Monday, August 29, 2016

More Signs of Fall


My husband and I were driving home from a lovely dinner with our son Chris, DIL Heather and our grandsons Bradley and Isaiah on Sunday night.  We noticed some geese in a V formation flying south.  A few weeks ago the hummingbirds stopped visiting.   The birds know that Fall is quickly approaching.

   I have been enjoying the perfume of the apples coming from the orchard up over the hill.  This weekend we received a newsletter and harvest schedule from them.  One of the crops is already harvested and done.  I am going to have to make a trip up there this week and pick some apples. :)  I will pick more as more of the varieties come in and also pick a bag before we head over to Montana in mid September.  My mother always requests a bag of apples from there and she shares with all the neighbors.  Our boys actually worked at that orchard years ago.  The family that owns it also have daughters who used to babysit for us when our children were little. :)

   I am feeling that nudge to stock up and get ready for Fall and a long Winter.  I have found that my instincts are usually right.  I ordered a 50 pound bag of unbleached flour and will be splitting it with our Heather.  It will be ready to pick up on Friday.  Heather did not have enough food grade buckets to store her portion in so I called Safeway and they had some buckets that frosting comes in for their bakery.  They gave me 5 buckets for free.  On my drive home from there I notices more of the trees on the leaves changing colors.

   Our day time temperatures were in the low 90's today but are dropping rapidly this week.  In a few days we will be in the mid 70's for daytime highs and stay there for about a week.  Our night time temperatures will be going back down into the 40's.  I am so looking forward to that but am hoping that it will not harm my tomato plants.

   I love Fall!  My "chipmonk mode" is in full swing now and I feel the need to get things ready and put by.  I'm looking forward to roasts, soups, biscuits, cornbread, chili and ham again. I want to sip hot tea at night while curled up with a good book and snuggled under the blankets in bed with my cat pressed up against me.  There are leaves to be pressed and sent to friends who do not experience Fall in their part of the world.  There is the pumpkin patch to take my grandsons to this year and them up to pick apples and pears at the orchard.  My youngest grandson Isaiah loved doing that last year and asked about picking pears there again this year. He just turned 3 so it must have made a huge impression on him since he remembers it. :)

   What are you looking forward to this Fall?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 8/20-8/26 2016



What a week this has been!  Between the wildfires burning around us, the extended family drama that took a huge emotional toll on our immediate family, and the heat, I have been struggling to get things done.  All I can do is my best and do things in little pockets of time. :)  Despite all of that, I feel pretty accomplished this week. :)  Onto the savings!

~Saturday Jeff and I headed up to Couer d' Alene, Idaho to do some shopping and just have some fun.  We had lunch at Olive Garden and used a gift card.  Total cost out of pocket was $10 including the tip.
~While we were up there, we decided to go and check out camping trailers and pop up tent trailers.  I'm glad we did because now I have a better idea what I can and cannot deal with. ;)
~We stopped at the Goodwill store up there and found some more clothing, some wonderful books, gloves for Jeff and a brand new large bottle of Meyers Clear Day organic cleaner.
~Another stop was  made at the Grocery Outlet and we stocked up on 2 jars of Kim Chee for $3.99 each , large 1 lb 2 oz. containers of fresh blueberries for $2.99 each, cantaloupe at .99 each, peppers for .50 each, wheat crackers for .79 a box, Johnsonville Cheddar and Bacon burgers for $2.99 a box, a huge watermelon for $4.99, cookie mixes at .50 each, hummus, and a few other things.
~Big Lots had my favorite make up remover wipes for $1 a package so I bought 4 of them to last me 4 months until we get back up there again.  They also had 2 packs of Udon noodles for $1.75.  We found some chips on sale and stocked up on some of those for treats for Jeff in his lunches.
~Sunday I made Jeff and I a nice breakfast of sausages and an oven pancake.  He had his with homemade maple syrup and I had mine with homemade fresh blueberry topping.

~We were running low on pancake mix so I whipped up another batch of it.
~The maple syrup was getting low so I also made more of that.
~Our garden blessed us with blackberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans this week.
~I hung multiple loads of laundry out on the line to dry.
~I had bought a dress for $5 at Goodwill that I was able to modify a bit to make it more practical for me. ;)
~It was really hot Sunday night and we had 3 big fires burning north of us.  Jeff and I opted to have salads for dinner and I made some cookies for dessert.  We watched a dvd we bought recently at the thrift store while I monitored the fire situation on the computer.
~Monday I baked a squash casserole and then piggy backed the oven heat by turning up the heat after I pulled the casserole out to bake 2 loaves of bread.
~My husband had a DOT physical, which his company reimburses him for.

~While my husband was in town for his physical, I had him pick up another gallon of milk since we are just about out.
~I called my doctor's office to straighten out a miscommunication between them and our pharmacy.  This will save me money on my prescription that I take daily for my thyroid issues.
~We have some elk burger that I am trying to use up.  I made a hamburger helper style casserole for our Monday dinner with it.  There are plenty of leftovers to save me on some cooking this week. ;)  I made a deal with Jeff that all our meals would be home cooked this week and that we would only pick up essentials, like milk, at the grocery store.
~The blackberry bushes are really starting to come into their own.  I picked and froze a bag of blackberries Monday.
~Jeff got done with his doctor's appointment early and made a run to the hardware store in yet another town.  It is right next to Walmart where my prescription needed to be picked up.  He got that for me, saving me a trip into town this afternoon.
~Monday was a much cooler day with temperatures in the low 70's.  No need to run the swamp cooler. :)
~I am enjoying a nice cup of tea more and more as the evenings are getting cooler again.  I try to remember to use the tea bag twice.
~I froze one of the large containers of blueberries.

