Monday, August 21, 2023

Clearing Out the Smoke, Rain and Other Blessings!

   I'm currently sitting out on my back screened in porch listening to the rain come down while soft piano jazz music is playing in the background. The rain is so welcomed as it scrubs the heavy smoke from wildfires out of the air.  I can breath again!  I am praying that the rain makes its way up to the Spokane area and beyond as they have had devastating fires up that way with many losing their homes and with 2 deaths between 3 different fires.   My neighbor's co-worker lost her home and I am waiting to hear how we can help her rebuild.

   My garden and yard desperately needed this good soaking rain.  Everything has been so dry and despite our constant watering, it seems the plants can never get enough and have been struggling in the horrible heat.  I am so very thankful for a much cooler day and rain, as I can feel it refreshing my soul once again.  It is much needed before the heat comes back on later in the week, just in time for our Josh, Lauren, Tate and Peyton's visit.  They are used to the heat and kind of like it...I can Josh be my kid and like the heat?  LOL!  Going to a little splash pad in in the plans for this coming Sunday and we will be celebrating the twins, Josh and Chris's birthday with that and a baseball game with friends and family.  I will happily be in the splash pad area with the little ones while the game is going on. 😉 I can't wait to have Josh and family home again.  They will be staying at a hotel with a pool due to the erratic sleep habits of my two youngest grandbabies.  The pool is a nice bonus and one that I plan on taking advantage of while enjoying it the grandkids.

   As you know, Jeff and I have been planning for him to be able to work part time and take early retirement.  Well part of that plan involves replacing things that need to be replaced and fixing other things, as well on stocking up on needed items.  It has also been learning new skills that will save us money, and/or enrich our lives.  I'm a firm believer that God will guide you to those needed or desired items, and He has once again come through for me in a big way.  My poor little immersion blender has seen lots of use and was one it's way out.  I had been wanting to replace it.  Well I found one at Goodwill for $5.99 and it had the blender and the milk frother attachments.  Now I needed a new immersion blender and I had been wanting a milk frother also.  Now I have both!  On that trip I also was blessed with a Home Dairy book on how to make cheese, yogurt, butter and more.  I already know how to do the yogurt, butter and a simple cheese, but I wanted to learn how to make other types of cheese as well.  My find of the day though has been something that I have wanted for a very long time.  I wanted a nice basket with handles that I can use in the garden to gather produce and I wanted it to have a washable and waterproof liner.  The only baskets that I knew about that had these attributes were Longaberger baskets, and those are way out of my price range.  Imagine my surprise and happiness when they wheeled out a new trolley of merchandise and there it was, the basket of my dreams (with the illusive liner) for $3.99!  I carefully flipped it over to see if there were any brand marks on the bottom because it was so well made and much to my delight, it was indeed and Longaberger basket.  Oh Happy Day!!!  On that trip I also found a hand blown wine glass from Italy (which is now being washed) and a movie.  Yes, it was indeed a great trip to the thrift for me!

  Our garden continues to bless us (even though the heat has definitely slowed things down) with Sungold cherry tomatoes, squash and apples.  The blackberries are just ripening and I ate the first 2 last night...I had forgotten how good they are.  I've been busy making applesauce and I need to freeze some of the tomatoes since I am getting more than I thought I would from just the 2 largest bushes and the other red cherry tomato buses are setting fruit, as are the Black Crim and Romas.  The green beans are just starting to get big enough to pick and I am sure we will have a lot of them once they really get going.  I have been sharing with my neighbor and she is anxiously awaiting for the pears to be ready to picked.  We are going to have a lot of them this year, and yes, I will be sharing them with her and with the rest of our family that lives nearby, as well as trying to put some up for Jeff.

   Well I suppose I should go and work on my "to do" list for a bit.  I have taken most of the day off to relax since Jeff and I did so much around and in the house over the weekend.  Between all that, the fires up north of us, as well as one just a few miles from us earlier last week, and just the general day to day trying to keep up on the gardens, it has left me exhausted and in lots of pain.  I have not been sleeping well, but last night, I was finally able to get into a deep sleep and slept until 9 a.m.  My body must have really needed it and I am not going to argue with that.  Be blessed my friends who are reading this and keep stocking up on those things that you need, and yes, even some nice "surprises" along the way.



Monday, August 14, 2023

I'm Melting and Still Trying to Maintain My Frugal Ways


    You see the picture above?  Well I just took it on my back porch in the shade with the blinds down to block out some of the heat.  It is not even to the hottest part of the day yet.  We are under a heat advisory for the next 4 days or so.  I think we may break some records this week.  Me, I am just trying to make it through and stay cool.  I have the swamp cooler on and my guess is that we will have to keep it running nonstop for the next 4 days.  I do not want a repeat of last year when I got heatstroke.  Nope, not doing that again!  

