the girls between us, and tried to stay together as we threaded our way through the huge mass of people.  Crowds are especially difficult for Michaela, but she was a trooper.  We reached the subway station and waited on the platform for the appropriate train.  The march was ending and the station filled with people.  We crowded onto the train, which became so full that they could not close the doors, there were so many people.  Once we reached our stop, we almost could not get out, but my sister shoved her way through, pulling Michaela.  Ja’Ana followed, then Alissa, then myself.  At one point, tiny little Alissa wasn’t making any headway and I gave her a huge push through a little crack in the people and popped her through like a watermelon seed going through someone’s fingers.  She told me later, she felt she would have never got out of there without that push!  I was able to shove through behind her, and we were free.  We climbed up the stairs, and exited into a deluge of rain.  After walking several blocks, we were delighted to wrap up in blankets and get all cozy and warm in our hotel room.  The girls were still keyed up, so they went to the exercise room, exercised, and then went and got some french fries from the restaurant.  Oh, to be young!!

 

Sunday was the tour my sister had booked for us.  We had a wonderful driver, and we saw many sights, despite the rain that developed.  He took us to the bridge while it was still sunny.img_3975

We had studied some San Francisco history before we went, and the museums and this tour helped solidify some of those facts for the girls.

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We saw the Muir Woods.  There were redwood trees there, and hiking trails.  The trail we tried to hike down was blocked by flooding–it’s been raining a lot there lately.  We still enjoyed ourselves.

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He also drove us around the city, showing us neighborhoods, city hall, and more.  He told us about the hippie movement, and other historic aspects of the city.

On Monday, it was time to come home.  We had a blast, but missed the rest of our families we left behind.  Today, it was back to the grindstone!  Vacations can only last so long, but trust me, the field trip queen (my sister, Gail) is already formulating a plan for the next, great field trip!

 

San Francisco, Here We Come!

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In the dim light of early morning, our luggage looks like an explosion in a clothes factory.  We are ready to go.  Our plane does not leave super early, though, so we will have time to eat breakfast before we go join my sister and nieces.

My sister, Gail, has a work conference in San Francisco, so we are taking Ja’Ana, Alissa and Michaela down there for the ultimate homeschool field trip.  Part of the time, we will all sight-see together.  Part of the time, she will be involved with her conference and I will be the tour guide.  We will all be very cozy in one hotel room every night, and will be riding public transportation instead of renting a car.  For this and other reasons, J and I are each taking only one small suitcase that can be carried onto the plane and one backpack.  We should have plenty of clothes, as we are only going to be gone for a few days.

Rob, Lovana and Patsy will hold down the fort here, and Ron and Jake will hold down the fort at their house.

I have a map of San Francisco in my backpack.  Although I can get that information on my phone, I’m hoping to be able to see a larger version better.  We have downloaded an app for the public transportation system, including the cable cars, onto each person’s phone and purchased a ticket for unlimited riding that can be used for the entire time we are there.  We will just have to have the driver scan the phone, and can get on and off as much as we want.  The hotel is near the cable car line, as well as the bus lines.

We downloaded another app that tells us about many, many sights that can be visited in the city. We have chosen quite a few that would be fun for the girls and I to do.  Most of them are historical museums.  One of the things I have done with Ja’Ana and Alissa this year is study the great earthquake and fire of San Francisco in the early 1900’s.  I hope to see some information about that at one of these museums, as well as some gold rush exhibits.  We will be taking it easy, though, and will see what we see while still having fun, rather than run everyone ragged.  Michaela, especially, can out-walk us all, but needs down-time each day.  So, we will explore, then go back to the hotel and chill out.  Then, the last day, my sister is treating us all to a tour.  We will get on a bus and ride around, seeing sights, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and more.

It should be a grand adventure!

Oregon Trail–Blue Mountains

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We have had a wonderful trip over to Eastern Oregon visiting our friends.  On our way, we stopped at a place we had not stopped before–the Blue Mountain Crossing of the Oregon Trail.  We got off of I-84 and followed the signs to the “Oregon Trail Park.”

There was a nice paved trail and it led to these ruts.  It absolutely blows me away that these are the remains of the actual Oregon Trail.  So many years later, the gouges in the soil remain. At some places, trees have grown up into the ruts, but this was one of the most clear spots I’ve seen.

