Monday, December 10, 2018

Canning Old Dried Beans & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  How are you, this holiday season?  I'm enjoying taking the slow and peaceful route, savoring the little things about this time of year... writing holiday cards, listening to holiday Pandora stations while I work at home, enjoying chestnuts a friend brought me, and brisk walks with the pups.  Presents are pretty much bought, except for possibly a last minute one or two.  Soon wrapping will commence, a tree will be bought within the next ten days or so, and a few decorations placed around the house.  I'm not sure yet what holiday baking might look like, with my new Dr. wanting me staying off of all sugar.  I expect a small amount will be savored.  It will be interesting this year.


Gifts bought online this week were through ebates and swagbucks, earning cash back.  After a soap delivery, I stopped at a nearby farm supply store.  The store has interesting, and some local items, and I bought NC nuts for a gift, a beautiful olive tree marked 80% off (for $4!), a bright pink amaryllis bulb, marked 20% off.   I've never seen a pink one before, always growing red, white, or pale peach, so I'm excited about that.  I'd been looking online earlier in the week for 4 oz jelly jars, which are always pretty expensive, probably due to shipping, and was happy to find one case there.  I use these for my deodorant, and used all I had before the show.  I also picked up a Christmas present for the chickens, a bag of treats which included mealworms and oregano.  I'd been looking for a winter coat for our GD, and found a lovely one at a nearby thrift store, navy wool with a velvet collar and cuffs.  It happened to be included in their half price sale that day, so was only $5.  A few small presents were bought at the natural foods co-op.


I had an unexpected trip to town, after a gallery informed me I'd had lots of soap sales, and they needed replenishing.  So, after a quick evening trip to take care of that, I stocked up on a few things at the discount grocery store, including bottles of organic blueberry cranberry juice ($1 ea.), which I'm really enjoying.  On Saturday, I harvested kale and chickweed.  We watched the weather forecast all week, keeping an eye on the winter storm heading our way.  Though it was possible we would get as much as 11" or 12" of snow over the weekend, so far we've gotten about 2" of snow followed by lots of rain and freezing rain.  More wintry precipitation is forecast through Monday. 


It seemed a good day to can, so I canned up some lentils that were getting pretty old.  I started doing this some years back with old beans that didn't want to soften up, following Jackie Clay's instructions.  This has worked well for me every time, and having them ready to heat up on the pantry shelf sure makes it convenient.

Canning Old Dried Beans

Pour boiling water to cover beans well, and let them sit overnight in a cool place.
In the morning, rinse beans.
Using fresh water, boil them for an hour.
Pack into canning jars, within 1" of  the top, including cooking water. 
Add 1/2 tsp of salt for pints, 1 tsp for quarts.
Pressure can at 10 lbs pressure (adjust if you live at higher elevations) for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.


The bird feeders have stayed busy, with one new bird seen I need to research.  Twinkly lights and candles have been burning during the dark days and evenings.  More simple pleasures of the season.  I hope you are taking the time to enjoy the season, in whatever ways bring you joy.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Jolly Good Show & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  When our company left Saturday afternoon, I gathered up the bags of frozen vegi scraps, and put them in two pots on the woodstove.  I strained the scraps out on Sunday, and let it cook down until Monday, then canned it.  There are 14 more pints of broth added to the pantry shelves.  While keeping an eye on the canner, I sat at the kitchen table and finished writing my holiday cards.  Canning water was used to water plants once it cooled.  The last of the tromboncino squash was used in pasta sauce, along with homegrown herbs, onions and tomatoes.  A "pumpkin" pie was made using our cheese wheel squash and eggs.  Laundry was dried on the line.

waiting for their evening walk
My stepson added us to his Hulu account, as he can have six devices total.  Our granddaughter watched a movie while here, and I've begun exploring things to watch during the dark nights of winter.  I asked for suggestions on fb, and enjoyed watching This Is Us.  If you have suggestions for positive, uplifting, historical/period pieces, simple living or homesteading shows, I'd love to hear about them.  A set of linen pillow shams still in the wrapper from a duvet set I bought years ago was listed on ebay with a free promotion, and sold.  I'm thankful to continue getting sales in both of my online shops.


