Monday, May 25, 2015

Late May Frugal Accomplishments

A little later than usual, but I'm joining in with this week's Frugal Accomplishments.  I harvested broccoli, lambs quarter, and chard.  All our Barred Rock hens started laying this week, so we're getting 3 little eggs from them daily, in addition to any the older hens lay.  Made deviled eggs, and pasta using our canned tomatoes, frozen tromboncino squash, garlic, fresh basil and rosemary.  I harvested the first raspberries of the year today.  Made yogurt, kefir and kombucha.

I used a 50% off coupon code that J got in an email to purchase several olive trees, and two goji berry bushes.  Used a .15 gas rewards on a fill up.  I had not been using my gas rewards, as they're usually only .05, but the .15 reward inspired me to request a card so I could do this.  I had only kept my keychain card to use in store, so now I will be able to also use my gas rewards.  Purchasing our friends groceries on it helps to increase the reward.  He pays me the first of the month, & then I buy his groceries when I'm shopping, so that works out well.

Harvested nettles, and started a batch of tincture.  Made a smoothie using nettles and fruits in the freezer- our raspberries & pawpaws, and bananas, & homemade yogurt.  I began working on the quilt squares I bought in Floyd, with the help of my Dad's wife.  I sewed on all the missing muslin edge pieces, while Lois trimmed and squared the blocks.  We have a fabric trip planned for this week, and are looking for a coupon to use at the fabric store.  I've made my Swagbucks goal most days, and have gone through either ebates or Swagbucks for any online purchases, for the points given towards cash.  J grilled okra from the freezer.

First tomatoes!  I spied 4 on this plant today.
Except for a dinner at my brothers house on Saturday, our Memorial Day weekend was not a relaxing one, but we were able to cross several things off our list, and don't feel so overwhelmed now.  J hung two birdhouses for me, including one of my Mom's. With the help of our friend, M, this morning the three of us got the garden paths and around the plants covered with leaves.  M had raked leaves into piles this past week, & today J & M drug them to the garden on a tarp, and I spread them.  We started in the cool of the morning, and were done shortly after 10.  Then while I was working on indoor projects, J & M went to Lowe's and got materials for a carport for my car.  When they got home, they proceeded to put it up.  All that is left is the tin for the roof, and a little piece of picket fence that I can plant alongside.  This spot is a little closer to the house, which is nice, and there will be shelter when there's rain, ice or snow.  Though the homestead is definitely a work in progress, that's one step closer to what I envision here.  I hope your holiday was a good one.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back To The Garden and Frugal Accomplishments

Last week was a busy week for my soap business.  Between wrapping and making soap, getting a wholesale order together, and delivering soap to galleries to restock, it made for several busy days.  I'm pretty excited about my newest soap, Back To The Garden.  There are floral and herbal essential oils in it, as well as aloe, hempseed oil, mint from the garden, and a bit of local clay.  I've used floral fabrics for the inner wrapper, and paired some with a packet of flower seeds and garden gloves.  I made another batch today, as I only have two left, and they are to be delivered to our local hardware store.

I haven't kept up very well with my Frugal Accomplishments this past week.  All the usual has been happening... using homemade soaps in bathroom and laundry, hanging laundry on the line, washing plastic bags for reuse, composting, adding vegi scraps to the broth bag.  I harvested chard, broccoli, basil and oregano.  I made a chard gratin dish, broccoli and egg fried rice, and used the herbs in pasta sauce.  I continue to use my homemade deodorant.  I cut a bouquet from the garden.

I was thinning my apple trees, as Brandy suggested, and came upon this in one of my apples.  From my research, I believe it to be a green fruitworm. I've not seen one before, & wouldn't mind if it's the last!  J has sprayed once using a permaculture recipe that includes neem oil, fish fertilizer, molasses and something else I can't remember.  Hopefully, he will have time to spray again soon, which helps feed the trees and also deters pests.

Our first Barred Rock hen laid an egg today.  Isn't it cute?  The three girls have been checking out the nest boxes for days, but today was our first egg.  So it begins!  I'm not sure I mentioned it, but we got 6 Buff Orpington chicks 3 weeks ago.  We've wanted a good sitting hen, so we're hoping at least one of these will be.  We'd like to be raising our own chicks, and my experience with Buff Orpingtons has shown them to be great sitters; in fact sometimes too good, where they've had to be coaxed off the eggs.  None of our current hens have any inclination to sit, but we've got high hopes for these girls.  We lost our second Lakenvelder/Delaware cross hen this evening.  She'd been doing poorly, and the extra vitamins, handfeeding greens, keeping her separated from the rest of the flock didn't work.  We found her when we went to close up the chickens tonight.  Life on a homestead can be a mix of heartbreak and hope.  Our gardens are coming along nicely, though we are very much in need of rain.  We are at least 3 inches below average already.  I found our first tomato this week, on one of the storebought tomato plants.  I hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Early May Frugal Accomplishments

