Monday, February 18, 2019

Thrifted Treasures & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope you had a happy Valentine's Day.  Last week, I made my Swagbucks goal x 3, and they finally gave me credit for our September vacation, which will be enough for several gift cards.   A gallon jar of queen olives that were given to us was opened, with a quart jar of them put in the fridge and the big jar put in the basement to stay cool (low 50's).  They may be fine in the brine, as we love olives and will likely eat them quickly, but the cooler temps seemed wise.  I gathered a bucket of sweet gum balls for a future dyeing project.  I also gathered magnolia pods.  A delightful chicken canister was won at an auction at Hospice, which I'll turn into a compost crock.  This is the perfect time of year to be working on them, as people's thoughts will soon be turning to their gardens.

A new recipe for vegetarian meatballs was tried, and I'm enjoying them.   I made mushroom gravy with one of the bags of maitake I had frozen to use with them.  I haven't tried the other suggestions, with tomato sauce and in pita bread with aioli sauce, but think they'd be good those ways as well.  After delivering soap, I picked up a few groceries, and stopped at several thrift stores.  I found a very nice blue canister to turn into a compost crock at one.  It was covered with old grease, and still had flour in it, but it cleaned up fine.  Another store had some men's clothes on sale for $2.  I was able to get J a soft merino wool sweater, and a NWT Land's End shirt.  Food Lion had asparagus for $1.99, which I purchased, as it will be a month or more before we can harvest any of ours.  I dropped off two books at a little free library.

two new compost crocks
At the quilt guild meeting last week, I learned about a sewing day they have each month at the senior center.  I attended, took the bed cover I've been working on, and got the border squares tied to the backing.  It was enjoyable, and I got tips from several of the ladies there.  Afterwards, I headed to the RSPCA thrift store to drop a box off.  I found a book of embroidery stitches for .50, three packs of candlewick thread for .25 ea, and a pretty, large blue bail jar for $3.  I'd forgotten about their policy of needing a $10 purchase to use a card, and had not thought to bring cash.  I started to put things back, when the man behind me in line offered to add several of his items to mine, to add up to $10, then gave me cash for them.  Wasn't that nice?  People are good.  I dehydrated green onions and oregano.  Butternut squash crumble was made using our squash and parsley, and asparagus was steamed.   In between coats of paint for an order, I got the holes drilled in the compost crocks.  It's turned cold and damp here this weekend, the kind of raw days where it's good to take care of indoor tasks and await warmer days.  J & I watched a movie on amazon prime.  Have a lovely week, friends.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Early Flowers, Permaculture & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  We've had a mix of warm and cool days this week.  I was able to hang laundry on the line three days, including sheets which I put right back on the bed.  They smelled so good to crawl into.  I made suet and yogurt.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse, and fruit and vegi scraps were added to the compost.  A pan of dried, crushed eggs shells was added to the compost bin.  After work, I stopped at Walgreens, and bought sharpie pens BOGO, and got $4 in rewards for buying cashews.  I'd been given a couple of cords I didn't need when I bought the computer monitor at the thrift store last week.  When I dropped them off, I bought a canister to turn into a compost crock at half price.

I finished getting my taxes ready Thursday morning.  Yippee!  Every year, I learn something I can do to make it easier, and make notes for future years.  I drilled holes in the canister lid that I'm turning into a compost crock, and painted an order.  It's been unseasonably warm, and I've really been enjoying having windows open, as it's soon to turn cold again.  It's the longest it hasn't rained in a while, so after I vacuumed, I mopped the floors.  In the evening, I met a friend for an inexpensive dinner, then we went to the local quilt guild's meeting, where they had a speaker on basic sewing machine information.  We both picked up a few tips, and met some nice ladies.

After hanging laundry on the line on Friday, I worked some more on the chop and drop around the fruit trees.  I pruned the kiwis, cut and added their trimmings around two blueberries and several fruit trees along the driveway.  I then covered up the trimmings with some of the bale of spoiled hay.  It was a good workout, but I'm happy to have it done, and hope the trees will reward us with more fruit.  I baked our sweet potatoes for dinner.  The forsythia is making flower buds, and daffodils and one of the hellebores are flowering.

