Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Little Winter Sowing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made a potato leek soup.  Our leeks are still pretty small, so it took about 10 to have enough.  I had a frugal fail... forgetting to use my 10% coupon at Tractor Supply when buying animal food, which would have been $5 and change :o(.  I picked up mailbox ribbon for 50% off at Hobby Lobby and a St. Patrick's decoration for 30% off.  Homemade soap was used for laundry and in the bathroom.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  Warm up water was used in the wood stove humidifier and for watering plants.  I made a pie with our cushaw squash, and used our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Between cold and rain, walks with the pups have been less, but most days, at least one walk was taken.  I'm joining in with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.

I shared cuttings of persimmon and elderberry with a friend, and starts of leeks and walking onions, and was gifted two springform pans, two spatulas, a Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan, and a book to read.  After visiting and having lunch here, we went to an antique/pottery shop and consignment shop nearby.  I attempted to buy a small whisk at the antique store for $1, but the owner refused to let me pay, saying it was the least she could do for bringing someone to her shop.  At the consignment store, I found a gift a friend recently mentioned she needed.  It was a very good price, and then I found it was 25% off at checkout.  That was nice.  I've worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle several times, and enjoyed my free Pandora stations while working around the house.

I made cabbage and noodles with the last of our stored cabbages, and deviled eggs to help use up some of the bounty.  A batch of suet was made for the birds, with dehydrated elderberry leavings and seeds saved from bags of seeded bread.  The soles of my wool slippers were reglued.  One of my ebay listings actually sold for a decent price.  Yippee!  I finally planted a round of wintersown seeds.  I used all the potting soil we had, and planted phacelia, wild mignonette-weld, hollyhocks gifted by a friend, red carthamus, and Hopi amaranth.  I had the thought to try putting the kale and lettuce seedlings under a set of halogen lights under the cabinets.  At first, they seemed to be doing better, but one by one the kale seedlings are toppling over.  I think I may try direct seeding them both in the garden soon.

I used most of the potatoes we cut eyes from for planting in a potato soup, which also used our parsley.  I made a salad with homemade dressing using berry syrup I canned.  While J holds down the homestead, I'm taking a road trip with a dear friend to see these ladies.  This is another favorite.  We always have the best of adventures, and I suppose because we've been friends so long (since 9th grade!), it's always a very laid back time.  Seeing I wouldn't use all the vegis before leaving town, I blanched and froze 3 bags of broccoli for future meals.  A couple of artichokes were steamed and enjoyed.  Wishing you joy and things that make your heart happy!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Early March Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

There are still quite a few winter squash in the root cellar, and it's time to be eating them up.  I made a butternut squash crumble, which is my favorite winter squash recipe.  While it was baking, I put two of the cushaw squash in the oven to bake for pies.  The mushrooms that didn't go into the crumble were sauteed in butter, and some were added to a pizza the next night.   Lots of good pantry items went into the pizza... home ground wheat, roasted eggplant and sweet pepper from the garden, black olives I'd canned from a #10 can (using these instructions), as well as green olives and artichoke hearts.   Our oregano went into the sauce, along with onion and garlic.  Half of the sauce, a second pizza crust and 1/2 of the mushrooms were frozen for a future meal.

I've been making lots of soap, to build my stock back up.  The woodstove is going again, and has been used to melt the oils, saving on propane.  While in town to deliver soap and ship an order, I ran by the discount grocery store.  I find very little there these days, but did find codling moth traps for the orchard, for $3.  The regular price on amazon is $15.99, but it's on sale for $8.39. I'd say I still got a pretty good deal, and am hoping it makes for nicer fruit this year.  We placed the two traps on Sunday.  I gathered branches of forsythia to enjoy in the house.  J worked up areas for planting potatoes and garlic.  Our kale seedlings are up, and one of the lettuces too.  We don't have a grow light set up, and it's been way too windy to put them outdoors, so they're already getting leggy.

