A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: progress

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

Some Thoughts on End of Life Planning

I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is […]

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!


Tacos made with canned refried beans, leftover pork, feta, olives and corn tortillas with salad.


We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it.  We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:


Salad, leftover refried beans, frozen corn and what we call “basic” cooked pork.


Homemade meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, steamed carrots and salad.


As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house.  I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.


Homemade English muffin, homemade pork sausage and vegan cheese.


One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!


Homemade kettle corn.


The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn.  My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker.  A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!


A very windy and rainy day walk.


We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could.  We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.


Water color finger painting.


Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.


Puppy damage…


One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow.  He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it.  We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.


Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!


The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?



Gardening Goals for 2018

Gardening Goals for 2018

Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden.  We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and […]

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

Usually this time of year I start looking over our finances for the year, project our income a year ahead and start setting some goals for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I am not great at following through with them but […]

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending

Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our Grocery Spending“.


For part three of our budgeting series I wanted to talk about our clothing habits. This is a topic I have been thinking about quite a bit over the last year. We have been trying to reduce our monthly spending outflow and our ecological footprint and as I was looking at our numbers I realized we spend a lot of money on clothes. It got me thinking.  Back in the day people did not have a lot of outfits to choose from and clothes were bought based on durability. Now it seems as if my kids have enough clothes to last a long time without having to do laundry and a lot of the time the clothes will break before my kids outgrow them. You know it is a problem when you finally get around to doing laundry and their clothes physically do not fit in their dresser drawers.


When we started having more kids we started receiving many more clothes for them then we will ever need. One relative in particular is known for hitting up sales at Babies R Us and bringing over gigantic bags full of clothes in either the wrong size or season after being told the kids do not need anything at all and to contribute to their college savings instead. This same relative is pretty offended if I return said clothing and put the money into college savings myself and loves to see the clothes on the children when they randomly come over. It is maddening to say the least. I have been getting more forceful in my insistence that the kids do not need clothes, especially random outfits that may or may not fit and the clothes buying has been greatly reduced but I think that has more to do with the break in holidays over the summer rather than a conscious effort. Birthday/Christmas season is upon us so we will see how well my efforts have worked.


Sorting clothes for a consignment sale.


One day last fall I reached an epiphany. I was sorting items for the upcoming consignment sale and I was looking at all of the clothes people had bought when our younger daughter was born. I had a whole gigantic box of just summer stuff from her first and second summer, most of it barely worn. None of my friends had wanted any of it because they apparently suffer from the same overabundance of clothing as I do and most of it was too girly to pass on to my son.  I asked myself why did we have so many clothes in the first place? Why are the kids not re-wearing clothes more often? Why are we buying new clothing instead of used? Why are we buying clothing in the first place when everyone has an abundance and can easily pass between families?


So I decided to take the plunge and join our local Buy Nothing group. Let me tell you, it was eye opening. Everyone in the group was sharing household items, especially kids clothes! Aha! Now I had a way to pass on clothes and receive some as well. I started commenting on threads for clothes in my kids size ranges and was able to score some great items including all of my son’s fleece pjs for last year (that still fit him so far this fall) and most of my daughter’s summer clothes.


Clothes ready to be given away to another Buy Nothing member.

So far getting our clothes from Buy Nothing has saved us hundreds of dollars. We can’t get everything from there but I search the local thrift stores and consignment sales to find what I can’t get at buy nothing and if I still can’t find what I need I will go to a regular store during a huge sale (Labor Day etc). The key is to be looking a size ahead and having enough room to store items for a little bit. I have a re-purposed laundry basket in my daughter’s room and a large tote for my son full of clothes in the next couple of sizes up. When my kids grow into the size I have stored I sort through them, have my kids try items on (just like if I was buying them at the store) and re-gift items that don’t work out. Some of my kids’ favorite clothing items have come from our Buy Nothing group.


We have had less luck finding adult clothes through our Buy Nothing group but that doesn’t mean that your particular group won’t have a good variety of clothes being passed around! I found some great Eddie Baur shirts through my group and gave away my maternity clothes as well so the possibility is out there. Our group in particular seems to be mostly kid clothes. Thrift stores can have some great finds as well as shopping the end of season sales for higher end retailers.  My husband and I tend to wear our clothes for a really long time so buying quality items is key to making them last. We love shopping the Nordstrom Rack sales and have found some super stellar bargains on shirts, pants and sweaters.


