Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 19, 2017

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Ja’Ana, Alissa and I went to see Danait’s school program.  After singing a few songs, including one about a tree, and one about ABC’s, she “read” a book she had colored for the girls.  This was a very quick visit, much shorter than usual, because both Alissa and I had to go to work.  We loved the program–the kids were so cute, and we had snacks the kids had worked on preparing.  When we were preparing to leave, after dropping them off at their home, our last glance at Danait showed her pouting big-time, yelling to the girls, “YOU STAY!!!  YOU STAY!!!”  How gratifying for the girls to know they are loved so much by one certain little 3-year-old girl:)

I did some grocery shopping.  When Rob and I picked up some Christmas gifts at Fred Meyers, the total came above the $50 mark, so we grabbed a 49c/lb turkey for later in the year.  Then, when I did my shopping at Safeway (including my 2-$1.99 butters), I got a 39c/lb turkey.  I chose a small one, since they are easy to handle in the summer.  I had loaded a $2/off a turkey coupon on my Safeway card, but figured they wouldn’t use it for such an inexpensive turkey, but they did, and I ended up paying under $3 for that turkey.  Good grief.  I couldn’t turn that one down.  While Rob and I were out and about the night before, I had also ran into Safeway and picked up my 2–4 lb sacks of sugar for 99c each.  Today, the deal is frozen pie, and I will skip that one, as I don’t need any of those.  I also got a free 2-litre bottle of Dr. Pepper when I bought the turkey.

Patsy made some sugar cookies with a new recipe.  They turned out very tasty, using gluten-free Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 flour.

I cleaned for several hours.  I did some organizing, and found all the tablecloths I need for Thursday.  In fact, the table in the garage is all ready for the big day, except decorations, and they are in a pile on top of it.  We will serve buffet-style, so I will set that up the night before or the morning of Thanksgiving.   I feel very prepared for Thanksgiving, and plan to do a little towards it each day, but mostly play with the kids and have a couple of conferences, etc. this coming week.

So, another week of normal has passed in my life.  Sometimes those are the best weeks to me.

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Saving Money and Weekly Update–November 11, 2017

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There’s nothing like a good library visit!  I don’t know if your family has discovered the Elephant and Piggie books, but Jake sure loves them.  They are pretty funny, and very easy for him to read himself.

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None of the kids, or Rob, had school on Friday, due to Veteran’s Day.  We did some errands, got some groceries, and stopped by to feed the nutria and ducks at a pond.  As we were picking Jake up, his mom handed us a big bag of old hot dog buns, since I had to confess I had forgotten my old bread at home.  The kids loved throwing them to the animals.  4 other kids showed up, armed with their own bags of stale bread bits and they all had a blast.  They even shared with Jake when he used ours up.  I though that was really nice of them.

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We saw mallards, 2 different kinds of wood ducks, a pair of domesticated ducks and 1 lonely sea gull that travelled far from the ocean, along with the nutria.

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It is time to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  They need to be filled and back to the church by November 19.  I went out to the shop, dug around in my fabric and patterns, and made 2 little skirts, using the same piece of fabric, and the same pattern–just 2 different sizes.  I hoped to use the piece up, but there’s probably enough for 1 more skirt left….but I only need 2.  The girls have been selecting items at various stores for the boxes and we will pack them this week.  Although I certainly plan to spend money when I fill the boxes each year, I love being able to put in skirts that will be nice for the recipient that cost me nothing out of pocket.

I have a busy week ahead, full of fun things like a field trip to the state capitol building, and some other things.  I’ve been doing some extra cleaning and getting ready for Thanksgiving, as that’s suddenly right around the corner.  Rob cleaned in the shop for a few hours today, as well as grabbed some of the buy 10, get $5 off items at Fred Meyers.  I bought 10 items earlier in the week, but milk was on the deal, and it made them 99c for each 1/2 gallon, so I wanted 4 more since we used up a lot of what was purchased earlier.  Butter was $2.50 with the deal, so he got 2.  There was gluten-free clam chowder for 99c/can, and I grabbed a couple of cans of broth.  I take the little cans camping with me because it’s more convenient than large frozen cartons. I also occasionally drink a can when my tummy is upset–and I don’t want to thaw anything then.  They ended up 49c/can.

We did 2 exercise classes at the YMCA.  We’ve been in that class for over 2 months now.  We are taking Pilates twice a week for the girls’ PE.  I seriously stink at Pilates.  I have very little coordination or flexibility.    The girls are better at it.  BUT, it’s exercise, I can already tell I’m less stiff than I was, and I can do more of the things each time.  The teacher is patient and kind, and I haven’t fallen off my exercise ball lately, which is always a bonus!  Things are looking up:)  Lovana works out a few times a week there, and it’s all included on our membership.