blackberry with chop and drop, before covering
On Saturday, I again worked on the chop and drop.  This time, elderberries were pruned and added around various berries.  A second patch of elderberries was pruned, and trimmings added around several figs.  For a year or so, I've been following a woman in Ireland who has created a beautiful permaculture paradise over 13 years.  She is in her 60's, and does almost all of the work herself, which is encouraging.  I also love the fact that she is only an hour or so from where my grandparents grew up.  If you'd like to view her lovely videos on fb, or visit her, she's at Bealtaine Cottage.  The compost crock and 5 ebay listings were photographed, shipping calculated, and then listed on Sunday.
It's turned colder and begun raining.  Soup and salad seemed in order.  I made a lentil soup, using home canned lentils and our leek and celery.  The celery was from some of the store bought bottoms I planted last year.  They're doing great in the cold frame.  Wishing you a peaceful week, friends.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Early February & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  If you've been having to deal with frigid temperatures, I hope you've been able to stay safe and warm and cozy.  Last week, I redeemed a coupon for a free can of dog food.  I made potato leek soup, using our potatoes and broth.  My new boots were sealed, and I've enjoyed hiking in them.  I worked many hours on taxes last week, and think/hope the end is in sight.  The main day I worked on taxes, I put a pot of apple cider on the wood stove, with a cinnamon stick and some cloves.  I sipped on this throughout the cold day.  A simple treat, but it helped to keep me motivated.  Scratch paper was used for notes and lists.  I made yogurt and thousand island dressing.  Our canned crowder peas and sweet potatoes were used for dinner one night.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse, and egg shells saved in a pan to dry for compost.

Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I made carrot pineapple salad, and individually froze the remainder of the crushed pineapple, enough for 3 more salads.  Homemade yogurt was used in the salad.  I pruned several fruit trees and bushes.  I'm wanting to move more towards permaculture principles, and did what is called chop and drop, cutting up and piling the trimmings beneath each tree to break down.  We have a partial large bale of spoiled hay, and I intend to cover the trimmings with this.   I've enjoyed watching youtube videos on permaculture, and joined a permaculture fb group.  I'm writing ideas down to try as I learn them.  Even with gardening organically here for many years, there always seem to be challenges.  I know that permaculture can't fix the problem of squirrels or other critters getting our fruit, for example, but if there was more of a bounty of fruit, maybe there would be enough for everyone.  That's my hope.

hawk on windmill
Potato salad was made using our potatoes and parsley.  The hens continue to lay well, and I was able to share a dozen eggs.  I gathered chickweed, and gave them kitchen scraps.  We harvested collards, which were substituted for kale in J's allergy soup.  I made a purchase at Harbor Freight, used a 20% off coupon, and got a free tarp.  With J & I not able to have milk at present, I froze 2 quarts for the future, and used the rest for making yogurt.  I uncovered the cold frame with lettuce, chard, and celery, as there are no freezing temps in the forecast.  Though it looks like we're having a warming trend, I will keep an eye on it, and cover it back up as needed.  I had a couple of ebay sales, and worked on a number of new items to list.  Dinner was eaten by candlelight all but one night.  When I looked out the kitchen window one day, I saw a large bird on top of a non-functioning windmill by the garden.  I went out on the porch, and still didn't know what it was when I snapped a pic.  Shortly after, it took off in my direction, and I saw it was a hawk.  We often see them in February, when they're migrating.  Wishing you a good week. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Frosty Morning Walks & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  With temps in the teens, I put extra suet out for the birds, and gave extra scratch to the chickens in the evenings.  We also left the heat lamp on for the chickens some nights.  Morning walks with the pups have been frosty most days.  Eggs were boiled for us and the pups.  Another kitchen drawer was cleaned.  One of the things in my husband's current diet is green onions, but only the green parts.  I dehydrated the white portions, to put in the pantry.  J wasn't using kale as quickly as we thought he would, so I found a recipe that used some, along with mushrooms, which I bought last week and needed using too.  Cold days make me think of warm chores, so I caught up on my ironing.  Paper and cardboard from the shredder went in to the compost bin.  The new boots arrived, and will work well.   I need to seal them before hiking, but wore them for a night on the town, and they were comfortable and warm.  Happy!

After working in town, I picked up a few things at the discount grocery.  While at Walgreens to drop off orders for Fedex, I used a $5 reward and purchased a 6 pack of large kleenex boxes marked down to $4.49.  I also got BOGO almonds.  Tractor Supply had sent a 10% off coupon, so I stocked up on chicken feed and cat food using that.  I got groceries at Aldi's, including 8 cans of organic beans @ .89.  I got more olive oil while there, as it's the cheapest I've found lately, at .15/oz.  J had the idea to ask the owner of the restaurant where they usually eat lunch, to see if I might be able to purchase it in bulk through his supplier.  I hope that pans out.  It's such a heavy item, shipping it is cost prohibitive.