Overall being much more conscious of what we actually need clothing wise and getting as much used as possible has drastically cut down on our clothing spending.  I am also trying to get the kids to wear their clothes multiple times if they are not dirty with mixed success. My husband and I are pretty good at this but the kids throw stuff in the laundry basket at the drop of a hat! So far we have been able to get them to wear their pajamas 2 or 3 times in a row and sometimes we can get them to wear a shirt the next day if they only wore it for a little bit but it is still a work in progress. We have always reused our towels for a few washes but that is something you can try out in your house to reduce your laundry as well.  Luckily our house has the heating vents right under the towel racks in the bathrooms so our towels are nice and dry after a few hours of the furnace being on but in the past I would place them on top of the dryer while it was running to get them to dry quicker during our PNW wet winters. I am also experimenting with hanging our clothes to dry in the laundry room but our house has high humidity so things are not drying as quickly as they should be to prevent mildew on our clothes. I am hoping that with the cooler temperatures and our furnace being on more it will heat up our laundry room pretty well and we will be able to dry at least our lighter weight shirts and pants this winter on the clothesline. So far we have cut out at least two loads of laundry a week which is a total win in my book! We are still doing a lot of laundry but I am not forced to do laundry every day like before and can just focus on it a couple of days out of the week. Yay!


How are you looking at your clothing choices to reduce spending and waste?


Garden Update July 28, 2017

Garden Update July 28, 2017

Summer is upon us and the vegetable garden is in full swing. My pumpkins have taken over the garden space and the spaghetti squash is not far behind it.  The kids and I are harvesting berries, green beans and squash every other day.  I have […]

Liebster Award Nomination

Liebster Award Nomination

    I want to thank Katie from Sled Dog Slow for nominating Oscoey for the Leibster Award! It was completely unexpected and the email was a wonderful surprise after a long week of craziness in our house. I have only been blogging for a few […]

Garden Update July 10th 2017

Garden Update July 10th 2017

We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line and once that is done we will start clearing the center of our fenced area. I am really excited to finally be able to use our back yard. That ivy has been staring me in the face for almost two years. Once it is out we will be able to start working on landscaping the back and possibly adding our chickens.



North property line before ivy removal.



North property line after ivy removal. We took out a 3-4 foot buffer so that the fence company could measure. We don’t have room in the yard waste for the massive amounts of ivy we removed so we moved it towards the middle of the ivy patch where it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. Next week I am doubling our yard waste pickup so that we can fill up two toters every week. That may still take us all summer to slowly add it but it is our best option at the moment.



View of the north property line from the bottom of the hill. The slope is moderately steep here. There was also quite a bit of native blackberry mixed in with the ivy and I am looking forward to checking it later in the summer for berries. There is a huge patch of it on the slope below my neighbor’s house on the public part of the ravine.



We also spent some time removing ivy in the south east corner. This area is behind a landscaped section and was pretty jungle like. I found a large amount of holly back here which I am pretty bummed about. It looks like the previous owners chopped down a pretty big holly tree at one point but left the stump which promptly sent out dozens of runners.  I am not excited to remove them.  We also cut down some of the lower hanging branches on the hemlock trees in this area since they would have interfered with the fence and were pretty dead looking. I did not get a picture of those before the light gave out but it looks much better.



In the ivy jungle I found an abandoned bird nest. It was pretty cool to find it and I am really glad the birds weren’t using it any more.  One of the reasons we are pulling ivy out is because it provides shelter for rats to live in.  I do not want to encourage them to live near our house, especially if we get chickens.  The ivy behind our house has seriously damaged several large trees and needs to be pulled down so that the trees can recover and not fall on our house in a windstorm.  English Ivy is nasty stuff and it will take many years to remove it from our yard but many of our neighbors have neglected their large trees and I am really concerned several will come down in the future.