While preparing potatoes for dinner one night, I cut off the eyes and set them aside to plant.  For one breakfast, I made an omelet.  I remembered having a crepe with kalamata paste in it, and how good it was, so decided to try it with a jar that was already open, along with grape tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  It was yummy!  I've been giving away eggs, but there is still an abundance.  One night, I made a frittata, which used another 4 eggs.  I made asian slaw with some of our cabbage that needed using.  Recently, I picked up several dessert pedestals I made some years back, and had at a gallery.  I asked J if there was some way to separate the plates and candlesticks, as I really liked the plates.  He suggested I put them in a cold oven, and bring it up to 225 degrees.  That worked well for two of them, but a third required 240 and quite a bit longer, and eventually separated, so I can add three more plates to our rotation.

I've been working away at my taxes, little by little.  I can only stand 2 to 2 1/2 hours at a time, before my brain hurts :o).  I finally finished readying everything on Saturday, so we can make an appointment to have them done soon.  I've been meaning to share the cedar boxes M made for me.  They hold large and small paper clips, which I had out while doing taxes, and remembered to take a photo to share.  He's also made several shaving brush handles for my shop, and is getting pretty handy with his lathe.  I've been plugging away at my to do list as I'm able.  I've been enjoying having indoor home days, which helps me to stay focused on tasks.  My mending has patiently been waiting for me.  Last week, I mended a winter coat, a throw pillow, and the binding on a hooked rug.  I've been working on a second rug, which is in much worse shape, and finished it Sunday evening.  It may not be worth it, as it won't last long even so, but it's a vintage one I'm fond of.

peach blossoms
On Sunday, J planted the garlic, and we planted the potatoes.  This year, we're trying King Harry potatoes, in addition to a few eyes from different varieties we saved from last year and some store bought ones.  The garlic is California White, a softneck variety.  Here's hoping both do better than in recent years.  The chickens have not been terribly cooperative, as far as scratching up the garden.  Though they have a large area to work up, they insist on going through the 4" holes of the fence to go outside the garden.  I chased groups of them back into the garden four times on Sunday, before giving up, and putting them back in their regular yard.  Some areas are in fairly good shape now, but they could have done a great deal more, if they'd just stayed in the garden.  Sheesh.  I made roasted potatoes with our rosemary Sunday night, and am thinking potato leek soup will soon be on the menu.  Wishing you blooms to cheer you , and good things to eat!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Back In The Groove & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  At better times, while the flu waxed and waned early in the week, I tried to do easy tasks, such as mending the sleeve on my favorite homestead sweater and going through a pile of magazines.  By Tuesday, my fever was gone, and it was the first day I felt like doing much of anything.  A load of laundry was done, and put in the dryer to minimize the physical labor needed, and some other simple things given attention  On Wednesday, I felt up to washing the bed linens and hanging them out to sanitize in the sun.  I did another round of house sanitizing, and found this list helpful.  I've mentioned both here before, but it seems a good time to say my favorite botanical disinfecting spray is here, and hand sanitizer is this one.   They're just as effective as the chemical ones, and an added benefit is they both smell amazing.

I noticed a few red rose hips still hanging onto the wild roses, and gathered them to use for tea.  A 20% off code was used for supplements, with an additional 12% code for one product.  Our library is working with the state Wildlife Commission and the Smithsonian to loan web cams for tracking wildlife.  I've signed up and taken the survey, and started some online training, requirements before you can get a camera.  Joseph & I are moving slower than usual, but managed to mix up a seed starting mixture, fill and plant one tray of seeds of kale and lettuces.  Interestingly, when we weeded the fall lettuce bed in the garden, we found quite a few new lettuce seedlings that must have found current conditions better for sprouting than last fall.  The two celery ends seem happy too.

