Sunday, March 25, 2012

Budget friendly day trip to Portland Rose Gardens

If you live near Portland Oregon then you must come see this beautiful place.  Portland Rose Gardens is free to the public and has one of the most extensive rose collections ever.  Click the link to find out more information and directions to get there.  It really was a beautiful afternoon and the perfect time for a good hike. 
This place is huge.  Right now the roses are not in bloom but its still really beautiful and worth the trip.

I like this variety of rose! Sums up myself pretty darn good.

I'm pretty sure this guy was violated.  Lucky guy has 3 ladies on his arms. 

So many different flowers everywhere.  I just love the colors on this one.

There are benches everywhere for those of you who want to come and relax.  It really is peaceful here.

There is a outside auditorium that is really large.  I'm sure they hold events here. Heck maybe even some weddings. 
I mean look at this place.  Its just beautiful.  Also maybe a good place to let the kids get their wiggles out of their system.

Or maybe you want to just take a nap? Yep they have places for those too.

This place was built pretty well.  Even has its own water draining system. 

This blue shed has a wonderful plant growing up the side.  How cool is that!

Just remember that all that walking down hill means you will have to walk back up the hill.  And don't forget to walk off the beaten path.  There are lots of different trails and paths to walk.

Nature is everywhere you look.  It really can make it own path.

I have no idea what plant this is but it smells AMAZING!! Anyone know what bush this is???

Now I will leave you with this view.  You can see the beautiful city of Portland down the hill.  This is why I love Oregon so much.  I have yet to find a place here that I don't love.  Always green and always beautiful.  So next time your looking for a low cost or free thing to do, remember this place.  Its free and everyone will love it.  Pack your own lunch and have a picnic!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wooden box gardens

Wow am I tired.  I spent the whole day working in the yard because it was a beautiful sunny day out. 
Remember those wooden boxes I brought home from my grandmother's? Well I put them to use.

There was a ugly bush taking up this space so I cut that sucker out.  That thing was ugly and honestly if its not giving me anything, its out! One day my yard will be 100% edible. How cool would that be? Awesome! These three boxes will be my daughters gardens.  They get to plant anything they want in there and will have to take care of the garden all by themselves. They are very excited.

I also found a place for one of my old ladders I also brought home from gram's place.  It was sturdy enough to hold a few plants and random things.  I also lined the canning kettles with plastic, added some soil and planted a few prim roses.  Once my marigolds start growing I will add those in later.  I know what your thinking.  Plastic? I lined them because I didn't want to ruin the kettles.  Also were not eating anything growing in there so it will be fine. 

In the other corner I put the potato bucket from gram's place.  This was dug in the ground half way sticking out.  She kept her potatoes in there for storage.  I then placed my kitty planter by it.  I love how this adds color to the front door area. 

The girls have discovered the compost pile finally.  Little do they know this will be going away shortly.  Sorry girls.  They are getting so big.  They should start laying soon.  I'm so excited!

It was a long and productive day for me.  My back was killing me so I took a super hot bath and am now in my pj's and having a cold one.  Life is good!

Friday, March 23, 2012

March Food Budget $315.44

Whole Foods

Note:Whole Foods bent over backwards for me today which TOTALLY made my day!!!! Thank you ladies at the cheese deli!!

$1.66 Organic pinto beans bulk (only $1.69 per lb reg price)
$3.99 Gallon of whole organic milk (using to make yogurt!)
$3.99 Gallon of 2% organic milk
$10.58 Tillamook Cheddar Cheese (Local company to me. wrapped in paper!!! $4.99 per lb so I bought 2 lbs hopefully will last a while)
$2.00 Yellow Mango's (in season on sale $2/3)
79 cents Plain yogurt (for making my own yogurt)
$2.49 Organic Cauliflower (PURPLE!!!)
$1.50 Red organic chard (sale priced)