~Our roses out front are so pretty so I cut a few to enjoy in the house also.
~Tuesday I pulled some of the leftover shoyu chicken out of the freezer.  We had that, rice and beans from the garden for dinner on Wednesday night.
~I stopped at one of our favorite thrift stores.  They have .25 clothing clearance racks full on clothing on Tuesdays.  I was able to find 3 shirts and a pair of shorts for the grandsons and 2 shirts for me.  I also found a new CO2 cartridge for our Soda Stream machine for $1.99, a new bottle of Coach cleaner for their fabric bags and a few other things also.  All of my stuff came to a little over $8.
~I finally got that beautiful Talbot's icy blue and beaded dress into the consignment store.  She is going to try and sell it for $90 and we split the profit 50/50.
~The used book store took one of my books that I am done reading and gave me a $2 credit there.
~I watched a live stream show by my cousin Marisa, who is a cookbook author who focuses on Canning and has the  Food in Jars blog, on making tomato sauce.  While watching I worked on getting green beans from the garden ready to cook. If you click on the highlighted link it will take you to her website. :)
~Wednesday was our volunteer work and we got some free groceries while doing that. Some of the things we received were huge bags of raisins and dried cranberries, fresh cauliflower, bratwurst, potatoes, canned goods, hamburger buns, cereal, crackers, juice and the list goes on.

~I was feeling very stressed out Wednesday morning and got out a book to read on Norway and traveling by boat there.  It was so calming to read and get lost in the pictures.  My husband's grandfather and great uncle immigrated from Norway and we have good friends there.  It holds a special place in our hearts and we hope to visit one day.
~Thursday morning one of our amazing neighbors, who has a truck farm, invited me to come and pick some corn.  We had a nice visit while he and I picked out 12 ears.  I tried to pay him but he would not allow me to and told me that he would have even more down in the other field ready soon and to please come back and pick more.  I will be making him some banana bread, which he seemed very excited about. :)
~I froze 10 of the ears of corn after I broke them in half.  I can easily pull one of the bags out and cook it up for family parties or just pull a few out at a time for Jeff and I.
~I used some of the potatoes we got while doing our volunteer work, along with some cheese and bacon sauce that we had previously gotten to make some scalloped potatoes.  I added some ham chunks (also given to us) right near the end.  It made for a very comforting meal.  I served it with the leftover green beans from the previous night.

~I can't stand to have a lot of grease on food so I use my turkey baster to suck it up an then put the oil and grease in a jar and dispose of it.
~My husband and I had a late of the potato dish above so we snacked on fresh fruit, cheese and crackers for dinner.
~More shows were watched online.
~I raided our pantry and took a box of goodies over for my grandkids on Friday. :)  Grammies are allowed to do that. ;)
~Dinner on Friday night was leftovers.  We had a lot to choose from.
~Friday I was blessed to spend the day with my SIL Heather and my grandboys.  We found a college coupon book that had a coupon for a B1G1Free burger at the place we were going to eat lunch at.  The grandboys split a kid's meal, she and I each had a burger and we had coupons for free ice cream cones for dessert. :)  She insisted on paying since I was watching the kids while she had an eye appointment and later in the afternoon when she went to work.
~I spent the afternoon building barns with Legos and supervising a water gun fight with the grandboys. ;)  Best entertainment around.
~My son Chris loves cucumbers, so I picked some from the garden and took them over with me so he, Heather and the grandboys could enjoy them.
~I found coupons for free items from on of our grocery stores in a university newspaper.  I got some coupons for me and some for Heather also.
~I did several surveys and product reviews that I was compensated for.
~I continue to use a timer when I water our gardens.  I forgot to do that one morning this week and the front garden got an hour long soaking before it dawned on me that I still had one of the sprinklers on.

   So not a bad week savings wise.  I am beginning to really feel Fall coming on and that makes me want to go into "chipmunk mode" and make sure that I have lots of food stored for the upcoming cold weather.  I looked at the long range forecast and we could be in for lots of snow.  I don't like to drive in snow or on ice so I tend to hibernate here at home unless my hubby drives me somewhere.  I blame growing up in Hawaii for that along with a car accident I was in years ago. ;)  If I feel the car slipping at all, it tends to throw my into an panic attack.  I hope you all have a frugal and fun weekend!


Friday, August 26, 2016

Deleted...and Thank You All

  I deleted my last post after reading all the wonderful advice and your experiences that you shared with me.  Some of them were so personal and heartbreaking.  I just wanted to reach out and give you a big hug.  I wanted so badly to protect you from ever feeling that kind of pain again, pain that I know so well.  I want you to know that I took everything you all said to heart and I shared it with my husband and thought about it.   I so appreciate the time you all took to respond.  

  I decided to delete the post for several reasons.  The first being that there is a minor child caught in the middle of all this mess and we love them with all our hearts.  This has been extremely hard on them and through no fault of their own, they have also become a casualty of all the nastiness.  The person that has caused the mess is one of their parents.  I want to protect this precious child to the best of my ability.  

  The second reason is that I do not want this blog to become a place of deep pain for me.  This situation is one of the most gut wrenching things that my family and I have continued to go through for years now.  It is wearing me down and taking me to places that I do not want to go again.  I want to focus on the good for the most part because that is how I try to live my life.  I realize that life has it's ups and downs, but this situation goes way beyond that. It's not healthy for me to continue down this toxic path that keeps getting worse.  

  The third reason is that I need to take care of my husband, my kids, my grandkids and myself.  I need to focus on our family (and thank you to all of you who pointed that out, sometimes I need to be reminded of things that I know in my heart, but my mind starts drowning in the toxic sludge) and friends and the people who want us in their lives.  These are the people who I need to give my time, love and attention to.  I don't want to waste precious energy and risk my health worrying about this ongoing and further decaying mess.  I want to be happy and spend time with people with whom I have mutual love and respect.