I made it to town on Friday, and had a long list of errands to run.  I went by Tractor Supply and picked up a free candy bar while getting dog food.  At Big Lots, I found packs of bulbs to plant now, one a burgundy colored drumstick allium, and another one new to me, Triteleia Queen Fabiola.  I planted both on Saturday.  At the grocery store, I found a box of one of my favorite cookies, Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers, on the mark down shelf for $2.  One of the ends of the box had come unglued, but they looked fine in their plastic sleeve and it was two months out from expiration, so I got them.  I took all the donation boxes I'd filled to Goodwill, making some room in the shed.  I planted peas in the garden, after J readied the spot for me.  He planted walking onion sets we saved from the fall in another spot. J had the great idea to cut a hole in the garden fence, and make a walkway with tomato cages leading the few yards from the chicken yard to the garden.  He protected the few things that are growing, and the chickens are helping us clean up the weeds and bugs before planting. 

The week has been unseasonably warm, and it's been days since we needed heat.  Windows have been opened each day for fresh air.  I requested and picked up two books from the library.  I made pasta sauce using our tomatoes and herbs one night, cooked our sweet potatoes and collards another night, and made colcannon with our cabbage and a mix of ours and store bought potatoes.  Our appetites are still not back to normal. The good news is I lost a few pounds, and was back to my honeymoon weight.  I made yogurt and kefir.  I'm considering letting the kefir go.  I don't ever use it anymore, and just give a bit to the dogs daily.  I do sometimes use the yogurt myself, and the pups like it just as well, so it would be one less task to keep up with.   Three of the nest boxes were cleaned before it began raining.  I waited a little while to do the other three, but the hens were sitting and not ready to leave their boxes.  They'll have to wait for another day.  The pups and I did get a good walk in before the rain arrived.  Little by little, I'm getting back in the groove. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Bit of Yellow Cheer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made suet, kefir, and yogurt.  I added the tbs. or two of seeds in the bottom on my bread bag to a jar I save for bird suet.  The usual washing of ziploc bags, saving warm up water, composting and shredding happened.  Chickweed and various other greens were gathered and given to the chickens. Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap and hung on the line.  There have continued to be lovely sales in both my online shops, and there was even a neighbor that had bought soap from me a year ago to drive up and buy 5 more.  Ebay is another story entirely, but I'll take the others as a good thing.

I suggested to J that we have a simple Valentine's Day this year, instead of going to an expensive restaurant as usual.  J made a simple dinner of cheese ravioli, a salad, and bread we warmed from the freezer.  I made a German cherry cake, which included our eggs and vanilla, and home ground cornmeal.  We were thankful we didn't have plans to go out, because one of our pups kept us up most of Tuesday night, and J began coming down with the flu Wednesday evening.  We ate our dinner by candlelight, and worked on our latest jigsaw puzzle for a little while.  I used frozen sweet cherries for the dessert, and froze six cubes of cherry juice for smoothies.  We're both taking homemade elderberry syrup, Emergen-C, and I'm dosing up on homemade fire cider to ward it off (J is allergic to ginger & turmeric, so can't take it).  The next day, I made another batch of immune support soup using one of our littlest pumpkins and a multitude of homestead vegetables and broth.

A friend read of my struggle with sewing the scrub pants, and offered to help with the top.  She came over and gave me lots of tips, lovely quilting needles and helped me a good long while, then gave instructions so that I could finish.  I finished it on Friday.  It's a little wonky, but I'm quite happy with it.  My massage clients have their head in a face cradle, so maybe they won't notice :o).  I'm a little nervous about throwing it in the wash, but hopefully it will play nice.  One tiny butternut squash was getting soft, so I cut it up and gave it to the chickens.  I used the remainder of cushaw squash in two loaves of "pumpkin" walnut bread, and froze one.  I went through swagbucks, to get 3% cash back on a small purchase.

