Monday, July 15, 2019

Mid July & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  With the summer garden gearing up, it seems the days are getting busier.  After working in town, I met a friend to share sweet potato slips and an eggplant. We happened to meet in the parking lot where the Farmer's Market is held, so I took advantage, and got 3 tomatoes.  I wish I'd have thought to check out the corn while there.  I shared cucumbers with a couple of women at work.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/lb., and 10 ears of corn at 5/$1, the best price I've run across.  They also had 4# sugar 2/$4 and get 1 free.  I don't use white sugar for us, but the price is right for hummingbird food.  At Aldi's, I got a seedless watermelon for $2.69, mangoes .49, avocados .95, plus a handful of other things.  I picked up the chick feed we needed at Tractor Supply, and noticed some chicken related items on clearance.  Though not a need, I did buy a water additive that has essential oils in it, and carbon based "coop control" for odors, which as an added benefit is an excellent amendment to add to the compost for healthy soil.  I'm thinking in the future, I may try making the water additive, as I have the ingredients on hand.  I'll research it before I do.

On Wednesday, I was able to cross several things off my to do list.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and the walking path mowed.  Though most of the purslane has been mowed, I was able to harvest enough, along with our basil and garlic, for a double batch of purslane pistachio pesto.  I blanched and froze 6 meals worth of corn, and froze the pesto.  The freezers are very full.  I need to make more of an effort to use things from there, and pulled out a bag of homegrown lima beans and foraged maitake mushrooms.  It's a start.  I vacuumed my car with a shop vac at home.  I listed a number of items on ebay, and have one bid so far.  I received an email informing me of a bag sale at a thrift store.  On the way home from an appointment, I realized I could be there just when it started (it only lasted 2 hrs).  Though I didn't fill the bag, I got 2 shirts and a pair of sneakers for my GD, a pair of shorts for J, and a pair of boots and a vest for myself for $5.

The walk on Saturday morning was especially lovely.  The early morning light sent sunbeams through the trees, which was beautiful. There were also many spider webs, which were lit up in the light. The creek burbled as we walked by.  It all felt a bit magical, and made me grateful for eyes to see, and such a peaceful place to walk.  That evening, I tried a new recipe for squash casserole, which was good, though higher in fat than I'd like to eat on a regular basis (think heavy cream and cheese).  I also made a roasted eggplant dish.  With cucumbers coming in from the garden, asian cucumbers are on regular rotation. I've shared cucumbers with several people, and some eggplant as well.  A neighbor shared a large cabbage with us.  The days have mostly been very hot and humid, so outdoor chores are done early and late as much as possible.  There are always plenty of things to be done indoors, as well as outdoors.

The squirrels figured out a way around the squirrel proof feeder recently.  They would hang on the pole, so as not to trip the weight lever, and grab a seed at a time.  The problem is they did it over and over and over.  So, I enlisted J's help. He created a new pole with longer arms out of rebar for me, which seems to be doing the trick.  While out on errand, we stopped by Big Lots for their 20% off sale.  We got a few food items, but the main thing I wanted to look for were large plant pots.  We found one large ceramic pot among the plastic ones, and purchased it.  We'll repot the avocado or one of the lemons in it.  We had lunch guests on Sunday.  I made a quiche, which used our eggs, garlic, pepper and parsley. She brought homemade peach vanilla ice cream to share, which was a treat. That morning, I gathered a bouquet for the table.  I didn't sleep too well Saturday night, and am too tired to get this post ready as I usually do on Sunday night.  I'll finish it up Monday morning, and send it out then.  I hope the coming week brings you many good things!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Summer Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  After working in town, I went by the discount grocery.  Some favorite finds were  cans of organic beans for .50 ea., organic juice for $1, a 14# bag of natural lamb dogfood (good until Oct.) for 1/3 normal price, 5# natural peanut butter for $5, and 6 bags of dried wild blueberries @ .50 ea., a savings of  $44.24 if bought on amazon.  At Food Lion, I bought cherries for $1.99/#.  Last weekend, during a date night, we had the most delicious salads with fresh blueberries.  Eggs were boiled twice, for us and the pups.  Blueberries, cucumbers, the first yellow squash, green beans,figs and the first few cherry tomatoes were harvested.  Asian cucumbers were prepared.  It's beginning to feel like summer.

