Monday, January 20, 2020

Winter Days & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  In preparation for needing to eat soft foods after a dental procedure, I made two batches of soup.  One was pumpkin, and the other broccoli almond soup, both with homegrown vegetables.  I also borrowed books and got a movie from the library, an anticipation of some down time.  The greens in the pond garden were fertilized with fish emulsion.  I planted Frosty peas, given to me by a friend, which can be planted with cooler ground temps.  The last few years we planted peas, it got too warm before they did much, and I hope these will thrive.  It's been an especially warm winter so far.  Daffodils are up.  Some already have buds formed.  Many spiderwebs were seen.  I even heard peepers earlier this week.  It's been some time since I mentioned it, but if you could use some companionship on your frugal journey, I'm joining in here.

I used leftover sweet potatoes to make muffins.  The recipe suggested using banana, if you didn't have quite enough sweet potato.  I did this with one that needed using, which worked perfectly.  We did without any heat for two days, with the unseasonably warm temps.  I found another five lettuce volunteers in the garden, and transplanted them to the cold frame.  Kale was harvested for a latke dish.  We didn't love them, so they won't make it into our rotation.  I tried having two with a fried egg, which was slightly better, but still not my favorite.  The chickens may get a good portion of them.  I pulled a summer squash dish from the freezer to go with dinner one night.  Another night, I made pizza with a crust and pizza sauce I had made earlier and frozen. Our garlic and sweet peppers were used in the toppings.

The paperwhites have begun blooming.  The scent is not my favorite, but I don't mind it very much.  I think having cheery blooms makes it worth it.  My SIL and I firmed up plans to visit the Downton Abbey exhibit at Biltmore House this spring.  I'm excited about that.  It won't be a frugal week, but we spent some time looking for lodging, and ended up with a nice air bnb that will be half as much as the original hotel we were considering, and only 2 miles from the exhibit.  We also got $10 off the usual ticket price.   Another one of the things that came from the shed clean out was a push mower that looked like it had hardly been used.  J got a chance to check it out, and it appears all it needs is a $1.83 diaphragm, because ethanol gas was used in it.  I'm grateful to have such a hard working and knowledgeable husband.

I caught up on soap wrapping over several days.  J got some more raw peanuts, so I started another batch of them boiling on the stove, then transferred them to the wood stove.  They'll be used in the winter succotash recipe.  Magazines were dropped off in the free basket at the library, when returning a movie.  A dish of green beans and garlic was made, butternut squash crumble was pulled from the freezer, and a salad with homemade dressing made to round it out.  I checked our daily electric usage, and was surprised to see the highest use during the night, which I realized was the electric heater we have in the crawl space to keep the pipes from freezing.  After asking J about it, and him looking into a more efficient way to do this, I bought heat wrap for the pipes.  Some of the night hours were 4x the power use at noon, on a day I was at home, and it never got below 30!  I'm hoping this makes a big difference.

We began a new jigsaw puzzle, something we've been enjoying on long winter nights the past few years.  It's been too long since I cleaned dog nose art from the storm doors.  I got to that on Sunday, with my squeegee, and no more expense than a few drops of dish soap.  A batch of sweet potatoes was cut up and put in the dehydrator, for dog treats.  A fresh batch of yogurt is warming on the heating pad as I type.  Two sweaters, several socks and a nightgown were mended.  I went through swagbucks for a purchase.  We shared our wood ash with a chicken loving neighbor.  She mixes it with diatomaceous earth and sand for dust baths.  Tomato rice loaf was made, which used our tomatoes, garlic and homemade bread crumbs.  I'm still enjoying my "nature" tree, which continues to exude the most delicious scent.  It was especially nice to have some slower days this week.  The rhythm of winter asks us to slow down, and enjoy the stillness, and I did just that.  Wishing you peaceful days, dear friends.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Love, Peace & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I made spaghetti, using our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  A $25 Amazon GC was redeemed through swagbucks.  I was mad at myself, after a trip to Walgreens.  I received an in store coupon for $5 off $20.  I had also received a couple of these coupons via email, but deleted them because I had this one.  When I went to use it, I found out it had expired the day before, unlike the ones sent via email.  I tried to bring one up on my phone, but couldn't find it.  Oh well, I did receive $2 off the cards I purchased, as well as another 20% discount for seniors day.  Organic navel oranges and gala apples were bought on sale at Aldi, as well as a mango for .49 and grapefruit for .49 ea.  Along with the usual deer tracks, I've been seeing raccoon tracks on my morning walks.  In years past, we've had them come up to our door, and get into the chicken coop.  Hopefully, they'll stay in the wilder places. 

