Sunday, June 18, 2017

Garden Gatherings, A Bit of Disappointment & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  That's a basket of this morning's garden gatherings.  There are cucumbers, eggs, yellow squash, blueberries, yellow transparent apples, and tromboncino squash.   I also harvested lettuce, basil, parsley, blackberries, raspberries and mulberries last week.  The carrots were weeded.  I enjoyed a free Kindle book from amazon, and have ordered several more free Kindle books.  Three books were borrowed from the library, including this one about Beatrix Potter, which I'm enjoying.  At the grocery store, I purchased two bags of dog food on sale, and frozen organic waffles on sale (rarely bought, but J has recently commented about not knowing what to have for breakfast several times, so I thought this would make for a nice change).  I made a broccoli salad with some I harvested, and red grapes we were gifted.

This was the smallest bouquet provided for the celebration.  I thought it was so lovely and cheerful.  The discount grocery store moved and reopened the first of May, and I made it by there for the first time.  They didn't have the usual amount of groceries, but said they're getting more in.  I purchased a pretty set of new linen & cotton sheets for half of what they sell for at Target.  I bought a few more things, including Annie's organic cookies for $1.20, artichoke hearts for .50, and a couple of metal plant stands with casters ($5 for both).  Produce and cheese were bought at Aldi's.  We took a friend to a new local restaurant for his birthday.  There were several extra tortillas, so I brought them home and added them to the pups dinner.

While in town for work, I ran other errands, and brought a reusable water bottle and snacks.  For our celebration, J bought a large plastic planter to put the beer and ice in.  Though I'm not all that fond of plastic, I decided to plant nasturtium and zinnia seeds in it.  It's placed beside where I drive in, so I'm hoping it will bring cheer each time I arrive home.  There have been some sharings about finding your tribe here recently.  I realized when pondering how wonderful it felt to be surrounded by so many good people at the celebration, that that's exactly what it felt like... like I was with my tribe.  What a wonderful thing that is.

The day after the celebration, J & I were invited to spend the day at a nearby lake with friends.  There was a long, relaxing boat ride, along with a boat picnic. It was the perfect way to wind down after all the festivities.  Tractor Supply is offering a rewards program.  I signed up, and have two of three purchases towards a reward.  Swagbucks goals were made almost every day.  With cucumbers coming in, it's time for asian cucumbers again.  I brought some to the lake, and made more for us at home late in the week.  We sure do love them.

Well, the eight eggs under the broody hen were a bust.  Over the past week or so, she's thrown 5 of the 8 eggs out of the nest.  I checked 3 of them, and there were no chicks.  Today is day 24, so we'll be removing her from the broody area.  This is the first time I've had this experience, and the only theory I can come up with is the hens that laid in that particular nest box were some of the less "popular girls" that the roosters didn't breed with.  With three roosters, you'd think they would get them all, but maybe not.  If you've got any other theories, I'd love to hear them.  At least we've got blueberries and other garden goodness to help soften the blow.  We're pondering if we'll let one of the other broody Buff Orpingtons sit on another round.  I hope you have a great week, friends!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Awaiting the Chicks Arrival, A New Trellis & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  We've gotten some nice rain here, which is helping the garden grow.  I opened windows when cool, and closed up when it warmed up, to minimize a/c use.  Ceiling fans and a small plug in fan also help.  My online shops continue to have occasional sales.  Though I keep the income from my soap shop, the income from our metal and furniture shop goes towards our vacation fund.  It is what we used for all our spending money in Italy, and there is some remaining to go towards our next vacation.  This is a rewarding way to use income from our joint efforts.  I purchased some needed birthday cards at the dollar store.  We're anticipating peeps coming from the broody area, with chicks expected to arrive any day.  

Instead of stopping on the way home from the funeral for something to eat, I prepared a simple meal when we got home.  I had brought cheese, crackers, apples and nuts from home to snack on during the day.  On Monday, I finished sewing the celebration napkins, cut the loose threads, hand washed them with homemade soap gel, then dried them in the dryer, as it was a rainy day.  One more pressing, and they were ready.  I canned a quart of elderberry juice in 2015, which I heated this week, and added organic sugar to sweeten it, for use in smoothies and such.  At the time I canned it, it didn't occur to me that the alcohol draws out the medicinal properties, so the juice won't be as potent as the tinctures I make, but I expect it will have some benefits, and be tasty too.