The feather was found on one of my walks.  It looks somewhat like a chuckwill widow's feather, but I'm not positive.  If you're good at ID'ing feathers, please share.  My sister had a family BBQ on the 4th of July.  I brought a 7 layer salad, hummus and vegi's, and a bottle of peach Bellini from Aldi's. There was lots of food, and not much of anything I brought was eaten.  In the future, I'll plan to make 1/2 recipe of the salad, which is still a lot.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  The first of our green beans, along with the ones given by our friend, were cooked in the wok with balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds.  I really enjoyed watching Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble, free on Amazon Prime.

We received much needed rain on Friday.  J & I ran strings for the tromboncino squash and loofahs.  For years, I've been making hummingbird food at a 4:1 ratio.  I recently read this, and have since changed to a 3:1 ratio.  J fertilized all the vegetables with Neptune's Harvest, except for the melons and my dye sunflowers, which need weeding badly.  We don't want to feed the weeds as well as the desired plants, so are holding off until they're weeded.   I figured out how to download the new camera pics on my own, which is the same way I used to, before my old camera started acting wonky, so that was easy.  My BIL & SIL came for lunch and a visit.  Not much is coming in from the garden yet, but I made salad with our lettuce and cucumbers, and shared a dozen eggs with them.  Have a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Bugs, a Buggy & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Though the guys specialize in alternative, renewable & sustainable energy in their shop, this is the first horse buggy they've repaired, for one of the local farmers.  Isn't it pretty?  I made pasta salad with our basil,  sauteed mushrooms with our oregano, and chard for a dinner.  After work on Tuesday, I dropped off three boxes of donations, and found shorts and pajamas there for our GD.  The shorts were on special for $1 ea.  I took advantage of some specials at Walgreens, including 3 boxes of freezer bags for .99 ea., normally $2.99.  At Aldi's, they had cantaloupes on sale for $1.29.  I picked a nice large one, and a few other things.

The chicks are growing, and doing well. A couple of mornings last week, while on my walk, I saw wild turkeys.  When I first lived here, I would hear them in the woods near the house, but they've moved farther back into the woods these days.  I'm happy to know they're still around.  Two loads of laundry were dried on the line.  A few months ago, a neighbor brought a 7 layer salad to dinner, which we'd never had, and we loved it. She hasn't shared her recipe as of yet, so I found one I think is similar, and made it.  We enjoyed it, though J less than me.  He'd like it on a rare occasion, while I think it'd be good on a regular rotation during hot summer days.

There are tiny cucumbers and tomatoes.  We're hoping to be eating cucumbers next week.  We'll have to be a bit more patient for the tomatoes.  A friend brought beautiful tromboncinos, a zucchini and green beans to us.  We're grateful to have it all, long before ours will be ready.  She also gave me 4 cases of pint jars, also appreciated.  The squirrels have gotten most of our peaches, yet again.  We have just a few left.  One was at least starting to change color, so J picked that one, which we'll let ripen in the house.  It may be the only one we get.  Here's hoping it's a good one.

This is what we're dealing with, with Japanese beetles.  I'm so glad the chickens will eat them. Guinness got into something stinky, as he's prone to do.  I bathed him in the outdoor shower, and as I was fairly covered with dog hair, took one myself.  A biting fly did harass me for a minute, but the bird song made up for it.  I mistakenly ordered one size up for a supplement Guinness takes for joint issues, and set it on bimonthly auto-ship.  I called customer service to change it to the correct weight size, and was able to return the incorrect one for credit.  The largest tromboncino squash was used in pasta sauce, along with our tomatoes, eggplant and herbs.