I contacted amazon customer service, as a $1 promotion for no rush shipping was credited as .01.  I ended up receiving a $5 credit for my trouble.  A batch of bird suet was made.  I needed some more pillows for the day bed, as the back made it really uncomfortable to sit on.  I found the perfect large pillows, covered in linen, as the local Dogwill thrift store for $4 each.  They're perfect, and it is now a comfy place to sit.  I made the salad dressing in this post, using homegrown thyme this time.  We're having some warmer days.  I enjoyed being in the garden, and fertilized all the greens in the main garden with fish emulsion.  At almost dark, I remembered the cabbage and collards in the pond garden, but that will wait for another day.  A small amount of weeding was done.  I tried a new recipe, using our canned green beans, which we both agreed was just OK.

While dropping off orders for Fedex at Walgreens, I noticed all their Christmas items were marked 70% off.  I found holiday cards, and bought two boxes for $4.50 each.  They also had reader glasses BOGO, so I got 2 pairs for $9.99.  I tried on two pairs of jeans I brought home from the shed clean out, and both fit great.  I've long wanted to read the UK version of Country Living, but didn't want to pay the high cost of a subscription.  I looked to see if I could purchase one at the news stands in Germany, but never saw any.  I asked J for some for Christmas, and he gifted me two issues from 2019.  I've read one of them, which was lovely, though I'm really surprised by the pages and pages of advertising, which seems much more than my US version.  I guess it's good I never splurged to get a year's subscription.

My initial daily swagbucks goal was made most days.  Walks were taken with the pups.  Wild greens were harvested for the chickens, with occasional kitchen scraps thrown in.  Some of our sweet potatoes were baked, to go with leftover cabbage and noodles.  A batch of yogurt was made.  While in town, I ran by the discount grocery, but didn't find anything I wanted.  I dropped off bags I'd been saving for them to reuse.  Recyclables were dropped off.  Though I canceled my newspaper subscription in the late summer/fall, it took them this long to finally stop it.  I would love to continue supporting them, and know it's got to be a tough job to reliably provide newspapers in rural areas, but I just can't convince myself to pay for a service I don't receive on so many occasions.  I'm sure they'd love subscribers to use the online version, but that's not for me.

Though I'd read about others doing it, I'd never cut open a tube of toothpaste until now.  There really is quite a bit of toothpaste still in there, which I'm working on using up.  A neighbor gave me 60 tulip bulbs last month, which I finally planted on Sunday.  Better late than never, right?  The warm weather allowed me to open windows over the weekend,  and the fresh air was wonderful.  J helped me put Christmas boxes back into the attic.  My studio is returning to some semblance of order, though I decided to keep the tree up a bit longer.  All the Christmas themed ornaments were taken down, and the nature related ones remain... bird nests, feathers, bird houses, chickens, as well as anything related to love and peace.  I'm thinking we can always use more of that.  Wishing you a plentiful amount of both this week.

Monday, January 6, 2020

A New Year, A New Decade

Hello, friends.  Last week, I baked some of our sweet potatoes, and pulled lambs quarter and spaghetti squash from the freezer for a side dish. One of the things J & I had to do last week was empty a building, which was full of things people left.  It truly amazed us what people leave behind.  Quite a bit went to the dump, two vehicles full went to thrift stores, and one tote came home with us, with things we can use or try to sell.  We went by Aldi, and got four .49 avocados, along with a few other things.  A $5 reward was redeemed when buying cards at Walgreens.

With the new year, we have a bit of catching up to do.  The entire week between Christmas and New Years kept us busy with the unexpected responsibilities.  Now that all of that is taken care of for now, we have 12 orders to create and ship over the next few weeks.  There is a soap order to wrap and deliver, several other batches of soap to wrap, and some to make.   I took New Years day to catch up on a few things, then began focusing on our traditional Southern meal of black eyed peas and rice, collards, and cornbread.  Fresh cornmeal was ground for the bread, and collards were harvested from the garden.  Oregano was harvested, and dried for winter use.

"safe room" for the chickens
When an out of town appointment kept me away from home most of one day, I pulled some things from the freezer for dinner, including zucchini tots I'd made in the summer.  A load of laundry was hung on the line to dry.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin, along with shredded paper and cardboard.  I researched what we might be able to do to keep our chickens safer, after the recent hawk attacks.  We're already doing most of the things, but the chickens have a fairly large yard (~30' x 50'), and I saw an idea about creating a teepee for them to run to when in danger.  J built them a structure, making a closer place to run to, if they're on the far side of the yard, which we believe is where the hawk hangs out.  We're hoping it will keep them safe from swooping hawks.

