Monday, September 16, 2019

A Doozy of a Day & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I forgot to mention last week that friends that visited brought us large bags of tart dried cherries and dried cranberries.  They were put in jars to store in the pantry.  I cut up one of our peppers, and sauteed corn with it and a clove of garlic. Speaking of garlic, ours has been languishing on a table on the porch since harvest.  I'd been cleaning a few heads at a time as I needed them.  I finally got around to cutting the roots and cleaning the majority of them, before a blister caused me to stop. Seed was harvested from carrot plants.  I enjoyed an outdoor shower.  Though the days are remaining quite hot, the nights are cooling off enough to open up and let the cool air in.  Some nights, the temperature in the house only drops 1 degree, but having fresh air and not having to use the a/c is a definite plus.

I decided to try something new with the corn and pepper leftovers, leftover roasted potatoes and herbs, and a zucchini orzo dish.  I mixed them all together with an egg, some flour, cheddar cheese and garlic powder, and made fritters.  We had J's son for dinner, and we all agreed they were quite tasty.  I'll have to remember that when we have dribs and drabs of leftovers.  I had a frugal fail on Monday, when after hours of chopping the night before, and a few hours of simmering, I scorched a batch of pear preserves.  Bummer.  On Tuesday, I made pear sauce.  I'm used to eating unsweetened apple sauce, but this batch was pretty bland.  The next day, I added vanilla and lemon juice to another batch for more flavor.  For about half of the pears, I was able to use my apple peeler/corer, but the rest had spots that needed cutting out.  I'd read of people who steam them, and decided to try that, to take care of the problem of scorching.  It worked great.  The first day, I used the blender to turn them into sauce, which worked fine, though I did it in small batches, and poured them directly into the jars without tasting.  The next day, I sauced the whole batch in the pot with the immersion blender, then seasoned it before putting it in jars.  I'll do that again.  I've tackled all the pears, except for a handful, which we'll eat fresh.  Yay!

A book I requested from the library came in.  When I requested it, I was 9 in the queue, so had no idea when it would be available.  I won't be in town until next week, where the main library is, so asked them to send it to the local library.  They run couriers between the libraries daily, and it saved me a trip to town.  I save all our corks for the local orchid grower, and dropped them off while passing by on an errand.  Pasta Norma was made with our herbs and veggies.  I chopped and froze some of our sweet peppers.  I harvested cucumbers, pawpaws, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, figs, lettuce and lima beans.  Tomatoes were canned.  Our lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes were used in a salad, and homemade dressing made from pantry items.  I learned that our phone company began giving all customers free caller ID this month, so called and set that up.  We've gotten into the habit of often letting the phone ring, as so much of it is robocalls, so this will help.

 The requested book was picked up.  For a dinner, I made a tomato rice loaf and squash dish, using our vegetables and herbs.  A friend visited, and gifted me several books, a sweater, shawl and scarf.  I worked in the garden, cutting back dead leaves and vines of cucumbers, squash and tomatoes.  The heat and drought have taken their toll, as well as it being time for things to begin dwindling.  I hope the pruning will help things produce a bit longer.  I gathered more basil than needed for a recipe, so the extra chopped basil went into an ice cube tray, was covered with water, and frozen.  I made a batch of yogurt.  Eggs were boiled for us and the pups.  After working on firewood, J & I enjoyed a night out, meeting friends for dinner and a concert.  J worked on the refrigerator again, and so far, it looks like this time fixed it.  There was one day that was a real doozy, but we made it through intact.  Life is always interesting, that's for sure.  Wishing you good things in the week ahead.   

Monday, September 9, 2019

Early September & Frugal Accomplishments

loofah blossom
Hello friends.  Last week, I listed several things on ebay, a few of my friend's antiques and several pairs of my shoes.  On Labor Day, we worked on the solar hot water system.  There were some less fun portions of the job finished, such as spending time in the crawlspace to hook things up, and covering a tank with insulation batting, but we were able to start the system.  There are still some things to do, but it's far enough along that water is being heated, though not yet to the 150 degrees needed to move to our hot water tank.  J cut down some trees, and needs to cut some more which are shading it. One good thing that came from that is a good amount of usnea, which was on a dying tree.  I gathered enough to finish out one jar of tincture, and filled another 1/2 pint jar.  The trees will be used for firewood.