   Today I spent the majority of the day with my sweet Heather (DIL) and my grandboys.  We laughed, shared hugs and smiles, talked about what was important to us and played.  I watched in wonder as my grandsons played and seemed to be growing up right before my eyes.  My oldest grandson Bradley, who is 4 is reading now.  He has an excellent teacher in his mommy who has been working with him.  Isaiah, our 3 year old, is asking more and more questions about how things work and is always wanting to build something.  Today he and I built a barn together with Legos to house some of his toy animals.  My son Chris came home after a long day to find his sons and I playing in their front yard.  He made the comment that Isaiah no longer had the "baby" look but was now a little boy.  It made me take a second look at Isaiah, through my son's eyes.  I realized in that moment how quickly the boys were both changing and growing and how I want to be present in each and every moment with them and take it all in.  I want to remember how Bradley woke up from his nap and sleepily cuddled up with me while Isaiah and I worked on building the barn. I want to remember the look of delight on Isaiah's face when he jumped into the cooler that was filled with water so he and Bradley could fill their water guns up in it.  I never want to forget watching Heather share ice cream cones with the boys and their smiling faces.  These, and other moments spent with my husband, children, grandkids, and the rest of my amazing family and friends are what make my life so rich and meaningful.  My energy is limited so I want to spend it wisely.

   So thank you again to all that reached out, shared, and gave me good and sound advice.  I appreciate you all so much and I thank you for helping me put my focus back where it needs to be and to try not to dwell on the situation in which we have no say or control over.  Be blessed and again....thank you!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 8/13-8/19/16


   Here we are at the end of another week of trying to live a full yet frugal life while getting ready for the cooler months to come.  This will go down as one of the better weeks for frugal doings in awhile. :)  I have been pushing myself to get things done and by Friday afternoon I was hurting all over my body. I hurt to touch.  I tucked myself into bed after an early dinner and watched the movie "Holiday Inn" on dvd.  I can't believe I had never seen it before.  Jeff cuddled up with me to watch the last half of it while he had some coffee before he had to get ready for work.  Hopefully I will not be as sore tomorrow but Jeff has already told me that I need to take it easier this weekend and be kind to myself.  I love that man!  Now, without further ado, onto the frugal doings...

~While doing the watering, I filled buckets and the cat and dog water dishes with the water from the sprinklers also.
~Jeff and I stopped at the thrift store to donate a bunch of stuff and we found a few things there for ourselves.  He found a shirt and I found a cami, 2 shirts from Coldwater Creek, a sweater, an antique oval picture frame and print, some sterile gauze pads and a dvd.
~We also stopped at a garage sale on Saturday and got 2 movies, a season of Castle, and a book on homesteading, all for $5.
~I have been able to harvest some blackberries from our plants and they are so good!

~Multiple loads of laundry were hung out on the line to dry.
~I was able to get a free subscription to Field and Stream for my hubby.
~Jeff and I went to see the new Jason Bourne movie.  We used a gift card and went to a matinee.  We did buy popcorn and split a large drink so our cost out of pocket was $3.
~Hastings is going out of business so Jeff and I stopped by there to see if they had anything we might want.  We did find Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2 and Lethal Weapon 3 in one set for $5.60.  We had been looking all over for Lethal Weapon and had the others but we went ahead and bought the 3 pack since it was less than the price of just buying the one movie alone at Walmart.
~I had a coupon for a free small sized Bath and Body Works product.  I got a lotion in an apple scent.  I love that scent for the Fall.
~Caesar's claws were is desperate need of clipping so I finally got that done Sunday evening.  It takes both Jeff and I to do it.

~We stumbled upon an amazing deal at Winco.  They had their Echrich Turkey sausages marked down to .99 a package.  We bought 8 packages of them and froze 7 for future meals.
~While at Winco, I had planned on buying some more avocados but they have gone way up in price so I scratched those off my list for the time being. My hubby picked some up on Monday from Walmart for me since they were cheaper there and he was in town anyway.
~More things were harvested from the garden this week including a few blueberries, cucumbers, beans and a small zucchini.
~Monday I cooked up a crockpot full of potatoes, onions, some of the sausage I got on sale and kale from our garden.  I cooked this all up in some chicken broth and added some freshly ground pepper to it right before serving.  I had needed to use up half a huge onion and some potatoes, along with some kale, so this was the perfect dish to do it with.
~I also made 2 loaves of Cuban bread so my hubby should be set for bread for the next 4 days or so.
~Monday was my sheets and towels day.  I got them all washed and hung out on the line to dry.  Jeff remade the bed when the sheets dried and before he went to sleep for the afternoon and early evening.
~Remember that big box full of nectarines?  Well I pitted and sliced up 10 of them, packed them into jars and then filled it up with vodka.  In a week I will strain the fruit out of it and add some simple syrup to the liquid.  Some of this may become Christmas presents...that is if I can stay out of it. ;)

~I strained the second batch of homemade raspberry gin.  I am set for quite awhile. ;)
~Three magazines, all free subscriptions, came in the mail for me.
~We used SKYPE multiple times this week to talk to our son Josh.  He made us laugh with one of our conversations where he was showing us just how gray his hair is starting to get.  My poor boys inherited the going gray prematurely from their daddy and then losing their hair from my side of the family.
~I was able to get in on the free samples from PinchMe on Tuesday morning.
~Jeff and I used the $25 Walmart gift card that I earned through Swagbucks to buy the following: 2 character beach towels for $5 each (these will be Christmas gifts for the grandboys), a shirt for Jeff that was on clearance for $2, a package of hamburger buns, a package of hot dog buns, a huge container of organic salad mix, and a package of Johnsonville cheddar and bacon burgers. My total out of pocket cost, after the gift card, was .65 .

~Jeff found a part that he need to fix the sprayer hose on my car for under $2 at the local home improvement center instead of going through the car dealership where they wanted a fortune for one.
~We were given free bottles of water to take home with us at a restaurant as part of the welcome back for the WSU students.
~Tuesday evening I took Caesar for a walk and we foraged for wild plums and came home with about 10 of them.
~I found blueberries for .99 a container and bought 2 of them.  I would have bought more but my freezer is stuffed!