This toad paid us a visit on the porch.  I love how his eyes look like they're rimmed with gold eye liner.  I'm joining in with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.  I boiled eggs for salad and poured the water on plants.  Harvested lambs quarters, blanched and froze enough for 2 meals, with some left over.  Added asparagus ends and lambs quarter stems to my broth bag in the freezer.  Harvested broccoli from the garden. I started tomatillos and spilanthes from seed, planted all my recent plant purchases, including 3 different lavenders & a chamomile plant.

Noticed a great price on Glide dental floss at Walgreens, which also gave a $1 reward, to use on another purchase.  I went back with the reward, and picked up another floss, along with another item I needed.  Got an ebates check for purchases I was going to buy anyway.

At the discount grocery store, I purchased about 20 lbs. of sunflower seeds for $6, some cans of organic tomato products, pasta, a Lundberg quinoa & brown rice side dish, several organic soups for .50 ea. (I like to start with these when I don't have much interesting vegi's to put in a pot of vegetable soup), Carr water crackers to have with cheese for .50 (doesn't expire for another month or two).

Washed laundry with homemade soap and hung on the line.  We have not run the A/C, opening windows when it's cool, and closing up the house during the day.  I did run the fan some in the afternoons.

SO & I got some of the garden planted.  We planted 40 of the tomatoes I grew from seed (several varieties), & he planted cucumber and summer squash seeds, and moved some volunteer lettuce & dill seedlings.  I went to a plant sale with a friend, & purchased several medicinal plants, as well as another male kiwi.  I purchased kiwis 5 years ago, both male and female.  One male died, and the other has never bloomed, though at least one female has bloomed for a couple of years.  I was told they should have been bearing fruit by now, so I hedged my bets by buying another male.  I'm hoping the new male will do better than the original, and we will have kiwis next year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Trip to Floyd, Virginia

At Ambrosia Farm B&B
Hello, friends!  I hadn't meant to be gone so long, but the day after I returned from our Sister trip, I began working a temporary job, requiring me to get up at 5:20 each morning.  Between trying to unpack, catch up on laundry, do spring garden chores, and all the usual activities of life on the homestead, I've not managed to give attention to the blog before now.

view from the Blue Ridge parkway nearby
Our trip to Floyd, VA was lovely. Here are some highlights of our road trip:

Ambrosia Farm B&B
Chateau Morrisette winery
Floyd Country Store
Chic's Antiques
New Mountain Mercantile
A Little Monkey Business
Green Label Organic
Villa Appalachia winery
Angels in The Attic
Harvest Moon Foods

Everyone we met was super nice.  We were a little early in the season, as the area is tailored towards tourists, and things really begin gearing up after May 1st.  Quite a few things are closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, but we still found plenty to do, as well as time to unwind.  I'll share more about the B&B in a future post, a truly lovely spot.

In places, the hillsides were covered with trillium

At the Angels in The Attic thrift shop, I found 13 quilt squares with the sweetest old fabrics. The 14" squares are in perfect shape, and almost all are finished, with just a few missing some muslin edge pieces.  All 14 squares, with her pattern pieces and the muslin to finish the squares, were one dollar!  The price seemed almost criminal, but I'm so happy to have this bit of history.  I'm really looking forward to figuring out how I want the layout, finishing and using this sweet quilt on the homestead.  
Floyd, VA quilt square
I'm thinking it would be so sweet to know the stories that go along with these fabrics.  I'm not sure when I'll be working on it, but I will keep you posted on it's progress.  I have just a few more days of extra early mornings, then life will return to normal.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Road Trip with My Sweet Sis

When our Mom passed away, my sister and I promised ourselves we would take a sister trip in the not too distant future.  Well, the week has arrived, and I am so excited to be able to spend time with my sweet Sis.  Today, we are heading to a lovely inn in Virginia, close to art galleries, the Blueridge Parkway, wineries and other fun places.  See you soon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Frugal and Repurposed

As it's Monday, I suppose you know I'm joining in with Frugal Accomplishments.  I transplanted the tomato seedlings into bigger pots, bought 4 larger tomato plants, swiss chard & basil with a gift certificate a dear friend gave me.   These were all planted in the garden.  The tomato seedlings I'm growing are still pretty small, so this should give us tomatoes quite a bit sooner.  I walk with the pups for exercise most days.  If there is a light misting rain, I typically walk, but if it is a harder rain or an especially raw feeling day, I tend to skip it.  Some bargains found at the discount grocery store were 25# sunflower seeds, organic apple juice, organic crushed tomatoes, 3 liter tins of olive oil, and novena candles.