After a soap delivery, I went by a favorite thrift store, and found a canister, which I'll turn into a compost crock for my shop.  I also found a lovely floral painting for $10, which will be added to a gallery of floral paintings on the tall wall behind the couch.  I shelled all of last years hazelnuts, and for my birthday, we made my Mom's recipe for hazelnut gelato.  A beautiful birthday bouquet was sent by my daughter in spirit.  We attended an appreciation night for a group we support.  There was live music, local beverages, and delicious food by a kitchen that has just opened up there.  They use lots of local foods, and all of it is vegetarian.  On a recent night when J had been working on that site, he brought home a couple of their offerings for dinner.  Both were savory items in pastry.  Yum!

A batch of yogurt was made.  On Saturday morning, while J was working on our orders, I canned tomatoes and shelled beans.  When he was done with his part, I cleaned and painted them.  During a lull, I fertilized several things with fish emulsion, including all the house plants.  Holes were drilled in the canister lid, to turn it into a compost crock.  After some research, I was able to figure out how to watch This Is Us on our TV.  The sad part is NBC only gives you 3 show credits, and I used one to find out I had already seen that episode.  It's been 6 months or so, and I couldn't remember exactly where I was at.  Oh well.  I suppose after the credits are used up, they'll want payment.  Hopefully, I can find another way to view them.  I tried a new recipe, with tromboncino squash and orzo.  It was pretty good, though a little bland for our tastes.

Our orders were packed up on Sunday.  After friends visited, and pawpaws were shared, we headed to town to ship the orders and run a few errands.  When we picked up items to do an oil change on my car, we got a deal that gave us a free oil filter.  When we got back, I prepped 4 1/2 qts. of pear preserves, which will be canned on Monday.  I packed up an ebay sale.  In the garden last week, I harvested tromboncino squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, a pepper, the last of the hazelnuts, pawpaws, a few leaves of lettuce, a butternut squash, basil, oregano and thyme.  I was happy to find  two monarch caterpillars on the milkweed.  I'm enjoying these late summer days, and wish you a lovely week ahead. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Pollinators & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I took advantage of a free 8 x 10 offered by Walgreens.  It happened that my cousin had just sent a scan of our grandparents wedding photo.  I'll be so happy to add it to our family photo gallery.  I pulled off the pillow covers and mattress pad, and washed them with the other linens.  All laundry was hung on the line.  One of the commenters on The Prudent Homemaker gave me the idea to freeze zucchini tots, so I made a quadruple batch, and froze 3 meals worth.  I plan to do it again, as a way to use up some of the squash.  All of our little apples in the crisper, along with one of our pears and several of the free asian pears, were used in an apple tart.  It was a real labor of love, as almost all had pecked or bad spots, but I feel good that they've been made use of.  The pups were given peelings a few nights with their dinner.  Update:  I made the tart using honey for sweetener, and have to go back to the drawing board, as the taste was too strong for our liking.

The pollinators have been happy on the mountain mint and Joe Pye weed.  I recently read of goldenrod helping achy muscles.  I gathered some, and followed the recipe to make salve.  If it works, that will be a helpful thing to have on hand.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint and lemon balm gathered to freshen it up a bit.  The pups were bathed with homemade soap in the outdoor shower.  I used homemade sweet potato treats to entice them.  After their bath, I made up a half & half vinegar/water solution, and cleaned their ears.  Lemon balm was harvested, and a jar of tincture started.  Basil was harvested, chopped and frozen in cubes with water for winter use. Pasta sauce was made with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, basil, rosemary and garlic.  I requested a book from the library, and redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC.

I tried making another round of almond milk, this time a half recipe, as the majority of the first batch went bad, even with dividing and freezing half.  I like to mix things up for meals, so something that only lasts 2 days is a bit problematic.  On my Dr's recommendation, I also removed the skins this time.  I'm hoping that makes a difference in it's perishibility too.  A double batch of hummingbird food was made.  A pair of slippers were repaired.  One of the things I fall short in is fertilizing plants.  Somehow, I don't often get to it.  But this week, I did manage to fertilize a number of plants, some edible, but many flowering.  The heat and humidity drove me back inside, but I hope to get to another round of plants soon.  A neighbor came by while I was harvesting.  I had found the two largest pawpaws we've ever grown, and he loves them, so they went home with him.  The next day, I sent a bag home with him. 