Staying on track, I cleaned another drawer in the kitchen island, a catch all or junk drawer..  I was embarrassed to find a few Christmas cards from 10 years ago, which means it hadn't been totally cleaned since we moved in the house.  It often houses garden catalogs, and those had been removed, but not the other items.  I started to beat myself up about it, then decided to pat my back for doing it now.  The chickens continue to lay well, and I was able to share a dozen with a friend.  While there, she gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry a local artist made, one that was her Mom's, but not her style.  While walking to the chickens, I noticed two lettuce plants in an area we planted last spring, which hadn't been there before.  I transplanted them with the other lettuce, so they could be covered with row cover on cold nights.  A pan of dried egg shells was crushed, to be added to the compost bin.

The parsley I dug and brought into the house seems to be thriving.  We had a bit of a warm spell, with highs in the 60's.  As it wasn't supposed to last long, and I had a bit of cabin fever, I cleaned up one of the flower beds.  Three heaping wheelbarrow fulls of prunings and downed sticks were dumped at the edge of our woods.  It's a start.  Needing to use the squash we grew last year, I cut up three butternut squash, and two spaghetti squash.   I baked a butternut squash crumble with half, and froze the remainder.  J ate some spaghetti squash, and the remainder was frozen.  I checked on the garlic, and it's coming along nicely, with more than half up now.  While doing that, I walked past the asparagus bed, which reminded me that should be the next bed cleaned up.  Always plenty to do around here, that's for sure.

We bought postage stamps before the price went up, both for J's business and our personal use.  Between dropping off soap, and meeting a friend, I had a few minutes, and went into a nearby thrift store.  My computer monitor, which was bought used around 8 years ago, was starting to act up.  I had been looking online, but found one there for $10, which works great.  I've been wanting to work on organizing the bathroom closet.  It's one of the things I would have designed differently, in hindsight, as it's a narrow, deep closet, so difficult to get to things.  I found a long thin basket with handles for $2, which corralled a good amount of things.  I still need one more basket to get it finished, but there's progress.  Several things were thrown away, and a small bag of things, such as samples I've never used, will be donated.  Are you cleaning and decluttering too?  I've read there's a big uptick in thrift store donations, due to Marie Kondo.  Have a great week, friends.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Small Signs of Spring & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I learned teeny, tiny chicken eggs are called fairy eggs.  For a dinner, I made a pasta meal, which used our canned tomatoes and summer squash, and fresh rosemary.  I pulled our frozen okra out of the freezer for a dinner, and made kale salad with our kale, to have with leftover quiche.  I sent another email to swagbucks, as points from our vacation in September have still not been credited.  After an out of town appointment, I went by a nearby Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  The majority of what I bought was fruits and vegetables, as J is needing quite a bit to start on his allergy protocol.  I had hoped to find it all at TJ's, but there were several things I had to buy at Whole Foods.  Happily, I found out at my appointment that eggs are OK on occasion for me.  Whew!  On my way to the appointment, I dropped off an order at the Fedex site.

On Wednesday, the last part came, J hooked it up, and we had water at the kitchen faucet again.   Hooray!  I paid our propane bill online to save a stamp, and in time to get a discount, saving $3.04.  Two dozen eggs were shared.  I froze homemade bread that we weren't going to eat right now.  Several more sweet potatoes were dehydrated for pup treats.  I picked ones that had bad spots, so what was good could still be used.  The ugly bits went into the compost.  Eggs have been gathered from the chickens daily.  Ziploc bags were washed for reuse. Candles were used most nights while eating dinner.  I sold two items on ebay.  Not much, but every little bit helps.  I'm staying on track, doing small kitchen chores while waiting.  One of the crispers was cleaned, and a bit more of the fridge wiped down.  Having been inspired by these small changes, I cleaned and organized another kitchen drawer. 