I enjoy trying new recipes.  One I tried last week was a garlicky chard and chickpea dish, using a large bag of our chard and garlic.  Both it and the new cucumber avocado recipe I tried were just OK, but every now and then, you find a winner.  I harvested dill, mulberries, blackberries, raspberries, parsley, broccoli, our first cucumber and yellow squash..  On the way to collect eggs, I gathered wild lettuce to give to the chickens, and some mock strawberries.  I also gave them some raisins from a jar that got buggy, one of the occasional down sides of buying them at the discount grocery store.  This time of year, I boil eggs two or three times a week.  The pups get one every morning, and we eat some too.  The usual hummingbird food, kefir, yogurt and bird suet were made.

before decorating
There were a few frugal aspects to our wedding celebration.  The venue I chose, a historic gatekeepers house, was inexpensive to rent ($100).  It's a sweet little house, built in 1888, which still has wavy glass in some of the window panes. The desserts were done by a B&B that I supply soap to, and we are bartering for these.  They create some pretty awesome food, most of which is local.  We provided all our beverages.  A good friend's sister came through with almost everything needed to set up and decorate, as she had it from her son's marriage in May.  Both sisters helped me set up.  I was able to get gorgeous bouquets from a local grower, with herbs and wildflowers mixed in.  Much more my style than what is offered at a florist, at a great price.  Once we figured out our table arrangement, I was able to cut some of our flowers, adding a small jelly jar of flowers to each of the individual tables.  Help was offered by other good people as well.  I can't imagine a more wonderful celebration than was had.  I'm blessed to have a wonderful group of people in my life.

On a cool morning. I  baked bread with a pack of zucchini I pulled from the freezer, along with our eggs and homemade vanilla.  Another day, I pulled our lima beans and okra from the freezer, and had them for dinner along with rice.  The freezer is still quite full, but I'll keep working at it.  I used the last of last year's potatoes in a potato salad, and used our tomatoes, basil and oregano in pasta sauce.  J designed an trellis/arbor to hold our tromboncino squash in the garden, and we set that up.  We had put up a small fence around a small service area of the homestead, which includes the compost, a week or so ago.  The fence was taller than we wanted, and what was cut off was used for the top part of the new trellis.  We also worked on setting up tomato cages around the larger plants.  The Japanese beetles have arrived.  I collect them in a jar of water, and give them to the chickens.  Though I never caught up, several hours were spent weeding the garden.  Fresh straw was put in the chicken's nest boxes, and a wheelbarrow full of poopy straw added to the compost pile.  Wishing you a great week, friends.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Antique Wardrobe Redo & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Now that things are beginning to return to normal, I've gotten back to working on the antique wardrobe.  Since working on it last, the laminate of the lower panel on the other side started buckling.  As I did with the first one, I removed it, sanded and primed it per J's instruction.  I cleaned up the entire body of it, which was quite dirty, and began painting it with antique white chalk paint.  I'll be glad when it's finished, so I have somewhere to put my sewing supplies.   J has been waiting for me to strip two vintage porch posts for the front of the house, so I'll be able to start on that project next.

In addition to store bought chicken and vegetarian bbq chicken for Memorial Day, I made deviled eggs, asian slaw, and pasta salad from pantry items and our eggs, cabbage and basil.  I made the year's first lavender lemonade with our lavender.  We went to Lowe's that morning, and I bought landscape blocks on sale (19% off) with their credit card for another 5% discount, which I'll pay off when due.  Another night, pasta was made with our tomatoes, garlic and herbs.  Mulberries, a few raspberries and blackberries have been gathered, some enjoyed in a smoothie one morning, others frozen.

When planning the upcoming wedding celebration, the caterer told me renting napkins would cost $1 per napkin.  I thought that seemed quite expensive, so began looking for an alternative.  Though I preferred a reusable napkin, I did check out prices for pretty paper napkins, and the ones I liked were also quite expensive.  I checked etsy and ebay, and found no good deals, and didn't think I could find enough alike (44) at a thrift store.  The one new fabric I liked came from the UK, and shipping made it crazy expensive.  Thinking outside the box, I ended up buying two antique linen table runners, which were not all that much more than the rented ones would have been.  I did have some guilt and a slight bit of anxiety when I began cutting them up, but now I will have napkins and eventually cleaning rags for years to come.