Though my birthday isn't until next week, the celebrating has begun.  I enjoyed a dinner out with family on Saturday, and was gifted a painting and wildflower bouquet from a very sweet little boy (my great nephew).  With a hurricane possibly heading this way in a few days, we harvested all the pears we could reach with a picker.  They filled two 5 gallon buckets.  Now, what to do with all those pears?  I decided to make pear preserves on Sunday, which I plan to give as gifts.    That put a dent in it, but there are lots more.  After canning, I headed to a friend's lake house for the evening.  It's always a treat to relax and look out at the water.  I brought a tromboncino squash and eggs to share.  In just a couple more days, the Pumpkin Chai soap can begin being wrapped.  For all those in the path of Hurricane Dorian, I wish you safety.  Be well, friends.

Monday, August 26, 2019

New Recipes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I foraged some lovely chanterelles.  We've been getting some nice rain, which is helping the mushrooms come out.  After work on Tuesday, I picked up a few groceries, including .99 avocados and bags of dog food on sale for $4 less than usual.  I also stopped to get a few lettuce and parsley plants.  I was focused, and didn't even check out the mark down section :o).  The goji berries finally began blooming last week.  Hopefully, there is time to get some fruit before first frost.  I canned squash, and made Pasta Norma, which used our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano and chives.  A double batch of hummer food was made twice.  The hummingbird numbers have increased dramatically, so I'm thinking they must be close to migrating.  They're going through lots of food.  J noticed storm clouds gathering, so grabbed the laundry on the line.  Three pairs of his work pants were still slightly damp.  I threw them over chairs instead of using the dryer.

morning pond
A batch of tomatoes was canned.  One of my nieces came for a visit.  She went on the morning hike with the pups.  I fixed breakfast when we returned, and introduced her to pawpaw, which she liked. I gathered seeds of carrot and kale, and found that kale had reseeded in our old cold frame.   A neighbor gifted us a large bag of corn.  Six ears were boiled, and the remainder were used in a corn zucchini chowder, which was delicious.  The chowder also used a tromboncino squash, as well as our potatoes, garlic and thyme.  It was as pretty as it was yummy.  Several figs were harvested, and enjoyed fresh.  The loofahs have begun blooming.  I'm pretty sure it's too late to get any viable loofahs, but the pollinators seem to be enjoying the flowers.  Another new recipe was tried, Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives.  It's a keeper too.  I'm so enjoying the cooler temperatures, and having the windows open again.

On Saturday, we planted a good part of our fall garden... collards, cabbage, broccoli, kale and lettuce plants.  There are also collards that have come up from seed, though they're small yet.  I also planted the moonflowers.  In planting the mystery yellow flowers, I found that there are indeed spirea in with them.  So, I got two for one in those pots.  After making and painting 5 orders on Sunday, J & I worked on our solar hot water system.  Conduit was laid in a trench, and the lines fished.  A few things were hooked up, but I can't remember the names at the moment.  Last week, he was given a heat exchanger that was no longer in use from a job he was working at.  It will work perfectly in our system.  Lemon balm and lemon verbena were harvested and dried for tea.  I know I'm forgetting some things, but it's been a bit of a whirlwind lately.  Wishing you a lovely week ahead.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Old Man of the Woods & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After an appointment last week, I went by Trader Joe's and a local natural foods market.  On Tuesday, I met a friend for dinner and free live music to celebrate her birthday.  I'd seen one of the musicians earlier this summer, and thought she'd like him too.  Two of her gifts were made or altered by me.  There were daily walks with the pups.  While harvesting parsley one day, I noticed several swallowtail caterpillars feeding on it.  I recently saw a friend had put a large laundry bag over her plants with caterpillars to protect them.   I only had small bags, so I covered them them the best I could for one day, then found some large ones at Dollar Tree, and changed them out.  These are busy days in the garden, with cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, tromboncino, tomatoes, peppers and hazelnuts being harvested.  There were even a few of the peach runner beans, which I cooked up in a recipe with tomatoes, onion and garlic.  We enjoyed them, though the hot, dry days have made all the beans a little tough. Good fiber!

One day, I got a call from J, asking if I'd be willing to bring the guys their suitcase welder, as the large portable one had broke down.  They were working at the place where he and his business partner had first worked together as employees.  The plant has gone through numerous changes since then.  At one time, a good bit of food was planted there.  These days much of it goes to waste.  I gathered 10 asian pears, and around 3 dozen figs while there.  A few figs were eaten fresh, and the rest were dehydrated.  I'm thinking of making a tart with the pears, but haven't decided. I also gathered a few flower heads of zinnias and dianthus.  Free organic food and seeds was a nice bonus for doing a good deed.  J worked there again the next day, and brought home another 12 asian pears.  I stopped by a nearby feed & seed for chick food on the way home, and saw their plants were all 75% off.  I came home with a lemongrass, 2 moonflower vines, and 2 plants labeled as spirea tomentosa, but learned they are something else entirely, with yellow flowers.  Oh well, it will be a surprise, unless you can enlighten me.  The plants were all $1 or $1.25 each.