Total minus bag credit-$26.80


$1.50 Organic Kale (sale)
$2.99 Organic apples bagged (beats Whole Foods price!)
$2.78 Organic asparagus (sale $2.99 per lb beats Whole Foods price)
$3.30 Organic celery (.99 cents per lb sale)
$2.05 Organic Tomatoes (WOOT!!! In season finally! sale $1.99 per lb which is a good price)
$5.38 Nitrate free bacon
Total minus bag credit $18.00
Total of todays' buys $44.80
Total for the month so far $315.44

First of all let me give a shout out to my local Whole Foods store.  I could of easily thrown in my cart the already precut cheese wrapped in plastic.  But since I'm trying to rid plastic out of my life I thought I would just ask her for non plastic wrapped cheese.  She said she could wrap any cheese I wanted in paper.  I about jumped for joy. The paper is lined with wax but can be recycled.  Much better than what I have been buying. Baby steps!

Second thing is always ask if you don't see an item your looking for.  New Seasons had no bits n pieces of nitrate free bacon in their deli area.  So I asked the nice man and he said he would look.  And then he came out and said all he had was two pounds. Sweet! I'll take it! Please wrap it in paper! So there ya go.  If you don't see it, then ask for it!

Last but not least I will be attempting to make my own yogurt which is why I have so much milk.  So excited!

Organic DIY Chow Mein

Can you say yummy? This is super yummy and super easy to make.

What you will need:

Your favorite veggies-I used chard, carrots, onion, celery, parsley(optional). Anything that needs to be used up.

Spaghetti Noodles-I used organic but is optional. $1.29 at Trader Joe's.j

Meat-I used a half pound of pork $1.25. Use what you have or just leave out.

Eggs-I used vegetarian fed but you can use any eggs or even leave out. Totally optional

Oil-I used sesame oil but use what you have. Olive oil would work great.

Liquid Amino's-taste just like soy sauce but 1/2 the sodium.  Or again use what you have.

Peanuts-Optional but oh does this make it taste super yummy.  Use what you have and have fun with it.

Chop up your veggies. I separate stalks from leaves.  Chard stalks take longer to cook (note white chard stalks on right) You want to cook these in order of how thick they are.  Carrots are first, then celery, then onion and so on. Each veggie cooks at different times so remember this when adding your favorite veggies.

I like to marinate my meat in liquid amino's and onion ahead of time but its optional.  Simply toss in your meat and onions with some liquid amino's.  Cook till not pink no more.

Get a large pot and start getting your water ready to boil.  I didn't have any chow mein noodles so these spaghetti noodles will work fine.  Do not add noodles yet.

Now get your other items ready to go.  Once the process starts you need to be ready.
I have a tiny cast iron pan so I toss my peanuts in it with some olive oil.  I simply turn it on low and it will toast the peanuts while I cook dinner.  Just make sure its on low and it will be just fine until dinner is ready.  Seriously how cute are those tiny cast iron pots??

Crack all your eggs (make sure to compost them!) and have them ready in a bowl.  Mix them well.  You can add soy sauce but I leave them plain so I get lots of different flavors when I eat later.

Okay your meat is cooked so add in your carrots or veggie of choice that takes longer to cook.  Cook till about half way done. 
Next I added celery and chard stalks.  These cook pretty quickly so I added them in together.  I like to cook my veggies on medium high and stir frequently. 

Your water should be nice and boiling by now so toss in your spaghetti noodles.  These only take a few minutes to cook.  Stir well and do not add any oil or your flavorful food will not absorb into your noodles once done.  Trust me on this.  Cook noodles as instructed on package.
While I was cooking dinner I had the girls go put the chickens in the coop.  I heard some funny noises and this is what I found when I went to check on them.  I love my girls.

Anyways back to dinner.....Last but not least add in your thin vegetables.  In my case it was the leaves of chard.  These literally only take a few minutes so I will toss them in, mix them up and turn off the burner.  My cast iron stays warm for a long time and will cook these to perfection.  I cover it with a lid and let it cool on its own. 