Much of the week was spent getting ready for the annual Handmade Holiday show.  Though it turned out to be a gray and rainy day, there was still good attendance at the show.  Lots of soap found new homes, a few natural deodorants and shower tabs too.  Several friends dropped by that I don't often see, which is always a pleasure.  I tried two new recipes on Sunday, one for sweet potato muffins.  The recipe said you could use banana if you didn't have the full 3 cups of  sweet potato.  They were good, but the banana pretty much overpowered the sweet potato, so next time I'll try it with just the sweet potatoes.  The other was The Prudent Homemaker's taco soup.  Even if you're not especially interested in frugal living, I recommend checking out her recipes.  I've tried many of them, and every one has been excellent.  The taco soup was amazingly quick and easy to make, and we both thought delicious.  Wishing you a great week!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thankful & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  Last week, I preserved the hen of the woods mushrooms I foraged.  Besides eating, dehydrating, and canning them, I began a medicinal tincture, as well as this medicinal decoction.  I used what I had on hand, which was some rosehips, frozen elderberries, and dried reishi.  I didn't think to give it a taste before freezing it in an ice cube tray, but will when I remove the cubes from the tray.  Mushroom medicine is pretty powerful.  I'm thankful to be learning more about them.


On Tuesday, we had "zucchini" soup, homemade bread, and a salad.  It being Nov. 20th, it seemed pretty wonderful that the tromboncino squash, and the cucumber in the salad, were fresh, harvested recently in our garden.  Our fresh herbs, and canned tomatoes were also part of the meal.  The last of the fresh squash, cucumbers and eggplant will need to be used soon, but it was so nice while it lasted.  Laundry was hung on the line to dry.  I went through ebates for an order of Christmas presents.  Books and a DVD were requested from the library.  Our shower liners have been bothering me since we changed from a tub to a shower.  There's too much fabric now, and they often billow inward during a shower.  I decided to cut one in half, sewed the raw edges, and it works much better.

so serious lighting the cake
I made butternut squash crumble with our squash for Thanksgiving, as well as one of the free portabellas, and made a plate of raw vegi's to take to my brother's.  We were able to take our granddaughter, S, with us.  She met my niece's boy for the first time, and they had a grand time together.  At home, she helped me make hummus and baked pancakes, and helped her grandfather make her father a birthday cake.  His birthday was Friday, he came for dinner, and they both spent the night.  We had a simple meal of pinto beans, jasmine rice, sweet potatoes, and salad, using homegrown onions, sweet potatoes, and the last of the cucumbers.  There was a rousing game of Apples to Apples after cake and presents.  While she was here, S worked on hand sewing.  She made a dog stuffy from a kit we had given her last Christmas, then decided to make a from scratch ghost stuffy for her Dad.  She seems to be getting the hang of some of the details of sewing, such as knotting the thread.  I was able to mend several items, sitting next to her, helping as needed.  In addition to sewing and cooking, I tried to get her interested in helping with laundry.  She wasn't much interested in anything but helping us at the clothesline, but I'm thinking that's something.  The pups enjoyed her exuberance on our walks. I'm happy that she is mostly willing to try new things.  This visit, she learned she likes fennel, baked pancakes (aka dutch babies) and pomegranate seeds.  I sent her home with a large cup of the seeds.