I froze the lambs quarter I harvested, which gave me a side dish for six meals.  Hummingbird food, yogurt and kefir were made, and eggs boiled.  Our hen is still sitting.  In a week, I'll begin listening for little peeps.  The first yellow squash is about 2" long.  There are quite a few small cucumbers, and several tomatoes too.  Anticipation!  We're headed to an out of town funeral this morning.  Wishing you a most wonderful week!

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Honeymoon in Italy and Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I'm starting to get back in the gardening groove.  Last week, I harvested raspberries, lettuce, peas, mulberries, chives and dill.  I weeded around the lettuce, eggplant and several other spots.  We got a pick up truck load of mulch, a lantana and several cockscomb for a new small area near the porch, as well as homestead verbena, marigolds, and portulaca.  All but the marigolds were planted and the mulch spread between rain showers the same day.  We haven't decided where we'd like the marigolds just yet.  I also picked up a pack of globe thistles at Big Lots, and planted the rhizomes too.  They are not a true thistle.  We have enough of those already!

For our trip, I borrowed library books for the Kindle, and read a couple of free amazon Kindle books, including one on frugal living.  I bought a bouquet for $3.99 from Aldi's  to enjoy, and cut flowers from the yard for another vase.  When we returned, there were enough peas to make a batch of fresh pea soup with them and our herbs.  A large basket each of lambs quarter and swiss chard were harvested.  I washed plastic bags for reuse.  Lambs quarter, lettuce gone to flower, mock strawberries and mulberries were given to the chickens.

I made yogurt and kefir.  We've had a hen that has been broody off and on for several weeks.  We moved her into a little private broody area, where she has her own small yard when she gets off the eggs.  It's been 6 days, she's still sitting, and we're hoping she continues to.  J got creative with the two young roosters, who had been in the broody area.  He set up our large dog crate for them, under the eaves, and placed some old windows to cover most of the sides for when it rains.  They have a large yard to be in during the day.   We'd like to take them to the flock swap at Tractor Supply to find them a new home, but we have an out of town family gathering the day of the next one in June.  They may be with us a while longer.

I did laundry with homemade laundry soap and soap gel. One day, the wool items were hung indoors, and the rest dried in the dryer due to rain, and another day, both loads were hung outdoors.  We've gotten a significant amount of rain since we've been home.  The plants are jumping.  There were numerous tomato volunteers, which were transplanted.  J planted seeds for spaghetti squash, okra and lima beans.  I went through ebates and used a 25% off coupon to make a photo book of our wedding day and honeymoon.  I want to have this to share at our celebration in a few weeks.

Our wedding had some frugal elements.  I asked J to choose the dress I'd wear, and he chose an Ann Taylor dress I'd bought at a thrift store a few years ago.  It needed to be taken in, and I paid to have it altered, as I didn't feel skilled enough to work with the silk dress and separate lining.  A local woman I'd spoken to about flowers backed out a week or two before the wedding, so I had to scramble.  I ended up going to a local florist, buying the stems, and putting together my bouquet, which I supplemented with a few of our flowers.  Though I do enjoy flower arranging, I was trying to cut down on the details I'd be responsible for this particular day.  It all worked out.  I made J's boutonniere with elements I gathered from our land.

A friend shared a youtube video with me on bow making, and I made two large bows using wired burlap ribbon bought at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon, and tulle that I bought a large bolt of for I believe $2.99 at a thrift store years ago.  I'd been intimidated by making bows, but it was surprisingly easy.  The same friend hosted and officiated our wedding on the front porch of her gallery, which is a beautiful historic home.  She had an assortment of dream catchers, which we hung from hooks along the porch.  We bought Prosecco, sparkling lemonades, fruit, cheese, marcona almonds and chocolate to enjoy after the wedding.  We kept it small, and there were only 7 in attendance, in addition to our officiant and us.   A close friend who is a photographer took photos.  After our munchies, we headed to a lovely restaurant in Greensboro, to meet up with more friends and family for dinner.

A trip to Italy had been on my bucket list, and when J suggested it for our honeymoon, how could I turn that down?!  One pretty special day was meeting and sharing a meal with a second cousin and his family.  I'm only sorry my Mom had not been able to go.  We had begun talking about going together, but she became sick before we were able to do it.  She was on my mind so much of the trip, and I enjoyed pistachio gelato and savoiardi cookies (both favorites of hers) thinking of her.  Though not frugal, one of the reasons I live simply is so that I can enjoy experiences like this.  Having these memories means so much more than things ever could.