Here is where you want to cook your eggs.  Nothing worst than cold eggs that are dry! So cook your eggs until scrambled. Takes only a few minutes so once done you are ready to assemble your food. Turn off the burner your peanuts are on! Don't ask me how this is important. I don't wanna talk about it! lol

Okay now drain your noodles and toss into a very large bowl.  Toss in your veggie meat mixture and then your scrambled eggs.  I squirt some liquid amino's and mix very well.  Plate your food and toss on some toasted peanuts.  This is where I added my parsley for some extra pretty.   DONE!!!!

Total cost for my dinner for 6

Celery-25 cents used only 2 stalks

Carrots-25 cents used only 2 carrots

Onion-10 cents used only half a small onion

Chard-Free from my friend Theresa (thanks!!!)

Organic noodles-$1.29

6 Eggs-$1.32  (18 pack means they cost me 22 cents each)

1/2 lb Pork-$1.25 (was $2.49 per lb on sale)

1 oz of peanuts- 13 cents (long story...$55 for 25lbs of peanuts.  $2.20 per lb or .13 cents per oz) man I need help lol

Parsley-25 cents. Totally guessing on this one. It was $1.99 for a bunch of them and I used a small amount. Tried to calculate but my brain started hurting.

Total Cost-$4.84
I didn't factor in oil or liquid amino's cost because I always have those on hand and I'm not going to measure and weigh how much I used.  My brain just cannot handle that much calculations lol.  You get the idea. This is a pretty cheap dinner.  Try it out and enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Damn snow

Just when I thought Spring was here. I woke up to all of this. How is this helping my garden? Not one damn bit! So what is one to do? Deal with it. Just suck it up and deal with it. URRR!! (fist in sky)

My poor flowers.  It's like they gave up and couldn't stand up anymore.

Good thing I didn't plant my pea's yet.  Well that and I have decided to move this to another part of the garden.  This year I'm focusing on tomato plants.

I just love how quiet and beautiful snow is.  I could sit for hours outside just watching it fall.

And then I found Bugster. We just got him back up and running.  New brakes, new seals all around and lots of other things I'm forgetting at this moment.

Just look how sad he is.  "Hey Bugster, you gotta little something right there." I say.  "Here?" he says. "No, right there." as I say waving my hand over my entire face.  I clean his face up and take the girls to school.  Bugster had a little cough because he's not a fan of the mornings and takes him a bit to get up and running 100%.  Once I pull into the drive way guess what happens? Bugster is nice and warm.  Finally. Just in time to get home.  Perfect timing Bugster.  Perfect.

And last but not least here is Meggie.  She has been fighting a cold all week.  A fever here and there and a really bad cough.  Yesterday her body just gave up and she fell asleep on the couch. Her twin sister fell asleep in their room. They were so moody when they got home from school that I knew they needed some rest.  I cannot remember the last time they took a nap.  Of course I took advantage and took pictures.  I need blackmail for their teen years.  Duh.

So how's your weather? Is it crappy like ours? Don't tell me have sun. DON'T!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting Dirty and March Food Budget $305.59

Wow what a busy weekend we had.  Friday night I took my daughter and her best friend shopping at the mall.  Alyssa turned 14 and its totally freaking me out.  I'm not ready for this yet. You hear that Alyssa? So knock it off!

Saturday was a busy day for us. We were detailing our Euro van in hopes to get it sold soon.  Were looking to get a newer car with less miles and better gas mileage. Of course it will be another Volkswagen.  We also finished some work on my bug.  Since the van is super clean there is no way I'm getting my grubby kids in it. The bug will be my main vehicle for a while. New brakes, new seals and the rack is nice and varnished.