I canned the second #10 can of olives, & got 16 half pints.  One jar didn't seal, so I made pizza using them, our garlic, mushrooms I canned, & frozen red peppers.  We had another cold spell, with nights in the 40's, so I cooked up the last winter squash and canned the olives to add some heat to the house.  Switched from cool weather to warm weather clothes and sheets.  No air conditioning or woodstove were used.  On one morning, J ran our heat pump to take the chill off.

Made quiche with our eggs, peppers and garlic, along with store bought ingredients.  Made a green bean dish with our beans, garlic and thyme.  Made tomato rice loaf, using our tomatoes, garlic and celery.  Vegetable scraps went into the broth bag or the compost.  Used our oregano and chives in a potato dish.  Made Brandy's black bean burgers.  Fixed ravioli with our garlic, and made a vinaigrette using muscadine syrup I had canned.  Frugal Fail: with the last winter squash, I tried a new recipe, a soup with coconut milk & garam masala spice.  I had to come up with plan B, as we both tasted it and said "yuck!"  Good thing I had some leftovers and a fresh out of the oven Fig Sherry bread... still trying to empty the freezer.

J transplanted a large portion of our asparagus patch last year, as bermuda grass and mint had overrun it, and he wanted to get all perennials out of the garden, so he could till as needed.  The asparagus has really been set back by the move.  There are very few spears large enough to harvest, as they're putting energy back into the root system.  I did harvest two spears from what's left of the original bed.  These plants still need to be moved, when we have time.

I've been collecting canisters for several months, and got to work on them this weekend, turning them into compost crocks.  The holes are drilled in the lids, they were washed & measured as to what they will hold.  Once I've fit them with carbon filters, taken photos, and calculated shipping, they'll be listed in my shop.  Are you planning on growing any edibles this year?

The clematis have started blooming, as well as a few others.  Once the rain lets up, I'll be getting photos of those to share with you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments and a Quick Trip

National Museum of Art
Last week, J & I visited Washington, DC.  I did not purchase anything other than food and metro tickets.  We stayed in an apartment belonging to a family member of an in law.  I paid for a nice dinner in thanks for the accommodations.  Food there is quite pricey, but we brought everything for our breakfasts and snacks, and not having to pay for lodging saved money.  All the Smithsonian museums we visited were free.  We walked 20 miles in 2 1/2 days (J's daughter wore a pedometer)!  I'm joining in today with Brandy's Frugal Accomplishments.

Just a few weeks ago, I shared my canning adventures with a failed Tattler lid.  Last week, I saw they have changed their lids due to this very thing.  Bravo!  Follow the Tattler link for more info on this. 

money plant
Fed tomato, lettuce and spinach seedlings with diluted fish fertilizer.  I typically use fresh basil, but it's too early for that, so instead I used oregano in a pasta salad, as well as some of the black olives I canned.  Weeded the asparagus.  Renewed a library book online, to insure I would not be overdue.

cherry blossoms

apple blossoms
The ants found my hummingbird feeder.  When I tried filling the ant moat with water, it leaked badly, having weathered and cracked over the years.  I repaired it with epoxy.  I cleaned up a flower bed along the driveway, and hauled 7 wheelbarrows from it, leaves and such, into the woods.

wild violets

blueberry blossoms & a butterfly
Did laundry using homemade laundry soap, and hung all but one load on the line.  Went to the Cooperative Extension's plant sale this weekend, and bought a horseradish, Fanny's fall aster, culinary sage (I seem to kill these on a regular basis), mountain mint, and sweet woodruff.  The plants were $2 and $3 each, except $5 for the horseradish.  All of these, as well as wintersown plants - zinnias, tithonia (orange torch and yellow torch), and night scented stock were planted.  There's a good chance of rain the next three days, and no frost in the 10-day forecast, so I'm hoping that was a good decision.  The tithonia seeds came from the Hospice my Dad was at.  They had bountiful flower gardens there, and yes, I did snitch a few flower heads, so I would have a good memory from his time there.  The money plant earlier in the post came from my Mom's house.  I hope they will both thrive here.  I feel that's one of the sweetest things about gardening... the memories that various plants conjure up, of friends and loved ones.  Beets and potatoes are coming up in the garden.  With the rain, I hope to soon see carrots up too.