I dehydrated another batch of sweet potatoes for pup treats, and boiled more small ones to add to their dinners.  Yogurt was made.  After putting fresh straw in the chicken's nest boxes, I gathered sprigs of lemon balm for each of the boxes and the coop floor.  I enjoyed several videos from here, and tried the sweet potato flat bread Sunday morning.  I don't have much experience with flat bread, so I'm not sure if I got it exactly right.  I thought it was decent, but J wasn't impressed.  My stepdaughter is part of the team that helped build the Mars Insight lander, which hopefully will touch down today.  We think that's pretty exciting, and hope to catch it online, around 3:00 EST.  I've been getting ready for the Handmade Holiday show next Saturday.  There's a new product I've been working on, plus the usual soap wrapping.  I've started on holiday cards, and plan to make a pumpkin pie today.  Wishing you a lovely week of seasonal pleasures.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Bountiful Mushrooms & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello, friends.  Last week, I shopped after working in town.  I checked the discount grocery, and found a few things, including organic juice for $1 and my favorite find, packs of "tie-dye" tissue paper 4/$1.  At Aldi's, I mostly bought produce, was delighted to find pomegranates for .79, and bought 6.  However, I noticed I was charged .89 when I got home.  In any case, a great price, and besides enjoying the seeds in salads, I'm also eating them as a snack, which is how we ate them growing up.  My family called them Chinese apples.  At Walgreens, I purchased nuts for snacks and all the birthday cards I need through the end of the year, and received $10 towards rewards points.  A purchase on amazon, mostly Christmas presents, was paid for partly with a gift card earned through swagbucks.

Hen of the Woods aka Maitake

I picked all the leaves from the stems of the mint I harvested before the freeze, made mint syrup, and canned it.  Some of the jars will be used for gifts.  I made fried rice using brown rice and an open bag of mixed vegetables from the freezer.  I have dehydrated summer squash that we don't care for.  Some was rehydrated for the chickens, but they didn't seem to care for it either, so I guess the remainder will go in the compost.  I enjoyed a lovely evening with a friend, first dinner, paid for with a gift card, then to a free musical my brother was playing in.  Afterwards, I went to a nearby Harris Teeter to pick up a few things.  I saw a pack of portabella mushrooms, 4 huge ones, marked down from $5.29 to $2.29.  When I got home, I realized the $3 off discount had gone through, but not the price, so I guess that means I was paid to buy them.  The store is about an hour away, in a town I'm only in a couple of times a year, so I'm just being grateful for free mushrooms.

Maitake or Hen of the Woods
I'm trying hard to use up leftovers, but there was enough that I couldn't do it alone this week, so the dogs and chickens ended up with some.  I've recently been learning more about edible mushrooms. Two that are being found in this area right now are Lion's Mane and Hen of the Woods. I haven't found any Lion's Mane, but Sunday morning, I began looking for Hen of the Woods at the base of oaks, and was delighted to find several clusters around one of our elder oaks.  There were a few clusters that looked past their prime, and another lighter cluster that I wasn't sure enough about, so I harvested three beautiful ones weighing close to 20 lbs total.  They are a polypore mushroom.  You can see in the second photo that instead of gills, they have multiple pores on the underside.  I quickly learned they're a bit of a bear to clean, with many washings needed to remove all the bark, leaves and soil.  I got one of the large ones (over 7 lbs.) cleaned, and then it was time to make dinner.  From that one mushroom, I filled the dehydrator, 10 freezer bags, and prepared the rest for our dinner, with a little olive oil, butter and salt.  It was delicious.  I put the other two on the porch for the night, and plan to clean and can some, and possibly make tincture.  I feel blessed to have such bounty.

Though I did not work the three days of the pottery Celebration as originally planned, I did help out at one of the potteries on Saturday.  It was a beautiful day, I was able to visit with a friend, and sold several soaps while there as well.  So, a good day in several ways.  Both of my online shops continue to receive orders, of which I'm very grateful.  I've recently gotten the impression that some friends that knew me in my previous gray haired days don't remember, which got me looking at old photos.  These are a couple from my house building days, in 2002 and 2003.  So, I'm going back to the future...  Be well, friends, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 12, 2018

First Freeze & Frugal Accomplishments


Hello friends.  Last week blessed us with some gorgeous fall days.  Our first hard freeze will happen this weekend, so Saturday we'll be preparing for that.  Our plan had been to do our prep on Friday, but it turned out to be a rainy day, so Saturday it is.  I sold a book through ebay, and harvested winter greens and chickweed for a winter salad.  We've both been under the weather with respiratory stuff this week, so I've been adding garlic to our meals whenever I can, in addition to taking homemade elderberry syrup and bought remedies.  We've been keeping an eye on two figs, and I was delighted the they ripened before the freeze.  Such a treat to be eating a fresh fig in November.  The wood stove is providing our heat.  I've used several of the dryer lint, wax and paper tube fire starters, after we've let it die down during warm days.

