Monday, May 20, 2019

Garden Days, Critters and Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  On Monday, I canned up vegetable broth, adding 16 pints to the pantry.  I was excited to see the turmeric I planted in a pot is sprouting.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands, including picking up a few groceries.  I found one can of natural canned dogfood on the clearance rack, which was added to the pantry.  I got the pups bones at Marshall's.  One for Guinness was $1 less than amazon, @ $4.99.  I found a huge bone for McNibs at $16 less than amazon, @ $7.99.  McNibs had chewed the ones they had to tiny nubs, and both were happy boys when I got home.  A requested book was picked up at the library.  Three volunteer elderberry plants were shared with a friend.    A load of laundry was hung on the line, and sheets were changed.  I tried this new recipe.  Though it has lots of good things in it, I found the flavor too bland for my liking.  I like my vegi's to have some pizzazz.  The only thing I changed was to use a bit less black pepper.  Upping that would have given a bit more heat, but not done anything for the flavor.  On to some more recipes.


The outdoor shower was swept, and the cobwebs removed.  It's now ready for another season.  I hope to bathe the dogs in it soon.  I began working on another box of my friends antiques, to sell on ebay.  All the winter lettuce bolted.  I harvested them, and mixed it with store bought lettuce for our salads over the past couple of weeks.  There is some lettuce coming up in the garden, and some coming up in pots.  Speaking of which, I found another toad in a pot, this time in the basil.  Silly toad.  I've since moved the pots off the porch floor.  Seeds for red noodle beans, arugula, purple green beans and a few flowers were ordered online.  Cucumbers, summer squash and several different beans are coming up in the garden.  Growing the sweet potato slips in the repurposed truck tool box was a success.  J planted over 60 sweet potato plants so far.


My sweet stepdaughter sent me a bouquet of the most beautiful shade of roses.  Aren't they lovely? They've cheered me all week.  Last week, I woke at first light several days, and the chorus of birdsong was amazing.  Such a sweet pleasure right outside my windows.  I worked a couple days at one of my occasional jobs.  In between customers, I did a little mending, and made progress on catching up on my inbox.  Leftovers were brought for lunch.  The tunnel or miner bees have emerged, and are staking out new territory around the pond.  We're happy to provide them habitat.  Tiny frogs have hatched out from the pond, and are everywhere.  I noticed a branch of the oldest hazelnut dying.  J checked it out, and found a borer in the branch. He researched it, and apparently it could be one of several borers.  I fed it to one of the chickens.  Wednesday morning was chilly, with lows in the 40's.  After making yogurt and catching up on ironing, I cleaned, powder coated and began packing 4 orders.

Miner bee tunnels. Look close, & you may be able to see one going in the middle hole.
We've had three broody hens over the past few weeks.  I've taken them out of the nest boxes, and put them in the yard on several occasions, so they can get some of the wild lettuce or other goody I've brought.  After the elder rooster died, we decided to see if they would tolerate the blind rooster being in the broody area with them.  Each hen seemed to do fine with that, but quickly lost interest in sitting on the eggs.  At least that broke two of them of broodiness, but the last one is still broody, though never on any eggs.  We dealt with that the last time, until one of the Americauna hens went broody.  She was a good mama hen.  We haven't given up yet.  I've been noticing a pretty purple wildflower on my walks, and found out it is Venus' Looking Glass.  We were out of lettuce, and I wanted a salad.  I gathered sorrel and cat brier tips on my walk, and kale and chickweed from the garden.  It was excellent, mixed with some store bought things.  I made pasta using our tomatoes, eggplant and summer squash.

good camouflage 
The temps have gotten much hotter (upper 80's & 90's), so we're using A/C off and on.  So far, we're able to keep it off at night, close up in the morning, and just turn it on when it gets too hot indoors.  We use fans to help cool us as much as possible.  Wild lettuce and mock strawberries are gathered and given to the chickens on a regular basis.  Also, wild dock that has gone to seed.  They love all of it.  J mowed and weedeated some of the wilder places on Saturday, around a number of fruit trees that brambles had grown around, and in the area we planted olives.  We thought we only had one remaining olive that made it through the winter, but it appears two others have sent up small amounts of growth.  He's amended them all with oyster shell, minerals and compost.  They've never been happy where they're at, so our intention is to move them close to fall.