~Our dear friend and neighbor made dinner for Jeff and I on Wednesday night.  We had been out running errands that afternoon and evening and picked something up for her in town that she needed.  She is so very sweet!  I refer to her as my hanai (adopted by love) sister. :)
~Jeff and I stopped to get more canning jars on Wednesday since they were on sale.  While we were there, Jeff also found something that he needed for his gun and it was 40% off.  The five out free popcorn there which was perfect because Jeff had not eaten since he got up.  I had brought a bottle of water with me so we had popcorn and water as a snack to hold us over until we got home.
~We stopped by the newly expanded Christian thrift store that helps people who are struggling to get back on their feet.  We found some more clothing items, some car stereo speakers,  and a brand new leather cross body purse there.
~We also stopped at Goodwill and found a dress, a brand new bra, some Bath and Body Works stuff, books and dvds.  I was able to pick up the first 2 seasons of Sex in the City for half price since the price tag was their discounted color tag of the week.  Season 2 had not even been opened.
~More shows were watched online.
~I sliced up some cucumbers from our garden and put them in a container with some seasoned rice vinegar.  It makes for a very light and fresh tasting pickle.

~Thursday I made some fruit leather with some nectarines, lemon juice and honey.  I could not find all my fruit leather insert trays so I made some with parchment paper.  Of course right after I did that, I located all the fruit leather trays. ;)  I cut the fruit leather and rolled in up on the parchment paper and put them in a freezer type Ziplock bag and froze them.  This will keep them fresh and I can just pull some out as needed.  I hope the grandboys like them...this Grammie sure does.
~The hanger for the muffler on my husband's car broke.  Jeff, being the handyman that he is, was able to rig up a new hanger for it. :)
~My hubby loves hard boiled eggs to snack on so I hard boiled a dozen sale priced eggs up for him.

~I was craving a cocktail so I went to my pantry and found orange juice and some vodka that I had leftover from making the nectarine vodka.  Screwdriver time!
~The trays for my huge dehydrator are a pain to wash in the sink because they do not fit.  I have found my big sunken bathtub the perfect place to soak and wash them all at once.  The hand held sprayer from the shower just makes the job of rinsing them all off so much easier. :)

~PinchMe sent me a box with dog food, a wake up aid and lots of coupons that I had ordered from them last month.
~I have been diligently working my Swagsbucks program.  I would like to be able to get another gift card at the first of next month as the discounted rate.
~Friday I cut up most a a large bag of onions and have them dehydrating in the garage.
~Three more cucumbers from the garden were cut up and made into refrigerator pickles.

~I have been watching videos on making artisan breads on YouYube.  This is something that I want to learn how to do.
~I froze a bunch of blueberries Friday that I had not gotten eaten because I did not want them to go bad.
~I am finding that my new go to outfit at home, for the days when I am not going anywhere, are shorts and a camisole. I stay much cooler and do not have to turn the swamp cooler on until later in the afternoon.  I had tons of camisoles just sitting in my drawers so now they are being put to food use.
~Friday evening I was worn out and really sore.  My hubby BBQed some burgers for dinner and I made a southwestern pasta salad to go with it.

~We had leftovers several times this week.
~I have been trying to eat a bit healthier and get more protein into my diet.  I'm trying to have cottage cheese with either fruit or fresh veggies mixed in with it each day.
~While at a store earlier in the week, I picked up the free newspaper with the ads in it.  They also contain coupons so I picked up 3 copies.
~I completed a few surveys for some companies and will be compensated for that.

   So not a bad week at all. :)  I have more onions to dehydrate and depending on how many more cucumbers that come ready next week, I may be making a few jars of bread and butter pickles.  I'd also like to make some more pickled green beans to have on hand.  Be blessed and I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

 hubby told me the other day, after I had yet another night filled with disturbing dreams, that he wanted me to not worry about returning to work and to consider myself retired.  I stopped substitute teaching in the Spring of 2015 after a very stressful encounter with a student that left me shaken to my core and that threw me into a downward spiral healthwise.  I realized, in that moment, that the job that I once loved and looked forward to each day had become more and more difficult due to changes in society where people were not held accountable for their own actions and many parents no longer taught their children self discipline and responsibility or even cared about how they were harming their children and setting them up for failure by not teaching them to respect others and that it was all about them.

   As much as I love teaching and seeing the "light go on" when a child realizes that they have learned something new and feels that wonderful sense of accomplishment, I just cannot deal with not only the apathy that I see in so many kids and their parents, but the disruptive behavior that makes learning and teaching nearly impossible at times.  It also upsets me that we have the "No Child Left Behind" mandate that forces teachers to cover tons of information and do so much testing that it leaves little time for students to actually absorb and master the information and skills needed before they move onto the next building block of knowledge.  Students all learn at different rates and for those student who struggle to learn new materials, and who need a bit more time and practice on new skills, this is a nightmare for them and leaves them feeling frustrated and defeated.  It honestly breaks my heart.

   I miss teaching.  I miss the many wonderful kids that I have come to love over the years.  I miss the hugs, smiles and laughter that I have shared with so many.  I miss the dedicated and wonderful teachers and para pros, along with many of the additional support staff at the school.  But I don't miss the feeling of frustration when kids just don't care.  I don't miss the ones who disrupt the classroom over and over again, with absolutely no fear of the consequences for their actions because they know their parents either won't care or will come unglued on the teacher or the principal for daring to hold Junior accountable for his actions.  I don't miss the huge meltdowns of a child who refuses to follow directions because she is not made to follow directions at home.  Granted, there are some children who honestly have behavioral issues that also have wonderful and caring parents that are working with their children to help them learn to follow directions and handle their frustration in a healthier way, and I commend those parents for the hard work, time and love that they invest in their child.  Those are not the children or parents that I am referring to by any stretch of the imagination.

   So I am now, in the words of my sweet hubby, retired.  I have not completely shut the door on returning to subbing at some point, but for now, I will happily focus my time and energy on my home and my family.  This is not to say that I will no longer be doing some teaching and creating learning materials for some very wonderful students.  I am going to be helping my DIL Heather with the homeschooling of my grandboys. :)  I can't think of a better way to use all those years of experience of teaching in the public schools, tutoring and also homeschooling my own sons. :)  I can help as my health and energy allow and not be stressed out, which leads to "crashes"  due to my CFS.   All in all, this is a very positive thing for me and it is what is the most beneficial to our family. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

Passive Frugal Doings and a Huge Thank You!


