Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thankful & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Whenever I've previously checked for organic butter at Aldi, they'd had none.  I'm glad I thought to check again, as this time they had it, for $4.25/#, which is the cheapest I've seen in a while.  Food Lion had some for $4.99.  At Aldi, I also got a $1.29 pineapple, and avocados for .79.  I used $1 coupon for cat food.  I picked up photos at Walgreens, got pistachios on sale at $5.99/#, and used a $5 reward.  I found a penny in the parking lot.  The remaining fresh tromboncino squash were used in pasta sauce.  Unfortunately, I had to compost all but a piece of one of the remaining eggplants.  Our tomatoes, basil and rosemary also were used in the sauce.  Last week, my online soap shop had its 11th anniversary and 700th sale, which was hard to believe, as well as encouraging.

I repaired a boot and a slipper with the hot glue gun.  During the first several years of doing massage, I mostly used my table, then things shifted, and for a number of years, I've been using my chair the majority of the time, so the table mostly sat in it's carrying case.  It had started getting a sticky residue on the vinyl, and nothing I tried seemed to help.  I was beginning to think I'd have to recover it, or buy a new one, which I really didn't want to do at this age.  I googled it, and was delighted to find someone with the same table had had the same problem, and written a tutorial.  It was messy and took quite a while, but the table is 90% better.  I'm happy with that, and very happy to not have to spend several hundred dollars to replace it.  A pottery friend I spoke with at last week's show asked for soaps to carry in her shop.  I delivered them to her, and bartered for one gift while I was there.

I made swag goal several days.  I answered a question about what I was preparing for Thanksgiving, and won 100 SB (the equivalent of $1).  Thanksgiving was a fairly low key day at home, with M and J's son joining us.   Bouquets were gathered for the house, and natural items for the table.  The mismatched thrifted brown plates were used.  I made pumpkin pie, autumn succotash, cranberry relish, and a vegetarian version of my grandmother's dressing.  J prepared pork loin with carrots and potatoes.  Fresh whipped cream was made to enjoy with the pie.  My dietary recommendations were forgotten for the day.  The night before, I began the peanuts for succotash on the stove, and once they were boiling, moved them to the wood stove overnight.  Back in the summer, I made some lotion.  At the time, it seemed too heavy.  Now that cold weather is here, with the drier air, I'm enjoying using it.  Warm up water was used for humidity on the wood stove.  A bin of shredded paper and cardboard was added to the compost bin.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was in the mood for lighter fare, and made Jill's juice for lunch.  I have yet to find a juice I like better than this one.  I finished organizing the upright freezer, using bins I purchased at Dollar General.  There was so much stuffed into the freezer that I could not get it all back in.  Quite a bit was composted, mostly older and freezer burnt packages of okra, squash and lambs quarter.  The chickens got a few treats, including a few figs that had been in there a while, and an English muffin that had seen better days.  I caught up on laundry, and hung it all on the line.  The forecasters were wrong, and it got rained on early morning, so finished drying in the dryer.  I sewed several presents.  For the remaining detail, I plan to dye some fabric with onion skins.

Recently bought presents were wrapped, and I'm again caught up for the moment.  I learned about a site that can tell you whose ancestral land you live on, here, and learned we live on Catawba land.  I've found several arrowheads over the years, and there is an undisturbed Indian mound on private land that adjoins ours.  I'd never heard which people were originally here, and am very happy to now know.  Two batches of thieves vinegar have been mixed up, and are steeping.  If you don't know the story of thieves blend, it's pretty interesting.  The mixture already has the most wonderful scent.  I will be off on an adventure next week, but will be back with details when I return.  Be well, dear friends.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mid November & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I canned vegetable broth.  It was a rainy, cool day, a perfect time to add heat and humidity to the house.  Recycled shipping materials were used for a gift I was mailing.  I enjoyed salads with gathered chickweed, home grown tomatoes and peppers, and homemade salad dressing.  Laundry was hung on the line.  A pot of vegetable soup was made with our fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables.  Popcorn was made in the wok to have with it.  Our fall planted winter greens bed is still pretty young.  I gathered some leaves from there, added greens from volunteer areas from previous beds, rounded it off with kale, then made a winter salad using the greens and our garlic.  Collard seedlings and collards were shared with a friend, who gifted me books, and several lovely handmade, useful things.  I sent her home with several autumn clematis and beautyberry seedlings.  I only learned this year that beautyberry are edible.  This week, I also learned they have mosquito repelling properties.  Good thing the birds spread them around here.