We had some left over gravel to use up so my husband used it to put around the coop.  This will keep rain water away from the coop. 
My plum tree is blooming right now and wow does it make my coop pop out in color.  This year I will be adding lots of color and trying new plants out. I also want to add more colorful decorations.  I have some wooden benches, a table and other stuff that I will be painting pretty colors. 

I have to give myself a pat on my back for this.  I put this together 90% by myself.  My husband was working in the garage and came to my rescue when I didn't have enough elbow grease.  Tools confuse me! The bin with the red handle is for new food or plant matter.  The other bin is full of 1/2 composted stuff from my other compost. Once I compost all that down I will be removing the old wooden 3 bin system and putting the new one in its place. 
My starts are finally coming out to play.  This week I will be getting my 2nd round of starts going.  I just love this time of the year! It keeps me out and in the garden getting my hands dirty.

.36 Burdock Root -trying something new!
$3.99 Organic Cameo Apples (cheaper than bulk)
$2.99 Yellow Cauliflower-new color to try!
$1.99 Organic Parsley (I miss my herbs!)
$1.99 Organic Cilantro
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half (my favorite.mmmm)
$3.99 Strawberries -kids want new fruit
.81 Bulk Sea Salt (packaged was $1.49 a package. Only .69 per lb in bulk section.)
$3.99 Free Range Veg Fed Eggs

Total minus bag credit + donated some change=   $23.49

Lesson learned-Don't take your 14 yr old daughter because this is what you take home.


$1.99 Orange Juice
$1.69 Dannon Yogurt Strawberry
$5.96 Foster Farms Lunch Meat-marked down from $4.50 to $1.49.(hubs thinks we have no food unless we have lunch meat. Seriously...its strange)
$1.82 Banana's Bagged (only .39 cents per lb when spotted. my kids will only eat spotted banana's)

This shopping trip total-$34.95
March Food Budget Total-$305.59

I'm already feeling crappy about all that plastic.  The lunch meat bothers me but if its makes my hubby happy then I have to deal with it.  Since these were mark downs I will keep them in the freezer until we use them.  But still....

Orange juice was a special treat.  I only allow myself to buy it if I can get it at a good price.  My kids love orange juice so they drank it and enjoyed it 100%.  They might turn the paper carton into a bird house later this week.

Strawberry container bothers me as well.  I don't see any strawberries alone right now so I had to by them in this container. Note to self-when my strawberries are ripe freeze them for later use. Also buy a ton from the farms around my home. That way this plastic can be avoided.

So as you can see, my weekend was pretty darn busy! What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Food Budget $270.64


.75 Bunch of organic celery
$3.99 Bag of organic carrots 5lbs
$1.49 Sunshine Dairy Half n Half
$3.99 Gallon of organic milk
$3.99 Apples 3lbs (bulk non bagged were $1.99 per lb. I'm paying $1.14 because the bag actually weighed 3.5 lbs. Remember to weigh your bagged items because they are not all the same!)
FREE Organic Valley Sharp White Cheese (my sister gave me a coupon. Thanks sis!!)



$3.99 Yeast (best price around my home)

Grand Total Today-$18.20
Grand Total Month-$270.64

I will not need to go to the store for another few days so I'm okay with my total for now. Many things I have bought this month will last me for over a month. Still not a bad number considering its feeding 6 people for the month.

My Whole Foods was having a fundraiser (I say my because I own it ....mentally lol) and was selling some handmade items. Ive had so many of my readers suggest getting this mason jar top called Cuppow.  It basically turns any mason jar into a travel drink container.  Can you say HELLA COOL? What sold me on this was the money will go to good use and this one comes with a hand knit sleeve.  All for only $15.  This mason jar isn't your usual size either.  I have only seen these in thrift shops and I personally own 2 of them.  This size is perfect for my homemade peanut butter.  SO as you can see...... I had to buy it.  Also I picked up a bag of crayons for $1.  They had melted crayons into different shapes.  This is HELLA COOL to a set of 7 year old twins I know.  Your welcome girls!