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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Early June, Plus Updates On Our Outdoor Improvements

I spent the first part of the week getting our watering figured out (still need parts to set up all of the soaker hoses). Mid-week I worked on cleaning the brick circular path in the center of the original vegetable garden (we've added 11 additional beds to those first 4 beds). And then finally I got back to working on a $5 table to use seasonally on the patio. Because I found myself rather busy every afternoon this past week, our supper meals were on the simple side.

Here's what we ate, plus some photos.

before -- one of the "arms" off the center circle in the original
vegetable garden
the moss was thick in spots and weeds galore

after -- I used the sidewalk scraper and a paint scraper 
to remove the moss from the brickwork.
It now looks like someone is taking care of the place.

stuffed grape leaves -- meat, rice, herbs, garlic, and onions in grape leaves
boxed Mac and cheese (for those who eat dairy in our house)
deviled eggs
garden salad
rhubarb pie

In mid-May, our neighborhood had a giant garage sale.
I asked my daughter to be on the look-out for small round tables
that could possibly find a home on our patio.
She spotted this table at one house and texted me some pics. 
They wanted $5, definitely in my price range.

Swiss chard frittata
rhubarb pie

Not only was the table a bargain, but it is a folding table,
so it can store compactly for the other 3 seasons.

refried beans
rice or fried homemade tortillas
carrot sticks and dip

When I first saw the table, I envisioned it with
a darker wood stained top and black legs.
 I plan on unifying several unrelated  pieces of furniture and
outdoor decor with black paint and dark wood stain.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I unscrewed the table top from the legs
and spray painted the legs black with this indoor/outdoor paint.
I gave it 2 good coats.
I'll add a protective coat before reattaching to the top.

Live and Learn's curried peanut-pumpkin soup (Live and Learn, your soup is a go-to for us. Many thanks for sharing your recipe.)
scratch drop biscuits with homemade raspberry jam
garden salad

minestrone soup
freshly baked bread with homemade rosemary rhubarb preserves
garden salad

I've had the painted legs in the entry hall for
the last couple of weeks, letting the paint cure.
(Follow the yellow brick road --
our yellow brick entry tile.
When we bought this 1970s house,
we said replacing
the yellow brick "road" would be
one of our first projects.
Yet, here it still is.)
hot dogs in homemade buns
three bean salad on tossed garden greens 
jello and fruit salad, using flat soda and plain gelatin for the jello part

Thursday afternoon I decided to tackle the table top.
I hauled it out to the deck and sanded
the old finish off the top and edges.

After sanding, I gave it a first coat of stain.
I want a darker look than this, so I'll add a second coat of
stain tomorrow. When I've got the stain how I want,
I'll seal the top, the edge, and the underside before
reattaching the legs to the top.
Stay tuned for a final photo when I've got this completed.

minestrone soup (again)
rhubarb pie

And one last photo update. Remember the primrose seeds I started in sifted soil? They've sprouted!

Now I've just got to keep them alive long enough to grow up into full-fledged plants.

So this was my week in activities and meals. What went on in your week? Any special projects? What were your favorite meals this past week?


  1. Looking good on the homestead, Lili! Simple meals sometimes are the best and eating the same things several days in a row isn't so bad either!

    We had tree work done about a month ago and one dying tree was completely removed as well as the stump. The grass seed we planted already looks like there never was a tree there. Other trees were trimmed. We refreshed the decor around shrubs with new shredded bark from the trees that were taken down and put out our old patio tables and have used the patio so many times.

    I never wanted to get a new appliance but a few weeks ago we had such a hot bunch of days that turning the oven on was really not an option. I broke down and bought an air fryer. I never wanted to like air fryers because it could do what the oven could do but realized that I could get the meal done quicker and without heating the whole house. I have been amazed at that appliance. Though it's not nearly as hot this week, I have made some delicious, quick meals in that air fryer. And it's strawberry season here in Michigan and dad's garden is beginning with a bounty of luscious fruit. I made strawberry jam which is so good.

    1. Hi Alice,
      It sounds like you've been busy at your place, too! Great use of tree bark, mulching your shrubs. Not does it look nice and fresh, but the mulch will help hold in moisture for the summer.

      I've heard a lot of rave reviews about air fryers. Not heating the house up to bake/roast dinner is a plus in summer. Keep me posted on how you like yours over the coming months.

      Yum! Garden strawberries are the best!. I'm still a couple of weeks away from ripe strawberries in my garden. I'm glad your dad continues to enjoy time in his garden.

  2. It's been so fun to watch your outdoor transformation. With a little elbow grease and just a little money, you are making an outdoor oasis.

    1. And, I'm glad you are enjoying the soup recipe. I think you make it more than we do.

    2. Hi Live and Learn,
      Thank you. It's been a fun project to work on.

      And many thanks for the soup recipe. It's quick and easy and always tasty.

  3. What a score on that table! Is your patio covered? I'm thinking about rain ruining the top of it. Or do you bring it indoors at night? I can't wait to see the completed project.

    Thank you for including the "yellow brick road" picture. We also have flooring that we intended to replace when we bought the house 20 years ago. Seems like other things have taken priority. I tend to avoid watching a lot of HGTV programming because I feel like the tone of many programs is "look how dated this is" with the implication that the previous owners must have been real slackers to allow that to happen. Sometimes I think it would be nice to hear the previous owner's viewpoint .... maybe there were insufficient funds or time to update things, or maybe they just liked it the way it was. It's a pet peeve of mine.

    1. Hi Kris,
      About the wood top on the table -- In general, we don't get much rain from July through early September here.That period is generally what we consider our summer. The table can come inside and I will likely bring it into the garage if we get a forecast for rain. I will also not plan on bringing it out to stay overnight before July. Maybe I'll bring it out when I think we may want it. We don't have a covered patio at our place. That would be nice to have. For the wood surface, I'm using a water repelling sealer for wood on both sides and the edges. I'm just hoping that will be enough. But, it did only cost me $5 plus some supplies. Worst case scenario, I can put a different top onto the legs down the road, if needed. One of the features I really liked about this table is the fact that it folds up and takes minimal space to store. I won't be leaving it out during rainy seasons. This is all an experiment, so we shall see how it does.

      That kind of bothers me, too, that HGTV type shows make it sound like its a decor crime to have 70s or 80s decor. Maybe the previous owners put their money someplace more meaningful to them.

  4. Your garden area transformation pictures are so inspiring. In our society, we are encouraged to overspend in order to completely redo any area of the home or garden. Those who cannot afford such often seem to just give up and leave things in a state of neglect. You are reminding all of us, that there is another way - employing frugality, creativity, and elbow grease. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Marie. I think you're right about our current culture's knee jerk reaction to simply throw lots of money at redoing a space. I tend to think being creative and doing some things DIY is actually more fun than shopping for all new everything.

  5. So do I. I also find it to be more satisfying when I look at the end result.


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