While J was out of town, I watched two free episodes of This Is Us.  I ate some things he can't, such as okra and maitake mushrooms, which made a little more room in the freezer.  You may have gathered that I like to mix things up, as far as food.  I love the seasonal changes, and am enjoying brussels sprouts and pomegranates, winter squash, and have a rutabaga to prepare with our potatoes.  Even with something as simple as oatmeal, I like to change it up.  During the summer, I mostly enjoyed it with an apple, a mix of berries, hemp seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.  Some days I use a banana instead of an apple.  One day last week, I used the last 2 figs, pomegranate arils, hemp seeds, blueberries, and chia seeds.  I put a pot of leftover soup on the woodstove, while I was doing several chores, and it was hot when I was ready to have lunch.  A batch of suet was made for the birds.  The Lion's mane medicine was ready to be mixed up, and was bottled.  I'm taking a tsp a day.

It's really early for me, but because of how full my plate is going to be between now and the holidays, I wrapped all the Christmas presents I already have.  Between work, various appointments, and some travelling in the coming weeks, I wanted to get ahead of the curve, so I could better enjoy the season.  All the boxes were recycled ones, and there are two that are pretty enough that they'll only need a bow.  All the paper and ribbon were previously bought on sale.  I used a 50% off Walgreens code for photos of my niece's families, and will put them in thrifted frames.  Some more of the maitake mushroom was used to make mushroom gravy, which I enjoyed with jasmine rice, lima beans and a winter greens salad.  Selected amazon slow shipping, and received $1 digital credit.

This weekend was the annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters.  On Saturday, I was asked to set up my soaps in the gallery of potter friends.  I volunteered at the Celebration on Sunday.  It's a joy to be involved, and to see all the handmade goodness.  I did a small amount of shopping for gifts when my shift was over.  These were bartered for, using credit from days I worked for them.  Colcannon was made using our potatoes.  The refrigerator fix seems to be working.  There's no water or ice in the fridge, though there is still an occasional high pitched sound that comes from it.  Hooray for that.  I'm working on organizing the upright freezer, and found bins at Dollar General that fit well, and should help in that mission.  Wishing you a warm and joyful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Seed Saving, a Musical, & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, while the refrigerator and freezer were empty, everything was wiped down.  That's a good thing to have off my to do list.  A few things were thrown away or composted.  The few things thrown away were in jars, things like chutney that we just weren't using.  Five boxes of donations were dropped off at the thrift store, after work on Tuesday.  I decided not to get groceries that day, as I knew I'd be going to Trader Joe's and the co-op after an appointment the following day.  Kale was harvested for a salad, and our garlic was used with ravioli.  Between the shorter days and several of our hens molting, I've been gathering an average of one egg a day for a few weeks.  They're definitely not paying for their keep at that rate.  I gave them some more loofahs to peck at.

At the natural food co-op, I used a .50 instant coupon that was on a package of noodles.  Prices seemed especially high on produce at Trader Joe's, so I did not purchase any.  For example, yellow onions were 3#/$2.99, and clementines were $5.99 or thereabout a bag.  Neither was even organic, but just conventional produce.  The seeds for pumpkin, green beans, and runner beans were dry enough to put in packets and label.  I'm considering giving a few as gifts to gardeners.  Paper and cardboard were shredded.  Notes and lists were made on scrap paper.  Wheat was ground for future baking plans.  I dropped the ball with an update about the wind turbine, but only because it's required a few tweaks.  At present, it appears to be working as it should, and has been spinning enough that we feel the battery has been charged.  It now supplies power to pump water from one of the tanks into the house.  If we should have a period without wind, all we have to do is plug it back into the grid, but we're hoping it will sustainably provide all the power we need.

