Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Few Days at the Coast and Frugal Accomplishments

A trip to the coast was not terribly frugal, but I am nonetheless happy to be joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community.  We ate out much more than usual, but brought food & ate all breakfasts, all but one lunch, & one dinner in our room (with kitchenette).  I asked for a to go box for 2 dinners; also brought home our pizza crusts & a breadstick for the pups, and leftover bread for the chickens . There was a large selection of free DVD's to borrow, and we chose 3.  The first two were bad enough that we stopped them just a short while into them, but we enjoyed the third one, Chef.   I purchased a small Turk's Cap plant at The Beaufort Historic Center for .50!  This was a new plant to me, but there was one along the picket fence of the Historic Center which caught my eye.  It has unusual red flowers which bloom from May to frost, and has edible flowers and fruit from which you can make teas and jams.  Even the raw fruit sounds good, with a description of being similar to watermelon or apple.  It supposedly propagates easily from seeds or cuttings.  I'm excited about this one.  I also bought 2 burlap bags of snowbell bulbs at the historic center for $1.50 ea (35 bulbs!).  I thought their prices were very inexpensive, so I put a little in their donation box to help support the society and bought a little gift for one of our friends who are minding the homestead.  I made Swagbucks goals several days.

We visited some thrift stores, where Joseph found several pairs of work pants, and I found some basic quilting books (for .50) and a few pieces of clothing.  I also found a large Farberware kitchen tool which I'm not sure was intended for, but will be perfect for moving blanched tomatoes from stove to cold water bath during canning  (photo further down the page).  Also got a small metal cup for my 72 hr. kit.  Due to some Frugal Accomplishments comments, we picked up 2 pieces of dress-up clothing among the Halloween things for J's son's little girl.  One is a beautiful purple velvet princess gown.  These will be part of her Christmas.  There were walks on the beach, quite a bit of reading, and time just hanging out on the balcony watching and listening to the sea.  We had a great view of the eclipse, and watched it from beginning to full eclipse on our balcony, while enjoying wine I had gotten on my sister trip.  With Hurricane Joaquin looming, we headed for home.  Last year, we found a discount grocery store on the way, where I stocked up on organic peanut butter among other things on the way home. We intended to shop there this year, but when we went by, they were closed for restocking :o(.

Once we got home and I had unpacked most everything, I headed to the garden.  I harvested tomatoes, okra, an eggplant, a pepper, swiss chard and trombincino squash.  I hadn't gotten to pick okra for a few days before we left, so the majority were huge, inedible things.  I like okra to be small and tender, but I save a few larger ones in the freezer, to cut up in soups.  The rest generally go to the chickens, where I open them up and pick out the immature seeds.  They really seem to like those.  There was also kale and mixed winter greens that could use picking, but as they don't last too long in the fridge, I will wait until we eat the chard to pick them.  A few weeks ago, I received some Fresh rewards coupons from Lowes.  Two out of 5 were for meat products, so I wrote and asked if it was possible to add info to my profile saying I'm a vegetarian. I never received a response, but then received a $20 Lowes gift card in the mail.

The pups got grated winter squash, chopped tomato, okra and chard with their dinners.  I cut up the chard stems, and added them to the broth bag in the freezer.  After all the vacation food, I was feeling the need for more vegi's and lower calories, so I made my Mom's squash soup with our tromboncino, basil, tomatoes and garlic.  I mixed up the last of the homemade bisquick and made biscuits to go with the soup; added some ww flour and ground some flax seed into it, which made it just a little healthier.  Used our tomatoes and garlic in a rice loaf, chard in a gratin dish, and our canned crowder peas one night for dinner. The rice loaf and chard dishes also used some of my homemade bread crumbs.  Received a gift card from Staples in the mail, which was a rebate.  Canned the last tomatoes of the year.  We've still got some on the vines, but there won't be enough to can at any one time.

Due to Hurricane Joaquin, the Fall Festival was cancelled, the first time that's happened in 43 years.  It was the right decision, though, and I'm thankful they made it, so I wouldn't feel guilty about not participating in all the rain & wind.  Our forecast is to get 5-12 inches by Sunday.  (Update: our 5" rain gauge was overflowing Sat. AM, & we believe we got at least 6" total since Thurs.PM.)  I made a frugal breakfast of oatmeal with apples I dehydrated last year.  Made kefir and yogurt.  The pet sitter used up the last of my yogurt, so I had to buy some for a starter. Will have to educate the pet sitter about homemade yogurt, and the need to keep some for the next batch.  Got the movie about JK Rowling from Netflix, which I'm pretty sure I learned about from a commenter on The Prudent Homemaker.  We both enjoyed it.  Borrowed Season 4 of Call the Midwife from the library.  I'm really enjoying the series.