Just about every day, we're enjoying a salad.  I planted a mix of lettuces on the shadier side of the chard and basil in the raised beds, and they're doing very well there.  There are little beans, one yellow squash, and quite a few small eggplant.   I suppose it will be several weeks before we're enjoying our first cherry tomatoes.  I was delighted to see that even with the dry, hot weather, some of the loofahs have germinated.

On Friday, I tackled cleaning up the kitchen island.  It always holds my to do list, and usually my phone, but it also collects papers of all sorts, cookbooks, receipts, seeds, etc.  It's where canning jars cool, and await my washing them off.  There are still a few cookbooks and miscellaneous papers, but it's as clear as it ever gets, which feels good.  I played with the new camera in the afternoon, and need to figure out how to put the pics on the computer.  Hopefully, it will be a simple process, and I'll be up and running with it.  All the photos in this post are with the old camera, which thankfully is only losing a few pics at this point.

I began using a mini shampoo bottle from one of my travels.  J worked several more hours on our solar hot water, adding fittings and hooking up several more things.  It sounds very complicated when he explains all the functions.  For example, not only does the hot water need to circulate and warm the water in our hot water tank when it gets to temperature, if it gets too hot, another pump will circulate it through a heat exchanger, then send it to a radiator with a fan to cool down.  Makes my head spin trying to figure out all the details.  I'm sure glad he knows what he's doing.

I cleaned out a portion of the pantry.  This is the area where I keep "working" tinctures and such.  I strained and bottled usnea tincture, reishi tincture, and dandelion in olive oil.  I'm deciding if I'd like to make salve or lotion bars with the dandelion oil.  I'm leaning towards the lotion bars, as I've never made any before, it seems they'd be useful, and if they turn out well, could be used as gifts.  A few drops of peppermint essential oil were put on the sponge I cleaned the pantry with, to deter future mice.  I used a $5 GC when placing an amazon order.  I made falafel using a mix, and made homemade tzatziki sauce and a salad to go along.  The cantaloupe was cut up, and chickens given the rind and seeds.  I froze another can of corn in cubes for chicken treats during these hot days.  We sure can use some rain here.  If you've got some to spare, please head it this way.  Wishing you a good week!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Fruits & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I picked up two books from the library.  I already finished one of them, Educated, which is a heartbreaking and amazing story.  The ants are being very persistent with our A/C.  J has fixed it two more times where they got into the contactors.  This time, I mixed up a solution of orange, tea tree & peppermint essential oils to repel them. I hope that works, as the temps are heating up again, and J is working out of town.  I made pasta with tomatoes, squash & eggplant from last years garden, and our fresh herbs for dinner before he left, one of his favorites.  Lettuce was harvested several times.  It was lovely being able to do without A/C recently, but on Sunday, it was back on in the afternoon, and on most of the rest of the week.  I loved the sweet, speckled egg.

While J was working out of town all last week, I pulled leftovers from the freezer, and ate other things he either can't or won't eat, making a bit more room in the freezer.  I had asparagus soup with salad, mushroom gravy & noodles with foraged maitakes and chard.  I gathered the first wild blackberries of the year, and enjoyed a handful in a fruit salad for lunch one day.  The first blueberries and another large basket of lambs quarter were gathered.  A batch of bird suet was made, using the leavings from berry jams and tomato canning, basically seeds and skins I dehydrated for this purpose.  While we were having a rainy spell, I decided to plant a few more things.  I replanted the Hopi Dye sunflowers that didn't germinate, several calendula, cypress vine as only two came up, several multi-branched sunflowers, loofahs, and zebra hollyhocks along 2 fence lines.  It's late, but I do have seed for next year as a back up.

