Monday, February 8, 2016

Mid Winter & Frugal Accomplishments

Once again, I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  Last week, I used our parsley in potato salad.  Added the parsley stems to the veggie broth bag.  Enjoyed some of our dill pickles.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Prepared home canned green beans with our garlic & thyme, & home canned beets.  Picked up a utility lighter at Walgreens, and after the senior discount and $3 in rewards, it cost a dollar and change.  Got a hemp & organic cotton skirt and a cashmere sweater at Goodwill for $8 and change.  Chopped up rutabaga peelings (unwaxed) for the pups dinner.  Picked chickweed for the chickens.  J bought us dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I had the leftovers for lunch one day.  I bought lemons at Aldi's.  I looked for a few things at both Walgreens and Aldi's, but ended up with just one item at each.  Opened windows for fresh air several days.  Heated with wood.

I recently purchased a beautiful pottery mug at one of the galleries that carries my soaps.  The gallery has supported me for several years, and when I can, I like to give something back.  I loved the tapered shape of the mug, which would keep hot beverages warm for longer, but unfortunately it leaked like a sieve.  There was a crack in the bottom, which wasn't noticeable until filled with liquid.  I returned it to the gallery & there were no others, so I picked out two items... a beautiful pair of fingerless gloves and a locally made bar of Escazu dark chocolate which together was one dollar more than the mug, but the dear manager refused to take any money, saying the paperwork to make it right would not be worth it.

I spotted several daffodils blooming next to our drive!  There have been geese flying by, and we've been hearing spring peepers... all signs that spring will be here before we know it.  I stained and varnished the counter top in my pantry.  Boiled the littlest sweet potatoes for the pups, and baked several larger ones for us. Had sweet potatoes as a side dish, and made a pie with 2c of the leftovers, our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Grated our carrots for the pups.  Made Brandy's black bean burgers with our eggs and garlic.  Added carrot and onion ends, & sweet potato skins to the veggie broth bag.  Worked on my quilt with my stepmom; brought leftovers for lunch.  Not having to go out to lunch enabled me to make good progress.  Not too many more days, and I'll be finished!

potatoes just after gathering; one large one wouldn't fit in basket
I did laundry with my laundry soap and soap gel, and hung it on the line, except for cashmere sweaters, which I hung near the woodstove.  I picked 3 of the blooming daffodils, to bring their cheer indoors.  Emptied water glasses and bottle into wood stove humidifier.  Printed shipping label for an online sale at home, saving a trip to the P.O.  Received an ebates check.  Used homemade soap and deodorant.  I gathered 5# of our potatoes, and used 2# of them in colcannon.  I've shared how we store our potatoes here.  Even after several nights in the mid teens, they are faring well.  I believe the ground helps moderate the temperature.  Quite a few were sprouting, and a very few had small insect holes, but they stay moist and plump, and last longer than any other way we've tried.

I boiled eggs for us and the pups.  I'm replacing an equal amount of dogfood for eggs per the vets instruction.  I generally give them one or two with dinner, and an occasional one for breakfast.  I chopped a bit of cabbage core and added it to the pups dinner.  Made french toast using our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Pruned many of the apples, elderberries, blueberries, figs, plums, butterfly bushes and our hazelnut.  Prepared dinner of Hopi Grey cinnamon spiced squash, roasted brussels sprouts, and a vegi version of my grandmother's stuffing.  Only the squash, garlic, parsley & an egg were grown here, but it was the perfect mid-winter dinner.  I made suet for the birds.  Though I don't watch the Super Bowl, I look forward to viewing the commercials online this coming week.  Did you have any favorites?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Late January & Frugal Accomplishments

evening kitchen
I'm happy to be joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.  This week, I did laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.  I made yogurt and kefir.  Baked sweet potatoes, and made a pie with some of it and our eggs; had the rest as a side dish.  Also cut and dehydrated sweet potatoes for pup treats.  So easy, and they love them.  Ends and baked skins went into the broth bag.  I boiled eggs for us and the pups.  Dry canned pecans and cashews.  It's the first time I've tried cashews, so I'll see how they do.  Had some sales in my online shop and one on ebay.  Walked with the pups in the evenings.

sweaters drying, doggy sunning, stove needs blacking
I made a quiche with our eggs, sweet red pepper, and garlic. I worked on my quilt with my stepmom, and brought leftover asian slaw, quiche and sweet potato pie for our lunch, so we wouldn't have to go out to eat.  Brought my reusable water bottle whenever I left the house this week.  Used leftover pasta sauce to make (vegi) chicken parmigiana.  Made tapioca from scratch with our eggs and homemade vanilla.  That's definitely one of my comfort foods... so good.  BTW, I mentioned animal tracks in the snow in the last post.  They were quite large, and different from anything I was seeing online.  Though they didn't look like it, I decided the next day that they must be McNibs' tracks, either sliding or one on top of the other, because I saw a similar fresh one on our walk back to the house the following day, where the pups had been walking.  Guess it's not the chupacabra after all :o).

