Monday, November 11, 2019

Harvest Time & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Even though it's mid fall, I've been able to forage a few things.  I was able to harvest a passionfruit, which I enjoyed in a fruit salad.  I picked a haw fruit from a hawthorne on our back border.  There weren't many fruits left, so I left the others for the birds.  I just want to try one, and may cook it up in some oatmeal.  M asked me to take a look at a mushroom he'd seen, and lo and behold, it was a lions mane, a mushroom I've been looking for for the past two years.  There were what I believe are some more smaller ones on a nearby log, which I'll keep my eye on.  Now that it's cooled off and we've gotten some rain, I'm beginning to see the chickweed returning, so I'll soon be gathering some for salads.

Lion's mane mushroom

The fresh lima beans were blanched and bagged for the freezer.  The vines have not totally died yet, and I continue to find more beans each time I look.  The never ending lima bean vines!  Frugal fail:  I didn't use up the eggplant quickly enough, and had to compost several.  I roasted some, and made it with a zucchini dish, using our tromboncino.  I also tried a zucchini bread recipe to use some more up.  We didn't care for it, but will eat it in some shape or form.  Though there are many large loofahs on the vine, none of them have turned brown, a sign of maturity.  I tried cutting one open, and found the outer 1/2" looked like loofah, but the interior looked more like squash.  I expect that will be the case with all of them, so I'll just have to try again, and plant earlier next year.  In the meantime, the chickens are enjoying pecking at the one I harvested.

I used up all the oregano I had dried, so harvested some more to dry.  Though it does fairly well in the winter, I'm often cooking after dark, and don't want to venture out to cut oregano, though I did have to do that one night recently.  In researching lion's mane, I was reminded that it tastes a bit like seafood, never one of my favorite flavors, so I decided to make medicine with it, using a dual extraction method.  I brought the water to a boil, added the lion's mane, then put the pot on the wood stove to simmer overnight.  I picked up a requested book at the nearby library, then ran a few errands, including picking up some birthday cards and shoe polish at Dollar General.  Something that Lesley recently wrote made sense to me, regarding our communities being our "village", which changed my perspective a bit.  Though it would be easy to buy shoe polish on amazon, if I can purchase it at the local Dollar General, isn't that some better?  No, it's not a local cobbler (there is none), and it is a chain store, but it makes sense to me to support the local stores, to make sure they remain, and it also cuts down on the extra packaging and gas required to get it to me via amazon.  A small difference, for sure, but our small choices add up.

I mended the soles of my winter slippers with a hot glue gun.  They tend to want to separate from the wool slippers, so it's an ongoing thing through the cold months.  I made my Mom's zucchini soup with our tromboncino, tomatoes, basil, parsley and garlic.  Though J asked me back in September not to make any social plans until the firewood was in, we bought tickets back in April to attend a concert last week with friends in Charlotte.  The only frugal thing about the evening was that we received a 10% discount towards our dinner for showing our tickets.  The concert was in a beautiful venue, a small space that was once a church, complete with many stained glass windows, and the music was wonderful.  It was a lovely evening.  The next day, a friend and I attended a local quilt show.  There are many talented folks in this area.

Our winter squash and pumpkins were all brought in for the winter.  I made the autumn succotash recipe with some of our winter squash, and loved it as much as I did in the restaurant, so decided to bring a double batch to a family gathering on Saturday.  J had boiled the peanuts on the woodstove overnight last week.  I shelled the peanuts while watching some relaxing youtube videos.  Two of my current favorite youtube channels are fairyland cottage and girl in calico.  They both have some videos where they talk, but my favorites are the peaceful, instrumental ones, or ones with minimal talking.  Old T shirts were cut into cleaning rags.  Popcorn was made for a snack.  Warm up shower water was collected, and used in the woodstove humidifier, to flush the toilet, and to water plants.  A peanut butter and banana sandwich was made with some of the zucchini bread.  I mended my massage table carrier with upholstery fabric and the glue gun.

