Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Family Updates

Beautiful blue butterfly in my pot of geraniums!

It's been a while since my last family update.
Andy is still doing terrific. Regular blood work and CT scans show nothing suspicious. He continues to feel well. As I mentioned last time, his oncologist recommended surgery to remove a nodule on his right lung. This spot has been there since the beginning and really hasn't shown any growth or shrinkage. The nodule is quite small and is located in a very hard-to-reach place. To remove it, the surgeon feels he would have to remove the lower lobe of Andy's right lung. This is a big surgery and has a lengthy recovery time. We are opting to watch it carefully and not do surgery at this time. If it starts to grow at any time, we will ask for surgery immediately but at this time, since it has sat there for over a year and doesn't appear to be live cancer cells, we are going to let it be. 

As far as an adoption update, we had our update home study on June 8th. We met our new adoption worker as our previous worker left the agency to do mission work internationally soon after we went on hold last year. Our new worker is super nice as everyone we've worked with at Bethany Christian Services  has been. We received an email on July 5th stating that everything was approved and we are back to active status. We are so excited and hope for a placement soon! 

What's going on in your family? How can I be praying for you?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Monday Was A Good Day For Free

Monday was a good day for free things!

A friend offered me some okra from their garden. Of course, I accepted! When we stopped by and picked up the bag of okra, we were surprised to see not just a bunch of okra but also grape tomatoes and zucchini. The extent of my gardening this summer is basil and mint so produce is happily accepted and eaten! Our current favorite way to prepare okra is to roast it with a little olive oil and seasonings--so delicious and easy!

When I got to work, a coworker offered me a dozen of her farm fresh eggs. I give her egg cartons every so often and she brings eggs to work occasionally looking for someone to take them home. I don't turn down fresh eggs. ;-)

Meanwhile, Andy switched one of my prescriptions over to Publix where it would cost me nothing for a month's supply. My prescription yesterday was FREE as well!

I was also offered a bag of potato chips leftover from a party at work but I declined. We are trying to eat well and chips would be too big of a temptation! If it is here, we will eat it. 

We are so grateful for these little blessings! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Freezer Challenge: Part One

I've enjoyed following along with The Frugal Girl as she cleans out her freezer and challenges herself to use up a certain amount of things each week. This post is definitely inspired by her!

We have three freezers--two fridge freezers and one large upright freezer. It's nice but sometimes food gets thrown wherever is easiest at the moment and it's hard to know exactly what we have and where it is.

Such is the case with our fridge freezer in our kitchen. I had thrown and piled stuff in there to the point that food would fall out whenever we tried to get anything out.

Last Friday, I planned an easy dinner of bratwurst and roasted okra and zucchini and yellow squash. At the last minute, I remembered a partial bag of hot dog buns in the freezer so pulled those out to eat with the brats (we typically eat them bunless but we had some buns left from having company back in May.) That inspired me to tackle this little freezer compartment the next day!

I pulled everything out after taking before pictures, of course. :-)

Everything was set out on our island and I sorted as to what was deemed "challenge worthy" and what needed to be moved to our big freezer. All the packages of meat went to the big freezer as that's where they belong and I kept the frozen vegetables in the kitchen. Some of the other odds and ends were kept out to use quickly.