I ran errands after working in town, including picking up a few things at Big Lots during their 20% off sale.  Ran by the discount grocery, and picked up a bag of Iams cat food and a tube of Jason's natural toothpaste, both for less than 1/2 price, along with a handful of other things.  Dry canned jasmine rice.  Washed plastic bags to reuse.  Composted fruit & vegi trimmings, tea bags and coffee grounds.  Tore up TP tubes and added to the compost.  Used my Lowe's credit card for a purchase, saving me 5%.  Fertilized the hellebores with nettle tea.  I helped Joseph plant two pear trees.  These are fire blight resistant, which is a major problem here.  The varieties are Potomac and Blake's Pride.  We hope these will do better than our original pear trees.  The season's first Downton Abbey disc arrived via Netflix, and I thoroughly enjoyed the episodes.  I'm really going to miss that show.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Winter Storm & Frugal Accomplishments

I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, I ran all my errands while in town.  Brought my reusable water bottle with me.  Bought canned organic beans at Aldi's for .79.  I went by Marshall's in search of a birthday present for my sister.  While I didn't have any luck with that, I did spy a 5 qt. red Cuisinart cast iron dutch oven on the clearance aisle.  The Cuisinart site lists it as $99.95, and I got it for $39.  While not entirely necessary, as I do have a vintage cast iron dutch oven I bought used years ago, I decided a second one in such a cheerful color was almost a necessity in these short days of winter :o).

Received a $4 check for a product I didn't care for and gave feedback on.  Redeemed $10 in points at Walgreens, for a couple of sale items and greeting cards.  Used a $25 gift card towards an Amazon purchase.  J decided to try the 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime, and stocked up on some food items while shipping was free.  When the powdered milk arrived, 2 of the bags had "exploded", and another had cracks in the corners.  That was rather a mess to clean up, but Amazon responded immediately, crediting him for the open bags.  When I cleaned up the spilled milk powder, I put it in canning jars, and will use it for the animals.  With the very cold weather (some mid teens at night), I've been giving the dogs, cats and chickens yogurt with a good amount of crumbled dried nettles in it.  I warm up just a touch of milk to add to it, to take the chill off, requiring less of their bodies heat to digest.  The chickens have also been getting extra corn and oats to help them stay warm, plus an extra thick layer of straw in their coop, which makes a noticeable difference.  I have an old wool rug in the shed, and fixed it to make a cozy sleeping spot for the farm kitties.

one brave soul
we'll just stay right here, thanks
Cashed in Swagbucks points for an Amazon gift card.  Made a pumpkin pie with our pumpkin and eggs.  I had never used the whipping cream I bought for the holidays, so whipped up a cup of it to top the slices of pie.  We had some whipped cream left, so I made from scratch dark chocolate pudding, so we could top that too.  A whole lot of fat, but hey, it's cold outside, and we're expecting a winter storm these next few days.  Can't think of a better time to take on those calories.  I made yogurt and kefir.  I enjoyed a breakfast of our eggs and toast with my mixed berry jam.  Made tomato rice loaf with our tomatoes, garlic, bread crumbs and kefir.  Also made okra I had frozen, and used our sweet potatoes in a new dish.  Though I had an idea, I wasn't sure what our canned bean status was when I bought the beans at Aldi's earlier in the week.  I took a count, and bought more black and garbanzo beans to stock up further, when I brought M to get some pre-storm groceries.

Callie kitty
morning light & muffins beneath the cloth
Went through ebates to purchase heartworm meds for McNibs, for the cash back.  I also used their free shipping code.  Made muffins using some home canned applesauce and passionfruit curd for the fruit, along with our eggs.  We did get mostly sleet, with some snow and freezing rain too.  Things are pretty crunchy out there.  Hopefully, there will be a good amount of melting tomorrow.  I made lentil soup with a jar of my broth.  For the past few winters, I've intended to make fresh pasta with my pasta machine.  Just before the winter storm, I brought it in from the shed, and on Sunday, cleaned it all up.  It had not been used in many years, and in fact, has barely been used at all since I was gifted it in the early 80's.  J put it back together, and made pasta while I prepared the sauce with mostly all homestead ingredients, salad and bread.  It was quite simple, and tasty.  I see some more homemade pasta dinners in our future.  If you have any pasta recipes to share, I'd love to hear.  I saw some interesting animal tracks in the snow, and hope to share them in another post.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow Day

Like much of the east coast, we're having a winter storm.  We've had snow and sleet today.  The dreaded freezing rain is said to be arriving tonight.  I'm hoping they're wrong about that.