Those sweet pups make me laugh almost every day.  When we got back from our morning walk the other day, I looked down, and McNibs had a small acorn stuck on one of his toenails, prancing around with it for around an hour before I was able to get it off.  That was my laugh of the day.  He's always been funny about his feet, so it took a little time to convince him it was OK.  Silly boy!  J bought a used freezer, and Sunday morning, we transferred all the frozen food out of the refrigerator into it, and put the food in the fridge in coolers.  We turned off the fridge, to defrost it, to see if that doesn't fix our problem.  We'll turn it on and refill it Monday evening.  Fingers crossed.  We had several orders to make, paint and pack, so Sunday evening was busy with those things.  It was interesting trying to cook dinner, with all our veggies and dairy in coolers on the porch.  I made a simple meal of cabbage and noodles.  I'm usually at home on Mondays, but tomorrow, I have two massage appointments in town.  I'll probably run an errand or two before heading home.  Wishing you a week of beautiful November days.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Highest Point & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends, I gave the pups a bath on one of my better days, when temps were in the mid 70's.  After working in town, I picked up a book from the library, and went to the discount grocery store.  Sadly, I found the food section continues to shrink.  I used a $5 coupon at Big Lots, and bought holiday cards and some small gifts.  I bought a huge pomegranate at Food Lion, then a couple smaller ones at Aldi's.  I love using them in green salads.  I went by Tractor Supply, and used a 1/2 off coupon for a premium bag of dog food, which made it several dollars less than their usual food.  I've been learning about reasons for the current high incidence of cancer in dogs, and am trying to feed them more along these recommendations.  Though they had been mostly eating grain free, most kibble is still largely carbs (peas, potatoes, etc.), which is not natural for them.  They don't list the % of carbs on labels, but when you see the % of protein and fats, you realize the remainder of approx. 60-70% is carbs.  Ideally, I'd give them a high quality canned food, but it's priced out of my range.  I did buy one can, called Thanksgiving dinner, which I'll save and give them as a treat on Thanksgiving.  The pups continue getting chopped vegetables, yogurt and occasional eggs.

anole lizard on fig
I harvested swiss chard, which we had with pinto beans and brown rice.  Thyme was harvested and dried.  The respiratory infection really varied from day to day.  On a not so good day, being ready to be done with it, I made vampire slayers soup.  As much as we like garlic, it was a bit much for us (4 roasted heads, plus more diced).  Besides our garlic, it used our thyme and homemade broth.  I did finish mine, and had the small amount leftover for lunch the next day with kale salad.  J took a few bites, then decided he'd rather have fish sticks and fries :o).  It did seem to turn things around, which was good, as the following two days, I needed to work at one of my occasional jobs.  Meandering by the pond one day, I found a giant puffball.  I diced and sauteed it, then used it in a recipe later in the week, a cheesy pasta bake.  Another meal was pasta with pesto from the summer's garden.

I switched the summer and winter clothes in my closet, and filled another box for donation.  I'd been hanging on to three dressy, long dresses "just in case".  I hadn't worn any of them in 10 years, so it was time to let them go. I passed a few things on to my niece.  With lows in the 30's in the forecast, I picked all the tender veggies and herbs on Thursday... eggplant, sweet peppers, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, a fig, lettuce, basil, lemon verbena, and lemon balm.  I harvested more chard, and another 5 gallons of lima beans, a mix of dried and fresh.  There are still some beans higher than I can reach, but that should do it for the beans.  It's certainly been a banner year for lima beans!  I was surprised how much in the garden there still was to harvest.  The lemon verbena and balm are being dried for tea.  For my work days, I pulled single serving leftovers from the freezer, and pulled black bean burgers for dinner one of the nights, freeing up more room in the freezer.  All the lima beans were shelled while at work (minding the shop at a pottery gallery).

