Monday, November 17, 2014

Sheet Mulching, a Hoop House, Autumn Meals and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining up with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker, with the weeks' Frugal Accomplishments. I harvested broccoli, carrots, chickweed.  Filled the 2nd gallon bag for vegi broth, simmered and canned it up, getting 6 1/2 pints to put on the shelf.  I ground up all my bread ends for bread crumbs, and froze them.

I tried the sheet mulching (aka lasagna gardening) method on a bed next to the house, with lime, newspaper, compost, cardboard, cow manure and leaves.  In the past, I've thrown fall leaves on this bed, and we've tried cardboard in the garden. Neither worked well by themselves, but I'm hoping the combination will encourage it all to break down into lovely soil.  I couldn't make it any thicker, as J said it needed to be lower than the wood siding, or we would be inviting termites. In time, I hope to add more ingredients, as it breaks down. I used this as a guide.

I worked in my compost- sifted one bin and put it on the bed above.  Made yogurt, and this pumpkin walnut raisin bread with our smallest cheese wheel pumpkin.  Yummy!  Also made a butternut squash recipe from here, using squash and garlic we grew.  I had to add a bit of water towards the end, to get it to soften up nicely, but that worked like a charm.  Also good.

At the discount grocery, I got- organic, fair trade sugar for 1.75/lb, jasmine rice for .60/lb., 7 oz. jars of kalamata olives for 1.75 ea., 26# bag of Wellness Core grain-free dogfood for 17.50 (reg. price 52.00!), organic agave nectar @ 2.00 a bottle, plus others I've forgotten.

I forgot to mention I joined Swagbucks in the last post.  I am still working on my first gift card.  I will say I was disappointed that the surveys so far all seem to want to gather as much information as possible about our household, rather than get my opinion, but I will give some of the other ways of getting points a try. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear.

I made this recipe with kale that some friends gifted me with.  We liked it a lot. I left out the currants, and swapped out the pine nuts for walnuts.  I also made this quinoa recipe, using some of our last grape tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh oregano, and frozen basil grown here.  We liked this one a lot too, though it has a lot of cheese.  I'll be trying some healthier quinoa dishes for more regular use, but will make this one again too.

Here is a hoophouse we built over the coldframe recently.  We drove rebar into the ground and used PVC pipe for the structure.  We covered it with 6 ml plastic, and held down the edges with bricks and rocks.  It's not perfect, but we hope it will work better in rain and snow.  I'll get a picture of the inside and post that another time.  Like much of the country, we've gotten cold weather the past few days, with nights in the low 20's.  In a few days, that low is supposed to drop into the teens.  Stay warm and cozy, friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The View

the view from the window
I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments on The Prudent Homemaker.  Made potato soup with our potatoes & parsley; made pumpkin soup with our pumpkin.  Picked all the tomatoes, basil, some spearmint and chickweed before frost, froze some basil in olive oil and spearmint in water- both in ice cube trays.  Made pesto with our basil and garlic, juiced our passionfruit and froze the juice, until I decide what I want to do with it.

Bought some sale items, new reading glasses and Thanksgiving cards at a 20% off day at Walgreens.  At the discount store, bought organic garbanzo beans for .40/can, organic agave nectar for $2/ bottle, organic whole tomatoes .60 for 28 oz. (even though we grow our own tomatoes, after not having enough to can in 2013, I buy them whenever I find especially good sales), a bottle of Nature's Way elderberry syrup for 1.50 (I also grow these, & make my own syrup, but thought this was an excellent buy, and you never know what next year will bring)

The usual drying laundry on the line, washing out plastic bags, bringing my own bags to the grocery store (saves .05 per bag, though I'd do it anyway), composting, harvesting rainwater, running all my errands while I'm in town.

Bought 4 apple trees locally, all cedar rust and fire blight resistant, which is a huge problem here.  I hope we have better results with these trees.   I also bought a fig I'd never heard of, an Italian Golden Honey Fig.  All seem to be settling in nicely.

I took down the hummingbird feeders, and made my first batch of suet for the season.  I've not always been able to afford the black oil sunflower seeds, but I've always managed to make suet for the birds.  The recipe is forgiving, and you'll see some of my variations in the link.

A friend of my Mom's sent me this quote after her passing.  I came across it again recently, after losing my Dad, and it gave me comfort.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!                        -Henry Scott Holland

Monday, November 3, 2014

Local Flora and Frugal Accomplishments

As I write this on Sunday evening, there is a freeze warning for tonight.  I expect the bouquet to be the last of the year cut from the garden, which includes butterfly bush, orlaya, black & blue salvia, soapwort, zinnias and hyssop.  I've not done a very good job keeping up with my frugal accomplishments recently, and am combining the weeks since the last time I joined in with The Prudent Homemaker. 