Crockpot lasagna
One of the things that I have found the m
ost enjoyable and life enriching about starting my blog is the interactions with others and the sharing of ideas and encouragement we can give to one another.  I look forward to reading comments left on my blog and to visiting the blogs of those of you who have them.  I feel like I have made all these wonderful friends across the world and I do want you to know how very much I appreciate all of you!  As a stay at home wife and grammie in a very small rural farming community, you help open up my world and allow me to learn new things , armchair travel and grow. :)  So thank you all for that!

   One of the comments that I get over and over again is that I do so much to save, even with my limited energy.  I went back and read over a few of my Frugal Friday Wrap Up posts and realized that yes, I do a lot but a many of those things are what I refer to as "passive frugal doings".  They take little and sometimes no energy at all.  Let me give you some examples:

1. We dropped our satellite TV subscription and now watch the one local station we get and a few PBS channels on the TV in our bedroom.  That TV is hooked up to a big old fashioned TV antenna that was here on the house when we bought it.  The other shows that we want to watch are watched online via my computer.  This costs us nothing but the electricity to run the TV and my computer and takes absolutely no effort on my part.

2.  Watering the gardens.  The main gardens are set up with soaker hoses and sprinklers.  All I have to do is turn them on, along with my timer so that I know when to switch the splitter so that I can then water another garden.  I do hand water one small garden area along with the potted plants and some flower beds by hand, and a few fruit trees, but that goes quickly and for the most part I use water that I have collected in buckets while the other gardens are being watered, the run off from our swamp cooler or water from our rain barrel.  I save time, energy and water this way.  It also makes it really easy for when we go somewhere and have someone come in and stay with the fur babies to keep the gardens watered too.

3.  Making bread is easy For years now I have used my breadmaker to make most of our bread.  It takes me about 5 minutes to get everything in it and make sure that the dough is the right texture.  The machine does the rest of the work.  When I do make Cuban bread, I use my Kitchenaid mixer, which also does most of the work.  I just have to punch it down after the first rising, put it in bread pans, let that rise again and then bake it.  The recipe does 2 loaves at a time so I do not have to make bread every other day like I do with the sourdough bread that I make in the breadmaker.  I will be making some more Cuban bread today.

4.  Hanging our laundry to dry on the clothesline is another huge savings but one that takes very little time and is actually something that I really enjoy doing.  My clothesline is in my backyard maybe 30 steps from my back porch.  It has 5 lines on it so I can hang up quite a bit at once.  There is something very calming to me about standing out there hanging the laundry out while listening to the birds chirping and the squirrels chattering back and forth with one another.  I also enjoy taking the laundry off the line while it is warm from the sun, folding it and putting it in the basket.  It is then ready for me to put away.

5.  I use my crockpots to make lots of different dishes.  I love the convenience of being able to throw the ingredients for a meal into the crockpot and just let it go for the day.  I make soups, stews, lasagna, kalua pig, pork chops, roasts and many other meals in my crockpots.  I also make applesauce in them.  And yes, I do have multiple crockpots.  I currently have 5 of them.

6.  Cooking and freezing future meals is a huge time and energy saver.  For the most part, I cook in large quantities because I don't know any other way. ;) I was raised to help run my childhood home because my mother worked full time and also ran us kids around to many different activities.  She was a teacher so her work day did not end when she left the school.  There were still hours of correcting papers and lesson plans to do every night.  My father started out as the assistant manager and then became the manager of a exclusive resort in Hawaii.  He had to be onsite both day and night on his work days because there had to be a manger present 24/7.  He spent an average of 4 nights a week there, after having worked all day long and help entertain during the evenings.  My mother joined him in entertaining guests for dinner there quite often also.  On my father's nights off, he was usually gone at meetings or officiating football games.  We actually saw him more at work, when we would go down for the day on weekends, than we did at home.  This left my mother with very little energy to get everything that needed to be done at home so she divided up the work at home between us kids and herself.  Since I was the oldest, a lot of that fell onto my shoulders.  I quickly learned from my mother to cook and bake in large quantities so that there would be leftovers for another meal or to make large stockpots of soup and freeze some for future meals.  She is an amazing cook and also taught me how to find the best bargains and stretch our budget and food.  That is why I will still cook in large quantities and freeze part of what I make or even freeze leftovers for future meals.  It saves me time, money and energy and gives us a great variety of things to just pull out on those days when we are busy or I am not feeling well.  Cook once, eat 3 or 4 times in our case. ;)

   So there you go.  Those are just a few things that I do to save money that take little effort, time or energy on my part and that I consider "passive frugal doings".    We have tried to set up our lives to do these things to make our lives easier and more enjoyable while saving money.  I find that as we get older, I am trying to find even more ways to make our lives easier while still living on a strict budget.  Speaking of doing things to save money, the sheets and towels just got done in the washing machine and I need to get them hung out to dry.  Be blessed and have a great day!



Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Woodpecker Theory

   I have this theory based on what I have observed over the years having to do with the behavior of woodpeckers in my area.  During the Summer, it is rare that I will see them, but come Fall, they seem to be out and about hunting for food.  This afternoon, I noticed 2 of them.  One in my yard and another just down the street while I was taking a walk.

   I realize that we are just hitting mid August, but there have been many signs that are pointing to an early Fall here this year.  Our neighbor's burning bush started to get tipped in red in July and now, here in mid August, some of the leaves are totally red.  I've even noticed the leaves turning on some of the trees lately.  Our nights, for the most part, have been really cool, down into the upper 30's at times but averaging in the mid to high 40's.  This is not normal for our area at all.  I am just praying that our tomatoes will ripen and we will get some more squash before too much longer.

   Animals sense changes in weather far sooner than we do and start to prepare.  Woodpeckers are kind of barometers for me.  When they arrive, I know that Fall is not far behind.  This has been a very strange year weather wise for us with an earlier than normal Summer combined with really cool nights so I guess it does make sense that Fall will be early too.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 8/6-8/12 2016

      It has been another interesting week here.  After much trial and error, my hubby finally got all the right parts shipped to fix my car.  Yay hubby!  I am continuing to recover from that awful upper respiratory virus that turned out to be more than just a cold.  It has knocked the wind right out of my sails.  Due to not having much energy, I did not get to all I wanted to this week.  Onto the savings that did happen though...