I had a hankering for french toast Sunday morning.  Trying to figure out a version that would work with my diet recommendations, I used hemp milk in place of milk, and used some wild blueberry all fruit jam on top, in place of maple syrup.  It was quite tasty and satisfying.  Suet and hummingbird food was made for the birds.  Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line.  It reached 87 on Sunday afternoon, so I thought it was a good time to give the dogs a bath, and take my first outdoor shower of the year.  It was lovely.  Wishing you a week of lovely things.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Around the Homestead, A Movie, & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  I meant to mention the frugal things we did for our Charlottesville trip.   We brought a jug of our filtered rainwater with us, with my refillable bottle, as well as apples, peanuts, juice and a banana.  We drink a lot of water, and don't care for the (chlorine, etc.) taste of "city water", and prefer not to use plastic bottles.  On the way, we stopped at a pie shop that we'd heard raves about.  We each got a piece of pie, and bought a couple of large fried apples pies for the next morning's breakfast.  Our air bnb host provided some things for breakfast, and we did have oatmeal the morning before we left, but the bread and oats weren't organic, and we're spoiled by our girl's fresh eggs, so it wasn't really what we wanted to eat.  Leftovers from a dinner were brought home.  I worked one of my occasional jobs Tuesday and Wednesday, and brought the leftovers for lunch one day.  I made Swagbucks goal most days.  I wrote them about points not received, and received them the next day.  Here's a peek of the kitchen at Monticello.



I believe I mentioned that our elder rooster was demoted of his position in the hierarchy by one of the younger ones not long ago.  Whether he was sick, or just gave up, we don't know, but he died just before we got home from Charlottesville.  He was an excellent rooster, and will be missed.  A batch of hummus was made for lunches from pantry items.  Eggs were boiled.  Last week, somehow J cultivated (killed) two out of three of the swiss chard plants I've been babying since last summer.  They were almost big enough to start harvesting from :o(.  I planted seeds for some weeks ago.  There are 3 scraggly ones remaining, and I found a toad sitting in the dirt of one of the pots!  Though they were not a great deal, I bought 2 containers with 6 plants at Lowes, so we'll have some chard before too long.  Every year, it seems there are some things it is challenging to grow, so sometimes it's just easier to roll with the punches.  I picked up a few things at Aldi's, and found a loaf of organic bread with a $2 coupon on it.  I've really been wanting to make asparagus soup, but it takes 2# of asparagus.  I'm usually harvesting only 2 or 3 spears a day, so don't have enough at one time.  I saw asparagus at Aldi's for $1.39/#, and bought two, as well as Baby Bella mushrooms .89/8 oz.



I've been closing up the windows mid-morning, when it starts to heat up, then opening them when it cools in the evening.  Most days, we've been doing without A/C, but some days, after J has been working hard outdoors all day, he wants it on a bit to cool down.  A few months ago, J changed from the disc service to streaming on Netflix.  It seemed there was much less selection for the type of things we watch, and neither one of us found much that interested us, so he changed back to getting discs.  The first one received was On Our Way To School, which had been on my queue several months ago.  It really is amazing to see what some children endure to go to school.  How much we take for granted in this country.  Though I try to be mindful and grateful, I still take so much for granted of the blessings I have just living in this country.  This movie was a good reminder.


On Friday, we accomplished much in the gardens.  I planted the swiss chard plants, and seeded lettuce in two beds.  The winter sown columbine and rose campion were planted in patches here and there.  I hope some will make it.  J planted seeds of cucumber, summer squash, butternut squash and watermelon.  Several years ago, I bought a mixed container from a local nursery, which overwintered indoors.  All that remained in it were some ferns, so they were planted in the bed we're creating near our outdoor shower.  I planted nasturtium seeds in several places, and a row of Hopi dye sunflower.  Every day, I pick some cat brier tips for our salads.  Homemade Thousand Island dressing was made.  I found a penny on the ground, a nickel in the laundry (I take possession of any laundry money :o), and a sweet bird's nest on one of my walks.  Three loads of laundry were washed and hung outdoors.  Before they were fully dry, there was some misty rain, so I ran them through the dryer for a few minutes each.