Though it wasn't frugal, I bought pansies and violas to cheer me, and planted them next to the walkway from the drive to the house.
Borrowed books and movies from the library.  I enjoyed reading The Orchard and Farm City. While we were at the beach in September, I made one purchase from a thrift shop that supported animal rescues, the book it happened on the way to war: a Marine's Path to Peace...good story.
Gathered eggs, persimmons, basil, purslane, carrots, lima beans, lambs quarter.  Added carrot tops, lima pods, tomato & onion bits, lambs quarter and parsley stems to the freezer bag for vegi broth.  Weeded chard, dehydrated cayenne peppers.

The usual harvesting rainwater, washing plastic bags for reuse, composting, hanging laundry on the line.

Made Black bean burgers using Brandy's recipe; we ate them for 2 meals and froze the rest for a third. Made waldorf salad using celery from the cold frame.  Prepared a spaghetti squash and spinach dish, using vegis in the freezer.  Need to be eating from the freezer, as there is no more room.  Used tromboncino squash from the freezer in a pasta dish, with basil, rosemary & tomato from the garden. Baked sweet potatoes from the garden.

Searched for and found a coupon code giving me 18% off of some needed Massage Therapy continuing ed classes.  I took water, snacks and lunch to the hospital/hospice almost every day, during the week my dad was there.

Saved seed from a Cheese Wheel pumpkin.  Juiced a bag of limes I got a few weeks ago for 1.00 on the marked down rack, and began a batch of lime cleaning vinegar with the skins.

The past week, I've harvested carrots, lambs quarter, chickweed, purslane, tomatoes, swiss chard & parsley.  Saved seeds from basil, shiso and garlic chives.
Cooked with onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and potatoes grown here

There is a nice patch of swiss chard in the garden, but it will die back with cold weather, and begin growing again in the spring.  We also got our garlic planted.  The planting, harvested in June, usually supplies us for the year.
I've gotten better about using the dregs from the yogurt jar, cans of beans, etc, mixing in a little water if needed, and pouring over the pups meals.  They're enjoying a little extra zip from what are healthy foods, mostly organic, and nothing is wasted.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Loss

Well, 2014 has certainly been a year.  Since I was here last, I lost my Dad.  As it's only been a little over 3 months since my Mom passed, the blow was especially hard.  He had a massive stroke, and in a week's time, faded away.  I'm so thankful to have memories of our trip to see his old battleship last year.  I'm aware I have so many blessings.  It's just going to take some time to get through these losses.  I won't say over, because I suspect one never really gets over the loss of parents.  But, I do believe there will be a time when it's not quite so raw.

I'm really enjoying the blooms while they last.  So far, we've made it a bit longer than our average frost date of October 15th.

The grounds of the hospice my Dad was at were just beautiful.  Each room had a patio and birdfeeder, and there were paths with a waterfall, a windchime,  a multitude of blooming things, and many areas to sit.  This sweet fountain was outside my Dad's room.  I loved watching the birds splash about in it.  

Joseph and I washed the car on Sunday.  He worked on the outside, while I worked on the inside.  Neither of us is prone to do this often.  Both of us are thankful to have vehicles to take us where we need to go, but don't feel they are extensions of us, and certainly don't pamper them.  Though I'm sure the same attention to detail was lacking, I believe my Dad was smiling on us.  

I hope to be joining in with The Prudent Homemaker and Frugal Accomplishments again next week.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with Brandy for last week's frugal accomplishments.  I harvested passion fruit, raspberries, pears, tomatoes, okra, & persimmons; decanted pineapple vinegar & started another batch; juiced some grapes we were given, and froze them for future use; made pumpkin pie using homegrown pumpkin and eggs from our chickens; made a quinoa dish, using yellow squash, onion & parsley from the garden.

At the discount grocery store, favorite finds were jasmine rice @ .60/# (best by 3/16; compared to sale price 1.50/# this wk at Lowes) bought 15#, OG raisins 1.25/#, Annie's Organic mac & cheese .50 ea, kalamata olives 1.25 a jar,  Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid @ .70, and maple syrup 4.00/ 8 oz (sale price this wk 4.99 @ Lowes). I see more maple lattes in my future!

I froze yogurt and made a batch of yogurt.  A few times a year, I buy a small cup of plain yogurt, to start fresh with.  After a few months, I know that stray bacteria gets in a batch, so I like to begin with new yogurt again.  I usually forget to freeze the remainder of storebought yogurt, but remembered this time.  It seems in years past, the frozen yogurt did not perform well, but reading about all the other people that do it made me want to give it another try.  I made batches of kefir.