J & I discussed the laundry this week, and we're both in agreement that it is smelling great using the bought laundry soap, and things seem to feel a bit softer too.  I haven't noticed a huge difference in how it looks yet, but not having stinky laundry is reason enough to use it in my book.  If I couldn't afford the bought laundry soap, I'd use homemade again, but if I can, I'm convinced bought soap is the way to go.  Who knew?  I used a $5 reward at Walgreens, getting an item free except for tax.  A couple of inexpensive small gifts, including one on clearance, were purchased at Marshall's.  I took daily walks with the pups, which provides good things for both my body and soul.  A batch of yogurt was made, ziploc bags were washed for reuse, and fruit and vegi scraps were composted.


I had a serious frugal fail, related to our online shop.  I'm still not sure exactly what happened, as I had questioned myself and cut open one of the boxes to double check that I had it right before putting mailing labels on for shipping.  The third box was a different size, so it's confounding me how I switched two of the orders, mailing them to the wrong people.  It's never happened before, and I was sick that day, but it really bummed me out.  One person received a higher end item than she paid for, and was happy.  I've offered to refund the other customer and have her keep the item, and she was happy with this, thank goodness.  You can bet we've got a new system figured out, to ensure it doesn't happen a second time.

After an appointment, I stopped at a thrift store a few doors down from Whole Foods, but saw nothing that tempted me.  Not much other than fruits and veggies were bought at Whole Foods, including organic black seedless grapes.  I bought some on my last trip, and they were fantastic, so I was happy to find them again.  Also made a quick stop at Trader Joe's, buying produce and wine.  They had pomegranates for $1.49, down from the $3.99 I've been seeing everywhere, so I bought two to use in salads.  I received $20.26 cash back from ebates.  I bought several Christmas presents on amazon, using gift cards I had saved from swagbucks earnings for this purpose.  Before the freeze, I harvested tromboncino squash (30+, though all small to tiny), a handful of small eggplant, several cucumbers, lima beans, parsley, sage, oregano, a few leaves of wild sorrel, lemon verbena and chickweed.  I cut quite a few flowers for the last bouquets of the year, and will enjoy the flowers while they last.  We covered the lettuce, chard, and celery in the garden.


Laundry was done, and hung on the line to dry. On Sunday, I put a pot of our dried lima beans on the woodstove, taking advantage of the heat.  These were old beans, so I'll leave them overnight to cook.  If they don't soften up, I'll can them, which does the trick.  I requested two free samples of dog food.  For dinner, I made lentil soup, heated rolls, and made a salad with lettuce, toasted pecans, pomegranate, feta and homemade berry vinaigrette. It's one of my favorite cold weather salads, and the first of the season.  I found a movie I wanted to watch free on amazon prime, and added it to my list.  J & I are beginning to feel a bit better.  I'm hoping we'll be good as new in the coming days.  The week will be a busy one, with a musical to attend, and work with the local annual pottery festival.   If you're in this part of the world, I hope you'll visit.  Have a lovely week, friends. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

November Days & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, dear friends.  Last week, I gathered lettuce, chickweed, kale and cucumbers for salads.  The mint has been thriving in this weather, so I gathered a basket of it, thinking I may make simple syrup.  I found a few chanterelles.  I've dried the most recent ones I've found, as there have just been a few at a time, and all quite small.  A few carrots were pulled.  I harvested collards for a new recipe, and cut holey ones for the chickens to enjoy.  I believe this may be the prettiest rose I've grown yet.  It seems quite happy with this warmer than usual fall weather.