view from the fire tower
After we got in from work Friday evening, we dug our sweet potatoes, and were surprised by the nice harvest.  We also harvested some winter squash, and I cut flowers to enjoy in the house.  We've gotten light frosts, and expect a freeze  tonight.  This afternoon, my niece and I joined a group hike to the highest point in this county.  The hike was a 400' vertical climb, and then whoever wanted to could climb another 140' up the fire tower, to see above the tree line.  It was the perfect day for it, great exercise, and the view was fantastic.  We could see Pilot Mountain, which is approximately 60 miles away.  I had my metal water bottle, but didn't want to carry the weight up the mountain, so got one of the small free bottles offered.  On the way home, I stopped and picked up free tissues at Big Lots.  It's now been at least three weeks since we replaced the gas cap on my car, and the light has stayed out.  Hooray for a cheap and easy fix!  On the other hand, we're still having fridge issues, so we're planning on letting it defrost for 24 hours soon, and see if that doesn't fix it.  Friends had what sounded like the same problem, and that's what they did, which fixed theirs, so we're hoping.  Wishing you a beautiful week.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Late October Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Last week, I really enjoyed reading a Kindle book I had downloaded for free.  It was a heartwarming story of how the area of Gander, Newfoundland responded to the aftermath of 9/11, by welcoming 6700 people whose planes were required to land there.  As I write this, it is still free for those with amazon prime.  I so enjoy reading about all the good in the world.  I was a bit under the weather most of the week.  The first day, I read quite a bit, went through a pile of previously read magazines to get recipes, etc., and shelled lima beans while watching a show on Roku. I made soup with pantry items, along with our garlic and leeks, and took remedies I had, including homemade fire cider.  We did without heat on nights with lows in the 50's.

In the past several weeks, I found 4 kitchen canisters at thrift stores.  Last week, I drilled holes to turn them into compost crocks, took photos, and listed them in my shop.  The weather pattern has shifted, bringing us rain, and filling our tanks.  I'm so very grateful for that.  I harvested the turmeric, and ended up with 11 pieces, from the 2 that were planted.  The soil was loosened first with a trowel, then the plants pulled up.  I replanted one of the pieces, to see if I can keep it going indoors until spring.  I plan to put some in a batch of fire cider, and try dyeing fabric with the rest.  I began gathering the dry green beans for seed, and some of the scarlet and peach runner beans.

I was feeling lots better on Friday, so on Saturday helped J & his son with firewood.  That may not have been a good idea, as I ended up with a bad cough, and my voice has been coming and going since Saturday.  Oh well, we persevered until dark, and got most of the wood to our land... 3 long bed pickup loads, and two 17" flatbed trailer fulls of huge rounds of trunk.  The lettuce and winter greens are coming along nicely with the rain, and the broccoli has started making heads.  After hundreds of blooms, it looks like we'll only harvest five tiny goji berries this year.

Here it is, almost November, and I'm still harvesting things from the summer garden... several tromboncino squash, eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, a pepper, dried lima beans and a fig were picked on Sunday.  J harvested 4 of the little pumpkins, which are now curing on the porch.  I've been wanting to try making the autumn succotash mentioned in my last post, but between illness and today's unseasonably warm temp of 82, that hasn't happened.  Soon, I hope.  I'm still cutting flowers to enjoy in the house.  Some look a little worse for the wear, but I'll take them this time of year.  I've been curious to see how well my soap cleaned my hair, and used it as shampoo last week.  It did a perfectly good job of cleaning it, though it doesn't feel as soft as shampooed hair.  I would do it again, and will try my homemade rosemary lavender rinse on it next time.

The cold weather clothes and sheets were brought down from the attic.  I went through all my clothes drawers while swapping them out.  There's a box of things to donate, and three homestead T shirts to turn into rags.  I don't think I ever followed up on my Marie Kondo experiment with folding clothes last spring.  I really love it.  It makes it so much easier to see what my choices are, so I did it with all the drawers this time.  The fall mailbox bow and garland was also gotten down, and hung.  I've started a new (free) Kindle book, and recently ran across a youtube channel I'm enjoying, called Fairyland Cottage.  It's about simple, sustainable living, with lots of tutorials.  I'm very excited about one thing I want to try, and will let you know if it works as well as I hope.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Autumn Succotash, Wonky Squash & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I didn't do a good job keeping up with what I did during the week, so let's see what I can remember.  I took a free mushroom class with a friend, which included a mushroom walk.  I learned quite a bit about one I'd been interested in, which grows in abundance in this area.  Afterwards, we had lunch.  I tried my first Banh Mi (vegetarian) sandwich, which was delicious.  We then stopped by a thrift store, but I didn't find anything I needed.