Darn it, by Friday evening it was obvious I was getting sick with the flu too.  It's the longest the both of us have sat or laid around since we've known each other.  Lots of liquids, naps, reading and natural remedies will hopefully soon have us good as new.  Windows were opened for fresh air.  The scotch broom and daffodils have begun blooming.  J brought me a daffodil on Saturday, the only time he was outside all day. Can spring be too far behind, with this bit of yellow cheer?  There is always hope of good things to come.  Be well, friends.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Simple Pleasures, Some Sewing & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  For years, I thought there were yellow finches at the feeder in the winter.  It turns out they are pine warblers.  Once it was pointed out that they have different beaks,  I can readily see the difference.  Watching the feeders from the kitchen window is a simple pleasure.  I made Pasta Norma with our eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.  After working in town on Tuesday, I ran errands.  Walgreens was having their 20% off day, so I picked up a few items there, and at the grocery store, I found several cans of natural dog food marked down 50%.  I don't have a lot of stored animal food, so it makes me feel better to add these to the shelf.   I requested and picked up two books at the library.  Wednesday was a rainy day, but it got into the low 60's, so I opened up several windows for fresh air.  I cut up another of our cabbages, and made cabbage and noodles for dinner.  The Aldi's bouquet was looking tired after a week, so I cut away the sad flowers and recut the stems on the good ones, to have flowers at the table a bit longer.

I was gifted a beautiful little pottery bowl, and have found it useful several times in the kitchen already.   Ebates sent me a rebate of $13.32.  I continue looking for usnea on my walks, and add any found bits to the tincture bottle.  Some vegetable bits were added to the broth bag, some composted, and other bits chopped for the pups.  Warm up water was used to water plants and added to the humidifier.  Scrap paper was saved for lists, and other paper shredded.   A celery end was planted in the garden, and covered with a glass cloche.  The chickens were given the leftover rutabaga soup, after we ate it two nights, and some sad outer cabbage leaves.  They're still giving us plenty of eggs.  I boiled some for us and the pups, and used one in my Grandmother's dressing recipe.  Laundry was washed with homemade soap and rainwater, and hung on the line.

To make the best use of the oven, while baking an apple pie and dressing, I baked a cushaw squash. While in town shipping orders, I ran a few errands.  At the thrift store, I found several .10 cards, a spatula for .25, and jigsaw puzzles for .50 & .75.  I stopped at Tractor Supply for layer pellets, and saw large dog beds for $22, so picked 2 up.  The pups are enjoying them.  The beds replaced two couch cushions they've been using since we moved into the house, which did great for a long time, but they were getting shabby.  In addition to pecans, an Aldi's run consisted of produce... lemons, clementines, grapefruit, organic onions and grape tomatoes, and garlic.  For a breakfast, I added apple butter to yogurt, then topped it with some granola, all homemade items.  On Sunday, I used some of the cushaw squash, and baked a pie.  I pondered what I might do to make it healthier, and added 1/2 tsp maca.

On my to do list since last summer was sewing a pair of scrubs for massage work, the first clothing I've ever attempted.  I was determined to at least begin it over the weekend. First, I watched a video I had bookmarked, but found out it wasn't what I was looking for, as it was a tutorial in making a scrub top by using a T shirt as a pattern. I already had a pattern, so I began studying it.  Rather intimidated, I asked J for help, my dear husband of so many skills.  I chose to make it with batik fabric, which even though bought on sale, was not inexpensive.  I didn't want to mess up.  He helped me until I felt ready to pin and cut the fabric for the pants.  I did have to rip two seams out, but by the time we had to get ready to meet friends that evening, I had a pair of pants that needed hemming and the waist finished up.  On Sunday, the waistband was sewn, and a drawstring sewn and put in.  When I tried it on, the legs were really large, so I took in 3" per side, then hemmed them.  I left them rather long, because I don't like short pants and was concerned they might shrink with washing.  Not the best photo, but here they are.  Looking back, I really wish I'd been able to spend time learning from my tailor grandfather as a kid.  My grandmother did teach me a little hand sewing.  Perhaps they felt the machine was dangerous for a child.