   Despite the heat, I am still trying to maintain my frugal ways.  Last night Jeff grilled up 6 large elk burgers, some marinated squash slices and I made a large batch of blue (yes, the potatoes are blue) potato salad.  All were yummy and we have lots of leftovers (as was the plan).  I needed more bread, so I baked 2 more loaves.  Sandwiches are on the menu this week and chicken salad will be made after I finish this post.  I need to cut up some lettuce and have that ready for a taco salad (I already have the taco meat cooked and in the freezer, and lots of tomatoes from the garden).  

   Other frugal doings are as follows:

~I "hunted" through the Walmart freezer section and found some amazing deals on apple juice concentrate (.31 each), frozen mixed veggies (.87 each and I bought 5 bags), frozen cauliflower (.69) and a few other items.  I dehydrated all of the frozen mixed veggies upon returning home from the store.

~I am currently wearing a very soft cotton dress that I bought at Goodwill awhile back.  It is very cool and comfy...just what I need in this heat.  Upon putting it on, I realized that there was some pilling on it right where a crossbody purse would have rubbed.  I got out my husband's razor (shhhh...don't tell him) and shave off the "pills".  It looks and feels brand new now.

~I made some more of my favorite squash casserole and that fed me for 4 meals.

~One night earlier this week, I cooked up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a teriyaki sauce that I added pineapple chunks to along with some of the light syrup from the can.  It made for an even lovelier sauce and I served it over rice.  I still have some leftover rice to use up now.  That will be an easy thing to add something over the top of it.  My idea of convenience food.  Having been raised in Hawaii, rice is a staple food group there and something that I can totally relate to.

~Our Summer apple tree is beginning to give us ripe apples.  I cooked up a batch of homemade applesauce in my largest crockpot and it made 12 cups of applesauce that were divided into 2 cup portions.  Some was frozen, some was shared with a dear friend and some is ready for Jeff and I to have this week.  I freeze it in 2 cup portions because that is what my favorite recipes call for and it is the perfect amount for a side dish or dessert for Jeff and I to share.

~I planted out the rest of the tomatoes from the greenhouse into the one of the dug up raised potato beds.  I know you are not supposed to plant tomatoes where your potatoes have grown, but my potatoes were disease free, so I am going to risk it.

~Jeff and I have been watering the gardens in the evenings when things cool down a bit.  We don't want the plants to burn and we want the water to be able to soak in.  I need to check tonight and see if we will need to rig up some shade over the beans.  I am worried about them burning in the hot sun.  Luckily, we have some leftover shade cloth and lots of light-colored sheets that we can use.

   Now for the heartbreaking news...the fires on Maui.  I, as many others, watched in horror as things unfolded and when I saw some of the videos of people trying to escape the flames.  It touched me deeply and I wondered if my friends there made it out safely.  As far as I know at this point, they did, but some family members of friends of mine remain missing and many lost their homes.  It brings me to tears to think of the trauma that theses precious people went through, and the lucky ones who are still alive, will live with for the rest of their lives.  The people of Lahaina lost loved ones, their homes, businesses and fur babies.  The Hawaiian culture is a close knit one where your neighbors become part of your hanai (adopted by love) family.  They have been displaced and I fear will now be preyed upon by unscrupulous people who will swoop in to try and buy their land where their homes once stood at low ball prices.  Given the desperation and state of mind some of the fire victims find themselves in, they may accept offers and once they can again take a breath and think clearly, regret it.  There is already a grassroots movement in Hawaii urging people NOT to sell their properties in Lahaina.  Please pray for all the people who have been touched by this tragedy and for healing and provision to come.  Thank you.


Monday, August 7, 2023

Sometimes We All Need A Little Help

      Yes, that is my middle grandson Steven above.  He apparently needed his kitty to help him play one of his games on his tablet.  I looked over to see him like this and quickly snapped a picture before he noticed. 😉 I think it perfectly sums up what I have been thinking about lately and that is that we all need a little help in many areas of our lives.

   Jeff and I have been trying to get ourselves set up the best we can to weather the hard economic times that we find ourselves in.  As you know, our family works together to try to find the best deals, share our garden produce and share what is gotten while hunting and fishing.  Jeff and I are now trying to extend that to also shopping locally here in town at our Farmer's Market.

   Above is a dinner I cooked last week.  It is elk backstrap steaks with rice pilaf.  We also had apple slices with it.  The elk backstrap steaks were from our kids Chris and Heather and we are so very grateful for them.  The steaks were absolutely delicious!  I had found the rice pilaf mix on sale and had stocked up on it.  The apples were sale priced items too.  