On a cold day, I made lentil soup with previously canned lentils, and a salad with our tomatoes and peppers.  I had planned to make crescent rolls to go with it, but for some reason, the bread machine didn't mix the dough.  My guess is the paddle was not quite seated, though it appeared to be.  Ah well, I just baked them much later than planned, saved a few for another day, and froze the rest.  Some of the ground wheat was used in the rolls. I still needed to do something with all the garden peppers.  All but two of the ripe ones were cut and frozen, and seeds were saved.  Soft bits, the innards and some seeds were given to the chickens.  Our chicken coop is very low tech.  Their window is covered in hardware cloth.  In the colder months we've been stapling a feed bag over it.  I've wondered if the lower light in the coop is affecting their egg laying.  J had a piece of thermoclear, which he used to cover over half of the window.  It will be interesting to see if it makes a difference.

Joseph had some huge hunks of tree trunks to split, so he fabricated a gin pole with which he can pick up the trunk, and swivel it around, onto the splitter.  He sure is a mighty handy guy to have around the homestead.  A friend and I went to see Bright Star, a musical my brother is playing in, by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.  It was excellent, a sweet and poignant story, with a great score.  If you have a chance to see it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Here's one song from it.  I had saved some of our green peppers for J.  He's not going to eat them soon, so I chopped and froze them, and took the seeds and bits to the chickens.  A batch of yogurt was made.  I spent time on Sunday taking photos of new products, and began listing them in the shop.  Three gallon bags of vegetable bits were put on the wood stove, to simmer overnight for vegi broth, which I'll can Monday.  Still trying to eat down the frozen food, we had green bean casserole, eggplant caponata, and stuffed summer squash for dinner Sunday.  There were several lettuce seedlings in a pot, which I put in the cold frame a couple of weeks ago.  Knowing they'd be happier in the ground than in a pot, I planted them in the soil of the cold frame, then watered and fertilized all the lettuce.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Harvest Time & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Even though it's mid fall, I've been able to forage a few things.  I was able to harvest a passionfruit, which I enjoyed in a fruit salad.  I picked a haw fruit from a hawthorne on our back border.  There weren't many fruits left, so I left the others for the birds.  I just want to try one, and may cook it up in some oatmeal.  M asked me to take a look at a mushroom he'd seen, and lo and behold, it was a lions mane, a mushroom I've been looking for for the past two years.  There were what I believe are some more smaller ones on a nearby log, which I'll keep my eye on.  Now that it's cooled off and we've gotten some rain, I'm beginning to see the chickweed returning, so I'll soon be gathering some for salads.

Lion's mane mushroom

The fresh lima beans were blanched and bagged for the freezer.  The vines have not totally died yet, and I continue to find more beans each time I look.  The never ending lima bean vines!  Frugal fail:  I didn't use up the eggplant quickly enough, and had to compost several.  I roasted some, and made it with a zucchini dish, using our tromboncino.  I also tried a zucchini bread recipe to use some more up.  We didn't care for it, but will eat it in some shape or form.  Though there are many large loofahs on the vine, none of them have turned brown, a sign of maturity.  I tried cutting one open, and found the outer 1/2" looked like loofah, but the interior looked more like squash.  I expect that will be the case with all of them, so I'll just have to try again, and plant earlier next year.  In the meantime, the chickens are enjoying pecking at the one I harvested.

I used up all the oregano I had dried, so harvested some more to dry.  Though it does fairly well in the winter, I'm often cooking after dark, and don't want to venture out to cut oregano, though I did have to do that one night recently.  In researching lion's mane, I was reminded that it tastes a bit like seafood, never one of my favorite flavors, so I decided to make medicine with it, using a dual extraction method.  I brought the water to a boil, added the lion's mane, then put the pot on the wood stove to simmer overnight.  I picked up a requested book at the nearby library, then ran a few errands, including picking up some birthday cards and shoe polish at Dollar General.  Something that Lesley recently wrote made sense to me, regarding our communities being our "village", which changed my perspective a bit.  Though it would be easy to buy shoe polish on amazon, if I can purchase it at the local Dollar General, isn't that some better?  No, it's not a local cobbler (there is none), and it is a chain store, but it makes sense to me to support the local stores, to make sure they remain, and it also cuts down on the extra packaging and gas required to get it to me via amazon.  A small difference, for sure, but our small choices add up.