I received ebates funds of $16.75, and placed an order through them earning 2% back.  We're finding lots of volunteer tomatoes in places we added our compost to.  While J was weeding one of the potato beds, he found a fairly large tomato plant, quite a bit larger than the ones we've been growing from seed.  Hopefully, it will give us tomatoes a few weeks earlier!  I made a butternut squash crumble using our squash, parsley and thyme.  All the vegi broth bags were pulled from the freezers, and simmered on Saturday afternoon, with a couple pieces of reishi mushroom added to each pot.  At night, they were strained, and left on low on the smallest burner overnight. I will can it up today.  J got a scoop of mulch, and added it to several beds.  Each of the rhubarb containers has a plant with at least one leave so far.  The houseplants, along with plant stands, saucers and such were moved out of the house to their summer quarters, shortly before a rain.  Between the honeysuckle and fringe trees blooming, the breeze brings sweet scents.  Wishing you a sweet and lovely Mother's Day.


Monday, May 6, 2019

A Little Getaway & Frugal Accomplishments



On Monday, I baked the last 3 spaghetti squash, and froze them.  The 6 remaining butternut squash were cubed and frozen.  All that's left in storage is a huge cushaw squash.  The creeping jenny is doing well in the porch bed.  We transplanted several sprigs to other places we'd like it to grow.  The zinnia seeds are coming up nicely.  We planted several basil plants and a stevia.  We created and powder coated two orders, and shipped them on Saturday.  Another order came in over the weekend. 

To celebrate our anniversary, we had a little getaway to Charlottesville.  Our main desire was to visit Monticello.  We also visited Ashland/Highland, said to be the home of James Monroe, though we heard murmurings that new information had come to light that it was instead the guest home.  We did not tour that home, but enjoyed a folk festival there, and purchased two heirloom apple trees.  At Monticello, I bought a birdsfoot violet, black cohosh, and a globe artichoke.  We'll be making our way home today.  Have a lovely week, friends.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Fairy Ring & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  So many things are coming into bloom here, the sights and scents are lovely.  On Monday, I hung a load of laundry before heading out to run errands and deliver soap.  Then I processed the 15 spaghetti squash, freezing most in meal sized bags.  I tried a recipe for sp. squash carbonara for dinner, using vegetarian bacon, which I would make again.  I shared some with M, and froze the rest.  I changed out sheets, swapping out the winter flannel for cotton sheets.  Batches of hummingbird food and bird suet were made.  Wanting to eat more legumes, I tried a new recipe for roasted spiced lentils, which are meant to be added to salads.  They were OK, but next time, I'll tweak the spices a bit, to make them more to my liking.  If I get them perfected, I'll share the recipe.


mushroom fairy ring
Last week, J worked out of town several days.  I decided Tuesday would be a me day, to take advantage of it, and do whatever I wished.  I gathered a bouquet for the house, gave myself a pedicure and painted my toenails.  I give them a break over the cooler months, and always find it cheering to have pretty toe nails again.  I was hoping to finish sewing the summer bed cover, but the machine didn't cooperate once my bobbin ran out.  If J can't fix it, I'll bring it in to be serviced.  Seeds of zinnia and jewels of ophir were planted.  While planting the zinnia seeds, I noticed a nearby fairy ring.  I made dinner from almost entirely homestead ingredients... sweet potato, lettuce with cat brier tips and violet leaves, asparagus, and maitake mushroom with garlic.  Except for salt, olive oil and a couple more salad ingredients, it was all home grown or foraged, which is a satisfying feeling.


On Wednesday, I used up the left over asparagus and maitake in an omelet.  I finished cleaning the last several kitchen cabinets, which was started during spring cleaning.  I fertilized several new plants, then picked up trash from the ditch at the road.  I started out with a regular grocery bag, but had to come back and get a feed bag, and filled them both up.  I just don't understand the sort of person who would throw their trash out the window.  There was even a chewed up tire out there.  Sheesh!  A friend had shared a couple turmeric in the fall that another friend had grown and given her.  I had thought I might try dyeing with them, but decided to try growing them, for future food and dyeing.  I planted them in the largest available pot.  A batch of sweet potatoes was started in the dehydrator.