We often hear them on our land, but don't catch sight of the pileated woodpeckers very often.  One day, I happened to see one up high in a sourwood tree, eating the fruits.  It's not the best photo, but the best I could get of it.  I brought all the house plants indoors for the cold months, as it got down to 39 a couple of nights.  Due to a recent recommendation from Susun Weed, I gathered a jar of mint, covered it with local honey, and will let it sit 6 weeks.  Then, just put a generous spoonful with boiling water in a cup, and you've got quick and easy herb tea.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, don't you?

Our tea camellia is in flower, which makes lots of pollinators happy.  Laundry was hung on the line.  For a dinner, we had pasta with tromboncino squash, tomatoes and basil.  My music friend and I went to a concert in Raleigh over the weekend.  We went to a nearby store in search of a gift I wanted to get.  They had just sold out, but I found another similar item that will work, as well as a few more holiday gifts.  I received a 15% discount on my order for joining their mailing list.  At Marshall's, I bought a few household items, and some more gifts.  We took advantage of the free water and breakfast at our hotel before heading home.

We have some really unusual, well downright wonky, winter squash this year, which came up from the compost in the tomato barrels.  The thinking is they are some sort of cross.  Hopefully, they will be delicious.  Saturday night, I had a wonderful meal, including the most delicious autumn succotash.  I was hoping to use some of our winter squash this way, and was delighted to find the recipe.  I wasn't sure I'd like it when I ordered it, but the boiled peanuts still had crunch, and it was a great combination.  J, who is a boiled peanut fan, tells me green peanuts are in stores this time of year.  I'll be keeping my eye out for them.  After unpacking, I checked the garden, and gathered two eggplant, a cucumber, and several tomatoes.  I was a little discouraged that all the tomatoes were split from the overnight rain or had been chewed on by something, but J reminded me that harvesting tomatoes at all this time of year is a pretty good thing.  Wishing you a most bountiful week.

Monday, October 14, 2019

October Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I picked lima beans, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, tromboncino squash, green beans and lettuce.  J cut more firewood after work one evening.  Some time back, I bought several pillows from thrift stores, intending to recover them.  This week, I got around to sewing the covers.  I had to piece together fabrics to make it work, but I'm happy with how they came out.  The fabrics were all on hand, including chenille a friend had given me, used for two of the backs.  The other fabrics were thrifted.  I turned one of the pillows around in the pic, to show the chenille.  It seemed a soft and appropriate fabric for a day bed.  They're simple envelope covers, made using these instructions.

I went with a friend to an antique mall where friends had booths, but bought nothing there except a locally made lip balm for J.  After that, we stopped at two thrift stores, where I purchased a cotton sheet ($2), two very thick, high quality like new cotton towels ($3.50 ea), a cashmere sweater ($3.99), and a fleece vest ($3.50).  I finally got around to planting some lettuce seed in the cold frame beds, though it may be too late for them to do well.  We're eating from the bought lettuce plants, though they've all bolted and are a bit bitter.  This is the first time we've had fall lettuce bolt, but then, it's been an unusual year.  I picked up two library books, and have been enjoying them.

October page from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady
The rain water was low, so I went to the laundromat.  I brought some lima beans to shell while waiting there, and had a nice conversation with a gentlemen and a little girl.  I shared shelled beans with the man, and the little girl wanted some unshelled ones to take home.  Neither her mother or grandmother had gardens, but we talked about how she might plant them.  I brought the laundry home, and hung it on the line.  I've been dealing with a check engine light on my car for several weeks.  After I had them diagnose the code at the auto store, J suggested I run fuel cleaner, and then a tank of premium gas.  The light came back on, so he replaced the part the store suggested, which he found online for 1/4 of the cost the store was selling it for.  The light came back on, and another diagnosis gave the same code, so J suggested I change the gas cap, and after several days, the light came back on again, but then it quickly went off again, and stayed off through an entire tank of gas. Here's hoping it's fixed.