It's a hot cocoa kind of day.  It's possible it will be a hot buttered rum kind of night.  Got to stay good and warm, don't you know?  The woodstove is going, bottles of water are filled, groceries are in the pantry.  We're ready for whatever the weekend throws at us.

I've been working on my many piles of paper today, getting them in order for taxes.  I've rewarded myself in between with a bit of computer surfing.

I thought this was a sweet nature inspired collection.  It makes me think of my niece, Heather, who is just a few short weeks away from delivering her first little one.

While in Raleigh last Sunday, we visited this lovely bakery.

This dressed up version of oatmeal looks worth a try.

This is the day's theme song.

OK friends, it's back to the papers.  Next up, quarterly sales tax.  Wish me luck.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The January Table and Frugal Accomplishments

Merry Monday, friends!  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, I ran all my errands while I was in town for Hospice massage work... bank, library, made a soap delivery, picked up a few hardware items, filled the car with gas, and bought groceries.  When I got home, I heated up a small amount of leftover mac & cheese with a vegi burger that had been lingering in the freezer.  The combination was pretty tasty.  I had bought ravioli on sale while at the grocery store, and prepared that with lots of our garlic.  Gathered chickweed and dandelion greens for the chickens.

daffodils hoping for spring
I discussed the egg quandary with the vet, and was surprised to learn he felt that either 3 raw eggs twice a week, or boiled eggs substituted for 1/2 of their daily diet would be fine.  He did say that if the boiled eggs were used long term, they would likely miss out on some vitamins and minerals over time, but as the egg supply is variable, it shouldn't present a problem.  He also said this, knowing they ate dry dog food, but with what they get from their grated fruits and veggies, yogurt and kefir, herbs, etc., I would think it would be even less of a challenge. So, I'll be incorporating more eggs as the supply is available, and saving money on store bought dog food.  They do love eggs, so it's a good thing all the way around.

suet ingredients
I made a cranberry pudding with one of our eggs.  It was quite sweet for my taste, so I'll try it with less sugar and may also look for another recipe.  Boiled eggs for us and the pups.  Melted oils for 2 batches of soap on the woodstove.  Hung out three loads of laundry, done with homemade laundry soap and soap gel.  Tore up a cardboard tube (from wrapping paper) and added it to the compost.  Added apple and pear cores, and carrot and  rutabaga ends to the broth bag in the freezer.  Washed plastic bags for reuse.   Made a side dish with our spaghetti squash and lambs quarter.  Made suet for the birds, incorporating dried berry pulp from making berry jam last summer.

finished suet
Saved boxes and shipping materials to reuse.  Saved the half sheet of paper left after printing a shipping label for lists.  Made Swagbucks goals several days.  Made yogurt and kefir.  Made zucchini soup with our zucchini and tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil.  Spoke with my bank and Paypal about an incorrect charge.  They were of no help, so I've contacted the seller. and am waiting to hear back about it.  Crushed a pan of egg shells, and added them to the compost bin.

kale has been the hardiest green in the garden
Though not frugal, J & I headed to Raleigh to see the M.C. Escher and Leonardo da Vinci codex shows at the Museum of Art.  Looking at da Vinci's notes and sketches was quite impressive.  While there, we also wandered through the galleries of Italian, African and Northern European art.  While in that neck of the woods, we stopped at Trader Joe's and bought a few things... breads, cheeses, produce, rice for less than we can buy them locally.  I've been enjoying the Home Fires series through Netflix. We had snow Sunday morning... just a little bit, but I'll take it.  The sun came out in the afternoon, and there is no trace remaining.  I'm hoping for a good snow before winter is over, which is always questionable in central NC, but I can hope...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Feathered Friends and Frugal Accomplishments

woodpecker on the suet feeder
I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today. There were small amounts of black eyed peas, collards & rice, and sweet potatoes left over from New Years Day, and baby bella mushrooms from another day.  I used the peas, collards & rice, and mushrooms in a vegetable soup, along with our tomatoes, okra, carrots and garlic (also store bought corn and onions).  With the sweet potatoes, I made biscuits from a recipe a friend shared, substituting homemade kefir for the buttermilk.  I made yogurt and kefir.  Purchased label paper for my soap with a 20% coupon code and another 2% going through Swagbucks.