I can't seem to go on walks, without coming home with pockets full of stuff :o).  Today, I emptied parmotrema lichens, an oak gall, and dried mushrooms from my pockets.  These will all eventually be used as dye stuffs.  I cooked up some of our frozen limas, and used some of our parsley in potato salad.  It was quite warm for a February day, in the upper 60's, and potato salad made us both happy.  Open windows for fresh air was lovely too.  Wishing you much love this Valentine's week. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Scones, Suet & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Around an inch and 1/4 of rain fell early in the week, and just about filled up our cisterns.  I'm thankful for that.  The hens continue to lay well.  Deviled eggs were on the menu this week.  I paid registration fees for my car and a trailer for the shop online, to save making a trip to the license plate office.  Two loads of laundry were done with homemade soap on a rainy day, so they went into the dryer.  Lint was saved in TP rolls to use as fire starters, and a few were used to encourage low fires during the week.  I gathered all the materials to make a batch of soap, and found out my scale had stopped working.  I took it apart, and there were several broken plastic pieces.  I've been using the same scale for many years, so I'm not too disappointed.  I found a stainless one with great reviews for about $15 less than if I had replaced it with the same plastic model.   I'm thankful it happened while soapmaking, rather than when I was attempting to ship one of our home goods orders.

New shaving mugs were picked up from my potter friends, shaving sets photographed, and listed in the shop just in time for Valentine's Day.   I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon gift card. For dinner one night I made a tomato rice loaf using our tomatoes and homemade bread crumbs, okra from the freezer, and corn.  Not sure if it's a good idea, but since we enjoyed the two jigsaw puzzles this winter, I purchased two more at a thrift store @ $1 ea. after delivering soap to a B&B.  I also purchased an Apples to Apples game that looked like it had never been used for $2.  Many of the cards were still in their plastic packages.  I'm not much of a game person, but have fond memories of playing this with family on my Mom's deck.  I brought water in my stainless bottle for the drive.  Eggs were shared with friends, as well as soap "seconds".

 Noticing a change in consistency with the recent Hairprint kits, I wrote and kindly asked about it.  With it being an entirely new product, they're needing to tweak a few things as they learn more.  They sent me three kits to replace the perfectly usable, but imperfect kits, a savings of $110!  With so many companies only concerned about their bottom dollar, it's awfully nice to deal with one with integrity.  Though there is a real commitment for the time factor, and a definite messy factor, I highly recommend this product if you're looking for a nontoxic way to restore your hair color.  When I went to their website to create the above link, I saw a new offer where I can refer someone, and they'll receive 15% off.  If you're interested, just use this link

I recently saw a couple of recipes for Bulletproof Chai, which is perfect, as I'm trying to stay away from coffee right now.  It's pretty tasty, though I'd like it more flavorful, so I'm going to try doubling the chai next time.  We were invited to a birthday party for one of our neighbor's sons.  I made hummus to bring, with cut up celery, carrots and a bag of organic tortilla chips bought on sale for $2 earlier in the week.  The colder temps returned, making me long for soup.  I asked J to harvest rutabagas, and tried a simple soup recipe from a blogger friend, which wasn't much more than rice and broth.  The rutabagas still taste a bit too much like turnips for my liking, though better after the frigid temps, but the soup was filling and OK.  I popped some gifted popcorn in the wok to have with the soup.

Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line, but brought in and finished in the dryer due to the expected precip.  I noticed a rough patch on one of my molars, which felt like something had chipped.  I made a visit to the dentist, worrying he might suggest a crown, but he said he'd just smooth it, a much less expensive option.  I relisted a couple of items on ebay, and also listed one new one.  The elderberry leavings after straining the tincture were dried, and will be used in making suet.  For one dinner, I made vegi chik patties with homegrown pickles, our pear sauce, and beans from the pantry.  Sunday morning was rainy, and I decided lemon blueberry scones were for breakfast.  I used home ground wheat for half the flour.  I hope you're enjoying some cozy days!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Late January & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  As I was gathering soaps to restock one of the galleries, I decided to try using some of the paper I recently thrifted to gussy up my Rose soap.  With these, the Lavender soaps in a pretty blue paper and the Garden soap in floral fabric, I think it will make for a cheerful Valentine's display.  On Sunday, J hung the three new bluebird houses M made.  We noticed one of the older houses had some recent damage to the entrance hole, so M made a guard for that one too.  I'm hoping several bluebird families enjoy their new digs this year.  I made a broccoli cheddar quinoa bake, using our broccoli and eggs.  We finished some leftovers with it.  We've enjoyed two salads with the last of our lettuce.  Though it was under cover, the single digit temps pretty much did in the lettuce.  I'll soon be starting some again.  Our patch of winter salad greens didn't do much this year, but I gathered all I could, then mixed them with what was left of a bag of kale I had harvested, and prepared a winter salad another night.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today. 

I learned of the show Victoria, and found the first year was free to Prime members.  I've been enjoying the series a great deal so far.  I ended up staying home on Tuesday, instead of working in town.  Besides painting an order, I had two to pack and ship.  I knew I would be getting a delivery of soap supplies, and sent the packages on their way when I got my delivery.  An hour's driving saved is a lovely thing.  I was determined to tackle the pile of ironing, and finished it after working a few hours a couple of days.  I rarely listen to podcasts, but save links to interesting sounding ones for days I'm doing mindless tasks, such as soap wrapping and ironing.  Last week, I listened to this.   I found it interesting, and it gave me some things to think about.  If you enjoy any amusing or uplifting podcasts, please share.  I made suet, yogurt and kefir, washed plastic bags for reuse, composted, shredded paper and used warm up water for house plants and the humidifier.

My sweet sister has a birthday coming up, and mentioned she could use a draft dodger for her closet door.  She has a dachshund and loves all things dachshund, so I attempted one for her draft dodger.  My thinking was "how hard could it be to sew a tube?"  With my rudimentary sewing skills, it was a little bit of a challenge.  But I persevered, and came up with something I hope will be useful and cheerful.  I noticed the loose threads on his chinny chin chin after I took the photos, so looked him over and did a few hand stitches here and there before packing him up.  After bringing her presents to our lunch date, I headed towards home to run several errands.  I found a canister at the SPCA thrift shop that will be turned into a compost crock.  They have the nicest people working there, and the best prices.  They're only open on Fridays and Saturdays, so I try to stop by there if I happen to be in town those days.  I redeemed a 15% off coupon for a 40# bag of  sunflower seed at Tractor Supply.

Aldi's was also on my list of stops.  Avocados were .49 and garlic was 3/.79, so both were picked up.  I splurged and got a bouquet for $3.99.  I lean towards wilder bouquets, and found a pretty one with a sprig of goldenrod in it.  J & I went through all our seeds over the weekend, and we only need a few things.  I put several hours into cleaning, researching, photographing and listing some items on ebay.  After 7 days, only one item sold, and my profit will be $1.12.  Sheesh.  I did use recycled items to ship it.  I had a girlfriend day on Saturday, meeting one for lunch then heading to meet another at a vintage emporium.  It was our first time there, and it was rather underwhelming, which of course saved us both money.  Two different aspects of our rainwater system had broken recently.  Some breaks from the freeze emptied out the tanks that supply our household water.  J fixed both over the weekend, and we are collecting rain again.  By the time I got home on Saturday, my respiratory junk was returning.  I decided to make an immune boosting soup on Sunday, which consisted of vegis in every color of the rainbow,  crowder peas, & herbs, most of which were grown here, and a jar of vegi broth which included reishi.  Wishing you a healthy and happy week!