My main goal on Thursday was to clean a winter's worth of straw and poop from the chicken coop, which I succeeded in doing. Over the years, we've tried various things over the colder months, and the deep litter method has worked best for us.  Some time in October, I stop removing any straw, instead just throwing the used nest box straw on the floor before replacing the nest boxes with new straw.  The material on the floor keeps the coop noticeably warmer during the cold months.  Does it get stinky?  Yes indeed, but that's life.  I noticed earlier in the week that some of the long ago planted mint (bad mistake) was edging its way into the garden, so I took the opportunity to pull up a 5 gallon bucket worth, and distributed it among the nest boxes.  It smells lovely in the coop for a couple of days, and now that I've gotten up all the old stuff, and there's more ventilation with the warmer temps, it should be more pleasant in there.  I'm happy to cross that chore off my to do list.  I made an asparagus frittata with our eggs and asparagus.


The winter clothes were switched out to summer in my dressers.  I also switch around my sock drawers and closet arrangement, to make it easier to access the current seasons things.  While I was adding the summer things to the drawers, I decided to try the Marie Kondo method of folding clothes where you can see them all, rather than piled on top of each other.  So far, I like the ability to see my choices.  Whether I can keep the drawers tidy remains to be seen.  Though I haven't mentioned it in a while, I'm still growing my gray hair out.  Who knew after 8 months, there would still be such a long way to go?  J was able to fix the bobbin problem on my sewing machine, so I need to get back to sewing. 


Almost every day, there are a few asparagus to harvest.  A friend and I went to a local antiques festival on Friday.  She kindly printed a coupon for me, saving .50 on admission, and gifted me 2 hazelnut and 2 persimmon trees.  We each brought home one small treasure.  Mine was a vintage glass refrigerator dish.  On Saturday, I ground all the dried bread ends up into bread crumbs, and froze them.  Egg shells were crushed, and added to the compost bin.  I tried another recipe for lentil salad sprinkles, and baked them during the cool morning hours.  J's son came, and helped him fill the remaining raised Trex beds with soil.  I shared a dozen eggs with he and his partner.  J plasma cut 6 metal barrels into thirds, giving us 18 containers to grow tomatoes in this year.  I put layers of newspaper on the ground before placing the barrel pieces.  In the evening, we bought top soil and mushroom compost to fill them with, and will mix that with our shredded leaves and aged mulch.  We're hoping for a bountiful tomato year.  I was mad at myself for a frugal fail, a $10 off $50 coupon I forgot, which expired that day.  I did find a 6 pack of lavender, normally $9.98 for .50 on the mark down rack, which eased the sting slightly. 


Windows were opened for fresh air each day, and closed on warmer days, to keep the cool in.  Another batch of sweet potatoes was started in the dehydrator.  I went through the remainder of sweet potatoes in storage.  There were a number that went to the compost, and several that I used the good bits from for the pups. A recipe my MIL sent was made, a sweet potato, cheddar, pecan dutch baby.  I suppose it was geared more for breakfast, as it said to serve with bacon, but I made it for dinner.  I cut the sugar from 1 tbs to 1 tsp, but it really needed the extra sweetness.  J enjoyed finishing it the next morning with maple syrup.  Received my first free Southern Living magazine through Recyclebank.  Swiss chard seedlings were transplanted into larger pots.  Frugal fail:  I was mistaken about when a library book was due, and paid .30 in fines when picking up more books.


On Sunday, J & I filled the 18 tomato containers with a mix of topsoil, shredded leaves, aged mulch and mushroom compost.  We then planted them with the heartiest seedlings.  I replanted the two parsley I overwintered in the house, and planted the 6 Ellagance lavender purchased for .08 each.  Two are pretty spindly, but I think they might all make it.  A batch of yogurt was made.  It appears we have 3 broody hens.  As soon as I cleaned the coop earlier in the week, they must have liked those fluffy, fresh nest boxes, because they've been broody since.  So far, I'm collecting all the eggs.  We have two roosters on the side that the broody area is on, and have to do something different before we can let one sit. 


