Day 3: If it weren’t for gas, I’d be $100 richer

I was less than thrilled over spending $100 filling our van with gas today. But living 8 miles from town, gas is something we can’t really do without. I’m doing my best to drive as little as possible this month, but gas is NOT counting in my $200 grocery budget, thankyouverymuch.

Today’s Meals
Breakfast: Apple crisp, grits, and orange juice
We’re almost out of orange juice. I’m hoping the Concord grapes will ripen soon, so I can make a bunch of grape juice. I’ll also make a lot of grape jelly, which is very easy and a huge hit around here.

Lunch: peanut butter saltines, fresh corn on the cob, and apples. We’ve instituted a new plan where a different kid (age 10 and older) makes lunch each school day, freeing me to correct math lessons during that time. We’ll see how that works.

Dinner: Rice pilaf with hamburger and slivers of fresh beets, chard and carrots.
Plus apples, of course.

Today was day two of homeschooling, which went pretty decently, all things considered. In the midst of it all, I got 7 quarts of tomatoes canned, which is all that we have ripe at the moment. The tomatoes this year aren’t doing nearly as well as last year. Good thing we still have 20 quarts canned from last year because we’ll definitely need them. Besides canning tomatoes, I also filled my dehydrator with a load of them. They dried beautifully and will add some nice color and texture to pasta dishes this winter.

I was hoping to get a bunch of applesauce made, but between finishing school at 3 and leaving for church at 6:30, there just wasn’t enough time. Tomorrow I’m thinking about doing an abbreviated school day, ending in a session of home ec: ie, applesauce making. We’ve picked a bushel or two off the trees already and there are loads more to pick, so I’ve got to get some into jars. This time of year I always think about the Laura Ingalls books, and the way many of the big kids missed some school during the harvest. Thankfully the Owlhaven kids seem to be learning OK despite fewer/shorter school days during September.

Oh, and just for fun, here’s how one of my 10 year olds ate an apple recently: cooked on a stick over a campfire, with a marshmallow melted onto it. Hmmmm…that’s the beginning of a recipe, I think, if I can just get rid of the ashes and charcoal.


  1. Wednesday church gets in the way, doesn’t it?!!

    I remembered yesterday that my old school (which was a church-school) had a policy of giving little to no homework on Wednesdays. Right then and there, I decided that I would make Wednesdays lighter days, skipping things like handwriting perhaps or hitting only the hight points of worksheets, that sort of thing. Surely made a lot less stress for me last night. I even got a bubble bath before we left!

  2. Hi Mary, I love that you started this blog with todays meals. In this fast paced world I wonder how I even have time to eat a power bar, much less meal plan!

    I am also writing to let you know that Lee at Envirocon Technologies (the makers of Lemi Shine) have been trying to contact you this morning but have not been able to send mail to your AOL account. Would you mind giving them a call when you get a moment or shoot me your phone number and I will forward it to them.



  3. I found your site a few weeks ago, and find it very interesting. I love reading about big families, and also ways to save money! I’m wondering if you could do a post sometime on how you treat your apple trees so that you get good apples. We have an apple tree with lots of fruit, but we don’t treat it at all, so to use the apples we always have to cut them up to get the bad spots out. I’d love to read any other advice you have on growing fruit as well. It’s so expensive — I’d love to grow more of my own. Thanks!

  4. I hear you on the gas. My husband is on call 24/7 and covers customers within a 40 mile radius. Sometimes he gets several calls in a row all 20 or more miles away from each other. Plus he has to carry around about 100 pounds of equipment at all times.(He is a locksmith.) Gas is INSANE for us. He usually drives between 600-800 miles a WEEK. He does make decent money but so much of it goes to gas and oil changes.

    I am driving less now but I also drop off and pick up my dd from school everyday. That is an hour of drive time a day for me alone. I am hoping we can save quite a bit this month since we really need it with Christmas coming. We drive a minvan and it is about $55 a fill up. Sorry I didn’t mean to ramble. Gas prices are starting to get to me and apparently I needed to get it off my chest. LOL.

  5. Hey, Mary. I finally got a post up about 30 Days of Nothing. Things have been crazy around here! Thanks for visiting my blog the other day, and sorry that I wasn’t already going!

  6. Enjoying your 30 days of nothing posts. Even though I’m not officially joining in, just reading your posts makes me think more so I am spending less (just not nothing). I’ve never canned tomatoes but I grew up with my mom canning just about everything. I’ve done applesauce and apple butter though. Yumm.

  7. IHave you ever tried making applesauce in the crockpot? My Grandma does it that way-it would be less hands on time for you maybe?

    I love roasting apples over the campfire!! (not sure about the marshmallow though 🙂 )

  8. I would love to try your apple crisp as we have a lot of apples to use up, can you tell me please what is the weight of a stick of butter?
    I was sorry to hear of your daughters epilepsy, my brother and I both have the problem, though neither of us have had a seizure for at least ten years, his on medication, i’m not. So it is possible to grow out of it. The thing that has kept me sane, when I wanted to ask about the possiblity of it being heridity, and my own doctor knew little about the subject, and the hospital specialist was too busy to ask questions, was finding the B.E.A British epilepsy association, now known as Epilepsy action. They were able to give me advice. I don’t know if you would be able to get in touch with them, but just in case anyone can, their Email is

  9. I just finished slicing cherry tomatoes in half and putting them in my dehydrator! heh. I always think of Laura Ingalls at this time of year too, and with fuel and heating prices going up, I’m wishing I lived in a dug-out instead of a stick-house. But yes, fall harvest is manic! Every time I think I’ve thought of everything that needs picked, dried, canned, frozen, eaten, I spy something else in the yard that I forgot about. Today I remembered I want to dry sage!

  10. hi there- first time commenter- daily reader. i was wondering if you could put your recipe for applesauce (and apple butter if you have one) as well as the one for grape jelly up on your site? i too have a bunch of apples and need to do something with them. i also have an unlimited supply of pears… any ideas? thanks and keep up the great work- with everything!! : )

  11. I think we all need a break from these high gas prices and grocery prices! What is going on with the grocery store…its high way robbery! I wish I could be more like you and do the canning thing. I grew up seeing my Mom do it but have never took on the challenge. I am sure its so much healthier for you and you children. Do you grow everything or buy?

  12. Gas! Yes, I am with you on that one. The only time we’ve been using the car–all summer–is to run errands, go on doctor’s appointments, and of course to and from work for hubby. And our bill was nearly $600 last month. It’s outrageous!

    My daughter is biking to school. My son is hitching a ride from a buddy. And I walk everywhere in town. Heck, I even bike to the grocery store to fill up on those little things you run out of during the month and backpacking them back home.

    We used to drive a Honda but the engine died and so now we’re stuck with our mini-van.

    If we could just find a way to get rid of the gas and utility bills.

  13. Apple crisp for breakfast? I am so jealous!

    And gas? Yuck! We are trying to sell our mini-van for that reason!

  14. foil wrap the apple then roast it?

  15. To dry the tomatoes do you slice? My tomatoes started off well this year and then fizzled. We are still getting some, but usually not enough to mess with canning. Drying may be a more convenient answer.

  16. Stephanie,

    Yes, I just sliced them evenly and put them on very lightly oiled trays in my drying rack. you could use cookie sheets in a hot car window, or even a warm oven if you don’t have a dryer.