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There were informative signs, giving details and diary entries from people who had crossed this place.  It amazes me to see the terrain they had to cross.  It amazes me when I think of the stamina and sheer grit it took to travel 2,000 miles toward an unknown destination.  They got to see marvelous views, such as this one, but I felt spoiled at the ease with which I was able to arrive at this spot on the hike.

After taking the kids on the short, 1/2 mile trail, we returned to our road trip.  Hopefully, they have caught a bit of the wonder of that epic journey and  share at least a little of my amazement when I ponder the achievements of those brave pioneers.

I can’t help comparing my camper life to the journey of these pioneers.  It makes my journey seem less daunting, when I compare it to theirs.  In fact, it makes a lot of things seem downright easy.  I’ll try to remember this the next time I have a grumpy moment over a missing jar of tomatoes, or have to live without my crock pot:)  I’ll just have to look back and remember this arduous mountain pass, and remind myself, “Relax.  You have air conditioning, a soft bed, a car engine that works and plenty of food.”  A better life is worth a struggle.  It was then, and it is now.  It’s all in the attitude.

Under the Umbrellas–Spring Break 2016

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Spring vacation here in Oregon was very rainy!   Lovana was working quite a bit, so hung around with us for one night, then went to stay with Grandma in town.  Ja’Ana was with us for the first part of our camping trip.  Then, she went on her long-anticipated mission trip with her youth group.  Patsy was stuck with us for quite a bit of the remaining time.  She was not sorry to be an only child for a few days:)  We wanted to give her some special attention no matter what the weather.  So, we did quite a few things under our umbrellas!

The first place we went was Detroit Lake State Park.  We went camping and had a couple of nice days during the first part of our trip.  We came down the mountain a couple of times for a 4H event and Sunday for church.  When we went camping again for a couple of days, the weather turned to rain, rain, and more rain.  IMG_2286

Patsy wasn’t convinced that  a hike in the rain would be fun.  In fact, she was pretty resistant to the idea.  She was enjoying her crafts and books inside the cozy camper.  But we wanted to get out and get some exercise!  When we were done, she told me it was a LOT more fun than she thought it would be.  I’m glad she enjoyed herself.  It was a nice hike, in my opinion.IMG_2281

The lake and forest have a beauty during the rain that is different, but still lovely to me.

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When zoo day came, there were no more protests about going out on a rainy day.  The zoo is a place Patsy has not been to for several years and she has been wishing to go.  So, we went, and had a wonderful time.IMG_2327

The rain came and went.  We didn’t see all of the zoo, but did make it to most of the animal exhibits.  We had to leave, as it was closing, but will go back another day.

We didn’t use our umbrellas every day.  Patsy and I went to the mall on Thursday.  After trying on a LOT of clothes, she was able to choose the perfect dress.  We are anticipating that we will get a call from a lawyer or the state within the next month or two, giving us a date to appear before the judge and finalize her adoption.  For all of the other girls, I have sewn dresses for their adoptions.  This time, with so many things packed up in the basement in anticipation of moving and the extra work involved with moving, I can’t be sure I will get any sewing done.  So, we bought one, and put it in my closet, so there will be no pressure on the big day, no matter what the circumstances.

So, that was the first time I had ever taken her to mall by herself, and we enjoyed ourselves.  In fact, we so rarely go, that I think it’s only the 4th or 5th time I’ve ever taken her.  We got her some jeans and a couple of clearance items she could use along with “THE DRESS”, some tops for me, our piece of See’s candy, and ate lunch there.  Finally, she asked to go home.  It was overwhelming for her, as it’s very rare, and she was tired.  So, we went home, tired and happy.

Now, she has the yucky cold that I’ve had all week, so she’s just watching movies that we got at the library this morning.  The other girls will all be home by tonight, so her special time is over.  Hopefully, she will have some good memories to treasure.  I know I do.

 

Vacation at Sunriver

This past week, we enjoyed a week at Sunriver, Oregon, thanks to my aunt.  When she invited us, we joyfully accepted and spent a very relaxing week with her and my mom.  We took many walks, fished, swam, rode bikes and visited a quilt shop nearby.  I took several projects along with me that had been sitting around the house for far too long, and got quite a bit done on them.  The weather was beautiful and we saw a lot of wildlife, such as these geese in the picture I took.image3