~We had a flea beetle infestation that was devouring our side garden.  My hubby used the sprayer that Jaysn and Rachel gave us after the yard sale last week to hopefully kill those little produce thieves!
~I picked more apples on Saturday and made a crockpot full of applesauce.
~Jeff and I had leftovers for lunch on Saturday.
~My amazing cousin Jeremy picked up some of my favorite goat cheese from Trader Joe's for me since he was going up to Spokane.  He also surprised us with huge chocolate candy bars...yum!
~I sent Jeremy home with some "Boozy Berries" and apples from our tree.  He was thrilled!
~Jeremy's dog Mya sadly passed away last  Monday.  She was the sweetest dog and we will all miss her.  Jeremy brought over all of Mya's treats and food for Caesar.  Poor Caesar was so confused and kept looking for his girlfriend Mya. :(
~Sunday Heather and the grandboys came over and picked apples from our tree.  She also brought over the 2 huge bags of tortilla chips from Costco for us along with a box of nectarines that she picked up for me from a produce stand.  The whole box was $ cheap!

~Jeff and I watched several movies on dvd that we own during the weekend.  I had very little energy and watching movies was about all I could handle by Sunday.
~Sunday's dinner was baked potatoes (got a great sale on a 10 pound bag of potatoes) and fried Rockfish that Chris and Heather had caught on the coast and given to us previously.
~Since I was still sick over the weekend, we did not hit the town wide yard sales in the town near us.
~Jeff surprised me with a nice doughnut for breakfast one morning.  He is so sweet!
~Monday Jeff was able to borrow the big trailer from Uncle Bob to haul off the huge branch that came crashing down in the early hours of the morning out of our neighbor's tree and into our yard.
~I went online to our library's website and put in a request for several new movies to watch.
~Caesar and I took advantage of the cooler weather to take a walk down to the library and to the post office.  He loved being able to go out on a walk again and I came home completely worn out due to my cold/virus thingy, but I sure needed the exercise too.
~More TV shows were watched online throughout the week.
~The flea beetles had apparently spread to the front gardens so Jeff sprayed all the plants there too on Monday morning.
~I found a baby geranium plant growing in my large pot of basil.  I had reused some of the soil from the pot I had previously grown geraniums in so I am guessing it reseeded itself. :)  Cool!
~I pulled the last few pieces of plain cheesecake out of the freezer for a treat.  Jeff topped his with chocolate syrup and I topped mine with huckleberries that our kids had given us.  So good!
~Monday's garden harvest consisted of green beans and some tiny little sweet peppers along with more apples.
~I have been trying to be more diligent at working on my points programs.
~Jeff and I were in need of some deep pocketed queen sized fitted sheets.  I found a great deal on ebay (with a top rated seller) for entire sets of sheets for $24.95 with free shipping.  I ordered us a set.

~It rained late Monday night and into Tuesday so the rain barrel was refilled and the gardens got a heavy dose of moisture...much needed right now.  The farmers are not so thrilled though since they are right in the middle of harvest.
~I am trying to keep our menu this week limited to what we have in the freezer, refrigerator, garden and pantry for the most part.  All those parts for my car after hitting the deer and having to pay for new front brakes also (those have been needing to be done for awhile now) are taking a large chunk out of our budget.
~Monday I made 2 loaves of Cuban Bread.  I have not made it in years but it makes really good sandwich bread when done in a loaf pan.  It is also one of the most economical breads to make.  Given that I am really low on energy right now, I am baking double.  My breadmaker has been acting up so I am doing this the old fashioned way.  I do have another new breadmaker that I bought as a back up, so I will have to get that out and going here soon.
~The sesame seeds that I tried to sprinkle on top of my bread dough did not stick to the loaves after they were baked.  I kept the toasted seeds though to add to salads and oriental dishes.
~Tuesday night I lined a baking sheet with foil and then piled on some Sweet Italian Sausage links, a sliced up yellow pepper that needed to be used up ASAP, half an onion and drizzled that with some olive oil and the seasoned it with salt and pepper.  It baked at 400 F for 30 minutes.  While that was in the oven, I got some green beans from our garden snapped and then did a quick stir fry on them with some olive oil, salt and minced garlic.

~On Wednesday, when the new grocery ads came out, I looked at them online and made my list accordingly.  There were a few stock up items at rock bottom prices that I needed to pick up and add to our pantry.
~Since it rained on Tuesday night, I did not need to water the gardens on Wednesday.  We are heading back into some higher temperatures within the next few days so I am so glad the gardens are getting a really good soaking.
~Being home due to still being ill does have it's advantages.  I have not been out shopping or running around as much as I normally do  and it had given me more time to work on my points programs since I can do that with very little physical exertion.
~Having said that, Jeff and I did make a run into town on Wednesday afternoon to pick up a few stock up items at rock bottom prices at Safeway.  They had Rice a Roni for .69 a box (great for those nights when I am low on energy), I got 6 of those,  6 cans of tuna for .59 a can, some marked down shrimp for half price,  2 boxes of  Ziplock brand bags for .99 each. I also took advantage of my raincheck to get huge boxes of Arm and Hammer unscented kitty litter for $4.99 a box (I got 4 of them).   We would have bought more of the stock up items, but there were limits on how many you could buy.
~Since our squash plants are struggling, I was out there hand pollinating them on Wednesday evening.
~Wednesday's garden harvest included a few beans, our first ripe blackberry, and 4 tiny blueberries.
~Thursday Jeff stopped by another grocery store on his way home to pick up some Biotin that was half price and a few candy bars that were on sale.  They were all out of the English Muffins that were .99 a package so he will try to stop and get them another day.
~I put the leftover morning hot coffee into a thermal carafe to keep it hot and ready for my hubby when he gets up later in the afternoon. 