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I cooked several items today for tomorrow’s Family Sunday Dinner.  I didn’t need to cook anything for today’s meals except eggs for breakfast, there were plenty of leftovers from the week.  I continue thawing and using items from the freezer.  Our 1/4 beef is at the butcher, so that will be ready in a couple of weeks–so I need to keep emptying to make space.  So, I pulled out meatballs and sauce for tomorrow evening, meat, broth, bread, berries, etc. this week to keep using it up.  Rob dug around a bit in the chest freezer and unearthed a few things that I should make a plan for soon.  He found both the turkey and the ham that I knew were in there, so Thanksgiving is set.  I targeted some apples today, as the box we got has a few that are starting to get soft.

How about you?  Do you have any foods you need to specifically, purposefully use up before they get too old, or go bad?  Are you filling a shoebox and putting something interesting in?

 

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.

 

 

Saving Money–Weekly Update–October 29, 2017

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Rob spent some time cutting up the boards we scavenged for free into stove-friendly sizes.

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Jake thought the noise from the saw was too loud, so he put on some of Patsy’s ear muffs while he built Legos on the sunny deck.  I though he made quite a fashion statement.

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I got enough flowers for another small bouquet.  Although we were hit by a couple of light frosts, only some of the flowers were killed and there are a few more scragglers still hanging on out there.  I hope to get another bouquet tomorrow since this one is looking sad today.

There were many things to see this week that were absolutely free.

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I enjoyed fall colors…..

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Geese flying…

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Watching logs float down the rain-swollen river at my sister’s house….

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A mist-covered spider web…

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The freshly-mown lawn that Patsy did herself this time…and saw so much more.

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I made waffles using the Mickey Mouse waffle iron I got at a garage sale last weekend.  I used a gluten-free pancake/waffle mix I got off the clearance rack at Fred Meyers and used a few of the 79c/dozen eggs we scored last week.  The bacon has been frozen for a while–it was an amazing find at Grocery Outlet a while back.  We had Jake for the last couple of days since his parents were very involved with the High School Harvest Party at church.  So, even though the girls were at their respective parties, Rob, I and Jake had a nice, fun, breakfast for dinner last night.

In between other things this week, I was able to do some embroidery and some extra cleaning.  I cooked meals, as normal, and picked up a couple of items to put in my gift stash.  The garden is almost done, and yet I’m still getting a few things.  We did pull up the hoses, and had high hopes of tilling it up, but it never got dry enough, and just rained again today.  So, we may just need to put compost on it (like old plants, grass, etc.) and till it up in the spring.

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The cabbage looks good.

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If you look closely, you can see the multitude of baby green onions to the left of the cabbage.  A while back, I put some compost on there and buried the seed heads from last year’s onions.  Many of them came up!  Lots of promise for spring since they are pretty hardy.  We will see!!

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It was a good week.  How did yours go?

 

 

 

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–October 21, 2017

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We finally made it to the apple orchard to u-pick some apples.  My sister and I and niece, Caitlyn, took Michaela and Jake out to a nearby farm.  The trees were loaded with apples, so everyone picked to their heart’s content.  Michaela especially likes Red Delicious, so she stuck to that row to pick her apples.  They got some apples for a youth group event and themselves, and I got a bucket for us.  They were very reasonable–$12 for the large bucket-full, around 50c/lb.

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Ja’Ana and Alissa each made an apple galette from some of the apples.  I’m having several recipes tested by them, or myself, in anticipation of Thanksgiving.  I’m trying to figure out a good gluten-free pie crust recipe, and the second one was much flakier and tastier than the first one, so I think we are close to perfection:)

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There is a business in town that puts scraps out in tote bins for people to take for free.  When we checked this morning, the bins were full.  We grabbed as many as we could stack up in the very back of the van, choosing the larger ones because they are easier to handle than the itty bitty pieces and Rob can cut them down if they are too long for our stove.  A couple of other people were also collecting—one man for fire wood like we were, and a lady for pieces for her son to make bird houses out of.   This is the second time we have collected wood from there, and it works very well when first building a fire in the morning.  Also, some of the pieces are large enough to burn for a while, extending our firewood supply.  All 3 groups of wood-gathers were really friendly and cheerful to each other, which was so nice.

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Even with the extremely windy and rainy conditions this morning, we found one garage sale.  I got these little pumpkin decorations for $1.

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We found this skirt for Patsy for $2.  We also got games for $1 each and a few other items for just a few dollars.  I think the people were wanting to sell things quickly–as the man stated, “We didn’t WANT to have a garage sale today, but we are moving next weekend.”  Yikes!  No pressure there:)  Glad it wasn’t me.