I'm so enjoying summer fruits, for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  It changes, but so far there have been a mix of blueberries, blackberries, cherries, mango, nectarines, bananas, and grapes.  Watermelons have come down to a reasonable price, so they're being enjoyed too.  I picked our first ripe figs, which we enjoyed fresh.  I blanched and froze the lambs quarter, enough for 10 meals.  J had designated a pile of his work shirts as rags, so I cut and tore them up.  Most were T shirts, but one had nice metal buttons, which I removed and added to the button jar.  Black bean burgers were pulled from the freezer.  A burger, leftover chard and a salad were dinner.  The other burger was eaten for lunch the next day.  A batch of yogurt was made.  I asked about, and got a better rate on my IRA.  I pulled okra and vegi meatballs from the freezer, and had it with a salad.  I made homemade salad dressing, using our herbs.  We had some nice rain, good for all the growing things.  I made my daily swagbucks goal several days, and redeemed swagbucks for amazon gift cards.

The door and blinds on the south side of the house were closed during the middle of the day to keep the house cooler.  Two loads of laundry were done, and hung on the line.  The two lemon trees I grew from seed were transplanted to larger pots, and the moringa seedlings I bought recently were transplanted into pots.  I ordered two, and got a bonus one.  New soil, mushroom compost and azomite were added to the pots.  I made hummus and potato salad.  J was in need of work T shirts, and I found 6 at two thrift stores.  Two are nicer than usual T shirts, so he may wear those for date nights and such.  I also found two pants and shirts for the GD, and a large wicker laundry basket for $2.  My last sympathy card was used, so I picked up a couple at the dollar store.    I made a honey spice cake.  It's slightly sweet, and we both thought it was pretty good.  I don't need sweets often, but it's good to know I have another recipe I can use when needed.

Dozens of Japanese beetles were gathered daily, and fed to the chickens.  Another round of purslane was gathered before J mowed again.  I made 4 batches of pesto with it, used one for Sunday's dinner, and froze the rest.  The recipe for dinner used our basil, purslane, shallots, vegetable broth and eggs.  J worked on two orders Sunday morning, and I powder coated them in the afternoon.  Labels were created for my newest soap, Helios Sun & Swim bar, requested by a Greek friend.  In the area where his family lives, the women made a honey and yogurt soap to soothe sunburn.  This one is unscented, as he prefers.  Both honey and yogurt have skin loving properties.  I'll be trying a bar this week.  Wishing you happy summer days!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pink Blooms & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  On Monday, I harvested stinging nettles, lambs quarter and lettuce.  Now that the garden is getting very weedy, I'm finding more lambs quarter.  J is going to mow and weed eat the garden soon, and I intend to harvest more purslane and lambs quarter before he does.  I began a batch of medicinal tincture with the nettles.  A batch of yogurt was made.  I helped J set up the posts, rebar and string for the beans, and set up a wire trellis for the cucumbers.  He replanted the squash that had died.  The lambs quarter was blanched and frozen.  I added some of the purslane to our salad, and like in the burritos, it mixes right in with the lettuce, and is not noticeable.  A great way to get some omega 3's.  I had a jar of poppy seeds that were getting old.  I started to give them to the chickens, but decided to see if any might germinate, and sowed them in a couple of places.  One of my tasks while working last week was to keep several flower pots watered.  Two of them had Oregon grape shrubs in them.  There were a number of fruits that had fallen off, so I grabbed a few and put them in a pot, to see if the seeds might germinate.  The plant has edible and medicinal benefits, so I hope they will grow.

After work on Tuesday, I ran errands.  I stopped at Lowes for marigolds, as mine didn't come back from reseeding this year.  There was a pack of 8 for $10.98, which I thought was rather pricey, so I headed to the mark down area, and found lots more.  In addition to a full price German thyme, I bought 3 dianthus @ $1 ea.  They looked great, so I'm not sure why they were there, unless it was because they were finishing blooming.  I also got 7 celosia for $2, and 16 marigolds for $3.  There were 3 colors of marigolds altogether, so I was happy I had looked.  I ran into someone I knew, and we caught up as we rummaged through the plants.  I'm loving all the different pink blooms right now.