An order was placed through Swagbucks for 4% off, and a $5 coupon code used.  Our canned green beans were used for garlicky green beans.  I tried another spaghetti squash recipe, this one a vegan version of Pad Thai.  I thought it was pretty good, but J was not a fan.  Oh well, back on the lookout for other spaghetti squash recipes to try.  J & I planted the hazelnuts and persimmons.  He also dug up some figs that came up at the edge of one, and we replanted those.  We're a bit tired and sore, but it's been a good gardening weekend.  Wishing you a beautiful week!


Monday, April 22, 2019

Boys, Bunnies & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  Last week, I made spaghetti squash primavera, a new to me recipe, using our squash (both spaghetti and tromboncino), tomatoes, parsley & thyme.  I canned 7 quarts of pumpkin & winter squash, which took care of all but one huge cushaw, the butternut squash and spaghetti squash.  Pumpkin biscuits were made with some of the leftovers from canning, which were a hit.  I picked up requested books at the library.  I also picked up 3 hostas to add to our little garden by the outdoor shower.  A frugal fail was I intended to use a $5 GC there, and forgot.  Being one of the few sunny days recently, it was like a Saturday there, with long lines.  I guess all the people watching got me distracted.  Cat brier tips were gathered and used in salads.  I trimmed my hair. 


A load of laundry was hung on the line.  I went through my closet, particularly looking at my shoes, wanting to keep only the ones that are comfortable.   Ah, life at 60.  I'll donate two pairs of sneakers, and try selling several pairs of heels on ebay.  I reached my swagbucks goal several days, contacted them about points I did not receive after a purchase, and received them last week.  A friend and I attended an annual herb sale on Thursday.  As usual, I came home with many plants... herbs, flowers, a new fig, and a 2 lb jar of honey.  The show supports the NC Herb Society and several local vendors.  As I've driven each year (1 hr each way), my friend offered to buy my lunch.  J & I got all but the tender plants in the ground that evening, before rain.  On Friday, while under a tornado warning in the afternoon, one touched down just up the road from us, less than 5 miles away.  It was a small area, and appears all the involved houses are intact, thank goodness, but there are a huge amount of trees that were torn to shreds. 


Our granddaughter S visited us over the weekend. After our walk Saturday morning, we colored eggs, and harvested asparagus.  Then she and I went to meet my niece's new baby.  While we did that, J hid the eggs in our orchard and she had an Easter egg hunt when we returned.  She and I made hummus to take to the gathering.  A few spider plant babies were shared with my niece.  S loves to go to the chicken pen with a basket and check for eggs.  When we went one time, we found one of the roosters hanging upside down from the fence.  She quickly ran to get her Grandpa while I held him.  One of his spurs was tightly wound in the chicken wire about a foot off the ground, and the fence had to be cut away.  He and one of the other roosters "fight" across the fence from each other, and we figure this was a result of such silliness.  Boys!  Perhaps this will discourage fighting, at least for a little while.  This visit, we learned S is not fond of mango (it's a texture thing), and she loves cat brier tips. 

my little Easter bunny
After we took S home Saturday evening, I harvested herbs and lettuce, and prepared a salad and pasta with our tomatoes, eggplant, and summer squash.  We watched a movie on amazon prime.  On Sunday, I boiled eggs, then researched an issue J was having, and mixed up an essential oil blend for him.  He has been requesting a sweet potato pie, so on Sunday I boiled our largest sweet potato, a football sized one, and baked a sweet potato pie, using 2 of our eggs.  While it was baking, I also baked 15 spaghetti squash of various sizes.  I baked them whole, so I could fit more in the oven.  This looks to be the last cool day in the forecast, so it seemed the perfect day to do it.  Before we know it, we'll be sweating.  There are a few squash left on the shelf, but this takes care of the majority of them.   I froze enough sweet potato for another pie. 