turmeric on the left, with Callie photobombing
One evening, J  & I transplanted some collards and cabbage we had grown from seed.  We also planted a bed of winter salad mix.  Soon, I need to harvest the turmeric, which I plan to use for dyeing fabric.  I prepared the last of the green beans (the rest are growing out for seed), a salad with our lettuce, cucumbers, and pepper, and made fritters with leftovers.  This time, I used the last of the eggplant spread, a squash, tomato, onion & basil dish, and lima beans which were mashed first.  They turned out pretty well.  I saw the last hummingbird on October 1, so believe they've flown for warmer climes.  A batch of yogurt was made.  After an appointment, I visited three thrift stores in that town.  A cashmere sweater and fleece vest were $6, a pair of pants for J was .50, and I found two vintage brown transferware plates to add to my fall dishes for $2 ea.  We've had too many commitments this fall to have a hayride, but these will be used for future hayride meals.

I stopped at a local garden center, and bought a dozen pansies.  A dinner of Pasta Norma was made, with our eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  The chicken coop was cleaned, and mint was harvested to put in the coop.  The coop cleanings were put on a pile, and will be added to the garden in the future, once it's had time to break down some.  I planted the pansies, some next to the walk by the house, and others near where I park.  Most of the tomatoes being harvested are pretty small, but there were three that were of good size, so I made caprese salad, to go with the leftover Pasta Norma.  Did the usual composting, washing plastic bags for reuse, and shredding paper and cardboard to add to the compost. 

custom metal water filter stand to be secured in an RV
On Saturday afternoon, we headed out of town for J's 40th HS reunion.  Before we left, J finished up the last of three orders, and I cleaned and powder coated them.  One order was a custom stand, built for a couple that wanted to secure it in their RV.  There are tabs in the back, which are not visible in the pic.  We love working with customers on specialty items.  I had picked around 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of lima beans on Friday, and took them along to shell while we were on the road.  The reunion was 2 1/2 hours away and at night, so we booked a room at a B&B, which was lovely, and the innkeeper is interested in my soap for her B&B.  We arrived home to some blessed rain, which we're so thankful for.  The lettuce and winter greens are coming up nicely.  Soup was made with our tromboncino squash, tomatoes, garlic, basil and homemade broth.  Have a great week, friends.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Early October & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  While at work on Monday, I shelled almost a 5 gallon bucket of lima beans.  The dried ones were laid in pans to finish drying before storing.  The fresh ones were blanched and frozen. With our water situation, I thought I was going to have to go to the laundromat to help conserve water.  Lo and behold, we got several showers.  Though the forecast only showed a 10-20% chance each day, I think our angels were looking out for us.  By Tuesday morning, our tanks were between 1/3 and 1/2 full.  So, laundry was thankfully done here, and hung on the line.  Scrap paper was used for notes and lists.

I harvested two pumpkins whose vines had died.  Cleaning the windows is on my list for fall chores. I got the first two windows in the kitchen cleaned. I forgot to mention that we saw Downton Abbey while on vacation.  I thought it was lovely, and J enjoyed it too.  We rarely go to movies, so seeing it on the big screen was pretty special.  While in another town for an appointment, I stopped at Trader Joe's and a natural food co-op.  I brought a cooler for the groceries.  At a thrift store, I picked up two cotton pillow cases for $1.  I harvested kale, and made a kale salad to go along with vegi sloppy joes.  We're still having summer temps, with highs several days in the mid 90's.  The sloppy joes were made for one of those nights.  Hummus and eggplant spread were made the next night, to have with pita bread, along with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

I thought I'd been doing a fairly good job of culling some of the small loofahs, so was surprised to see how many large ones there are.  I'm still hoping some of them will be mature before first frost.  A small butternut squash was harvested, and the remaining garlic harvest was cleaned.  Yogurt was made.  I made another batch of corn ice cubes for the chickens, for the days in the 90's.  Hopefully, they'll be the last ones needed this year.  Though the fruit is definitely winding down, I did manage to have a fruit salad using a pawpaw, a passionfruit, and a fig from here, along with a banana and pear.  I continue harvesting lots of dried lima beans.