The last time I harvested broccoli, it looked like the next round would be a while yet, but when I went to check them, I was disappointed to see they had started getting slimy in the middle.  It's been quite rainy, so I'm sure that played into it.  I composted the middles, and had a pound of good broccoli left, which I roasted, along with a pan of one of our small pumpkin pieces.  A package of frozen lima beans rounded out the meal, which made for an entire homegrown meal, other than oil, spices and a small amount of onion that went into the beans.  That's always a great feeling.  One of my nieces is getting ready to head back to college, to begin her master's degree.  She and I met at Small B&B cafe for breakfast, where I had to drop off a soap order.  After we ate, we checked out the little folk art museum that is there.  In all the times I've been to Small, I've never seen the museum, as it's only open Saturdays, so that was fun.  We then stopped at a few places, and I found some treasures, including an amaryllis bulb marked down 30%, and two canisters I plan to turn into compost crocks.  J finished making a dozen orders this weekend, and I painted 8 of them on Sunday.  Whew!  I'm looking forward to a slightly slower pace this coming week.  Have a good one, friends.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Late December & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I hope it has been an enjoyable week for you.  For Christmas, I gave several jars of pear preserves made last summer as gifts.  A pumpkin pie was made, using our canned pumpkin and eggs.  Cookies were made with pantry items.  For orange zest, I used some I had frozen.  On Christmas Eve, we took our granddaughter out to dinner.  I brought home leftovers to enjoy for another meal.  Biscuits were made for Christmas breakfast.  As they use 6 tbs of butter, I rarely make them.  I made baked ziti for Christmas dinner, using tomatoes from the pantry, fresh oregano and garlic, and basil frozen from the summer garden.  Though it didn't go with the meal in my mind, J requested cranberry relish with dinner.  I used frozen mandarin zest in the recipe.  It used two cinnamon sticks, which after being used in the recipe, I rinsed and added to the water used for humidity on the wood stove, which smelled very festive.  Lots of Christmas music was enjoyed for free on Pandora and youtube.

A Christmas tradition of mine is taking a walk in the woods.  The pups and I enjoyed our wanderings.  While shopping for mozzarella cheese, I noticed the store brand had 2# for only .11 more than 1#!  I bought 2#, and will divide and freeze it.  Two heads of broccoli were harvested, and some was used in a broccoli and quinoa dish, which also used our eggs and garlic.  Here's the recipe:

Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa

Quinoa, 1/2 c uncooked
Broccoli florets, frozen 2 c
Eggs, 2 large
Milk, 1/2 c
Sourdough bread, 1 slice toasted well and chopped in small pieces
Cheddar cheese, shredded 3/4 c
Onion, 1/2 chopped
Garlic, 2 cloves chopped
Spices-  I like 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Cook quinoa and broccoli per package instructions.  Saute onion and garlic in butter.  Beat together milk, eggs and 1/2 c cheese.  Add cooked quinoa, broccoli, and onion/garlic.  Add desired spices.  Spread in a buttered 9x9 pan and top with bread "crumbs" and remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

I don't often have sourdough bread for the recipe, as J isn't a fan, so I use what I have.  I first tried making it without the paprika, but it was too bland.  If you don't have smoked paprika, substitute another spice to give it some zip.  During the holidays and the coldest part of the year, we enjoy an occasional hot buttered rum.  I mixed up a batch of the batter, which keeps in the fridge a few weeks.  A $4 coupon was used to purchase dog food.  You might imagine I'm an encourager of other people's frugal accomplishments.  Last week, M brought me an amaryllis.  I'd been looking for one since we got back from Germany.  I was excited to get it, but the best part is he said he got it marked down to $1, and knew I would appreciate that as much as the flower.  Indeed, and well done.