I pulled another box of my friend's antiques from the shed, this time metal items.  I worked on three items to list on ebay, and got everything done except figuring shipping, which I plan to do on Saturday, and list them on Sunday.  A few paperwork and tax chores were crossed off the to do list.  One item was mended.  My sister and I met for dinner.  Nothing frugal there, other than we both brought home leftovers.  It's just wonderful to spend time together.  I've been having pain in one of my feet, and learning about foot health.  I first heard a podcast with Katy Bowman, then found one of her books in the library.  One thing I've learned is that you want a toe box that is big enough for your toes to fit comfortably, not squished.  Just stopping using some of my footwear has already made a big change in how my foot feels.  I really needed something better to hike in, and ordered a pair of $200 boots that between their markdown and a 20% off code, were $40, with free shipping and returns.  I really hope they work well.  I've begun doing some of the exercises too.  Here's to healthy feet, and remaining mobile for many more years.

There have been a few signs that spring is coming.  I've noticed leaf buds on a number of plants, and saw several daffodil buds this week.  The broom by the road has begun blooming.  The next two nights will be in the teens, so I expect that will slow things down a bit.  I did get to list the items on ebay.  I assisted J in working on our new painting system, and we finished it Saturday evening.  On Sunday, we painted 6 orders, and all came out well.  This will be a major improvement for our little business.   I hope all those affected by the winter storms are staying safe and warm.  Be well, friends. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Littlest Egg & Frugal Accomplishments

mini egg with chicken gifts from a friend
Hello, friends.  On Monday, all the boxes collected over Christmas were taken out of the house, and  the tree needles vacuumed up.  I glued two ornaments that needed mending, before packing them away.  Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line.  Books were requested from the library.   I made an online purchase, using a 20% off coupon and 6% cash back.  Our kitchen faucet had been leaking intermittently, and totally failed the other day.  As he did with the shower head recently, J checked with the manufacturer, this time Moen, and they are sending us a new cartridge plus another needed part for free.  It pays to ask, and it's great to have a handy husband!  Well, it turned out we need yet another part, which they are also sending.  It's now been 9 days without a working kitchen sink.  Soon, I hope.

It's so nice to notice the days getting longer.  2200 swagbucks points were redeemed for a $25 amazon GC.  With amazon and a few other places, you can redeem the first GC a month for 2200, instead of 2500 points.  I often forget to mention it, but I continue to get a few points on swagbucks daily, and shop through them if they offer cash back equal or better than ebates.  It adds up, and it's always nice to receive free gift cards.  Here's my referral link, if you'd like to check them out:  I've enjoyed taking morning and evening walks with the pups, and gathering lichens to create with. J found a tuft of usnea, which got added to the tincture jar.

After work in town, I picked up library books.  At Walgreens, I used a $1.25 coupon for Kleenex, got leggings marked down to $2.99 and half gallons of 100% juice 2/$5, found wrapping paper I could use all year at 70% off, used a $5 reward, and received another $7 in rewards.  Gathering eggs one day, I found the smallest chicken egg I've ever seen.  It was 1 1/8" long, and the cutest thing.  I suppose it was one of our youngest chickens first egg, but not sure.  Two more items were listed on ebay.  I did all the preliminary stuff... cleaning, photos, research, then figured shipping for a third item, but it came up as $50 shipping (!), so I'll need to see if I can figure out if any smaller box will work.  Otherwise, it will be donated.  Most of these items are glass, and either vintage or antique, so I pack them really well for shipping, which adds to the bulk.  Trying to come up with boxes that are in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes is sometimes challenging.  Update:  I did find a smaller box, which also weighed less, and shipping now comes in at about $20.  Still may be too high to sell, but it's worth a try.

With J's initial dietary changes, yeast bread is off the list.  I found a recipe for naan without yeast, which was decent.  We enjoyed it with vegetable soup, which used jars of our tomatoes, vegetable broth, summer squash, and frozen okra, along with other pantry items.  With temps going into the low 20's, I harvested some carrots, kale, three rutabagas, collards and parsley.  I also dug up two parsley, potted them and brought them in the house to see if I could continue to harvest them indoors these next few months.  I recently came up with an idea that is working well for me.  There are a few kitchen chores, like bringing eggs to a boil, and heating milk to temp for yogurt that require me to not stray far.  I've decided during these times, I'd pick a small cleaning/reorganizing/decluttering chore to do.  So far, I've cleaned a kitchen drawer, which now opens easily again... imagine that, and the drawer at the bottom of my stove.  While it was out, I vacuumed underneath the stove, which is an area that doesn't get near enough attention.  It feels good to be accomplishing these little bits.