If you have a few minutes, this TED talk by Caroline Myss on health and healing is worth a listen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

We're Back

Hello friends!  We arrived home from our honeymoon early this morning.  Today will be a day of catching up on laundry, opening mail and easing back into homestead life.  The soap shop and SoulSeeds shop have reopened.  It was a grand adventure, and it's good to be back!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fresh Pea Soup, A Spring Treasure

Hello, friends.  I wanted to pop in to let you know about this lovely fresh pea soup.  It's been the first time in several years that we've gotten enough of a pea harvest to make soup.  When I was reminded of how good it was, I wanted to share it with you.  This recipe is from the original The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook, one I've had for many years.

Cream of Fresh Green Pea Soup

1 tbs butter                                                      
1 cup minced onion                                    
1/2 tsp salt                                                  
2 cups fresh, raw, sweet peas                      
1 1/2 cups water or stock
1 cup milk or half and half  
freshly ground black pepper
Fresh herbs: basil, dill, thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives

In a saucepan, cook the onions with salt in butter until the onions are soft.

Separately steam the peas until they are bright green and just tender.

Add steamed peas and stock or water to sauteed onions.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.

Puree 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup in a blender or food processor; return puree to saucepan.  Add milk or cream.  Don't cook any further, unless you are not serving immediately.  Then heat carefully just before serving.  Snip in desired amounts of fresh herbs.  Scissors make this fun and easy.

My favorite herbs for this soup are dill and chive, which work perfectly this time of year.  The chives have overwintered and are growing well, and dill volunteers are usually coming on strong.  To me, the fresh herbs really make the soup.  If you have enough peas harvested to make this in one day, that's best.  But if like me, you need to shell some here and there and save them up until you have 2 cups, that's also good.  The earliest ones get a little starchier, but the soup is still amazingly good.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Plants and Plans and Frugal Accomplishments

Hello friends.  I hope your week has been a good one.  Last week, I redeemed Swagbucks points for a $25 amazon gift card.  I'm cutting back on the time I spend on swagbucks; pretty much just doing the daily list, and purchases when they have the best cash back offer.  I made cabbage and egg noodles using our cabbage, and a lambs quarter and spaghetti squash side dish with our frozen vegi's.   At Aldi's, I was tempted by marked down bags of Easter chocolate for .10, but it was milk chocolate, and neither of us cares for it, so I passed.  Even at that price, it's not a bargain if you won't eat it.  I did purchase some nice cheeses, lemons, organic strawberries and wine while there.

A batch of suet was made for the birds.  I saw the summer tanagers back at the suet feeder, and am glad we will get to enjoy them again this year.  Lovely rain topped up our tanks for the first time in months, and has made all the plants happy.  After a dental appointment, I decided to do a quick check at a thrift store I passed.  I was so glad I did!  Not many weeks ago, I broke one of my vintage glass refrigerator dishes while placing leftovers in it.  Somehow, the dutch oven hit it just right, and it broke.  I had been looking for a replacement, but they all seemed to be $20 and up, and I was hoping not to pay that much.  I lucked out, and found a set of two Hazel Atlas criss cross pattern dishes with cobalt lids for $2 total!  They're perfect, with no chips.  I saw the large one on etsy for $40.  Beautiful and useful too; the perfect combination of a good treasure.

I donned my leather gloves, and harvested nettles.  I harvested nettle tops, and pickled them with apple cider vinegar and some of my homemade Herbamare-like mix.  I pulled nettle plants that came up around our 12 apostle lilies and a fig, and started a batch of nettle tea fertilizer in a 5 gallon bucket.  In a few days, that will be a quite an odiferous bucket!  But it's excellent fertilizer, so I suppose  it's worth the stink.  I harvested our first peas, around 2 dozen pods, and a few more another day.  Not enough to do much with, but I'm thinking I may use them as part of a stir fry.  Our chard is going to seed, and I harvested 3 large bags full.  Our lettuce is too, and it's already too bitter to use, so I am doling it out to the chickens, who love it nonetheless.

Chickadees and bluebirds and an as yet mystery bird have taken up residence in the three bird houses that are closest to the house.  J & I have seen them carrying insects into the houses.  I can't remember if I knew that hummingbirds feed off comfrey flowers.  I spied one on an evening wander through the orchard, which made me smile.   I'm grateful to continue getting some nice shop sales.  Yogurt and kefir were made, and fruit and vegi bits added to the compost crock.  Laundry was done with homemade soap and hung on the line.   Most of the volunteer dill we transplanted is thriving, as well as the echinacea we relocated.

Two bags of lambs quarter were blanched and frozen.  We sadly lost one of our red hens recently.  I caught her looking off into space one day.  She allowed me to pet her while she was in her reverie, which was unusual, and I wondered if something was going on with her.  There was nothing obvious I observed.  She appeared fine, but J found her dead that evening.  We're attempting to keep the two young roosters separated from the rest of the flock, but somehow the door between them keeps opening.   It is more peaceful while they're separated, but the low hen in the pecking order still is being abused by several other hens.  I do wish they would all get along.  We're still in plentiful eggs, and some are boiled for us and the pups 2 or 3 times a week.

Many of our garden seeds are sprouting.  There are cucumbers, summer and winter squash, and various greens up.  There are also lots of apples, some plums, peaches, blueberries, pears and pawpaws fruiting.  Our little general store a mile up the road was giving plants away when J went to get gas one day last week.  He brought home a jalapeno pepper, Big Rainbow tomato and Big Red tomato.  The Big Rainbow sounds especially interesting.  Most days, two 2 mile walks were taken with the pups, with J occasionally joining us.  I switched out my summer/winter clothes and sheets.  Several shirts were added to the thrift store box, and several cashmere sweaters will be given to a niece.  As much as I love them, one can only use so many sweaters.

I wanted to try a new chard recipe, and chose this one.   Besides our chard, the recipe used our homegrown garlic and red pepper flakes, and homemade breadcrumbs.  I followed instructions and used about 2/3 of the lemon/olive oil mix, which looked to be enough, but it was a bit dry, so next time I will try adding all of it.  We all thought it was pretty tasty.  I've read the tip to use lemon seeds in place of pectin.   I remembered to add them to a bag in the freezer to try this summer.  I still have plenty of chard to make something else this week.  J sprayed all our fruiting trees and shrubs with neem oil and other good things.  Little black beetles we've not seen before are chewing on our broccoli, so J used an organic spray on those plants.  We have some pretty large plans coming up.  I will check in here as I can, and I will see you on the other side with an update.  Be well, friends!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hopeful Things

Hello, friends.  Last week was one of planting, soap making and crossing things off my to do list.  The list is ever changing, of course, but it felt good to cross some things off it that had been there for a while.  I visited an annual plant sale with a friend, and brought home medicinal, edible, and culinary plants which J & I got in the ground on Saturday, in perfect timing for some lovely days of rain.  This friend and her husband grow beautiful purple asparagus.  I bought 3 pounds, steamed one, and made soup with the other two, enjoying both immensely.  I am cutting an occasional stalk of our asparagus, but leaving most to replenish the roots for next year.

I am thankful my shop continues to get some small sales.  The usual kefir, yogurt and suet were made, vegetable bits added to the broth bag in the freezer, and scraps composted.  Swagbucks and ebates were used for purchases, for cash back.  Long walks with the pups are being enjoyed, twice a day whenever possible.

The girls have been generous with their eggs, which have been used in various manners, from deviled to boiled to omelets to fried, as well as included in recipes.  Wild lettuce and chickweed have been given to them in thanks, as well as the remains of grapefruit halves.  

The hope is the rains will fill our tanks, and encourage the garden seeds to sprout.  A number of the tomato seeds have already sprouted.  Eggplant had too, but the farm cats rather decimated them with their digging.  Hopefully, more will come.  There are tiny apples, peaches and plums to marvel at.  Spring brings such promise with it.  Wishing you some hopeful things, whichever season you may be in.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Wishes & Frugal Accomplishments

Happy Easter and Passover, friends!  This week has felt like spring.  The birds have been active, the flowers blooming, and days have been mild.  Some nice breezes quickly dried the laundry on the line.  J & I tried something new with our tomatoes this year.  As I hadn't gotten around to planting seeds indoors, and it appears we've had our last frost, J planted a patch of seeds in the garden.  If they come up well, we will separate and plant them.  We'll probably supplement them with some store bought plants, to have earlier tomatoes. * We did; see below.  

My free Naturals cat food arrived, courtesy of Purina pet perks.  Yogurt and kefir were made, and eggs boiled for us and the pups.  I found a lovely bit on planting a garden at The Herb Shed, and tracked it down to here.  A quinoa broccoli bake was made using our eggs, with our asparagus alongside.  Leftovers were served with our okra, and oriental cabbage slaw made using our cabbage and onion.  J had asked for ice cream if at a good price, and when I looked for it, was sad to find they have discontinued this natural line of ice cream.  It's the only one we've been buying.  They do carry a couple of organic ones, but I just can't justify paying that.  I have bought it once or twice on sale, but even that's a stretch.  I told J I guessed we needed to make all our ice cream this summer 😊.

J & I vacuum sealed a bulk order of organic unbleached white flour in half gallon jars.  I used our canned squash & tomatoes, onion and herbs in a pasta dish.  Earlier in the year, J had ordered 5 mixed berry plants.  They arrived, and were set out in our new berry area.  The dog food I buy was on sale for $4 off, so I bought two.  Pups were given chopped cauliflower and collard stems, and the good parts of a soft apple.  Various wild greens were picked for the chickens.  I made an herbal salt mix, using our herbs, similar to Herbamare.  Mid-week, J & I heard the first hummingbirds.  I quickly made hummer food, and set up a feeder, but it wasn't until Saturday morning that I saw one at the feeder.  I'm delighted to see them back.  I noticed a blue bird going into one of the houses.  I'm not sure if there's a nest, or if it was just a look-see.

The summer garden has mostly been planted.  Joseph did the bulk of the manual labor.  I planted many of the seeds and plants.  Asian eggplant, basil, sweet pepper and a few tomato plants were bought.  J also planted a small patch of eggplant seed, which we'll transplant if they do anything.  We also planted seeds of sweet corn, 3 types of winter squash and summer squash, 3 types of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, onions, beets, kale, and arugula.  J watered them in well, and we have a good chance of rain the next several days.  I weeded several flower beds, and gave the weeds to the chickens.  Another large bag of lambs quarter was harvested.  I had a stop next to a local thrift store, went in and found another $5 sewing treasure.  This one was a bag filled with vintage scissors, pin cushions, tracing paper, sewing book from 1958 (my birth year, which I thought was kind of cool), hooks and eyes, bobbins, thread and more.

For Easter dinner, I prepared deviled eggs, corn on the cob, roasted beets, and roasted potatoes.  Our plans to grill had to change when J found a Carolina wren nest with babies inside the grill.  Thank goodness he looked before he lit it.  I thanked the angels mightily when he told me.  The eggs, corn, beets and oregano came from our homestead.   I was able to cross a few loose ends off my list this weekend, and made progress on more.  After a few incidences of working on the wardrobe, only to find more buckled laminate when I checked it the next time, I decided that piece of laminate was too far gone, and removed it not long ago.  I finally got the glue removed, sanded it, and applied a light coat of primer to that area.  J suggested I do that, as he felt the chalk paint would not adhere as well to the area where the laminate was removed.  Chalk paint covers a multitude of sins, so I don't believe the primer will be noticed.  I'm glad to be a bit closer to getting it painted.

I dried a batch of our sweet potatoes for pup treats.  We have enough sweet potatoes for a couple more bakings, which seems just right with the temperatures warming up.  I like to cook enough for a meal and leftovers when I bake them.  In the winter, I often use those leftovers for a pie or pound cake, but that's not possible in my diet at present.  Regardless, the sweet potatoes are mighty tasty just as they are.  We had beautiful weather the whole week, and I've really enjoyed it.  Lots of flowers are blooming.  I've been soaking the foot that had minor surgery with epsom salts per the Dr's recommendation.  I researched and found out roses appreciate magnesium, and have fed the solution to all of them.  Our wounded hen is all healed up, and has been incorporated back into the flock.  We're pondering what to do with those two young roosters.  We had separated them when we let the hen back in, but the door was left open by mistake so they were all back together this morning.   Would you like to give a rooster or two a new home?   Wishing you a lovely week ahead!