A few days before we left on vacation, I went to the dentist for a cleaning.  I asked about an area that hadn't felt quite right, and was diagnosed with an abscess.  Though I haven't taken antibiotics in 15 years or more, I thought it was prudent in this case.  Instead of buying OTC probiotics as he recommended, I relied on my yogurt and kombucha to counter the antibiotics, and did well.  I'm learning quite a bit.  He told me the abscess was a byproduct of previous dental work, and the damage done to the root.  He suggested a root canal, but I am researching other options.  I've been to holistic MD's, but have never had a holistic dentist nearby.  Thankfully, there has not been pain.  I've ordered some products from here to support a healthy mouth.  What I'm learning about root canals makes me want to make another choice.  I know that pulling the tooth is an option.  I'd welcome other suggestions that anyone has to share.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sound Healing and Frugal Accomplishments

Though there's not a lot to report this week, I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I took a class that will go towards the CEU's needed to keep my massage license current.  The class was on sound healing, at my alma mater, and they give a 10% discount on classes to alumni. I brought lunch, snacks, and tea each day.  The instructor had a couple sets of tuning forks that students could buy, and I purchased one of them.  They were the same price as online, not frugal but minus the shipping cost, which saved me $21.95.  It was a fascinating subject, a wonderful class, and I'm excited to use the knowledge and tools.

After using lemon juice in recipes, I used the peels to start a batch of cleaning vinegar.  Made kefir and yogurt.  Cashed in Swagbucks points for an Amazon gift card.  Harvested tromboncino squash I had let mature for seeds.  Harvested tomatoes and okra.  Made a dish with our corn, okra & tomatoes.  We should be done using the A/C for the year, and hopefully it will be a few weeks before heating season begins.  I colored my hair at home.   Gave the pups some grated winter squash and chopped tomatoes that had blemishes and wouldn't last.  Mended a shirt.  Did a couple loads of laundry on a rainy day, and saved the dryer lint in TP rolls for fire starters.  I made good progress on my frugal crafty project for next week's Fall Festival.  We're off for a few days of rest and relaxation, with a couple of good folks minding the homestead.  Be well, friends.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Summer's End and Frugal Accomplishments

As summer comes to a close, I'm conscious of the warm days growing shorter.  Soon enough it will be time to swap out our summer clothes for winter, put rugs back on the floor, and fire up the woodstove.  Today I'm joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker.  During the past week, I cooked the egg whites left from making mayonnaise for the pups breakfast.  I have a goal to try more recipes that are made from my pantry, and tried making yogurt using powdered milk.  Unlike Brandy, I've never had to solely live on what was in my pantry, but there were a couple of years where it made a huge difference in what was available to eat.  One thing I know is that life is full of changes, and a little preparation can sometimes go a long way.  I cooked up the bags of vegi scraps in the freezer, and canned the tasty broth.  Planted more kale, lettuce and collard seeds, to fill in the gaps that didn't germinate.  Weeded the sweet potato bed.  It needs more work, but the tallest weeds are gone.  It's a challenge having a garden space farther from the house.  I made sure J didn't plant anything that needed daily attention there, but it still gets ignored more than it ought to.

Sunday bouquet with grasses, goldenrod & hops
I made a zucchini casserole with our squash, herbs, eggs and homemade bisquick.  Made asian cucumbers, for the last time this season.  Used homemade mayonnaise in broccoli slaw.  Gave the pups grated cucumber, winter squash, chopped parsley, purslane & basil with their dinners.  The cooler temps have allowed us to turn off the A/C, and open the windows.  With a couple of nights in the upper 40's, we closed windows in the afternoon, to conserve the warmth of the sun and cooking heat.   I made Swagbucks goals most days.  Went through ebates and Swagbucks for online purchases, to receive credit.  I told someone about ebates.  They checked it out, and wanted to try it, so I got to refer them (my first referral).  I crushed a pan of dried eggshells, and added them to the compost.  Made bread crumbs from a pan of bread ends, and froze them.

one of our two figs
Harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, butter pea & crowder beans, and eggplant.  Canned eggplant.  If you're interested in canning eggplant, this is how I do it.  I listed several items on ebay.  As usual, used homemade soap, deodorant, & laundry soap, washed plastic bags, and composted.  Made zucchini bread with our eggs and squash, potato and pasta salad with homemade mayonnaise and our tomatoes, cucumbers and basil.  Harvested shiso leaves, which I dried for the pups.  Strained and bottled a jar of elderberry tincture.  Made okra and caprese salad with our vegi's and basil.  Made hummus with our garlic.  Canned tomatoes.  J & I were invited to a cookout at a neighbors.  I brought asian slaw to share, which is my favorite new recipe.  I made zucchini breads for this neighbor and another who came and lent their muscle on a homestead project.