Another day, I used the time waiting for yogurt milk to come to temp to clean the racks in the dishwasher.  After cleaning the dishwasher not long ago, it made me smile every time I opened it.  But the racks still needed attention, so that task is now taken care of.  Though my photos don't do them justice, there have been some lovely sunrises and sunsets, with lots of pretty pinks.  On Saturday, I made two pans of roasted root vegetables.   I used the older, store bought carrots. But, the potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and beets were grown here, as well as fresh thyme and rosemary.  We kept enough out to have as leftovers, and the rest went into the freezer.  While we both can eat eggs, we made omelets Sunday morning, and quiche for dinner.  Good thing we're not having cholesterol checks this week!  Wishing you peace this week, friends.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A New Year & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Here's to a fresh new year, full of joy, peace and harmony.  On New Years Eve, I cooked two of our bags of okra.  I tried a new recipe for sweet & spicy cauliflower, as I'd recently had some that was wonderful.  This recipe wasn't quite there, but I have two more recipes to try. On New Years Day, I harvested collards, and prepared them along with black eyed peas.  I hadn't ground any corn, so we had sweet potatoes instead of the traditional cornbread. We had a couple of warm days in the upper 60's.  We didn't need heat one night, and opened windows for fresh air.  While the wood stove was cooled off, J took advantage, and cleaned it and the stovepipe out.  I had gone to Big Lots with a $10 off $50 coupon, hoping to stock up on olive oil for soap making.  They did not have what I needed, so I bought one bottle of olive oil and a jar of olives.  I went across the road to Aldi's, and got a better deal on olive oil.  I typically buy tins of olive oil, but have not found any sales this year, and used up all I had stocked up.

Laundry was dried on the line.  Hand washed clothing was caught up, and hung on the line.  Needing to replenish a supplement, I took advantage of a 15% off sale, and went through ebates for an additional 6%.  I made lentil soup, using one of the jars of lentils I recently canned.  Salad was made to go along, as well as bread, which used the last of the wheat I had ground.  The bread was an oops, as J is trying some changes to relieve his allergies, and yeast is a no no right now.  It's a little interesting, with the dietary changes we're both trying to adhere to, but hopefully, it will be worth it in the long run.  All veggie scraps were added to the broth bag.  I used the wood stove to help melt oils for soap making, and to make suet for the birds.  I received an offer on amazon to do a review of an item I recently purchased, for a $3 gift card.  I received the GC the next day.  I'm missing points on swagbucks, and wrote them again, at the 90 day mark, as they requested.  Hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

mended tear in a nightgown
As of Saturday night we still have not taken down our tree.  The house needs some serious love, which I'll hopefully get to in the coming days.  Last week, I did manage to mend several items, paint an order, get holes drilled in a canister lid, photos taken, and listed in my shop.  I worked on three ebay orders,vintage/antique items from my friends.  On Friday, I cleaned them up, did research, and measured them.  On Saturday, I took photos.  On Sunday, I hope to find perfect boxes to estimate shipping, and get them listed.  We took our GD out for dinner Friday night, as her b'day was Saturday.  It was a nice evening, though wasn't frugal except for the dessert they gave her.  On Saturday, I made pasta for dinner, with homemade pesto I had frozen last summer.  In rummaging through the freezer, I found a bag of rolls from 2016 that I originally bought marked down. On top of that, the bag had split, so I decided it would be best for the chickens.  They're loving it.  If you've never seen chickens run for bread, it's pretty hilarious. 

happy lavender
I got the ebay items listed.  We continue to get orders in our shop, and J is working on a project to make our products even better, and make the painting easier on me, not to mention healthier than many coats of spray paint.  I'll share more when it's in place.  I made bread, started in the bread machine and cooked in the oven.  The maitake tincture was ready, so I strained it, and added the frozen mushroom decoction to make some powerful medicine.  It came right on time, as I've been fighting some respiratory stuff.  I requested a free sample of stevia.  I finally took the tree down, then J helped me put Christmas in the attic.  For some reason, this year was more chaotic than usual, and though I intended to decorate, not much more than our card holder and a pillow made it out of the boxes.  But, there the boxes sat ever since, adding to the chaos that comes with the holidays.  I feel like I can breathe in my studio again, now that it's all back in the attic.  I learned not to leave the boxes in the house through the holidays again.  Now to get the rest of the house in order.  Have a great week, friends.