A salad was made for a family gathering, with homemade dressing.  Before the gathering, I took advantage of the beautiful sunny day and 70 degrees.  Five lettuce volunteers were transplanted, and all of the greens were fertilized.  It was good to be working outside again for a little while.  I thought I'd share a finished pic of the gifts I made for several women in the family.  They're reusable produce bags.  The tulle was some I thrifted, maybe close to 15 years ago now.  It was my first time trying to sew with it, and it wasn't the prettiest sewing I've done.  The strings were made from bias tape, also thrifted.  They were dyed with onion skins.  I was able to use wood beads with the thinner tape, but the thicker tape was too big for the beads.  I've saved one for myself, and may make some more.  J & I have had some responsibilities, which have kept us very busy since Christmas.  We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, then it's onward into the new decade.  Happy New Year, friends!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Natural Dyeing with Onion Skins & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's been one of those weeks with numerous challenges.  All the hours on airplanes caught up with me.  I came down with a cold, and appointments on Monday and Tuesday had to be cancelled.  On two separate days, a hawk got one of our chickens.  My check engine light came on again.  That's just a sampling, but you get the idea.  This too shall pass.  A quiche was made, which used our eggs, peppers, garlic and parsley.   I pulled lambs quarter and spaghetti squash from the freezer for a side dish, and made thousand island dressing for a salad.  I dyed a second round of fabric in onion skins, and was pleased with the results of both batches. 

With living in a handmade house, as well as Joseph's knowledge of so many things, we have a number of unusual systems on the homestead.  A while back, I decided to make a systems book, mostly for my knowledge, but eventually for future occupants, which I hope is a long way off.  I hadn't put much in the book so far, but last week, I added the procedure for draining the rainwater pipes during frigid temps.  I had previously been making sketches in the book, then realized photos would work really well, so that's what I did this time.  My goal is to steadily add to it, until all systems are included in the book.

I paid the propane bill within 10 days to get a small discount. Laundry was hung on the line.  Split pea & barley soup was made from pantry items that needed using.  Kale was harvested, and a kale salad made to bring to a family gathering on the weekend.  I also made an autumn succotash to bring, with a couple of our butternut squash.  J is still working hard on firewood, whenever he gets the chance, and has split and stacked more wood.  We decorated our tree, and the house.  I'm hoping to finish wrapping gifts, and hopefully bake cookies on Monday.  Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Trip Abroad & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  Since I was here last, J planted our garlic.  They'd been stored in our basement, and a disappointing amount of them had started molding.  We'd intended to plant them much sooner, but just hadn't managed to find the time to prep the bed and plant them.  We ordered the garlic months ago, because they sell out quickly, so it can be a challenge.  I harvested collards, and made this recipe.  A few more Christmas presents were sewn.  I've been wanting to collect some reusable Christmas boxes, and found some at Dollar General.  Last year, I thought I'd wait until they were marked down, but they were all gone, so I bought two when I saw them.  We still have a few of our tomatoes ripening.  Some were used in a tomato rice loaf, along with our garlic, onions I'd dehydrated, and homemade bread crumbs.  I spent 1 hr 45 mins on hold with my healthshare.  I never managed to talk with anyone, but got my holiday cards written while I waited.  I downloaded a free Kindle book.  A batch of ear oil was made, for an ear that had a little discomfort.  Two heads of broccoli were harvested; one enjoyed, and the other frozen.  Kale was harvested, and salad made.

The last few days before we traveled were a whirlwind, with packing, taking care of last minute things, household chores, holiday prep, and creating and shipping two orders.  But the day came, and we were off on our adventure.  For several years, J has told me he wanted to show me where he was stationed in Germany.  His daughter, who was a small girl while there, instigated a trip earlier this year.  We timed it so we'd be there for the Christmas markets.  We did visit several, including one in rain and a wintry mix.  I tried gluehwein, and have to say I'm not a fan.  At another market, I had hot chocolate, which was wonderful. 

The hotel we stayed at served a delicious, elaborate buffet breakfast, free to us, as J had joined their rewards program shortly before our trip.  We enjoyed wandering the town they had lived in, stopping in at the bakery next door. While walking down at the river, I noticed chestnuts that had fallen from a tree, and gathered a few.  I suppose that was not strictly allowed, but when we arrived home, they came into the house with the luggage, and were quickly prepared for eating.  We then went to a royal residence with lovely museums, having free entry and art dating to the 12th century. 

I was drawn to the woman sewing

On Sunday, the ladies had a spa day, with thermal baths and massages. We had some challenges navigating their system, with the language barrier, but all ended well.  We returned to the town where J & his daughter lived, and were able to spend time with the woman they had rented their apartment from (the first floor of her home, begun in the 1100's), and her nephew.  They took us all around town, treated us to lunch at a traditional German restaurant, and we even had a chance introduction to the burgermeister or mayor.   It was a special day.

the doorstep to their home in Kitzingen
I enjoyed free ebooks while on our trip.  We brought back money, which is always a plus.  We arrived home late, without getting dinner on the plane, so made egg sandwiches.  Exhausted, having been up over 24 hours, we decided not to stop on the way home.  The morning after arriving home, a driver who came up the driveway backed 5 or so feet beyond the driveway, knocking down a trellis, and crushing a statue of St. Francis that my Mom had bought for me.  I shed a few tears over that.  Amazingly, this was someone who works as a driver.  Pretty sad.