A silly bluebird has been attacking various windows of the house for several months now.  I'm surprised it's still at it in October.  I've read it's a territorial thing, but would have thought that would be done for the year, no?  On Saturday, J & I worked on firewood, cutting up a tree that had fallen at our friends' home.  In between moving brush and throwing wood into the truck bed, while he was cutting, I shelled another round of lima beans and visited with my friend.  Shelling beans is so much more pleasurable while having a conversation with a friend.  Some of the shelled beans were left there.  I had a homegrown breakfast on Sunday, with eggs, tomatoes and garlic.  Fortification for the window cleaning planned.

While I washed all the windows, J washed the screens, and then rehung them.  That was a huge help.  I spoke about what I use to clean windows here.  Now I'm ready for the houseplant exodus back into the house, which will happen soon.  My music-loving friend and I are heading to a concert tonight.  The venue is a farm about an hour from here, one I've been wanting to check out for a few years.  I can't imagine a better way to spend an early fall evening.  Wishing you a week of good things.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Time at the Coast & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  We left for a few days at the coast on Sunday.  It's our favorite place to stay, and we'd had to cancel the past two years, due to hurricanes, so we were very happy to be able to go this year.  There's a kitchenette, and we brought food from home.  All breakfasts, two dinners, and all but one lunch were eaten in our room.  We usually go to one nearby restaurant the night we arrive, but learned they have a BOGO entree a couple of nights later, so I cooked the first night, and we went there on the BOGO night.  I had requested Where The Crawdads Sing from the library, and read it while on vacation., as well as some favorite magazines I brought from home.

We visited several thrift shops while there.  J found several pairs of work pants, a fleece vest, 2 books, and a wool suit.  I found 3 canisters, which I'll turn into compost crocks for my shop, 2 fleece vests, a floral painting, and a nicer frame to use with the painting.  I saw that This Is Us was on NBC one night.  It's the one time we turned the TV on.  I skipped a few episodes watching this one, but they go back and forth in time so much, I don't think it much mattered.  We bought water and just a few groceries while there.  On the way there and back home, a 4 hr drive, we ate snacks I brought, except for a stop for frozen custard on the way home.  Some years ago, I was introduced to frozen custard, and consider it a real treat when I can have some.  We just got the custard, without any toppings, as that's what we like, so inexpensive enough.  It's not in my recommended diet, but I feel a treat now and then is acceptable.

At an antiques shop, I found a glass refrigerator dish for $10.  There were others more expensive in red and other collectible traits, but this one will work just as well.  I've almost totally replaced plastic with glass ones, and only use the plastic ones if there's no other choice.  We always look for driftwood sticks, and bring a couple home for the pups.  There were leftovers from dinners several nights, which were eaten for lunches, and one was brought home for dinner.  The night we got home, I fixed pasta with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs, and thought it was better than anything I'd had on vacation.  I don't want to cook every night of vacation, though, so I guess that's the trade off.  We got home, and unpacked everything, then I picked the gardens.  All that's left to do is the laundry.  While at the coast, I had a message asking me to work two days at one of the galleries, so it was straight back to work.  I enjoy being there, and appreciate the money, so the laundry can wait.  I brought some of the pasta leftovers for lunch at work the next day.

On Sunday, I picked a good amount of both dried and fresh lima beans, to shell at work on Monday.  I've done this before when I shop sit, and folks are often curious about what I'm doing.  It seems a good use of my time there.  I'm still seeing one or two hummingbirds at the feeder, so another batch of food was made.  We ran into town, and took advantage of 20% off the entire purchase at Big Lots, and a birthday coupon of $10 off $50 at Tractor Supply, stocking up on chicken feed and sunflower seeds for the birds.  I made bruschetta for the first time for dinner, with our tomatoes, basil and garlic, which we enjoyed.  I'll be taking some, along with other leftovers for lunch on Monday.  Though we've been in the 90's today, and have some even hotter temps forecast in the week ahead, I hope typical fall weather will soon be here.  Wishing you a most lovely week.