   Yesterday we went to Jeff's company picnic down on the river in Lewiston, Idaho.  It was a really fun time and the food was amazing.  We had never been to Hell's Gate Park before, so we checked out the camping area and the visitors center.  On our way out of town, Rachel called and said they were going to Costco and did we want then to pick up some razor blade refills for Jeff.  I told her we were in Lewiston also, so we met them there at Costco.  It turns out that they were also at the park at the opposite end of the day use area with their church group. 😀

Anyway, we got the razors and had a good look around the clothing area.  I had Jeff try on some of their Sketcher shoes that were on sale, but they did not fit his foot correctly.  Bummer.  Anyway, thanks to Jaysn and Rachel, we now have over a years' worth of razor blades for Jeff for half the price if we had bought them anywhere else.  

   Backtracking even further, Saturday was our family birthday party for Isaiah.  He requested that I make his favorite homemade macaroni and cheese, which I happily obliged.  The minute we arrived at his house, he came running out, checked under the lid of the crockpot to see the said macaroni and cheese and then picked up the crockpot and carried it inside.  Heather made some homemade pizzas to go with it and the most delicious "Death by Chocolate" dessert because, according to Isaiah "G-pa likes it too"...  Why yes he does and he was thrilled to have it.  Chris and Heather had a surprise early birthday present in store for Jeff also.  Chris was feeling bad that his father had to wash all our dishes by hand since our dishwasher broke.  Some friends of his were remodeling their kitchen and were selling their older but still in good working condition, dishwasher.  He bought it for his daddy. Jeff was so very moved by this generous gift!

    Continuing the theme of moving backwards, we come to the next money saving, while helping out our community and family moments.  Friday we went down to our local in town Farmer's market.  It is very small with just a few vendors.  We bought pickling cucumbers from one vendor and 2 small baskets of the sweetest apricots.  We also bought dinner from the "Tipsy Heifer" (yes, that is the name of their company) who was selling tacos.  I have no idea what they marinate their chicken in, but my oh my was it good!  Jeff and I rarely eat out anymore, but had heard so many good things about the tacos and at 2/$5, we thought it was a pretty good deal.  Plus we were supporting a local business (who's owner is also one of the EMTs that responded when we had to call the ambulance for Jeff about 2 months ago) and some local farmers.  No gas was spent going out of town either so it was a win/win all around.


   Other money saving things we have done recently were participate in our town wide yard sale where we made $121.00 and donated all the leftovers items (with the exception of three things) to a Christian thrift store that helps people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.  Isaiah sold huckle berries that he had picked and gave me the extra bag that did not sell.  He is so sweet!  Heather made huckleberry cinnamon rolls and they sold out quickly!  She made $61 on those alone.  

   Jeff made a deal with his boss at work to buy out some of the excess stock of nails, screws, bolts, etc. that they had sitting around from when they bought the business from the previous owner.  All of this was on a large pallet and shrink wrapped.  It is a huge amount of inventory and Jeff was able to get it all for $50.  The boss also asked him if he wanted one of the old wooden and metal spin around and sectioned off holders for storage of those hubby said yes!  I don't know what the price on that will be, if any, but Jeff got a place all cleared out in the garage next to his workbench for it. (turns out it was $100 and it was so worth it)  Our kids and neighbors will not need to go shopping for some of these items now since we will have them on hand and happily share them.  Jeff is also planning on starting a side business once he retires of fixing furniture and then selling it.


      Our garden continues to bless us.  Above is the last of the raspberries.  I had them on cereal along with some very juicy and sweet blueberries.  It made for a lovely breakfast.  Steven and I dug out the last of the potatoes and he helped me harvest tomatoes and squash.  I made my favorite squash casserole and cut up some of the sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes to put on quesadillas.  Yum!  They added the burst of freshness that just took those quesadillas up over the top!  The beans are putting on their blossoms in the front garden bed and the tomatoes are growing like weeds.  I have had to trim branches on the plants so they can have their energy go toward making fruit and need to finish staking up the Black Crim tomatoes.

   I stocked up on a 50 pound bag of flour and a 20 pound bag of rice.  Prices continue to go up, so I am hedging my bets a bit and trying to buy at the lower prices.  More canned pineapple was added to my pantry since Jaysn took some home with him the other day.  Yes, I let my kids shop my pantry...that is what is  there for, our family to use.  As prices continue to rise, I take advantage of sales when I see them and I am also forgoing certain items because the prices have gone too high for my liking. I know that many of my friends and family are doing the same.

   I had better end this here.  Between this energetic boy and a very busy weekend, I have very little voice left and am dead tired.  My heart is full though and I am so very grateful for all God has blessed us with, including an answer to prayer concerning my oldest son Josh and a change to where he will now be deploying to.  I need to now go and finish the laundry, make some bread and get a elk roast going in the crockpot for dinner.  The rest of my list can wait until tomorrow.  A much needed nap sounds so much better than completing my list. 😌

   Be blessed my friends who are reading this post.  I pray that you all are safe, keeping cool, or warm (depending on where in this big world of ours that you are reading this from), and that you are stocking your pantries with food, medical needs and whatever else you may need.  Don't forget to stock up on clothing needs too!  Now is the time in my part of the world to do so.