Obedient bumblebee
I harvested a good amount of basil, oregano and rosemary.  Some of the basil went into a purslane pistachio pesto, and the rest of the herbs are drying for a gift idea I have.  The purslane is already starting to seed, so I took the remnants and seeds and spread them around some of the elderberries.  It's such a healthy food, we do want a patch of it where it can freely reseed, but outside the garden.  I will be taking part in a local Fall Festival in early October.  I'm trying a new product that I think will be perfect for the Heritage Village I'll be setting up in.  I harvested saplings of cedar, hickory, sassafras and maple for the handles, removed the bark and have them drying.  I have been saving my old cashmere sweaters and had some thrifted wool sweaters found at a good price.  I have felted them, & this will be the other main material in these items.  The only other material will be some sort of twine or something similar, which I need to decide on.  If they turn out well, I may share a photo here in the coming weeks.  Crafting can be frugal too!  Enjoy these last sweet days of summer, friends!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Persimmons, Pawpaws and Frugal Accomplishments

It has been another busy week, and I'm happy to be joining Frugal Accomplishments today.  J added bags of Black Kow manure and organic fertilizer to the hoop house garden bed, and we planted kale, collards, winter salad mix and lettuce.  Depending on the winter, some years greens do better in the hoophouse; other years they do better in the garden.  I went by Trader Joe's, as it was 4 mins out of the way, when I took a friend for a procedure.  I bought produce including artichokes, sea salt and a few other items.  I steamed the artichokes, with bits of our garlic & olive oil drizzled over, and put the stem ends and top bits I cut off into my freezer bag for broth.

I harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, lima beans and crowder peas.  I did some weeding in the bean bed.  Canned tomato juice, & the cooled canning water went on plants.  The pups got small amounts of leftover pasta and okra, grated squash and cauliflower stems, and basil with their dinner.  Did laundry with homemade laundry soap, & hung it on the line.  J grilled on Labor Day, with okra, tromboncino squash & tomatoes from our garden.   I bought cabbage and broccoli seedlings for the fall garden, and planted them, just before a good rain.   Canned tomatoes.  I gathered wild grapes on my walks, and fed them to the chickens.  They also got the large okra pods, which I cut open and threw the seeds out to them.  Swiss chard leaves and other greens were given to them as well.

 I bought 4 limes for $1, froze the juice, and started a batch of cleaning vinegar with the peels.  Made pasta sauce with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  Planted a celery bottom in the hoophouse, to regrow.  I've been doing this for a few years, and it works wonderfully.  I made kombucha and hummingbird food, & kefir. After putting a box of pure cane sugar cubes in a canning jar to store, I looked it up online, and was surprised to find the box I got for $1 at the discount store goes for $8.28 on Amazon.


I harvested the last of the pawpaws, and froze the pulp.  I had pears that needed using, and made a Double Pear crisp, from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook.  The dried pears were some of ours that I dehydrated last year.  Made caprese salad.  I harvested the calyces of the rosella hibiscus, which I'll dry and use in teas.  Harvested our only watermelon of the year, which we enjoyed.  There was one jar of tomatoes that did not seal last week, and I tried making Brandy's Tuscan Tomato Bread soup with it, our fresh garlic and herbs.  I'll be making the soup again, as we both enjoyed it.  I initially planned on making squash casserole, a recipe of a good friend's Mom, which calls for Bisquick.  I found a recipe online & mixed up a batch.  When I decided to make soup instead, I used some of the "bisquick" mix and made biscuits.  J loves him some biscuits :o)