~I cashed in at Swagbucks for a $25 Walmart gift card and got it for 2,300 points instead of 2,500 points. :)
~The nectarines that Heather brought me needed to be taken care of.  I pitted, peeled and sliced about 1/2 of them and ended up with 20 cups worth that are now frozen and will be made into jam later.
~As a reward for all my hard work on those nectarines, I treated myself to a nice Asian shrimp salad, made here at home of course. ;)
~We watched more episodes of "How I Met Your Mother".  Jeff and I have all but season 5 in the series...still looking for that season at a yard sale or thrift store.
~I continue to watch more YouTube videos to learn new skills.
~Watched more TV shows online.
~My talented and handy hubby was able to replace the broken front grill on my car, along with the broken headlight on one side with parts that he had ordered.  Our deductible for our car insurance is $500.  To get the work done on our car, by a body shop, would have cost around $1000.  My hubby did it all himself for about $360.  Yay hubby!!!!
~After all the work my hubby did on my car I wanted to make him a treat.  I pulled some chocolate chip cookie dough (bought on clearance) out of the freezer and baked some cookies up for him.

~I used a paper bag to cool the cookies on.
~One of my favorite former students came up to get the wood from the tree branch that had fallen into our yard earlier this week.  She brought her little dog up with her and he and our dog Caesar became quick buddies.  We moved our visit into the back fenced in yard so that Caesar and Ringo could play.  It was so fun to watch her little chihuahua play with my humongous dog!  While they ran around the back yard, Becca showed me pictures of her wedding dress and boots for her upcoming wedding to another one of my favorite former students. :)  I am really looking forward to attending their wedding next month!
~I borrowed a book from the library that looked really interesting. The title of the book is "Once Upon a Time in Russia:  the Rise of the Oligarchs". I have not done much reading lately, so I am looking forward to reading this one.
~While watering the gardens early Friday morning, I strategically placed buckets in areas where there were no plants but the water from the sprinklers was also hitting.  I used that water for the fruit trees and for the potted plants.

~I repurposed a large clear tote that used to store VHS tapes in it to use as a large bug proof container for larger gift items that I have purchased that will not fit in my gift closet.
~More laundry was hung out on the line to dry at the end of the week when the weather was warmer and we did not have rain.
~My husband and I love a black bean warm spread that one of the local Mexican food restaurants serves.  I have been trying to find a recipe to replicate it here at home.  Today I hit upon one that is similar just by playing around with a few things here at home.  I found that feta cheese is a good substitute for the salty Mexican cheese they top it with.  I had this with tortilla chips for dinner Friday night. :) I also had a Mike's Hard Mango Punch o drink with it.  Perfect Friday night dinner.
~I have been looking for recipes for fruit infused alcohol and found some great ones online.  I'm thinking these would be great Christmas gift items for some of our friends and family. 
~Friday night I harvested cherry tomatoes, beans and squash from our garden.  We also discovered that Caesar has been doing some harvesting of his own.  He apparently loves pears and has been ripping them off our pear trees and eating them, breaking branches in the process.  We may have to erect a fence around the bigger tree that still has some pears on it.
~I foraged some plums off of some abandoned trees on my walk this evening.

   So there it is.  I am really hoping that my energy levels will come back up to my "normal" here soon so that I can get more canning and processing done.  I feel like I am so behind on all of this and it is driving me batty!  Be blessed all and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Getting Fruit Ready for Freezing or Jam Making With Limit Energy

   It's no secret that I have to pace myself when taking on big projects.  With my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, making jam or canning is a huge undertaking that I need to do over several days since I don't have the energy or the extra help to do it all in one day.  

   Today I decided that I had to get the nectarines all peeled, pitted and sliced up so that they would be ready to go.  I put on some YouTube videos on saving money to watch while I worked.

    It took me about an hour to get a huge stainless steel bowl full all done.  My hands were feeling the affect of all that citric acid on them by the time I got the last nectarine in the bowl done.

I packaged up all the fruit into 2 heavy duty Ziplock freezer bags in 10 cup portions.  I then froze them so that they will be ready for me to make jam with on another day when I do have more energy.  Since we are heading into hot weather again over a very busy weekend for us, I will save the actual jam making for a nice and cool day when I know that I will have a full day or more to recover.  So that my friends, is how I break things down when making jam and living with a chronic illness.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rude 4:11 a.m. Wake Up Alarm

      This morning I was rudely awakened by a loud popping noise followed by a huge crash, at 4:11 a.m.!  I immediately jumped out of bed to see what branch had come down and it we had any damage to our home, cars, fence or gardens.  I found the scene above (it was darker of course so I did not take this picture until 5:30 a.m).  Praise God nothing was damaged and no one was under it when it came down. I have been up ever since! UGH!


   The branch that came down was from a beautiful old tree in our neighbor's yard.  It has provided both our homes with wonderfully cool shade for many years.  Sadly the tree is starting to lose huge branches and I am afraid that it is going to have to be taken down for safety reasons.

   Jeff and I are so thankful that this branch did not come crashing down 2 weekends ago when we had our yard sale in the front yard.  People could have been seriously injured!

   My dear hubby put his other plans for today on hold and got out in the yard to start the clean up process.

      He first tossed all the loose branches into a pile.

   He then got out his sawzall and started cutting away!

   He made pretty quick work of that part of it.

   We are blessed with wonderful neighbors!  Our neighbor on the other side of us, the famous Uncle Bob, let us borrow his big trailer so that Jeff could haul off the smaller branches.

   He stacked the bigger pieces wood near the fence line to see if our neighbors,  who's tree it is, wanted the wood to burn in their wood stove.

   For the record, our neighbor, who's tree it came from, saw it this morning after she got home from working an overnight shift at a hospital an hour's drive away and called us immediately.  She felt horrible about it coming down in our yard and told us to just wait until her husband got home this afternoon and he would help clean it all up.  My hubby told her not to worry about it, he would get it taken care of.  They are part of our hanai (adopted by love) family and have their plates really full at the moment.  The last thing they needed was to worry about this.  :)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Frugal Friday Wrap Up 7/30/16-8/5/16


   It's been an interesting week money wise.  We saved a ton of money by doing a family camping trip as a short vacation but those savings went out the window when we hit a deer.   With me getting sick after we got home, that kept me from going anywhere for a few days, so that saved on gas and wear and tear on my car.  Onto my savings for the week...