Here's what I had to work with:
  • Small container cooked spaghetti squash--put right in fridge for side for Monday's dinner.
  • Small serving of soup--put in fridge for Monday's lunch.
  • Lone popsicle--I ate it right away!
  • Partial bag of mini bagels--these were thawed and served with Saturday night's Breakfast for Dinner and finished up for Sunday breakfast. Bonus points for this since I also had an opened package of cream cheese to use!
  • Container of cooked turkey--I'll be honest here. I had used some of this previously in a soup and it was still dry and stringy so I threw it out. :-( 
  • One hamburger bun. Seriously?!? (Again, left from company!) I thawed it and made it into cheese toast to go with random leftovers on Sunday night. That wasn't hard!
  • Gallon bag of chicken bones and vegetable ends and peelings for broth. Immediately poured all this in the crockpot and made crockpot chicken broth overnight. I then used the broth to make a big pot of gravy to use for one meal this week and freeze the rest.
What went back in the freezer to use later:
  • Ice cream--we don't need a plan for this. It doesn't stick around long here.;-)
  • Various bread and individual sweet rolls left from the market. (I've been selling my homemade baked goods at a local Farmer's Market this summer and always have a few things left at the end.) Some of the bread will be used for lunches this week and the sweet rolls are pulled out for breakfast occasionally. 
  • Package of "Sandwich Skinny's" (left from company)--maybe use these for quick broiled pizzas or tuna melts in the next week or two. 
  • Fresh ginger--This stays fresh in the freezer and I peel and grate it as needed. 
  • Ice packs--these needed to be in there for easy access and there hasn't been room. 
  • A bag of homemade doggy ice cream portions aka Frosty Paws. These are for Willie as an occasional treat so they'll stay in there. 
I didn't tackle the door yet but that is mostly spices and homemade spice blends that get used naturally over time. 

After photo:

It's much easier to get things from the freezer now!

I'll do another update on my freezers in a week or so. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Random (Frugal) Things

So far this week has been nice and calm.

I had a doctor's appointment on Monday so I took the day off of work. It was a nice treat to come back home after the appointment and not have to rush off to work. I took a nap, did two loads laundry, emptied trash cans and vacuumed the floors. We also spent a little time looking over our budget. We have some financial goals to save for so looking over the details occasionally is good!

I made a BBQ beef brisket in the crockpot the other day and this morning I decided we should probably use the last little bit up. I did a little asking on facebook and a little searching on Pinterest and decided to make a "Crockpot Brisket Stew". My bi-weekly grocery shopping trip is coming up this week so I'm running low on a few items. The stew definitely turned into "what I had on hand" stew. I used brisket, carrots, leftover green beans, leftover rice, onion, canned diced tomatoes and some spices and seasonings. Hopefully it will be delicious!

I made a batch of corn muffins to go along with the stew. I always find it fun to be creative and make meals with what I have on hand.
                 Between sets, I was able to get this shot of "Jehu vam Bassett" who played the role of the main family's hound dog. He was fun to watch as he reminds us so much of our own Bassett-mix!
A friend messaged me last week saying that she had some extra tickets to a local Christian theater that does Broadway-style shows. Her son is a cast member for "The Gospel According To Tennessee" so she had tickets to give for that show. We arranged to go last Saturday. It is a dinner theater and our tickets included a meal! Meals are always themed to go with the show so the meal was fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, pinto beans, Tennessee Weddin' Cake (corn bread) and blackberry cobbler. It was delicious! The show was really fun too. It was a really nice date for the two of us. We had never been to see a show there and now we'd like to go back. I've heard their Christmas show is amazing.

I picked these pretty flowers while walking Willie this morning. A simple pretty little touch in a vase.

Hope you all have a good week!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Soup Kind Of Day

Andy has been feeling a bit under the weather today. I believe he's fighting a spring cold. He didn't feel like eating too much but agreed that chicken soup would taste good.

I dug though what we had and found frozen homemade chicken broth and seasoned cooked and chopped chicken in the freezer and onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms in the fridge. A few seasonings from the spice cupboard rounded it all out.

I chopped up all the veggies and sauteed them in the soup pot in a little olive oil. The veggies always smell and look so tasty during this step!

Lastly, I added broth, chicken and seasonings, brought the soup to a boil and then turned it down and let it simmer.

It was delicious!

Whenever I chop and peel veggies, I save the well-washed peelings/ends and add to a big freezer bag. When I have a bunch of chicken bones, I use this bag of veggie scraps to make delicious homemade broth!

Waste not, want not! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

An Update On Our Family

Some of you have been asking how Andy is doing now. Thank you for asking!