mystery plants (see long, narrow leaves below lemongrass leaf)
I had intended to can squash, and had just put the canning rings in a pot to boil when J called about the welder.  So, plans changed, and I canned squash the next day.  While keeping an eye on the canner, I shelled the dry lima beans.  When I was done canning, I blanched and froze fresh limas, and made a batch of yogurt.  For my upcoming birthday, I'd been thinking of asking for headphones, which I sometimes use to listen to things on the computer, or watch a movie J isn't interested in.  The right side of the headphones hasn't worked right for some time, and takes a lot of fiddling to get it to work.  It occurred to me that I may be able to fix it by replacing the jack, so ordered one for less than $5, which J will solder for me.  I've had them for years, and replaced the ear foam within the past year.  The headphones are good quality, so if the jack works, they should last a good while longer.

While canning, I kept enough yellow squash out to make this dish.  For another meal, I pulled sloppy joe sauce from the freezer, and J pulled a chicken from the freezer another day.  The ice maker broke a few weeks ago.  It took several tries, and a bit of sleuthing, but J managed to fix it for not much OOP.  Another day, I canned tomatoes, then dehydrated the skins for bird suet.  I'd been wanting to try a plant version of mozzarella, and did when I made a caprese salad.  It was surprisingly good. Even J said he would eat it.  This will help me better keep to my Dr's recommendations during tomato season.  I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.  It's been a few weeks since there were any figs to harvest.  I checked on them, and found 4 big, perfectly ripe figs to harvest.  They were so good.  J bought a new TV, which came with Roku.  I think that means I'll be able to watch more of the This is Us show for free, which makes me happy.

On Sunday morning's walk, I harvested a couple of chanterelles and an old man of the woods, which were both taught during the mushroom class.  Old man of the woods is a new edible for me, so I cooked up a small piece with the chantrelles, eggs, tomatoes and garlic to try.  The instructor said the taste benefited from drying and rehydrating, so I dried the remainder.  It's always a good idea to eat a small amount when trying a new mushroom, to make sure it agrees with you.  We traveled several hours east on Saturday, for a family reunion.  I brought cucumber couscous salad to share, and brought a large bowl of lima beans to shell on the drive.  After we got home, a friend and her husband delivered several bottles of their honey, brought wine and crackers to share, and a few rose of sharon seedlings.  It's so hot and dry again, I'm going to keep all the plants watered for now, and plant them when they have a better chance.  I hope your week has been a good one.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mushrooms, Computer Woes & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I saw a lovely living luna moth on a branch, while on my walk.  I thought it was pretty special, as I usually only find a wing or two now and then.  I learned that this one is a male, due to it's feathery antennae, and the adults only live a few days to a week.  I harvested elderberries, and started a batch of tincture.  I plan to leave the remaining elderberries for the birds.  I recently found a bag of dates I had purchased a while back fermenting.  The bag looked like it was about to explode.  I've never seen this before, but returned it to the store where I purchased it, and received store credit.  They had a best buy date some time in 2021, so it was somewhat surprising.  I gathered shiso, and have a pan of it drying.  I typically use this when the pups eat something that will upset their stomach, per my herbalist friends recommendation.  I cleaned and did some decluttering in my sewing area, and mended a rug.  All laundry was hung on the line.

morning light
I got some back to school sales, notebooks and glue sticks for .50/package, and significantly discounted packing tape.  Thankfully, my PC was able to be repaired.  It required a new hard drive, but my files were all saved.  My laptop appeared to have died while the other was in the shop.  J got it up and working again, but it was tired, with multiple issues, so we decided to take advantage of back to school sales, and purchase a new one.  I used $8 in rewards toward the cost, which was already discounted $150.  It will be so nice to have one where the keys all work, and hopefully is faster.  I requested books from the library, and picked them up.  An ebay order did not arrive when "guaranteed".  I reported it, and received a $5 voucher.  It arrived four days later.  I foraged chanterelle mushrooms several times, and blanched and froze 4 more meals of lima beans.