Tuesday night, a friend and I went to see this movie.  The cinematography was beautiful, and it was a realistic look at the challenges of growing food.  Wednesday morning, I went into my studio to meditate and found parts of a bag of rat poison.  Apparently, while I was out Tuesday night, McNibs got into a kitchen closet, and moved the recycling out to get to it.  J found the recycling a mess when he came in from dealing with a customer, but didn't go into my studio, so hadn't realized.  I got McNibs into the vet first thing Weds. morning, and got Vit. K started.  The poison is not usually anywhere the pups can get to, but this one somehow ended up there.  He's acting fine so far, but it can take a few days for the effect to kick in.  We're not sure how much was left in the bag.  He's a big boy, so we're praying he'll remain healthy.  I spent most of the rest of the day in the garden, weeding and harvesting a good amount of lambs quarter and purslane.  I got some things accomplished, and it helped me de-stress from the morning.  J weed-eated the garden after I was done harvesting.

The Carolina wrens have been busy building nests.  We noticed the first one on top of a porch post, but, for some reason, a couple of days later, I found all the nesting material on the porch floor.  J thinks another bird did it.  I next found one in a pot with soil in it neat the outdoor spigot, with mama and eggs inside.  Then, I saw one of the wrens flying into one of the houseplants that is spending the warm months outdoors.  Sure enough, when I looked a bit later, there's a nest there too.  The tomatoes we had planted in our new containers weeks ago are not thriving. I helped J add compost to the containers, then replant them.  He planted more volunteers in the containers that had died.  I weeded the tomatoes in the ground, and put cages around most of them.  The new round of tromboncino squash are coming up.  Let's hope the squash bugs ignore them.

I was asked to be a vendor at a show the local arts guild put on Friday.  I've said I wouldn't do any more outdoor shows, but with lovely weather, with highs in the 70's, I said yes.  People came for the music, and I only made 2 sales.  But it paid for my gas, I was able to catch up with a friend, and got to talk with a favorite Dr. I used to work for.  I was also contacted by the local microbrewery, wanting to know if they could carry my beer soap, which is created with their beer.  I'm pretty excited about that.  I used a $10 promo code and went through swagbucks for 5% back for a small order on Vitacost.  Two loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I picked bouquets for the house.  As I was finishing gathering the flowers, there were 6 bees and hummingbird moths on the flowers in the vase.  I've begun gathering japanese beetles, which the chickens are relishing.  I'm squishing squash bugs and doing a bit of weeding every day.  Since we've had more rain,  I noticed more lambs quarter that needs harvesting. That will be on my to do list next week.  McNibs seems to be doing well, thank goodness. Wishing you a lovely last week of spring!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bumblebees & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I redeemed swagbucks for a $25 amazon GC, and made my daily goal several days.  With working away from home Monday through Saturday, not much was accomplished at home, though I was able to walk with the pups each morning, and on a good day, I'd manage a small chore, such as mending a slipper before leaving.  At work, between customers, I was able to wrap soap, catch up on reading, and work on clearing out my inbox.  I brought food and water with me each day.  I pulled small bits of leftovers from the freezer for some lunches.

J generously bought pizza one night, and Chinese another.  For one dinner, I made pasta with pesto, and a salad.  For another, I harvested our first chard, and made it along with mushrooms, potato salad, and a green salad.  I boiled the potatoes in the morning, so making dinner went more quickly.  I harvested the first of the lettuce for two of our salads, and herbs for the potato salad and mushrooms.  I'm not sure if I remembered to mention that J brought home 4 Buff Orpington chicks a couple of weeks ago.  They're growing and doing well. One evening, I cut a small bouquet for the house.