In anticipation of a new fence we cut some of the lower branches off of  one of our hemlock trees. They were starting to grow over our path down to the ravine and parts of them were very dead looking.  Basically they were hair-pulling spider havens so they had to go.  We were told last summer that we should cut some of them out to allow more light into the back yard and quoted $500-600 for them to come out and remove them.  It took my husband 30 minutes with a ladder and our tiny chain saw to cut four or so branches down and open up the pathway.  He spent a little bit longer cutting up the branches a bit and burning some of the smaller ones but we do that sort of thing after every winter storm so it wasn’t a big deal.  It really goes to show that if you have a little know how and a willingness to work you can save a ton of money doing as much as you can by yourself.  I grew up cutting down trees and clearing land and I am really enjoying working out on ours. We will have to hire someone to remove trees since they are so close to the house but we can definitely handle the smaller stuff!



On a more positive note our gigantic hydrangea bushes are in full bloom.  They are absolutely gorgeous. I love hydrangeas and I am really glad our house has such beautiful ones!



Some of our other plants are finally blooming. Our butterfly bush has a few blossoms and the fuchsias are just starting to flower.  I am really glad the flowers are coming out because I am having a problem getting my squash flowers pollinated.



Because my vegetables aren’t getting pollinated very well I went out and bought some lavender plants to put next to the vegetable garden. I am going to take out our boxwood hedge and make a lavender hedge instead.  I am hoping that will solve my squash problem.



My daughter also wanted me to take some pictures of her fairy garden. It is growing very well. Everything is blooming and growing fast.  I may have to talk her into moving it to a larger pot next year.  She checks on it every day and we talk about how the flowers are doing.  It is really sweet to see her take ownership of her plants and care for them so well.



Our fruit garden is doing well. The apples are growing and looking very healthy.  We have been picking a handful of raspberries and blueberries every day. Thanks to my kids they never make it inside but they have a lot of fun picking them and eating them.  My son is not a fruit person but he will eat fruit from our garden!



Our tomatoes still have a few fruits on them. Many of the other gardeners in my local community are having trouble growing tomatoes this year. Last year we had such a bumper crop I am not surprised. We had way too many tomatoes last year so having way fewer is totally ok with me.



My sunflowers were doing so poorly after being attacked by slugs that I went out and bought a dwarf sunflower to plant near the squash. I am hoping it will attract some bees as well as grow enough so that we can get a few seeds from it.  Of course after I planted it my other sunflowers started taking off but that is ok. They are nowhere near close to blooming so I think it will help to have them blooming at different times.



I have one large yellow zucchini but there are also now some smaller ones so I have a little hope! The new ones happened after I planted the sunflowers and bought the lavender and I can’t tell if they have been pollinated yet but keep your fingers crossed!



There are two spaghetti squash out in the garden and this one is getting pretty big. It is about the length of my hand right now and it has doubled in size over the past few days.  I love spaghetti squash so I am really excited about this one!



There are a few female pumpkin flowers. Most of them shrivel up shortly after blooming. This one was closed mid-day so I am hoping it has been pollinated.  I tried hand pollinating another one so that we will get at least one pumpkin this year.  Hopefully it worked!



My squash are completely taking over my beds. I have had to corral the pumpkin ones several times. They keep trying to escape to the neighbor’s yard. I honestly didn’t think many of them would grow so next year I will know and plant only a couple of them.




Our bush bean plants are doing very well.  They just started flowering and I did see a couple of bees on them this morning so we should get at least a few beans out of them.



Our green beans are still struggling. They were pretty eaten up by slugs but are recovering.  I need to put some netting over our bamboo poles to help them climb.  I changed the watering system around a bit so that they are getting more water and they seem to be doing better now.



Our freeloading ground cherries are thriving despite being stepped on almost daily. A few of them even have a few fruits on them so we are excited to eat some and see if they taste as good as last year’s.



The carrots have finally started taking off.  They have really been putting out a lot of greens and I am excited to try drying the greens this year to add to recipes.  I found this excellent article on A Modern Homestead that details how to use carrot greens in your cooking. I am really excited to try some of her ideas!


Whew. A lot went on in our garden this week! I am really excited that our vegetables are starting to take off and hoping to start harvesting some of the squash this week. We will be spending a bunch more time on ivy removal and clearing up what we can from the back yard. I am already thinking about projects for next year and what we will do differently in the vegetable garden.


What is happening in your garden this week?




Gardening Update

Gardening Update

This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding.  We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied.  We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff […]