Monday, August 29, 2016

A Simple Summer Meal & Frugal Accomplishments

I am joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, J & I picked all the field peas that were ready Sunday evening, and then shelled them on Monday. He's an old hand at shelling, and very quick at it.  It's nice relaxing work, sitting and talking while shelling beans on the porch.  I cleaned, researched, took photos of and listed 3 new items on ebay, plus a few reruns.  I've had sales of shaving soaps, a shaving set and a pub table in my online shops the past couple of weeks.  I harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, lima beans, red noodle beans, pears, pawpaws, yellow squash, plums, & hazelnuts.  Used cooled down water from canning to water a number of plants outdoors.  I needed to buy paint for the pub table, and using Swagbucks and my credit card saved 7%.  Needing to restock supplements, I used a 20% off coupon code along with saving 4% through ebates for my purchase.  I had frugal fails on some leftovers... some went to the chickens and some were composted.  There was not a lot of anything, just a few bites of this and that, but I still don't like to waste. I cut a bouquet for the house, which I used in some photo shoots for my shop before placing it on the kitchen table.

J shelling beans
I ran errands while working in town.  When I picked up an order at Lowes, I looked in the plant markdown area, and found 2 purple & 1 pink speedwell/veronica for $1 ea, and a large mixed planter with blue lobelia, red verbena, and peach calibrachoa for $5.  Besides enjoying the colorful planter of annuals for the next couple of months, I placed them in an area where I'm hoping they will reseed and come up next year.  I planted the 3 speedwell with compost.  I prepared half of the field peas for dinner with rice one night, then blanched and froze the remainder.  I dropped the sugar lid on the counter, where it broke, so then I mended it.   Then J broke an antique bowl & I broke a pottery bowl, neither of which could be mended :o(.  There must have been some pretty destructive energy swirling around the universe that day.

The orchid I bought myself Valentines Day wasn't happy in the store bought pot, so I transplanted it to one of the orchid pots with air vents on the side.  Hopefully, it will be happier now.  I fertilized all orchids with orchid food I found at the discount grocery. I don't have a lot of luck with orchids reblooming, so I'm hoping this will help give me some lovely blooms.  I did laundry with homemade laundry soap, and hung it on the line.  As usual, I used homemade soap and deodorant.

One night, dinner was sliced tomatoes, asian cucumbers and potato salad, made with our homegrown vegetables and parsley.  A simple summer meal, but so good.  I harvest and shell lima beans and butter peas most days.  There are 25 hours of continuing ed I need to take to keep up my massage license.  As a portion of that, I picked a sound healing class that I took last week.  It was a wonderful group and an excellent class.  I'd forgotten how much joy it brings to make music with a group, and it inspired me to bring my basket of percussion instruments from storage back to the house.  I did bring my water bottle each day, but the class was attached to a cafe that served organic and local foods, so for lunch I chose to support them and simplify things for myself.  How have you been enjoying these late August days?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Preserving Food & Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I cashed in Swagbucks for a $25 gift certificate.  I used our squash and onion in a quinoa dish.  Made salsa with our tomatillos, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, & peppers a neighbor had given us.  From the freezer, I cooked corn we had grown and Brandy's black bean burgers to go along with the salsa and chips.  Enjoyed a few breakfasts of pawpaw, banana and homemade yogurt.  I made yogurt, kefir and hummingbird food.  Harvested tomatoes, tomatillos, red noodle beans, cucumbers, summer squash, onions, plums, hazelnuts, one pear, and pawpaws.  Something has been eating many of our fall seedlings in the garden as they germinate, so I planted cabbage and three types of collard seeds in pots.  They're coming up nicely.  I gathered some of the winter salad mix and cherry tomatoes for the chickens, and baked a loaf of bread using the last of the wheat I had ground.  Picked elderberries, and froze a quart after removing the stems.  I'm joining in with The Prudent Homemaker's Frugal Accomplishments.

I went to the discount grocery store & found 4-packs of organic applesauce for .50 and 1 liter cold pressed olive oil for $4; also sunflower seeds for the birds at less than half price of what the grocery store charges.  Bought a few groceries at Aldi's, including organic produce and organic popsicles.  I got our electric bill, and was discouraged to find it was $46 more than last month.  We've not been able to open the house up for weeks, due to the heat and humidity, so I'm sure the increase is due to the a/c.  Cooler temperatures are coming, so I'm hoping the next bill will show a significant decrease.  I composted, recycled and shredded all paper and cardboard which I add to the compost bin.  Weeded around the beans, onions, tomatoes and flower beds.

I ground the dehydrated tomato skins, & ended up with close to 3 cups.  J & his business partner were heading out to bring a load of metal salvage to the salvage yard, & asked me to go along.  They know I love a good treasure :o).  I bought 3 vintage metal chairs and a lovely plant stand for $6 ea and a hanging metal planter for $2.  The plant stand and one chair needed a little work, which J had done within an hour. One chair needs a good wire brushing before painting.  I intend to paint them all and use them on the porch.  I picked up a couple of mornings opening up & doing housekeeping at Hospice.  This is only in the administrative building, as the Hospice House has it's own housekeeping staff.  One of the days I was already going to be there to do massage, so no extra gas was used.  J has been working hard on cutting and splitting firewood for the winter.  He's always on the look out for dead trees on our land, and found three close together recently, which are now cut, split & stacked.  I paid our property tax, getting the early discounted rate.

As a soapmaker, I have to be thinking ahead, as my cold process soap cures for at least three weeks before wrapping.  I used some vibrantly orange home canned pumpkin to make my autumn soap, Pumpkin Chai. The house is smelling like yummy fall spices.  I cut a bouquet for the house.  I saved seed for zinnias, pineapple tomato and a branching sunflower I've forgotten the name of.  J & I canned up 17 pints of salsa.  Our sweet peppers didn't do this year, and I found a marked down package at the store to use for the salsa.  We've got lots of hot peppers, which we used in the salsa and have been dehydrating the rest.  I made a pasta dish using our tromboncino squash, tomatoes & herbs.  The sauce was pretty dry, so I added a pint of canned tomato broth and some of the dehydrated tomato skins, which turned out really well.  I canned spicy dill pickles, eggplant, and carrots.  It's the first time I've canned carrots.  Last year, I dehydrated some, but I want to see how we like them canned.  I froze a bag of lambs quarter and beet greens.

After a rain shower, there was a rainbow peeking out from behind the trees.  It's supposed to be ushering in cooler temperatures, which hopefully means I'll be able to open up the house tonight or tomorrow night.  Oh happy day!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Tastes of Summer & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  I'm joining in with the Frugal Accomplishments community today.  Last week,  I picked elderberries, and froze them for possible jam. Once I strain all the elderberry tincture, I'll decide if that will be enough for the year.  If so, this picking will become jam.  I'm harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers & squash, a few tomatillos, peppers & eggplant, and pulled the first of the beets.  Small amounts of lambs quarters are being picked.  Some of the lima beans and butter peas are drying on the vine, so I'm picking and shelling those as I see them.  Pawpaws are ripening, and I'm gathering those as they fall.  I've dried tomato skins from 4 canner loads of tomatoes... not sure how many pounds that was.  I think I'll try using some before I dry any more.  If you've ever used any, I'd love to hear how you used them and your impression.

I occasionally help out at one of the local pottery shops.  The top photo shows the beauty outside I was able to gather, and the photo above shows a bit of the beauty I'm surrounded by in the shop.  It's a lovely place to spend the day.  I brought leftovers for lunch, snacks and my water bottle each day.  I received a check from ebates for cash back from purchases.  We've got lots of cherry tomatoes this year.  Besides eating them fresh, I've used some in recipes & added some to canning jars, but most days I pick a couple dozen for the chickens.  McNibs begs for some, so he gets some too!  I canned eggplant and summer squash.  Harvested a dozen carrots.  Carrot tops, and end bits from squash and eggplant went into the broth bag in the freezer.  I've picked 16 of our tiny plums.  This is the first year they've fruited, and there's not much to do anything with, so I'm pondering what to do with them.  Maybe I'll freeze them, and once they're all collected, perhaps there will be enough for a small batch of jam.