euonymus americanus aka hearts a bustin or strawberry bush
With some recent cooler days and nights, my urge to bake returned, which inspired me to grind wheat.  I've been meaning to try making mayonnaise, and had gotten the safflower oil to do so.  We ran out of mayo over the weekend, and I wanted a tomato sandwich, so I made mayonnaise.  It really is simple and easy, taking only a few minutes.  I was hoping it would be truly wonderful, but I thought it was a bit bland.  I'd like to try it again with some fresh mustard, and also try another recipe I printed at the same time.  Continue to compost, recycle, and wash plastic bags for reuse.  This weekend, I noticed the first scents of fall, that earthy decaying smell, while on my walk.  The afternoon light has shifted, and winter berries and persimmons are coloring up.  I plan to enjoy these last days of summer, while looking forward to autumn.  How about you?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Early September and Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I was gifted these lovely flowers for my birthday last week.  With several sprigs of eucalyptus, they smell as good as they look.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  I shopped at the discount grocery store.  Favorite finds were 1 lb organic raw cacoa powder for $3  ($18.90 on Amazon) & 1 lb. organic ground cinnamon for $4 (normally $18).  Harvested cucumbers, tromboncino squash, tomatoes, eggplant, basil, oregano, chives, pawpaws, okra.  Canned tomato juice and tomatoes.  Gave the chickens holey chard leaves and tomatoes, and wild grapes I collect on my walks.  The pups got chopped tomatoes, basil, boiled eggs and grated cucumbers with meals.  Something was chewing on the last 2 winter squash in the garden, so I harvested them, cut out those parts, put the squash in the fridge and added the skins to the broth bag in the freezer.  I saved the seed, and gave the chickens the other inner bits.

We open the windows up when the nights are cool, and close them in the mornings.  I made a pasta dish using our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  Added the eggplant ends to the stock bag in the freezer.  Brought a friend to a procedure, and took water and snacks for the day, along with a library book.  I harvested a few hazelnuts, but the wasps had a new nest in the bush, and stung me once in the process.  This has been a very bad wasp year here.  J took care of the wasps, and I harvested a few more hazelnuts another day.  We have many native hickories on this land, and the nuts are falling.  I've been gathering a few here and there, when I walk to the mailbox.  They're a very tasty nut, though a bit of work.  I was happy to fill my car with $1.99/gal. gas this week.

I purchased marked down seeds of green beans, peas and lettuce, as well as bagged manure, organic fertilizer, bean inoculant and potting soil.  I bought Glide floss on sale at Walgreens, and got reward points for the purchase.  Made yogurt and kefir.   I colored my hair at home.  Frugal fail: I found several cucumbers in the crisper that were no longer edible, and composted them.  We grew 3 types of cucumbers this year.  Two types died fairly quickly (Armenian & Muncher), but the asian cucumbers Suyo Long just keep bearing.  Every year is different in the garden, but I'm impressed with them, especially since the second round of cucumbers never germinated.  J ordered more of these seeds, and a few more that we needed this week, as well as garlic to plant this fall.  When I began canning tomatoes on Sunday, I found a praying mantis in among them, and put him outside after I snapped this somewhat blurry photo.  The cooled canning water went on plants.

praying mantis brought in from the garden
I found a copy of Radical Homemakers on for very little, which I've been wanting to read for a while.  I'm enjoying it so far.  I purchased windows at our local home improvement store.   J & I had tried several Habitat Restores, a discount store, and the Pella store first.  The Pella store had what we needed, but at quite a bit more than I wanted to spend.  I had hoped they still had returned windows, display models, etc. at discount, but they no longer do.  The home improvement store had Pella windows on sale for 15% off this week, and putting it on my card, which I'll pay off when I receive the bill, saved another 5%, which ended up making the windows about 30% the price wanted at the Pella store.  They were not the same windows, and probably a bit lesser quality, but for 70% off, I can live with it.  I did have to go to the customer service desk, as 15% was not taken off the price at checkout as promised.  The manager got a bit snippy, saying she'd only give me 10%, but the original woman who helped me was rather insistent that she give me the 15% as advertised.   The window purchase may not be frugal, but I got the best deal for what I wanted.  May you accomplish everything you hope for this week!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Frankenpup and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm loving my new muck boots.  I usually come from the garden with wet sneakers from morning dew, so these are a definite improvement.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today. I harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, okra, pawpaws, basil, chives & corn.  Canned tomatoes.  Bought packs of marked down carrot, beet and lettuce seeds at Walgreens, as well as mechanical pencils with a coupon, which I'll save for my nephew.  Froze pawpaw pulp.  Harvested two pears.  I found a cluster of elderberries that had broken off and dried, and added them to the jar of dried berry pulp for bird suet.

This tiny frog kept me company while I picked cucumbers.  I went through swagbucks for a purchase I needed to make from Lowe's.  Decanted some of the first jar of elderberry tincture, to help me get over a lingering cold.  To keep from making a special trip to town, I got creative with the pup's meals for a couple of days.  I cooked eggs and brown rice, gave them a small amount of bread, yogurt, kefir and cheese, some beans, and a larger than usual amount of grated raw vegetables (though still not the 70% their last vet recommended).  There was always a bit of kibble mixed in, though I definitely stretched it.  They absolutely loved the variety.