Christmas market in Frankfurt

At home, I enjoyed a free Christmas movie on amazon prime, and listening to free music on Pandora.  On Sunday, we ventured out for groceries, chicken feed, lumber and a Christmas tree, which had been marked down 25%.  Dog food and naval oranges were on sale.  When we got home, J put up our wood shed addition, all but the roof tin.  I baked our first sweet potatoes, and harvested collards for collards and rice.  I dyed fabric with onion skins, which will be used in presents I am making.  Though still not back to full energy, it's going to be a busy week, so I'd best think energetic thoughts.    Have a good week, friends!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thankful & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Whenever I've previously checked for organic butter at Aldi, they'd had none.  I'm glad I thought to check again, as this time they had it, for $4.25/#, which is the cheapest I've seen in a while.  Food Lion had some for $4.99.  At Aldi, I also got a $1.29 pineapple, and avocados for .79.  I used $1 coupon for cat food.  I picked up photos at Walgreens, got pistachios on sale at $5.99/#, and used a $5 reward.  I found a penny in the parking lot.  The remaining fresh tromboncino squash were used in pasta sauce.  Unfortunately, I had to compost all but a piece of one of the remaining eggplants.  Our tomatoes, basil and rosemary also were used in the sauce.  Last week, my online soap shop had its 11th anniversary and 700th sale, which was hard to believe, as well as encouraging.

I repaired a boot and a slipper with the hot glue gun.  During the first several years of doing massage, I mostly used my table, then things shifted, and for a number of years, I've been using my chair the majority of the time, so the table mostly sat in it's carrying case.  It had started getting a sticky residue on the vinyl, and nothing I tried seemed to help.  I was beginning to think I'd have to recover it, or buy a new one, which I really didn't want to do at this age.  I googled it, and was delighted to find someone with the same table had had the same problem, and written a tutorial.  It was messy and took quite a while, but the table is 90% better.  I'm happy with that, and very happy to not have to spend several hundred dollars to replace it.  A pottery friend I spoke with at last week's show asked for soaps to carry in her shop.  I delivered them to her, and bartered for one gift while I was there.

I made swag goal several days.  I answered a question about what I was preparing for Thanksgiving, and won 100 SB (the equivalent of $1).  Thanksgiving was a fairly low key day at home, with M and J's son joining us.   Bouquets were gathered for the house, and natural items for the table.  The mismatched thrifted brown plates were used.  I made pumpkin pie, autumn succotash, cranberry relish, and a vegetarian version of my grandmother's dressing.  J prepared pork loin with carrots and potatoes.  Fresh whipped cream was made to enjoy with the pie.  My dietary recommendations were forgotten for the day.  The night before, I began the peanuts for succotash on the stove, and once they were boiling, moved them to the wood stove overnight.  Back in the summer, I made some lotion.  At the time, it seemed too heavy.  Now that cold weather is here, with the drier air, I'm enjoying using it.  Warm up water was used for humidity on the wood stove.  A bin of shredded paper and cardboard was added to the compost bin.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was in the mood for lighter fare, and made Jill's juice for lunch.  I have yet to find a juice I like better than this one.  I finished organizing the upright freezer, using bins I purchased at Dollar General.  There was so much stuffed into the freezer that I could not get it all back in.  Quite a bit was composted, mostly older and freezer burnt packages of okra, squash and lambs quarter.  The chickens got a few treats, including a few figs that had been in there a while, and an English muffin that had seen better days.  I caught up on laundry, and hung it all on the line.  The forecasters were wrong, and it got rained on early morning, so finished drying in the dryer.  I sewed several presents.  For the remaining detail, I plan to dye some fabric with onion skins.

Recently bought presents were wrapped, and I'm again caught up for the moment.  I learned about a site that can tell you whose ancestral land you live on, here, and learned we live on Catawba land.  I've found several arrowheads over the years, and there is an undisturbed Indian mound on private land that adjoins ours.  I'd never heard which people were originally here, and am very happy to now know.  Two batches of thieves vinegar have been mixed up, and are steeping.  If you don't know the story of thieves blend, it's pretty interesting.  The mixture already has the most wonderful scent.  I will be off on an adventure next week, but will be back with details when I return.  Be well, dear friends.