I mended the soles of my winter slippers with a hot glue gun.  They tend to want to separate from the wool slippers, so it's an ongoing thing through the cold months.  I made my Mom's zucchini soup with our tromboncino, tomatoes, basil, parsley and garlic.  Though J asked me back in September not to make any social plans until the firewood was in, we bought tickets back in April to attend a concert last week with friends in Charlotte.  The only frugal thing about the evening was that we received a 10% discount towards our dinner for showing our tickets.  The concert was in a beautiful venue, a small space that was once a church, complete with many stained glass windows, and the music was wonderful.  It was a lovely evening.  The next day, a friend and I attended a local quilt show.  There are many talented folks in this area.

Our winter squash and pumpkins were all brought in for the winter.  I made the autumn succotash recipe with some of our winter squash, and loved it as much as I did in the restaurant, so decided to bring a double batch to a family gathering on Saturday.  J had boiled the peanuts on the woodstove overnight last week.  I shelled the peanuts while watching some relaxing youtube videos.  Two of my current favorite youtube channels are fairyland cottage and girl in calico.  They both have some videos where they talk, but my favorites are the peaceful, instrumental ones, or ones with minimal talking.  Old T shirts were cut into cleaning rags.  Popcorn was made for a snack.  Warm up shower water was collected, and used in the woodstove humidifier, to flush the toilet, and to water plants.  A peanut butter and banana sandwich was made with some of the zucchini bread.  I mended my massage table carrier with upholstery fabric and the glue gun.

Those sweet pups make me laugh almost every day.  When we got back from our morning walk the other day, I looked down, and McNibs had a small acorn stuck on one of his toenails, prancing around with it for around an hour before I was able to get it off.  That was my laugh of the day.  He's always been funny about his feet, so it took a little time to convince him it was OK.  Silly boy!  J bought a used freezer, and Sunday morning, we transferred all the frozen food out of the refrigerator into it, and put the food in the fridge in coolers.  We turned off the fridge, to defrost it, to see if that doesn't fix our problem.  We'll turn it on and refill it Monday evening.  Fingers crossed.  We had several orders to make, paint and pack, so Sunday evening was busy with those things.  It was interesting trying to cook dinner, with all our veggies and dairy in coolers on the porch.  I made a simple meal of cabbage and noodles.  I'm usually at home on Mondays, but tomorrow, I have two massage appointments in town.  I'll probably run an errand or two before heading home.  Wishing you a week of beautiful November days.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Highest Point & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends, I gave the pups a bath on one of my better days, when temps were in the mid 70's.  After working in town, I picked up a book from the library, and went to the discount grocery store.  Sadly, I found the food section continues to shrink.  I used a $5 coupon at Big Lots, and bought holiday cards and some small gifts.  I bought a huge pomegranate at Food Lion, then a couple smaller ones at Aldi's.  I love using them in green salads.  I went by Tractor Supply, and used a 1/2 off coupon for a premium bag of dog food, which made it several dollars less than their usual food.  I've been learning about reasons for the current high incidence of cancer in dogs, and am trying to feed them more along these recommendations.  Though they had been mostly eating grain free, most kibble is still largely carbs (peas, potatoes, etc.), which is not natural for them.  They don't list the % of carbs on labels, but when you see the % of protein and fats, you realize the remainder of approx. 60-70% is carbs.  Ideally, I'd give them a high quality canned food, but it's priced out of my range.  I did buy one can, called Thanksgiving dinner, which I'll save and give them as a treat on Thanksgiving.  The pups continue getting chopped vegetables, yogurt and occasional eggs.