We are finally getting some nice rain, and it looks like we may be in for several days of it, which suits me.  Our water tanks could use it, and the plants, animals, and water aquifer surely can too.  I used $75 in amazon GC towards purchasing a camera, all redeemed with swagbucks.  It will arrive next week. Hopefully, I can figure out how to use it fairly quickly.  There have been many bumblebees and other pollinators visiting the milkweed and lambs ear blooms.  I expect they're enjoying the magnolia blooms too, but they're too high up to see. 

I harvested several blackberries.  Bean burritos were made with Brandy's Spanish Rice on Sunday.  As part of the "fixings" for the burritos, we used purslane, which neither of us could even notice when we ate them.  I'll be trying other uses for it in the coming week.  We have our first tiny tomatoes!  They're on one of the mystery plants from the compost, but they're looking like they're going to be Indigo Berry cherry tomatoes.  Wishing you a wonderful week.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Early June & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week brought us much warmer temps, with several days in the 90's.  I froze canned corn I'd purchased at the discount store in ice cube trays, and gave cubes to the chickens for cool treats.  J got a watermelon, and gave them the rind, which they love.  Squash bugs have sucked many of our squash plants dry, including all of our tromboncino, so we'll have to replant them. I made deviled eggs, which lasted for two dinners.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments today.

My friend and I enjoyed another concert in our "60th mystery tour".  Before the show, we shared appetizers, and had salads for our meal, which was just right on a hot day.  We've got lots of beautiful purslane volunteering in the garden.  I gathered some, and made a double batch of pesto.  After an appointment on Thursday, I went by Trader Joe's and a local co-op.  No exceptional deals were found, but a much larger selection of organic produce was available.  I bought the first peaches of the year.  They're not yet ripe, but hopefully they'll be delicious.

There is very little lambs quarter this year, but the purslane is going gangbusters.  I harvested enough for 8 more batches of pesto on Friday, with much more available to harvest, if I have the time and inclination.  This works well right now, as it only takes a small handful of basil per batch, and the basil plants are still pretty small.  The purslane stretches the basil, and is so good for you... antioxidants, omega 3's, Vit. A, potassium, magnesium, likely anti-cancer activity, etc.  I'm going to see if I can branch out and try some other recipes for it.  I requested a book from the library.

After days with the house being closed up due to the heat, and weeks without rain, we finally got a little rain Friday evening, and were able to open up and have fresh air in the house.  Many plants are still suffering.  We hope there will be more rain this week.  Three orders were powder coated on Friday, and packed and shipped on Saturday.  After dropping them off at the P.O., I picked up the requested book at the library.  I harvested some of the lavender.  J & I worked on the piping for the solar hot water on Saturday.  He's done more work on it, and some trees need to come down to optimize our solar gain. 

On Sunday, I weeded and mulched one flower bed, and five of the raised beds.  J & I planted raspberries a friend gifted us.  For many years, I planted garlic on the winter solstice and harvested it on the summer solstice.  I'd read it somewhere along the way, it was easy to remember, and seemed to work well.  Since meeting J, he prefers to plant it earlier, in late October or November.  The leaves had begun browning, which means they're ready.  We harvested them on Sunday.  He dipped them each in diatomaceous earth, before hanging them to dry.  The DE helps kill mites, which has been a problem with storing our harvest in the recent past. The harvest looks very healthy, so we're hoping it's a good garlic year. 

I'm loving the mix of colors in these hollyhocks that grew from seed a friend gifted me.  The camera I use was gifted to me quite a few years ago, a pre-owned one from M.  There is no longer any support for it, and as time goes by, more and more things fail.  Last week, it stopped letting me access photos in the Olympus photo editor.  I had to switch to that, after it stopped working with my original photo editor a year or so ago.  It's time to replace it, and I've been looking at simple and reasonably priced cameras.  I sold 4 items on ebay, and packed them Sunday evening.  I'll be working full time this week at one of my occasional jobs, which I'm so thankful for.  Wishing you a week of many blessings.