~We made about $60 at our yard sale and got rid of quite a bit of stuff.
~We donated a bunch of our VHS tapes to the local retirement and care center here in town.  They were very happy for the donation of some of the classic musicals, westerns and older movies for the residents there to watch. :)
~I did find a few things at the town wide yard sales to buy.  I am always in need of more kitchen scrapers and spatulas and found a package of them for .50, some jewelry and some more books.  Jaysn and Rachel gave us a weed sprayer and a beautiful wood silverware caddy and we gave them a few things too. :)
~The campsite we stayed at was just $12 per night per site.  We had 2 sites between all of us.  There was a nice creek that we were able to swim in and lots of areas to explore.  It was also the perfect place for the little guys to ride their bikes.
~We all brought food to share and ate very well!

~There was an old rock quarry where the guys went shooting.
~My dear cousin brought us out freshly brewed coffee on welcome and yummy!
~Monday night we watched the movie "Zootopia" that we borrowed from the library and had leftovers for dinner.
~I froze a bunch of the leftover shoyu chicken from our camping trip to have later.
~Tuesday I did a bunch of the laundry from camping.  The bedding and towels were all hung out on the line to dry.
~Jeff and I did our grocery shopping on Tuesday and also went out to lunch.  We had a B1G1F coupon for our favorite Chinese Buffet place.

~I found eggs for .89 a dozen and bought 4 dozen.  Jeff loves eggs and I will hard boil some for snacks for him.  I also see omelets in his future. ;)
~Jeff called around to some salvage yards to find replacement parts for the front of our car where we collided with a suicidal deer.  He is having the parts he was able to get shipped down with the company he works for so we will not have to pay the shipping fees.
~I bought a copy dvd of "Malificent" for under $5 from the Redbox kiosk.

~Our credit card from our Credit Union offers a rewards programs.  I recently discovered that I can take the cash back option instead of getting a gift card.  The cash back option is a much better value for the dollar so I had our points converted into cash and had that transferred into our savings account.
~Wednesday the cold that my youngest grandsons shared with me hit with a vengeance. Thank goodness I stocked up on the TheraFlu Severe Cough and Cold meds at the Dollar Tree.  I also had leftover Propel from the amazing deal where I got them for .50 a 12 pack that I had bought for our camping trip.  Both are coming in very handy.
~Since I was not feeling well, I pulled some homemade split pea soup that I had previously frozen out of the freezer and had some of that.  Comfort food for both the hubby and I.
~One of our grocery stores was having a big one day produce sale.  I had Jeff stop by on his way home from work Thursday morning (he drives right past the store) and pick up the things that I put on the list for him.  We stocked up on grapes, bags of onions (I'm going to dehydrate most of them), bananas and
~I watched more shows online.

~Thursday I still was not feeling well so I had Jeff go and pick up a chicken strip dinner from the tavern.  They put so much chicken in it that not only were we able to split the meal but we also had 2 huge chicken strips leftover for another meal.
~Our master bathroom exhaust fan was not working well at all.  My hubby removed it, cleaned it all out and then reinstalled it.  Amazing how much dirt and dust were on that thing jamming stuff up.
~Friday I picked 2 cucumbers from our garden and discovered that I have tiny little green beans forming too.  Now I just have to figure out a way to get rid of the tiny black flea beetles that are attacking the side garden so I don't lose all my plants there.
~Chris and Heather picked us up 2 huge bags of tortilla chips at Costco.
~Heather and her mom are heading to central Washington tomorrow to hit the produce stands there.  I placed my order with her for nectarines and plums. :)
~I ended up with the same rash that my hubby is being treated for.  Luckily the doctor gave him lots of the medicated cream so I am able to just use it too.

~I took advantage of the sun's heat to make some green sun tea.
~While going through my shed today looking for something to take care of the flea beetle problem I am having in my garden, I found a brand new dehydrator that I bought years ago for $7.50 at a yard sale.  I even found a box of new trays for it to add more dehydrating space. I had no idea I had it in there.  I'm going to put it to use today dehydrating apples from our tree.
~Picked a bunch of apples from our early season apple bearing tree and cut them up to dehydrate.
~Lunch Friday was free to me.  I cooked up some free rice and had it with an Indian Curry that my cousin had given me.  Yum!
~Jeff and I ran into town to donate a bunch of things that were leftover from our yard sale and also to pick up some things at the grocery store that were on sale.  The grocery store was out of the kitty litter we needed so they gave us a rain check and also substituted some other things for stuff that was out of stock when they learned we did not live in that town.  Oh we also found the big boxes of Vitabone dog treats marked down to .99 each.  I got 3 for Caesar.
~We found 2 marked down colossal sized pizzas in the Walmart deli for $4.99 each.  We cooked up one for dinner and froze the other.  There are plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
~While we were dropping things off at the thrift store Jeff and I decided to look around and see what we could find.  Jeff found another pair of pants (he just ripped one of his pairs of work pants last night) and another pair of shorts.  He also found a pedaling exercise machine for his mom for $1.99. I found another tank top, a necklace, several books, a Spiderman twin sized bed sheet (the oldest grandson is going to be thrilled!) and several more dvds.  Oh Jeff also bought a large Rubbermaid type tote and a can of blue enamel spray paint.  

~I made sure to give the cashier that was ringing us up at the thrift store my customer loyalty punch card so that I got credit for my shopping there today. :)
~Walmart had their huge beach towels on clearance for $5 each.  I bought some and am adding them to our gift closet for future gift giving.
~Friday night I had some Cold Care PM tea to help with my cold.
~I watched lots of videos on YouTube to learn new skills and get some fresh money saving ideas.

   Not a bad week all in all considering everything.  It would have been a great week though if not for that darned deer!