 
 


Instead of stopping by one of the big grocery stores I usually shop at after work, I stopped at our little local one, and just picked up milk, clementines and brussels sprouts.   The early voting place was very close to where I work, so I took advantage of that, saving gas and time from if I had waited until voting day.  I primed three of our orders before it started raining.  I paint these outdoors, so have to work around the weather.  I was able to finish painting them on Sunday, and hope to have them packed up and on their way on Monday.  Though we've had several light frosts, none have been killing frosts so far.  It looks like we'll get one of those later this week, but in the meantime, there is more than the usual flora, fauna and fruit to enjoy, these November days.  Wishing you a lovely week. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Festival & Frugal Accomplishments



Hello, friends.  Last week, we enjoyed our last eggplants in an eggplant crumble, the first winter salad of the season, and sweet potatoes for a dinner.  Having a meal with almost every ingredient grown here is satisfying.  Our hens have gone on strike.  For weeks now, we've been getting zero to two eggs a day from 13 hens, most days one lone egg.  Some of the hens are older, some are molting, but many aren't, so I suppose it's just the change in light.  They are definitely not earning their keep at the moment.  When I went to pick some winter greens for them, I noticed some of our garlic had been dug up.  We're guessing it's just like the artichokes planted in the summer, they're after what's in the planting hole with the bulbs, this time bone meal, blood meal and fish emulsion.  As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, it's always something.  I covered them back up, and will hope for the best.


Laundry was all hung on the line.  I swapped all my summer clothes for winter clothes, and boxed them up.  After an appointment, I went by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  Making a few changes to my diet, I mainly went in search of organic produce, and non-caffeinated teas.  I didn't find any excellent deals, but did get cabbage for .99/#, which is the cheapest I've seen lately.  I was happy to find the $3.99 wine still at Trader Joe's, so bought more of that.  Woman can not live by vegetables alone :o).   A little splurge was a package of maitake mushrooms at Whole Foods for $3.99.  I'd read of them, but never had them.  Sauteed in butter and salt, they were delicious.  Mushrooms are something I've seen mentioned a number of times recently as having many health benefits, and they're certainly a pleasure to eat.  I requested and picked up two books at the library, both Newbery medal books.  I'm slowly trying to make my way through the list, reading ones that are of interest.


There are still a few butterflies and bees on the butterfly bushes.  I'm taking advantage of the cooler temps, and petting the bumblebees :o).  We're enjoying the late planted cucumbers in salads along with recanned black olives, and bought items.  I made a batch of Thousand Island dressing as well.  For a couple of years, I'd wanted to go to the annual Hart Square Festival.  My sweet husband gave me that as a birthday gift this year, and we headed there this Saturday.  There were over 100 log structures, so we did not see everything, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Friends met us there, and we enjoyed spending the day with them.  There were lots of old time skills being demonstrated, including butter churning, apple butter making, a forge, cotton ginning and baling, spinning, weaving, flax being turned into linen, soap making and more.  Late afternoon, we all went to a nearby Apple Festival,  then J & I headed to a nearby B&B.  It was a wonderful though quick getaway. 


On the way back home on Sunday, we stopped at a discount store called Ollie's.  I had hoped to find a pair of muck boots and tins of olive oil, but it wasn't to be.  We did find a few things, including our holiday cards and organic tomatoes @ 28 oz/.99, so it was worth checking it out.  When we got home and had a bite to eat, it was back to work.  Well, the pups let me know the first order of business was a walk.  Once that was accomplished, I gathered greens for the chickens, picked the few things remaining in the garden, and unpacked, while J worked on several orders we got in our online shop. 


I haven't spoke of it recently, but I did decide to let my hair grow out.  It's been a couple months or so, and you can see it's quickly turning white.  I wondered at first if I should get some highlights to try and blend it, but as obvious as it is already, I don't see that helping to hide the fact that it's growing out.  I will just be real, and may cut it a bit shorter to get rid of the brown at some point.  This too shall pass.  I hope the week ahead will be a good one for you.