Monday, April 10, 2017

My Favorite Wild Edible & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  There was some lovely rain last week, which should help all the transplants settle in.  I made a large batch of laundry soap, using my grated soap for one of the ingredients.  I steamed a large bag of our chard.  It never ceases to surprise me how much it cooks down.  After working in town, I went by Walgreens on their 20% off day, buying neosporin (buy 2 , get 1 free), packing tape (buy 1, get 1 for 1/2 price), & greeting cards.  At the grocery store, I used a $3 coupon for dogfood, used a $2 off beer deal, and got dog treats and wine on sale.  I used my own shopping bags for a discount.

My bank, which was recently bought, will print out deposit slips for you if you're in the bank, but charge if you order some to be mailed to you.  It makes no sense to me, but I requested the free ones.  A good rain allowed us to collect several hundred gallons of water.  I made yogurt, kefir, and suet for the birds.  I made a Dr's appointment for an infected toe that was not getting better despite my best efforts.  The appointment wasn't cheap, but I did get a 55% discount as a self-payer, and they told me I could have a pen from their large stash at the checkout counter, a small frugality.  Afterwards, I picked up produce... grape tomatoes, cauliflower, cucumbers, and bread, cheese, apple juice, sparkling pink lemonade & wine at Aldi's.  Most of these were organic.

On a cooler, very windy day, I baked our sweet potatoes, and prepared a cabbage & egg noodle dish that was shared by Jane.  J & I both agree it's a keeper.  I had made a similar dish a few months ago, but now that we've had this one, it will be the go to dish.  Comfort food at it's best, which was needed, as I had a minor procedure on my toe that day and needed a bit of comfort.  The cabbage was the last of some store bought and the first of what we planted in the fall.  Unfortunately, J found two cabbage heads that had split and sent up a stalk already.  I had covered them with row cover during warm February days, when I saw cabbage moths checking them out.  But, out of sight also means they can get missed.  Oh well, I'm happy we got the three heads we did.

There have been some serious winds recently, which gave me the gift of several more tufts of usnea to add to the tincture bottle.  Each time I add some,  I cross out the old date and add the new one, to be sure it "works" six weeks.  If this keeps up, I may need a new scrap of paper, as the old one is getting pretty filled up. A dear friend and I went to a rummage sale, which supports the local arts guild.  Treasures found included a covered basket, wool rug, container of 21 assorted quality threads, piece of pacific cloth, pillowcases, scrap of embroidered material, immersion blender and pantry moth trap, all for $22.  There were several boxes of free items, in which I found 2 jelly jars and a pint canning jar.  Though I've donated items, I hadn't been to this sale in several years.  It's a good one.

Our sea buckthorn trees arrived.  J planted them along the pond, and also transplanted two peach seedlings that had volunteered near some older trees.  I suspect the squirrels had some part in the peach pits left there, but at least there is a benefit.  I use sea buckthorn oil as a soap ingredient for it's skin benefits, and hope to someday be able to use home grown.  We strung up twine for our pea plants.  Some of them are starting to bloom.  There was a major mishap with my homestead meeting seedlings, which fell to the floor after watering.  I salvaged and transplanted all I thought might possibly live.  I think several money plants will make it, maybe a couple of cutting celery, and I'm not sure about anything else.  A double batch of coronation cauliflower was made for a family gathering, and a green salad which used some of our lettuce as well as lettuce we were given.

I harvested a large basket of lambs quarter, and researched some new recipes for it (scroll to bottom of linked page for recipe links).  I've said before that it's my favorite wild food, and it consistently provides well for us every year.  You have to love an edible plant that shows up without any assistance.  J dug up several plum offshoots, and planted them in several spots.  We were happy to see that we do indeed have some peaches, and it appears we'll have about half of our blueberry crop.  We had light frost this weekend, but that's the last in the forecast at present.  Our wounded hen is doing well, with feathers filling back in and her wound healing nicely.  A couple of japanese beetle larva were dug up during our plum moving, and I brought them to her, the extra protein helpful for wound healing.  J tilled some garden areas, and we discussed where plants will go this year.

While walking with the pups, I nibbled on sheep sorrel and cat briar tips.  Both have fresh, spring tastes with the sorrel being quite tart.  I'll be covering two mornings at one of my occasional jobs this week.  I'm quite behind on gardening chores this year, and spring cleaning has gone by the wayside, but there have been other things to attend to, and I'm trying hard to be kind to myself.   I hope you are being good to yourselves, my friends!