On Friday, my sister, Rosalie, Ja’Ana and I went to see our friend, Harnet.  She made some of her wonderful coffee for us, as well as yummy Eritrean food.  I took lots of pictures this time, so will be posting the coffee-making process soon. She is such a good hostess, and always makes us feel so welcome.  When you enter her house, there is a smell from the beri-beri spice she uses.  After I went home, the scent lingered on me, and I felt warm and comforted every time I smelled it.  It is hard to explain how much she makes me fell welcomed, and loved, and it’s interesting how I’m beginning to associate that smell with comfort and warmth.    She had gone to great trouble to make me gluten-free injera bread–she used sorghum and teff flour, which was served with the lentils she always makes, along with a chicken/beri-beri/egg dish and a beef chunk dish.  She had cooked extra because she knew it was Rosalie’s birthday and wanted to surprise her with a little party.  I was asked to bring cake and balloons, and to keep it a surprise, which I did.   We had a fun, relaxing day, with lots of good conversation.  She and I had a good chuckle about the other night when she called me up for homework help, and it took me a little while to understand what she wanted from me.  (I was getting mixed up thinking the sample problems she was reading to me were true, and not examples, but I finally got it–and I was so proud of myself–it was pretty funny!)  Rosalie and I made a few phone calls for her, gathering information she needed, and we studied citizenship questions because she is working hard towards that goal.  Oh boy!!! Some of those questions are hard, and there were a couple that I was super happy to see had answers on the back, because I didn’t know the answers!  Thankfully, I knew most of them, and tried to explain the historical facts as we studied.  We plugged along, and I can see she has been studying.  There is another lady who helps with that project, but she is eager to get in all the practice she could, so Rosalie and I quizzed her for quite a while.

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Of course, we had a blast with the little princess:)

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Lovana and Patsy made a lot of caramel corn for our family to eat, and for the 4H bake sale.  We were not able to help at the sale this year, as we usually do, so we just dropped our contributions off.  It tastes so good.  We make it almost every year, and it sells well.  It has become a fall tradition for our family, as well.

So….we went through a LOT of butter between the caramel corn and the 2 batches of Double Chocolate Loaf Cake and pie crust we made this week.  Luckily, the local store had it on sale for 2/$5.  Rob and I each bought 2, the limit, so we are back into business with butter…at least for now.  I still want to find it for $2/lb, but $2.50 wasn’t too bad.  They also had Bandon cheese (owned by and just like Tillamook Cheese) for $4.99/2 lb. loaf.  So, we got those, too.

I spent my grocery money for the week and a little more.  I’m a bit baffled at the eating habits of the kids right now.  Everyone is hungrier than normal.  Everyone is eating things they don’t usually want to eat.  They are NOT eating the things they normally want to eat.  Hmmmm.  So, I’ve had to buy extra of certain things, and other things I bought are just sitting there…..one of life’s mysteries:)  I would say chili (like the whole batch was gone in a flash this time–it was even going down the hatch at breakfast time), tacos (that one is normal), tortillas, tons of milk, caramel corn, tuna fish, sandwiches, butter and cheese are right at the top of the list of desired items right now, so…how nice dairy products were on sale.

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I was able to arrange several pictures we found when cleaning the shop last weekend.  I want to put new photos in the lowest frame, but that will be done in time.  Rob and I have some other ideas to make the living room more functional, and are working on implementing them soon.  It was nice to be able to use some things I already had to make the living room look better.  I was also happy to pass on the 80’s pictures of the little goose girl, and several others that were not longer my taste.  So, they went off to Goodwill, along with a bunch of other items.  It’s nice to have what I want out of those boxes and have the rest go away!

Rob worked on the bath-tub drain today.  It gets clogged with the girls’ hair.  It is better now.  He also replaced the caulking behind the kitchen sink.  Whatever the previous owner used was not the right caulking.  It has become increasingly moldy, both under, and beside it and recently started to crack.  It looks SO good tonight–all dry, nice and white, and NOT moldy!  He has also been hanging pictures up for me whenever I find one I want to hang.  All of these home repairs save us money, as well as make things nicer for us here in our home.

All in all, it was a pretty satisfying week.  How did your week go?

 

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–October 15, 2017

 

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It was my sister’s birthday, so I made gluten-free double chocolate loaf cake with chocolate candy.  (Can you tell she likes chocolate?)  We all enjoyed it with taco bar at Family Sunday Dinner.

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She had plenty of help blowing out the candles.

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It was a beautiful day on the river, and I saw a group of kayakers paddle by while I was getting the finishing touches on the meal at my sister’s house.

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We took Patsy and Jake to a pond to see ducks.  They had a great time.  Some kind soul had put peanuts on the railing and they cracked some of them out for the ducks and left the rest for squirrels.

I took Michaela and Patsy to the YMCA pool to swim, using our membership.

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We spent several hours cleaning in the shop on Saturday.  I took a few minutes to enjoy looking at all the canning we have done.  We are doing very well using several jars of canned items each week.  I am also using several freezer items each week.  The freezers are crammed full with all the produce from summer and other items.  As much as I enjoy looking at it and knowing I have so much food at my fingertips, I really enjoy using it!  After all, I can make more next summer, and it helps me get good food on the table fast and inexpensively all winter.