anole lizard on fig
I harvested swiss chard, which we had with pinto beans and brown rice.  Thyme was harvested and dried.  The respiratory infection really varied from day to day.  On a not so good day, being ready to be done with it, I made vampire slayers soup.  As much as we like garlic, it was a bit much for us (4 roasted heads, plus more diced).  Besides our garlic, it used our thyme and homemade broth.  I did finish mine, and had the small amount leftover for lunch the next day with kale salad.  J took a few bites, then decided he'd rather have fish sticks and fries :o).  It did seem to turn things around, which was good, as the following two days, I needed to work at one of my occasional jobs.  Meandering by the pond one day, I found a giant puffball.  I diced and sauteed it, then used it in a recipe later in the week, a cheesy pasta bake.  Another meal was pasta with pesto from the summer's garden.

I switched the summer and winter clothes in my closet, and filled another box for donation.  I'd been hanging on to three dressy, long dresses "just in case".  I hadn't worn any of them in 10 years, so it was time to let them go. I passed a few things on to my niece.  With lows in the 30's in the forecast, I picked all the tender veggies and herbs on Thursday... eggplant, sweet peppers, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, a fig, lettuce, basil, lemon verbena, and lemon balm.  I harvested more chard, and another 5 gallons of lima beans, a mix of dried and fresh.  There are still some beans higher than I can reach, but that should do it for the beans.  It's certainly been a banner year for lima beans!  I was surprised how much in the garden there still was to harvest.  The lemon verbena and balm are being dried for tea.  For my work days, I pulled single serving leftovers from the freezer, and pulled black bean burgers for dinner one of the nights, freeing up more room in the freezer.  All the lima beans were shelled while at work (minding the shop at a pottery gallery).

view from the fire tower
After we got in from work Friday evening, we dug our sweet potatoes, and were surprised by the nice harvest.  We also harvested some winter squash, and I cut flowers to enjoy in the house.  We've gotten light frosts, and expect a freeze  tonight.  This afternoon, my niece and I joined a group hike to the highest point in this county.  The hike was a 400' vertical climb, and then whoever wanted to could climb another 140' up the fire tower, to see above the tree line.  It was the perfect day for it, great exercise, and the view was fantastic.  We could see Pilot Mountain, which is approximately 60 miles away.  I had my metal water bottle, but didn't want to carry the weight up the mountain, so got one of the small free bottles offered.  On the way home, I stopped and picked up free tissues at Big Lots.  It's now been at least three weeks since we replaced the gas cap on my car, and the light has stayed out.  Hooray for a cheap and easy fix!  On the other hand, we're still having fridge issues, so we're planning on letting it defrost for 24 hours soon, and see if that doesn't fix it.  Friends had what sounded like the same problem, and that's what they did, which fixed theirs, so we're hoping.  Wishing you a beautiful week.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Late October Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Last week, I really enjoyed reading a Kindle book I had downloaded for free.  It was a heartwarming story of how the area of Gander, Newfoundland responded to the aftermath of 9/11, by welcoming 6700 people whose planes were required to land there.  As I write this, it is still free for those with amazon prime.  I so enjoy reading about all the good in the world.  I was a bit under the weather most of the week.  The first day, I read quite a bit, went through a pile of previously read magazines to get recipes, etc., and shelled lima beans while watching a show on Roku. I made soup with pantry items, along with our garlic and leeks, and took remedies I had, including homemade fire cider.  We did without heat on nights with lows in the 50's.

In the past several weeks, I found 4 kitchen canisters at thrift stores.  Last week, I drilled holes to turn them into compost crocks, took photos, and listed them in my shop.  The weather pattern has shifted, bringing us rain, and filling our tanks.  I'm so very grateful for that.  I harvested the turmeric, and ended up with 11 pieces, from the 2 that were planted.  The soil was loosened first with a trowel, then the plants pulled up.  I replanted one of the pieces, to see if I can keep it going indoors until spring.  I plan to put some in a batch of fire cider, and try dyeing fabric with the rest.  I began gathering the dry green beans for seed, and some of the scarlet and peach runner beans.