I made homemade salad dressing.  After a quality issue with an Aldi's product, I wrote their customer service department.  I assisted J in changing the filters for our rainwater.  The water was starting to get dark and stinky, so I'm overly happy about that.  I continue to get orders in my shop, and work on those as needed.  Kale was harvested, probably the last of the season, as it's beginning to bolt.  I made a kale salad, and chopped up some for the pup's dinner.  My winter boots needed another coat of beeswax waterproofing.  With this likely being the last day of using wood heat for some time, I melted the beeswax on the wood stove and waterproofed them, so they'll be good to go next fall.  I hope your Easter involved good things to eat, relaxation and good people.  Wishing you a great week, friends.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Sweet Potato Critters & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  Last week, a dozen eggs were shared with a friend.  Yogurt was made, and a batch of sweet potatoes were dehydrated.  One of the sweet potatoes looked somewhat like an animal, possibly a bird.  The summer tanagers returned to our suet feeder.  I've been wanting to plant some ferns and hosta on the path to our outdoor shower.  On Friday, I transplanted two wild ferns from a spot at the edge of the woods.  The weather was warm enough that we did not need the wood stove all week.  Windows were opened for fresh air. 


I needed to find some waterproof summer boots that would work well hiking, and not hurt my feet.  My winter boots have faux fur inside, so would be really hot for warm weather.  After researching, I went through swagbucks for 4% cash back, and redeemed a $25 swagbucks GC to pay for almost half the cost of the boots.  After an appointment, I shopped at a Trader Joe's for produce and wine, then at a natural foods co-op for additional produce.  I continue using up our frozen berries from last year in my oatmeal.


For a dinner, I made a frittata, using our eggs and asparagus, and harvested cat brier tips twice to add to our salads.  I pulled lambs quarter and spaghetti squash from the freezer for a side dish.  J & I planted the first of last week's nursery plants.  We planted 6 pink muhly grass out by the road.  For what the above link is charging for one plant, I got 6, which is pretty nice.  We also planted two chickasaw plums gifted by a friend, and 3 rhubarb plants she picked up for me at Lidl's for $2.49 ea.  A movie was enjoyed on Netflix, and a free series on The Truth About Cancer.


An omelet was enjoyed for breakfast, using our eggs and asparagus. There were still quite a few winter squash from last year's garden.  On Sunday, J & I peeled and cut up several of them, with plans for me to can them on Monday.  We worked a bit on the area around our outdoor shower, transplanting several ferns, moss and creeping jenny.  I planted the bronze fennel in the bed next to the porch, and harvested asparagus.  J finished welding three orders, and I powder coated them on Sunday.  Eggs were boiled for the pups.  Three books were requested from the library.  That's what I can remember from the week.  I hope you accomplished all the things you wanted last week.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Cows For Neighbors & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  In making a purchase for our small business last week, I went through ebates and also signed up to get the veteran's discount for J, saving 6.5%.  After an annual vet visit for one of the pups, I washed and hung two loads of laundry on the line, powder coated two orders, then weeded one of my large herb beds.  Still not done, but it's better than it was, and the chickens got two buckets of weeds to rummage through.  For a dinner, I baked sweet potatoes and made kale salad with our vegi's, and sauteed some mushrooms to go along.  Another night was pasta with sauce made from our vegi's and herbs.


It was J's birthday last week.  He requested a German chocolate cake.  I've not made enough layer cakes to get good at it, and mine always turn out a bit wonky, so I made a sheet cake instead.  Both of us tend to prefer less sweetness in our desserts, so with icing only on the top instead of also in between layers, it suited us better too.  The recipe used lots of eggs, which was good, as we have plenty.  A dozen eggs were shared with a friend.  I requested two books from the library, and picked them up on Tuesday.  While in town, I ran by Walgreens, and got their 20% senior discount on Easter cards.  I also picked up a print that I got for .23 after using a 40% off code.  I redeemed a $5 reward at checkout.


A basket of carrots, along with two beets, were harvested.  We'll eat most of the carrots with hummus or in salads.  The smallest ones will be grated for the pups dinners, or be added to the broth bag.  We shipped several orders last week, and have new orders to make another two, of which we're very appreciative.



A dear friend and I had a weekend road trip.  As we both turned 60 not long ago, she determined this would be the year of our "60th mystery tour".  We've already been to three concerts, and have tickets for another.  Besides going to see music over the weekend, we shopped at thrift stores, discount groceries and the farmer's market, visited a nursery, and ate very well.  Our bnb had cows.  There were several young calves, and we enjoyed having them for neighbors.  When we arrived back at my friend's home, she dug up several money plant volunteers, which J & I planted when I got home.  Wishing you a wonderful week!