The horticulture crew at our zoo does a fantastic job.  I couldn't help but notice this beautiful plant in the aviary.  Doesn't it look painted?  My husband had an evening out, enjoying a concert with cousins, so I had a rare evening to myself.  I enjoyed it by painting my toe nails, and reading library books.  I had thought I may cook some things he doesn't eat, but decided not to cook at all, and enjoyed a homegrown tomato sandwich instead.  Earlier in the day, I took a class on edible mushrooms.  Though the class and book I bought were not frugal, I hope it will allow me to forage more varieties of mushrooms. A pan of eggshells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  A pan of bread ends was turned into bread crumbs and frozen.

Homemade almond milk has been on my to do list for a while.  I finally determined to do it over the weekend.  The hardest part will be remembering to soak the almonds the day before.  I probably need to change how I'm straining it too, as it's really slow through cheesecloth.  Next time, I'll try one of my jelly straining bags, and see if that doesn't pick up the pace.  I'm used to the unsweetened, so for this first batch, I added only a pinch of salt.  Now I have pure almond milk, without all the questionable ingredients, and am saving money too.  Orders continue coming in to our little shop.  J finished up three this weekend, I powder coated them, and we worked together to get them packed to ship.  After that, there was a little time to relax.  I hope you had some too!  Have a wonderful week!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mushrooms, NC Zoo & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I spotted the first cinnabar chanterelles along our creek bank.  They're pretty small, so I'm going to leave them alone.  I've signed up for a mushroom class in a couple of weeks, and hope to learn a few more to harvest safely.   I got the toaster oven out, and have used it several times in place of the oven, to cut down on heat in the house.  J went to help a neighbor with a piece of farm equipment, and came home with freshly dug red potatoes, and 13 ears of corn.  I used 6 ears for dinner, and froze the other 7 as whole kernels.  I blanched the gallon bag of lima beans, and froze them.

It's something I often forget, but I remembered to log in my walks and weight for balance rewards at Walgreens, which increased my rewards by $2.  Waldorf salad was made with our apples.  The last of the sweet potatoes were boiled.  Leftover corn and lima beans, with cucumbers and tomatoes, made this meal homegrown and local (corn) except for a few minor things.  I harvested thyme, and am drying it for winter use.   The lima bean shells for dye experiment was a fail.  They imparted almost no color to the water, after boiling an hour or more.  They'll make fine compost though.  Pasta sauce was made with our tomatoes and tromboncino, rosemary and basil, and cucumbers and tomatoes went in a salad.

So, I've now tried cleaning the dishwasher both with lemon kool aid, and without.  I can see no benefit to using the kool aid.  It looks exactly the same after it's been run through, and wipes down just the same without it.  I expect results may vary based on your water.  A dinner of our eggplant, green beans, leftover sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers was enjoyed.  Elderberries were harvested, and a quart of tincture started.  I had a slow day shop sitting at a pottery shop, and was able to wrap three batches of soap, and do a little reading.  Our fall greens were doing well, until flea beetles started attacking them.  They were started in a large metal container on concrete blocks, a long way from the ground, so we were rather surprised to have flea beetles there.  Go figure.

kale seedlings, before the flea beetle attack
After work on Friday, we picked up our GD, Miss S.  We stopped at one restaurant, and after 20 minutes without any acknowledgement, we left.  At another restaurant, after a long wait, we had dinner.  I thought I might take her to hear live music, with possibly another stop or two on Saturday, but she was adamant that she wanted to stay home and sew.  Who could argue with that?  She made her Mom a heart stuffy from scratch while I mended some items.  She wanted to fix her own breakfast of eggs and cheese, and made a batch of hummus with minimal help. We did a garden harvest, picked a bouquet, and visited the chickens a couple of times.  She enjoyed strewing the cherry tomatoes to them, seeing the young chicks, and collecting eggs.  She helped cut cucumbers for asian cucumbers, and fed the pups.  J worked some more on our solar hot water, and she and I took turns assisting him.

Miss S and I joined another grandmother and GD at the zoo.  She has a membership, which allowed us entry for free.  While the girls had fun in the kid zone, my friend and I were able to catch up a bit while keeping an eye on them.  We all enjoyed a picnic with foods brought from home after visiting a couple of animal exhibits and a carousel ride.  Harvests from the garden include cucumbers, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, green beans, lima beans, a few apples and hazelnuts, a pear, and herbs.  My PC crashed and burned Sunday morning without warning.  I'm looking at refurbished ones to replace it with.  J thinks running the videos on swagbucks probably contributed, so I'm thinking I will stop doing those.  The hardest thing about a new computer will probably be redoing my soap labels.  I did save the earlier ones on a disc, but all the new ones will have to be redone.  Ah well, it could be worse.  Wishing you a beautiful and bountiful week!