I was feeling lots better on Friday, so on Saturday helped J & his son with firewood.  That may not have been a good idea, as I ended up with a bad cough, and my voice has been coming and going since Saturday.  Oh well, we persevered until dark, and got most of the wood to our land... 3 long bed pickup loads, and two 17" flatbed trailer fulls of huge rounds of trunk.  The lettuce and winter greens are coming along nicely with the rain, and the broccoli has started making heads.  After hundreds of blooms, it looks like we'll only harvest five tiny goji berries this year.

Here it is, almost November, and I'm still harvesting things from the summer garden... several tromboncino squash, eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, a pepper, dried lima beans and a fig were picked on Sunday.  J harvested 4 of the little pumpkins, which are now curing on the porch.  I've been wanting to try making the autumn succotash mentioned in my last post, but between illness and today's unseasonably warm temp of 82, that hasn't happened.  Soon, I hope.  I'm still cutting flowers to enjoy in the house.  Some look a little worse for the wear, but I'll take them this time of year.  I've been curious to see how well my soap cleaned my hair, and used it as shampoo last week.  It did a perfectly good job of cleaning it, though it doesn't feel as soft as shampooed hair.  I would do it again, and will try my homemade rosemary lavender rinse on it next time.

The cold weather clothes and sheets were brought down from the attic.  I went through all my clothes drawers while swapping them out.  There's a box of things to donate, and three homestead T shirts to turn into rags.  I don't think I ever followed up on my Marie Kondo experiment with folding clothes last spring.  I really love it.  It makes it so much easier to see what my choices are, so I did it with all the drawers this time.  The fall mailbox bow and garland was also gotten down, and hung.  I've started a new (free) Kindle book, and recently ran across a youtube channel I'm enjoying, called Fairyland Cottage.  It's about simple, sustainable living, with lots of tutorials.  I'm very excited about one thing I want to try, and will let you know if it works as well as I hope.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Autumn Succotash, Wonky Squash & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I didn't do a good job keeping up with what I did during the week, so let's see what I can remember.  I took a free mushroom class with a friend, which included a mushroom walk.  I learned quite a bit about one I'd been interested in, which grows in abundance in this area.  Afterwards, we had lunch.  I tried my first Banh Mi (vegetarian) sandwich, which was delicious.  We then stopped by a thrift store, but I didn't find anything I needed.

We often hear them on our land, but don't catch sight of the pileated woodpeckers very often.  One day, I happened to see one up high in a sourwood tree, eating the fruits.  It's not the best photo, but the best I could get of it.  I brought all the house plants indoors for the cold months, as it got down to 39 a couple of nights.  Due to a recent recommendation from Susun Weed, I gathered a jar of mint, covered it with local honey, and will let it sit 6 weeks.  Then, just put a generous spoonful with boiling water in a cup, and you've got quick and easy herb tea.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, don't you?

Our tea camellia is in flower, which makes lots of pollinators happy.  Laundry was hung on the line.  For a dinner, we had pasta with tromboncino squash, tomatoes and basil.  My music friend and I went to a concert in Raleigh over the weekend.  We went to a nearby store in search of a gift I wanted to get.  They had just sold out, but I found another similar item that will work, as well as a few more holiday gifts.  I received a 15% discount on my order for joining their mailing list.  At Marshall's, I bought a few household items, and some more gifts.  We took advantage of the free water and breakfast at our hotel before heading home.

We have some really unusual, well downright wonky, winter squash this year, which came up from the compost in the tomato barrels.  The thinking is they are some sort of cross.  Hopefully, they will be delicious.  Saturday night, I had a wonderful meal, including the most delicious autumn succotash.  I was hoping to use some of our winter squash this way, and was delighted to find the recipe.  I wasn't sure I'd like it when I ordered it, but the boiled peanuts still had crunch, and it was a great combination.  J, who is a boiled peanut fan, tells me green peanuts are in stores this time of year.  I'll be keeping my eye out for them.  After unpacking, I checked the garden, and gathered two eggplant, a cucumber, and several tomatoes.  I was a little discouraged that all the tomatoes were split from the overnight rain or had been chewed on by something, but J reminded me that harvesting tomatoes at all this time of year is a pretty good thing.  Wishing you a most bountiful week.