Boiled eggs and fed to the pups.  I researched a bit on that today, as I'd recently read of a blogger who gave her dogs 12 eggs a day.  She did not say how many dogs she had in the post, so I don't know how many they were getting each.  Some of the info today said raw eggs were preferable, and other info said boiled was better.  A couple of vets have told me that cholesterol is not an issue with dogs, but I'll have to ask about the raw vs cooked debate, and the number of eggs recommended.  Being able to cut back on bought food would be nice,  I added the egg shells to a pan to dry.  When I get enough, I crush them and add to the compost.

coop cleaning
Harvested carrots and grated them for the pups.  Got an Amazon gift card with Swagbucks points.  I was gifted 3 sturdy baskets.  I can find lots of uses for a good basket, especially during garden season.  Walked with the pups for exercise.  I've been enjoying some library books and videos.  Made french toast with the last of the bakery bread and our eggs, and added bread ends to a pan for bread crumbs.  Prepared brussels sprouts with our garlic.  Picked chickweed, dandelion greens and comfrey for the chickens.  Did a load of laundry with homemade soap and hung it on the line.  Hung 2 cashmere sweaters near the woodstove.  Used the woodstove to help melt the oils when making a batch of soap.

patiently waiting
I enjoyed watching the Call the Midwife Christmas special online, which I learned about in the Frugal Accomplishments community.  Shopped at the discount grocery store, & got several lbs. of various shaped wholegrain pasta for .75/box and an assortment of band aids and bandages with varying prices.  I went by the Salvation Army store, and got 2 short sleeved shirts for 1/2 price (1.50 & 2.00).  Composted fruit and vegi scraps.  Swept a couple of times instead of vacuuming (we have all wood floors and area rugs).    Washed baggies for reuse.  I searched for and used a coupon code to purchase a doorknob for the studio.

I gathered potatoes... we have them on the ground at the woods edge covered with pine straw and tin, which has worked well for us... they are sprinkled with lime to discourage insects.  Prepared colcannon with our potatoes and a store bought cabbage.  We have a few cabbage plants, but they are not big enough to harvest.  Gave the chickens an apple that turned brown and grated cauliflower stems and leaves for the pups dinner.  Also gave them a bit of leftover cranberry sauce.  I hung laundry on the line one afternoon, as the next day had only a 20% chance of rain, but it pretty much rained or misted all day, so I had to bring the laundry in and dry in the dryer, except the wool items which I hung in various places.  Sometimes I just do my best, and am thankful for a dryer to use as needed.

my coop cleaning buddy
I made apple, zucchini, carrot bread with our carrots, zucchini and eggs.  Cleaning the chicken coop is one of the less glamorous homestead jobs, but it must be done.  I removed 4 cart loads of poopy straw, which was added to the compost pile, and put a good layer of fresh straw on the floor and in the nest boxes.  Some colder weather is expected, so they should be in good shape now.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Frugal Accomplishments in the New Year

Lilies opening up in my Christmas bouquet
A bright, shiny new year is ahead of us.  I intend to do my best to live it well.  I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  I made yogurt and kefir.  One of our local thrift stores had everything 50% off.  Christmas items were 75% off, which I didn't need, but I did purchase several 100% wool sweaters, all $2 or less, for my felting projects.  I also picked up several yards of natural cotton Cluny lace for 50 cents, and several yards of 1/2" elastic for 25 cents.  I'm looking forward to doing some sewing, when my new studio is set up.

I made a ricotta pie with our eggs.  The ricotta was extra left over from our baked ziti dinner.  We did not need heat for several days.  I opened the windows when warm enough, to bring fresh air into the house.  The other days, we heated with wood.  I used a 10% off code for items needed from Vitacost, and went through Swagbucks, which gave me another 15 points per dollar.  Listed several items on ebay.  Grated carrots and soft apples for the pups and put the carrot tops in the broth bag.  Collected rain water.  Dumped water bottle and glasses into the humidifier on the woodstove.

felted bear I bought from a friend at the Handmade Holiday show
I bought cabinets for the studio at a discount building supply store .  I purchased them unassembled, as they offer a 10% discount if you assemble them yourselves..  I printed and used a 5% coupon there for other materials we needed, as they would not combine the coupon with the 10% discount.  I was  behind on my laundry, as I was waiting out the rain. I did 4 loads with homemade laundry soap & soap gel, and hung them on the line. J had bought a ham at Aldi's for .59/lb. and froze it.  He cooked it, enjoyed one meal, put enough leftovers in the fridge for another meal, and froze the remainder in meal sized packages.

wild rose hips
We enjoyed a New Years Eve dinner with friends.  I prepared a salad, including our carrots.  We stopped at a little bakery that uses organic ingredients on the way home from purchasing cabinets, and bought some lovely bread there, which I brought, along with a bottle of semi-sparkling wine bought at Aldi's.  For New Years Day, I prepared collards with rice, black eyed peas,  and sweet potatoes, all but the rice grown here.  A volunteer in the garden appeared to be a winter squash and gourd cross, which produced many softball sized fruits.  I have slowly been cutting them open and giving to the chickens, for the seeds and flesh.  Also gave them what remains of grapefruit halves.

As I use a fresh Christmas tree, it goes up 1 to 2 weeks before Christmas, and I keep it up through New Years.  The first of the coming week, I will take down the tree and pack up any other decorations, which were few this year.  I made Baby Bella sandwiches, and added the bottom bits to the broth bag.  May the coming year be all that you hope for!