If you saw the picture in this post, you can see that Andy is looking and feeling quite well! We are grateful to be past the 1 year mark of his diagnosis. And last week marked 1 year since he began chemo.
Easter Sunday 2018--The sun was a little bright! ;-)

All scans and blood work continue to come back clear and show no sign of cancer. There is still a very small nodule on his lungs that Andy's oncologist wants to have removed. It is highly unlikely that this nodule is cancerous since all other spots on his lungs disappeared with chemo and this nodule has not changed in size in over a year. The disadvantage of this spot is that it is quite small and located in a hard to reach area, thus making any biopsy nearly impossible unless it is removed. The thoracic surgeon was unsure if he could even find it when we consulted with him last fall. We want to meet with him again to see if his opinion has changed. It is up to us if we decide to go ahead with the surgery or continue with careful observation for the next 12 months.

We appreciate your prayers for wisdom as we make this decision.

In other news, long time readers will remember that we announced 3 years ago (exactly 3 years ago!) that we were in the adoption process to adopt a baby. We went through the homestudy process in 2015 and were approved as a waiting family in October 2015. Since then we have waited for The Call that we have been matched with an expectant mother who has chosen us to parent her child.

After Andy's cancer diagnosis in spring of 2017, we went on hold with the agency as Andy underwent chemo and various surgeries.

Our agency requires certain paperwork to be updated every 365 days so when we began to talk with our adoption worker about going back to active status, she sent us a new packet of paperwork to update. This included 3 doctor's reports, new income tax forms and proof that our dog is current on vaccinations, among other things. Everything had to be redone because of the time that we were doing the paperwork so this packet took WAY longer than any adoption paperwork we have done in the past!

But I'm happy to say that I finished with the paperwork on Monday and it is now en route to our agency. Woo Hoo!

Our adoption worker should be scheduling another home study visit with us soon and hopefully after that, we will once again be a waiting family. We hope to be matched soon!

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family!

Monday, April 23, 2018

On This Day After Earth Day

Earth Day was yesterday. I stopped at the local health food store after church for some bulk spices. I took a reusable bag along for extra points on my rewards account.

At checkout, I was offered a free packet of heirloom tomato seeds in honor of Earth Day. Yes, please.

Some folks are big into Earth Day and loving the earth the other 364. Some folks scoff. Some folks like me, are somewhere in the middle.

I compost. I use reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. I use cloth napkins and real dinnerware. I cook from scratch, am careful about food waste, line dry some of my laundry, use reusable lunch containers and shop second hand quite often. I'm careful about the use of chemicals in our home.

Part of my cloth napkin stash. These have been going strong for around 3 years now. They're starting to show some wear from repeated washings. I usually get 3-4 years out of a stack of napkins. When they're worn out, I make new ones.

I grew up on the West Coast where things are just different. Overall, people tend to live a little greener. I hate styrofoam.

I also use some paper towels and paper plates some days. I use some ziploc baggies. We buy packaged food sometimes. I shop at Aldi where the produce is highly packaged but the price is right. Sometimes (like most of last year), I'm just too tired to recycle.

In spite of growing up in Oregon, I'm not a tree hugger. But I can't swing so far over to the extreme where I have no interest in caring for the environment.

This is where we live.  The Earth is one of God's gifts to us. As with all of God's gifts, I wish to be a good steward of what He has given.

On this day after Earth Day, can we all agree to be good stewards of our resources?

  • To be intentional with our choices?
  • To create more than consume?
  • To conserve more than we waste? 
  • To save more than we spend?
  • To think before we act?

 A "green" smoothie.

Maybe you are full out "green". Or maybe you're like me and make small choices each day to minimize waste and maximize health, both for ourselves, our finances and the environment.

I cannot do everything but I sure can do something.

Maybe I can turn the lights off when I leave the room. Turn off the water instead of letting it run.  Save those veggie scraps to make stock. Walk somewhere instead of drive. Hang those clothes up to dry instead of running the dryer. Plant those tomato seeds already. Just this once.

And tomorrow, make some of the same choices again. 

Little choices add up to create a big impact. 

What will you do on this day after Earth Day?

**You may be interested in another Earth Day post I wrote "back in the day": Kermit, It is Easy Being Green.