I found several pictures while cleaning the shop and Rob hung up the ones I wanted in the house.  We put the rest of them in a pile to donate, along with a few other boxes of items we do not need any more.

I was able to get all the things I wanted and needed from Costco and stay within the budget I had set.  I am still searching for butter at a low price, but $3/lb is the best I’ve found at the regular store, and they were 4 boxes for around $11 at Costco, which is $2.75/lb.  So, I can live with that for now.

Rob fixed the broken part on our wood stove and we heated with wood for one day this week.  Then the weather warmed up.  It’s all ready to go for the next cold day, though.  Fall has arrived and we have had a few rainy days, then sunny ones, but always cooler, and the nights are getting very cold. We even had a light frost one morning. There are still a few items in the garden, but their days are numbered, for sure.

We went to a rummage sale, but only found a very few small items we wanted.  We will try again another less-rainy day.  I have a few things I’m looking out for.

 

Saving Money and Weekly Update–October 8, 2017

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One of the highlights of this week was visiting the library, where a model train club had set up a large track and a couple of small ones for the viewing pleasure of anyone who came, all for free.  Michaela loves trains.  When she was little, she often would watch a video called “Trains Across America” that Rob got at a garage sale and has been very focused on trains for all of her life.  She had a blast! The retired gentlemen were very patient and eager to answer all of her many, many questions.  Some let her even carefully touch certain trains, and more than one of them was trying to work out a way that she could have her own set-up.  I simply said it was up to her parents:)

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They set up a couple of smaller sets, too.  There were a few interactive train sets.  Jake and Michaela loved them!

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The kids’ big sister, Caitlyn, met Ja’Ana and I at the library and we all enjoyed the exhibit.    Jake and Michaela had to be pried away after almost 2 hours.  Caitlyn had already ran out and added money to her meter, and mine was running out, so we finally went back to my house.  I am not sure how long the kids could have stayed, maybe forever, but Caitlyn was going to take Michaela to her horse riding and so Jake hung at our house while they did that.

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Another day, I took them to the library after school.  I keep their library books in my car, or at my house and they enjoy them when they are riding around or visiting me.  That way, they don’t get mixed up with books at their house.  Rob took Patsy to the library on a different night.

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I picked and froze more raspberries this week.  I cut off most of my basil and turned it into a simple pesto.  Mine has basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and a small amount of Parmesan cheese.  I froze it in ice cube trays, popped the cubes out, and froze the cubes in a bag.  If the bushes grow more, I’ll make more, but this amount makes me very happy.  I use it in salad dressing and on pasta.  I also occasionally spread it on bread for sandwiches.  It’s nice on chicken, too, and is very economical since I don’t use any nuts in it, and only a small amount of cheese.

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This week, we emptied quite a few jars of home-canned goodness.  It’s nice to start using what I worked so hard on.  I have been bringing a few jars of fruit at a time into the kitchen and chilling them in the fridge to make the fruit more tempting.  I also had some cottage cheese and it goes nicely with peaches or pears, so some got used that way, too.

I have not gone grocery shopping in October, yet.  One reason is that I stocked up so well in September that I haven’t needed anything, yet.  The other reason is that I caught a cold, and was not in the mood to shop.  Since I’ve budgeted $50/week, plus a small Costco run, I will now have $100 to spend this week.  What I generally do in a case like this (well stocked up, don’t really need much) is just keep the money in an envelope and wait until I see a basic ingredient that is on sale for a very good price (like butter for $2 or cheese for $5 for 2 lbs) and then stock up on a bunch of it.  That way I am always using ingredients I bought for the lowest possible price and my food is getting used and rotated.  I will also need a few things, like milk, in a few days.  Since I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel tip-top, no one is eating much, so things are holding out longer than usual and there’s always applesauce…..

Someone accidentally spilled something in the fridge, and I discovered it.  What I thought was going to be a quick wipe-up turned out to be a big fridge cleaning.  The silver lining is that I was able to get it organized and cleaned.  Now I know what’s in there and will use the odds and ends up, got rid of quite a few questionable items, and have no more odd odor and dried-on ??? on the bottom.   I was ruthless and did not even entertain the idea of keeping a few things that had been in there for a long time.  I finally made the lasagna I wanted to make, so that will be in there once it cools enough.  There is some rice and orange chicken from the other day, even though we ate it again last night.  So, one of my next jobs will be deciding on a couple more things to cook for the week ahead, since that will only take care of tonight and tomorrow.  Once I do cook them, there will be plenty of space in the fridge to put them!  That’s always a good feeling for me:)

Is there anything lurking in your fridge that needs to go?  Or any meals you want to put in there for the week ahead?