I made tomato rice loaf using the above jasmine rice, and tomatoes, basil, onion, garlic, kefir and breadcrumbs from here; froze sweet red peppers & dehydrated hot peppers, dill and basil from the garden; made balsamic vinaigrette - the recipe is here. The lettuce in the coldframe is growing nicely.  Looking forward to having some homegrown salads in the not too distant future.

I cut up a Cheese Wheel pumpkin & Hopi Gray squash that the borers had gotten to.  The pumpkin was in great shape, with only exterior damage.  The Hopi Gray was in bad shape, so the chickens got it, along with our last 2 watermelons.  Pumpkin soup was made with the pumpkin.

Froze celery for the first time.  My Mom had been freezing hers, and I've been meaning to do it for months, as I only use celery in small quantities, for waldorf salad, and a couple of cooked dishes, and end up throwing most of it into the compost.  While this won't work for the waldorf salad, it will for the cooked dishes.  And when I need raw celery, I have some in the coldframe, from planted celery bottoms.  I have planted celery bottoms several times, and have gotten some nice celery from it, but it has always rotted after a time. In looking at the link again for this post, I realized I was not totally covering it with soil, which allows rain to settle in the bottom, making it more likely to rot.  After I took this photo, I covered my celery bottoms with soil, to see if I can keep these going all winter.  If you use celery, try this... it works amazingly well!  If you use Pinterest, there are tutorials on regrowing all sorts of vegi's from scraps.  Celery is the only one I've tried.  Well, except for an avocado pit, but I don't expect to get actual avocadoes here in NC.  I also started lemons from seeds last winter, which are doing well.  This was another Pinterest idea.  It would be lovely to eventually get lemons.  I remember a neighbor girl who used to come to my door, when I lived in Los Angeles, selling lemons and avocadoes from their trees for a dime each.  I, of course, always bought some from her.  Have a good week, friends!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Funny, It Doesn't Feel Like Fall

Today, I was shop sitting for one of the local potteries.  I wandered a bit, noticing the signs of fall all around me.

It does not feel like fall, however, with the days in the 80's.

After work today, I joined my sister on the outdoor patio of a local establishment, where we enjoyed glasses of seasonal pumpkin brew.

I hope this photo is not terribly offensive.  I was beyond delighted when I was able to coax that splinter from my finger yesterday, after a week had gone by.  I had gone through all the packing and unpacking of the car and show, and made it through 10 massage appointments with it in my left index finger.  I happen to be left handed, so it made for some rather uncomfortable days, and just would not budge, no matter how I coaxed, until yesterday.  Now I know why... it was 5/16 of an inch long! Can you feel my glee?  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pears, Pasta & Frugal Accomplishments

There was beautiful fall weather for the Fall Festival over the weekend.  A little gusty at times, but clear blue skies and lots of sun.  I was set up very close to one of the stages, and was able to hear lots of music, a book reading, and see some young dance groups.  There was even a harpist on Sunday.  I so enjoyed sitting in the sun, listening to that lovely music.

I'm still enjoying maple lattes.  The mug above holding one was purchased from Blue Hen Pottery.

pear vanilla sauce
Joining in with Brandy for this week's:

Frugal Accomplishments

canned 10 half-pints of pear vanilla sauce

made "zucchini" soup, using tromboncino squash, tomatoes, garlic & basil from the garden

harvested rainwater

borrowed books from the library- finished this, which I enjoyed

purchased a number of sale items at Aldi's, including 6 lbs of organic quinoa @ $3.99/lb.  The best price we are usually able to find is $4.99/lb.  Purchased cans of organic black beans for .40 ea. at the local discount grocery store.

used homemade soap, laundry soap & deodorant

washed plastic bags for reuse

made Pasta Norma using eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano & chives from the garden.

brought lunch, water and snacks both days to the Fall Festival, & cut a bouquet from the homestead for my booth

That was the last of the eggplant, used in the pasta dish.  As temperatures were dropping into the 30's this weekend,  I brought in all the orchid plants, plus a couple others, and covered the remainder with plastic.  Joseph did preparations for and started our first fire of the season on Saturday.  Nights have been in the 50's and 60's, so that was a bit of a surprise, but they are rising again. I think we have a bit more time until our first frost.  I expect there won't be much else harvested from the summer garden, save a few okra and tomatoes if we're lucky, and chard.  But, we'll be harvesting greens, carrots, and the hardier herbs.  Onward to the next season.  I'm looking forward to making the first batch of pumpkin soup.