Because of comments I read on The Prudent Homemaker, I checked out a couple of shows on youtube.  The first was Extreme Cheapskates.  I should not have expected anything from the title, but thought it could be interesting.  I watched it long enough to see a couple share a Q-tip, a toothbrush, and floss... just.ewwww.  Thankfully, the other show was better.  It's called Great Depression Cooking, and I believe the secondary title is Clara's Kitchen.  An amusing 95 year old woman recollects recipes from the Depression era.  I colored my hair at home.

J & I joined my brother & SIL for a concert.  We saw Ray Lamontagne at an outdoor amphitheater.  The concert started 1 1/2 hrs late, we got rained on twice, and the music was very loud with several intense jams, rather than the mellow tunes we like Ray for.  All in all, a disappointment of a show.  Thankfully, we enjoyed a most lovely and very intimate (the small room held less than 40 people) concert with Chris Trapper in Raleigh a few weeks ago to balance it out.  His talent and heartfelt music made the evening pure joy.  Do see him if you get the chance.  I harvested enough basil to make a double batch of pesto and some caprese salad.  What summer tastes are you enjoying?

Monday, August 8, 2016

August on the Homestead & Frugal Accomplishments

Last week, I strained and bottled up several quarts of citrus cleaning vinegar.   I changed my mind about the corn, and determined that the raccoons were not going to eat the rest of it, so one night at almost dark, I harvested everything that was edible and froze enough for 3 more meals.  There are just a handful of immature ears left, which I will share with them.  I picked some more beans, blanched and froze them.  We're having some interesting surprises with our beans this year.  Some saved seed we thought were regular lima beans are looking more like butter peas.  The seed may have crossed with butter peas we had also grown.  Also, J bought what he thought were green bean seeds.  They're starting to produce, and what they actually are are yard long or red noodle beans.  I've started collecting recipes.   If you've grown them before, or just cooked with them, I'd welcome any tasty suggestions besides pickles.

It's always a good thing to see the majority of our dinner plate consisting of home grown food.  One night there was a caprese salad, summer squash dish, asian cucumbers and swiss chard.  The next night, I made a tomato pie to go along with the leftovers.  We're enjoying tomatoes and cucumbers almost every night.  I canned tomatoes, summer squash and dill pickles.  The summer squash ends were added to the broth bag in the freezer.  McNibs usually begs for cucumber, so he often gets the end bits, and occasionally Guinness will eat some too.  With the week's second batch of tomatoes, I tried something new I'd read about.  Instead of composting the tomato skins, I put them into the dehydrator.  Once ground, the tomato powder is said to be good in eggs, soups & stews.  It takes a lot of skins to end up with much, but it doesn't take much to add some flavor.

I gathered basil, parsley and oregano and made pasta sauce with our fresh tomatoes and garlic.  I finished rewrapping all the soaps that were involved in the laundry hose challenge last month, and am happy about that.  Most of the packing materials I used to ship an order from my online shop and two ebay sales were reused.  Kefir, yogurt & hummingbird food were made.  I planted a celery bottom in the cold frame, and it quickly put forth new growth.  This year, many things have required 3 plantings to get a crop.  The fall garden was no exception, and it appears we now have rutabagas, cabbage, winter salad mix, collards and broccoli up.

Am I the only one who didn't know about John Moreland?!  Thanks to Ben Hewitt, I've now remedied that.  Do yourself a favor, and give him a listen.  Ben has been sharing some favorite music on his blog.  The real intensive stretch of gardening is almost here.   I've been able to harvest cucumbers, squash & tomatoes in about a half hour.  That's if I don't weed, trim yellowed tomato limbs, bring cracked tomatoes to the chickens, & other assorted garden chores.  But soon there will be okra, and more beans, both of which are much more time consuming to harvest.  And then there's the matter of what to do with all that produce once it's in the house.  A good problem to have, but a bit of a race for the next couple of months.  It's a pleasure to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.