Cleaned the chicken coop, & added it to the compost pile.  I harvested more hazelnuts, roasted & ground them and added them to a homemade gelato.  Also made tomato cheese pies, asian cucumbers (I know you're not surprised :o), and roasted green beans for a dinner with friends.  Our guests brought homemade sourdough rye, dark chocolate brownies, pimento cheese & crackers, & a kombucha fruit drink.  It was a happy coincidence that our friend, who is from Estonia, grew up spending days gathering hazelnuts with her grandfather, which they would eat through the year.  The hazelnut gelato with her dark chocolate brownies was heaven.

I canned tomato juice with the pulp, and it is delicious.  I can imagine what it will be like to drink a glass in the cold months.  Quite like summer in a jar.  I gathered a bouquet of beauty berry, poke berries, autumn clematis, obedient plant, soapwort and a canna lily for the house.  Made kefir, kombucha and yogurt.  I washed all laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.

Guinness was keeping me company while I was picking tomatoes.  When I looked over, I saw he had gotten into a writing spider's web.  Looks rather like Frankenpup, don't you think?  My silly pups make me laugh almost every day.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hazelnuts and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  I harvested corn, removed the kernels and froze 2 bags.  Harvested our onions, which were very skimpy, a bit over one lb.  Some had rotted in the garden, and about half had rotten spots, so I cut the good pieces of those to dehydrate.  I canned salsa using our tomatoes, volunteer ground cherries, cow horn and sweet red peppers we had grown in past years, garlic, parsley and oregano, plus onions and spices that were bought.   I made a squash dish, which also used our tomatoes, corn and onions.

I prepared a homegrown meal, which J cooked on the grill.  There was okra, corn on the cob, beets with rosemary, and a zucchini, tomato, onion, garlic, & thyme combo which also had storebought romano and a portobella in it.  It was a delightful summertime meal.  I made a caprese salad with our tomatoes and basil.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Dehydrated squash., and beet skins for dyeing fabric.  Canned tomatoes.  I've had a lingering cold since last weekend that left, and then came back.  I made a cough syrup by cutting up 1/2 lemon, covering it with 1/2 cup raw honey in a pint jar.  I brought a cup of water to a boil, turned it off, added a handful of thyme leaves, and quickly covered it to keep in the essential oils. Once it had mostly cooled, I added the strained thyme tea to the honey and stirred.  I've taken a tbs of it as needed.  It should last a month or so in the fridge.

J & I harvested squash from several vines that had died- spaghetti squash, hopi grey, butternut and others I've forgotten the name of.  I started several cherry & grape tomatoes this year, including some Sweet Millions that were my Mom's seeds.  I throw some of these tomatoes in with the larger ones when I'm canning, and we eat them fresh, but there were lots coming in, so J came up with the idea to try juicing them with the new juicer.  I added in some of the smaller paste tomatoes, and did that.  This time, I just steamed them, and it is a thin juice, not like store bought tomato juice.  I'm thinking it would be best added to soups, or possibly vegetable dishes.  For a thicker juice, you can blend the remaining pulp and add it into the juice.  I think I'll try that next time.

We had some nice rain this week, so I replanted some of the fall vegetables that didn't come up with the first planting... more kale, spinach, 2 types of collards (one that J's grandfather grew, and Morris Heading), and a patch of mixed winter greens.  It's too late to plant more rutabagas.  Hopefully, I will get a handful of them this year from what did germinate.  That vegetable has been a real challenge for me.  I still want to replant beets and carrots, and get some cabbage and broccoli plants.  In the winter I had filled TP tubes with dryer lint and a bit of candle wax.  As I had a good amount of these, I've been tearing up TP tubes and tissue boxes and adding it to the compost bucket.  A good portion of the year, it's mostly kitchen scraps that go into the compost bin, so more browns are always welcome.  I cut a bouquet for the house, using zinnias, forsythia limbs that needed cutting back as filler, autumn clematis, and beauty berry.

okra, squash, pawpaws & hazelnuts!
This is a portion of Sunday's harvest.  The bowl, in front and center, is what I'm most excited about... hazelnuts!  This is our first good harvest.  Well, you really could say it's our first harvest, unless you've been reading here long enough to remember this post.  I gathered carrot and orlaya seeds.  A few kale seeds and lots of my mixed winter greens have sprouted in the garden.  At our ladies homesteading group this week, I was gifted several yarrow seedlings, and some sunflower seeds that have yellow and rust flowers.  I planted the yarrow, and fertilized them with nettle tea.

Once I removed the husks, there was just a bit over one cup of hazelnuts in the shells.  There are more on the shrub, not a lot, but some. These are what were on the ground, or shaken off.  My Mom made the best gelato using hazelnuts.  I think I may have just enough to make it.